Dave Pittman: As I grew in my faith and my understanding and knowledge of God, the Lord, and Scripture, I began to understand and realize that we may not understand what God is . . . what His plan is for our life, but we can trust, you know, that He is in control and that we’re not. And I think, for me, it was realizing that my identity is not in Tourette Syndrome or ADD or OCD, but it’s in Jesus Christ alone.
When We Can’t See God’s Plan, Trust His Heart: Dave Pittman & Rachel Van Kluyve – Episode #188
Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. Our guests this week have each experienced burdens in their lives that caused them to question their worth and their very existence: musician Dave Pittman and home designer Rachel Van Kluyve.
Dave Pittman, a budding Christian musician, and an American Idol finalist was only nine years old when he was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, a condition that can cause uncontrollable tics and vocal sounds. Before his diagnosis, Dave’s classmates didn’t understand what made Dave different and several responded by making fun of him or bullying him. Amid his dread of facing another school year feeling different and alone, Dave shares about the moment that he was more afraid of living than he was of dying, and what ultimately led him to embrace his condition.
Dave Pittman: My name’s Dave Pittman, and I’m a singer and a recording artist here in Nashville. I have a ministry where I travel around and go into churches and different organizations and schools to share my story of how I overcome obstacles with Tourette’s and OCD and ADD.
Struggling with Being “Different”
I grew up in a small town called Gassville, Arkansas. And I grew up in a church where my dad was a music pastor, and my mom helped lead the band and whatnot. I grew up in a family of five, I have two other siblings. And yeah, I just grew up singing in the church.
I was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome when I was nine years old. [My family] had started noticing some different tics and twitches when I was seven, but I was actually diagnosed with Tourette’s when I was nine years old, in the fourth grade.
I had a lot of, Why me? questions, like, God, why would you allow me to have this? Why did you allow me? Why is it me? I didn’t understand in my nine-year-old brain how I was supposed to handle this and live with it.
It was extremely difficult for me to go through. It made me a target of bullying from my peers at school and affected me in such a negative way that coming out of the fourth-grade year into the summer—there were about two weeks left of summer left—we’re sitting down at the breakfast table, my mom and dad, my two other siblings, and my mom asked the question to all of us as kids, “Are you guys ready to go back to school?” And she says she remembers the terror that came over my face, and I remember it as well, just thinking about there was no way I could go back and face another year of that. And again, you know, I was more afraid of living through that again than I was of dying. And at that moment, destroyed, I became suicidal.
“I was more afraid of living through that again than I was of dying.” – Dave Pittman, on being bullied as a child with Tourette Syndrome
Later that afternoon, my mom and dad left the house to run an errand, and I went back to my bedroom and got a piece of paper and a pencil and wrote down, “Mom and Dad, I love you. I’m gonna miss you.” And I had drawn, a frown face with tears rolling down it. And then I went into my mom and dad’s room and shut and locked the door. My other siblings were in a different part of the house. I put the note face up, and I got my father’s gun, and was literally about two seconds away from pulling the trigger [when] I heard the front door of our home open up, and a Mom and Dad come home. It was a little bit earlier than I expected. They proceeded down the hallway and knocked on the door. In the meantime, I’m scurrying around to get all of the things back together. I turn the note face down. Finally, I let them in, and they proceeded to ask me, “Dave, what were you doing in here with the door locked?” And, you know, I was silent.
My mom sees the piece of paper on the floor, in the middle of the floor, and she turns it over. And to her horror, she sees what’s written on the other side, and she just loses it. At that point, I lost it as well, because all those feelings from the year before just kind of came up and out, you know, things that I wasn’t open [about]. We all had a moment there, in the middle of their bedroom floor. We just cried and prayed together.
I received some counseling, and my mom and dad decided to pull me out of public school going into the fifth grade to homeschool me for that fifth-grade year. And I remember during that year, my mom—both my parents—just drilled into my head and my heart the importance of accepting yourself for who you are, and not just who you are, but who you are in Christ, your identity, who you’ve become in your walk with Christ. And she used the example of Paul and the thorn in his flesh in the Bible. When Paul asked God to remove it three times, God’s answer to him every time was, “My grace is sufficient enough for you. My power is made known through your weakness.” And for whatever reason, that stuck with me.
