Jesus Rocked The Jukebox…and somethin’ rocked the road I was walkin’

Holy Roller…Coaster, Batman!!

So this past week has been a wicked coaster ride.  It has been full of emotions that I have not felt either in a long time, have not wanted to feel in a long time, or have never felt before.  All of these things are, of course, both good and bad.

Let me back up a bit by saying that, before I posted Tuesday’s blog, I was going to post a blog about “staying the same” or “don’t change,” or whatever nifty title I could come up with that was going to reflect the steps in my life that I had taken, and the song that’s playing above (if you indeed pressed play) to the soundtrack of every step I’m taking in this journey.  Instead, a found a boulder in my path that I needed to work my way around, and a song stuck in my head that I whistled away while I worked until I could get my thoughts together for this Sunday’s testimony. So…what I wanted to tell you about was what I felt about people always wanting to feel like they wanted to be different than who or what they were. 

I can attest to this burden because I’m so incredibly guilty of it.  I’ve never been happy with myself, outside or inside…but I’m learning to be, trying desperately to become happy with who I am.  So God made me a female, I’ve never been happy about it…I’m not sure if it was nature or nurture that made it this way, but I will say this, I’ve never like dresses, never liked being a girl, and I’ve always thought I should have been a man, based both on physical attributes and most personality traits.  Because of those things, I was picked on all my life, getting called names because I was always a tomboy and always stronger than, even just regular, tomboyish girls.  My entire school career was hell based on masculinity alone, because I don’t think I’m a bad looking person and I look exactly the same now as I did then, except much thinner now.  Now, aside from looking masculine, I’ve always felt more masculine, which has always left me wanting to change my life completely to become a man.  In fact, I had started doing this in a small way, by simply changing my name to my self-picked (sorta) new masculine name…online that is, for all my peers to see.  But that’s a huge step.  That kind of stuff gets back to people who get’s back to people…ya know what I’m sayin’??

Well, on my plane ride home from re-salvation, “Stay The Same” came on my playlist, I listened, I decided it was true.  I will never have the money to ever get my chesticles taken off, and besides, I’m going to need them one day…I might want to try to have a child again one day, after all.  I have a working uterus, I AM a female…there is NO way around it, God did not screw this one up.  I am the personality that He gave me and for whatever reason I am who I am, I’ll be who I am.  I may not like it, I may have to learn to get used to it.  It may be one of those sacrifices, I don’t know yet…we’ll have to wait and see, but it is what it is, therefore, I changed my name back…and only one person noticed (aside from the dozens who noticed when I changed it the first time…what the heck?).  Thank you God for making me…at all.  I pray to learn to deal with the outside because, for the most part, on the inside, I think I’m a pretty cool person, so thank you off-setting that for me…amen.

So then things started getting rough around here.  It was like the music from my party was starting to bother the devil so he started getting riled up.  My heart was already in a sorrowful place, feeling a sense of sadness for the loss of Ryan Dunn, but then he started coming after me with my own weapons, that which I am supposed to use as strength to fight him off.  I posted “Love Says No”  not just for myself but mostly for others, to offer a beam of hope to those I love and anyone else out there who might have read it.  A tiny glimpse of hope at a moment when the shit is hitting the fan and you’re feeling like you’re being dragged down, even though at the moment, I wasn’t.  It wasn’t long after, however, that song came back around and was there for me, to carry me through the week.

When I vowed to not listen to the band HIM whilst trying to “find myself”, I strayed from the “finding myself” playlist and “And Love Said No” had found me, seems funny to me, that in one way or another, I still get carried safely through my rough times by Him or HIM. 

But after love said no, I realized just how much of a change in my life there had been.  While I still manage to screw up, big time even, my feelings with regards to my actions and reactions, even minor thoughts, all have much deeper meaning to them now.  I can’t even accidentally say “g-d dam—-t” without almost crying because of feeling guilty, and when I’ve done something even worse than that, I feel like I can’t even look up to the heavens, as if I can’t bear, as a child, to look up in shame to my Father.  You see, before, I felt as though, while I knew it was wrong to take the Lord’s name in vain, somehow I wouldn’t take too much heat for it because by the time anyone really taught me it was bad, it was already a habit of mine.  Like, it’s just the way I am and God made me this way so He’s okay with it….wrong, I’m not okay with settling for that.  I feel bad when I do things that I feel would offend Him, and that’s never happened to me before.  I’ve wanted a relationship with God in the past, I’ve looked for Him in the past…I used to sing this song at the top of my lungs in the basement when I got the soundtrack after the movie “Leap Of Faith” came out because I connect just that much with these words. 

