Prayers for Australia

“We never know how God will answer our prayers, but we can expect that He will get
us involved in His plan for the answer.
If we are true intercessors, we must be ready to take part in God’s work on behalf
of the people for whom we pray.”

Corrie ten Boom


(Newsweek)
The map shows active fires across the country of Australia as of 9:14 p.m. AEDT, January 6, 2020
GOOGLE MAPS / MY FIRE WATCH

Day in and day out, I am overwhelmed when watching the news reports regarding the
constant fires raging across the land of our brethren down under.

Simply put, Australia is on fire.

Millions and millions of acres are now burned and scorched.
Thousands of homes are now gone.
Thousands of people are now homeless, having lost everything.
There have been at least two dozen fatalities.
Thousands will suffer the health effects of breathing in air from the ash-laden skies.
And there are an estimated half a billion (480 million) animals killed.
Read that again…half a billion.

Many surviving animals are severely burned and wounded—many are being cared
for at various facilities around the country.

As Corrie Ten Boom reminds us in her quote—when we pray for others,
God will draw us into the answer—in some capacity or other.

Frustratingly it doesn’t seem as if there is anything I can do from here in Georgia
to help those affected by the fires in Australia…
So I researched for various charities and aid
foundations that are taking donations.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/118605092/australian-bush-fires-how-to-help-watching-a-continent-burn-from-our-skies-we-can-all-do-something

I know we must be careful when making credit card donations to various sites on-line
so if you decide you want to do so—make certain the site is reputable.

Normally I would donate to the Red Cross or the Salvation Army but those donations
will go into their general crisis aid accounts—
I wanted something that would be specific to Australia.

I opted for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA)
for their rescue efforts of the native wildlife.
But St Vincent’s is also a good choice to help with providing food, shelter and clothing
for those individuals who have lost everything.

May the fires be extinguished.

“True intercession involves bringing the person, or the circumstance that
seems to be crashing in on you, before God, until you are changed by His attitude
toward that person or circumstance.
People describe intercession by saying, “It is putting yourself in someone else’s place.”
That is not true! Intercession is putting yourself in God’s place;
it is having His mind and His perspective.”

Oswald Chambers

time for reflection

“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.”
William Shakespeare


(moi in 2013 / Julie Cook)

What are the types of things that happen to us in a year’s time?
What sorts of things take place to and or around us during the course of a year?

In my world, there were milestones, fieldstones, capstones and stone weights.

The greatest being a baby turned one as another baby came into the world.

And there were, for this small family of ours…

stress tests
epidurals
CT scans
MRIs
X-rays
ultrasounds
bloodwork
surgeries
healings
shots
medicines
waiting diagnoses
dental implants
additions
trips
trips to an ocean
trips to the mountains
trips to the city
family gatherings
quiet time
accidents
demolitions
updatings
hope
despair
surprises
growing
pruning
anniversaries
multiple ER trips
multiple Urgent Care trips
viruses
infections
food poisoning
haircuts
lost hair
purchases
sales
trials, literally
tribulations
disappointments
discoveries
tears
anger
laughter
solace
peace
good news
troubling news
bad news
sad news
happy news
new friends
old friends
new family
found birth parents
lost birth parents
welcomings
shunnings
new decades of life
frustrations
blessings
reflections…

And so here is to reflections…
May there be many more… that both come and go, in the next decade of living…

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to
completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:6 ESV

If a house could….be a home

Children are not casual guests in our home.
They have been loaned to us temporarily for the purpose of loving them and
instilling a foundation of values on which their future lives will be built.

James Dobson


(The home of past and present while Dad was still living inside / Julie Cook / 2017)

A very long time ago, my mom and I would often go on Saturday mornings to
Symphony Hall of which was adjacent to the then High Museum of Art…
Atlanta’s fledgling art museum.

Since I don’t actually recall what they called those music and brunch events,
I’ll just say it was pastries and music.

The Atlanta Symphony would provide a breakfast/brunch of various
pastries and beverages and then put on a small yet lovely concert.

My mother had joined the museum early on as my grandmother, her mother-n-law,
was one of the early promoters for Atlanta to get her own museum.

She and my grandfather were to have flown on that fateful flight in 1962 to and from
Orlay, France but opted not to go…
This is what Wikipedia has in a nutshell on that flight:
Air France Flight 007 crashed on 3 June 1962 while on take-off from Orly Airport.
Air France had just opened its new office in downtown Atlanta, and this was the inaugural flight.
Air France was doing its best to publicize the flight; hence,
it was filled with Atlanta’s elite.
The only survivors of the disaster were two flight attendants seated
in the back of the aircraft;
the rest of the flight crew, and all 122 passengers on board the Boeing 707,
were killed.
The crash was at the time the worst single-aircraft disaster and the first single
civilian jet airliner disaster with more than 100 deaths.

The so-called “Atlanta elite” were the leading art patrons of the city.
They were hoping to forge a relationship between France and Atlanta as
the up and coming southern city was looking to develop an artistic and cultural footing.

But that is all another story for another day…
today’s thoughts are different.

