The purpose of this testimony is to let people know what kind of people are writing these articles. It is our hope that people will be encouraged by our story.
Steve Graves (husband, father and founder of Timetracts)
I was born February 4, 1961 and was the youngest of three. We lived in Tampa, Florida. I have an older brother and sister. My mother stayed home with us when she could, but unfortunately my father was an alcoholic and from time to time my mother had to work to make ends meet. My father was a good man when he was sober. That’s the father I will always remember and love. Alcohol was the monster that destroyed him.
My parents divorced when I was ten. I have to say that no ten year old should ever have to choose between which parent to live with. It ripped my heart out. My mother remarried soon after and even though my father’s drinking became worse, my brother and sister went with to be with him. I did not want to be without my siblings, so I went with them. It was not long before we were with my mother and step-father. My new father tried to be a father to us, but between him being a police officer and being there for his four children from an alcoholic wife, he had a lot on his plate.
When I was in high school I was attracted to the military. Our high school had a ROTC program, so I joined up. I attended for three years. In my second year, I joined the drill team. In 10th grade, there was a class that others told me was an easy course called Bible History. It was an easy class to pass. All you had to do to get a passing grade was to say I read through the New Testament portion of the Bible. The best thing about the class was a lot of the classmates were girls. I did try to read and learn something in the class, but I felt I had no time for God or religion. During 11th grade, I was becoming more independent and started hanging around my peers that always seem to want to do things that I knew were wrong. I started to smoke and drink from time to time because my friends were doing it and it was supposed to be cool. I also met a girl and fell in love and was engaged at 16. Life was just beginning to look good.
I loved the Army ROTC, but I decided that I wanted to go into the Navy. The Navy seemed to offer the best career for what I was looking for, so at 17 and with my parent’s permission I joined in the Navy’s delayed entry program. I could finish my last year and then go in.
My senior year was crazy, I started doing drugs, my girlfriend wanted to get married even though I had no way to support her. It turned out her family was an abusive situation and I was her way out. When I told her things will be better after I get settled in the Navy and we needed to wait, she threatened to leave me. I was at first willing to give my career up for her, but it did not seem to matter to her anymore. She soon hooked up with someone else. I was heartbroken. My friends were either going to jail or going into the military. I had failed a class in my senior year, so I took the GED test. At the time the military did not require a high school diploma so I did not wait to get my results. I called my recruiter and I left for bootcamp the next week.
I flew to San Diego, California for my Basic Training. For the next seven weeks I was going to learn what life was going to be like in the military. It was during that time I met people from all over the country and from other parts of the world. One day there was a group of us sitting and just talking about everything under the sun. When the topic of religion was brought up, I just listened to the conservation until someone started attacking the Bible. It was the first time I really heard someone really saying something bad about it. People in our town mostly respected it and even though they lived there lives the way they did, they did not attack it. I finally said, “You should not attack the Bible because it is God’s word.” At that time the person turned around and looked me in the face and said two of the most important, most challenging words in my life– “Prove It”. It was as if a Higher Power was speaking through that person to either shut me up on the matter or to give me my life’s commission. After that day, from time to time I would think about what was said. To “prove it” would mean answering some of the things I was taught that were contrary to the Bible, things like science, history, archeology, medicine, law and especially character. This is where the beginning of Timetracts was born.
When graduation came I received my orders. I was returning to Florida for more training. On the weekends I could be with the family. During my time in Orlando, I had to stand duty. On this particular Sunday one of my jobs was to clean out the head–Navy term for bathroom. The only way I could get out of it was to say I was going to chapel services. I decided the worse chapel service was better than the best day cleaning out the head, so I went. Once there, a young Chaplin came in and performed the service. Of course I had my arms crossed and had an “impress me” attitude. His first words got my attention when he said, “How many here are looking for your true love?” He went on to tell us of how many couples came to him every week that wanted to get married. He went on to say “Why do you want to marry?” The couples would say–“because we are in love”. He went on to say that he does not marry people who are in love. When he said that, he got my attention, because I thought that was the answer. He said there are seven things that each couple needs to have and if they are off on three he would not marry them. Of the seven, love was not on the list. At that point I was scrambling to find something to write with. (For those seven things, read our article–Marriage: the right way to marry.)
