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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Weeding Azalea's

 Two blogs in two days!

So Ginger got up this morning to go walking with a good friend of hers at 8:15.  Paul, the ambitious one, decided to get up and tackle a job that had been nagging him awhile, weeding the azalea's out front.   Having been so busy this summer with side jobs, work, and a wonderful trip to Fort Worth, I finally had some time, and a swatch of time.  You know how it is, you pull into the driveway, see it, and go I really need to take care of that.  Then you walk up into the air conditioning and, well, it's all over. 

So Ginger set off on her walk and I got my gloves and went to work.  And how I missed it!  I know, I know, I'm probably a little touched in the head getting up early on a Sunday morning before church and doing it, but I was enjoying it.  In about 5 minutes my shirt was soaked with sweat and I didn't have a bandanna on so my hair would get in my eyes (I told ya'll it was long!), but 3 white trash bags later I was looking at my work while I watered the plants. 

There was a spiritual lesson there as well though (come on, you knew there would be!).  It was just a chance for me to be alone with God and for God to just minister to my heart.  The lesson, don't let weeds in your life overgrow the beauty of your life.  Don't get so busy with everything that you forget to do a little maintenance to keep things clean.  For example, I've mentioned it so much but date night for Ginger and I is just that.  It allows us a time alone so that if we have to do any weeding we can.  More practically, Ginger cleans the house every Saturday afternoon, without fail (and I clean the studio and help out).  One example has to do with relationships, the other with just being clean.   But your heart may need to be cleaned every now and then too.  Don't get so busy that you don't take time with God and just be alone and let him minister to you.  And that is what weeding this morning was for me, a time for God to just love on me a little bit, encourage me on things done right and guidance on things to do better.  God forbid, I am not perfect.  You'd think I'd get this at church, and I do to an extent, but sometimes it's that alone time that counts.  It Ginger and I were out with friends all the time but never alone, where would our relationship be?  And when I have moments of learning like this its funny how I want to blog and share with my readers.

So on a side note, what are the odds that our favorite server at Mercado's, who is in a Christian band, stops working on Saturday nights and then his brother becomes our favorite server, who started serving the week after his brother stopped working on Saturday's?  Small world?  I think not.  He was happy to see us last night!  He's only been serving for 2 weeks!  He saw us, his face lit up and he said, "I'm so happy to see ya'll".  He was having some difficulty, as most new servers do, but we are like the most laid back customers you'll see.  Interestingly enough, he's bipolar.  Ginger, finding this out strikes up a conversation about, you guessed it, bipolar.  My baby is not shy.  Remember yesterday's blog about ministry?  Yep, ministry in action.

Well, time to get ready for church.  I can hear Ginger in the other room getting ready, I know I'll walk in and get my breath taken away when I see my angel.  I get my breath taken away alot.....


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Institutionalized in Recovery

 Okay, people have been wanting pictures (yes, still taking them!):

Hot Air balloons practicing before work!  And my little friend by my storage room.  My little guardian keeping all the bugs away!  I have a strange fascination with spiders....

 Ginger and I's weekend started off great last night.  Maybe it had something to do with the fact that we knew that Saturday I didn't have to work and Ginger had no plans other than her usual routine.  With my Photoshop Elements 10 books beside me, a book my brother let me borrow that I can read at my leisure, and date night tonight, I'm a happy camper.  Oh yeah, the Olympics are on too! 

So I heard a word this week, institutionalized.  Usually it is in context with prison or jail.  Briefly it basically means that someone gets so use to the structure and life in a prison or jail that they can live no other way.  I've heard stories of people who have gotten out only to commit a crime so they can get back in.  However, the context in which I heard it in had to do with recovery.  Being institutionalized in recovery.

Now before I continue let me state that I am pro recovery meetings.  Whether it is Celebrate Recovery, AA, NA, Winner's Circle, TAX, to name a few, I believe these meetings help to save lives.  They are an integral part of developing a support group if you have none, or good as a supplement to an already existing support group.  I know people who have used these meetings a short while to get back on track and I know people who are "lifers", those who will go to a meeting for the rest of their lives. 

