ADDoration Ministries
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
God is SO GOOD; although I have ADD.

My background

A LITTLE BACKGROUND OF ADDORATION MINISTRIES FOUNDER, LESTER HEMPHILL
 

This childhood photo shows my obvious shyness, at that time. The car was my dad's 1935 Buick.

My lifetime has been characterized by shyness, excitability, low self-esteem, and self-distrust.

CHILDHOOD 

I was born June 9, 1934, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. As evidence of being born ADD, Mother once mentioned that the doctor commented that I let out an unusually loud cry when I came out of her womb. As a small child, I was an inquisitive fearful child with some evidence of developmental disabilities. I didn't start talking words until almost age 5. At age five, I was taken out of kindergarten, because my hyperactivity prevented my staying seated for five minutes. Mother home schooled me until age 7, when I enrolled in public school first grade.

Here is an anecdote of childhood inquisitiveness. In Mother's home schooling, she taught me about oceans and continents. I wanted to learn by experiment, so I proceeded to create an ocean in the living room by pouring buckets of water. Ouch, Mother stopped that lesson by inflicting a hair brush spanking.

I don't know that ADD is necessarily hereditary; although some seem to think so. I am the one out of four siblings to acquire the handicap. My three sisters grew up self-assured and much more socially outgoing. My sisters are definitely not ADD. I am the only male sibling in the family, and more males than females are ADD. In childhood, I had the hunch that boys are bad while girls are good. In addition, I was a middle child, the second. Perhaps an uncle on my mother's side may have been ADD, having run away to a marriage that didn't last -- but he eventually became a successful industrial manager and his second marriage lasted more than 50 years till death.

My parents took me to a clinic at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, for tests, to learn the cause of my hyperactivity. I believe the tests were inconclusive. However that was in 1941, which was long before today's state of the art. The label ADD wasn't around then, but there were predecessor labels (none of which we were told I had). At least, I had the childhood experience of traveling with my parents from Fort Wayne to Columbus -- along with the experience of being in a hospital. On return trip, it was the experience of a bus trip with Mother, because Daddy had to go back to his teaching job.

I then probably was LD (learning disabled), especially reading. Arithmetic tests caused panic. As other LD evidence, mother frequently had to make sure that my shoe laces were tied, my shoes not interchanged, and that my hair was combed. As for the sides right and left, I was unable to tell which is which. Once I learned that a car's steering wheel is on the left, that helped me tell which is which.

I was poor in sports, because of muscle incoordination. Childhood moods, I cried easily, especially when frightened. In school, I was prone to getting into conduct scrapes.

In junior high, I had excessive laughter. Because of self-consciousness, it was nearly impossible for me to recite in class without laughing at myself. Especially funny were body noises, such as a burp from either end. In junior high, I sometimes got into trouble by making wisecracks in class.

I was a Boy Scout and sometimes cut up at troop meetings. For instance, at one troop meeting I discovered a creaking floor board -- so I intentionally jounced up and down to make the board squeak, so as to make the boys laugh. Then the assistant scoutmaster reprimanded me for disrupting the meeting. In total view, Boy Scouts did socially benefit me.

EARLIEST CHURCH BACKGROUND 

I grew up in a Christian family who were members of South Wayne Baptist Church, which is an American Baptist church (formerly Northern Baptist). I was active in BYF (Baptist Youth Fellowship). BYF did also have social benefits in helping me to partially conquer shyness. But BYF essentially focused on a set of rules -- that is certain specific acts are sin. I did have a crush on the pastor's daughter, who was a year younger than me.

At age 13, I was immersion baptized in the Baptist Church; however it didn't mean much to me. I did it only because my Sunday school class was being baptized. I believe that it was more like the confirmation sacrament. But regardless, that was not my spiritual birth.

