Country artist Aaron Watson and rodeo broadcaster Anthony Lucia are entertainers dedicated to sharing their struggles openly, along with the faith that has carried them through. First, we catch up with Aaron Watson, a man of deep conviction who uses his music to spread hope and joy, whether through albums dedicated to hurricane relief or filling our hearts with Christmas cheer. He also tells us why he’s so transparent with his fans about the joys and heartaches he’s faced, and how he’s able to find God’s peace through it all. Rodeo star and broadcaster Anthony Lucia was born into a family well-known across the rodeo scene. His father was a rodeo performer, and Anthony began joining him in performances at age 8. As Anthony’s star began to rise, he moved out his father’s shadow and into his own identity. As a result, Anthony’s relationship with his father became strained, but he tells a beautiful story of reconciliation and healing between father and son.
Aaron Watson: I’m not chasing after hits. I’m just chasing after my heart, and I push myself harder. I never stop working and trying to become a better writer, a better singer, or a better artist. I want to make music that has meaning, music that makes a difference in someone’s life.
Hearing God’s Voice In Unlikely Places: Aaron Watson & Anthony Lucia – Episode #123
Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. Today’s guests have roots in country music and western sports, and are dedicated to being authentic to their fans about the struggles they face and the faith that has carried them through.
First up, we welcome back country artist Aaron Watson to the show. Aaron is a man of deep conviction, and passionately dedicated to his family, his fans, and his faith. Today he tells us how he desires to use his music to spread hope and joy, whether through albums dedicated to hurricane relief or filling our hearts with Christmas cheer. He also tells us why he’s so transparent with his fans about the joys and heartaches he’s faced, and how he’s able to find God’s peace through it all.
Aaron Watson: My name’s Aaron Watson. I’m a dad, a husband, a Christian, a big screw up at times, and I have a band. So this is my second time to be on the Jesus Calling Podcast, so thanks for having me back.
Giving Back After Hurricane Harvey
We’ve been playing shows associated with the Houston Rodeo for maybe 15+ years, always a smaller side stage [or] after-party shows. So to get the opportunity to get up on the big stage, the rotating stage, in front of like 70,000 people? It was such an honor. I tell people for a Texas artist, [playing the Houston Rodeo is] like a golfer getting the green jacket [in] The Masters.
We were able to record the entire show DVD. First of all, I just wanted to do that for myself, to capture that moment in time. I remember telling myself in 2003 or 2004, Man, in a few years I’m going to get on that stage. I didn’t realize it was going to be 14,15 years later, but it was a special night. I had my mom and dad there, lots of family. My wife, my kiddos. It’s a night I’ll never forget, and I was so thankful we got to capture that—not just the audio, but the video.
We’d planned on putting it out later that year, but that’s when Hurricane Harvey hit the south Texas coast and Houston, and the timing didn’t seem right. So we just put it on the back burners. At some point, I figured it was never going to come out.
And then we came up with the idea of, What if we put the album out on the one-year anniversary of the hurricane hitting the south Texas coast? Because when there’s billions of dollars of damage, millions of people affected, 12 months later it’s not all better now. It will probably take a decade or more for people to recover. I’ve literally met people that here they are a year later, and they still don’t have a home.
In this day and age with media, it’s all about the moment and then they move onto the next big story. And often, that leaves people in the shadows and they get forgotten. So we just thought [releasing the Houston Rodeo live album] would be a great opportunity to give back.
Texas is home. I’m a Texas artist. I think we played 41 states and 11 countries in the last three or four years, and I love sharing my brand of music with people around the world, but Texas is home. My mom is from Houston. So it was really nice to be able to have that opportunity to help a few people out.
Cowboys and Cowgirls Stay True to Their Roots
There’s a difference in how those people that are involved with rodeo, stock show, there’s a difference in how those people treat others versus the rest of the world. There’s so much kindness and love, and I just absolutely love playing anything associated with the Western world.
And we’ve been playing the National Finals Rodeo now for over 10 years. So for me, it’s just a part of life.
