don’t put a squashed pine cone in your mouth…

“the ‘task of the conscience’– a word of great value in Western civilization,
is to determine what that divine purpose is and then to live
it out irrespective of the cost”

observations about Pope John Paul by George Weigel
excerpt taken from The Divine Plan
John Paul II, Ronald Reagan and the Dramatic End of the Cold War
by Paul Kengor and Robert Orlando

The above image is a picture within a picture…or rather, it’s a still-shot from a video.
And the title is a quote I actually uttered yesterday…
as in, “DO NOT PUT THAT SQUASHED PINECONE IN YOUR MOUTH!!

However, that story will have to wait as I simply needed an
the attention-grabbing title today…
As in I wanted your full and undived attention.

I’ve been spending time with the Mayor and the new Sheriff the past several days,
helping out…and I hate that I’ve not even had the chance to share with you about their
charming encounter with the ocean…
But it seems as if the world has tilted just a bit further off her axis and has needed
a tad more of my attention than merely my chattering on as a doting grandmother
who’s droning on about her grandkids…

But first a quick word to the wise…it is not prudent nor is it wise to pick up a run over
and flattened pinecone and proceed to poke it into your mouth and then bite down…just saying.

But now to the matter at hand.

It seems that there has been a lot of talk as of late…here in the blogosphere, FB
(or so I’m told) as well as on various Christian media outlets about more and more
big-name Christians announcing their seemingly sudden withdrawal from the fold
so to speak.

As in there appears to be a slight uptick in the number of those recanting their faith
all in very public places and on very public platforms.

Odd to want to grandstand over losing one’s faith.
Opting to be vocal and in the spotlight rather than introspective, sad and
living the loss.

Or as IB so aptly noted the other day, in the words of the famous band out of
Athens, GA—REM—grandstanding over ‘Losing My Religion’…

And to be honest…not being one who runs in the evangelical or other
protestant denomination’s circles or one who keeps up with the current mega-church craze,
I can’t say that I’m familiar with many of these recently fallen sheep.

But as I’ve been reading…there is indeed a long, sad, public and very vocal fall
taking place.

I have, however, on the other hand, been a bit more focused on the sexual abuse scandal
rocking the Catholic Chruch as well as the naming of a few notable and now long deceased
Anglican priests whose names have been sullied by the same accusations.

And so as I look out over the horizon of our collective Christian faith—
our denominations far and wide, I can see Satan being very busy as work.

I’ve written about this so many times before that I think I must just be beating my head
against a brick wall but there is a divide and conquer mentality being applied to the
Christian fold and it is being applied fast and furious…
And the thing is… nobody seems to “get it”

I’ve also written that this is indeed a mad world—a mad mad world on so many levels.
Mad as in crazy nuts and mad as in viscerally angry.
We have troubles my friends and I do indeed fret for my darling grandchildren.

The slick lies that are being tossed about fast and loose as truth
from things such as children’s tv and music, to what defines a family, to
legalized murder in delivery rooms, all the way to the odd notion of fluid genders…
it is enough to make me want to grab up my babies and run and hide.

But we cannot hide.

We cannot ignore it any longer.
We cannot turn a blind eye and pretend this isn’t happening.

We are being spoon fed lies as truth.
Lies as legalized truth.

As a once overly zealous teen, when reading the stories of those early Christian martyrs in
places such as Rome and Judea, I would often imagine having been there and how I would have
hoped to have stood up so bravely as those countless men and women who suffered
grievously under torture, mutilation and even death—
suffered almost readily rather than giving in and recanting their faith.

Because their faith was precious.
It was dear.
It was sacred.

Today it seems to be more passe, victimized and tired.

And so when I read of these modern-day Christians recanting their faith
so flippantly and arrogantly, apologizing to the masses of those seemingly innocent souls
who they feel as if they had helped to lead astray, I am more than saddened, I am sickened.

For they have bought into the culture gods hook, line and sinker…
They are now the poster children of a hedonistic and self-absorbed culture…
selling a bad bag of goods to an innocent fold.

There are thousands around this world of ours who continue to die for the Christian faith.
They worship in secret and in whispered tones.
They live in places such as Russia, China, Africa, Myanmar, Yemen, Iran, Iraq…
They love Jesus and are willing to pay the ultimate price for that love.

Their worship is not easy nor is it easy to come by…
not as it is here in the West.

And yet here in the West, we too indeed suffer as well.
It’s just that we suffer on a quieter level.

Our suffering is on a more insidious level.
Our suffering is often more psychological than physical.

We are shunned, ridiculed, threatened with legal action and told we may not utter
the name of God or Jesus as we once did…
Words spoken, along with the right to speak those words, was simply taken for granted.

And maybe that’s part of the problem.
We’ve taken for granted the Precious and the Sacred.
We trivialized our God and made that which is Great, small.

And now Satan is working overtime.

Time is running out.
He knows this.

So, therefore, be not quiet.
Speak up and speak out.
Because it is a mad world…
in all sorts of places and in all sorts of ways…

crossing the Rubicon toward the black hole of culture

“[death]…the abyss from where no traveler is permitted to return”
George Washington

Men willingly believe what they wish.
Julius Caesar


(image courtesy NASA)

It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of the direction our world seems to be headed.
Not a fan of the current demands made by the culture gods.

And my discontent only grows by the minute.
We are being rapidly sucked into the black hole of a culture gone mad.

Black holes are seemingly endless voids that suck in and gobble up everything and
anything that happens to wander into their paths…a merciless vacuum to nothingness…
a seemingly never-ending emptiness where there is no light, no escape, no hope.

