emotional reactions and directions

“This is no surprise to me at all.
Something has happened in the last 30 years or so that makes it increasingly difficult
to separate emotional reactions from ideas,
and emotional reactions from our assessment of other peoples’ humanity or lack of it.”

Bishop Gavin Ashenden


(it sure looks as if this winter worn shrub is more of a hand pointing toward something /
Julie Cook / 2018)

Earlier this week I wrote a post in which I stated that there would inevitably be
“someone to jump on a soapbox scolding me”…reprimanding me regarding my post
that particular day…
And low and behold there was….but, as I quickly discovered,
it really wasn’t about my post.

The scolding quickly dissolved into a diatribe of what all is wrong with and about
Christians…in particular American Christians.
As even gun control and the President was thrown in my face…
not because either one was a part of my post but rather because I paused Thursday morning
asking that we remember the families of and the individuals who had lost their lives in the
shooting Wednesday afternoon in Florida.

The comments became rapid fire and somewhat more and more bizarre.
It went on for two days.
A few others joined in the fracas and were indeed most welcomed to come on over
and sit a spell.

I saw the questioning and demands for answers, answers to open-ended questions
that really have no answers…
As this was more diversion than substantial thought and idea.
More attack then substance.

It was with all of this monkey business, of which I am calling ‘Christian mongering’,
along with several thoughtful comments offered during my foray into the world of
Christian trolling, that I found something of keen interest in the recent posting
by our dear friend the good Bishop Gavin Ashenden…
Who by the way is prayerfully recovering from another detached retina surgery.

Yet the good Bishop did manage to offer his readers an article that had appeared recently
in one of his local papers.

The article was based on the observed change that has been taking place in “our”
collective social conversation.
Of which is not a pretty picture.

The article focuses on the obsession our society has with sex…a slippery slope topic
which dissolves into the emotionalism of same-sex marriages, spiraling into
transgenderism as it swirls down even further to the growing notion of things beyond.
We are reminded how emotionalism, connected to such an emotional
topic, creates its own barrier as the voices of support work to silence the
voices of opposition–
As freedom of speech becomes the first casualty and victim of the war.

And so I was reminded of the tit for tat diatribe which had been taking place
in the comment section of my previous post the past couple of days—
Freedoms, thoughts, beliefs being questioned.

All of which will soon be spilling out into the outlets of all things news as
Wednesday’s horror consumes us while we desperately try to find answers…

The greater community and our legal eagles will not be willing to truly explore the
obvious as it is of a Spiritual base…as they will simply not go there…
for in their minds that has nothing to do with any of this…
But the nagging question remains…Does it not?
Does it not have everything to do with the Spiritual and that which is lost?

You may find the Bishops full article here:
‘Sex’ is no consolation for the loss of free speech, and the capacity to test & discover the Truth with each other.

And whereas I agree wholeheartedly with everything the Bishop says…
it is to the more nuanced observations that actually caught my eye…
that being the notion of emotional reactions.

We all have them…emotions and emotional reactions…
and they are both good and bad, happy and sad.

Striking a healthy balance is key.

When we see, read and or witness such events as what unfolded at
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fl on Wednesday—
our emotions are consumed–as well they should be.
For if we didn’t feel pain, sorrow, suffering, and empathy…
then that’s the time to worry.

We cry as we see the faces of those who were killed.
We ache reading their individual stories.
We yearn to embrace their surviving loved ones and friends who are experiencing
inconsolable anguish.

That is our nature as humans.

That is…for most humans.

That was not the nature of the young gunman in Florida.

And yet we must allow our emotions time to do what it is they do…
which is often taking us on the roller coaster of drastic highs and
sinking lows during these sorts of tragedies.
We will be angry and we will be sad.

Decisions that are often made at the height or low of an emotional roller coaster
ride are not always the wisest decisions made.
And that is because we are leading with more of a feeling of heart and even guilt
versus that of a more rational thinking brain…
History tells us that is best to use both.

Yet not all of us, as we witnessed again Wednesday, have the correct heart response
or logical brain response.