After my training was over, I bought a motorcycle and found that I was going to an aircraft-carrier in the Pacific (USS Enterprise CVN-65). I had the opportunity of a lifetime to drive across the United States on a motorcycle. A week before I was to leave, I said goodbye to my friends and relatives. My grandmother wanted me to come and see her. When I arrived she had made an appointment for me to see her pastor. I figured she loved me enough to care for my soul, so I went. When I met him, he introduced himself and told me he served in the army before becoming a minister. After awhile he asked me if I was a Christian? I said what most people say, “Well, I am a good person. I try to live a good life.” For some reason the pastor was not buying my answer, then he said again, “Are you a Christian?” At that point, something in my spirit said to me I was not. I looked at him and said I was not. He went on and told me that Jesus Christ, who was God’s son, came and died for my sins. Mankind was in sin and the only way we could be pardoned from the wrath of God’s judgment of sin, was to repent and give our lives to Jesus Christ. At that moment I knew I needed him and I prayed to receive him as my Savior.
Two weeks later I was at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington. It was like being in a whole different part of the world. They had mountains, volcanoes, and everybody just loved the way I talked and knew I was raised in the south. It was not long before I was hanging around the wrong people and God was becoming the last thing on my mind.
One evening as I was leaving a party, I was going pretty fast around a corner on my motorcycle when I had to lay it down. As I was recovering from the shock of the situation, I sensed a voice telling me that I needed to give my life over to God. I went back to the ship and went to bed. A few days later I found an article lying on a table that really shook my life. It was entitled “Watch it you maybe religious, but lost.” In it was the passage in Matthew 7 which stated, “Not everyone that saith Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but he that doth the will of my father.” I knew I was guilty. In fact, I knew those words were for me and everyone that was doing what I was doing. A few days later as I was on watch I was on the bridge of the Enterprise, I felt that there were two superpowers that wanted my life, one was God and the other was the enemy. All I had to do to keep the enemy happy was to continue what I and everybody else was doing. God wanted me to die to myself and walk down a road that would make enemies and promise of persecution, but also a life of true peace and purpose. I then fell down on my knees and gave my life to God and purposed that I would live for him. Because I was influenced by people in my life and knew my new life was going to bring persecution, I would get off work, eat dinner and spend the rest of the day for months reading God’s word. On Sundays, I would try to find a church where God wanted me to go.
As time went, I did lose most of my friends, but they were friends that were only people that wanted to have a good time and not try to find their life purpose. God gave me new friends, some of which are still my friends even after thirty plus years. On May 18, 1980, as I was getting off watch, we were able to see the eruption of Mt. Saint Helens. It was a lesson in geology which showed consistent evidence what the Bible says about it. A couple of years later I felt the call to be a preacher. Many of the pastors in our area decided to start a Bible college and I was going to be part of the first class of this new college. Every week we had chapel services. It seemed that while a lot of the things we were taught were in the Bible, there was much we were taught that was not.
One chapel service the pastor did his talk on the Ten Commandments. When he got to the commandment “Honor thy father and Mother” I felt totally convicted. I felt God wanted me to get back under the authority of my parents. At first I thought I am 21 years old and I am a man, but God’s spirit rebuked me and said MY son was 30 when left his family to start his ministry. I went to my teachers and they told me that I needed to grow up and be a man and to cut the apron strings. They said that I needed to stay and get God’s training. After a few days, I called my parents and told them I wanted to stay and become a pastor, but if they wanted me to come home (3,000 miles away) I would. After about 30 seconds of silence on the phone, my mother said– “we want you to come home”. I finished the semester and headed home. A year later, the college closed down. It was due to some of the pastor’s who left the ministry because of sin. The president even left his wife for the secretary. All I could see was God’s protection of my life.
