John Houston has just released his brand new book Finding My Way Home: A Journey to Discover Hope and a Life of Purpose (Forefront Books, April 20, 2021). This memoir chronicles his journey and details how God's fingerprints were all over his story.
Houston didn't have it easy growing up. From a young age, home was not a place where he wanted to be. His parents divorced, his mother moved out, his father remarried and moved in with his new family and John and his older brother began living by themselves at the ages of 11 and 15. The years that followed were both challenging and remarkable as John overcame hardships that could have permanently derailed his life to become a respected and successful business owner.
We are honored to be able to catch up with John for this exclusive interview.
Q: John, thanks for doing this interview with us. Let's start from your beginning, what was life like when you were a kid living with your parents?
Thanks so much for having me. We were a typical family in a neighborhood of brick ranch houses in Waco, Texas. I lived with my parents and my brother and sister. I thought we had a really happy home, and lived a pretty normal life. If there was anything unusual about our family, it was that I don't remember ever seeing my parents argue.
I was completely shocked the day they told us they were getting divorced. We had just come home from a week-long family vacation. In about thirty minutes, without explaining why, my parents laid out the logistics and told me and my siblings we could choose which parent we wanted to live with. I remember thinking to myself, "Well my dad takes me deer hunting sometimes and I really like that", so I chose to live with my dad.
Q: Why did you and your brother have to move out at a very young age when your dad remarried?
My dad remarried pretty soon after the divorce and his new wife had two children of her own. My brother and I didn't necessarily fit into that picture. They actually tried to make us all a family for a while. But through a series of events, it became obvious that this living arrangement was not going to work, This was when my brother and I literally began living on our own.
Q: I believe you were only 11 and your brother 15 when you guys started living by yourselves, how did the two of you survive?
Well, my parents would still check in on us from a distance, and essentially we had to fend for ourselves. It was pretty crazy and chaotic at the time. But we began to really get our feet underneath us and started a lawn care business to support our needs. We would wake up early, mow lawns, go to school, then mow lawns again after school, then go to bed. Soon it just became normal life, and we really didn't know the difference. Looking back on it now I realize how crazy that was, but I think you just adapt to the situations that you're in.
Q: In the midst of all these sufferings, how and when did you find God? What gave you strength during those difficult times?
I had a relationship with God, but I wouldn't call it necessarily a personal relationship with the Lord. Thankfully, there were people in the church that still continued to love me, and I think that's what actually drew me back to continue to go to church. There was one particular guy who just did a really great job of loving me where I was, and that's actually what motivates me to mentor others today.
My relationship with God really started to change several years later after my mom committed suicide. I had spent years praying for her and was confused by the way her life ended. At the time I was going to a Bible school and all of my Bible professors told me if I missed a certain number of hours I'd have to drop the class. On top of all that, I had some Christians telling me that my mom would not be in heaven because of what she did. All of this together caused me to not want to have anything to do with God. I thought, if this is how God shows His love for us, forget it.
A big part of the problem, that I didn't know at the time, was that before my mom's suicide, I didn't really understand God's love. I lived by law, not by love. I was checking all the boxes off for "right living", but I didn't lead my life with love. In 1 Corinthians:13, it says "without love, it's all meaningless." And so I had to start on this journey of understanding how to lead with love. My wife Tracy's parents were a big key to that. They modeled a life of love every day for me and they would not stop inviting me and Tracy to come back to church with them. I finally told them I would go just to get them off my back, but God really did something in my heart that day and I decided I was ready to turn my whole life over to Him.
Q: How did you start and become involved in the building of homes?
I know this sounds crazy, but one day I just felt like God told me to start a home-building business. It really was out of the blue. For the first time in our marriage, both Tracy and I actually had steady jobs and seemed stable. But I couldn't shake this strong sense that eventually when the time was right, I would start building homes.
From the time I began to sense God wanted me to start a home-building business to the day we launched the company, it was five years. During all those years, my wife Tracy and I continued to pray over the future business and then waited until we heard God say "go."
Looking back, I really see it as a story of God's restoration in my life. As a kid, my family fell apart and I didn't really have a home. But through a long and patient journey, God helped me discover that I have a home in Christ, and that's where my hope is. It's really perfect that God called me to build homes for people because I'm passionate about helping people their home; both on earth and in eternity.
Q: How will your new book help those who are facing struggles in life today?
Man, my favorite thing about this book is that it's really just the story of my life, and I think everybody can relate to that. But the goal and objective in writing the book was just to share my journey with the reader, and show that even though it was really difficult at times, God was in the midst of it the whole time.
Almost everybody has a hard journey. We've all got our own stories, and what I hope readers walk away with is that there's hope in their story, just like there was in mine. If they can reflect back on their stories with an intent to see God in the midst, it will change their perspective.
Q: Where can our readers find out more about you and your new book?
They can go to meetjohnhouston.com where I write about these topics on my blog and more. They can get the book from there too or on Amazon. Thanks so much for having me. It's an honor to get to share God's story with you all.
Learn more at MeetJohnHouston.com.