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Sunday, September 26, 2010

God speaking in the shower

As I was meditating with God this morning, in of all places the shower which I do frequently (meditate in the shower and showering!) God was reminding me of Matthew 6:33-34. Actually the whole passage is a gold mine of wisdom, but God was speaking to me about specific things. God reminded me particularly of how He has taken care of Ginger and I this month. Financial wise alone, I made what I would normally make in a typical month. It has been several months since I've done that. I could give you story after story about how God has provided, but let's just look at this month for an example. I've had a photographer friend hire me for a couple of gigs, I've had a person who has a hurt back that has had me do the physical labor he can't, I've sold a drawing commission that put a passion of artistry back in me, and of course my regular job I got a little bit here and there. Now I could tell you that I just went out there and beat the street and made it happen, but that would be a lie. It started on my knees. It started with asking God for direction. Sometimes the phone would just ring. Other times God would prompt me to call someone. Other times God just wanted me to stay where I was at and meditate. God will give you direction, I'm a firm believer, but God wants to be who I go to first. In my own power I could try to make it happen, but then would I be where God wanted me? Don't get me wrong, I don't believe in just sitting in the living room on my tush and going, okay God, make the phone ring! But do you know my primary job? It's not land work, or AC, or even drawing, it's serving my God. I gave my life to Him, it is His to guide and direct and put me where He wants me. Does that involve sacrifice? Absolutely. Ginger and I may not have BMW's that we drive, or live in a six figure house, or get to eat out every night. We don't have money we can just burn, we have to be wise with it. But we don't live paycheck to paycheck. You know what we do get? Our loving and gracious God first gave His love to us and we can commune with Him and He talks to us and guides us and helps us and teaches us! He gave us a love for each other that seems to strengthen each day. He gave us the wonderful opportunity to wake up each day and see how He makes this happen for us. As far as stuff, no we don't have a big flat screen, or 500 channels of cable, or all this stuff, but we have what we need, and we are thankful for what we do have. We are rich, beyond our wildest dreams, with this love we have for each other and God. He has given me recovery and that, if you ask those who love me, is a gift worth more than any car, house, job, or money. And I get to, each week, serve and help others seeking recovery. God has given me a gift to draw. I use to look in the Drawing magazine and wonder if I was good enough. Speak to my wife, my friends, they tell me absolutely. God gave that to me and as my Dad said, if this is what God wants you to do, you'll be successful. So I don't have to worry about commissions, because if that is what God wants, they'll come.

And I got to call my Dad this week and just talk. Ginger gets these times where she just wants to talk to her Mom. There is a comfort there, a letting down of the guard, or just being a kid and letting Mom be mommy. Well, my Dad got to be daddy this week. I'm not ashamed of that either. I just wanted to talk to daddy, not for approval (isn't that a change!), or advice, just wanted to hear his voice, and laugh, and enjoy a moment as father and son.

Although change is hard for me, God is being very merciful and gracious. He is guiding me and I'm trying to sort through all the noise and static to hear that still small voice. Which direction Lord? This week will be one of decisions I believe. Of doors closing and some (or one) opening. The fact is the only voice I want to hear is the voice of my comforting Shepherd. Yeah, I'm a sheep, no doubt about that. He spent ALOT of effort to go out and find me and bring me back into His fold. He had lots of people asking Him to find me and bring me back. This morning, in the shower, I heard His voice, "don't worry, I've got you." When the God of the universe says He has you, that is comforting indeed....


Monday, September 20, 2010

Not compromising

What do you do when someone tells you to compromise your spiritual beliefs? What do you do when that someone is a Christian? 4 years ago I probably would have let codependency overrule my spiritual conviction. I was asked to do that today, I'm happy to say I did not.

Changes are coming in employment, soon. I have a reputation as a hard worker. If you give me a job I do it to the best of my ability and I'm all about quality of work. And when I work my various side jobs people feel they are getting what they are paying for. I'm honest, sometimes to the point of underselling myself, and I share, upfront, my past, so that there are no secrets that a person I'm working for may come to find out. Yes, when I first work for them I'm watched. But I build a level of trust as I'm consistent. And if I'm not employed because of my past then that is a door God didn't want me to go through.

What would happen if I take short cuts in my drawing? I'd produce a drawing, but it wouldn't be of the quality I'd be happy with. I study anatomy, which has helped me greatly with noses, I put time and preperation into each work I do. Well, the same goes for remodelling. You can do a good job, or you can do a great job. You can be all about the money, or you can be proud of the job you've done and still get paid for a quality job.