When my first enlistment in the Navy was coming up for renewal, I had thoughts of getting out, my step-father encouraged me to stay. He felt there were good things to come by serving in the Navy. Two years later, I met my future wife and was offered a job with the local utility company that lasted 28 ½ years. When it came to finding my future life partner, I was feeling that she did not exist. Every single woman I met was in one way another given over to a career or when it came to raising a family they were not as committed as I wanted my life partner to be. The Navy once told me “If we wanted you to have a wife, we would have issued you one” and the last place I thought I would find her was in the Navy…..“
Tracy Graves (Wife, Mother)
My name is Tracy Graves, I was born as Tracy Lee Weaver on March 8, 1963, I too was the youngest of three with an older brother and sister. My siblings were much older than I, so I felt like an only child. My blood mother took her life when I was ten, shortly after that my father remarried.
After my mother’s death, my father and step-mother were in a constant state of moving and job changes. This made for a lot of school changes for me and never being able to put down roots for very long.
By the time I hit 18 I had it in my heart and mind to join the military. I had aimed to join the Air Force, but God had a different plan for me. The Navy recruiter ended up with my signature on the dotted line. It wasn’t until several years later that I realized God was directing my steps before I gave my life to Him.
In April 1981, I arrived at Navy boot camp in Orlando, Fl. I was living my dream. I was raised from ten on by a very authoritative step-mother, this helped in one large way. I was taught not to question those in authority over me. For the good or bad this helped in those first months of Naval training.
In June of 1981 I arrived at Crypto logic “A” school in Pensacola, Fl. This is when I just realized I was in charge of me. Sure the Navy told me what to do most of the time, but I did get some time to myself– not necessarily a good thing.
I had been rather sheltered growing up, didn’t have many friends, never learned how to set up boundaries for myself especially concerning the opposite sex. I graduated from “A” school in October 1981 and then headed to my first duty station, Sabana Seca, Puerto Rico. You would think I had the world at my fingertips, I could have, but I messed up. Back at “A” school, I allowed myself to be promiscuous (loose- a bad girl). When I arrived in Puerto Rico, a few weeks later, I realized I was with child. I was completely devastated. I called home to let my folks know and to seek their counsel on what I should do. Next thing I knew I was on a flight to Dallas, Texas, where they were living at the time. Their answer to me was: get an abortion.
After several months of trying to recover emotionally from my trip to Texas, I ended up in another bad relationship. This one led to marriage. Shortly after we got married I found out that I was expecting again. I was thrilled. I had always wanted to be a mom, especially under the right circumstances… marriage. Then the realization that was not in a good situation set in. Not only had my husband informed me that he was engaging in a homosexual lifestyle, he was also emotionally and physically abusive to me. I was determined to be a good wife and mother, I was going to make this work.
Our daughter was born in January of 1984, I felt complete, she gave me reason to live when there were many times I wondered if it all really worth it.
In April, 1984 we got out of the Navy and flew to his hometown of Shreveport, La. It was a nice placeand I had great hopes that things would get better. They didn’t. He started smoking pot and drinking. He would get very angry. The day after Thanksgiving, I had reached my limit, it was either leave or run the chance of him killing me. I decided to grab my baby girl and a small suitcase of things for her and head to my parents. I had not spoken to them in several months. I found out they were living in Tampa, Fl.
I jumped on the earliest bus headed for Fl. That I could find. I was devastated. Alone, scared, I had no Idea what life was going to bring me, but I had my baby girl, for her I knew I had to make it. I had no choice. I never saw my husband again. The last time we spoke the plan was that he would come to Florida for us to work things out. The next thing I knew I received a phone call that he had taken his life. He was gone. This was February 1985.
At this point I knew I needed to get some money coming in. I had been out of the Navy for 11 months. I could go into the reserves and get a little money each month. My folks had their own business, so I was able to work for them and help earn my keep. It was during this time that I decided I was going to throw myself into raising my daughter and living each day as best as I could.
