Poetry 101

Here is another offering I think is apropos for this time of year.

The Turning

They come, they call, seems like overnight

Monochromatic is the hue, yet beautiful in the sun.

A tapestry is woven as a respite to some,

Sweaty faces are dried by the wind as it hums.

 

They blow, they bend, through the sometimes raucous days and nights,

If they could speak you would hear their pain.

While some are lost, most remain, for another day’s sweet refrain.

We mourn the ones who no longer remain.

 

They turn on us! As if some magic wand was waved for change!

This transformation seems all too soon,

Could it be the beginning of their doom?

The turning is at their leisure,

For though they long gave pleasure,

this is all for good measure.

 

They come, they call, and then they fall, turning, turning, turning…

 

© 2017 G. David Steele,, All Rights Reserved

New Adventures, New Focus

So, once again it has been OVER a year since I’ve tended this blog, sigh.  Life presents those times when you have to put things on hold for various reasons and for various lengths of time.  For me, it has been going back to school after 30+ years and dealing with the challenges of fitting that into an already busy schedule!

My biggest challenge at this stage of life has been to remain focused on a task  for any productive length of time.  Going back to school has helped me face the fact I have a tendency to abandon ship too early and not see a project through to its completion.  Call it a much belated New Years resolution, but I have determined to break the bondage of my ADD-ness, and try to STAY focused on just a few things at a time.

One of those pursuits is poetry.  Poetry? I’ve always had an attraction to this literary form on some scale, but recently I’ve purposed to read more and more of it.  I think it comes naturally, since I am a creative-type in regards to music and lyric.  It could also be as I get older, I like to contemplate things longer and deeper than ever before.  That is a good thing, right?

So, I’ve also started experimenting with writing some poetic verse and will share it here, and only here.  I’m avoiding the standard social media outlets, for good reason.

I hope you will take time to read it and PLEASE leave any constructive criticism, if you feel led to to so.

Here it goes, my first poem world!

Good Morning Joe!

Often it comes in two’s or three’s,

rarely ever more than these;

If it should require four or more,

to move this sack of flesh out the door,

I should hardly disagree;

We are very good friends,

caffeine and me.

Dedicated to My Life-long Friend, William Parr

© 2017 G. David Steele, All Rights Reserved

Not Like the Other…

If you’ve ever watched Sesame Street, as a kid or covertly as an adult, then you are most likely familiar with the catchy little tune that helped children distinguish between things that are alike, and things that are different. The title of this catchy little ditty was, “One Of These Things (Is Not Like the Other) and the repetitiveness of the song helped children understand how to recognize differences in certain shapes, or objects or things by the time the song was over.

Orange Among Green Apples

One Of These Things (Is Not Like The Others)
One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn’t belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?

Did you guess which thing was not like the others?
Did you guess which thing just doesn’t belong?
If you guessed this one is not like the others,
Then you’re absolutely…right!

Simple, easy to understand, to the point and an easy lesson learned!

If this is SO easy and simple for children why are we having such a hard time understanding this SAME lesson when it comes to the transgender bathroom debate?  Is it really just the simple fact of there is something really ‘different’ here and we should be able to figure it out just like a child would?  Seriously.

Why would we, as critical-thinking beings think allowing someone who sexually-amorphous, confused, suffering from gender-dysphoria and a host of other psychological issues, into heterosexual restrooms have any reasonable basis?

The prospect of seeing a grown “man” in a restroom filled with women and little girls, or a grown woman in a restroom filled with men and little boys falls into the same basic reasoning as, “one of these things is NOT like the other”.  How could you see it any other way?  Never mind the absurdity or potential for harm or abuse, we should be able to see that this is something a child could easily discern.

red question mark man

I’ve mulled this over a LOT.  I’ve had verbal sparring matches on Twitter, talked with friends, read the Bible, asked God, looked inside myself, you name it, I thought about this up one side and down the other. Where I’ve landed, as far as my own reasoning is concerned is centered around this simple song!

If a child can understand this basic concept why are we struggling with it like we are?  Maybe we should all try singing that silly little song together!  Then perhaps we will see that one of these things IS NOT like the other!

 

 

What’s So ‘Happy’ About the New Year?

It’s 2016 and to be totally honest, I’m having difficulty with the “Happy” part of the New Year.  Sure, I have a LOT to be thankful for.  I’m into my 8th year of transplant, I have a wonderful family, God has preserved and protected us for another year and there are many other reasons to be extremely grateful.  However, the more I think about it gratitude and thankfulness are choices and being “happy” is a byproduct of making those choices, it does not generate or create them.

