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Beautiful Easter Day

16 Apr

The beauty of spring 

9 Apr

My belief 

2 Apr

It is my belief we do not earn our way into heaven.
Still, we ought to live like we’re working on it.
Not because we have to, but because it’s the right thing to do. 

No words left to speak 

2 Feb

You’ve lived your entire lives playing identity politics, but claim the other guy is divisive. You claim you are exercising your right to free speech, but use it to deny someone else theirs.

I do not claim to know the will of God, whether this is His plan or mankind’s own undoing. But I know witnessing your lack of integrity and self-awareness, and what these indicate about our country and the dark side of human nature makes me sad.

The beauty of unfinished projects

9 Jan

20170106_150631Sometimes the greatest blessings are found in things not working out the way we planned. If our plans were always followed through, life would be little more than a paint-by-numbers and the completed work a forgettable dime store project. At the end of life, we would have a complete picture, but could no longer enjoy it. No, the only real value of such a project is in the doing. In progress, there is always a chance for a beautiful mistake, a wonderful unexpected change of plans, that makes the ongoing work a mystery, and creates potential for the final portrait to become a truly unique, priceless work of art. Of course, the end for us is the same either way, but the value we leave for others changes from zero to immeasurable. And our experience of the process changes from drudgery to a labor of love.

Winter skoal

8 Jan

Let not the cold of the air make us cold of heart. God’s love abounds in every season when we open our hearts and minds, as well as our eyes.

Thoughts for the day…

26 Oct

Two thoughts from my dreams last night:
1) When it comes right down to it, we’re all swimming upstream, and we’re all headed home.
2) You can hide a lot of needles in a haystack…or old carpet.

A corollary to #2:

As much as you might prefer to pluck the needles the first time you find them, some  will inevitably get reburied in the search, and you’re just going to have to find them again. 

After I woke up, the brain wouldn’t stop churning so…

These two truths you cannot escape no matter hard you try: you will die, the pain of life.
These two you can, but only if you are fully committed to the effort: worrying about the first two, the joy of life.

What does it all mean? Life is hard enough on its own. Don’t make it harder than it has to be.

Soulful sadness 

11 Jul


Feelings don’t change facts.

Truth is not relative, only poorly understood.

Ignorance is not an excuse to ignore compassion and reasoned thought.

The ends do not justify the means. On the contrary, good fruit can only come from a good tree. That is the real meaning of the old adage “you should only judge a tree by its fruit”. As we saw in Dallas and elsewhere, Washington is a sick, sick tree that only bears unhealthy fruit.

My heart breaks for a once great nation.

An evening stroll

28 May

Although a late spring Haze obscures the sky,
both Mars and Jupiter are clearly visible.
Whether one finds meaning or purely coincidence,
it is pleasing to the eye.

And that is where baby birds come from

12 May

From my photo blog:

And that is where baby birds come from.

One thing

26 Apr

If there was one thing I could wish for you, it would be for you to see yourself as you really are. You are human, imperfect and unsuited for being anything but yourself. You make mistakes, you cause yourself and others pain, you even make your own little corner of this world a living hell sometimes. You are also a wonder full of beauty and life, much more of a blessing to existence than you ever imagine. You have everything you need inside you to be a beloved child of God. All your foibles and pain, insecurities and self loathing that cause bitterness and hate, vanity, poor self esteem, greed, inhumanity, and suffering, are just confusion raised and reinforced by the shared confusion of others. If you could only see yourself for who you are, a perfectly unique presence in this amazing universe, you wouldn’t feel the need to compete or make up for something you’re not because there is nothing to make up for. You are whole and complete exactly as you are. You’re one of a kind, quite literally. Accept that, embrace it, love who you are. You don’t need surgery to pretend to be something you’re not in order to be acceptable. You don’t need ink or piercings, degrees or money or a certain job or things or someone else to validate you, complete you, express yourself, be yourself, or show the world who you are. Other people are never going to see you for you anyway because they have the same distraction and insecurities as you do, too busy worrying about what other people think to see anyone, including themselves, for who they really are. It’s true, you’re no better than anybody else. You’re no worse either, but it’s easy to forget that. Until you are at peace with yourself it doesn’t matter who anyone else is or who you are with, because you’ll never see them until you can see through yourself. If there was one thing I could wish for you it would be for you to see yourself as you really are, the way God does, as the perfectly imperfect creature you are, made in His image and beloved by God.

