June 11, 2021

Rockstar Christian: A conversation with Keith Stonehart

Rockstar Christian: A conversation with Keith Stonehart

I wasn't sure what to expect from someone who came from a life of rock and roll. I mean, I know all the stereotypes. Were they right? Evangelist Keith Stonehart sets the record straight, and shows how Christianity helps fix our brokenness. 

Keith is the evangelist for the Fultondale church of Christ, and co-host for the podcast The Real Deal.


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Transcript
Kenny Embry:

In this episode of balancing the Christian life, we talk about how Christianity helps fix the bad decisions in your life. Welcome to balancing the Christian life. I'm Dr. Kenny Embry. We'll talk about how to be better Christians and people in the digital age. Let's go. There are some people you meet who you know will forever change the way you think about things. They make you think twice about conclusions, you feel like you safely left behind years before. So when I met former rock band member and Mohawk wearing preacher, Keith Stonehart in a chapter a day group that I participate in online, I knew I was going to have to revisit some of what I thought about the rock and roll lifestyle. I was also curious about how accurate the stereotypes are for guys in a band. I've talked to a few people now about this idea of being wonderfully broken. And Keith is happy to be put in that category. He talks about all the things which were truly dysfunctional in his life, and how Christianity, his brother in law, and a giant man named Brownie changed the path of his life forever. See if he doesn't change your perspective, as well. How are you doing Keith?

Keith Stonehart:

Doing good.

Kenny Embry:

All right, man. How does a self respecting heavy metal band member become a Bible toting preacher?

Keith Stonehart:

It was always my long term goal. It's a long story. And so I'll do my best to condense it. But remember, I do preach now. So I couldn't be long winded here. No, so the short version is, is that yes, I was in a touring rock band for almost 12 years, music had had always been a huge part of my life, and still is, the lifestyle had really worn me down. I had become just about addicted to anything, because I was one of those where I had drugs of choice. But I had particular ones that I liked more. Yeah. And those drugs really wore me down. They caused problems in my marriage, I had met my wife, Kelly, toward the latter part of the music career, she really grounded me. And I'm still kind of like that personality wise, I'm all in with whatever I do, she had a gift of kind of running me back in, when the wheels began to fall off, and my addiction was at its peak. And our marriage really got in trouble. I knew it was time to quit, really, it was a matter of her or the band. We were really in a low place. I mean, she was going to leave me and my brother in law, who is an elder in the church. Now he wasn't then I showed up at my house. And the the most probably pointed question of my life was very simple. He said, What are you doing? And I wrestled with that question for a good few minutes trying to give him an answer. And ultimately, I just didn't know I said, I don't know what I'm doing. Mark, I have no idea what I'm doing. I'm making a mess is what I'm doing. He says, Well, yeah, you definitely are. And so we began to talk and he let me kind of tell him all the ugly truth about myself and things that kind of led up to that moment, I was an atheist, I wouldn't say that I was a hardcore atheist, I was more of an atheist of convenience. Maybe agnostic might be better. But I didn't really want to believe in anything. I chose not to believe I had all of my quote unquote, gotcha, atheist questions, you know, and he listened to me go on for about three hours. And at the end