Happy Mother’s Day to my son…now that’s a switch

“A mother is the truest friend we have,
when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us;
when adversity takes the place of prosperity;
when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us,
still will she cling to us,
and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels
to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace
to return to our hearts.”

Washington Irving


(“mom” with her two lambs…The Mayor and The Sheriff / Greg Cook /2021)

Okay..
so I’ve said it before..there were three primary women who
were integral in making me into the person I am today…

First there was my birth mother (and NO I do not subscribe to this
latest woke nonsense and crap of “birthing person”…total BS!!)

I had a birth, or rather biological, mother who gave me up for adoption in 1959.
Next I had an adopting mother who came along in 1960.
(and no AOC, planned parenthood does not help out in that area contrary
to your foolish line of thinking)

My adopted mom did the long haul hard work.
She went through diapers, terrible twos, potty training…and Lord knows
and bless her heart, adolescence.

Yet sadly, she left me in 1996 when cancer marked her name.

Lastly I had an adopted godmother who came along in 1974—she picked up the
spiritual pieces…working meticulously until her death several years ago.
And let me just say, if you don’t have that kind of person in your life…
find her–a Christian mother who will guide you…

Throw in my two grandmothers (adopted) and I had some great ground work.

I, in turn, became a mom in 1988 to our only son Brenton.
We were going to name him Collin after my godpoppa, but
the name Brenton spoke to my husband…and after an arduous birth,
the nurse turned to me and asked me what was to be the name of this
new son of ours and all I could muster
was…”ask my husband what he wants…”
and so Brenton was his name-o….

As life would have its way, we discovered that we were actually very
fortunate to be able to have just the one child.

So let’s just fast forward to today…our 32 year old son being dad to
both the Mayor and the Sheriff.

I must say that I have absolutely marveled over how our son
has grown into the role of being both father
and dad.

And so just maybe…. this should be more of a father’s day post…
but since this is my day, mother’s day…I’m going to focus
on what makes me a mom…
and that would be our son and now our grandkids.

Recently, our son took off a day from work in order to
spend the entire day with his 2 year old son, aka the Sheriff.

It was the Sheriff’s 2nd birthday and since birthday number 1 was
during the height of lockdown pandemic, our son wanted to make certain
that birthday number two was special.

It matters not that the Sheriff probably won’t ever recall birthday
number two.
What matters is that the tales will transcend time that his dad said
“no” to work just so he could spend time with his young son.

Now that is what I call putting one’s priorities into place!

I am a firm believer that we grow our children…
We nurture them, care for them, feed them, clean them, clothe them,
teach them, instruct them, defend them…
Our sons need fathers.
Our daughters need fathers.

And I dare you to argue with me otherwise.
So don’t mess with mama bears….just saying

I know not all family situations are ideal…
mothers must be fathers and fathers must be mothers…
But our kids need balance.

They need both female nurturing and they need strong male guidance.

Call me old fashioned, call me out of touch, but I’ll tell you one thing…
balance…male and female…it works!!

So happy mother’s day to all the moms and dads…
as well as to grandparents…along with the aunts and uncles
and to all those godparents out there filling
that spiritual role!

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old,
he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6

change vs tradition and why some things just seem to matter

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley


(then and now—an enduring relationship—Elizabeth and Philip)

Change, they say, is the one constant we can always count on.
A constant that we human beings do not always embrace.

We all like knowing that some things will always be there.
Anchors, if you will, that help keep us tethered in the often tumultuous sea of life.
Life, it seems, is a place where we are often tossed about like a rag doll.
We yearn for the sights and sounds of those things we know and have known
that call out to us of the familiar.

I think we often call them “roots”…

Now granted a few of us embrace change, the truth is that most of us loath it.

Doors close while windows open—and yet trying to convince us that the closings
can be a good thing is an entirely different matter.

In yesterday’s post, I touched on the notion of tradition—
for me it was a bit of a family tradition…
Granted, it might be a tradition that is rooted in some good ol southern grease,
it’s a tradition none the less and one I’m glad to be able to pass on and share in.

I found that yesterday’s quote by Somerset Maugham, tradition is a guide and not a jailer
actually speaks volumes to the times in which we are now living.

And we are indeed living in some very strange times!!!

