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Saturday, February 26, 2011

On My Soapbox

So last Monday we are at Celebrate Recovery and Ginger has a man come up to her as she is passing out announcements.  Someone who's been coming for awhile with another ministry.  I find out later she shared with him she was dealing with some anxiety and he proceeds to tell her that it is a demon inside her causing that.  Probably good I didn't know right then....

Okay so here is my disclaimer before I go on. If you believe that bipolar/anxiety disorder is a demon then the following you are not going to agree with.  Feel free to read it, but I want no emails telling me how it is.  I won't believe you and I will respond.  I respect if you believe in such a way, but I'm going to tell you how such a belief hurts people more than helps.

There are few things that ruffle my feathers.  Most know me as pretty quiet and reserved, Ginger calls me meek with a quiet strength.  I can lead, do lead in my marriage, but I don't have to do such with an iron fist.  I learned from my father early on to respect my wife, and Ginger is the crown jewel of my life.  So when someone makes a comment then I get home and find someone thinks my wife has demons, well, that stokes my fire.  This infernal belief that a brain disease is the work of a demon incenses me, much as believing that addiction is a demon running around in someone's body.   For people that don't understand bipolar, simply and in layman's terms, the chemicals in the brain act differently than an average brain.  Therefore moods tend to go in extremes, high (mania) and low (depression).  With the right medication, someone bipolar becomes stable.  It doesn't go away completely (unless God takes it away), but the extremes are lessened tremendously.  This is a very simple definition, it is much more complicated, but you get the idea.  Disease takes its root from living in a fallen world and sin entering the world from Adam and Eve.  Before they sinned there was no disease.  But some people take this to believe that some personal sin causes all disease. If you have unprotected sex with many partners and get an STD, well, guess who caused your disease, not some demon entering you, you did.  After all, if you can blame it on a demon then you don't have to take responsibility for your actions.  What about a parapeligic?  Are they demon possessed?  If your brains chemicals are acting erratic then that is a physical issue, not a spiritual issue. 

The fact is Ginger is one of the most Godly people I know.  There is hardly a purer heart for God that I know than her's, and that includes ministers I know, people who've been serving God for years I haven't seen a heart like Ginger's.  She has the childlike faith where she just believes and it astounds me how much she trusts in God.  In worship, she tunes everyone out (I've watched), and it is quite literally as if she is standing before Jesus worshiping him.  She'll cry, raise her hands, smile, even jump up and down on occasion, but not for show.  If everyone is sitting down and she feels moved to stand, she does, regardless if she is the only one (her husband stands with her...), because she is worshiping her Savior.  Her thorn, however, is bipolar.  And even though she has struggled with it, prayed God to heal her from it, she has always been told God's grace is sufficient for her.  Hard pill to swallow sometimes.  But I've seen God use her bipolar to help sooo many people at Celebrate Recovery and beyond.  She's quite open about it, she doesn't hide the fact.  Her closest group of friends, well most are bipolar as well.  And it is the definition of a support group.  They will call each other, cry with each other, laugh, and help each other when they are feeling "bipolary".  Remember, her brain is sick and medication helps that.

Now can you be oppressed by demons through disease?  Well, in my case with alcoholism, absolutely.  Though I have the disease, I can invite all sorts of sin into my life, if I take a drink.  I have a disease and the remedy for that disease guessed it....not drinking.  It is MY responsibility not to take a drink.  Now, I know, I hear it all the time, I've tried to stop and can't stop.  Well, you have to realize you can't do it alone that you need help.  (meetings, support groups, sponsors, accountibility partners, having God in your get the point).  In Ginger's case, it is taking her medication when she is suppose to, support groups, having God in her life, notice a similarity by any chance?  It is taking responsibility that you have a disease, you need help with it, and doing the necessary things to ensure that you lead a healthy life.  Ginger's bipolar manifests itself in what is called hyper spirituality, so there is a confusion about whether what she is going through is bipolar or spiritual.  In comes in her friends and her husband who help her discern what it is.  If you walk in our hallway I have a board up that we can write on.  On it I have "It is bipolar, not spiritual, it will pass."  The medication kicks in, or she gets out what she is going through and guess what, it passes. 

Don't get me wrong, I believe in the devil, and demons, and all of that is very real.  But too often we want to blame the enemy on everything and take no responsibility for ourselves.  I'll leave you with this thought.  I have alchoholism, my wife has bipolar.  If God allowed that to bring Him glory, then is it worth it?  I went through a storm to get where I'm at today, and Ginger did too.  If you ask both are parents now who they give thanks for for our recovery, who do you think they give praise to?  You guessed it, the God of the Universe....


Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Perfect Storm

I yes, my old friend the blog.  I've missed my blog.  Lest you think I've being playing wii all this time, I actually have not.  I relegate that to weekends now, though I've begun to learn to prioritize it now.  Actually, as you'll see, I've been rather busy.

Last Monday was the beginning of a perfect storm at work.  I love storms so it is a perfect analogy for the chaos that this week provided.  I love the coming of spring and with it the distant rumble of a storm.  Hardly anything gets me more excited than to see the sky begin to darken and see the flicker of lightning dance across the sky.  As the storm gets closer, so does the intensity.  You can always tell it is going to be big when there is a calmness before the storm.  The wind dies down, and it is as if everything in nature is holding it's breath, ready for the fury that is about to embark.

