don’t put a squashed pine cone in your mouth…

“the ‘task of the conscience’– a word of great value in Western civilization,
is to determine what that divine purpose is and then to live
it out irrespective of the cost”

observations about Pope John Paul by George Weigel
excerpt taken from The Divine Plan
John Paul II, Ronald Reagan and the Dramatic End of the Cold War
by Paul Kengor and Robert Orlando

The above image is a picture within a picture…or rather, it’s a still-shot from a video.
And the title is a quote I actually uttered yesterday…
as in, “DO NOT PUT THAT SQUASHED PINECONE IN YOUR MOUTH!!

However, that story will have to wait as I simply needed an
the attention-grabbing title today…
As in I wanted your full and undived attention.

I’ve been spending time with the Mayor and the new Sheriff the past several days,
helping out…and I hate that I’ve not even had the chance to share with you about their
charming encounter with the ocean…
But it seems as if the world has tilted just a bit further off her axis and has needed
a tad more of my attention than merely my chattering on as a doting grandmother
who’s droning on about her grandkids…

But first a quick word to the wise…it is not prudent nor is it wise to pick up a run over
and flattened pinecone and proceed to poke it into your mouth and then bite down…just saying.

But now to the matter at hand.

It seems that there has been a lot of talk as of late…here in the blogosphere, FB
(or so I’m told) as well as on various Christian media outlets about more and more
big-name Christians announcing their seemingly sudden withdrawal from the fold
so to speak.

As in there appears to be a slight uptick in the number of those recanting their faith
all in very public places and on very public platforms.

Odd to want to grandstand over losing one’s faith.
Opting to be vocal and in the spotlight rather than introspective, sad and
living the loss.

Or as IB so aptly noted the other day, in the words of the famous band out of
Athens, GA—REM—grandstanding over ‘Losing My Religion’…

And to be honest…not being one who runs in the evangelical or other
protestant denomination’s circles or one who keeps up with the current mega-church craze,
I can’t say that I’m familiar with many of these recently fallen sheep.

But as I’ve been reading…there is indeed a long, sad, public and very vocal fall
taking place.

I have, however, on the other hand, been a bit more focused on the sexual abuse scandal
rocking the Catholic Chruch as well as the naming of a few notable and now long deceased
Anglican priests whose names have been sullied by the same accusations.

And so as I look out over the horizon of our collective Christian faith—
our denominations far and wide, I can see Satan being very busy as work.

I’ve written about this so many times before that I think I must just be beating my head
against a brick wall but there is a divide and conquer mentality being applied to the
Christian fold and it is being applied fast and furious…
And the thing is… nobody seems to “get it”

I’ve also written that this is indeed a mad world—a mad mad world on so many levels.
Mad as in crazy nuts and mad as in viscerally angry.
We have troubles my friends and I do indeed fret for my darling grandchildren.

The slick lies that are being tossed about fast and loose as truth
from things such as children’s tv and music, to what defines a family, to
legalized murder in delivery rooms, all the way to the odd notion of fluid genders…
it is enough to make me want to grab up my babies and run and hide.

But we cannot hide.

We cannot ignore it any longer.
We cannot turn a blind eye and pretend this isn’t happening.

We are being spoon fed lies as truth.
Lies as legalized truth.

As a once overly zealous teen, when reading the stories of those early Christian martyrs in
places such as Rome and Judea, I would often imagine having been there and how I would have
hoped to have stood up so bravely as those countless men and women who suffered
grievously under torture, mutilation and even death—
suffered almost readily rather than giving in and recanting their faith.

Because their faith was precious.
It was dear.
It was sacred.

Today it seems to be more passe, victimized and tired.

And so when I read of these modern-day Christians recanting their faith
so flippantly and arrogantly, apologizing to the masses of those seemingly innocent souls
who they feel as if they had helped to lead astray, I am more than saddened, I am sickened.

For they have bought into the culture gods hook, line and sinker…
They are now the poster children of a hedonistic and self-absorbed culture…
selling a bad bag of goods to an innocent fold.

There are thousands around this world of ours who continue to die for the Christian faith.
They worship in secret and in whispered tones.
They live in places such as Russia, China, Africa, Myanmar, Yemen, Iran, Iraq…
They love Jesus and are willing to pay the ultimate price for that love.

