The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the LORD” (John 1:23)

Beauty for Ashes

Almost no one knows the backstory of how I became a dancer. Truth be told, most of my friends shouldn’t even know me. They wouldn’t, if it weren’t for a miracle!

After a very bad breakup in 2004, I had been praying to God asking him for deliverance. Shortly thereafter, a foreign word began entering my thoughts, but I couldn’t understand it. After awhile this word became all I could think about. I didn’t even know what language it was. I phonetically typed the word into Google Translate: m-i-l-a-g-r-o. It was the Spanish word for miracle!

Instantly, something told me I was going to be healed and not just of a broken heart. Please understand, this was during the worst major depressive episode of my life. Depression, in some form, had been a constant reality for me for at least 15 years. For about 8 years, I had also been experiencing periodic manic episodes (Bipolar II disorder). I was suicidal, and no one could “cheer me up”. Believe me, people tried. I was quite annoyed at the time by their repeated attempts! Also, I had been to numerous doctors, therapists and tried all sorts of medication over the years.

Naturally, given where I was at the time, I refused to believe that a disorder doctors assured me was lifelong was suddenly going to evaporate because some phantom in my head said so.

Later that year (August 2004), I took a vacation to Southern California with a friend of my mother’s, Cindy Susini, and her daughter, Juli. The very fact that I agreed to take an open-ended trip with two people I barely knew was — and still is to my wife and confidants — inconceivable. That’s a miracle in itself!

The trip culminated in a swing dance one Saturday evening at the Pasadena Ballroom Dance Association (PBDA). We had showed up a bit late, so Erin & Tammy Stevens (famous dancers & key figures in the revival of Lindy Hop) were already midway through the lesson. I was mesmerized. The dance began, and I just stared out into the crowd. It was a billowing sea of smiles and laughter. Oh my gosh. That was it. My swing dancing friends know exactly what happened: I had just caught the bug! I committed to learning swing dancing at all costs.

By the end of 2004, I had tossed all my medication. I was no longer “cycling” (going through the ups and downs of bipolar disorder). I never experienced clinical depression again.

Over 15 years of training, competition and social dancing followed. I met my wife, Monique Wright, on a social dance floor in Scottsdale, Arizona in 2007. We eventually moved to Michigan where we continued dancing to live music and attending national dance events.

As I shared in multiple posts last week, despite the pandemic, the Lord is quite busy breathing new life into us. He really does give beauty for ashes.



See Part I of my testimony to find out how this all culminated in a visit from the Holy Spirit!

[Please don’t take this post as medical advice. This is only my personal experience.]

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