Well, last weekend one of our maintenance tech's had to have emergency hernia surgery.  He'd had it for awhile, it just chose that weekend to become critical.  Our other maintenance tech, my former boss, had already been out last week with a "illness" and would end up being out this week as well.  Actually he scrapped his leg, said it was okay when it'd happened, then suddenly about 5 days later it was bad and causing his blood pressure to go up because it was all red.  Then he shows up this Thursday, to pick up his check and tell us he'll be back Monday.  Problem was, he had a worker in his truck, which means he's been working on the side while off  "sick".  Yes, he has a doctor's excuse, but knowing how short we are...then he says to me in passing he could have come back early but wanted the rest of the week.  He didn't score too many points with this move.  And then, finally, the other make ready person decided she needed a week off a couple of weeks ago and this was the week she chose (it was approved at the last minute, like Friday last minute).  She's been there 12 years so she deserves some time off!

So Monday rolls around and there is one make ready for the week (me, who is actually the painter), one maintenance guy (the lead) and our cleaning lady.  With my former boss pulling a no show, it left all the make ready's to me, and all the work orders to our lead.  And then I looked at the board for the make ready's needing to be done.  There were 5.  Let me put it in perspective, two of us do 5 in a week.  It was quickly knocked down to 4 because I just couldn't pull down a whole ceiling, jack up a rafter, replace the ceiling, in a day.  Looking at the difficulty of the 4, however, I saw that I had 3 hard turns and a moderate turn.

Let me explain the turn concept.  Turns are rated easy, moderate, and hard.  A turn is how long it takes to "turn" an apartment, or make ready, for another tenant.  An easy turn is one in which everything is pretty much like new, just a touch up and it can be made ready.  Moderate turns are where there are one or two issues that are going to take some time on, like fully painting the apartment instead of touching up, a drywall patch, that type of thing.  A hard turn is a disaster.  This is where someone has quite literally trashed the apartment.  It is a full paint, and typically appliances have to be changed and walls have to be patched.

So I had my work cut out for me.  I'd been working on my speed in painting an apartment and had gotten down to 4 hours to paint a one bedroom apartment, and about 5 to paint a two bedroom one bath.  Well, all four apartment I had to do were a) upstairs and b) all two bedroom one bath, with one being two bedroom, two bath.  Like I said early, the perfect storm.  I'd cut my teeth when I first began working here on a hard turn, the worst one to date that I've ever had to work on, so I didn't freak out.  But I knew that my abilities would be tested this week.  I had to finish an apartment a day, and that was with picking up the grounds each morning as well as trashing the apartments out (removing the trash/furniture) to which 2 of them were absolutely horrible.

By the end of Monday I had one apartment painted and another touched up.
By the end of Tuesday I had both those apartments make ready's done.
By the end of Wednesday, I had painted and almost finished the make ready in the two bedroom, two bath.  This was the day we had our winter storm, which thankfully blew by us but left us with bitter cold.  I had one issue in this apartment that required our lead, beyond my expertise, and it actually stymied him as well.  So going into Thursday I had one apartment left.  Then the storm hit.

Walking into 271 was like walking into a maelstrom.  There were no appliances, the subfloor had issues, and it needed to be fully painted.  All the kitchen/dining room tile needed to be replaced, the front door was hardly working and it had to be trashed out.  In terms of hard turns, this was the definition.  No vent hood, no dishwasher, blinds all messed up.  I could just picture the rain, lightning, thunder and wind.  No thermostat, that was the first order of business to get heat on in the apartment.  The worst part is, on Friday evening, these people were going to move in.  In my initial assessment, that was not happening. But then something amazing happened.  I'd trashed out the apartment and began leveling the floor with concrete floor leveler.  It would need a night to dry.   Our cleaning lady decided to help me (our lead asked her to) by painting the cabinets.  She would end up saying she had new respect for me after painting all those cabinets.  And in something that I can only describe as God sending a league of angels in, I painted the apartment in a little over 3 hours, and that was with a shoulder that was so sore it was hard to lift my hand above my head.  It wasn't by my power.   Friday came and we had to a) carpet clean all the apartments, b) change all the locks, c) finish the make ready in 271.  Hauling the carpet machine with a flat wheel up stairs, then down four times, by lunch we had the locks changed and all the carpet cleaning except one (that is what I did), we had 3 1/2 hours to get appliances in the apartment, lay the tile in the dining room and the kitchen, carpet clean, clean and finish the make ready.  Our lead came in and began the make ready and taking care of the appliances.  I began laying the vinyl tile, cutting it to fit, caulking, and our cleaning lady went to town on cleaning.  By 5:15 the tile was laid, the carpet was cleaned, and the appliances were downstairs waiting to be carried up.  As quitting time came, we had our appliances and our lead was going to hook the appliances up after he went to get something to eat but for the most part, we had met our deadline.  The people were not moving in until Saturday, so the lead could handle the rest.

We walked into the office, sore, tired, our muscles spent to the point of exhaustion and beyond.  And there before us was a cookie cake that had the words, YOU ROCK!, for us.  Our manager and the girls in the office wanted to recognize what we'd done that week, short handed, and yet able to pull the load we did.  It was nice to be appreciated.  We laughed, joked about the week, and sometimes after a storm you see a rainbow, and for us, here was our rainbow.

It felt like we'd been tossed to and fro by the rain, had been buffeted by the wind, but in the end we stood strong, yet tired and spent.  I learned more new things, learned quicker ways of doing things, and learned what teamwork was all about.  Our lead didn't have to help me, but he did, and the cleaning lady didn't have to help paint, but she did.  In the end, I still accomplished alot on my own, but as a team we accomplished so much more.  So next week, with two people coming back, it'll seem almost slow compared to what I just went through. 

God was with me the whole way and stretched me in ways I didn't think possible.  So even though I had to go through the storm, guess what, I was never alone during it...