We have been pleading for life to become “normal” again, yet at the same time,
we are in the full throws of the birth pangs of unchecked helter skelter change.

It is a time when we see a society throwing out both the baby and the bathwater
along with anything else that speaks of where we’ve come from and of
the things that “they” deem as unnecessary baggage.

Tradition, to our society, is no longer seen as a warm embrace but
rather that of a jailer—a set of chains that must be severed and cut.

Be it a statue…
the name of a street or school…
a television show…
a movie, music, actors, actresses, musicians
values, morals, religion, et el.

If it was, it is to be no more.

And so it was with the recent death and passing of Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, that
I was once again reminded of this notion of tradition and change.

For all of my 61 years, there are but a few things in this world that have remained constant.

Institutions really…

That of family,
Our Nation,
our three tier form of governing of check and balances,
the Seat of Peter…that of a pope guiding the Catholic Church,
and that of the British Monarchy.

And for those 61 years of mine, whereas various leadership has come and gone,
family has sadly come and gone, the map of the world constantly remains fluid,
the Queen, along her Prince Consort, have been what seems to be the only two worldly constants.

They wed 12 years before my birth.
She became queen 6 years before my birth, the same year my parents wed.

As far as I was concerned, she, and they, simply always…were.

Over the years the Royal family has ebbed and flowed in the fickled minds of “the people”
The relevance of a monarchy has often been questioned.
It is no secret that the Windsors are certainly a fractured family lot.
And why Americans should even care is an entirely different conversation.

And yet, Elizabeth and Philip have remained.

Philip, a bit of a curmudgeon, was known for having a wicked wit,
a twisted sense of humor who enjoyed telling off colored jokes and whose comments
would be often better kept unsaid.
Many often felt he possessed a sense of apparent arrogance.

He was assumed to be one of the haves in a world of have nots.

Yet I dare say that most generations after mine probably have no idea that Philip
was truly a product of the school of hard knocks.
His life really was that byproduct of a terrible dysfunctional upbringing.

Born royal, yet as a child he was stripped of home, throne and identity.
His family exiled.
His mother was institutionalized.
His father ran off with a paramour.
And his four sisters married Germans, moving to Germany and supporting the Nazi cause.

Philip would be left literally alone as a child.

He had no money, no home and no family to speak of.
He was the definition of a latch key kid…a kid with neither latch nor key.

He joined the Royal Navy at age 18.

He had no choice but to become a strong self made man—it was either that or
simply succumb to a cruel world, turn over and die.

I myself was not always a keen fan of Philip but this is coming from a person who
had never met nor known the man—so my perceptions came from things read and images seen.
No personal encounter so no real reason for a like or dislike.

But what I do know is that Philip believed in tradition–he was a staunch believer
of tradition and being disciplined by such.
Yet oddly, he was one who could also readily embrace change.

He demonstrated such an adaptation to change with a proclivity for the
rapid growth of technology.
Something that many of his generation often found confounding.

He also demonstrated his ability to change when the stability he had so yearned for,
found finally in his marriage and quickly growing young family, would be forever transformed.

Philip was a part of that Greatest Generation, having served as an officer in
His Majesty’s Royal Navy.
He loved the ocean and felt most at home when at sea.

He was athletic, dashing, smart and keenly disciplined.
He was a man’s man— a trait that this current culture of ours does not deem as
much of a positive trait.

Yet on the other hand, I for one find strong masculinity a refreshing and a most positive trait.
I believe in the importance of strong male figures in the lives of our growing children.
Our children so desperately need examples and guidance—they hunger for it.
They need to know and see what it means to be willing to go the extra mile.
They need to see sacrifice and even disappointment while one manages to keep that oh so
British stiff upper lip. Watching as one opts not to complain or whine…
but rather watching as one rolls up sleeves and jumps in with both feet…
and just starts doing.
Being proactive and not reactive.

Sadly and even oddly, it seems one grandson was lost despite having such a personal
stalwart example.

Philip demonstrated such perseverance when he gave up the Naval career he so dearly loved
in order to support his young wife as a newly crowned Queen.

Going from the head of his household to suddenly having to spend the remainder of his life
always walking one step behind his wife must have been demoralizing…
and yet he never skipped a beat.
We don’t know what went on behind closed doors, but what we do know is that when
it mattered, Philip did what had to be done.