New Year 2016

The dictionary defines ‘happy’ in these terms:

happy |ˈhapē| adjective (happier, happiest) feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.

I don’t want to feel or show pleasure or contentment, I want to BE content and I don’t want to find pleasure in things but in pursuing God and loving people.

 (happy about) having a sense of confidence in or satisfaction with (a person, arrangement, or situation)

Yes, but the only person I want to place confidence in or have satisfaction with is Jesus.

 (happy with) satisfied with the quality or standard of.

Satisfaction vs. contentment here.  For me satisfaction is settling, contentment is choosing, no matter the circumstance.

2016 will be a year of choices.  There is SO much happening in the world today that would give us ample reason to NOT be happy.  Worry about the future, or what the next catastrophic event might be, or the ever-increasing worldwide violence, political and social issues and a host of other reasons to be unhappy with the prospect of a new year.

In 2016 I choose…

  1. Faith over worry
  2. Prayer over fear
  3. Gratitude over whining
  4. Facts over feelings
  5. Love over hate
  6. Work over idleness
  7. Understanding over distrust

In 2016 I want to…

  1. Read more, speculate less
  2. Give more, complain less
  3. Help more, hurt less
  4. Study more, assume less
  5. Ask more, judge less
  6. Walk more, sit less
  7. Discover more, gaze less

Bring it on 2016!  Yes, this year will bring challenges.  Yes, this year will bring heartache and loss.  Yes, this year will bring tragedy.  Yes, this year will feature the unexpected.  Yes, this year will bring good things. But  no matter what this year may bring, my happiness will not come from circumstances or any external event.

The ‘happy’ part of my new year will be from me choosing that which won’t depend on my happiness, but on my choices!

 

 

 

In Defense of Self Defense

I’ve been thinking a lot about the recent wave of shootings where police have shot and killed a suspect.  While the airwaves, websites and the print press have been filled with opinions, op-eds, blogs, talking heads, political and social pundits espousing their thoughts on the subject, not much has been mentioned regarding one of the key factors in involved a shooting, police, military or otherwise.

Adrenaline.  

Along with adrenaline comes a plethora of associated issues such as, reaction time, training, psychological and emotional trauma and many other topics that are rarely, if ever mentioned by the press.

I was listening to a ‘progressive’ news station online the other day and the subject of police brutality was the topic. This news commentator was berating the officer in Chicago, and other officers who shoot supposedly unarmed suspects.  This one host made a less-than-educated attempt at portraying all police officers as wanting to just shoot and kill.  The host obviously had NO clue about any kind of police training or what actually goes into the decision to shoot and potentially end another human beings life.
Police Car lights
So, I decided to do some research, and while I’m no expert, by a LONG shot, I am somewhat aware that firing a weapon in any kind of circumstance is not something anyone takes lightly, especially those who are highly trained to do so.  Years of training, both hypothetical and situational are required prior one serving as a police officer or military personnel.
There were three subjects that quickly jumped out at me while reading material on the subject of using weapons in a confrontational setting.

Reaction time, the psychology and physiology involved in shooting and the accuracy of firing a weapon.  Again, ALL three of these have adrenaline at the core of their effects and affects.

I’ll summarize in the vernacular, to avoid technical jargon.

Reaction time.  Basically, its been proven by scientific study that police officers have a slower reaction time than their subjects and this happened 60% of the time!  With those kind odds, who would blame police officers from reacting BEFORE it’s too late?  In fact the article stated in its conclusion, “This study does reinforce the notion that you cannot react quick enough to beat an act.”  (Blue Sheepdog, Reaction Time – Police Shooting Study)
Psychology.  Won’t go into a lot of detail here, but we are all quite aware of PTSD both in combat and law enforcement.  The study I read stated, “Killing is normally a difficult thing to bring someone to do.”  Well, duh, but we have developed ways to kill that lessen the affect on one’s psychological and physiological condition, the study says.  However, one also experiences drastic reactions to killing another human being, including but not limited to, nausea, guilt, loss of bowel or bladder control, PTSD, distance and depth-perception distortion, plus you experience things in slow-motion, and the list goes on and on.  Suffice it to way, when a policeman, or anyone, makes the decision to pull their trigger it is never a ‘pleasant’ or ‘enjoyable’ moment.  It is also never un-calculated.  (From, Beyond Intractability, On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and Peace)
police office shooting

Accuracy. And finally, a lot has been made of how many shots were fired when taking down a subject.  It was interesting to me to read about the accuracy rate of police when they do fire their weapon.  A New York Times article, focused entirely on the New York City Police Department, stated, “In 2005, officers fired 472 times…hitting their mark 82 times, for a 17.4 percent hit rate. They shot and killed nine people that year.”  