It always uplifts me to play those kind of events. Sometimes, to be honest with you, when I’m traveling all over the nation and I’m tired, and we’re playing dance halls and bars, honky tonks, or these music rooms and the insides of them are painted black and you’re going down into the green room and it smells like mildew. You’re just kind of like, “Yuck.” But then you play these rodeos, and there’s usually fairs and rides and fried foods and kids everywhere. There’s just such a positive vibe going on. So I just I love anything and everything associated with the Western world.
What I love about that culture is in a world where everything is changing, these people are staying true to their roots, how they were raised, and it’s admirable. It sets a great example for me that, “Okay, [there’s] the rest of the world, [and the cowboys and cowgirls are just] doing their thing.”
“In a world where everything is changing, these people are staying true to their roots, how they were raised, and it’s admirable. It sets a great example for me that.” – Aaron Watson
You know, we talk about Jesus Calling. I mean, we’re called to be different. That’s one thing I really admire about those cowboys and cowgirls. I mean, they’re not perfect. No one is. But I really I just really love so many things about them. They set a great example for a lot of us.
Raising a Musical Family
The oldest boy, Jake, he’s 12. He honestly plays guitar like a grown man. The boy just loves to play that guitar. He loves baseball and basketball. He’s playing football.
His younger brother, Jack, is 10 and he’s a hoot. Truly has one of the kindest, sweetest hearts of any human being. When he was little—little, little—I said, “Jack, you are so awesome.” I mean he’s four, five.
And he said, “No, Dad. Only God is awesome.”
And I was just like, “Wow, you little preacher!” I loved that about him.
And then there’s there’s a little sister, [Jolee Kate]. And I know you’re not supposed to have a favorite, but I love her about this much more than the boys. That’s because I know someday they’re going to meet some girl, get married, and they’re going to forget about their old man. But she has promised me that she will never forget about me, and that when I’m a mean, old, cranky man in an old folks home, she’ll bring me food. So I dote on her a little bit more. She loves to sing loves to dance. She loves to write songs. She plays the piano plays the guitar. She told me that in a few years when she’s a singer, she’ll just use my bus.
And my wife and I, we lost a little girl named Julia Grace. It’s hard to believe that was seven years ago. And you know, it was a tough. We lost her shortly after she was born. That was a tough ordeal. All these years later, it’s still tough. She’s a part of our story. I held her as she slipped away, and that really rocked my boat pretty good for a long time. But we still talk about her because that’s, you know, that’s . . . that’s little sister.
I didn’t realize this till after we lost her, but it feels good when people come up to me and ask about her. So when I’m around someone who has lost a loved one, rather than be hesitant and not say anything, I talk about them. That brings people more comfort than you know, because you’re acknowledging their existence and it helps their memory live on. It’s good for the heart.
“When I’m around someone who has lost a loved one, rather than be hesitant and not say anything, I talk about them. That brings people more comfort than you know, because you’re acknowledging their existence and it helps their memory live on. It’s good for the heart.” – Aaron Watson
Making An Aaron Watson Family Christmas
Narrator: Aaron strives to stay “real” with his fans as he shares the pains and the joys throughout the seasons of his life. He is excited this season to bring “joy to the world” with his next project, An Aaron Watson Family Christmas.
Aaron: So we made a Christmas record this summer in Texas. July. 105 degrees outside. We would go outside and we’d swim for a while, and we dry off, eat lunch, then we would record vocals in my wife’s closet because it just sounded like a sound booth in her closet. I think it’s all the hanging clothes and purses and shoes. I went throughout the house clapping and singing, and I was like, Oh. This is where we’re going to be singing vocals.
We made the best memories. I mean, I was like a stern NFL football coach. I was going to get their best performances. And you have to treat them all different, but they did so good.
Of all the projects I’ve ever made, this might be the one I’m most excited about. I mean, it turned out to be something that just was magical.
We sing some classics, we sing some originals. My wife sang “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” with me, and she just has the sweetest little voice, like, sounds like one of the girls from the 1930s, real soft and airy. And the boys sang “Rudolph” and “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.”