He had to renounce who he was, in order to become a young queen’s servant and consort–
renouncing himself only to have to reinvent himself.
That’s what true men do—

Elizabeth did not lord this over her husband, but rather keenly understood the mix
of emotions that came with the sudden death of her father the King and how that now
altered her marriage forever.

The important lesson here for all of us is that both Elizabeth and Philip each knew that
there was something greater than themselves…and that was
the wellbeing of a Nation and that of its people.

People like Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip matter because they teach us lessons.
They teach us that one often has to let go of self and selfish wants in order to
do for and serve others.
True leaders lead by example—not by agendas nor by self-seeking interests.

This couple has demonstrated a depth of perseverance for over 70 years.

I think we are all the better for their example…

What others offer is up to us as to what we opt to receive.

In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.

Proverbs 16:9

nuggets

“There is neither happiness nor misery in the world;
there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more.
He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness.
We must have felt what it is to die, Morrel, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life.
“Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget,
that until the day God will deign to reveal the future to man,
all human wisdom is contained in these two words, ‘Wait and Hope.”

Alexandre Dumas

(image from the series Oak Island on the History Channel)

Nuggets, and no, I’m not talking about chicken nuggets.

Rather I am talking about those tiny morsels of wisdom that often
push their way up to the surface along our life’s path…
just like a tiny treasured object emerging from the scattered debris underfoot.

Something shiny catching our eye… something that magically captures a ray of sun,
redirecting that glimmer upward which grabs us by the shoulders and shouts
“hey, look…I’m here!!”

I have to admit that for the past couple of months, I have been consumed by this move
of ours.
The culling, the packing, the schlepping, the hauling, the unpacking, the cleaning, the painting,
the repairing…on and on it’s been going—so much so that my senses have been void of
almost all and any news as well as being rather barren here in blogland.

Sparse on news is not a bad thing.
Sparse on blogland is more frustrating as I so enjoy reading posts.
I learn when I do so.
However unfortunately, skimming has been my recent MO.

So there have been a couple of things that have stuck with me throughout this
recent journey I’m currently traversing.

The first little nugget was the advice “trust the process”

Sounds simple enough…but is it really??

This was said to me when we first began toying with the notion of selling
and buying homes.
I had no idea whether the selling and buying process was truly the right thing
for us to do.

Remember, we were taking this on in full pandemic stride.

There were pros and cons on both sides of the aisle.

The cons often stood tall against the pros.
Then suddenly, that would all flip.

Hopes would both rise and fall…
there was excitement, trepidation, exhilaration, remorse…over and over
this roller coaster would fly.

But yet the voice of a friend kept ringing in my head…“trust the process
Over the course of days, weeks, months…it became a sort of mantra.
A leaning onto and into something else other than myself,
something greater, grander and beyond my mere limitations.
Something without limits or boundaries.

Job had to trust his process.

He may not have had much peace throughout his process…but he knew that the source leading
him to the end of the process was the only thing he could trust—
Omnipotence laced within a process.

And so, in turn, we trusted.

The next little nugget that was offered…
“this may not have been the house you needed, but this house needed you”

meaning– we always tend to think that we are the ones needing and wanting—
it’s the typical egocentric approach to life.
We think that we are at the center of the universe while everything else gravitates
around or to us.

But in actuality, we might just be on the outskirts circling around
something greater than ourselves…something where we are an input and not
the recipient.

So as things continue to literally fall into some semblance of place…
God keeps speaking…the question is…am I listening…

For the word of God is alive and active.
Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit,
joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

bring back our sons…a sad, frustrating and familiar plea

“Stop killing our children, bring back our children,”
Amrata Hamza mother of an abducted child, taken at the hands of the Islamic
Terrorist organization Boko Haram


(The mother of Muhammad Bello, one the students who was abducted by gunmen,
reacts in Kankara, Nigeria, on Monday. (Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters))

Well it appears that in these days of all-consuming news of all things election and or pandemic…
somehow I missed a most tragic story out of Nigeria.
It’s a story that actually took place nearly three weeks ago.

A deja vu sort of tale.
As I wrote a post 6 years ago about a very similar incident.

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2014/05/09/bring-back-our-girls/

It seems that there has been another mass kidnapping of kids from a private boarding school
in Nigeria at the hands of the notorious Islamic group Boko Haram.

