Captian’s log: It’s all in the management

“Start with the end in mind.”
Stephen R. Covey

(a prized commodity / Julie Cook / 2020)

The Mayor has caught wind of the dire straits besetting the shelves of our stores…
as in, they are bare.

She has made an executive order—
As Mayor of Woobooville, she will keep tabs on any and all rolls of toilet paper
in the house.
She will dole out each family member’s allotted daily TP amount…
nothing more, nothing less…baring any sort of stomach virus during
our days of confinement.


(the Mayor busy at work sorting out each family member’s toilet paper ration / Julie Cook / 2020)

And so it dawned on me…
We are a people accustomed to living in the land of plenty.
We come, we go, we want, we buy, we gather…
The latter half of the 20th century, into the current 21st century,
has been a time of nothing but plenty.

Generations not knowing much about sacrifice.

The majority of our population has not known so much need as they have want.

My grandmother use to always say that “your wants will never hurt you”
This coming from a woman who was a young widowed mother raising two young girls
during The Depression and a world war.
She had little patience with wanting for the sheer sake of wanting.

We, however, are living in a time when kids will actually kill other kids
over a pair of tennis shoes…not because they need the shoes but because they
want a pair of popular trending shoes—
that’s when you know our’s is a society not so much of need but rather of want…
want of things and not the want of needs.

And so I wonder what this pandemic will teach us.
Other than the fact that we seem to think hoarding toilet paper is a key
to survival.

The Mayor asked that I share this video of Neil Diamond offering his take on
doing out part in washing our hands during this crisis of a virus…
Leave it to Neil Diamond to remind us that we can do this!!!!

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.
For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women,
burdened with sins and led astray by various passions,
always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth,
men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith.
But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all,
as was that of those two men.

2 Timothy 3: 1-9

crossing the Rubicon toward the black hole of culture

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

Men willingly believe what they wish.
Julius Caesar


(image courtesy NASA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He was wrong…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leila Miller
from Raising Chaste Catholic Men

detach from worldly things

“Be brave and try to detach your heart from worldly things.
Do your utmost to banish darkness from your mind and come to understand what true,
selfless piety is.
Through confession, endeavor to purify your heart of anything which may still taint it.
Enliven your faith, which is essential to understand and achieve piety.”

St. John Bosco


(St John Bosco)

There is so much more that I’d like to write about John Bosco, this educator/saint,
but again time is not on my side.

Hopefully, I will do so, God willing, as time allows.

But until then, I’ve included a brief biography of this man from Turin, Italy below.

This past school year was a very trying time for my daughter-n-law.
And that is putting it mildly.

Here she was, a new young first-time mother of a young child learning to manage
motherhood and her work…as work was anything but easy.

She had taught school in the public sector for several years, earning the reputation
as a stellar educator.

This past year, due to moving and making home in Atlanta, she made the move to a parochial school.

Initially, the hire seemed to be a God-send.
The woman who hired her, the then acting principal, was moved by my daughter-n-law’s record as
an educator as well as her exceptional interview.

Yet as fate would have it, this woman retired only to be replaced by an interim principal.

To say that the replacement was a bully and difficult would be an understatement.

As a veteran educator of 31 years, when I had the opportunity to meet her fellow colleagues
at her baby shower, I was struck at how miserable this staff actually was.

The entire staff hated this bullying tyrant acting principal—several vowed to quit,
many long-time veterans were fearful their contracts would not be renewed.
All the while this sadistic man seemed to have a laser of extreme hatred,
focused on his co-teacher, our daughter-n-law.

I was fretful because as our daughter-n-law was very pregnant, I was more than aware of
what outward stress internalized could possibly do to an unborn child.

We were all on pins and needles as our hands felt tied.

Frustrated and anxious summed up the winter months.

At the end of February, our son and daughter-n-law bought a new rug.
I was there the day they brought the rug home.
As we unrolled the rug, we found what first appeared to be a half dollar rolled up
inside the rug.

Upon further inspection it was a St John Bosco medal.

Hummmm…

We are not a Catholic family so my son and daughter-n-law were a bit perplexed
and unaware of who this man was.

My quasi-Catholic self knew good and well about St. John Bosco.

“Abby”, I exclaimed, “don’t you see…this is St John Bosco…he is more or less
the patron saint for educators…”
“It is a sign…God sees and He knows of your troubles…you’ve got to trust”

I had no doubt after this “coincidence” that God was at work.
Because in my world there are no coincidence but rather only the
workings of the Holy Spirit.

