Fragments of a Fractured Mind

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Why are you so uncomfortable?


This question is addressed to those of you who antagonistically profess no belief in God, in Jesus. I know that you of little or no faith are uncomfortable. How? This is a truth revealed by the intensity of your insistence in denying God. Many of you achieve an almost spiritual fervor in this regard. I’ve even encountered one person who claims to be an evangelical atheist.This person seems to have dedicated their life to utterly destroying religion in all its forms.   There is no limit to the ferocity of their attacks, and they see no argument against God’s existence as being too inappropriate, too insulting, as going too far. They seem to take a certain delight in ridiculing those of faith. The more one tries to argue with them, the worse they become.

People who engage in this sort of behavior in other areas of on-line discussion are commonly referred to with the decidedly unflattering name of “troll.” The difference is that a troll is deliberately trying to goad another person, to push their buttons, to make them angry   just for the fun of it. Most trolls don’t really hold any disdain for their targets. But an aggressive atheist is trying to destroy a person’s faith by whatever means necessary. A troll is out for a lark. The aggressive atheist delights in being hateful and hurtful.

One wonders why this is so. Methinks this abrasive and inconsiderate behavior arises from a certain discomfort that lives within the heart and soul of the atheist. Deep within themselves, they feel that they are wrong, but wrapped as they are in stringent smugness, they refuse to outwardly admit it, to others, to themselves. In lieu of respecting the feelings of others, of respecting the faith of others, of respecting the constitutionally guaranteed right to believe in the faith of one’s choice, these aggressive atheists prefer to be rude and crude and boorish. They choose to belittle those of faith, to paint them as fools, as people with a lack of practicality and intelligence. It’s an old and unfortunately overused tactic. If one’s inner self knows that one’s views are difficult to defend, then one engages in the tactic of belittling and tearing down of those around one. The thought is that if all others lie in ruins, then one cannot help but be seen as superior. Trouble is, this feeling lies solely within the mind of those who engage in this shoddy tactic. Most others see through what they are doing, and view it as pitiable.

Look at the politics of today. Those who adhere to views of one sort or another inevitably encounter those who will openly disagree with them. The obvious thing to do in such a situation is to engage in valid debate with such people. From debate comes compromise and from compromise comes progress. But some people active in today’s political theatre, too many people, choose instead to engage in the politics of  destruction. They mock, they belittle and they openly and aggressively seek to impugn the character of those who disagree with them. That this approach too often goes so far as to ruin the lives of those on the receiving end of such assaults doesn’t seem to matter. It’s almost as if some political players firmly believe that the way to victory lies within the scorched earth philosophy. Destroy anyone and everyone who gets in your way and to hell with how it affects other people.

Over these last few months, I have noticed more and more atheists adopt this approach. They are so smug, so certain of their feeling that God does not exist that they appear to be unable to let that be, quietly. Instead they seek out every opportunity to belittle, ridicule and destroy the faith and character of the religious, especially Christians – not so much with other faiths.

Many aggressive atheists appear to follow this path. To be sure, I am certain that there are many who profess to be atheists who are content to keep their lack of belief to themselves. The overwhelming majority of Christians follow this approach. Are there those Christians who are of the “get in your face” sort? Certainly. There are aggressive, even fanatical Christians. And the worst of them can be as every bit as bad as the most hurtful, hate-filled aggressive atheists. Every faith, every belief system has its collection of rabid adherents. The folks who go to the funerals of fallen soldiers to scream their fanaticism at the top of their lungs are a well-known example. Do they go too far? Are they misguided? Oh, yes. But they do not represent Christianity as a whole.

But, you know, I have to forgive them, just as I forgive the aggressive atheist. The teachings of my faith requires it. Beyond that, I was brought up to respect others, even those with whom I disagree and who I dislike. On occasion, I am moved to reply when I encounter a particularly abusive statement, on-line or elsewhere, but most times, I try to do as Jesus taught, to turn the other cheek. But in all cases, I sense that discomfort within the hearts and souls of atheists, especially the aggressive atheists. It often seems as though the audience they most want to convince….is themselves. One can not help but wonder why this is so. But truth be told, we do know why.