A massive group of armed gunmen stormed a school in the northern section of the country
and took over 600 boys as prisoner…or captives or whatever it is one calls the taking of
so many kids.
A mass kidnapping.

Here are excerpts from the story that I read on Fox…

A Nigerian woman whose only son is among the more than 330 boys still missing
after being kidnapped from their school in the northern Katsina state last week pleaded
for their return in a protest Tuesday,
as the jihadist rebel group Boko Haram reportedly claimed responsibility for the mass abduction.

Hundreds of gunmen with assault rifles on Friday surrounded the Government Science Secondary School (GSSS),
an all-boys boarding school in the town of Kankara,
firing at police before rounding up students and forcing them to march through the heavily
forested region in separated groups, witnesses have said.

The Daily Nigerian said Tuesday it received an audio message from Boko Haram
leader Abubakar Shekau saying that his group abducted the schoolboys because
Western education is against the tenets of Islam.

“Stop killing our children, bring back our children,”
Amrata Hamza, whose only son was abducted, told local broadcaster CLIQQ TV during a protest
organized Tuesday. “I don’t know the condition of my son.
I’m speechless.
I can’t talk, I have not drank water since I arrived in Kankara.
There is much sunlight, I know our children are thirsty,
they are hungry. Please help us bring back our children.”

The Nigerian government said a joint rescue operation was launched Saturday by state police,
air force, and army after the military engaged in gunfights with bandits after locating
their hideout in the Zango/Paula forest.
Many of the initial 600 male students taken from the school escaped their captors,
but more than 330 remained unaccounted for as of Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.

This latest episode comes six years after Boko Haram kidnapped more than 270 schoolgirls
from their dormitory at the Government Secondary School in Chibok in northeastern Borno State
in April 2014.
First Lady Michelle Obama spotlighted the issue at the time with the hashtag
#BringBackOurGirls.

About 100 of the girls are still missing.
Boko Haram said at the time that it wanted to stop women from attending schools.
The recent incident at the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara,
is the worst attack on a boys’ school since February 2014,
when 59 boys were killed during a Boko Haram attack on the Federal Government College
Buni Yadi in Yobe state.

https://www.foxnews.com/world/nigeria-boys-school-kidnapping-boko-haram

These are the types of stories that should outrage us as a global family but instead,
everyone is more focused on the election circus taking place in the US.
As well as whether or not it will be safe to take this hurried up and rushed vaccine
in order to stem the tide of a raging pandemic.

And what of the millions upon millions of dollars that have been poured into the elections–
elections on the national level as well as state level.
Money poured into campaingns by the likes of silcon valley, tech oligarchs,
leftist liberals…all the while children suffer, families suffer.
Suffering locally as well as globally.

Protecting children is, as adults, our responsibility.
It matters not that if it is at the local level of responsibility or
that of a global responsiblilty.
Children are our heart, soul and future.

No full term aboritions.
No abortions, period.
No sex trafficking.
No child prostituion.
No abuse.
No kidnapings.

Only our protection, love and guidence.

Let us pray for those boys as well as for their aching families.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones.
For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.

Matthew 18:10

Are you a roadie, a dead head, a parrot head or simply part of the cult?

“Men spend their time in following a ball or a hare; it is the pleasure even of kings.”
Blaise Pascal, Pensées


(image of a roadie loading band equipment /Arts hub Australia)

I can remember back in the day…back in the early 70’s when, as a teenager,
I began going, with friends and dates, to concerts.

A typical teenager, I loved music.
It often spoke to my young angst-ridden self.
So when Atlanta finally built her very first enclosed sports venue,
I was excited. This meant that not only did the arena become home to both basketball
and hockey teams, it also became a much larger home for concerts—beating out the
usual little intimate and smaller local theaters, bars, and civic center.

This meant more kids were now able to go to concerts.
And the whole idea of living a “band” life was reborn into a new generation
of daydreaming teens and young people.

Previous musicians and singers had already had their fair share of tagalongs
and groupies…but in the early ’70s, the idea seemed to boom alongside
a now booming music industry.

Dreams of being discovered sprung forth from many a garage and basement band.

The idea of following in the shadow of a band or singer seemed glamorous and even romantic…
for both girls and guys.
How awesome would it be to travel and see the world with one’s favorite band?