When I was a young teacher, I found myself spending summers at the High Museum of Art
taking courses for art educators.
I’d spend weeks driving from Carrollton to Atlanta—back and forth daily
for the duration of each course.

During one particular course, our instructor had us keep a journal/ sketch pad
within arms reach at all times.
She would assign various tasks for the sketchpad and would also encourage us to reflect
in the journals about the assignments.

When I found myself at the Museum, wandering about,
I noted just how difficult it was for me not to think almost constantly about my mom.

I had lost her six years prior and so the Museum, along with Atlanta in general, still held
many shadows of my past.
It was often heavy shadows that I was very much aware of.

It was as if some specter was constantly walking by my side when I was in town.
It was often a very palpable sensation.

During one assignment, assignment 6 to be exact, the instructor had us wander off
and write about something…what that something was eludes me now but this
is what I wrote…along with a note I offered to the instructor who I knew would be
reading what we had written…included is also her comment back to me…


(the doodles of an old journal / Julie Cook / 2019)

“locked deep within my heart is someone I no longer know–
Forced back inside by anger and overwhelming pain.

Was it by choice or convenience that you left?

Your agony was short-lived, 6 weeks is what we counted but how long had you been counting?
Your presence lingers in the shadow of my daily life…and I often think I hear your voice
while my heart will skip a beat.

I don’t cry as much anymore.
Six years has brought healing or either a welcomed numbness.

I use to scream and yell at you for leaving me.

I don’t know if I’ve ever forgiven you or not.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ve forgotten how to pray.

I’m not the same person that you left, you wouldn’t recognize me–
I often don’t recognize myself.

With your death, there cane a death within my soul.
A part of me went back inside, In life, you never thought you mattered much,
but in death, the impact of you and the lack of you has changed me forever.

(Note: my mother died 6 years ago from cancer.
The illness was very short-lived–
which was a blessing—but so fast it was like a blur.
As a teenager, she was my enemy.
As a ‘grown-up’, she was my best friend.
It’s just that I never told her that.

My mourning and dealing with the loss has been very much a private thing with me.
I didn’t have the opportunity at the time–because of taking care of my dad.
So–sometimes I can write down and express it.
She and I use to participate in a lot of museum/symphony activities—
so one of her shadows haunts me here–
but it is a part of the life long healing)

Response: Julie, I hope you don’t mind but I read this note to your mother–
it’s beautiful and universal-(love the reflection in the eye)

And so this incident and particular journal entry all came flooding back to the forefront
of my consciousness this past week when I found myself back in Atlanta.

While on my recent nursing duties, caring for our ailing Sheriff,
my daughter-n-law and I were chatting…and I think I made some off the cuff comment
about my hating the house…the same house they call home.

You hate the house?!,” she asked with alarm.
Yes” I nonchalantly replied.
You hate what we’ve done to it?” she fretted.
“OH…
No!!!
Not at all…
I love what you’ve all done…making it yours!
I just hate the past part of the house that was mine…

Many of you already know that the house our son and daughter-n-law call home
is actually the house I grew up in…having moved into when I was all of two years old.
Just about the Mayor’s same age.

It is the home of my childhood.
A childhood and growing up that consisted of tremendous dysfunction.

I often wonder what life would have been like had my parents not adopted my brother.
What if they had gotten a different baby?
Or no baby?
Would our lives have been different?
Happier?
More normal?
But what is normal?

There’s not a spot that I can’t stand inside, outside, in the basement,
out in the yard or even on the driveway that I can’t recall some sort of
melancholy or even dramatic event.

I even remember getting out of bed late one night, when I was still in high school,
stealing away to the sun porch where I closed off the door to the rest of the house
and knelt by a chair that had been my grandparents,
praying that God would bless me with the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
I thought if anything could fend off the madness inside this house,
it would be the Holy Spirit.

I also vividly remember when finishing my prayer…I felt no different.
Fruits, for me, have been a process of living.
I think God knows I need more time to ripen than most.

After having spent the past 8 days at the house, caring for the Sheriff
and the Mayor, I headed home late Friday evening…

It was a terrible sight to behold—A Friday evening, attempting to
merge onto the top-end of the Perimeter…

I found myself, once again, with tears streaming down my cheeks
as I made my way onto the interstate—
not because of the ridiculous traffic nightmare I was about to be entering into but
rather because of what I was leaving behind.

My two precious grandchildren.

I was to have stayed until Saturday night as we had plans to visit
Santa Saturday then have dinner out as a family to celebrate my upcoming
milestone birthday…but…I was headed home to die in bed.

Here it was, the height of rush hour, I was sick with the Sheriff’s crud and
I was headed home only to miss out on the Sherrif’s first Santa visit…
I felt as if I had let them down.
Let myself down.

But that part actually turned out ok…depending on who you ask.

The Sherrif was still too sick to venture out to the mall…
so it was just The Mayor and her father who went to see Santa.