”My mom—both my parents—just drilled into my head and my heart the importance of accepting yourself for who you are, and not just who you are, but who you are in Christ, your identity, who you’ve become in your walk with Christ.” – Dave Pittman
Finding a New Identity in Music
For me, music—for whatever reason, I noticed that when I was singing, the tics and Tourette’s would not be present. For me, it was kind of a safe haven, a comfort, just to able to sing and have it not affect me. Since I love to do it anyways—I love to sing and use my talents that way—it just made it all the better when I would sing, and I wouldn’t suffer for that two and a half minute song.
I was part of the school band, you know, through junior high and high school, and [I did] choir as well. They wanted me to sing, and I sang “The Way You Look Tonight.” Other than a few talent shows here and there that I did, it was my first thing outside of the church that I did. And people really responded to that, and it was great. I was like, Man, I really want to try and do this when I get out of school. I didn’t know how I’d do that at all, but I was like, I’ve gotta try and pursue music.
So I graduated high school and didn’t have plans to go to college, because I just didn’t see schools in the future for me. So I moved two and a half hours away from my hometown, and I was working three jobs trying to make ends meet. Things weren’t happening.
Long story short, I got an opportunity to receive a full-tuition scholarship to go sing in college, to sing a male trio in college. And I was a part of that group for four years and graduated in 2004 with a religion degree.
But finishing that school in 2008, I wanted to pursue music as my career. I just didn’t know, again, how I would do that. I moved back home temporarily, back in Arkansas from Virginia to pursue that. Branson, Missouri, was about an hour and a half north of where I grew up in Arkansas, and so I auditioned for a few shows there in Branson. Some of them seemed promising, but just really never panned out.
Around that time, my dad asked me, “Have you thought about trying out for American Idol?” And I said, “Well, sure.” You know, I loved watching the show throughout the seasons and throughout the years, but he brought that up to me. Why not? I wasn’t married at the time, so I was like, “Let’s go do this.”
I drove by myself, for seven and a half hours, down to Dallas, Texas slept in line there to audition. It was a crazy, crazy audition process. You know, I went over three months, the audition process once. I went down, my very first time was in June, and then I went the next [time] and got through that round. And then the next round was in July. Then in August, I found out I was going to Hollywood at that point.
There were 180 of us that went to Hollywood, and I made it to the top seventy and was cut group round. But it was an amazing experience. I mean, to be on a show of that caliber, it was just very humbling. So many people that I auditioned with were as good or better than I was. And so it was really just God’s favor for me to be able to be a part of a show like that. So I was very, very grateful.
While I was on the show, Neil Patrick Harris was one of the guest judges during the road audition for that year. He made a comment to me, he said he thought I was, “crazy brave for getting in front of thirty to forty million people with Tourettes.” And so after the show, in 2010, I decided to further my career and moved to Nashville, Tennessee. I sat down with Steven Dow and wrote a song called, “Crazy Brave,” which was the title track to my album Crazy Brave. And we toured that for about three and a half years, and it was amazing the opportunities that God opened up for me at that point.
Helping Others with Your Story
I was doing a lot of dates in schools. A lot of schools across the country asked me to come in and share my story of how I’d overcome obstacles.
I remember a particular junior high student—a boy who came up to me after I had shared my story in a school. And he said, “You know, two days before you came, I, too, was gonna take my own life. And my girlfriend encouraged me to not do that, but just to hold on a little longer.” And then I’d come to share my story, and he said, “Dave, I completely get it. Now, I understand why,”
This particular boy had been in trouble with the law, he was junior-high age, and he had behavioral issues that he had struggled with. And it turns out that he was diagnosed with dyslexia, and he was living in fear for what people might think of him like I was. So his go-to was to put others down and act out to make himself feel better.
This particular junior high boy was, in this case, the bully, but his circumstance was dyslexia. He didn’t know how to deal with it and had the best way he knew how was to pick on other people. And he said after I came and shared my story, “I totally get why I was doing what I was doing.” He said, “I’m going to be more upfront with it now. And you know, you completely changed the way I viewed it. You’ve ultimately helped save my life, because I didn’t know how—I didn’t want to live anymore because of it.”
I can’t count on both hands how many people, students like him, were suicidal. But because I came, it changed their outlook.
