Category Archives: Personal Beliefs

Greetings From The Burbs of West Houston

Howdy!

Happy Cinco D Mayo from the Burbs of Houston.

Today is a wonderful day for me and cause for celebration. My eyes opened yesterday and after three decades of believing my time on this earth was to be short, I realized that perhaps all the doctors have been wrong.

This epiphany came out in a counseling session at Montrose Center yesterday as I bared it all. I have had three doctors tell me, at different times, that I had three for five years to live, get my affairs in order. I began to die in the eighties and forgot how to live.

The disease is HIV and I am a long term survivor,. I’m not alone in this and it’s an interesting road to travel. I am not ashamed nor am I afraid as I was in the eighties. I am not dirty, in fact I am quite healthy.

I made personal and financial decisions in the eighties, based on the limited knowledge of the medical community at the time, on what to do with present and future assets. As I look back and see where the residuals and royalties went, I can say that I have no regrets but it’s my turn now.

My last no hope diagnosis was when I had the heart attack and stroke in 2008 after my mother passed away. Guess what, I recovered from that also.
Now, I am accepting that I probably have a long life to live and it’s to live that life instead of feeling like I am facing the grim reaper every day.

It’s great to feel alive again and see the sun come up with all the beautiful colors and feeling the blessings of love, friendship and nature that engulf me right now.

Blessings to each of you today and to my partner in this journey called life,Jody Turner.

 

Hourly Rates Verses Set Price

Why hourly rates don’t pay…at least not what you’re worth anyway! Reply to each point based on your experiences. I’ll post each new point in its own post. #1 Because you’re chronic overachievers and over-deliverers, you’re almost guaranteeing you’ll be underpaid for your work because you’ll work well beyond the agreed upon time to get it right. Am I right or am I right?!
#1 is spot on with me! I am a dyed in the wool perfectionist and the hours I put in preparing for that twenty minutes of fame on the stage amount to about 4 to 6 months of my valuable time. There is also the communication with the Maestro, first chairs in the orchestras and such where I put out my interpretation of the piece I am performing. All that for 175 dollars became a drudge to me and led to economic and personal frustrations. I began to feel that what I do was not valued.
To make a difference, I did a time management study based on my professional rate elsewhere and came up with this conclusion. To charge less than 50 thousand for that single performance was cash raping me and keeping my mind on other things such as where my next meal was coming from. .
I could not fathom this price structure as a young artist. It seemed outlandish to me at the time. Is what I do really worth that? Why am I always struggling with putting food on my table and in my belly? I really like good food and great wine pairings and yet I am existing on beer and pork skins.
I had to change my way of thinking about myself and the value I bring to the negotiating table. What I found out about myself amazed me to no end! I was worth something and the highly developed skills meant I no longer had to do the name dropping game, I could talk about myself and how I developed my skills by stepping outside the box and going for broke.
There is nothing wrong with challenging traditions and set ways of doing things and that is exactly how I have been living my life! I just had to see it to believe it.
When I took the lead and put out a set price, the inquiries and bookings started to happen again. I learned to be upfront and honest with myself and market what is special in my life. I changed some approaches also in that I was handpicked to study and work with some of the who’s who of American and International music. What a powerful attribute to bring to the table! That makes me a rare commodity in today’s world and I am marketing myself with that attitude and yet remaining humble is no longer a challenge. Being humble does not amount to humiliation and now I feel better about myself and the products I produce.

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Dedication for Man in the Penguin Suit

Hello! My name is Jere Kizer Douglas, better known as JK.  This is the story of my life and world, how I’ve grown and come into being.

The title of this biography reflects what it is like to be a professional musician, playing in the pits, symphony orchestras and back up to major stars.  I am of the ones you hear but probably never see or know.

Behind the Ligature was suggested by a dear friend and my Auntie Mame that I met in Houston, Mr. Lloyd Wassenich.  Lloyd is a major theater buff and quite knowledgeable on not only that but other topics as well.  He is a dear friend and we have been there for each other through sickness and in good health, therefore I consider him one of my brothers of choice.

Other people in my life include Mr. Don Johnson whom I grew up with in Memphis and let’s just say other places around the country.  We met and became dear friends as young adults in the bars and denzions of Memphis and the MidSouth.  Without him, I sometimes wonder if I would be here today.

Then there is Mr. Vance Reger, Dr. Marshall Fine, Mrs Michelle Pellay-Walker and Dr. Kelly Ker Van Hacklemann who have been around me for decades and I consider to be a part of my family of choice. All greatly talented artists and musicians.  I treasure there friendships and closeness.

