Cool Stories

How I Changed My Story, Changed My Life, and Changed My Destiny
Written by Bob Dudley on Apr. 13, 2021
Do we all have a predetermined destiny? I absolutely do not believe that. Let me tell you how I changed my destiny.
I never met my father. My mom got pregnant from her boyfriend, they married just before I was born and divorced right after I showed up. The first person I knew as “dad” was an abusive man who taught me phrases like “children are meant to be seen and not heard,” “if I want your opinion, I’ll beat it out of you,” and “you’ll never amount to anything.”

Between my mom moving around every 6 months to avoid paying rent and me being passed from one relative to another, I went to 17 different schools before I dropped out of high school. For my 18th birthday, my mom and my second stepdad took me to the local welfare office to sign up for benefits. That was the day I left home.

I spent 3 years in the Army Infantry, getting a GED and high school diploma, before I got out to go to bible college. Now, I grew up in Los Angeles. I needed to get as far away form there as I could so I went to Michigan for bible college. But, here’s the thing, it only took me a year and a half to figure out bible college wasn’t for me. I quit. Seemed like I did that a lot – quitting. Maybe I was my parent’s child – even 2,000 miles away.

Though I accepted Christ as my Savior when I was 14, I still did stupid stuff.
I quit high school, when I didn’t re-enlist in the army they made me feel like I was quitting, and I just quit college. I needed to accomplish something significant.

I decided this would be a degree from the local university. I had no idea what I would study. Didn’t even know why a college degree was the battle field for my soul – it just was. I knew this was the thing that would PROVE that I wasn’t a nobody.

I can still picture when I decided I was going to get a degree. I was sitting in my car, it was around midnight with a light snow on the ground. I had just gotten home from my second shift factory job. For the longest time, I just sat there crying, my fists clinched, and the hot tears streaming down my face as I called out to God and asked Him what I was to do.

This was NOT going to be my life! I was NOT going to follow in the footsteps of my parents. I didn’t want to let my daughters down. They were NOT going to have the life I led.

The next day, I went to the local university to sign up for classes. The lady at the registration desk asked me what I wanted to major in. I picked up a catalog and thumbed through it. Physics sounded hard, I had no idea what it was, but it sounded hard – and, for whatever reason, I needed to do the hardest thing I could find to once-and-for-all prove to myself that I wasn’t worthless. I told the lady, “I want to get a degree in Physics.”

You know, to take your first Physics class, you need to be enrolled in Calculus. At the time, I didn’t even know that Calculus was a math class – and, by the way, it’s a very HARD math class.

After the math placement exam, I had to start so far down in the math courses that it would, theoretically, take two years just to get enough math to start in my chosen major.

And, on top of all that, I was working full time at a factory on second shift.

And, if that wasn’t enough, I found out none of the courses I took at the bible college would transfer – the bible college was not accredited.

But, I was determined I could do it.

I figured, in order for me to do this, I was going to need an extra strong will. I knew that wasn’t a possibility from my mom’s side of the family. I tracked down my father. I talked to him on the phone. I know it had been over 20 years since he and my mom were married, but he didn’t even remember me. No moral support or fortitude from that side of my gene pool.

Whatever grit, whatever mental and emotional power to succeed, had to come from God and inside me with no help from anywhere else.

My plan was actually simple. I wrote out all the courses I needed to get my degree in physics. I looked at when the different classes were offered throughout the year. The university had a large summer school program – I would use this to my advantage.

I figured out when to take classes so they didn’t interfere with my job at the factory – I still had a family to feed.

Things went well – for a while. I finished my first year with no issues. I finished my second year with, again, no issues. I had the hang of this. Despite all the setbacks at the beginning, I was doing just fine.

I had forgotten all about my horrible childhood and the quitter mentality I grew up with. I was a new person with dreams and a goal.

Then, one Saturday, there was a knock at my door. My mom and stepdad and my 6 brothers and sisters were standing in the entryway of my apartment. They had driven 2,000 miles to move in with me. They were moving in to my 2-bedroom apartment. All of my fears and insecurities came flooding back. I was the little boy, the new kid in school, that always got beat up. As I let them in the door, my whole body began to shake and I broke out in sweat all over.

Within a month they got us kicked out of my apartment. They found a house and I had to move my family in with them. I felt my independence, my dreams, my goal, slipping away. That semester, for the first time, my grades began to falter.