In her pretty red, green and black plaid tafia dress
(I didn’t have a tafia dress until I was getting married),
black tights, black patterned leather shoes and matching hair bow…
The Mayor marched herself right down the aisle of the mall happily holding
her dad’s hand…up until…until she had to go boldly forth,
alone…

The video I later received let us all know that the visit was actually
on the disastrous side as the Mayor squawled non-stop upon Santa’s lap.
I couldn’t help but laugh.

But on that Friday night, feeling like crap and totally exhausted,
which more than likely lead to my melancholy mood, all the while tiptoeing
my way through a sea of red brake lights and cars,
I found myself asking…oddly asking an inanimate structure a question
or maybe it was more of a favor.

If a house could…if a house could actually offer, or perhaps afford,
those within its walls comfort, affection, protection, joy, happiness, peace and warmth…
would it please do so for this next continuum of my world?

The past will always be the past…for good or bad…
but for this newest generation…I ask for your kindness and love…

For what makes a house a home?

And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true,
and you have promised this good thing to your servant.
Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant,
so that it may continue forever before you. For you,
O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your
servant be blessed forever.”

2 Samuel 7:28-29 ESV

four years following a loss…

“Mostly it is loss which teaches us about the worth of things.”
Arthur Schopenhauer,


(engadget.com)

I caught the following story on a newsfeed Saturday afternoon.
It was a rainy afternoon and I was bouncing between watching college football games and
peeking in on the day’s news.

The following story is one of those types of stories that catches you from out of the blue
and in turn, leaves you speechless.

I tried to tell my husband about the story but the words wouldn’t come.
Finally, I sputtered that there was a story he’d need to read but that I was
unable to read it out to him nor could I even recap it as it was just “that” kind of story…
because the lump would not leave my throat and the tears were becoming heavy.

Maybe I had the reaction I did because I understood this story.
I understood it on a level that goes beyond simply reading the tale of another.
I knew, as I know, that this is due to my own experiences.

How many of us who have ever lost a loved one yet still had a recording of their voice
lingering on our answering machine or phone’s voice mail?

How many texts or letters do we continue to cling to…reading their words,
reliving conversations, tracing the letters of their individual personal script?

And how many of us have taken painstaking steps to ensure that those recordings
or writings reside in our lives forever…never wanting to lose the sound of the voice
or the written words of the one we have loved and lost….
because if we dare lose that recording or those words, we lose that person all
over again…as the sound of their voice or their written words and
their personal cadence slips aways forever from memory.

I know that when my sister-n-law’s phone fell off their boat this past summer, late one
afternoon when they were at the lake, she was frantic and beside herself with panic.
Her late daughter’s final voice mails were on that phone.
The laughter, the “I love yous”—that surreal sense that she wasn’t truly gone
from her life was dependant upon that phone.

She called us from her husband’s phone frantic to know if we knew how or if she could ever
retrieve those voicemails on a new phone.

We didn’t.

I was almost 26 when my mom died.
I mourned and grieved albeit very stoically on the outside…yet on the inside
I was a wreck.

I grew angry, as I still can find myself doing after all these many years later,
angry that she is not here…not here to listen, to help, to offer me her advice,
her love…

She missed the birth of her only grandchild.
She missed his growing.
She missed so much, as I missed her so much…

So the story about a 23-year-old Arkansas gal who would text her dad’s cell phone every
day after his death, just to text him her thoughts…
talking and texting into a phone with no voice or words responding back…
but a continued effort of reaching out to his phone,
as she desperately needed to connect to her dad…well, her story left me speechless.
She still yearned for her dad… his wisdom, his strength, his presence in her life.

I could understand that yearning.

She would text and share her ups and downs.
The milestones he was missing…

Little did she know that there was someone listening and reading on the other end of that phone.
For four years he read yet never responded with a word.
He let her just talk or write about her world without her dad.

This went on for four years.

And the twist to all of this turns out that the person on the other end of the phone
was a father who had lost his own daughter.

And so now here was a daughter reaching out to her dad…
and here was a dad who had lost his daughter…

who knew that one phone number was now another’s number.

A number of one grieving reaching out unknowingly to another who was grieving.

Below is a portion of the story along with a link to the full story at the bottom.

I text my dad every day to let him know how my day goes,
for the past Four years! Today was my sign that everything is okay and
I can let him rest!
❤️

A 23-year-old woman in Arkansas lost her father four years ago,
but she continued to text his phone every day to update him about his life.
She never got a response from the number, until this week.

Like she did every day, Chastity Patterson, of Newport, texted her father’s number on Thursday,
the night before the fourth anniversary of his death.

“Hey Dad it’s ME,” she said. “Tomorrow is going to be a tough day again!”

In her texts, Patterson recapped all of the highs and lows she had gone through over
the past four years without her father by her side.
She talked about how she beat cancer and has been taking better care of herself
like she promised her father she would.
She talked about how she finished college and graduated with honors and how she’d fallen
in love and had her heart broken,
“(you would have killed him),” she told her father.

“I’m sorry I wasn’t there when you needed me the most,
but one day we will [sic] our chance to watch that game!”
she wrote in her latest text.

This week, Patterson received a response from a man who had been receiving her
daily messages these past four years.

“My name is Brad and I lost my daughter in a car wreck August 2014 and your messages
have kept me alive,” the response read.
“When you text me, I know it’s a message from God.”