My family including my wonderful grandparents who fought over me and yet saw to it that I had a great foundation to build a life on.  My mother, father and step mother who dealt with and overcame some major issue in their lives including acceptance and compassion with a gay son, grandchildren that are multi racial and a great sister who said one Christmas Eve as we were sitting in the snow while Papa was asleep on the couch, “Bubba, Reverand Jesse Jackson would be very proud of this family, it’s the whole Rainbow Coalition under one roof!”

To the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and all the great musical artists there that have an inspiration to me and a part of my development since childhood.

Last but not least, my life partner and spouse, Mr. Jody Turner.  What a great adventure meeting you and taking that trip to Houston so many years ago. And to our unique little family group, the Ukitena Clan of Houston, Texas.

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Dr. Marshall Fine, artist, composer, friend, colleage.

This work is dedicated to the gracious memory of Dr. Marshall Fine.

Without his wisdom and knowledge, I might not be here today.

Dr. Fine, gone too soon, this is for you Sir!

Breathing, Letting Go, Accepting

Greetings this fine Tuesday Morning from the environs of West Houston!
It has been an interesting week here at the Casa with a lot of different things going on. First and foremost is a feeling of relief and addressing the fears I have had for that last six years. My fears have been centered around losing our home in a series of illegal foreclosure proceedings. It’s been a long, tiresome battle with me burning the midnight oil researching different things. I am not an attorney but I do have the ability to use the new card catalogue known as Google to reference and cross reference things. What I found out made my blood boil along the way and I expressed that in mood swings from hades.
I had just about given up on the legal profession in Houston until this week. Things are now on a progressive schedule to be dealt with once and for all. My main concern is the damage done to my credit report which is heinous right now. That also shall be fixed. For those that don’t know, that report is also used in background checks for various jobs and positions. So, I have felt stymied here in Houston for the last six years in the job and working aspects. It’s been quite frustrating for me.
Now, I feel I can get on with my life as these things fall into place.
I am looking forward to a special outing on the fifth of February with some new friends to hear some great Brazilian Jazz here in Houston. That will be a fun evening for me.
Jody is recovering after the visit to a fabulous emergency clinic in our “hood”. Excellent care, congenial staff and modern technology to the max!
Jody did ask me if the past six years, all the stress and the labor, was worth it on this lawsuit. I believe it is worth it. I’m a fighter and I don’t give up easily, especially if I feel I have been wronged.
Thank all of you for bearing with me and letting me dump at times. Hopefully life will get better and soon!
Peace, Out!
Jere

Healthy Boundaries

According to the book Boundaries and Relationships by Charles Whitfield, M.D., healthy boundaries are NOT:
Set for us by others
Hurtful or harmful
Controlling or manipulative
Invasive or dominating
Rigid and immovable

Healthy boundaries ARE:
present
appropriate
clear
firm
protective
flexible
receptive.
determined by US
How to Develop Boundaries

An important first step in developing healthy boundaries is to get acquainted with, and take ownership, of your true self. This is essential before healthy boundaries can be set and maintained. As adults, we are responsible for the decisions we make in life. We have freedom to respond, to make choices, and to limit the way others’ behavior affects us. As a “free agent”, we can take responsibility for our freedom by setting boundaries, or borders, between ourselves and those around us. Some people refuse to set boundaries because they see them as selfish. Others actually use them to be selfish. Both are wrong. Boundaries are about self-control.

According to the authors, John Townsend and Henry Cloud, there are ten laws of boundaries:

The Law of Sowing and Reaping – Actions have consequences. If someone in your life is sowing anger, selfishness, and abuse at you, are you setting boundaries against it? Or are they getting away with not reaping (or paying the consequences for) what he/she sowed?

The Law of Responsibility – We are responsible TO each other, not FOR each other. This law means that each person refuses to rescue or enable another’s immature behavior.

The Law of Power – We have power over some things, we don’t have power over others (including changing people). It is human nature to try to change and fix others so that we can be more comfortable. We can’t change or fix anyone – but we do have the power to change our own life.

The Law of Respect – If we wish for others to respect our boundaries, we need to respect theirs. If someone in your life is a rager, you should not dictate to him/her all the reasons that they can’t be angry. A person should have the freedom to protest the things they don’t like. But at the same time, we can honor our own boundary by telling them, “Your raging at me is not acceptable to me. If you continue to rage, I will have to remove myself from you.”

The Law of Motivation – We must be free to say “no” before we can wholeheartedly say “yes”. One cannot actually love another if he feels he doesn’t have a choice not to. Pay attention to your motives.

The Law of Evaluation – We need to evaluate the pain our boundaries cause others. Do our boundaries cause pain that leads to injury? Or do they cause pain that leads to growth?