Because of summer school, I was ready to graduate in three years instead of four. I had one more semester to go. But, with my whole family back in the picture and my grades going south, I had to make a choice.

I could give up on my silly dreams of ever being something besides a welfare kid, quit again, and accept my destiny.

Or, I could move out of my parent’s home on what little savings I had and get a small apartment, quit the job at the factory, and push to the end of school to get my degree in physics.

The first time I went to the university to put my past behind me it was pretty easy since no one from my past was around. After all, I was raised in California and now I lived in Michigan. But, this time, it was real – it was right there. I spent a night of prayer then I did what I had to do.

I did get my degree in physics. But, I did it in three years. I graduated with honors. AND, I graduated at the top of my class!

But, it turned out, getting the degree wasn’t about learning physics, really. It was about teaching me a much more important lesson in life. It taught me who I really was. It taught me that I could do ANYTHING if I just put my mind to it. It taught me the real critical secrets that all successful people know. The secrets I was never taught.

It really is possible to change your story, change your life, and change your destiny.
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Are You 100% Sure?
Written by Bob Dudley on Apr. 6, 2021
“These things have I written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so you may know you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:13
I’m 64 years old as I write this. I’m sitting here reflecting on a lifetime of decisions that have brought me to this place. Some decisions were good, some devastating. But, there was one decision I made early in life that was a total game changer. And it is THAT decision I want to share with you today.

I grew up in Southern California. I never knew my father, and my mother was not always in my life. As a matter of fact, there were two different one-year periods where I had no idea where my mom was – my brother, sister, and I were passed from one relative to another.

We weren’t a very religious family. We were nominal Catholics. I think we went to Mass twice a year – Christmas and Easter. When I turned 12, I made one of those devastating decisions – I decided, with the life I lived, God couldn’t exist, I became a radical atheist. Radical because I would violently argue against God with anyone who would listen.

It was about two years after this that my mom married my second stepdad. Andy was from Massachusetts. So, my parents decided to move to Worchester, MA. It was the summer of my freshman year, I was 14.

While my parents looked for work and a place to live, the three of us children had to stay in Vermont with our new Aunt, Aunt Barbara. The thing was, she had a rule in her house. EVERYONE had to go to church. And they were in church about four times a week.

Well, no sooner did I get used to all the church stuff, my aunt announced we were going to Bible Camp. Turns out Bible Camp is a Sunday School lesson every morning, sports every afternoon, and a guest speaker every night. The afternoons were okay. But I didn’t do so well the rest of the time.

Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, changed on Wednesday night.

It was the evening service, with the guest speaker. We were in a rickety old chapel with straw on the floor and splinters on the benches. I sat in the back with the rest of the troublemakers. To this day I don’t recall a thing the speaker talked about in his sermon.

At the end of the service, everyone stood to sing a song. Then, the speaker asked the most important question one person could ask another, “Are you 100% sure, if you died today, that you would go to heaven?”

That question hit me like a load of cement. I started crying. I was a tough kid from the projects of Los Angeles. I ran the streets in a gang. And, I was crying. Instantly I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, there WAS a God and I would not spend eternity with Him. And I so wanted to spend eternity with Jesus.

I walked down the aisle to the front of the chapel. I found out later I had an entourage following me – my new relatives and my new friends, everyone who had been praying for me all summer. At the front, I got on my knees while someone showed me from the Bible how to know this Jesus who just introduced Himself to me. At that moment I received the most amazing gift from the creator of the universe, he took every sin from me, made me righteous and gave me eternal life.

I did find Jesus that night. It did change my life in miraculous ways. My life wasn’t perfect after that. I eventually dropped out of high school and ran away from home. But, no matter what stupid decisions I made, my Jesus was always there to bring me back and make it right.

And now, I want to ask you that same question the speaker, the evangelist, asked me that night – Are YOU 100% sure, if you died today, that you would go to heaven?

There are only 4 things you need to know.

          1. All of us have sinned.
          2. The penalty for our sins is separation from God for all eternity.
          3. Jesus paid the penalty for our sins on the cross then rose from the dead 3 days later.
          4. All we have to do is understand these facts, understand we cannot make it to heaven on our own, and ask Jesus to accept us and forgive us of our sins.

