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Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Day of Remembrance

So today is a very special day in my life.  A day of remembrance.  Eleven years ago my new life started.  There wasn't alot of fan fare that day and I certainly didn't plan on it being the "day" that my life changed. But in my mind's eye, in my overactive imagination, I see legions of angels that day preparing for battle.  The battle for my life was about to begin.  There were plenty of people praying for me, and each prayer, each mention of my name before the Lord brought more angel's around.  And then, with a battle cry that froze the enemy, quite literally in their tracks, I was surrounded by more angels than you could count.  My angels had badges.  Don't get me wrong, the enemy was no pushover.  Having had me in their clutches for so long they weren't going to give up without a fight.  But never, ever under estimate the power of prayer, especially a mother's.  Not that a Dad's prayers aren't powerful, most definitely they are, your mother carries you for 9 months in the womb however, there is a special bond, and my mother, well, I've met only one other person who I believe has a special hotline straight to God, and I'm married to her. 

In the days and eventually years to follow, My Mom and Dad were used by God.  Mom was my source of encouragement, my Dad a source of wisdom.  I've had my challenges, I've had victories and I've had setbacks, I've had incredible highs and even a few lows.  But I'm surrounded by people that love me, pray for me, and care for me.  And having gone through the battles I have I find myself with compassion for those who hurt, those who are different, those who have struggles.

When you see someone with pink hair, or someone who is dealing with an addiction what is your first thought?  Freak?  Get away from them?  Weird?  Strange?  My first thought is, there is someone like me.  Sound strange?  "Freaks" come in all shapes and sizes, or what society calls freaks.  If you have an addiction, or you have been "damaged" in some way or you have led a hard life, made mistakes, it seems that society wants to make you an outcast.  You see this in church alot and even in the workplace, and I see alot of Christians, or so called "Christians" who judge people by either a) how they look or b) their past.  Regardless of if that person has changed their life.  And outcasts tend to band together.  That pink hair, is it a statement?  Is it wanting to be different?  Is it rebellion?  There is only one way to find out, you talk to the person without judging, without condemnation.  Or do you make snide comments, take shots about their past, gossip, talk about them behind their back?    

Ginger doesn't like it when I call myself a freak.  Her conception of a freak is much different than mine.  She understands more of what I mean now, of course.  And why one of my favorite songs is still "Freak Like Me" from Halestorm.  Though I love the "rebel" label I've had I have to be careful not to be "rebellious" or in "rebellion".  Yes, I'm an artist and I love to live on the edge, on the fringe of society and not be of the "acceptable norm".  It gives me a unique opportunity to talk to people on the edge and fringe with me.  I find comfort talking to people who've led a life like me, we have something in common, we have a common bond.  I've met a few artist in the area and I've been had the honor of even interpreting some of their art.

People ask me why I'm a painter, a make ready person, when they hear of my experience, of what I know.  Heck, I could probably build my own house (except for the concrete work!).  I mean, one grandfather built houses, the other was a sheet metal worker, and my Dad, well, there is nothing he can't fix (nothing at least that we don't know about!).  The short answer, I'm content.  They say I could do this, and do that, and make this and make that.  Yep, I could do all of that.  I'm content to be the quiet one. 

And as I reflect on the past eleven years, the highs and even the lows, I'm thankful for that spiritual battle that happened eleven years ago.  God, my merciful, wondrous God, has surrounded me with a supporting cast straight from heaven.  My beautiful wife, my wonderful family, her wonderful family, and a few very close friends.  I thank God that I am where I am at today.  So today is a day of remembrance, a special day for me and one I thank God for.


Friday, May 17, 2013

Surviving the Storms of Life!

 Who knew a storm was coming!