The Law of Proactivity – We take action to solve problems based on our values, wants, and needs. Proactive people keep their freedom and they disagree and confront issues but are able to do so without getting caught up in an emotional storm. This law has to do with taking action based on deliberate, thought-out values versus emotional reactions.

The Law of Envy – We will never get what we want if we focus our boundaries onto what others have. Envy is miserable because we’re dissatisfied with our state yet powerless to change it. The envious person doesn’t set limits because he is not looking at himself long enough to figure out what choices he has.

The Law of Activity – We need to take the initiative to solve our problems rather than being passive. In a dysfunctional relationship, sometimes one person is active and the other is passive. When this occurs, the active person will dominate the passive one. The passive person may be too intimidated by the active one to say no. This law has to do with taking initiative rather than being passive and waiting for someone else to make the first move.

The Law of Exposure – We need to communicate our boundaries. A boundary that is not communicated is a boundary that is not working. We need to make clear what we do or do not want, and what we will or will not tolerate. We need to also make clear that every boundary violation has a consequence. A boundary without a consequence is nagging.
Putting It All Together

Untreated individuals with personality disorders are dependent on the compliance of others. They resist boundaries in an effort to control, manipulate, and dominate. Non’s sometimes use boundaries in an effort to control, manipulate, and dominate too. For example, we might be tempted to tell someone “You can NOT rage at me”, or “You can NOT say cruel things to me.” These aren’t examples of boundaries, these are examples of a Non’s effort to control someone else’s behavior. A healthy boundary is, “When you rage at me, I feel threatened. I am going to leave (the room, the house, etc.) until such time we can communicate calmly.” The other person is free to rage to his/her heart’s content, but you don’t have to sit there and absorb all their anger and rage. If you are saying to yourself, “Why should I have to leave the room? They should have to stop raging!”, you are looking at boundaries backwards. You are taking the same approach as one would take who says, “Oh no, my house is on fire and is engulfed in flames. I’m standing at the front door but I’m not going to leave the house because my new sprinkling system will turn on an put out the flames.” Are you waiting for someone or something else to make a move so you don’t have to? Are you willing to take a chance of getting burned? Don’t do it.

Boundaries are all around us. We come across them every day. Cars have theft-deterrent devices to prevent someone from stealing your car. Homes have deadbolts or locks to prevent someone else from invading your home and removing your possessions. Your office desk has a lock to prevent theft. Your locker at the club has a lock to keep your valuables safe. If your personal property is protected against theft, but you find yourself feeling like your emotional well-being is being stolen from you, then it’s time to take steps to learn how to set boundaries so that your emotional well-being can be kept under lock and key.

Think about it. We go to a lot of effort and spend a lot of money to protect our material possessions – yet we often do little to protect ourselves. Aren’t you worth more than all of your possessions?

In order for boundaries to be effective, you need to approach it with the right mindset. Recognize that you must take personal responsibility for your own well-being.

Whether you end up staying in close relationship or not, learning how to set healthy boundaries is one of the very best things you can do to ensure that you don’t end up in a dysfunctional dance again with someone else.

Lose attachment to expectations and outcomes. Don’t sound or be needy. Be happy on my own and with or without sex. Be happy with myself. Become detached from the outcome. Who am I? Do I need this? I am responsible for my feelings and emotions and no one else’s.
Be happy on your own.

Abusive relationships produce a great amount on unhealthy investment in both parties. In many cases we tend to remain and support the abusive relationship due to our investment in the relationship. Try telling a new Marine that since he or she has survived boot camp, they should now enroll in the National Guard! Several types of investments keep us in the bad relationship:

Emotional Investment – We’ve invested so many emotions, cried so much, and worried so much that we feel we must see the relationship through to the finish.
Social Investment – We’ve got our pride! To avoid social embarrassment and uncomfortable social situations, we remain in the relationship.
Family Investments – If children are present in the relationship, decisions regarding the relationship are clouded by the status and needs of the children.
Financial Investment – In many cases, the controlling and abusive partner has created a complex financial situation. Many victims remain in a bad relationship, waiting for a better financial situation to develop that would make their departure and detachment easier.
Lifestyle Investment – Many controlling/abusive partners use money or a lifestyle as an investment. Victims in this situation may not want to lose their current lifestyle.
Intimacy Investment – We often invest emotional and sexual intimacy. Some victims have experienced a destruction of their emotional and/or sexual self-esteem in the unhealthy relationship. The abusing partner may threaten to spread rumors or tell intimate details or secrets. A type of blackmail using intimacy is often found in these situations.