God doesn’t hate the sinner or the sin. People do. God created it all in His own infinite wisdom whether we understand it or not. Try to remember that and know that you are loved.

City of refuge

8 Feb

There are no words I could raise that would be worthy of God.
They spin inside me longing to be free, but when I sit down to write them they tangle together in a clump at my feet focused more on appeasing my ego than on praising Him.
Titles I’ve  disdained for what they do to man – the pride, separation, and arrogance that keep us from knowing God – have once again ruled my world.
Doctor heal thyself, which of course they cannot, because their own egos get in the way and mine, no better than theirs, responds when they bid it come.
I have killed without reason or intention, if not a man, then what makes him pure.
I run from my transgressions, the blood of carelessness dripping from my hands, desperate to be clean, desperate for freedom from their judgment and bloodthirsty greed.
I run seeking asylum, searching for sanctuary from the wretched guilt that they breed of heathen paganism and self-righteous pharisees.
But the road is neither wide nor smooth and I wander in the desert, thirsting, wondering how I got so lost.
Then I see You there, a beggar offering me his only bread, a friend who has walked beside me all along, a beacon, my City of Refuge, of safety and atonement.
Only blood will pay the price upon my head, yet mine is worth nothing for I am frail and weak.
But You, Yours is like a river and you let it flow in my stead and I am sanctified, worthy once again to enter His place, Our father’s house of many rooms.
I see you there on the throne, king of kings, high priest who has died and yet was risen, by your hand the ledger is clean.
Having killed You once in my ignorance, I know I am forgiven in Your everlasting grace.

This is not a religious post, religion being part of the guilt of man as he uses it to try replace God’s Word with a creation of his own. No, this is an expression of my faith, as it speaks to me the truth of the universe, the peace in my soul. Let your spirit be calmed when you read this as mine was as I wrote it. Do we not all suffer from anxiety, anger, feelings of loneliness? Well, at least I do. Prayer, meditation, and time alone in God’s temple – the natural world around us, the love and warmth of kyth and kin – these are the things that bring me closer to Him, the times I recognize Him for what He is. It is not because He is not there otherwise. It is that I get distracted trying to please others, trying to please myself, and I stop listening to that still voice inside my heart that bids us all welcome home.

Courage is the key

14 Jan

I don’t often reblog, but this is worth an exception.

Motivatingdaily - Your source for daily motivation

With courage you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate, and the wisdom to be humble.

Courage is the foundation of integrity.

/phil

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Gallery

Therapy for the soul

15 Dec

This is from the companion blog to thoughtsalone, Thoughts Alone Images at thoughtsalone2.wordpress.com I hope you enjoy the photos.

Thoughts Alone Images

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My last comment on Ferguson

27 Nov

We may all be born with the same potential for good and bad, but potential means nothing until it is acted on. Words come easy and can mean nothing. If they inspire and uplift, that is wonderful, but the real value is not in the words themselves but in the good deeds done. If they incite evil, they are as bad as bad direct action.

I am thoroughly disgusted with my countrymen in the wake of Ferguson, even some close friends. Passionately stating your case does not mean you have a good argument, it just means you’ve let the heat of emotion distort your objective view of right and wrong. Put away the op-eds, they are opinion not factual news reporting. Stop claiming every injustice or inequality is born of racism, and stop giving rioters and looters a pass just because many of them are black. On the other side, stop claiming the rioting and race-baiters just show the people of Ferguson are entitlement-seeking animals,. Remember in the time when the majority of outsiders left, the rioting ceased. The majority of residents, like the majority of people everywhere, want to be left alone in peace – left alone from harassment by the police, by criminals who commit property crime at a rate there several times higher than in the rest of the state, and by outsiders coming in to stir up trouble. And for godsake stop with the pathetic white guilt. Unless you were there killing innocent people, looting, or otherwise causing trouble, it was not your fault. Bad people in and out of the law did bad things. It happens. If we act responsibly and maturely, we address it as a society to try to at least prevent that particular bad thing from happening in that way again, and we move on. Unfortunately as a whole this country has not responded to the events in Ferguson honestly, objectively, responsibly, or maturely from the president, to the media, race-baiting pundits, prosecuting district attorney, abusive police force, rioters, or the thousands of commenters to op-eds and blogs. Race bias and police corruption are issues in this country. But they will never be resolved  if we continue to approach them like we have concerning the events in Ferguson. The whole situation makes me sick and the overwhelming majority of my countrymen and women should be ashamed for how they’ve been acting.

