Natalie

I reached out to Nikki, Natalie’s daughter, late this afternoon—

Since I’m not on facebook, I didn’t know how things were going.

Sadly Nikki just text me that Natalie “went home Monday to be with Jesus”—

Maybe that’s why I’ve seen so many butterflies this past week, flitting about in the yard amongst
the newly budding flowers.

I had a feeling Natalie had transcended this earth.

Natalie loved the Spring and all the new birth taking place in the garden.
She adored her yard and garden.
And she always strongly proclaimed on her blog the joy and confidence she found in our Savior.

Au revoir mon Ami. Je voudrais vous voir bientôt—–
Farewell to the consummate French teacher and life long educator…
I will miss you, Natalie.

wisdom found in the obscure

“My mission, to make God loved—will begin after my death.
I will spend my heaven doing good on earth.
I will let fall a shower of roses.”

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux


(the cover of an 1881 edition of a book by Fr. Charles Arminjon)

I’ve written in recent weeks about Saint Thérèse of Lisieux–known as the Little Flower.
She possessed a great depth of Spiritual knowledge and vision despite dying at the tender
age of 24.

A sickly, quiet, servant of God who, despite her frailty and age, became a giant for
the Christian Faith.
Her devotion to loving and serving Jesus was undeniable.

Yet I am always curious as to the backstory behind such “gentle giants”

Knowing that the work of the Holy Spirit is a mystery beyond our comprehension,
I marvel over the factors that are at work…mysteries which direct an obscure young
French girl to devote her life to God…entering a convent,
living a short life of service yet such a life that it influenced the path of another
tiny giant…Mother Teresa

31 years following the death of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, an equally young Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu
(Agnes), left home in Albania, at the age of 18, taking herself to an Irish convent…
eventually choosing the Little Flower’s name as her own as she professed her vows as a nun…
a nun who also chose service and charity…
eventually becoming known as Mother Teresa…

A domino effect of Spiritual guidance and grace.

So my curiosity was pricked when I read about an obscure book written in 1881 by an
elderly French priest, Father Charles Arminjon…

It was a book which became the impetus for a young Thérèse…
a book prompting her to seek more…

It was a long forgotten book, hiding in obscurity yet was recently sought out,
rediscovered and translated into English.

The following excerpt from the book comes blowing in across the winds of time,
speaking equally as clearly to us today…

“Although Christ chose to leave us ignorant of
the exact time of the end of the world, He deemed
it fitting to give us detailed information on the
matter and circumstances of this great event…”

“…The end of the world, Christ says, will come at
a time when the human race, sunk in the outermost
depths of indifference, will be far from thinking about
punishment and justice. It will be as in the days of Noah,
when men lived without a care, built luxurious houses,
and mocked Noah as he built his ark.
‘Madman!
Dreamer!’
they cried.
Then the flood came and engulfed the whole earth.”

“So,” writes Fr. Arminjon,
“Christ warns us that the final catastrophe will take place when the
world is at its most secure:
civilization will be at its zenith, markets will be overflowing with money,
and government stocks will never have been higher.

“Mankind, wallowing in an unprecedented
material prosperity, will have ceased to hope
for heaven.
Crudely attached to the pleasures
of life, man, like the miser in the gospel, will
say ‘My soul, you possess goods to last for
many years.
Eat, drink and be merry.'”

Fr. Arminjon reminds us that “the present world,
precisely because it was created, necessarily
tends toward its conclusion and end.”

Perhaps we should be as mindful, just as a young Thérèse became mindful
when she first read the words of Fr Arminjon,
that the world will eventually cease and we will either perish
with the world or we will have chosen to be bound up in the Saving Grace of
Jesus Christ.

A timely choice indeed.

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today,
that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse.
Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,

Deuteronomy 30:19

The devil’s trick….

“La plus belle des ruses du diable est de vous persuader qu’il n’existe pas.”
(“The devil’s finest trick is to persuade you that he does not exist.”)”

Charles Baudelaire


(a silkmoth Ceratomia hagoni / Julie Cook / 2017)

Perhaps the author of today’s quote knows a thing or two about the devil as his life
was speckled with troubles…
as those who were familiar with Monsieur Baudelaire associated him with darkness and depravity…
so perhaps it is true what they say about the devil knowing his own…

But I must say that I totally agree with Monsieur Baudelaire’s observation that it is indeed
one of Satan’s main ploys…
that being to lull us into the notion of his nonexistence.

Last night I was watching a newsy talk show.
I have to be really picky and choosey over the “news” I watch as most outlets that claim
to be News oriented, are simply not….
maybe they were when I was 5, say back in 1964, but no longer is that the case.

So this particular news host was running a story about the Freedom From Religion
Foundation, an aggressive special interest group, that had forced, bullied, threatened,
you choose the word, an elementary school in Tennessee to stop allowing a before school
Bible study offered to its first and second grade students.

