what do we learn

Unity to be real must stand the severest strain without breaking.
Mahatma Gandhi

“That is the key to history. Terrific energy is expended –
civilizations are built up –
excellent institutions devised;
but each time something goes wrong.
Some fatal flaw always brings the selfish and the cruel people to the top
and it all slides back into misery and ruin.”

C.S. Lewis

“It is not often that nations learn from the past,
even rarer that they draw the correct conclusions from it.”

Henry Kissinger

1afc8983c747df5e4bc1c9c3ee04451b
( WWI German soldiers, in gas masks, ready to throw a potato masher grenade at the French troops in the opposite trenches)

It is said that if left unchecked, the past is but doomed to repeat itself.

Learning from one’s mistakes is always the best teacher,
always providing the best sorts of lessons to be learned…that is,
as long as one actually learns.

It seems that human beings are simply hell bent on pushing that proverbial envelope.
Yet we are smart enough to push just far enough without plunging ourselves over the cliff into the great abyss of no return.

Our global relationships are fickle at best.
Allies, turned foes, turned allies, turned foes…
as the never ending merry go round runs around and around.
It just seems to be a part of our nature as trust and distrust dance a dangerous waltz.

Ever since that fateful day when brother killed brother,
the children of Adam have never been able to wash the blood of the innocents off of their hands.

Over this past weekend, we Americans marked Memorial Day.
A day set aside to honor our Military Personnel.
It was a day created following the Civil War, the bloodiest war fought on American soil—
the war that pitted brother against brother.

It was a day in which we told ourselves we would never forget the lives lost during the fighting and during the battles. A day set aside yearly to remind us of the sacrifices made as well as of those gallant ideals and principles that divided a Nation—
And we told ourselves that no matter the reasons nor the victors…it was to be a day we would pay tribute to the lives lost, on both sides…a day in which we would pay our respects…

As our time as a Nation has continued, we have continually found ourselves entangled in countless other clashes, conflicts and wars.
Each time as the dust settles and the bombs cease, this Nation is called upon to remember…

Yet with all our celebrations, our cookouts, our ballgames
and our quiet solemn observations over this past long weekend,
we probably failed to notice that there was another tribute taking place…

This “other” day of remembrance was held in Verdun, France.
A poignant ceremony was held to mark a long ago and now mostly forgotten battle.
A battle that is simply kept deep within the books of global conflicts.

It was known as The Battle of Verdun.

The tale of this battle is as black and monstrous as they come.
It was a battle that pitted modern day allies against one another, fighting until the very death.

The Battle of Verdun, fought throughout the entire year of 1916, is known as the longest battle waged. Deadly, frustrating, endless trench warfare.
It is a battle with some of the most staggering numbers of casutalites and fatalities for any single battle.
700,000 soldiers from both France and Germany were either killed, wounded or never found as the fighting wore on for eleven long months–
The battlefield covered not even 6 square miles of land.

As the fighting wore on, it no longer remained a strategically feasible fight but became a battle of nationalistic pride. Who could outlast the other…

During the course of fighting, 9 surrounding villages were destroyed as a nation’s landscape was forever altered. It is said that the villages died for France.
Historians note that the battle was eventually wrested from Germany,
giving France the bittersweet victory.

Two years later, in 1918, Germany was finally defeated, offically ending WWI…
Yet silently a stage was now set as a foreboding darkness sat ominously upon a not too distant horizon…as lessons would quickly be forgotten…

This past weekend German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined France’s president, Francois Hollande, marking the 100th anniversary of The Battle of Verdun.
These once sworn enemies, on more than one occasion, came together on May 29, 2016 in solidarity, now as allies and friends, in order to remember what once was a very dark time in both their shared history.