Think one generation wanting to run away with the circus while a later generation
wanted to run away with a band.

Young teenagers were finding the idea of being a roadie and or groupie
both fun and exciting.

But first, let’s back up a minute…
we need to stop and think about this groupie thing.

We need to stop and think about cult followings.

Mindless and dangerous worship from afar…all in hopes of entering the inner circle.
Why does Charles Manson now come to mind…

So think of those who actually quit life in order to become ‘Dead Heads’ following
the Grateful Dead from city to city
Or Mr. ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’ and his own following flock known at
Parrot heads.

Folks who follow/ed Jimmy Buffet from city to city…living the
half drunk beach life all over the country.
Sounds nice but…

And so I got to thinking about this whole notion of groupies, roadies and cult followings.
which in turn got me thinking about how these types of folks seem to mirror the various
groups of folks we are seeing today.

Think traveling troublemakers.

Think Antifa.
Think, yes, even Black Lives Matter…
groups who prefer fights, agitation and violence versus a level headed protest
movement.

Trouble makers, provocateurs, anarchists all traveling from venue to venue,
aka city to city, in order not to entertain or to be entertained,
but rather to wreak havoc while causing catastrophic harm.

Riding the bandwagon of pandemonium.

There are the die-hard cult members.
And there are the die-hard cult leaders.

Those card-carrying types.

The ones who hop in cars to travel halfway across the country hoping to insert their own
signature of hate within a city or town.

And then there are those who are the wannabes.
The ones who secretly hop on the hate train just for the momentary rush of angst.

Think of a Clark Kent antithesis— that mild-mannered reporter by trade and superhero at heart…
mirrored by folks we’re seeing in these riots who are probably mild-mannered without their masks
yet turn into super hate-thug adversary once the masks go on and the lights go out.

See this photo?

It’s a photo a friend of my son’s sent him from downtown Charleston of an incident
which took place near his office this past week.

Whereas I hate to ever see any American burn their own flag,
it wasn’t so much the flag burner that caught my attention.

See this close up of the guy in the back left on the sidewalk…?
See the sign he’s holding?

It’s a poster with a hammer and sickle along with the word solidarity.
A communist hopeful watching a comrade burn the flag.
Gotta love a secret anarchist at heart.

Does this young man, who is white, care about George Floyd or does he care more about
dismantling the nation with a communist manifesto?

I wonder.

And so when I was reading Citizen Tom’s latest posting on the Prince William-Manassas Family Alliance
regarding Parental Rights being in the Crosshairs…I thought, oh boy, here we go.

We already have the masses of minions to the madness…
those who I wonder about their roots of upbringing.
And now we hear government leadership wanting to make becoming a minion much easier
by officially taking away the right of parents to parent.

No mentoring, no nurturing, no guidance, no discipline.

I think we already know that the nuclear family is in crisis…in jeopardy of being
destroyed…and we, in turn, are watching a society implode upon itself.

Tom offers the following observation:

We’re in a war that is very serious and dangerous.
We must protect our freedom, we must practice our freedom NOW or our neglect will seize
it from us.
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” (Edmund Burke).

When good men do nothing, the opposition has opportunity to move in and steal.
We cannot afford to let down our guard!
I was taught, perhaps you were taught, that there is a separation of church and state,
and Christians ought not be involved in politics.
WRONG!

Is it because too many of us have believed the lie that our nation is being usurped from us.
No longer!!
We are rising up to take control of our freedom!
NOW!
Visit the Parental Rights web site and get involved.
NOW!

(https://familyallianceonline.org/2020/06/03/your-parental-rights-are-in-the-cross-hairs/)

And so when we lose the ability to parent…
When we lose the authority within the family…
When Christianity is deemed irrelevant…
When lawlessness becomes the norm…
When the masses cry to abolish law enforcement…
When children are left to “govern” themselves…
a vast and dangerous void opens up… and that void must be filled.

Disrespect.
Selfishness.
Violence.
Hate.
Thuggery.
Cultism.

The death of the nuclear family will be the death of a nation.
There will be no roadies, dead heads or parrot heads, but there will be a myriad of
cult followers.

There’s not much time remaining.

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

I must decrease

“Your value does not decrease based on someone’s inability
to see your worth.”

