the Sheriff has arrived for duty

“Human happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.”
― George Washington


(the Sheriff dressed for his arrival at home…finally)

It’s been a whirlwind of time and activity…
trying and hard as well as grateful and good.

It’s like I told Tricia the other day…when our family’s newest addition ended up in the
neonatal unit shortly after his birth, it was as if the world simply stopped and stood still.
Nothing outside that hospital mattered…

no politics
no societal or cultural idiocy
no countries
no governments
no Democrats
no Republicans
no tit for tat…

Absolutely nothing mattered but that our little guy would rally.

In hindsight, we learned that one of his lungs had collapsed and he “strangled” on amniotic fluid—
of which was suddenly realized when the “crisis” occurred while he was being kept in the nursey
following his birth.
Hence the surge of staff presence and the rapid removal to the neonatal care unit.

Add to that a few other issues that would delay circumcision for at least 6 months.

When my son and daughter-n-law returned home without a baby…
the very baby they had raced to deliver Sunday night, it was a sad arrival back home
and it was hard.

I had just returned home from having spent 4 days with them—we thought we still
has about 3 days when at midnight I got the call…
“Mother, I need ya’ll to come back, NOW!”

But how many couples experience such…?
How many parents continue to leave for the hospital only to come back home without the baby
they had left to go deliver?

It quickly put a spin of reality on birth…
something that we in the “civilized world” now take for granted.

We treat delivering a baby much as we do a trip to the dentist— a simple in and out.

100 years ago…folks knew not to take such for granted…

Perhaps it is our technological advances that have left us jaded and smug while feeling
almost infallible and indefensible to those worst-case scenarios…
situations that a century ago our grand and great grandparents knew better than to assume
that all would be well.

I learned as an educator to expect the worst, but rejoice when the success comes…

Maybe that’s why I consider myself more or less a pragmatist…
despite the fact that I claim and often cling to the positive…
I know, however, that life can change on a dime.

We were fortunate.

His initial tests came back negative and he got to come home to us late Thursday afternoon.

He weighed nearly a pound less than and was shorter in length than that of his sister,
The Mayor, when she was born nearly 15 months ago.

He lost weight in the hospital…backtracking from his birth weight.
But is slowly making a come back to the weight he arrived with.

Lanky and spindly vs a sister who was more round and full.

And speaking of the Mayor…she was a bit apprehensive on the day of her brother’s birth.

And note that face on The Mayor when she clamored up to sit by Mopie (aka “Biya”) when holding
the new Sherrif…

The Sheriff now wears a tiny monitor on his foot which measures his heart rate and oxygen levels…
And thankfully so far so good.

He’s just so tiny and seemingly frail…but I suspect that having to live under the tutelage
of his new boss, the Mayor, will require a ramp up in fortitude…
something I suspect our little Sheriff will certainly rise to occasion for…

I have no doubt…

Rejoice in the Lord always.
I will say it again:
Rejoice!
Let your gentleness be evident to all.
The Lord is near.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

the right side of history…where will we be?

The history of the West is built on the interplay between these two pillars:
Divine meaning and reason. We receive our notions of Divine meaning from a
three-millennial-old lineage stretching back to the ancient Jews; we receive
our notions of reason from a twenty-five-hundred-year-old lineage stretching
back to the ancient Greeks.
In rejecting those lineages–in seeking a graft ourselves to rootless philosophical comments
of the moment, cutting ourselves off from our own roots—
we have damned ourselves to an existential wandering.

Ben Shapiro


(Michaelangelo’s God from The Sistine Chapel)

And we’re also remembering the guiding light of our Judeo/Christian tradition.
All of us here today are descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
sons and daughters of the same God.
I believe we are bound by faith in our God, by our love for family and neighborhood,
by our deep desire for a more peaceful world, and by our commitment to protect the freedom
which is our legacy as Americans.

Ronald Reagan, Former U.S. President (1980-1988)

I had to take my husband to the hospital yesterday for a nuclear stress test–
the glowing type of test I suppose.

So while I sat for my near four hours, I had the foresight to carry a new book with me…
The Right Side of History
How Reason and Moral Purpose Made The West Great

by Ben Shapiro

Ben Shapiro is, if you’ve never seen nor heard him, is a young sharp cookie.
Not like this cookie here in cookieland…but a much younger and much smarter cookie.
A good kosher cookie.

Ben is a 35-year-old Orthodox Jew.
He is a graduate of Harvard Law School, a married man with two young children.
He also happens to be a conservative commentator which labels him as persona non grata
or better, a pariah.
An outcast from what is considered our progressive liberal mainstream society.

Each time I’ve had the opportunity to catch an interview featuring Ben as a guest,
I have been greatly impressed with his views, data, and points.

His interviews are reminiscent of when I was teaching high school and was listening to our
debate team kids engaging in debate “presentations”.
Barely discernable facts spouted off at the speed of light.
It took a gift of keen listening in order to keep up.

Ben tends to spout off his facts in that same machinegun type of fashion.

Yet in Ben’s case, he has had built quite the resume of political journalistic prowess.