of it, he says, Well, I can't promise you that I can fix this. I can't promise you that I can't even get Kelly to come home. But what I can promise you is that there's a way that works. And I said, Mark, you know, I don't believe in your God. And he says, Yeah, he goes, I know that. He said, But you've lived your way. 28 years, you've made a total mess. What have you got to lose and trying something else, at least just listen to what can be said here. And so I agreed that I would meet him the next night, then this was a Tuesday. So the next night was Wednesday. Yeah. And so I agreed to meet him at the Mountain View, Church of Christ and coming Georgia. He persuaded Kelly to also meet me there. And so we appeared to be together. But we were not, you know, we were there. And I didn't really pay attention to a lot of what was said the, the adult Bible class that night. They were in Revelation chapter 19. So, I didn't really pay attention. But what I did pay attention to when they you know, they had the Wednesday night invitation, the young man got up and gave this really moving talk that I related to, I said, You know what, now, I said that whole Bible class, I didn't get any of that. But what this kid is saying make sense. Yeah. And then they saying, trust and obey. I was like, I like that. And so that kind of gave me the inclination. You know what, I would come back and do this again. After it was all over. Now mind you, I went in very apprehensive, I still had jet black hair. And it was crazy directions, both my ears are pierced. I've got tattoos, I mean, I'm the quintessential late 90s rock guy and very apprehensive, going in thinking, I'm going to be judged and that sort of thing. I've never been more happy in my life to be wrong. To my surprise. Those people didn't care about that man. They just wanted to know who I was and to meet me and to love on me and talk to me. And, you know, we were there probably 45 minutes just meeting and talking to people like we, I was actively trying to get out of the building, and they weren't gonna let it happen. These people wanted to talk to us. They wanted to know why we were there. And then they were thankful that we were that they didn't care where I came from. Right. They were just glad that I was there. And the evangelists there. My name Bradley reads, and what my brownie, big man, six foot four, just a big man comes up to me and introduces himself and and brownie had a way about him. I won't even say he was persistent. He was in engaged. And he asked Kelly, and if we ever studied our Bibles, and of course, my answer was like, Well, I don't have one. He's like, well, I'll bring you one. How about tomorrow night? I mean, me, and he just did not let us out of that lobby without committing to a study. And so we did, we committed to the study. And he showed up the next night. And this began the process of kind of deconstructing my atheism, because he allowed me to ask him all of my questions, or whatever question I had asked the question. And he goes, and if it's true, we'll see if the if the Bible has an answer for it. And every single time he he did he, he answered my questions. Now, I might not have like the answer. But the truth was, was that he gave me an answer. Yeah. And every time he would take the Bible, he would spin it, and he would push it across the table to me, so that I could read it for myself. After about a month of this Kelly and I, I started seeing the value in this, I'm still a little skeptical, but I had come to a reasonable amount of faith that I believe that will, okay, there is a God. And if there is a God, then he wants something from me based on what he's done, what we've studied so far. And I knew that part of that process was, was if I believed, then I should repent, and I should be baptized. And so that's all I knew. But it was enough.