You can do this with a simple prayer. Now, this prayer is not some magic chant. It is letting God know what you really believe in your heart. If you don’t know what to pray, you can pray something like this:

Dear Lord, I know I am a sinner.
I know Jesus died on the cross for me and rose from the dead.
Please forgive me of my sins, come into my heart, and save me.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Please allow me to celebrate with you. If you prayed this prayer, drop me an email to tell me about it:

BobDudley@LifeChangers180.org

Godly Joint Venture Agreement
Written by Bob Dudley on Mar 30, 2021
“…test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. (Malachi 3:10b)
Would you take this deal?

“Hi Bob. I know you are looking for some coaching and mentoring as you start your new business. Are you interested in a real sweetheart deal?”

With just a bit of skepticism, I said, “I’m listening.”

He continued, “Well, most coaches and mentors are going to charge you anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000 up front to help you and they give no guarantee that what they teach you will work. But, I’m guessing, you already know that.”

It all flashed through my head while I was listening. Over the last two years I had gone through 4 marketing “experts” and close to $35,000 dollars with nothing to show for it. “Yep,” I mumbled.

He continued, “Let me tell you what I can do for you. First, I will guide you through how to grow your business from start to super successful. I will help you get more clients than you can imagine. I’ll teach you how to have the edge over all of your competition and I will show you everything you need to know to continue to prosper in your business.”

“Wow, sounds fantastic. What will this cost me?” My too-good-to-be-true radar was at full volume.

“I want to enter into a Joint Venture Agreement with you – something highly profitable for you AND me. Here’s what we can do. You don’t have to pay me anything unless you are actually making money. Then, all I ask is for you to pay me right away, pay me first. I want 10% of your gross receipts up front. You get to keep everything else.”

“Let me get this straight. You’ll show me how to be successful, you’ll walk me through the whole process. I don’t pay you until I actually make a dime. Then, All I have to do is give you 10% of gross up front, as I’m actually making the money, and I get to keep everything else?”

He finished with, “Just try me. See if I don’t deliver even MORE than I have promised!”

It DID seem too good to be true. But, I couldn’t see any down side. I made a snap decision, “I’m in!”
This all happened about 10 years ago. I started with a net worth of about $100,000. Within five years of this deal, I was worth over $3,000,000.

The only difference between this story and what really happened was, it wasn’t a phone call. It was my prayers and God’s Word. In particular, Malachi 3:10-12.

I want to share a very counter-intuitive business lesson I learned from this passage:

          In order to get, you must first give.

To explain what I mean, let me share with you another story, this one is about how patient and generous God was as I learned to tithe. Now, I am going to be very transparent here so, please, be gentle.

Cathy and I were married back in 1999. We were both Christians at the time we were married. But, we were nowhere near where we should have been in our Christian growth. One area we were lacking in was tithing. Lacking? That’s an understatement. Neither of us gave anything to the church.

Because of our combined incomes, we should have been giving about $1,750 each month ($21,000/year). We had such little faith at the time that we decided we would give $50 the first month we were married. Then, each month, we would add another $50 ($50, then $100, then $150, etc) until we reached our tithe. At this rate, it would take us over 3 years to get to our tithe. I make no excuses, I’m just telling you what we did.

Now, let me tell you what God did.

As we kept adding money to our sad attempt to reach the tithe, God kept increasing our income. By the end of our fifth year, we were giving over $5,000 each month to different evangelism organizations. Think about that. We were just reaching our tithe (10%) at $60,000/year in giving. God totally knocked our socks off. I couldn’t believe how much He was blessing us. Give first, then He will give in return.

Bottom line, if you are not tithing right now and you want to be successful in business, test God. Start today to give Him 10% of your gross income right off the top. Whatever you are making at your current job, tithe! He promises to bless you more than you can ever imagine.

Partner with God – you will NEVER regret it!

As fast as you can, sign up for God’s “Joint Venture Agreement.”

Bottom line, whatever you need more of, tithe that! Need more time – give God 2 ½ hours a day (10% of a day). Need more money, give 10% of your income (before taxes) and see what God does. Need more influence in the city for the Lord, give 10% of your time helping those who are disadvantaged.

God invites you to test Him, what are you waiting for?

Rise Up Again
Written by Bob Dudley on Mar 23, 2021
For a righteous man falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in time of calamity (Proverbs 24:16)
I sat across the table from Robin Srempek in the sun room of my house. It was July 5, 2015. I had conceived of the idea for my latest book months earlier – 7 PERFECT Steps to Success. However, I wanted more. I knew my book could help thousands of people around the world achieve their dreams. But, I also knew, just reading a book doesn’t always move people into action. I had gone to a few motivational seminars and seen what they could do. Some were really great. Some, well, not so great.