Probably my favorite track is Jolee Kate singing the Charlie Brown Christmas song, “Christmas Time Is Here.” It is amazing. Her little voice, she just sang her heart out. But then during the solo, where we had the area for the solo, we decided to have Jack read the meaning of Christmas that Linus read on stage in front of Charlie Brown. You know, Charlie Brown was upset because his tree had withered and [Linus] was like, “Charlie Brown, that’s not the meaning of Christmas!” And Linus read [Luke 2] and we had Jack read the same thing. And Jack actually sounds like Linus. So Jolee sings it and it goes into the solo, and you hear Jack say, “And there were shepherds,” and it’s amazing. I mean, you’re going to hear that and it’s just going to bring you tears of joy. This album, it’s 10 songs, and I truly feel like it captures the essence of Christmas.
I think it’s important during Christmas that while there’s trees and there’s presents, I think it’s important to make Jesus the sole focus of Christmas. And it’s the birth of Jesus, but when you talk about the birth of Jesus, you’re talking about the beginning of His life and the journey, which leads into the lessons, and the footsteps, which leads Him to the cross. So I love that it keeps you focused on the true meaning of Christmas. That’s what it’s all about.
“When you talk about the birth of Jesus, you’re talking about the beginning of His life and the journey, which leads into the lessons, and the footsteps, which leads Him to the cross. ” – Aaron Watson
I actually loved singing Christmas songs during the summer. I thought it was going to be weird, but it made me happy because those songs are full of joy and love and giving. So I cannot wait for everyone to get this album.
Living Out an Authentic Faith
I try to have a balance of my schedule. Like, three or four days on the road, come home for three or four days. I try to keep it balanced. I’m probably gone 150 days a year, which is a lot, but then there’s the 210 days where I’m home. And when I’m home, I’m really home. I’m at my kid’s disposal. Like, “What do you want from me today?”
It’s kind of a constant battle. I have to make myself and a lot of people that I’m working with just know, like, “No. I have been gone for five days. I have to deal with my home life because if things unravel here, the business will unravel shortly thereafter.”
But it’s a struggle. Obviously, I have a passion not just for my family, but my faith. And I’m quick to tell people that the reason why I need Jesus is because I’m probably more screwed up than you. A lot of people think, Oh, you’re a Christian, you’re a Goody Two-Shoes. I’m not a Goody Two-Shoe. My wife is, but I’m not. That’s why I need a constant reminder that I need to stay focused on my faith, on my family. And a lot of times I have to hit the Reset button.
“I’m quick to tell people that the reason why I need Jesus is because I’m probably more screwed up than you.” – Aaron Watson
But that’s the beauty of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. If you believe in Jesus and you believe that He gave his life for you on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins, then you understand what He did for you. His love is bigger than any mistake you ever make. And no matter what that mistake is, because of what He did for us, He’s given you this gift of forgiveness and there’s mercy. And that’s that Reset button. That’s hitting your knees in prayer, when you’re feeling like you’re hanging on by a thread and just asking God to forgive you and to give you courage to get back up and keep moving forward.
“That’s the beauty of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. If you believe in Jesus and you believe that He gave his life for you on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins, then you understand what He did for you. His love is bigger than any mistake you ever make. . . . He’s given you this gift of forgiveness and there’s mercy.” – Aaron Watson
I’m a roller coaster ride. If I sat and told you I have it all together, that would be a big lie. And I just can’t handle that kind of pressure, of people looking at me like I have it all together. I think it’s false advertisement. I think honesty is important.
One thing I loved about Johnny Cash is, man, Johnny Cash, he loved Jesus. And he really had a lot of struggles, a lot of addictions. And for me, I’m really inspired by his story because he constantly kept getting back up and moving forward. I love Billy Graham. I’ve read a lot of his books. Man, he had it all together. I mean, just such a role model. But I can relate a little bit more to Johnny Cash.
The Apostle Paul talks about [being a sinner], “For which I am the worst.” You know those are verses that I cling to. Because everybody, in this day and age, puts their best foot forward. Every photo has a filter on it. It just is what it is.
But like on my new record that I just recorded, I wrote this song called “Trying Like the Devil.” I wrote this song after I saw a [social media] post a dad made. His son had committed suicide, and he was talking about the letter that his son left behind. His son just didn’t feel like he was good enough, and his dad said, “I really wish artists out there would be more honest about their imperfections. I wish people posting things on Facebook and Instagram wouldn’t be so fake. We will only post good things, or we post hateful comments.” It’s interesting. It’s an interesting dynamic. It’s damaging.