“It’s Still Okay to Ask Why”
After three and a half years, we were working fourteen, eighteen-hour days—I was exhausted, and just kind of burned out, so I decided to take a long break. I think my last concert was in Des Moines, Iowa, in 2013. And I got off the road, and I just took a long break and God began to work on my heart.
I got into God’s Word like I never had before. I just started reading and getting to know God even more. I’d heard about Jesus Calling for a long time. I’d seen everybody’s library or bookshelf filled with a Jesus Calling somewhere in, like, every home that I’ve been in. I’ve read a few devotionals from there. I do. I do love the devotional and what Jesus Calling is doing.
Sometime during that break, I got married to my beautiful wife, Chelsea. And after we were married, we started talking about album number two. And I started to do a Christian album at that time. And it was my last album, Different Kind of Love.
After getting married and having that break, God just began to break my heart for the church, and I just wanted to encourage the body of Christ, and those who didn’t know Him, with what God had done in and through my life, and that this was of Him and not of me. And so that’s ultimately what made the decision to transition over to CCM and do a faith-based album. And plus, I had tons of fans asking me when I was going to do a Christian album, you know? So I did it. It was about a three and a half, four year period that it took to complete the album.
I think it’s okay to ask why, even now, because Job did. We look at Job in the Bible, he asked God, “Why? Why is this happening to me?” And as long as we come to a point of faith and trust at the end of it [and say], “Yeah, God, we don’t understand what’s going on, why you’re allowing me to walk through this,” whatever that is. But we can trust that He has a plan. It’s Romans 8:28, “God works all things together for our good, for those who love God and are called according to His purposes.” That is one of my life verses, that and Proverbs 3:5–6, “Trust the Lord with all your heart, not on your own understanding, but in all your ways, acknowledge Him and He’ll direct your paths.” And James 1:2—those are my verses, my favorite verses.
“I think it’s okay to ask why, even now, because Job did. We look at Job in the Bible, he asked God, ‘Why? Why is this happening to me?’” – Dave Pittman
I think it’s okay to ask why. You know, I don’t ask why much anymore, but it’s because I’ve come to accept it and embrace it. Anyone can accept something they have to do, but when you can embrace something that you get to do, it’s different. It changes things. For me, it changed. I get to do this now, but because God’s gonna get the glory for it. He gets more glory out of me having it than He does if I didn’t. So that’s okay with me.
“Anyone can accept something they have to do, but when you can embrace something that you get to do, it’s different. It changes things.” – Dave Pittman
Narrator: You can learn more about Dave’s music by visiting his website, DavePittmanLive.com. You can also see Dave as part of our new YouTube series called “What’s Good?” on the Jesus Calling You Tube Channel at YouTube.com/JesusCallingBook.
Stay tuned to Rachel Van Kluyve’s story after a brief message about a beautiful new edition of Jesus Calling that’s a perfect way to prepare your heart for Easter.
Narrator: The Easter season is filled with joy and hope. Now, there’s a new way to focus on the holiday with the new book, Jesus Calling® for Easter. With 50 Jesus Calling devotions selected just for the Lent and Easter season, Jesus Calling for Easter includes Scripture verses alongside breathtaking imagery and exquisite design. Jesus Calling for Easter makes a stunning gift for those who love Jesus Calling and would like a new way to observe the Easter season. To learn more about this beautiful new edition of Jesus Calling, please visit jesuscalling.com/books.
Narrator: Sometimes we cultivate talent and community in the most unlikely places. That’s what happened for Rachel Van Kluyve. Growing up, Rachel watched her mom create a beautiful home for her family, and taught her girls to do the same. As Rachel grew older, she looked forward to having a family and home of her own. But after she had her first baby, she experienced postpartum depression that turned her world upside down. As she searched for purpose and a way out of her depression, Rachel began to practice what her mother taught her—how to create a beautiful space on a budget—and share her skills with an engaged home decor community online. Today she shares her journey to finding your why in your home, helping to create a space that is warm and welcoming.
Rachel Van Kluyve: My name is Rachel Van Kluyve. I’m born and raised Nashvillian, which is really rare these days. My husband is also a Nashvillian, and we bought twenty acres right outside of Nashville two years ago and built a farmhouse.
We started out sharing with our friends and family but then decided to create an Instagram and share our journey about our home build. And with that came followers and people interested in how I design things, and little did I know I was a designer and had a passion for it. Richard and I also own a real estate company and have for the past ten years.
