are you getting what you want or what you need?

“You are asking for something that would be harmful to your salvation
if you had it—so by not getting what you’ve asked,
you really are getting what you want.”
St. Catherine of Siena


(swallowtail spicebrush butterfly / Julie Cook / 2021)

“What really hurts is not so much suffering as the fear of suffering.
If welcomed trustingly and peacefully, suffering makes us grow.
It matures and trains us, purifies us,
teaches us to love unselfishly, makes us poor in heart, humble,
gentle, and compassionate toward our neighbor.
Fear of suffering, on the other hand,
hardens us in self-protective, defensive attitudes,
and often leads us to make irrational choices
with disastrous consequences.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 47
An Excerpt From
Interior Freedom

quiet significance found in the seemingly insignificant

It is a dangerous thing to be satisfied with ourselves.
St. Teresa of Avila
From the book Sermon in a Sentence, Vol. 4


(a single drop of rain / Julie Cook / 2021)


(detail of a drop of remaining rain / Julie Cook / 2021)

“Even though we know that God’s will and commandments apply to everyone,
we do not always have the strength to fulfill them.
Now, every time we respond faithfully to a motion of the Spirit,
out of desire to be docile to what God expects of us,
even if it’s something almost insignificant of itself,
that faithfulness draws grace and strength down on us.
That strength can then be applied to other areas and may make
us capable of one day practicing the commandments that up until
then we had not been capable of fulfilling entirely.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 20
An Excerpt From
In the School of the Holy Spirit

help me to see what you want me to be

“Jesus, help me to simplify my life by learning what you want me to be,
and becoming that person.”

St. Therese of Lisieux


(a willet pokes around for something to eat / Julie Cook / 2021)

“However great our efforts, we cannot change ourselves.
Only God can get to the bottom of our defects, and our limitations
in the field of love; only he has sufficient mastery over
our hearts for that.
If we realize that we will save ourselves a great deal of discouragement
and fruitless struggle.
We do not have to become saints by our own power;
we have to learn how to let God make us into saints.
That does not mean, of course, that we don’t have to make any effort . . .
We should fight, not to attain holiness as a result of our own efforts,
but to let God act in us without our putting up any
resistance against him;
we should fight to open ourselves as fully as possible to his grace,
which sanctifies us.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 14-5
An Excerpt From
In the School of the Holy Spirit

love lasts for eternity

“In a world gone astray from God there is no peace, but it also lacks charity,
which is true and perfect love…
Nothing is more beautiful than love.
Indeed, faith and hope will end when we die, whereas love, that is, charity,
will last for eternity.”

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

“We might say the whole mystery of our redemption in Christ,
by his incarnation, his death, and his resurrection, consists of this marvelous exchange:
in the heart of Christ, God has loved us humanly,
so as to render our human hearts capable of loving divinely.
God became man so that man might become God—might love as only God is capable of loving,
with the purity, intensity, power, tenderness,
and inexhaustible patience that belongs to the divine love.
It is an extraordinary source of hope and a great consolation to know that,
by virtue of God’s grace working in us
(if we remain open to it by persevering in faith, prayer, and the sacraments),
the Holy Spirit will transform and expand our hearts to the point of one day
making them capable of loving as God loves.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 67-8

spirit of compassion

“We should strive to keep our hearts open to the sufferings and wretchedness of other people,
and pray continually that God may grant us that spirit of compassion which is truly the spirit of God.”

St. Vincent de Paul


(double headed yellow head Amazon parrot / Parrot Mt and Gardens/ Pigeon Forge, TN / Julie Cook/ 2020)

This picture of a double yellow-headed parrot reminded me of a time ages ago when I
was charged with caring for a similar bird…

Way back in the day, when I was probably in about the 8th or 9th grade,
my family had traveled up to north Georgia in order to visit my dad’s brother…
my aunt and uncle.

It was late fall in the north Georgia mountains, so it was cool and wet.

Out in my aunt and uncle’s garage was, of all things, a parrot.
A tropical bird in a place that was anything but tropical.
A yellow-headed parrot living life in a large cage in an enclosed garage.

It seems that my cousin, their only daughter, was now living life away as a freshman
in college, and had left behind her rather exotic pet.

Back in those days, regulations were obviously lax…
my cousin had brought the bird back home following her senior trip to the Bahamas.

My mother and I had both felt so badly for the bird that we asked my aunt if we could take
it home.
My aunt was ecstatic…as in please, YES!

So the parrot, Horatio, came to live with us in Atlanta.
This was at some point in the early ’70s.

