Emptied

Attempting to write a blog after more than a year. A year that has been filled with severe health issues; from a near death stent in ICU, over 120 days in the hospital, and the daily struggle to breathe and have enough energy to move around.

I am emptied. Physically, mentally and yes, spiritually. Emptied of emotion, strength and fortitude.

I am emptied. Often times, emptied of thought, creativity, and desire.

I am in constant pain. And I constantly struggle for my next breath.

What I pray I will never be emptied of is hope. Not an earthly hope, one of a, “I hope this meeting goes well”, or “I hope I get a _________ for Christmas”, but a hope that is secured and anchored in Christ.

A heavenly hope. A hope that is anchored in God’s word, that doesn’t yield a “hope so”, but is bound to a “know so”.

Life is a struggle, and it is extremely difficult right now.

Perhaps being emptied is a good place to start.

It is when we are emptied that we can be filled.

Paul tied the two together this way.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

Romans 15:13 ESV

Realities

Time is slipping away,

Time is money,

Time flies,

No time left,

perhaps,

Maybe.

Love is in bloom,

Love is eternal,

Love heals,

I give love,

not always,

Selfishness.

Laughter is good medicine,

Laughter is contagious,

Laughter rings,

I laugh,

at times,

Smile.

Pain, a constant companion.

Pain is healing

Pain reminds;

I’m human

I know,

Peace.

A Pause From Poetry

fall-of-rome

Divida et Impera, The Time Is Now

Been reading several news outlets to try and piece together all sides of the NFL, NBA Vs Trump and the American’s who support the NFL, the NBA, or any professional sports franchise, and those on “Trump’s sid”e who support him and his view. Perhaps the issue is much deeper than we can see. Perhaps the issue has been festering for a much longer time than what has occured over this past weekend.

This didn’t start with Trump, it didn’t start with the NFL or NBA, and it certainly didn’t start with professional sports or politics in general. No, this started in the hearts of men and it is WAY upstream of the current situation, the current news headlines and the current rhetoric.

It is being propagated and propelled in our public school systems nationwide, and most of us are completely unaware of what is taking place.

In separate articles, as recent as January of this year, both the New York Post and The Federalist, have articles pointing to the Common Core Curriculum (an Obama-era contribution) as having greatly negated the teaching of traditional Civics lessons and pretty much annihilating the teaching of American History as most of us once knew it.

In fact, one publication stated that, “Colleges such as Stanford decline to require Western Civilization classes or high schools propose changing their curriculum so that history is taught only from 1877 onward (this happened in North Carolina), it’s merely a blip in our news cycle.”

In New York, it is reported that students learn about George Washington only from watching excerpts from the musical Hamilton. Not exactly a textbook education is it?

So what’s the takeaway from these small snapshots of the American public school system curriculum and our society in general? For this writer, it’s the seemingly evident phenomenon of the erosion of any kind of commonality we have in this nation as American citizens, as its inhabitants, and as those those of us who are supposed to be “ONE nation under God, indivisible”.

The way I see it, it goes back to Julius Caesar and even prior to his plan to, “Divide and rule –– “Divida et Impera”, he subsequently divided Rome, and we all know how that turned out. In fact, the Assyrians in biblical times divided Babylon and thereby conquered them. Then the twelve tribes of Israel were divided and conquered, which is lamented throughout the Old Testament.

If America can be divided, it can be conquered. Given the events of the past several years, even decades, it seems we are well on our way to Divida et Impera.