Each month I would go to my reserve weekend. This was the only time I had for me. I honestly didn’t want a new relationship, just wanted to focus on myself and my daughter. This is where God had different plans for me. This is where Steven Graves came into my life. This is where Jesus Christ came into my life as well. I had lost hope that I would ever be in a relationship again. I had been hurt and did not want to be hurt again. Then “It” happened. There was “this guy” who kept trying to get my attention; he kept trying to get me to converse with him. I just wanted to be left alone. One day “this guy” made a joke. I made the fatal mistake of laughing and allowing him to see it. He realized he had broken thru and thus continued to bring me out of my shell. Next thing I knew he was asking me on a date with him. I said yes, all the while not wanting fall for him for fear of being hurt again.
Three weeks after our first date he asked me to marry him (Nov 1985). I said yes, but we waited to June 1986 to marry. Once he had my “yes” his automatic response was that of love and commitment to me and my daughter. I used to say we were an instant family. Steve took on his role of protector and leader from the very beginning and hasn’t stopped since.
We have now been married for over 28 years. We have gone from that family of three to a family of 11. Two of our children have married and started their own families. Our eldest daughter has a son and a daughter.So now that you have read the testimonies of each of us before marriage…let us give you a glimpse into our lives since.
We were married on June 26, 1986. We are about to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary in 2016! That is so very hard to believe! As we look back over the last 29 years, we can see how the hand of God has led and guided us thru so many things. Trials and triumphs alike!
When we first married we lived on a piece of property that we shared with Tracy’s folks who were unbelievers. This caused a lot of tension due to the fact that we wanted to lead our lives in a way that would honor God in all that we did. Tracy’s folks didn’t understand and didn’t hesitate letting us know that. Over the course of the next several years we made several moves until we finally settled on a piece of property that we share with Steve’s folks. We have been on this property for over 24 years! Our children have never known any other home. Talk about stability!! Our dream is to maybe one day have another piece of property further north that will enable us to have small cabins for our children to come and visit with their own families. But for now…Florida is home.
When we were first together, we both knew that we wanted to have more children. Originally we said either 2 or 4. Both of us were the youngest of 3 and always felt like the “third wheel”…so an even number sounded great to us. Six months into our marriage we suffered our first loss of a child thru miscarriage. Little did we know that it would be quite some time before the Lord would allow us to conceive again. After 3 years and many tears and giving Tracy’s womb and the area of children to the Lord, we found out that we were finally expecting again! We were so excited only to have that dream destroyed by yet another loss thru miscarriage. I (Tracy) was devastated! Why would God allow us to finally conceive after all that we had been thru for those past 3 years and then take this child away from us!? I just didn’t understand. Steve, in all his love and wisdom, looked at me and said “ who are you to question God in this way? You know that God is in control of your womb. He knows what is best for us. We must trust Him.” I knew he was right. Once again I yielded this area to the Lord in hopes that one day He would allow us to have another baby. Just a few short months later we found out that we were expecting! By God’s love and kindness we welcomed our oldest son, Samuel Joseph, into the world in May of 1991
This is where our walk had to meet up with our talk. We had told the Lord that we would take whatever children He would give to us. When Samuel was just 9 months old, we found out that we were expecting again! We welcomed Rachel Katelyn into the world in November of 1992 I, Tracy, had some struggles with “how will I ever know how to love another child?! I love Jess and Samuel so much!” I am embarrassed to say that some of those feelings must have been felt by my precious new daughter. I, when she was a very young child, had to share my heart with her and seek her forgiveness for not completely being the mom I needed to be. I loved her and cared for her, but I had a part of me that struggled with having another baby so quickly. We had gone thru so much just in finally getting Samuel that it was a shock to have another so soon! Once I let myself realize what I had done and I verbally acknowledged it to her, God was able and free to work on my heart to fully love her the way I should and to prepare me for the years to follow! Just 21 months after Rachel arrived, we welcomed Benjamin James into our family in August of 1994. Stacy Elizabeth followed 2 years later in August of 1996. Zachary Robert arrived in September 1998. Anna Grace made her arrival in June of 2000. Then in July of 2002 we suffered another loss of a child thru miscarriage. This was hard and strange all at the same time. We had had 6 children with no problem, so it was really bizarre that we had another miscarriage in the middle of all those children. But God was not done with blessing just yet. In June of 2003 we rejoiced in the new life of Liberty Faith. I, Tracy, just knew that we were done having children. I had always seen us having eight. Liberty was our number 8. I had always hoped for a red headed baby girl, as our Benjamin is a red head-I knew it was possible. Liberty is red headed! Our family and my dreams, so I thought, were complete. HA HA!! Once again, His ways are higher (and different) than our ways!! Twenty three months later in May of 2005 we were blessed with our little caboose—Steven Paul. As I look back over the past years and all the ways that God has blessed us in the area of children my heart is filled and overwhelmed. Life has definitely had its challenges. Life has definitely had it’s ups and it’s downs, but there are NO regrets when it comes to our children and how God has seen fit to bless Steve and I. I do get tired at times. I do let my flesh get the best of me. I can be selfish. I can be a sinful, wretched human being, too. But I know that God is the giver and taker of life. I am so grateful for the husband and family that He has blessed my life with. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So that is a brief glimpse into our children and how they came into our lives. Now, onto another topic. In December of 1985, Steve was hired to work at our local power company. This opportunity allowed him the ability to work in several different positions over his 28 ½ years with them.