And so I sat in that lovely waiting room with its lone TV on the game show channel,
with my trusty highlighter in hand…that was until it ran dry.
I then grabbed a pen out of my purse and went to town.

At the beginning of this latest book, Ben recalled a moment when his wife once asked him
if he was happy.

Now being the smart young husband that he is…
Ben readily noted that when a spouse,
in particular one’s wife, asks if you’re happy…that can be a dangerously loaded question.

He shared that she asked this question during a rather stressful period in their lives—
their children were young and naturally required, as children do, lots of time and attention.
His wife had a career as a doctor while he was in the early stages of working with
his business partner trying to get their website and podcast venture off the ground–
all the while traveling the country, busy with speaking engagements.

Ben took the question deeper… to that of a question as to when was he was the most happiest—
and that answer was found on the Sabbath.

Ben is an Orthodox Jew who cuts off the world for 25 hours each weekend when he
and his small family take time to observe the Sabbath.

No TV
No computer
No work
No politics.

Only God, then family.

He recalls a traditional Jewish saying…
“the Jews didn’t keep the Sabbath, the Sabbath kept the Jews”

Ben makes the point that politics is not the driving force for his happiness despite
the fact that it is the pursuit of politics that is where he makes his living…
yet it is the same revelation that our founding fathers also knew.
Our faith is our root—not our politics.
A root that came to us on Mt Sinai.

However this is where we’ll stop for the time being.
Whetting your whistle.

This is a meaty book—
a book that is steeped not only in our Nation’s history but steeped in that of
Western Civilization’s root history–
the history of both our Western Civilization and that of our Judeo/ Christian roots.

A root system we have taken for granted as we are currently watching its erosion.

Like I say—more to share in the coming days…

“Lasting happiness can only be achieved through cultivation of soul and mind.
And cultivating our souls and minds requires us to live with moral purpose.”

Ben Shapiro

Back to prayer…

“Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is to expect nothing,
to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me.
It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised.
It is to have a blessed home in the Lord, where I can go in and shut the door,
and kneel to my Father in secret, and am at peace as in a deep sea of calmness,
when all around and above is trouble.”

Andrew Murray


(side chapel in Saint Sulpice / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2018)

Now that it’s Monday, it’s time we get back to work as we figure out
our specific prayer that this little blog family of ours shall need to concentrate on.
Prayers for our ailing world.

We’ve had some great thoughts…such as the latest from
our dear friend Salvageable who offered this suggestion for our collective prayer…

Last night some thoughts came to may as I was lying in bed.
Not to hijack your project,
but just to make a modest suggestion, building on Kathy’s thought of using the
Lord’s Prayer/Our Father/Jesus’ Sample prayer to guide our praying.
On a certain time every Sunday we could all pray that God and his name would be
honored and respected in our lives,
in our nation, and especially in our churches (which are His Church).

On Monday we could all pray that his kingdom would come–
that the missionaries of the Church would faithfully bring his message to all the world,
and that we also would faithfully share his forgiveness with those near us.

On Tuesday, that his will be done by the leaders of our country,
by the leaders of his Church, and by each of us,
and that he would reveal his will to us as much as is good for us to know.

On Wednesday, that we would receive daily bread–and not just our small group,
but the poor and homeless among us, the victims of abuse and neglect and addictions,
the children born or unborn who are not wanted and loved–that they would
be granted what they need to live and to have better lives, whether that be bread,
advocacy, or strength to persevere.

On Thursday, that we be forgiven our sins, both known and unknown to us.
Also that we be channels of forgiveness to others,
even to our enemies with whom we disagree.

On Friday, that we, along with the leaders of our nation and those of his Church,
be led on proper paths pleasing to the Lord and kept safe from temptation.

And on Saturday, that we, our nation, and his Church be protected from every kind of evil.
Just a thought. J.

Now I do love this idea but I worry that some of us (me) could get confused as to what day it is
and what prayer we are to be focusing on for that particular day…

Then Marie offered this thought filled observation:

I have one more observation. We have outlined the basic object of our prayers.
How we ask it differs from one individual to another.
And I am always reminded that there are times when we don’t know what or how to pray
and that’s when the Holy Spirit takes over.
Romans8:26-27 tells us He intercedes for us through wordless groans and that it is
always according to the will of God.
Our hearts are an open book to our Lord.
What a blessing. We must not forget His sovereign will.
Yes, let’s pray as one body asking with all boldness before the throne of grace.
He knows our hearts so if we ask with different words He knows our intentions.
I threw out the 6:00 time only to emphasize that we need the time also.
As said, with all of the time differences here in the US as well as across the pond,
that might be a difficult task.
Would daily be a better option?
I intend to wear something as a reminder that I must not forget this great time of prayer.

I like Marie’s thought about wearing something as a reminder…because once again we (me) might forget
both day and time.

And so one thing I was thinking about—

If we just add it in, say to our already very full prayer plates during our regular
daily “Quiet” prayer time…
it might end up as a bit of a PS…an, ‘oh by the way God’…

I feel very strongly that this should be some sort of “Joan of Arc”, jaw set, sword raised high
sort of prayer…
Meaning a strong and Godly warrior sort of prayer—because things are indeed really that bad.