One thing I have noticed. More and more Christians are feeling that they have been pushed once too often. Many of us are adding our two cents’ worth to on-line discussions and some are taking it a step further. One small town in Tennessee found itself on the receiving end of a threat made by a well-known atheist group. Seems this town had allowed a local Sunday School class to place a cross atop a city-owned water tower. No taxpayer funds were spent on the project. Nonetheless,  the atheists group threatened to sue the city if the cross was not removed. The city has no high-powered attorney, nor does it have the funds with which to engage in a lengthy legal battle. So the mayor had his workers remove one horizontal arm from the offending cross, so that it nows looks something like – ⊦ – which is apparently enough to say, in terms of the law, that this is not a cross. Most who look upon this still see a cross, but the law is the law, and the atheist group was forced to stand down. The people of the town, however, did not. They began to erect crosses in their yards and in their businesses, taking care not to place these on public property. There are now hundreds of such crosses in this hamlet.

Another small town in Texas is under assault by this same atheist organization. Seems that the community has a decades-long tradition of erecting a nativity scene on the courthouse lawn. The atheists group is threatening to sue if it is not removed. The city’s response? As stated by a county judge, “We’ll remove the nativity scene when hell freezes over.”  Local officials appear to have the full support of the community in this defiance. The atheist group claims that – one – resident complained about this display. So in order to prevent this one citizen from being offended, they offend an entire community. Slam the city government and the hell with how it affects the town.

Now, I started this all after reading an entry in another blog. It touches upon something in today’s headlines. I’ve included a link to the post. It’s an illuminating read.  Take it. May it serve you well.

http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7319858/the-people-hate-tim-tebow?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzEmail&utm_content=5575&utm_campaign=0

In memory of mother. Father, too….


She suffered greatly that night, 62 long years ago. The birth of her second son was not an easy one. As if the pain of childbirth isn’t enough, there were complications and so I was delivered by means of a Caesarean section. I am told that even with this great pain, even with agony of unexpected surgery, mother smiled and laughed when she first looked upon my face. My father, standing not far away, cried softly, even though he was a very strong man. He looked upon his newborn son and said, “Well. He’ll always have a place to sleep.” These sainted people gave life to me and they saw to it that I never wanted for anything that can be truly considered to be important. Even as the storms of life descended upon their marriage not so many years after my birth, my folks never once allowed their differences to erode their love for me and for my brother.

Came a summer day in 1960 when my dad lost his life in an auto crash and just one year and two weeks later, it happened again. My mother met her end, violently, painfully, in a twisting of metal and shattering of glass on a lonely darkened stretch of country highway. I am only just now learning much of the details of those troubled days, and I admit that some of it is difficult to hear, much less understand. But I will know the truth of it. This I pledge to the two people who graced me with gifts that no other earthly person could hope to match. They gave to me a strength and an intelligence to deal with this often ponderous life. I confess here that I have not always honored those gifts as well as I ought to have. I beg my parents, there in the streets of heaven, near to my Lord, to forgive me for these shortcomings. I want for them to know that I will spend the remainder of the days with which God will grace me being the son they can be proud of.

I miss you, Red and Sue. I miss you so much, and I love you with all my heart. I am so proud to be your son. Thank you for the bountiful wealth you gave to me.

It begins with trust….


Last few months, I’ve faced considerable internal unrest. I’ve been beset with a few life crises and there have been times that the weight of these burdens have been overwhelming. And then, just as the sunshine will burst through a storm cloud, things improve, the burden decreases, and so I move on. But not without some introspection. Because, you see, I have this feeling that I have failed, fallen short of the mark, if you will. More to the point, I feel as though my faith in my Lord isn’t as strong as it ought be, otherwise, the troubles of this life could never bring me down. My shortcoming? I fail to trust. I fail to hold tightly to my faith. Ah, but then, I am hardly the first to suffer from this flaw….

Matthew 14:22-32

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

You see, when I haven’t the strength of my faith as I ought, when I fail to trust in my Lord, this is when I begin to sink. Still, I know that all I need do is to regain my trust, and I do this by reaching out to Jesus and I say “Lord, save me.” Jesus may chide me for lacking in my trust, my faith, but He WILL reach out His hand, and He WILL stop me from sinking. He’ll do the same to you, if only you will believe.

Steve Jobs 1955-2011


So true.


BulletHole

 

Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child,
Listen to the DON’Ts
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
The IMPOSSIBLES, the WON’TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me –
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be.

These words were written by Shel Silverstein. They are somewhat echoed in the Holy Bible, where one discovers that NOTHING is impossible for God.

Everyone wants better. No one wants change.


The following bit of wisdom comes from the Jonathon Fields blog. I thought it good enough to warrant a re-post. Read this one, folks, and may it serve you well.

******

I turn on the radio and everyone’s talking about how they want change.

People want a better economy, but nobody’s willing to share in the financial hit it’ll take to get us back on track.