The Spirit of Houston Lives

Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, J. S. Bach, Our Founding Fathers, Albert Einstein, and many others, were different, outside the box, radical, progressive, pushing for the enhancement of all mankind, queer (by standard definition). There was another man that had these same characteristics and He changed the world (A man named Jesus was considered a radical in his time!).

There is a great spirit alive in the world today, and it is seemingly beginning to emanate from the very center of our fair city. In this issue of the Gem, I have asked for a meeting with the new minister in town. What I encountered is no less than a brilliant gem with many facets, right here in the Montrose. A wonderful repartee’ ensued, and here it is! READ ON AVID READER!

You have made a very powerful statement from the pulpit of Grace Lutheran, here in Houston, Texas. I commend you on your tenacity and powerful strength of faith in this wonderful action. I also would like to commend the congregation of Grace Lutheran, for their wisdom and guidance in calling you to serve as their minister. In the words of the great Auntie Mame “Open a new window, open a new Door, Travel a new Highway, that’s never been tried before!” From Deutschland to the United States….Let us begin. Have a cup of coffee, we’ll chat and discuss….here are the topics:

From Martin Luther to Henry the VIII, to the settling of the colonies, to the revolution that created these United States of America, it all began with a certain delineation of Church and State. Do you feel we are, perhaps, at the same type of crossroads now? I’m not speaking of a revolution, per say, but a beginning of understanding and acceptance, both from within and without our societal and religious norms.
Martin Luther pretty much established the groundwork for the Protestant Reformation that has affected the entire World, to this very day. With the nailing of his “95 Theses” to the Castle Church Door on what now has become Martin Luther Day (October 31, 1546), challenging the omnipotence of the Catholic Church of the time. From this very act, came a revolution of freedom, thought and will that we still try to adhere to today. How do you feel this possibly impacts Grace Lutheran and Yourself here, in this day and time?

Martin Luther, on or about March 9, 1522, in his Invocative Sermons, asked the question:
“Do you know what the devil thinks when he sees men use violence to propagate the Gospel?” There is more dear reader; I recommend you seek it out!
These sermons dealt with issues of Love, Patience, Charity and Freedom, how does the Lutheran Church, and Yourself, feel this is vital in today’s world?

From the Lutheran German Mass, 1526
Changes in the Eucharist Itself, Martin Luther
“For I don’t want to deny, in any way, that God’s power is able to make a body be simultaneously in many places, even in a corporeal and circumscribed manner. For who wants to prove that God is unable to do that? Who has seen the limits of His Power?”
Martin Luther, leading into the Book of Concord and the Formula of Concord, which also pull together the three creeds of the Christian Faith, the Apostle’s, Nicene and Athanasian Creeds. How do these statements, and the creeds themselves, apply and have relevance in today’s chaotic world? As we come to the Lords Table, for the sacrament of communion, aren’t we all coming and committing our souls and spirits together, as one people, by His Will and Grace?

From the fugues and chorales of J.S. Bach and the various composers of the church, there is a great Lutheran Hymn of Faith, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”. In our world, we seem to build fortresses around ourselves. Isn’t it about time we, as a world, break down those individual walls and trust in God’s Fortress, and begin communicating on a free and open level? “Love, Patience, Charity, Freedom”

As a community, we have been “thumped” many times from pulpits around the world.
There is a wonderful scripture, that kind of sums it all up for me, if I may take the liberty of quoting it,
“For God so loved the World, that He gave His only Son. That whosoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life!” This is a basic tenant of the Lutheran/Christian Faith. There have been questions raised, in various parts of the world, is this scripture and the belief in it, unconditional, or is it interlaced with certain conditions?

Coming forward to 1772, the undercurrent of the times were led by certain principles and philosophies, among them were certain methodologies pertaining to basic rights and freedoms. From a paper submitted by Samuel Adams, on November 20 of 1772, “The Natural Rights of the Colonists As Men”, and I quote:
“Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: first a right to life, second, to liberty, third, to property, together with the right to support and defend them in the best way they can. These are evident branches of, rather than deductions from, the duty of self-preservation, commonly called the law of nature.”
Do you see the role that Martin Luther and the Lutheran church have played in the actual founding of the United States of America? The free thinking and freedom of will, so prevalent in Martin Luther’s writings and life, have changed and created nations and even have a great validity today!

In the traditions of Native American Culture (shamanistic), as well as the Essenes, Coptic Christians, and jumping ahead to the Miracle of Lourdes, is it possible that we all that we all have healing and curative powers within ourselves?
The precepts laid down by Martin Luther even carry forward to this day. As an example, free thought, free will – MCC Church (Rev. Troy Perry) and the work they have done within our community. The body has many parts, each one essential to the other. One body, many parts! How do you see this in the world today?