I've stated before the battle I've seen with "One Steppers" and "Twelve Steppers".  Those who believe you are healed instantly from addiction are the "One Steppers".  "Twelve Steppers" believe that meetings are the way to sobriety.  My belief is, God is in control.  Can He heal instantly, Yes.  Can He use meetings to help you on your way, Yes.  Whatever gives Him the glory.  Too often, however I've seen both sides look down on the other, or someone from one side trying to convince another that is not the way.  Maybe you should ask God for guidance, just saying.

So back to institutionalization.  Can you believe I spelled that right on the first round!  In recovery it means a dependence on meetings.  If I miss a meeting I'll drink or use type of thinking.  If I'm not going to meetings I'll fall.  How often have I heard that....  If your not serving at meetings, doing the twelfth step, your on your way to relapse.  Let me state that early in sobriety, meetings or a support group is essential.  It could be a church support group or a recovery meeting, family and friends (who don't use), accountability partners, and such.  God will guide you along the path He has chosen for you and it's my belief not to fight God.  I've seen people who immerse themselves in church and people who've gotten professional help.  Let me state this, what are you doing if your not going to a meeting?  Like me, I'm with my wife.  But if your going to the bar instead of a meeting, well, choose the meeting my friend.  There are good reasons not to go to meetings and bad ones, choose wisely.

As you work through the issues of your addiction, it is essential as well to take the things you learn from your various support and apply them.  Early on, just showing up to meetings may be all you have the strength for.  But at some point you have to put work into your recovery.  There is a responsibility once you become sober.  If your weakness is the bar, stay out of the bar.  The beer store, stay out of the beer store.  Your friends drink?  Don't hang around them when they drink.  DO you have amends to make?  Make them.  Do you have issues to talk about, share at a meeting, or with an accountability partner, sponsor, pastor, best friend, I think you get the point. 

But I think the trap some people get into is that going to meetings equates to staying sober.  I know plenty of people (I was one) that would go to a meeting and turn around a drink after the meeting.  Happens more than you know.  Pick your meetings wisely, your friends at meetings wiser.   Again, early in sobriety it may be your choice is the bar or a meeting.  Which way do you think God wants you to choose?

And God will guide you.  You can't become dependent on the meeting.  What happens with this?  People miss a meeting for a good reason (not a bad one, like hanging out with your friends who drink) and they panic.  I'm on a downward slide, I'm going to relapse, I'm too weak.  Think it doesn't happen?  Think again.  Going to meetings is good, for the teaching, fellowship and support, but realize it is the work you put into your recovery that keeps you sober.   There are people who are lifers, those who God has called to various positions in the ministry to run or help etc.  It is their calling.  But missing a meeting because you have a family function, or a sick child, or you yourself are sick isn't going to kill you.

For others, it is for a season.  Ginger and I are in this category.  We began to question one day why we were going to the meetings.  We were burned out.  It was time for a rest.  Ginger was going through a very bad bout with her bipolar and because of my responsibilities in ministry I was torn because I wanted to be with my wife and help her.  So I stepped down to be with my wife because, as God guided me through wisdom by talking through others, my wife is my number one ministry.   When I first stepped down I can't tell you how many people came to me "concerned" that because I wasn't going to a meeting I was in danger of relapse.  Really?  My thinking was if I hadn't learned anything in ten years I was in trouble.  But my thinking was also this, God guided me this way.  The other concern people had was since I wasn't doing any ministry I wasn't working for God.  Really?  So I posed this question to them, what constitutes ministry?  Ginger and I have a close knit group of friends and Ginger and I tend to counsel and be counselled by them.  Does that constitute ministry?  Can ministering to one person be considered ministry?  Yes, God calls people to be pastors, and ministry leaders, and such.   But He also calls individuals to help individuals.  And you wouldn't believe the opportunities Ginger and I have had one on one. 

At this particular point in our life, we are not going to meetings.  We enjoy going to our church, we have fellowship with family and friends, and we communicate with each other.  Will we ever go to a meeting again?  If God directs us, yes.  But I think it should be a prayer filled choice.

