Cancer sucks…and the resilience of one dedicated fan

You beat cancer by how you live,
why you live and in the manner in which you live.

Stuart Scott

Every now and then you hear a story that reaches deep down and touches
something in your soul.
It reminds you of what is truly important.
It reminds you that life is fleeting and very fragile.
It reminds you about resilience.
It reminds you that what is happening in our country, in our culture…
those things that we are doing and saying to and about one another are things that
truly don’t matter.

This is a story about a college, Perdue University to be exact, and about one of its students…
or maybe it’s a story about all of its students…

Perdue is a University in West Lafayette, Indiana.
The student body and the athletes are known as the Boilermakers.

In 1889, Purdue played Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana,
and won the game 18-4. Students from the college and citizens of Crawfordsville began
calling the Purdue players “a great big burly gang of corn-huskers”, “grangers”,
“pumpkin-shuckers”, “railsplitters”, “blacksmiths,” “cornfield sailors”, and “foundry hands”.
The Purdue students experienced hands-on education at the university, including the maintenance
of a fully operational steam locomotive.

Purdue defeated Wabash College again in 1891, 44–0.
An account of the game in the Crawfordsville Daily Argus News of October 26, 1891 was headlined,
“Slaughter of Innocents: Wabash Snowed Completely Under by the Burly Boiler Makers from Purdue”.
Purdue became known as the boilermakers the next year.
(Wikipedia)

We all have our sports teams that we love—teams that we follow with unabandon and yes,
teams we truly even adore.

We follow.
We cheer.
We scream.
We cry.
We support.
We become one on gameday.
We are the 12th man…we are the fans.

Some of us are bigger fans than others…for all sorts of reasons.
And sometimes being a fan spurs us on to will ourselves to literally live another day.

Or so it seems…

His name is Tyler Trent and as of this past week, he was a sophomore at the Perdue University.
Tyler is all of 20 years old.

Tyler had to withdraw from classes earlier this term because Tyler has terminal cancer.

Tyler has become an inspiration to his fellow Boilermakers because he epitomizes the
concept of what it means to be not only a super fan but Tyler epitomize what it is
to be a fighter.

The chant “Cancer sucks” has become the rallying cry of the student body this year…
the chant before each kickoff is no longer the traditional IU (their arch rival) sucks,
but rather the rallying cry is Cancer Sucks
because it does.

Tyler is under hospice care.
Yet he wanted desperately to attend the big Ohio St Game Saturday evening…
but things throughout the week weren’t looking good.
Tyler was really really sick.
His body failing.
His doctors said there was no way that he’d make the game…
no one was certain Tyler would be alive for the game.

Perdue has an almost spilt win/loss season thus far this season
Perdue’s match with Ohio State was not to be in Perdue’s favor.
Perdue was not supposed to be any sort of match for the number 2 ranked Ohio State.
It was to be a pushover game for the Buckeyes as their sites are resting on dethroning
the number 1 Alabama Crimson Tide.
Perdue was just another team on the path to the dethroning of a more worthy opponent…
Heck, Perdue isn’t even ranked, no big deal right?!!

But…

Miracles of all sorts do happen…

Here is a link to the story from the Indystar regarding the big win and
how Tyler got to the big game.

https://www.indystar.com/story/sports/columnists/gregg-doyel/2018/10/20/doyel-tyler-trent-inspires-purdue-football-upset-ohio-state/1700078002/

Our prayers are with all of those who, like Tyler, are suffering due to illness and disease…
(as well as for Natalie who is close to my heart here in cookieland
as well as for my college roommate Carol)

Holy Spirit, drive away from me all forms of sickness and disease.
restore strength to my body and joy to my spirit,
so that in my renewed health,
I may bless and serve you,
now and forevermore.

Author Unknown

purpose

“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive,
but in finding something to live for.”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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( a jar of Pickles from Pickles with a Purpose)

I suppose a jar of pickles and Christmas seem to have nothing much in common…
But as you may know, those of us predisposed to all things Southern, love a good pickle.
As we love the sheer notion of pickling.

We pickle everything from cucumbers to okra to quail eggs, to pigs feet.
And mind you whereas I prefer all things of the cucumber variety, I have been known to
venture out on a limb by trying a pickled green bean as well as an okra,
I simply draw the line however with the eggs and pig’s feet.