“I have listened to you for years and I have watched you grow more than anyone,”
Brad said.
“I have wanted to text you back for years, but I didn’t want to break your heart.”

He said he wished his daughter would have become the woman Patterson is.
“I’m sorry you have to go through this but if it makes it any better,
I am very proud of you!
P.S. I think your father would be happy to know you bought another dog instead of having children.”

Patterson posted the exchange to Facebook.
“Today was my sign that everything is okay and I can let him rest!”
It has since gone viral.

In a later post, Patterson revealed that the loved one she’d lost,
Jason Ligons, was not her biological father, but she called him dad.

“Jason was not my ‘biological’ father, but blood could not make him any closer!”
she said.

“He never missed a school dance, prom, my games and YES he would give me long talks
about my mouth and attitude.
I had to introduce my boyfriends to him (If I was allowed to date)
and he would act like a normal dad and give us the long talk,” Patterson said.

“I shared my messages for my friends and family to see that there is a God
and it might take 4 years, but he shows up right on time!” she added.

https://www.foxnews.com/us/arkansas-woman-texting-father-every-day-response

what does forgiveness look like

I had prepared an entire post for this morning that was to continue with the
discussion from yesterday regarding prayer…but that post will just have to wait until tomorrow.

It has to wait because I just finished reading the latest post from our friend
David Robertson…our favorite Scottish pastor who is now our favorite
down under pastor.
His post, or what I consider to be more of a reflection, centers on a leading US headline.

It is a post about the US news story regarding the trial of the white female police officer
who unbelievably walked into her neighbor’s apartment—
a neighbor who was a young black male–
She mistakingly thought it was her own apartment, and in turn, shot the neighbor
as he sat on the couch eating ice cream…
All the while thinking he was a burglar in her apartment.

I won’t even begin to try to go into the surrealism of this story.
The attempt of understanding this particular case—
a case which eludes the mind and prevents any ability to comprehend how or
why this could have ever happened.

Of course, there are currently a myriad of angry voices expressing their take to this
entire sad tale…but in the end…there are no words.

There is only tragedy, loss and death.

Or so that is what we would be lead to believe.

Yet there is one individual in all of this who has shown us otherwise.

It is the 18-year-old younger brother to the 26-year-old victim who tells us all that there
is much more to this story…

This is what forgiveness and love look like (David’s full post follows the clip)

Here is the link to David’s post…

Amber Guyger and Brandt Jean – Forgiveness – the Most Radical Teaching of Christ – in Practice

We’re off to get the wizard…I mean…the Mayor

We’re off to see the Wizard
The wonderful Wizard of Oz
We hear he is a whiz of a wiz
If ever a wiz there was
If ever, oh ever a wiz there was…

The Wizard of Oz


(the satellite woobooville office is open for business / Julie Cook / 2019)

We’re off to see, not the wizard, but rather to pick up the Mayor…
bringing her home for a few days…
So any meaningful discourse, over the next couple of days here in cookieland,
will most likely be few and far between…

The Mayor has a way of simply sucking the life out of me…so I’ll be lucky
if I remain in one piece…add to that the relentless heat…

Atlanta hit another record high day of 98 degrees—-do you know what it’s like keeping a
whirling dervish, aka a 19-month-old toddler, in the house all-day while avoiding deadly heat?

I’ll be back soon, as I’d like to say a few words about the premature death of Cokie Roberts…

Cokie Roberts was a consummate journalist who came from a different day and another time…
a time I actually liked.
It was a time when she helped to set the benchmark and standard for what it
meant to be a real journalist…

She passed away yesterday at the age of 75 from a brave battle with breast cancer.

Unfortunately for all of us today, real journalists, along with “real” journalism,
has fallen by the wayside…
Those individuals who once taught us, as well as shared with us, the story of ourselves…
those who unbiasedly informed and taught us…were what we now know, a fleeting mirage.

Cokie Roberts may or may not have seen eye to eye with me and my own worldly thoughts…
And therein lies the glory… I never really knew her agenda…

I thought I knew her leanings…but then something would be said and I’d be left wondering a tad.

She was a mother, a wife, a grandmother, a daughter…
a journalist, a political analyst, a reporter, an author…
Her mother served as the American Ambassador to the Vatican.
She wrote a book about the Founding Mothers—a P.S. to the book The Founding Fathers…

I don’t and didn’t know her every personal thought or opinion and that was the joy
of all of this…I didn’t know and for that, I was better…we were all better as we
were allowed to think for ourselves and make our own thoughts and opinions.

And that’s what helped to make her such a success…we didn’t always know what she felt on a personal
level as she was busy simply reporting and sharing the facts…
that’s what reporters use to do…just the facts mam…

So there’ll be more journalists and journalism later…but for now, it’s all about the Mayor…

Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.

Psalm 25:5 ESV

loss in blogging

“Why, then, do I set before You an ordered account of so many things?
it’s certainly not through me that You know them.
But I’m stirring up love for You in myself and in those who read this so that we may all say,
great is the Lord and highly worthy to be praised.
I tell my story for love of Your love.”

