say it like it is

“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once.
It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time.
Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

Corrie ten Boom


(My local peter cottontail hiding amongst the grass / Julie Cook / 2018)

Yesterday while scrolling through my reader of blogs that I subscribe to, I came upon the
latest offering by Elihu over on Elihu’s Corner—
‘If you worry about it, You can pray about it’
(full post here:https://elihuscorner.com/2018/05/16/if-you-worry-about-it-you-can-pray-about-it/)

It was a personal reflection about worry— to be more specific, a worry verbalized by
her youngest daughter.
Elihu reminded us that no matter how insignificant a worry may be,
it is always important enough to offer it up to God—
Offering it up to God no matter how small or insignificant that worry may seem outwardly
to others.
Because as we all know, our worries are our worries and it matters not what anyone else
may think…because that worry is ours and therefore it is significant…
no matter what others may try telling us.

But it wasn’t so much the notion about praying or actually petitioning God over a
concern that stood out to me as I certainly already understood that and have always done that.
I know that there are all sort of prayers with one of the biggest being a prayer
of petition.

In the Book of Common Prayer, that ancient Anglican book of instruction dating
to 1549, the following direction precedes the various forms of
petitionary prayers:
The Prayers of the People
Prayer is offered with intercession for

The Universal Church, its members, and its mission
The Nation and all in authority
The welfare of the world
The concerns of the local community
Those who suffer and those in any trouble
The departed (with commemoration of a saint when appropriate)

Any of the forms which follow may be used.

Adaptations or insertions suitable to the occasion may be made.

Any of the forms may be conformed to the language of the Rite being
used.

A bar in the margin indicates petitions which may be omitted.

The Celebrant may introduce the Prayers with a sentence of invitation
related to the occasion, or the season, or the Proper of the Day.

So I certainly grew up understanding the act of putting things before God while
imploring His aid and assistance…
however here, in Elihu’s posting, I had that “aha moment”…
that sudden realization that the act of coming before God with my worries goes well beyond
petitionary prayer… so much so that I’ve now figured out, a peaceful knowing now deep in my bones,
that it’s certainly ok and even perfectly fine to simply let God know, ‘hey, I’m worried’
simple as that…
“I’m worried”

No long drawn out wording of the best way to present a situation before God…
no tendency to lean toward to the begging, the yearning all accented by a
growing and heightened sense of panic…

No formal “dear Lord hear my prayers” is necessary as I would have normally proceeded to
fill in the blank with whatever it was I was offering up…
but rather the revelation here was that, just like I might confide to a close friend or
confident the heaviness of a real concern or worry over some issue or over someone,
here I could simply do the same in the same simple language that I would use with any friend…
with that friend just happening to be my loving Father.

“God, I’m just worried…”

A pretty simple statement I might share with a friend…
A pretty simple prayer I can share with Abba…as in Father…
all because He already knows.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with
thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

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.

intercessory needs

“We never know how God will answer our prayers,
but we can expect that He will get us involved in His plan for the answer.
If we are true intercessors,
we must be ready to take part in God’s work on behalf of the people for whom we pray.”

Corrie ten Boom


(a single tattered azalea bloom / Julie Cook / 2018)

I have been made keenly aware that we all have certain needs in each of our little
corners of the world.

Needs which are vastly different from what would be considered typical wants.

Yet within those needs, there is indeed a form of want…

We want to be healthy.
We want to be made well.
We want to be healed.
We want to be employed.
We want to be able to pay our bills.
We want to be able to feed our families.
We want for our children to be happy, healthy.
We want to succeed.
We want to be safe.
We want to be whole.
We don’t want to be alone.
We don’t want to hurt.
We don’t want to worry…

We each have varying needs, wants, desires.
Some more pressing than others…

We pray, we implore…and we are asked to trust.