If allowed to stay on this current path of cultural madness, we will be swallowed whole,
never to be heard from again…as in no escape, no hope.

And I’ve been reminded of this perilous race of ours toward the black hole of hopelessness
several times this past week.

I had the opportunity of sitting in on a court hearing this past week–
not as a participant mind you, but more or less as an observing supporter.

It’s a long story but we all know that in most court proceedings,
things are not always as they seem.

It’s an odd dance of the legal tit for tat for truth.

Sitting, listening and observing, I found my mouth falling open when I heard the opposing
side’s lawyer feed off of the latest #metoo movement frenzie.

He was describing to the judge the behavior of a now three and a half-year-long deceased
92-year-old man.
Deceased before we had even heard of #metoo.

And yet this latest example of cultural madness was being surreally applied
to a person who was no longer here to defend his reputation which was currently
being tried in a public forum of culture in a courtroom.

Not really sure how a 92-year-old feeble man on a walker, a man who had Parkinson’s disease
and the energy level of a newborn child could aggressively push himself on a couple
of youthful female caregivers, but this is now sadly the times in which we live.

Yet what I was watching was a gross and obvious desperation grab by a lawyer…
all because our culture has gone off the skids of sanity.
And thus a shark hungry lawyer saw an opportunity to feed off the hypersensitivity
of the times.

All because we have cast ourselves outward toward the merciless vacuum of hopelessness…
and the thing is, no one seems to “get it.”
No one seems to grasp that we are creating our own rapid demise as a civilized society.

And thus the reputation of a deceased man was just one more of the latest casualties
of victimization by the black hole created by a culture out of control.

The next incident came later in the week.
I found myself reading a story that I found being repeated on many blog posts.
They were posts referencing a particular story about a young man who had once been a rising
star and prominent Christian in the public forum of culture.

The story is that this young man, who is now a bit older but still one I consider younger,
had written a book that became very popular within the youthful
Chrisitan circuit…basically a how-to-live sort of proclamation and manual to and for
young Christians.

He later went on to become a popular minister–be that self-proclaimed or
theologically trained, I do not know.

Yet sadly this past week, this same young man announced,
in the very public forum of all things social media,
that he was recanting his faith and his Christianity.

He apologized for hurting anyone who had ever worshiped (my word), at his feet,
read his books, listened to his teachings and his preachings…as well as apologized
to those, he may have offended by his ‘narrow-minded’ faith.

And so it was now high time for him to set the record straight…
He had been wrong about everything and oh, by the way, he was also getting divorced.

He was wrong…

Wrong about Jesus.
Wrong about his faith.
Wrong about his marriage.
And thus he was wrong about the Word of God.

He was wrong about sex, marriage, and all the spin-offs found entrenched in our counter-culture’s
obsession with all things anacronyms—LBGTQ_ _ _ _
(add in all the other letters you care to add)

He was, however, lauded for his “confession.”
He was embraced for his “beautiful” apologies as he
eloquently waxed and waned about the need for a new spiritual quest.
He had crossed over the Rubicon and the culture gods were now embracing him.

My friend Shara ( https://scasefamily.com/2019/07/26/kissing-jesus-goodbye/)
responded that “There’s nothing beautiful about denouncing Christ to the world.
Ever.”

My friend IB (https://insanitybytes2.wordpress.com/2019/07/27/deconstructing-josh-harris/)
wondered aloud, whether or not in the wake of his fall, how many others had fallen simply for
their blind following of a fellow Chrisitan rather than following Christ and Christ alone.

I suddenly had a vision of a sinking Peter in a stormy sea when he had diverted his eyes
from his Lord and turned his vision rather to all that was around him.

And so I noted that here was simply another victim to the black hole that our culture
is busily creating.
A black abyss sucking up all that is right and decent and Holy.

Not being familiar with this particular one-time Christian advocate now lost young man,
I thought the story to be just another sad tale of the victimization of our times.

But isn’t that what all of this current culture is all about?
Victimizing, apologizing, recanting and accusing?!

That’s what we’re supposed to do and what the culture gods command us to do, is it not?
Apologize for everything while we accuse everyone of crimes against the Culture.
For culture is no longer a little c but is now the big C of all importance.

And that my friends is the black hole of hopelessness.
Our brave new world of a politically correct society that has no tolerance
for Judaeo /Christian values, morals let alone the word of God.

And so we have a choice…we can either keep our eyes on Culture or we can keep
our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus.
But the thing is, we cannot do both.

It’s all pretty simple really, but obviously not as easy as it sounds.
In part because the insidious lies of ‘the Culture’ strive to undermind
what we once thought and lived—

All the while we can find ourselves inching ever closer to the
Culture’s black hole…we just need to finish crossing the Rubicon first.

If God had merely saved us from sins, it would be enough.
In fact, it would be the greatest gift imaginable.
Instead, however, he chose to surpass the limits of our imagination when he came down
from heaven” to save us. Not only did he make himself like us — but he made us like himself.

Leila Miller
from Raising Chaste Catholic Men

Back to prayer…

“Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is to expect nothing,
to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me.
It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised.
It is to have a blessed home in the Lord, where I can go in and shut the door,
and kneel to my Father in secret, and am at peace as in a deep sea of calmness,
when all around and above is trouble.”

Andrew Murray


(side chapel in Saint Sulpice / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2018)

Now that it’s Monday, it’s time we get back to work as we figure out
our specific prayer that this little blog family of ours shall need to concentrate on.
Prayers for our ailing world.