Raymond W. Kelly, the New York Police Commissioner at the time went on to say, “When you factor in all of the other elements that are involved…the adrenaline flow, the movement of the target, the movement of the shooter, the officer, the lighting conditions, the weather…it is a high rate when you consider all of the variables.”  (From, New York Times, December 9, 2007,  A Hail of Bullets, a Heap of Uncertainty)

Basically, the New York Times article is supporting the argument that you must factor in a host of factors when you look at the number of times an officer might fire their weapon in a given situation.

One article I read also mentioned that a police officer is not just protecting themselves in an aggressive or hostile situation with a suspect, but he is protecting the whole of society, innocent bystanders, and others who might be in harms way.

My simple conclusion in light of the Black Lives Matter movement, and a host of others who stand in opposition to police brutality is this; let’s stop berating and start educating.  It does not do any good to attack those who protect us.  They have families to go home to just like you do, and no one could ever know how many lives they’ve saved by using lethal force.

Facebook Epiphany

Today I deactivated my Facebook account.  This wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction, I put some time and prayer behind my decision and decided it was time to ‘cut the cord’ to what I realized had slowly been becoming a Facebook addiction.  For me however, it was more than an addiction, it was beginning to effect my thinking and shape my perspective.

facebook-logo

Facebook was becoming my source of identity.  I was gathering opinion and then spewing my own take on a thought or subject without a lot of thought or research.  It also gave me a platform from which I could speak my mind, and heart, with not much fear of recourse from anyone.  After all, I could ‘defriend’, or block anyone who disagreed with me or was rude, or ugly toward me.  Kind of cowardly, don’t you think?  I could hide behind my Facebook mask.  It was making me appear to be something I was not!

But the real crisis point came when I realized I was using Facebook to espouse some rather harsh views which were birthed out of my own fears.  Fears of the future, fears of the world’s upheaval, fears of the actions of certain individuals or groups, and the fear that others weren’t paying enough attention to all that is transpiring in the world today.  I guess I thought it was up to me to sound the alarm and expose the truth.

ISIS Men

You could say I was transferring my fear on everyone else through my posts and seeking out approval for the way I was thinking and responding.  I’ve come to realize this WAS NOT healthy for anyone, especially me. There was so much that had been swirling around in my mind lately, regarding the state of the world, eschatological events, terrorism and other things that were, in reality out of my control.  Yes, they were frightening and real to me,  and I took it upon myself to let everyone else know how real my fear was.  I was also expecting them to be just as alarmed, that wasn’t working either.

I desperately needed to find a better way to relieve this fear, angst, and inward turmoil.  I desperately needed to re-focus myself on what IS important.  I needed to learn to trust and keep quiet and listen.

antichrist

That’s when my mind was drawn immediately to Scripture, Philippians Chapter 4 to be exact.  Paul is writing to the church at Philippi which was experiencing persecution.  They were afraid, scared and in fear for their lives.  In an effort to encourage them to remain faithful to the faith, he offers this portion of his letter to help center them.  To help them battle unbelief and center their hearts and minds.

I needed this passage!  And what I’ve found to be so beautiful about what Paul writes is that it is a multi-stage process.  In verse 4 he exhorts them to rejoice.  Rejoice?  When fellow believers were being killed?  In verse 5 he exhorts them to be gentle.  Gentle?  When those who were persecuting their number were anything BUT gentle?

Then, in a two paragraph section (verses 6-9) he lays out how they are to accomplish all of the above.

First he tells them to not be anxious.  The words “be anxious” (Greek, merimnao), can refer to being unduly concerned about anything.  That was me!  I was concerned about things I could not control and fearful because I couldn’t.

Then he tells them to pray and through that, let the peace of God rule, or guard, their hearts and minds. (v. 7)  The term “guard” (Greek, phroureo) is a figure drawn from the arena of conflict and is frequently used to refer to the action of a military garrison stationed inside a city.  In other words, there wasn’t anything that was going to disturb their peace of mind!

Peace-of-God

And next the beautiful admonition;  “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

The impact of this admonition is probably best explained in an NIV commentary I read, which states;

He (Paul) tells the Philippians to look for the true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy everywhere around them and to ponder the things in which these qualities are exemplified. Perhaps Paul knows that since the Philippians are being persecuted by the society around them, they will be tempted to reject everything outside the church as indelibly tainted with evil. If so, then this list, with its admonition to look for the virtue (arete; niv “excellent”) in the wider world, reminds the Philippians that, although society sometimes seems hostile and evil, it is still part of God’s world and contains much good that the believer can affirm.