People want better schools, but nobody wants to rock the system, the unions, the teachers, the role of parents.

People want lower health care costs, but nobody wants to endure the changes to medicine, law and bureaucracy it’ll take to get it.

People want lower insurance, but nobody wants to adopt the changes in lifestyle and behavior that’ll drive it.

People want to be thinner, healthier and happier, but nobody wants to own actions it takes to get there.

People want lower gas prices, but nobody wants to radically shift their consumption patterns.

People want homeless brothers and sisters off the street, as long as it’s N.I.M.B.Y.Everyone wants to own the result, nobody wants to own the process.

Especially when it involves change or disruption to the patterns around which they’ve grown accustomed.

A really smart entrepreneur once told me Maslow got it wrong.

The fundamental need is not survival, but rather the need to not have to endure change.

I laughed. But, increasingly, I’m finding truth in those words.

I often hear different definitions of leadership.

How about this…

A leader is someone who is willing to own not just the result, but the process.

What do you think?

Have I mentioned….


….that I an a graphics designer?, I mean I do all sortsa stuff, like, for instance, (takes a deep breath) magazines, book covers, newsletters, brochures, pamphlets, posters, flyers, sales sheets, banners/signs, product packaging and labels, post cards, promotional materials and advertising layouts, annual reports, logo design, letterhead/envelope, business cards, greeting and holiday cards, announcements, CD/DVD disc labels and inserts and photo restoration/retouching. Whooooosh!! (Sound of a breath letting out.) and I’m very good at what I do. Y’can see some samples of my work on this blog (click the “DESIGN” link at the top of the page) and I am a fairly decent photographer, fine art style (Click the “IMAGERY” link up top).

Hey, and if you’re REALLY interested, y’can access more samples of my work at: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/12448589/JaiGieEse%20WorkSamples.zip. Click on that link and a ZIP package will download to your machine. Might take a minute, depending on your computer. I’m not as expensive as some and more expensive than others, but what I do will be worth your time and money. You see an image you like? Think maybe it’ll look great on yer wall? So drop me a note. I can make arrangements to sell you a nice print, framed or not, big or small. There would be shipping charges, of course. You choose how.

Oh, and I may have forgotten to remind you that I have a coupla great looking Lab mix pups to adopt out. They;’re black and male and energetic and cute and fun, about five and a half months old. They’ll make great pets. Yours at no charge if you agree to give to them the love they need.

Scratchin’ my head at day’s end….


Another day draws near to its conclusion. Like many such days, I find myself wondering about this and pondering that, trying to understand, trying to learn from what I have done and from what has been done to me. Things could be better, but I’m not worried. God has the controls, so things like worry or concern or fear have no relevance. Not that I am  completely comfortable. Some things nag at me. Woman. Women. 61 years old now and I have yet to figure them out. I have begun to feel that such understanding is not achievable. But then, I don’t need to figure out all women, I just need to figure out one woman. Just one. Problem is, I don’t know who she is yet.

Some months ago, God told me that He knows of the terrible loneliness that has gripped my life and He told me that He had picked someone out for me, that she needs me as much as I need her. He said, He PROMISED that He would lead us to one another as soon as we were ready for each other. Way things have gone for me in this life, that was a wonderful thing to hear. Ah. But. (Always a “but”, isn’t there?) He did not tell me exactly what I must do to ready myself for this lady. Nor did He say how long this “readying” process would take. In His soft way, He simply told me to trust Him, to believe, and to build my faith.

Yes. Well. Patience is not my best trait. But I try, and you know, there’s quite a lot to do as I wait. I’ve a fine friend, the best friend anyone could ever hope to have, and this friend also has a rough road to follow. There’s nothing else for me to do but help this friend in any and every way I can, which most times amounts to steady and intense prayer. Then there’s my work, my trade, my profession. As you may have learned from my earlier posts, I am a graphics designer and I was laid off from my full-time job last August. I am trying to build something new for myself from the ashes. I have a few good days and I go through a lot of bad ones, but I wake up each day prepared to do my best to live up to the Lord’s love, to my good friends’ hopes and to do something each day useful enough to make myself worth the pain of the mother who bore me.

Little blessings creep into the midst of the disappointments and frustrations. Some days, I am depressed because of the thoughtless treatment I get from some few people who ought to know better, or because it seems as though I can’t seem to make any progress. Other days, my spirit soars, because my best friend has written me a brief note just to let me know she cares.  Or I reconnect with someone from the misty past for whom I used to care, and they seem to be pleased to have found me again. Some old acquaintances come along, and seem to be amused at first, but all too soon, it becomes quite clear that they’ve no real desire to reconnect, that they’ve made contact because they were bored and that once the initial curiosity wears off, they find overt means of suggesting that I absent myself until they feel like dealing with me again. The former I cherish and the latter I consign to the rubbish heap of my life’s poor decisions.

