Monday, November 7, 2016

Faith Crisis

The subject of a personal faith crisis has come up 3 times for me in the last 24 hours. The idea that sometimes God tests us by leaving us to stand alone for a period of time to choose to endure, or not to endure without him is so profound. I personally believe that He knows, in his infinite wisdom, that each one of us needs to know on a very deep level whether we will be faithful to Him. He already knows what I will choose, he knows me better than I know myself, I am His son, he knew me personally before the foundation of this world. He knows my strengths, and He knows my weaknesses, but I don't know all of them, and He teaches me through hard experiences. There have been profound moments, seemingly long periods of darkness, in my life where I have felt utterly alone. I have made mistakes, I have not always chosen the best paths, and in doing so I have distanced myself from God, and those times have been dark, and there have been times where it seems that God has stepped back and distanced himself from me, even when I am striving with all that I know how to do to approach Him. It's during these times that I have to reach down deeper than I ever have before and look for Him. He does not always immediately respond, and I have thought at times about how easy it would be to choose to do what my selfish carnal mind wants me to do. AND I also realize that I can choose in that moment to be faithful, even if I don't "feel like it". I also realize that those are the true defining moments of my life, when I learn that I myself can and do choose to be faithful even when I don't feel it, that I can be true to what I know and believe even when I don't really feel the presence of God in my life. Those are the moments when my personal choices really matter, when I show my Heavenly Father that I am willing to stand up and be counted. It's easy to be "true and faithful" when God is making himself known, but the moments when He is withdrawn, when I have to stand on my own and make a decision which way I will go, those moments teach me that God really does keep His word that we can choose for ourselves. That happiness is mine to choose, and that my weaknesses can be made strong, yes, my weaknesses are ultimately what will help me to return to live with Him, because they teach me the most about myself, and I can rely on God to help me make them strong, thus bringing me closer to Him. This article about Micheal McLean is really good, wherein he talks about his own 9 year struggle and faith crisis:

Monday, August 29, 2016

Suffering and Pain and God telling me to "stop it!"

So much has happened over the last few years, I don't know exactly where to begin, but let me start by saying that I am getting a divorce.

Now let me continue by saying that this is the hardest thing I have ever gone through in my life. I keep looking back on my life and comparing it with what I thought my life would be and I just about want to throw up every time I think about where my life is right now. On the surface I think it looks rather grim, and believe me I have spent a lot of time, and some sleepless nights going over and over again in my head what is happening, looking at what my life is like right now, what it used to be, and what it may be in the future.

Yesterday I was at Sam's Club, not because I really needed anything there, but it's close to work and it was Friday night and the only place I had to go was home to my new bachelor pad, where I knew I would be all alone on a Friday night. My kids only 2 miles away from me, but unable to see them because its not "my weekend" (blech, my stomach wants to hurl just thinking about it). While I was there I picked up a gallon of Skim Milk and a big huge bottle of laundry detergent. I remember picking up the 115 load bottle and thinking, "this is going to last me forever since I'm the only one doing laundry at my house" (truth be told, I get to go to the laundry mat since my paycheck is now having to cover 2 households and lawyers aren't cheap). As I was walking around I looked down at my cart full of 2 items and thought about how just a few months ago when I came to Sam's Club I bought tons of food, filled the cart for my family, I loved grocery shopping for them because it gave me a sense of purpose, of doing something for them, it made me feel needed. It hit me that that was a former life that is no longer a part of my life. That life that I had become so familiar with was then, and this is now, that chapter is over and this is my new chapter. It was a very strange feeling. I reflected the first time Sara and I went to that exact Sam's Club together when we came to Utah. It was Winter 1995 and we were in a strange place, but I remember that somehow the Sam's Club felt like home because it looked and felt the same inside as it did in Phoenix. Fast forward 21 years and I was walking alone through the Sam's Club (I have been to Sam's alone many times, but this alone is a different alone. This is the I am really alone, and when I go home I will be alone, I will eat alone, and sleep alone, and do everything alone). I looked at my 2 items and realized that I didn't need anything else so I meandered (in no particularly hurry) toward the register and it struck me how ridiculous the 2 items were, how pathetic it was to not buy a lot of food to take home to my family. I felt sad in that moment and had to surrender it away to God to handle for me or I would cry right there in Sam's Club. What would my 21 year ago self say if my current self could go to him and tell him that in 21 years I would be getting a divorce? I did not ever expect this, it's so hard.