In the City of Houston, there are miracles that happen on a daily basis. We have a plethora of organizations, such as Legacy Community Services, Aids Foundation Houston (Camp Hope), Montrose Counseling Center, services through Bering Omega, as well as a wonderful medical community that tends to be a part of healing the world. Where do you feel Grace Lutheran takes its place among these?

Through the gifts of teaching and healing (among others), we transmutate to the powers of acceptance and forgiveness. There seems to be a cadential point in the scripture “But of these, three remain, Faith, Hope and Love, but of these, the greatest is Love.”
Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world!
Red and Yellow, Black and White,
They are precious in His sight,
Jesus Loves the little children of the World.
And everything is beautiful, in its own, very special way!
In the wonderful tradition of Beethoven, I feel the need to delay the final cadence of this wonderful, enlightening conversation. In closing, I would like to add…..
In the words of another Martin Luther of our time, Dr. Martin Luther King:
“I Have a Dream, That One Day All God’s Children will be Free! Praise God, Praise God Almighty!”
I have felt today like Doubting Thomas, questioning, but with good reason gentle reader. Again, I applaud the Congregation of Grace Lutheran, with their wisdom and guidance, in calling you to be their Minister.
Thank You.

It only takes a spark, to get a fire going
And soon all those around, can warm up to its glowing
Can YOU be that spark in YOUR COMMUNITY?
Acceptance for All, rejection for none!
I believe maybe we ought to go visit MS Period Jones at George!

Have a great day!
We Are!
Ranger

As a postscript to this wonderful event in my life, I would like to say, on behalf of my family and myself, a very warm and gentle Thank You, to the community, for your expressions of sympathy, condolence and compassion, on the passing of my Step Mother and My Mother, over the past year and a half. I had two very special and wonderful Mothers in this life, and I know they are waiting on me to join them in the next life, much later on, I hope…..

As my special, unique mentor, in the Society of Curmudgeons, I would like to pay homage to Dr. Chris Broadhurst (PHD-History; Masters-English) for his assistance in this article.

“When The Roll is Called Up Yonder I’ll Be There!”

Jere Kizer Douglas

Just Because

There is a man that sits at the bar,
Most look at him and see old fat and ugly
Within that man, is wisdom and great knowledge
He’s stood on the lines
He’s fought the battles
And within him resides
A heart of Gold!

He’s asked for something special
A pan of cornbread
And a few homemade muffins
From a very special kitchen

I hear that request
From a friendly bartender
It’s a special request of me.
A bright ray of light
Has just filled my life.

I’ll make the cornbread and muffins
And a little something extra special
Just because
I’ll make it very special, from my special kitchen
Just because
God put this special moment, in my life
Just when I need it also,
Just because

Jere Douglas

Diamond in the Rough

A diamond in the rough, is extremely valuable
Although, it has no brilliance, yet.
The first cut, begins to reveal that brilliance.

Just to behold God’s wonderful creation,
At it’s first conception,
Is Amazing.

The brilliance still held within it,
Just waiting to be developed.
Many things will develop that brilliance.

Each facet that’s cut,
Opens that brilliance for all to see
And Admire!

The final product
Of a life’s work
Is a gem that shines
Forever more brilliant
Than life itself.

Jere Douglas

Presbyterians and How We Believe

When comparing Scripture passages, some apparent contradictions will emerge. Such dilemmas are usually solved when each passage is studied in its own context.

Ultimately the topic needs to be considered in the context of the broadest biblical themes. Special weight ought to be given to the “rule of love”—that is, “How does this passage help the reader better fulfill Scripture’s highest law to ‘Love your Lord with all your heart, your soul, your mind, and your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself?’”

(4) Finally, we should hear the text through the voices of the church through the centuries. The work of many scholars’ interpretations can inform our study as we read their commentaries, study guides, and theological treatises. The church’s Confessions are also essential.

Living faithfully

Even after the best and most thorough study is done, we must all acknowledge mysteries we cannot hope to fathom in our mortal lifetimes. For now “we know only in part . . . . we see in a mirror, dimly” (1 Cor. 13:9, 12). Until that day when such things are revealed, grace must rule our hearts as we seek to remain unified in those things we know to be true.

Ultimately, the best biblical student is the one who not only seeks to understand but also is committed to applying the message of Scripture. “Be doers of the Word, and not merely hearers,” says the writer James (1:22). May it be so for all of us! And may it be that by doing the Word, we will fight a little less and love a little.

Presbyterian beliefs