Image Bearer's Bio

I was raised a Catholic until the age of eleven. I attended Catholic School and attended Mass three times a week. I went to confession and had my first communion, but I don't remember ever reading the Bible. I received a Children's Bible from someone when I was younger (you know the one with the nomadic tribe of Israelites wandering across the tan cover?), but I never read it until I was sent to live with my mother and stepfather.
Something happened to make me an undesirable child when I went to live with my mom. I don't know why, but I became an outsider in my own family. I am not going to write about all the things that happened in those several years, but it is important to note that my two sources of comfort were long walks with a worn out old yellow Lab named Boris, and that worn out old Children's Bible. If I had time to myself, I was either walking that dog or reading that book.By the time I was 12, I had read that book through several times. Now, it wasn't the complete scriptural text, but it was enough to introduce me to the full narrative of the Bible; and that is when it happened.
Sometime during the 12th year of my life, I began attending a small Baptist church right next door to our neighborhood. I went alone every week, and that brought me to the attention of several people, including the Pastor. I remember the morning that He preached the Gospel message in Church and I heard it crystal clear for the first time in my life. I understood how all those stories I had read fit together, and something inside me started to - well, I don't know how to explain it except to say that it felt like what I think a panic attack feels like. My insides were all knotted and I could feel and hear my heart racing like never before, and I was breathing just about as fast. That's when the Pastor looked directly at me and said, "If you feel the call of Christ on your life today, don't fight it. Give your life to Christ."
The gentleman sitting next to me was sensitive to what was happening in me and he asked me if I wanted to go forward and talk to the Pastor. That morning, a complete stranger walked me to the front of that little old church and led me in a sinners prayer. Immediately the panic left, and for the first time, I felt like I belonged somewhere.
The Pastor came over to me, laid a heavy gnarled hand on my shoulder and whispered in my ear, "I've been waiting for you son. I'm proud of you." And that was it.

I know my story isn't a novelty. There are many who experienced abuse as a child. Of all the abuses, I think the worst is emotional. I am a father now of four

wonderful boys and a precious little girl. 
I can't imagine them ever feeling unwanted or unloved in the home their mother and I steward for them. I am so burdened by the mistakes I have already made in their short lives through careless words and impatient disinterest of their attempts to get my attention. I don't want them to ever feel what I felt.  
I know the pain of being unwanted by those who are supposed to love you. I know the emptiness of living every day without even knowing that life could be different. I know what it is to be alone and rejected.
That is why those words were so powerful when I heard them for the first time.
"I've been waiting for you son. I'm proud of you."
The reason the Gospel is good news is because it is good and it is news to those who don't know it. 
Simple - I know, but true.
What is better than "You are loved and wanted, and everything has been arranged for you to belong -forever"?And no matter where you are in life when you hear the gospel, it is news to you. But it is news that is refreshing, uplifting, loving, and genuinely personal.
There was a lot more that was said that morning and a lot more that followed, but that is what I remember most.

I hope you know what it is to belong to God. I hope you know what it is to know the favor of your Lord and Savior.Scripture says that we are adopted by God and He calls us His own and He loves us. What a powerful love it is.

That was my first adoption. When I turned 15, I was adopted by earthly parents also.  I had been disowned by both of my parents, and was trying to make it through high school without any parental consent to do all of the things that teenagers do - like take drivers ed., play sports, go on choir trips, go to summer camp.  
Well, God provided a family for me.  I have two wonderful older sisters, and two God-fearing Christian parents who became the family I never had.  Nobody knew it at the time, but It was a perfect fit. They gave me a home, I gave them teenage boy trouble.  How could you get a better mix?

Less than a year into my new family, my adopted mother had a massive stroke.  I found her lying on the floor in the basement.  Nothing has ever been the same for any of us, but I saw a family work through impossible odds to come out a stronger family on the other side, and I was a part of it.  I am so proud of my family.  I am so honored to be a part of it.  

He may not have intended it to be an illustration, but I can't help but make the connection, that this is what He desires for me in His family, both here now in the Church, and in the coming Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We fit perfectly together, not because we're perfect, but because He makes our messiness fit beautifully together for His glory.  Like the back side of the weaving that we can only see from below; above, He sees the glorious design.  Meanwhile, we work our way through this broken life together becoming stronger as we work together and serve each other toward His agendas.

I went to college and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Youth Ministry and Adolescent Studies.  My college years were filled with great friends, stupid choices, broken fellowship with God, and constant reminders of redeeming Grace.  I left college not knowing what I really wanted in life, and ultimately landed in the Marine Corps doing administration and commanding an infantry unit in Iraq.  When I got out, I knew I wanted to be a minister of God's Word in a very broken and demoralizing World.  I went to Seminary and graduated with a degree in Biblical Counseling and continued to pursue my Masters of Divinity.  Still working on that one!
God had also placed on my heart the desire to be one with someone else.  To be in love and truly fulfilled in a relationship of redeeming love.  To be a father and to learn what it was to steward a family.  
That's when I met my Bride, Elisabeth.  We met, had our first date four days later, got engaged a month later on her 21st birthday, and were married two months after that.  I was eight years older than this beautiful woman, and I loved to tell people that I was graduating college when my wife was leaving the eighth grade.  

In many ways, my biography starts over at this point.  I have been married for a little more than six years at the writing of this sketch; we have four wonderful children, and our lives are completely different than what we thought they would be.  I have grown and changed so much.  I have seen her grow and change so much.  We are very different people and our eyes of the world and our selves are much more discerning and open than before.  
We have had many ups and downs, sometimes more ups than downs.  We have seen vocational crisis, financial crisis, health crisis, faith crisis, and love crisis.  I know what it means to love through better and worse, and believe me, love is a choice.  It is amazing what God does to bless and manifest something when we choose what He says to choose and trust Him with it.

I love my wife.  I love my children.  I love the Lord.  I love His true Bride.  I love serving in whatever capacity He gives me.  There is so much that could fill in all those gaps; so much I have learned by being a leader, a pastor, a husband and a father.  I have traveled all over the world, been in military conflict, performed medical surgeries in third world countries, sang the gospel in the grandest cathedrals in the world, seen life taken, and seen it saved, jumped out of airplanes and spelunked into caverns, held hands with homeless and accepted the offerings of others in turn.  I thank God for what He gives and even when He takes away, I have learned to praise Him out of genuine gratitude.  What a blessing it is to be alive, and to be alive in Christ. 

So much brokenness and grace; so much pride and humility; so much pain and peace.  It has been a wonderful life.  If you have a journey like mine, I consider you blessed beyond measure.  Thanks for reading.  God Bless you today!  

P.S.  Please read more biographical life lessons in the Image Bearing Marriage page!

With you for His Glory-

Anthony Michael LaMouria