Over the course of several weeks back in May, I got a chance to collaborate with Pastor Matthew Carpenter of New Jersey to create a stunning new collection. The design started as a simple sketch he sent me via text with ideas he was working on. The YHWH sketch stood out immediately and from there, we forged a journey to create this incredible new design of color on color premium snapbacks. His journey is inspiring and compelling and I’m honored to share it with you guys…
So what's your story? Share your journey with us.
I was adopted, as an infant, into a wonderful home with two amazing parents. Life was blissfully uncomplicated before cancer, surgery, and a few years poverty. The day the world changed, for me, is forever seared into my mind.It was early summer and we were on the way to my little league baseball game. I didn’t care much for baseball, as a child, due to my lack of physical acumen and my love for cheeseburgers. We arrived at the game but it wasn’t until the middle of the fourth inning that I realized my whole family was gone. The game ended the way they all seemed to that year, we lost and I ran to find my dad to get money for a snow cone. However, he wasn’t around… no one was.
It was early summer and we were on the way to my little league baseball game. I didn’t care much for baseball, as a child, due to my lack of physical acumen and my love for cheeseburgers. We arrived at the game but it wasn’t until the middle of the fourth inning that I realized my whole family was gone. The game ended the way they all seemed to that year, we lost and I ran to find my dad to get money for a snow cone. However, he wasn’t around… no one was.
My coach sat with me for a while but he had his own family to tend to so I waited. Hours passed and the sun was beginning to set when my grandfather pulled into the parking lot and beckoned me to the car. I was about to complain about being left alone when I noticed that my grandfather had been crying. My grandpa didn’t cry! He was a WWII vet, a paratrooper, tougher than any man I’ve ever known.
We sat in silence as we drove over an hour to a fancy hospital that I’d never seen before. It felt like a parade of pain as I walked past family and friends crying once we made it in the hospital. They took me to a room where I could see my dad through a small opening in the curtain.The room emptied. As my father passed me he tried to reach his hand out to touch my shoulder but couldn’t seem to muster the emotional strength to do so. Then she spoke, “Matt? Come here Love.” I passed through the curtains and saw my mom, laying in a hospital bed, wires, tubes, machines, charts…etc.
She took my hand and proceeded to tell me that she had 7 inoperable brain tumors the size of silver dollars. They’d left me in the park because, when she tried to get out of the car the left side of her body wouldn’t move and in a panic they rushed to the hospital. The doctors were telling her that she had 24 hours to live. Turns out, in my absence, she’d said her “goodbyes” to everyone else…it was my turn.
She made me promise her three things that day: 1) Don’t drink till you’re 21. 2) Respect women and never take advantage of them. 3) Take care of your dad and sister. We had her for two more months. I was 11 when she passed.
The next two years are a bit of a blur. In that stretch my dad became ill. To this day I can’t tell you what illness he had but I’m convinced that his physical illness was directly tied to the emotional and spiritual turmoil that he lived with. Whatever it was the day came when dad needed surgery. A one hour procedure turned into two hours… then three… then six. Something went wrong…dad was paralyzed from the neck down.
From this point forward home life changed drastically. We didn’t have any money, since dad wasn’t working, but a Methodist church, that only had 8 members, allowed us to stay in their vacant parsonage rent free as long as we took care of the property and paid for all the utilities. I stopped school, taught myself to drive a car and went to work. Three jobs, six days a week, paid under the table.
There were no birthdays in my house for a few years, no Christmas celebrations. I remember a few winters when we didn’t have any heat. I’m not complaining… it made me a man! Everyone has a story, this one is mine.
A few years went by and my dad, through physical therapy, regained control of some of his muscles, enough so that he could sit in a wheelchair and teach history at a local Christian school. I went back to school for a year and a half and actually graduated on schedule. There’s a lot more to my story but through all the pain, the suffering, and hopelessness, YHWH was with me in spite of me. Even when I ran from Him, shook my fist at Him and cursed at Him, He loved me.
YHWH propels my WRSHP and I’m excited to do anything that serves, glorifies, honors and makes His name famous!
Tell us about your family and what everyday life looks like for you as a pastor.
I’m married to a rock star. My wife’s name is Julie, she’s the best part of me. I often joke that she’s the only reason that I get invited anywhere because people tolerate me for my mind but they love her for her personality, warmth, and sweet spirit.
We have four kids. Audrey, my oldest, is seven and she’s dangerously sarcastic and witty. She has my personality and her mother’s good looks (so, to all the little boys out there… I’ve seen the dark side and I’ll unleash it on you if I have to). My second oldest is Isaac, my only boy, and he’s three. Isaac is the source of a great deal of joy and laughter in our house, he’s sweet and sensitive and he’s my dude! The two remaining are my twin baby girls, Abigail and Isabella. These two are our little surprise gifts from the Lord. Abby is a free spirit with a head of hair that most women would kill for. Bell is a thinker, deep and brooding.
Church keeps me busy. I’m the head pastor of Franklin Lakes Baptist Church in Franklin Lakes, NJ. I love my church! They’re my family! Right now we’re going through some massive and unorthodox changes and the Lord is starting to bring some growth. It’s an exciting season.
What was the inspiration behind the YHWH design?
I love hats and I love the idea of borrowing from ancient Hebrew and removing the vowels from our English words. When the WRSHP hat took off and I really got to know Channel the YHWH design just came to me. Channel gets the credit though… I simply sent him a few sketches and he took the ball and ran with it! Love that I’m part of this project!
As a pastor, we can't end this interview without asking you to help us understand the meaning of YHWH, so let’s hear it.
YHWH is the relational, covenant name of our Triune God and it is used whenever the Bible stresses God's personal relationship with His people and the ethical nature of His character. It’s meaning is deep and rich and full because it represents the complete picture of God’s character and nature. The fact that God keeps His promises, that He is righteous, holy, just, merciful, loving, etc… all of that is wrapped up in the name YHWH. To know God personally is to know Him as YHWH!