And so I wrote this song, “Trying Like the Devil,” and it’s just all my struggles. I want people to hear that song, and I want them to, if they’re having a bad day, go, “Hey, it’s okay. I’m alright. I’m a little screwed up. We all are. If someone says they aren’t, then give them a little time.”
It’s tough as a Christian in this world. It’s tough. But that is one thing I really do feel like . . . you know, people say, “What does it feel like when God speaks to this or that?” And I’m like, “He has never said one word to me.” I have felt His presence at times. But when we lost our daughter, I felt something come over me after she left this world. I felt this sense of relief, that she’s okay now. I can’t explain that.
It’s also the same feeling that if I’ve been a complete idiot at home and I’m being rude to my wife, and I’m not being a good husband and I’m just carrying that burden around, when I finally swallow my pride and I hit my knees and I genuinely ask God to help me and to forgive me, I feel that burden lifted off me. I mean, that is real. To feel something just immediately changing you like that? I mean, that’s real.
Narrator: To learn more about Aaron’s latest album, An Aaron Watson Family Christmas, visit aaronwatson.com.
Stay tuned to hear our next guest, rodeo star Anthony Lucia, after this message from our sponsor.
Narrator: Hi, I’m Laura Neutzling, the host of the Jesus Calling Podcast. One of my favorite Christmas memories when I was growing up was the gift that I would get each year from my dad. I would smile, seeing that tiny box under the tree each year and couldn’t wait to open it. Removing the Christmas paper and opening that little coral box, I would always find a treasure, a piece of jewelry that was special, picked out by my dad for me from James Avery Artisan Jewelry. I cherish those pieces even today.
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Narrator: Our next guest is rodeo star and broadcaster Anthony Lucia. Anthony was born into a family whose name is known widely across the rodeo scene. His father was a well-known rodeo performer, and Anthony began joining him in performances at age 8. As Anthony’s star began to rise in rodeo competitions and as a budding rodeo announcer, he began to move out of the shadow of his father’s fame, and into his own identity. As a result, his relationship with his father became strained, but Anthony tells a beautiful story of reconciliation and, ultimately, healing between father and son.
I do a lot of broadcasts for live Western sports, live events, as well. Professional team roper, former professional trick roper. I still trick rope every once in a while. I was able to perform at the National Finals Rodeo on four different occasions. I was nominated three-time PRCA Entertainer of the Year. And then I moved into talking a lot. That’s my true passion, talking about the sport and the people that I love—that’s rodeo and anything Western sports.
Growing Up as a Rodeo Kid
I grew up just west of Weatherford in a little town called Garner. A typical day would be, my dad would wake me up. I like to sleep and wasn’t necessarily a morning person, but I learned to be because my dad was grew up in the day and age where if you don’t work, you don’t eat. My dad grew up from the streets of Minneapolis with nothing, in a poverty-stricken part of the town. He worked from the time he was 8 years old, had a job of some sorts to help his mom. He had a single mom, and my dad was so grateful that he taught us work ethic.
He did entertaining in professional rodeos—he started out as a barrel man. He was a clown, and he transferred into strictly doing “dress acts,” that’s what they call them. He had a monkey named Whiplash that he trained to ride a border collie, and the border collie would herd up wild Barbado sheep and then he also would train, he had some amazing trick horses there. In fact [one of the horses’ names] was “In His Glory.” And then the second one, when that one passed away, God brought another horse in.
These horses had physical handicaps, and they were actually going to be put down. My dad, thanks be to God, was able to save them. And then, because he had such a way with animals, he was able to train them to do amazing things that, at first thought, these horses with a deformity wouldn’t be able to do. But because of my dad’s relationship with animals, because he was able to communicate with them, in essence, he was able to make them and teach them and bring them their full potential. And they were able to do amazing things.
He performed all over the country, every major rodeo and stock show from the Calgary Stampede to the Madison Square Garden in New York. I mean, we’ve been everywhere. And so that’s how I grew up. I grew up being in entertainment and being around animals.
