THE SHORT VERSION…
I’m a husband, dad, grandpa, pastor, and a man trying to live a simplified life in a very busy world. I’ve had many experiences and have tried many things. I’ve pursued the “golden ring” in the corporate world… tried to get away from it all through mountain climbing, backpacking and hiking… been laid off… been a car salesman to make a living in between… met with presidents of corporations… had to fire people… been quoted in magazines… was a TV anchor on a corporate network… led a governor’s coalition… built two houses… got stuck in the mud with a Jeep… was Winnie the Pooh in a play… lived from the east coast to the west and from the north to the south… have won an international photography competition… but have come to the realization that simpler is better. Join me in my journey as I continue to learn how to become a simple kind of man. The Lynnrd Skynyrd song talks about taking your time, not living too fast, knowing that trouble will come and knowing that there is “someone” up above. My hope is that together we can become people that love and understand ourselves and value the important things… God and the people we love.
• Jesus follower
• Pastor and Church Planter in a LCMS Lutheran Church
• Deeply in love with my best friend and wife for over 40 years
• Chemical Engineer
• Corporate climber for 32 years
• Lived in 8 states… currently in the great state of Texas
• 1 daughter, 1 son, 1 son-in-law
• 3 grandkids
• Musician wannabe
MORE IF YOU WANT IT…
I was born as an only child in Ft. Worth, TX to Ray and Elva (Poos) Harrow. My dad was in the Air Force at the time and they had just moved back from England where my mom had traveled to be married to my dad. My dad was from a family that included 6 brothers and 6 sisters, a self-employed, entrepreneurial dad and a very religious faithful mother. The Harrow family did not have much money and was very laid back and family focused. My grandpa Harrow was a blacksmith, mechanic, inventor, and a worm farmer who loved to fish and hunt. Family gatherings were laid back and included gospel/folk music jams with all of the brothers and sisters and a lot of visiting. The grandkid’s were cherished and had a great time playing together outside. My mom’s family was strong German Missouri Synod Lutherans and farmers that worked and played hard to give the family a good solid, life. My grandpa Poos was a hard working, opinionated, loving dad that expected a lot out of the family… dressing right, doing the right things, working hard and making something out of life. There was a lot of card playing and family gatherings… big laughs and lots of love and expectations for the grandkids.
I was fortunate to be able to know both sets of grandparents while I grew up and they both had significant impact on my development and growth. From the Poos side, I developed a sense of working hard, doing the right things well, being generous, and knowing that appearances can be important. From the Harrow side, I learned that you can pretty much do anything that you want and that happiness is related to how you react to life and that it’s not important to worry about the world’s definition of success. Both sets of grandparents taught that faith in God was crucial and that children are special in the scheme of things.
As an Air Force child, we moved from Ft. Worth to Mississippi, Kansas, Illinois, and then to Rapid City, SD around 1960 or 1961. From my recollection of my childhood, my mom and dad were a traditional 1950’s family, dad as the breadwinner and mom as the stay-at-home mom. We were happy and mom and dad seemed to squeeze all of the joy out of life on the meager salary dad made as an NCO. I was expected to be a good son, do the right things and always do my best. Dad used to always say that “can’t never did anything” consequently, I always knew that anything was possible if you just worked and tried hard enough. I was also taught to think about the other person’s feelings and we always analyzed other people’s words to see if there could be more behind what they were saying. I grew up talking things out with my mom and dad, whether it was controversial topics or just when we got mad at each other. My mom and dad always opened their home to their friends and family and truly had the gift of hospitality and entertaining. We were always having people drop in. We were very close to my mom and dad and miss them dearly.
I was always in church and from early on my singing talents got me in front of the congregation. One pastor said that I could be the next George Beverly Shea! I was good in school and always tried to be the perfect son and boy. As I grew up, I was overweight and was mercilessly teased and made fun of. I can remember a time of great hurt when kids made fun of my weight and then taunted me with how fat my mother was. Even though I was teased and was an outcast with the kids, I remember my childhood as a time of fun. I played outside all of the time, had fun using my imagination and enjoyed a charmed childhood. Thinking of it, they were great times, what I think a boys childhood should be like… I got to camp, see incredible jet planes daily, go see an Atlas rocket launch, meet astronauts, play outside, hunt, fish, ice skate and be loved by two great parents.