And now we owe it to our children to do something to change this ongoing madness…
A change that uses both heart and brain.

And it was in the midst of the arguing going on in the comment section over on cookieland, as
well as the raw emotions we Americans were feeling Thursday morning, that a wee small voice
managed to find it’s way to the surface…and this voice had nothing to do with the
latest breaking news or the rabid dog chatter happening in my small corner of blogland.

Out of the blue, a small voice had risen to the top of the clanging gongs…
a missionary working with orphans, widows and the poor in India.
They asked for prayers and offered me their own…
and I was deeply moved.

It was the humblest of the voices that I had heard the loudest.

It was as if God was gently yet strongly redirecting my focus.
“Get off the cerebral world’s merry-go-round for just a minute Julie and see…
See and hear…
Hear the reality of others around this world.
Those who are doing My work for and among those in desperate need…
Hear the need of prayer…know the power found in that prayer…
Yet be mindful… there must be more willing to pray and work…
and pray without ceasing”

Here is a snippet of what this gentle voice said…

I, bound by the spirit and preaching the Good news among idols and gentiles and
poor and for orphanages.
I know afflictions wait for me– but all afflictions allocate as joy for
the Lord Jesus Christ.
What is my aid and weapon?
And all secret is known to God– that is without ceasing prayers day and night and fasting,
with tears of prayers.
Hallelujah and praise his holy name.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer.
In whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation my strength and stronghold.

Oh, my Dear Heavenly Father,
I know that you open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing in the world.
Please open doors of mind through your righteousness of right hand for my ministry
desires and vision.

MY Vision: (Romans 5:8) The God Jesus Christ is love to all in the world and I want to
share his great love to all creatures and in way of Salvation.

(cleaned up grammatically just a tad)

And throughout the afternoon, these small voices continued percolating to the top
over the din of maddening chatter…

More signposts pointing to God and God alone…

The idea of water pouring and flowing outward…literally manifest itself.
As well as an all-consuming cleansing of water…
Holy.
Flowing.
Living Waters…

And finally much later in the day, gratefully, I read these words on a fellow bloggers post…

“Richard Alleine expresses that feeling in this way,
“He who knows what it is to enjoy God will dread His loss;
he who has seen His face will fear to see His back.”

For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.

Jeremiah 2:13

Gone home….


(a table in my son’s home—his tribute to his grandfather)

Dad passed away last night—it was 11:42 when I was called.
We’d spent the day with him and my son was with him last around 9:30 PM
His earthly journey complete…his pain and suffering no more.
As I drove back over for the second time that day, just past midnight,
I was swept over by a sense of calm knowing Dad was finally
with Mother.

I had written the following post after sitting with him yesterday.
I think it still important to share…
But just know that death has once again been overcome by
Life!

Edward Dale Nichols
March 10, 1928—March 19, 2017

Thank you all for your love, prayers and support….

it’s never like the movies

“The truth is that you can never be sure if you have decided on the right thing until
the party is over,
and by then it is too late to go back and change your mind,
which is why the world is filled with people doing terrible things”

Lemony Snicket

Hollywood loves to pat itself on the back for its ability to create
iconic and memorable snippets of life…
With some of the most captivating moments being those dramatic scenes of both death and dying.

A quick little Google search of iconic death scenes and you get anything from Alien
to Bambi, while my generation most likely thinks Love Story…
with it’s now immortalized tag line,
“love is never having to say your sorry….”

But anyone who has ever been involved in any sort of real life relationship knows that that
particular little Hollywood dribble is just a bunch of crap…
but of course, I digress….

No matter what overtly dramatized film moment you may happen to recall when thinking
classic death / dying scene…
be it an endearing tearjerker like in Titanic or a graphically
gory melee of any epic war picture,
nothing quite compares to the real life drama found in the balance between
true living and dying

Take the above image of the coffee filter filled with fresh dark roasted coffee beans…

Your brain registers that you’re looking at a coffee filter filled with coffee beans…
and because of what you know about coffee beans,
you’re pretty safe assuming that there is a strong aroma associated with the beans…
However you can’t actually smell them.

