the underdog who wants its Sunday’s back

But I will go down with this ship
And I won’t put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I’m in love and always will be..
.

White Flag lyrics by Dido

The great danger for family life,
in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort and independence,
lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish.

Pope John Paul II


(Alice, our grand-dog, is not an underdog necessarily, rather a very much loved dog
/ Julie Cook / 2017)

I have always been a person who likes to pull for the underdog…
that team, group or individual who has the odds stacked against them, him or her.

Maybe that’s because, as a wife and mother, I have often felt my brood has
at times fallen into the category of the underdog.

Those who stare from the bottom of the barrel upward at those perceived to be bigger,
better, brighter, smarter, richer, luckier, more successful, more this and more that.
As the bottom is pitted against the upper—
with the odds never being good or favorable.

Maybe it’s that little college team that has no chance playing against that top
ranked huge opponent but who must play anyway…all in order to bring much needed
revenue in to their less advantaged school.

They are out coached, out weighed, out numbered and out financed..
To play is a risk both physically as well as mentally…but nonetheless,
play they do.

They go forward despite the odds.
The roll up their sleeves despite the inevitable.
They hold their heads up knowing they will soon be knocked down.

Yet there is never shame in trying and holding ones ground.

And so when I read the latest post, of which I have provided the link…
a post from a delightful blog I follow—
a blog that doesn’t post often, but when there is a post, it is usually very profound
and or powerful….
I was reminded again of why I like an underdog….

The blogger and family wouldn’t dare consider themselves profound or powerful—
for theirs is a simple sort of life but one that possesses a deep
rooted spiritual faith.
They are a Catholic family living in the shadows of Notre Dame…
who are just one more link in the chain of defenders of this collective
Christian faith of ours….

Thoughts from the side of the House…..

America Implodes on “Black Friday”…. Meanwhile, POLAND Leads the Way Towards Sanity

This post captured my feelings exactly of how I feel not only about Black Friday
but how I feel as to how America, along with most of Western Civilization, has turned
Christmas into something totally unrecognizable.

And maybe that has been the goal all along.
No longer is it Christmas as we thought we knew Christmas…
but rather it is a “winter” moment, or if in the Southern Hemisphere,
it is a “summer” moment…a moment that just so happens to have copious gift
giving attached.

And just when we thought the world had gone mad with all things materialistic
and secular… in steps the often mocked, maligned and overlooked nation of Poland.

I have written about Poland before, for various reasons.

I don’t think many of us living in this Western Civilization of ours actually
realizes the debt of gratitude we truly owe to Poland.

Poland for well over 1000 years has stood on the defining line between
Western Civilization and all sorts of barbarism, communism, socialism, Nazism, totalitarianism and now secularism.
For every ‘ism’ out there—Poland has stood against it as the defining line
of right verses wrong.

Poland was the line between the Mongols, the Saracens, the Nazis and the Communists…
just to name but a few of the invading hordes whose sites were always set on
freedom and democracy.

But Poland has said “NO!” time and time again,
even at the greatest cost to herself and her people.

She sacrificed herself more times than not…and yet was the butt of
every American’s jokes in the late 60’s and 70’s…
“how many Pollocks does it take to unscrew a light bulb?”
You remember the jokes.
Even Archie Bunker of All in the Family fame helped fuel the ridiculing fires.

Yet it is to Poland and her people who those of us enjoying life in the Western World
owe a great deal of gratitude to…
gratitude for the very freedoms we each enjoy today as it was Poland who stood on the
defending line of “us verses them” for over 1000 years.

Selflessness verses the often sought self preservation

She has even disappeared off the map more than once when she was gobbled up by
usurpers who ate the nation and her people only to later spit them back out.
A sacrifice made and given as that has been her lot and her role.

When we think of mighty nations, Poland does not come to mind.

Yet it was in Poland that Hitler had the majority of his Death Camps.
And it was Poland who was sacrificed to Stalin by Roosevelt.
And it was Poland who stood up to the mighty USSR.

And it is now Poland who wants her Sundays back.

Sundays back you ask…???

Sundays yes…because out of all the nations, Poland is still considered to
be a decisively Christian nation.

No other nation is considered such—not even
France, Ireland or Italy…as most of the the West, along with most of North America,
has fallen to the god of all things secular.

Here in the West, we have gotten quite accustomed to living life 24 /7
Meaning we can go, do, buy, see whatever it is we want on any given
single day of the week.