Last I checked anything offered before or after school is considered voluntary,
NOT a curriculum or school mandated event.
The FFRF group co-founder, Dan Barker, had sent a letter to the school warning against
having any school personnel volunteering for such an activity as they would be in direct
violation of the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment.

Read between the lines—“if we discover that your faculty is having anything to do
with this, we will take you to court….
and you will be sorry and made to pay in more ways than one…”

Having been a long time educator I’ll be one of the first to tell you that if the word
lawsuit is even whispered near a school, sheer panic ensues…
so needless to say, the school shut down this before school voluntary study group—
which in turn infuriated the parents.

As the host and guest argued back and forth, the guest offered this defense…
“There are families who wish to protect their children from the depravity and
the violence that’s in the Bible,”

At which point I almost fell off the couch…
Depraved??
Really??
Ok.

They went further…
Host: You don’t forfeit your First Amendment rights, or any of your Constitutional rights,
just because you work for the government.
You know that.”

Guest: “Yes, you do.”

I think as an educator that was the single greatest thing that troubled me—
the feeling that rights afforded to all US citizens under the Constitution of the
United States somehow bypasses teachers…
as in we aren’t allowed the same rights, apparently, as our students,
or parents, or at times, even our administrators…

The other troubling notion was that these oh so important “rights” are more or less
relevant depending on your personal beliefs—

Christian teachers around this great country of ours are being told that they may not
have a bible on their desk.
Some districts are even telling their teachers that they may not wear a cross or that
Jewish teachers may not wear a star of David but a Muslim teacher may wear a headscarf,
may have a prayer rug and may teach the Quran….

So yes, Monsieur Baudelaire seems rather correct in his observation that the devil’s best
trick is to make us think that he not real as we have fallen hook, line and sinker
for every lie he’s been throwing our way…
all the while we’re holding onto these lies like a dog with a bone…

Living life in the world of lies…and the bad thing is that we’re simply sitting back
and letting it all happen without nary a word of protest from us, the Faithful…

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.
He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth,
because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature,
for he is a liar and the father of lies.

John 8:44

A storm is gathering…

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

Charles de Gaulle

DSCN3552
(the gathering storm on a southern summer’s night / Julie Cook / 2015)

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

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

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

Once upon a time…

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

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

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

It appears that today, we continue not to listen.

DSCN3622

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

Deuteronomy 31:6

Mean, the new black

“You’re nasty and you’re loud,
you’re mean enough for two,
If I could be a cloud,
I’d rain all day on you.”

― Jack Prelutsky

“Women think of all colors except the absence of color.
I have said that black has it all.
White too.
Their beauty is absolute.
It is the perfect harmony.”

― Coco Chanel

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.
Be the living expression of God’s kindness:
kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”

― Mother Teresa

DSCN2795
(red spotted purple butterfly enjoys the blueberry blossoms / Julie Cook / 2016)

Remember when black was all the rage?
The glamorous ones like Audrey Hepburn and Coco Channel made it chic.

It was touted as being…
Slimming
Elegant
Vogue
Classic

Yet eventually there were those who found it…
Boring
Passe
Drab
Dull

New colors vied for Black’s coveted spot at the top
Orange
Green
Brown
Neons

Yet black aways managed to have staying power..
Just ask the French…
For it is….
Timeless
Powerful
Dignified
Stylish

Black is now…
The standard
The benchmark
The gauge
The arcehtype

So imagine how…
Kindness,
Compassion,
Empathy,
Charity,
Mercy,
Each are now feeling as they see how Mean and Meanness are vying for the top…

As in the constant barage of headlines around the globe…
Beaten
Shot
Stabbed
Tasered
Robbed
Humiliated
Tortured
Raged
Cursed
Sprayed
Belittled
Bullied
Maligned
Hated

It matters not the color…
As all colors are now victims of the new black…
Mean…

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
1 Peter 2:1-3

But we have flowers…

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Matthew 19:14

DSCN0282
(flowers for sale along Grafton St. Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

I don’t know if you have had an opportunity to see the video clip of the conversation between young Brandon Le and his father, Angel Le.
The Le’s are french citizens living in Paris. Angel had brought young Brandon, a preschooler, out to see first hand the growing memorial of flowers and candles…in hopes that young Brandon could better process the city’s recent tragic events.
The conversation is both heartwarming and encouraging—
May we all remember that we have flowers…..

Nous pleurons avec vous France

All for one and one for all,
united we stand divided we fall.”

― Alexandre Dumas

DSC00729
(Winged Victory, The Louvre / Julie Cook / 2011)

Dear France:
We weep freely for, as well as with, you–our dear friends
Our hearts are breaking
Our minds are reeling
Yet we stand together with you in our determination to live united in Liberté

God bless France
Vive la France