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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My friend is doing better!

Well my friend is doing much better this day. I was able to go see him last night and it was a good sign to see his wife there beside him. He realizes, now, how extremely irrational the decision he made was. What drove him to this point? A combination of things. Bottling things up mainly. Without getting into too much detail, it was a matter of not being completely open with struggles and trying to handle everything himself. By the time I left him, we were all smiling, there was some laughter, and though I counseled a bit, I really had just one thing I wanted him to do, talk to his wife, and she talk to him. I don't know what it is like to be married over 20 years, it complacency sets in or what, but as I prayed before meeting him I just asked the Lord to speak. And He did.

I can relate on the bottling things up thing though. And even the I want to end it all thing. As he talked I could relate to much of what he was going through and since I'd been in his shoes, or should I say gown, at one time, I know the feeling of waking up and going "I'm still here." And now he is seeing that people really do care about him. Some are peeved, even angry, but that can be a coping mechanism.

When you talk to someone who has walked in your shoes, there is a certain level of trust and understanding. He listened to me (really to God), that and he knew that if he fed me a line of bull I would call him on it. We got to share about the bottle of whipped cream that him and his wife gave Ginger and I on our honeymoon. They are the couple that Ginger and I can talk about THAT stuff with. That brought some belly laughs, the sitter by his bed side got wide eyes, and the girls blushed. Comic relief.

I'm not some great counselor with degrees, I don't pretend to have all the answers, but I do know that I have the Great Counselor residing in me. Sometimes I have absolutely no idea what I'm gonna say, and some times, it's not even about that. Sometimes people need people to listen and not judge. I hear some pretty crazy stories in recovery and most time people already know the answer. They just need to get it out from being bottled up. You can lead a horse to water, you can't make him drink though.

The other thing he saw, and his wife, last night, was hope. Sitting beside him on his bed was a living example of someone who'd crossed that line, lived to tell about it, and was now happy. I stayed unhappy for another 7 years after my episode, so I told him he had a 7 year head start on me. But he looked at me, tears in his eyes, and I could see life. He wanted to live and now, if he chooses, there will be relief. Changes will need to be made, there is no doubt about that, but now maybe he'll put his total trust in God instead of his own ability.

I got a package today and I'm soooo stoked! Mom sent me all her Enya CD's!!!!! Hands down my favorite singer (The Christian rock group Skillet is still my favorite group especially the single Monster) I'm ready to start listening to them. Thanks Mom! Hard to believe an old metal head like me (think Poison, Iron Maiden, Motley Crue) likes her, but hey even guys like me have a soft side! Okay, okay, maybe a little more that just a little soft side...I'm not that hard....

Anyway, keep praying for my friend, needs all the prayers he can get. My testimony went great last night and got a few kisses from my number one fan! I'll close with my favorite mantra:


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A friend in crisis

It's the type of call every sponsor hates to get. It's the call by a family member. In my experience of helping others this is the one that gives you chills. The wife of one of my close friends and someone I was helping in recovery (not alcohol) called this morning to tell me he tried to commit suicide last night. As I write this he is alive and breathing on his own in ICU. He's not out of the woods, but it is definitely better than being on a ventilator. I missed him last night at Celebrate Recovery and it is so difficult for me to think that while we were having our annual baptism last night, he was, well, trying to end it all.

There are really, in my opinion, two types of suicide attempts. There is the cry for help, of which I'm well versed in. It is a half hearted attempt as a cry for help, or attention. I see that, unfortunately, alot. Then there is the real attempt. From what I understand of the situation, I haven't talked with him yet, this seemed very real, with 70+ pills. What I'm so thankful for is this guy has guns, he is an avid hunter, so it chills me to think if he'd of decided on another way.

His family, wife and children, are, of course, angry. How could he do this? It is so selfish. They speak in anger, to me, on the phone. It is understandable, the anger and the hurt. There will be time, however, for that anger to be expressed, hopefully as he gets help. Right now this guy needs to know that those that love him, love him. Whether it was a cry for help or the real deal at this point doesn't matter, what matters is getting him back to sanity. Because once you've crossed that line of trying to take your life, I'm afraid it is that much easier to cross it again. I know, I will speak about that line tonight as I get up and share my story. But this post right now isn't about me.

