The first time we met was for dinner at the Rustic Inn in Ft. Lauderdale. She and her husband had just joined the Miami Dolphins and she was proactive in connecting with me, since I was the chaplain for the Dolphins’ wives at the time. Stunningly beautiful, yet amazingly humble and gracious is what I thought of her then. Having watched her grow through the years into an even greater woman than that (which you will witness in this interview), it is a pleasure for me to introduce you to Rebecca Feely, wife of Jay and my very first twitter follower (smile).
LIFE BEFORE JAY
Rebecca was raised in a family of faith, where they experienced a lot of tragedy. Her parents leaned more towards legalism, which somehow seemed a safer place to them. Growing up in a strict Baptist church, there were a lot of rules and restrictions. This type of upbringing left her feeling that she could never do enough to please God. The God she knew didn’t really love her, but He would strike her down if she didn’t follow the rules. Living under such tight constraints, proved very difficult.
So she rebelled.
She went away to the University of Michigan, where she partied hard, yet still excelled academically as a pre-med major. While taking time off from school to pursue a modeling career in Chicago, Feely became disillusioned when she witnessed the dark side of the industry and the lifestyles of those involved. After experiencing some disturbing events in her own life, she hit rock bottom.
Immersing herself in Christian books and apologetics, Feely began to read about a God completely different from the one she grew up with. This God had a plan for her, loved her and valued her. At 19 she asked Him to take over her life.
Feeling peace for the first time, a drastic change ensued. Feely exchanged late-night parties for regular church attendance, heavy drinking for the worship team. In 1997 she crossed paths with a young man she had never seen before, even though he, too, attended the University of Michigan and the same church. They were simply going in the same direction spiritually and at the right time, they met. Ten months later, they were married.
Rebecca says, “It’s been a rollercoaster ride since then.”
Kim Anthony – You’ve moved 12 times in 14 years. That can’t be an easy thing to do. How does your faith play into you being able to do something like that and still have your family intact?
Rebecca Feely – It hasn’t been fun. There are times when I come to him (Jay) teary eyed and say, “I need stability. What can you give me?”
It (my faith) just reminds me that our home isn’t here on this earth. I just want to be where God wants me to be. Every time we’ve moved I’ve been put in situations with people who have needed encouragement in their faith or (help) to find faith. I trust Him and I know we’re not supposed to be secure here on earth. I just try to make the best of where we are and get involved and be a positive role model. Every team we’ve been on, we’ve tried to be a part of the Bible study; either host it in our home or be actively involved. Whatever charity events are open and available, we try to be there.
KA – So charities are very important to you?
RF – Oh very! I’m able to be involved in a number of places. One of the closest places to my heart here in Arizona is called Hacienda and it’s a group home for mentally and physically disabled people. I’ve fallen in love with the people there and formed friendships. One girl named Cassie and I are doing a book club together. I go in and read to her and we pray together and I’m just her buddy. There are a number of people I’ve been able to do that with. It puts things in perspective for me. How dare I complain about the weather or having to move again? Here, these people are quadriplegics. Cassie’s dying of a brain tumor. How dare I be bitter or angry? I come home and I tell my kids that too, “Guys, I hung out with a 17-year-old boy today who dove into a pool and broke his neck,” and how thankful we should be for every day we have… and make the best of it.
KA – What a wonderful example that is for your kids…
RF – Oh it’s great! As soon as they’re old enough, they’re coming with me. I can’t wait to get them involved and teach them that life isn’t always about them.
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