We’ve had some great thoughts…such as the latest from
our dear friend Salvageable who offered this suggestion for our collective prayer…

Last night some thoughts came to may as I was lying in bed.
Not to hijack your project,
but just to make a modest suggestion, building on Kathy’s thought of using the
Lord’s Prayer/Our Father/Jesus’ Sample prayer to guide our praying.
On a certain time every Sunday we could all pray that God and his name would be
honored and respected in our lives,
in our nation, and especially in our churches (which are His Church).

On Monday we could all pray that his kingdom would come–
that the missionaries of the Church would faithfully bring his message to all the world,
and that we also would faithfully share his forgiveness with those near us.

On Tuesday, that his will be done by the leaders of our country,
by the leaders of his Church, and by each of us,
and that he would reveal his will to us as much as is good for us to know.

On Wednesday, that we would receive daily bread–and not just our small group,
but the poor and homeless among us, the victims of abuse and neglect and addictions,
the children born or unborn who are not wanted and loved–that they would
be granted what they need to live and to have better lives, whether that be bread,
advocacy, or strength to persevere.

On Thursday, that we be forgiven our sins, both known and unknown to us.
Also that we be channels of forgiveness to others,
even to our enemies with whom we disagree.

On Friday, that we, along with the leaders of our nation and those of his Church,
be led on proper paths pleasing to the Lord and kept safe from temptation.

And on Saturday, that we, our nation, and his Church be protected from every kind of evil.
Just a thought. J.

Now I do love this idea but I worry that some of us (me) could get confused as to what day it is
and what prayer we are to be focusing on for that particular day…

Then Marie offered this thought filled observation:

I have one more observation. We have outlined the basic object of our prayers.
How we ask it differs from one individual to another.
And I am always reminded that there are times when we don’t know what or how to pray
and that’s when the Holy Spirit takes over.
Romans8:26-27 tells us He intercedes for us through wordless groans and that it is
always according to the will of God.
Our hearts are an open book to our Lord.
What a blessing. We must not forget His sovereign will.
Yes, let’s pray as one body asking with all boldness before the throne of grace.
He knows our hearts so if we ask with different words He knows our intentions.
I threw out the 6:00 time only to emphasize that we need the time also.
As said, with all of the time differences here in the US as well as across the pond,
that might be a difficult task.
Would daily be a better option?
I intend to wear something as a reminder that I must not forget this great time of prayer.

I like Marie’s thought about wearing something as a reminder…because once again we (me) might forget
both day and time.

And so one thing I was thinking about—

If we just add it in, say to our already very full prayer plates during our regular
daily “Quiet” prayer time…
it might end up as a bit of a PS…an, ‘oh by the way God’…

I feel very strongly that this should be some sort of “Joan of Arc”, jaw set, sword raised high
sort of prayer…
Meaning a strong and Godly warrior sort of prayer—because things are indeed really that bad.

And yes, as IB reminded us, things have been bad from the get go…from our Fall from
Grace…from the Fall from our God, our Father…

I feel very compelled that the faithful must be focused more than ever
as we continue to stand our Holy ground.

This is because I feel very strongly that what we are currently seeing and witnessing is all
very much a result of Spiritual Warfare—meaning Satan is working fast and furious.
And so what we know when there is a rise in Darkness and a raging Spiritual battle that
is swirling all around us, Satan is feeling the squeeze.
He’s gone into overdrive…because his time of rule on this earth is drawing nigh.

Satan loves a ‘divide and conquer mentality’—separate the troops from one another,
then swoop in for the strike.

So it must be a firm and unified prayer.

And so yesterday as we were driving home from a late breakfast, the words
“The wages of sin is death” just popped into my head…out of nowhere.

So when we got home, I looked up the verse as well as the chapter….
Romans 6:1-23…
and so what was it in that chapter that was speaking to me?

Chapter 6 opens with the words…
“What shall we say then?”
Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?”

The answer, of course, is a resounding NO!
Because we know that in sinning, grace cannot increase…as in it actually decreases.

We are told not to let sin reign in our mortal bodies.
We are told that we are baptized in Christ, we are buried with Him, and…
we have risen with Him–as our old self is now crucified, dead and buried.
A new self has risen…one that has been cleansed and made whole.

We are now, in turn, instruments of righteousness.
Sin is no longer our master…for we are not under the law but under that of Grace.

“What then?” we are asked as the chapter continues.

We have been set free from sin and from our old selves…only to become ‘slaves to righteousness’.

Slaves to righteousness??!!

Odd thinking to most reading such—how is it that one can be set free only to become a slave?

We know that to be a slave means to be under the ownership of, under the authority of–
literally yoked, bound or tethered to something or someone.

So from this, we know that we are no longer to be a part of the sinfulness we once knew
nor are we to be a part of the sinfulness that we are currently witnessing each and every
day in this culture of ous—
because we are now products of Righteousness as well as Grace.

I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations.
Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness,
so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.
20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.
21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?
Those things result in death!
22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God,
the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So I find myself coming back around to the notion of a prayer that stands against Darkness…
A prayer that proclaims Light.
A prayer in which we, the Believers, proclaim our humility—proclaiming our role as the instruments of
God’s Grace, Peace as well as the reflections of His light—
A prayer in which we denounce Satan’s darkness cast over humankind…
standing in our place of Light–as Christian warriors…

Maybe it’s the memory of singing the hymn Onward Christian Soldiers as a child in children’s chapel.
The imagery of what a Christian Soldier would look like in the mind of a 7-year-old girl.

That having been a Joan of Arc or a Martin of Tours.

