Fishing > Facebook

A couple weeks ago, Brittany, challenged me to stay off of Facebook for one week. She said that if I could do that, she would buy me a new fishing pole and other fishing gear and she would take me fishing. Challenge accepted!

I had realized that I was spending entirely too much time on the social media site anyway. My phone would need to be recharged a couple times a day because I was checking Facebook far too often. It was basically consuming all of my free time; and I can think of several things that would be a better use of my free time. Fishing being one of those things.

So I immediately deleted Facebook and Messenger from my phone. Right away I noticed a difference in battery consumption (or lack thereof.) For the first day of not having Facebook on my phone, I realized just how often I did check it. I found myself going to my social media folder on my phone looking to click on the app. It had almost become second nature to just click that little icon and see what all my friends and family were up to.

After not having Facebook on my phone for a couple days, I didn’t really miss it. It was rather liberating not being tied down by the need to check my phone every five to 10 minutes. I worked on a couple projects here around the house and I was able to cross some things off of the “to-do” list.

image6After the week was up, and not accessing Facebook the entire week, Brittany held up her end of the deal and bought me a new pole, a tackle box, and a mess of tackle. She also bought herself a pole so she could join me on some fishing adventures. So the Saturday after the challenge was issued, we were on our way to Grundy County – Heidecke Lake – with our lunch and fishing gear!

image8It was a beautiful day full of sunshine and fishing. We spent a few hours out there on the banks of the lake; which proved to be a little less than ideal. The banks of Heidecke Lake are lined with large rocks that you have to navigate in order to get close enough to the water to do some fishing. Luckily we packed that lunch along with our chairs and fishing gear. While we spent several hours out there on the lake, soaking up lots of sunshine, only catching a handful of fish, it was more than just fishing – we spent the day making memories! After that trip, Brittany was “hooked” on fishing!

After our trip to Heidecke Lake, we decided to look for another place to try out that was a little closer to home. We checked out the pond at Erfert Park that’s right down the road from the house. It had rained for a couple days prior to us heading out there, so the water was nice and murky. We spent several hours out there without so much as a bite. I know there are some decent sized fish in that pond because I saw them jump; but we weren’t able to hook any. We might try Erfert park again sometime soon.

IMG_20150619_005710Since we didn’t catch anything at Erfert Park, we decided to try out Wampum Lake just a short drive from here. Wampum Lake proved to be very fruitful! I’ve been out there four or five times now and I have caught nearly 100 fish! The water at Wampum Lake is incredibly clear, but it is really shallow around the banks. This shallowness proves to be a little difficult to find the big fish. Only a few of those 100 fish have been “keeper” size. So far we’ve caught several bluegills, crappies, yellow perch, and a catfish.

Being out there, fishing, listening to the sounds of the lake and the occasional live jazz music; it provided me a lot of time to think about things. One of the things I’ve thought about is all the times my grandpa used to take me fishing when I was younger. Every time I’d cast my line in the water I could hear him say, “You’ve got to look behind you when you cast your line so you don’t hook anyone.” Then, when my bobber would sink under the surface of the water, I could hear him say, “Set the hook!”

While we were fishing one day, I sent my parents a text message, asking if they knew where my fishing gear was that I left at their house when I moved out. Neither one of them knew where it was; which wasn’t a big deal since Brittany just bought me a bunch of new gear. I just thought it would have been nice to have since I know I spent several hundred dollars on poles and other fishing gear.

20150622130533Then, the craziest thing happened. Just a few days after I asked my parents if they had seen my stuff, my dad sent me a text. My Uncle John was going through some things out at my grandpa’s place (Grandpa passed away while I was living in Florida) and he found my old tackle box that my grandpa had given me. Uncle John gave it to my dad to give to me the next time I visit.

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My dad sent me a few pictures of it; and as soon as I looked at the pictures I was overcome with emotions. It might look like an old crappy tackle box to most people. A tackle box that is mostly empty. But to me, it’s completely FULL. It’s full of memories from all the times Grandpa took me fishing with him. Like the time when I was around 10 years old when we were doing some night fishing and I caught a 10lb carp. Up to that point, that was the largest fish I had ever caught. I remember wanting to hand my pole over to my grandpa a few times while I was fighting that monster. But every time I tried to hand him my pole, he would say, “It’s your fish, you have to land it!” Little did I know that he was doing more than teach me how to catch a fish. He was teaching me a valuable life lesson. Whatever life throws at you, it’s your fish…and you have to land it! Thanks, Grandpa!

I see a summer full of fishing and making more memories in my near future!

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#ChurchOnWednesday – An Early Birthday Celebration

Last night was incredible!

A night out that was much needed for Brittany and me. With my birthday quickly approaching, and knowing how much I love Eric Church, Brittany decided to buy us tickets to his concert last night in Ft. Wayne, IN. What a great idea that was! With our work schedules being so different, it’s tough to get any quality time off together. But with a little bit of finesse, we were able to make it happen.

IMG_6570I was like a kid on Christmas Eve the entire night before the concert; I was so excited that I could barely get a wink of shut-eye. But I was finally able to get some rest before the alarm went off at 8:04am.

The concert was scheduled to start at 7:30pm, and with just under a three hour drive to get to Ft. Wayne, we decided to leave the house early enough to get to Ft. Wayne so we could grab a bite to eat before the concert started. We left the house around 11:00am which gave us plenty of time for any traffic conditions as well as that hour time difference (that we both completely forgot about.) But that wasn’t a big deal at all. We still got to Ft. Wayne with a few hours to spare.

Since we got into town so early we decided to go ahead and swing by Olive Garden for some lunch. I’m typically someone who finds something he likes on the menu and that’s what I’ll order every single time. That way I know that I’m going to like the food that I order and I won’t feel like I’m wasting money on food that I didn’t really care for. Anyway, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and forgo the Stuffed Chicken Marsala this time and instead, I ordered the Citrus Chicken Sorrento. Brittany stuck with the tried and true Chicken Alfredo; you can’t really go wrong with that classic dish. I don’t recommend the Citrus Chicken Sorrento for a lunch meal. Once my plate came out I realized that the lunch portion of the meal was actually only half of a chicken breast and some vegetables. It was a “light” lunch like they said; I suppose. But it was pretty tasty nonetheless.

20150318_152320While we were sitting there waiting for our lunch to come out, just before the waitress brought our salad out, we saw a business card on the table. Brittany picked it up, had a little chuckle, then showed it to me. Now, I’m typically one to get things right away; but I’ll admit, this one took me a few extra seconds to finally sink all the way in. Go ahead, click on the picture and take a look for yourself. Then read the manager’s name out loud. Don’t feel bad if you don’t get it right away, I didn’t either. Say it a few more times out loud. Once you get it, you’ll understand how that’s quite the unfortunate name to have. I’m sure nobody has ever made fun of her at all. Lol!

