Relinquishing all

We have clothed ourselves with Christ’s grace, with the whole Christ,
so let us spread ourselves like coats under his feet.

St Andrew of Crete

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(a silvery canopy of Spanish moss / Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Ga / Julie Cook / 2016)

No one is ever united with Jesus Christ until he is willing to relinquish not sin only, but his whole way of looking at things. To be born from above of the Spirit of God means that we must let go before we lay hold, and in the first stages it is the relinquishing of all pretence. What Our Lord wants us to present to Him is not goodness, nor honesty, nor endeavour, but real solid sin; that is all He can take from us. And what does He give in exchange for our sin? Real solid righteousness. But we must relinquish all pretence of being any thing, all claim of being worthy of God’s consideration.
Oswald Chambers

Relinquish
To let go
To yield
To release
To surrender

No holding on
No waffling
No balancing
It’s all or nothing.

Jesus beckons…
He calls your name.
He wants you…

Not the pieces…
Not the parts…
Not this or that
Not a portion…

But all…
Of you…

He wants everything…
Every aspect
Every love
Every like
Every dislike
Every hate
Every passion
Every possession
Even…
The darkness
The savings
The wealth
The debt
The stuff that makes you who you are
Your temper
Your joy
Your anguish
Your secrets

Yet are you willing to give Him your secrets?
The things you’re afraid others will see.
That which you hope to hide, especially from Him…
That which you hope to keep hidden…

What of the status, the position…
Your place among others…
What of the security…
The pleasures…
The comfort…
Are you willing to give away that which makes you comfortable?
Stable,
Steady,
Happy…

Are you willing to lay yourself, your entire being…
The good, the bad, the indifference, the naivety, the ignorance, the pompousness…
Everything that makes you you…not only at His feet
But under His feet?

Offering it all
100% of it all
No holding on and no holding back…

To the One who gave His all to you….

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
1 John 2:15-17

Party like it’s….

I was dreamin’ when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray
But when I woke up this mornin’, could’ve sworn it was judgment day
The sky was all purple, there were people runnin’ everywhere
Tryin’ to run from the destruction, you know I didn’t even care
Say say two thousand zero zero party over, oops, out of time
So tonight I’m gonna party like it’s nineteen ninety-nine

Lyrics to the song 1999 by Prince

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(a retired copper pot (still) on the grounds of the Jameson Distillery, Midleton, County Cork, Ireland, Julie Cook / 2015)

You know the song…
That turn of the century, energy popping, everyone up on their feet, dancing fever crazy song that we shouted out with reckless abandon on New Year’s Eve 1999…

You know how us humans get on the eve on any sort of major potential earth altering event….
What with the turning of the century, and even better yet, the turn of the millennium…
Some of us were carrying the plackets “Repent the End is near”
while others of us were, well, throwing caution to the wind and partying hardy…
like it was 999, 1999…
you get the picture.

With the mindset having been that if this is indeed the proverbial “it,” as in the end of life as we know it, we might as well let out all the stoppers, no hold’s barred and live, literally, like there’s no tomorrow….

Well, guess what…?
Tomorrow came.
We actually survived the turn of the century, the turn of the millennium and even Y2K…
Yet some of us are still carrying on like it’s still 1999…

Our culture seems to be obsessed with the mindset of living and living large in the moment.
As each and every minute we spend waking should be pleasure absorbing—and if it’s not, life is simply less than.

Get, gather, have, possess, and enjoy.

Acquire as many goodies and toys as possible.
Live the good life.
Materialism.
Extravagance.
Glamorous
Rubbing elbows
The who’s who….

Live on the edge, throw your head back, smile, laugh, eat, drink and be merry… and let loose.

Cause this here life is one big party and if you ain’t enjoying and having fun,
then you ani’t living….
…and if you’re not living large, then you’ve got problems…

Or that’s what the world of entertainment and the big marketers of all those goodies would have us believe.

And there are even those of faith who would add to all of that by reminding us that our days are indeed numbered. Because hadn’t God not said that we have been promised but the one day we open our eyes…and even the full day isn’t a guarantee…
So yes, live life to the fullest because you are not promised tomorrow…

Yet that, living life so large that we block everything else out, was never the intent…
despite what the world would have any of us to believe.

Life is not one big party—and I know many of you don’t want to hear that.
“Debbie downer” is such a current quip slapped on anyone attempting to rain on the parade of all things grand.