Defiant and focused soldiers.

Brave and unwavering in the face of Evil.

However that image today, in my more developed and “healed” mind and heart,
is a much different image…

It is the image of a Maximilian Kolbe—

The Catholic priest who died in Auschwitz in the place of a fellow prisoner who was not
a Christian but rather a Jew.

It is a seemingly meek and emaciated prisoner in Auschwitz who is now the image that comes to
my mind when I think of Christian Warriors…

Quiet, humble, focused, compassionate, sustained by a love of God and determined to live out The Fatih
unto death…

https://history.info/on-this-day/1941-nazis-execute-maximilian-kolbe-via-lethal-injection/

And so now we need to think of a time…

The Truth versus that of silence…speak on

“Whenever anything disagreeable or displeasing happens to you,
remember Christ crucified and be silent.”

St. John of the Cross


(the week’s gathering / Rosemary Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2018)

“Yet such are the pity and compassion of this Lord of ours,
so desirous is He that we should seek Him and enjoy His company,
that in one way or another He never ceases calling us to Him…
God here speaks to souls through words uttered by pious people,
by sermons or good books, and in many other such ways.

Sometimes He calls souls by means of sickness or troubles,
or by some truth He teaches them during prayer,
for tepid as they may be in seeking Him,
yet God holds them very dear.”

St. Teresa of Avila, p.26
An Excerpt From
Interior Castle

Ok, I admit that I’ve been a bit remiss in my reading here in blogland as of late.
As I’ve been here, there and yon for quite some time—
really, if the truth be told, I’ve been running willy nilly since February
when the ‘wee one’ was born.

And I will be out of pocket once again starting today, on and off throughout the week
and weekend as I scoot back and forth babysitting.

Yet sadly, all good things must come to an end as next week a new routine is to
be established.

With our son’s position and hours soon to change and our daughter-n-law beginning
a new school year teaching in a new school, the ‘wee one’ will be going to a lady
who keeps about 8 kids in her home—two of whom are the ‘wee one’s’ cousins.

So it will be an all in the family sort of home care situation that is the best and
more viable solution.

The other option…

my husband and I sell our house and move…
Not exactly practical but don’t think for a minute that I’ve not entertained the idea.

But I digress…

So back to the issue at hand…
I’ve been noticing a rather alarming and running theme amongst many Christian bloggers.

Frustration.

For there is a growing and rising tide offered by non-believers, nay-sayers and
even from within the ‘family fold’ to silence those who continue to hold true to
the Word of God.

Not some watered down Word.
Not some rewritten Word.
Not some progressive liberalism mishmash of The Word…
Not some uber feminist militant anti-male bashing blatant denial of The Word.

But rather an adherence to the authentic Word…
as in Words that are a couple of thousands of years old, Holy in inspiration, and stated
as is for all of eternity…

As in God said it and therefore, it is.

Be it an Aramaic text, Greek text, Jewish or Latin text…His authority does not change.

I AM remains I AM.

His Words, His tenents, His commands have not changed nor evolved with the times.
We are the ones who are evolving with the times and those various cultural norms and sins…
sins that we continue to claim as new truths…

And no, I’m not talking about the argument of evolution of monkey to man or
anything to do with Darwin…
I’m simply talking about us not being a consistent lot.

We are fickled and we like to have our cake and eat it too while eating everyone else’s as well
or telling others how and what to eat and when they shall eat it.

Now my dear friends, Bishop Gavin Ashenden and Pastor David Roberston, have each been quite
busy as of late posting various observations and articles…as have most of my
dear blogging family…all while I’ve been torn for time.

And one thing I’ve noticed while playing catch-up in my reading of blog posts is the
same theme…that being the theme of frustration—

And I should know….as I’ve had my own share of frustration from those who come
around pretending to want to engage in dialogue when their main objective is to belittle,
malign and obliterate as they are frothing and rabid with atheistic zeal.
So much so that they cannot nor will not rest until they feel as if they can silence
a Believer’s words.

Slaughter the lambs as it were.

There are many in the fold of the Faithful who have also come across these rabid foxes and
wolves…each on a daily basis…

Our dear Oneta over on Sweet Aroma became “embroiled” in my absence with a younger
whippersnapper on FB, who was bashing the social media of her day…
that being handwritten letters and autograph books.

Not one to be on FB, I don’t know the 1, 2, 3 of her tale but I have gleaned that
somehow the conversation turned,
or perhaps it was an entirely different conversation with an altogether different
commenter, but the gist was that Oneta challenged someone for stating that John McCain
was a traitor…she wanted documentation to back up that statement but
somehow it came across that Oneta was echoing that notion of McCain as traitor…
but the thing is, Oneta never said such.
She merely stated some negative observation against the dear senator while also wanting to
see documentation as to his acts of treason.
(see, I have no idea of how it went from social media to traitors)

Oneta responded that she had not labeled Sen. McCain a traitor but rather her
negative observations regarding the good senator could stand as negative without
her words being twisted around that she was now calling the senator a traitor.

I admire McCain as much as the next person for his service to our country and for being
an American war hero, but his time representing the Republican party in a strong positive
light is rapidly spiraling outward and downward as are all of his kith and kin of the
old guard on both sides of the aisle.
And last I checked, we are each entitled to our thoughts on the legendary senator along
with his colleagues…

Oneta is a positive and well-learned person who engages with a wide and diverse audience.
She is a woman of deep faith and conviction.
And one whom I greatly admire for her life lessons, knowledge and the teaching of that very wealth
of knowledge.

I don’t think Oneta would mind my sharing her observation.

