best to be prepared

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
Benjamin Franklin

“If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him.
If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him.
Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest.
If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord,
put division between them.
Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected .”

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

When I was a young girl, I was a girl scout…well actually I started out as a Brownie then
I rose in the ranks to that of Girl Scout then eventually to that of Cadet…

Life as a Cadet, however, was short-lived as there seemed to be other things for me
to do by the time high school was on my horizon.

But the one thing, the one lesson, that I seemed to have gotten down pat from my time as
a “scout” was that I was to always be prepared.
Meaning…whatever life threw my way I needed to be ready…
even for those out of the blue curveballs…
plus I was to always have a Plan B.

Such thinking certainly served me well during my years spent in the classroom.
Teaching high schoolers meant that one had best be prepared–always…
as well as have a guaranteed Plan B… as both were required for survival…

Now that didn’t mean that I could nor can I see into, let alone read the future.
None of us can do that…except maybe for Sister Grace down on Hwy 16 whose sign out front
of her house claims that she can indeed read the future…

But Sister Grace aside, most of us are not gifted with a clear prophecy for what the
world’s future holds.

Yet for those of us who claim the Bible as the Word of God, well,
we already have a pretty solid glimpse as to what lies ahead…
and we know that things will get pretty ugly before they get really pretty.

And it certainly doesn’t require rocket science to see that things are indeed pretty ugly all
the world ’round.

Our friend The Wee Flea has just offered his view of this new year’s future…
again, not a pretty picture…

https://theweeflea.com/2019/01/02/ten-predictions-for-2019-confusion-china-and-christ/

I think we’d all agree…politics on both a local as well as a global scale is more or less dismal.

We’ve managed to sink to such banal lows having lost any and all sense of dignity, decorum, morality,
manners, and simple etiquette.

We’ve basically come unhinged…be it left or right.

The word “apocalyptic” is used fast and lose on both sides of the aisle when referring
to the thoughts of one another…as in if we are left to one or the other…
very bad and life-threatening things will happen.

And so after reading over David’s predictions and knowing that he has been pretty much on track
and most insightful with most if not all of his observations regarding the Chruch in the 21st century
as well as for politics and life on the Western front—
I’d say that he’s once again on the money with his visions of a 2019 year.

And so this is where it comes in handy to always be prepared.

One of David’s predictions has to do with the plight of the family.
As in the continued attacks on and the demise of the traditional family as defined
by God and later by His own son.

But David was not the first to ring this clarion bell.
Both Pope John Paul II as well as Mother Teresa each saw the demise of the traditional family
as the lynchpin to humanity’s demise.

Our politics are awash.
Our global relations are strained at best, nearly severed at worst.
Our economy is a see-saw.
Our Chruch has lost her focus
And now the family unit, a basis for all things bearing the survival of humankind is
so fractured and redefined that it is no longer recognizable as to what God has sanctioned.

So it’s time to suit up and saddle up.
It’s time to put on that armor…
It’s time to get ready because I think our time of preparation is almost past…

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,
against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand
your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,
with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the
flaming arrows of the evil one.
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ephesians 6:11-17

storms will rage

“I know well that the greater and more beautiful the work is,
the more terrible will be the storms that rage against it.”

St. Faustina


(early signs of change / Julie Cook / 2018)

March enters like a lion and exits like a lamb…
while April showers bring May flowers…

or so we are reminded.

Spring is a tumultuous time here in the South.
It might snow one day while tornados wreak havoc the next.
A good two months of a seasonal roller coaster ride.

I’m beginning to feel much the same with regard to our Christian faith.
Our lives have become a roller coaster ride of ups and downs of attacks and assaults—
physically, verbally, mentally, and of course, spiritually.