Time seems of the essence.
Yet God who is outside of the realm of both space and time…
sees and knows far more than we can grasp…
and thus we who are of both space and time…fret…worry…

And so we pray earnestly and we intercede on the behalf of those in need and want…

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us
through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole
human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which
infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us;
unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and
confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in
your good time, all nations and races may serve you in
harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen.

Prayers for the people…The Book of Common Prayer

He will swallow up death forever

“There are no ‘if’s’ in God’s world.
And no places that are safer than other places.
The center of His will is our only safety–
let us pray that we may always know it!”

Corrie ten Boom


(ceiling portion of The Breakers Hotel, Palm Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2017)

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines,
of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.
And he will destroy on this mountain
the shroud that is cast over all peoples,
the sheet that is spread over all nations;
he will swallow up death forever.
Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces,
and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us.
This is the Lord for whom we have waited;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

Isaiah 25:6-9

measuring

The measure of a life,
after all,
is not its duration,
but its donation.

Corrie Ten Boom

rscn4795
(everything is so early this year—blooming cherry trees and the visiting honey bees/
Julie Cook / 2017)

We are a measuring people…
we just seem to love to measure…
It’s as if we’ve been measuring ever since the dawn of Creation.

We measure everything….
space,
time,
distance,
amounts,
gains,
averages,
percentages,
odds,
growth…

Just as we measure…
decline,
decrease,
failure,
depletion,
shrinkage,
loss,
and demise…

We measure both life and death…as well as the distance separating the two.

This whole concept of numbers, benchmarks, averages and time seems to be of the
utmost importance to us.
Measuring allows us the satisfaction of knowing if we’ve actually been successful,
having accomplished a certain task, goal or desire.
It also gives us some sense, some idea, as to how far we still need to go in order to
reach a set goal, desire or postion.

Measuring and its results makes us feel in control.

And it is certainly paramount when considering such endeavors such as construction,
tailoring, manufacturing, producing, building, mending…
It is in such that both precision and measurement walk hand in hand.
Meaning… we can’t have one without the other.
Anything other then precise leads to skewed, crooked, awkward, flawed
as well as imperfection…
as we’ve learned to equate measurement with both precision and perfection…
as well as with safety.

Yet no matter how precise we try to be, no matter how perfect, how accurate…
we continue making mistakes.
And our mistakes can have catastrophic results…
leaving us not in the place we prefer…
that of being knowledgable and in control…
but rather…
we find ourselves as helpless victims of our own failures and errors.
Wishing to hide, lest anyone know it was upon our mistake of flawed measuring
which resulted in disaster….

Yet we simply, and often flippantly, chalk that up to human nature…
for we are indeed an imperfect lot…
despite our best attempts to measure…along with precision, perfection,
accuracy and control…
we misread, mismeasure and miscalculate…

Yet in our busyness of measuring, we have become accustomed to measuring
not only the abstract…
but we are very comfortable measuring ourselves…
We measure our self worth and our sense of well being…
With our benchmark being anything and everyone other than ourselves…

We constantly gauge our level of satisfaction by how others measure up to us and
how we measure up to others…

Are we happier than…
Are we more successful than…
Are we better off than…
Are we more financially secure than…
Are we healthier than…
Are we prettier than…
Are we thinner than…
Are we younger looking than…
Are we more comfortable than…
Are we further along than…
Are we more popular than…

Our question must therefore remain…what is it that we measure?
And what shall we be measured by…

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you:
Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought,
but rather think of yourself with sober judgment,
in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

Romans 12:3

‘You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measurement of weight, or capacity.
‘You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin;
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from the land of Egypt.

Leviticus 19:35-36
(ephah: a Hebrew dry measurement / hin: a Hebrew liquid measurement)

how far are we to go?

“But in the end one needs more courage to live than to kill himself.”
Albert Camus

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(Betsie, Corrie and Nollie Ten Boom)

Survival of the fittest.
We’ve all heard of it…
that notion that the strong, cunning, stealthy and fortuitous among us usually come out
on the other side..
Whereas the weak, sickly, naive and unlucky, more often than not,
will succumb to those more trying events of life.