I live in a small Georgia town, a growing town, but considered small
none-the-less by the larger city dwellers…
And I should know having grown up in the big city…
we are indeed small, despite having a super Kroger and a Super Wal-Mart.

I don’t like super…super is too big, too generic, too impersonal.

I do like my small town as opposed to the big city.

Whereas the big city has more to offer such as great places to eat,
unique places to shop, and abundant things to do….
the small town is more homey.
And I like the feel of homey.

I was at the pharmacist’s the other day getting a prescription filled.
I like my pharmacy.
It is owned and operated by a local gal whose husband I once worked with at the high school.
I remember when they got married.
They now have boys in junior high.
Time flies in small towns.

Her dad works the counter, while she works at filling the bottles.
It’s nice as in it’s homey, as they know me by name.
They know my husband and they know my son and daughter-n-law.
They order things I need.

So the other day as I was waiting for my perscribtion to be filled, I wandered about
looking at the items she has in for Christmas.

Sitting amongst the ornaments and specialty soaps sat a jar of pickles.
Curious I picked up the jar.
The label simply read Pickles with a Purpose.
The side label gave a listing of ingredients and the fact that they came
from Marietta, Georgia…once a small town of its own,
but Marietta is now a part of the mega growing Cobb County, the
soon to be new home of the Atlanta Braves.
How an Atlanta baseball team can still be known as just that, Atlanta’s baseball team,
when moving out from Atlanta to a neighboring county still has me confused…
but that is not my worry, not today.

There was also a website listed on the back label of the pickles.
A website where one could learn more about the story behind the pickles.

I did however notice a small card propped up by the pickle jars…
so I pulled it out hoping to read a little further into the story.

It seems the idea of the pickles came from a 9 year old boy named Luke
from Marietta, Georgia who felt God wants him to help raise money for an older man
he knows who happens to be homeless.

The young man’s grandmother graciously offered her secret pickle recipe as a means
of having a product to sell in hopes of raising enough money to buy Luke’s
homeless friend a home.
The homeless friend, named Tim, is a middle aged black man whom Luke
had met while helping his mom at a business she manages…

At that point, with tears in my eye and my prescription being ready,
I grabbed up 4 jars… all I could carry, as made my way to the counter to pay.
I was told that the pickles were really great so I went back and grabbed the last jar.

It wasn’t the fact that the pickles were supposedly really good…
It wasn’t because I like pickles…
but rather it was the story behind the pickles that actually inspired me…
as I normally wouldn’t buy jars of pickles to give as Christmas gifts.

Later at home I got on the computer and looked up Pickles with a Purpose and found the
following You Tube video of the young man Luke sharing his plan of raising the money
to buy his friend Tim a home…

I hope Luke’s story will inspire as well bless you as much as it blessed me…
As Luke’s pickle story is really just another reminder of what Christmas is really all about…

I’ll be going back to pick up some more jars of pickles…
Small towns are nice that way….

But we have flowers…

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

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

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

Good for the goose

“A wild goose never reared a tame gosling.”
Irish Proverb quotes

The early Celtic Christians called the Holy Spirit ‘the wild goose.’ And the reason why is they knew that you cannot tame him.
John Eldredge

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(a goose in search of his breakfast Harvey’s Point Lodge, Louge Eske , County Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook)

An Geadh-Glas, otherwise known to English speakers as the wild goose, is most likely the furtherest thought in one’s mind when thinking about Christianity, Christian symbolism or especially when pondering the most mysterious component of the Triune Godhead, the Holy Spirit.

Yet the early Celtic Church, that amazing amalgamation of deeply mystical Christianity and equally mystical yet enigmatic Celtic culture, saw not a docile gentle cooing dove as the supreme representative of God’s Spirit but rather the often loud, raucous, stubborn and determined goose as a more true emblematic example of God’s most untamed and fiercely determined nature–a nature much like their own.

The Celts were a fierce warrior nation comprised of the bloodlines of Vikings, Danes, Druids, Picts and members of the northern regions of ancient Albion (northern Great Britain)
The Roman Empire never occupied Ireland, nor did the Anglo Saxons who later filled the void in the Birtish Isles following the fall of Rome.