It use to not be that way.

Sunday was the sabbath….
It still is but most folks have forgotten that little fact.

Most everything was closed in observance of the Sabbath.
People were off from work, they would attend church, they would spend time
visiting, eating together, being a family together….

In the West we had what was known as blue laws—laws that restricted certain
activities on Sundays as Sunday was to be a day of Christian religious observation.
Malls were closed, banks and the Post offices were closed, many stores were closed,
bars were closed, most restaurants were closed, the sale of beer, wine and liquor was prohibited…on and on it went.

Then that all changed.
For a myriad of reasons— profits, selfish wants, greed…
The notion of wanting and having when and how one wanted things took precedence.
Laws were changed.

But Poland wants to see all of that changed…reversed back to Sunday being a day of
reverence, a Sabbath, a day for family….
“Just this week the lower house of the Polish parliament passed a bill to phase out unnecessary consumer spending on Sundays.
The law would curtail most shopping in order to allow the Polish people
to spend time with their families.”

Once again, Poland, that underdog of nations, demonstrates that despite being small
and considered by others as less than….no one will ever say that Poland is afraid
to stand up against what she perceives to be wrong,
standing even that means she stands alone for what is right…..

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all
kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven,
for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:10-12

authority, fear, respect…

“Power is a poison well known for thousands of years.
If only no one were ever to acquire material power over others!
But to the human being who has faith in some force that holds dominion over all of us,
and who is therefore conscious of his own limitations, power is not necessarily fatal.
For those, however, who are unaware of any higher sphere, it is a deadly poison.
For them there is no antidote.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn


(two cousins vying for the same spot / Julie Cook / 2017)

There is a sequence of events taking place within these images…
And believe it or not,
it has everything do with authority, respect and fear and the presumption of each.

First we should note that there is a giant dog’s bed that has been placed
in an otherwise dog free bedroom.

A cushy enough looking bed that cousin Alice sleeps on at night.

In the first image we see cousin Percy taking a look at
85 pound cousin Alice resting on the floor and not in her bed…
as a million questions now race through cousin Percy’s thoughts.

Next, cousin Percy looks to see if anyone else has noticed this anomaly.
A bed but the owner of said bed is opting not to use it, instead preferring the floor….
Hummmmmm…

In the next image we see that cousin Alice is nowhere to be seen and that cousin Percy,
deducing that the coast is clear, has decided to try out the bed.
Not that cousin Percy doesn’t have real beds at his disposal or closet shelves or
couches or anywhere in the house that he wants…but it is this visiting bed,
belonging to cousin Alice, that seems most appealing.

Lastly we see cousin Percy sound asleep.
Happy and content.
Cousin Alice’s favorite toy, the Yoda chew doll, sits on the floor right in front of a sleeping
cousin Percy and what we don’t see is cousin Alice, who is just out of camera shot, and who
is afraid to come in the room to get either favorite said chew toy Yoda let alone
get on her bed lest she wake the sleeping giant….

So here we have a small example of what authority is all about and what it means to
have respect… or in this case, a bit of fear of and for said authority.
And of course, there are all sorts of side lessons in all of this but let’s just consider the
concept of authority for now.

Authority is defined by Merriam Webster as:
a power to influence or command thought, opinion,
or behavior…as in the president’s authority.
b : freedom granted by one in authority: right..
as in Who gave you the authority to do as you wish?

2 a : persons in command; specifically : government…
as in the local authorities of each state
b : a governmental agency or corporation to administer a revenue-producing
public enterprise…as in the transit authority or the city’s housing authority

3 a : grounds, warrant…as in had excellent authority for believing the claim
b : convincing force…as in lent authority to the performance

We should note that throughout history, humankind has been expected to have respect
for authority…
And we might note that throughout this history of humankind,
that such words as ‘respect’ and ‘fear’ have been used interchangeably…
with fear not necessarily meaning cowering like a mouse but rather
being full of overwhelming awe….

Example being that some biblical translations use the word “fear of the Lord,
while a more accurate translation would be “respect for the Lord”…
but we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves.

This business of authority, as well as that of having respect for said authority,
got its start with that whole creating of man and woman…as in Adam and Eve…

Adam, the first man, was to have respect for the authority of God, the only Creator.
The very God who gathered up dust, ash and mud and breathed life into it all,
creating Adam.
Next, God the Father knew that Adam would need a helpmate,
so borrowing that now famous rib, Eve came along.
Eve would now in turn have respect for the authority of both God and Adam…

Have you noticed that a little sequence of authority and respect is beginning to form?
The building blocks of authority and respect.

