I’m not looking for trouble, honest…

“In her voyage across the ocean of this world,
the Church is like a great ship being pounded by the waves of life’s
different stresses.
Our duty is not to abandon ship but to keep her on her course.”

St. Boniface


(I wonder if any of these birds know anything about the missing owl decoy’s head? / Julie Cook / 2018)

I think I’ve gotten to the age where I really don’t go looking for trouble…rather,
trouble merely seems to come looking for me.

Now that’s not to say that I’d back down or run from trouble…
I’ve learned that it’s often best to simply brace oneself while stepping into the wind…
the wind of trouble that is.
Marching forward and dealing with it head on…that is, when it comes marching my way.

I say all this because I had four things yesterday that I found troubling all within about
the span of a blink of the eye—
I didn’t find them, they found me.

Like I say, I don’t go perusing for these sorts of things and I do my darndest to keep such
off my radar…but…

Usually, every time when I go in to fetch my email, a “news” feed page comes up first…
AT&T’s home page.
It runs a scrolling snippet of the day’s headlines…

Now the idea of what I’ve always thought of as a headline versus what our “society”
now considers a headline, separated and parted ways eons ago.

So before I could even click the ‘take me to my mail page’ icon,
I saw that John Kerry was making fun of President Trump’s girth,
Tom Brady stopped an interview over a reporter’s snide remark regarding his daughter,
that the Grammy’s were a huge “I am woman hear me roar” moment and that—
with that last one actually being a twofer—
it was a night of who’s who in Grammyville loving one another while hating the rest of
everyone else…as the women untied and wanted to bash the heads of those who
countered their endearing and de-masculating moment of unification…

Then in my email, I read that our friend the Wee Flea reviewed a movie that will probably be up
for best picture–a typical movie plot over racism in small town USA, a movie that he actually
hated—and left him sad and hopeless that we as a society have sunk to calling such a film
“entertainment” and actually a bravo moment…

Then before I could run and hide, a movie ad pops up for a totally different movie that I
actually looked into regarding the plot line as it too was claiming to be a best picture.
It’s that movie about the Shape of Water business and having read the storyline–
about a mute woman falling in love and actually having sex on screen with a mutant sea creature,
while they then swim off happily together into the sunset, left me shaking my head…

As in shaking to see if something was lose inside my brain cause I just don’t get any of this.

A, I’ve never heard of either movie until first, I saw the Wee Flea’s post and then secondly
when the pop-up ad for the other movie actually popped up…and I confess,
I fell for its ad and looked further. So they accomplished their desire of fishing for curiosity.
But that was enough because I was resolutely reminded once again as to why I really don’t
ever go to see a movie.

They are either ridiculous, full of hidden agendas, laced with unnecessary awful violence and sex
or just flat out stupid.

Then we have the notion of news…that which makes news news…
and whatever that actually is—and that I don’t care for any of it.

I miss Huntly and Brinkley…I’ve written about them before…and I’m still missing them.

I could care less about award shows such as the Grammy’s, the Oscars, the Tony’s,
the you name its.
Why do I want to see an elitist crowd who is so far out of touch with reality, patting one another
on the back, while they use their public platform to tell the little people why it
is they are so little and why they the elitists, are so indeed so elite…

Sigh…

Today’s quote is by St Boniface—an English Benedictine monk (675-754 AD) who was tasked with
spreading the Gospel into the pagan Germanic tribes while also working to bring reform
to what Christian Churches had previously been established in the land of the barbarian Franks.

Neither task was easy and keeping one’s life was not a guarantee.
As Boniface was eventually massacred as he was preparing to baptize a group of converts.

He was committed to his faith in Jesus Christ.
He knew the significance of leading others to Christ and to sharing the Gospel with those
who had not yet heard or seen or whose hearts had once known but were now hardened.

Boniface bore out the Christian rule: To follow Christ is to follow the way of the cross.
For Boniface, it was not only physical suffering or death, but the painful,
thankless, bewildering task of Church reform.
Missionary glory is often thought of in terms of bringing new persons to Christ.
It seems—but is not—less glorious to heal the household of the faith.

(Franciscan Media)

I imagine that today’s current society is not much different than that of the time of Boniface
in that he was tasked with healing an ailing household of faith during a time of grave
personal peril. The Germanic Chruch, what there was of it, had fallen back into Paganism
along with having fallen into corruption.
Much like the day of St Francis when he was told by Christ on the Cross to “rebuild my house”
And again, not much unlike today.

Seems that not only are Believers meant to share, live and spread the Gospel,
they are also tasked with keeping house…
and when that house falls into ill repair, they are tasked with the repair and
even the rebuilding.

So I actually take heart when I read and see most vividly the wantonness of our day…
everything from the anger, the hatred, the belligerent chatter of the tit for tat and the
global persecution of the faithful…
because from all of this, be it the current “news” feeds or the latest ailments within the Chruch,
all of which is certainly enough to make me feel almost hopeless, and yet I take heart
in the words of St Boniface–
words which resonate with both my heart and soul.