And Christians get a bum wrap as the deadbeats of any party.
Throughout history those glum and dire faces that seem to exude nothing but sacrifice, denial and misery have not done much to further the faith as it were.
The world standing on one side all festive and shiny, while Christians stand on the other looking all stiff in their hair shirts are viewed as terribly uninviting…

No wonder so many observers are flummoxed over the whole opposing polar opposites of the world vs Christianity.
Who doesn’t want to be happy and have fun?
And who wants to put on a less than fashionable hair shirt…?

But there’s more to it than all of that surface business.
It goes much much deeper.

For you see, this whole world, with all it’s fancy smancy trappings, is but an illusion–
an illusion of both space and time…and the master of this realm works very hard to make you
feel quite at home and “comfortable”…in the illusion.
This world as we know it, is passing all away before our very eyes.
However most of us have been deluded into thinking otherwise…

Yet at the mere mention of such there are those of you who bristle.
You’re in charge of your own thinking, your own observations, and you will think what you choose.
Who wants to hear mumbo jumbo of the what ifs, the stifling Christian dribble…
for you see nothing of merit to the words I speak…

Yet there is something much more serious at the root of all of this…
There are underlying reasons to your unabashedly intense drive and desire for all that glitters..

There’s that disturbing little matter of one’s soul.
The what happens when this little party is indeed finally all over worry…the thing you never want to spend much time fretting over…
It’s the “what then” that is often the missing piece to the puzzle….

Do you really think that when it’s all over, when your life is over, that you just simply cease to be?
That the dearly departed just fall into the abyss of some black hole—the void of pure nothingness?
Is that what bothers you?
As in there is no more and that’s that?
Is it those nagging questions that you prefer not thinking about, is that what this living fast and furious is all about?

Or perhaps you think that it’s ok because you rationalized that if you’re good, you haven’t killed any one, you haven’t really been all “that” bad, as you’ve just wanted to live happy and have certainly done such,
so you think that that’s all ok with God as He’ll obviously let all the good people go to heaven….

What then of Jesus…?
What of His words…“if you love me…”
What of that….?
That nagging question?
There was also a “you will keep my commandments” which followed….
As in “do as I have commanded you.”
“If you love me”

Just like when he said…
“I am going now, leaving you here. But don’t worry, I’m sending a helper.
The Holy Spirit.
He will help guide you.
Don’t fret, I’ve given you what you need…and now it’s your turn…
You’ve got to go forth and share my words…my commands…all to a hurting world.
It won’t be easy.
You will be ridiculed.
You will be beaten.
You will be isolated
You will be thrown out.
You will be separated…
You won’t be believed.
You won’t be welcomed.
You will meet obstacles.
You will face perils.
It won’t be easy…

Yet rich will be your reward…

As in the reward which will follow after this party hardy world is finally quiet and all said and done…

Rich, welcoming, loving, inviting, arms open wide, fall into this love, sort of reward…

So yeah…
When the party is over in this short lived realm, the next party is going to pretty unbelievable and certainly out of this world…
The question…
Will you be invited?
and should you care if you aren’t….?

There is indeed so much more…

“Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.
Revelation 22:12

compartmentalized

“…what you don’t believe strongly enough to teach doesn’t do you any good.”
A.W. Tozer

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(Bonaventure Cemetery , Savannah, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2016)

Here’s the thing…
The thing about us…
Those of us who profess to be Christians…

We have a penchant for keeping our little worlds nice and tidy.

We lean our preferences to keeping things neat and overtly orderly.
We don’t like to mix things up too much.
And we really prefer keeping our church life, well, at church.

Oh we might give to that homeless beggar whose path we cross as we’re headed here and there.
We might reluctantly serve on this or that committee.
We’ll send in that monthly tithe check to the church…
a little tax write off you know guised in the form of a “donation”
We’ll take the kids to the Wednesday night pot luck or the occasional youth group gathering.