And finally, after all these years of searching, reading, listening, hoping, flailing, and singing…there’s a change in my life.  Thank you, God.

I was running some errands with my wife when that song came on, she and I had already been talking about everything that was going on throughout the week and talking about faith.  I had started crying in the middle of the song but sang along softly towards the end.  The song ended before we reached our destination and the very next one that came on was “Set Me in Motion!” 

Yes!  The very first one I heard on my playlist as I started this journey.  So in case you didn’t see the first blog, or just might be a little too lazy to go look for it, here it is again.  Plus, since it’s my video, and I love sharing my work…of course I’ll put it up again.

****THIS IS NOT THE ORIGINAL VIDEO FOR THIS BLOG, ALTHOUGH IT IS THE SONG INTENDED.  THIS IS **NOT MY VIDEO******

We brought it back to the beginning, and I felt like God was telling me something.  Not only was he trying to tell me something about getting things back on track, but also that in order to progress, sometimes you have to take a few steps backwards. 

At this time in my life, in my journey rather, I almost feel like a small child.  Like I’ve just been given the greatest gift of all time and I want to play with it as much as possible…but I don’t have all the time in the world to play with it.  But I also don’t know everything about it because there are TONS of directions and I’m a slow reader and it’s hard for me to understand things sometimes.  And sometimes when others want to talk about it I get scared and want to hide it, because I’m protective of what little I do know of it right now. 

I sometimes wonder if, when I stepped out into the aisle of that church that day, God took part of me away and put it in storage and brought back a child to start over with, to teach things over to, to guide properly….there are things I once knew that I’ve forgotten that I can’t explain, except to explain, as my wife did, that in order to truly have a relationship with Him, I must truly be able to pray to him, not recite.  Now, I have been having problems with my memory lately, but…hmmm, I don’t know, this one is just a weeeeeeeee bit suspicious….

So I guess in order for me to continue this journey, I must return to the starting point, go back three spaces, do whatever it is I must do….but it will be interesting a second time around…I’ll have to keep my contacts clear…as if I were seeing through the eyes of innocence.  After all, church is soon, I have not yet received my message for the week or the lesson, I don’t know what’s in store…

Lord, thank you for the blessings of the week, those that we can see and those we can not.  Please be with all of us and all those who need your guidance in times of need, and please watch over us and our family and friends in our health and travels as we journey enthusiastically into a new week of spirituality, partake in opportunities to do your good works, and keep our own households safe, loved, and provided for.  In your most holy and precious name, I pray to you, Lord…Amen.


Love Says “No”

In light of the fact that I know I’m going through struggles right now, and people I love are going through struggles right now, and people that I don’t really know, but that I know of, are going through struggles right now…I feel this song is appropriate…plus it’s come up all week on my playlist.  I’ve always liked this song and it took on a whole new meaning for me a year and a half ago after our kids started, literally, dragging me out of the darkness.  And for those of you who don’t know the band HIM, please don’t judge their style, or anything about them at first sight or first lyric, or anything.  They are amazing…and while all of their song do not sound like this, some are darker…they are not satanic, so don’t get skeered. 

Recently, one of the Jackass crew, Ryan Dunn, was involved in a fatal car accident that claimed his life and the life of another.  I don’t know all the details behind it, although I’ve heard a few things about alcohol.  Frankly, I don’t give a rats behind about the details.  I care that he’s dead.  That in an instant, his life was taken, terribly taken…and I pray that he and his friend didn’t suffer.  I saw a picture of the car they were driving, nothing about it looked like a car.  My heart aches more for his family and friends, I guess, especially his friends, like Bam Margera, Brandon Novak, WeeMan, Steve-O, Johnny Knoxville…all those guys that came together and made something together that was just so crazy to watch but, I, along with a lot of people, loved to just watch.  I didn’t know him, I didn’t know anything about him, or any of these guys except what I saw on t.v….but I knew that they loved each other…so my heart aches for them.