During the early days of this job, as our family was growing, my salary was not. I started a second job working security at a local car dealership. The hours were rough but we were getting through. When the children got older I realized that I was spending too much time at work and not enough time with my family.
It was during this time Tracy and I were being convicted of being in debt. First we purposed to not buy anymore vehicles on credit. That put a big dent in our bills. Our pastor at the time was preaching about the rewards of memorizing scripture. A new job came out that would almost double my salary and several people that were far better qualified than I were applying also. On the day of my interview, I was unbelievably so nervous and out of focus. I had fear come all over me and then it was like a voice in my mind saying “quote my word to me”. So I started reciting the section of scripture I was working on and all of the sudden, I had peace and became focused. At each of the three interviews, I was able to answer all the questions asked of me and with the confidence of knowing I did my best. Three weeks later I was informed I was selected for the job.
A testimony of faith and trusting God
When I arrived in my new department, I realized that not everybody wanted me to be there. There was a great spiritual battle to overcome. There was one ring leader in our department who had our supervisor’s ear, and that individual’s goal that year was to see me removed from the company.
One day my wife was coming to have lunch with me and as soon as some of the ladies found out, they wanted to meet a woman that had 6 children (at the time). When she arrived, several women from other departments were in our office. I left because they would not speak to her as long as I was there. Once I was gone, they asked her questions like:
• Why did you have all those children?
• Did he make you have those children?
• You are not going to have anymore, are you?
After 15 min, they thought she was crazier than I was! Is not that the world’s system for you? I immediately thought of the verse:
Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? I Corinthians 1:20
The sad part of this was that some of these ladies were professing Christians.
I had to work extra hard to just to keep afloat, but somehow I knew I was right where the Lord wanting me to be. Near the end of 2003, I was reporting to my supervisor for my end of the year evaluation. I thought I had done a good job that year until I was told different and got one of the lowest scores in my career. I was told that if there was a layoff I would be the first picked. I was speechless. I was wondering if I was fooling myself or was I reading God right.
The summer of 2004 Florida got hit with not just one but three hurricanes. After the first one, I was assigned to take charge of feeding up to 1100 linemen who were involved in restoring power after the second and third hurricanes. I was putting in 16-18 hour days. When it was all over, my boss’s superior found out what I was doing and wrote me a check for a $1,000 bonus check for each hurricane. At the end of the year for my evaluation, my supervisor admitted that he was listening to other people about me instead of getting to know me. He gave me a great evaluation and a raise. I was humbled at what the Lord was doing. He writes the next chapter in our lives. Soon I was being asked to pray at our staff meetings and was even asked to participate in the training of new analysts that came to our department.