Passerby

He Smiled

I passed a homeless man on the street today; he smiled.
Traffic was heavy, I wanted to hear his story, not today, he smiled.
The lines on his face were etched by pain, he smiled.
His story would fill one thousand of the little cardboard signs he was holding, he smiled.
Cars would zoom past, not even taking a look, he smiled.
He drank a warm coke, sat down on the side of the road, he smiled.
The light changed green for me, I drove away, he smiled.
I’ll smile back another day.
© 2017 G. David Steele, All Rights Reserved, International Copyright Secured

Childhood Memories

Painted Horse

He rode into my childhood, I can’t recall when,
Sometime before seven, definitely not after ten.
He changed colors through the years, a painted horse for sure;
Still lingers in my memory, his legacy endures.
We would ride and ride forever, facing all our fears,
I don’t quite know for certain, there were probably some tears.
The wind at our backs, the sunshine on our face,
We’d ride and ride for hours, yet not go anyplace.
© 2017 G. David Steele, All Rights Reserved

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

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!

 

 

 

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)

Hump Day, New Year’s Eve and Change.

calendar
Started thinking that if Hump Day is the beginning of the end of the work week, that it’s the day of the week that catapults you into the weekend, then maybe New Year’s Eve is synonymous to Hump Day in that it’s THE day of the year that catapults you into the New Year.  My analogy probably breaks down at some point, or maybe it already has, but for me, Hump Day is to the week, as New Year’s Eve is to the year; they represent days that are agents of change.
They each represent a shift, at the least a shift in perspective, perhaps a shift in thinking.  I do realize that New Year’s Eve IS the penultimate day of the year, and that Wednesday is not the penultimate day of the week, but stay with me.  This post is more about the change that each of these days represent, not where they are positionally.
To being further exploration, let’s get into some formal definitions of the word ‘change.’
Change -noun.  the act or fact of changing; fact of being changed; a transformation or modification; alteration.
Change – verb. to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc.,
of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone.
I would like to focus more on the noun change, rather than the verb, although both definitions will come into play.  Found this great quote, that I will base some of my thoughts on.  Just like Hump Day, or our annual New Year’s ritual of making resolutions, we hang the things we want to change on some kind of external affect, or some external force.
But according to Socrates, true change won’t come through that kind of influence.
Socrates quote on changeInstead of looking at the ‘now’, or looking over our shoulder to the past, look ahead.  Sure, the old is gone, the new has come, and it is only human to think, “Whew, I’m glad this or that is behind me”, but we tend to base our forward progress on where we’ve come from, not where we’re heading.
A verse in Scripture says it like this, “And Jesus said unto him, “No man, having put his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62.
There is a passage in Isaiah 50 that talks about “setting your face like flint”, while this is speaking of Christ and His determination to fulfill his purpose by dying for us, I think it also speaks to how resolute we should be in all things we feel compelled to accomplish.
Sure, change can come from external forces, such as things that come into our lives unexpectedly, or unwontedly.  Death, illness, some catastrophic event, loss of finances, divorce, loss of a job, and other things will change us, that is a given.  It’s how we react to these things that determines what kind of person we are and what kind of change these things will affect.
“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.”  – John Green, The Fault In Our Stars.
I heard someone say once that people will not judge you by your actions but by your reactions.  So very true!  Our reaction to unwanted change, or any change for that matter, will reveal who we truly are.  Socrates quote on change
But I believe there is a true change that is also brought about by some kind of catalyst that pushes us to discover who we really are, or pushes us to explore things we’ve never explored, desires we’ve never followed, or to become the person we’ve always wanted to be.  We can easily be lulled into the complacency of who we are, or what we do and never take the dive into something new, something that deep down we’ve always desired to do, or be.
It’s often change that IS the catalyst, whatever, or whenever it invades our lives.  It’s the upheaval in our life that literally pushes into change and it too often happens when we are most unaware.  And that’s what I believe makes it SO great!  If we sat around thinking about the change, or changes, we wanted to make in our lives and never acted upon them, then we would most likely find ourselves exactly at the same spot in our thinking a year, or two later.  The catalyst for change is many times change itself!  Wonderful irony!
change quote-if you want something you've never had
So take this double-whammy of Hump Day and New Year’s coinciding and use that as the impetus for your change.  Don’t focus on it as the motivating factor, take it as a motivating factor.
Set your face like flint, keep your hand to the plow and DON’T look back!
Change!