It is the season of our times as Believers as we are reminded:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers,
against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and
against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms

Ephesians 6:10-12

That we may be ready, come what may…

“Throughout Sacred Scripture, we find that when God’s people fast,
the power of their prayers is increased, especially when they are engaged in spiritual warfare.
In the Old Testament, the Lord told Isaiah that a fast properly undertaken would
‘loose the bonds of wickedness … undo the thongs of the yoke…
let the oppressed go free’ (Is. 58:6)…
In the New Testament, we find that Jesus fasted for forty days and nights in the
wilderness in preparation for His battle with Satan,
who came to tempt Him (see Lk 4:1-2)…
If prayer is a spiritual weapon, fasting is the spiritual whetstone on which it is sharpened.
It’s the spiritual muscle that,
when exercised regularly,
strengthens the thrust of that weapon to pierce the Enemy and drive him away.”

Paul Thigpen,
Manual for Spiritual Warfare p. 42

I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

Change is in the air

Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changes.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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(these “wood” eaters seem to enjoy nectar as well / Julie Cook / 2014)

DSC00778
(a seasonal carpenter bee has returned for “spring work” / Julie Cook / 2015)

They’reeeeee baaaaacckkkk. . .
Those pesky seasonal hungry wood rats, I mean carpenter bees, those true harbingers, I mean heralders of Spring.
I caught this one in mid bore, hanging upside down on a post out on the back deck.
They eat right into the wood of decks, porches, siding, eves. . .anything wooden that’s a part of a house. . .be it painted or not, stained or not. . .they eat, chew, drill, bore. . .
creating nesting sites.

They can sting but usually don’t as they prefer the art of intimidation. They will “buzz” toward anyone who enters their “space” or territory, usually hovering in place until you swat at them, only to quickly return to bother you some more. It is the males who tend to be a bit more aggressive then the females with regard to the whole dance of intimidation. You can recognize them by the yellow dot on their head—right between the eyes.

The only way I know that they sting is when my cat finds it fun and adventuresome to jump on the hovering pests, grabbing said bee up in his mouth while attempting to run inside with his “catch” in order to “gift” me with his latest accomplishment. Most of the time he won’t make it inside as the bee will have stung the inside of his mouth, forcing him to open and drop as he begins swatting frantically at his mouth. One would think that one experience, maybe two, with the bees would be incentive enough to leave them alone—sadly the idea of a prize seems greater than the pain. . .

All of this talk of bees and of this busy time of newness and growth naturally brings the whole concept of being ready, being prepared, being mindful front and center to my thought process.

Spring is a time of great transition.
Not only are things greening up, budding, blooming, buzzing, pollinating. . .
Spring becomes a time of doing. . .renovations, cleaning, planting, tiling, changing. . .
It’s time to discard the old and bring in the new. . .as in clean, fresh, bright. . .

Spring is also a time when there is literally change in the air, or more precisely, the winds.
Winter’s cold winds are pushed aside for the warming lilt of Spring. Jet streams lift and revert.
Yet it is this very pushing of winds, the time of warm meeting cold, which becomes most problematic.

Our incoming warmer days and nights can exact a heavy price producing tumultuous Springtime storms. Skies can grow angry quickly, as air masses fight for dominance. Thunderstorms with their wicked lightening strikes and spawned tornadoes make Spring one of the deadliest times of year as far as Mother Nature is concerned.

Living in the proverbial tornado alley swarth, which cuts through the mid and southern tier of our United States, dictates caution while keeping one eye directed to the sky at all times.
Joining with the rest of humanity as we transition from a wicked winter that overstayed its welcome to a feisty new tempestuous Spring, with giddy exuberance and joy, I do so not with reckless abandon but rather with a bit of cautious yet hopeful optimism.

As we journey now, a bit worse for the wear, toward the end of Lent. . .with Palm Sunday, Passover and Easter all knocking on the door—may we rejoice in this new birthing of Nature as well as the birth of renewal within our spiritual selves. May we marvel in the busyness of the bees, the jittery darting and dashing of the myriad of birds who are hurriedly toiling building their nests. May those of us who suffer grievously from seasonal allergies find relief, and may we all remain vigilant when the warming skies decide to turn ominous and dark . . .

Here’s to Spring,
Here’s to life,
Here’s to new,
Here’s to change. . .

For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the LORD and serve him with one accord.”
Zephaniah 3:9

Will it or won’t it?