Anonymous


(a broken stem of blooming rhododendron floats across the lake / Julie Cook / 2017)

Over the course of the past couple of weeks following Dad’s death,
I am finding my world shifting.
There is so much to do, but it is vastly different from what I had been doing.
From the endless driving to the running of errands, the picking up of meds,
to the seeing of doctors, nurses, hospitals…
to buying groceries, paying bills and lastly, to sitting a sad and difficult vigil.

Now all of that is different.

There is change.

There are messes that now need sorting.
There are still many bills…as bills don’t die when we die.
This part of the process is hard, laborious and full of uncertainties.
Much like before, there are open ended questions and
just like in that time of before where there was transition,
so too a shift of all that is has become most apparent.

For now it is a matter of picking up the pieces…
the pieces that fell when Dad took his last breath…
And now a good many of those pieces simply leave me less then thrilled
that I must even tend to them.

There will be more on all of this once the dust settles..
and that might be in several months…

But the change has made me think.
The caregivers who had seen me every single day for the past several months see me now
about 2 to 3 times a week if that…as there is a shift in family dynamics…
So there is mourning and frustration in the change…
They continue to look to me to direct the course of the ship…
Despite my now being sole overseer of all that was and all that remains…
I have stepped back with a controlled intent.

There are lessons here…and some are hard…for all involved.
There has been frustration and even resentment…
but I know God’s hand is the actual hand which still guides this ship.
I am learning to be still, silent and serving as I wait.

I don’t understand it all.

Yet I wrestle with sorrow and absence mixed with a dose of bitter anger
all directed toward the man who I just lost…
He’s gotten us in a bit of a pickle with poor and selfish choices..
as I’m seeing just how much he didn’t consider the after effects….
This as I have to put his discarded pieces back together again…
because as I said…in death we, nor any of our messes, readily disappear.

However, this morning as I sat in another day’s nightmare now known
as Atlanta’s traffic disaster, the words echoed by the Baptist flooded my head…
“He must increase as I must decrease….”

As I ponder my role in regards to the caregivers and my stepmother…
all which is decreasing…
Much to the chagrin of those caregivers.
However their roles in our lives will end when April ends.
They will then move on elsewhere to new assignments.

For good or bad there is change.
And there is decrease…
while others and other things must increase….

But as for me, when all is said and done, to remain faithful…
To feel God’s hand steadying my shoulder lest I step out or speak out of turn
in unbridled harsh emotion as…

continued lessons during this holiest of weeks come readily into focus…..

The one who comes from above is above all;
the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth.
The one who comes from heaven is above all.
He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony.
Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful.
For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God,
for God gives the Spirit without limit.
The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life,
but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

John 3:30-36

the direction of bricks and mortar

Yet, taught by time, my heart has learned to glow for other’s good,
and melt at other’s woe.

Homer

DSC00070
(Julie Cook / 2015)

Currently feeling most grieved over the latest madness sweeping across this
great nation of ours…
what with the divisiveness and hateful discourse bombarding our daily lives…
Of the recent marches and demonstrations…
with now high school kids adding to the mix…

My thoughts shift to relationships…
meaningful and significant relationships…
To those components of mortar and to the building blocks…
to all that builds and creates a base
a community…

to those footings…
to the foundations…
and to the resulting communions we build…

Thoughts shift to those who have crossed my own life…
to those who imprinted and imparted upon me…
a betterment,
a lastingness,
an endurance..

where would I be without such…

Today I ran across a post I’d written 2 years ago…
oddly it was just sitting out there on the internet…
under a particular search word…

It seemed rather timely so I decided to borrow a portion it for today’s post…
because it recounts the importance of a life that helped to form my own life.

For I now see that our youth currently need individuals in their lives who are strong…
those who don’t mind taking time…
those who aren’t afraid of taking a risk …
Those who want to help…
to mould,
to shape,
and to guide.

For our kids need to hear the words “don’t” and “no”…
as well as “good” and “job well done”
they need to be loved and nurtured…
not ignored or simply turned out…
they need to be disciplined and held accountable
not left unbridled or excused…
they need to be given directions…
but not carried…

Because they will seek out those individuals…
that communion and community..

the concern will be to whom and to what….

excerpt–original date Jan 12, 2015…

Being able to express myself was always important.
I most often found that freedom in the process of simply writing.
First, as a young girl, in the form of a journal / diary,
then as I grew older,
it came through the writing of letters.

