Summer was coming to a close as four of us sat on a dock with our feet dangling in the water. We had just completed another summer as counselors at a unique group of camps in south central Vermont and we all looked forward to starting college. We talked of plans for our futures, as teens will do, and I shared I was pretty sure I wanted to become a psychologist.
But many summers at the camps, as both camper and counselor, had crystallized a keen love of the out-of-doors and nature. So, when I entered St. Lawrence University and took a geology class, all thoughts of psychology disappeared – at least for then. I became captivated by a dream of exploring remote mountain ranges and rivers like many of the articles I had pored over in National Geographic. Summer jobs in Canada and Alaska punctuated my class work and stimulated my zeal for being out in the wilds. More jobs after graduation, then graduate school, led to a stimulating and successful career as an exploration geologist.
While on an assignment in the jungles of Irian Jaya, Indonesia, I met and developed a close relationship with a seasoned pioneer missionary and his family. As we spent time together, I began to wonder about my own spiritual condition; was I ignoring an aspect of life that begged to be addressed? Before my tour there ended I was challenged to be baptized, which I did, along with other villagers, before the entire tribe as they watched from the banks of a turbid, jungle river. It did feel like I was living in the pages of National Geographic.
This proved to be a turning point. With such an introduction missions became a central topic of conversation when I returned to the States. My heart also began to turn once again in the direction of helping others.
While “geologizing” in a ranching community in northeast Nevada, I met a wonderful gal who was home from college for the summer. We spent an ideal summer riding horses in the mountains around the ranch almost daily. Another life changing relationship. We were married in 1980 and have raised and launched a son and a daughter.
Soon after I felt a need for a change. Simply put, to be married meant I needed to be home and not globe-trotting. I left geology with no regrets after considerable prayer. It was a great ride, but time for a new adventure.
After graduating from the Grad Certificate program at Multnomah School of the Bible, I joined the Pastoral staff at our home church in Reno, Nevada. Over a nine year span I wore quite a few ministerial hats plus we, as a family, had an opportunity to join a church-planting team in Indonesia.
During the last few years of church ministry, and after experiencing some of the challenges of the mission field, it became increasingly clear that basic-life issues facing both churchgoers and missionaries were becoming increasingly complex. Memories of that day on the dock in Vermont, came back often and the decision, accompanied by lots of prayer, was made to pursue counseling as a full time career.
While working towards a M.A. degree from Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon, I gained practical experience working in a variety of community mental health settings. I began my private practice in 1998 where I work with individuals, couples and those who have sex addiction issues.
It was a long trip from sitting on that dock in Vermont to my private practice in Vancouver, Washington. Aside from my education I have had many and varied life experiences – both in this country and abroad – which I believe add to my ability to connect well with people, a benefit for those with whom I counsel.