Brittany and I had a good laugh at the manager’s expense. Brittany a little more so than I. She was like a 12 year old little girl giggling about it. It was cute and funny. But that’s about the time the waitress was bringing our salad and bread sticks out, so we had to compose ourselves a little. We finished our lunch and had some dessert. We both had a slice of the Black Tie Mousse Cake. Which, in hindsight, we probably could have just ordered one slice and shared it. It was delicious and rich!

IMG_6573After lunch, we still had quite a bit of time before the concert started. We planned on heading to the coliseum around 5:30pm so we could get good seats. There was a strip mall right behind Olive Garden, so we decided to do a little shopping. We visited a place called Ollie’s Bargain Outlet; a place that promised blowout prices up to 70% off. Sounds like a great place to score some good deals to me! While we were there we picked up some new grilling utensils since grilling season is quickly approaching. That’s me posing with the new grilling utensils we picked up at a bargain price. Brittany wanted me to pose with them once we found the hard hat. Sadly, we didn’t buy the hard hat. But now I know where to get one at a really good price if I ever need it!

image5After spending some more time driving around, we decided to drive by the coliseum to do a little recon on the parking situation. Eric Church has quite the convoy of trucks when he rolls into town. There were at least 10 semis there with Church’s face all over them. And there were at least that many tour buses. Apparently it takes a lot of people to put on a concert of this caliber. Just seeing the semis and tour buses there in the parking lot was getting me even more excited for the show. It was a little bit before 5:30pm when we decided to see if they would let us park. Once we got into the parking lot we realized that they were not only letting people park, but they were also letting people into the coliseum.

After we parked and got inside, we quickly found the line that we were supposed to be in to gain access to the general admission floor area. Since we were there so early we were pretty close to the front of the line; which was awesome news. The front of the line equaled close to the stage! After waiting for about an hour in a single file line, we were told to bunch up near the entrance. Doing so ultimately put us even closer to the front which meant even better spots on the floor near the stage. We weren’t in line very long before they started letting people in. We got our bracelets, walked out onto the coliseum floor, and found the perfect spot. We were close to the stage and we decided to stand near the right side where the stage jetted out.

After being slighted by not getting to see Dwight Yoakam (who had been opening up for Eric Church), the Drive-By Truckers took the stage. There were apparently only a few people in the crowd who had ever heard of them because looking around while they were performing you could see a lot of blank stares, a lot of people on their cell phones, and several people yawning. I personally had never heard of the Drive-By Truckers and I couldn’t even understand half of the words they were singing. At one point I even questioned whether or not they were singing in English.

Thomas Wayne PruittOnce they were finished with their set, and the stage crew cleaned their gear and set up the gear for Eric and his band, you could feel the energy in the coliseum pick up at that point. Before Church took the stage, we were talking with the people standing near us. We met a young artist named Thomas Wayne Pruitt who was just as big a Church fan as I am. Him and his buddy wanted to brave the crowd that had gathered behind us to go get some beer. They told us that they’d bring us back a couple of beers if we held their spots, so of course we agreed. The only thing better than a cold beer at a concert is a free cold beer at a concert! Thomas’ girlfriend gave us a copy of his CD that we ended up listening to on the way home.

Thomas and his buddy returned with our beers just as promised and it wasn’t long after that when Eric Church took the stage! The moment everyone in attendance had been waiting for all night was finally upon us. Church is one of the few artists that I’ve seen in person who is better in concert than he is on CD. The energy this guy brings to the stage is unmatched by any other performer I’ve ever seen in concert. You can tell this guy pours his heart and soul into every show.

With this being “The Outsiders World Tour,” Church opened the show with his smash hit, ‘The Outsiders’. The crowd was going insane before we could even see him behind all the bright lights that were flooding the stage. Once the lights settled down a bit, and Church walked to the front of the stage, the tone was set for an incredible concert!20150318_210243_022At one point during the show, Church took a moment to let everyone know that since this was the World Tour, he would be playing a little bit from every album he has put out to this point. Songs going all the way back to his album, Sinners Like Me.

20150318_213026_023He most certainly did not disappoint. Like I said earlier, this was by far the best concert I’ve ever been to. It may or may not have something to do with the fact that, as he was walking by on stage, he leaned over and started shaking hands of his fans. Brittany and I had positioned ourselves close enough to the stage to be able to do just that. Church leaned down and shook our hands as he was walking by. And it wasn’t just one of those pansy little hand grabs like you see sometimes from artists reaching down to touch the hands of the fans. He gave me a firm gripped man handshake. I didn’t think it was possible, but he definitely went up a couple of cool points in my book for that. You’ll notice that Church is wearing his signature shades, but he’s missing his hat. He broke that out shortly after this picture was taken.

image1I’m not sure how many songs were played. I just remember having a great time listening to Eric Church and making these memories with Brittany. This was by far one of the best birthday celebrations in recent memory. Side note: by this point in the evening I had to use the restroom really bad. But I didn’t want to leave and miss any part of the concert. Church had just told everyone that if there was anyone who had to work in the morning, that he’d still be there singing his songs. He also mentioned that every show he plays is a little different and this one was no exception. He said that he hadn’t planned on singing his song, ‘Jack Daniels’, but since some of his fans had brought him some Old No. 7, he’d go ahead and play it. So that’s just what he did. He took a shot of Jack, the crowd broke out in a boisterous roar, and he played the song. Afterwards, he tossed his guitarist, Driver Williams, a shot of Jack. Driver took the shot and lead them straight into the next song. Church and his band definitely aren’t your typical “Bro Country” act.

20150318_225745Brittany and I finally weaved our way through the crowd so we could use the restroom as Church started playing Springsteen. I figured that we had been right up front long enough and the show wasn’t going to last much longer anyway. If we used the restroom now, we could avoid the long lines and once we got back, we’d just hang out near the back of the crowd for the last song then we could get out of there quickly without being trampled too much.

I had an unbelievable time and I want to specifically thank Brittany for making this night happen. She wasn’t feeling well (she still isn’t), but she was a trooper and made the best of it. Just another memory we’ve created together with the help of Eric Church, during what I hope is just one of many occasions where we’re able to make some wonderful memories together. Funny how a melody sounds like a memory.

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I’m back!