Here’s to a more objective and loving happy Thanksgiving. You owe better to yourselves and the world.

Ten Steps to War

7 Nov

“WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama on Friday authorized the U.S. military to deploy up to 1,500 additional troops to help train and advise Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State militants, the White House said.” …and we move deeper into Step #6…

thoughts alone

Here are a few lessons learned from geopolitical developments over the past fifty years, and my take on the pattern of conflict in which the US is currently stuck. Where we are and where we are going to end up are highly predictable and have been proven time and again. Review modern history and I defy you to prove me wrong. Believe me, this is one time when I wish I was.

Embargoes don’t work. The government leaders they are directed against are not affected. And the people who already suffer under an oppressive regime suffer even more. Iraq is a perfect example. A decade of sanctions against Iraq did much more to destroy that country and soldify Saddam Hussein’s power than any military action did. Meanwhile it was the Iraqi people who suffered most. In the end, an embargo causes unnecessary suffering and creates enemies. It does not defeat…

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“Back To The Beginning . . . “

17 Jun

For those in need of inspiration and fun, or just wondering where our old friend went, check out Rising Hawk’s new old blog. As fine a writer and good a man as there ever was. Godspeed and fair winds to you Hawk!

Travesty

24 May

Today I had several appointments at the VA. Suffice it to say the corruption,  mismanagement, and lack of consideration for veterans is not limited to the top or select facilities.

What makes veterans health issues unique (and thus requiring a special department within the federal government) are the psychological issues of dealing with combat. Absent that, the sometimes horrible physical injuries could be treated in the regular medical system. The reality is those injuries got there through the hardships of war which can never be forgotten. If the VA is not dealing with that, what is its reason to be? 

Today I had a routine psychological evaluation for a compensation and pension review. The counsellor (I don’t know what her degrees are) had absolutely no understanding of the military, let alone what it is to be in combat, and was downright rude. She was clearly just working her way through a checklist, but in the process intentionally picked open psychological wounds that have taken years and tremendous effort to heal. She would probe until I would begin to open up, then ask a critical heart wrenching question and as I began to answer would become dismissive and move onto the next checkmark. I’m sure she was happy to get another number (patient eval) done, but she showed no concern at all for what it was doing to me, the veteran.

It was like a kind of torture she took twisted pleasure in. There seemed to be no middle ground in her mind, either I was crazy and a danger to myself and others, or I was perfectly fine and making stuff up. She showed no real understanding of the human condition.

In addition, she was disrespectful, saying sir practically every other word. Anyone who has ever been in the military knows the difference between the use of “sir” to show respect for the person, respect to the rank, or to be patronizing and disrespectful. She was clearly patronizing and displayed neither understanding of nor respect for veterans. She should have no place in evaluating or treating veterans.

I went into my appointments today feeling pretty good. I came out angry and bitter. I am disgusted and appalled at the horrendous performance of the particular psych counselor I saw today, and at the abysmal treatment of our veterans by the VA system.

To be fair, the care providers I saw for assessment of other old injuries were better and more courteous, but the horrible counselor had already set the tone.

As an aside, did you know the military services medical records systems and the VA records systems don’t work together?  As a result military records have to be printed in hard copy, then scanned for input into the VA system, and the VA doesn’t even use OCR software, thus the scans are not searchable.

The VA is failing miserably in meetings the needs of veterans and the nation. It needs either a complete overhaul or to be dismantled and dissolved.  And the counselor I saw today should be banned from treating veterans. This whole situation makes me sick. It is a complete and utter travesty.

TED Talk by Dr. Dean Ornish

30 Apr

This came to me through Espirational. I encourage you to check out their blog.
This TED talk is an outstanding presentation on the real life impacts of lifestyle changes to improve health and longevity. It is 20 minutes very well spent. Love and peace to you.

Espirational: A 10 Minute Vacation for the Soul

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