I have spent so much time beating myself up over it, to the point that God actually told me to stop it! That's right, I asked and he told me to stop beating myself up for my past. Somehow I thought it was noble to beat myself up about it, like somehow inflicting pain upon myself for my past would help to make it known that I am truly sorry and that I deserve what I get and that it I suffer enough just maybe I can be forgiven...someday. Well, that's not what God wants at all, he wants me to stop it and move on. It's been hard to stop. Somehow, there is a comfort in beating myself up, like somehow that has become an old friend. I had become accustomed to pain and I found that it was hard to let it go. Insane huh? I had always thought that what I truly wanted was happiness, and in the end what I really felt like I wanted in that phase of my life was to sit in my heap of pain and wallow in it because somehow that justifies me. God was not pleased, and now I understand why, I was allowing my own emotions to rule my actions instead of taking the reigns and being in charge of my own life.

So I started surrendering my right to beat myself up. I surrendered each time I denigrated myself in any way, every time I called myself stupid or told myself that I am such an Idiot, I had to stop and surrender that to God and let it go. I have had to learn to let go of the comfort of my own pain and choose happiness. Oh, it's not as easy as that, and it has taken a long time to see changes in my attitudes and thoughts, but it is a slow steady change. I have come to learn that happiness is not something that we simply choose. It is something that we work for. I cannot just decide one day to be happy and "viola!" I am happy. No, happiness is a lot of work, it's like Love, we can get glimpses of it given to us, but lasting love requires a great deal of work on our parts. If we want love, we have do do the work that cultivates love. Likewise, if we want happiness, we have to do the work that cultivates happiness. It's like there are laws that, if followed, lead to different virtues that bless our lives, but living those laws requires work. When I was younger love and happiness were generally easily come by, but now that I'm older I have to work harder at them. I think that this is by divine design, God allows us to feel these when we are younger so that we know how desirable they are, now that I am older, it's not so freely given, I have to work for them. I have thought for some time that there must be something wrong because I don't just easily feel love or happiness any more, I thought maybe there was something seriously wrong with me. But now I understand that God expects me to work for these things, and as I do they are both right there for the taking, so long as I am obedient to the laws surrounding these virtues.

I am actually glad that I discovered this because it makes me feel like I understand better why things are the way they are. I understand that I really do have choices in my life, I can choose attitudes, thoughts and actions that lead to anything I want, and life is so much more than what it appears to be on the surface. The end result is simply that, an end result, the true miracle is really in the journey. Happiness is the end result, the journey to living a life of happiness is the real miracle.

So I am not sure what all to say about the divorce right here, I will probably expound on my experience in later posts, but for now my heart is full of what I have written. Divorce is a very unfortunate outcome of a complex maze of choices, of sins of omission as well as sins of commission. I am guilty of both, and have beat myself up for them over and over again, to the point that (like I said earlier) God told me to stop it. I have wished that I could go back and have do overs, perhaps if I had just done this or that, or said this at just the right moment, or perhaps if I had not done this or that, then the outcome would be very different. But alas, the outcome is what it is and it's important for me to surrender any thoughts about what might have been

Saturday, April 13, 2013

I had an epiphany a few weeks ago, that we are all linked, past present and future, that those of us who are alive today keep those of us who have gone on before alive by sharing their thoughts and ideas, because the thoughts and ideas are really one eternal round of thoughts and ideas, not uniquely our own, but expressed again and again by everyone who discovers them. In this way, we are also linked to all of those who have yet to come and discover the same truths.