“Just called it off with my FB “foe.”
It was fun.
You know I would enjoy that.
The issue was that someone posted that John McCain was a traitor.
I challenged by asking for documentation.
I couldn’t seem to get through to my responder that I was not calling McCain a traitor.
But I did have plenty of negative charges to pass on.
He said he was 56 and a history buff who had read three books about McCain.
I told him I was 84 and I didn’t need history. I lived it.
I would say we parted as almost friends.:D
Have a good rest, dear friend.”

Oneta is 84 and is not new to this world’s rodeo—she’s ridden her fair share of bronking
bucks and has lived to tell about it.

So to be silenced when it comes to God’s Truth and tenants or to be silenced when challenging
the observations of those who turn personal notions into sweeping accusations…
accusations which ring of falsehood…accusations without any sound basis…
well none of that is going to be happening around our tenacious little octagenarian who expects
nothing but the sound Truth…because there is no need to quibble over Truth.

And of course, we next have IB.

Insanity Bytes is a woman around my age who resides in what she likes to claim to be
the 9th circuit of hell…
or so I think it to be the 9th circuit as most of our current ‘circuits” are none too friendly
to certain political leanings nor to that of certain faith leanings these days…
so it’s not surprising that I can easily get my circuits confused.

IB actually seems to stay embroiled whether I’m around to
read about it or not…and she lives not only to tell about it but to actually
laugh about it all…like it or not she finds the last word and her last word is
build on that notion of Truth.

IB mixes it up with those who are unbelievers as well as many who actually confess
to be believers…it’s just that their beliefs are more of that rewritten Word business.

IB knows her stuff and isn’t afraid to say her peace…
a peace I might add that is steeped in that same unrelenting ancient Word of Truth that I was
talking about earlier.

And as for our friend the Wee Flea, Pastor David Roberston, notes in a recent posting on his blog
“Keep silent or speak out?” that…
“As an undershepherd of the Great Shepherd,
it is my job to counter such error and to protect the flock of God.”

Keep Silent….or Speak Out?k

David has been taking a really rough beating by the Scottish press as well as from
those progressive liberals and atheists who troll his blogs, his speaking engagements,
his magazine columns, etc.

And yet he does not waiver…never wavering from the Truth no matter how hard the beating.

Yet David has expressed his frustration and exasperation with what he sees playing out
against the Chruch from both within and without her sacred halls.

Of which brings us next to our good friend and rouge Anglican bishop, Gavin Ashenden—
a non-wavering soul who has also been lambasted for his firmly rooted stance within
the Word of God…a stance constantly hounded by the British liberal press.
Bishop Ashenden challenges the powers that be within the Anglican Chruch over their growing
acceptance of all things transgenderism as well as all things of homosexuality and the ever
growing liberal theology…The Chruch of England’s continuing push for the total acceptance
and teachings of all things that run counter to God’s Word.

In a recent offering on the latest edition of Anglican Unscripted, with the sad reporting of
a horrendous incident committed by a once beloved bishop along with the apparent cover-up from
a former Archbishop of Canterbury, the good bishop notes that “there must be a moral independence
of the Chruch such that She is to say to the State (the government at hand) that “you’re getting
it all wrong”—
yet sadly we are reminded that the Chruch of England and the State of the British Government
just happen to walk hand in hand without separation…so rather than holding each other accountable,
there is actually a deeply obvious collusion.

As I paraphrase the good bishop, he goes on to say, ‘if we set ourselves up as saints then
all is lost. But if we admit to being sinful creatures, the Lord can and will pick us up…
and it is in that picking up where Hope actually begins…

There is forgiveness but that forgiveness is predicated upon our asking for it and then admiting that
we must now live with the consequences of our actions…yet we will live with the knowledge of
redemption.

Naked disaster in the Church of England. Anglican Unscripted. IICSA, Carey & Ball.

And so I’ve found a rather interesting book that I’ve just ordered…
“The Cost of Our Silence: Consequences of Christians Taking the Path of Least Resistance”
by David Fiorazo.

This one excerpt grabbed me:
Christian in name only, America has become an epicenter for the culture war as too many of us
keep ducking the issue of sin.
Due to decades of Christians being silent,
failing to preach the gospel and speak the truth in love,
we’ve reached a tipping point in which political correctness refuses
to coexist with religious freedom.
Why do you think Christians who defend God’s Word are often called hateful,
intolerant, or judgmental?
There are consequences in this life and for eternity,
when Christians take the path of least resistance.
We cannot reverse the moral decline, but we can choose to stand for righteousness
as we pray for revival and be the salt and light Jesus called us to be while we’re still here.

Hide the light of Christ and retreat,
or let it shine and expose the darkness; live an inconsequential life,
or bear fruit that will last. If most Christians remain silent,
fewer people will be saved, society will collapse,
and we will continue to be part of the problem.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it best:
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil.
God will not hold us guiltless…”

And so we are slowly learning the cost behind remaining silent in a
world that is so opposed to the Truth…
the cost is much greater than most of us are willing to imagine.
Yet thankfully there are those voices who continue speaking…refusing to be silenced.

And we are all the better for it.

Speak on…

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.
He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears,
and he will tell you what is yet to come.