Their worship is not easy nor is it easy to come by…
not as it is here in the West.

And yet here in the West, we too indeed suffer as well.
It’s just that we suffer on a quieter level.

Our suffering is on a more insidious level.
Our suffering is often more psychological than physical.

We are shunned, ridiculed, threatened with legal action and told we may not utter
the name of God or Jesus as we once did…
Words spoken, along with the right to speak those words, was simply taken for granted.

And maybe that’s part of the problem.
We’ve taken for granted the Precious and the Sacred.
We trivialized our God and made that which is Great, small.

And now Satan is working overtime.

Time is running out.
He knows this.

So, therefore, be not quiet.
Speak up and speak out.
Because it is a mad world…
in all sorts of places and in all sorts of ways…

whew….finally back home

“There is a kind of magicness about going far away and then coming back all changed.”
Kate Douglas Wiggin


(flowers in the garden of Les Invalides / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2018)

Oh, there is so much to share, so much to tell and so much gleaned…

And yet there is so much to unpack, so much to wash, so much to sort, so much to put away…
and yet running over to see the Mayor today will have to take precedence.

Sleep you ask?
Going on a good 36 hours without any…well, that makes for being a bit giddy or
perhaps more like sloppy and delusional…either way it will come.

I wrote so many posts in my head these past 18 days.
God revealed so much.
But it will take some time to put running thoughts to paper…or more like thoughts to keyboard.
And it will take a few days to sort it all out.

So forgive me but it will take some time in order to play catch up!

But for now…I wanted to share something I read yesterday offered by C.S. Lewis.
Thoughts I found to be rather quite profound.

But I know, I know….what doesn’t C.S. share that isn’t profound…???

Yet this particular passage spoke most pointedly to my heart in a most humbling way…

Please enjoy and be blessed as I was…and know that I will be trickling back
into this blogosphere family of ours…

“Imagine yourself as a living house.
God comes in to rebuild that house.
At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing.
He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on:
you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised.
But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and
does not seem to make sense.
What on earth is He up to?
The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of –
throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards.
You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage but He is building a palace.
He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

C. S. Lewis

poppycock, pagans and the post days of a slippery slope

“In this deconstruction of humanity there are several steps
yet to happen.”
David Robertson


(cemetary located on the grounds of St Kevin’s Monastary / Glendalough National Park/
Co. Wicklow, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Over 76 million blogs, or so say their statistics, happily spend their time on WordPress.
That’s a lot of blogs, a lot of words and a copious amount of thoughts zipping out there
in cyberspace, rocketing their way to your favorite electronic device of choice.

And as I’ve been tied up with the wee one and short on time, I’ve not been able
to hunt down and breakdown the stats relating to how many of those 76 million blogs
are Christian related—
But I would surmise that the numbers would be a respectable percentage.

And so here’s the thing,
there are obviously a healthy amount of Spirit-filled voices canvasing the
airwaves–so to speak.

Much like that of Voice of America or Radio Free Europe, each of which got their
start during those fretful days of WWII and the Cold War when Nazi and Communist regimes
were rife with delivering propaganda…the airwaves were inundated with brave countermeasures
bringing real news and hope to those living under the oppression of fascism,
socialism, and communism.

Yet to have been caught even listening would mean certain reprimands such as beatings,
internment or even death.

Corrie ten Boom recounted in her book The Hiding Place the story of the family
keeping a radio against the Nazi’s allowance.
“Although the Germans demand seizure of all radios,
the family keeps the old radio and turns in the portable one.
Corrie feels bad for lying, but knows that the true reports,
although disheartening, are necessary to hear….”

Necessary to hear the truth.

I would like to think many words out there in the blogosphere are doing much the same for
those hungry for the Good News…spreading Truth.

Two things recently from our friend the Wee Flea brought to mind the notion of brave words
with the hope of the Good News coupled with the frightening reality of our times.

David, in a recent post written while on Sabbatical in Australia, noted that
our Western society is finding itself precariously perched on a terribly
slippery slope as recalls his clarion calls to the faithful…

In this deconstruction of humanity there are several steps yet to happen.
We will leave aside trans-human, trans-species and trans-abled, for the moment
(although we have already seen examples of people arguing for all three of these)
and instead turn to two more in the area of sex and sexuality.