I wanted to bounce my ideas off Robin and get her input. I thought to have a series of live trainings that were after the tradition of motivational seminars but with a significant difference – where motivational speakers stopped with fixing the inside of a person, I wanted to continue until I could actually see my students be successful.

Robin was the perfect choice for a partner. She had tried the 7 PERFECT Steps to Success in her own life to: (1) lose 100, (2) increase her credit score 333 points, and (3) completely change her career from middle school music teacher to IT expert. She was a National Board-Certified Teacher in adolescence and young adults for music. Basically, on top of having an intimate knowledge of my steps to success, she knew how to teach a complicated subject (music) to a group of people who were not the most motivated in the world (middle school students).

She not only jumped on board right away – she loved the idea – but, she volunteered to become a partner in the new company and take on the role of CEO. Homerun!

The first several months were awesome. We developed curriculum based on the content of the book. We put the word out that we were the new kids in town. It was just a matter of sitting back and watching the throngs of people show up at our live events.

By December of 2015, it was obvious this business was different from all the others I had successfully built. I didn’t realize it at the time but, I never really had to worry about marketing in my other companies. My martial arts studios were all on military bases or next to them. Word of mouth worked like a charm. My aerospace software consulting company had a built-in customer base before I opened the doors. My real estate companies found derelict buildings that we rehabbed and left up to our real estate agent to market and sale.

So, Robin and I found a big hole in our business model that hit us by surprise. The perfect image of our defeat was a conference room we had rented in a hotel near Washington, DC. The room was set up for 100 people. We had five staff show up and a grand total of four students walk through the door. IF we were going to be successful, we HAD to figure out how to market ourselves.

Our goal was to help about 100 to 200 people a month. Four is a long way from that goal. Everything was working EXCEPT the most important thing – marketing, how to actually get people in the door to hear what we had to share.

First, to help build faith, we mapped out all the things going right in our company. Now, it was time to get down to business and figure out how to market to the world. We knew our marketing had to be online in order to reach the numbers of people we wanted to help. It took us an entire year, several thousand dollars, and three different online marketing companies before we found a match to us with a group that could help us launch the volume we needed.

There were times during that year when the entire company basically came to a standstill. Frustration and despair could have shut us down. We just knew the first marketing firm we hired to teach us would be the golden ticket we needed. We were wrong. Then, we just knew the second marketing firm we hired to teach us would be the golden ticket we needed. We were wrong, again. Boy, that can knock the wind out of your sails. Then, we just knew the third marketing firm we hired to teach us would be the golden ticket we needed. And, drum roll, they were!!!

We had hit a point of despair (for an ENTIRE year) but we stuck it out and it paid off. And, in that process, we learned two important lessons. First, of course, we learned how to market the skills God had given us to share with the world. But, more importantly, we learned that God is the God of Rising Again. We learned, when God gives you a dream, just keep trying. Don’t quit. If you fall 100 times, then get up 101. For a righteous man falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in time of calamity.
He Delights in EVERY Detail of Our Lives
Written by Bob Dudley on Mar 16, 2021
The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. (Psalm 37:23)
Are you a late bloomer? Did you figure out later in life why you are here? See if you can relate to this. When it came to full time ministry, I was a really late bloomer. I spent most of my life as an engineer. It wasn’t until I was in my late 40s that I gave up my lucrative position in Washington, DC to go to seminary and work in a fulltime ministry.

It really wasn’t my first career change. I retired from the Air Force back in 2000 and had to start a new profession. But this was different. Completely different. I felt called to be an evangelist. I had some experience in leading people to Christ. Actually, I had a talent for easily teaching other Christians to share their faith without starting an argument.

Now, those of you in full time service to God probably know this but, most of the time, you are expected to raise your own support. There really isn’t some big corporation that hires evangelists and sends them out on the field.

When I was an engineer, I could afford to travel anywhere in the world and help pastors train their people in evangelism. Now that it was actually my job, I could no longer afford to do this.

To say the least, I was pretty frustrated. I knew what to do, ministry wise. I just didn’t know how to raise the money I needed to do it. To do one of our trips overseas like we did before I quit my job, would cost about $15,000. This covered airfare, hotels, and meals for several staff members, rent for a facility when we didn’t have a church to use and other expenses (marketing, training material, etc). To do several of these a year adds up. But, going to churches in the states and asking for money takes years to raise that kind of cash.

