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Personal stories from the people of First Euless

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Kevin Crenshaw

Like most people in my hometown, I was born into a church going, God fearing family. I am the youngest of 5 kids - two brothers and two sisters. Most of my relatives lived close, so to say we were very family-oriented would be a true statement. My dad and mom both worked, dad as a carpenter and mom as a secretary. We lived in a small country town of 800 people in a three bedroom house. My hometown had four churches and most of the people were in attendance somewhere every Sunday. It was the kind of town where you knew everyone and couldn’t get away with anything. Every adult had the legal right to spank you if you got caught doing something wrong - not that that ever happened (yeah right)! As I said, every Sunday we were in church twice and again on Wednesday night. My dad was a deacon, and he and my mom both sang in the choir of about twelve. Our church was the “typical” small town church that preached about salvation and against drinking, dancing, and anything else they thought was wrong. Of course me being a young child, most of my Sunday sermons were spent sleeping in the pew next to my mom. Being young, I didn’t know or realize what was happening in my family. I remember each day waking up at 5:30 to eat breakfast with mom and dad and then both of them leaving for work. Both came home around 5pm and dad would go straight to the garage and build cabinets while mom cooked. We would all sit down to eat supper, then dad would go back out to the garage while mom took care of the house or took us to sporting events or other things we were involved in. Around 8:00 or so, we would all be home and watch TV until ten, then off to bed. I don’t remember my dad going to many of our events. Mom seemed to be the supportive one. That is what I thought every family’s day was like. I didn’t realize how little our family interaction really was. Sometime during my young life, around eight years of age, I experienced what I thought was my first spiritual experience. I remember after a Sunday sermon, telling mom I wanted to be baptized. I remember walking to the front of the church during the invitation and praying with the preacher. After church, everyone came by and shook my hand, so I figured I did something right. The next Sunday I was baptized and in my mind I was going to heaven. No counseling, no questions, just BAM and it’s all done. The next couple of years went exactly the same as the previous eight had. Everything seemed absolutely normal until my mom came to me one morning before school and told me she wouldn’t be coming home. I remember crying to her asking why not, but there was no answer to satisfy my 13-year-old mind. All of a sudden, nothing seemed normal anymore. I went to school and cried some more but had no idea who to talk to or how to handle what was happening. I came home with a brother and sister since the older two had already moved out. Things began to get a little crazy in my normal life. My dad tried to do the best he could, cooking and such, but it was up to my brother and sister and me to get to activities on our own. I stopped going to church where I grew up and only went on Sundays when I visited my mom. I never really gave any thought to God other than those days. I continued through school and graduated in 1984. Within the next 6 months, I moved in with my mom and started working. I was introduced to the “adult life” when I began working with my brother’s company in Dallas. Soon, I was going to topless bars and drinking with the guys after work, although my brother had no part of it. I figured I would fit in with the rest of the construction guys. I quit calling or visiting my dad regularly. Soon I only saw my mom in the mornings before work. Both had remarried and getting along fine without us. In summer of 1985, my other brother, who was a Police Officer, took me on a ride along with him. I’m not sure if the reason was to show me a career opportunity or try to scare me out of my current lifestyle, but in December of ’85, I started my career at the same Police