Hi everybody! My name is John. I’m supposed to tell you a little about myself, so I was born 54 years ago in Burbank, California. My job is selling truck parts and accessories through an online store.
My mom came to this country from Mexico and was a restaurant waitress. My father was of Irish-Italian descent, he came originally from Pennsylvania, and he was a postman for the city of Burbank, when I was a young boy growing up in Sun Valley.
As the only child of my parents, my best memories were of being my Mom’s favorite son, and fun times spent with my Dad in the YMCA’s Indian Guide program; I remember dressing up as an “indian”, wearing a headband, and I remember making leather crafts (like a neat “indian” vest) with my Dad.
My least favorite memories were when my parents had disagreements and when it seemed like my parents would no longer be together. I cried when I realized my parents were heading towards divorce. Mom and I moved in with my Grandmother, at her home in Glendale. My Dad picked me up to stay with him on weekends, after he moved out to a small apartment in Burbank.
Even though neither of my parents went to church, they enrolled me in a Kindergarten class at a Catholic school before I went into the first grade. That was my first introduction to God. I learned how to pray there, and after my parents divorced, I asked my Dad to take me to church on Sunday. Around age 8, I introduced myself to the priest, and asked him if I could be an altar boy, and I served as a Catholic Altar Boy for 2 years.
Starting around age nine, each Sunday, I got my Dad to drop me off at church, but instead of joining me, he would go to his favorite watering hole and wait for me to call him, to let him know when it was time to pick me up. There were plenty of evenings, too, when I would fall asleep in the back seat of his car while he was at the bar.
When I was in grade school, I went to the drinking fountain and I saw a kid with a fake wound that was “bleeding”. It was only after I learned the blood was fake and came in a tube called “vampire blood”, that I asked him where he got it, and he told me about a little joke store called Bruce’s Fun House. He mentioned they also sold magic tricks, masks, itching powder and other fun stuff, and it was not long before I begged my father to help me find and take me to this place. That was where I discovered the world of practical jokes. I was already a fan of magic tricks, and had my own collection of magic tricks which I kept in an old shoebox. The joke items seemed to go hand-in-hand with the magic tricks. I would get my new gags from Bruce’s Fun House, and then try them out on unsuspecting people at school. Bruce’s Fun House increased my interest in magic tricks and especially learning the fine art of showmanship in performing them. I loved to perform my tricks for growing numbers of people when I was in high school.
Over the years, I met many people through spending time at Bruce’s Fun House. One day, a guy with a really unique beard, came to the store. His name was Dean Dill and he became a regular patron and a true friend. Dean went on to become a world renowned magician’s magician!
Some years later, after I got older, I eventually got a job working at Bruce’s Fun House at around age 18 after I graduated High School. I met a young girl during the two years I worked there. Four years later, we got the news the store was going to be torn down along with all the other business on the block and we decided to get married at Bruce’s Fun House before they tore it down. Since it was the place where we met, it seemed like a good idea at the time since we could not afford a traditional church wedding. Dean, who was also a barber to the magician community, gave me a haircut before the ceremony. While cutting my hair, Dean offered me some advice on relationships in his gentlemanly way. I looked up to Dean as a mentor in many respects. I guess I appreciated his advice, but was sorry that my marriage did not survive but just under four years.
When Dean performed his sleight-of-hand tricks, his hand movements appeared very natural, making it impossible to detect when he was making his move. I learned a lot from him over the years, as I improved my craft as a sleight-of-hand magician. One thing I liked about Dean is he never tried to impress anyone and seemed to be genuinely interested in everyone he met. When Dean became a Christian around 1999 or so, I think he realized that God had given him this great gift, and he, in his gentlemanly way, always sought to give God the credit.
In May of 2008, I was on my motorcycle, sitting at a stop light waiting for the light to turn green. While waiting at a stoplight, a car came barreling out of an alley, didn’t stop, and plowed right into me. I probably wished that I died, suffering fractures in both wrists, broken ribs, numbness in my lower back, and internal damage making me a lifelong diabetic. I was in continuous pain, but thankfully, my employer, a retail camera store, hung onto me and re-assigned me to work which didn’t involve as much physical activity.
Life was already tough. Over several years, I saw my hours and commissions whittled away, and my rent and other expenses going up. I saw the “writing on the wall” that the retail camera store was going the way of the dodo bird, and I was worried.
After my accident, my good friend, Ezekiel, who, years ago, worked at the same camera store and who became a professional photographer, came by to cheer me up. I felt his care for me, as he shared verses from the Bible, and addressed my questions. I picked up the Bible, but I didn’t understand what I was reading. I called in to the “Jesus Christ” show on KFI AM 640, and after telling Neil Saavedra what had been going on in my life, he told me: “Get back to church!” I finally warmed to the idea: I called Ezekiel and starting going to church. Through going to the weekly men’s Bible study, asking questions and considering answers, I “got it” that God loved me, sent His only Son to die for my sins, and wanted a life with me forever, and all I needed to do was to believe in Him! I was baptized on April 26, 2009, I had a hunger for reading the “Word” (the Bible), and I was excited in having a relationship with God. I enjoyed fellowship with Christians, and tried to share this newfound joy with my longtime friends. Some listened and others turned away from me completely.
I regret the accident and the pains and inconveniences which I still suffer, but don’t regret knowing that God is in control. God has a plan and it was that I would be saved and have a relationship with Him. I desire to pray to Him all the time, even knowing that I’m not perfect, and I will never forget His overwhelming love for me, and the grace that He shows me every day.
This great gift of salvation and of having a relationship with God is what Dean was talking about.
Would you like to make Jesus the Lord of your life too?
If so, you can pray this prayer - Lord Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins and rising again. Please forgive my sins and give me the gift of eternal life. I ask you into my life and heart as my Lord and Savior. Please help me grow in you and live for you. Thank you for coming into my heart.
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