These very supertisious people were fiercely independent, steeped in their haunting pagan rituals and customs–much of which remain as a continuing mystery to modern historians and archeologists.

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(Drombeg stone circle, known as the Druid’s altar, County Cork, Ireland /Julie Cook / 2015)

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(Drombeg stone circle, known as the Druid’s altar, County Cork, Ireland /Julie Cook / 2015)

It was in this land of lush misty covered greens, haunting shifting shadows and talk of the wee folk…where land, sea and sky join as one, that both C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolken roamed, finding abundant inspiration for each of their most famous literary works.

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(Killarney National Park within the Ring of Kerry / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(Killarney National Park within the Ring of Kerry / Julie Cook / 2015)

“Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit, translated simply as St Patrick, is probably the best known and most famous Irishman who in actuality was Scottish by birth. Patrick had been spirited away to Ireland as a young child by marauding pirates yet eventually became the revered patron saint of the entire Irish nation. It is Patrick who is credited for not only having introduced Christianity to the Emerald Isle, but for being the “designer” behind what we know as the celtic cross.
That most familiar image of a latin cross wrapped with a circle.

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(celtic cross in the graveyard at Dumcliff Church / County Sligo, Ireland / 2015 / Julie Cook)

It is said that the pagan Celts considered the sun to be an integral part of their worship. Circles have been found etched and carved on many excavated Celtic ruins. I think it’s rather easy to understand the importance behind worshiping the sun for the Celts— if you’ve ever spent much time in Ireland, you know how wet and grey it can be. There are parts of Ireland which receive up to 225 days of wet rainy weather each year, in turn making any and all sunny days a rare and treasured commodity.

Patrick had to be inovative if he wanted to get the Celts attention and gain their trust as the ultimate goal was total conversion and allegiance to the one true God. So Patrick set about with a brilliant plan combining both a component most important to the Celtic nation, that being the sun–a revered circle, bridging the abyss to the most important image to Christians, the Latin cross, with the addition of a circle ringing around the cross–a combination representing both sun and Son as the circle is also a Christian symbol representing God’s endlessness.

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(covering of one of the many purported wells used by Patrick to baptized the new converts to Christ, found buried near the site of present day St Patrick’s Cathedral /Dublin, Ireland / 2015 / Julie Cook)

Patrick is also considered as the one person who established the shamrock as one of Ireland’s most endearing symbols. The Celts were an agrarian nation as Ireland is a rich fertile island due in part to being on the receiving end of the warming and wet energies of the Atlantic gulf stream. As an island people they were deeply connected, attuned as well as dependent on the land. So Patrick utilized those things that were common and entrenched in the common man’s life. A most humble yet prolific example being the clover. The clover was a perfect teaching tool as it so beautifully manifests the image of the Holy Trinity.

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(early clover images on an ancient carving on a crypt in St Patrick’s Cathedral / Dublin, Ireland / 2015)

In the early days of the young Christian Church, many a humble yet determined monk of the fledgling Christian Church came and went from this mystical isle in hopes of further spreading the Gospel.
Some traveled freely while others sadly disappeared…lost in time…victims of pirates, invaders, and local hostilities.

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(plaque commemorating the lives of the Teelin monks who set sail for Iceland in the 5th century / Teelin , Slieve League, County Donegal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Yet for all the anguished years of famine and immigrations, for all of her tumultuous history of waring invaders and defiant fought battles, Ireland has held fiercely fast and tight to her Christian roots. We are all aware of the growing insidious cloud of secularism that is sweeping across Europe and Western society…we are also all painfully aware of Ireland’s past “troubles”—the deep and often bloody mistrust and resentment between north and south, Catholic and Protestant, British Crown and Independent…yet despite all the years of bloodshed, turmoil, both internal and external, Ireland has laid claim and held on undeterred to her faith…a faith of deep respect for the God of all Salvation as well as the Great Creator of both land and sea, heaven and sky.

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(both cat and goose wait for feeding / Harvey’s Point Lodge, County Donegal / Julie Cook / 2015)

Christ be with me
Christ before me
Christ behind me
Christ in me
Christ beneath me
Christ above me
Christ on my right
Christ on my left
Christ where I lie
Christ where I sit
Christ where I arise
Christ in the heart of every man
who thinks of me
Christ in the mouth of every man
who speaks of me
Christ in every eye that sees me
Christ in every ear that hears me
Salvation is of the Lord.</em
>

Will it or won’t it?