And yes, as IB reminded us, things have been bad from the get go…from our Fall from
Grace…from the Fall from our God, our Father…

I feel very compelled that the faithful must be focused more than ever
as we continue to stand our Holy ground.

This is because I feel very strongly that what we are currently seeing and witnessing is all
very much a result of Spiritual Warfare—meaning Satan is working fast and furious.
And so what we know when there is a rise in Darkness and a raging Spiritual battle that
is swirling all around us, Satan is feeling the squeeze.
He’s gone into overdrive…because his time of rule on this earth is drawing nigh.

Satan loves a ‘divide and conquer mentality’—separate the troops from one another,
then swoop in for the strike.

So it must be a firm and unified prayer.

And so yesterday as we were driving home from a late breakfast, the words
“The wages of sin is death” just popped into my head…out of nowhere.

So when we got home, I looked up the verse as well as the chapter….
Romans 6:1-23…
and so what was it in that chapter that was speaking to me?

Chapter 6 opens with the words…
“What shall we say then?”
Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?”

The answer, of course, is a resounding NO!
Because we know that in sinning, grace cannot increase…as in it actually decreases.

We are told not to let sin reign in our mortal bodies.
We are told that we are baptized in Christ, we are buried with Him, and…
we have risen with Him–as our old self is now crucified, dead and buried.
A new self has risen…one that has been cleansed and made whole.

We are now, in turn, instruments of righteousness.
Sin is no longer our master…for we are not under the law but under that of Grace.

“What then?” we are asked as the chapter continues.

We have been set free from sin and from our old selves…only to become ‘slaves to righteousness’.

Slaves to righteousness??!!

Odd thinking to most reading such—how is it that one can be set free only to become a slave?

We know that to be a slave means to be under the ownership of, under the authority of–
literally yoked, bound or tethered to something or someone.

So from this, we know that we are no longer to be a part of the sinfulness we once knew
nor are we to be a part of the sinfulness that we are currently witnessing each and every
day in this culture of ous—
because we are now products of Righteousness as well as Grace.

I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations.
Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness,
so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.
20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.
21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?
Those things result in death!
22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God,
the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So I find myself coming back around to the notion of a prayer that stands against Darkness…
A prayer that proclaims Light.
A prayer in which we, the Believers, proclaim our humility—proclaiming our role as the instruments of
God’s Grace, Peace as well as the reflections of His light—
A prayer in which we denounce Satan’s darkness cast over humankind…
standing in our place of Light–as Christian warriors…

Maybe it’s the memory of singing the hymn Onward Christian Soldiers as a child in children’s chapel.
The imagery of what a Christian Soldier would look like in the mind of a 7-year-old girl.

That having been a Joan of Arc or a Martin of Tours.

Defiant and focused soldiers.

Brave and unwavering in the face of Evil.

However that image today, in my more developed and “healed” mind and heart,
is a much different image…

It is the image of a Maximilian Kolbe—

The Catholic priest who died in Auschwitz in the place of a fellow prisoner who was not
a Christian but rather a Jew.

It is a seemingly meek and emaciated prisoner in Auschwitz who is now the image that comes to
my mind when I think of Christian Warriors…

Quiet, humble, focused, compassionate, sustained by a love of God and determined to live out The Fatih
unto death…

https://history.info/on-this-day/1941-nazis-execute-maximilian-kolbe-via-lethal-injection/

And so now we need to think of a time…

What say you my friends?

“We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first
line of defense.
We pray when there’s nothing else we can do,
but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all.

Most of us would prefer, however, to spend our time doing something that
will get immediate results.
We don’t want to wait for God to resolve matters in His good time because
His idea of ‘good time’ is seldom in sync with ours.”
Oswald Chambers


(Praying hands by Albrecht Dürer 1508)

Back on February 1st, I wrote a post concerning the dire story canvasing the headlines…
that story being the notion of third term abortions—or what some folks have labeled as
4th term abortions.

The idea being that full-term delivered babies, followed by a discussion between parents and doctors,
could be left to simply die.
Personally, I call that murder but hey, what do I know.

Here is the post:
https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2019/02/01/third-term-abortions-absolutely-not/comment-page-1/#comment-23198

It was on that post that I received the following comment by a fellow blogger, “Mother Hen”:
(mother hen’s site: https://mamahenprays.wordpress.com/about/)

Mother Hen:
“Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God,
he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done.
Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling,
deception, malicious behavior and gossip.
All of Romans 1
I would like to join you and others for a set time to pray.
What do you think”

My response:
I think that would be a very good idea!