We also homeschool our two boys here in the house, so we work, play, and do all the things with the home.
Turning a Hobby into a Community
As a little girl, my mom would change up all the rooms. She deeply enjoyed decorating and making her house a home, and while I didn’t think it was my style then, I enjoyed watching her. She would always let my sister and I decorate our rooms, which is so gracious of her now that I think about it, because we had, like, posters of all the boys we had crushes on and just all different kinds of things, and she let us do it once a year.
And now looking back, I really think that’s kind of what pushed me into this realm, watching her create a home has really made me appreciate it now.
My mom’s always said I’ve had a close relationship with God. She tells the story of when I was four, she would overhear me, like, “Come down Jesus.” And I would just talk to Him. And she just noticed from an early age that was really important to me.
I grew up in church. Richard grew up in church. We actually met at church, in the youth group. He’s three years older than me. It’s always been a part of our life, and it always will be. I always tell moms that are like, “Well, my daughter started dating this guy, she really likes him.”
And I’m the one that’s like, “Well, you know, she might marry him.”
And they’re like, “Don’t say that.”
And I’m like, “Well, I did!”
After I had my first baby, it just kind of all fell apart. I got postpartum. I lost myself. You know, I was a smart magna cum laude graduate, and I just didn’t know what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be, and it spiraled quickly out of control. You know, Richard and I almost got a divorce. It was just a rough patch. And through that, I kind of thought, I need something for myself.
”After I had my first baby, it just kind of all fell apart. I got postpartum [depression]. I lost myself. You know, I was a smart magna cum laude graduate, and I just didn’t know what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be, and it spiraled quickly out of control.” – Rachel Van Kluyve
In our first home, I started taking some pictures, and it kind of gave me something to do every day. I got up, I took a picture of something, I played around, I decorated, and it kind of brought out a passion in me.
And then after that, the sky was the limit. I just started seeing a response, and I grew a small community online. And then I got on medication for the depression, and things started turning around. But without diving in and trying to understand my heart and what I wanted for myself, I wouldn’t have ever been able to share as far as Instagram. And then when we started building the home, I thought, You know what? I’ll just take this journey a little further. And it’s just opened up a whole new world for me.
Social Media Can Be a Force for Good
Well, when I started my Instagram journey, I felt the Lord specifically saying, “Everyone knocks social media for not being a good thing for this generation. But I want to use it for good.” So I worked with a nonprofit, and they pretty much, long story short, pulled girls in Liberia off the streets and put them in an educated school for a year or so.
View this post on Instagram
Throwing it back to a clean kitchen….way back 😂! Thank you again to all who participated in my fundraiser this past weekend 28 girls were given a years tuition filling up an entire classroom! God is good! Definitely will be adding a yearly charity drive to my list. You all were so willing and helpful! Hope you’ve had a great Monday! ❤️ . . . #interiors #interior125 #interior123 #kitchen #kitchendesign #farmhouse #farmhousedesign #home #homesweethome #myafh #restorationhardware #farmhousestyle #mondaymood #farmhousesecor #iadorefarmhousedecor
“When I started my Instagram journey, I felt the Lord specifically saying, ‘Everyone knocks social media for not being a good thing for this generation. But I want to use it for good.’” – Rachel Van Kluyve
Because of that, I got together six or seven larger accounts, that were larger than me at the time, and asked if they wanted to do what we call a loop, where each account shared a beautiful part of this organization. And because of that, people donated.
Long story short, we got twenty-eight girls off the streets and into this school for a year. So a whole classroom was full because of a day’s worth of Instagram work. And that sparked so much. We have the power to do so much as moms, as women. [We can] sit at home with a touch of a button and some ingenuity, and we can put together this great thing for people around the world. And so because of that, I started a relationship with certain women, and they helped me along the way, and it’s just become this community. The home decor community is so kind. Most of them were Christian women, and we support each other. And I think I just fell into this wonderful thing in this online space.
“We have the power to do so much as moms, as women. [We can] sit at home with a touch of a button and some ingenuity, and we can put together this great thing for people around the world.” – Rachel Van Kluyve
Within this home decor community, you get every aspect of design, and you can feed off each other and ask people’s advice. But more importantly, they share in ours. We share in each other’s successes, which is really hard to come by. A lot of women just want to compete against each other, and it’s usually [fueled by] self-doubt. You know, in this community, if I have something great happen, they want to know about it. They want to cheer me on. They want to share with me. It’s just a beautiful outlet of women building each other up. And you don’t get to see that if you just are a stay at home mom unless you have a wonderful church community and friends. But you know, that span doesn’t reach much past twenty or so people, and this just takes you to the thousands, and to have that kind of support on one little app is a beautiful side of social media.