Some small gifts come my way and these allow me to stay just barely afloat for another little while. Some days find me hard at work on design projects for which I am paid little or nothing, but which come with rewards that money cannot buy. Small blessings can multiply until they gather the weight of a large blessing.

I give of myself to lift someone who finds life to sometimes be difficult, as do I,  to help her find some small moment of peace and satisfaction. I do this because it turns out that one of her smiles is worth a lifetime of grief. I extend a hand to another who struggles down the same precarious path as do I, because I know her pain all too well, and because I cannot bring myself to throw her away as many others have done, to her and to me. The satisfaction of doing such things as these is more precious to me than any treasures this world can provide. From these things, I hope to be able to answer two questions. It is said that these are the questions that God will ask of each of us as we step through the great gate.

Have you found joy in your life? Has your life brought joy to others?

So. The day draws near to an end. I must get into my quiet time and then I’ll go and tussle with my pups a bit, watch a part of a movie, and eventually I’ll drift off to sleep with the prayer that God will again open my eyes come morning.

Oh, yeah. I mentioned my pups. My girl dog delivered six wiggly little lab mix puppies almost three months ago. They’re ten and a half weeks old now. I’ve placed two of the six into new homes, and I have two more I need to get adopted out. I’ve just posted pix of these two little fellers on my Facebook page, so have a look. If you’re unable to get to that page, drop me a note and I’ll email them to you or post the pix here. I want very much to see them happily placed in a home where they will be loved, appreciated and enjoyed. You have such a place, or know of someone who needs a good pet, please do drop me a note.

Musings on a cold Winter’s Day….


The holidays are done with. Thank God. Um, don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the long stretch of days from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day as much as anyone. There’s all these opportunities to reconnect with friends and family and there’s no shortage of inspirational and loving moments, from carving the turkey to all that shopping to candlelight services at church to bowl games to cheering at midnight New Year’s Eve amid the cacophonous, rippling roar of bursting fireworks.

You awaken New Year’s morning and you sit up in bed and you scratch and yawn and since it’s a holiday, you don’t really have to get up, but you do. There’s football to watch and black-eyed peas to eat and too many of those nagging quiet moments when you think back to the year you’ve just put behind you and you begin to think of all those things you screwed up and those precious few things you did right. Usually, there’s more wrong than right, and realizing that brings on a spate of wanting to hit the rewind switch so you could go back and take another crack at the screw-ups.

But we can’t do that, can we? Nope. Not gonna happen. No need to bitch and moan, because what is done….is over and done with. Friend of mine told me once that making amends can be difficult. I mean, you take a hammer and you drive a nail right square into mama’s good dining room table, you can go back and pull the nail out and you can cry and say, “Mama, I am SORRY!” But there’s still a hole in the table, isn’t there? Old farmer once said, “Letting the cat out of the bag is a whole lot easier than putting it back in.”

You get through a New Year’s Day without such an introspective moment, you are either badly hung over or you plain don’t give a tinker’s damn.

Besides all this, there’s a lot of aggravation that goes along with a holiday season. Traffic’s always too heavy. There’s no such thing as, “I’ll just dash in and grab a loaf of bread. Won’t take a minute.” For me, the worst is trying to get some business done when the folks you must deal with are in that “take two weeks off at the end of the year” crowd. Try and get ANYTHING done and you get voice mail or if you’re lucky and find an actual, for-real living person, you get the old “Well, I was just about to leave on my ski trip, so I’ll get back to you, oh, sometime after the first.” These kind of things, well, let’s just say that I can easily do without them.

So in the midst of the celebration and the aggravation, you will, unavoidably, find yourself thinking of all those….changes. There will be the things that came to an end and about some of those you are sad and about others you are glad. Some familiar people or things will have gone away and some new people and events will have come into your life. No way around it. It’s called “life.” Jobs will come and/or go. Some things at church will not be what they were a year earlier. And for reasons known only to God, friends will begin to change. Could be for the better, this change, or not. You may experience those currents of life that bring you closer to a friend, or you may notice that a trusted friend has drifted away.

What is a friend, anyway?  The dictionary describes it thusly: a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.

Um, well, yessss…..