It’s is a long story that I will save, but circumstances grew to such a level that this
hateful man actually painted himself into a corner.
Word was issued, via e-mail, during Spring Break that this principal had been relieved of his duties
and would not be returning.

It was an answered prayer not only for our family, but also for entire school staff.

God hears, God sees, and God knows…

It is us, His often lost and clueless children, who so often need reminding.

St. John Bosco reminded our small family…

Saint John Bosco’s Story

John Bosco’s theory of education could well be used in today’s schools. It was a preventive system, rejecting corporal punishment and placing students in surroundings removed from the likelihood of committing sin. He advocated frequent reception of the sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion. He combined catechetical training and fatherly guidance, seeking to unite the spiritual life with one’s work, study and play.

Encouraged during his youth in Turin to become a priest so he could work with young boys, John was ordained in 1841. His service to young people started when he met a poor orphan in Turin, and instructed him in preparation for receiving Holy Communion. He then gathered young apprentices and taught them catechism.

After serving as chaplain in a hospice for working girls, Don Bosco opened the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales for boys. Several wealthy and powerful patrons contributed money, enabling him to provide two workshops for the boys, shoemaking and tailoring.

By 1856, the institution had grown to 150 boys and had added a printing press for publication of religious and catechetical pamphlets. John’s interest in vocational education and publishing justify him as patron of young apprentices and Catholic publishers.

John’s preaching fame spread and by 1850 he had trained his own helpers because of difficulties in retaining young priests. In 1854, he and his followers informally banded together, inspired by Saint Francis de Sales.

With Pope Pius IX’s encouragement, John gathered 17 men and founded the Salesians in 1859. Their activity concentrated on education and mission work. Later, he organized a group of Salesian Sisters to assist girls.

Saint John Bosco

I think we could have been friends…and I do have some really nice lamps

That piece of paper changed your child’s legal parents,
but did nothing to alter their DNA.

Adoption and Birth Mothers

All my life I’ve looked into a mirror and wondered…
I’ve wondered who it is that has made the face that looks back at me.

Being adopted one wonders such things.

I turn 60 this year and I still look and wonder.

Whose eyes
Whose mouth.
Whose hair.
Whose lack of eyebrows.

When I first started blogging, this was one of the topics that I would often touch upon because
it was very much a part of who I was…who I am.

I am adopted.
Born in 1959.
Adopted in 1960.

Back at the first of the year I finally decided to do one those popular DNA tests.

My physician and I got to talking about my unknown medical history…as we keep
having little surprises…
What of my son and his medical surprises and that of my new grandchildren??
Plus I had a dear friend in Colorado who had just met her own birth mother…
What did I have to lose right?

As I mentioned, I had grandchildren now and I very much wanted for them to know this
“secretive” past of mine.
I wanted /want for them to know their genealogy, their origins, just as I want them to know their
medical history…just as I want this for my son.

As of now, I have three blood relatives…my son and my two grandchildren.

I was a history major for heaven’s sake!
History is so keenly important to me…and yet I don’t know my own history.
How pathetic is that?

I have been the unofficial keeper of my family’s genealogy…but the fact of the matter is…
this is not really MY family’s history.
I feel like a specter on someone else’s tree.

Adoption is an integral part of who I am and an integral part of my DNA.
Whether I want to admit it or not, it is the fact of who I am.

I recently stumbled upon a website written by a birth mother, who had given up
her child and her current quest is to dispell misconceptions and set the
facts straight.

Some of her words pierced directly through my heart…

“It’s natural and normal to need to know where you come from and how your child is.
It’s human nature and the fact that your adopted child
has searched for you is a testament that they are actually quite normal.”

The adoptee has a RIGHT to know where they come from.
No adoptee should not have to be a banned as a dirty little secret their whole life.
No one should have to have their very existence denied to protect another’s feelings,
even their own mothers.

It doesn’t matter that you view them as a stranger now,
they were not meant to be strangers, they were not strangers, your child is not a stranger!
You are still the only person in this universe that created this human who dares
to want to talk to you.
You have a moral responsibility to BE there for your adoptee.
Mothers DO for our children.

We are supposed to provide unconditional love for them.
That is our job and the relinquishment was not a discharge from service.

Adoption and Birth Mothers

This is just a small piece to a long story.
60 years worth of a story I suppose.

Just suffice it to know that I received some disheartening news today
regarding my birth mother.

She is still alive and is 83 years young.

I’ll put all of this together into a more coherent post soon, but for now,
my emotions are simply running quite raw.

