The push for victory

“Do not be anxious:
go straight on, forgetful of self, letting the spirit of God act instead of your own.”

St. Julie Billiart


(vintage WWII rally flag / Julie Cook / 2018)

This year, back in May for Mother’s day, my daughter-n-law, son,
and new little granddaughter all gave me a most unique and oh so fitting gift.

Those of you who know me, know that such a gift, for me, could be none better.

My daughter-n-law scoured places and sites in search of something that she knew
I’d truly appreciate.
She pondered, compared and searched high and low.

Whereas my poor husband gave up years ago under the weight of the knowing how difficult
I am to buy a gift for, my daughter-law-remains true to the challenge.

This little fact alone is gift enough.

The simple act of exerting the time, thought and study all on my behalf…
the fact that to give a cursory expected gift, that proverbial tie for dad mentality
was and is not to be had—
her efforts have not been lost on my deep sense of appreciation.

But this gift…this gift was special and unexpected.

Anyone who knows me knows of my affinity over, for and with
Sir Winston Spencer Churchill.

I won’t reiterate all of that here as I’ve written a myriad of posts previously
on the man.

Vision, tenacity, and valor, coupled with a hardy dose of vanity and ego,
all aided in what we in Western Civilization enjoy today…
the bashing and abusing of our various democracies.

Had it not been for Churchill, my life and yours would most likely be very
different today.

But enough history for today, back to the gift.

My daughter-n-law found a vintage WWII rally flag located somewhere in the UK
that someone was selling.
It is very obvious that it was homemade as the single stitched black thread silhouette of
Churchill is plainly sown on a piece of now mildewed muslin cloth.
In addition, there is a small sewn sleeve opening on one side for the addition of the
long lost stick.
The flag is out of square and finished quite simply…
It’s not a fancy piece of highly polished embroidery but rather something made in a bit
of haste.

V is for Victory is stitched below the silhouette.

This is the type of flag someone would have used during a morale-boosting parade,
something to wave on the streets had the Prime minister come to inspect damage after a bombing
or even waved following the celebration for Victory in Europe Day on May 8, 1945.

It was a perfect gift.

And now this tiny piece of history proudly graces the wall in my den…
a wall that is more what some might call a shrine.

All in tribute to one man who made a difference for our freedom.

And so with all of this talk of Churchill, I’m reminded that we must always be
prepared to fight the good fight no matter what the cost to self.

And we also must know what it is that is truly worthy and lasting in which to fight for.

And so it is, in his latest offering, that our friend the Wee Flea reminds us of
this same very mindset and of the importance of maintaining a steadfast and focused
clarity in what we are fighting for.

In an observation, that at first glance seems mundane, something that would be
a mere blip on the news, of which the good Pastor actually acknowledges…
this latest puff of smoke rising on the horizon is something that David actually
sees as far more troubling than what most folks would imagine.

I am reminded of the years that Churchill rang the clarion bell to the rising concern
of what was taking place in Germany in the early 1930’s yet no one wanted to hear
or acknowledge what he had to say.
Instead, they ignored him or simply thought him daft…
he had been out of public service for nearly 10 years and here he was still trying to
make waves.

There is a small story happening in the Scottish region of Dumfries and Galloway
which tells us a great deal about what is happening in the UK today
https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/968942/bibles-bedside-hospital-christian-leaders-galloway-royal-infirmary

At first glance it just appears like a minor spat that is hardly newsworthy at all.
But the story and how it is reported is revealing of the current state of the culture
and the church in the UK.

The basic facts are that Gideon Bibles were due to be placed in every room in
the new state of the art Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary.
But one person complained that this was giving Christianity preferential treatment
and therefore should be stopped.
The NHS board agreed and so the Bibles will not be placed –
although patients are free to request them if they wish.

So what does this tell us?

Atheist secularists are able to impose their views on the whole of society because those
who are the decision makers in our culture lack both reason and courage.

In what possible world can it do any harm merely to have a bible placed in a room?

It is not reasonable to claim that it gives one religion an advantage.
The vast majority in that area of Scotland profess some kind of Christianity or
are non-religious.
It is offensive to other religions to imply that they would be offended at bibles
being made available.

When I am in a Muslim country I am not offended at the Koran being available.
When I fly Malaysian airways I don’t get upset when the TV unit tells me where Mecca is
so that I can face the right direction when I pray.

It’s called tolerance.

The trouble is that our militant secularists have no concept of tolerance and cannot
conceive of a world in which their every diktak is not followed.
They use the excuse of multi-faith to ban any expression of faith
(and especially Christian faith) in the public sphere

And ‘civic society’ permits this pettiness.