Just a side note.  Sobriety is possible.  There are four stages to alcoholism and I was in the 4th stage.  Only a miracle could have brought me sobriety.  But I found it.  It has been a long road but you know what?  I'm happy with my life.  All of the above, well, it's just my opinion through this walk of sobriety I'm on, just observations from the edge of life.   You can agree or even disagree, I'm happy either way because life is way too short to argue about the little stuff.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Good Weekend!

Thank you so much for the comments and emails that you've sent me, encouraging and supporting me.  It truly is amazing how those who truly love me gather around me as one of their own.  Funny thing is, once I wrote the blog, got my feelings out, I felt much better.  I have had a couple of people say I shouldn't put my feelings out there like that for the world to see.  Maybe they don't realize that it is one of the reasons I put this blog out in the first place, to show how a Christian recovering alcoholic copes with life.  You see, something like that, many moons ago would have been an excuse.  Now it is all the more reason to continue of the path I am on.  Because, believe it or not, those same rumors allowed me the opportunity to share with a few people my testimony.  They got to see beyond the "rumors" and learn the truth.  In the end, God is glorified.  I've always been open about my struggles and if someone wants to know how I've gotten to where I am today, all I ask is that they come to me and ask.  Someone else doesn't know my story as well as I do.  And there were a few people at work who rallied around me too, people I didn't even know had my back so to speak. 

Speaking of work, I worked 5 hours yesterday in the hot Texas summer sun.  Anyone know how hard it is to shovel into clay?  I got home, took a shower and just laid in bed for about an hour, thankful that the long stretch between regular work and helping out a couple of friends this week was over.  But it feels good.  I haven't been able to play too much with my new toys, my new off camera flash and my books about Photoshop Elements 10, but I have plenty of time for that, after all what I really wanted to do was be with my baby, Ginger!  So we decided to start date night early last night!  Gotta say I really enjoy our Saturday nights together!  I mean there is no one I'd rather spend time with than my beautiful wife!  Tell you, that was one piece of premarital advise that I thank the Lord for!   It is at least the one night of the week where we go out with no one, or have friends over, it's just Ginger and I.  It gives us a chance to talk, laugh, and just plain be together alone with no distractions.  Then again, Ginger is my best friend so talking with her is easy!   Seems most we talk to about date night says that is a great idea, but we don't do it.   I guess to each his own, but for us, well, we love it. 

We were able to go to lunch with Ginger's cousin Teddy today!  Teddy is like Ginger in that he is an extrovert.  You'd think with those two I wouldn't get a word in edge wise being an introvert.  And yet it seems Ginger is the one listening to us!  Teddy is one of the few people I can discuss religion with without it becoming a full out brawl over ideas.  His insight, especially being Greek, is fascinating to me.  But as well, we both share a love for photography.  Here is a guy I can bounce ideas off of and well, it's just fun to talk photography if you ask me.

 I tried taking some shots of lightning last night, got a few but the light pollution faded them out.  I'll need to find a darker place to take night shots at besides the parking lot of Orange Leaf!  But it was a great lightning show!  And, well, it was date night, so even though I took a few shots, I spent time with Ginger (happy wife, happy life!)

Anyway, so there is a happy update for you all.  Thank you again those of you who support me and encourage me, you mean the world to me!   God continues to work on Ginger and I and He ain't done yet!


Sunday, July 15, 2012


What a week it has been.  It has been busy, filled with a little bit of turmoil and yet, at the end it comes down to a good bit of rest.  It is amazing how Ginger and I's weekly Saturday date night just makes everything melt away and I truly get to embrace what really matters in life.  No matter how hard, busy, fast, a week as it has been, when 4pm hits on Saturday everything is put in a box, it is sealed up, thrown in a closet and our fun begins. 