I had this realization that we are all linked this while reading a book, and it applied to this quote because I looked up the author of the quote, Art Linkletter, who is now passed away. He said this truth, and therefore he is credited in my piece of art with having said it, and because of that I have kept him alive so to speak so he and I are now connected by the bands that connect the past present and future. I acknowledge that the idea of choosing one's own attitude is not unique to Art, and that he did not create the idea, it has been discovered and re-discovered billions of times probably by each person who has ever been born on this earth, which links us all together, past, present, and future.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

There's A Bat In My Belfry by Julie Gillett, illustrated by Jeff Goodsell
There's A Bat In My Belfry is my first Illustrated Children's book. It was a fun challenge to take a character that I drew for the first time almost a decade ago, and re-explore it. Julie did a phenomenal job of giving him a personality, and I had the opportunity to add additional facial expressions and poses, I had never really drawn this same type of character over and over again before for it was also a great learning experience. This book will go on sale within the next few weeks so if you would like to be notified when it does, please email me at, I will send an email with a link to purchase it online, or if you live close by you can buy it directly from me!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mad Scientist Lab
This is my favorite painting in my new Halloween  Children's book "There's A Bat In My Belfry" It took me quite a long time to do all of the details in this painting, but it turned out beautifully! Some of the names of the books are inside jokes between me and my kids, it's fun to incorporate personal metaphor into my work.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Good Heart and Then Some

Today I am very proud of my son, Jaden.

I had one of those moments you always hope will come this morning when a friend of ours, Claire Taylor walked up to my car as I was dropping the kids off at school, and told me how proud she is of Jaden. Apparently her daughter told her that one day several boys were picking on another boy at school, and my son walked up, took this boy by the arm and said "come on". He walked the boy away from the bullies, and made him feel better. I don't know all of the details, but I know that I am so proud of my son. This isn't the first time something like this has happened either, Jaden has a kind heart and really cares about the people around him. I love this kid! I don't think words can begin to describe the depth of love this proud father has for his 9 year old son!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Irish in Me

This is by far the very best stew recipe you have ever tasted, I promise, or your money back! (well, since you didn't pay anything you won't see a dime, but I promise this is not a case of "you get what you pay for", this stew is DANG good).

Our family tradition for St Patricks day is to make this stew and watch Darby O' Gill and the little people as a family. Good times, except of course for this last year when I was in China for St Patricks day, the tradition was broken, but it is tradition (break into Fiddler On The Roof ballad).

Anyway, here it is, it is not an easy recipe, it takes time and patience to get it started, but once started it cooks itself in a crock pot, and I promise it is sooooo worth every up-front minute.

Irish Beef Stew

2 lbs lean beef stew meat

1/3 c. flour

Black Pepper to taste

3 medium onions chopped into bite size pieces

4 cloves garlic cut into slices

6 oz tomato paste

1 can Irish Stout beer (Guinness beer, can be purchased at Walmart (DO NOT omit the beer, it is one of the most important ingredients, I promise this recipe will be only a shadow of what it can be if you leave it out, and make sure you use the beer I tell you to, this is an Irish stew after all, for those of you worried about the alchohol, it cooks for 8 hours, which is plenty of time for the alchohol to be neutralized and cooked out, I know, I researched it)

1 c. beef stock

2 c chopped carrots (I just used a few handfuls of the baby carrots you buy in bags in the produce section, much easier, and this is already a lot of work, plus they look so perfect, do your really want to sand the ends to get them nice and rounded like the baby carrots you buy already are?)

½ tsp thyme

1 pinch cayenne pepper

4 diced potatoes

½ chopped green pepper (bite size pieces)

3 bay leaves

¼ c. brown sugar

1 tbsp worschestershire sauce

6 slices bacon (you can cheat and use some more for good measure, I usually do, after all who doesn't like extra bacon?)

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil

Pre-heat your crock pot. Coat beef in 1/3 c. flour, cook bacon slices in a pan with butter and olive oil (I know you are thinking, "add fat to already fatty meat?" but trust me, do what it says!, crumble and set aside. Saute floured beef in bacon drippings, adding chopped onion for the last 3 minutes. Add Bacon pieces to the beef/onion mixture and place in the bottom of crock pot.

Deglaze the pan you just cooked the meat in with 1 can Irish Guinness beer, 1 cup beef stock, and worchestershire sauce. (for those of you wondering, I had to look up the definition of "Deglaze" the first time I made this, if you are still wondering, I'm gonna make you do the same :) Pour broth to the meat in the crock pot.