I knew I was doing what God laid on my heart. I also knew (so I thought) that I was inadequate for the job.

Then, God showed up.

Every week, during this time, I had a standing appointment with a friend of mine to go witnessing in downtown Baltimore every week. One Saturday he asked if I wanted to see something he was working on.

As we stood looking at a hotel, he told me about his plans to buy it and convert it to a ministry location that God had laid on his heart.

Have you ever been in a conversation when the other person says something that triggers an epiphany inside you and you totally don’t hear the rest of the conversation? That happened to me.

To this day I have no recollection of the ministry he was talking about. When he said, “I’m going to buy this hotel to…” I knew I had the answer to funding my evangelism ministry. I could do this, I could invest in real estate to fund my mission trips around the world.

I needed a plan. I knew absolutely nothing, less than nothing, about investing in real estate.

So, first step, learn how to invest in real estate. Again, God showed up. I had already signed up for a motivational conference being held the next week. The conference was put on by Tamara Lowe – a very energetic Christian lady (she even gave an invitation to accept Christ right in the middle of the conference). One of the speakers was James Smith – and, yep, he taught courses on real estate investment.

Training took care of the first half of my plan. The second half would be to actually pull the trigger and buy some real estate.

It turned out fear was my greatest enemy. Today, over 10 years later, I am a very successful investor and would not think twice about putting 100s of thousands of dollars down on a property. But, back then, it was a big deal to spend $25,000 on the first house we wanted to buy. And, the first house didn’t help alleviate the fear.

The first property we bought was at an auction in Fairborn, OH – right outside of Dayton. We had done everything we could to know how much we should offer on the house (we thought). We were going to flip the house (buy it, fix it up, and sell it). We figured out what we thought the house would sell for and how much we could spend on repairs. All in, we could offer $30,000 at the auction.

The auction went rather well. We picked up the house for $5,000 lower than our top price. We got it for $25,000. Writing that check was surreal. But we were now, officially, real estate investors.

After the title transferred, we drove over to the house to get a look inside. The next week we would be going to Africa to run an evangelism conference. We figured, at least, we could talk about a plan to rehab our first house on our flights.

And that was when we found out there was an 85-year-old man living in the house – talk about shocked, we thought it was empty. We, eventually, found out he had owned the house for 35 years. Several years before we showed up, he had hit several tragedies – he had dementia, had lost his income and his mental ability to pay his bills. It was heart-breaking. For the last 7 years he had lived there with no water, electricity or heat. His situation is what took up our minds on our flights to Africa.

So, here’s the awesome thing about all of this. Here is all the amazing things that happened from a random conversation while I was out sharing the gospel…

• We were able to track down the gentleman’s son in Philly and have him flown out to be with a person who would take care of him.
• We rehabbed the house and sold it to a lovely young family who would not normally be able to own their own home but, because of our pricing structure, they had a beautiful place to live and call their own.
• We made enough money to fund one of our overseas trips.
• We learned a process to fund all of our trips to help churches in other countries.

Here is the jewel I learned through all of this: The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. (Psalm 37:23)
Plans for Hope and a Future
Written by Bob Dudley on Mar 9, 2021
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
What do you do when you find out the person you fell in love with is not the person you married? Robin, the CEO of Life Changers 180, discovered this at 6AM on Sunday, May 29, 2011.

Robin had married her high school sweetheart. It looked like a match made in heaven. But, soon, it crashed to earth. Robin worked as a middle school orchestra teacher. All she wanted out of life was the American dream she was promised.

But, that’s not how things were turning out. Back to that Sunday morning. There was a knock on her door. “Sorry to wake you ma’am. But, we’re going to have to take your husband downtown.”

As Robin wiped the sleepiness from her face and shielded the blinding light from her eyes, she yelled to the sheriff, “Take him and don’t bring him back!”

While the sheriff went to find her husband, Robin went to her daughter’s room to see if little 6-year-old Madison was still sleeping. After Robin saw that Maddy was sound asleep, she gently closed the door then sank to the floor and began to cry. She didn’t want her daughter to see her father carted off to jail.

