Sunday, February 24, 2013

i'm a sketchy fellow

Click on image to see larger version.
I use to draw everywhere I went. At restaurants I'd scribble on napkins and place mats.  After Gina and I got married she insisted that I carry a sketchbook with me and she kept me supplied.  She said that the sketch books were hers and not mine.  She had been collecting the table scraps of drawings since we'd started dating.  She had acquired a suit case full of David doodling until she had the bright idea.

I either carried the sketchbook with me or she brought it along.  She'd scold me if I ever doodled on a napkin.  I would from time to time.  I like the texture of napkins, how the ink bleeds into the porous texture.  I don't care for ballpoint pens.  The pens I'd use would bleed a bit on napkins, so you couldn't keep the tip on the surface for long.  Now that we've been married for 23 years, she doesn't collect the drawings as much or insist that I carry a sketch book with me.

Nothing in my books are seriously drawn.  I make mistakes, I screw up, I often succeed. I've been a graphic designer for 30+ years and the things sketched in my books were all done for my own enjoyment and for no one else. I rarely start out with a pencil, so I'm drawing without a net.  If I screw up, I screw up.

As the kids came along, I started leaving my book behind.  For a while I'd tried to take a sketchbook along, but when you're a new dad, you have to take on the role of human pack animal.  You have to carry diaper bags, strollers, cribs, etc.  I just got out of the habit of taking something to draw on.  Sometimes I remember and I'll take one along.  My kids are bigger now and so I'm no longer a pack animal.  I really should be carrying along a  sketchbook where ever I go.

Click on image to enlarge.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

painting, philosphy and God

I have a friend who is a painter.  He is knowledgeable about skill ~ among countless other things.  I've spent countless hours with Jason in bottomless conversations as he painted my basement walls, my studio wall, and my kitchen cabinets.  Usually we talk about God, not theology, but God  ~ being and becoming better followers.  Jason is probably the wisest fellow I've ever known. He's so knowledgeable because he's so diligent in his pursuit of The Kingdom.

I thought of Paul today as we talked.  There I was sitting next to Paul the Apostle and tentmaker.  Don't you know Paul was a fellow that kept sharing his discoveries to a friend or a client as he mended or made their tents.  His mind wasn't taken off the quality of his work.  He's skillfully apply his trade as his voice eagerly explained the profound meaning behind God's great grace - the incredible gift God gave to man.

With Jason, his craft is second nature.  Jason's speaks in a steady stream, thoughts that flow so freely and clearly defined - as if rehearsed a hundred times before our meetings.  He's a prophet with a paint brush.  He doesn't need a pulpit.  He doesn't need notes.  The Word of God is imprinted on his heart, and it flows freely.  Jason's far from boring, never repetitive.  He's a mighty revelator.  
The conversations are always intense and immensely enjoyable, skipping from topic to topic, never skimming a surface, always going deep and deeper. No matter what subject we happen upon, all subjects, all paths always lead to our Creator.  

He stirs the paint as he stirs my mind.  He rolls out an even coat as he unfurls thought and revelation at the same time.  To be around this fellow is to not only be encouraged in my walk, but to be challenged as well.

Hours can pass like minutes when I'm with my friend.  The conversation never draws to an end.  We talk until we have to stop.  We part and anticipate when we can meet again.  We'll resume our conversation someday ~ hopefully soon.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

mending home

Gina doesn't want company our home. We used to be company people, but not for quite sometime.   It's not that she doesn't enjoy entertaining friends, she loves company, just not in our home.  It's not that she doesn't want company, but the house is upside down...and has been for quite some time.

Anyone who owns a home can tell you that houses must be maintained.  There are countless tasks around the house, perpetual upkeep that makes a home a nice home.  Since the Summer of 2005, we made a decision to open a business.  Almost all of our resources went into making the business go.  Unfortunately, the business didn't go thanks to bozos in Washington, DC.  As most of you know, we closed our doors in August of 2012.

We lived day to day, hand to mouth.  We drove used cars, we made sure the kids had what they needed, we did without from day to day from year to year. We put money into the business, into the day to day stuff and not our house.  The kitchen looks the worst.  Of course it started out a very Brady kitchen, but got to where it looked more like a very  Munsters kitchen.

