focus…

“There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading
a human’s mind against the Enemy.
He wants men to be concerned with what they do;
our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.”

C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters


(reputation today)

We live in a time without any sense of true focus.

Rather, our culture focuses on the rabbit holes and not the obvious.

Our leaders continue to cross their roles, their lines and thus, our lives.

May God have Mercy…

No one can see God without falling in love with Him,
and no one can meet a saint without meeting God in him or her.
That is the good news: that in a world dedicated to the will to power,
there is no power greater than that of sanctity;
and that in a world dedicated to the pursuit of selfish pleasure,
there is no pleasure greater than that of unselfish love of God and man.
No one can ignore or refute the joy of a saint.

Peter Kreeft
from his book How to Destroy Western Civilization

more and more alone…but we all know we are never alone…and she knows too!

“What you are to do without me I cannot imagine.”
George Bernard Shaw

“The strongest men are the most alone.”
Ibsen


(BBC)

Anyone who might have watched the funeral Saturday for Prince Philip,
or even caught a passing news story regarding his service,
undoubtedly saw the painful image of an elderly woman clad in black, stooped
with age, sitting alone in a cavernous and seemingly empty sanctuary.

Donning a black mask–attempting to breath, shedding tears, mouthing
the ancient words to an ancient faith…muffled and hindered–all adding
to the heaviness of grief.

It matters not that she just happens to be the current sitting Queen
of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland along with
other realms, as well as head of the Commonwealth and Defender of the Faith…

On Saturday, Elizabeth that elderly woman, was very much alone.

Elizabeth is the only ruling leader, from around this great big world of ours,
who is a part of that Greatest Generation…
She is the only remaining active leader who can personally remember the
time when a world was torn a part and a time when she,
along with the rest of her generation rolled up their sleeves,
doing what it took to fight tyranny and defend Western Civilization’s
democratic freedom.

I was deeply struck by that thought…
the only remaining currently active leader…

Awed by such a thought and yet I also was left feeling rather empty.

We are losing members of our Greatest Generation daily…
actually quite rapidly.

“According to US Department of Veterans Affairs statistics, 325,574
of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II are alive in 2020.”
nationalww2museum.org

Those who I have known and loved, those who served either in war or
at home, are now gone…all but my one remaining aunt who will be 96
later this year.

Before they were wed, Prince Philip served active duty in HMRN
(His Majesty’s Royal Navy) and while as a young princess, Elizabeth,
upon turning 18 in 1944, insisted on joining the women’s branch
of the Royal Army–the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS)

Despite royal lineage, they each chose the path of service.
It mattered not that their service would be precarious and even dangerous…
doing one’s part for the betterment of the whole was the only thing
that mattered.

And that is what troubles me.

Elizabeth is now alone—as in having lost those who lived that
previous time with her.
Those who knew peril yet persevered none the less.
They were stalwart.
They didn’t complain, they simply pressed on…ever forward.

No limelight, no self seeking attention, no apology tours, no
tell all books, no interviews of self complaints…
no “look, woe is me” placards worn around one’s neck…
there was nothing about self because there was no time to
think about self–there were too many others to worry over.

More or less, it was a stoic approach to a foreboding and
unrelenting storm.

And by the way, you and I, and all the generations behind us,
are the better for their generation.

But the thing that truly saddens me is that the following generations
don’t get it…they have no idea as to the sacrifice or lessons that
are to be gleaned.

I can only imagine the grief this woman feels in her heart.
Her family are all a rather fractured lot and now she has lost her
only remaining stalwart companion–
a man who had been by her side for 73 years.
That companion, that husband, that “stay” is now gone–leaving
a woman lost in her solitude.

Her grief, as witnessed in that picture of a lone figure bidding
her husband good-bye, is palpable…but I also know that Elizabeth
has a strong faith.

She and Billy Graham had a chance encounter decades ago.
A documented encounter that appears to have had a lasting effect
on Elizabeth’s faith.
So whereas Elizabeth is certainly feeling most alone today,
she actually knows that she really is not alone…not ever really.

She knows who her Savior is.

