Donny's Ramblings


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Ali, The Muslim

Awaiting my return flight to Sacramento at Orange County Airport in Southern California, I decided to eat at the Oasis Grill and Sky Lounge. My waiter was a man named Ali. I sat longer than normal, and as I prepared to leave Ali and I began to communicate.

“I have 3 hours until my flight departs,” I told him.

“I’m sure that passes the time,” he replied. As he made a hand gesture toward my laptop.

He asked where I was headed and where I was from, then let me know he is also a Northern California native. At one time he owned an Italian Restaurant, which he’d sold at his wife’s urging in order to move closer to their daughter who is a college student.

Then his eyes began to tear up as he told me that he’d lost his wife to cancer barely a week ago. I was surprised he was working, serving food to me as I awaited my flight.

“I have to keep my mind occupied. I want to stay away from home as much as I can. The house now has no soul,” he explained in his thick accent.

A few moments later and we were discussing God. Ali and his late wife are of Muslim faith. Muslim’s serve the God of Abraham , which happens to be the same God those of Christian faith serve as well, even though Muslim’s call him “Allah” (edit to add: read the comments to this article, as this sentence has prompted a bit of discussion). During a conversation about the departure of Ali’s wife of many many years, it was not the time to discuss theological differences.

“Can I share something with you?” I asked.

When he agreed I passed along some very simple, yet profound information I’d received from Wendy when I was in extreme emotional pain.

“Don’t be afraid of the grief, Ali. It is a beautiful part of human healing. Don’t let anyone tell you how you should or shouldn’t feel about the loss of someone you loved so deeply. Let the pain last as long as it needs to last, but don’t be afraid of it. Simply thinking of the fact that emotional pain is nothing to fear… well that really changed my perspective when I was hurting. I hope it does the same for you. Pain like this is beautifully human. You loved her.”

A visible change occurred in Ali’s face. He smiled a warm, genuine smile and took my hand in a firm-grip handshake. My eyes were now glistening with moisture just as his were. I have never lost a spouse to cancer, but I felt like I really loved this man who recently had.

And so does the God I serve.

“Thank you for those beautiful words, my friend,” he told me. And his eyes followed me until I disappeared around the corner, leaving the restaurant. I know, because I looked back at him as well.

There was no need to tell Ali that I’d be praying for him. I’m just going to do so. I spoke with him for a brief instant, but the human emotions he is experiencing are something each of us feel at times, and I felt a very strong empathy and love for that hurting soul.

My God, please comfort my new friend.


7 Comments

What A Beautiful Mess I'm In

This morning I slept in until 8:11. At that precise time, Citi Financial Auto decided to call to let me know that my car payment is a little late. I was very happy to hear that.

Since I was now so rudely awakened, I plopped myself down in my favorite chair… favorite because it happens to sit directly in front of my beloved iMac. This morning my iMac was to play an instrumental part in messing up my entire demeanor. The calm, smiling Donny who was looking forward to getting out of the house and taking the hour drive to call on a client was soon to be transformed into a blubbering, snotty mess.

It all started when I noticed Julie the Artist and MT of X3 had both posted the following video on MySpace:

What a beautiful song for that video clip, don’t you think? But just a few moments into it and my eyes suddenly sprung a leak. I started sniffing a bit.

I shared the video with Wendy, my ex-wife. I can only assume Wendy decided to check out related videos, because a few moments later she found it in her heart to add to my snot levels by emailing me this, which had really moved her as a mother:

So now, my dear constant reader friends, I am a blubbering mess of tears and snot… and I can blame it all on the three women I mentioned.

Thanks a lot, girls.

(PS: Amazing love… Absolutely amazing…)


14 Comments

What A Beautiful Mess I’m In

This morning I slept in until 8:11. At that precise time, Citi Financial Auto decided to call to let me know that my car payment is a little late. I was very happy to hear that.

Since I was now so rudely awakened, I plopped myself down in my favorite chair… favorite because it happens to sit directly in front of my beloved iMac. This morning my iMac was to play an instrumental part in messing up my entire demeanor. The calm, smiling Donny who was looking forward to getting out of the house and taking the hour drive to call on a client was soon to be transformed into a blubbering, snotty mess.