Our road to recovery started with our kitchen.  Too long have I been cooking off of two cook-top eyes.  Too long have I lived with our refrigerator  situated in our den.  Over two years ago my pal Jose' and I removed the particle board sub-floor and jagged tile from the kitchen so my kids wouldn't cut their feet when they passed through.  At the time we replaced it with a good sub-floor, but have been walking on the rough sub-flooring ever since.  No more!

We've neglected our home for too long.  Now that we get to be in it more (rather than spend all our time at the office) we want our house in good working order.  We are not there yet.  We've only just begun! Getting the kitchen fixed, fixing the house is our way  of getting the past behind us.  It's time to focus on the home!

Soon we'll have new tile floors, new counter tops, new cook-top and back-splash.  The old cabinets now have a nice coat of paint on them and all new hardware.  It still doesn't look like much but I am anxiously awaiting to finish our kitchen...get everything installed. It will be nice to cook in decent space again.

We've got other projects in the wings, but this one will make me happy.  We'll be taking on the projects as we can afford them.  Maybe someday Gina will let me invite friends over.  One of these days.

Monday, February 11, 2013

moon pies crying in the rain

My daughter Katie called me a little while ago from school.  She said that they finally opened the new road that connected Gadsden State Community College to the Technical College.  It rained most of the day yesterday and much of today.  It's really sloppy out there.  That didn't stop the parade, at least that's what Katie called it.  She said there was a parade in the rain celebrating the long awaited strip of asphalt.  Katie said that a ton of Moon Pies of all kinds were thrown everywhere.   It seems that not many students wanted to spectate the event in the rain.  Moon Pies in the wet grass, Moon Pies in the road, Moon Pies in puddles, Moon Pies everywhere!  Katie said that she picked many off the ground because the harvest was bountiful and few others seemed interested in the great Moon Pie harvest.  I can't imagine folks not wanting to pick up free Moon Pies.   I'm tempted to get in my car and drive over there with my duffle-bag.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

hereafter and now

I believe Jesus didn't reveal much about heaven because he wants it to be a wondrous surprise for his bride.  I know that if he had told us more about heaven, we would be thinking too much about life there rather than pursuing the kingdom here.

Let us be ready.  Let us prepare ourselves. We have work to do.

"And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."
-Revelation 21:2

when death comes

when death comes
don't hold back the tears
let the memories come
let the stories be told

don't hold back the laughter

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

an introvert hiding

for years I'd been telling Gina that
if i had not met and married her
i would've been a hermit
a recluse
for years she refused to believe this
she always saw me as an extrovert 
i am only an introvert hiding
she didn't understand why i said this
because i don't mind being on stage
i didn't understand it myself for most of my life
i just knew that when i am in a crowd
i'm often dizzied, disoriented, drained

and smothered 
in a crowd
i do not linger
i go for the nearest exit
to take in a little air
inhale some of Zevon's splendid isolation
but i don't mind the stage

a separated place
a little distance
only a few years ago 
i discovered
i discovered something quirky about myself

to be on stage, out there entertaining
is to have some control of my environment
whether playing an instrument or
simply clowning
i could do more than breath
i could exist among a crowd
and give something

years ago folks used to say that i use laughter to hide
it was meant to be a judgmental put down
to reveal a vice
a flaw within me
years later i realized that i had indeed used laughter
used laughter as a means
used laughter to isolate

that all the laughing was a indeed a curtain
a veil
a buffer
a place to hide
a place to hide sometimes but
laughter is also medicine
a gift rather than a flaw
i love laughter and

ignite it every chance i get
not always successful

but i try
joy helps me exist in a fallen world
in a flawed flesh
laughter is balm
a band-aid and
a kiss to make it better
joy helps me to see
the world for what it is
laughter keeps me

from suffocating
from not taking it all so serious

laughter is a fuel
that keeps me running
makes the world a stage
and to be
simply to be
the fellow God made me
to be
i would've been a hermit but
He knew what was better for me

"Tell the truth.  Sing with passion.  Work with laughter.  Love with heart, cause that's all that matters in the end."
-Kris Kristofferson

Monday, February 4, 2013

old man

The following was originally posted in my first blog May 22, 2006.  This conversation with Walter has come to mind the last couple of days.  He's in his final days.

I leaned against his old red pickup looking with him at the running-board he bought earlier in the day. He is an old man. He's hoping his son will take the time stop to do some work that he can not do put the new/used running board on his truck. That would really make the old man happy today.