Kenny Embry:

We hear a lot about the rock'n'roll lifestyle. I'm sure a lot of it's made up.

Keith Stonehart:

It's all true.

Kenny Embry:

Okay, why don't you tell me what's true, what's not.

Keith Stonehart:

You watch a lot of music specials. And you see musicians being interviewed. And they say, all I got into it because of music. Yeah, and there's an element of that is true. I mean, music is one of the great loves of my life. I got into it for the girls, man. And most any honest musician will tell you that they got into music for girls. It was a way for Gods like us who I wasn't the jock in high school. I didn't play football, I wasn't gonna be the hero or the captain of the football team. It's the long hair. Other guys skinny guy, my heroes, you know, Van Halen, and Motley Crue and kiss I knew that those guys met a lot of girls, guys and bands want to meet girls. And with that you're playing in bars every night you're playing in these venues, even the larger theaters that we play, they still sell alcohol. Yeah, so alcohol is a large part of it. I still get nervous. Even now before I preach on Sundays, you know, and that's not even the same thing. We're not even in the same ballpark, I get those same nerves, when I'm walking up to the to the pulpit on Sunday morning that I would on a Friday night, you know, in Bowling Green, Kentucky playing at a bar. And so the alcohol calm the nerves. So the the alcohol kind of went hand in hand with that everyone wants to party with the band wants to Show's over, hey, we're having a party back at so and so's house. And so, you know, we would always go and everything was free, because we were the band. And for whatever reason, that was like an honor to have the band there. We were as baffled as anybody. But we but we absolutely went with it, you know, and so then drugs into the picture and that sort of thing. And so all of that is true, but what I will say is that it's not a daily occurrence. Like one of the things that they always talked about, in a lot of these interviews that you've you may have seen, you know, the h1 Behind the Music specials that there Yeah, it's not a daily thing. It wasn't even a weekly thing sometimes. But when it was it was all the way. And so there are aspects of all of it. That's true. We never trashed the hotel room, because we would have to pay for that. You know what I mean? So, when you hear about, you know, these these grand stories of musicians, you know, throwing TVs out windows, I never I never experienced any of that, or with us or with any of the bands that we ever toured with. None of that ever went down. We were always very mindful of where the money comes from. And Because you're paying for that, that's one of the big, big misconceptions. People think that when you get an A van you get, even if you get a moderate amount of success with some radio play, and people buying and merchandise and all that, and you actually do begin to make some money and get some notoriety, you're still working for yourself. Like every dollar that you bring in has to go back into the production and you're not trashing hotel rooms.