Next with Adam and Even having dominion over all of the animals, fish and birds…
they, these creatures of the earth, in turn then fell under authority of the God
followed by man and woman…

And we should note that any offspring of Adam and Eve, as they were the first,
then said offspring would therefore also have dominion over the animals, birds and fish….
And on and on it was to flow.

Add to all of this the lynchpin of respect.
Respect for and of one for another…
The tie that binds it all up.
A perfect scenario.

Yet unfortunately the chain of authority and respect fell into disrepair with that
first bite of an apple…
For you see God afforded this man and this woman the gift of free will.
And here is the kicker…..
they were not slaves who were to be forced under authority….
they were to come under authority freely and willingly…because within that
authority was the most perfect expression of Love.

And oh how perfect it all could have been…..

And as we now see, looking back over the annals of time, history has shown us that not
all authority since the fall has been kind nor benevolent.
Because in that fall from grace, free will gave way to poor choices..
choices that have been more selfish rather than selfless..
choices that have held very little regard for the dignity of person upon person.

With all of this business harkening back to that original initial sin and disobedience…
of which in turn begat pride, envy, jealousy, selfishness, arrogance, cruelty, disrespect…
ad infinitum…

Yet just because we know that there have been those who have abused their authority
over others, and that there have been times that said authority had to be eliminated
or even rebelled against, the overall notion that a civil society has a chain of authority
which is a lynchpin to living…has been the glue that has held the precariousness of man
together.

And thus we see cousin Percy exerting his authority as kingpin of the home over his
visiting cousin Alice by deciding that what is hers should actually be his…
or at least for a little while.

And on the flip side we have cousin Alice, who despite her sheer size and body strength,
who could eat cousin Percy in one maybe two bites…defers to this pint size king
out of an overwhelming sense of awe, fear and respect….

Hence….
authority, fear and respect in a nutshell….

“Don’t be scared by the word authority.
Believing things on authority only means believing them because you’ve been told them
by someone you think trustworthy.
Ninety-nine per cent of the things you believe are believed on authority.
I believe there is such a place as New York.
I haven’t seen it myself.
I couldn’t prove by abstract reasoning that there must be such a place.
I believe it because reliable people have told me so.
The ordinary man believes in the Solar System, atoms, evolution,
and the circulation of the blood on authority—
because the scientists say so.
Every historical statement in the world is believed on authority.
None of us has seen the Norman Conquest or the defeat of the Armada.
None of us could prove them by pure logic as you prove a thing in mathematics.
We believe them simply because people who did see them have left writings that tell us
about them: in fact, on authority.
A man who jibbed at authority in other things as some people do in religion
would have to be content to know nothing all his life.”

C.S. Lewis

Hopeful anticipation

Our thoughts determine our whole life.
If our thoughts are destructive, we will have no peace.
If they are quiet, meek, and simple, our life will be the same,
and we will have peace within us.
It will radiate from us and influence all beings around us.”

Elder Thaddeus


(two cousins, Peaches and Alice, anxiously wait for a handout / Julie Cook / 2017)

My son had warned me about this.
We were to “babysit” our granddog for about 9 days while her parents were out of town.
He had told me that Alice would seek out the “weak” one.

Huh?

The begging.
Her biggest fault is that she is a beggar.

Alice, an 85 pound black lab mix, is a smart and mindful dog…but
she is a tad lazy and a big baby who loves food…hers, ours and everyones.

My son told me that when it’d come time for us to sit down for supper, Alice would
be right there in the mix, hovering near the one she felt she could coax into
offering a few free morsels…breaking down the resolve of the one most likely
to offer a free handout….in other words…the weak one.

Tag!
My husband was it….
the obvious weak one…or perhaps the sucker for those wanting big brown
eyes is more like it….

And not only did Alice zero in on my husband’s weakness, but cousin Peaches
was not to miss out on any free snacks.

Needless to say, trying to eat supper while four eyes were intently and relentlessly staring
us down….
and to compound the matter….two of those four eyes also had a drooling mouth attached,
was just a tad bit unnerving.

The laser focused attention, the palatable anxiousness, the anticipation of hopefulness…
filled the entire room with a buoyant sense of both yearning and waiting.