It all started when I noticed Julie the Artist and MT of X3 had both posted the following video on MySpace:

What a beautiful song for that video clip, don’t you think? But just a few moments into it and my eyes suddenly sprung a leak. I started sniffing a bit.

I shared the video with Wendy, my ex-wife. I can only assume Wendy decided to check out related videos, because a few moments later she found it in her heart to add to my snot levels by emailing me this, which had really moved her as a mother:

So now, my dear constant reader friends, I am a blubbering mess of tears and snot… and I can blame it all on the three women I mentioned.

Thanks a lot, girls.

(PS: Amazing love… Absolutely amazing…)


4 Comments

Neglecting God

Donny:
8:13am
I’ve been neglecting God lately. That stops today. I’m very yucky without him.

The Other Person on IM:
8:14am
You start noticing pretty severely pretty shortly huh?

Donny:
8:14 am
Yeah.

The Other Person on IM:
8:14am
The same for me…I really notice it with me. What I told you yesterday is true. You were just lashing out because what they did hurt you….but it just doesn’t matter….be hurt and don’t try and control what they do…you can’t. Just worry about what you do and let it go.

(more conversation, edited out ’cause it’s too personal)

The Other Person on IM:
8:17am
Anyway, I just saw your focus was on the wrong issue, which really isn’t an issue at all. The only issues you have to deal with are yours. LOL. Heard enough yet?

(there are some really good people in my life)


12 Comments

God Can't Look On Sin, Right? Why Not?

Is it possible that the reason God “can’t look on sin” is simply because it hurts him too much? Yeah, I know… I know. He’s mega holy and sin is far beneath him. But is that the REAL reason?

It’s really hard for me to buy into the fear mongering that goes on in the types churches I grew up in. I’ve seriously heard people talking about scaring others into heaven. I’ve wondered, on more than one occasion, why any intelligent being would want to be “loved” simply because the alternative scares the crap out of people.

“Hey Wendy, marry me (again) or I’ll send you to a place of eternal torment!” (Hey, I haven’t tried that one yet… maybe I should! How romantic!)

Personally, I’m thinking it’s more a case of God not being able to stand the pain he feels when we harm ourselves. Once again I’ll refer to my son. Thinking of Caden always makes God a bit more understandable for me.

There is nothing Caden could ever do to make me love him any less (guess what? God feels the same way about us).

There are things, however, that I couldn’t bear to witness. Like if Caden decided as an adult to shoot heroine into his arms. Or other things much too horribly disgusting for me to consider thinking about. I’d still love him, but I really wouldn’t want to witness those things. It would hurt way too much and my heart might not be able to take it.

Do you think, perhaps, that God’s heart can’t bear watching us harm ourselves, and that’s the REAL reason he can’t look on sin?

(Daddy, I love you!)


25 Comments

God Can’t Look On Sin, Right? Why Not?

Is it possible that the reason God “can’t look on sin” is simply because it hurts him too much? Yeah, I know… I know. He’s mega holy and sin is far beneath him. But is that the REAL reason?

It’s really hard for me to buy into the fear mongering that goes on in the types churches I grew up in. I’ve seriously heard people talking about scaring others into heaven. I’ve wondered, on more than one occasion, why any intelligent being would want to be “loved” simply because the alternative scares the crap out of people.

“Hey Wendy, marry me (again) or I’ll send you to a place of eternal torment!” (Hey, I haven’t tried that one yet… maybe I should! How romantic!)

Personally, I’m thinking it’s more a case of God not being able to stand the pain he feels when we harm ourselves. Once again I’ll refer to my son. Thinking of Caden always makes God a bit more understandable for me.

There is nothing Caden could ever do to make me love him any less (guess what? God feels the same way about us).

There are things, however, that I couldn’t bear to witness. Like if Caden decided as an adult to shoot heroine into his arms. Or other things much too horribly disgusting for me to consider thinking about. I’d still love him, but I really wouldn’t want to witness those things. It would hurt way too much and my heart might not be able to take it.