HIGH SCHOOL 

By high school I recovered from LD to become an honor student with the goal of heading for engineering, so I went for math and science electives. Somehow, I became more focused in high school. I then had the role of TK (teacher's kid), because my dad taught vocational auto shop at the high school. In fact, I then thought I was headed to becoming an automotive engineer. To other teachers, I was Junior, because I was named after Dad. I still was antisocial, but I acquired a few friends among high school classmates and at BYF at church. I was beginning to be more interested in females, but my first date didn't come until my senior year (and that was to the Junior Prom). In comparison -- my next younger sister went steady when a freshman in high school. In 1953, I graduated from Fort Wayne Central High School, having attained National Honor Society.

I remember egotistically displaying my knowledge when I took high school chemistry. At the dinner table, I would say, "Pass the sodium chloride," instead of salt. The most vivid anecdote was when some out of town friends visited us -- and the wife's name was Ethel. I called her C2H5, the chemical symbol for ethyl. Her husband was very amused by that. Another high school anecdote showed my callous side, when I took solid geometry. A classmate couldn't say "sphere," and he called the ball shaped object a "severe" -- and that produced much laughter with me and my classmates.

COLLEGE -- PURDUE BOILERMAKER 

Then I went on to Purdue University, where I majored in mechanical engineering. Purdue then had an advantage of a prominent Independents movement for those not inclined to pledge a fraternity. On campus, I proudly wore the Greek letters Gamma Delta Iota (GDI) which toned down meant Gosh Darn Independent. I also had the Greek letters Alpha Phi Omega, which is a service organization for former Boy Scouts. Those two sets of Greek letters were on my first car, a 1950 Mercury. I spiced up the Merc with twin glasspak mufflers, that had a nice vrrrooom sound when I revved up the flathead V-8 engine.

Here is something for ADD'er's to keep in mind -- the state of Indiana paid my tuition, beginning with my junior year. The vocational rehabilitation program took care of tuition. I wasn't yet diagnosed ADD (nor did the terminology exist then); however it was muscular incoordination that justified it. That handicap had me dropped from ROTC and then resulted in my 4-F military draft status.

At Purdue, I turned Methodist and was active in the Wesley Foundation on campus. I did take advantage of a number of spiritual opportunities with Wesley Foundation, where there was an associate director who encouraged me to think. I participated in a fellowship prayer group, mainly for social reasons, but I then had nearly no insight into prayer. One of the fellowship prayer female participants especially persuaded us to each dig for what we really believe, but I then wasn't ready for such digging.

At that time, Mother gave me a birthday gift of Norman Vincent Peale's book, The Power of Positive Thinking, and the book helped me for a while. During the 1950's, Peale's book was a best seller. Lo and behold, Wesley Foundation's associate director disparaged Norman Vincent Peale, time and again. I wondered, "What is so evil about positive thinking?" That squelched my interest in positive thinking (when it could have been a spiritual breakthrough). In retrospect, the associate director's concern was that many people were then jumping to the conclusion that positive thinking totally describes Christianity, when actually that is only a small portion of Christianity. The associate director once said that a vague naive belief in Christ won't suffice. At that time, I was beginning to struggle with that maybe true Christianity isn't a set of rules.

However some infighting within Purdue Wesley Foundation brought out the sinful controversy seeking side of me. I found a group of friends who had far too many conversations that disparaged Wesley Foundation (and oh the unchristian language that we used). Disparaging Wesley Foundation was stimulating and certainly an obstacle to grace. The associate director certainly was a target of my friends' negative remarks. This infighting sadly diverted me away from seeking any spiritual life. In addition, I came to see Christians as being judgmental imperfect people. Maybe it wasn't yet God's timing for me to find the Lord. That group of friends certainly were marvelous friends to me, in view of that I have maintained contact with two of those friends through today.

CORRUPTION EXISTED IN ME 

Although I grew up in a Christian home, my ADD stimulation seeking led to corruption. Beginning in high school, I found it "cool" to use those vulgar four letter words. I frequently added spice to my conversation by beginning sentences with the "S" word expletive. In college and working career, my language went from bad to worse, including the "F" word and frequent misuse of the Lord's name. The bad language led to telling dirty jokes and greeting friends with the use of my middle finger.