My dad had a love of the outdoors and he taught me that same appreciation. We fished, caught crawdads, hunted, joined Boy Scouts, and camped a lot. I still love hiking and being outdoors and have found the solace in the mountains to be my best way of regenerating. Now sports were another thing. I tried to play baseball as a kid but was too fat and slow to be any good. I remember the first competitive team that I was on. I sat on the bench and never wanted to do that again, so I excelled in school and became an above average trumpet player for my age. When I hit high school, I earned a spot on the tennis team as number 2 singles. I had found my spot in sports. To this day, I do not enjoy watching team sports on TV. I joke about not getting the sports gene. However, I consciously try keeping track of things so I can have light conversations. Again, it’s about being able to get into the other persons world.
As I grew older, I continued to excel in school, taking high school math in jr. high and college math in high school. I was the nerdy kid that carried the briefcase to school every day, even in my younger years. When I reached the end of my high school days I had two major things happen in my life, the first is that I met the top manager of the Kodak plant in Windsor. That changed my life. I wanted to be like him and he was a chemical engineer, so I decided that was what I would do. I enrolled at Colorado School of Mines and four hard years later, I was a Chemical Engineer.
The second and most important event was that I met my future wife, Sara Caster. What an incredible event. On our first date we just sat in the car and talked… just like 2 friends that had been apart for many years. We dated for over three years and in the middle of my junior year of college we got married. It was a great time then and has even got better. We’ve been married many years and are best friends. She is the free spirit in our marriage and has helped me grow to be more tolerant and less worried about getting everything perfect. Without her positive influence and loving support in my life, I would have been a lot less tolerant and a lot less laid back.
My career was varied and full of success. We lived in Wyoming, California, Indiana, New York, Colorado and Texas and moved 14 or 15 times… I lost count. I learned how to work with people of all different backgrounds and beliefs by learning more about myself and how other people perceive me. I also learned that when you take life/career into your own hands, and not have faith and patience in God’s design, things don’t work out as well. When I worked in Wyoming, I knew I needed to get into a different industry or be stuck in Wyoming my whole career. Because my dream job back in Colorado didn’t seem to be a possibility, I worked with a recruiter to find a job in Indiana. We moved and were miserable. Sara was sick, we couldn’t find a church, my job was very political, etc. Amazingly, just 9 months later, the job I had hoped for in Colorado came open and I got it! I’ll never forget the pastor in Indiana telling Sara and me that God is with us no matter where we go and no matter how far we go from His will… he is still always with us.
One of the most significant things I learned through my corporate career was behavioral styles. Whether it was Myers-Briggs, DISC or any of the other instruments out there, I became a student of people, to the point where I began to teach DISC and help people/teams learn more about themselves and others. I’ll never forget the time when Sara and I were talking about this and we both had an epiphany about a source of irritation between us. It immediately helped us grow closer. Another time, I remember a participant in one of my classes coming up to me and saying that I had helped him save his marriage. What powerful stuff. Over my career, I realized that I enjoyed helping people grow and deal with life much more than engineering equipment and processes.
Sara and I have two incredible children. Our daughter, Emily is the child that had to work hard, tried to do right, went to college, graduated, and is now a stay-at-home mom for our three beautiful grandchildren. Emily and our son-in-law, Jeff, seem to have life figured out, are very dedicated to the Lord and are great parents. Our son is an intelligent, talented, big-hearted man that has had many difficulties in life. We continue to pray for him and for our daughter and family as they experience life’s ups and downs.
We have had a roller coaster life like most people. In addition to what I’ve already written about, we have lost all of our parents. I have been unexpectedly terminated from one of my “dream” jobs and had to take a job in an area I never would have expected, we’ve moved across the country multiple times chasing the dream, have had challenging financial times, and stress has caused multiple health problems. Through it all, we’ve discovered that God is still in control and that we need to continue to have faith in the plan He has for our lives. He is much greater than anything we can conceive.
In 2008 I realized that God was calling me into full-time ministry as a pastor. Through all of the schooling, the incredible culture change, and through ministering to people, I have realized more and more that chasing the success dream is not where it’s at and not where God wants any of us to be. I realize that money and success are fleeting and that I am the most content when I can live a simple Godly life pointing people to Him and helping people, especially those who have no means to repay the help. In the midst of it all, I have become more aware that my true success/contentment in life comes when I have to solely depend on God for the words, patience, talent, etc. and am firmly in His will and path for my life. Simply being God’s son and serving Him.
And the journey continued… In December of 2016 God called us to the amazing town of Killeen, TX to plant a church! We are watching and working with great, joyous anticipation as God leads us through this new chapter in life… More to come!