Years have passed and I have enjoyed working with some wonderful people, but the Lord was working for me to move on to another career path. In 2010, our department went through a major change in management and new direction. My supervisor, who in my opinion was one of the best supervisors we had, was being threatened in his position. Through the pressure he was in he had to transfer to another department or be fired. The new management then hired another person with enough management skills to be dangerous. Soon people were being fired or put on report. I appealed for an investigation from Human Relations. After months of investigations they told our department that they found wrong doing, but they could not tell us what. This was the summer of 2013 and it became known to our family as the year from hell. Here is why:
• My wife went to the hospital with a serious medical condition
• My married daughter had to give birth to a still born child
• My brother and his family lost their home and was staying with us on our property
• My step-father had to have his leg amputated while I was on suspension. Actually, I was at the hospital when a lady at HR that was at first helping me was now going for my throat.
I knew management wanted to fire me even though they were at fault. I guess they thought if I got a lawyer, they would be found guilty and they did not want the media attention. So, they put me on a decision making leave for one day and had me report to the company’s “shrink”. Over the next several days I had to go in and answer 500 questions like:
• Do I drink alcohol?
• How much do I drink alcohol?
• What kind of alcohol do I drink?
• At what times do I drink?
I had over 100 questions on alcohol! Then the next 150 or so questions were:
• Do I hear voices?
• Do these voices in my head tell me to do bad things?
• Do I hear these voices when I am down?
• Have I ever wanted to do bad things when I heard these voices?
I met with not only one psychiatrist, but two. I was supposed to meet with them for 45 min, but after two hours one of them had an appointment he had to go to, so we stopped. I was informed that my new supervisor was in fear that I might shoot up the place, because I used naval terms like “battle plan” and “horse whipped”. The main “shrink” then said after hundreds of questions, “What am I going to do with you?” I replied, “I know what I am dealing with. I just need to do my job and let things happen the way they will happen.” He agreed and let me return to work.
I was to “walk on water” for a full year and I might get to keep my job. I prayed about the situation I was in and the stress I was dealing with. I decided to ask the two people who wanted me out of the company for lunch. As we were talking, I thanked them for taking the time to talk to me. During our talk, I realized that there was no way of communicating with them. Their minds were made up. I was finished and they were waiting for just the right opportunity to get rid of me. I had less than 2 months left on my suspension when my company car had a flat tire. I then wondered “will they fire me over this?” To my relief, they did not. I met with my supervisor for my mid-year evaluation and to my surprise she gave me one of the best evaluations I ever had. My son was getting ready to get married and I had met my goals for the year in June! Things couldn’t be better. That is when it all hit. I bumped into a guy wire off the side of the road. It cracked the bumper. Within a week I was on suspension. I received a call that I was to report to the office at 6:30am. I knew in my spirit that God was in control, but I also sensed I was going to be fired. I loaded up all of my equipment into the car and anything else that belonged to the company. The next morning I met with my supervisor and HR. I was informed that I was being terminated and that I had enough time to claim on my retirement. Normally, most people would be terrified or sad or just ready to cry, but the moment they said I was terminated I had a peace come over me. I felt chains coming off my shoulders. I almost thanked them as I left, but they would have thought I was crazy and run for security! All I knew was that– “I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I know who holds the future”
In July of 2014, the Lord allowed Steve to have that job taken away from him. Even though he had been under a lot of stress in that current position, it came as quite a blow to our family. Our financial security was now gone. Even though Steve had a strange peace about being let go, it left us all wondering what the future was to behold. Because he had been with the company for so long, he was allowed to take his retirement out early. This has enabled us to try and build onto a new future. We have no idea what the future holds, but we sure do know “who” holds our future.
It was after Steve got let go from the above position that he realized that this website needed some serious updating. God has laid it upon his heart to get this website to the best that it can be for Him. It is being constructed to be a haven for those who are seeking God’s truths. Though all who come here might not totally agree with all he shares on here, you can rest assured that a lot of hours of prayer, study and research have gone into each word. Steve takes Matthew 5:19 very seriously.
It is our prayer that as this website is being viewed by folks from all 50 states and over 130 countries that God’s word be glorified. If there is anything that we can do to help deepen or even just to clarify a given topic, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are here to serve you in whatever capacity you need us, be it thru prayer, encouragement thru email or whatever, please just know we want to help you in your walk in the Lord.
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. Proverbs 3:5-7
There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD. Proverbs 21:30