I’ve decided to focus on things that reflect the above qualities and as the Psalmist said, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord the Maker of heaven and earth!”  (emphasis added)

90 Years a Life

Today my mom would have been 90 years of age.  Last year she passed; a little over 3 months after her 89th birthday, following a diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer.  My mom was no ordinary mom.  I know everyone says that but it was driven home to me once my family and I started going through her belongings following her passing.

We had over 60 years of family treasure to dig through in her house.  No, she never had a lot of money, just a lot of memories.  Every piece of the past we found spoke of family, events, love, joy, hope and were testaments of a life that treasured the little things that really matter in this breath of a life we have on earth.

old attic-rocking chair

I’m an adopted child, an only child, and my mom’s propensity to hold onto EVERY piece of schoolwork, artwork, hand-scribbled drawing or whatever I did was evidence of that fact!  There were literally boxes of my stuff we had to go through.  We knew she had many miscarriages before deciding to adopt.  We found record after record of the pre-adoption and adoption process.  We knew my mom, and dad, wanted a child to the point of sacrificing a good slice of their life, time and money to find the one God had for them.

I’ve always been grateful for the gift of adoption and forever thankful that God had placed me in such a loving, caring and nurturing family.  I knew my parents loved me. I never realized the depth of that love until I started unearthing ALL of the ‘artifacts’ of my mom’s life.  It was then I saw, and read, her deepest thoughts and desires.  She literally poured her life into mine and probably to a fault, set me on a bit of a pedestal; at least in her mind.

But it didn’t stop there.  My mom was a frugal and WELL organized person.  My dad passed in 1976 and for that time period, left her fairly well off; at least enough to not have to worry about her financial situation.  My mom worked several full-time jobs following my dad’s death.  She worked at K-Mart, a theme-park bakery and other miscellaneous places.  Once she stopped working full-time she began helping prepare meals for elderly or handicap people who couldn’t cook or get out for themselves.

My mom was always giving to others.  She gave to Disabled Veterans, the Humane Society, her church and a myriad of other organizations; all while living on a minascule retirement income and Social Security.  She had NO credit card debt and always paid her bills on time.  Her finances were in good order, very detailed and she kept good records!  She even had all but $1000 of her funeral expenses covered.

But her life was about more then fiscal integrity, sacrifice and organization.  Her life was, and will continue to be, a testimony of a life that finished well.  Not a luxurious life by ANY stretch.  Not a lavish life.  Not a frivolous life.  Not an eccentric life, but a life of love, joy, peace, perseverance, faithfulness, patience, self-control, kindness, goodness, gentleness.

Hmmm, sound familiar?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  

(Galatians 5:22-24 NIV)

Happy Birthday mom, the legacy of your life still lives on.  You are a wonderful example of a mom and shining example of how we should live our lives.

You finished well, are loved and greatly missed.

A Query Of Queer – Does Love Really Win?

The recent SCOTUS decision regarding gay marriage in the U. S. lit up the blogosphere this past month!  If you follow any bloggers, like I do, you saw it for yourself.  I think what happened last month has had more words written about it than anything I’ve seen recently.  Maybe Ferguson, MO, Charleston, SC for sure, but not by much.  This is most certainly a hot button issue.  So, here goes my ‘two cents’ worth, for whatever it’s worth.

LGBT_FlagSeveral thoughts have been buzzing through my head, some as questions, others as commentary regarding the specific subject of gay marriage.  I’ll steer clear of the broader subject of homosexuality as others have eloquently and brilliantly written on the subject from the theological perspective MUCH better than I could.

Here’s a scenario for the LGBTQ community at large (although somewhat rhetorical, I’d LOVE to engage in conversation over coffee with someone from the LGBTQ community about this.)