But there’s more to it. Someone once told me that a friend will bail you out of jail. A TRUE friend will be sitting there on the bench in the cell with you, saying ” Whoa! THAT was fun!”

The bond of real friendship is a hard-won thing. It is years and miles in the making, and the best kind of friend is the one who NOT turn from you, no matter what. They might get mad because you look them in the eye and speak the truth and they don’t want to hear such a thing. But they’ll stay put. This is not an easy situation with which to deal. But I’ve just read some words on a blog I frequent that has a lot to say about such a thing, about how the trick is to “know how to listen to those around me and to have patience with those who think differently,”  the blogger said, and she continued, “My way isn’t always the right way and listening to (not necessarily always agreeing with) others can cause me to think, discover, learn.”

I often have a difficult time in understanding that some things I see so clearly may not make so much sense to others. It’s a two-sided coin, though. Someone else gets, they think, all their ducks in a row and they simply cannot understand why I don’t agree. It is at this time that the patience, the understanding, the loving and the caring….and the willingness to listen, and to consider, come into play. I have learned the hard way, the very hard and very painful way, that the hand we slap away can well be the last thing we could have grabbed ahold of as we began to slip under the water. Then, as we begin to drown, we start to beg, to scream to the Lord to PLEASE God let that hand appear again.

This is where the gamble comes in. Even those with the best of intentions and the noblest of motivations can become weary of being slapped away. Most times, we don’t fully understand this until we reach out….and find nothing to grasp but air. People, that is a cold and painful thing to experience. It could be the worst thing to ever happen to you.

So, there are no more holidays and no more pretty packages to unwrap and all the fireworks have been used up. Most of the bowl games are over. And now we are left to deal with….life. You got any smarts, you won’t try and begin this fresh-out-of- the-wrapper new year without God at your side, and, one hopes, you’ll consider the worth of those true and real and faithful friends, and be tolerant of them, always willing to listen to them, even when it hurts and even when it makes you mad. Because that is the time a friend is most valuable to you. When it really counts.

Thing is, one can never be certain whether one has used up all of one’s second chances. So, um, be very careful with your friends. Or one day, you’ll wake up and discover you want so bad to say you are sorry, but then you notice that….there is STILL a hole in the table.

The Necklace


I didn’t write this. Got it in an email a while back. Found it again tonight and I thought I’d share it with you.

The cheerful little girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. Waiting with her mother at the checkout stand, she saw them, a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box. “Oh mommy please, Mommy. Can I have them? Please, Mommy, please?” Quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl’s upturned face. “A dollar ninety-five. That’s almost $2.00.  If you really want them, I’ll think of some extra chores for you and in no time you can save enough money to buy them for yourself. Your birthday’s only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from Grandma.”

As soon as Jenny got home, she emptied her penny bank and counted out 17 pennies. After dinner, she did more than her share of chores and she went to the neighbor and asked Mrs. McJames if she could pick dandelions for ten cents. On her birthday, Grandma did give her another new dollar bill and at last she had enough money to buy the necklace.

Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere, Sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed. The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a bubble bath. Mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green.

Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story. One night as he finished the story, he asked Jenny, “Do you love me?” “Oh, yes, daddy. You know that I love you.” “Then give me your pearls,” he said. “Oh, daddy, not my pearls. But you can have Princess, the white horse from my collection, the one with the pink tail.  Remember, daddy?  The one you gave me. She’s my very favorite.” “That’s okay, Honey, daddy loves you. Good night.”  He brushed her cheek with a kiss.

About a week later, after the story time, Jenny’s daddy asked again, “Do you love me?” “Daddy, you know I love you.” “Then give me your pearls,” he said.  “Oh,Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my baby doll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper,” Jenny cried. “That’s okay. Sleep well. God bless you, little one. Daddy loves you.” And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.

A few nights later when her daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed Indian style.  As he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek. “What is it, Jenny? What’s the matter?” Jenny didn’t say anything but lifted her little hand up to her daddy. And when she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace. With a little quiver, she finally said, “Here, daddy, this is for you.”

With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny’s daddy reached out with one hand to take the dime store necklace, and with the other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of genuine pearls and gave them to Jenny. He had them all the time. He was just waiting for her to give up the dime-store stuff so he could give her the genuine treasure.

So it is, with our Heavenly Father. He is waiting for us to give up the cheap things in our lives so that he can give us beautiful treasures.

Isn’t God good? Are you holding onto things that God wants you to let go of?  Sometimes it is so hard to see what is in the other hand, but do believe this one thing. God will never take away something without giving you something better in its place.

May our God bless your life richly.

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