Layer the potatoes, carrots and peppers on top of the meat and broth, then add all the rest of the ingredients and let cook on high in crock pot for 6 hours, or on low for 8 hours. Stir occasionally after about 4 hours.

Serve with warm bread, while watching Disney’s “Darby O’ Gill and the Little People” with your family.

ENJOY! (you are welcome in advance, after all, I only post my best recipes :)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Dragon Spunk

During my first visit to China I had a friend on Facebook mention that she saw a painting of a Chinese Dragon in my future. I thought it was a good idea so here is my version of a Chinese Dragon. I chose a pic I had taken while visiting one of the Buddist temples, and used it as inspiration for my own Chinese Dragon.

Originally I was going to really "Jeff" it up with lots of filigree and ornamentation, but when I had the dragon itself painted, and it was time to add the filigree, I decided there is beauty in letting this painting just be itself. I did curl the whiskers, so that will have to be enough "Jeff" for this painting. Sometimes too much is too much and simple is better.

This is the pic I used as inspiration, the painting is done with Acrylic paint, chosen because I didn't want to worry about whether oil paint was dry enough to pack into my suitcase.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Snickerdoodle Heaven

I have had a few requests for my snickerdoodle recipe, which by the way is not my snickerdoodle recipe, my wife, Sara tells me it is actually the Farley's recipe. (I actually have a really great Lemon Snickerdoodle recipe I have made by altering this recipe, it is really good, but that is not the recipe I was asked for so here is the normal Snickerdoodle recipe) According to Sara when she lived with the Farleys, Chad Farley used to love snickerdoodles and this is the recipe he would make, so now credit is given where credit is due.

This is a great basic snickerdoodle recipe for anyone who loves a great snickerdoodle:

1 c shortening (vegetable)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 c sifted flour

Mix shortening, sugar, and eggs together. Add dry ingredients, and mix well.

Chill dough and roll into balls the size of a small walnut (I personally like much larger snickerdoodles, so I make bigger balls, like the size of golf balls). Roll in a mixture of 2 Tbsp Sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon.

Bake 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, should be barely golden brown around edges, do not overcook, or they will be to crispy, the secret of a good snickerdoodle is getting the baking time right so they stay soft, crunchy snickerdoodles are just not right.

There you have it, enjoy!

Jeff (the rocketman) Goodsell

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Death, Dumbledoore, and the Stage of Life

I just got back from taking Sara to see Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, excellent movie by the way, very well done, acting on the main character's parts leaves a little to be desired, but excellent performances by the others, perfect Horace Slughorn, the cinematography is beautiful, more than just great angles, the color and lighting is eye candy I love being an artist and looking at things from a very visual perspective. But that is not why I am writing, I had a though as I watched Dumbledoore die, and I wanted to type it out.

As we go through life there are a great many people who come in and out of our own life. I suppose our lives are each like a stage, we are always on our own stage, and other people drift on and off at various intervals, some leave and come back making many appearances. Each person who enters our stage, no matter how briefly, influences us in some small or large way, for good or bad, and we are the sum of our life experiences (what is played out on our stage) and the relationships with the actors on our stage. We sometimes we can choose who is on the stage, and other times we are forced into relationships with people, good or bad, but no matter the situation, we can choose whether to let that influence become a part of who we are, or to discard it, ultimately we are the masters of who we become.

I watched Dumbledoore hit with the killing curse by Snape, then fall off the tower to the courtyard below, and the thought occurred to me that Dumbledoore was now taking a permanent step off of the stage of Harry Potter. Then a step further, his own stage had just closed curtains, at least on this mortal existence. I realized that in my own life, my time on this earth is finite, I only have so many years to live, and so does everyone else, whether our lives rub against one anothers or not we all get on this earth and step off, and while I can have some influence in someone's life, for good or bad, I am ultimately only have control of my own life and the choices I make. My children, my wife, my mom, dad, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends, work associates, all have their own lives to live. The best I can do is to make sure that mine is a positive influence for whatever duration I am on their stages performing.

I can control the part I play on their stage, but I cannot control what they do with it.

We are each the sum of all of the parts being acted out on our own stages, let's make the most of each and every day, and work hard to act the good part.