Many a survivor of all sorts of traumas and events are often heard to opine as to “why me?”
“why did I survive, making it to the other side, when the other’s did not??”—
those others who seemed to be perhaps better people, more kind, more gracious, more giving,
seemingly to have more to live for or even greater purpose…
why didn’t they live, while the now living survivor laments to still be breathing….

I think it is called survivor’s remorse…
a natural reaction…

Yet perhaps there is a deeper purpose for those who survive…
something that reaches to a place far greater than any mere mortal can comprehend….

Ravensbrück Concentration Camp…
A “death” camp north of Berlin constructed in 1938 in order to house female prisoners.
It was a camp initially built to hold roughly 900 women…
but by the end of its first operational year, it had far exceeded its maximum number,
swelling to 10,000 women.
A reasons for the Germans to continue with construction.

Mostly Poles, but there were prisoners from every Nazi occupied nation.
Many of these women came with children and many more gave birth while being held
in Ravensbrück.
There were unspeakable medical trials and tests carried out on many of Ravensbrück’s women,
leaving many to die agonizing deaths while others toiled through 14 hour days of
extreme manual labor.

During its operation from 1939 to 1945, it is estimated that 132,000 women came and
went from Ravensbrück…most of whom went out by way of death.

Betsie Ten Boom, Corrie Ten Boom’s older sister, was one of the thousands of victims
of Ravensbrück.
She was humiliated and worn down physically from months of being treated more
like a hated animal than a humanbeing..
Gravely sick and malnourished, her body simply gave out while her spirit
never wavered.

Betsie saw it as her Christian duty to minister to the other women–
both believers and non believers…
even compelling her fellow prisoners to pray for their monstrous
and sadistic guards.

For it was in those guards who beat, tortured, belittled, mocked,
demeaned and ridiculed their captives, who Betsie saw as people in need.
Betsie knew that Christ died not only for her but for those guards as well…
and if Christ would give his life for these Nazis,
then why should she not be willing to do the same….

“Let any one of you who is without sin…”
Betsie knew that no one on this earth was without sin and therefore…
all, both captive and captor, were in need of Christ’s saving Grace.

Corrie had seen the dead bodies of prisoners stacked up like cord wood…
those who had lost their battle to survive,
staked inside one of the bathrooms of the infirmary…
the same room where she would eventually see Betsie’s body,
discarded and waiting to be incinerated…

And yet without hate for their captors, Corrie returned to the barracks,
determined to carry on Betsie’s mission of love in a place that knew no love.

Shortly following Betsie’s death, Corrie was, as it was later discovered,
mistakingly discharged from Ravensbrück.

However before she could be released, she had to be “healthy” enough to leave.
Corrie was currently suffering from staggering edema in her legs and feet…
So as in a case of deep irony, she was sent to the infirmary to heal,
the very infirmary where women were merely sent to die,
in order that she might pass the physical exam necessary for release.

In the dank and dirty infirmary she was placed with those who were dying
from all manner of disease. The air was putrid with rotting flesh.
Yet she was thankful to have a wooden platform in which to lie down,
while being able to prop up her grotesquely swollen legs against the wall.

As she later reflected in her book The Hiding Place,
Corrie knew that living in such a place as Ravensbrück made the retreating of self,
that of one turning deeply within self to a place that normal humanbeings
dared not tread,
a necessity of simple survival.

It was a place of survival by any and all means…
a place that she would later recall as being Satan’s ploy….
“this was the great ploy of Satan in that kingdom of his: to display
such blatant evil that one could almost believe one’s own secret sins didn’t matter.”

A place where morality, kindness and decorum were strangers.
She found herself fighting hard to continue loving and offering hope where
none was to be found.