So it’s been nearly an entire year since I’ve written anything here on the ol’ blog. As they say, time flies when you’re having fun. It’s also coming up on my three year anniversary here on WordPress. There are several stories over the course of those years that I’ve shared with you; and several that I haven’t had the time to share. I’m hoping that in the coming weeks I’ll be able to sit down occasionally and share some of those stories and adventures.

My most recent adventure has been moving back to the Midwest. That’s right, I’m no longer in sunny Florida. Sometime in February this year I decided that I was going to move back to the Midwest. For one, it’s a lot closer to my family and a lot of my friends. Being so far away, in Florida, was nice on one hand. But on the other hand, I was so far away that it wasn’t easy for me to get back up here in case of an emergency. I wasn’t too fond of that part.

I was missing out on a lot by being 1,200+ miles away from everyone. I missed out on birthday parties, I missed out on my best friend’s son being born, I missed a couple of weddings, and I missed out on the annual bonfire. Well, now that I’m back up here, there will be no more missing out on any of those! I’m more than ready and excited to be able to partake in all the fun activities again!

Back to the adventure of moving back up here. As some of you know, my beloved truck, Dotty, had been giving me some fits down in Florida. She was overheating and finally blew a head gasket and cracked the heads. She went into the shop and $2,700 later, she was back up and running. The only problem was, she was still getting too hot. The mechanic at the shop said it was likely due to a plugged/leaking radiator. So I spent another $400 to have a new radiator installed.

Luckily, I was afforded the opportunity to work a lot of overtime at work by attending the annual Walmart Year Beginning Meeting in Orlando before I left Florida. I’ll tell you more about that experience later. But working all that overtime was exactly what I needed to get Dotty fixed and have the extra money to fund my trip back to the Midwest.

20150217_095029-1The shop that was going to fix Dotty came and picked her up on the morning of February 17th. They assured me it would only take a few hours and I would have her back, fully operational, within a few hours. Which was perfect, because as soon as she returned, I planned on loading everything up and hitting the road. Well, that wasn’t exactly the case. The shop ended up having to order a different radiator because the one they told me they could get that morning, wasn’t available anymore. I ended up getting a pretty late start to my drive back up here. The shop delivered Dotty back to me around 6:00pm, which put me about six hours behind schedule right off the bat.

20150217_231547Being that far behind schedule ended up being a good thing. Even though I started driving late into the evening, the events that unfolded afterwords put me right where I needed to be at just the right time. Once Dotty and I got to northern Georgia, she started making a high pitched squealing noise. Given Dotty’s track record for things breaking on her, I became a little concerned. At first, I tried to just dismiss it as wind coming in through the back window or something. But I’d quickly learn that this wasn’t the case. Driving a little further down the interstate, I decided to pull off for some gas and to use the restroom. After filling up, using the restroom, and getting something to drink, I hit the road again. In the parking lot at the gas station I could hear that high pitched squeal again, so I knew that it wasn’t just wind coming in through the back window.

I called my dad and asked him what he thought the sound might be. He said it could be a number of different things, and without being there to see and hear it in person, he couldn’t be sure. There was an auto parts store nearby, so I decided to take her in there to see what they said about it. I pulled up to the auto parts store and Dotty was still making the noise. I went inside and asked one of the employees if they could take a look at it to see if they could offer any insight to what it may be. The employee looked everything over and said that it might be the alternator. So he checked the alternator with his machine and determined that it was doing what it needed to be doing and all the numbers looked good. At that point, I decided that I would just go ahead and drive as far as I could. That was in southern Tennessee.

20150218_102107Driving through Tennessee was a little dangerous. There was snow and ice on the roadways and I had heard that part of the interstate had actually been shut down at one point through the night. Which is another reason it was good for me to get a late start with my travels. Dotty was still making that squealing noise, but I had the cruise control set and I was just taking in the beautiful scenery as I listened to some Eric Church. Just in case Dotty broke down, I was fully stocked with beef jerky, water, and I had a sleeping bag and plenty of clothes to keep me warm. Speaking of clothes, since I didn’t plan on being outside of the truck for longer than it took to run inside a gas station, I was wearing shorts and a hoodie. That would later prove to be a big mistake on my part!

20150218_153109Dotty and I had just crossed the state line into Kentucky when I tried to switch lanes and realized that I had NO power steering. I looked down at the dash and the “check gauges” light came on. My temperature gauge went from “normal” to “HOT” in the blink of an eye, so I immediately pulled over. I could only pull over so far as to barely have my driver’s side tires on the outside of the white line due to the snow that had piled up on the side of the road. I called 911 and let them know where I was and what had happened. The 911 operator told me that she would send a tow truck to me as soon as one was available. I jumped out of the truck and opened the hood to discover my serpentine belt shredded into a thousand little pieces. As I was checking things out, I also noticed that the belt tensioner pulley had locked up and the actual pulley had been ripped off.

Fast forward a little over an hour, and a Sheriff’s Deputy arrived behind me and turned his emergency lights on. Shortly after that the tow truck driver arrived and hooked Dotty up. Luckily there was an auto parts store just up the road. After giving the tow truck driver $65 for the tow, I walked into the auto parts store and spent another $100 on a new tensioner pulley and a belt. The guys there were nice enough to loan me the tools I needed to get the part replaced. The weather, however, wasn’t as nice. It was cold, the wind was blowing, and I was wearing shorts. Standing on the front bumper of Dotty, with snow blowing in my face, I was finally able to get the part replaced just in time before frostbite set in on my hands, legs, and face!

Back on the road, heater running full blast, I figured I’d definitely be able to make it home now. The only problem was, there was still a high pitched squeal coming from under Dotty’s hood! I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to do anymore roadside repairs while wearing my shorts. Dotty and I stopped again for some more gas and I checked under the hood to make sure everything still appeared to be ok. At that point, things were looking good, but they sure didn’t sound good.

I got into my old hometown late on the evening of the 18th due to stopping in Kentucky to make the repairs and also a few traffic accidents slowing traffic considerably; sometimes to a complete stop. When I arrived at my sister and brother-in-law’s house, he already had dinner made and ready to eat. At that point I was starving since I was living on beef jerky and water during the 1,200 mile journey. After dinner it was finally time to get some sleep. I had been on the road for far longer than I planned and I was exhausted.

I woke up the next morning, showered, then headed out. I didn’t plan on staying in town too long, but I knew I wanted to visit my parents. My mom was at work, so I stopped by there to see her. I walked up to the counter and asked if I could speak with her. The girl I was talking to didn’t know who I was, so she just told my mom that there was some man there to see her. I stepped to the side a little bit so my mom couldn’t see me until she was right in front of me. When she came around the corner, I don’t think she immediately recognized me because she said, “Can I help you?” Then it hit her, it was ME! I hadn’t seen my parents since I moved to Florida back in 2013. She came running around the counter, crying, and gave me a big hug. We talked for a few minutes before she had to get back to work. But it was great seeing her again.