Horatio was a smart bird.
He, she, it would call our dog by name…reaching out to grab the dog’s tail when
he’d walk past the cage.

We’d let the bird out of its cage in order to hang out with us in the den.
Horatio loved peanuts and would climb up on my mother’s arm, reaching for her
thumb while attempting to “crack open” her thumbnail as if it was a peanut.
That was a bad trait.

Since Horatio’s cage was positioned on our sun porch where he, she, it could watch TV,
he, she, it would sing the theme song from Flipper…the show about a dolphin…
this due to the fact that the bird was watching what I was watching each afternoon.

“They call him Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning,
No-one you see, is smarter than he,
And we know Flipper, lives in a world full of wonder,
Flying there-under, under the sea!”

We had the bird for about two years until one day the bird came down with a cold.
We learned the hard way that parrots, birds in general, do not fare well with colds.

We carried Horatio to a vet, way across town, who specialized in exotic animals.
Back in the day, exotic pets were not keen on the radar of local vets.

We administered the required meds.
Monitored our beloved bird while we hoped and prayed…
However, on Thanksgiving morning of all mornings, Horatio succumbed to his, her, its cold.

The irony was not lost on any of us.

Animals come and go in our lives…and I always believe we humans are the better
for their presence in our lives.

So here’s to Horatio and the exotic parrots and birds at Parrot Mt and Gardens up in Tennesse.

When we visited this bird sanctuary about two weeks ago, it was a rainy day
in the Tennesse mountains.
My daughter-in-law called the park to ask if they were open due to the weather.
The lady told my daughter-in-law that these were Tennesse birds, they knew weather.
So off we went.

So let me just say, the birds made the Mayor very nervous.
Maybe it was the very loud and raucous calls of all the birds.
Maybe it was when we posed for a family photo with about 10 birds on our arms, shoulders,
and in our hands.
Neither the Mayor nor Sherrif would have anything to do with the birds.


(the Indian pheasant is off the mayor’s shoulder perched on the ground in the enclosure)

Despite her hesitancy, I am glad that both the Mayor and Sherrif could see up close and personal
a different type of animal.

We are better for animals.
We are better for nature.

“When uncertain about God’s will,
it is very important that we tell ourselves:
‘Even if there are aspects of God’s will that escape me,
there are always others that I know for sure and can invest in without any risk,
knowing that this investment always pays dividends.’
These certainties include fulfilling the duties of our state in life and practicing
the essential points of every Christian vocation.
There is a defect here that needs to be recognized and avoided:
finding ourselves in darkness about God’s will on an important question…
we spend so much time searching and doubting or getting discouraged,
that we neglect things that are God’s will for us every day,
like being faithful to prayer, maintaining trust in God,
loving the people around us here and now. Lacking answers about the future,
we should prepare to receive them by living today to the full.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 55
An Excerpt From
Interior Freedom

today’s view and forecast…questionable with a heavy dose of ominous

“The goodness of God is the highest object of prayer,
and it reaches down to our lowest need.
It quickens our soul and gives it life, and makes it grow in grace and virtue.”

St. Julian of Norwich


(my initial view this morning /Julie Cook / 2020)

So recently I have spent time running from ologist to ologist,
with a few MDs thrown in for good measure.

About a year or so ago you might remember that I was thought to be a carrier
for hemochromatosis.
A genetic disposition for the body to store up iron.
Iron is not eliminated by the body…it usually gets what it needs to function
from food, or if necessary, from supplements.

I had no idea that the body can’t process out extra iron…extra iron gets
stored up in organs, much like a grain silo—
organs don’t do well with a growing surplus of iron that is not used up.

It was eventually determined that I did not have full-blown hemochromatosis but I do,
however, possess one variant gene.
One normal gene and one not so normal gene.
So what that means is that I am a carrier who is having storage issues.
All because that blasted one rouge gene has got my body acting like
a freaking storage silo.

Soooo, the solution???…drain off the blood.

My current numbers are at 336…normal is 150.

So last week I had to see a slew of doctors.

I saw the gastroenterologist, a hematologist, my regular Internal med doctor
along with a radiologist while both my gynecologist and rheumatologist loudly weighed
in on all the bloodwork.

Seems this blood of mine is a quandary that’s gotten my medical folks in a dither.

One marker read that I was at high risk for blood clots.
That sent three of the 6 into a tizzy…each screaming, in his or her own way,
that I needed to start a baby aspirin a day or even blood thinners while immediately
coming back off the estrogen.