They say that children who are given up for adoption have a lifelong battle with rejection.

Should that adult child ever find their birth mother and she, though a lawyer,
states that there is to never be any sort of contact as this is a “matter” of the past and
it is in the past that it is to remain…
well, then that becomes a matter of double rejection.

Why does having a lawyer these days seem to be the definitive answer to everything?
Rather than a “by God, this is the way it is”—rather now it is “by the words of this
specific legal eagle, this’ is the end of things, capiche?
Because if not, you will be hit with some sort of legal nightmare.

I sat with tears streaming down my face this afternoon looking at a lamp that was my grandmothers.
It is indeed a fine lamp.
A beautifully old lamp.
A coveted lamp by the lamp shop who repaired it.

I have some nice things…
I don’t want your nice things.

It is not a matter of my wanting anything from someone.
I am happy, comfortable and not lacking.
There should not be a fear of some sort of monetary want.
There should not be a fear of a knock on the door and the desire for
the need of a mother.
There is no desire to rock your neat and tidy world.

There are only questions and a desire for answers.
Like where in the heck did the lack of these lips come from?

I am a nice person.
I would be a good friend.
But yet you’ve opted not to know about that.
And you said so through a lawyer.
And for that, I am sorry.

Men who live far away will come and help to rebuild the Temple of the Lord.
And when it is rebuilt, you will know that the Lord Almighty sent me to you.
This will all happen if you fully obey the commands of the Lord your God.

Zechariah 6:15

Operation

“To convert somebody,
go and take them by the hand and guide them.”

St. Thomas Aquinas


(one of my favorite games as a kid in the early 1960’s was Operation by Milton Bradely)

Yesterday my post centered on ailing…
ailing as in being sick and in turn needing a doctor…
I found today’s quote, offered below by Fr Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure,
most timely.

The ailment I was speaking of is actually the condition afflicting most of us as spiritual beings.
And as I noted, we are in desperate need of a doctor…with that doctor
being the Great Physician.

And we must know that this Great Physician has offered each of us the cure…

A cure found in the form of Salvation through the blood of His son Jesus Christ.
And yet oddly, or sadly depending on who you ask, many who are sick care not nor want or
even understand that they are in need of the Physician let alone a cure…

And even if we were aware, many have simply chosen to rewrite the prescription in order for
it to be more applicable to the desires of living life our own kind of way.

When a person who is sick is offered a prescription of medicine, and if taken correctly,
the medicine will offer a cure…why then would that sick person play fast and loose
with the dosage or even opt not to take the medicine at all…???
as it appears that they are assuming that they know more than the doctor knows.

When I was a kid, I loved the game Operation.

I loved it because I could play it with a friend or even better, I could play it alone…
while practicing my “skills”—that way I could mess up as much as it took to finally
get good enough to remove the parts without any repercussion.

I could play it for hours as I’d work on removing those things
the patient would need removing…
The winning of the game went to the person who could remove all the necessary parts, using the
special tweezers, without touching the metal sides of the opening, causing a buzzing sound.

I’d hear that buzz and think “uh oh, I’ve just let my patient perish on my operating table.”

After all my practicing, I imagined my skills to be so good that when I grew up,
I could indeed be a surgeon.

Little did my young mind comprehend that being a doctor and a surgeon would require
a great deal more than using a pair of electrified tweezers to remove a tiny plastic
piece of bread or the equally tiny little-broken heart…
the one piece that really would test my skills.

And so when I read the quote offered today by the good father, I found it rather timely
with my thoughts from yesterday.

The good father reminds us that when we are diagnosed with something rather serious
and are offered a procedure that promises to make us better… or say that it’s not even a promise
but a hope that it might make us better…we put life and limb
on the line by trusting the doctor and allowing him or her to cut us open.

And yet we are not willing to allow the Great Physician to bring us healing.

And the thing is… His healing is a guarantee.

We trust ourselves to a doctor because we suppose he knows his business.
He orders an operation which involves cutting away part of our body and we accept it.
We are grateful to him and pay him a large fee because we judge he would not act as he
does unless the remedy were necessary, and we must rely on his skill.
Yet we are unwilling to treat God in the same way!
It looks as if we do not trust His wisdom and are afraid He cannot do His job properly.
We allow ourselves to be operated on by a man who may easily make a mistake—-
a mistake which may cost us our life—-
and protest when God sets to work on us.
If we could see all He sees we would unhesitatingly wish all He wishes.”