We all have times, days, moments, phases, that drag us down into pits of despair that make us feel like we’ll never see the light of day, the light of happiness, the light of God again.  It may be brought on by anything, maybe from the earliest times because that’s just how things went as we grew up…shit was just hard to deal with and we kept sinking into an emotional sea of hell.  Maybe something happened that rocked our world and sent us into an emotional tailspin.  Maybe we had an argument with someone and it put us in a place we didn’t want to be and made us question everything about our hearts, the foundation of ourselves, and our faith…who knows.  At any rate…we all go through tragedy, we all go through hell, we all spend time in darkness…for some of us the darkness is darker than for others, but that doesn’t make that shade any less harder to deal with.

Darkness surrounds us and it’s always there waiting for us, to engulf the very blessed soul that we are and chew us up.  I know this, I’ve been there.  I have a youtube channel with videos I made that outlines my very existence in the depths of darkness for a very long time.  I plead to all those who are crawling through darkness, looking for any speck of light to keep crawling, keep looking, and know that the light is there, and you will find it, and there is a reason for you to crawl out of that pit and that, no matter how hopeless and terrible things may seem right now, it will get better in time….even though it may take a long ass time. 

I’ve been through hell in my life and I’ve crawled through many levels of darkness to a point that I honestly believed that’s where I was supposed to live out my years.  My only son died two months before I was to begin a life with him.  My best friend died on my bathroom floor, and despite my efforts, along with my wife’s, to perform CPR, and even the paramedics, there was nothing bringing him back.  I was the only one around when my grandma died, and I held her hand and looked into her eyes as I watched her, not so peacefully, pass through to the other side as the only thing I could think to do was pray the Lord’s prayer.  There has been many things in my life that have sucked royally…and I have begged for my own death just to relieve me of my own pain…but I would not do it on my own.  God, and the Love of those around me…always said no.

“Lord, please place your arms around us all, as we seek comfort, consolation, guidance and strength through our tears and trials.  In your most Holy and Precious name I pray to you, Lord.  Amen.”

Ready…Set…God!

One week ago today, a bright ray of light cut through my various shades of darkness, even my various shades of lightness.  My heart felt as though it was being crushed by the weight of years of disappointment, my tears flowed down my cheeks like a child being scolded by the father who hung the moon.  I could barely look up at all hundred or so of those people around me when they rooted on all those who chose to commit their faith to The Lord Jesus Christ.  And for once in my life, with all those people around me, I walked past the few seats to the right of me toward the aisle, taken up by Fear, Anxiety, and Embarrassment (at least I’m pretty sure that’s what the last one’s name is, I’m still trying to figure myself out), took a deep breath and turned toward the front of the church, listened to the congregation cheer me on for reaffirming my faith in Jesus Christ, and proudly proclaimed it.

Then, one of the faith volunteer people took me in the back and we said a prayer and we talked and it was really cool.  Anyway, the point of that story was to tell you this…last Sunday morning, before deciding to go to church, our life was a crap shoot.

Just to catch you up…my wife and I were taking a five-day trip out to Arizona to look for a place to live because we no longer wish to live in Michigan.  We planned on looking at many places, so as to not limit our options, so we started looking right away after getting our rental car.  We didn’t like the first house, were having trouble finding the next house and then happened upon a certain complex that we saw out of nowhere.  We liked the place so much that we put in our applications and with little hesitation from my wife, some hesitation from myself, decided to call off our search for a place to live and have a vacation instead.

We loved the area, we loved the school for our daughter, we loved our trip to the Superstition Mountains, we loved our trip up to Sedona, however, on the way back, with the Saturday night sunset beautifully creeping down the back of the mountainside, my usual worrisome, anxious, fearful, have to have back-up plans, self started kicking in.  We still hadn’t heard a decision on the unit at the complex we had put the application in at.  We had one more full day to look at any more possible options AND get some sort of response before we headed back to Michigan so that we can feel secure in knowing that we have a place for our daughter to live at the end of our lease.  As of the end of that night, and with much…hmmm…”wish I really hadn’t said anything” discussion…we still hadn’t heard a word and we were going to be leaving first thing Monday morning, so that was going to be a lost day.  My wife, who was feeling more secure for my liking, was feeling like her faith was under attack. I tried desperately to get her to understand that I had faith but I also needed back-up plans…that to go home with no other options was just plain stupid!