Mother Hen:
If there is a certain day of the week..
when we could begin to individually lift up our prayers for this specific request or any other
that might come our way. But agreeing together as buddies here at wordpress..
would surely be a blessing.. and much needed.
If you are led you might consider opening it up to others here.
You are excellent with words. But I take into consideration that the mayor needs you right now,
so maybe easing into it might be best for you.
Where two or three are gathered together in my name,
there am I in the midst of them. Matthew 18:20

my response:
I agree and I do believe prayer is a powerful tool.
I’m here in Atlanta with the Mayor until Saturday…and when I say I’m here with the Mayor…
it is 24/7 unitl mom and dad finally get home in the evening…
to say I’m tired is an understatement…but in a good way!
So this weekend I’ll write a post about our praying together—-
I figure we need to be specific—but in which direction?
For the Nation’s leadership?
For Christians in an ever increasing socialistic society?
Maybe I’ll just ask for a consensus….
but I think specific prayer and time will be key!

So when I recently read and later shared the story about our friend the Wee Flea’s testimony
and his near brush with death, my memory was quickly jarred back to my conversation with Mother Hen.

David’s health was rapidly failing so his church sent out an urgent email asking for
prayers for David’s healig at a set time daily.

David later responded…

“The churches responded.
You can call it coincidence.
But from that weekend on I began to get better.”

The power of a committed prayer.

What I call focused prayer.

God honors our petitions and cries.
Sometimes He answers us readily and directly…
Other times He answers in ways we do not always see nor understand.

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves,
and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,
then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14

Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask,
it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.
For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Matthew 18:19-20

I think we all agree that we need to be praying for our Nation, our leaders,
as well as now for our unborn, or perhaps more correctly, our recently born children…

And so I ask you–
What say you?

What shall we pray for…percisely?

Shall we pray about this third term abortion debacle?
Shall we pray about our loss of morality?
Shall we pray about our oppressed Christian faith?
Shall we pray about our divided Nation?

What shall be our precise prayer?
When shall it be prayed?
And how often shall it be prayerd?

We all need to be in agreement on a specific prayer, a specific day and a specific time…
and then we need to join together in that prayer.

And so I ask each of your—what shall we, the faithful, be about?

Offer your thoughts and we’ll sort out our direction.

to spit or not to spit…to let live or to let die…

“There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Albert Einstein


(DNA test kit from 23 and Me)

To spit or not to spit, that is the question…
Or actually, it was my question.

I initially had a different post I wanted to offer today, but I caught a story on the news the
other evening that preempted my plan.

About a week or so ago I wrote a couple of posts referencing the Governor of Virginia,
Ralph Northam’s notion that legislation should be created allowing third-term abortions.

I won’t rehash all of that with you but if you’re interested, you can find those links here:

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2019/02/01/third-term-abortions-absolutely-not/

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2019/02/02/please-do-not-turn-away-from-us/

And yet the irony in this is that the Governor’s potential questionable “racist” past has now
all but smothered his comments and views on third term abortion.
An observation that leaves me more than troubled with our culture’s priorities.

And whereas the Governor has since backed off from his initial wording used during
that fateful interview…it matters not…because more and more states are showing a keen
interest in such an “allowance.”

So lets back up a tad…

I am adopted.

Many of you already know this little fact.

I’ve written about it and shared tales about such since the inception of this little
blog of mine…
so this post is not so much about that…and yet partially…it actually is.

About two weeks back, a fellow blogger shared with me the fact that she had been adopted
as a baby.
She is a wife and mother as well as a wise Christian warrior here in blogville.

I shared with her the fact that I was adopted as well.

She continued her tale…
She shared the fact that she had found her birth mother.

It was somewhat by happenstance.

Her young sons were showing a deep interest in wanting to learn their family’s genealogy…
but my friend knew that her “tree” was rather incomplete.
She didn’t know her “true” heritage…
Her tree, like mine, was dormant.
So she really had nothing she could concretely share with her boys.
Let alone the importance of knowing their family’s true medical history.

And so my friend explained that she bought one of those DNA kits that are so popular
right now.
She decided it was high time to learn about her “real” roots.

Once receiving her results, alerts began coming her way.
The alerts were from folks “out there” who had some sort of genetic connection with her…
as in being related.
Alerts that one may opt to connect with or not.

My friend was now piecing her puzzle together slowly one piece at a time.
And one of those alerts, it turned out, was a person who my friend had the gut feeling
was actually her birth mom.

Through correspondence, her birth mother shared that she had always prayed for her
unknown daughter…praying that she would be raised up as a Christian…
of which she was.
A prayer answered and eventually Divinely revealed.

I told my friend that I’d email soon as I wanted to talk further about all of this…
I was curious because of my own questions.
But life, that being my current life, being what it is, we’ve not had the opportunity
to talk further.

But since our conversation, thoughts nagged and tugged at my brain.

I had never once considered my adopted parents anything other than my parents.
And yet, I’ve always had those nagging holes in my life’s story.
There has always been a feeling of disconnect with my “family”
Their heritage is truthfully not my heritage.
Their roots are not my original roots.
Their health history is by no means my health history.

Yet as long as my Dad was alive, I vowed I’d never search.