At night in the infirmary she would be unable to sleep due to the constant wailing
of women pleading for the guards to bring a bed pan as the women were all too ill to
make their own way to the latrine.
Knowing what she must do, Corrie painfully dropped her heavy swollen legs from their
elevated position and climbing down from the platform, found the bed pans as she would
carry them from patient to patient.
Serving her fellow “woman” as only she knew Christ would…

On one of the aisles full of the sick and dying were a couple of Hungarian gypsies
who were suffering with severe gangrene.
Sadisticly they enjoyed waving their pus covered black dying limbs in Corrie’s face,
shrieking and laughing at her…taunting her efforts of simple kindness.
As these women had tragically become the animals they were assumed to be.

One night, Corrie couldn’t find the bed pans.
The other patients told Corrie that the Hungarian women had taken the pans and were hiding
them in their cots so they wouldn’t have to get up.
Suddenly Corrie felt the sensation of a wet piece of cloth, which had a wretchedly
foul odor, land on her face.
The gypsies were laughing as they had flung their diseased soaked bandages on her face.
Terrified and demoralized, Corrie ran sobbing to the latrine to wash her face under
the lone working spigot…vowing never to offer aid again….

and yet….
the one prayer that she would say over and over throughout her life came to her lips..
“Jesus, I cannot forgive them/ him/ her. Give me your forgiveness.”

She marched back into the ward, heading directly toward the Hungarian women,
when she heard the bed pans crashing down on the floor.

The thing is that Corrie could have, and by world standards should have,
selfishly thought of her own health and legs,
not bothering to sacrifice her health and potential release,
for the sake of others who openly mocked and ridiculed her selfless acts…
but as a Christian, who was actually living her faith…
Corrie knew there was no option

“And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than
on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His.
When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command,
the love itself…”

And so as we now find ourselves marching forward into this new strange and hate
filled world of this 21st century,
may we recall that same command to love… as well as to forgive…
knowing that we have been given the love necessary…
a love that far exceeds the depths or capacity
of the human heart….

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.
Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

1 John 4:7

why are any of us here…

“The fact of God is necessary for the fact of man.
Think God away and man has no ground of existence.”

A.W. Tozer

dscn4418
(Sandpiper in the surf / Grayton Beach State Park / Julie Cook / 2016)

I doubt that there has ever been a single person who,
at some point or another during the course of a life time,
has not pondered the reason for their existence.

Most likely for much of their lives, there are countless numbers of forlorn souls
who have grappled, nay continue to grapple, with this quandary…
…with the very profound depth of such a nagging question…
Longing for some semblance of direction…

Seeking and craving to know what it is that is to be done…
how shall they, how shall any of us, make their mark?
Yearning to know purpose and course…

For some the question and elusive answer is but a fleeting passing of slight discomfort…

However for others, it is a lifetime quest…

To make a difference.
To change the world.
To find one’s place
One’s calling
One’s destiny…

Yet imagine finding yourself in a hopeless situation…
In the midst of misery and death…as life is slowing and agonizingly ebbing away…
Imagine feeling defeated while knowing your very existence is in grave jeopardy.
You are plagued by torment, illness and and evil beyond comprehension…

Do you now shrug your shoulders and concede that all is lost?
As a sickening realization settles over you
that this is simply the destitute lot for which you now reside …

or…

Do you know without doubt or question that no matter the bleakest, darkest circumstance…
there still remains both purpose and reason…

But as the rest of the world grew stranger, one thing became increasingly clear.

And that was the reason the two of us were here.

Why others should suffer we were not shown.

As for us, from morning until lights-out, whenever we were not in ranks for roll call,
our Bible was the center of an ever-widening circle of help and hope.
Like waifs clustered around a blazing fire,
we gathered about it, holding out our hearts to its warmth and light.

The blacker the night around us grew, the brighter and truer and more beautiful burned
the word of God.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?

Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”

Corrie Ten Boom reflecting on her time in Ravensbrück Concentration Camp as
was written in her book The Hiding Place.