It was in the writing of letters where I allowed myself to fully express my thoughts.
It was the one place my often frustrated brain could and would be allowed to soar.

In the days before computers, emails and word documents…
I loved buying and sending cards.
I would spend hours writing letters–
especially the letters I’d write that bordered more along the lines of epistles,
those lengthy and meaty tome like lettes to my godfather–a long retired Episcopal priest.
He passed away late December at the age 94.
I have often referenced him and his influence in my life in many a previous post.

The letters were often written with a myriad of misspelled words,
despite the large dictionary by my side.
There were gaping gaps in the written thought… as I would think much faster than I wrote.
The letters were laced with outrageous sentence structure,
which in turn would make any english teacher cringe,…
yet they were letters written with passion, honesty and humility.
And despite the holes, the poor sentence structure or the youthful angst,
my godfather would receive each letter expectantly, happily, and lovingly…
all without a judgement of content or the editing of grammatical structure–
this from a man who made a living writing and speaking.

Our correspondence began when I was around the age of 15.
My early letters were laced with the pangs of innocence and adolescence.
Yet as I aged and matured those letters became more complex,
even troubling, as I fought my way, often with fraught emotion,
through the often tangled jungle of life.
I wrestled with my faith and beliefs.
Life was not always easy nor kind.
There were obstacles, illnesses, deaths, disappointments, poor choices, grave mistakes,
coupled with a few triumphs, glimpses of joy and moments of contentment.

Always with love and often, no doubt, with great frustration,
he would offer words of either encouragement or warning,
lessons or simply the “if I were you”…
yet his words were always laced with love.
It was here, within the correspondence of a young girl, now grown woman,
where I learned about unconditional love.

I never filtered my words or emotions yet perhaps today, looking back,
I see that it would have behooved me to have used a bit more restraint—
yet he never faltered or expressed disappointment.
My Godpoppa, the busy world at large Anglican leader,
would never specifically tell me what to do,
despite my often desperate queries.

He would never say “yes” or “no” but rather he’d offer wisdom woven with advice all of
which he hoped would allow me to eventually find my own way.
He was a signpost of guidance,
of the miles thus traveled and of miles yet to be traveled.

And so as I currently find myself surveying a sea of rising national angst..
My thoughts now wander to those meaningful and significant relationships that we form…
those unique and timely bonds offered by the mentors and the role models amongst us…

To what direction are they now pointing…
To what sort of guidance do they long to impart…
To what sort of mortar and foundation do they wish to use…
and does anybody really still care…

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord,
not for human masters…

Colossians 3:23

(The Very Reverend David Browning Collins 1922-2016)

want and need

“The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows when
But I’m strong
Strong enough to carry him”

(lyrics He aint heavy, he’s my brother,
the Hollies)

dscn4479
(wading into the surf / Santa Rosa Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2016)

I read recently that God sends us things that we don’t think we want…
but most often need…

There is always learning….

The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows when
But I’m strong
Strong enough to carry him
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

So on we go
His welfare is of my concern
No burden is he to bear
We’ll get there
For I know
He would not encumber me
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

If I’m laden at all
I’m laden with sadness
That everyone’s heart
Isn’t filled with the gladness
Of love for one another

It’s a long, long road
From which there is no return
While we’re on the way to there
Why not share
And the load
Doesn’t weigh me down at all
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

He’s my brother
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother…

Lyrics by Bob Russell and Bobby Scott

let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance—

Proverbs 1:5

Authority vs Power

“Another time of testing has come.
Another day of reckoning is here.
This is a testing and a reckoning…
that could prove even more decisive than earlier trials.”

Os Guinness

CIMG0617
(statue of St Peter stands looking over St Peter’s Square, The Vatican/ Rome, Italy / Julie Cook / 2007)

“The Kingdom of God is the realm of true authority; the kingdom of Satan is seen in the tyranny of raw power.”
(God and Churchill/ Jonathan Sandys & Wallace Henley

In his 1931 essay, Fifty Years Hence, written long before Winston Churchill was elected Prime Minister of Great Britain, the then former Chancellor of the Exchequer penned his bleak yet precautionary predictions for the future of not only Western Civilization, but the world at large.