I feared, given our dysfunctional family mess with my brother who had
also been adopted, it would break my dad’s heart thinking he might lose me after having
lost my brother due to his angst, dysfunction, and inability to deal with his adoption…
all of which lead to family violence, my mother’s death, and his eventual suicide.
(I’ve written many a post regarding my troubled childhood in our
very dysfunctional family so now is not the time for all of that)

So along with the holes to my past, questions have always loomed large regarding
my health and that of my son’s and now that of my grandchildren…

I do know that my birth mother hid her pregnancy, moving to a city far removed
from family and friends.
She sought no prenatal care despite being a nurse.
She delivered her baby (me), a bit prematurely, and shortly following the delivery,
walked out of the hospital.

Later, the young adopted me struggled academically throughout school.

Those who read my posts often note my typos and mild dyslexia with certain words.
I was never diagnosed but I always knew something just wasn’t right.
Yet I persevered, I worked hard and yet I never felt any sort of peace of success
or accomplishment.

I imagine my son’s lifelong struggles with ADD, a Learning Disability, as well as Dyslexia,
are rooted somewhere in my own unknown genetic make-up.
He was diagnosed in both Kindergarten and 1st grade—early enough for us to seek help—
allowing him to work toward success.

He worked, struggled and persevered— doing more with his life now by age 30 than
many of his teachers ever imagined he would or could.

There have been medical struggles as well for both of us.
Discoveries that have come mostly by happenstance.

My thyroid disorder—Hashimoto’s Disease…which was discovered by routine bloodwork.
Migraines since I was 12.
IBS, as well, since I was 12, that was pegged as simply a “nervous” stomach.

Despite my realizing it, I even struggled with infertility.
We had our son 5 years into our marriage yet we never had another child…
it was something that just never happened.
Due to health issues, I had to have a hysterectomy at age 35—
doctors told me then that they didn’t know how we had actually ever conceived our son
let alone the likelihood that we never would have been able to conceive again.

It was after another routine blood test that I was recently diagnosed as a
hemochromatosis carrier—
a carrier of Hemochromatosis Metabolic Disorder who has bouts with Reynaud’s Syndrome.
Something passed on to my son and possibly
my grandchildren.

All of which points to some sort of autoimmune issues as the list of discoveries
continues to grow.

Knowledge is a powerful tool—especially when dealing with one’s medical history.
A tool I want for my son and his children…a tool I’ve never had.

So as my husband and I both worry about what we don’t know…
what we don’t know that could affect our son and his health and now the health of his
children, our grandchildren…I therefore finally made my decision.

Rather than reaching out to the Georgia Adoption Reunion Registry,
paying a fee for some sort of search with a potential meeting, or perhaps worse,
a denial of any sort of meeting…should anyone still be living…
I opted for a more broad source of information…albeit actually a bit detached…
A benign pie chart of heritage and a litany of genetic health information.

I ordered the tests from both 23 and Me as well as Ancestry.

I spit in the collection tubes, sealed everything up and shipped them off.

And so now we wait.

In the meantime, upon learning of my offering up a little spit, aka DNA,
my son was actually more reserved rather than excited.

“Mother you have just put the family’s DNA out there for every Governmental
agency to access…”

And it turns out he is correct.

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/salvadorhernandez/using-dna-databases-to-find-your-distant-relatives-so-is

However, my word to him has been… stay on the up and up and it’s all good.
And I suspect once we learn our true course of both past and future…
he’ll be a bit more curious.

But what does my adoption issues have to do with my worries over third term abortions
and of those who are thinking that such actions would be a good choice to offer…

It is the very fact that I was not aborted.
It also runs counter to my Christian faith.

Despite my biological mother’s obvious angst and crushing strain that she was
to then live with…
she still opted to give me life…despite this heavy burden carried alone.

She afforded me the gift of life…the gift of loving and being loved…
The eventual gift of my precious granddaughter and soon-to-be grandson.
Relationships and connections that may never have been…

And for that, I am grateful.

So the other evening while I was doing the dishes I heard Fox New Host Martha McCallum
talking about the latest state who was showing interest over third term abortions.

I put down the dishes, turned off the water at the sink, grabbed a dishtowel while
drying my hands as I raced into the den to hear her story.

She was interviewing a young man named Daniel Ritchie.
Ritchie was born without arms and has become an outspoken opponent to the
idea of abortion, especially third-term abortions.

His was a birth of extreme alarm.

He was delivered without arms and without actual vital signs.
It appeared he would not probably survive and since there was such deformity,
the doctors began explaining to his parents that to just let him “go” would be best.

But his parents, to the surprise of doctors, did not think such a decision was wise nor right and
thus encouraged the doctors to do their best to revive their son—of which they did.

Man might think he knows what is best based on clinical observations and deductions…
however, none of us can tell the future with any real certainty.
Our hypotheses of life can be, more or less, whittled down to nothing more than a 50 50 crapshoot.

Ritchie shared with Martha his challenges growing up learning to do everything with
his feet rather than what others were doing with their hands and arms.

But Daniel told Martha that it was at age 15, that pivotal age in adolescents,
that the real turning point in his life arrived…he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

The choice to live with bitterness over a life of challenge, difficulty, stares, and rejection
or the choice to choose something bigger and greater than self…to seek a life even greater
then what he currently knew.