St. Augustine of Hippo, Confessions


(Robert Cottrill)

I often find myself wondering why it is people feel compelled to “blog.”

Why is it that ordinary people create a personal space,
out there someplace on the interweb, and then proceed to spend precious time writing
about whatever it is they opt to write about?

It really is a rather odd phenomenon.

My own personal story started with retirement.

I started my blog a little over 6 years ago, almost 9 months after I retired from a
lifetime of teaching high school.
I thought a blog made sense because I still had things I wanted to share, or more aptly,
things I wanted to teach.

And so that’s what I’ve decided… there is a wealth of people out there who want to share
and in essence, teach.
They want to teach about travel, food, cooking, health, books, music, art, politics, faith, religion,
or the lack thereof, photography, sports… you name it.

People feel compelled to share and “teach”

When I first started this blog, I touched on a bit of all of that.
I loved to travel.
I was a teacher.
I was an art teacher.
I was adopted.
I loved to cook.
I was a wife, a mother, a Christian…on and on it went.
Obviously a wealth of topics to share and teach about.

On one of my early posts, I wrote something about one of my most favorite hymns,
Veni Veni Emmanuel—or—Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel.
It is a typical hymn sung during the season of Advent.
I always preferred its original Latin context.

After that posting, out of the blue, I had a gentleman from Saskatchewan, Canada
comment about my post regarding the hymn.
It seems he was a retired minister who was in the process of building a blog about hymns
and their history.

He was a living wealth of knowledge.

His name was Robert Cottrill.

I thanked Robert for his comment and from that, a lovely friendship developed.

Robert would touch base, ever so often, via email—informing me about what he and
his wife were up to.
He shared about his son and his son’s family living in Mexico as missionaries and of
his pride in his young granddaughter being a budding artist. And he always included
photographs from around his home.
Snow when we were settling into heat, blooms when we were beginning our decline.

Robert usually posted a new hymn, along with its history, each Monday and I, in turn,
would read and click like to his post.

There wasn’t a great deal of generated likes on the history of hymns so Robert
was always thankful for my interest.

He emailed a few months back that he and his wife had moved from their home to
an assisted living community there in Saskatchewan.
He was upbeat and positive as he shared pictures of their new digs.

I noticed that for the past couple of Mondays, Robert hadn’t posted anything.
And then this morning, out of the blue, his site popped up on my reader with a disclaimer.

Robert’s son reported that after a short illness, his dad had gone home to be with the Lord.

Just like that, Robert was gone.

There has been what seems to be a great deal of loss in the blogging family as of late, and
Robert’s death is just one more peg in the loss column.

His son notes that the blog will be maintained as it offers a wealth of history for
any and all who have an interest in the development and history of Christian hymns.

The blogging world will miss Robert.
May his light, the light he reflected from his love of Jesus,
continue to shine on generations to come

https://wordwisehymns.com

Veni, Veni Emmanuel

Veni, veni, Emmanuel
captivum solve Israel,
qui gemit in exsilio,
privatus Dei Filio.
R: Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel,
nascetur pro te Israel!

Veni, O Sapientia,
quae hic disponis omnia,
veni, viam prudentiae
ut doceas et gloriae.

Veni, veni, Adonai,
qui populo in Sinai
legem dedisti vertice
in maiestate gloriae.

Veni, O Iesse virgula,
ex hostis tuos ungula,
de specu tuos tartari
educ et antro barathri.

Veni, Clavis Davidica,
regna reclude caelica,
fac iter tutum superum,
et claude vias inferum.

Veni, veni O Oriens,
solare nos adveniens,
noctis depelle nebulas,
dirasque mortis tenebras.

Veni, veni, Rex Gentium,
veni, Redemptor omnium,
ut salvas tuos famulos
peccati sibi conscios.

9/11

“I still have the shoes I wore to work that day.
The soles are melted and they’re caked in ash.
I keep them in a shoebox with the word “deliverance” written all around it.
They’re kind of like my ark, a reminder of God’s presence and the life I owe to him.”

Stanley Praimnath, 9/11 survivor

It was a day ripe with a cloudless clear blue sky.

The kind of deep blue sky that beckons one to look up..
to look up and far beyond…

It was the second week of September.
Labor day was behind us and fall-break was over a month away.

But there was something about this day, this bright blue day,
that made me stop and pause.

Since it was just before the end of my planning period, I had walked over to our vocational
wing in order to pick up some copies I had run off for my upcoming class.

On the walk over between the two buildings, I caught myself looking up.
Looking up and noting the brilliance of such a beautiful cloudless blue sky.

It was still very summer-like in Georgia despite the calendar reading September 11th…

I walked back into the main building just as the bell was ringing for class change.
I reached the door to my classroom in order to monitor the hallway as the kids
traversed up and down, in and out.

One of my colleagues, a coach who also taught Social Studies down the hall from me,
suddenly came sprinting by my room stopping long enough to tell me to turn on my
television because “we were under attack!”

I can remember asking him to repeat what he had just told me.

“We’re under attack, they’ve attacked New York and now they’re attacking Washington!”