So whereas I am not worried that Elizabeth will succumb
to her grief–because she is a woman of duty and service who knows where
her true Hope lies—rather—I worry for us…
I worry for both you and I.

We are rapidly losing the leadership who understood what it meant to serve.
To put others ahead of self…putting others before their own self-centered
wants or needs.

No talk of self or selfish agendas…
No dalliance in to false ideologies.

Simply the defenders of both freedom and faith.

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,
who will judge the living and the dead,
and in view of his appearing and his kingdom,
I give you this charge:
Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct,
rebuke and encourage—-
with great patience and careful instruction.
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine.
Instead, to suit their own desires,
they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say
what their itching ears want to hear.
They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship,
do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

2 Timothy 4:1-5

Thin Blue Line Strong

“It may…be judged indecent in me to come forward on this occasion; but when I see a fellow-creature about to perish through the cowardice of her pretended friends, I wish to be allowed to speak, that I may say what I know of her character.”
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

A few weeks back I read a dialogue between a BLM activist and a Thin
Blue Line supporter. Note how I use the words activist and supporter.

Activist: a person who campaigns to bring about political or social change.

Supporter: a person who approves of and encourages someone or something
(typically a public figure, a movement or party, or a policy).

The BLM activist had gotten into a tit for tat with the Thin Blue Line Supporter

(in case you didn’t know…BLM–Black Lives Matter
Thin Blue Line—supporters of our law enforcement)

The BLM activist was vehemently going on about how black lives mattered,
while the Thin Blue ling supporter shot back that blue lives mattered too.

Well the BLM activist quipped that there are no such things as blue people.

But here’s the thing—we know the metaphors but oddly the metaphors are
only allotted to one side.

In the immortal words of our biology wiz and friend IB, ai yi yi….

Po-tah-toe vs Po-ta-to

And thus this conversation came flooding forward after I read Stephanie’s
latest Caringbridge journal entry regarding her husband Rob—the policeman shot
in the line of action earlier this week and who remains in Atlanta’s Grady Hospital’s
ICU.

Our school (the school I taught at for 31 years) has an
academic awards ceremony each spring.
The evening highlights the various academic and scholarly accomplishments
of our students..and yes, even our scholarly athletes.

Each year those students who have maintained a certain high GPA,
are earmarked as an honor graduate—
honor graduates are in turn encouraged to look back over their school years
in order to pick one of their teachers from their entire
schooling who they believe made the biggest impact on their educational growth.
These teachers, be they elementary, middle school or high school
are then awarded an “apple” plaque that is engraved with the name of the honoring
student during the academic honors program.

I was blessed over my many years to receive a lovely orchard of apples.
It was / is a tangible reminder of why we teachers do what we do.

So reading Stephanie’s latest entry regarding her and Rob’s son
Grady’s honor night this past week was more than touching.

The fact that our principal, superintendent and admin staff went that
extra mile to live-stream the event to Rob’s hospital room,
just so he could experience this special night with his son, as well as wife,
is, well…what CHS does best.

On top of that, knowing that Carrollton and Carroll County’s local
law enforcement personnel gathered together to participate en masse
to help Grady celebrate this important night all the while he is
fully aware that his dad is in a bit of dire straights was and
is tremendous.

Yes…blue lives do exist…they go the extra mile for all of us mere mortals

From Stephanie:

I left the hospital before visiting hours concluded today to attend
Honors Night with Grady and watch him receive awards for being
a projected honor graduate and a beautiful plaque for earning
his fourth-year academic letter.
So many members of our law enforcement family joined us for this celebration.
We are so grateful for the sacrifices they make every day,
but tonight was super special to have them surrounding us to support Grady.
The school was able to stream the ceremony live for Robbie to be able
to watch it from the hospital,
and they scheduled Grady to receive his awards at the beginning
of the ceremony so that Robbie would not tire while viewing the video.
Our school system’s superintendent, Grady’s High School Principal,
and the High School Administrative Team did a beautiful
job organizing the ceremony.
They recognized our law enforcement family and made a beautiful tribute to Rob.
They asked us to join them on stage for Grady to present his Honor Teacher award,
and he gave it to me.
I was so surprised and shocked.
Receiving an “apple” from a student is the most humbling and
rewarding experience for an educator.
To receive one from my own son truly was the most
fulfilling moment of my entire career.