If the LGBTQ community is ultimately convinced that the homosexual lifestyle is paramount to the heterosexual lifestyle and that it should be ‘the norm’ not the exception, then what do we do with procreation of the human race?  For example, let’s say that over 5000 years ago there was no Adam and Eve.  Or, it you are not into creationism, there was no mechanism in place for cellular reproduction of any kind.  Then what happens from then to now?  To men, or two women, or two male species, or two female species appear in time.  They die, THE END.  That’s it, NO procreation, NO regeneration of the human race, period.  What do you do with that?  There would nothing.  No other animal species, no human race, no ‘us’.  THE END.adamandeve

So why then does the LGBTQ community push so hard for their lifestyle to be accepted as normal?  Why do we see so much negative aggression from the LGBTQ community to push their agenda on those of us who are heterosexual?  Don’t get me wrong, if you’re gay and want to marry by all means I think you should be able to.  But don’t go to a minister who you know opposes your desires and refuses to perform your wedding and then take him and perhaps the church to court to sue them, etc.

gayweddingIf I wanted an minister to perform my wedding ceremony and they said, “No, I can’t” I’d move on to someone else.  Not pitch a little fit about the fact they can’t and then proceed to drag them through the mud.  It’s because the LGBTQ community is about more than just ‘fitting in’ to society.  They want to make as much noise as possible regarding their cause and belittle and discredit anyone who stands in their way.

And the issues of wedding cakes, photographers, churches that will not host a homosexual wedding.  Here’s an idea for LGBTQ community, go to a business that will actually CATER to you.  (no pun intended).  Lawsuits against those who won’t serve you?  Can you be serious?  What is your true intent?  Again, it’s not about equality, it’s about a social agenda, a radical one at that which attempts to alter your morals and chosen lifestyle and have them conform to the homosexual communities practices.

If you’re member of the LGBTQ community ask your self this question, “If “love wins” then what am I doing to live that out in a predominately heterosexual world.?”  From where I sit, I see more hate from the LGBTQ community when it comes to their agenda.  They say “love wins”, but I think in the end they want their agenda to win.

The Church and Cheers

If you grew up on TV in the 80’s and early 90’s you are most likely VERY well familiar with the sitcom Cheers.  You remember the lovable and quirky characters, Sam Malone, the bar’s owner, chief bartender, former baseball player and ladies’ man, who had an on-and-off again relationship with Diane, the grad student.  Then there was Rebecca, Cheers owner/manager after a buyout by the company she worked for.

Cheers1

There many ‘wacky’, yet affable characters that filled the bar on a regular basis,  as both employees and patrons.  There was Carla, the sarcastic waitress, beer-loving accountant Norm, know-it-all postman Cliff.  Then there was small-town, and sometimes clueless, Woody Boyd,  Frasier Crane, the psychiatrist, Lillian Sternin, an incredibly cold and placid psychiatrist and Coach, who eventually dies.

Cheers was a microcosm of society.  Losers, ‘wannabes’, misfits, has-been’s and those who were in search of their true identity and place in life.  The theme song for Cheers expressed the feelings of everyone who was caught up in this fish bowl of a bar.

Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got. 
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot. 

Wouldn’t you like to get away? 

Sometimes you want to go 

Where everybody knows your name, 
and they’re always glad you came. 
You wanna be where you can see, 
our troubles are all the same 
You wanna be where everybody knows 
Your name. 

So, what can we learn from Cheers that we could apply in the church today?  What lessons could we take from the way the characters in the bar related to each other?  What might be missing in the church today that one kind readily find in a bar like Cheers?

church-05

I think some of what we could take away is found in the lyric of the Cheers theme song.

Here are what will hopefully be some thought-provoking questions that you could ask of your church, or ministry.

Is the church really a place that folks go to escape the worries of this world, the pressures of every day life, or do people see the church as a place that is full of judgmental and even hateful individuals who are not accepting of someone that thinks differently, dresses differently, or is an outcast of society?

Is the church a place where ‘everybody knows your name’, or are you just a face in the crowd?  

Is the church a place where people are ‘really glad you came’?

Is the church a place where we sit down and talk about our troubles?  Or, do we come and go and never really dive into life with each other?

It seems that there is more of life that was shared around the bar in Cheers that EVER gets shared within the wall of our churches.  Sure, have fellowships, we have programs, we have events and BIG services, but we never just pull a chair, grab a drink, and make people feel like they’re glad they came.  We don’t seem to share life the way the characters in the Cheers bar did.  They loved each other, they got involved in one another’s lives.  When one person hurt, they all hurt.  When one person was down, everybody tried whatever they could to cheer them up.  They were a family, a close-know family that were well of each others faults and shortcomings, yet loved even still.  

They cried together, they celebrated together, and did as Scripture exhorts us to do in Galatians 6:2-3, Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”  Or Romans 15:1-2 says, We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.”

One thing you quickly notice about the characters in Cheers, they do share in each others lives and are genuinely concerned for the welfare of others.  Do we do that in our churches today or do just shuffle in and out of our building never