How absolutely amazing would it be if we had that same sense of longing, desire,
hopefulness and focus as we anxiously anticipated the presence of God….

And here’s the kicker to that notion…
God doesn’t merely toss us a morsel or a piece of unwanted or discarded leftover…
He offers each one of us His entire being…
as He is ours for the asking…
For with God,
there is absolutely no begging required…..

But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman,
born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law,
so that we might receive adoption as sons.
And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,
crying, “Abba! Father!”
So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir.

Galatians 4:4-7

Joie de Vivre

In France we have a saying, ‘Joie de vivre,’ which actually doesn’t exist in the English language. It means looking at your life as something that is to be taken with great pleasure and enjoy it.
Mireille Guiliano

One is born to be wild. . .

DSCN2627

One is born to be babied. . .

DSCN2659

The grand dog is born to adore. . .

DSC00972

The weather here has been the pits for a week now. Lots and lots of rain, fog, mist, grey and very warm, unseasonably hot, temperatures. Certainly far from a Christmas spirit sort of weather. As I see the map for this large country of ours, I see that much of this country is in the midsts of some sort of less than ideal weather. Snow, ice, rain, tremendous cold, muggy, tropical, windy—it all seems to be playing out at once.

In order to add a bit of a diversion, a bright spot as it were to some less than bright days, my thoughts turned to that which makes me happy, as I am certain, it, or rather they, make you happy as well. Who is that you ask? None other than our four legged friends whose sole / soul purpose in life seems to be laid back, full of joy, loving, happy, content, mischievous, playful—you name it, if it is on the positive side and happy, then it is them. And luckily for us, they oddly want to be a part of our less than joyful worlds.

Those of you who have pets most likely already know this, pets, as well as most animals in general, seem to possess that true joie de vivre—a true joy to life. They don’t seem to fret and wring their hands as we do, nor do they walk around with little black clouds over their heads. . . Well of course not Julie are you crazy, you argue. Animals don’t have the responsibilities, the demands, the worries such as we do. Well you’re right, our pets are free from much of what pulls us away from them.

They do possess, however something I wish more of us people possessed. . . and that is the unconditional love–which they, our pets, always extend to us.

They are the happy ones who greet us after a long day—other family members, not always so much. They are the ones who love us just after we throw up, are delirious with fever, have a broken or mended _________ (fill in the blank). They want to help with the new baby, the new couch, the new drapes, the new table, the new shoes, etc. They are the first ones to come offer comfort and console us just after the break up, the pink slip, the F, the ticket, the received new orders, the wreck, the death, the sorrow, the divorce, the remarriage, the first marriage, the fight, the argument, the slammed doors, the late nights, the lonely nights, the all nighters, the move, the loss. . .

They don’t care how our hair looks, our clothes look, our bank statement looks, our house / apartment looks. They don’t tell us we look too old, too tired, too sick, too ugly, too fat, too skinny. . . They don’t think the new tattoo was a stupid idea, nor the 5th piercing– they don’t question our judgement, our morals, (but maybe someone should), our intelligence, our religion, our friends. . .

They represent comfort, concern, support and hope. It is a proven fact that time spent with them helps to lower elevated blood pressure, deflate stress levels, and increase most energy levels. They are utilized in nursing homes, for shut-ins, for terminally ill patients, for very sick children, for those who have lost vision, hearing, limbs, mobility, for those who have been abused, molested, who suffer PTSD. They search for victims of earthquakes, natural disasters and man made disasters. They help search for those who are lost, for those with dementia for those with Alzheimer’s, for those who have runaway. . . the list goes on and on.

They may make mistakes, a mess, a big mess, a really big mess, a hole, a tear, a chewed up this or that, something swallowed that is never intended to be ingested—they may get wet, muddy, sticky, tangled—they may even draw blood or cause an occasional trip—they may get fleas, ticks, mange, skunked, gas, snake bit—they may fall in a hole, a well, a lake, a pond, a creek, a pit—they may get stuck up a tree, on the roof, in a car, in a box, in the gutter, in the toilet, in the closet, in the basement, in the attic—in many regards they are like small children–in many regards they are our children.

In many regards, there is much to be learned from them. And if anyone ever wants you to be happy, it is them, but it’s ok if you’re not, they’ll love you just the same.

Here is to all of our pets, the animals in our lives—those past and present and those yet to be—For me that is currently Peaches, Percy and the grand-dog, Alice.
An unconditional gift of love and acceptance.