Chances are our daily conversations with colleagues and friends has us talking about what happened last night on…
The Batchelor…
What sort of Oscar shindig will we be putting together…
Or…that we actually can’t believe who got kicked off American Idol, The Voice, Dancing With The Stars or of that so called Island…

Sundays’ Gospel lesson or that killer line from the sermon most likely isn’t causing our tongues to wag as we simply don’t have that same sort of zeal to share those amazing moments as we do the more trival….for if the truth be known, we can’t much remember what last Sunday’s sermon was about, or what verse we even read this morning during our wee hour devotional or we can’t exactly really recall the last time we prayed…I’m talking really prayed.
Not the rote Lord’s prayer…not grace at a meal—I’m talking down on your knees, head bowed before an amazing Omnipotent Creator sort of prayed….

This is because we, those of us living in this western civilization of ours, tend to compartmentalize our lives.
Each and everything in our little world(s) has it’s place.
There is the social side of our lives, the school side, the business side, the serious side, the “religious” side, the fun side…
every aspect has it’s place…
and some of those aspects are only afford a limited amount of playing time.

That’s why when we read such news stories such as yesterday’s coverage that Iran is paying the families of its martyrs, those who have died while raging some sort of havoc (aka jihad) on Israel a nice $7000. equivalent for the “sacrifice” of their loved ones in the name of all things Iranian and Muslim…
as it seems that that recent US billions of dollars gift is now being put to good use….

Yet that sort of story just passes over our consciousness for the brief moment as our eyes quickly scan to the next headline…moving on to reading the more pressing latest weather updates.

We don’t see a correlation between our neat little compartmentalized worlds and the constant torment of Israel by the Muslim world as being relevant. We don’t recall God’s word about the Christian responsibility of honoring Israel.
We rationalize that’s over there.
That’s their business, not ours and if the truth be told,
we don’t really care for how they do their business.
We think “leave well enough alone…you live your life, let them live theirs as we live ours…”
simple as that.

We’ve forgotten that little parable that Jesus told of the vineyard (Matthew 21:33-46).
You remember…
You know that little story of the “bad” tenants who schemed to milk the landowner for all he was worth… eventually, after having beaten and killed the landowners representatives, they in turn thrashed, beat and killed the owners own son…thinking that would force the landowners hand in their favor…
And do you remember how Jesus then went on to explain that it, the land of inheritance (aka the vineyard), will all be taken away form the ungrateful ones (i.e. the ungrateful, unfruitful nation) and given to a different more grateful group (i.e.the grateful fruitful nation)—one that actually honors what it has been given—the nation that heeds to the word of God—

“Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.” (Matthew 21:43-44)

Kind of like us today in the US…as we no longer heed God’s word as Sovereign…and the thing is, very few who call themselves Christians care to speak up…speaking up about our responsibilities as Christians…let alone taking on those very responsibilities and living them out with unabashed enthusiasm.

Compartmentalized verses the truth of Salvation…hummmmm

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
Romans 1:16

A traveling we go….

“I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh.
It cures a multitude of ills.
It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”

― Audrey Hepburn

“If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane.”
― Robert Frost

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(Gloria ready to head over to dad’s)

So today, Gloria the dammit doll and I had to travel over to Dad’s.
I still can’t get over the coincidence of Gloria the dammit doll having the same name as my stepmother—what are those odds?!
Anywhooo, our week is a bit off kilter as we’ve had to deal with life here on the homefront, which in turn has put us off track for our weekly pilgrimage, or two, or three or four…you get the point, to Atlanta.

It was going to be a busy trip…
There were to be groceries to buy, bills to pay, visits to banks, trips to doctors, and a visit with dad’s tax folks…it is that time of year you know…

So…as Gloria was driving us over to Atlanta early this morning, she’s spies something with her wee eye….

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(Gloria behind the wheel on I-20)

A groundhog, running for its life frolicking along the side of the interstate catches Gloria’s eye…

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(Gloria was driving too fast for us to get a picture of the groundhog so we had to borrow one from the internet–the internet is nice that way)

“Well, this must be our lucky day” remarks Gloria.
What are the chances of seeing a groundhog running for its life playing alongside the interstate?? she exclaims….
The sun is shinning popping out here and there from behind the sea of remaining storm clouds, north Georgia is experiencing snow showers while we’re doing good to keep the car between the lines in the gale force winds, but if Gloria thinks today’s our luck day, who am I to rain on her parade?!

When we get to Dad’s we meet the new caregiver…one of these two Gloria’s gathered near me keeps running them off, I’m not naming names but Gloria the dammit doll is off the hook…
and so far things seem ok.