The next morning, after missing the first service at a church we’ve never been to, yet going to because that’s the church our hosts, my wife’s cousins, attend, we decide that we really wanted to go and still had time for the next one.  My wife was convinced that there was going to be a message there for her.  I never question her on those things.  The church we usually go to usually delivers her a well-needed message for her, me as well.  She was right about last Sunday though.  After just stress and “discussion” that was happening while we were there in Arizona, there was just as much going on at home also…the message she heard hit the nail right on the head.

The message I heard, as I said in my last blog, ripped me apart…yet, only to build me back up again.  It’s cool though, I couldn’t be happier…I couldn’t feel more alive and relaxed.  Maybe nothing’s happened yet to really stress me out, I’m not sure…I’ll have to wait and see.

After the message, after me Reaffirmation to Jesus Christ, I’ll be honest…I was scared.  My wife asked me if we were still going house hunting after church, and while I didn’t hesitate too much, I had to think about starting to have actual Faith in God…actual trust in Him, not just belief.  It may have taken a few seconds, but I said no, we did not have to look any further.  I put my faith, my entire life, my wife and daughter, our entire everything into God’s hands.  If that’s not trust, I don’t know what is.  But I didn’t do it to make a point, I did it…because he told me that day that I could trust him.  It’s just that it was the first time I really heard him, I think.  We continued to enjoy the rest of our vacation before having to get up at 3:45 the following morning.

3:45 Monday morning, the alarm on my phone goes off…it’s a simple annoying ring, but since I’m not at home and there wasn’t a night stand beside the bed, the phone was parked across the room.  No way to hit snooze on that and roll back over.  I wouldn’t have anyway, I was ready to get the day started.  It was like someone hit my refresh button.

When I got on the plane in Phoenix, I switched the playlist on my MP3 player from “Play All” to “Finding Myself.”  The first song that played was “Higher Ground” by John Denver and the next was “Set Me In Motion” by Bruce Hornsby and the Range. It was toward the end of that song that I realized that the words of that song could so easily mean a person’s struggle to have actual faith in God, challenges to overcome obstacles in reaching the ability to trust, how easy it is to give up on Faith, since it’s far harder to act on it than to merely say it.  And to put who you are or who you’ve become at risk just to take the risk to have that kind of faith…it’s scary..but when you just do it, it’s incredible.

There I was on the first day of a brand new journey, having been stripped of all but the belief that God was, indeed, there and the foundation of what it truly means to have faith.  My supplies are trust and support. I was sitting in an aisle seat, my wife in the middle, and a lady next to the window who had the shade down.  All I had to do was listen to my music.  I closed my eyes and became very relaxed.  I had also taken my medication, and there was a slight mix-up as to what one of the pills were, which turned out to be an “as needed” extra, which turned out to make me very relaxed.  Normally, I’m very uptight on planes, even before getting on the plane.  On this day, I didn’t have a single problem…even with the “relaxation” pill.  I just let the music play and listened, but somehow, almost every song kept getting turned around in my head to something spiritual.  I didn’t mind, I thought it to be interesting, so I started taking notes of what songs were coming on, as I had the playlist on random.  Again, these songs were never anticipated to be used for anything spiritual, even if a couple of them are of spiritual genre.

The rest of Monday is a dead stick because we’re exhausted.  One of our “foster” boys lets me sleep in and decided to keep riding his bike for the last week of school instead of me waking up early and taking him.  ::sigh of relief:: Thank you, God and M for that.

I was uploading all my pictures from Arizona on Tuesday, came across a picture that took my breath away and once again, made me trust in Him even more.  I had taken a picture of the landscape of the mountains set back behind the downtown Sedona area by the Open Range restaurant.  I had taken a couple of them as I stood across the street.  After uploading (and naturally, automatically deleting from my camera) I saw eight specks of light hovering over the mountains in a halo formation.  Some of the “orbs” are very distinct in shape while others are very tiny dots.  Talk about amazing!  My knees started to shake the more I looked at that picture that day.  Thank you, God, for that vision…I was not taking a picture of your angels, I did not see them at first, I was taking a picture of your beautiful mountains.

