Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Power of Prayer or The New Job

It's been 2 days and work is gonna be ok. Getting up early after two and a half years of sleeping til 11ish is kinda rough. I yawn a lot at work that's for sure. 

Tonight I've been thinking a lot about prayer.  How answered prayer strengthens our faith and boosts our witness. 

David Hutton is an answered prayer. Expectations were low after his stroke.  There was very little in the way of good news. I know people were praying prior to the prayer meeting at LifePoint but it was that night as I listened to people pray so earnestly for David and the family that I got an idea of how powerful it is. 
Later that night Dave pulled thru his surgery and has been getting better ever since. 
So much so now that I'm as confident that we are going to get our David back as I am that my truck is blue. 

In my own life just recently I had what I would have thought was an impossible prayer get answered. 

I'm not going to lie to you, I technically didn't want a job. I'm making good money freelance and I get to work when I want to. 

December was an oddity.  Due to Christmas, Bats new specialist, and a 15 day assignment for a client we ran broke. 

Real broke, flat broke, negative broke by the end of the month. 

Now the fact is God took care of us. So well that the kids didn't even notice that we were flat broke. We had everything we needed. We went 2 weeks on $5.  

 That's not the impossible prayer by the way.  That's just God being God. If you don't tithe folks you oughta start. Not only is it biblical it's ridiculously advantageous cuz God WILL bless your finances. 


So I knew I'd build a cushion up after the holidays. My main client took almost 2 weeks off and since they were closed they couldn't send me a check for my invoices. 
I had invoiced quite a bit and had December not been the perfect storm of weirdness we'd have been financially ahead. Still God knows what he is doing and we went broke. 

For about 2 months I had been praying that I'd get a job outside the house. Mainly cuz I knew Lin would like me to. She never said as much but I could tell she'd be more comfortable if there was a guaranteed paycheck regular rather than freelance money. 
Now if you take what I make as a freelancer and divide it by 12 I make pretty decent money. A little more than I did managing the theatre.  
The problem with that model is that I don't get paid monthly. I get paid by invoice. I might have a $300 month then a $3000 month. 
So I figured even though Lin encouraged me to stay working for myself I'd go ahead and pray for a job. 
The secret I thought would be praying for something that was unlikely. 
Little did I know God would take the unlikely farther to the realm of nigh impossible. 

A little back ground here. I met Matt my current boss 17 years ago before I was an actual artist. I was fresh out of high school and my friends Wes and Jason came to my house and asked if I'd like to work with them at Phizazz. 
It was a screen print shop owned by Anheiser Busch. 
They both worked there. Wes in the art room with Matt and Jason in the "screen room" taking care of the silk screens, film and what not. 

I was told I'd start out in the Screen room but I'd work my way into the art dept.  I was a decent artist as a young man. I drew constantly. Not just cartoony stuff to make people laugh like my friend did. I drew cartoony, I drew portraits, I drew wildlife I was pretty well rounded. Well I thought I was. 

Anyway, I started working there and I was introduced to their main artist Matt. He seemed nice but he was quiet. He and Wes worked upstairs in the art dept & I worked down stairs. 

After a few weeks I thought I'd take Matt one of my sketchbooks, impress him and make my way to the art dept a little faster. 
To my horror he looked at my Sketch book and said "pretty good, about 10 more of those books and you'll be about ready"
I was crushed. At the time I was pretty confident in my drawing ability. I thought I was better at drawing than Wes so I couldn't figure out how I was not even close to ready to do professional art and he was already at it. 

I was crushed and that day 17 years ago began the idea in my head that Matt did not like me. 
Armed with only that encounter I had been positive ever since of that fact. 

It was very shortly after that encounter that they hired another artist. Rather than giving me a chance they hired a new guy. Someone I knew & had went to school with.  It was just heartbreaking and maddening. That drove home in my mind Matt's feelings towards me. 

I felt self conscious from then on when I did get around him cuz he is so much better at the art. I had several dealings with him over the years. All were fine he never treated me badly but I always felt and even told people that he didn't like me. 

Eventually Phizazz closed, he and the guy who trained me started a business together called Digital Silver. Danny ended up selling out to Matt and going elsewhere to work. 

Wes started working there. I meanwhile was working at Walmart managing Automotive of all things. 

Years later I ran into Jason (who helped me get a job at Phizazz) he asked what I was up to. He got me a job at Results in the screen room. Again with the promise that I'd eventually get into the art dept. 

This time it worked out. Danny had been contacted by the owner because Danny had owned a screen print shop. 
Danny came and helped start Results. He recruited Jason who recruited me.  After about 6 months things slowed down. Danny and I had hit it off so he started teaching me photoshop and freehand. I'd go to his house once a week and he'd tutor me on his Mac. 

I eventually got my own Mac and got pretty decent at screen print art. 
We talked a lot back then about the future bad how he'd one day have another shop and we'd work it together just like him & Matt. 
That was an obsession for me for quite a while. He talked about this client they used to have called "the WildSide". It became my goal to eventually be good enough that the Wildside would buy my stuff. 