Kenny Embry:

You did say that part of the the element that was true for you was was drug addiction.

Keith Stonehart:

Yes.

Kenny Embry:

What was your road like in drug addiction?

Keith Stonehart:

I grew up around it. My dad was an addict, my dad always had, you know, marijuana and alcohol. I can't remember ever my dad not having a beer in his hand. You know, in the, in the, in the 70s. You know, when I was a small kid, my dad always had a beer always. And so I just thought that was normal. Yeah, and my dad always would, would smoke marijuana with his work buddies, they would always come over after work, and they would smoke and all this stuff. But But I was introduced to also, you know, I found on a couple of occasions, I found cocaine, you know, my dad's raima found pills, I found, you know, various things like that, I found pornography, all sorts of things that that that all revolve in that same that that particular principle. And when I was five, there abouts had an older family member, and an older cousin that abused me for about off and on for about three years, I would stay with my grandmother. And he would also stay with my grandmother. And, you know, I'm five years old, I don't know what's going on, but he was absolutely taking advantage of, of my innocence, you know, and, you know, when you're when you're that old, you don't know what's going on. Yeah. But by the time you get to be about 14, you do. And there are questions that arise. And there are doubts, and there's a lot of anger. But at 14 years old, you don't know how to process what's happened to you, right? But you do know how to express yourself, you do find ways of the anger coming out, it was almost bipolar, at school was a class clown, because I knew I could get laughs and I could get attention. But outside of that I was I was really angry, and not not really sure how to express that. And so whenever I had my first beer, at 14 years old, I found something that worked, I found something that, you know, I didn't feel all that, you know, it kind of suppressed that when I smoked my first joint. All of a sudden, I didn't feel angry all the time. And so my dad was also abusive. In our household. He was verbally abusive, and physically abusive with my mother, not not so much with my brother, he was verbally abusive with him. We left that situation. Around the same time when I was 14, a couple of life altering moments when I'm 14, you know, I have my first beer, I have my first joint and then we leave my father. And my mom is now a single mom trying to care for a teenage boy, he's got all these anger issues. So high school was a really experimental time for me. Because you know, when you're high in high school anyway, you're trying to find your place. You're trying to find where you belong. And so you're just looking for people, I hung out with a lot of different groups of people. And what I found in common with the jocks, and with the stoners, and with the music lovers, everybody drank. And that's also kind of where I've developed my atheistic viewpoint, was that also the church going kids, right, all the kids that I knew that went to church in school, would also come to my house for a party on Friday night. And so I saw the hypocrisy there. And I, it became really hard for me to believe in an all loving Father, when my earthly father was such a bad example of that. Yeah, it is. And so those things really kind of fueled this idea that you know, what, if there's a God, I don't think I want anything to do with him. And if there's a God, I'm mad at him, you know, for for what my life has been. And as I entered into the latter years in high school, when I got in the band, and it just became very easy to get flash forward to graduation, the band starts touring. I'll never forget it because I had done cocaine a couple of times. throughout high school, you would end up with the rare occasion where someone in high school actually had it. That's probably not as rare now as it used to be. But back then in the late 80s, early 90s. You know, your average high school singer didn't just come across cocaine. That was a lot harder to get us a very intense drug. We were on a road trip with the band we had played in Nashville the night before. And then we we have played in St. Louis, and we had to leave St. Louis and drive up to Davenport, Iowa. And that's still like a six or seven hour drive, but we had to be there in the morning. We had to be there. 10 The morning and it's you know, it's two in the morning. And so we had to drop all night, it was gonna be how you got to drive all night just to get there, no stopping, we were already tired, we played three shows already. And without a break, we needed a break. And so the sound guy, the the guy who ran down to this club in St. Louis as well look here, he said, just take this every 30 minutes every hour, just put a key in this little bag and just snort a little bit because it'll it'll keep you up. And you'll get where you're going. And you know what, you crash tomorrow? Well, that began the love affair for me with that substance. And I did it from that point on. Anytime I could get my hands on it, which being in a band, it was a little easier to get, you'd be amazed at how many people will just give it to you because you're in the band. Right. And so it began the love affair for me. So my my main addiction was was cocaine, I didn't even consider drinking that big of an addiction because I could take it or leave it. But the cocaine became almost a necessity for me after a couple years, just to function. And it was like that up until when the band took the first break whenever the attack happened. And that sort of thing. We took a year and a half, two years off. I got sober. I mean, I was still drinking. But I mean, but as far as the cocaine went, I just it wasn't available to me anymore. And so I had no choice. Once the band started back up again. Well, then all the opportunities came back. And this time I kind of dove in headfirst, which all led up to its finality really in 2001, whenever we decided to become Christians, now let's I'll tell you this, even after I became a Christian, I became a Christian in November of 2001, it would be 2006. Before I was completely sober, and even a couple of incidents between 2006 2009 where I, I justified something or I, you know, I need to lose a few pounds or whatever. And so even then, I wasn't completely so I've only really been completely incident free now since about 2009. And so that's an eight year period, even being a Christian, even believing what I believed as as passionate as I was for it and the way that we delved into every Bible study that was available to us. Almost addicted to that. Yeah, it was always here. And I guess to some degree, it still is still back here. Yeah, I've just been out of it long enough to have lost my taste for it. And to also recognize the consequences of it. And also what the implications for me spiritually are, and it never goes away is I've just learned how to cope. I've learned by and large how the Bible instructs us to deal with our idols. And that was definitely one of those. For me, it was something that I put on a pedestal, I would protect it, I would defend it, I would fight for it. And I just had to learn how to let that go. And I would say that it's taken my whole life to get to this point. Yeah. And that'll be the that'll be true tomorrow, too, if I'll make it through today incident free, which I would love to say with 100% confidence that that'll happen. But there's always that 1% of Yeah, about that, if I'll make it through tomorrow than my whole life when it will have been about tomorrow.