On Wednesday, our son had an appointment all day that, to our understanding, he was getting a ride home from.  We had made dinner plans that were around the same time that he would still be gone, and, wouldn’t ya know…the phone rings while I’m outside working on the video.  He needs a ride home.  I didn’t really have the time because we were supposed to be leaving in fifteen minutes to head the opposite direction, and since I’m the kind of person that does not like a change in plans, I started getting pissy right away.  I walked to my truck and got in, cursing at the fact that I had to go, cursing at the fact that I had to drop everything and rush, cursing the fact that I was so unprepared to not even have cigarettes, and even, in a hostile tone, saying “G-d dammit.”

I stopped was I was doing right away and closed the door to my truck.  I took a deep breath and shook my head and said “I’m sorry.”  I actually started feeling physical pain in my chest, like I knew I had messed up, like I had disappointed a parent, a best friend, someone very close to me who I knew that I was offending deeply because He knew I was trying so hard and how enthusiastic my heart and mind are about this.  I didn’t back out of my driveway before I told myself to shut-up, that I was being selfish and all I had to do was make a phone call about dinner plans, that it probably won’t even be a big deal anyway, and that I can stop anywhere every half mile between our house and my destination to pick up a pack of smokes.  I was making a big deal out of nothing…so thank you, God, for reminding me that I’m still in training and thank you for being patient with me.

Yesterday my wife starts getting upset about the possibility that she might have to buy moving boxes, prays for help with that situation, then turns the corner in a neighborhood and there’s a generous amount of perfectly good u-haul boxes sitting at the curb. After she got home, she and I went to the zoo and had a great time, even had a little picnic at a bench right in front of two wolverines.  They were fun to watch, playing with sticks, running all around, swimming in their little wading pool… kind of like two medium sized dogs that, if you met out in the wild, would tear you to shreds and eat you alive.  The complex in Arizona was finally able to get in contact with our current landlord to get a rental reference and we finally got a definite yes on our unit!  Then, our son takes us out for dinner to a really yummy local restaurant that just happened to be on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and it was awesome.  Just did it for us out of nowhere.    We also got a visit from our “other daughter” who used to live with us and a long time friend…seems things are starting to work out for her as well.  She finally is in her own apartment, with only a six month commitment, low rent and her job got transferred to a closer and much safer town. Yesterday was definitely our day.  I should have played the lottery but I didn’t think about it.  Even still, thank you, God, for all those blessings.

Saturday, just a lazy day.  I didn’t really sleep in, although to anyone who didn’t know that I stayed up until almost four in the morning working on this video to “Set Me In Motion” would think that I slept too much.  I got up to take our daughter to a party and then helped her take paint off her walls.  It’s hard to explain, let’s just say…fun to look at, hell to cover.  But, I think for the first time ever, I made something special out of it, rather than just taking something that, honestly is really rather expendable, and throwing it away, I did my best to salvage parts of it that she wanted.  Thus, I have “paint pelts” that I scraped off her walls today just because she said she would miss them when we moved.  Any other time I would have just got it off the wall and got back to whatever I was doing because I would have been annoyed that I had to go help her get it done in the first place.

Otherwise, I was finishing up my video.  I’ve run into a problem with this site (or maybe my programs, I’m not sure) that have frustrated me so far…and it’s only my second post.  My entire blog is based on having a soundtrack, meaning, there WILL be a song with EVERY post.  Every time I go to add music to a post, despite ALL the media (music and videos) I have on my hard drive, when I go to select media, there are never any files to choose from…as if I don’t have the right file types or something.  I don’t know, I’m not computer savvy.  I just make things happen.  In the background of finishing up my video for this post, I was listening to my wife talking to her mom on and off today.  She’s going through her own trials and tribulations right now, but has seemed to come to grip with ideas about what to do with things, and is doing so with a fairly reasonable head it seems.  So again, with the patience, thank you, God.

We went back to our usual church this morning, and the service was about Father’s day, of course.  Unfortunately, preceding the service, my wife and I got into a little tiff about something that, more than likely could have been avoided with proper discussion and less defense, but oh well.  It did make things a little difficult to really focus on the message of the day, but I was still open to whatever it was that God had led me there to hear.