The article continues and you may read the full article by clicking on the link
I provide below, but David closes out the article leaving us, his reader,
with more of a warning than a closing…

“The hospital bible ban demonstrates that we are well on our way to becoming
a Godless culture,
policed by militant secularists and opposed by a gutless Christianity.
It’s sad that those lying in hospital sick and fearful,
won’t be able to read about the great healer,
the one who calls all to come to him and receive rest.
The words of Christ as he wept over Jerusalem are surely apposite for the UK today.
We share in his tears.

And in a final aside at the end of the article,
David notes that this blog posting was actually an article he had written for
Christian Today…a publication in which he’s been writing twice-weekly article for
now going on over a year…yet suddenly the magazine had informed him that due to
financial restraints, they are no longer going to be able to continue needing his
services nor will be publishing his column…

An odd happening that…

“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said,
“If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—
but now it is hidden from your eyes.”

(Luke 19:41-42)

Banning the Bible in the NHS

the Russians are coming…

Russia is a riddle
wrapped in a mystery
inside an enigma.

Winston Churchill

The Russians are coming, The Russians are coming….
is the title of a 1966 comedic spoof based on the accidental beaching of a Russian sub
off the coast of a small fictional New England island town during the midst
of the Cold War.
The film stared Alan Arkin and Carl Reiner so you can only imagine the off the chain humor.

Fast forwarding all these many years later and history oddly seems to be repeating itself,
but this time it’s not over a comedic movie yet we can still hear that familiar war cry…
that the Russians are coming…

I’ve really tried, really really I have tried, to ignore the latest brouhaha concerning
Mother Russia and all things Russian…
all the latest “did they, didn’t they” sort of mumbo jumbo that is currently consuming all
things political and newsy.

I’ve really tried to tune out all things ‘news’ related since hysterical pandemonium
hit the airwaves following the election…

All because global news media are still having apoplexies following the US election,
all because the US simply elected another new president….
as in its something we’ve gotten pretty good at doing every 4 years…
Yet oddly this time, this process, this election…
although it was one that seemed to follow the same standard procedure of every other
election since General Washington’s election, has been anything but standard…
and I for one have grown weary of the now ensuing melee.

The conspiracy theorists on both sides of “this trouble” have whipped themselves
into such a frenzy that I’ve sadly found it all so very exhausting.

While the question remains, exhausting for what?

Has all this focus, frenzy and fuss made the world a better place?

Has world hunger been eradicated?
Are children no longer dying due to starvation or from treatable diseases?
Have we discovered the cure for cancer?
Have all the global conflicts and wars finally ended peacefully?

No?

No, I didin’t think so…

But rather than focusing on doing things to make living better for people…
easier, happier….
we’ve all decided to lose our minds and go nuts over a president half the population hates
and the notion of invading Russians from within the highest ranks of government.
Forget that kids are dying from starvation in the Sudan as I type.
Forget that airstrikes are raging in Syria as I type.
Forget the growing opiate addictions in this country.
Forget the widening global human sex trafficking nightmare….
Forget global terrorism.
Forget escalating violence.
Forget that half the United States now hates the other half….
Forget anything regarding the relevance of improving the suffering of humanity…
but rather, focus on collusion and intrigue….

Obviously according to the news, none of that humanity stuff matters and actually pales
in comparison to all things Trump and Russian.

The Russians, bless their hearts, all they have to do each morning is to wake up and
stare in bewilderment at their televisions because the Americans have pumped them back up to
being Enemy Number 1 without their ever having to lift a finger.

Putin doesn’t even have to act like his typical jerky egotistical, megalomania, tyrannical
self because we’re doing a fine enough job inflating his depraved ego
without his even trying…

During the Cold War, we were afraid of being blown off the map…
just as the Russians, aka Soviets, were afraid of the same fate.
It was literally a game of Russian Roulette with global annihilation at stake.

Churchill, way back in the 1940’s, first alerted the world that the slumbering Eastern Bear
would awake, making its presence known in a way that would cause grave troubles for all.

He was right.

Stalin proved him right….
As a long and dangerous “cold” war ensued.

Stalin’s crimes against humanity have rivaled, if not surpassed those of Adolph Hitler,
yet due to the silent steel curtain that has blanketed Russia since Lenin’s death and Stalin’s
rise to leadership in 1924, those facts have been buried in an eastern murky mire.