After leaving my mom’s work, I decided to swing by my dad’s house to see him. We chatted just like old times and I caught him up to speed on everything that had been happening in my life; and he did the same. I’m definitely glad I’m back within a reasonable distance from home now so I can drop in and see them more! After spending a few hours there, I told him that I needed to get going. I still had some more driving to do.

20150221_165859Dotty and I were back on the road, she was still making strange noises, but I was getting closer and closer to my destination. By the time I got into Illinois, the high pitched squealing noise had turned into more of a growling noise. I knew that couldn’t be good, but I was literally right down the street from where I would be living, so I decided to try to make it there. I finally got to the house and parked Dotty. The weather was cooperating with me, finally, and I was able to get everything out of the bed unpacked. The next day, Brittany’s brother came over to take a look at Dotty. While he was checking her out, he discovered that the idler pulley was far loser than it should be. So I bought a new one for $30 and had it fixed within a few minutes. After replacing the idler pulley, I could still hear a squealing noise. At this point, to say I was a bit frustrated, would be an understatement. I decided that I would go ahead and replace the alternator as well, since that seemed to be one of the final pieces I hadn’t replaced and it was thought that may be the source of the original problem. $140 and about five minutes worth of work later and Dotty had a new alternator. The noises were finally gone. No more high pitched squealing. No more growling.

Not so fast. Is that the end of the repairs? Not quite. Now Dotty is making a clicking noise whenever I turn the steering wheel to the left. Could it be the power steering pump? The rack and pinion? A tie rod end? We’ll find out soon and I’ll let you know. Until then, lets just hope she gets me back and forth to work so I can afford the repairs!

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We. Are. Back!

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My dream about the Zombie Apocalypse

Jessica Biel Compound BowI had a dream last night. It was crazy to say the least. Allow me to set this up for you. Before I went to bed last night, I was having a discussion on Facebook with one of my friends, Eric, about the preparations taking place for the impending Zombie Apocalypse. This conversation was mostly for entertainment purposes, but there was also a sliver of truth contained within it. That’s partially to blame for this dream I had last night. I believe another strong contributing factor was the fact that I was watching Blade Trinity due to my desire to see the Miss Jessica Biel and her compound bow. There’s just something incredibly sexy about a lady who knows how to use a bow!

So sit back and let me tell you more about this dream…

It was a beautiful spring afternoon here in south Florida. It wasn’t overly hot this day, somewhere in the mid 80’s with humidity hovering around 65%. My main broseph, Chris, was visiting from Indiana. He and I were riding 4-wheelers out in the woods down here doing a little hunting for wild boar. Chris and I had stopped near a covering close to a canal; waiting to spot some boars who were making their way to the watering hole for a drink to quench their thirst. We were talking about what we were going to do with the meat we were going to get this afternoon. Chris wanted to grill some of the meat and I told him I thought we should throw some in the smoker as well.

While we were discussing all of this, I glanced up to the sky after I heard the shriek of what sounded like a bald eagle. The next thing I know, I heard a gunshot. Chris had just taken a shot at a zombie! We started the 4-wheelers up and made our way to the body that was laying lifeless across a piece of a decaying tree that had fallen some time ago. Standing over the body, Chris looked up at me and said, “Bro! It’s starting!” He was obviously talking about the beginning of the Zombie Apocalypse!

We left the body and made our way back up to the house at the front of the land. Chris and I had been preparing for this moment for most of our lives. We had been learning survival skills since the first time we each held a fishing pole. Upon entering the house, we made our way to the attic where we had a large cache of weaponry stored. We started moving all of the guns, ammunition, bows, arrows, and other assorted weapons to the kitchen table so we could take inventory of what we had. I sent out a mass text message to everyone with whom we had already picked to be on our survival team, letting them know that it had started and they needed to make their way to the rally point.

After we made sure the weapons were all accounted for and secured, Chris and I jumped on the 4-wheelers and double checked the perimeter of the grounds making sure it was all secure as well. What we had done in the months prior was set ourselves up a compound. The property was surrounded by a 12 foot fence with razor wire topping it. We made sure the fencing was all in good order and secured the front gate. Standing at the front gate, we looked at each other and Chris said, “Are you ready for this?” To which I replied, “You already know, bro!”

We rode back to the house and started preparing for the arrival of the rest of our team. We finished cleaning one of the boars we had killed earlier in the day and threw that in the barbeque pit. We figured it would take several hours for our team to arrive, which gave us plenty of time to get the meat cooked for dinner. While Chris was putting the final touches on our dinner, I made my way out to the three outbuildings that contained some of our provisions. Double checking the security of those buildings, I picked up a few items that we needed to go with our meal for the evening. It was going to be a long night; waiting for our team to arrive and then going over the game plan with everyone once they did arrive. I made sure our generators were topped off with some diesel, then headed back up to the house.

I remembered that I had discussed a flag system with everyone in a prior team meeting. Knowing the different colors of the flags would alert any teammates to the status of our rally point. We had six different flags that would be flown: a black flag – signifying the rally point had been compromised, a yellow flag – signifying that the live band was playing and the drinks were flowing, a white flag with a red cross – signifying that appropriate medical personnel was on site, a red flag – signifying that we were running low on provisions, a blue flag – signifying that we were preparing to move to the next rally point (water), and a green flag – signifying the Zombie Apocalypse was finally over. Knowing all of these flags and their meanings, coupled with the fact that we were expecting the rest of our team soon, I ran upstairs and made sure we had the yellow flag hoisted to the top of the pole!

With the boar cooking, the weapons secured, the compound secured, the kegs of Yuengling chilling, and the video system turned on – Chris and I sat down and started watching the news. The Zombie Apocalypse was spreading at an alarming rate. We knew we would be ok, but we worried about the rest of our team traveling down from the Midwest. We maintained constant communication with the team to make sure they were traveling safely.

MT Long Rail ShotgunAs we were sitting there watching the news, we heard a knock at the door. The crazy thing is, nobody had hit the buzzer at the front gate, and we weren’t expecting anyone for at least six hours. Chris tossed me one of the Remington 870’s and I got up to see who it was…

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Happy Anniversary…to me!

WP AnniversarySo today I decided it was time for another entry in the Chronicles of Shue. What I didn’t realize though was that today marks my two year anniversary for doing so! At least here on my current incarnation of my blog. I blogged for a couple years prior over on Blogger, but I didn’t write there very often. I’d really like to get into some sort of writing routine and post on a more consistent basis. I’ll try working on that!