But now things are happening that I can't ignore. Because someone else decides to compromise their spiritual beliefs doesn't mean I have to follow along. And you can't help someone who doesn't want to change. You can't fix people. I'm not sure I was trying to fix this individual, I'm soul searching that area of my heart, but you can only be a mentor for so long with an individual who knows right and chooses to be wrong before you finally have to step back. I'm having flashbacks to my past....

Ginger use to feel that I'd get back into computers. She dropped a bomb shell on me today. She doesn't feel that anymore, she feels my artwork will be my career in the future. Can I hope and dream? I've always felt others were better, I wouldn't be able to make it. Where would I get the work? But God did an amazing work in my heart this last portrait I did. And He gave me such a supporting wife who is encouraging me to pursue my dream. To be able to call my studio my work place is something I saw as impossible, but God deals with the impossible. Now, coming on our favorite time of year, and the drawing bug firmly biting me, I'm in my studio drawing again, for myself right now, but God will provide.

Change is coming and their is a certain amount of uncertainty with that. I'm not necessarily good with change and God has to prompt me, push me out of the box sometimes, in a loving way. But He has never, ever let me down, He has always provided. One of my side job employers tells me that one day he'll look back and say, that famous artist worked for me. I'm getting plenty of encouragement. But I realize something, I have to believe in myself. And I'm starting too. For so long I beat myself up over my past, telling myself I was not good enough, that I deserved the hard times I was going through or that I'll fail if I change things, shake the box up. Yes, I'm a co ministry leader, and I've felt this. What I'm realizing tonight, as I write this, I have to forgive myself. Wow. I have to forgive myself and realize I can pursue my dreams and I'm allowed to be happy. I didn't realize all this until tonight as I've opened my heart fully to God.

I think it is why I stay at certain jobs when I should have moved on long ago. I'm afraid of the change and scared of the unknown. I understand, to a degree, why people stay in abusive relationships. Because the fear of change is greater than the abuse. There is a pattern and routine and that is better than change. And there is fear of failure. It feels good to talk about this. Who am I relying upon anyway to provide for me?

But you know what. I am good enough. God doesn't make junk. And you know what, I can pursue that dream. God has given me a gift, not to hide, but to practice with and perfect. And the only way I'm going to do that is to step out of the box. He's given me some specific directions, now I just have to keep stepping as He guides. And I'm not perfect. I'll make mistakes, still make them, but I can learn from them.

So there you go, I've gotten vulnerable tonight. I've said Lord, here are some doors I've kept tightly shut, your not allowed in, until now. I didn't realize how tightly I was holding onto these doors, not letting anyone in. So tonight I'm having some time alone with God. He's waiting, patiently, to help me, but I have to open the door before He can...


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Anatomy of a Portrait

So those who have been wondering why I've fallen off the face of the earth, well in blog world at least, it is because I actually got a portrait commission. Yeah, I took the plunge and began, as least a little bit, showing some of my work around. So I thought I'd give you a peek into my lil drawing world. The first picture is my prep work. For me, this is where I spend a couple of hours making sure everything is proportioned right. Some artists can do this in minutes, for me, because I'm a realist and like things exact, I spend much more time with it. I do not use a projector, which could make things easier I'm sure, but give me a good rainy day and I get lost in my world.

Having done the prep work, and my outline work, it is now time to get the detail, and for me, remove as many "lines" as possible and let the shading do the boundry work. John's face took me about 5 hours alone to do. This is with breaks, getting up looking and getting different perspecitives, but again, I'm a realist. I'm not looking for sketch quality, I'm looking for a 3D quality where the face actually projects off the page. It can be rather tedious to some, but when you get to the end and look at it, well, the work is worth it.

Now I've begun Diane. The hard part with Diane was not her face, it was very well defined, it was the hair. With the hair in the picture not being very well defined, I had to shade it to the best of what I could. What I didn't realize is there were highlights in the hair, and when John saw the drawing he asked how I knew their were highlights! God, John, all God. As this point I'd put about 4 to 5 hours in her face and hair.