Daniel came to understand that God had a plan…
a bigger plan than he could have ever imagined.
A plan that would never have been had his parents opted to follow the doctor’s
suggestion in that delivery room that fateful day…
the medical suggestion to allow their newly born son,
a son without arms, to die.

Remember—God affords man choice…

A choice to allow a baby to live or a baby to die…

Despite our smug arrogance, man’s earthly vision is limited—
what we see as a burden, hardship or hindrance often has far-reaching and
unseen reverberations—
reverberations that have the potential to change the lives of those we have yet to meet.

Hear and read Daniel’s amazing story.
Meet his wife and children…and hear his testimony to God’s amazing Glory.

The choice to spit or not to spit pales in compariosn to the choice to live or not live…

May we choose to live…may we choose life.

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/why-being-born-without-arms-is-just-about-the-best-thing-thats-ever-happened-to-me

https://insider.foxnews.com/2019/02/12/pro-life-author-daniel-ritchie-late-term-abortion-push-judging-value-life-dangerous

freedom or security or maybe both

“Anyone who can appease a man’s conscience can take his freedom away from him.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Grand Inquisitor

That unmistakable musty smell of old books and papers is still lingering in my nose
despite the needed shower in order to purge my skin of the accumulated dust and debris
from a previous life now clinging to my now older self.
The allergies are revving up as I sneeze, I mean type.

We’ve spent the last three days in our attic emptying it of its hoard of boxes and stuff…
most of which has been sitting in the same spot where it was deposited some 20 years ago
when we packed everything up from our first house before departing and moving
to where we are now.

Being the parent to an only child is both blessing and curse.
The curse is found in the saving of each and every little shred of his existence.
What that only child wore, played with, made or accomplished in school.

Treasures of the heart, but way too much stuff.

Throw in the boxes that have cradled mom’s china-head dolls, her tea set from childhood,
three generations of toys and stuffed animals, photographs upon photos,
outdated electronic this and that…add in those boxes of the well-read and dearly loved
books both from those who have called this house home as well as those who have not—

And so we have had a real mess!

I did, however, manage to rescue a few books left over from college.

You see that book sitting on top of my lap?…that Dostoevsky book?
And yes it does smell.

It is a paperback book of the Notes from the Underground and The Grand Inquisitor?
Well, you should know that that single little musty dog-eared book got me in a bad spot
during my sophomore year in college.

I’ve mentioned this tale before but I think given our current day and time, a revisit
just might be warranted.

But first a bit of background regarding the tale of the book…

According to Britanica.com

Dostoevsky’s novel The Brother’s Karamazov is most famous for three chapters that
may be ranked among the greatest pages of Western literature.

Brothers Dmitry, Ivan, Alyosha and the illegitimate Smerdyakov.
Within the story, there is another story…a poem written by Ivan…
that being The Grand Inquisitor.

In “Rebellion,” Ivan indicts God the Father for creating a world in which children suffer.
Ivan has also written a “poem,” “The Grand Inquisitor,” which represents his response to
God the Son.
It tells the story of Christ’s brief return to earth during the Spanish Inquisition.
Recognizing him, the Inquisitor arrests him as “the worst of heretics” because,
the Inquisitor explains, the church has rejected Christ.
For Christ came to make people free, but, the Inquisitor insists,
people do not want to be free, no matter what they say.
They want security and certainty rather than free choice, which leads them to error and guilt.
And so, to ensure happiness, the church has created a society based on “miracle, mystery,
and authority.”
The Inquisitor is evidently meant to stand not only for medieval Roman Catholicism but
also for contemporary socialism.
“Rebellion” and “The Grand Inquisitor” contain what many have considered
the strongest arguments ever formulated against God, which Dostoyevsky includes so that,
in refuting them, he can truly defend Christianity.
It is one of the greatest paradoxes of Dostoyevsky’s work that his deeply Christian
novel more than gives the Devil his due.

Here is another look behind this troublemaker of mine…
a quick tutorial thanks to Sparknotes.

I didn’t have Sparknotes back in my day.

If I had, then maybe I would have tempered my more impulsive and defiant self
by having perused the gist of the story before meeting it cold turkey and in turn, going
rogue on a most liberal atheistic professor who pretty much thought he “got me” and my head on a platter.

The story is based on the notion that Christ has come back to earth.
He came to Seville, Spain where he performed miracles and was embraced by the people.
But the head of the Spanish Inquisition comes to town and has Christ immediately arrested.
The story then proceeds with the Inquisitor leading the majority of dialogue of the tale.