Learning How She Made Herself a Home
The book’s called She Made Herself a Home. I wanted my purpose for everything on Instagram to create a home of intention, not necessarily with décor, but just in how you create a space and how your kids feel when they leave to go to school and how your friends feel when they come through the door. It’s more important to me to create a feeling, and that’s why I created the book. It teaches women how to create intention in their home, without breaking the bank.
I’m a Frugal McDougall. I love Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist and thrift stores and repurposing. I kind of joke that, you know, I have a high taste but on a Target budget, so I try to keep things in mind. And I think that’s what people relate to because not everybody can afford these Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware pieces, and they just simply want to work with what they have first, and then be taught how to use their money wisely within the home.
I asked forty women—instead of having designer photographs and all that, I wanted to share the book with these beautiful women in the community who are moms and grandmas and single women and married women. And so within the book, you’ll see pictures from their homes. And they’re not designers. They have a story just like me. The book is full of tips from myself, but also these women that I asked to be a part of it.
My why for the home is to always have the doors open. When we built this house, I prayed, because I’m an introvert. My husband’s the class clown. And for me, it was really hard to always open the doors because it meant I had to clean, and I had to prep, and I had all these lists to accomplish. But when we built this house, I prayed specifically that we’d always be hospitable. And it’s really the home that’s never closed. So because of that, our why has become hospitality, and letting people see Christ at all times, and that they’re welcome here.
“When we built this house, I prayed specifically that we’d always be hospitable. And it’s really the home that’s never closed. So because of that, our why has become hospitality, and letting people see Christ at all times, and that they’re welcome here.” – Rachel Van Kluyve
I talk about five “must-haves” for each space, but I’ll just give you a few.
To me, what’s important is lighting. I hate bright light in my face, especially at night. So I always talk about low light, adding lamps here and there, even dimmers if you can, or just creating the mood with the time of day is important to me.
I add rugs and throws and pillows to make things cozier. I talk about the tangible things, but more importantly, I think you have to have an open heart and an open mind for people in your home and for that space. Because like I said, as an introvert, it was hard for me to open it up. Go into your gathering space with the idea of gathering and letting go of a perfectly clean house or whatever is holding you back. If this is a gathering space, then it’s meant to be gathered in.
I feel like everything starts in the home. Your day starts in the home and it ends in the home. And if you can’t feel all those things that I mentioned within it, then you won’t be who God created you to be. So many of us take with us the home that we grew up in, and whether it was good or bad, you have the decision and the right to change it now and make it good for yourself and good for the people in your life. It’s all about creating that space that gives security and peace so that you can give it to others.
“It’s all about creating that space that gives security and peace so that you can give it to others.” – Rachel Van Kluyve
If you’d like to hear more stories about discovering God’s plan for your life, check out our episode with television personality Elisabeth Hasselbeck and photographer Jeremy Cowart.
Narrator: Next time on the Jesus Calling Podcast, we speak with country music star Lauren Alaina. After finishing in the top two on her season of American Idol, a then-15-year-old Lauren was cast into the public spotlight to deal with the highs and lows of fame. Lauren reflects on her anchor through it all.
Lauren: I grew up in a household where there were lots of ups and downs, ups and downs. But the one thing that I do feel like my parents nailed was Jesus’s love, His unconditional love. I never felt like I wasn’t loved. And going through what I’ve gone through publicly and all of the things I did, one constant thing I always had was Jesus. And I say a lot that we turn our back on Him, [but] He never turns His back on us. And anytime we’re willing to go back to Him, He’s always there.
Narrator: Do you love hearing these stories of faith weekly from people like you whose lives have been changed by a closer walk with God? Then be sure to subscribe to the Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you like what you’re hearing, leave us a review so that we can reach others with these inspirational stories. And, you can also see these interviews on video as part of our original web series with a new interview premiering every other Sunday on Facebook Live. Find previously broadcasted interviews on our Youtube channel, on IGTV, or on jesuscalling.com/media/video.