Tony's Stories of Faith & Life
My family’s faith background is quite limited. Little can be recalled about my paternal grandparents since they both died while I was still quite young. My maternal grandparents are remembered as being a bit harsh and not at all religious. They were more or less “Catholic,” in name only, with church attendance rare.
My parents separated when I was two years old. Growing up, for me was especially complicated. Between the ages of two and six, I mostly lived in other people’s homes for short periods of time. I was constantly being shuttled between this aunt or that one, or this uncle or that family friend, or sometimes my mom, and sometimes my dad, and sometimes a grandparent. During that time, I do not recall experiencing any established routines, traditions or much instruction religious or otherwise. I do remember feeling fearful, isolated and “defective.” My parents did divorce and both eventually remarried. For whatever reasons, I, by the age of seven, (but not my sisters,) came to live with my dad and stepmother. In that setting we seldom attended church, did not read the Bible, and certainly did not pray.
I became a follower of Jesus only after a personal tragedy had struck when I was age thirty. My dear, beautiful sister, Louise, suddenly and unexpectedly, died of a brain aneurysm at age 36. She was starting a new life and new job in Little Rock when she died, leaving behind three small children. I was broken and devastated with grief. I remember weeping bitterly and uncontrollably. What occurred next change my life forever. Father Albert Schneider of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Little Rock was summoned to speak the eulogy and lead the Prayer service for Louise. As he began to speak, you could see the kindness in his eyes and face, and the empathy for all of Louise’s loved ones who were hurt by her death. He continued to speak calmly, and reassuringly, and with deep conviction, about God’s love for Louise, and the possibility of reuniting with her in Heaven. He spoke of sin, repentance, forgiveness and mercy, and how God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that we may live. My tears of grief turned to tears of hope. Shortly after the funeral, I began attending Mass on a regular basis and became a member of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church. I began reading the Bible, cover to cover, and several times over. In the process, I fell in love with Jesus.
I pray on a regular basis, usually informally, but it can be in any place and at any time. Often I pray for peace among the nations, and for unity and social justice. Sometimes I just meditate and let my mind wander and give thanks to God for the people in my life, and the mercy I’ve been shown. Thank You, Abba.
People who have shaped my faith and my life are Faith Albert Schneider, (as noted,) and Becky Webb. Al Schneider is no longer a priest, he left to marry, but is still very much a man of God. Becky Webb is a principled and Godly woman, as well as my significant other, best friend and confidant. She encourages me to attend church on a regular basis and says I still have a lot of years to make up for.
I like to help others by being of service, or by nurturing and encouraging them in appropriate ways.
Things that have shaped me include great teachers, good friends, inspiring mentors (both living and dead,) my sweet children and my sweet Jesus.
People are surprised that I am “liberal” on social matters and “conservative” on fiscal matters. In that way, almost everybody is mad at me for something.
My favorite parts of Scripture are many. The two most meaningful to me are perhaps,
“Don’t urge me to leave you or turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. (Ruth 1:16-18)
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt 22:36-40)
God’s peace to all
Tony has been a friend of Faith Lutheran for over 20 years and is a beloved part of the Faith Lutheran community. He is the grill master at Oktoberfest and Worship in the Park, serves meals at Our House, and lends a hand when it's needed. He is a servant leader who lives his faith in his daily actions who those he encounters.
Stories of Faith and Life shared through promoted questions.