I don’t remember much of the service, but part of it was that sometimes, when people aren’t always pleased with their father figures, they tend to make ones up that are perfect in their eyes, and carry that with them throughout their lives, however, carrying that idea of the “perfect father” becomes a burden because it creates more disbelief and faith in the father figure that you already have in your life.  So maybe your father figure has faults, we all do…maybe someone else’s father figure does something better than your own, everyone’s does, nobody is perfect, not even you.  The point is, the more you focus on those faults of your father, the more important they become to you to the extent that you’d give almost anything not to be involved and want something entirely different and you won’t even know what you’re missing because you won’t give that father figure a chance to show you the parts that aren’t faults.  Like how to do something, or what things means, or offer you the true protection that father figures do.

I’ve only recently started giving my father a break from his faults, even whilst my family still harps on him for those same faults that I’ve held over his head since I was a “tween,” although they didn’t call us that term back then.  And it’s felt so much better since I’ve done that, unfortunately, I’ve only done it since he’s moved twenty-some hours away from me, which he did because I convinced my parents it would be a good idea.  Too little too late on my part?  I’ll have to see.  But I call him every day and he acknowledges that, like when I called him today to wish him a happy Father’s day and told him his card would be late…he said that was okay because he just enjoys talking to me everyday like we have been.  When he lived fifteen minutes from me, I used to never call him, and it would be rare if I talked to him or even saw him but once a week, if that.  So things on the “Father-front” are looking up…so thank you, God, for opening my eyes and my heart to my daddy again.

At the end of the service, we heard the children’s choir sing for the first time.  We have an amazing choir at our church called The Gospel Truth, and they did great today too, but the children were the one’s who blew me away this time.  It’s not that they sounded as good as the Gospel Truth, it’s what they sang and the fact that it was the children that were singing it.

They sang “Oh Happy Day!”  I’ve heard the song before and I’ve tried to actually hear and listen to the words but have never really gotten all the words.  It’s the lyric “Oh happy day, when Jesus washed all my fears away,” that pulled my week together for me and let me know that I’m still on the right path.  Like I said, just last Sunday, it was like my life changed…but it was just last Sunday, that Jesus washed all my fears away, and gave me the courage and strength to start walkin’ and rockin’ this journey.

Thank you, God, for all the blessing you have given me and my family this week, and for all the blessing in store.  In your most precious and Holy name I pray….Amen.

Now I have to get back to painting…

The Pastor Took Away My Faith!

Something happened the other day at church…something I never expected…something I was totally unprepared for, but hey…I guess that’s what I need to learn, expect the unexpected.

I guess I should start off by giving you a little more back ground before delving into what happened and why it shook me so much.  I grew up in a typical American family, a mom and dad, two older brothers and a dog.  My mom and dad’s oldest daughter died before she reached her teen years and, because they really wanted a daughter, they decided to adopt one…me!  I am the youngest.

My dad grew up in, I believe, a Baptist-based family, and I know that my Grandpa had, at one point in his life, taught Sunday school.  I know this because later in life, I had sought out some guidance from him for some help with some understanding with some passages in the bible and he told me of his studies and teachings.  I’m not sure what my Grandma’s religion was based on but I do know that she believed in God.  On my mother’s side, I honestly cannot say what kind of faith or religion they grew up in because I don’t recall her sharing much.  Moreover, as I was growing up, church, religion, faith…in itself..was not really incorporated into our lives.  I went to church once with my aunt and uncle, and may have attended church a few times for different weddings, I prayed with family over blessing at dinners, and my mom and I went to church one time together before I was eighteen.  I do, however, know that I was baptized at that same Presbyterian church when I was a baby.  Beyond that, my parents only told me that there was, indeed, a God, and that I should believe in him.  So I did.

My parents were not rich, but they were well off enough that I didn’t have to ask for much.  I didn’t have to pray much for things that many people I now know would consider to be blessings to have, and that I now consider to be blessings to have as well.  Nonetheless, while money and material never seemed to be much of an object, material life itself was still that easy for me.  As I got older, my brothers…who were already a good deal older than I, had started doing things on their own with their own friends, and my parents would continue to do their own thing that, well, kept them from connecting with me.  I started to become accustomed to solitude.  Along with that, I never seemed to grow out of that “tomboy” stage that everyone seemed so certain I was going to.  That led to a great deal of bullying throughout school, which put me into even more solitude, save for a couple of close friends…thankfully.  All I had, by the end of my high school career, was myself and my own inner workings of my complex mind.  God was still a mere belief that he existed and that he is around, making the world work.  I didn’t rely on Him for help, although I did often pray for Him to help me…but it was unreasonable prayers, such as praying to Him that I would wake up in the morning and I would be a man.  I suppose it’s possible…but not likely.  Like I said, my own inner workings of my mind, over such a long time, exposed to not much else but myself, had become quite complex that I was living a practically whole other life but my own.  Every morning would come and I would wake up a woman.  I thought I could rely only on myself and the tangible world to make “things” so.  Although I still believed in God, I just knew that most of the time, He couldn’t help me, or He wasn’t listening.