“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.”
T.E. Lawrence

In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.
—Albert Camus

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(tiny emerging Hydrangea bloom / Julie Cook / 2014)

If I were a betting woman, which if the truth be told. . .I have been known to place a few friendly wagers over the years, particularly where my beloved DAWGS are concerned, I would bet that this Hydrangea bloom will indeed make it to its very showy, garish, over the top, full blue bloom before the first frost.

The first frost is a good two months away right?
How long does it take a hydrangea bloom to come to maturation?
Hummmmm. . . .
Sounds a bit reminiscent of some sort of mathematical word problem. . .if two hydrangeas left a train station at the same time, one traveling by train running 80 mph and the other by bus traveling 60 mph. . . yada, yada, yada—I hated math and I hated word problems even more–but I digress. . .

This is the same hydrangea bush, plant, mass that I shared with you back in the Spring—the same hydrangea that had suffered grievously back in the Spring when Winter was refusing to let go. A very late hard freeze had all but killed it. . . or so I thought.

In late May and early June, my heart leapt for joy when I noted some tiny leaf buds trying desperately to take hold on the barren woody brittle steams. Much to my wonderment, I realized that this little plant was not dead after all but was actually very tenacious and thankfully very stubborn. I had, however, resigned myself to the fact that this summer would not be privy to the pom pom like blooms which are so indicative of Summer in the deep South due to its late start at simply putting back its leaves.

That is, until today.

Just when I thought I knew what would happen as far as a little (actually massive) plant was concerned–late freeze obviously equalling no summer blooms–Life, Mother Nature, you name it, decided to show me a thing or two.

And so it goes. . .
Once again. . .
Life lessons learned in the yard, in the garden, via Mother Nature. . .

Never say never!!!
I have learned that little life lesson the hard way many times over and over throughout this life of mine. As soon as the word leaves my lips, something or someone comes along, almost immediately, to prove to any and all of those around that never is never going to happen!

Never give up!!!
You don’t have to be a Pollyanna with your head stuck in the unrealistic clouds, but you must never quit, never give up, never give in, or never throw in the towel. . .not unless it is spelled out in big bold black and white letters written in plain and simple language.

Never, for one minute, think you know it all.
Just as soon as you make a “set in stone” statement, something or someone comes along to turn upside down everything you’ve just stated as concrete fact.

Be prepared for anything!!
Just when you thought you had things figured out and were “good to go”, something is going to turn your world upside down. Be watchful and be ready. . .it will happen, trust me.

Always remain hopeful!!
If you don’t have any hope that things can turn around, get better, improve. . .then there is really no point to life now is there? As long as there is breath in our bodies, there must always be hope. Nothing is going to last forever–all things eventually change—it may not be within the set time frame of our desires, yet eventually, everything changes.

Make the most of the “now”!!
Don’t wait.
Don’t put of.
Don’t be Scarlet and deal with it all on the proverbial ‘morrow.
One’s house should always be in order–and by house I’m not meaning your literal house, but then again an orderly home is nice as well. . .
I’m talking about the business of life. We only have the now, the today–there are no promises of the tomorrows. . .so if not now, when?
Enjoy today.
Do what it is you’ve been putting off— do it, start it, tackle it— today.
Instead of repeating the mantra of “later”, “tomorrow”, “not now”—-go ahead and do it!!

Give everyone and everything a second chance.
We all deserve second chances.
Don’t be too quick to rush in with judgement, conclusions or endings.
No one is perfect.
No situation is a guarantee.
Those of us whose belief system is steeped in the Gospel know of the admonishment that we must forgive 7 times 70. 490 times seems rather excessive when it’s put to such a number that I should be forgiving someone that many times right? Well, it was once explained to me that in ancient times the circumference of a circle was thought to be 490ᵒ not what we know today as 360ᵒ, so the whole 7 times 70 was once again one of this analogies I have a heard time picking up on–meaning forgiveness should be a constant unending thing. . .