The Grand Inquisitor tells Christ that he cannot allow him to do his work on Earth,
because his work is at odds with the work of the Church.
The Inquisitor reminds Christ of the time, recorded in the Bible,
when the Devil presented him with three temptations, each of which he rejected.
The Grand Inquisitor says that by rejecting these three temptations,
he guaranteed that human beings would have free will.
Free will, he says, is a devastating, impossible burden for mankind.
Christ gave humanity the freedom to choose whether or not to follow him,
but almost no one is strong enough to be faithful, and those who are not will be damned forever.
The Grand Inquisitor says that Christ should have given people no choice,
and instead taken power and given people security instead of freedom.
That way, the same people who were too weak to follow Christ, to begin with,
would still be damned, but at least they could have happiness and security on Earth,
rather than the impossible burden of moral freedom.
The Grand Inquisitor says that the Church has now undertaken to correct Christ’s mistake.
The Church is taking away freedom of choice and replacing it with security.
Thus, the Grand Inquisitor must keep Christ in prison,
because if Christ were allowed to go free,
he might undermine the Church’s work to lift the burden of free will from mankind.

The Grand Inquisitor tells Christ that it was Satan, and not Christ, who was in the right during this exchange.
He says that ever since the Church took over the Roman Empire,
it has been secretly performing the work of Satan, not because it is evil,
but because it seeks the best and most secure order for mankind.

Our professor was young, probably 30 if that, teaching a room filled full of late teens and early
20 somethings.
He came to class barefoot.

This was the height of the preppy fashion trend…of which I embraced.
A barefoot instructor was a throwback to about 10 years prior add
my being a conservative Reaganite and I did not have a settled
sense of anything good.

He sat cross-legged, Indian style, on the classroom’s generic desk.
Some day’s he’d take us outside to sit in the grass.

He’d wax and wane over the advanced literature we were to read and discuss.

He rarely gave grades but when he did, what I received were A’s and B’s.
Of which was pretty good for me and I was most pleased.
We were reading challenging tales…some of which captivated me.
If it hadn’t been such…I would have lost interest quickly and then struggled.

He announced on day 1 that he was raised Catholic but was now an ardent Atheist.

“Great”— I felt my eyes roll within my head.

I was a 20-year-old who, despite living that hard balance of lose and large in college,
I was also a conservative and an ardent Christian,
.
For when it came to push or shove, I knew what was my Truth.

When it came to the end of the quarter, we read Dostoyevsky’s book.

Our illustrious professor took on the role of Inquisitor, of course, in the open class discussion
as I embraced that of Christ.

For each dig he offered to the class, I spoke up a counter thought.
For I took on the role of defense attorney for a man who truly needed no defending
but I wasn’t about to let this flippant professor spew falsehoods to a captured
audience.

The final exam was based on the story.
I wrote feverishly for the allotted 3 hours examination time.
I turned in the infamous blue book, walked out, got in my car, and in turn drove home
for the summer.

When the grades were mailed out, as they were back then since these were the days before computers,
my report noted that I had received a D in my Lit class.

WHAT!!!!!!????

I immediately called the University and eventually made my way to the English Department where I was told
that my professor had resigned his post and left to teach in Arizona…taking all of his records with
him.

That was that.

No recourse.
No petition.
No action news interviews.
No legal action as we see so often today.
No “one call, that’s all.”

My GPA dropped and I was crestfallen because it wasn’t that great, to begin with.
My mother knew I had been cheated and therefore did not say a word about the “D”
And I had been cheated for one reason and one reason only, my faith.

I know now that this was to be the beginning of what we currently see today—
that being a staggering indoctrination and persecution of the Christian faith
on college campuses.

And that single frustrating event came flooding back today when I opened that musty old box
full of books.

And so I flipped through the book.
There was underlining and pen scrawled notes in the section dedicated to Notes From the Underground…
“Pope [Alexander] says that if you want to see how to run a society, look at an anthill”
Hummmmm…

As I went back and looked over the premise of the story, I was struck by what the Inquisitor tells
Christ….that the Chruch is seeking “the best and most secure order for mankind”
and I find that exceedingly telling.

Just look at the Episcopal Chruch and the Chruch of England—both desperately trying to appease
man while turning a blind eye to God’s word.
Other denominations now follow suit.

“Satan was right,” the Inquisitor tells Christ—who only politely listens while remaining silent.

With our having been given free will…of which the Inquisitor sees as an inherently impossible burden
for mankind, he ignorantly believes that it is his sole responsibility to thwart what God, and in turn Christ,
afforded man. He does so in the name of the Chruch.
The Bride fighting the Bridegroom for dominance.

Hummmmm…

We see that it is the Inquisitor who knows what is best for humankind, not so much God nor His Son.

Historians agree that Dostoevsky is noted for having a canny understanding of the psychology of man.
In part because of his life and upbringing.
He is also oddly prophetic regarding the future of Russia and her undoing Revolution–
a theme that runs throughout much of his work as he often foretells of a great fall and of man’s ultimate
demise as there is always the struggle between free will and what is perceived as security…
as in what does man really want for his life and living?

I for one find Dostoevsky works most telling for our own day and time.
So much so that I need to reread this “poem”
Because it seems we are currently living the life of the Inquisitor as we prefer a sense of security,
a guarantee of living life in the 21st century rather than that of choice.
The choice of eternal life or eternal death.

In the end, Christ rises to kiss the Inquisitor as He takes His leave.

May He not take His leave of us.