During my working years, a classic example of my volatile temper came up when I sensed that a co-worker was harrassing me for work. I angrily shot back at him, "Look, I have been working on that Son Of A (canine) for the past month, so don't accuse me of sitting on my (donkey)." My co-worker responded, "You are not talking in a civilized manner and your language is foul."

TOWARD END OF COLLEGE 
TWO DEPRESSING SITUATIONS

When nearing end of college, typically that is the verge of full adulthood.

On May 6, 1957, my then-brother-in-law (my sister's first husband) unexpectedly showed up in my room on campus. John had bad news for me -- my dad had died suddenly of a massive heart attack -- and at only age 59. John was there to drive me to home town Fort Wayne. I never will forget the way my grieving mother hugged me the next morning -- as I was the only male family member left. Those days were indeed depressing days for me. Dad wasn't around to hear about my future career. Somehow I vividly remember two pop music recordings that were popular at the time of Dad's passing -- Pat Boone's "Love Letters In The Sand" and Perry Como's "Round and Round."

I had an extra semester of college during autumn of 1957. During the mid-1950's, there was much rhetoric about a shortage of engineers, which had me anticipating a bright future. However, an economic recession set in during the later half of 1957 -- and lasted throughout 1958. I had thought I was headed toward becoming an automotive engineer; however that recession especially affected the automotive industry. For instance, that was the time of the Edsel fiasco of Ford Motor Company. Job interviews were fruitless. One day, a fraternity man gave me a lesson on how to tie a necktie to make a good impression. For an ADD'er to make a good impression -- that really can be an obstacle. My lack of success with job hunting took it's toll on my sense of self-worth -- and my grades suffered. Finally, when only three more weeks left of the semester, a Government agency offered me a job on the spot -- Chicago District of the Corps of Engineers. God provided for me. The Cold War had that agency working on some crash projects.

AFTER COLLEGE 

My engineering career after college began with four years (1958-1962) in Chicago with the Corps of Engineers. Then I moved to New Jersey, where I worked 32 and a half years at Picatinny Arsenal. At end of 1994, I retired from 36 years Federal Government service. I was more fortunate than most ADD'ers, being with the same employer 36 years.

After college were 12 wayward years away from Jesus. The Purdue Wesley Foundation infighting did leave me with negative feelings about The Body of Christ. Maybe on Easter, I might go to church. I was in a singles group that met at a Presbyterian church; however I had zilch interest in the worship side of that church. Sunday mornings often were resting off a hangover.

ALCOHOL SOAKED YEARS 

Even more wayward was immoderate consumption of alcohol. During college, I was total abstinence, but after college I changed big time. I especially liked Southern Comfort and 7-Up. During summer months, I was a beer drinker (and called a beer can opener a "church key"). I was shy and bashful. I went to social gatherings and used alcohol to shut off the self-consciousness. At parties, I tended to drink more than others at the party, and I occasionally got drunk. There were several times that I was so plastered that it was a miracle that I got home. I also drank at home in private to take the edge off of jittery nerves. For insomnia, I sometimes resorted to the dangerous practice of combining sleeping pills with bourbon.

When I moved from Chicago to New Jersey in 1962, my going away party was a blast, when I really got tanked up -- especially after the party moved to another man's apartment. How I got home from that party -- do you call that a miracle? I was DWI (driving while intoxicated). The next morning, I was hung over when I packed my belongings into my car to move east.

RECOVERY INTERNATIONAL SELF-HELP GROUP FOR NERVOUS CONDITION
(IT EVEN PREVENTED SUICIDE)
 

At age 26, a nervous condition landed me in the hospital (before they knew of ADD).