Fr. Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure,
An Excerpt From
Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence
p. 90

intercessory needs

“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


(a single tattered azalea bloom / Julie Cook / 2018)

I have been made keenly aware that we all have certain needs in each of our little
corners of the world.

Needs which are vastly different from what would be considered typical wants.

Yet within those needs, there is indeed a form of want…

We want to be healthy.
We want to be made well.
We want to be healed.
We want to be employed.
We want to be able to pay our bills.
We want to be able to feed our families.
We want for our children to be happy, healthy.
We want to succeed.
We want to be safe.
We want to be whole.
We don’t want to be alone.
We don’t want to hurt.
We don’t want to worry…

We each have varying needs, wants, desires.
Some more pressing than others…

We pray, we implore…and we are asked to trust.

Time seems of the essence.
Yet God who is outside of the realm of both space and time…
sees and knows far more than we can grasp…
and thus we who are of both space and time…fret…worry…

And so we pray earnestly and we intercede on the behalf of those in need and want…

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us
through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole
human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which
infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us;
unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and
confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in
your good time, all nations and races may serve you in
harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen.

Prayers for the people…The Book of Common Prayer

A beating heart

What does love look like?
It has the hands to help others.
It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy.
It has eyes to see misery and want.
It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men.
That is what love looks like.

St Augustine


(sunrise as soon peeking through the trees / Julie Cook / 2018)

Consider the heart.
A muscle that beats, according to the Mayo Clinic, approximately 60 to 100 beats per minute.

That’s every minute of every hour, of every day,
of every year over the course of one’s lifetime…

According to Gizmodo:
Humans and chickens are outliers in that we get 2.21 billion and chicken
gets 2.17 billion beats (I wonder how many actually see that much).
But a lot of other animals teeter the 1 billion line:
horses, pigs, rabbits, elephants, cats, whales, etc.
Animals big or small, fat or strong,
fast or slow—it seems like there is a magic number for us all.
Other than small dogs. They got the short end of the stick.

According to Runner’s World
First of all, for the record, let’s just do some simple math.
Let’s say you’re a sedentary dude with a resting pulse of 60.
Each day, your heart beats 24*60*60 = 86,400 times.
Now let’s say you’re a real nut who takes up running and works up until you can go
for an hour every day with a pulse of 160
(which is likely an overestimate).
As you get fitter, your resting pulse drops to 50.
Now, in any given day, your heart beats 23*60*50 + 60*160 = 78,600 times.
So in fact, by running, you’re saving 7,800 beats every day!

I say all of this today about hearts as I’m off for a stress test.
I’ve never thought much about something that is actually working nonstop 24/7
never skipping a beat.
Like most everyone else, I take things like beating hearts, breathing lungs, digesting guts
all for granted until something goes awry.
Then suddenly their amazingness comes flooding to the forefront of consciousness as we
are immediately awed, annoyed and panicked all at once in the span of a split second.

Well, I have a thing called premature atrial contractions, so sometimes my heart gets
a little erratic…but I’ve had it for oh so many years and have gotten pretty much use to
the occasional catching of breath and fluttering deep within.
My doctor hasn’t fretted, nor have I…
More nuisance than worry.

And that’s not the reason for the stress test, but we’ll talk about that little reason later once
I get the good word following the results.

Seeing the sun peeking, glowing and pulsating through the trees the other morning made
me immediately think of that most sacred heart of Jesus…

The image of the Sacred Heart came racing to clarity in my mind.

An amazing image captured by man of a beating heart in a man, yet beating
for the Divine.

A crushingly humbling yet overwhelmingly moving image that leaves me awed…
remembering that in each of us remains a tiny piece of that very divine organ…

No matter our purposeful or flippant life choices…
our willingness or our refusal
our kindness or our selfishness
our openness or our disagreement
our love or our hate…

We each have a tiny beating pulsating piece of the Divine deep within our being–
a remaining, functioning and existing saving piece of Grace…

May our life’s prayer, our life’s purpose, be that we not only yearn to feel His heart beating
within us—much like a mother-to-be can hear the heartbeat of her unborn child via an ultrasound—
but that we will allow it to inspire our approach to a purposeful and Divinely inspired
Grace-filled living of life…

The Latin phrase at the bottom of this 18th-century painting by an unknown artist
is a verse from John–
For God So Loved The World…..
John 3:16

And so we are saved by the loving Grace found within that heart…
A heart that we, in turn, must act as a living example to and for a world in need.

“Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, of its very nature,
is a worship of the love with which God, through Jesus, loved us,
and at the same time,
an exercise of our own love by which we are related to God and to other men.”

Pope Pius XII