Do you think, perhaps, that God’s heart can’t bear watching us harm ourselves, and that’s the REAL reason he can’t look on sin?

(Daddy, I love you!)


28 Comments

Let's Combat This Head On

One thing that has always angered me about Christians is that they refuse to meet certain challenges head-on. I was recently sent a video that attacks the basis for Christianity and questions whether or not Jesus really existed. I used to send similar videos to Christians during my Christian-Hating Years. Nobody would take the time to respond. They were always quick to dismiss.

The problem with that type of attitude, in my opinion, is that we and our children are going to continue to be asked questions such as those that are raised by this video:

Click here to watch “Zeitgeist The Movie”
(runtime: 26 minutes, 20 seconds)

The video is 26 minutes long. It is clearly anti-Christianity, and it raises lots of questions. The funny thing is that I bet pastors across the country, when and if they’re asked about this, will likely ignore it or dismiss it with questions on faith and whether or not Christians should watch such content. Are we so fragile that we can’t view what those who don’t believe have begun arming themselves with?

To be honest, if someone approached me for an opinion on this video (which someone actually recently did) I don’t have answers for them. I’ve been searching for answers on my own, and believe each of us need to do our own research, but I also think our spiritual leaders need to educate us on how to deal with things like this. And I’m not talking about “blow off” answers. We need real meat here. People aren’t as ignorant as they once were, my friends.

I’ve promised the person who sent me the link that I’d respond, unlike the Christians to whom I used to raise similar questions. Watch the video (click here) and tell me what you think, and how you’d respond.


56 Comments

Let’s Combat This Head On

One thing that has always angered me about Christians is that they refuse to meet certain challenges head-on. I was recently sent a video that attacks the basis for Christianity and questions whether or not Jesus really existed. I used to send similar videos to Christians during my Christian-Hating Years. Nobody would take the time to respond. They were always quick to dismiss.

The problem with that type of attitude, in my opinion, is that we and our children are going to continue to be asked questions such as those that are raised by this video:

Click here to watch “Zeitgeist The Movie”
(runtime: 26 minutes, 20 seconds)

The video is 26 minutes long. It is clearly anti-Christianity, and it raises lots of questions. The funny thing is that I bet pastors across the country, when and if they’re asked about this, will likely ignore it or dismiss it with questions on faith and whether or not Christians should watch such content. Are we so fragile that we can’t view what those who don’t believe have begun arming themselves with?

To be honest, if someone approached me for an opinion on this video (which someone actually recently did) I don’t have answers for them. I’ve been searching for answers on my own, and believe each of us need to do our own research, but I also think our spiritual leaders need to educate us on how to deal with things like this. And I’m not talking about “blow off” answers. We need real meat here. People aren’t as ignorant as they once were, my friends.

I’ve promised the person who sent me the link that I’d respond, unlike the Christians to whom I used to raise similar questions. Watch the video (click here) and tell me what you think, and how you’d respond.


4 Comments

The Departure Of The Bad-Gunky

(well, some of it anyway)

I’m a hah-uge Stephen King fan. Have been all my life. I don’t apologize for that.

I mention this because the term “Bad-Gunky” comes from Stephen King’s Lisey’s Story. A very general definition would be “very bad stuff” inside oneself. If you’ve read the book, you know it’s a lot deeper than that.

All of us have “bad-gunky” inside. Pastor Bill calls it our “inner mess”. That’s a good term too. Pastor Bill, in some of his writings, even reminds me of Stephen King, but that’s another story who’s time has not yet come.

This evening as I sat reading, I realized some of my own “bad-gunky” has left me. I welcome that very much.

“Donny, to what are you referring?” you might ask.

“To Belinda”, I’d reply.

A few weeks ago I mentioned making up with Mark, Belinda’s new boyfriend. What I’ve yet to discuss is the emotional release I’ve had from Belinda as well. And it is SO welcomed. I thought it would never happen. Fortunately, and miraculously, I was wrong.

See, my heart was crushed by the way our relationship ended. I loved her so much. I made so many mistakes, and I felt so much guilt for those. I made Belinda feel emotions I never intended her to feel. I messed with her head, big time.