The nervous condition began to manifest itself during summer of 1960, marked with depression, dizzyness, and shortness of breath. It began in June, when my employer sent me to a 2 week school at Rock Island Arsenal, on an island in the Mississippi River. Afterwards I visited an uncle in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and had a joyful visit. The depression especially set in during the trip back to Chicago, via Dubuque and Rockford. During that summer, several times I visited friends at a lake cottage at Paw Paw Lake, near Benton Harbor, Michigan; however depression marred those weekends -- plus my alcohol abuse began then, with the beer. September was when I was hospitalized.

A self-help support organization called Recovery Incorporated (now Recovery International) restored my mental health. Although I then had no walk whatsoever with the Lord, I credit Recovery with being my savior, as of that time in my life. Recovery gave me tools to function in a normal life.

I even credit Recovery with saving my life, because at age 33 I frequently contemplated suicide and how to end it all. Depression had returned with a vengeance. I felt that I was a burden to this world. After months of being suicidal, Recovery finally decisively taught me to quickly dismiss thoughts of self destruction.

COPING DURING 1960'S AND EARLY 1970'S 

During the 1960's, I went in for enough social activities to try to appear to be an average man. I have mentioned the singles club. I bowled in a bowling league, and I attained a 140 average. It never was clear whether my bowling was better with or without alcohol in me.

Most rewarding to my self-esteem was taking up downhill snow skiing. In 1961, I first took up water skiing, with my Chicago friends who owned the lake cottage. In 1965, met some snow skiing friends and took up that sport. I joined a ski club. A ski week at Killington in Vermont was a memorable vacation. Between bowling and skiing -- bear in mind that during my childhood I was poor in sports, because of muscle incoordination.

Dating -- that was limited by my shyness with women. There were several that I went with perhaps briefly.

The woman with whom I lost my virginity left scars. She also had disorders, including epilepsy, and I suspect that she was bi-polar too. One evening, she made it obvious what she wanted, when she removed her shorts and had no panties underneath (evidence that she pre-planned that). Once I had sex with that woman, the relationship changed. That woman would have been a disastrous mate for me. She eventually died a tragic death when she had an epileptic fit while swimming. She is now at peace with God. By the way, that evening probably had an ice breaker effect, because that wasn't my only premarital sex (that doesn't make it right).

My engineering career was stunted by my ADD. During the 1970's, I became an expert in computer programs for simulating engineering problems. That job assignment had no exposure to the possibility of my ADD causing any foolish action that would make the boss look bad. My bosses didn't trust me to give presentations to military brass. At Government agencies, they sometimes joke that less desirable employees are sent to "the turkey farm" -- a niche where they are not likely to cause trouble.

MOTHER'S PRAYERS 

I vividly know that Mother frequently prayed for me when 700 miles away in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Through inner intuition, I know that -- the power of prayer. Mother's prayers were God's prevenient grace (John Wesley terminology). The flip side -- raising me, an ADD child, along with my three sisters, trained her for a late in life calling in church work. After Dad passed on, a Fort Wayne church, Crescent Ave EUB (Evangelical United Brethren) offered her a job directing a weekday nursery school. In 1968, EUB's were absorbed into the United Methodist denomination. Her job evolved to the title of Minister To Children And Families. I praise God that the job kept Mother vitalized while loving The Lord. Especially when I was suicidal, Mother's prayers kept me alive. Imagine the impact on a church staff member, in case her son commits suicide.

SPIRITUAL CONVERSION 

In 1973 conversion came to me. In October 1973, the Lord suddenly called Mother to her eternal home. Mother's funeral was a spirit filled celebration of her life, and that strangely pulled me to return to active church membership. Very shortly after Mother's death, I finally joined a New Jersey church. Then within a month afterwards came my real conversion.