When I was eighteen, I decided, with some encouragement from a girl that I was dating in another state, to seek out a church on my own.  It was a church that fully accepted the LGBT community, so I figured this would be the best bet for me.  Not only could they teach me about God, but I would be with my peers.  I went for a couple months, but for some reason, I couldn’t get on board.  What was wrong with me?  Do I really believe?

For a while, in my twenties, I did what all twenty-somethings do, go out and have fun.  I didn’t get into much trouble, I didn’t develop any bad habits…even though I tried, yet, discovered I lacked the commitment, and I’m honestly not sure if I gave God much thought again during that time.  It seemed like it was too hard.

In my later twenties, I met a Catholic girl, from a super-Catholic family, that I really took to.  I didn’t get all super-Catholic, but I did study up a little bit, took part in praying the Rosary every night with her family, sometimes in Latin, went to their church with them a few times, spoke with her mom on many occasions about many topics of faith, searching for that which I thought I was looking for.  That was about seven years ago.  I would probably venture to say that Catholicism, that family, is my most solid foundation that I have for finding God, Jesus, and Faith.  I studied up on what I should know, the principles, the roots, etc.  All of this was found in Iowa.  And then I moved back to Michigan to be with my family again.

Upon moving back to Michigan, I decided I was going to convert to Catholicism and started taking classes.  After taking the first class, they told me it was going to cost money!  Money!  I didn’t have that anymore.  My life had changed so much since I had gone out on my own and so had my parent’s.  The money and material was no longer there.  So I had taken what I had learned and made it my own without the label of being called a Catholic.  I decided that with that knowledge, belief, and faith, I could make it on my own and that I was a good Christian and felt good in that.

When I was twenty-nine, I wanted so badly to have a child.  This was not an easy task for me.  I felt like time was running out, as I was getting older, and options were limited for me, as having a male partner in my life is slim to none.  But nonetheless, with help, and on the first try, I was blessed enough to get pregnant.  Other than my two best friends, one who I had known since I was nineteen, the other who I had only known for two years, my mom was my only support.  Everyone else in my family seemed to give me grief about it.  That was hard for me, but I tread on, because I couldn’t have been more happy about this little blessing in my life that I had wanted for so long. But seven months in, I lost him.  I was devastated.  Everyone was so worried that I was going to do something to myself, that I was going to kill myself.

My best friend, now wife, started questioning God more than I did at that point.  Asking God “why?”  Even at my worst, sitting there in the driveway after coming back from the funeral home to make preparations, I simply said, “because He said so…”  She also explained to everyone that they shouldn’t be worried about me killing myself because my faith was grounded enough, and that I was too worried about going to Hell if I kill myself and I needed to get to Heaven to see my son one day. Therefore, I won’t ever kill myself.

As the next few years rolled by and changes kept rolling with them, I kept my faith, my beliefs, despite the massive hits my heart took, and what would have rocked anyone’s faith…didn’t seem to rock mine.  If I went to church, I went…if I didn’t, I didn’t…I received my messages any way that I would get them, although I can’t say if that was right or wrong.

Another major hit came last year.  My other best, the only friend I had left, Kevin, died.  The story is much to complex to go into, but in the end, well…my best friend is no longer with me.  That should have rocked my faith as well, and perhaps it did more than I thought…because I know that I went into a really dark place.  Maybe I just came out of it…I’m not sure.  What I do know is…there is so much going on, so many changes, so many shades of light and dark that I’m struggling to find my way around.  But I saw a light, I saw lots of them, in fact…and now I’m running to catch them.  I want them like I’ve never wanted anything.