Pray for my friend. I'm hurt, yes, but I've already called my support team to talk about my feelings so I don't hit my friend over the head when I see him. I was a phone call away, but you can't force someone to reach out. I'll update ya'll as I get more information.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Giving my testimony

Thanks for all the comments on the last post! With 40+ chigger bites, the first couple of days were brutal. Believe it or not, the thing that gave me the most relief was, of all things, pinesol. Just dabbed a little on each bite. It killed the chigger (didn't have any more bites after that). I only have a couple that have persistently itched, but for the most part they are healing nicely. I am wearing my leather boots in high grass from now on (I made the mistake of wearing tennis shoes and shorts. Bad idea....Heat or not, it's long pants and boots for me....

On Tuesday I am giving my testimony at Celebrate Recovery at Friendly Baptist Church here in Tyler. It's the first time I've given it since I've been married, so I was able to rework it to include that very important time of my life into it. Even now, I'm starting to feel the butterflies. Which is normal. I've given it several times, including at Friendly once, but still, when you bare your soul before the masses, it is always, for me a humbling experience.

At one time, talking about myself was no problem. When I was in long term rehab I loved it. But it was all about me. I wanted attention (which is probably why rehab never worked for me). It was never about God and what He'd done in my life more than it was about the praise I'd get. My how things have changed.

Now I get it. Giving my testimony now isn't about look at me, or let me see what story I can tell you that will get me sympathy. Now it is about giving glory to God. It is the testimony of a sinner who went deep into a pit that he in no way could have dug himself out of and how God came down into that pit and brought me out. It is about the people who prayed, fervently, to God and how their faith grew on my journey into recovery. Mom's walking miracle. You see, my testimony, though it is my life, is not about me. It's about God. It's about a love that is beyond understanding, who, through pain, struggle, addiction, and heartache, never gave up. It is about those who truly loved me who never gave up. Sometimes, I think, people confuse tough love with giving up on someone. I've had some truly amazing parents through this process and even my brother who, though he doesn't know it, helped me amazingly in my early years of recovery. I haven't talked about him much, in my blog, but I look up to him so much. I'll be honest, in my addiction I resented the heck out of him and was even angry at God for blessing him while I struggled. Of course, if I'd of taken the poor me blinders off, I'd of seen that he has struggles to.
No, I don't feel that way anymore. And why shouldn't God have blessed him? I made my choices contrary to God, God didn't force me to made those decisions, I have free will after all. My brother is amazing, and though he is younger, he is a role model to me. I feel tears well up in my eyes as I think of him. He has a wonderful wife, two handsome boys, and is a Godly man. When we began talking again it was an amazing day. I'll never forget that day that we met, halfway from Tyler and Fort Worth, to talk. He must have seen something different, because soon Ginger and I made the drive to visit him and his family. And perhaps the greatest honor was having him as my best man at my wedding. If you knew, if you just knew the miracle that it was for that to happen, well, again, you have to give credit to God. He, of course, is still into computer games. My focus, in the past six months has been on my new marriage and Celebrate Recovery. Maybe one day I'll be able to get a PS3 or XBOX360, but life for me is so busy right now! The last PS game I played was Final Fantasy VIII, and I believe the games have gotten a lot cooler since then... That and I try to draw in my spare time. God is really putting it on my heart to pursue that love of mine.

And I have to believe that Ginger and I's wedding was a coming together, not only of Ginger and I's family, but my family as well. Through God's redemptive work, we were all together, smiling, and celebrating. It was a beautiful time.

So when I get up at 7 on Tuesday and begin to share what God has done it will be with a humble heart. I don't have to share about all the bad things, I have good things to share now, wonderful things, about what God has done. If there is one thing I want people to take away from it, it is that in whatever circumstance the hearer finds themselves in, God does care and He can deliver. I'm just the vessel. I'm one of many "walking miracles" and if my story can touch someone to trust God then it is worth it. So if you are going through a trial, a struggle, a challenge in your life, trust God. It may not happen when you want (now now now!) but I have to believe that God's perfect will, will be done.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A conversation on healing

So somehow I got on the subject of God and healing with someone (names have been changed to protect the ...). I've heard comments like, if you have enough faith then you will be healed. Also, name it and claim it! ...since when did we become God?