Churchill’s essay was written post WWI, while the destructive images of a devastated Europe raged fresh in his mind just as the rumors of new wars festered along the horizon….

“Without an equal growth of Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love, Science herself may destroy all that makes human life majestic and tolerable. There never was a time when the inherent virtue of human beings required more strong and confident expression in daily life; there never was a time when the hope of immortality and the disdain of earthly power and achievement were more necessary for the safety of the children of men.”

Churchill’s opining of predictions were but a stone cast into a pond whose ripples were to reach to what he saw to be 1981…
however his words and thoughts, those ripples, continue to be relevant to our own day and time these 85 years later…well past the initial envisioned fifty years.
In fact his words ring more true today than they did in 1981.

I think we’d all agree that our times are exceedingly precarious.
Many an observer notes the almost tangible and even palpable fear that is presently running as an electric current throughout the world.
Radical Islamic Extremists,
global terrorism,
coups,
civil wars,
our own racial divide and unrest…
all of which has rocked this 21st century world.

There are many, myself included, who can’t help but to see the mirrored comparisons of a rising Adolph Hitler and his Nazi death machine compared to today’s current menacing death machine of Islamic fanaticism and its declared war or caliphate against the West and the Judeao / Christian foundation…of which has stood since the days of Constantine…

“We are confronted with another theme. It is not a new theme;
it leaps out upon us from the Dark Ages–
racial persecution, religious intolerance, deprivation of free speech,
the conception of the citizen as a mere soulless fraction of the State.
To this has been added the cult of war.
Children are to be taught in their earliest schooling the delights and profits of conquest
and aggression.
A whole mighty community has been drawn painfully, by severe privations,
into a warlike frame.”

(except of speech broadcast to Britain and the United States October 16, 1938)

Reading these words, not knowing they were spoken 78 years ago, in a different time and place, one would imagine them to be easily written today…
If we listen carefully we hear the ominous warnings…
warnings concerning the madrassas of today with their radical teachings to the youth of Islam…
we hear of the ongoing global teachings of intolerance for Western society…
we hear of the hate for the Christian and Jewish communities throughout the world…
warnings and reminders being echoed of the soulless citizens having lived or who are currently living under the blankets of communism, totalitarianism, dictatorships and the growing rise of socialism….
anything but democracy….

It would behoove us, as we stand on the cusp of the dire decisions and votes being cast…
with their often ominous results–
not only on a national level, but to the choices, votes and decisions being made globally,
to understand the difference between what is true authority verses what is power merely cloaked in a false authoritative shawl.

Authority shows itself in constructive power, whereas raw power is inevitably destructive, as Hitler and the Nazis amply demonstrated. Authority is granted from the higher to the lower, but power is seized.
Authority is given to the humble, those under authority; power is snatched by the proud, who acknowledge no authority over themselves. Authority is sustained through relationship, which is why Churchill devoted so much time to communicating and to being among the people. Raw power, on the other hand, is sustained through four control mechanisms: manipulation, condemnation, intimidation, and domination, skills that Hitler and the Nazis honed to a sharp point”

(God and Churchill / Jonathan Sandys & Wallace Henley)

Again, words written regarding a past time yet even more relevant today…

May we open our ears to the past as we open our eyes to the future as we currently wrestle with seeking
new governing leadership…
May we be mindful to look to those individuals who seek not to grab power but rather to those who seek to lead under the authority that has been granted from the only One who can truly grant authority to those who seek His counsel for those who which they are charged to lead….

The whole world is upborne and sustained by God’s Love, and each person was created as an act of love. This is truly incomprehensible to us because we can’t see clearly the breath, and depth, and enormous scope of such great love. God looked at each stage of Creation and said clearly that it was good: the sun, the moon, the stars, the seas, the earth, the animals, the birds, the fish, and the plants. All is good, all is blessed, and all is an outpouring of Trinitarian love. When we were created, then God said that this was more than good, but very good. Very good! When will we live up to such a great calling, to such a great love: personal, intense, and giving the power to also create around us an expression of God’s goodness and love. Help us, O Lord, to fulfill Thy precious love in us and in all we touch and see.
Amen.
(offering prayer from the monks at St Isaac’s Orthodox Skete)
(http://www.skete.com/index.cfm)