In the Bible, it talks about we have dominion over the animals, and my dad took that for real. He believed that he could train an animal to do anything. And it wasn’t a forceful training—it was a training that, I’m going to figure out what this animal likes. I’m going to figure out what makes this animal tick, what his pressure points are, what helps this animal do what he can do. And dad would get the best out of any animal he had.
It seemed like when we were home, there was always a plethora of things to do. We worked all day, we’d stop to eat lunch, and then go back at it till 5:00 or 6:00 o’clock, and then I was able to pretty much [do what I wanted]. If I wanted to go to the creek, I’d spend time in the creek. I was an explorer, an adventurer, and I loved finding wild animals. I would stalk wild animals like deer and raccoons and stuff like that. Raccoons aren’t that hard to stalk—just put food out and sit.
But that’s kind of that was my childhood. When we would leave, we would drive for the hundreds of miles that we went, however far we had to go to get to the rodeo. And from there, it was pretty much the same kind of day. Getting ready for that night’s performance, and whether it was going to luncheons with my dad and being around adults and or doing interviews with the media, talking about the animals and different things like that. And so we always had a job. It was a lot of very special time growing up with my dad. He was all hard work. He was a hard man, but my goodness, I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.
God Speaks in Unlikely Places
We grew up 35 minutes from town. I went to church on Wednesdays and Sundays, and that’s pretty much the only time we went to town. It’s not like we were countrified and living in the backwoods, but I didn’t have any friends, so I learned to trick rope. I taught myself how to trick rope, and it was it became a passion of mine. I wanted to be the very best at trick roping because my dad told me was if you’re going to do something, try to be the best because don’t just settle for mediocrity. And so that’s translated into every aspect of my life.
My dad could be a bit firm at times. Growing up, my mom was not in the picture at all. Thankfully, God removed me from that situation whenever they got divorced, and so my friends were animals.
I was drawn to the animals, but they were a part of us. Rodeo is a part of me. It’s not just something I love—the horses and the bulls and the cowboys and the fans and the cowgirls. It’s a part of who I am. It’s a part of what’s molded me into the man that I am today. And I have a long ways to go to be the man I want to be, but I’ve got a start, and that’s because of my dad, and because of the people of rodeo, because the animals that are in rodeo and all western sports.
“Rodeo is a part of me. It’s not just something I love—the horses and the bulls and the cowboys and the fans and the cowgirls. It’s a part of who I am.” – Anthony Lucia
And as I got older, the trick roping was fun, but I wanted to rope things that moved. I wanted to test that and see how good I could be. And when I was 19, I got my first rope horse. When I was 16, I’d started to train some young horses, and we’d go to the sale barn and by some unbroke horses.
I had this rope horse that I had saved up and bought, but I didn’t have anywhere to go and compete and to really utilize his talents. So we would rope sheep every once in a while because we always had sheep. I’d go on the pasture and we’d rope sheep. And of course, Dad didn’t like that very much. So I’d only do that whenever he went to town, when I knew he was going to be gone for a while, and then we’d just go ride. We would just spend time together, and we’d ride to the far back of our place. I would just step off him, and he would just be in grass, and I would just talk to God.
There’s been more times than I can count that at a point where I was lost or at a point where I was questioning like, God what are you doing? Because I felt like there were so many times, and I’m sure every young person can attest to this, but there are times in life when you’re young, where you have so many things going on, so many things you want to do, some of the things you’re not able to do, and you’re like, What am I here for? What’s my purpose? What am I here for? And more times than not, a nuzzle by that horse or a soft look . . . there’s been times where I’ve been on the ground just crying, just so just dealing with a lot of different things. And our family was very tumultuous growing up. So our family was being attacked a lot. And so there was times where my horse was . . . where my dad struggled with telling us that he loved us, struggled with a hug, or struggled with just a, “Hey, good job.” He struggled with that. But God used horses to tell me and to show me His love. And Peanut is still, to this day, one of the greatest blessings that I’ve ever received.
Stepping into a New Identity
I started performing in rodeos when I was 10 or 11 or I was 11. And so you’re 11 years old, and you can do all this amazing things with the rope. People are just like, “Oh my gosh, you’re so awesome.” Well, that could go to a kid’s head. I mean it’s just no different than sports or somebody stands out on the basketball court, the football field. But my dad was very conscious of not letting me get a big head.