I ends up leaving Results for greener pastures at the newspaper doing ad layout. 

I was approached by the owner a year or so later after Danny left Results about coming back. I did go back and I was the artist there. I did everything there. From design to print. Danny came back for a while too. It's like we all got amnesia after we left there. We knew it was a terrible place to work. We knew you were treated terribly and that you were abused by the supervisors. They swore at you and berated you but we went back. I worked there 3 times and Danny worked there at least twice maybe three times too. I can't remember. 

All that time Matt and Wes were always at Digital Silver. 

Now I ran into Matt once in a while and he said hi and treated me just fine but I was still convinced he didn't like me. After all I was technically the competition. So I was even more convinced. 
I'd go visit Wes and Matt wouldn't say a word. Or it'd be really short. 

After the last time I worked at Results I went to work with Danny at his house. We were finally going to do it. Going to partner and sell art. We didn't have presses but Danny was convinced we could just sell the art. 
He convinced me to move my Mac and stuff in and we started working together under the name Danny Mac Studios. 
I was a little concerned that he asked me to do art under his name. I'd do designs and he'd sell them to our client. Our client had no idea I existed. 

Danny was also a landlord. He had several rental properties and he got tied up in those. Fixing things and doing that stuff. He wouldn't give me a key and the building was locked so there would be days I went to work & just couldn't get in. 
I'd call but get no answer. 
We got pretty far behind and that put a strain on us. 

That's when Wes quit Digital Silver after 13 years to pursue his passion of culinary school. He was replaced by Michelle. 

I started doing freelance by myself because Danny was busy being a landlord. 

Did that for the last two and a half years. 

Ok, sorry for that sidetrack but it really comes into play here in a minute. 

So now we are caught up to a couple months ago. 
I didn't want a job. 
I was making good money as  a freelancer. 
Still I knew Lin would be more comfortable. 

I decided I'd pray for a job but I'd make it a prayer that was extremely unlikely but still it was a prayer and that would keep my conscience clean about doing only freelance. 

So this was my prayer. 

"Lord please help me get a job. Guide me where you want me. I will not look for a job but if you bring me one, I'll know it was meant to be and I'll take it."

I figured that was pretty unlikely. I only go to the Army Surplus and church.  My church family know I do art for a living and the surplus has 2 employees and that's the owners of the surplus and Friendly Firearms respectively. 

I was safe. 

Then last Thursday I was at the surplus. I was behind the counter giving the guys the business and waiting to got to lunch with them.  

I heard the door buzzer go off but I didn't look who it was. I was too busy bugging the Jody, the owner of Friendly Firearms. 

I heard someone say "Is Alan here". I looked down the shop counter and it was Matt. He said that Michelle (Wes' replacement) was leaving and he was stressing trying to fill the position. 
He asked if I'd consider taking the job. 
There it was. Not only had God had someone find me and offer me a job it was someone I was convinced only talked to me because I occasionally orders shirts from him or sent my local client to him. 
Never in a million years would I imagine he would be willing to work with me. Let alone physically find me and offer me a job. 

I went in the next day. We hashed out the details. 

I still get to freelance in my spare time and I'm getting to do the art I love plus I'm learning to do color separations. A skill that will triple what I can ask for in my freelance life. 
Color Seps are the process of separating a design or picture into its individual colors that will then be screen printed on the garment. 

I'm looking forward to a long employment at Digital Silver. Their turn over for artists is nearly non existent.  Wes did it for 13 years. His replacement when he went to culinary school has been there 7 years. A few years as a printer and a few years as a separator. 

I'm happy to be there plus Matt and Nicole seem to be genuinely glad to have me.  I filled a hole that was stressing him out plus Michelle will be the first to tell you that she's not an artist. She's a separator.  So Matt is excited to have another artist around. It's nice to bounce ideas off each other and collaborate. Something that he's not been able to have since Wes left and Michelle started doing the seps. 

Michelle has a month or so to train me and since I already know the art side I'm catching on quickly. She's wicked good at seps.  She makes it look simple and she's a great instructor. If it wasn't for the fact I'd not have a job if she stayed I'd want to try and talk her into staying. 

Luckily for me she's enlisted in the National Guard so she has to go or they will come for her. 

Now I'm praying I get it down before she does have to leave but now I'm praying with a confidence of someone that has seen first hand in 2 weeks the power of orayer. 

So there it is. God does the improbable and whole heartedly answered a half hearted prayer.  Teaching me a valuable lesson. 

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever even remotely think I'd be working with Matt all because of an imagined slight from 17 years ago. 

I know it's not as impressive as bringing our Dave back from the edge of death and healing him. Still it happened to me. It's now part of my story. It's part of Gods story and I'm proud to tell it. 

Be careful what you pray for cuz God can and will blow your socks off. 

Thanks for reading

P.S. That company the Wildside I so wanted to sell a piece of art too back in the day. Well, I freelance for them now and they have bought well over 400 individual pieces from me in the last 2years. 


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