Slowly over time I’ve been able to forgive myself for what I’ve done. Like you, I know deep inside that God forgives me. Sometimes we humans have a hard time forgiving ourself, don’t we? We feel the need to punish ourselves because our human minds demand retribution for poor behavior. I did this. A lot. Yet when I was miserable I’d take out my “miserableness” on those in my life, including Belinda and her new boyfriend (who was my friend at one point – and who I so desperately wish remained my friend to this day).

I wallowed in self pity.

It’s been many weeks since I’ve last felt sorry for myself for Belinda moving on with someone else. Months, perhaps. I’ve kept from writing about it, until now, because I wanted to be sure all that bad-gunky was gone. I’m pretty sure it is. In my mind, when Belinda crosses it, I wish her nothing but good luck and great times in her new life. I don’t stew on how she supposedly wronged me. I don’t hate Mark for being with her. I see it as good. I see him as the best person in the world to take care of her. I see our “split” as the right thing to do.

I’m not saying our situation wasn’t unfortunate. It was. Very much so. But for many, many years I made a lot of decisions that were quite unfortunate and downright stupid: I cheated on Wendy, my one and only wife, who loved me much more than I realized (I took her for granted because I was SO IGNORANT). I left her when Caden, my beautifully innocent son, was an infant. I found Belinda while looking to fill the hole inside of me that only God can fill, and then I gave her to another man, thinking I was giving her a “gift” (how ignorant can one person be?).

I definitely cluttered my life with baggage, didn’t I?

At one time I thought the days of crying-until-I-puke were never going to end. I thought the sadness would consume me. I felt I was different than everyone else that has experienced heartbreak, and while others may heal, Donny would never again be well. Ever.

I was wrong: I’m okay.

I’m beyond okay, actually.

I’m great!

Making up with Mark was a good step in the right direction, but even before that I’d realized there’s no point feeling sorry for myself. I realized that I was handed a blessing in disguise. Things could have been SO much worse:

Since Belinda and I were no longer on the same spiritual path there was no way we could have stayed together. What if I’d have had to break up with her only to watch her wallow in sorrow and feelings of abandonment? I’m not heartless. Would I have moved away from God to comfort Belinda? I’d like to say, “no”, but the truth is that I don’t really know. I didn’t have to face that situation.

I’m very grateful for that.

I marvel at the way God’s “big picture” always seems to be the best picture. That’s what I’ve experienced in my own life, at least. God has his hands on everything: even the very worst situations, in the long run, have become some of my biggest blessings.

Perhaps I’ll elaborate on that in the future.

Without looking through the history of my blog, I’m pretty confident that I can say I’ve told you, my constant readers, of the endless days I’ve been torn up inside over the loss of my 6 years with Belinda. But I can also tell you that on this day (and many before it) I am SO blessed she’s no longer in my life, and I can rest easy knowing she has someone who loves and cherishes her. I’ll always care for her – any normal human, no matter how they try to deceive themselves, cannot say otherwise about someone with whom they’ve spent so much time – but the sting is gone. For good.

I thank God for that.

On a TOTALLY unrelated issue, please read this from my friend Jimmy. If you’re local, contact him will ya?


12 Comments

So I Made the CBS Evening News…

Craig Gross from XXXChurch emailed me and let me know about it. He reposted the video on the XXXChurch site. Click here to see it.

I have to tell you something about all of this news media stuff, though. First of all, I’ll admit that I like it. It’s a lot of fun to see yourself on the news. Now I’ll do the cliché thing and say it’s not about me and it’s all about God and blah blah blah. The thing is, I really mean it. I am so honored to be used by God after what I’ve done with my life. I tell him that all the time. I love him very much.

I screw up all the time, yet he still uses me. I’ve got so much work left to do, yet he still says, “I’m going to use your story to reach into the lives of others”. I am absolutely sure some of the choices I make really disappoint him. I’m such a stubborn fool.

Yet he chooses to use me.

He lets me stand up in front of hundreds (sometimes thousands) of people and talk about… me. And Him.

It’s overwhelming. And humbling. And an awful lot of fun.

God, thank you. Please don’t give up on me. I really want to do my best, even if my attitudes don’t always show it.