So truly where to begin.  The fun stuff.  I went and got a new camera flash!  A Canon 430 ex II.  It's a mid range flash that is exactly what I need for my first external flash.  And now, finally, as I read through my photograph magazines and they say set your external flash as so, I can do it!  I've also gotten a couple of books on Photoshop Elements 10 and I'm delving head first into learning the program inside and out.  Funny I was resistant to both flash and post production of photographs at first.  But I've been able to see the benefit of both.  Don't get me wrong, I'm still a big ambient light person, but my resistance to change is waning.  Ginger seemed to be excited to hear she was going to be my model since I'll need to practice.  Bring on the head shots!

So at work I began hearing rumors of some of the things that are said about me.  Truly, though, doesn't that happen at any work place?  I've kept my past rather quiet, I mean everyone knows I'm a recovering alcoholic and I'm not shy about that fact.  But as far as what that past addiction looked like I've been very selective about what I share.  Not that I'm embarrassed, I just have chosen to move on.  There is a lyric, though, by DC Talk a Christian group, that goes, "Seperated, I cut myself clean, from a past that comes back in my darkest of dreams."

However, it seems that some of those things in my past have become common knowledge that was spread throughout the employees and even a few residents, things in my application (isn't that a legal issue?).   Interestingly enough, those same things I've stood at a podium in front of hundreds of people and spoke them in my testimony.  And then to top it off I heard a rumor of not to tell me anything because I'll tell it (of all people I heard this from a resident, who didn't believe it for a minute).  Isn't it funny, it's MY past thats getting talked about and I'm the one that is telling it!  I had to stop a minute and wonder why my trustworthiness was being put in question.  The fact is if I told everything I knew and heard, well, I'll just say I know a WHOLE lot more than people think I do.

But as I examined myself, my integrity, I realized that to my knowledge I don't go around telling people things.  In fact, quite honestly it is the opposite, people come and tell me things.  I told one person about this rumor and she goes, "Your the quiet one?"  Yep, that's right.  I got that reputation early on in my employment as the quiet one.  And quite honestly, I don't know the motivation behind what was said about me, but I realize that it hasn't effected those that truly are my friends.  My friends, after all, would come to me if they heard something they had said.  But I digress, I'm over that.  Rumors are just that, rumors.  If you want to know something about me just ask, that's all I'm asking for.

As far as my past, because it has been brought up it has allowed me to give my testimony to a few people.  Who?  That's confidential.  (I couldn't resist).   The point is, just because I don't talk about my past doesn't mean I won't share about it if asked.  I'm not embarrassed, or afraid, it is what it is. Certain people pick up on different language and realize I'm a recovering alcoholic and will ask about it.  I'm not shy, I'll share.  But talking about people behind their back, well, it's rude and it's wrong.  If your not man, or woman enough to say it to my face, then don't say it. 

Everyone with a past, especially like mine, goes through this, at least that has been my experience.  We get together and talk about how people talk about us!  And we laugh sometimes and other times we cry.  We may get mad, but in the end we know we are not alone.  Because the truth is, no matter how much of a saint you think you've been, we all have a past.  Some worse than others, but it was Jesus who stated, "He who has no sin may cast the first stone."  As far as I know, no one on this earth will be able to cast that stone.....


P.S.  My wife knows about none of this until she reads this so for those of you who've been talking, it's not me you should worry about.....

Sunday, July 8, 2012

My First Lightning Shot!

Okay so this is the first real shot of lightning that I was able to take on Friday night.  It was comical actually how it all went down.  We saw the warnings for a storm come up at 9:30 pm and a rare east to west storm was headed our way.  So I set up my camera and fixed it where I could take pictures out the window.  Running from one window to the other to see if I could see any forks of lightning.  Not seeing anything and getting rained out on one window I stood on the balcony at last and watched the storm surge past.  But I noticed the lightning sticking around.  So with camera on tripod already and remote set, I began taking shots.  The trick was Manual mode, set to Bulb mode (which means I could keep the shutter open as long as I wished).  Then you press the remote release once to open the shutter and wait for a flash of lightning and click the button again to close the shutter.  I'd keep the shutter open no longer than 45 seconds.  And it worked!  I didn't have to have lightning quick reflexes, I just had to leave it open and wait for a fork.  I was elated and doing a happy dance on the balcony!

