dubious

Jove weighs affairs of earth in dubious scales,
And the good suffers while the bad prevails.

Homer,
The Odyssey, Book VI, line 229. Pope’s translation


(a problematic flock of geese, Mackinaw City / Julie Cook / 2017)

Last night, as I was fast asleep,
with sleep being a relative term at this stage of age in my life,
my credit card mysteriously crawled out of my wallet and teleported itself
miraculously to Europe…
And of course with a few jaunts back and forth between the US, the UK and greater
Europe…all for good measure and long before I ever woke up.

It even made a stop in Luxembourg—

I’ve always wanted to visit Luxembourg.
I’m so glad one of us has gotten to go.

I discovered this near mythical adventure upon getting up this morning.

Bleary eyed from my usual tossing and turning, I stumbled into the kitchen to
start the coffee.
I picked up my phone and noticed a copious amount of messages regarding my
credit card.

Huh?

Rubbing my eyes and adjusting my glasses I grabbed my computer and pulled up
my email.

Sure enough…24 messages reporting suspicious activity on my card with
purchase after purchase being declined,
thank goodness…

A dollar here, a pound there and even a euro or two …
all of which was a dead trigger…

But then it became bold and went onwards and upward of $300 bucks to such places
as Domino’s pizza somewhere in Austria, some sort of FaceBook virtual store in Germany, nintendo of Europe, netflix somewhere in the UK….

As it seems as if my credit card was having a mid-life crisis and was attempting to
live someone’s youthful abandon all on another continent…
or perhaps in reality it was something more inline with sorry wonton
wastefulness….

I’ve ridden this merry go round before—seems like I just wrote a similar post..
but that was my debit card—this is now my credit card…
so we are officially 2 for 2.

And no, I don’t buy a lot nor do I order all that much on-line….

I called the nice folks at the credit card company.
She ran me through the gauntlet of security before I delivered my
tale of woe. And from her end, she could see just how busy my card had
been in its jet set ways.

She verified my last purchase—three books from Amazon…hummm I now wonder…
Next it was to all the latest 24 bizarre or so “traveling” purchases,
all of which had been declined, and were now seen for what they truly were—
stealing.

She canceled the card and has issued me a new one which will be arriving
post haste.

After we hung up, I continued receiving notifications that whomever was
out there playing me, hadn’t given up yet…
I don’t know, maybe it would take 30 tries before this idiot figured
declined meant declined.

For good measure I called the credit card company back letting them know I
was still receiving their fraud notifications—
of which they told me not to fret–
the card was no more and the notifications would stop when our rocket scientist
friend figured such out…as he, she, it would then most likely move on to the
next stolen card number…

In all the gallows humor here, there is a seriousness that really leaves me
angry because I loath those who steal…
particularly information, numbers and identities…
because if the truth be told, all of that is really lazy man stealing.

Sit on your arse as it were, hiding behind a computer screen,
trolling and taking….

Nice and neat, or so it would all appear.
No one is physically hurt.
Or so our arse sitting thieves would assume.

What’s a little free Dominos pizza somewhere in Austria or
some Facebook virtual-store crap in Luxembourg??
Or things I don’t even know of in New York???

So before I had even had my first sip of morning coffee, I was mad.

Like you, I try to live life as I would expect others to live theirs…
work, earn, pay….

But life is not easy like that.
Not everyone buys into doing the right things in life.

There are bad people, lazy people, violent people, bad lazy people,
bad lazy violent people…
People who would only sneer at my desire that we all do what is right
by one another.
Think psychopaths, think gangs, think MS13…

As in there are dubious and nefarious individuals who do not consider life
to be a gift, who do not hold love nor honor in their hearts and
who prefer only to serve a darker and more sinister side of life.

And as we now que those out there who will sing the song of lamentation
that this behavior is due to a poor childhood, a less fortunate history,
a lack of this or that, an unbroken cycle…….

The bottom line is choice.

A choice to do what is right and decent
or
a choice to do what is wrong and bad.

And it is those more sinister and heartless out there who scare me.