I was pushed to give my opinion on the matter, and I just sighed. Two things I hate discussing with people who are not very close friends, religion and politics. Don't get me wrong, I'll discuss my faith with all. I have no problem telling anyone that Jesus is my Savior, He has saved my soul from hell, and I was more than deserving of being sent there. But when people start getting into denominational discussions I've found that more often than not what people really want is to be right, and to convince you they are right. No one wants to agree to disagree, or look at each side objectively, they'd rather it turn into a brawl of words, where no one wins, and usually at least one person goes away angry. Trust me, I spent time in a ministry where that was common place. I was the odd ball, a baptist. More than once I was "baited", and not too often did I bite. But I had my moments. I'm open, I'll listen and be objective. It may not change what I believe, but does that really matter? And I've learned more than one thing by listening.

So I don't pretend to have all the answers. I know who does, God, and He chooses or chooses not to tell me as He wishes. Does the child tell the parent how to raise him or her? If I've learned one thing, all that advise my parents gave growing was right. They weren't perfect, but they were Godly, so more often than not they spoke as God gave them guidance. How much more can God teach me as I let Him raise me?

Okay, so the healing discussion. My best friends father in law has cancer. Bad cancer. Pancreatic cancer that has spread, and they've given him 3 to 6 months to live. There has been a glimmer of hope at the research hospital he is at. Anyway, someone has suggested that if he has enough faith, if enough believers have enough faith, he will be healed. If we petition God then God is obligated (yes that word was used) to answer us. Really? Look, we all want him to be healed. But we live in a fallen world. Sin entered the world and with that, disease and bad things happen. But God uses the bad things in our life and can turn them into good. How you say? My recovery from alcoholism is a good example. It was terrible, bad, I hurt lots of people and was hurt. But now, on the other side of the disease, I'm able to help others. Recovering alcoholics are funny creatures. We tend to want to hear other people who have been through the same thing we have, because they have an understanding. Same, it seems, with those who have battled cancer. We, who haven't had it, can sympathize, but when someone else goes through it, or as a loved one who has died from it, and they make it through the trial, they are able to help others but telling how God helped them through it, and possibly lead them to God.

What I take exception to is when we tell God what He is suppose to do, or even demand it, and then get mad at God when He doesn't do what we want. Have we forgotten the "thy will be done" in the Lord's Prayer? I don't wish anyone to get sick and if it weren't for a certain apple, couple, and a serpent then there wouldn't be any sickness. But there is. And somehow, in God's divine plan, He uses all that. Don't ask me to explain it all, I'm not God, but I trust that God has everything under control.

And by the way, our faith is growing as we saw things go from no hope, 3 to 6 months, to a glimmer of hope. We continue to petition God for healing and guide the doctors. In the process, the doctors at the hospital are seeing a man's faith in action. As he battles a fatal disease, He continues to praise God. Yes, there are times of tears and such, but He holds on and trusts God's will be done. So I'll trust God that He has it under control. Is it hard, yes. Watching someone hurt is not easy, especially when you can't do much about it. Anyway, I know this is more of a rant than anything, and whether you agree or disagree with me isn't that important to me. Sometimes I write these posts just to remind myself how big God is and He really does have all this in His hands.

Speaking of healing, I've got alot of chigger bites on my right ankle. I've researched the internet looking for home remedies, because ChiggerX does NOT work! Anyway, any of you have any advise?


A night of worship

Alrighty here I am again! Every time I think I'm going to be able to do this on a regular basis, wham! something comes up! Guess it's a good thing I can step away from it and return to it like an old friend, leaving off where we left off!

So Friday night Ginger and I sent to the CFNI (Christ for the Nations) Worship night. It was an awesome night. It was amazing to see the diversity of how people worship. One person was signing the music to our right, not to anyone in particular, there was an older lady who sat for about half the service then got up and I mean started jigging. I mean, it was cute, and more than one person smiled as she expressed her worship to God. My personal favorite was the young teenager who had set up and easel and was drawing with pastels as the music went. I couldn't help but watch (being an artist), and I watch the process as the picture came to life.

Ginger and I worship in different ways, reflected by our personalities. Ginger is more open at CFNI, she loves to jump and sing at the top of her lungs, indicative of her extrovert personality. I'm more reserved, and you'll find me often sitting and praying, watching, observing, as my introvertive personality shines through. Now if the Lord Reigns is played, or Glory, well, all bets off then. I break out!

And that is why the Worship Night, to me, works. There is not a sign on the door that says you have to be of x denomination to be here. If you want to sit and pray, go to the front and dance, raise your hands, not raise your hands, pray out loud, pray inside, your free to worship. I may not worship the way someone else does, and that is okay.