WHOA—HOLD ON!” I yelled!
“I just got back on the estrogen after two months of misery and zero sleep!!!”

There were a few other pesky issues as well so it was off to the hospital
for an abdominal CT scan along with, you guessed it, more bloodwork.

The good news is that the CT scan was all good except for my back…
but I already knew that.
The other good news was that the clotting markers were now perfectly normal…
HA! The estrogen can stay…thank the Lord!

But the iron…aka ferritin, well, it was over twice what it needs to be.
That meant a visit to the vampire transfusion center.


(ugh)

The last time I gave blood of any real significance, as in a pound bag’s worth,
was back in 1977.
I was a junior in high school and gave at our school’s blood drive.

After I was finished, I sat up on the table only to fall back down.
I repeated the up and down business several more times until I was told
to finally stay down.

After an hour or so and a few cookies later, I was released back to class…
and it was now time for lunch.

I can vividly remember getting my salad and walking back to the lunch table.
I looked at my salad and that’s all I remembered…until I woke
up, flat on my back, on the floor with salad scattered all around me while
folks hovered over me.

So no, I don’t give blood.

Tubes and viles, yes– bags full, no.

This morning when I ventured to the transfusion center, I explained all of this
to the nurse who was going to be siphoning me off.
She assured me that once I was done, she’d replace the lost blood with
a bag of fluid.

I was in an area that had 4 sections, all with divider curtains,
where other folks were propped up in order to receive cancer treatments and the like.

In fact, the whole floor was divided into sections of fours where patients
all sat tethered to various bags or machines.
Each reclining chair had a TV if one was so inclined to watch.
I just attempted to catch up in blogland and with the news on my phone
using my one unencumbered hand—that being my left and
opposite of the one I am comfortable using–so it was more like fumbling
with a phone.

Since it was so early, I’d really not eaten breakfast.
I was told that that was bad and that I needed to eat the pack
of crackers they were shoving at me.

When she started draining me off, my arm was uncomfortable but I thought
no big deal, I can do this.

As I neared the end of filling the bag, I noticed that I was not feeling well.
In fact, I was feeling really really bad.
I think the nurse must have noticed this too…probably
because I was now drained of all color and I had jerked off
my face mask…as I kept mumbling something about thinking I was
going to throw up.

Immediately she flipped my chair back so far that I was practically on my head
as she quickly hooked up the blood pressure machine.
80 over 40.

Immediately she began administering the fluids.

Halfway through the bag, she brought my chair back up to a normal position.
When the bag was empty the BP reading was now 91 over 56…better
but not where she wanted it.
I had started at 124 over 64.

Another bag and 30 minutes later I was up to 110 over 56—
a number it seemed we both could live with…literally.

And off I went…with an appointment to return in December.

As I looked around me in that large room with lots of folks
hooked up to things for various treatments…I pondered things
larger than my little bag of blood.

Some of the folks looked basically like me, healthy on the outside.
Some were elderly.
Some moaned and winced in pain.

And so I thought about this countdown week if you will.

A week like no other that any of us has ever known.

A week of ominous anticipation.

Many are scared.
Many are fearful
Many grow both anxious and angry.
All the while falsehoods, vehemence, and accusations whirl through the very
air we breathe.

Yet what of all the folks all over this nation of ours, all in rooms similar
to where I sat today…folks hooked up to machines, being fed medicines
in hopes of offering them some glimmer of a future…a chance to continue
life as they once knew it before a disease.

Some will not survive their treatments.
Some will not survive their diseases.

Some will.

Yet contrary to popular belief…we, meaning you and me,
will survive this election.
No matter who you vote for, the world as you know it will not cease nor
implode on Tuesday.
So quit acting like the sky is falling.

Satan feeds us fear…so don’t take it.

Oh, it might feel that life will end.
And it might get ugly before it gets better.
But you and I are not hooked up to a machine that is treating us
for a terminal illness…this election will not kill us—
despite what many of us are thinking.

A few weeks back, I read two different yet telling posts by our dear friend Oneta.

Oneta is a wise woman who is rooted in the Word of God.

I listen when she speaks…or make that, I take notice when she writes.

These particular posts of hers gave me much to chew on and a sense
of calm.

Please take the time to read what she has written.
They are not long posts.

NO, I DON’T THINK DJT IS THE MESSIAH BUT…

MORE CYRUS/TRUMP

Remember God is always stronger than evil!