They scare me because they remind me that darkness continues to walk this earth.
That there is indeed a deep spiritual battle that rages all around us—
whether we are awake or asleep…it rages.

For despite my best efforts at keeping my little world nice and neat,
tidy and safe…
Satan and those who do his work, are busy.

We either choose to serve Light or we choose to serve darkness
It’s as simple as that.

Others would disagree.
There will be excuses…
There are things like victimhood…
and cycles, and disadvantage…
but in the end…
none of that matters because when we choose one over the other…
that choice is on us and us alone.

For no one is telling us which to choose…for the choice,
despite our circumstances is still up to us….
so perhaps then such poor choosing just makes us all victims does it not..?

A troublemaker and a villain,
who goes about with a corrupt mouth,
who winks maliciously with his eye,
signals with his feet
and motions with his fingers,
who plots evil with deceit in his heart—
he always stirs up conflict.
Therefore disaster will overtake him in an instant;
he will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.
There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

Proverbs 6:12-19

high roads

“The high road is something very, very long, of which one cannot see
the end – like human life, like human dreams.
There is an idea in the open road,
but what sort of idea is there in travelling with posting tickets?
Posting tickets mean an end to ideas.
Vive la grande route and then as God wills.”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky


(on the road to Crater Lake, Oregon / Julie Cook / 2013)

Why should we opt to take the high road in life?

Because it is becoming more and more a road less traveled.

Why should we opt to take the high road in life?

Because our mothers, fathers, grandparents, teachers once told us to.

Why should we opt to take the high road in life?

Because taking the high road never means that we’re better than anyone else,
it just means that we’re working that much harder at bettering ourselves.

The high road is a more difficult climb.
The high road is much harder to traverse.
The high road will push us to our limits.
The high road is what we want our children to take.

Yet the high road takers are most often scoffed at by those on the lower roads.
The high road takers are most often forgotten by those on the lower roads.
Because the high road is often very lonely…

Yet the examples of those low road moments are far too numerous these days…

A most recent example was just the other day when a senator from New York was
addressing a crowd at New York University and opted to use her time with a
captive young audience by offering a profanity laced speech about the current
President.
The F word was front and center throughout her speech…
as she flippantly told the crowd that
“it’s okay, because this is a younger audience.”

No, Madame Senator that doesn’t make it ok for you to be lazy with your
choice of words in order to simply make an impact, to shock or garner generational points.
It does not make it okay for you to be trite, foul, offensive,
or seemingly one with your more impressionable audience.
For by taking this lower road, this easier road, you insult the intelligence
of your audience by opting to lower yourself and your standards by dumbing down your
address.

It is never okay to season a delivery with profanity because by doing so
cheapens ones words and ones true meaning.
It is a delivery of less than rather than of real substance

It is to those sound adults who these youthful ones must look as they seek examples
of what they should aspire to emulate.
Examples of grace, dignity, restraint, humility are much more preferable to anger,
crudeness, bitterness as well as a lack of decorum and respect.

Because it takes very little effort and is exceedingly easy to simply drop one’s
self lower rather than exerting the necessary energy to raise everyone else up.
And in so doing a disservice is done to everyone.
Because opting to take the lower road is in actuality a thinly veiled self serving act.

As that is exactly what we are witnessing—a society that prefers to go lower rather
than higher…because it’s the easiest path of the perceived least resistance.

So why should we opt to that higher road?
For it is the high road that helps us to reach our fullest potential as a human being.
And in so doing by taking that higher road,
we do so while following Christ as he carries his cross up the hill of Golgotha.

Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
will never be shaken.

Psalm 15

taking the good and the bad with chocolate covered doughnuts

“New mysteries.
New day.
Fresh doughnuts.”

David Lynch
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This was not to be today’s post.
Today’s post was to be something deep and meaningful.
Something thought provoking and profound.

But after spending the day yesterday in Atlanta with Dad,
I thought profound could wait.

Last week I had shared a post entitled Status quo
a post about how, at this point with Dad, we were just happy to have the status quo.
A hanging in and on…

Well that status quo changed in the blink of an eye.