So all metaphors aside—all lives matter—and that’s not racist…

that’s simply biblical… 

Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

1 Corinthians 12:14

when change is needed

When we are no longer able to change a situation –
we are challenged to change ourselves.

Viktor E. Frankl

For the last couple of days my posts have centered on, firstly,
the notion of tradition.
That thought then lead to the notion of change.
And not that I believe tradition needs to change…
quite the contrary.

But then the news hit close to home Monday when a friend’s husband, who happens
to be a police officer and was responding to an all-call for officers in the county
to respond to an immediate need to render aid to the Georgia State Patrol who were
actively involved with a high speed chase and shots being fired.

My friend, her husband the officer and their teenage son’s lives
have now changed forever.

The following link is to an Atlanta news station offering a video of one of
the suspects firing at other officers responding to the call following the shooting
of my friend’s husband.

https://www.fox5atlanta.com/news/video-suspect-seen-firing-multiple-rounds-directly-at-officers

These types of incidents are happening all over our country.
A police officer stops a car for a minor traffic offense and
suddenly the stop escalates into utter violence.

The driver and passengers pull out firearms and decide, rather than deal with
what would have been a routine traffic stop, they opt to shoot and run.

Why is that?

Law enforcement all over our country seem to have bullseyes on their backs.

But again, why is that?

Of course we are hearing the masses cry out that the police are targeting minorities.
That the police are profiling.
That the police are brutal.
And I’d agree that not all officers are good.
But the majority are good.
They are doing a job that is taken seriously.

And we, you and I, are the better for it.

So what would have precipitated all this negative thinking?
What has precipitated all the violence directed toward law enforcement
who are out simply doing their job?
What of this defund the police movement?

While all of this madness was swirling in my head, I happened upon the latest thinking by Newt Gingrich…but what does Newt know…he’s just some old white guy…

Consider these indicators that our civilization is beginning to fall apart.

Several days of looting and rioting in Minnesota have occurred even as a trial of a former policeman is underway proving the rule of law works.

A policeman is killed during a car stop in New Mexico, and our elites ignore the murder. In fact, Mayor Mike Elliott of Brooklyn Center, Minneapolis said in the middle of the rioting: “I don’t believe that officers need to necessarily have weapons, you know, every time they—they’re—they’re making traffic stop or engaged in situations that don’t necessarily call for weapons.”

There is a war on police underway with 264 killed in 2020, a jump of 96 percent over the previous year. In New York City, hostile forces use Molotov cocktails to set police cars on fire. Murder rates are skyrocketing around the country with 2020 the biggest one-year jump in homicides in American history – 36.7 percent.

Faced with aggressive criminal behavior and violence against innocent people – including young children being killed – Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib calls for “no more policing, incarceration and militarization.” Ironically, Rep. Tlaib represents Detroit. According to the City of Detroit’s 2020 Crime Report, there were 327 homicides in 2020, up from 275 the previous year – a 19 percent increase. There were 1,173 non-fatal shootings in 2020. This is up from 767 the previous year, which is a 53 percent increase.

In Seattle, Portland, and Milwaukee, no-go zones similar to those in France have been created which are effectively localized secessions from the United States.

Portland continues to be attacked nightly by anarchists. Despite pious statements by public officials, no effective action is underway to restore law and order.

In San Francisco, the declaration by the communist district attorney that theft under $900 will not be prosecuted has led to so much shoplifting that Walgreens is closing all 10 of its drugstores in the city.

The threat to American civilization goes far beyond violence in the streets.

Woke CEOs who refuse to condemn genocide and police state tyranny in China are quick to attack Georgia – even though President Joe Biden was just plain wrong (perhaps lying) about the state’s new election law. Moving the All-Star Game from Georgia to Colorado hurts Black small businesses (there are eight times as many employees of Black-owned businesses in Georgia than in Colorado). Furthermore, Colorado’s current voting laws are stricter than Georgia’s new ones. For the woke, it is virtue signaling – not fact – which matters.