 Wow it has certainly been a long time since I've blogged.  Not that it has been far from my mind, I think I really need to get on here and then things come up, I get busy, and, well, life happens.  Truth be told, right after the last blog post I was sick for about two weeks exactly.  It was actually going around work and I happen to catch it.  Sort of a cross between a cold, an upper respiratory infection and sinus.  Heck, for all I knew it was all three!  For the first week we tried all sorts of medication that, unfortunately, made me extremely loopy.  We decided to make a change in medication of the less loopy making kind, I began to feel better and I felt in my right mind.  As I began to get my bearings on again I fell into a slump, a depression if you will.  Just no motivation to really do anything.  During this time Ginger went on vacation to Florida, and I did well, playing my video game and eating lots of junk food, but there was this void I was feeling.  Ginger and I were doing well, life had its struggles but we were facing them together, and yet I felt a void, an emptiness.

I've dealt with depression before, debilitating depression, and it just really takes your joy away.  Even photography was just ho hum for me, which is very unlike me.  Instead of looking at work as a challenge when work stacked up, I looked at it as an obstacle.  As one person at work put it, your in a funk and we need to get you out of it.  I'd post on Facebook about the challenges each day but without the joy there, well, I was just existing. And I was feeling more and more like I wanted to escape. 

And then I did something rather amazing a couple of days ago.  I picked up my Bible.  We've been going to church, but that was the only time I was picking up my Bible.  I picked it up and began reading.  I also began praying with Ginger before work, we pray over each other, to fight temptation, for safety, for a good day.  We'd started the prayer last week, but after picking up my Bible I began to put my heart into it.  I began telling Ginger about how I was being tempted and this helped her, shoot, it helped us know how to pray for each other.

What happened?  The black cloud lifted.  Amazingly.  I felt something I hadn't felt in a long time, joy.  I came to work and it was fun.  I'm looking at 10 make ready's in two weeks (with help) and I'm actually excited for the challenge.  I picked up my camera and took some pictures of a coming storm.  (The picture at the top) The old, laughing, jovial Paul began texting his wife the goofy texts again.  And I didn't want to escape anymore.

In essence, just my own self analysis, I was missing God in my life.  I won't say I was running from Him, but I was definitely not seeking after Him (if your not walking toward Him you are either standing still or walking the other way).  If your not God seeking your self seeking.  And I realized that without God there is just no joy in what I do.  The glue that holds Ginger and I together is Jesus, I see that so clearly.  And when I read the Bible, pray with Ginger, share what God has shown me there is a light in Ginger's eyes like no other.  Her man, being the spiritual leader.  And, I've learned, it is much easier to fall into sin when you are walking away from God.

Sin, after all, can look so pretty, and yet be so deadly...

When I picked up that Bible, my special Bible, it was like a sponge, I couldn't get enough.  I went to Proverbs, then found myself in James (two of my favorite books), and, well, I just kept getting these nuggets from God.  Kind of like you haven't talked to your best friend in two months and then you connect, well, this is what it was like.  It was two way, God talking to me saying, "I've been wanting to share this with you." and me saying, "I've been wanting to ask you about this."  And now, throughout the day I talk to God, just talk.  Not so much as ask for things, just, communicate.  You know, this is how I feel, or this is what I'm struggling with.  I picture Jesus walking beside me, most times just nodding His head in acknowledgement, sometimes offering an answer to a question I have, and sometimes an arm around my shoulder with a smile and a jovial laugh, giving wisdom.

The pressures of the job now seem manageable.  Photography, well, I feel the joy again.  My studio, a mess, I'm ready to clean up (it is messy to me!), my game, ready to play it, my wife I'm ready to take her out on Saturday night, and God, well, I'm ready for our next talk.  As a Christian, as a believer, God is a part of you, the Holy Spirit is within you, and when you don't nourish that relationship, well, then you starve.  That is what happened to me, I was starving, thankfully though, I found some spiritual food to eat.

And this blog post, well, just like old times.  The words just flowed, just came out.  Of course I know why.  I look over and I see Jesus sitting right next to me.  Giving me a bit of wisdom here and there, helping me edit, helping me convey my thoughts.  It's great to have my Best Friend back.  He never left, He was always there, He was just waiting for an invite.  Thankfully, no matter how long the wait for an invite, He is always ready to accept and will never refuse.

Sometimes we just need to go to the cross....


P.S.  All pictures were taken with my new lens, my 100mm f2.8 Macro Lens!  Now to REALLY start playing with it!