John 16:13

An Isolationist’s tale

Where can I go from Thy Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Thy Presence?
If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, thou art there.
If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Thy hand will lead me,
And Thy right hand will lay hold of me.
And the light around me will be night,”
Even the darkness is not dark to Thee,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to Thee.
For Thou didst form my inward parts;
Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to Thee, for I am
Fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works,
And my soul knows it very well.
Psalm 139: 7-14

I must confess to you that I am actually quite the homebody (aka- Isolationist). I know what you’re thinking…how can that be when all I seem to write about is traveling here, there and yon. But that’s the irony in my life, I love traveling, seeing the big, as well as the small cities— and yet I am a homebody, relishing in the quiet of often being home alone. Sometimes these dichotomies clash creating internal near panic attacks.

I like traveling with my immediate family. If something were to, God forbid, happen, say like the plane blowing up and fall from the sky (did I fail mentioning that I am also a bit of a fatalist?), we’d all be together, it would be okay. But say I’m off on some adventure alone, my mind begins playing all sorts of devilish tricks on me, often times almost ruining potential blessings and the adventure itself.

I’ve always called my dad “Eeyore”, the little blue donkey from Winnie the Pooh. In that oh so monotone deadpan of voices, Eeyore always laments, “oh no, we’ll never make it” –“end of the road, nothing to do, no hope of it getting better….” That is my dad to a tee—so maybe this doomsday worry has been ingrained since my childhood.

Now this is not to say I am a negative person—not on the outside anyway. Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you that my glass is always half full. I try to be everybody’s cheerleader—miss polyanna positive—and I believe it all, that is– for them. When it comes to me on the other hand, the plane is going to fall out of the sky, the chain saw murderer is going to find me, my tires are the ones that will explode….the litany of woe goes on and on. No way to live, I agree with you there. How can a devout Christian feel this way you ask? —Satan always knows how to find weak spots, the underbelly, and goes for it/them every time—I’m no exception.

So a couple of summers ago I was having to fly out to New Mexico for a week of IB training for school. By myself. I prefer safety in numbers…at least one other person/ teacher I know …I don’t even have to like them. I am an independent person, on so many levels, but not all levels unfortunately—I wish I was, but alas. I’m not one to go to a restaurant alone. I do go shopping to the mall, the grocery store, etc… all the time by myself. It usually helps if I have a mission or a purpose. But to just up and go to a restaurant or even some sort of function by myself—what would I do? What would I look at? Who would I talk to?
See? Not good.

People who know me always find this hard to believe —that I am actually quite shy. Maybe that’s why I’ve always expressed myself better in writing than in face-to-face conversation. Some people see my quietness, in new situations, as my being a bit standoffish, snobbish, and maybe even arrogant. Trust me, it’s anything but…. I’m usually just silently dying on the inside.

I get all nervous. I don’t know what to say. I stumble and fumble over my words. What I do say makes me often feel as if I’m coming across as a bit of an idiot. Again, bosses and colleagues who know me would disagree, (but not those truly close dear friends, they know the truth and they still love me) but I’ve become a master of faking it—and it helps getting older as it seems to get easier. I can get up in front of a classroom of kids any day but put me up in a room full of adults and I die a slow internal death. C’est la vie.

So when it came time for me to fly solo out west, I was none too happy. I’d have to sit alone in the Albuquerque airport for 3 hours until the shuttle buses came along taking all the IB teachers, who were slowly gathering form all parts of the world, for the hour and a half haul to the small town in which we were heading for the training. Did I mention this was mid July, New Mexico, a college dorm, for a week, with no air conditioning? “Could it get any better” I Eeyored to myself.

Upon arrival at the airport, I went to fetch my luggage. There was a desk where the IB teachers could stash their luggage while waiting on the shuttle bus. I grabbed something to eat, alone. When it came time to make our way to the bus, a cute, little teacher from Arkansas spotted me. The southern accent was welcomed. She made a beeline in my direction. Introduced herself as an English teacher (I can spot and English teacher a mile away) — she thought I, too, was an English teacher. Her enthusiasm seemed to wane a bit when I told her I was an Art teacher. Plus I wasn’t nearly as bubbly or effervescent as she was…

Every principal I have ever worked for, and there have been 9, thought I was a dead ringer for an English teacher—not an Art teacher. One of these many principals told me as much. When he noticed the question in my stare, he explained that I didn’t dress like an art teacher, I actually had undergarments. Now I was really staring and wasn’t certain as to what I was to say in response. I suppose it is good thing that it must be apparent that I believe in undergarments. All I can think is that perhaps he once had an art teacher who worked for him who was a throw back to Woodstock and was an aging hippie. Aging hippies still trying the sport “the look,” not a pretty site—too much moves south and needs extra support!

I struck up a conversation with this Razorback English teacher and her fellow English teacher friend from Arkansas (how nice that she had a cohort). I sat with the friend on the bus for the long haul up into the mountains of New Mexico. The Razorback teacher sat with a French fellow from Canada who spoke very little English but who taught English. Interesting.

I was very nervous about the rooming situation. My school is great making certain their traveling teachers have nice facilities in which to stay and private rooms if at all possible. My fear however was that even though we requested a private room, this is a “college,” a dorm room…. oh dear Lord. Wonder if I get some strange roommate? Wonder if I do what I say I do not do, but my husband says I do do—perhaps a light snore…dear me.

As the 3 busloads of teachers made the way in for check-in, I was fortunate and did have a room by myself. However, it was in the lower campus dorms. Not up in the pretty old gothic type main building where these Razorback teachers were privileged to stay. The lower dorms were 187 steps down, down massive stone steps, seemingly miles away from the main building and the dinning hall. It was time this Georgia flatlander got into shape, as I would have to climb up and down these stairs no less than 3 to 4 times daily! The only saving grace was that my “classroom” for training, the Art room, was down in the “gully” along with my room.