It is my view that, unless we wake up to what is happening,
the next barrier to fall will be incest and that will then be followed by a gradual
acceptance of pedophilia
(first of all as a sexuality and then as a normative way for some people).

Revealed – The Next Step on the Slippery Slope

Then just yesterday David posted a three-minute interview on his reflections of the difference,
or perhaps more aptly, the similarities of Christianity in 1st century Europe versus
Christianity of today.

David notes that the early family of Believers lacked the convenience and speed of travel
as well as the speed of communication that we readily take for granted today.
Add to that the fact that living during Pagan-Grecco / Roman times meant society was run amuck
with hedonism and wantonness that clashed with the new religious “cult”

The “cult” had to be severely dealt with.
People were rounded up, tortured and killed until those Believers were forced underground.
And yet the “cult” prospered.

David notes that despite the depraved times, the slowness in the travel of news and word,
the dire times, the persecutions, the executions, the torment…
the early Chruch prospered.

David also notes that our society is in a tailspin of regression. Regressing rapidly backwards
to those early days of a Pagan-Grecco way of life…all we have to do is to look around at television
advertisement, the news, the movies, and we readily see the depravity,
the twisted view of sexuality along with the death of the traditional nuclear family unit…
It is more than obvious that we are beginning our descent on that slippery slope.

A small thank you to Bono in a growing world of ingratitude

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
G.K. Chesterton

RSCN7468
(Black eyed Susan / Seaside, Florida / Julie Cook / 2014)

If you don’t already know this little fact about me by now, let me just remind you—- I am not the most “digital” oriented individual in this age of electronic technological wonderment. I am happily, rather, a much more simpler person really. Perhaps considered old fashioned by some standards. Appreciating the straddling of two worlds–that of the “that was then”–“this is now” best of both worlds.

I had recently caught a glimpse somewhere, on some commercial, something about U2 offering some sort of free iTunes download. As this seemed to coincide with Apple unveiling their latest must have device, my most uninterested brain thought there was a correlation—thinking that if you got a new phone, a free download followed suit. I don’t know, like I said, I wasn’t really paying attention and it wasn’t really on my radar because I’m happy with my older version phone as I continue figuring out how it works—plus I’m just not an ardent music fan.

Now don’t get me wrong, I certainly like music. I actually love Jazz, Motown, Classical and contemporary Christian. I like some R and B, some top 40, but I just don’t cleave to it as I once did when I was much younger. I no longer listen to music when I’m in the car—preferring the sounds of quiet and silence—or perhaps more like the sounds of a rather raging world. That might have something to do with 31 years I spent in a classroom filled with the never ending deafening din of teenagers chattering, arguing, screaming, laughing, fighting, and never ever shutting their mouths.

So imagine my surprise the other morning when I journeyed downstairs to the basement for my morning ritual of bonding with my emotionless nemesis—aka my time on the elliptical, when there was a change of tune, literally on my playlist. I have a small selection of tunes downloaded to my phone which I turn to during my morning “workout”– aka death march, which helps to drown out my suffering, huffing, puffing and snorting.

I have 4 little classic U2 songs which pretty much sum up my routine. I know exactly which one and at what place I should be on my daily death march, aka workout, with the playing of each song. Two rounds get me near the end of my time of servitude and torture, aka workout, closing out with the finale of a rousing rendition of triumph from the band Macklemore.

Yesterday morning, suddenly following “Beautiful day” came a most unfamiliar tune–something about being raised by wolves. “What in the world” I could be heard uttering with breathless concern. Fumbling for my glasses, as I worked to balance keeping up my endless rhythm of stepping, I grabbed my phone to investigate what had taken control of my playlist.

Low and behold, it appeared that my playlist somehow connected to that invisible “cloud” of which seems to be the latest technological otherworldly invisible hangout, and I received the “free” U2 download.
Hummmm.
How’d that happen I wondered.
I don’t even know how to “go to the Cloud!!”
And what in the heck is the Cloud?
Where is it?
Why is it?
and really. . .
How in the heck does something invisible work for everyone on the planet?!
It’s all so, otherworldly. . .perhaps even alienesque, but I digress.