If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not,
let your peace return to you.
If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words,
leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.
Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment
than for that town.

Matthew 10:13-15

looking forward rather than at now…

“Let us love the Cross and let us remember that we are not alone in
carrying it.
God is helping us.
And in God who is comforting us, as St. Paul says,
we can do anything.”

St. Gianna Molla

“Every pious desire, every good thought, every charitable work inspired by the love of Jesus,
contributes to the perfection of the whole body of the faithful.
A person who does nothing more than lovingly pray to God for his brethren,
participates in the great work of saving souls.”

Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich

I think I’ve touched on this thought before.
I think it was most likely this same time last year.

It never fails that each year, during this particular season of the Chruch calendar,
this season of Advent, this time of notable anticipation,
I just can’t help but look forward.

Maybe I shouldn’t look ahead…
but I just can’t help it…I do.

I just can’t help but not to look.
I can’t help but know already how the story ends.

Of course I’m not alone in that…
most of us who are Believers already do know how the story ends don’t we?!

And yes I know, technically the story doesn’t really end…
but perhaps that’s a bit of a spoiler for those not exactly in the know…

However that’s not today’s worry.

The lamenters will cry “why can’t you just enjoy the moment?!

And maybe I should…maybe I should just turn a blind eye to what I know
while ignoring the facts.
Maybe I should just bask in the magic of this season;
enjoying this time of joyful expectations, of mystery, of hope and of celebrations.

But I can’t ignore the fact that there is a looming foreboding shadow that I
simply can’t shake.
Consider it the ying and yang if you will.

For both Advent and Christmas, this mix of a season that speaks to all that is to be,
happiness and joy, is what some might call the front end of the story…

Or maybe it’s actually what is known as the backstory to the end story…
the story that is behind the real story.

Figuring I wasn’t alone with this notion,
I poked around a bit and found the image above at the front of the post.
I knew I couldn’t be the only one who understood that there is more to this
time of all things of happiness, newness and of birth.

For we all know, whether we like it or not, birth leads to life which in turn leads
eventually to the grave.
But who wants to think about a grave and or death when we can be toasting to what
is happy and bright right?

Not a self-absorbed culture, that’s for sure.

And so whereas we do indeed rejoice, as so we should,
we do so with a knowingness.

I’ve used this image of this particular painting before.

It is a painting by one of my favorite artists, Michelangelo Merisi
(Michele Angelo Merigi or Amerighi) da Caravaggio–or just Caravaggio for short.
He’s known by his town of birth and not so much by his birth name.

The painting in question is known as Madonna and Child with St. Anne (Dei Palafrenieri)

Caravaggio’s paintings and subject matter can be unsettling to some viewers.
His life was no less unsettling.
And he was certainly far from saintly as his life would make any modern-day gossip tabloid
green with envy as his life truthfully read of such fodder and yet his talent,
his skill, his gift, his vision, his juxtaposition of his subjects
along with his use of light and dark, shadow and dramatic lighting…
all seem to be an exclamation point to his chosen imagery and subject matter.


(Madonna and Child with St. Anne (Dei Palafrenieri) 1605-06 / Galleria Borghese)

I love this painting because it is so dramatic and powerful…

Allegorical yes, but it’s that end story in a very stalk and near visceral nutshell.

The end being the crushing of both Evil and Death.

Leaving us with birth, life, death, grave and yes, finally, victory…
All of which is rolled into this one single painting.

As both Mary and her small son, all under the watchful gaze of both Mary’s mother
and Jesus’ grandmother, St Anne…who watches on as now both mother and child put an
end mark to that which desires nothing more than to haunt their lives…

Mary’s yes to God, along with Jesus’ willingness and sacrifice, are all that was necessary
and needed in the resounding NO to Satan.

In the painting, they figuratively demonstrate victory, our victory, over both Evil and Death,
in a very decisive fashion.
Crushing the head of the snake.

Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother:
“This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be spoken against,
so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.
And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

(Luke 2:34-35)

Mary who was told great things by the angel Gabriel and who was told great things by
the Magi, and who was told great things by Simeon…basked in the celebration of the
birth of her child, all the while looking forward.

She had been told and she knew and she held it all in her heart.
And I doubt that a day did not pass while she lived the life of a loving mother to this
atypical son of hers, that she didn’t feel the same foreboding that I sense now.

My sense of foreboding, however, pales in comparison to the one whose heart
had been pierced the day she said: “yes, I will do your bidding, Lord.”

Mary knew both joy and sorrow, both life and death…but the most important thing
that Mary knew was that there is victory over death…victory that just so happened to be
found in the birth of her son…

And Mary said, Yes, I see it all now:
I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve.
Let it be with me just as you say.
Then the angel left her.
Blessed Among Women

Luke 1:38 MSG

And Jesus cried out and said,
“Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me.
And whoever sees me sees him who sent me.
I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.
If anyone hears my words and does not keep them,
I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.
The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge;
the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.
For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me
a commandment—what to say and what to speak.
And I know that his commandment is eternal life.
What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

John 12:44-50

We can’t help but look forward….