That day changed Robin’s life forever. It’s the day she stopped letting someone else control the pen to her story. It’s the day she stopped blaming other people for her life’s outcome. It was time to stop letting the addiction of her husband control her life. His addiction had become the author of her story. It wrote chapters on obesity, debt, financial ruin, and uncertainty

One week after this, Robin started her very first journal. Let me share with you what Robin wrote that first time.

June 5th, 2011

Today I begin the process of closing a huge chapter in my life. It’s a difficult chapter but a necessary chapter to close. Tomorrow I will take back control of my life. I’m leaving my husband.
What do I do? It’s a clear tipping point. An opportunity to choose a different direction. If I don’t do something now to transform my life, I may never be motivated to move in a positive direction again.

“Where do you want to go, Robin? Where do you want to be when this is all over? What can you start today to begin your new chapter?” I don’t know all the answers, yet. But, here starts my journey to a new and amazing life!

Robin was at rock bottom when she wrote that entry. But, somewhere deep down, she just knew she could change her story. She knew, down in her heart, that she deserved to be successful. She knew that, with a single stroke of HER pen, she would have the ability to change her destiny.

It wasn’t all rainbows and roses after that. She had to change from a career she dearly love, teaching children, to one that gave her more money AND more time to raise her daughter.

But she did succeed. She changed careers –cutting her hours in half and tripling her income. She started and grew Life Changers 180 – a success coaching company. She increased her credit score by 333 points in 12 months. She lost 100 pounds in 18 months and kept it off to this day. She landed the cover of Woman’s Day Magazine (for losing all that weight).

She earned a first, then a second, degree black belt in martial arts and won international competition titles. And, in a most difficult situation, she raised a daughter who believes she can achieve ANYTHING she wants if she just tries hard enough

Robin accomplished a LOT in her life after that fateful Sunday morning. But, she says, the most important thing she accomplished was realizing that she didn’t need to live as a victim. She realized God had plans for HER. Plans to give her a hope and a future. She just had to reach for them.

She now travels the country teaching by my side. She teaches others how to discover the hope and future God has for them. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. You see, Robin is not just my CEO, she is my daughter.
You Need a Vision
Written by Bob Dudley on Mar 1, 2021
Solomon tells us, "Where there is no vision, the people perish."
I never met my father. My mom got pregnant from her boyfriend, they married just before I was born and divorced right after I showed up. The first person I knew as “dad” was an abusive man who taught me phrases like “children are meant to be seen and not heard,” “if I want your opinion, I’ll beat it out of you,” and “you’ll never amount to anything.”

Between my mom moving around every 6 months to avoid paying rent and me being passed from one relative to another, I went to 17 different schools before I dropped out of high school. For my 18th birthday, my mom and my second stepdad took me to the local welfare office to sign up for benefits. That was the day I left home.

I spent 3 years in the Army Infantry, getting a GED and high school diploma, before I got out to go to bible college. Now, I grew up in Los Angeles. I needed to get as far away from there as I could – so I went to Michigan for bible college. But, here’s the thing, it only took me a year and a half to figure out bible college wasn’t for me. I quit. Seemed like I did that a lot – quitting. Maybe I was my parent’s child – even 2,000 miles away.

Though I accepted Christ as my Savior when I was 14, I still did stupid stuff. I quit high school, when I didn’t re-enlist in the army they made me feel like I was quitting, and I just quit college. I needed to accomplish something significant.

I decided my “something significant” would be a degree from the local university. I had no idea what I would study. Didn’t even know why a college degree was the battle field for my soul – it just was. I knew this was the thing that would PROVE I wasn’t a nobody.

I can still picture when I decided I was going to get a degree. I was sitting in my car, it was around midnight with a light snow on the ground. I had just gotten home from my second shift factory job. For the longest time, I just sat there crying, my fists clinched, and the hot tears streaming down my face as I called out to God and asked Him what I was to do.

This was NOT going to be my life! I was NOT going to follow in the footsteps of my parents. I didn’t want to let my daughters down. They were NOT going to have the life I led.

The next day, I went to the local university to sign up for classes. The lady at the registration desk asked me what I wanted to major in. I picked up a catalog and thumbed through it. Physics sounded hard, I had no idea what it was, but it sounded hard – and, for whatever reason, I needed to do the hardest thing I could find to once-and-for-all prove to myself I wasn’t worthless. I told the lady, “I want to get a degree in Physics.”

You know, to take your first Physics class, you need to be enrolled in Calculus. At the time, I didn’t even know that Calculus was a math class – and, by the way, it’s a very HARD math class.