I knew he wasn’t doing well and that it’s all just a matter of time…
but the hospice nurse told me Thursday that his kidneys are failing…rapidly.
And that it truly is just a matter of time…she certainly did think he’d last the weekend,
but his kidneys couldn’t hold out much longer…
As I suppose the cancer will push the kidneys to their breaking point.
cause Cancer is just that way.

And happily, blessedly, he did last the weekend…

For the one thing about Dad that you should know is that the genes he inherited,
at least from his mother’s side, have tremendous staying power.
He is a Timex watch and an Energizer Bunny all rolled into one.
As he goes on and on while taking a licking….but he keeps on ticking!

Not so much because he is strong, full of fortitude or stamina…
far from it….
He is not, nor has he ever been athletic, health conscious or a vigorous sort of soul.
He will actually finally confess to the very truthful fact that he is,
and always has been, lazy…
As he was a man who also loved his scotch….

But what Dad does have is chocolate.
A deep and abiding love of chocolate… as it courses through his veins.

I’ve written about Dad and chocolate before.
I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
He can eat chocolate 24/7

Now mind you, I love a good piece of chocolate or some decadent type of chocolate dessert…
As there is nothing quite like a cold creamy slice of chocolate pie topped with a generous mound of whipped cream, a rich yet elegant pots de creme,
or a handful of M&M’s grabbed while on the run…
but I can’t just sit around all day long eating chocolate….I’d get sick as a dog!

But that is exactly what Dad’s beside table looks like—a plethora of all things chocolate.
As he doesn’t miss a beat nor does he get sick.
It’s like Popeye and his spinach.

So when I picked up their groceries,
I naturally picked up several items out of the chocolate food group.
And when I returned home, Dad demanded that I bring him one of the chocolate covered doughnuts…
as in, immediately.
Never mind I told him he’d need to eat at least a bite of lunch first…
for Dad’s appetite for real food is now almost non existent,
yet as for all things chocolatey, he’s still going strong.

So imagine my startled surprise when I walked back into his bedroom to check on him,
chatting away while putting things away…
when I suddenly look up, only to find him like a little kid,
with his mouth covered in chocolate…

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So I suppose a picture is indeed worth a thousand words…
reminding us that in those times of sadness and sorrow, pain and frustration…
we can still find a glimmer of hope, a smile, a laugh and actually something good…
of which helps us forget, albeit briefly, the bad…

So for today…we’ll take both the good and the bad as long as there is chocolate and doughnuts….

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings,
knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
and hope does not put us to shame,
because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit
who has been given to us.

Romans 5:3-5

life has turned

“What comes into our minds when we think about God
is the most important thing about us.”

― A.W. Tozer

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(a camouflaged baby lizard lounges on the lemon tree / Julie Cook / 2015)

The funny thing about life is that God always has a way of whittling away the superfluous until He exposes the bare bones of the necessary.

And that necessary is here and now.

Because you see, life has taken a turn.

Not just my life but all our lives.

When an 85 year old priest, in a small town church has his throat slit while saying mass
as our media outlets offer but a mere passing mention because
they are too busy covering the
feeding frenzy of a political convention,
life has turned.

Oh we can all look the other way because that is there and we are here….
We can pretend that the reality isn’t really happening.
We can ignore the obvious growing importance of events in our world..
We can use the same smoke and mirrors our leaders and politicians prefer…
in order to alter the stinging truth…

but you see, there is no hiding the truth.

Because the truth cannot be hidden by the darkness for long.
All that is… will eventually come to light.

We are living in the midst of a war.
And there is an urgency growing by the day…

Yet very few wish to acknowledge the importance, the urgency, the raging battles.
Better to ignore the chaos, in hopes it goes away.
Better to decry the reasoning in hopes it isn’t real.

The lines have been drawn…long ago.
With each of us having our own personal battles…while the bigger war rages on…
As each individual battle links to the greater fight.