The world, following WWII, lived precariously and dangerously from day to day.
that was until 1989 when a dividing wall came tumbling down and a massive thaw took place….

However oddly it appears that both the leaders of the US and Russia seem to be more than
happy to return, turning the clock back to such frigid and frightening times.,..
as our news media readies the way….

Or maybe the truth of the matter is that we never really left those precariously
uncertain times….

I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles
in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned.
Keep away from them. 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 16:17-18

I ain’t no saint….

If God sends you many sufferings,
it is a sign that He has great plans for you and
certainly wants to make you a saint.

St. Ignatius Loyola

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(stained glass St Patrick’s Cathedral / Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

First of all,
let’s make this perfectly clear,
I am not in any way,
nor have I ever been,
a saint…

I have never professed to be…
nor have I lived what would be considered a
very saintly life.

But that is not to say that I am a wanton miscreant either…

I’m very much like the next person, full of foibles, warts and all…

I have, rather, during this life of mine found much wisdom,
and even grace, in the words written and shared
by those individuals who have, by no campaigning of their own, found themselves
named to that more sacred list of the who’s who….

It is during the more trying times in life that I tend to seek much
needed wisdom and clarity.
Certainly more so than during those more quiet and calmer days of living.

This time, here and now….is no bed of roses….
In fact it reminds me of the Churchill quote…
“If you’re going through hell, by all means keep going…”

Between Dad and me, I think I’ve seen just about every ologist out there.
Then with my poor husband,
who is up to his eye balls trying to settle his late dad’s estate,
we have been busy with the esquires….

I suppose you know it’s bad when the latest doctor you’ve seen,
who has known you for the past 25 years,
looks at you with his hand literally on your pulse and asks

“when is the last time you slept?!”

With my response being…

“you tell me?!”

as he soothingly comes back with a…

“Well I’m going to prescribe you a little something to help…”

With me sardonically quipping…

“well I hope its a sledge hammer”

It helps if you’ve known one another over the years—
through things like surgeries, colonoscopies, childbirth…..

Hopefully tomorrow with one more ologist and pedic doctor on the list, there will be some
relief…

And so I thought I’d share a few wise words of comfort by a few of
our past sisteren and brethren out there who have known a thing or two about
hardships, hardtimes, suffering, pain, loss and illness…

Cause you see….
that’s the thing often about these sacred who’s who members…
their words are not mere flippant off the cuff comments meant to sugar coat anything.
Many of them lived pain filled lives both physically as well as mentally and emotionally…

And yet…they allowed their hurting, their sorrows, their struggles…
to act as beckons of light…
focused upward rather than inward and downward….

One must not think that a person who is suffering is not praying.
He is offering up his sufferings to God, and many a time he is praying much
more truly than one who goes away by himself and meditates his head off,
and, if he has squeezed out a few tears, thinks that is prayer.

St. Teresa of Avila
(lost her mother when she was just 14. She suffered grievously from migraines
and prolonged illness–during which she experienced many divine encounters)

It is You Jesus, stretched out on the cross,
who gives me strength and are always close to the suffering soul.
Creatures will abandon a person in his suffering, but You, O Lord, are faithful…

(1508)
St. Faustina
(lived most of her life in poverty–even being turned down from several Cloisters
due to her low status in life.
She developed TB and died at the age of 33—
only after having established the devotion of Divine Mercy)

Courage, my sons. Don’t you see that we are leaving on a mission?
They pay our fare in the bargain.
What a piece of good luck! The thing to do now is to pray well
in order to win as many souls as possible.

St Maximilian Kolbe
[Said when he was first arrested.]
(sent to Auschwitz Nazi death camp where he sacrificed himself in order
for a fellow prisoner to be spared
and was sent to a starvation cell where he sang and prayed with the
other prisoners as they died one by one. He survived two weeks before the guards
entered the cell and ended his life with a deadly injection)

A storm is gathering…

You start out giving your hat, then you give your coat,
then your shirt,
then your skin and finally…
your soul.

Charles de Gaulle

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(the gathering storm on a southern summer’s night / Julie Cook / 2015)

Our prayers, once again, are offered up to our ally and friend…to the nation of France.
To the French people, especially the citizens of Nice, we offer our hearts in solidarity.

It is apparent that there is a war raging.
A war that is being waged and carried out by a hostile and ever morphing Islamic state.
A war that is apparently one-sided.

For you see, the Western World has yet to acknowledge it is being attacked, relentlessly.

Once upon a time…

In a different time and place…
there was a lone voice…
A lone voice that was relentless in sounding an alarm to the gathering storm clouds.