“Many things happen that God does not will.
But he still permits them, in his wisdom, and they remain a stumbling block
or scandal to our minds.
God asks us to do all we can to eliminate evil.
But despite our efforts, there is always a whole set of circumstances which we can do nothing about,
which are not necessarily willed by God but nevertheless are permitted by him,
and which God invites us to consent to trustingly and peacefully,
even if they make us suffer and cause us problems.
We are not being asked to consent to evil, but to consent to the mysterious wisdom of God
who permits evil.
Our consent is not a compromise with evil but the expression of our trust
that God is stronger than evil.
This is a form of obedience that is painful but very fruitful.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 33
An Excerpt From
In the School of the Holy Spirit

the yoke of burden

“Let us trust in him who has placed this burden upon us.
What we ourselves cannot bear let us bear with the help of Christ.
For he is all-powerful, and he tells us:
‘My yoke is easy, and my burden light.'”

St. Boniface


(wiktionary)

I think we’d all readily admit that this has been a most burdensome year.
A heavy, frustrating, frightening, as well as a never-ending year.

Blessedly, St. Boniface reminds us that we do not go this journey alone.

It has taken me nearly 61 years to understand that I do not have to go this journey alone.  And yet I can still remain obstinate and even contrary, fighting me, life, God every step of the way.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  It doesn’t have to be as hard as I make it. I simply have to remember to lean into The One who is stronger and more resolute than myself.

It sounds easy but we all know it’s not.  Our ancient foe works tirelessly to keep us distracted.

“What prevents us from receiving more abundant graces from God may be quite simply our not
being sufficiently grateful and not thanking him for the graces he
has already given us.
There is no doubt that if we thank God with all our heart for each grace received,
especially for the inspirations [of the Holy Spirit], he will grant us more.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 28
An excerpt from
In the School of the Holy Spirit

the life of Heaven, not earth…

“By accepting the sufferings ‘offered’ by life and allowed by God for
our progress and purification, we spare ourselves much harder ones.
We need to develop this kind of realism and, once and for all,
stop dreaming of a life without suffering or conflict.
That is the life of heaven, not earth.
We must take up our cross and follow Christ courageously every day;
the bitterness of that cross will sooner or later be transformed into sweetness.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 49
An Excerpt From
Interior Freedom


(things that come ashore during a storm / Julie Cook / 2020)

We were not made for earth but for Heaven.

That is the single truth for those who claim Jesus as Lord and Savior.

It is for those who believe there was Omnipotent breath blown into Adam,
giving him life.

It is for those who believe the Word of God is both the first and last word.
The Alpha, the Omega.

It is for those who believe in the Resurrection.

It is the sole truth for those who watch a world gone mad and wonder where
and how they fit in.

The answer is simple, they don’t, we don’t, fit in.

You and me…we don’t fit into any of this mess.

God is God and we are not.
It is that simple.

I Am Who I Am (Exodus 3:14)

And we are His.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Deuteronomy 31:8

Got our work cut out for us…

“I am sent not only to love God but to make Him loved.
It is not enough for me to love God, if my neighbor does not love Him.”

St. Vincent de Paul


(Black swallowtail butterfly / Julie Cook / 2020)

“Even though we know that God’s will and commandments apply to everyone,
we do not always have the strength to fulfill them.
Now, every time we respond faithfully to a motion of the Spirit,
out of desire to be docile to what God expects of us,
even if it’s something almost insignificant of itself,
that faithfulness draws grace and strength down on us.
That strength can then be applied to other areas and may make us capable of one day
practicing the commandments that up until then we had not been capable
of fulfilling entirely.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 20
An Excerpt From
In the School of the Holy Spirit

it’s really very simple

“Jesus, help me to simplify my life by learning what you want me to be,
and becoming that person.”

St. Therese of Lisieux

AMEN!!!


(detail from the Sistine Chapel, God reaching to give life to Adam / Michaelangelo / 1508-1512)

“However great our efforts, we cannot change ourselves.
Only God can get to the bottom of our defects, and our limitations in the field of love;
only he has sufficient mastery over our hearts for that.
If we realize that we will save ourselves a great deal of discouragement and fruitless struggle.
We do not have to become saints by our own power;
we have to learn how to let God make us into saints.
That does not mean, of course, that we don’t have to make any effort . . .
We should fight, not to attain holiness as a result of our own efforts,
but to let God act in us without our putting up any resistance against him;
we should fight to open ourselves as fully as possible to his grace,
which sanctifies us.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 14-5
AN EXCERPT FROM
In the School of the Holy Spirit