Days such as Memorial Day, VE Day, VJ day, Decoration Day, Armistice Day, the 4th of July…specific days set aside yearly, or even those spontaneous moments, results of humanity’s gratitude…
serve to teach us…
they remind us of our past struggles and sacrifices as well as of our past differences…differences in ideologies and goals.
They teach us that the freedom to live and to do, a freedom we often take for granted, more often than not comes at a tremendous cost…a cost, that as a generation passes, is likely to be quickly forgotten.
These days serve to teach the surviving generations that working hard as well as together—that the deadly mistakes of the past do not always have to be repeated, as long as we are willing to learn….

French President Francois Hollande, left, holds an umbrella as he walks beside German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a German cemetery in Consenvoye, northeastern France, Sunday May 29, 2016, during a remembrance ceremony to mark the centenary of the battle of Verdun. Hollande and Merkel are marking 100 years since the 10-month Battle of Verdun, which killed 163,000 French and 143,000 German soldiers and wounded hundreds of thousands. (Jean Christophe Verhaegen/Pool Photo via AP)

French President Francois Hollande, left, holds an umbrella as he walks beside German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a German cemetery in Consenvoye, northeastern France, Sunday May 29, 2016, during a remembrance ceremony to mark the centenary of the battle of Verdun. Hollande and Merkel are marking 100 years since the 10-month Battle of Verdun, which killed 163,000 French and 143,000 German soldiers and wounded hundreds of thousands. (Jean Christophe Verhaegen/Pool Photo via AP)

Please click on the link in order to see more regarding the past weekend’s ceremony.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36407564

remembrances

Patriotism is supporting your country all the time,
and your government when it deserves it.

Mark Twain

DSCN3224
(the flag I fly at home / Julie Cook / 2015)

Today Americans will pause in order to celebrate Memorial Day.

A day many assume was put on the calendar in order to mark the unofficial start of summer.

It’s a day for day’s off…
for family gatherings,
for picnics,
for cookouts,
for ballgames…
and basic idyllic enjoyment.

However it would behoove us, on this unofficial day of all things festive,
to recall the original intent of Memorial Day…

Originally it was not a day set aside to commemorate the opening of the seasonal door to summer…
rather it was a day set aside for Americans to remember the thousands of lives lost,
as well as the thousands of bodies forever broken, during America’s darkest days of the Civil War.

It was originally referred to as Decoration Day.

Over the years, Memorial Day has taken on a life of its own.
It has become a day of celebration, an excuse for a party, a shift in the seasons, …

Yet as we celebrate, we must also remember…

We remember the countless numbers of men and woman who have served
and continue to serve in our armed forces.

We remember the lives taken.
The sacrifices made.
The limbs lost.
The souls shattered
The minds altered.
The hearts broken
And the children who have grown up and continue growing up never
knowing the parent who was called to offer the ultimate gift
to their fellow man.

So as you work in the yard,
fire up that grill,
play in the surf,
build that sand castle,
watch that ball game,
sip that lemonade,
eat that hot dog,
and just enjoy a special moment to be lazy…
Offer up a thank you…
to those men and woman who have given, and continue giving, their all…
allowing you to say “hello summertime”

“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.

Luke 9:24

We all have them…

“Our vision is so limited we can hardly imagine a love that does not show itself in protection from suffering…. The love of God did not protect His own Son…. He will not necessarily protect us – not from anything it takes to make us like His Son. A lot of hammering and chiseling and purifying by fire will have to go into the process.”
Elisabeth Elliot

images
(Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II / image borrowed from the web)

Elizabeth has had them….
She’s actually had what she referenced as an annus horribilis
An entire bad year…

Churchill had them…
just mention the word Gallipoli

Eddison had them…
think electric chair

David had them…
think plotting to have someone killed just to cover up your own bad choices…
As it just seems to get worse and worse…..

Joseph had them…
think betrayal by your own brothers…

Paul had them…
as it took three days of blindness to figure it out that raging murderous ways were not
the best use of ones talents.