As I got older, I became more involved in my dad’s business and getting him jobs, getting him sponsors, so I took on the role of, “Hey, this is Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey. He’s got millions of—” When YouTube first came out, he was like the first YouTube star. He was huge. I mean clips of him on YouTube were on ESPN’s Top Plays of the day and Plays of the Week. And so I learned how to gracefully talk about what this animal and what this act can do for that, whether it’s a company or an event or whatever.
What I’ve done and what I’ve “accomplished,” I don’t ever think that I’m the best ever. I have confidence. I have confidence in how hard I’ve worked to get to where I am, how hard I will continually work to stay where I am and get to where I want to be. And even when I’m there, you never stop working. And that’s the greatest thing I think my dad taught me.
We were on a tour. I was there with my dad, and the producer of the rodeo was like, “Hey, we have early morning media at 5:00 o’clock.” And I could trick rope, and they’re like, “Can you come talk to the news anchor and maybe teach him how to trick rope?” I’m 15 years old, and he’s like, “I’m going to make you a star.” My dad told me—he has a few choice words, but he goes, “That stuff of them saying they’ll make you a star? You to have them make you some money.”
I’m like, “Well, I’ll make sure my chores are done. I’m going to go do early morning media.” And so basically, we would go to these different buildings all across America. And all the news stations for that city would come in that morning to promote that night’s rodeo and the next night’s rodeo. And so I would trick rope, and these cameras would be set up in stations. I would trick rope with the news anchors and joke around with them and tell them, “Tonight you’re going to get to see some of the very best cowboys and cowgirls, amazing bucking bulls and horses. And not only that, you’re going to see Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey. Whether you’re 6, 66 or 96, you need to come to the rodeo because it is a true family event. The whole family is going to have fun. Make sure you’re here by six when the doors open, and enjoy a great night of America’s original sport.”
So I’m learning how to do this, at the time I’m just like, This is so fun, because I’m getting to trick rope, to be on camera a little bit. And like I said, I was raised to be a showman. That’s how I got into television. I never knew at the time that it would turn into what I’m doing now.
And so I started to learn how to announce when I was probably 16, 17 years old and never in a million years thought I would be a rodeo announcer. Never even crossed my mind. I’m just doing this like a trick rope because I want to be a world champion team roper. I want to be a world champion bronc rider when a little kid. wanted to be a cowboy. I’ve always wanted to be a cowboy. I just I love everything about being a cowboy, and I love everything about what a cowboy represents, just the grit and the try and the work that goes into being a cowboy, whether you’re an everyday cowboy working on a ranch or whether you’re a world champion cowboy like Tyson Durfey or Trevor Brazil. Those guys, the amount of work and the amount of sacrifice they put into being good at that is so honorable to me because I know how much it takes.
With trick groping, I wanted to be the best trick roper. I wanted to create the most exciting trick roping act. I wanted to be the best trick roper, I want to be the best showman. And so I just busted my butt to get good at that. Well, then team roping. I went all in on as much as I could with my schedule. I went all in on team roping. I didn’t want to just be a jackpot team roper and go here and there. I wanted to be a world champion. So I surround myself with the very best guys. I spent hours in the practice pen, and I was able to accomplish quite a few things with team roping.
Reconciliation for Father and Son
When I was probably 19 or 20 years old, my dad goes, “As much as you talk, you’d be a good rodeo announcer.”
And I’m like, “Okay, whatever.” I kind of took it as a little bit of an insult like just because I can talk, which is a product of what you’ve taught me my whole life. Like that was almost a bad thing. In my mind, that was a bad thing that I’ve always been a talker, and now they’re saying I can get paid to do it the thing my dad used to whip me for—and that’s talk too much. Trick roping, that was my own identity.
There were times I wished I wasn’t in my dad’s shadow. When I was young, I wanted to make my own path. I want to be Anthony Lucia. I didn’t want to be “Tommy’s boy.” Which hurts my heart to say that because I was so blessed, still I’m so blessed to have my dad. And now I take so much pride when somebody goes, “Are you Tommy Lucia’s son?”