Over the course of the past couple years, there have been a lot of changes take place in my life. One of the things that prompted me to start writing more was the divorce I was going through. So I wrote about that and all of the events that surrounded it. Then once the divorce was finalized I ventured into the dating world. I wrote some about my experiences with online dating. Those have most definitely been interesting to say the least!

My employment has also been something that, unfortunately, has changed several times over the past couple of years. I’ve written about my time working at the Sheriff’s Office and the whole unemployment debacle over that whole mess. Then there was a time I sold cars at a dealership back in Indiana. Raintree RV Resort brought me to Florida; but that was short lived. And most recently, I wrote about my employment at Dick’s Sporting Goods. Now I’m about to embark on yet another change in employment. This time I’ll be working in asset protection for a multi-billion dollar company – Walmart!

There are a couple of things that have remained fairly consistent over the past couple of years though. The big one being my faith in God. He seems to know what He’s doing with my life and I’ll continue trusting in Him. I have to admit though, sometimes it’s tough to focus on the bigger picture and not worry about the small stuff. But I know that everything that’s supposed to happen will happen; eventually.

The other thing that has been consistent is the support of my friends and family. Without them, I’m not sure where I’d be exactly. I do know that I appreciate them more than any words can express. They’ve always been there for me when I needed a shoulder to lean on or an ear to bend. For that, I’ll always be incredibly grateful.

I’m hoping that over the course of the next couple years, you will all follow along with me in my journeys and read along when I share stories of my adventures while I embark on this pursuit of my happiness. It’s been an interesting past couple of years to say the least. I wouldn’t want it any other way!

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Opportunity knocks – then life happens

I decided a while ago that whenever I heard opportunity knocking, I was going to answer the door and choose the path of adventure. I had spent too many of my years living the life of monotony and routine.

Back in late October I packed everything up and headed down here to Florida. I was promised a place to live and a job, my dream job, for at least a year. Unfortunately (or fortunately – I haven’t quite figured that out yet) that job didn’t last. Even though I was promised employment and a place to live for at least a year, after just one full month of doing event photography I was told that the company could no longer afford a full time photographer. I have my suspicions as to whether or not there was something else going on there. All I know is that I was doing exactly what we had discussed; taking photos of different events and getting them onto the website in a very timely manner.

So just a short time before Thanksgiving last year I was notified that at the end of November, I would no longer have a job there. I was heartbroken by the thought of having to return to Indiana so soon after this new journey had began. I immediately started looking for other jobs in the area and submitting my applications and resume to several different places who claimed to be hiring. After a couple weeks of rejection letters and/or emails, I was quickly beginning to worry about my future in Florida.

I prayed about it every single night. Not asking for anything specific, just wanting some guidance and patience to survive this latest storm to hit my life. About a week later one of my good friends and I were talking and I was telling him about what was going on. He agreed to let me move in with him until I could find something more permanent. So, on December 10th, I moved from North Ft. Myers to Naples.

I spent the next few weeks filling out job applications and submitting my resume to just about every single place that had a listing on all of the online job boards. After about 70 applications, I finally landed an interview. The interview went well, but ultimately I didn’t get that job. I was kind of depressed by not getting the job. But looking back on it now, I’m glad I didn’t get that job. It wasn’t the right one for me. Looks like God was looking out for me once again!

Fast forward a couple months. I got an email from Dick’s Sporting Goods saying they were interested in interviewing me for one of their new stores that is getting ready to open in Ft. Myers. I had applied there early on in my job search and the new Ft. Myers store would have been just a short drive for me from my former residence. I walked into that interview completely prepared and as a result, I was hired on the spot! Not only was I hired, but I was also hired for a position at a store that was closer to where I currently live, in a store that is already open and operational!

Here’s to new opportunities! So far I absolutely love my position as Lodge Associate with Dick’s Sporting Goods. All of the people I’ve met so far at work have been incredibly encouraging and helpful with making me as successful in this business as I want to be. I go into work every day with a huge smile on my face knowing that I get to work with things I’m passionate about and I get to talk to people who are just as passionate as I am about these things. I’ve already met several new people because of this opportunity at Dick’s Sporting Goods, and I don’t see that slowing down any time soon. With the growth of the company, there is a huge potential for advancement as well. Something I’ve been looking for in a job since my days with the Sheriff’s Office back in Indiana.

If you’re ever in Southwest Florida and find yourself shopping at the Gulf Coast Town Center, stop in and say “hey”!

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Flappy Bird – That Dang Bird!

Flappy Bird 1Flappy Bird. The game that was at the top of the App Store for awhile before its developer pulled it due to wanting some privacy. I downloaded it after seeing a few friends post their high scores on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I had some time to pass since I was unemployed and didn’t have anything better to do from time to time. I’m not ashamed to admit that this was largely a “toilet game” for me. That is, whenever I was taking care of business, to entertain myself, I’d play a round or six of Flappy Bird. Sometimes that ended up lengthening my restroom sessions; but not to the point where my legs would go numb like some of my friends admitted happened to them!

 

Anyway, I quickly became addicted to this game. It’s quite easy to do once you start playing. The premise of the game is quite simple; tap the screen of your device to make the bird flap his wings in order to change his altitude while dodging green pipes (which are VERY reminiscent of the classic Mario Brothers games.) If you can get good at that, you can achieve some really high scores. Otherwise you end up with a bird that face-plants the ground much like this:
Flappy Bird 2After several failed attempts, I finally reached a high score of three. That’s right, THREE! I had seen several of my friends post pictures showing their scores well into the hundreds. There were other pictures posted of people achieving 999,999. I figured there was no way they actually achieved those scores and after a bit of research I discovered that they were actually cheaters. If you find yourself compelled to cheat at a game, especially a game like Flappy Bird, you should just go ahead and throw your device away. There’s no sense in cheating. It takes away all the appeal of the game in the first place.

Flappy Bird 3About a week after downloading this addicting little game I finally broke the 100 barrier. To date, my high score remains at 104. I haven’t played in a few days. I’m not sure I will even open the app back up now. I set a goal of getting at least 100 and I surpassed that. I have been tempted a few times to compete against some of my friends who have higher scores. But then I realized that they must not really have much of a life. (Just kidding, I completely understand and appreciate the addiction!)

After I posted my high score to my Facebook page, one of my friends suggested I download a game called Ironpants. That game is even more difficult than this one. I wouldn’t expect to see a write-up of that game. I stopped after my high score of three on Ironpants!

