Who is @eliwestfall
Posted by Chris Goforth
Today I am happy to share with you another interview I did with a guy I am more than pleased to call friend. Eli Westfall and I connected over a year ago on Twitter and we continue to stay connected. The one thing I learned fairly quickly with Eli is his ability to be transparent no matter what is going on. What you get is what you see with him and it’s something I truly appreciate about him. To find out more about this pretty cool dude, read on. . .
Tell us about your family?
I have one wife (Ronda) and 3 boys (Noah who is 7, Hayden who is 5, & Jagger who is almost 2); we have 2 dogs (a blue Weim and what we think is a treeing cur dog).
How long have you and Ronda been married?
Ronda and I got married on August 1, 1998.
What is the one thing you love most about Ronda?
Without a doubt the thing I love most about Ronda is that she never gives up on me. We have had some very rough times in our relationship and despite it all she has stuck by me. She has kicked me in the tail when I needed it, but her love has never wavered.
How would Ronda respond to that same question?
There are so many things for her to choose… But I would guess my wacky demeanor (fun way to say sense of humor) and my ‘go against the flow’ personality would probably rate high up there. Normally, I would cheat and just ask her but she’s out-of-town I know she is asleep so I can’t get a definitive answer at this moment… So let’s role with those.
You guys are about to celebrate 14 years of marriage, what do you believe has been the key to your marriage lasting so long?
Stubbornness. Neither one of us has been willing to really give up. Of course, keeping God at the center of the mix has probably been the thing that has saved us. We started our marriage saying we were never going to consider divorce as an option and we haven’t. Now, we’ve considered time a part as a reality check and the fear of losing all that is precious to me usually works as a failure deterrent. Without grounding any relationship on God, but especially a marriage, it won’t last. When the going has gotten tough we have always relied on God to carry us through.
I know that your 3 boys keep you busy, what do you enjoy most about being a Dad?
Watching my boys experience things for the first time. Seeing the look in their eyes as they climb that big rock the first time, or ride their bikes without training wheels, or hike a good way to enjoy a beautiful waterfall, or boogie board the first time, or score their first soccer goal, or anything do the first time. That look on their face can’t be matched by anything else.
In terms of a job, what are you doing that helps support your family?
Complex answer. Not really, but I like to make simple things hard. I am in the initial phase of support raising for the church attend, H2O Church-Orlando. It is associated with Great Commission Ministries and operates as a support-based missionary church in Orlando. I am raising support to come on staff and work with the family ministry. If anyone would like more info on how they can join our team, please feel free to contact me. I am attempting to complete a Master’s of Arts in Mental Health Counseling. I need to find the time for internships to complete it. My wife is an attorney who has her own small family law practice and she does contract work for a local firm doing foreclosure stuff. I work for my wife as her office assistant keeping her files and office stuff straightened out. I really like working with my wife. I hope to have the first step of my support raising done by the summer so that I can spend more time on ministry at our church as well as assist in the finances of our family.
Thinking back through your past work history, what other jobs have you held, what was your first and what lessons did you learn from that?
I’ve done tons of things over the years. I put us through undergrad and my wife halfway through law school waiting tables. I have worked for a total of 7 years in churches and another 4 as a Case Worker for Florida’s family and child services. My first job was at a furniture store working in the warehouse. The lesson that comes to the front of my mind is that I learned I love families. I love working with families and trying to build up and strengthen them. I’ve seen so much heartache in families, it’s time we start remind people the family is supposed to be a safe place.
Of all the jobs you’ve had, which job have you enjoyed the most.
Hands down ministry. And of all the churches I’ve been involved with, H2O Church-Orlando is by far the church that is most in tune with our goals/vision/passions/philosophy.
What do you do to relax?
I run and drink Chai Tea. I used to consume mass amounts of coffee, but gave it up earlier this year.
What hobbies/interests do you enjoy?
I like to run, mountain bike, hike, camping, obtaining useless info about jeeps, motorcycles, soccer, and I really enjoy spending time with my family.