I hope that I’m not the only youngster that ever felt that way.
There was a time period when I moved out. I mean, it’s kind of what did it. And looking back, I see now why he reacted the way that he did because he thought I was leaving him. I was his last boy, the last kid. I wanted to go do my own thing and and still help him, but I didn’t want to live there. I still wanted to help him and I wasn’t going, “Thanks a lot, Dad. Peace out.” I would never leave him alone. I wanted to help him, but he saw me moving out as I didn’t want part of him anymore. And he took that completely the wrong way, and he even admitted it when he got older. But it was one of those things, it’s like, “No, I’m not leaving you. I still love you. You’re my favorite human in the world. But I need to do this.” And so our relationship was tumultuous.
And whenever I say “tumultuous,” I mean we had a lot of really great times. There was a lot of struggle, a lot of different things that that we went through with my growth and even his growth.
Probably two years before he passed away, something clicked in his brain. And it was like, I’m just going to be proud of my sons. I’m not going to be mad at them if they don’t call me every day. I’m not going to be mad at them if they don’t just accept everything I have to say.
Every one of our relationships, with all my brothers with my dad, something clicked in his brain. It was amazing.
He had never seen me team rope. Had never seen me. I had been roping for eight years, and he’d never seen my team rope, not one time. And he came and watched me rope. He had never seen me announce. He came and watched me announce. He would ask me about my team roping. And every time, like, “How’s your team?” And then at announcing jobs he’d be like, “How did it go?”
“Well, it went pretty good. I co-announced with this guy”
“You should’ve knocked him on his butt.”
My dad loved God, but he never fully embraced His love. He never fully embraced His grace, His forgiveness. And I know that because of a lot of my dad’s mistakes, he felt so much guilt, and guilt creates anger. And that guilt breaks a lot of relationships.
“Guilt breaks a lot of relationships.” – Anthony Luca
But I felt like my dad finally got fully right with God, and he had accepted His love and His unending grace and His forgiveness. And that translated into all of our relationships because no longer did he feel guilty for being too firm. He realized, “That’s a mistake, you apologize for them.” And we all moved on. We’d already forgiven him years and years ago.
Dad was my hero. He was my superhero. Yeah, he was hard on us, but he loved us. He taught us so much, and he would laid down his life an instant for any one of us. You don’t find that people. You don’t just walk down the street and find that.
And when he passed away, it’s like I’d forgotten everything he taught me at that moment. I forgot he taught us when the going gets tough, the tough get going. I forgot that. Don’t feel sorry for yourself, just keep pushing forward. I forgot that all of the lessons that he taught us. Whenever I had a problem, deal with it. When I had a question, go to God.
So when my dad passed away, the first step to me being right was Jesus Calling.
Finding Direction in Our True Compass
My dad died on his birthday. I was supposed to go pick him up to go to lunch. He didn’t call me back. So I called. I got worried. And I found him. A lot of people don’t know that. Hardest moment in my life was kicking down my dad’s door.
That night, as lost as I was, through this book, God reached out. He said, “I’ve got you.” So that night, I got [Jesus Calling] from my dad. It had been in my drawer. I hadn’t read it, just kind of breezed through it every once in a while. That night I opened it up to June 1st. That’s my dad’s birthday. And this is what it said:
“I am involved in each moment of your life. I’ve carefully mapped out every inch of your journey through this day, even though much of it may feel haphazard. Because the world is in a fallen condition, things always seem to be unraveling around the edges. Expect to find trouble in this day. At the same time, trust that My way is perfect, even in the midst of such messy imperfection.
Say conscious of Me as you go through this day, remembering that I will never leave your side. Let the Holy Spirit guide you step by step, protecting you from unnecessary trials and equipping you to get through whatever must be endured. As you trudge through the sludge of this fallen world, keep your mind and heavenly places with Me Thus the light of My Presence shines on you, giving you Peace and Joy that circumstances cannot touch.”
When I read that [passage] that night, it gave me momentary peace. As I continued on, this gave me so much wisdom.
My dad had been such a compass for me my whole life. You always knew where he stood. I could ask him a question, and I knew the answer before I asked him. Sometimes I didn’t like him for it, but I respected him for it every time.