Kenny Embry:

It sounds like you battled drug addiction for quite a while.

Keith Stonehart:

Yeah.

Kenny Embry:

How many of those years were while you were married?

Keith Stonehart:

Let's see. We got married in 1997. Huh. We met in 1995. I was I was headlong in it in 1995 when the band broke up, and then Nazi 96. And we took the year and a half break. I was sober. But we got married at that point. So pretty much from the from the beginning of our marriage until I was completely incident free in 2009 12 years. Wow. It's hard to start a marriage album on the wrong foot. And we did there was a lot of deceit wrapped up in that because that was absolutely something I was trying to keep secret. Yeah. So there was a lot of deceit that we had to work past. There were obviously trust issues that had to be overcome. And it's been a process and my wife has the patience of 10 women. And I had to finally just be resigned to the fact that either she really really loves me, or she's just got nothing better to do. And so I lean more toward the love part. Yes.

Kenny Embry:

That's a good call. Yeah. I'm guessing like you were talking about a lot of your diction had to be hidden. Is that correct? And there absolutely would have to be a lot of trust issues there.

Keith Stonehart:

Yes. Yeah. And it was it wasn't just her right. It was her family. Yeah, I mean, we would show up the family events and I'll be Hoshide. Yeah, I am maintaining that high where no one can know that I was high. I worked. I mean, this ought to give everybody a little pause. I was a I was a home builder. I worked for a home builder as a project manager. You know, in those years after I quit the band and become a Christian, and I'm still struggling with this. I'm building homes high as a kite. Thank goodness for city and county inspections. Somebody certainly got it right. You know, I fooled everybody. There were Wednesday nights where I came to Bible class after being hired damn I mean, I would come into Bible class high as a cop. No one knew. I assumed that they did. No one ever said anything if they did, it's like your whole life becomes a deception where you were actively deceiving people, that someone would have said, Hey, you okay? Yeah, I had I had something ready. You know, it's like, it was always this right here, I had something ready to say, to respond to deflect, or to appease, or, or whatever I had to do to deflect the situation, right. I still remember the day where I had been clean for more than 12 months, and I was sitting in my truck at work. And I believe that I'd repented. You know, when I became a Christian, I believe that I repented, I believe that I had repented to my wife for all that I put her through. Because our marriage was I treated very poorly. I was sitting in my truck at work. And, you know, I was kind of reflecting on the fact that I've been incident free, and I wasn't sure how long it was, but I knew that had been more than a year. And I was like, wow. And for whatever reason, at that point, and that moment, that day, it all kind of hit me like really hard. And I just started crying. I mean, like uncontrollably, and I called her. And she answered the phone, and I'm like, hey, it's because I'm like, oh, my goodness, what's the matter? What's the Keith, what's the matter? And I was like, I am so sorry. She said, for what I said for all of it. She said, I don't understand what you mean. I said, I was like, I've never really told you that. I'm sorry. I've asked you to forgive me. I've used the words I've repented. But I've never just told you that I'm sorry. For all that I've put you through, then I am and it was I guess it was it was maybe the first time where my maybe my conscience was working on its own for because, you know, for a large part of our first couple years being a Christian, my wife was my conscious, she would say, well, you probably shouldn't say that. Or, hey, we probably shouldn't do it that way. We, you know, she was kind of my gauge, because my conscious didn't work. Right. And I think it was like it was it took that long for it to develop, the longer I was sober. And the more time that we kind of dove into the true work of being a Christian. And I could talk for hours about that. But the true work of doing the daily work that every Christian ought to do, you know, looking at that Romans 12, you know, about, you know, being a living sacrifice. That's, that's true work. And it's something that has to be intentional. And I guess all that was beginning to manifest. And I just I was overcome. And I called her and we had that conversation. And that was really the turning point. Because up until then I have lived deceitfully. Even when I was trying to do the right things. I was still not telling the entire truth that's been within the last 12 years. And so it's it's definitely been a process of rebuilding. Trust me,

Kenny Embry:

I go to church with you.

Keith Stonehart:

Yes.

Kenny Embry:

And I see what's going on. And I kind of figured start putting pieces together. And I really want to support your family. Yeah, but I need to make sure that Keith doesn't use the money. You have to go buy more drugs. Yes. How do I help your wife? I'll tell you what she had my mother sister in law. Denise Hearn Well, as I said, her husband mark is one that actually convinced me to come to church that first time and he's he's an elder now at the mountview congregation, but her sister Denise, she was the support system. She's the one that knew all of it. Yeah, she knew all of the backstory. She knew all the dirty twists and turns. And so she was really one of the only ones that can really be there for Kelly. But man she was every day. Her and another woman named Carla, Harvard, Carla was heavily involved with Kelly. And so between those two women, there were no secrets. They knew exactly what was going on with us. And so they were able to truly gauge things, you know, if we were having problems, which we did, I mean, we It took us a lot of years to kind of overcome all the baggage because Kelly could have divorced me, and scripturally divorced me and put me away and chose to reconcile. I understand the the how difficult that is right. And I think about all the examples of where you know, where God forgave the Israelites, you know, he forgave the children of Israel, for their spiritual harlotry their spiritual adultery. understand now why he made the exception. Denise and Carla, they knew that and so their families were all like, buffers for us, you know, like, they they knew if something was going on, they knew if we were if we were having a hard time they knew and I think what that what that comes down to and this is one of the things that I talk about often is that we have people to be real with. I think that that's one thing in the church that if there's anything that that I've learned about fellowship, true fellowship, is this not the 15 or 20 minutes after services on Sunday where we cannot write, meet and greet. And we've all got our church face on, I like to call it, where I'm showing you the best of me. Yeah. Denise and Carla and their families, they knew us at the worst. And so they knew what was really going on with us. And so I think, if you're trying to get to know me, and make sure, I think it would just be spending time, I don't think evangelism can work. Without hospitality, that hospitality is where everybody has a voice at the table, you know, whenever the preacher is preaching, no one can talk, right. But at the dining room table, everyone has a voice. And so you're able to truly commune and truly break down the barriers and get to know people and maybe even talk about some of the, the real stuff. Yeah. And, and so I think that's I don't know if that answers your question or not. But I think the best way would be to get involved. To know what's going on with people. Yougot to know people. I've been dealing with this idea of what what I call wonderfully broken. In a church service. Everybody looks clean. They smell right. There's not anything going wrong in a church building. A friend of mine said that it's easy to judge our insides by everybody else's outsides. Yes, that we feel like everything's going well with them. So obviously, I'm the only one who's messing everything up here. Do you think you're broken? Keith? Absolutely. And I'll preface that with saying I believe that in Christ, I'm made whole. Yes. Right, that that, you know, we sing the song I come broken to be mended. You know, yeah. One of my favorite songs that that we're saying one of my favorite hymns. But the very point of that song is that I do come broken, right, that there is an element of me and my humanity that's always going to be broken. And we've all every every human being, you know, despite appearances, you know, we might look across the auditorium. People sometimes think, well, they won't understand because they've never been through what I've been through, but everybody has been through something. Yeah. Everyone has experienced some sort of heartbreak or heartache. Someone has, everyone has experienced some sort of betrayal or deceit. The reality of it. Every person is also sin. Yeah. So in that sin is where the brokenness lives, and that's where it thrives without Christ in crisis, where that brokenness is glorified, but not because of what we're dealing with. Because what he does right. Jesus made a big deal that Christianity has a cost. Yes. What has Christianity cost you?

Keith Stonehart:

Well, the first thing was that it did cost me my music career. That was my first love. And to this day, there's nowhere I go, when I don't get in the car that musics not playing. And then I'm not singing, I drove my family absolutely nuts, because I can't ride from here to the church building. without some music, and me singing. You know, that's when I gave that I still remember when I had to call the guys in my band and say, Listen, I can't do this anymore. I know. Yeah, yeah, we probably need to take a break. I'm like, No, it's not a break. I can't do this anymore. This is over. For me, I can't be in those rooms. One thing it didn't cost me was my friendships. I still have my friendships with those guys. But it will never be like it was before. Of course, I'm 48. Now and so I wouldn't try to have a music career. But when I was still young, and it was possible, I gave that up, cost me that. It cost me a lot of relationships. There were people that I was quite fond of that I had to let go. It's definitely coming to cost. I mean, there were there was lots of little things where I had jobs, where I was asked to do unethical things that I quit, you know, and that's very modern, you know, but but it's been a lot of those type things over over the last 20 years.

Kenny Embry:

On the flip side of that you gain something. Absolutely. And it's easy to say that you gain Heaven, which will be the ultimate destination munchie gain something during this life as well. What have you gained?