Department where he was working. I worked in the jail for 2 ½ years and that was quite an experience for a 19-year-old. I dealt with drunks, addicts, a few murderers, and everything in between. I soon moved out of my mom’s house and got an apartment with a co-worker. At this point, church and God were nonexistent in my mind. I drank with regularity and was going out with as many girls as I could find. I wasn’t concerned about my life as much as I was about the next party. I stayed away from drugs somewhat because of mot knowing what to expect and partly afraid of losing my job. While working in the jail I was introduced to rodeo and my soon-to-be 1st wife. She was a senior in High School and I worked for her dad in the jail. He and I became very close. He taught me about rodeo, helped me buy several horses, and was a great drinking partner. We worked nights together, and when we got off at six a.m., we would head to the barn for some drinking and riding. Lunch would soon roll around and we would go home and sleep it off until work. I didn’t realize then how far out of control I was. I got married and started the police academy in the fall of ’88. I was now a “real man.” I had a wife, had a career that gave me a badge and a gun, and had involvment in rodeo and winning. I was on top of the world at age 22. I still talked to my mom and every so often called my dad, but nothing more than that. God only came up when mom brought Him up. I had no need of church or anything associated with it. I made good money and drank a lot of it away. I worked and rodeoed and occasionally saw my wife. After 1 ½ years of this bliss, she decided that she had had enough. She came home one morning after spending the night somewhere else and packed her things. Never did I believe my life would be smashed like it was. I called in sick to work for a few days to drink my mind clear. Then on a spring afternoon, I drove down to the barn where I kept my horses. I parked my truck and climbed onto the tailgate. I was crying, and for the first time in nine years cried out to God. I was done. I pulled out my nickel plated Smith and Wesson .357 and put the barrel in my mouth. I remembered all the pain of seeing my dad and mom divorce, and I was not going to go through that too. As I started squeezing the trigger, I heard another truck pulling up behind me. I quickly pulled the gun down and threw it into my truck. I still believe my friend that drove up had no idea that he had just saved my life. He just walked by to go feed his horses and then left. I had lost my nerve, so I got up and went home. I still had no desire or thought of church and only needed God to stop my pain. I continued to drink but not as much. I soon began dating again and just as soon was remarried. I never spoke of that at the barn for fear of losing my job. I continued to rodeo and soon found myself in trouble of another kind. I was going to be a daddy. I thought, now things are starting to look up. I thought maybe this is why God spared me that day. The next year or so went pretty well. My family started to grow as I continued working and spending most of my time with my horses. My wife and I got along ok for the most part, but there still seemed to be something missing. My drinking slowed to mostly social gatherings but I started meeting a lot of new people, mainly females. I had no problem telling them I was married with a family, but when they were friendly to me, that made me curious. It seemed a lot of women were interested in my problems at home and listened to me talk. When I would get home, I would get just the opposite. My wife didn’t seem to care to talk and quite often was just not home, finding other people to hang out with. Things continued this way for several years. We had another son, so home was getting a little busier. I paid little attention to how much I was needed at home and consequently my wife was finding she had need of more friends. We were drifting apart but too quickly to be able to stop it. For the next couple of years, we began a life of infidelity. The only time we spoke we were arguing, and there was no love in our marriage. Once again, God was nowhere in my life and I didn’t know why.