Dad is sitting in his chair, the one I sometimes wonder if he’s not glued in to…but I notice he’s not completely dressed—as in his pants are on, but the shirt isn’t tucked in, the belt isn’t fastened, nor are the pants.
“Hi Dad, what’s up with your pants?”
“Oh, uh, uh, they just won’t stay together.”
“Dad, I just bought you three new pair, where are they?
Oh, uh, uh, they’re back there, uh, uh, I don’t need them.
Suuuuureee you don’t…

Long story short, it seems Dad’s colitis is acting up—which happens every time things in that house become chaotic…
Of which they certainly have over the past month or so….as in all hell has been breaking loose, hence why Gloria the dammit doll has had to work really hard on overtime….and dad isn’t keeping his pants zipped, buttoned or belted as he’s running back and forth to the bathroom. Have you ever seen a very feeble 88 year old, who lists dangerously to the right, attempt to hurry to the bathroom—puts new meaning into scary viewing.

The caregiver fills me in on the latest trauma dramas.

The main bathroom, the one my stepmother uses, has been the crime scene for her last two catastrophic falls. Each time she has managed to wedge herself up against the door, preventing help from getting to her. Subsequently she has been emphatically told by the nurse, the doctor, the care service, her son, the EMT’s, Dad, me… to allow the caregivers to assist her in and out of the bathroom and not to lock nor completely shut the door.

Defiant to the end, the door has remained locked tight despite the cries of those imploring from the other side she open up the door.
So on Sunday her son removed the door.
(Shades of having a teenager…just a really old teenager)
As in he lifted that sucker right off it’s hinges and carted it off to the basement.
Replacing the door with a rather chic little curtain job, giving way to an air of a day spa happening in my stepmother’s bathroom. Easy and breezy in a fab chic sort of way.

My stepmother had become unglued prior to the door’s removal…
As in raging, manic, irate, irrational, hateful, threatening…you name it… as in it might be time to call in reinforcements.
Hence why Dad now has colitis…again.

A visit to the doctor earlier this week, along with some tweaking of dementia meds, and there is actually peace and clam at the day spa house today….odd and frightening at the same time

Gloria the dammit doll looked at me as we both wondered if we were in the right house.

Yet Dad was anything but peaceful..he was troubled…even fretful.
Quiet and agitated at the same time.

When my stepmother had to leave to go get the staples removed from her head…those staples from her latest catastrophic fall in the bathroom…of which shattered the mirror, which she had fallen into…cutting herself to shreds…the result of defiant stubbornness as in I won’t use the walker, I won’t allow help, as in I will lock doors….but I digress…
I stayed behind with dad, at the house, just to figure out what was troubling him…
as if I didn’t already have my suspisions.

He has worked himself back into a full blown sick tizzy of worry… and no matter the reassurance, the emphatic explaining on my part, he was hearing none of it…he was back to being a dog with a bone—a bone that is used up and no good.
He obsesses…to a very dangerous and unhealthy level–welcome to his dementia.
We couldn’t get lucky and have two with the same sort of dementia—nope–we’ve got to do battle on multiple fronts.

So I’m now wondering how best to help–
I’ve lined up a trip to the gastroenterologist.
I’ll be emailing the nurse for suggestions.
We may, God forbid, have to cut out his sweets and chocolate….
and I will keep my fingers crossed that my stepmother will now rest in this period of bizarre calm in order that dad’s guts can also get to a place of calm…

For life at Dad’s is anything but calm…as in, when it rains, it will indeed pour….and I usually won’t be holding an umbrella…

So finally late this afternoon, while Gloria the dammit doll was driving us back home, she poses a question my way…

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She mentions that maybe she should try her luck at a dammit doll dating match site.
She’s been working herself to death as of late, as in working overtime between both dad and my stepmother…
Maybe it’s time I get her a helpmate.
She had actually seen a fellow in a store front window when she was on a recent visit to Savannah..a fellow who she thought was really pretty cute…yet she was afraid to approach him.

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I had seen him as well, sitting there in that window with those big brown eyes, but I told her that he was not her type.
I explained to her that he appeared to be nothing more than a smooth talker and totally full of crap.
I promised her that once we got back home later in the day, I’d go on-line in search of a Mr. Dammit doll…one that she could call her own…

Well, I’ll keep you posted as to who shows up to ask Gloria the dammit doll out on a date…
Kind of reminds me of those long ago mail order brides…I just hope he’s not a Russian…not that I’m opposed to Russians mind you but I would like one who speaks the language.