Saturday was another day that was quite magical.  I went to Keller to see my Mom, Dad, and Brother and his family.  It was amazing.  My brother had gotten an arcade board that had all the controller's for those 80's arcade games we use to play.  Downloading said games, Phillip and I took a trip into our past and played games.   We also played Mexican Train with domino's, Mom and Dad and the two sons with their spouses.  Our family was together, I mean truly together.  Even my long hair was accepted, as all agreed, as long as Ginger likes it that's what matters.  And Mom said something that I had to ponder on and agree with.  As my hair got longer my codependency got smaller.  Maybe that is because as more and more people told me I needed to cut it, or change it, etc, the more I just didn't care because, shock of shocks, I liked it.  Instead of changing it because of peer pressure or changing because I wanted to please someone, I just lived my life with my hair the way I wanted it.  Sure, Ginger has a say, she is, after all my wife, but hey, when your wife looks at you and says you look hot, well, you do the math....

Anyway, had a wonderful time with family and it did all our hearts good.  I'm so very blessed and I owe it all to my wonderful God....


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Weight Loss and OCD

Well it has been an interesting couple of weeks since my last update of the lives and adventures of Paul and Ginger.  The pictures from last post of the roaches, well, that place has now been painted, cleaned and made to look brand new.  Hard to imagine but 3 days worth of work, drywall patching, ceiling texturing, and painting along with a revamp in the make ready department will do that.

The big news, however, for the past couple of weeks has been Ginger and her journey into weight loss and OCD.  Ginger's OCD had gotten to a rather critical level so she had received some medication from her doctor to relieve it.  One of her close friends on the same medication said it would alter her quality of life drastically.  Did it ever.  Her husbands too.  One of the symptoms of chronic OCD is obsessive checking, which Ginger did quite a bit, and that has all but vanished.  And something else happened to.  One of the side effects of the drug is either a) increased appetite or b) decreased appetite.  Ginger falls in the b) category.  Suddenly food, which was rather an obsession, has become a normal part of life, not an obsession. We've altered our diet to accomadate her weight loss (I pick my calories up at breakfast and lunch for those worried about me).  And she can have two snacks during the day, an apple and almonds for one, yogurt and blueberries for the other.  Sometimes she has both, sometimes none.  And something else happened too, her husband became a hard nosed accountability partner.  Before I get emails about how I need to support my wife, don't worry, she is very, very happy that I am hard nosed in this area.  She's amazing.  She'll text me and ask for ice cream, no.  And she listens.  She loves the structure.  And she is obedient.  I check on her during the day:  Food check and Sanity check.  I encourage her, she loves gold stars for doing well.  And it spurs her on to continue on the journey.  We've battled through a depression cycle, and made it out with her doing very well.  We've had therapy sessions, just her and I, to delve into some past issues and the progress has been amazing. 

So funny story to show how well the therapy is working.  Last night we were in Hastings.  I was looking at a book and Ginger was over in a chair across from me looking at her phone.  Enter a creepy looking man who comes over by us and stands next to Ginger.  I move over, put my hand on her shoulder and stand next to her.  Suddenly she looks over at creepy looking man and says,
"Excuse me, your in my space and standing too close."  He apologized, I looked at Ginger and she had a confident look on her face.  "Come on let's go."  I said, and we left.  She was soooo proud of herself, because for once she defended herself.  She is developing a confidence in herself that I get a first hand, front row seat to watch. 

And now the weight loss, rather than a yoyo, is on a slow decline down.  It's not jumping up and down.  And she is about to hit one of many milestones.  Nooooooo, I'm not telling you the milestone, one thing I learned early on is not to discuss women's weight.  If she wants you to know she'll tell you.  I want a happy wife and if she looked at this and I put a weight down, well, I'd be in deep doo doo. 

Anyway, our belief is that God is working through the medication.  We give God the glory for this change in our lives and for guiding us in the steps we need to take.  It has been a fascinating journey and continues to be so, sweet Ginger and her drill instructor husband!  Just kidding!