The television establishment systematically lied to defeat President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. CNN’s Charlie Chester recently asserted: “I came to CNN to be a part of that. Look what we did, we [CNN] got Trump out. I am 100 percent going to say it, and I 100 percent believe that if it wasn’t for CNN, I don’t know that Trump would have got voted out…I came to CNN because I wanted to be a part of that.”

Of course, The New York Times, The Washington Post, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, and ABC would dispute any CNN claim that it alone defeated Trump. The two papers won Pulitzer Prizes for lying about Trump.

Traditional media hostility and dishonesty are overshadowed by the internet giants, who are increasingly acting like Russian oligarchs. They are trying to erase a leader who was supported by more than 75 million Americans with a ruthlessness worthy of Soviet tyranny and the Chinese Communist Party.

Crony capitalism is becoming bolder as big government and big business reinforce each other at the country’s expense.

Overt racism through race-based reparations, school quotas, and anti-white and anti-male curricula are a return to government-fueled discrimination and segregation.

Finally, when the state of California is considering requiring students to chant every day to an Aztec god who was the center of a human sacrifice cult, there are sound reasons to believe American Civilization is in crisis.

If we are going to remain America, we must oppose the forces trying to destroy us.

The Crisis of American Civilization

Sometimes change can be painfully slow

“Everyone thinks of changing the world,
but no one thinks of changing himself.”

Leo Tolstoy


(The Holloway Family)

I wanted to offer an update regarding my friend Stephanie’s husband, the Carrollton Police Officer
that was shot during a high speed chase in the wee hours of Monday morning.

Rob was shot in the head by a 22 year old young man.
His 26 year old cousin was driving at speeds upwards of 111 mph.

When pursued by law enforcement, the two boys began firing upon each and every law enforcement
vehicle that attempted to intervene in stopping them.

They hit Sgt Rob Holloway in the head.

Rob is the husband of a longtime colleague of mine from school.

Yesterday, my former principal text me the latest condition regarding Rob after he was life flighted
to Atlanta’s Grady Hospital Trauma Center.

The bullet remained lodged in Rob’s brain and could not be removed–
rather the surgeons had to remove part of the the right lobe of the brain.

Miraculously, by yesterday morning, Rob was talking, albeit through a morphine haze.
He asked for a sweet tea and was able to sallow his meds by mouth.

Rob is moving both hands and feet.

Brain scans are looking very positive.

We all continue to pray for Rob, Stephanie and their only child, Grady, a senior in high school.

But here is my angst in all of this.

Rob has been a police officer since 2008.

He had risen to the rank of sargent.
He was always so good to check my husband’s jewelry business in the wee hours, always
leaving a note that in the middle of the night, all was well.

He was thoughtful to this small business owner and we, in turn, were greatly appreciative.

His wife, when we worked together, was a devoted teacher who has since
moved on to being an active school administrator…
Their only child is a high school senior.

They have lived life by trusting God.

They are what we say in the South, “good people”

And yet, because of his profession as law enforcement, Rob is pigeon holed.
He is placed, by our current culture, into an ambiguous position…
a possible pariah against all mankind…
all because he simply wanted to protect and defend…

Contrary to popular belief, support for our law enforcement is not equivalent
to something racist…
despite what our current presidential administration claims to believe….the majority
of our law enforcement and first responders aim to serve the betterment of their
fellow human beings.

We have got to hold on to that and support our first responders.

Thank you all who have offered prayers of healing and hope…
There is a go fund me page for Rob Holloway set up by the wives of
local Carroll, Co. Georgia law enforcement wives.

One day, maybe, this madness will end.

change is often sudden

“Grief does not change you, Hazel.
It reveals you.”

John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

For the past couple of days I’ve been ruminating of the notion of both change and tradition.

Today, or actually yesterday if you are reading this on Tuesday, the world of change hit me
in both the head and heart.

On Monday morning I had gotten a push notification from one of the Atlanta news channels.
There had been an early morning chase between a speeding car going 111 mph on I-20,
just outside of Carroll County…our former county home.
The Georgia State Patrol responded.