 

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Another great weekend and another first.

IMG_0149It all started pretty early this past Friday morning. My friend, Jaimy, and I went to Bass Pro Shops in nearby Ft. Myers, FL. In case you don’t know what Bass Pro Shops (BPS) is, allow me to elaborate a little bit. It is one of the most amazing stores on the face of the planet! If you do anything outdoors, this is the store you go to for your equipment. I could easily spend half a day just looking at all the things they have for sale there. My Christmas list grows longer the more time I spend inside this store. Every time I go in there, I see something new that I want!

IMG_0153Speaking of finding something new I want, I found something while we were there. I’ve never owned a crossbow before, but after holding one in my hands and envisioning myself shooting a deer with one, I have found myself wanting one! Unfortunately, they are pretty expensive, so I don’t see myself getting one any time soon. This particular one was $999.99!

I’m not even sure how long we spent at Bass Pro Shop, but however long it was, I’m sure it wasn’t long enough. We decided to grab a quick bite to eat after spending a good part of the morning looking around BPS. While we were eating lunch, I suggested we take the paddle boards out and see if I could actually get up on one of those things!

IMG_0170We loaded up Jaimy’s two paddle boards into the back of my truck and headed to Bonita Beach, which isn’t too far away. I recall thinking to myself, “What am I getting myself into? I’m not even a strong swimmer and I’m going to be swimming with sharks and only God knows what else in this HUGE body of water known as the Gulf!” But once I saw Jaimy’s boards, I knew I had to try it at least twice! So that’s what we set out to do. She’s been doing it for awhile now. Me, first time! Once we got to the beach we unloaded the boards and headed down towards the water. Thoughts kept popping into my head as we were getting closer and closer to the water. Thoughts like, “Why am I doing this again?” and “What if I die?!” But those thoughts were fleeting. Once I set the board on the water I knew there was no backing out. I couldn’t be shown up by a girl!

So we’re on the water and we lay down on the boards. Jaimy was kind enough to give me some pointers right off the bat. One big one was where the center of the board was. That’s a pretty key piece of knowledge so you know where to keep the center of your body while on the board. I couldn’t think of anything worse than falling off the board while we were out on the open water! Thanks, Jaimy! So yeah, we swam out a few hundred yards; well past the designated swimming area. Jaimy suggested that we get up on the boards, on our knees first. I thought, “Psht, I got this!” So up onto my knees I went. I grabbed the paddle and started using it to propel myself further away from the shoreline. I look over and Jaimy is jumping up to her feet! “Yeah, that’s not for me…not yet anyway” I thought. I was just fine paddling around on my knees.

Meanwhile, Jaimy is going even further out while standing up on her paddle board. She made it look incredibly effortless. I wasn’t even about to attempt to stand up on my feet though. Remember, I’m not a particularly strong swimmer (yet). I decided that I just wanted to float around out there for a bit. Soak up some sun while listening to the sounds of the water slap the underside of the board. So that’s what I did for a while. Jaimy was paddling around like a pro and came back closer to me. She suggested we start heading in at that point because the wind was picking up and taking us out further into the Gulf.

Laying back down on the board, I began swimming back to the beach. Or so I thought. I was paddling like I’d never paddled before! I could feel the burn in my arms, my shoulders, and my back! It seemed like the harder and faster I paddled, the less I actually moved to the shore! I kept thinking to myself, “Yup, I’m going to be a story on Discovery Channel’s Shark Week!” I was just waiting for something large to bump up into the underside of my board and take a bite out of one of my legs or one of my arms. I think I even expressed that thought a time or two to Jaimy. I remained positive though, thinking that if that did actually happen, and I survived, I’d have a pretty sweet story to tell.

I stopped paddling for a minute and Jaimy reminded me that the wind was taking us out further into the Gulf and that if we stopped, we’d end up floating to Texas – assuming the sharks didn’t eat us for lunch on the way there! So back to paddling even though my arms and shoulders were on fire! I stopped again and Jaimy suggested I hold onto the back of her board while she paddled in for a bit. That sounded like a WONDERFUL idea to me! I secured my paddle between me and the board and I grabbed onto the back of Jaimy’s board while she paddled in.

IMG_0169Once we got back to the designated swimming area, which seemed like it took forever, I let go of Jaimy’s board and started swimming back in myself. I knew that my shoulders were going to be fried after this little adventure! We got back to the beach and there were a couple ladies standing there with bottles of water for us. They said they saw us way out there and thought we might have gotten a little thirsty with our swim back in. Bless their hearts. Little did they know we already had some refreshing beverages awaiting us back at our cooler. We had packed a few beers and put them on ice! Great idea, Jaimy!

My shoulders and back were still sore three days later. The following day I could barely even wipe my own butt! Which tells me a few things: one, I had a lot of fun, two, it was a great workout, and three, I need to do it again and again! I’m addicted! I can definitely see myself purchasing my own board at some point so I can go out whenever I want. The next time I go out, I’m going to try standing up on the board…but I’ll be trying that little move in a part of the water where I can touch bottom. You know, for when I fall off!

Thank you, Jaimy for exposing me to this great Florida activity! I had a blast and I was not only able to add something exciting to my bucket list, but I was also able to cross it off quickly!

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Thank you – to one of my readers

I don’t check my emails from this blog often enough. For that, I apologize. I’ll try to remember to add that to my daily routine in hopes to respond in a more timely manner. Typically, when I receive an email it is just a quick little piece thanking me for something I’ve written or someone sharing their personal story with me wanting to tell me how they can connect with me on one of the subjects I’ve written about. This email though, it was a little different. I received this email on October 23rd from “a friend”. The email address that was provided tells me this was from “Beth”. I’m not sure if this was her or not though. Anyway, this is what the email said:

“The endless archives of nothing that you have recorded on here…. my nose is bleeding. That may come off as a jerk thing to say but, man, who cares? And by now you have said, “F*CK THIS GUY” haha. Ego is all powerful… I wish I could figure out how to stop people from thinking that they are great. That they are above or that they are the most important thing in the world.

Well-the reason why I stopped to write this was to just retort your point that we are a degrading society. I hardily disagree. The increase mal-usage of grammar or higher frequency of poor spelling is no bellwether of a society. I encourage you to replace one of the stupid filler items in your bucket list with “buy a reader’s digest from the 30’s and read it” you will be taken aback to find the “common problems” that WE are afflicted with STILL existed back then. My point is that nothing changes. Why, John, do you LOATHE bad grammar? at the root of it all? I posit that you hate the things you hate for one reason. You demand comfort. Like all people “you just want to be comfortable” You put that pet peeve at the top of the page. Why. To effect change! It is in vain of course. Your ranting soothes your ego. Foolishly, and probably subconsciously, hoping that the forceful words you have posted sends waves to all fellow man, and jars them from their ways…and finally, you can easily read a damn email in comfort. Do you scream at cars that cut you off? I am sure you have. Calling them out on their poor driving while pointing with an upturned palm? Why? To, in vain, change the things that make you uncomfortable.