So just when you thought you had it all figured out, knew everything there was to know about something, closed the book on it all, written it off as over and done, given up, decided to call it quits. . . something as simple as a hydrangea, wanting to bloom at the proverbial 11th hour, comes along to remind you that everything and anything is always possible. . .

Happy day!

Elusive

“In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in an clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth.”
Mahatma Gandhi

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(female ruby throated hummingbird / Georgia / Julie Cook / 2014)

Sitting in the oppressive 97 degree heat on the back deck, under the stifling black awning, listening, watching, waiting.
Poised and ready.
Sweat begins to bead along the temples.
Finger resting gently on the button, as the camera is already zoomed and focused.
The air is heavy.
A distant peal of thunder breaks concentration.
The reverberating rumble, ominous, teases the painfully dry ground.

Suddenly there is a rapid series of high pitched chirps immediately followed by an unseen and ever nearing deafening vibration.
It is heard long before the eye can locate and focus.

CLICK

Upon inspection, a mere blur is almost totally out of the frame.
UGH!

Again.
Situate,
Position.
Zoom in
Focus.
Listen.
Watch.
Wait.

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As I sit waiting endlessly on the tiny band of hummingbirds which call my yard home–waiting for them to stop long enough for me to capture a quick stop at the feeder, verses their usual dive-bombing ariel displays which transpire throughout the day. . . my thoughts wander, as I sit in my frustration, pondering those things in my life which remain elusive, hidden, evasive–that which is just beyond my grasp.

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We all carry within our being “things” that seem to constantly and sadistically elude our grasp.
Those things which remain hidden in the shadows, whispering seductively to us from the dark.
Only being seen as a darting image out of the corner of a weary eye.
Toying and teasing with tender raw emotions, we continue to wait, watch, hope, lament.

Perhaps it may be for that heart wrenching relationship to mend and heal.
Perhaps the much longed for sense of security and safety.
A much needed job.
A much needed better job.
The needed refreshing and life giving rains.
The ability to finally and miraculously have that long awaited baby.
The frustrating and fraught efforts for the recovery from catastrophic injury.
The soothing sense of Peace.
The satisfaction of the never-ending Truth.
The tangible realness of one’s Faith.

Always remaining just barely out of reach–despite the outstretched arm, fingers straining outward–If only we could stretch just a little farther. . .
muscles ache and cramp,
almost there, just a little more. . .
straining for just one much inch. . .
suddenly and frustratingly sadly, the resignation and finality of the elusive once again,
haughtily laughs at the limitations of self,
as “it” escapes once again.

Money cannot procure it.
Pleading will not produce it.
Agility cannot capture it
Ingenuity will never create it.
Yearning will only add torment.
Stealth will never surpass it.
This world will never claim it.

The “it”, the “thing”, the need, the want, the “elusive”. . . is not of this world and you and I
will never catch or capture it as it is more than the mere wants and needs of our hearts.
It is the insatiable thirst and hunger of the soul which no one of this earth and no one thing of this life can ever satisfy. A longing and insatiable longing to be reunited with the Creator of the Universe.

Kingdoms have risen and fallen.
Monuments and wonders have been built and destroyed.
Wars have been won and lost.
And yet we all remain
wanting,
needing,
searching,
seeking,
thirsty,
hungry of heart and soul.

And just so you know, I finally got my long awaited picture, as the ones that you are seeing are not those— as my dear hummingbirds finally lit within range.
I clicked then checked—a great shot–a perfect shot.
No shadows.
No blurs.
Focused.
Detailed.
And yet,
just as I began the process of transferring the images from the camera to computer, oddly, there is nothing there.
Nothing
No images.
NO IMAGES??!!
For what reason of which I know not, the disc suddenly failed, the past two weeks of images, gone.
Disappeared.
Erased.
UGH.
Elusive to the end.

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I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:18-19

Hear the words of Paul, a prisoner of Rome, as he so beautifully and yet simply states the real quest of all of our souls—the meeting of all our needs and desires by the one true and only God through Christ, Jesus His son.
For it is here, in Him, in which all treasures lie—
and until you and I finally figure that out, we will continue spending a lifetime in the constant pursuit, the quest, of the Elusive.

Perspective

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Image of the Eiffel Tower / Paris, France / Julie Cook / 2011

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”
Helen Keller