Yet no one wanted to listen.
No one wanted to hear the hard truth being offered by this lone voice…
And so the voice was ignored.

By the time the storm had come, raged and then passed…
Well over 60 million people had lost their lives.

It appears that today, we continue not to listen.

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Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them,
for it is the Lord your God who goes with you.
He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6

harmony

“I tried to discover, in the rumor of forests and waves,
words that other men could not hear,
and I pricked up my ears to listen to the revelation of their harmony.”

Gustave Flaubert

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(evening Georgia sky / Julie Cook / 2016)

The debate will rage on no doubt until the end of time…
that Science and Religion cannot and will not ever mix…
particularly with the religion of the Christian faith.

As there are indeed many entrenched and ardent supporters in both camps, on both sides of the fence, who cautiously eye their enemy—that enemy being one another.

There are those who say that there is neither room nor space for one another.
As some have gone so far as to attempt to disprove and discount each opposing team.
Calling one another names and simply dismissing the other as being less than.

Pity that…
for was it not God who gave both the heavens and the earth to His created…
As well as the stars and the sea?
Did He not provide for man the beasts of the field, the fowl of the sky and the fish in the vast oceans deep?

Yet sadly man, in his exuberance and quest for all things knowledgable, has deemed that he and he alone is to have the final word and it is he who can now, and most certainly should, erase the very presence of the Creator.

We cannot say for certain what happened that fateful day that both Adam and Eve were cast forth from the Garden, as the gate to Eden was slammed shut behind them, sealing it from sight to this very day.

We cannot say what God’s concept of time was nor what it should be…for God is beyond space,
time as well as dimension.

God cannot be placed neatly under a microscope not contemplated by an equation.
For there is no litmus test for God’s being, His nature nor His presence…

for His being is without beginning or end.

Epistemology is the study of how we know what we know.
During the period when the principles of modern science were under development–revelation and reason were linked. Sir Isaac Newton grasped this connection and “explicitly stated that he was investigating God’s creation, which was a religious duty because nature reflects the creativity of its maker.”
Newton was reaching back into the Middle Ages, a time that has pilloried as anti-science but that actually represents a more highly integrated approach to philosophy, theology, and the study of the workings of nature. In fact it was the “natural philosophers” of the Middle Ages (the term scientist wasn’t coined until 1833) who made modern science possible. Without “their central belief that nature was created by God and so worthy of their attention,” writes James Hannam, “modern science would simply not have happened.”

Excerpt from God & Churchill
Jonathan Sandys and Wallace Henley
with footnotes from James Hannam, God’s Philosophers

May we as Christians never shut the door on the sciences for they allow us to explore the creation God has put before us….and may those of Science always remain open to that which is beyond their comprehension…not simply dismissing what cannot be seen or fully grasped…and therefore deciding that if it cannot be seen nor measured, it cannot nor does not exist….

Live in harmony with one another.
Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.
Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Romans 12:16-18

Clowns to the left, jokers to the right…

“Well I don’t know why I came here tonight,
I got the feeling that something ain’t right,
I’m so scared in case I fall off my chair,
And I’m wondering how I’ll get down the stairs,
Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you.”

Lyrics from Stuck in the Middle with You
Stealers Wheel

“And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us;
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.”

Martin Luther

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(an abandoned gristmill stone, Cables Mill, Cades Cove, The Great Smokey Mountains National Park, Townsend, TN / Julie Cook / 2015)

A two front war…it’s what Churchill longed for and what Hitler loathed.

As soon as the US threw her hat into the ring, following the attack on Pearl Harbor and Hitler had set his sights on Russia, Churchill at long last knew that it was now only a matter of time before Hitler would crumble as the result of fighting a two front war.

History tells us that a two front war is a very difficult prospect for any warring nation as it requires a vast wealth of fresh troops, endless resources, new equipment, ample food, unending ammunition and free flowing cash in order to keep the fighting machine well fed.

It is exhausting and vastly draining on multiple national levels.

It is the ultimate squeeze play…a forcing of the hand…with all cards having to be be played at the same time as there is no longer the luxury of hiding anything…it’s now or never.

And that’s exactly how our ancient adversary enjoys plaguing us most…
Squeezing us on multiple fronts, diverting all of our energies, our attentions, our resources, our nerves, our health, all as we battle multiple opponents on multiple levels simultaneously.

It is disheartening, physically and emotionally exhausting, depressing, and very near crushing.
Defeat almost inevitably appears to be galloping toward us on the horizon as the specter of Death raises his scythe for the final blow….