It was in the wee hours, around 3 AM—the car first complied by stopping for the State Patrolman,
but as soon as the officer exited his patrol car, the suspects suddenly opted to speed off.
Upon fleeing, the occupants of the car began firing from the car at the State Trooper.
The chase moved from the interstate into Carroll county proper…again, our former county.
Both local sheriffs and local police all responded.

The car fired upon a Carrollton Police Officer’s vehicle and two Carroll County
patrol cars.
Three law enforcement officers were shot.
The Carrollton Police Sergeant who responded to the call was shot and in turn
lost control of his vehicle, crashing into a power pole.
The suspects kept firing on each responding law enforcement vehicle.

Eventually, one of the suspects was killed while the other, a 22 year old male,
was apprehended and taken into custody.

I was doing my regular Monday morning grocery run when I got a text from a friend
back home.
She asked if I’d seen the news…the news about the chase and the three officers shot.

It turns out that the Carrollton sergeant who was shot, and in turn crashed,
is the husband to one of our friends and colleagues from school.

Suddenly the news becomes personal…
Time stops in the grocery store.

Lives change.
Poor and bad choices turn into a series of vicious cause and effects for
a myriad of people.

Sergeant Holloway, the Carrollton policeman, underwent surgery on Monday
but it was not as successful as hoped for…or rather it was just simply as successful
as it could be.
The next 72 hours will be the most critical for Rob’s recovery.

I ask that you will join me in prayers for these officers, their families as well
as prayers for the boys who opted to make devastating choices.

The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan,
who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

Revelation 12:9

change vs tradition and why some things just seem to matter

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley


(then and now—an enduring relationship—Elizabeth and Philip)

Change, they say, is the one constant we can always count on.
A constant that we human beings do not always embrace.

We all like knowing that some things will always be there.
Anchors, if you will, that help keep us tethered in the often tumultuous sea of life.
Life, it seems, is a place where we are often tossed about like a rag doll.
We yearn for the sights and sounds of those things we know and have known
that call out to us of the familiar.

I think we often call them “roots”…

Now granted a few of us embrace change, the truth is that most of us loath it.

Doors close while windows open—and yet trying to convince us that the closings
can be a good thing is an entirely different matter.

In yesterday’s post, I touched on the notion of tradition—
for me it was a bit of a family tradition…
Granted, it might be a tradition that is rooted in some good ol southern grease,
it’s a tradition none the less and one I’m glad to be able to pass on and share in.

I found that yesterday’s quote by Somerset Maugham, tradition is a guide and not a jailer
actually speaks volumes to the times in which we are now living.

And we are indeed living in some very strange times!!!

We have been pleading for life to become “normal” again, yet at the same time,
we are in the full throws of the birth pangs of unchecked helter skelter change.

It is a time when we see a society throwing out both the baby and the bathwater
along with anything else that speaks of where we’ve come from and of
the things that “they” deem as unnecessary baggage.

Tradition, to our society, is no longer seen as a warm embrace but
rather that of a jailer—a set of chains that must be severed and cut.

Be it a statue…
the name of a street or school…
a television show…
a movie, music, actors, actresses, musicians
values, morals, religion, et el.

If it was, it is to be no more.

And so it was with the recent death and passing of Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, that
I was once again reminded of this notion of tradition and change.

For all of my 61 years, there are but a few things in this world that have remained constant.

Institutions really…

That of family,
Our Nation,
our three tier form of governing of check and balances,
the Seat of Peter…that of a pope guiding the Catholic Church,
and that of the British Monarchy.

And for those 61 years of mine, whereas various leadership has come and gone,
family has sadly come and gone, the map of the world constantly remains fluid,
the Queen, along her Prince Consort, have been what seems to be the only two worldly constants.

They wed 12 years before my birth.
She became queen 6 years before my birth, the same year my parents wed.

As far as I was concerned, she, and they, simply always…were.

Over the years the Royal family has ebbed and flowed in the fickled minds of “the people”
The relevance of a monarchy has often been questioned.
It is no secret that the Windsors are certainly a fractured family lot.
And why Americans should even care is an entirely different conversation.