Keith Stonehart:

Peace for one I can when I when I lay my head on my pillow at night. I know that if my eyes don't open here, I know that they'll open elsewhere also have found fulfillment. The Angry 14 year old Yeah, that realized he'd been sexually abused that even struggled with his sexuality a little bit if I'm being honest. Yeah. Because you know, 14 years old, you're thinking, Well, why did that happen to me? Because I'm a guy. Yeah. Though, that's not supposed to happen. You know, there's a lot of confusion that goes on the anger associated with all of that, that kind of drove the addiction that kind of drove also another aspect of that that really haunts me still was the fight because I did question what had happened to me. It may want to sleep with every female that would let me and so I left my own trail of destruction behind me, you know what I mean? And all I can be thankful for is that God's grace, God forgave me for that. And I hope that I didn't do as much damage as I feel like I did. But that might be another podcast. But that, you know, the The reality is that I have peace, knowing that all of those things have been taken for me, I wake up every day, and I can't believe that I get to do what I do. And working with the fultondale church of christ here that I get to serve people, in the same way that I was served. When I think back to my conversion, it wasn't just mark Bowman, and Bradley Reeves that got involved with me, it was an entire congregation of people, john and Laura Johnson, I still remember all their names, these people were heavily involved with me and my family. It made it impossible for me to fall away. And even as hard as I tried, I had a relapse, you know, I walked away from drugs. My first relapse was about nine months in. And I remember I went on a week long Bender, and I hid it from everybody. Except Kelly, Kelly knew what was going on. And I knew that I could ask her to forgive me and she would and that we will go on and there was nothing really going to change it. So I decided to go forward. Now mind you, I was terrified. Because I still didn't fully understand what all of that was about at that time. But the invitation was given and I went forward. And I stood up in front of this, this group of people that I'd only begun to know for nine months, and told them that I had lied to all of them and that I had fallen back into drugs. Sorry, and cried my way through this whole thing. But the love that was shown to me that day, I'll never forget. And all those people that I invited people count on me saying, you know what, man, that's not my struggle, but I can have a drink right now. Or I have people coming up saying, you know what, that's not my struggle. But man, I I've really have a hard time with pornography. And all these people who are seemingly thought were perfect people. Yeah. That I had this misconception that everyone in the room was good except for me. Yeah. And I realized that they were just as broken as I was. They were just as messed up as I was. There was this realness that happened. And so I gained that I gained true understanding of what it meant to be a member of the Lord's body that we're all messed up. And we're all here. Just trying to make it peace, purpose in the sense of belonging somewhere. Yeah, those three things are probably the most important to me.

Kenny Embry:

I was listening to somebody the other day, and he said, we all respect strength, but we all relate to struggle. Yes, people who struggle are the ones that we relate to. Yeah, we often have to hide our struggles. But when somebody else says, Look, I don't know. It's just this is not me. Yeah. Those are the guys that attract us. Yeah. And it sounds like what you gained was the family already had. Yeah, I gotta tell you, I mean, the character that comes through loud and clear in this is not you. It's your wife. That sounds like just an amazing relationship. Right?

Keith Stonehart:

Oh, listen, I will cry right now. If I think about it, too much. She is an amazing woman. changed my life. Absolutely. I mean, she's not just the mother of my kids. But she truly. I mean, she she was the backbone when I didn't have one. Yeah, yeah, she was the voice of reason when there was none. You know, she's, she's the motivation when I don't have any. I mean, she's always the cooler head between the two of us. I'm a very passionate guy. And so I'm always right here, whatever it is. And she's always able to kind of, Okay, come out, you know, and bring it back in her dedication to God through all of this that she could have left me at any time. And many other relationships in other places that would have been that would have happened. Yeah, but she chose to love God more than me. So that when I was on lovable, she would stay. And I don't know if there's any word that will ever mean as much to me as the word stay. Because she did. She had every right to leave me and she didn't. I absolutely adore her. With that, and with all good reason. Yeah.

Kenny Embry:

What makes you joyful, Keith?