We stepped away for a few months, before, however, because we were going for the wrong reasons. Ginger was going to seek a spiritual high and would get frustrated that I wasn't in the "clouds" with her. I was going begrudgingly because I was tired and didn't want to make the drive but went because Ginger wanted to go. When we recognized this "pattern" we decided, together, to take a rest from it, and let God guide us back. And He did. He made a way for me to get off a little early so I wasn't rushed. And Ginger, well, it was unbelievable. She worshiped as she does, but she didn't expect me to worship as she did. In the process she enjoyed herself immensely. But the best moment of the night by far was about 2/3's into the service. There was a stop in the service for a moment while they prayed for someone needing a liver transplant. CFNI approaches healing a bit differently than I do. That's okay, who am I to say how God heals? But Ginger and I looked at each other and had a moment like, we were of a like mind and felt closer than ever. There was no getting on a spiritual high, getting caught up in emotion, and we were able to enjoy the songs afterward. Please understand, I'm not saying CFNI is wrong. I'm saying I believe in a different way. But I can put that aside to worship. Which is what the night of worship is all about. Bringing different walks of life together to worship Jesus. Just as Ginger and I worship in different ways at times, so we all come together in our own styles and worship. It is truly a beautiful thing. And so this weekend I could hear Ginger, in the living room, CFNI playing on the CD player, singing her heart out, the voice of an angel.

Too often, differences divide those in different denominations. I've seen more than one argument over various positions in the Bible. But it is nice when the goal is not to promote a denomination, but come to worship God in song, that the real beauty of worship comes out. I walked away refreshed, and I know God was smiling at His children singing to Him....

Friday, July 2, 2010

Short Hair!

Thanks for all the comments from my last post! Okay Mom, here is your picture! Okay, my Mom loves my hair short, and yes Mom, your prayer got answered, here is the proof! And my head has been much cooler in the heat!

So yesterday was a day of rest for me. Well, sort of. I'd put in alot of time finishing up the duct job, so yesterday was a day where I could just kick back and let my sore muscles rest. Did I? Naaa. Instead I decided to surprise Ginger and clean the house, do the laundry, and the grocery shopping. Usually she does that on the weekend, but if I've learned one thing from my Dad (and I've learned much more than one thing), it's little surprises like that do wonders for your marriage. It was her turn to walk in from work and see that everything was done for her. I did get to rest afterwards, but that little act of kindness meant the world to her.

The thing is, I didn't do it because I had to, it's already clean because Ginger does such a good job each week, I just wanted to do something for her. I did it because I love her. I'm so thankful for my wife and out of that comes the actions of love, little acts of service that say I'm thinking of you, I appreciate you, I love you. I did it because I knew she'd appreciate it. You see, I've been in some really bad relationships, dysfunctional relationships. I played a part, don't get me wrong, I was an alcoholic and really codependent. I did things because I felt if I didn't then I'd lose them (which would have been really good losing them, but I didn't want to be alone). But Ginger is different than all the rest, by leaps and bounds. Really, I had to learn how to be loved by God, and have God love me before I could ever think of loving another.

And God did that. First I had to learn how to love God without thinking if I do this for God, I'll get this or that. I had to be thankful in all things, and as I went through those first years of recovery, when there were times of struggle, I had to learn to let God walk beside me and help me. I had to stop trying to portray an image to God, and to others. I had to be me. In those first years of recovery I had to learn who Paul was, not be what others wanted me to be. And as God worked on that, he worked on my relationship with my Mom and Dad and me. I had to learn how to be me and stop trying to do what I thought would please them and just love them.
I was a taker in my addiction. Gimme gimme gimme. My perception of what they wanted me to be and what I thought they wanted me to be was way off. They wanted a healthy, sober, spiritually minded son. How much money I made didn't matter, how much prestige I had didn't matter, even being some leader in ministry didn't matter. If I was walking with God and not doing things for attention then, well, things were doing good. And they prayed, fervently, for a helpmate for me. A wife that wasn't a dysfunctional loon, but someone who would better me.

Boy did there prayers get answered. In the ministry I was in before I began getting involved with CR I learned about the traps I get led into with performance. Heck I was doing everything, but I found myself doing it for my glory not God's. It was when I began getting involved with CR that I learned about this performance trap I get stuck in. That and guidance from my parents. You see, I had to learn this about myself before I would get married. Because marriage isn't about performance. It's not about if I do this then I get this. I've been around too many emotional vampires that suck the life out of me to know this doesn't work. As I reflect now, God had a plan. In those five and a half years of soberiety before I met Ginger, He was preparing me for my wife. For the first time I know what it is to love someone, romantic wise, just to love them. To do things out of kindness, just because I want to. It is a growing process, marriage is hard work, but the investment that Ginger and I have put into it is really paying off. I know, we are only a little over 6 months married and I can't tell you how many people have told us "Your just newlyweds. Phhttt! I watch my Mom and Dad now, 40+ years later, and I know there have been hard times, but I dare to say that watching them now they are more in love than ever. They are my example and what I strive Ginger and I to be in 40 years, God willing.