And yet, Elizabeth and Philip have remained.

Philip, a bit of a curmudgeon, was known for having a wicked wit,
a twisted sense of humor who enjoyed telling off colored jokes and whose comments
would be often better kept unsaid.
Many often felt he possessed a sense of apparent arrogance.

He was assumed to be one of the haves in a world of have nots.

Yet I dare say that most generations after mine probably have no idea that Philip
was truly a product of the school of hard knocks.
His life really was that byproduct of a terrible dysfunctional upbringing.

Born royal, yet as a child he was stripped of home, throne and identity.
His family exiled.
His mother was institutionalized.
His father ran off with a paramour.
And his four sisters married Germans, moving to Germany and supporting the Nazi cause.

Philip would be left literally alone as a child.

He had no money, no home and no family to speak of.
He was the definition of a latch key kid…a kid with neither latch nor key.

He joined the Royal Navy at age 18.

He had no choice but to become a strong self made man—it was either that or
simply succumb to a cruel world, turn over and die.

I myself was not always a keen fan of Philip but this is coming from a person who
had never met nor known the man—so my perceptions came from things read and images seen.
No personal encounter so no real reason for a like or dislike.

But what I do know is that Philip believed in tradition–he was a staunch believer
of tradition and being disciplined by such.
Yet oddly, he was one who could also readily embrace change.

He demonstrated such an adaptation to change with a proclivity for the
rapid growth of technology.
Something that many of his generation often found confounding.

He also demonstrated his ability to change when the stability he had so yearned for,
found finally in his marriage and quickly growing young family, would be forever transformed.

Philip was a part of that Greatest Generation, having served as an officer in
His Majesty’s Royal Navy.
He loved the ocean and felt most at home when at sea.

He was athletic, dashing, smart and keenly disciplined.
He was a man’s man— a trait that this current culture of ours does not deem as
much of a positive trait.

Yet on the other hand, I for one find strong masculinity a refreshing and a most positive trait.
I believe in the importance of strong male figures in the lives of our growing children.
Our children so desperately need examples and guidance—they hunger for it.
They need to know and see what it means to be willing to go the extra mile.
They need to see sacrifice and even disappointment while one manages to keep that oh so
British stiff upper lip. Watching as one opts not to complain or whine…
but rather watching as one rolls up sleeves and jumps in with both feet…
and just starts doing.
Being proactive and not reactive.

Sadly and even oddly, it seems one grandson was lost despite having such a personal
stalwart example.

Philip demonstrated such perseverance when he gave up the Naval career he so dearly loved
in order to support his young wife as a newly crowned Queen.

Going from the head of his household to suddenly having to spend the remainder of his life
always walking one step behind his wife must have been demoralizing…
and yet he never skipped a beat.
We don’t know what went on behind closed doors, but what we do know is that when
it mattered, Philip did what had to be done.

He had to renounce who he was, in order to become a young queen’s servant and consort–
renouncing himself only to have to reinvent himself.
That’s what true men do—

Elizabeth did not lord this over her husband, but rather keenly understood the mix
of emotions that came with the sudden death of her father the King and how that now
altered her marriage forever.

The important lesson here for all of us is that both Elizabeth and Philip each knew that
there was something greater than themselves…and that was
the wellbeing of a Nation and that of its people.

People like Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip matter because they teach us lessons.
They teach us that one often has to let go of self and selfish wants in order to
do for and serve others.
True leaders lead by example—not by agendas nor by self-seeking interests.

This couple has demonstrated a depth of perseverance for over 70 years.

I think we are all the better for their example…

What others offer is up to us as to what we opt to receive.

In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.

Proverbs 16:9

indissoluble bond

The highest glory of the American Revolution was this:
it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government
with the principles of Christianity.