And it is at that exact moment when we gratefully hear the rallying cry…

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

Hymn A Mighty Fortress is our God
words and music by Martin Luther

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Psalm 46: 1-3,7

(****whereas to many Martin Luther’s name cries of derision, division and contempt, these ancient words speak to all Christians…Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant alike as we, the collective followers of Christ, continue finding ourselves pitted against an ancient foe who neither tires nor grows weary of making our lives miserable—it behooves us to always remember that we never go into battle alone)

When I’m feeling blue. . .or pink or purple or green. . .you get the picture

“When I’m feeling blue, all I have to do
Is take a look at you, then I’m not so blue”

Phil Collins – Groovy Kind Of Love Lyrics

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.

e. e. cummings

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(a sea of purple at the home improvement store /Julie Cook / 2014)

Maybe it’s the weather.
Maybe it’s the time of year.
Maybe it’s the barometric pressure.
Maybe it’s the boat load of tomatoes staring me in the face, taunting me. . .”cook us, now!”
Maybe it’s my thyroid. . .always the thyroid. . .
Maybe it’s the news. . .most definitely the news . . .
Whatever it is, I found myself feeling a tad bit out of sorts this morning.

More blah maybe than blue really.
We had had quite the storm yesterday afternoon which ran long into the evening.
Which lead to us waking to a thick humid fog.
Grey, be it summer or winter, spring or fall, can cause any spirited individual’s needle to point towards the melancholy.
Churchill had his “black dog”, I have more like a “black puppy”

On those days which find me feeling blah, blue, dispirited, out of sorts, off kilter—even when a good vigorous walk, a soothing cup of tea, a jolting workout or good night’s sleep just can’t seem to work their magic and shake off the relentless hounding of spirit, I have found one solution—Color!
What?
Yep, you heard me— uh, read me, color.
And no it doesn’t have anything to do with my having been an art teacher.

Plus I bet you thought I was going to say cooking, didn’t you?
And whereas I do love a nice trip to a fabulous cooking store, which one might imagine to be a soothing balm to ease any case of the “eh’s and the “ugs” —I find that color is actually more the quick fix—as well as usually the cheapest!
Or so I thought it was. . .

I needed some ant poison–I know, I can hear you, I’m always needing ant poison–but such is life in the South. . .
So I decided I would have to drag myself out of the house, despite a prevailing heaviness which was pressing me to “stay, just stay”. . .
I drove over to our local home improvement center, opting to go to Lowes vs Home Depot as the selection of “color” tends to be typically bigger and better. And as luck would have it the fall colors had arrived.

I mindlessly grabbed a buggy, aka, to northerners..a shopping cart. . .and, yes, I know a can of ant poison does not necessitate a shopping buggy / cart but I felt things were now out of my control.
I found myself mysteriously making a bee line to a beautiful flat of lovely “coralesque” snapdragons
“Oooooooo. . .” (think Homer Simpson in front of a box of doughnuts)

RSCN7303
(snapdragons / Julie Cook / 2014)

Before I realize it, two trays are in the shopping buggy.
“Mums, must have mums. . .
Oh, and they must match the snapdragons. . .” a far away voice begins to dictate directions. . .

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(a pot of mums / Julie Cook / 2014)

Somewhere in my head I’m hearing. . .”there needs to be a corresponding color. We (we, really?) did the mauves and magentas last year, time to mix it up. . .” this as I grab two four gallon pots of the yellow things. . .

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(Yellow things — Olivia Hypericum / Julie Cook / 2014)

“Cow manure, must have manure. . .and of course a sack or two of fresh potting soil. . .” again these voices in my head. . .
This is where it is best my husband is nowhere in sight.
A. he doesn’t get the need to buy flowers which may or may not survive the winter or for any season really. . .
and
B. who in their right mind pays for sacks of cow $h!t manure!?

Lastly the small voice reminds me to run inside to get what I came for, the ant poison.

And before I depart with my cartload of flowers, soil, poop, and of course ant poison. . .
I secretly pull out my phone, lest anyone think me a subversive flower terrorist, in order to snap a few images of the beautiful abounding color throughout the garden center—

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As I finally made my way to the check out lane, I triumphantly handed the sales lady my ant poison.
“This is what I came for” I emphatically announce.
As she warily eyes the remaining items in the burgeoning cart, with wide eye bemusement, she offered a flat “I see” as she proceeded to scan the bulk of goods in the shopping cart.

“Medicinal purposes” I am heard to respond, “purely medicinal . . .”
Feeling better already. . .