Well hello there, my name is Vincent Eramo!

You are probably visiting this site because you spoke with me recently. Or someone else mentioned this site and you decided to check it out. Either way, I'm glad you're here. I created this site to encourage other people that may have been through or are going through some of the things I have experienced in my life. I think we all need each other and we can learn from one another. I enjoy other people's testimonies because it helps me see life from another perspective. Therefore I hope that reading this will give wisdom hope and encouragement.

Let me start with my troubled youth and work my way to today. I, like so many others came from a dysfunctional family. You know the old joke, look up dysfunctional in the dictionary and you'll see a picture of my family. Because of this as a young man I was very troubled.

My father came from an Italian family of twelve and his father's name was Vincent, which is who I am named after. My grandfather was a tough Italian straight from Italy and spoke broken English. He died before I was born but from what I know of him he was really hard on his children. So my father never had someone who was a good role model to him.

My mother grew up in Vermont and her father died when she was seven. Her mother worked as a cook for wealthy families and they moved around a lot so she never felt like she fit in.

Their experiences growing up made being married and having children very challenging for them. Without saying to much they didn't seem very close to each other or to me. I never knew when an argument would break out. Being so young I really had no control over the situation, and it just always made me so nervous. There wasn't that peaceful and secure feeling we all should have in our home young or old our home should be our safe place. When my dad was a young man he was never praised or encouraged. Therefore It was hard for him to praise or encourage others. In fact, it seemed to me he never spoke many inspiring or encouraging words. He yelled a lot and hit you pretty hard if you did something wrong. Being brought up this way was a formula for disaster and my younger years were.

Without any real wisdom or guidance by the time I was fourteen I started experimenting with drugs and by sixteen I was using so much that I needed to start stealing and dealing just to support my own habit. I was such lost and angry young man that if someone ticked me off I would just hit them and that just lead to a lot of fights that caused me to have my nose broken about five times. I had to have rhinoplasty twice just so I could breathe through my nose and it helped my looks a little also.

July, 1972

After rhinoplasty

When I graduated from high school my older brother Steve knew I wasn't happy with myself mostly my physical appearance. One day he brought me to the Y.M.C.A. and introduced me to a young man that had won the Junior Mr. America contest and he started me on a diet and weight lifting program. I felt great, it gave me something to do by myself and for myself unlike team sports were your worrying that someone would be disappointed in you if you didn't perform well.

I developed that if only syndrome. You know like if only I was better looking or had a better build more money, cars, girls I would be happier or more fulfilled. That's why I believe so many people get divorced they think if only I had someone who loved me more or was more attractive or did the things I like to do I would be better off. You know, the grass is always greener on the other side .I had always believed that if I had all those things better build, more money, cars, and women that this would make me happier and more fulfilled. I found out after many years of pursuing these things and finally achieving these goals that this was not true! I still was empty inside, still unhappy and worst of all... hopeless because at least before I had hope in these superficial things filling that void.

Me and my 1923 Model T Roadster

I was so depressed at 24 years old and disappointed that these things I worked so hard for just didn't fill the void in my life, so one cold winter day I went to Good harbor beach stood there in the cold and cried out to God. I remember it like yesterday; I yelled to God and said if this is all there is to life then I'm finished I've had enough. For a moment there was silence, and then I heard God saying not audibly but in the depths of my soul, "good". I said to God, "good?", what do you mean "good". Again, there was nothing but silence. I went home confused but glad that I had heard something from God, as little as it was. When I got home I sat down with my Mom and shared with her what I was feeling, My mom had come to know the Lord about a year before and I saw her life change dramatically. It would take too long to share her testimony but believe me it was amazing to see what God did in her life. She suggested that I go see her pastor, so I called the church and made an appointment to see her pastor his name was pastor Terry I'll always be thankful for that man and for my mom who has since past away and gone home to be with the Lord.

When I went to see pastor Terry, I told him about the girls the cars the money the drugs my whole life story thinking he would probably throw me out. He was very kind though and explained to me that a man needs Christ to fill the emptiness inside that I was feeling. I had no idea what he meant but I continued to meet with him for several weeks and ask him all the usual questions most people ask about God. One of them being, "Why does God allow so much pain and suffering in the world?" The pastor explained everything to me as best he could but also let me know that at some point we have to accept the Lord by faith and believe the Lord knows what he is doing. One of the big things I learned at this time was not to be consumed with what other people thought of me. I had been putting more value on other people's thoughts of me than what I thought of myself.It's funny because the people that liked me as skinny Vinnie 135 pounds still liked me at a muscular 200 pounds. Just like the people who didn't like me when I was skinny Vinnie didn't like me when I'm 200 pounds. The point I'm trying to make is true friends and family don't care about what we look like or how we are built, they will like and accept us regardless. This is unconditional love and I never understood it. That is what Jesus is all about, He loves us unconditionally. The pastor asked me after a few weeks of counseling if I wanted to accept Jesus into my life. I don't know how to explain it but I knew I wanted Jesus to come and live in my heart. So right then and there I got down on my knees and invited Jesus into my life. I know that probably sounds a little fruity to some people but it was the best decision I've ever made in my life by far. That was over 30 years ago and I've never looked or went back to that empty life. Both my parents have passed on I can say with great joy I had a chance to lead my father to the Lord before he died and I know I'll see them both again. Now 30 years later the Lord has blessed me with a beautiful wife and two healthy boys.