I don’t know if that’s you, arms crossed in black, but I assume it is. That picture is why I sent this. I feel that I connected with you. I felt pain, that you cannot feel, because your mind is making too much noise. I do not wish for to change your desire for comfort, but what I do wish for you to do is to find it. Staring at my keyboard I had a feeling to just X this window. I wrote the word “in vain” several times above and it has crossed my mind that I should spoon my own medicine. But I don’t know why, but maybe you will think about my words.

Ego, is why you are always mad, upset, and why you are currently cursing me. A locomotive has started, barely able to continue reading, while furiously chomping at the bit to “tell me off” you probably have rehearsed this mentally a few times by now. Please, please know that I am not attacking you. It just feels that way.

Your mind has control over you, like all people. You are not who you think you are. You are a caring, and considerate person, underneath your mind or called the EGO.

Your bucket list is full. Mostly uncrossed. Why? Because life’s busy? When you finally get there you’ll be happy? Pfft. Get going on it. NOW is the only reality. All future, happens in the now-later on… the past all happened in the now -a while ago. There IS no past, there IS no future. And if this is true there IS no time.

I am doing a terrible job at this. I am trying to convey help, however unwarranted. If you are still reading, buy one more book, buy the book called “the power of now” Please read it. I was like you. Someone found me. And put a tattered copy of that book in my luggage. That vacation changed my life. I am happy and complete.”

My reply:

Thank you, “Beth”, for not only taking the time to read at least some of my blog, but also for your email. I just want to say again, I am sorry for not checking my email sooner so I could have replied in a quicker fashion. I thoroughly enjoyed your email and found myself chuckling several times while I was reading along. I especially enjoyed your commentary on what you thought may have been going through my mind. I find it intriguing that you think you know me well enough by my writings to surmise what thoughts may have been going through my head. I’m sorry to inform you, however, you were incorrect. Never once did I find myself thinking “F*CK THIS GUY”.

That said, I will allow you a glimpse into my mind. Please, allow me to share my thoughts with you (and any of the other 150-200 readers per day my blog receives). First, I enjoyed your writing style. It was not only amusing, but also wildly entertaining. I think you and I could have long conversations about virtually nothing if ever we were to meet. I would even buy you a cinnamon roll from a place down here while we discussed worldly events. If for nothing else, to be entertained by your views and opinions – which I wholeheartedly value. But please, get that nose bleed under control.

I will agree with you that ego is a powerful thing. However, I am one of the least egotistical people you will ever meet. I am fraught with insecurities just like any normal person. The reason for my blog was to share my life experiences with friends and family who enjoy reading about them. Little did I know that several more people would follow along with my journey and be able to take something from it. I am pleased that there are so many people whom my blog reaches on a daily basis though. It provides me with an audience for some of my shenanigans. I would love to thank all of my readers personally, but many of them, much like yourself, remain anonymous. Rarely does anyone comment on anything I write about. And those who do are some of my dearest friends.

As for your disagreeing on my point of our devolving society due to the inability to effectively communicate – thank you for weighing in on that topic. I do not know who you are or where you come from, but I can assure you that you are not one of the people I was referring to when I wrote that. You are a writer, or at least a well educated (or well read) individual who clearly has a respect for our English language, much like myself. I find myself cringing when I see posts on Facebook or when I receive text messages that are riddled with poor grammar, improper spelling, or miss usage of common words. Words like “to”, “too”, and “two” – “your” and “you’re” – “their”, “there”, and “they’re” are used incorrectly far too often. When it comes to written communication it is important to also use punctuation. Since inflection cannot be read, it is nice to know if someone is telling you something or asking you a question. It seems so simple to be able to take a little time to effectively communicate what it is you’re trying to say; yet for some reason that simply escapes some people. That is why it is one of my pet peeves. Do I overlook it? Yes – quite often in fact. Does it still frustrate me? Absolutely.

Perhaps it is comfort I seek at the root of it all. I want to know that I am receiving the message that someone is trying to send…the way it was intended. I do not like trying to decipher a message that could have been conveyed to me with it’s original context intact simply because someone was too lazy to include proper spelling, grammar, or punctuation. Again, I must thank you for including proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation in your email to me. I was not only able to receive your message the way I’m assuming you intended it to be received, but I was also able to do so comfortably and with some entertainment value. Thus leading me to not be infuriated and think, “F*CK THIS GUY”.

I have never actively thought about calling out drivers for their poor driving. But now that you mention it, I have done the upturned palm thing while rhetorically questioning other drivers. Knowing full well that they cannot hear me. I’m not sure that it’s an ego thing though. That verbalizing of my feelings did, I’m sure, make me feel a little better about the given situation at that point in time.

I don’t know that I’ll replace any of my “stupid filler” bucket list items with your proposed change. But I will tell you what I’ll do, I’ll add that to the bottom of my list. Not because you encouraged me to, but to try to see things from your point of view. Thank you for that enlightenment. I’ll try to get that done sooner rather than later.

Your assumption about my picture atop my blog is correct. That is a photograph of me. It was taken quite some time ago and I intend on changing it once I am able to have another one taken that is similar to that one. I do believe that I will retain the crossed arms pose, but perhaps I’ll add a smile as opposed to that scowl on my face. A smile would be a much better representation of myself – especially at this point in my life.

I don’t feel attacked by you. Nor do I feel angry or upset most days. My days are filled with laughter and joy with the occasional hiccup that life seems to provide for us. Those hiccups though, those aren’t things that upset me anymore. I take each one of them in stride and learn something from it. I am always looking for the silver lining hidden within those “bad” days. When you actively seek the good, you will always find it. Or at least that’s been my experience.

My mind does not have control over me. I know, you’re probably surprised by now that you also assumed that one incorrectly. I allow my heart to lead me quite often. In doing so, I do tend to use my wits to keep me in check. If we all followed our heart without using some sort of intelligent power, we would most likely all be failures to some degree. Again, I’m going to have to disagree with you about this being directly related to my ego. I do not feel any grandeur. I do not think I am any better than any other person. I just simply try to live the life I want to live – always in pursuit of my happiness. I hope that you can do the same thing without feeling guilty about your “ego” taking over.