After the math placement exam, I had to start so far down in the math courses that it would, theoretically, take two years just to get enough math to start in my chosen major.

 And, on top of all that, I was working full time at a factory on second shift.

And, if that wasn’t enough, I found out none of the courses I took at the bible college would transfer – the bible college was not accredited.

But, I was determined I could do it.

I figured, in order for me to do this, I was going to need an extra strong will. I knew that wasn’t a possibility from my mom’s side of the family. I tracked down my father. I talked to him on the phone. I know it had been over 20 years since he and my mom were married, but he didn’t even remember me. No moral support or fortitude from that side of my gene pool.
Whatever grit, whatever mental and emotional power to succeed, had to come from God and inside me with no help from anywhere else.

My plan was actually simple. I wrote out all the courses I needed to get my degree in physics. I looked at when the different classes were offered throughout the year. The university had a large summer school program – I would use this to my advantage.
I figured out when to take classes so they didn’t interfere with my job at the factory – I still had a family to feed.

Things went well – for a while. I finished my first year with no issues. I finished my second year with, again, no issues. I had the hang of this. Despite all the setbacks at the beginning, I was doing just fine.

I had forgotten all about my horrible childhood and the quitter mentality I grew up with. I was a new person with dreams and a goal.

Then, one Saturday, there was a knock at my door. My mom and stepdad and my 6 brothers and sisters were standing in the entryway of my apartment. They had driven 2,000 miles to move in with me. They were moving in to my 2-bedroom apartment. All of my fears and insecurities came flooding back. I was the little boy, the new kid in school, that always got beat up. As I let them in the door, my whole body began to shake and I broke out in sweat all over.

Within a month they got us kicked out of my apartment. They found a house and I had to move my family in with them. I felt my independence, my dreams, my goal, slipping away. That semester, for the first time, my grades began to falter.

Because of summer school, I was ready to graduate in three years instead of four. I had one more semester to go. But, with my whole family back in the picture and my grades going south, I had to make a choice.

I could give up on my silly dreams of ever being something besides a welfare kid, quit again, and accept my destiny.

Or, I could move out of my parent’s home on what little savings I had and get a small apartment, quit the job at the factory, and push to the end of school to get my degree in physics.

The first time I went to the university to put my past behind me it was pretty easy since no one from my past was around. After all, I was raised in California and now I lived in Michigan. But, this time, it was real – it was right there. I spent a night of prayer then I did what I had to do.

I did get my degree in physics. But, I did it in three years. I graduated with honors. AND, I graduated at the top of my class!

But, it turned out, getting the degree wasn’t about learning physics, really. It was about teaching me a much more important lesson in life. It taught me who I really was. It taught me that, with a dream, with a vision, I could do ANYTHING if I put my mind to it.

It really is possible to change your story, change your life, and change your destiny.
A Tropical Storm, a 44ft Sailboat, and the Atlantic Ocean!
Written by Bob Dudley on Feb 24, 2021
Have you ever had one of those defining moments where you know you should not survive but God shows up and you wake up on the other side? Check out this story.
The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD. (Proverbs 21:31)

Imagine an Air Force officer working at the US Naval Academy. Imagine that same officer teaching seamanship to Midshipmen. Believe it or not, that’s where I was and that’s what I was doing. It was the summer of 1993. I had been working with eight Midshipmen for about a year. We spent every afternoon of everyday on the Chesapeake Bay on a 44-foot sailboat named Valiant. We did everything together.

It was time for the checkout cruise. We would be gone three weeks – Annapolis, MD to Bermuda and back.

The morning we left, there were reports of storms. The sky was dark as the rain started. We finished putting our supplies into the hold of the boat. I looked at the sky and felt the cold wind and pounding rain.

As we pulled out, I wondered what it would be like in the middle of the ocean in a boat that could easily fit in a swimming pool. The Midshipmen were looking to me for guidance. I was praying I would not let them down.

It was supposed to be a relaxed cruise to Bermuda. I had visions of barbeques on deck every afternoon with nice, quiet, chats under the stars every night. The weather was not cooperating with my vision.

It took 24 hours to make it to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. By the time we hit the Atlantic Ocean, everyone on board was soaked to the bone and would stay that way the entire trip to Bermuda. It started as a little sprinkle, annoying but tolerable. Now the rain came in sheets, washing over the boat, biting in every bit of exposed skin.