I was at work one day when a co-worker that I didn’t consider a close friend asked me to join him after work to meet with a couple of guys. He only told me it was a group to meet and talk about things from work with each other. I was hesitant, but agreed. We all met after work, about eight of us. A book was pulled out and we were told that as a group, we would work our way through it to help us be better husbands. I didn’t realize at the time but most of us in the room were experiencing difficulties at home. The book was called Promise Keepers. I quickly figured out this was not just a meeting, but a Bible study. During the first fifteen minutes, we began telling each other why we were there. I told them I was invited to a “guy” talk and thought I would see what it was about. I then asked the guy that invited my why he didn’t tell me this was a Bible study. His next statement changed my life and sunk my heart both at the same time. He said, “Kevin, I never thought a guy like you would come to a Bible study.” WOW! To someone who thought they were a Christian, that statement carried a heavy load. Tears immediately began to flow. What had I done in my life? It is time for a change. I began meeting with this group every week. We had accountability partners. I started attending a church in Irving where I met the pastor named John Meador. This new life felt like I shed a huge weight off of my shoulders. I felt like I had a new life. I soon started discipleship training with Pastor Meador. I still believed I was Christian from my childhood. I just needed to get back to God. I was so excited I shared it with my wife. I wish I could say she shared my excitement. Her response troubled me though. I didn’t force her to attend church with me. I just took my two sons and began getting involved. I quit drinking, sold my horses and quit chasing other women. I thought this would fix everything. I started communicating with my dad again and felt wonderful. She continued to resist God and found friends that would help her do so. My life seemed to improve each day until April 22, 1999. My wife of nine years packed up my 2 boys and moved out. As bad as it hurt, as much pain and tears as I shed, something was different this time. I wanted it to work out so badly. God had brought me to a place of a church family that surrounded me and prayed for me. No thoughts of drinking or suicide ever entered my mind. I continued to pray and wait on God, hoping for a change of heart from her. It never came, and after a year of separation we were divorced. But again, I wasn’t thrown into a tailspin like before. I felt embraced by God. I got involved with the singles group at church and soon had met a lot of great friends. I met someone wonderful. She didn’t care about my past, except to help me get it behind me. She just saw a man trying to follow God. We slowly began to date over the next year. Everything was going great, but after two failed marriages, to say I was reluctant would be an understatement. Still, she was right on every level I could think of. I did something I had never thought of before. I prayed for guidance. I told God my worries and waited for him to speak. He not only answered my prayer, but he took every reservation away from me. I asked her dad what he thought of me marrying his daughter and after his rousing approval of, “Well, I guess I like you well enough”, I proposed. On Nov. 30, 2001, Tiffany and I were married. After our honeymoon, on Dec. 15, Tiffany and I began to talk about my salvation. I found it reassuring that she knew exactly the day when she gave her life to Christ. That was something I never had. We talked a while and I began to get a heart pounding feeling that I had never been truly saved. I knew the process and all the right answers, but looking back on my life there was little evidence that it ever happened. I knew this has got to be the time. That night, my new wife led me in prayer, and I know on that night, Jesus Christ became the King of my life. He came in and cleaned house! Things did not immediately get easier in my life. We soon found ourselves in a bitter custody battle with my ex wife. The next two years put a lot of stress on us, but our faith in Jesus proved more than enough. Soon after that was over, an opportunity came for me to start putting together a 2nd career. We prayed about it and watched how awesome God opens and closes doors. God also blessed us with three more children. We prayed for guidance, and it came as clear as day. God made it possible for me to retire from police work and put things in place to start flying. Things were going just as planned. I retired and started instructing flight lessons when the next big test came. Tiffany was released from her job and within a month my school closed -- two incomes lost in a matter of a month. As we had been doing, we hit our knees and prayed. We weren’t sure why we lost both jobs, but we were sure God had a reason. I believe we were faithful to him, but we weren’t dependent on him. Now we had no choice. With a house payment, two cars, three kids, and numerous other bills, we had to depend on Him. During the next 378 days, God proved His faithfulness and provided. He gave us small jobs to make ends meet, and on several occasions, money was just given to us to help with groceries or bills. We continued to be faithful in our little, and God continued to be faithful in a lot. During that time, we watched videos and learned about personal finances and how to get on a budget. We decided we didn’t need two brand new cars and sold them. And now we had a lot of time to give to God. He provided a way for me to go on a mission trip to Africa. He provided Tiff an opportunity to invest in our kids and others by working in the nursery at church. After 378 days and many lessons learned, God was keeping up his end of the deal. He provided another flying job for me, the first of many blessings. We soon found ourselves in a 2nd custody battle with my ex wife. This one was worse than the first. It went on for some time, and one day Tiff came to me with another bombshell. We sat down and she told me she had been convicted about her feelings for my ex wife. She said we need to be witnesses to everyone, including her. What Tiff didn’t know is that I had the same conviction but didn’t know how to tell her. We prayed again and watched God begin to work. We met with her and her husband, put differences aside, and settled the custody issue. We asked forgiveness of her and told her we would do all we could to be friends. She agreed and has even visited our church many times. God removed all the hatred and blessed our new friendship. We communicate regularly and have gone out to eat as families several times.

A couple of years later, God continues to bless Tiff and me. I have started my new career with a family friendly company, and she works in the nursery helping build the next generation of Christians. It is not a smooth ride with no bumps, but God never said it would be. We both lost our dads in Sept. 2010, two weeks apart, but through everything there is always One constant. God never leaves you!

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