Peter had them…
something about crowing roosters

Einstein had them…
A Nobel Prize winner actually failed his college entrance exam

Louis Zamperini had them…
think plane crash, 47 days in a life raft and over 2 years as a POW

FDR had them…
one word…polio

Indeed, we’ve all had them…
bad days,
bad weeks,
bad months,
bad years,
bad turns,
bad runs,
bad lives…

Times we would just rather forget.
Times we wish we could ask for the re-do or the re-start
Times we found unbearable, insurmountable and devastating…
Times we thought we’d not survive…

The thing is we will all face them…
bad times,
hard days,
difficult periods in our lives.

Some will seem endless as others will seem to be the end of us…

It will not be a matter of when they come…
because they will come whether or not we are ready, prepared or armed…

The important thing will not be what they do to us,
But rather what we do in spite of them…

Will we be beaten?
Giving up,
Lying down,
Rolling over,
Giving in…
growing bitter
resentful
resigned
hateful…

Or will we come out of it…
better,
stronger,
wiser,
kinder
even more courageous than before….

Unknown

Have I not commanded you?
Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,
for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

Just take it all in….

Everyone will stand in awe and declare God’s deeds;
they will recognize his works…

Psalm 64:9

RSCN3198
(A gulf fritillary butterfly enjoys the butterfly bush / Julie Cook / 2016)

RSCN3193
(a pipeline swallowtail busy at work on the hollyhocks / Julie Cook / 2016)

RSCN3206
(A silver spotted skipper hanging out on the butterfly bush / Julie Cook / 2016)

DSCN3190
(a meadow fritillary stops in for a visit / Julie Cook / 2016)

Enjoy the long weekend…

fractured

“You look closely enough,
you’ll find that everything has a weak spot where it can break,
sooner or later.”

Anthony Hopkins

Fractures well cured make us more strong.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

RSCN3222
(the culprit to the fractured windshield / Julie Cook / 2016)

The phone rang early…
it was before 8 and I was in the shower.
Well actually both phones were ringing at once…my cell phone and the good ol landline.
That’s when you know it’s bad…ringing phones in stereo.

Our life has been rather topsy turvy as of late so phones ringing, really before one expects, tends to send me automatically into mobilizing the troops, manning the torpedoes and battening down the hatches mode.

Dripping wet while frantically grabbing a towel I see that the caregiver is on one phone and Dad is on another. For just the slightest millisecond I debate…hummmmm, get back in the shower and pretend life is golden or bite the bullet and answer the damn phones….

Long story short—how is still unclear, but they both fell—-into one another, which is still a bit unclear, and both were down for the count.
Dad, the turtle of the two—when on his back isn’t getting up without help.
Miraculously however, he did manage to get up and get to the door to let the frantic caregiver in who had just arrived for the day.
My stepmother however…she was truly down for the count and was not getting up.

“Do I call the ambulance????” the caregiver asks in one ear as Dad wants to know if he needs to push the life alert button he wears religiously around his neck in my other ear.
Somewhere in my brain I’m thinking both of these people are in the same room, why are they both calling me when I think one of them could handle calling while the other one panics?!
Well since I’m a good hour and a half away, still wringing wet, I’m going with 911.

The short end of this tale is that my stepmother “fractured” her wrist and is in cast and sling.
Dad is still confused as to how “this arm,” as he points to his right arm, came around and knocked into my stepmother, sending her and him to the ground.

“That’s your story Dad and you’re sticking to it??” I flatly inquire.

My suspicion is Dad, at 5 feet nine inches and 185 lbs, got up out of his chair, turned, lost his balance and fell into her–all 5 feet 1 inches and 98 pounds worth.