Until then…it seems Gloria has had a day of it and needs a little rest….

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A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22

*****It should be noted that my cheeky approach in this situation of life with my dad and stepmother leaves me in tears more oft than not—-so there are times, such as today’s post, in which I’ve got to reach for the humor when there is strength to do so… otherwise my spirit would indeed break and dry up–
Tending to them and their needs, maintaining their world as peacefully as possible.. for both of them… requires finesse, the patience of Job, stamina, sanity and a steady hand—doing it alone is none too easy. It often leaves my own world, home, family upside down and pulling the short straw.
Those of you out there who face similar situations of caring for aging and elderly parents..those with both physical as well as emotional and or mental needs..know how very difficult life can be.
Alzheimers and dementia are not kind.
Hence why Gloria the dammit doll has made these bad days a bit more tolerable
🙂

upside down

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
Lewis Carrol

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(Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2016)

Some told lies while others told truth…
And sorting out the difference was pretty cut and dry

Yet that was long ago…and all of that was then…

Everything now has been turned wrong-side up and upside down…

With right becoming wrong and wrong becoming right
All that once mattered has turned woefully out of step.

“It’s ok” they say and “its now all alright”
“Everything goes” so there’s no turning back.

For God was sovereign, this much we knew
But the lies began raging, replacing Him with you

While buying-in has now become the thing to do….

If you’ve lost your voice and your tongue seems stuck,
hurry quick and speak on up…to this world turned upside down…

For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.
Romans 16:18

The garden

“We all long for Eden, and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its best and least corrupted, its gentlest and most human, is still soaked with the sense of exile.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

“When Adam ate the irrevocable apple, Thou
Saw’st beyond death the resurrection of the dead”

C.S. Lewis

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(Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2016)

There once was a garden that was perfect in every sense.
There were no need for boundaries nor signs, not even a single fence.

Its beauty was undeniable as its splendor was amazing.
There were animals of every shape and size contently roaming and grazing.

The trees grew tall and the pastures lush, as the bushes grew full and wide…
While all manner of flower and fruit blossomed with unapologetic pride.

God sweetly handed man the keys proclaiming that he should now enjoy,
Creation could but only hope for a happy ending to this perfect story…

But happiness and peace were not to be this story’s blissful end…
For there was far more trauma and tragedy that this writer should have penned…

There were whispered lies and falsehoods uttered, as selfishness stepped on stage.
With the die being cast and death now laughing, it is only sorrow for this new age..

The gates to this most beautiful place were sealed and tightly locked.
As both seraphim and cherubim stood to the side confused and terribly shocked…

Forever banished now is Adam, with Eve right by his side…
Along with every hope and dream, which has each now quickly died…

Death this tragic day was given dominion over this now broken world…
As chaos and madness mixed together and evil loomed and swirled…

Our generation is no different from the rest with each now having come and gone…
We wonder if today’s the day as we look beyond this morning’s dawn.

Will Christ come riding triumphantly upon the clouds so white…
And will this once beautiful garden ever be returned to earth’s most anxious sight?

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.
Revelation 22:1-3

Life driving you crazy?

“The Edge… There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.”
― Hunter S. Thompson

“Looks like what drives me crazy
Don’t have no effect on you–
But I’m gonna keep on at it
Till it drives you crazy, too.”

― Langston Hughes

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Is life driving you crazy?

Does it sometimes make you want to cry…

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Have you worried that maybe the craziness is driving you to drink…

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Or maybe it’s really getting to you and now you’re simply all steamed up…

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Or are you feeling out of sorts as it’s making you resort to erratic behavior…

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Do you wish you could just flush it, or even yourself, all very far away?

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Or maybe you’re simply feeling a mess thinking you’re finally all washed up…

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When life is proving impossible and you’re convinced you’re going crazy
When circumstances astound you and reality has become all too hazy….

When you’ve gotten overwhelmed, leaving youself feeling only sad and blue
As circumstance and others have turned their wrath on poor ol little you….

It’s time to ask for God’s endless Mercy and His good and gracious Grace
as you now find yourself letting go, putting on once agin, a smiling happy face…

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All images are of Gloria the Dammit Doll—she has been sorely tried and tested as of late….