Captured images just don’t processes a smell-o-rama capability.

You see the beans….
you know they have a very strong enticing smell…
but….
because they’re sitting on a screen, you only experience them with just one sense…
that of sight.

Now Hollywood works hard on a viewer’s senses of both sight and sound in order to
coax out a physical reaction…they’ll happily surmise that they’ve been succeessful if
they think that they’ve made a viewer “feel”…
be it a physical reaction from laughing to crying to even nausea….

Yet for all their special effects, they lack the sense of smell.
And the truth be told, they lack reality.

Because whereas art tries to imitate life, it will always fall short.

Now you know with your eyes and brain that the two images here of,
first the coffee beans and now a fresh bouquet of flowers,
each have a distinct aroma or smell….
but…
you can’t actually smell them by looking at them on your screen.

You can’t touch them or hear them or smell them.

You’re just working off your previous associations…

Nothing can prepare you for reality…but reality.
The nitty gritty touch, taste, hearing, seeing, smell, feel of raw reality.

Dad’s room is now filled with coffee filters filled with coffee beans.
Not because he ever greatly appreciated coffee…
but because the Hospice nurse told us it would help with the smell.

The overwhelming smell of decay because oddly the body will fall apart quite frankly
before we’re exactly finished using it.
As in the body will begin to simply erode, decay and die while we’re still hanging on…
with the end result not being a pretty picture.

Dying is so much worse then what we see in the movies.

For there is much more to it then a Hollywood script…
For it has graphic sights as well as unpleasant sounds and sickening scents…
things that never should be imitated because the reality it simply too overwhelming.

Yet in all of this….
what I know to be true is that our bodies are merely borrowed earthly vessels in which
our souls reside before we are freed from them in order to go home as it were.

Yes I believe this.

It is nearly impossible to watch and be a part of…this eroding, this wasting…
what with the sounds, sights and smells….
because our human brains and emotions are so limited…

This body is all we have known….it is what we have seen age over the years.
It is has come to represent what and who we love, who we cherish, who we hold on to,
who we cling to…who we associate our very beings with….

It is the tangible while our God is not tangible.
It only makes sense that we anguish over its demise.

And yet, in the graphic sights, sounds and smells there remains something far greater
then the decay of age or disease..

For there once was a body that had been so grossly damaged, so horrifically abused as
it had died a slow and agonizing death.
Later it was to be washed and cleaned…
anointed with sweet oils, aloes and spices before being
wrapped in freshly woven flaxen linens.

Yet following three days, more spices were brought to be added to the tomb—
a tomb that was by now assumed to be filled with the overwhelming
stench of human decay and rot…

However, that was not the case….

For within that dark enclosure—a seismic shift of time occurred…
where once life had simply slipped away and become death….
here in this dark enclosure, death had become life…

And so now we wait amongst the coffee beans…for death, to become, life….

“No tabloid will ever print the startling news that the mummified body of
Jesus of Nazareth has been discovered in old Jerusalem.
Christians have no carefully embalmed body enclosed in a glass case to worship.
Thank God, we have an empty tomb. The glorious fact that the empty tomb
proclaims to us is that life for us does not stop when death comes.
Death is not a wall, but a door.”

Peter Marshall

“do not seek the because”

“Do not seek the because –
in love there is no because, no reason, no explanation, no solutions.”

Anaïs Nin

dscn4375
(sea oats / Santa Rosa Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2016)

My life is no different from anyone else…
there are both highs and lows, ups and downs…

We all experience both the positive and negative moments in life…
as neither one discriminates…
Yet it seems that the negative moments will often last a life time…

Just because we are Christians doesn’t mean that we are immune from getting…
sad,
depressed,
discouraged,
hurt,
angry,
sick,
or at times, even despondent…

For believers, simply put, are human just like everyone else…
Believers are humans who believe in God as father and Omnipotent Creator
and that His son overcame Death in His resurrection…

And as humans, we just do the best we can getting through the day to day living of life.