“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.”
T.E. Lawrence

In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.
—Albert Camus

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(tiny emerging Hydrangea bloom / Julie Cook / 2014)

If I were a betting woman, which if the truth be told. . .I have been known to place a few friendly wagers over the years, particularly where my beloved DAWGS are concerned, I would bet that this Hydrangea bloom will indeed make it to its very showy, garish, over the top, full blue bloom before the first frost.

The first frost is a good two months away right?
How long does it take a hydrangea bloom to come to maturation?
Hummmmm. . . .
Sounds a bit reminiscent of some sort of mathematical word problem. . .if two hydrangeas left a train station at the same time, one traveling by train running 80 mph and the other by bus traveling 60 mph. . . yada, yada, yada—I hated math and I hated word problems even more–but I digress. . .

This is the same hydrangea bush, plant, mass that I shared with you back in the Spring—the same hydrangea that had suffered grievously back in the Spring when Winter was refusing to let go. A very late hard freeze had all but killed it. . . or so I thought.

In late May and early June, my heart leapt for joy when I noted some tiny leaf buds trying desperately to take hold on the barren woody brittle steams. Much to my wonderment, I realized that this little plant was not dead after all but was actually very tenacious and thankfully very stubborn. I had, however, resigned myself to the fact that this summer would not be privy to the pom pom like blooms which are so indicative of Summer in the deep South due to its late start at simply putting back its leaves.

That is, until today.

Just when I thought I knew what would happen as far as a little (actually massive) plant was concerned–late freeze obviously equalling no summer blooms–Life, Mother Nature, you name it, decided to show me a thing or two.

And so it goes. . .
Once again. . .
Life lessons learned in the yard, in the garden, via Mother Nature. . .

Never say never!!!
I have learned that little life lesson the hard way many times over and over throughout this life of mine. As soon as the word leaves my lips, something or someone comes along, almost immediately, to prove to any and all of those around that never is never going to happen!

Never give up!!!
You don’t have to be a Pollyanna with your head stuck in the unrealistic clouds, but you must never quit, never give up, never give in, or never throw in the towel. . .not unless it is spelled out in big bold black and white letters written in plain and simple language.

Never, for one minute, think you know it all.
Just as soon as you make a “set in stone” statement, something or someone comes along to turn upside down everything you’ve just stated as concrete fact.

Be prepared for anything!!
Just when you thought you had things figured out and were “good to go”, something is going to turn your world upside down. Be watchful and be ready. . .it will happen, trust me.

Always remain hopeful!!
If you don’t have any hope that things can turn around, get better, improve. . .then there is really no point to life now is there? As long as there is breath in our bodies, there must always be hope. Nothing is going to last forever–all things eventually change—it may not be within the set time frame of our desires, yet eventually, everything changes.

Make the most of the “now”!!
Don’t wait.
Don’t put of.
Don’t be Scarlet and deal with it all on the proverbial ‘morrow.
One’s house should always be in order–and by house I’m not meaning your literal house, but then again an orderly home is nice as well. . .
I’m talking about the business of life. We only have the now, the today–there are no promises of the tomorrows. . .so if not now, when?
Enjoy today.
Do what it is you’ve been putting off— do it, start it, tackle it— today.
Instead of repeating the mantra of “later”, “tomorrow”, “not now”—-go ahead and do it!!

Give everyone and everything a second chance.
We all deserve second chances.
Don’t be too quick to rush in with judgement, conclusions or endings.
No one is perfect.
No situation is a guarantee.
Those of us whose belief system is steeped in the Gospel know of the admonishment that we must forgive 7 times 70. 490 times seems rather excessive when it’s put to such a number that I should be forgiving someone that many times right? Well, it was once explained to me that in ancient times the circumference of a circle was thought to be 490ᵒ not what we know today as 360ᵒ, so the whole 7 times 70 was once again one of this analogies I have a heard time picking up on–meaning forgiveness should be a constant unending thing. . .

So just when you thought you had it all figured out, knew everything there was to know about something, closed the book on it all, written it off as over and done, given up, decided to call it quits. . . something as simple as a hydrangea, wanting to bloom at the proverbial 11th hour, comes along to remind you that everything and anything is always possible. . .

Happy day!