Thursday, September 5, 2013

Paul & Deni

Paul Ruiz and I grew up together in San Antonio. Things that click, clack and clang are the instruments we played. A cadence of drums, swishing basketballs, things that shoot (cameras, paintball guns, actual guns?!), and now, a heartbeat for Jesus, keep the rhythm of our lives in sync. We discovered that Light together, under the Milky Way on one-night-trips to his family's desolate ranch in Yancey, Texas, outside Hondo. Now he is gearing up to serve two months in foreign skies as Airman First Class. There, he will surely feel a pulse unlike anything I was able to share on the football fields of South Texas, heartbeats marching in time.

Paul met Deni Flores on an annual church retreat, about two years ago. Without any intent on finding love, they found it. She lives in Dallas, coordinates weddings and loves elephants (I was undercover photographer for the proposal, by the beasts at the Fort Worth Zoo). She and Paul have a similar sense of humor and always try to "take it aaysee."

A last-minute breakdown of my car brought Paul and Deni scrambling to Denton, with about an hour of light left before sundown. On our way to Wal-Mart for some batteries, I saw flying in the Saturday evening breeze a row of flags celebrating Labor Day weekend. I knew that would be our chance to hopefully make some great pictures; airport uncertain; the square, packed. So there was Paul, changing in public view outside a Whataburger like it was drumline days again.

"Do you want to come in Wal-Mart with us?" Paul asked Deni. "The only way we will ever part is when your're deployed," she said, placing her head on his shoulder. It's telling, the true love displayed between them. Absence only makes the heart grow fonder. A verse in Song of Solomon is in my mind...

Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.

Consecrated, divinely-rooted love is as secure as death, emotions and jealousy as final as the grave; secure: not subject to threat; certain to remain or continue safe and unharmed.

He beckons us to come, to draw near and find our hope, our joy in His unfailing love. Paul and Deni, may your love always grow, roots nourished by His streams of living water. May it strengthen in tough times, seeing the hope of eternity beyond any momentary and light affliction, those moments we are called to lay down our life, expectations or rights, and sacrifice short-term wants for long-term gain. The rewards are eternal...a crown of glory...treasure laid up in heaven.

Click the photo below for a slideshow of the most patriotic engagement pictures you may ever see. ;-)