So as I continued my workout,my act of homage to health, listening to this new album (here is not the place nor time for a critique but I do find it all to be a bit dark and melodious but we must remember that Bono and the boys did grow up in Ireland during the height of a very sad chapter in Irish history known as “the Troubles”, but I digress as usual), it dawned on me that I needed to tell Bono and the boys “thank you”

In a day and time when a rather youthful society has grown accustomed to the ubiquitous BOGO (buy one get one), the free this and that attached to purchases of everything from food to clothes from electronics to even cars—all of which I call the marvelous marketing hook, the simple act of saying a proper “thank you” has been all but forgotten.

If, you the consumer, come in for a “free” test drive, we, the dealer will give you a new iPad. If you the consumer sign up for our insurance, we the company will give you a “free” cruise. If you the consumer sign up for our phone service, we the company will give you, not one, but two, free phones. And of course there are the department stores with their mega 70% off sales. . . Really? Do we honestly think we’re getting something next for nothing? Do we really think these mega department stores, with their crushing percentage sales, are giving away their profit margin without making money. . .woe to the naive.

Consumers are sadly being duped into thinking they save and gain, which leads to an unrealistic inflated sense of buying power— this false sense of power is produced by a frighteningly slick and savvy Product Marketing, super sales, economic selling engine. Nothing, and I mean nothing in our economy comes for free–despite that incentive cash loaded gift card Wally world just gave you for spending your money with them. There must be give and take—it’s just that the need to feed the proverbial consumer machine comes with a growing ravenous appetite in order to keep our accustomed sense of well being in tact–it is a vicious economic cycle that continues to spiral out of control.

And sadly, all of this economic game of cat and mouse comes with a jaded consumer market left ungrateful and simply wanting and hungry for more. Give us more glitz, glamorous goodies, shiny and slick tricks and baubles all in order to get us to buy–more.
The enticement has become expected.
We have created our very own ravenous consumer monster—a monster of expectation and assumption.
There is no gratitude, rather only ungraciousness and a hunger of wanting more.
If we, the consumer, do not receive our incentive of something for nothing, we rile against the
provider of service and goods.

All of which in turn has lead to a generation that has either forgotten how or never knew how to properly say “Thank You”

I grew up in a place and time when it was expected that if I, as a child, received any sort of present or even the slightest act of kindness, I was expected to offer a hand written thank you.
And don’t think I can’t see you. . . I see you rolling those eyes and I certainly can hear the snide asides of “how archaic” and “who in the world sends a thank you note, let alone actually writes anymore? Who needs to write when all we do is peck on keyboards. . .”

Yes I know, this blog is produced via a keyboard—but trust me I have stationary, I write and I love snail mail! My early years of conditioning and acknowledging the need to offer thanks, leads me to a constant stream of written cards, notes and hopefully an obvious gracious heart.

And as it now appears that I have received a small gift, a free download of a new album by the Boys of Belfast, I need, I want to send a proper Thank You.

And whereas I’m not quite certain as to where I would need to write Bono, or to whether or not he would ever see such a note, I shall use my tiny platform in the blogosphere to offer a heartfelt “thank you” for the “free” album that has mysteriously descended from the proverbial Cloud into my most humble little playlist.

Now whether or not there is an “alternative” reason behind this suddenly “free” kindness, I don’t know nor do I wish to sound ungrateful or assumptive as to motives. As my grandmother would tell me, you just need to write the Thank You note, end of sentence.
so. . .

Dear Mr Bono,
I wish to express here, in this small blog of mine, a humble offering of gratitude. . .
I wish to offer you a heartfelt thank you for. . .
Firstly making music—music which offers hope, joy, soulful examination, lessons of history and most importantly for the assistance of aiding a middle aged woman, who is working her way to the goal of better health, the incentive to simply keep plugging at it. You do all of this by offering the gifts and talents of self by setting your time and skills to the writing and creating the rhythms and beats of a talented music making machine.
Secondly I wish to thank you for the acts of kindness and compassion I know you offer to an ailing world. You unselfishly use your platform to bring recognition and awareness to causes and concerns, as well as a voice to many of the voiceless, in this often tragic and sad world.
And Thirdly Mr Bono, thank you for the album you just gave me for simply turning in. . .
Blessings for many more productive years. . .
Sincerely, Cookie