Ever since I met him, he's been a very active fellow. The past few years though have weakened him. He's been depressed and having a terrible time doing the chores he used to do with ease.

After talking about the weather he looked at me. "What are we here for David?" He's never been one to talk about God. "What is this life about?" His dad was a womanizing preacher and he's seen Christians do a lot of things that Christians ought naught to have done. I told that I could only give him a spiritual answer, that we are here in a fallen world to discover God. We are here to have a relationship with Him. 

Walter just turned 80 this past weekend. He was baptized a long time ago and yet still concerned that he was imperfect and not sure if he was going to make it into heaven. I told him that not everyone who called out Lord Lord would be recognized, that good works were not going to get us in. This matter is beyond an earlier baptism but about grace and a continued relationship with our Heavenly Father.

I was trying not to answer him in Christian speak. Here is a fellow feeling as if he is standing on the very edge of his life with genuine doubts about God's judgement toward him. I didn't candy coat my reply but I tried to offer hope with truth.

It was a pleasant day and the conversation was natural and not preachy. I don't know what seed I planted but hope that he grasps onto hope and draws nearer to his heavenly dad. 

"Those are sweet children you've got there David."
Yeah, that's another reason I'm here. 

In 1990, my dad, after the ER team lost him two times after arriving at the hospital motioned for a pencil and pad. He had tubes running out of his mouth and throat, wires and tubes coming from everywhere. He couldn't talk. He had limited use of his hands and tried to express as much as possible with his eyes. Mom put a pad on his chest and dad scribbled as best as he could a message to a few family members that had gathered around.

It took a little time to make it out but dad gently nodded when we interpretted it's meaning correctly. The note said that he knew that he had died twice. He wrote that he went to heaven and saw all of his family there, even all of his children. 

To me, that was neat. Here on earth we live in a linear time frame but God isn't linear. People who die do not miss the loved ones they leave, we will just be there together instantly. It's those who are left here to deal with life and it's sorrows. 

Dad held on to life for about a month in ICU. At one point he reached out to me and wanted me to carry him out. He didn't have to say anything. He just wanted to go home and die. There are moments taht I wish that I could have obeyed my father in this matter. I shook my head "no" sadly. Hospitals are a terrible place to die. A week later the family gathered around his bed in ICU to bid him farewell. Dad's old friend Dr. Jordan stood with us to do what doctors must at time of death. He breathed his last and dad was no longer present. He went home.

I think the near-death experience that my father shared with us was God telling him that his family knows God and that his job done. "Your children know me Westbrook, it's time to come home."

The description of our job here on earth is simple. TO GLORIFY GOD.

We are put in this fallen world to discover our Creator and our great Love, Jesus Christ. We walk this place without seeing His beautiful face to learn about faith and hope. We are here to experience His realness. We are here to know God and to recognize His ever-presence of this wonderful and invisible being. I can't go into great detail but I can grasp a little piece of the mosaic. It's His rules, and He is God, and I just have to take the rest in faith.

My children play at my feet and I know that the most important thing I can do in this life is to introduce them to God. I want Him to show His realness and to be ever present in my household so that they will recognize Him from the get go. As a father, I am to be training wheels for their REAL father, their Heavenly Father.

I can't put everything I know in my heart into the shape of words. I do understand what my life is about. It's another thing to communicate these things to those who's thoughts are clouded with sin, fear, unforgiveness, or what have you. Something happened today though. God made a moment and the old fellow was asking questions. God take that conversation, take those words, bless my father in-law.

So Walter and I leaned against the bed of his old red pick-up, considering eternity. Pray for Walter as he comes to your mind. I don't know what took root in his heart this afternoon. Maybe nothing did. I hope that he finds hope and meaning during his twilight. Pray that he finds real relationship with His REAL father. The Father that will never let him down or disappoint him. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Walter Hale

Walter is fading
his health failing

age and illness soon to take him
his daughter dreads the moment

her father passes
she is a daddy's girl
doesn't know how she'll take it
doesn't hold back her grief
doesn't hold back tears
she is a daddy's girl
his body no longer strong and tall
voice no longer strong and clear
only a frail frame remaining
only faint syllables whispered
words as if spoken from a distance
we lean in to hear
we smile
he smiles
his smile
yet pain is steady
he is weak
we wait
when the last breath will be
and he is no more
what will life be
beyond his passing
Walter is fading