After racing (an oxymoron word) to Atlanta for the second time this week, dealing with this latest ambulance ride and ER visit, where I am certain they now know my stepmother by name, I got everything and everyone settled and readied for the ride back home… as deja vu is the current theme with me and Atlanta.
I tell Dad that I think we need to consider 24 hour care and or they will have to move to a facility that can look after them 24/7.
He vehemently balked at that idea…

Back in the car and back on the interstate for the umpteenth time this week, I didn’t see it or even hear it…yet there it was…a strange black line on my windshield..
“What the….”
Thinking maybe a piece of pine straw was stuck on the windshield, I watch the pine straw snake it’s way along my windshield.

The pine straw was no longer that and my fear was confirmed… my windshield was indeed “fractured”

Great.

A fractured stepmother and a fractured windshield…..

DSCN3219
(must have been a Ga Tech rock as it hit right at the UGA sticker)

The good thing is that she will heal, allbeit slowly as 88 year old bones are brittle, fragile and slow to grow back…

I read on an orthopedic page that…

“Broken bone ends heal by “knitting” back together with new bone being formed around the edge of the broken parts.”

Which mind you is pretty darn cool—that our broken bones can regenerate.

My windshield, for a hefty little price, can also be miraculously repaired–as the glass folks are scheduled to come out and replace it tomorrow.

As I continue to contemplate this day’s whole fractured theme, and how we have recently dealt with a deeper fracture than that….
there are those fractures of the physical that run in and out of our lives…
I marvel over the Master Physician and His ability to heal all of the fractures of our lives—
those outward appearing breaks as well as those unseen internal breaks.

It’s just a matter of asking for His tender care…as well as allowing Him access to our “breaks”

Here’s to our regenerated healing…..

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
He sent out his word and healed them;
he rescued them from the grave.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.

Psalm 107:19-21

Isn’t it lovely….

Isn’t “it” lovely
Isn’t “it” wonderful
Isn’t “it” precious

Adpated lyrics Stevie Wonder
Isn’t she lovely

“And what is there to life if a man cannot hear the lonely cry of a whippoorwill
or the arguments of the frogs around a pond at night?”

Chief Seattle, 1854

RSCN3182
(a southern toad, Bufo terrestris / Julie Cook / 2016)

Down through the ages both frogs and toads have long gotten a bad wrap.
In almost every culture around the globe, within every tale, legend and folklore,
frogs and toads are inevitably cast in a bad light

They have been accused of causing warts.
Witches seem to love turning people into frogs.
And even Biblically, frogs and toads don’t always fair well.
As we read in Revelation that frogs spew forth from the dragon or beast’s mouth…
(Revelation 16:13-14)

They are instinctively thought to be slimy.
They like to eat flies, a little thing which seems to gross most folks out,
but hey, something has to eat them.

And of course there are those members of their clan which are poisonous.

And whereas frogs and toads are often looked down upon and considered lowly
they should also be considered most lovely.

They are considered by the scientific world as bioindicators.
A measuring stick if you will for the environment.
As frogs and toads populate both wet and dry lands and their skins are such that they readily absorb toxins and poisons form their surrounding environments, they are the first responders to show signs of distress and or a problem.

They have been around for over 250 million years pretty much as we see them today.
They have weathered the rages of time…yet their current numbers are shrinking at alarming rates.

An educational website, Save the Frogs, states:
“Frog populations have been declining worldwide at unprecedented rates, and nearly one-third of the world’s amphibian species are threatened with extinction. Up to 200 species have completely disappeared since 1980, and this is NOT normal: amphibians naturally go extinct at a rate of only about one species every 500 years!!! Amphibian populations are faced with an array of environmental problems, including pollution, infectious diseases, habitat loss, invasive species, climate change, and over-harvesting for the pet and food trades. Unless we act quickly, amphibian species will continue to disappear, resulting in irreversible consequences to the planet’s ecosystems and to humans. Frogs eat mosquitoes; provide us with medical advances; serve as food for birds, fish and monkeys; and their tadpoles filter our drinking water. Plus frogs look and sound cool, and kids love them — so there are lots of reasons to save the frogs!”
( Savethefrog.com )

It seems some of our lowest and most often ignored fellow creatures, such as bees and frogs,
are much more important to our survival than we often care to imagine.