You are correct about my bucket list being full and mostly uncrossed. Why? Again, I don’t think it has anything to do with my ego. But I know what I can realistically afford to do at this point in my life. I agree that we should live in the “now”. But I’m also a realist and know that I can’t just pack my bags today to go spend time in the Peruvian jungle. Nor can I just hop on a plane to visit half the places I wish to visit someday. Having dreams and aspirations, goals, is what keeps us alive. If we always did what we wanted to do, the exact moment we wanted to do, I’m sure life would be exciting. But then what would we do tomorrow? What would we aspire to do later? Is it not good to have goals? Should we not always seek some kind of adventure?

Regarding the book “The Power of Now”. Sure, I’ll buy it and give it a read. I’m always looking for new good books to read. Unless of course you are the author of the book. In which case you should send me a signed copy. I’ll provide you with my shipping address. If you are the author, and you do send me a copy, I promise I’ll read it. I just hope you know it’ll be read with a fine tooth comb. I will be looking for grammatical and spelling errors, so I hope you had an excellent editor. I say that mostly in jest.

To wrap this up, since brevity has never been a strong suit of mine, I just want to thank you again for taking time to read my blog. I also thank you for taking time to send  me an email. I really do read them all and I reply to every one of them. I like connecting with people, especially when we can all learn from one another. I encourage you to reply here or if you feel so inclined you can email me back. Either way is fine with me.

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My tattoos – explained

I’ve been asked quite a bit about my tattoos; especially here recently. What do they mean? Where did I get them done? Why did I get them? Did they hurt? Do I want more? Please allow me to explain each of the ones I currently have and give you a glimpse into what I still have in mind for more tattoos that I want to get.

My very first tattoo took me several years to pick out. I knew I wanted a tattoo back when I was about 20 years old. I just didn’t know what I wanted exactly, or where I wanted it on my body. Tattoos are pretty much forever, so I knew I wanted something I wasn’t going to regret. That’s when I decided that I was going to get tattoos that not only pertained directly to my life as I lived it, but also had to do with scripture from the bible. My faith is very important to me and it’s a huge part of my life and who I am. Once I made that decision, the rest all fell into place.

ShueFaithFor my first tattoo I wanted something that would symbolize not only my faith, but also who I am. I had been working on several different designs of my last name (Shue) when I stumbled upon ambigrams. This seemed to fit wonderfully with what I wanted to accomplish. I got the tattoo on my upper right arm area. When other people look at it, they see my last name. But when I look down at it, I see “faith”. It’s just a constant reminder to me to always stay true to my faith in God and my faith in my family. Without my family, I’m not sure where I’d be today. They have been there for me during my darkest days, when I needed someone the most in my life. They have never failed me!

Like most people I know, after I got my first tattoo, I was already planning what I wanted to get for my next tattoo. They are rather addicting. Not only did I have a good idea for what I wanted next, I also knew I wanted it on my left arm. You know, just to balance things out a little bit.

Isaiah 40 31That’s when I decided to get Isaiah 40:31 tattooed on me. That verse kept coming up quite a bit at that point in my life and I knew that I wanted to make sure I never forgot it. Isaiah 40:31 says: “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles: they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Seems like some pretty straightforward scripture that lends itself well to a tattoo design. I decided to go with an eagle grasping a cross in his talons to represent this time in my life. To date, this tattoo is the one that has taken the longest to get. Around four hours worth of chair time after two sittings is what it took to finish this one.

In God We TrustFor my next tattoo I knew that I wanted something on my right arm, just below my Shue/Faith tattoo, since the eagle and cross were so large on my left arm. It took me a little while to find something that I wanted to get. But the moment I saw it, I knew that I just had to have something like it. The first appearance of “In God We Trust” on US currency was back in 1864 on a two cent piece. The shield and banner was what I wanted tattooed on me. I’m a proud American and I trust in God 100%! I took a picture of the two cent piece to my artist, Jeremy, and told him I would like a couple things omitted from the shield and in order to break up the solid field of black at the top, I would like to incorporate stars. This is how Jeremy interpreted the design; and I couldn’t be any happier with the outcome.

Mathew 6 13It wasn’t too long that I was already itching to get another tattoo. During that point in my life things were pretty rocky with my recent divorce and I wanted to get something that reminded me that I should always resist temptation. It seems some people in my life couldn’t resist their temptations and as such, cheated on me. Every time I thought about temptations, I thought about the scripture from Mathew 6:13. It says: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” It seemed rather fitting, so I took some artwork that I found to Jeremy and asked him if he thought he could pull it off. Of course he could, he is an award winning artist. Again, Jeremy nailed it! We put it on the inside of my right bicep. There were a couple spots that were pretty tender; but it was well worth it. This picture was right after I got the tattoo. It has lightened up a little and of course, the redness went away.

I went quite some time without getting any new ink. But the desire for more never ceased. I had ideas for several more tattoos; but good tattoos cost money and they take time. I never seemed to have both of those things at the same time though. Eventually I was able to save up enough money by doing photography jobs to get another tattoo. Actually, it was two tattoos at the same time. I had been reading my bible nightly and praying like I’ve never prayed before. One night while I was reading my bible, I was reading the book of Psalm. All of it.

Psalm 16 11That’s when the idea for my next tattoo came to me. Psalm 16:11 says: “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Back in the day sailors used to use stars for navigation. Now, I’m no sailor, but what I’m doing is using the Lord as my navigation. That’s when I thought about getting a couple of nautical stars; one on the back of each arm. I didn’t want the standard looking nautical stars though. So once again, I took my idea to Jeremy and he came through for me. We came up with the idea of making the nautical stars look weathered; much like my life had been. Weathered, beat up, cracked, but still there.

DoveIt wasn’t very long after the stars healed up that I was back in Jeremy’s chair getting my next tattoo. Things were getting pretty rocky in my life once again at that point. I wanted to get the third tattoo of my collection that would complete my Faith, Hope, and Love tattoos. Faith, obviously with my Shue/Faith tattoo. Hope, with my Isaiah 40:31 eagle and cross tattoo. And the Love tattoo was going to be that of a dove. I wanted the dove on my inner left bicep area. Here’s a little more reading on the background of my dove tattoo.

That’s it! Those are all the tattoos I have for now. I do have a couple more ideas that I would like to get soon though. Some of my friends already know about my ideas for my next couple of tattoos. I won’t get into detail because I think pictures work best for sharing something like this. But what I will say is that they, just like all of my other tattoos, represent my life and they get their roots from scripture. What scripture? Ecclesiastes 3 and Isaiah 22:22. They’re going to be good!

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