My wonderful family and I

I have my own landscaping company and a nice home right in the town I grew up in. Most of all though, I have finally found peace, joy, and fulfillment in my Lord Jesus Christ! A whole new journey began for me on that day. I'm not saying that now I'm a Christian life has no problems. Life will always have new challenges that we face but at least now I don't feel like I face them alone. The Bible tells us that all things are possible though Christ Jesus who strengthens us.

I remember back in November of 1981 I went to the hospital with what we found out months later was severe panic attacks. If you have never had a severe panic attack, be thankful. These attacks were the worst feelings I had ever had in my life, my heart would race and I couldn't breathe. I felt disoriented, and like I was losing my mind. I had them so bad I was afraid to go more than 15 to 20 minutes away from home. I didn't want to be in a crowded area like stores or traffic and I definitely did not want to be on a plane. I couldn't even go to the gym and work out, something I always loved to do. The panic attacks literally paralyzed my life. I can't say that I was happy to have the attacks, which went on for several years. I believe that God delivered me from them and as I look back I am thankful for what I learned from them. One reason is that they really drew me closer to the Lord. I know now we definitely grow in the valleys, not on the mountaintops. When I had a panic attack I would walk and walk late into the night just praying to God and asking him to help me feel normal again. I spent so much time with the Lord praying I would feel his presence and his love in a way I could never describe. I know we don't like trials in our life and we think they are painful, inconvenient or bothersome. But if you trust the Lord those trials will be triumphs and cause great growth in your relationship and faith in Him. We really only have two choices in life when it comes to going through trials, we can let them make us bitter, or better. Being bitter won't change our situation so we might as well find out how to make it better. I know it's easy but like I quoted earlier, all things are possible though Christ Jesus. So don't give up! Today I am healthier than I've ever been and I haven't had an attack in years. I'm back in the gym and I've even won a couple of master's bodybuilding contests. Masters is just a nice way of saying old men. The amazing thing is I fly to Florida every year for vacation with my family. If you had told me when I was suffering from the panic attacks that I would one day get on a plane I would have said you were crazy. I can't say I love flying now but I don't get anxious anymore.

Mr. Massachusetts, 1990

I have had the opportunity to meet all kinds of people in my life and have seen a lot of people in pain physically and emotionally. Some people find out from their doctor that they have cancer. Others go through a difficult divorce or are just not happy in their marriage, while others have lost loved ones. Some have problems with their children, physically or emotionally, and have even lost children. I don't personally know why God allows these things to happen but I do know that God sees the big picture and we don't. According to his word life is a mist, it's here and it's gone. Life is very temporal to God.

1 Corinthians 2:9 says, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him."

You see, we can get into heaven with a sick body but we can't get into heaven with a sick soul. When you see it through God's eyes, life here is short with its ups and downs. Eternal life is of such a greater magnitude that God says our minds can't even conceive how great eternity in heaven will be. God's main purpose is to lead us to him no matter what it takes.

Proverbs 3:5 tells us, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all ways acknowledge him and he will make your path straight."

Maybe he won't always give you what you want but he will always give you what you need. Let's face it; no matter how hard we work out or diet and take care of ourselves, we are going to die. No one has gotten out alive yet.

1 Timothy 4:8 says, "For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, hold promise for both the present life and the life to come."

A runner doesn't wait until the day of the race to train, he would never be ready. Don't wait until it's too late to find out who Jesus is because if you do, you'll never be ready. Train now for the race called life, read the Bible, find a good local church that teaches the Bible.

Psalms 119:11 says, "I have hidden God's word in my heart that I might not sin against him."

Look, I know it's hard to believe in something you don't see, but that's what faith is.

Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

God tells us in his word, "What a perverse generation that seeks a sign to believe, for have I not revealed myself though my creation?" Think about it, he has revealed himself through his creation. We live on a round ball and there are people on the bottom of the ball that don't fall off. There are billions of gallons of water on this round ball but it doesn't run off. This round ball circles another ball called the Sun that's just the right temperature so we don't burn up or freeze. These round spheres are just hanging in space with no strings. So if you really want to see God, just look around, His signature is everywhere. Think of it this way, we don't see the wind, we don't know where it comes from, or where it goes but we can see when it blows. Just look at a flag or a tree moving back and forth. We can feel the wind on our face, yet we still don't see it. We believe it exists but we don't see it. What we see is the result of the wind's power. We see God's power in what he created and we can feel his presence but we don't actually see a physical Jesus. Some people mock God and say you believe in something you don't see, and I say, without a doubt, I do. If you know the Lord, you won't be afraid to die, but you also won't be afraid to live. My life may have started painful but remember, it's not how you started the race, it's how you finish. Life can be painful but it can also be great. May God bless you abundantly!

If you would like me to share my story but mostly the hope that we have in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior with your church or youth group or you just want someone to talk to, There is no fee or charge of any kind, e-mail me at [email protected].