“My dad had been such a compass for me my whole life. You always knew where he stood.” – Anthony Lucia
And when he passed away, I was done. The number one human in my life for the last 30 years has gone.
The last three years since he’s passed away has been probably the three biggest years of my growth spiritually, mentally, emotionally as a man than my whole life. And when my dad died, I thought. I’m done. But what I didn’t realize is that now God was going to use that what I saw as a tragedy as a blessing for me to turn to Him more.
It took me about eight months. It took me about eight months to go, Wait a second. Why did God give me such a dad that had so much wisdom, and knowledge, and taught me so much? Why did he do that if I wasn’t supposed to use everything he taught me to live my life?
At the time when you’re doing it, when he’s still alive, I’m still getting coaching from him, you don’t realize that it’s already inside of you. God’s wisdom is already inside of us. We pray for wisdom. It’s the greatest gift God could ever give to us besides, obviously, salvation. But in the Bible, how great is the gift of wisdom? You read in Old Testament, “Wisdom is more precious than rubies.” And what I didn’t realize is that we all have that capability to grow in every aspect of our lives mentally, emotionally, spiritually, even physically.
“You read in the Old Testament, ‘Wisdom is more precious than rubies.’ And what I didn’t realize is that we all have that capability to grow in every aspect of our lives mentally, emotionally, spiritually, even physically.” – Anthony Lucia
Going Where God Has Called Us
My dad taught us to be independent, free-thinking individuals. But when we actually started to do that, it bothered him a bit because we were independently free-thinking from him. And my dad was very firm and very, “This is the way to do it.” That’s still something that fuels my passion and fuels my fire cause I want to be great at whatever I’m doing. Because one, my dad wouldn’t ever settle for anything less. And two, God didn’t create us just to be mediocre.
I want to bring people into our world and tell them about the stories, tell them about the people, tell them about their families, tell them about their stats all while presenting it in an exciting, entertaining fashion.
Being a trick roper, being a team roper contestant and competitor, doing the media when I was 15 years old, learning how to talk about the sport that I love, my true, heartfelt passion for the sport and the people love it, that’s what led me to rodeo announcing. Rodeo announcing has then opened up to broadcasting. That’s where this new venture of my life is starting to take me.
I started a talk show in 2009 called Life of Lucia. And basically, it’s in the National Finals Rodeo. I was hired to be entertainment at this big trade show at the convention center at the Sands Expo so that when people came in did their shopping, they could come sit down for an hour and see their favorite competitors and their favorite contestants that are competing at the National Finals.
So with the announcing transitioning, and I’m still going to announce rodeos, but there’s a lot of opportunity now with Western sports broadcasting. So in a way I feel like God is moving me in that direction to have a bigger impact. And I think He knows a little bit that if I get too big and announcing that I might get a little bit cocky.
When it comes down to it, I’m on the earth to do God’s will. God, even today, is changing a little of my direction of where He wants me to be, and that’s hard. That’s hard for me because I want to be the the best this or the best that. And I want to bust my butt to be the best, then God’s like, “Hang on a second, that’s great. But I can use you more here.”
“I’m on the earth to do God’s will. God, even today, is changing a little of my direction of where He wants me to be, and that’s hard.” – Anthony Lucia
There’s a lot of things happening in my career right now that are utter game changers in a great way, that are huge blessings. But it took me a while to set aside my own goals, to set aside my own pride in what I’ve worked to build and go, If God wants me there, that’s what I got to do.
Narrator: You can see Anthony Lucia on Live with Lucia on the Ride TV network. Visit ridetv.com for more information about broadcasts in your area.
Narrator: Next time on the Jesus Calling Podcast, we speak with Trey Johnson, a professional steer roper. Trey was PRCA’s Rookie of the Year in 2000, and has had countless wins since then. And now, he speaks all over the world, sharing Christ’s love and encouraging people that even when we fail, God will never fail us.
Trey Johnson: You can’t be afraid of making mistakes, whether it’s in business or family, whatever it is. If we’re afraid to fail, failure is evident—it’s gonna happen. But when we’re not afraid to fail, we’re not afraid to take the big steps. Never has God let me down. Never.