Fragments of a Fractured Mind

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Words worth repeating….


“Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander, Caesar, Mahomet, and Napoleon; without science and learning, He shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and schools combined; without the eloquence of schools, He spoke words of life such as never were spoken before or since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of any orator or poet; without writing a single line, He has set more pens in motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art and sweet songs of praise, than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times. Born in a manger, and crucified as a malefactor, He now controls the destinies of the civilized world, and rules a spiritual empire which embraces one-third of the inhabitants of the globe. There never was in this world a life so unpretending, modest, and lowly in its outward form and condition, and yet producing such extraordinary effects upon all ages, nations, and classes of men. The annals of history produce no other example of such complete and astonishing success in spite of the absence of those material, social, literary, and artistic powers and influences which are indispensable to success for a mere man.”

~ Phillip Schaff

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I wish I could understand….


I had a dream once, many long years ago. It was back when I was young and foolish, and oh, so, painfully naive. And alone.  Didn’t plan to be all by my lonesome. It was just the way that things turned out. The folks had died when I was too young, way too young for that sort of thing. Everyone patted me on the head and said that things would be alright, that I would get over this terrible thing. I didn’t. Still haven’t. It marked me, way down deep, too deep for anyone to see, not even those who cared to look, and there were too damned few of those. I pulled in on myself, withdrew, tuned out. An overly-enthusiastic, irrepressible, hard-to-stifle kid changed, nearly overnight, into a painfully shy and very frightened youngster.

High school turned out to be an adventure I’d soon as done without. or most of it, anyways. I was the uncool kid, butt of the jokes, the one who took the brunt of the pranks. Wasn’t much fun. I’d discovered girls, of course. Problem was, I was so terrified of them. A cute chick would look at me and my knees would turn to water. I’d come down with world-class lockjaw. I was just plain no fun for the girls. Which, of course, only made it worse, because by then, the dream had come to me, It snuck up on me one dark night when I was trying to make believe that all was right in my young world.

I began to wonder when it would happen to me, when I’d find a good girl, the way all the other guys seemed to. I’d muse about my wedding day, when it would come, where it would unfold, who my bride would be. I mean, I was so damned naive in the way-back days. I looked at those around me in the insular world of my little home town and I came to believe that life was running on auto-pilot. You were born, you grew into a kid and you did all the kid things, until you developed into a teenager and the things you did were different. Then came graduation day and the doors to the world opened wide. There might be the armed forces, perhaps the university or a job and then you met….her. You went steady, you put a diamond on her finger and then a slim gold band. You brushed the rice from your hair and you bought a house, a car, a dog and a cat and you had 2.5 kids and the dance began anew.

Just one problem with that. There is no autopilot.

The night I realized that, well, just say I was not having fun. I was alone, and the chances for changing that were slim and none. I began to understand that a guy has to fight for his joy. The perfect girl just doesn’t appear in a puff of magic smoke. Building a relationship takes time, building a relationship takes effort, takes an investment. Building a relationship means you take your heart and you put it in someone else’s hand. This requires a willingness to take a risk.

Ah. There’s the rub. In 62 years of searching, I have found…not very many…people who are possessed of such a willingness. Not enough guts to go around, more’s the pity. I haven’t found many who will look a new thing square in the face and say, almost without thinking, “Yeah. Let’s give it a go.” Those that do? Well, sometimes they get hurt. But many’s the time that the risk-takers succeed beyond comprehension. How do the old sayings go? “Y’can’t hit a home run unless you swing at the pitch.” “If y’wanna go for a sail, y’gotta get in the boat.” Yada, Yada.

Me, I am stubborn. When we were kids, my brother would tell me that I would argue with a fence post. I hate to give up, even if there is only there faintest glimmer of success. So I try and I try and I try and….

I’ve been trying my whole life, trying to find just ONE girl. Just….one. One is all I need. I’ll meet someone, somewhere, online, offline, at work, in church, getting left in the lurch, most times. I see, I want, I try, too hard, she goes away. Sometimes I know why, most times I just don’t understand. I wish I could understand….

Sixty-two years old now, and I’m a little gun-shy. But still, they seem to drift by, the girls with….something magical. So you throw caution to the winds and…you try. Most times, you’ll fall flat on your face. But once upon blue moon, it works. Um. Or, at the least, it seems as though it is working. The guy and the gal seem to feel something, they say the right words. The feelings grow and the smiles get broader.  You start to think that maybe, just maybe, this is the one. This is the girl I’ve been searching for my whole life. You feel so good when you think that the hunt may be over, at long last.

Sometimes, for some people, it really, truly is. For some people.

For others, one feels that something wonderful has been discovered. One feels so damned good. But for the other comes a nuance, a lessening, drifting cooling. Circumstances suddenly intervene, distance slyly creeps in between two hearts, and one decides,”Well, maybe not…” It could be that words will be exchanged and it could be that tears will fall. Hearts will break. Oh, how they break. Sometimes, there are just no words. One will decide to go, and they will decide that it is best just to silently drift away. So they do. No explanation, no reasons, just a lot of ice cold gone.

And again, hearts will break, all the more painfully, because one doesn’t know the why of it.

I’d thought I was past all of this. I’d thought that God had strengthened me and cleansed me and rebuilt me until the foolish fantasies and fruitless adventures of the heart would never again overtake me. I was wrong. I chanced to find her, out there on the information highway one otherwise bland evening. She was full of lightning and she sparkled like moonlight on the beach.  Chestnut hair cascaded down her shoulders. She has a smile that will melt the hardest of hearts. She confessed a fear of dying alone, of feeling hopeless that anyone would ever love her for herself.  These last are my very own, time-worn fears.

I knew at once I had to try for this woman. I HAD to. She and I talked and talked and talked and we kept finding that we’d been to many of the same places, we like the same things and we seemed to want the same things. So, of course, I did it. Dammit. I opened my stupid mouth and I told her how I was beginning to feel, the way she had brought light to my lonely soul. I don’t know that any other woman has ever made me feel this way, and I told her so. I was well on my way to putting my heart right in her hand. Told myself this would be the last time, that this would be the one that would work. No more dark and lonely nights, I told myself.  Just me and my lady, hand in hand walking in God’s good sunlight.

Ah. But. The circumstance. First I didn’t hear from her for a day. Felt as if it had been an eternity. Then came a brief email. Her son had been injured in an auto accident, not seriously, but she’d flown out west to care for him. Said she’d call. Two days later came an email. Something else had cropped up, she didn’t say what, but she told me she might be out west for months. About things of the heart that I’d written to her, she said nothing.

When I read that last message, I went cold. Absolutely cold, worse than it has ever been. I cried, I prayed, I went to church and I got on my knees and I gave it over to God- the only thing I could think of to do. So night has fallen in my soul once again. Once again, I feel the weight of a life’s worth of loneliness.  Once again, I have no idea what to do.

I wish I could understand……

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.

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