“WHAT?!”

As the kids were filtering in, I ran to turn on the television because
I really wasn’t comprehending what I had just heard.

As everyone began to trickle in, we gathered around the wall-mounted television
just staring at the images taking place in New York.

I remember hearing one of my girls announcing to no one in particular that her dad was
currently on a plane to New York…she needed to call her mom.

Needless to say, the day’s work and lessons were long over before they even began
as we were now in the midst of a tragic moment of our Nation’s indelible history.

That cloudless blue September sky changed our lives that day.
It changed our entire world, forever.

My colleague and friend who had stopped to tell me the tragic news would not live to see
the end of the next school year.
He was unaware that on that most fateful of days, the cancer that was multiplying inside of him,
was insidiously at work.

So much was changing, so much had changed.

It seems almost surreal, but today we have generations who were born well after
the fateful day of change…they are actually unaware that we were, that we are,
now different.

New York
Washington
Pennsylvania

Planes
Buildings
Fields

Simple names of states.
Simple names of things and places.

Yet all these years later, nothing remains simple about them.

Nearly 3000 lives were lost that day.
Many more lives were damaged.

Since that fateful day, many more lives have been lost due to the caustic air
inhaled as responders toiled to find the ashes of remains hiding in between the ashes of debris.

And then a war ensued.

And thus more lives have been lost and damaged.

Yet some people have the audacity to claim that the terribleness of that day was simply our own fault.
Some people think it really matters not that we should even take pause to remember.
Some people think it’s no big deal.

And yet on that day, lives ended.
Dreams were broken.
Hearts were broken.
Lives changed.
We changed.

And so yes, it is a big deal.
It was a horrific day of what seemed like a day of unending change…
and thus, in turn, we are now bound to forever remember…

Because the important thing today is that we must never forget why we have changed
and why all of those broken and shattered lives still matter.

Because if we do forget…if we allow our memories to fade…
then the pain, the suffering, the hurt that was felt by so many,
can and will actually return…

Such sweeping and tremendous pain mustn’t be allowed to ever return…

And so on this 11th day of September, we collectively gather to remember…
as we continue with our healing…
vowing that this will never happen again.

Our country is strong:
These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat.
But they have failed. Our country is strong.
A great people has been moved to defend a great nation.”

Former President George W. Bush on Sept. 11, 2001.

Asking forgiveness, it’s never too late nor futile…Poland is such an example

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has
forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

C.S. Lewis

“Freedom is the capacity to assert one’s will against the willfulness of others.”
William of Ockham


Over the past weekend, I caught a lovely news story.

In between the nerve-racking updates about Hurricane Dorian here on the east coast—
the hurricane that just doesn’t want to go away—
to the sorrowful story coming out from the west coast about the tragic boat fire in the
Pacific claiming nearly 40 lives, to another sorrowful mass shooting…
finding a news story that read of hope, if not simply civility, was greatly welcomed.

Below, I’ve simply cut and paste the AT&T news story.
My take on it all follows…

Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has asked for Poland’s forgiveness
80 years after the start of World War II.

“I stand before you, those who have survived, before the descendants of the victims,
the old and the young residents of Wielun, I am humbled and grateful,”
Steinmeier said during a ceremony in the Polish city of Wielun,
the site of one of the first Nazi bombings in the country on September 1, 1939.

“I bow to the victims of the attack in Wielun,
I pay tribute to the Polish victims of German tyranny and I ask for forgiveness,” he said.

Nearly 6 million Poles died during World War II,
which remains the bloodiest conflict in history.

More than 50 million people were killed in the conflict overall,
including some 6 million Jews, half of whom were Polish.

At a ceremony in Warsaw, Polish President Andrzej Duda spoke of the atrocious history
suffered by Polish people during WWII and the “trauma” that they still carry today.

The Polish President remembered the fallen and thanked the soldiers
“who fought and sacrificed their lives for freedom.”

In an address on Sunday morning in Westerplatte, Gdansk,
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki spoke of the huge material, spiritual, economic
and financial losses Poland suffered in the war.

“We have to talk, we have to remember about the losses we suffered,
we have to demand the truth, we have to demand compensation,” Morawiecki said.

War reparations remain a contentious issue in Poland —
since coming to power in 2015, the Law and Justice (PiS)
party has revived calls for compensation, Reuters reported.
Germany made the last payment on reparations in 2010.

US Vice President Mike Pence spoke in Warsaw on Sunday at the commemoration ceremony
to mark the 80th anniversary of Germany’s invasion of Poland.
Two days later, on September 3, Britain and France declared war on Germany.

“During the five decades of untold suffering and death that followed the outbreak of World War II,
the Polish people never lost hope, they never gave in to despair,
and they never let go of their thousand-year history,” Pence said.

“In the years that followed this day 80 years ago,
their light shone in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it,” he added.

https://start.att.net/news/read/article/cnn-german_president_asks_for_forgiveness_80_years_aft-cnn2/category/news

The nation of Poland has a great deal to teach the rest of the world about perseverance
as well as the ability to forgive…just as it seems a German leader has a few things to teach
all of us about the never-ending ability to ask one who has been tragically wronged, to forgive.