But it is because of the very fact that we are believers that the non believers,
those who are angry at God or those who are merely skeptical…
begin pointing the naysaying finger at us when our lives becomes bleak or tragic

It is the age old accusatory “where is your God now” sort of rhetoric…

And if the truth be told, there are times we wonder the same question…
because we are, remember, human…
falible
weak
foible
sinful

And as I was laying on the floor again this morning, as the pain in my back and leg were again
a bit more than I could bear…
as yes, tears, rolled down the side of my face in pain and in frustration…
as my heart was equally as heavy for what Dad and I
have been dealing with these many weeks now….

I recalled having watched a You Tube video yesterday of a young man
waiting out in Houston at MD Anderson, waiting to undergo chemotherapy.

https://www.youtube.com/shared?ci=j_wXcwI4IjE

I don’t know this young man—but from the video I gathered he has some sort of cancer,
he is a young husband and father,
that he’s from Atlanta,
that he’s been waiting for chemo
and that he is an ardent believer in the Risen Christ…

He shared in the brief video his spiritual journey as of late–
the prayers offered for and over him.
The words that have been shared in multiple settings, all by different individuals,
but all the same words none the less.
He mentioned a couple of Psalms that he’d been keying in on…
Psalms that I wrote down with the intention of turning to those same Psalms today….

I was encouraged by his own journey.
That he obviously wanted to be healed…prayed for such…
but that he also knew that God is a Sovereign God…
and no matter what the outcome…it is in God’s hands…

And I was stuck that he is finding gratitude in and for all sorts of things…
He is being grateful and thankful even while life is proving dire, frustrating and grim…

As we are reminded that in all things we are to rejoice, offering our praise and thanksgiving.
That in those moments of struggle, pain and suffering we are to utter the words—we may not
necessarily feel them, but we can still utter them, allowing God to do with them as He may….

I was also reminded that it is in our distress that we are drawn closer to God.
We don’t seem to “need” Him as much when life is golden…
as we tend to neglect the relationship…
It isn’t until we find ourselves in dire straights that we cry out,
like a frightened child in the night,
and always, He answers in our despair, He is there…despite our fickled ways…
He will always be there…waiting…..

And it is during those hard-to-grasp situations of life and death that
skeptics and non believers alike circle like buzzards…
as they look for a Lazarus or an empty tomb—
and when they don’t see such,
they collectively shout
“HA, we knew it…imposter, phony, sham!”

So after reading a few posts by friends this morning, after reading those Psalms that young man sited,
after reading the words of both Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Malcolm Muggeridge each regarding
both life, living, dying and death…
I again, felt a peace…despite laying on the floor in the midst of despair…

I may be hurting both physically and emotionally.
I may shed tears of frustration, depression and sorrow….
but I will not be broken nor deterred for I have the promise of a Sovereign God.

I was told that I should build a post around the following comment I left this morning for a fellow blogger…my friend Wally…
Of which I suppose I already had to some degree…

Here is Wally’s morning’s post as my comment follows…

https://truthinpalmyra.wordpress.com/2016/09/23/faith-in-action-why-be-joyful-over-trials/

“it is hard and is not easy…but we are told time and time again—
to look to God in all things—good and bad, painful and joyful–
for God is found not only in the good, the joy and the happiness but He is there,
even more so, in the hard and difficult, the misery and suffering…
and this is where those who are not believers or those who reside in the anger
and sorrow keep wanting to point the finger of “if God is a God of Love and Omnipotent…
then why the hurting, why the unfairness, why the suffering…”

and it is there Wally in your very words and the words of James, so led by the Holy Spirit, that because God IS in everything…then we may find our HOPE!!

The things of this world…those good and those bad,
are all but temporary and they all point us back to Him—in our lack of knowledge and lack of true omnipotent knowledge, we cannot know, we cannot see how all things…
That all things, work together in God’s plan and God’s time—
yes there is Evil very much busy and very much at work…
working so very hard to counter the Benevolence of a Loving Creator…
but the thing is…despite the dark one’s vain attempts to derail us,
derailing our faith, our hope—
he can’t, he never can—
for his is a losing battle…
for our’s is the Victory in Christ Jesus!”