And then the finished product, well sort of. After this was taken I would go back and look, change a shade here, darken this here. I had to get it out of my studio before I just kept working and working! Being a realist and a recovering perfectionist, I have to realize when it is time to stop. I can see where I need to improve on something, change this or that. But in the end, it is what the customer thinks. So what did John think? He loved it. He was amazed. He'd gotten this as a surprise to his wife for their anniversary, which is today. So Monday I get to hear how she reacted. I made the most off this portrait than I have any drawing I've ever done. I almost let it go cheaply, but Ginger, my lovely wife, was adamant I not go low. Your work is worth it, she said, it is one of a kind and you have a gift. Well, happy to say when I gave him the price he was all too happy to pay and I was a couple of hundred dollars richer. Gotta get that confidence up and this helped.

So now I'm excited and looking for my next commission. This is pretty fun...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Halloween Party Coming!

Yesterday was a very enjoyable day. Not too hot. I decided to make a new recipe, chicken pot pie, and it turned out rather well. I like it when it works on the first try! It was pretty basic, not too terribly fancy, probably the only thing I'd change is put a little rosemary in it. Ginger was happy with it as well, we both had second helpings, so that tells you something! I'll probably never have a frozen pot pie again. This was just too easy, and too good.

I went to Hastings yesterday to look around the books and magazines. Not that Ginger minds going as well, but it's like a mission for her when she goes into a book store usually. Go in, get the book, get out, go go go! For me, a book store, or a library, I get lost. I like to look at different things, this or that will catch my eye. It's a, for lack of a better term, an escape. Part of my personality, and genetics. Anyway, having looked at everything I wanted to I decided on two magazines that had different ideas and recipes for Halloween. Autumn is a favorite time of year and Ginger and I both love Halloween. Now let me clarify this. The fun part of halloween. The fun stuff. Ginger can't stand the scarier stuff, that is not her thing. If it is cartoonish not a problem, but if it gross, or dark, forget it. At one time, in my addiction days, I was into the darker side of halloween. Well, sort of. I've always hated slasher movies and such. I'm not into the blood and guts thing, but I've always had an affection for vampires. As a kid I liked them ( I won a halloween contest as a kid for being one). They were mysterious to me and powerful. And for someone who had self esteem issues, they were something to fantasize about because in my mind I could be one and all my self esteem issues could disappear for awhile. And so halloween was a day and night I could be something I was not. Mix that with addiction and I was a twisted freak. I'd dress up as the crow, face paint and all. I've told Ginger about this, I have no pictures of that time in my life, and Ginger has forbade me from dressing up like that again. It would carry over to other days, I was into the gothic stuff, and it was just weird to everyone around me. I even had fake fangs I would wear. Believe me, I thought I looked so cool. And believe me, I didn't.

Well, now I'm in recovery and my self esteem issues are alot better. I don't dress or decorate in gothic anymore (my Mom is very thankful). In fact my tastes are more for the antique look now. I'm more refined. I don't want to be a vampire anymore. I'll be honest, I like to read about vampires still, in the Warhammer series, but these are dark vampires and I'm not for the vampires now. Still like the movies like Lost Boys, Van Helsing, or Underworld, but I'm pretty picky. If it is about the blood, I'm just not into it.

I've digressed a little bit, so back on track. We are thinking about having a fun halloween party. No costumes probably, just having some people over, making some fun treats, and having a few decorations up. So we sat yesterday looking through the magazines, laughing, having a good time, picking out things we'd like to cook, and things I could make to make it enjoyable. Making it a fun holiday. It is important, especially for me, to turn the memories of dark halloweens into fun and spooky halloweens, kinda like we are kids.

I've run into, shall we say, resistance, from some in the Christian community. How can I think of celebrating a pagan holiday. Do I know the history of Halloween? Well yes, I do, better than most. But Halloween is not about celebrating a pagan holiday for me. It's about having a fun time with friends. I'm not going to be dancing under a full moon, or running around acting a fool, I'm going to be eating cupcakes that look like frankenstien, a goofy one, sitting around with friends and telling stories. There will be lots of laughter and maybe even Phase 10. I've said it before, I'm not a cookie cutter Christian. I walk this life the best way I know how, but I'm not going to be fake. I was fake for too long. You won't find me in fake fangs anymore, or with makeup on like the crow. But I'm going to enjoy my sober life. Some ask me well, what would Jesus do? Honestly, right or wrong, I think that God will be there with us because we will talk about God, and if Jesus was there in the flesh, I believe he'd have a cupcake.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Do you like Spiders?

