My roots are in two panhandles. I was born at the epicenter of the Texas Panhandle, in Amarillo, one of the biggest small towns around. After a couple of stops in California and New Mexico, I landed in the Oklahoma Panhandle. I attended public schools in the tiny town of Keyes, Oklahoma, which is not the end of the world, but you can see it from there. Even though there is not much to note about Keyes as a place, I would like to point out that some of the kindest and most resourceful people I have known are from these parts. Memories of the many ways these people have blessed my life come to mind almost every day!
I graduated from Keyes High School in 1976. There were seventeen people in my class, if memory serves me correctly. After graduation, the United States Navy provided me with an all-expense-paid trip to California, where I learned how to be a sailor at the San Diego Naval Training Center, which was closed in 1997, and trained to be a hospital corpsman at Naval Medical Center San Diego. My next stop was Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. Here I experienced a brief indoctrination in the Marine Corps way, so that I could better serve the medical needs of the lean, mean fighting machine.
Since graduating from high school, I’ve had a bit of formal education. The road has been long and winding, but it has taken me through Amarillo College in Amarillo, Texas; the Sunset International Bible Institute in Lubbock, Texas; the International Christian Counseling School in Anderson, Indiana; and Rochester College in Rochester Hills, Michigan. I have to tell you, though, it seems like the most important things I’ve learned have not been in a classroom. Some call this the school of hard knocks. It’s really just life. My thought is: If you pay attention, living is learning.
I’ve always been a believer. At least, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t believe in Jesus Christ. There have been some days that I lived in the foggy haze of not really knowing what it meant to be a believer. I made my share of blunders along the way, too. There were many times when I was almost consumed in the spiritual warfare, though I really didn’t even know what was happening at the time. Through it all, I always had a sense of God’s abiding presence in my life. This spark was fanned to a flame in 1979, when, in answer to a cry of desperation, God led me to a band of believers who really took the idea of following Jesus seriously. Through them, God helped me to see His way more clearly.
This new life in Christ has led to the experience of many spiritual blessings. I could never list them all. There is one thing that I must mention, though. God blessed me with a dear, sweet, loving, kind and gentle woman named Telesa, who agreed to be my wife. She is truly the most genuine Christian I know and the most dedicated mother on this planet. Whatever she does, she does well. Together we have four children. Luke is married and lives with his wife Lacy in Oklahoma. Matt is a sophomore at Oklahoma Christian University. Ben and Abby will both be in high school next year. They really don’t like for me to talk about them in public. Suffice it to say that each one is special in many ways. What you would love about them most, I believe, is that they are servants of Christ to the core of their beings.
Three things have shaped my life in recent years. No matter who you are, there is little doubt in my mind that we share the first thing, which is the impact of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. We’ve all been impacted by this event in some way. Following the horrific events of this day, I answered a call for chaplains and became involved with the Philadelphia-based Chapel of Four Chaplains. Along with 47 other volunteer chaplains, I served in rotation at Ground Zero in New York City. This chaplaincy service spanned October of 2001 through May of 2002. I remain active in the affairs of the Chapel of Four Chaplains, finding great satisfaction in working with other people of different faiths, promoting unity without uniformity. I continue to work with the chapel to provide support and training for disaster response teams nationally.
The second thing that has shaped my life in recent years is the many opportunities for community service that have opened before me. For several years, I was privileged to serve on the State of Delaware’s Citizen Corps Council, which oversees statewide programs for recruiting and training citizens in emergency preparedness. In addition to serving on the Council, I also helped develop the state’s Community Emergency Response Team training program. In addition to being involved with this program on this level, it was my privilege to teach the Disaster Psychology for several years, prior to moving to Florida.
The third life-shaping thing is by no means third in importance. It is really one of the most significant things to occur in my life. After searching for many years, I was able to find my biological father in February of 2003. So, while this blog is authored by “Bill Williams”, I am in reality William Harrison Sizemore, Junior. Because of the incredible complications involved in changing ones name, I’ll leave it as it is, though. While I have not yet been able to meet all of the members of my Sizemore family, those I have met have welcomed me into the family circle and treated me with a degree of kindness that I never would have imagined. You can’t imagine what a great thing it was for me when my father called just after 8:00 a.m., on that October morning in 2003 and said, “Happy birthday, son.”