Now for my real moment of conversion -- I was in church one Sunday and heard God talking to me saying, "Cut way down on your drinking." It was like God sitting in the next pew and conversationally talking to me. Without conscious effort, I no longer had a drink to calm myself and no social drinking. A month later, it hit me that I essentially don't drink any more, and that blew my mind. The awesomeness of the miracle of sudden sobriety showed me God's power. What's more, I never joined AA; therefore it really was God's power. For one thing, I then wasn't ready for total abstinence; therefore I shunned AA. I then had -- you know the river in Egypt -- De Nile. Nevertheless, our awesome God intervened to grant me sobriety. The timing for this was about nine months before I finally married my life partner. My wife would never tolerate the way I formerly drank. In addition, since marriage my fidelity has been total abstinence from any extramarital sex; although I wasn't virgin at the time of my wedding.

SINCE CONVERSION 

Since 1973, my walk with Jesus has evolved. The church I joined in 1973 had a pastor who deeply believed in the free gift of God's grace. Years later, God talked to me personally again when he said, "Jesus Christ cannot be both a savior and a swear word," and that overnight broke the habit of taking the Lord's name in vain. To take the Lord's name in vain is indicative of that the person doesn't have a personal relationship with the Lord. Another significant item of God's influence is that I credit God for my total abstinence from Internet pornography web sites, ever since I began any web cruising. God has kept me aware of how addictive Internet pornography can become.

Of greater significance is that my personal walk with the Lord has been increasingly a relationship, instead of a set of rules. Along with this, I have become much less conflict orientated. But instead I increasingly view other persons as brothers and sisters who are "One In Christ." Most of all, Jesus increasingly is love to me.

I have had several spiritual milestones over those years. In 1979, I joined the United Methodist church where I was a member 26 years, until I moved from that town. In 1990, I benefitted from an evangelistic "New Life Mission" of my denomination's district -- especially it steered me to a grace relationship, instead of a set of rules.

WALK TO EMMAUS 

The foremost milestone was 1993, when I went on a three day Walk To Emmaus pilgrimage, where I experienced love like never before felt (causing me to cry). The follow through fellowship of the Walk To Emmaus movement has been instrumental in strengthening my discipleship. In 1996, I had several roles in helping Walk To Emmaus start a new local chapter in northern New Jersey. Serving on my church's prayer chain has especially been rewarding, especially when we celebrate an answered prayer. I later became the facilitator of an email prayer chain within Walk To Emmaus. Also I have been the servant who presses the name badges for Walk To Emmaus weekends. I have served on eight teams for running Emmaus weekends.  Today, I am in a six men's Emmaus sharing group that meets every other Saturday morning.

I LEARNED THAT I AM ADD 

In 1995, I had the milestone of realizing that the probability is very high that I am ADD. I read the Doctors Hallowell and Ratey book, Driven To Distraction, which very accurately described my lifetime habit patterns. This was after I had been on my Walk To Emmaus weekend, hence I vividly felt God's calling me to minister to ADD persons. Nearly immediately, I felt God give my ministry the moniker "ADDoration." Another page in this site gets into about that your diagnosis isn't significant spiritually speaking; although it may be significant treatments speaking.

God has especially carried me during 2003 through 2005, while my wife suffered mental health issues and is presently in a health care facility. It became clear to me that I reached the age when I need to downsize my housing. January 2005, I moved to a senior citizen development that is about 40 miles east of Philadelphia and 20 miles west of the ocean. Being ADD makes it more difficult to handle these issues, but God is in charge. I have transferred my church membership to a United Methodist church in my new community.

CONCLUSION 

Most especially, over the years, I have increasingly come to see myself as a special servant of Jesus with my uniqueness that is molded by my ADD. That uniqueness appreciation been reinforced by support from various brothers and sisters in Christ.

I greatly celebrate that Jesus died on the cross, to free us. Jesus loves me greatly, as a special servant of Him. PRAISE GOD FOR MY ADD.

<*(((>< your ADD brother in the Risen Christ,
Lester Hemphill
Founder of ADDoration Ministries

For more info on Walk To Emmaus, that changed my spiritual life.