As I do not look like the typical art teacher, my demeanor is also not that of a typical art teacher. I was to spend a week with some pretty intense hard-core art teachers from all over the world. Art for Art’s sake folks. Where as I do love art, the teaching of art, the making of art, etc, I tend to be a bit more academic in my approach and not so “artsy” or freethinking and freewheeling. I am more controlled.

I suppose this is apparent upon first meeting me. I am serious no frills. Not cutesy. More meticulous and focused—not flighty or scattered. But I suppose I look more like a suburban housewife— which I am, who also happens to be a life long educator. Oh the dichotomies! My “look” does not ingratiate me on artsy folks as I come across too conservative in a not so conservative field. That’s okay. I can hang with the best of them.

I don’t remember exactly how I met them. I don’t remember if it was down in the “south 40” dorms or when I made my way to supper. But meet them I did. And I am today, the better for it. More about “them” in a minute.

On the first morning, I was up at 5. It was hot as hell in the little dorm room—nary a breeze to be had. This was the summer of the massive wildfires in New Mexico so depending on when and if the wind blew, there was foreboding in the air. Before departing for the trip I had hoped for a cancellation due to the fires but God is always a step (usually thousands of steps) ahead of my Eeyore self—thank goodness!!

I had not slept and felt nervous and depressed. At breakfast I heard that there were bats up in the tower of the old building where the Razorback teachers were staying. I felt slight vindication for my gully dorm. But later in the week we were warned to be careful as mountain lions were coming down out of the hills due to the fires and we would need to be careful at night walking down to our lower dorms. Grrreat.

During the first morning in the Art room, we sat in a large circle. We went around the room introducing ourselves. Usually in a situation like this, when you’re thrown in with about 25 strangers, you can usually spot one or two like-minded souls. Not so here. At one point I was telling one of the other art teachers about a program we had started back home for our “at risk” kids, the socially disadvantaged student—a backpack program to provide food for these kids over the weekends.

One rather combative teacher overhead my conversation and, suddenly, I hear from across the room “how, come it’s got to be the socially disadvantaged? I take offense at that!” “Are you kidding me?” I’m thinking. Here I was attempting to make small talk about a positive program our school had going on and someone across the room “attacks” me over the wording. I explain those were not my words but rather the wording my school chooses and there was certainly no denying these kids were impoverished—as a good soldier, I always make certain I follow procedure from my school, and here was to be no exception.

Things were now suddenly a bit tense and became awkward for those milling about. Great. I’ve just gotten off to a great start. I’m obviously not artsy like all of them and now they think I’m some sort of idiot. As Divine kindness intervened, later that day, one of the other art teachers from her school came over to me and told me to disregard this woman (no names as to protect all those innocents out there ☺), as she often came across like that. What a fun week this was going to be. I didn’t fit in with these art teachers and now one was wanting to spill my blood and I could be eaten by a mountain lion. Great. Plus it was hot as hell.

But back to “them.” I met two really wonderful women. They too were “living” down in the gully dorms. One was a younger teacher, in her early 30 from Ohio. She was an English teacher. The other one was 60ish, a French teacher at the American Boarding School south of London—England of all places. Like I say I don’t remember the exact moment we met, but it was a blessing—an immediate blessing, but one that was to be long term as well.

The three of us would meet up after classes for lunch and dinner and would all walk up together for breakfast. Which depending on the type of shape one was in could be relatively quick and painless or long, halting and laborious. The girl from Ohio was actually in the room next to mine. The three of us also signed up for the side trips the school had arranged. We spent an afternoon traveling to Taos and another visiting an Alpaca farm—which I loved as I’ve always thought I wanted to raise an alpaca or two.

The school provided social activities in the evenings. Some times it was a causal wine and beer “social” (for teachers!!, can you imagine?!), other times it was a cookout. There were naturally occurring hot springs located on the campus frequented by students, trainees, and some rather rough locals. One evening, about 6 of us from the Isolationist dorm (that’s what we came to call the gully dorm since we all sought to room alone), donned bathing suits along with towels and took off for an evening “soak”. To see a bunch of varying aged educators, in bathing suits (not always a pretty site) and wrapped up like Romans in togas, traipsing along the side of a road in the middle of nowhere New Mexico, in hot pursuit of hot springs in the middle of a hot July, was a sight to behold.

My friend teaching in England is actually German. She is married to a man from Finland. Their children were born in France while she was living there studying for her degree. One teacher asked her what language does she dream in and she replied with a smile, “it depends on the dream”. I came to love this woman.

She was an old hat at IB as she’d been teaching it for years. She is her school’s CAS director as well. That’s the teacher who oversees the required creativity and service component to IB. Her school works with an organization in Romania and Rwanda, which is working to end the myriad of orphanages in these countries by networking, and slowly, child by child, getting these kids adopted.

During the course of the week, the three of us leaned a great deal about one another. The three of us had all lost our moms when we were much younger. We had families that were at different places from one another’s and we shared the ups and downs of school.
And we also enjoyed “tea” time—or perhaps it’s the mere ritual and time-honored tradition teatime evokes. A moment of civility in a most non-civil of times.