All of this brings us back, almost full circle,
to the the beginning of this post with the quote byAnaïs Nin—
for there is no understanding, no explanation, no reasoning, no answers, no because…
to be found in the Love offered to us by our God….

desensitized

Depictions of violence often glamorize vicious behavior. They offend the Spirit and make you less able to respond to others in a sensitive, caring way. They contradict the Savior’s message of love for one another.
For the Strength of Youth

These data suggest very strongly that participating in the playing of violent video games by children and youth increase aggressive thought and behavior; increase antisocial behavior and delinquency; engender poor school performance; desensitize the game player to violence.
Leland Yee
former California Senator

Today the data linking violence in the media to violence in society are superior to those linking cancer and tobacco.
David Grossman
Israeli author

DSCN1192
(gargoyle downspout Adare Manor / Adare, Coutny Limerick, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Desensitize–a transitive verb—meaning: to make emotionally insensitive or callous; specifically: to extinguish an emotional response (as of fear, anxiety, or guilt) to stimuli that formerly induced it

Two recent articles about children and young people have each catapulted the word desensitization and its meaning to the forefront of my radar leaving me greatly troubled.

As a retired educator articles which showcase the current and various growing concerns for and of our youth certainly catch my eye as I spent a lifetime living out those very concerns on a daily basis. As any educator will tell you, teachers not only “teach” they also nurture, mentor, direct, guide, care for, comfort, coach, discipline, lead, encourage, help…etc.

Teaching is not a one subject fits all sort of job.
In fact teaching is not a job at all but rather a vocation or a calling. You have to care about kids and their well being in order to want to teach. Those in it for either a paycheck or some sort of job security need look elsewhere.

As a veteran classroom teacher, who spent my entire career working at the high school level, I am very much aware of the often fragile and tenuous tightrope our adolescents walk in their daily lives.

Any parent and educator alike can tell you that raising and educating kids is no easy task especially given today’s growing technological pull and social media draw that is blanketing our youth.

The first story I read yesterday.
It was an article examining a link between the alarming rise of teenage suicide and that of social media usage.

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2016/02/11/is-social-media-fueling-national-epidemic-teen-suicide.html

I found the article both disturbing as well as telling— as I forwarded it to several teachers and counselors who are currently still working with various school systems.

It has often been noted that many in this generation of kids have a very difficult time actually talking to people. It is often observed that they do not make eye contact easily or readily nor are they capable of carrying on any sort of lengthy conversation with a free flowing dialog.

They can be in a room filled with their family or friends yet will be more engaged on their phones rather than those sitting by their side. They will actually opt to text a person in the very same room rather than ask a verbal question or make a verbal comment.

There is a frighting and rapidly growing disconnect between reality and virtual…with kids often preferring the virtual.
Maybe because its as if they feel they can control the virtual better than reality.

Yet the correlation between kids, their social media usage and an increase in the suicide rate is something that should have us all concerned…..

The second article, which includes a short video clip, I actually read today having spotted it on the BBC.
It was an interview conducted by a BBC reporter of two young Syrian boys aged 8 and 10.
The boys were only two out of hundreds who have been living in IS occupied areas of Syria.
Luckily for these two boys, they have made it out of Syria and hopefully out of harms way.

The interview begins with the 8 year old aptly demonstrating how to put on a sucicide vest with as much ease as he would have kicking a soccer ball.

He told the reporter how they had often witnessed beheadings. They would be called by loudspeaker to come witness what was taking place as IS members would behead, in the boy’s case, a neighbor.

It is reported that IS is actually rewritng the textbooks used in classrooms…changing dates as well as “current” geographical maps.

The children, yes young children, are put through a variety of physical military type training and obstacles courses while actually being shot at and yelled at as they maneuver the course.
Of which is probably the most disturbing clip in the video.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35552391

Between our own kids who are drowning in a sea of social media, violent video games and a huge Spiritual disconnect and then the children who fall under the harsh and brutal regimes of hate spreading their insidious indoctrination of hate and destruction all around the globe our future as a human race is looking neither hopeful nor promising…
We need, for their sake as well as our own, to take our children back….


All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children.

Isaiah 54:13