What music is shuffling around on your iPod/iTunes or Spotify?
I’m one of those dudes that gets stuck on music. I listen to Celldweller constantly. The Dreaming gets lots of play time. Stabbing Westward. I have gotten my two oldest boys into Skillet. Some of my favorite bands are: Gungor, Waterdeep, Linkin Park, Flyleaf, Fireflight, Evanescence, Switchfoot, NIN, White Zombie, Rage Against the Machine, the Stones, Simon & Garfunkel, Hendrix and the Monkees. Right now I’m listening the Sixpence None the Richer’s self-titled album… I would argue this is one of the best albums ever made. Ever.
Do you have any books on your nightstand?
None. But I have started reading, although it has been a while since I read any of them, Seth Godin’s Linchpin, a book called the Dragonfly Effect on how to use utilize social media to effect social change and a book in the Blackstone series on ethics called Batman and Philosophy.
How are you connected or involved in your community?
In order to give a truthful answer I have to say not really. Being more involved or doing more for the less fortunate around us is something Ronda and I constantly scold ourselves for not doing. We want to be more involved, we have just done a poor job of fitting it into our schedule. We often talk of how we need to get our boys involved in helping others so that a good foundation is set for them. Thanks for the motivation to effect change in my life… I feel like a loser having to answer that I’m not involved in my community. Recently, I coached soccer and was involved that way… Maybe I should go there again…
What things are you most passionate about?
My family. Families… Helping families to increase the number of tools in their toolbox so that they are better equipped to cope with life. I really like to preach, I like to write and Jesus, of course.
What words would define you as a person?
Out of the box. Insane. Dumb. Stubborn. Funny. Different. RiDQlous.
When it comes to social media, what is your purpose for using it? What are the positives and negatives you have found using it?
To take over the world… No but seriously, to try to make a difference. To share my ideas, thoughts and experiences to help others. I use it to connect with people; I try to use it to build relationships. Positives are I’ve connected with people that I would have never had the chance to meet otherwise. One negative I noticed was a little while back I could tell you more about what was happening in the life of my digital friends than I could about the lives of the friends I see regularly. Another negative was it allowed me to become too preoccupied with my cell phone. I blame Twidroyd on Android OS for this. Notifications can come too frequently and obtrusively. I have since switched back to an iPhone and find it has a less invasive interface.
What causes you to bust out laughing?
Me. I think I’m humorous. My 5 year old is a riot. So I Married an Axe Murderer, Dumb & Dumber. I find that life in general is very humorous.
Who in history do you admire the most?
Billy the Kid and Han Solo.
What is something that moves you to tears?
I was moved to tears when I watched that movie the Company Men. It hit home for me and I associated with those feelings too much. I brought back feelings I didn’t want to feel. I cried.
Do you feel like you are living out your calling?
Yes. Without reservation or hesitation, I am doing what God has called me to.
What does the reflection in the mirror reveal to you?
A broken, tattered mess of a man that is gracefully covered by the blood of Christ.
How has God transformed you the most?
He is renewing my mind to a heart/mind that is after own. I struggle with some mental health issues that God is working his redemption story on right now.
In your opinion what defines a real man? Who helped to shape your ideas and opinions in this? Did your Dad or other key men play a key role in helping shape your identity as a man?
A real man admits when he is wrong and loves unconditionally. A real man would give anything for those that need it. My dad, my father in-law and my friend and pastor at H2O Church-Orlando Jim were really the dudes that shaped what I think about manhood. They all 3 have played larger roles than they could ever know in shaping my identity as a man.
Name two things on your bucket list?
I don’t really have a bucket list but I have always wanted to hike the Grand Canyon and live in Paris.
In the end when your life is over, what do you hope to be remembered for?
Not failing. I want to be remembered as a good dad and husband who loved his family and dedicated his life to serving Christ.
There are two places you can check out Eli’s writing – his personal blog The Diary of God - http://www.Eliwestfall.com – it is an exploration of how our roles support the bigger role of God in his story.
Or you can check out what he writes for his church blog - h2ochurchblog.com