We must not abandon the ship…
but rather we must work diligently to make certain
that we keep her on course…as well as make any needed repairs…

Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called,
and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

1 Timothy 6:12

God is laughing

“I love people who make me laugh.
I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh.
It cures a multitude of ills.
It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”

Audrey Hepburn


(A closeup shot of Pere(Father) Jacques Marquette, a 17th-century Jesuit missionary and explorer of New France, along with his visiting gull pal, whose statue graces the central green on Mackinac Island, MI / Julie Cook / 2017)

Sometimes I feel like one of those poor city statues…you know the ones…
those once well thought of monuments to those once notable figures
which are now more of less forgotten to time and are relegated to being a
resting spot for both weary tourists and disprespectful birds.

Now whereas Fr Marquette’s statue is looking rather regal and very clean,
not yet having been “desecrated” on this particular day with the random and
less than nobel telltale signatures left by resting birds—
I just can’t help but feel that my life lately is that of such a statue…

I feel as if I’ve become just another old forgotten statue that currently
has an entire flock of birds resting on my head,
just waiting for the moment when the commanding bird gives the signal for the
troops to simultaneously do what it is they do…
all the while, being simply left to their mercy.

And then it would be just like God, or so I would imagine,
who’d be the first one to laugh.
Yet what a joyful laugh it would be….

For you see I tend to take life seriously….
a little too seriously…

I tend to think things are a big deal.
I allow myself to get all worked up and bent out of shape when my
seemingly grandiose, well thought out,
detailed plans get all skewed as I watch everything I’ll have worked so hard over
collide head-on with the proverbial Murphy of Murphy’s law.

I can come unglued and unraveled as I sit in the midst of the debris…
sadly picking up the pieces, while crying over my life’s spilled milk….
As I furiously and frustratingly try to figure out the lessons
I’m to find in the current spate of misfortune, error, accident and
simple run of bad luck that has all come my way.

For you see I believe things in this life are never random—
everything has a purpose and a plan.

God has a plan in not only the good events of life…
but more importantly and most especially, His plans are even found in the
bad events…

And being the ever impatient one, I try to quickly figure it all out so the
current run of misery will not seem to be all for naught….

And then He laughs because He knows it’s really a matter of His timing
and not mine.

I have a post to write—a little self deprecating post but one filled with lots
of humor.
All because I was much like someone sitting in the middle of one of those
Chevy Chase family vacation movies last week during the little trip my husband
and I had taken—
if it was to go wrong,
it would…
and boy… did it ever…
over and over and over.

First there were the tears of utter frustration as I saw our precious “away”
time being bombarded by misfortune…
with my poor husband trying to offer comfort.
The smart man knew it was best that he keep his temper and composure over
our relentless misfortune and misadventure as I was likely to come totally
unglued…
And not knowing if anyone could survive a total meltdown by his now
distraught wife—heck I didn’t know if I could survive such a self implosion
as I’ve never had a total crumbling….
he managed to keep his cool–something he’s usually not good at doing.

However by week’s end, it all became almost comical…
the kind of stuff one looks back on when fondly remembering some of life’s
greater adventures.

Yet when we got back home, trying to put things back into the play of routine,
there came word of something else–something, when compared to all that we’d
just been through, went totally over the top.

For this latest “event” has now put the icing on the cake…
which in turn is giving me grand pause to sit back and see that God has
indeed had the final teaching moment…

And it all is culminating with God delightfully laughing…
Laughing a grand ol belly laugh full of love and full of hope and full of joy…

and soon, when life slows down, at least just a tad,
and I find myself caught back up with things here…
I’ll share my tale…
One in which we will all be able to commiserate together and then joyously laugh
triumphantly…

Sarah then said,
“God has given me cause to laugh,
and all who hear of it will laugh with me.

Genesis 21:6

who becomes the enemy?

“If we as Christians do not speak out as authoritative governments grow…
eventually we or our children will be the enemy of the society and the state.
No truly authoritarian government can tolerate those who have a real absolute by which to judge its arbitrary absolutes”

(Francis Schaeffer
How Should We Then Live, 1976)

dscn4405
(gulls, Santa Rosa Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2016

While we’ve been busying ourselves with life,
resting in the falsehoods of our comfort…
With steely precision, an insidious force has been set in motion,
casting forth a lie of epic proportion…

It is a growing and troubling lie…a lie now readily held as truth…
Held and spread by those who now claim that you and I, who call ourselves Christian,
are the true enemy of the people.

The world cannot abide by any absolute other than its own fickled whims and wants.
It is the ego of both pride and carnal knowledge that cannot tolerate the Holy Absolute.
That same Holy Absolute to which both you and I hold fast.

And so it now appears that the enemy is closer than we may care to imagine…

“Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies.
At the end all his disciples deserted him.
On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers.
For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God.
So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes.
There is his commission, his work.
‘The kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies.
And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ;
he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies,
not with the bad people but the devout people.
O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ!
If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared’ (Luther).”

― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

it’s just one of those days to wonder

There are good days and there are bad days,
and this is one of them.

Lawrence Welk

“Promise me you’ll always remember:
You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem,
and smarter than you think.”

Christopher Robin to Pooh, A.A. Milne

DSC01886
(a lone gull looks out to sea / Henderson St Park, FL / Julie Cook / 2015)

Ever wonder what the gulls wonder?
What are their thoughts as they stare forlornly out to sea?
Do they watch the waves rolling in, one on top of another,
wondering where they have been and to where it is they now come?

Are they lost in wonderment and awe, mesmerized by the rhythmic breathing of the sea?
Do they feel loneliness, separation, isolation?
Wondering, as they stare outward, as to what once was and to what could have been?
Do they have hopes and dreams that tomorrow will be different, better, happier?

Perhaps they are merely watching, as they scan ever outward,
wondering where the next elusive small tasty fish may be?
Perhaps they merely watch, looking for what may come their way. . .
As in an opportunity, a new start, a fresh beginning. . .

Does their wondering lead to questions, those without answers?
Do they wonder about that which is definitive verses that which is uncertain?
Do they wonder if they will ever have the right answers?
Are they listening for the cries of the other gulls, only to be lost in the sound of the crashing waves?

Are they lost in their wondering, as their thoughts wander across time?
Do regrets lie in the heart of a gull?
Do their hearts break?
Do they yearn for that which seems impossible?
Do they stand at the ocean’s edge longing to hear the voice of the Creator?
Wondering if they will ever feel His embrace. . .

Many, Lord my God,
are the wonders you have done,
the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
they would be too many to declare.

Psalm 40:5

Paying attention

“Do just once what others say you can’t do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again.”
James Cook, British Explorer

Pay attention to your enemies, for they are the first to discover your mistakes.
Antisthenes

DSC01843
(preening gulls / Henderson State Park / Julie Cook /2015 )

Attention verses inattention verses distraction verses indifference verses cynicism verses . . .

Living in a world full of gadgets and gizmos, internet and facebook, cell phones and ear phones,
Each vying for your time, your focus, your attention. . .are you missing the bigger picture?

Flags flap, genders clash, rights obscure, as the baby is thrown out, over and over, with the bathwater. . .are you missing the point?

Masses riot, burning and looting, while everyone’s shooting as tolerance and anger dance a dangerous waltz. . .are you missing the fire for the smoke?

Minorities rule as majorities fool with everyone more confused than before. . .are you missing the boat?

Marriages verses rights as bakeries fight refusing to make the cake. . .are you sitting on the fence

The world is changing as the enemies converge but everyone’s too busy to notice. . .

Listen and hear my voice;
pay attention and hear what I say.

Psalm 128:23

Odds not looking too good?

“The things a man has to have are hope and confidence in himself against odds, and sometimes he needs somebody, his pal or his mother or his wife or God, to give him that confidence. He’s got to have some inner standards worth fighting for or there won’t be any way to bring him into conflict. And he must be ready to choose death before dishonor without making too much song and dance about it. That’s all there is to it.”
Clark Gable

Frankly Scarlett, the odds looked stacked against our little friend.
Two giant Goliaths against our little David the Crab.

DSCN5788

And suddenly the odds seemed to even out a bit, as it was now at least one against one.
Yet, sadly, the odds were still looking to be going against our small friend’s favor.

DSCN5789

Never being one to tolerate the picking on or bullying of those who are smaller or less than, and not too keen on how Mother Nature was wanting to play her hand out against this little guy this particular morning, I moved in, making my presence known—with the result sending the bullying gulls scurrying down the beach in search of other troubles and meals—all the while one lone crab remained, having seen, literally, better times.

RSCN5801

It was my hope that the little crab would be able to make it with the one good remaining eye. . .with that thought passing through my mind, a wave gently pulled our small friend back into the water, away from hungry gulls, but into what new troubles and foes which may be lying in wait, in the depths of the sea, I simply knew not.

With this small microcosm drama, playing out on a lone stretch of beach, I was suddenly palpably aware of our own plights of struggles and peril when life appears to stack the odds against us.

There will be many times throughout our lives when we will play the part of David–perhaps young and naive, or perhaps ill prepared while facing a foe bigger than life. Our Goliaths may not be actual giants but rather something more sinister, deadly or seemingly insurmountable–be it a dreaded illness, a chronic illness, a death sentence. . . the loss of a career, the death of a spouse or child, a divorce, a loss of home, a failed test, a lost savings, a move—giant odds, difficult odds, challenging odds, deadly odds, unbeatable odds. . .

It is not necessarily a matter of our winning the battle, or of our beating the odds. . .but rather it is the fact that we have what it takes–the courage, the finesse, the desire, the hutzpah, the moxie, the will, the tenacity, the stubbornness, to reach down and pick up that rock—because if we don’t bother to pick up the rock, the odds will win, every time.