It would take four more days to make it to Bermuda. Should we continue in this weather or turn back and try again after the storms. This was a final exam in the seamanship program. It wasn’t a leisure trip to a tropical island – as much as I wanted it to be. It made no sense to turn around for something as mundane as a storm. We decided to finish the trip.

Though is seemed like an eternity, we had only left the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay two days ago. We were at the point of no return and at the worst part of the storm. Two days to go back to safety or two days to make it to the island.

I knew we were in trouble when we were sitting in the trough between two swells and the swells were higher than the 62-ft. mast of our boat. We rode up one of the swells and it felt like we would fall over backwards.

My crew was on deck - everyone tied to something on the boat. It was the middle of the night and we had just crested a swell. The boat dropped like a sack of cement. The bow plunged under the water, the line attached to our storm sail just snapped.

As the boat came out of the water, I did a quick head count – everyone was still on deck. Thank God. Two more days of this? We were already exhausted.

Finally, it was the night before we were to arrive. We were less than 50 miles from a hot shower and a dry bed. The storm had started to break. It was going to be okay. Then, all our electronics died as our compass began to spin.

Bermuda is a coral island, low to the water. With no compass and no GPS, we would either completely miss the island or crash on the coral reefs. We maintained our heading, as best we could, praying as we went. After several hours, the compass stopped spinning and the electronics returned. We sailed into port with ease.

Though the trip to Bermuda felt like an eternity, it was only five days. The victory, the ability to be Valiant, came before that. It came with thousands of hours learning the nuances of the boat and the crew.

Bottom line, the last twelve months prepared us to be able to deal with any emergency – to deal with an intense tropical storm and come out the other side as better men and women.

I gazed at the name on the boat, Valiant. It should have said Prepared. That is what we were. We were prepared for the battle, but God kept us safe.
How I Came to Know Christ as My Savior
Written by Bob Dudley on Feb 12, 2021
As I sat at my desk trying to decide what should be the first Cool Story for our new web page, it struck me - I want to tell the world how I came to know Christ.
I grew up primarily in the south part of Los Angeles, CA. I lived at various times with different relatives (going to Catholic Church most of the time) until I was about 12 years old. My mom had told me it was my decision to be confirmed in the Catholic Church. By this time I had decided there was no God and church was for losers. I never did go to confirmation.
 
When I turned 14, my mother married Andy and settled down a bit. He was looking for work so they decided to move back to Massachusetts (to his hometown). It was the summer of my freshman year in high school.

While my mom and step-dad looked for housing and work, my younger brother and sister and I were taken to Vermont to live with Andy's sister, Aunt Barbara. The only rule of the house was we had to go to church whenever my aunt’s family went to church – Baptist church. Did you know that Baptists go to church a lot more than Catholics? We were in church twice on Sunday, prayer meeting on Wednesday and youth group on Friday.

It was okay, and I started to enjoy hanging out with the youth group. After a month or so, my aunt announced we were all going to camp for a week in the later part of summer. Growing up in the city, I had never heard of "camp," so I didn't know what to expect.

This was about 50 years ago (in the 70s) and I can remember it like it was yesterday. We played games and had Bible studies every day. Then, on Wednesday night, there was a guest speaker at the evening meeting. The chapel was a large, old rickety wood building with splinter-filled pews and straw on the dirt floors to keep the dust down. I sat in the back (so far back these pews were actually under the stars through the big opening in the back of the building) with all the other troublemakers.

To this day, I have no idea what the man talked about. But, as they played the last song after he spoke, the speaker asked if we were sure we'd go to heaven when we died. His words were so simple but (as I learned later in life) God used those words to pierce my heart. I felt like my whole world was caving in on me. The tears started running down my cheeks. I knew there was a God, I knew there was a heaven, and I knew I wasn’t going.

As the tears fell, I knew I needed God in my life. I stepped out of the pew and made my way to the altar in front of the chapel. Somewhere along the way I picked up an entourage – my aunt, my uncle, my cousins, and several of my friends followed behind me, all the people who had prayed for me. By the time I made it to the front I was too weak to stand and I kneeled and begged for God's forgiveness. I was smothered in God's love and in hugs from all those that were with me. As I stayed there, someone (I don't remember who) showed me from the Bible how I could have a relationship with Jesus. They led me through a simple prayer to trust God and helped me understand that I was now a child of God.

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