Unknown:

Whoa, you know, there's a lot of things. And I don't want to sound cliche here, but it's my it's my kids. My daughter was part of this beginning of this journey. Um, she was two whenever we became Christians, but oh, my goodness, she was, you know, she's 21 now, but it'll be 22 next month, wow. She's married. And she she's married to a great guy. They're getting ready to embark on their own. They when they got married, they they continued living here. We have an apartment in our basement. While I could finish school shoes at UAB with a communications major business focus. So she's been at University of Alabama Birmingham for that. And my son in law was finishing nursing school and he's actually already back in school now online at Auburn. But he's you know, he works full time at Brookwood Hospital in the cardiac unit. And so the idea was okay, you guys go and get married and then stay here, save some money and get ready and well, they're, they're getting ready to leave. Finally, I said this Sunday. My favorite sound in the world right now are the stairs in our house, because they're really loud. And when they come up from the basement, you hit this create this loud creaking. Bunch another coming in where those loud creaking stairs might annoy somebody else, those stairs bring me so much joy. Because I know that my kids are coming up to see me and my son lives upstairs in the house. his bedroom is upstairs. So this one is the only room up there. It's a spiral staircase. And we recently replaced all the pickets to rot our pickets. And they're really loud. They're really nice when he comes downstairs. I'm not annoyed by that, because I know he's coming downstairs and what, what father doesn't want to be with our kids. And so it's not to sound cliche, but my kids bring me so much joy. I mean, my daughter, I say this often she truly saved my life because I began to question things when she was born. The day that I held her for the first time. It made me contemplate the fact that God could be real because of this miracle that I'm holding this Yeah, I think that truly felt real love for the first time.

Kenny Embry:

Well, you say your son is 14?

Keith Stonehart:

Yes.

Kenny Embry:

Which is kind of the age where things started kind of running off the rails for you.

Keith Stonehart:

Yes.

Kenny Embry:

What does his future look like?

Unknown:

I hope that if anything, it it doesn't have to look like mine. Yeah, I don't regret anything in my life. Like I said, every day that I've lived through has brought me to this one. And so I'm thankful for all of the hardships for the trials for the heartache and heartbreak and all that but i i really am thankful that I broke the cycle. My son will have his own journey, but it won't be my ride that I broke that cycle that he doesn't have to grow up the way that I did.

Kenny Embry:

I end all my podcasts with be good and do good. What is good?

Unknown:

Yeah, that's a tough one, man. I mean, that's there. That's a loaded question. Good is everything that that we should aspire to. Good is everything that I see in the face of my children. Good is what I want to see in others. And good is what I don't see in myself.

Kenny Embry:

If somebody were wanting to get a hold of you keypad could they do that?

Keith Stonehart:

Well, obviously, you know, you and I both mentioned earlier, we're big proponents of social media. So my Facebook is public. Anyone can find me if you go to Facebook and type my name, you'll find me, but also through the fultondale church, Christ's website, our YouTube page, our contact information is all on that. And so you can find me through Facebook. My email address is k stone heart@gmail.com I mean, I'm not even supposed to give my phone number out if people want it. It's area code 404-396-9581. I'll make myself available as I can be. Well, God

Kenny Embry:

bless you in that man. I really enjoyed this conversation. I appreciate you taking the time, man. Me too, my friend. Me too. Absolutely. Did you notice everything that changed in Keith's life? I think it's hard for me to understand how transformative Christianity truly is. But do you see how this change really changed everything else for the better and Keith life in his wife's life, in his entire family's life. Thanks, Keith, for doing what you do, and being who you are. This week, the good thing I've been thinking about is spending time with family. As I'm releasing this, my wife and I are on a mini vacation we've taken for many years. We always find a few days a year just to be together without kids, and someplace where it's a little too far to drive to get back home easily. We always have a standing date on Friday nights. But it's this time when we sleep in and just relax for a while. And I have to admit, I look forward to this every year. I hope you have traditions in your family as well. that help you reconnect. I also want to thank those who have supported the podcast like Barbara McElwain, Craig Embry, Mark Russell George Sanchez, Kevin Hanson and my parents. It truly means a lot to have your support. Next time I plan to talk about the next part of digital literacy building perspectives. Also, do me a favor. If any of this podcast has made a difference to you. Please share it with your friends. So until next time, let's be good and do good