But you’d need to understand a bit of history first to truly appreciate this story.

I’ve touched on Poland and her history before in a few previous posts,
but it seems the importance of revisiting has resurfaced.

Poland sits in a pivotal location geographically.

According to the renowned author and biographer, George Weigel, in his international bestseller
Witness to Hope / The biography of Pope John Paul II,
Poland’s location at the crossroads of Latin and Byzantine Europe, it’s geography,
and its repeated experience of invasion, occupation, resistance and
resurrection gave rise to a distinctive Polish way of looking at history.

Poland sits in the middle of Europe—in between the majority of Europe to the west
and Russia along with her broken minions to the east.
Poland has, down through the centuries, proven to be a historical bulwark.

She has literally been the defending line between tyranny and democracy for centuries.
And she has never complained about her pivotal lot.

I am reminded of the verse from the book of Luke:
“From everyone who has been given much,
much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much,
much more will be asked.

Luke 12:48

“Polish history is generally taken to begin with the baptism
of the Piast prince Mieszko I in 966. Mieszko’s choice for Latin Christianity
over Eastern Christianity, which had been formed in the orbit of Constantinople,
decisively shaped Poland’s history for more than a millennium.”

By Mieszko’s choice, a Slavic land and people would be oriented toward the Latin West.

These Roman Slavs were a bridge between Europe’s two cultural halves;
they could “speak the language of two spiritual worlds.”
Poland’s Catholicity and its geographic location led to a certain catholicity
of cultural temperament.

Tartars and Swedes had laid waste [to] the country; the Austrians had stripped the
Old Town of its fortifications and walls (Kraków); occupying powers of varying degrees of
ferocity had displaced the kings and queens of Poland from the royal castle,
atop the “Polish Zion.”
Now, on September 1, 1939, Wawel Cathedral was about to experience something beyond the
imagining of those who had worshiped beneath its gothic vault for centuries.

Poland, as a nation, has been erased numerous times from the known geographical
maps of human history.
Meaning, she was eliminated as a nation…
absorbed by her greedy neighbors on more than one occasion…
actually being erased for over 100 years from any historical map.
Yet the Polish people and their spirit as a unified people, has always remained.

Weigel notes “Poland is not always appreciated this way.
Indeed, the suspicion seems widespread that the Poles
must, for some reason or other, deserve their bad luck.
Yet Poland’s curse is neither in the stars nor in the Polish people.
It’s the neighborhood.”

“For more than a thousand years, the Polish people and their state have inhabited an enormous
flat plain bounded by large, aggressive, materially superior neighbors.
…The Germans were always to the west, and almost always aggressive.
German-Polish enmity followed and peaked in World War II,
when the Nazis sought to eradicate the Polish nation from history.

World War II, which the Poles sometimes describe as the war they lost twice,
was an unmitigated disaster for Poland.
Six million of its citizens our of a prewar population of 35 million,
were killed in combat or murdered– a mortality rate of eighteen percent.
The nation was physically decimated.
Poland became the site of the greatest slaughters of the Holocaust.
And, at the end, another totalitarian power seized control of Poland’s political future.

Karol Wojtyla, the future pope, would live under and eventually be formed by
these two occupying and oppressive regimes–two regimes that would each lend an
unknown hand to the building of a formidable world leader and in turn their own
nemesis and foe.

According to Wikipedia:
On 16 October 1978, Poland experienced what many Poles literally believed to
be a miracle.
Cardinal Karol Wojtyła, the archbishop of Kraków, was elected pope at the Vatican,
taking the name John Paul II. The election of a Polish Pope had an electrifying
effect on what was at that time one of the last idiosyncratically
Catholic countries in Europe.
When John Paul toured Poland in June 1979, half a million people came to welcome
him in Warsaw; in the next eight days, about ten million Poles attended the
many outdoor masses he celebrated.
John Paul clearly became the most important person in Poland, leaving the regime
not so much opposed as ignored. Rather than calling for rebellion,
John Paul encouraged the creation of an “alternative Poland” of social
institutions independent of the government, so that when the next crisis came,
the nation would present a united front.

On 27 October 1991, the first (since the 1920s) entirely free Polish parliamentary
election took place.
This completed Poland’s transition from a communist party rule to a Western-style liberal
democratic political system.

And so despite the centuries of war, siege, occupation, death, murder, and even obliteration…
Poland has remained…just as she continues to remain.

And so we are fortunate in that we, as a world, may watch as a one-time warring
and occupying nation sincerely offers a very humble and visceral apology.
Words that cannot erase the pain, suffering, loss or unfathomable human tragedy…
but words offered by a nation who can admit to the sins of her past…
which in turn now offer hope to a renewed future for us all.

Forgiveness, Hope and Healing—all offered to a very troubled and very needing world…

We continue to hold on to Hope…

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander,
along with every form of malice.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other,
just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 4:31-32

the heaviness of missing

“how anxiously I yearned for those I had forsaken.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Dream of a Ridiculous Man


(crab/ Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2019)

I have always wrestled with the notion of “good-byes”.
I don’t like them.
Never have.
Most likely never will.