My wife and I decided that we are moving to Arizona at the end of the summer.  Detroit is no longer the place we wish to be.  It’s a dead end here and we have both wanted to be in Arizona for a long time.  We took a four day trip just last week to go look for a place to live and stayed with her cousins.

On the first day we arrived, we had planned on looking at a few different places that we had already set up appointments with.  We made it to the first appointment, then started driving around to kill time until the next appointment.  Whilst driving, we stumbled upon an apartment complex that caught our attention and everything about it just seemed “just right” for the two of us and our daughter.  We toured, we applied, and now…we’re waiting.  They told us we’d have to wait, but they also told us we shouldn’t worry at all and that we shouldn’t look any further.  How dumb is that to go all the way across the country, put all your eggs in one basket, and then call the rest of your time there a vacation…no matter how much a vacation is deserved and needed?  I mean…we have very limited resources, in fact, one of our daily prayers is to find the ability to be able to make it possible to move there in the first place with what resources, financial and otherwise, in the first place.  It’s dumb.  But my wife put all her faith in this, and I said “okay.”  That’s not like me.  I don’t do that…I balance things.  I’m perfectly fine with prayers but I need back-up plans up the wazoo as well.  But I was fine with things at first.

We left the complex feeling great about everything, the next day we checked out the school and felt even better about the decision, yet we were still waiting on the complex to give us their decision.  The next day we headed up to Sedona for an amazing experience, starting with a beautiful drive, a visit to the cathedral on the mountain and kneeling in the church for, yet, another prayer, then spending the day together.  The day was nearly majestic.

On the way home, we get into a discussion about my doubts, my fear, which led to her feeling like her faith was being attacked and then she started feeling doubt and fear.  Suddenly, we started feeling not so good about things.  However, the next day was Sunday, and we had every intention of going to church with her cousins.  We didn’t make in time for the first service though.  We stayed in bed and continued the discussion from the previous night, then took a deep breath and decided we needed church and that there was a message there waiting for us.

Indeed, there was.  They were studying Hebrews, however, I can’t tell you what part, or what was really said from Hebrews, and I haven’t even opened my Bible since I’ve been home to check any of it out.  But what was said that completely messed me up was that “belief is not faith.”

Believing in God is simply stating that you believe He exists…and He already knows that about himself.  Having Faith in him means TRUSTING in him, taking those risks, blind faith at times, even.  So basically, this whole time, I’ve merely been believing that He is there but I haven’t entrusted Him with anything because I haven’t given my life over to Him, nor have I entrusted him with any of my struggles, desires, etc.  I’ve been walking in fear and doing absolutely nothing about it.

At this very moment, we have money for the deposit for the apartment and absolutely no money to get there.  I have to trust God that He will help my wife and I find a way to be able to move the two of us and our daughter, with our furniture, from here to there, and I don’t know how…but I trust that He’s going to show me how to do it.

And that’s Faith…jumping…risking…trusting.  That’s what I never had before.  And when I found out that I had been missing all of that…I was so hurt and disappointed in myself, feeling like I had been disappointing Him all along, that I cried the whole sermon.  After the service, they called for those who might want to come and receive God into their hearts that day.  I thought about it…it wasn’t as if I didn’t have God in my heart, it was just that I didn’t have Him there as I thought I did.  But I walked up there anyway, feeling small…but proud to take those steps!

So now I’m on a journey, a walk of faith, to strengthen my faith, my trust in God and all He can do for me, for all of us.  He made me, I am His child, He knows how to speak to me and through me, and the way I believe he does that…is through music…

A few months ago, I made a playlist on my mp3 player called “Finding Myself.”  It had nothing to do with God.  But as I switched it over yesterday morning on the plane back to Detroit from Phoenix, it became clear to me that, if I listen, really listen, God really does talk to me through music….I just have to listen.  It’s a bunch of various genres of songs, rock, country, celtic, anything, so don’t be surprised if you don’t here actual Christian music.  So as I’m walking, with His guidance…I just need to listen…

This song doesn’t take much to interpret.  I’ve been listening to this song since I was young.  I’ve always loved it…I’ve always belted it out in my own private concerts in my room, and it’s always given me inspiration, but so far…except for visits to actual physical “higher grounds”…I’ve never gotten anywhere.  I decided to start with this song because, twice, so far…this song has come around in the last twenty-four hours.