Craig and I met at our best friends’ wedding in 2000. My best friend from high school married Craig’s best friend from high school and we were paired up in their wedding. When I first saw Craig, I didn’t like him. He was blonde, tan and looked like the kind of guy that would have made fun of me in high school. (See photographic proof.) I knew he liked hunting, cars and biking. He was the complete opposite of me, and I figured I just had to tolerate him for the wedding. He was in the Air Force and stationed in Florida, so I never had to see him again.
After the wedding we ended up spending the week together. I had never met anyone so laid back or positive about life. I always thought I needed someone just like me, but what I really needed was someone who was everything I am not.
Craig went back to Florida and returned in fall of 2000. We connected again and were married in 2003. Our cats and dog are our beloved children. We live in an old Victorian house that we say we’re renovating, but that’s just an excuse for the constant mess. I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and always wanted to return, but I’ve gone Green Acres and live in the middle of nowhere.
In 2008, we helped our friends from that wedding, Pastor Brent and Sarah Weide, start Freedom Fellowship Church in Jackson, Wisconsin. We worked together on the worship team, accounting and any day to day items needed to help the church function. Freedom Fellowship remains our home church when we’re not in the Dells.
For starters, I can’t stand talking about myself (or writing, either), but I’ve got to say something, so here goes:
I’ve always liked racing. My first in-person racing experience happened somewhere near Wenatchee, WA, when my nuclear family was out to visit extended family that lived there. I was about 10. My great-uncle was on the pit crew of what happened to be the feature race winner the night we were at the track. I learned a very important lesson that night: RACING IS EXPENSIVE. He told me what the payout for winning was. I can’t remember what it was, and the exact amount is irrelevant at this point, but it was A LOT of money in my ten year old mind, and I exclaimed that. He then told me how much it was going to cost to rebuild the engine after it was torn down for inspection. When the number he told me was double the winnings, it took a good while to pick my jaw back up off of the floor!
Growing up, I was always a tinkerer: pulling everything in the house apart to see how it worked; and I usually got things back together in working order, too! So when I discovered RC race cars, I got to combine two things that I enjoyed, tinkering AND watching things go fast! That lasted until I got to drive real cars. I’ve driven a lot of cars really fast, and I truly am lucky to be alive because that was never on a race track and almost always in cars that shouldn’t have been going the speeds I would take them. I’m also lucky that I’ve only received a few speeding tickets, which coincidentally, I’ve gotten only when I had no intention of speeding in the first place! I’ve also always enjoyed high speed thrill rides.
Since that first race in Washington, I’ve been to a few other automobile races over the years, IndyCar series and NASCAR. I also helped the aforementioned Brent as his pit crew for the Lake Sinnissippi Ice Racing season in 1993. In 1996, I ran off to join the Air Force because I wanted to work on really fast planes. As fate would have it, I got to work as an MC-130E Combat Talon Maintenance Crew Chief. I was working on some of the slowest, oldest planes in the entire Air Force fleet. I did come to love those planes though, especially since two of the planes I worked on were movie stars (literally appearing in 1968’s The Green Berets, and 1997’s Air Force One), and another was the plane that transported Manuel Noriega from Panama in January, 1990. See a picture on-board the plane here. All I can say is that there is Top Secret stuff on the other side of that curtain.
I say all of that just to say that it was neat, but I managed to mess it all up with my own abhorrent behavior–I was a know-it-all who didn’t like to get up for his shift in the morning. I learned a lot of lessons in getting released by the Air Force, but the most important was a comment in passing by a man whose name I wish to God I could remember so I could pass along my thanks this many years later. He said to me, and I’m paraphrasing, “If your Christianity means so much to you and you want to proclaim it to the world, it would serve you much better to show people the Christ inside you instead of only showing them external symbols, like the cross in your dorm room window.”
That statement is the purpose of this mission: to SHOW people the Christ who saved me.
How that will ultimately look, only time will tell, but in the meantime it’s about getting down to the track and developing relationships with every person that I can. It’s about being the constant in an environment that is ever changing. It’s about being there to celebrate with the victor, and being there to cry with the driver and crew and family who just had a season ending crash. It’s about being there for the race official who makes a bad call during a race that costs someone a possible victory. On the public side, it’s about helping the fans to recognize there is something out there bigger than anything happening at the track, and pointing to that something which is Jesus, without shoving it down their throats. On the private side, it’s about a lot of fasting and prayer that God will guide me, and guide Kristen in all that we do.
My role in the ministry is everything that needs to happen behind the scenes. Websites, social media, travel arrangements and sorry attempts at housekeeping are my niche. I write most of the posts on our Days in the Dells section of the blog. You may also hear me singing the national anthem at Dells Raceway Park before the races begin.
In real life, I am a full time Courseware Developer at a software company (which means I make cool training materials to help people use our software). In my free time I enjoy reading non-fiction, playing bluegrass, touring historical sites and being out of the sun. I am pale, geeky and proud of it!
Before Craig started chaplaining I had never been to a track outside of demo derbies. I didn’t know how I was going to deal with being outside all summer around a loud racetrack. I quickly got addicted and love watching races. The crews and drivers I have met are very passionate about what they do, and I have so much respect for anyone that takes risks to pursue something they love.
I am the ministry’s dog ambassador. I am a shepherd-hound mix from Mississippi, and I was adopted from the Ozaukee County Humane Society. I turned years old in January 2017. I am very snuggly and sleepy for the most part, but I do like to eat garbage from time to time. My parents need prayers for patience until I grow out of my terrible two’s.