I’ve been enjoying teatime since I was in high school. It’s just that I finally timed it correctly when I eventually got out in the real world working. Everyday I’d come home from school; I’d immediately put the kettle on. I prefer mint tea or green tea—caffeine likes to keep me up at night. I take mine with honey and milk. The small window I afforded myself to enjoy my cup of tea was precious, as it was about the only thing I ever did for myself…affording myself one small luxury in my hectic day. It provided me with some serious “detoxing” time from school and provided a nice transition to coming home, shifting gears, beginning supper, being mom and eventually wife. A sanity saver to be sure,

My German friend from England, it turned out, had a travel kettle. She took this thing with her everywhere. I knew at this moment, this woman was special!! She told us that when she and her husband were first married and had children, money was always tight. Many a trip the kettle provided a quick cheap meal of hotdogs. I never thought of a teakettle as a hotdog cooker—ingenious! Great for pasta as well she added. What a hoot!

This trip was to be no different. She pulled out that little travel kettle from her suitcase and instead of having happy hour each afternoon at 5, we’d all gather in her room around 4, or whenever we got out of our afternoon sessions, for tea. We smuggled tea packets out from the dinning hall, along with milk, honey and a few cookies. Watching a bunch of 30 to 60 year old woman sitting around a hot college dorm, with their smuggled contraband, enjoying a sophisticated afternoon of hot tea was a quite a sight.
It is in such moments that real conversations are had and real friendships are formed.

The school had enlisted the service of some of their boarding students as summer staff. These are IB kids from all over the world– Africa, Gaza, Israel, India, Iran, etc. One of the boys from Africa, who was our “hall monitor” (it’s funny, a 17 year old boy from Africa is hall monitor to a bunch of old women from all over the world), told the tea ladies his story.

He had come from a very poor family and was raised by a grandmother. He was a street-wise kid spending his time hustling on the streets for money— but he had shown great academic promise. He won an opportunity of coming to the United States to this particular IB school. He wanted to be able to go back to his home, creating a non-profit operation that would work with the street kids helping turn them around. My German friend from England thought that we should take up donations and give our “hall monitor” a small start for his dream. And so we did.

For a week that I was dreading, I departed a better person with some new-found friends. My plane was scheduled for an earlier flight than what the school’s shuttles were scheduled to run. I had to catch a ride with another teacher who had rented a car who also had an early flight back the Pittsburg.

Four of us relative strangers took off for the 2-hour ride back to Albuquerque. I had told my Isolationist cohorts good-bye that morning at breakfast. We were to take off for all different parts of the globe, but we were taking a bit of each other along on our various journeys. There were new ideas, new approaches to old problems and new contacts. I was sad saying good-bye.

I got to the airport only to find my flight delayed almost 2 hours. Are you kidding me!? I could have waited on the shuttle bus! I made my way over to a seat to proceed to wait when I suddenly spy a flight to Atlanta leaving within 10 minutes. I make my way up to the desk to inquire if there are any seats on this particular flight still available. I explain to the Delta rep that I’m a teacher and have been at training for the past week. Turns out this Delta rep was a former principal and wants to always help a teacher. She put me in first class. Oooo, really?

“But my luggage, my luggage, I’ve already checked it.” “Oh don’t worry, I’ll get it flagged and it will make the flight.” I was skeptical. I don’t have good luck with luggage. The year before, my aunt and I were coming back from Rome, both of our bags went on the carousel in Rome together– my aunt’s luggage arrived in Atlanta– my luggage went to New York. I wasn’t too certain now that my luggage would met me in Atlanta—but I was excited, first class—Ooooo!

The airport is now packed; they call my flight and ask all first class passengers to board. “Excuse me, please, I need to get through”—such a nice opportunity this is…. all the while my luggage looms in the back of my mind. I don’t “do” carry ons as I tend to over pack. But this is first class and I have a window seat, and a free drink—Ooooo!

I arrived home in Atlanta 2 hours early. I make my way over to the luggage carrousel. Round and round the luggage goes, where is Julie’s, no body knows. Are you kidding me??? I take the shuttle to get my car and finally head home, luggageless. The lady at the window where I was to pay for my car felt sorry for me when she asked about my trip and why I didn’t have any luggage—she gave me a discount. Delta promises they’ll deliver the bag to my house the next day…I’m getting use to that with Delta.

Fast forward to Christmas.

I sent my German friend in England some local honey, organic teas and other goodies as a Christmas gift so she may recall our New Mexico tea times. I too receive a package. It’s a travel teakettle! I too can now have either a civil cup of tea or a hotdog whenever and wherever I want one—Oooooo!

Fast forward to the Great Retirement Adventure—

When my German friend in England learned that I was going to be on her side of the “pond,” mid Fall, she made plans for a quick escape from her world in order to fly out to meet us for a weekend in Prague. That is true friendship. I don’t know when we’ll see one another again—there is hope for maybe this summer sometime. I hope so—either way, I still have a dear German friend, who is married to a Finn, teaching French in England, to kids at an American Boarding School who does charity work in Romania and Rwanda. And dares to dream Big! Such a big world just got a little bit smaller,

And the moral of this little rambling tale, besides being the fact that I am probably more like little Piglet, the fretful little pink one, rather than Eeyore the negative blue one, is that no matter my fears, worries, my self-deprecating ways, I am fortunate and blessed that my loving Father, has known me when…

“My frame was not hidden from Thee, when I was made in secret and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth. Thine eyse have seen my unformed substance; And in Thy book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them. How precious also are Thy thoughts of me O God! How vast is the sum of them! Psalm 139

This Omnipotent Creator, this blessed Father, looks upon me, lowly little ol’ piglet me, and loved and loves me, even before I came into being me. It is so very hard grasping the depth of such Love. He always knows best, He will always know best, unto the end of my time and of the time of Existence— Maybe one day I will learn, trusting Him with not only the big issues of my life, but with the small fears, frets, troubles, worries and the occasional lost luggage. Praise be to God! Amen!!