Yet sadly the majority still wants to ignore the reality of the truth.
They want to proclaim the obvious isn’t real.
They want to go about life as though everything is perfectly normal and fine…
Tiptoeing through the broken glass…

They want to desensitize themselves while gorging their insatiable appetites…
Growing fat and lazy so that when the time comes, they won’t be able to
heed the call….

Yet the call has been sounded.

The troops are amassing…
The smoke is rising on the horizon
and the sound of footsteps can be heard along the winds.

With life’s turn now taken,
there is no more time for looking back.

There are no longer those hidden places to hide.

The darkness will not be permitted to remain…
as all that has remained hidden is soon to be exposed…

The time to choose your position is now…
You have been called to ready the fortress, we all have been called…
Yet only a handful will answer….

What more will it take for you to understand…

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”
Second Timothy 3:1-5

Leaving a mark

“Our days are numbered. One of the primary goals in our lives should be to prepare for our last day. The legacy we leave is not just in our possessions, but in the quality of our lives. What preparations should we be making now? The greatest waste in all of our earth, which cannot be recycled or reclaimed, is our waste of the time that God has given us each day.”
― Bill Graham

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(the remaining remnants of leaves faded onto the concrete / Julie Cook / 2014)

When all is said and done, what will be said about you?
What will people remember?
Or the question may beg. . .will they remember?
Will it be . . .
“that old rebel rouser”
or
“that old stick in the mud”
or
“they were so very angry”
“they were so terribly lazy”
“they were so selfish”
“they were such a martyr”
“they were so very mean”
“they had the first dime they ever made”
“they were nothing but a workaholic”

Or. . .
Will they say that the world was a better place for having had you in it?

It’s never too late you know.
There’s still time.
Time to turn things around if need be.
Right a few wrongs.
Turn over that new leaf.
Make a few changes.
Nothing drastic.
Just a little tweaking here and there.
Letting go of a few bad habits.
Figuring out what’s really important,
what really matters. . .

Will your mark be negative, rebellious, selfish, destructive
or
will your mark be positive, compassionate, generous, constructive.

There’s still time, but how much. . .I have no idea.

Just happy to be here

I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.
Martha Washington

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(a fledgling cardinal / Julie Cook / 2014)

I had noticed her hopping about out of the corner of my eye—that is, only after I had heard the distinctive “chirp chirp” alerting me that a cardinal was close at hand.
This, however was not just any run of the mill cardinal. This was a new addition to the yard cardinal. As in a fledgling who still had the moulty little tufts of feathers still adorning her head.

I watched her for a while–chirping and hopping here and there as she continued poking and prodding the ground in search of whatever tasty little morsel and grub she could find. She seemed not to have a care in the world. Even with our cat Peaches lounging about in the grass just a few yards away, each animal oblivious and uncaring that either was within “meeting” distance.

A single moment in time that is a wonderful snapshot of Harmony. Our cat being a bit atypical, caring less about the birds in the yard, more interested in what I may be doing. She is just as happy and content as I am to simply sit and watch, or for her, to rather sit and nap.
The little bird should have felt a threatening danger, but blissfuly did not. Peaches has never given any of the birds any cause for concern—of which I am pleased.

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(Peaches more interested in the camera rather than the little bird / 2014)

These small snippets, vignettes of the microcosms of a world seemingly in slow motion, are the soothing balm to the often jaded and tired souls which manifest themselves, day in and day out; byproducts of the rat race we create in life.

Maybe it’s the weather.
Maybe it’s the warmer days.
Maybe it’s the longer days.
Maybe it’s the lazier and slower way in which the world seems to now turn.
Perhaps it’s all of that and more as to why I enjoy the tranquil day’s of an approaching Summer season.

It’s the time of year in which the World seems to offer a collective sigh–exhaling as it begins to relax, and finally lets go. . .
Here’s to sitting under the canopy of an ancient oak tree.
Here’s to the sounds of harmony buzzing and chirping about the yard.
Here’s to the tell-tale summer scent of a freshly mown lawn.
Here’s to spending more time outside rather than inside.
Here’s to time, which may finally be on your side.
Here’s to being happy that we’re just all simply here, in the moment. . .

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