Just like it seems with all my blogs, the words just come. I have no idea many times what I'm going to write about but God leads me. So tonight I'm on my own, it's girls night out for Ginger and her friends. Me, I'll probably cook chicken wings, rotel, and sit on the couch and watch tv or read. She'll have fun, but we will both be thinking the same thing, can't wait to get back to each other. Yeah, I love my wife, and I thank God each day for the wonderful blessing He gave me, she truly is worth more than any treasure on this earth.....


Thursday, July 1, 2010

I ama sheep

Wow, it has been a while since I've posted. Been really busy the past week and a half. I've been working on an air conditioning unit and duct work in a new church going up. And I've earned a new reputation of being a monkey on the beams. I was able to take Ginger to the church on the way to a family reunion so she could see where I'd been working. I took her after the duct work was up, mainly so she wouldn't worry about how high up I was. There really is an art to it, however. I'm pretty careful as far as watching where I step, making sure my hands are dry, and I wore tennis shoes so that I could get a good grip. It just takes a little bit of planning and no fear of heights. With the Texas heat we've been having, the temperatures were soaring above 100 degrees in the metal building. We had a blower, but with five people working at times, you weren't always in the line of blowing air (and if the boss was there, well, the blower went on him!)

So I'd get home just drained, absolutely drained. Ginger would feel my shirt and how soaked it was. I would drink plenty of water and gatorade (something I learned in landscaping) and usually after being home for a couple of hours I was cooled down and feeling better. Ginger, of course, was a doll. I'd get home and she'd have dinner waiting. She'd usher me into the shower to cool down and clean up. She is an absolutely perfect helpmate.

God, of course, was with me the whole time. At times, two pieces of duct refusing to go in, 20 feet up, sweat rolling off me, I'd just ask the Lord to help me. And He did. It seems so simple, but even in the little things, the Lord cares. I found myself, when I didn't have the knowledge to do something and I had to make a decision, that the Lord was there to help me. I had to make a lot of decisions and figure things out, little puzzles of how something should go, or how to reach a spot that seemed unreachable. I got scrapes, cuts, and some bruises, nothing major, but many times it was because I was moving too fast, or impatient. Much like my walk with God. When I move to fast and try to help God along, sometimes I get scrapes and bruises. Nothing major but enough of a wake up call that I need to slow down and wait upon God.

I know, sometimes waiting is the hardest thing. We don't know how something will turn out and we have to have faith that God has our best interest in heart. Even though He has delivered to us time and again, in the present circumstance, even if we've gone through it before, we look and go yes, I know you helped me then but what about NOW! Reminds me of a line in the movie "What About Bob?" Gimme Gimme Gimme, I need I need I need! I'll admit, I'm like that with God at times. I want to be comfortable. I want no surprises. I want normalcy. But then I wake up out of the fantasy and realize that real life is full of surprises, isn't always comfortable, and I have in no way a normal life. I have a richly rewarding life, don't get me wrong, and I realize that those surprises and such, they grow me. They mold me. God knows what He is doing. I mean think of this a minute. Billions of people in the world and He knows what each one is doing, and will be doing a minute from now. He knows how many hairs are on each head. How many have fallen off or grown in the last hour. That is hard to wrap my little mind around. He knows each need, each want, each spiritual condition of everyone. With that kind of knowledge, and that kind of wisdom (I can't even tell you how many hairs on my head that I have) doesn't it stand to reason that His knowledge is better than mine and He has this? You may think I'm talking to ya'll out there, but I'm talking to me. I need to remind myself, daily, of the Godly provision God provides for me. He is the Shepherd, I'm a sheep. Baaaaaa.

Forgot to get around to telling my Mom this, I got my hair cut a little over a week ago. It is shoooorrt. Not as short as Dad's (go Dad!), I can still comb mine. They took about 6 inches off. Yeah, I'm a normal clean cut person again. And yes, Ginger loves it too. Along with her Mom.
Life is good! Baaaaa!