There is an odd finality to it all…this business of good-byes…
or so it surely seems at the time of parting.

Perhaps it is the continuity of constancy and consistency that seem threatened
during the action of good-byes.

More times than not, I readily comprehend the cognizant reality–
meaning that my mind is well aware that I will indeed be seeing or be with whomever it is
that might be momentarily leaving my physical presence…

So in some regards, I feel almost silly for getting so worked up or sad.
My brain screams at me, telling me to suck it up, you’ll see them–again– soon–
For crying out loud!

Yet the pain in the spirit, soul, and heart is still very real
as I know that there are those good-byes that are temporary and those that are more permanent.
And it is the permanence of those good-byes that are indeed most bitter…
As all of us will eventually experience such on a very personal level.

I don’t know but I often think adopted folks feel partings perhaps a bit more deeply than others…

I am more than aware of the effects that a mother-to-be has upon her unborn baby in the womb—

There is a transference of emotions, hormones, sounds, senses…even down to the very things
the mother eats or drinks.

Throw in anger, sorrow, stress, fatigue, resentment…
all of that passes through to the one she carries.

A baby who is destined to be “left behind” following its birth…be that for adoption,
knows most pointedly on a deep subconscious level, for a lifetime, the pain of both
rejection and good-byes…

Be they simple, short and fleeting or be they bitter, lasting and full of forever loss…
a good-bye is deeply felt and understood.

And so it was with the parting of our grandchildren today, after having been with them
for the past three days, that my heart was weighed down by the stinging tears
associated with such a parting and loss…

Picking up the left-behind toys and the topsy turvy disarray of a house that only babies
and toddlers bring…
all the while battling with a personal heaviness of heart and stinging tears.

Silly emotions really, but the depth of sudden stillness can be physically unsettling
when just moments before, just before the fully loaded car pulled out of the driveway,
the level of endless energy had been deliriously exhausting as it filled the entire house.

In my particular case of loss, as my brain works tirelessly to tell me, will be blessedly short.
Yet all the while, I know that for others, some good-byes will be sadly lasting and difficult.

So I was reminded of all of this notion of partings and good-byes today when I read
my friend Salvageable’s blog post regarding his missing of a fellow blogger friend.

https://salvageable04.wordpress.com/2019/06/28/the-fading-and-disappearance-of-aurora/

Often in our lives, our experiences of missing and loss come because of the one we
long for, for whatever reason, opts to move on or perhaps move away…

There comes frustration in such losses because they are really out of our control,
as are most losses—and they come with no real explanation or reasoning.

One day they’re here, the next day they are not.
No words, no contact, no good-bye.

An open-ended loss.

Just as we experience with a death…
equally as difficult and hard to wrap one’s head and heart around…
for there is no control with the loss.

Most often, there is also no opportunity for farewell.

Either way, the after effects affect our whole being.

I offered my empathy to Salvageable as I expressed just how much I’ve missed my blogging
friend Natalie.

Much the same way that I miss my aunt.
Both became sick and yet I never saw either one of them during their illness.
In Natalie’s case, we had never met face to face.

One minute, we spoke over the phone, then there’s an illness that occurred, and then poof,
they were gone.

Just the other day, my daughter-n-law and I both lamented how much we missed “Aunt Maaaaaathhaaa”
It’s just weird that she’s no longer a physical part of our family.
We spoke on the phone on a Tuesday evening as I shared that she was to soon be a great aunt.
I had no visible bearing as to how sick she was as we chatted about my becoming a grandmother.
Her voice raspy but her mind was focused as she talked about getting some strength back.
A day later… on Wednesday, she was gone.

Similar to my friend Natalie, but our’s was communication via texts and emails while she was
in the hospital.
I told her that I was going to fly out to see her…a day later her daughter actually text back
that her mom was in ICU and for me to wait.
Four day’s later she was gone.

I liked what Salvageable had to say in his post about there being a designated place in Heaven for
Wordpress bloggers to finally meet…because there are so many of you I love dearly,
yet we have never sat together at a kitchen table and shared a face to face laugh or tear.

And such is this life of ours…perhaps it’s akin to being something like pen-pals.
One day, for whatever reason, the letters just stop coming.
Leaving us to always wonder as to what happened.

Yet thankfully there is a takeaway in all of this melancholy chatter and that is actually
the of good news in all of this heaviness.

For it is here, where many of us join and come together, that we are brought together
by our shared love for Jesus Christ.

Even those who come here to counter our words and our posts…those ardent disbelievers and atheists
who come to argue, fuss, cuss and discuss our seemingly “disillusionment”–
all come because of Jesus.

And for those of us who believe, it is that love of Jesus that sustains all of our losses,
be they great or small, temporary or seemingly neverending.

Therein resides our Hope and our Grace.

For those of you who come to fuss, cuss, discuss or for those who come simply with their loss and sorrow…
blessedly and thankfully, we all have Hope.

For He is indeed the great I AM…

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain,
for the old order of things has passed away.”

Revelation 21:4