I ran into this beautiful spider while working clearing some metal. She almost surprised me when I moved a piece of metal and saw her 6 inches in front of my head. She was busy capturing a bee.

On Friday I was out working, it was humid, the sweat was glistening down my back, my shirt as wet as if I'd of run through a sprinkler, and I felt it. A cool breeze. The ushering in of the changing of the season. Granted it'll still be hot for another month, but we are starting to get breaks in the heat. Trust me, 91 is much more tolerable than 110. So I felt the breeze and the chill from the sweat turning cold and just smiled. With a light rain, cool breeze, fall was giving us an announcement that it was on it's way.

With Autumn, one of my favorite times of year, I get my inspiration back. Ginger says my inspiration is rain, for drawing, which is why I find it so hard to draw in Summer. I believe her. Ever try to draw a detail portrait with sweat dripping down your face? I've done this, and you can ruin a piece of art quickly. My inspiration is rain, the coolness of Autumn evenings where I can open up the windows and let the fresh breeze blow into the apartment. Ginger and I did that this weekend. Just let the Summer stuffiness out of the apartment and let the freshness in. The ole girl (the apartment) loved it.

So the week has been crazy, both work wise and ministry wise. Work was slow with my boss so he put me on standby a couple of days. Did that stop me from working? Noooo. My boss's neighbor, who owns a dirt pit, has needed help for a while. He tells me my boss, Mark, is my main job, take care of that, but if he doesn't need me then give him a call, so I did. He hurt his back getting bucked off a horse so he needs someone who can do what he can't. I've worked with him before. Funny, the first time I worked with him he laid down the law. He tells me if he catches me taking a nap, then I get docked an hour. He tells me about all the previous help before and the various stunts they've pulled or how slow, etc. And then I begin to work. That first day he watched me. He'd go off and do something and sneak around through the trees to see if I was working. I was clearing brush and trees. And he found I could work. And he found that whatever he asked, I'd do. No job was too menial, I've dug ditches, and chainsawed trees, and cleared brush and uncovered pipe and cleared fence line. He found that he had to tell me to take breaks. He has opened up about his life, I've opened up about mine, and the relationship has been a good one. He taught me how to drive his four wheeler. So this week I'd go and work for Rogan for a couple of days. Then, when Mark needed me, I'd work for Rogan from 7 to 9, go and work for Mark, then if I got off early, I'd go and work for Rogan. And then half a day Saturday I worked for Rogan. And now I'm, in a way, two neighbors right hand man. Mark had a couple of air conditioners he was just going to take to the salvage yard without tearing them down. Usually we do. I convinced him that we'd make more money on them if he gave me a couple of hours to tear them down. So in a light rain, I went to work. It made him probably 8 times more than what he'd get. And it paid my payroll and plenty more for him. For both these men I've become a sounding board, a counselor of sorts. One believes in God and is trying to find his way back to Him, the other has never really known Him. People ask me why I do what I do. Because my life is not mine, it's God's. I find that when I do what God wants, He provides for me. Ginger and I's bills get paid, I make a little extra (like this week), but the real joy for me is listening and sometimes giving advise to these two business men. Sometimes I don't talk, I just listen.

And that has carried over as well into the ministry I work with in Celebrate Recovery. The upper leadership is in a state of transition right now. Usually I'm quiet and reserved. Well, not this week. I sent an email out to the top leaders and expressed not only my opinion on things but giving my support to my mentor who people have been bashing. I also stated that our enemy is not each other, it is the enemy of God who is not flesh and blood. It was a rather long email but I felt God prompting me. Too many people were going to other people and complaining, so alot of stuff was being spoken about in the dark. Not anymore. As one counselor who is very dear to me (he married Ginger and I) said, this happens in ministry. It is a shame, but he is right. Things are getting on the right track right now but I've been on the phone ALOT this week. My role of sitting quietly in the background is, for now, changing. And I'll be getting to teach the lesson this week, on of all things, Forgiveness. Your prayers would be appreciated.

So as I look back on this week, I see God using me. It is not me, I've found, it is God. I don't look and say, I'm going to help or fix this person. I find myself saying, God use me how you wish. And He does in such a way that He gets the glory. I'm just human but I have a power in me that is greater than the world, God. And as long as I don't get in the way, He can work. What a mighty God we serve, what a mighty God we serve, angels bow before him, heaven and earth adore Him, what a mighty God we serve.