Twelve years later I had a great job, a wonderful family, and a growing sense of despair with being lost and no idea of how to find my way. I had pretty much given up recreational drugs, but had substituted prescription pills, that I had for a chronic back problem, to go along with the alcohol to wash them down. I felt as if I was spiraling downward into darkness. I had tried to fill the emptiness inside me with all those things the world tells you will make you happy, yet inside I was miserable, and so was my family. I felt as lost as I did on that mountainside. I was broken, physically, mentally, spiritually, and financially. I had to find a way out, out of the darkness, out of the despair, out of the nightmare that had somehow become my life.
I finally listened to the voice inside me that had first called out to me on that mountainside, so long ago. I did what I knew I needed to do and turned my life over to Christ in the summer of 1999. My life began to change, but I was a pretty hardened character and it took several years for most of the rough edges to start to get polished off. But, we become new creatures in Christ and the things I used to do just didn’t feel right anymore, so slowly, but surely, I changed.
It was during the hunting season of 1999 that out of necessity, (my back problem), I came up with the first of many versions of the “back-pack feeder” The original consisted of a five gallon bucket attached to a back-pack frame that I had from my teenage years. It was attached with a piece of bailing wire and duct tape. I used PVC tubing to make a manual drop to spread corn, and finally, I didn’t have to haul those 50-pound bags around on my shoulders anymore.
As God continued to shape and mold me, He also began to build a dream. Between the trials in my life that honed my character and the trials and failures that developed the “back-pack feeder”, it was to say the least, an eventful next few years.