When thinking about seemingly insignificant beings such as lowly frogs and toads having such a tremendous impact on the vast environment, eventually impacting our own existence, I am often reminded of the story of Androcles and the lion…

Of how tiny unsuspecting things can paralyze the great and the mighty.

Androcles demonstrates tenderness and mercy to the great beast by removing the thorn from his paw—I find it amazing that a great and mighty beast, such as a lion, is brought down my a tiny thorn stuck deep within his paw…
It’s a tale that should give us pause as we should consider the afflictions to the bees and amphibians
and that if they remain afflicted, they will inevitably die, taking us eventually with them.

A little bit of care and concern today, could do all species a wealth of good.

“Listen to this, Job;
stop and consider God’s wonders.
Do you know how God controls the clouds
and makes his lightning flash?
Do you know how the clouds hang poised,
those wonders of him who has perfect knowledge?

Job 13:14-16

running around like a….

When you are at home,
even if the chicken is a little burnt,
what’s the big deal?
Relax.
Jacques Pepin

DSCN3178
(The Bunratty rooster, a copy of a photo from the property)

I was city born and bred…
yet I’ve been country ever since—-
or maybe we should just say more rural than urban,
as I wouldn’t exactly call my small Georgia town country.

We are quite modern actually.
Hospital, factories, plants, large grocery chains, shopping centers, a college, a technical college…
But we do have a sale barn where farmers head every Monday morning to buy and sell their animals.
We have farmland 5 minutes from the downtown square.
We have wild animals lurking about…
fox, deer, turkey, coyotes, snakes, rabbits, armadillos, possums,
raccoons, snakes…did I mention the snakes?
Rattlesnakes, copperheads, black racers, rat snakes, corn snakes, garden snakes…..

Growing up meat and chicken was something we purchased from a grocery store…
much like I still do today.
Nice and neat in its shrink wrapped packaging.
Same with eggs, milk, hamburgers…you name it—it came from the store.
I never thought much about the “before the store” aspect….

My grandmothers grew up on farms.
They were the original farm to table girls.
Tales of butchering hogs, cows, chickens, etc. rang throughout the stories I heard as a child.

I personally love animals too much to raise them only to turn around and kill butcher them for food.
But I get it.
Living off the land as it were.
I like the idea of living off the land.
Just as I like the idea of getting my meat from a store all nice, neat and shrink wrapped.
For even though I love animals, I am truly a meat and potato girl.

I do have a chicken coop however, all ready for the day when I will have my own girls offering up fresh eggs…
yet my time for chickens, let alone much of anything else, is terribly limited these days.
Hence why I often feel as if I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off…

They say that when a farmer butchers, slaughters, chops a chicken by first waking off its head, the body will jump up in the air and actually take off running—as if for dear life—
not exactly realizing dear life is sufficiently over.

Reflexes the experts tell us.

Shades of Tim Burton, Anne Boleyn and Marie Antoinette all rolled into one.

So maybe my willy nilly running about like the proverbial chicken with my head cut off–running wildly and madly here and there all helter skelter could be chalked up to mere reflexes—the reflexes of being overwhelmed and over stressed.

Time to slow down, regroup and refocus….
and most importantly, time to seek God’s words….
Words of comfort, teaching, instruction and assurance….

You are righteous, Lord,
and your laws are right.
The statutes you have laid down are righteous;
they are fully trustworthy.
My zeal wears me out,
for my enemies ignore your words.
Your promises have been thoroughly tested,
and your servant loves them.
Though I am lowly and despised,
I do not forget your precepts.
Your righteousness is everlasting
and your law is true.
Trouble and distress have come upon me,
but your commands give me delight.
Your statutes are always righteous;
give me understanding that I may live.

Psalm 119:137-144