John Quincy Adams


(detail from a triptych I created before retiring,
based on the Isenheim Altarpiece by Matthias Grünewald)

I found this followup article to yesterday’s post…an article that actually preempted
my post from yesterday by a couple of day’s…a penultimate of sorts from
the Washingtonexaminer.com

With a similar observation, the article by Kimberly Ross, notes that
“For the first time in 80 years,
the number of Americans with dedicated church attendance has fallen below 50%.
According to a Gallup poll released Monday, only 47% of those polled confirmed that they
are members of a religious body.
This is quite a decline from previous years of polling,
which saw the number hover around the 70% mark for several decades.
Unsurprisingly, the downward trend began around the dawn of the new century.”

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/what-does-declining-church-attendance-mean-for-our-society?utm_source=deployer&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Beltway+Confidential&utm_term=Post+Up+Opens+2020&utm_content=20210401154409

And whereas I do fret and truly worry about how and where our liberally woke , Antifa laced and
oh so socialist minded society seems to be racing…gunning for our Judaeo Christian foundation,
I continue to find hope—glimpses of light that remind me that no one on Earth can nor will silence
the Resurrection of Life eternal.

I have read that God will not, cannot, ever be silenced…
yet in that proclamation however,
there is not a guarantee that the United States is destined for the ride.
The ride that connects the dots from Resurrection to Return.

And yet that very question remains in the minds of many of the faithful in our Nation.
Can we, will we be able to work toward remaining in that time line…or will we not.
Maybe we shouldn’t care.
Maybe we should.

Seek while He still may be found…

“Our national discourse is fraught with anger and tension.
There has been great struggle, sacrifice, and sadness over the past year.
There is uncertainty surrounding both economic and public health.
With challenges still remaining, there is no better time to seek spiritual guidance
and hope at places that foster relationships and fellowship.”

trying my soul

Leaves without flowers:
these are they which have words without works.

St. Thomas Aquinas
from the book Sermon in a Sentence, Vol. 5


(a soon to be blooming vine / Julie Cook / 2021)

Is it a coincidence that this week of all weeks, Holy Week, a week of the trying souls,
that WP is once again trying to make the new block editor the the only option for posting??
That the classic editor is becoming more and more elusive?
Perhaps my beloved classic editor is to be eliminated all together?
Is it not just a small microcosm, a random example of our current times?

The canceling, the exclusion, the elimination of the what was…
all for that ‘something’ that the powers that be deem to be so much other than
as well as better than…
something deemed to be more inclusive, and in turn, better?

But is all of that truly better?

Elusive and difficult, at best, is not better.

Does it matter that a portion of the population prefers what was???
Preferring that ‘what was’ is something that works best and better for others??
Or is it that ‘they’ and ‘it’ are both simply obsolete?

My husband and I ran to Home Depot today…a trip we make almost three times a week,
while we head to Lowes the other days of the week—
either way, we are in search of things needed for this new old home we’ve “inherited”
via purchase.
But let’s not go there today.

So I opted to sit in the car while my husband ran into the store.

While I sat in the car I pulled out my phone and saw that I had a notice that
The Chosen was offering their new trailer for the soon to be released Season 2.

The Chosen–that marvelous crowd funded show about the life of Jesus…via the
backstories of those who came in contact with the son of a carpenter…

I clicked on the trailer.

Isn’t it funny how God often desires to “speak” to us, His children, in places and in ways
we’d never imagine?
It matters not when nor where God opts to speak out loud to us–He will speak no matter
what or when!

He spoke to me today in the parking lot of the Home Depot in Athens, Ga.

I heard a resounding word—“your world is small, MY world is all encompassing.”

I looked at all the cars, all the folks pushing carts all around me…
Everyone was busy.
Life was on the move…and yet…
I had a resounding sense that all that I was seeing and experiencing was oh so small
and insignificant.

There was a true sense of peace in all of that.

All the news, all the mayhem, all the politics, all the legalities, all the pandemic..
all the madness taking place..none of it mattered…I felt a sudden sense of being
small and insignificant.

And in that insignificance, in that smallness…there was a release.
A peace found in the small…
No news
No storms
No politics
No laws
No division
No defunding police
No lawmakers
No masks
No vaccines
No trials
No hate
No death…

All bits and pieces of insignificance.

Our God…your God, my God..
Greater than anything of this world…
Greater than our own thoughts and imagination…
Thank goodness!!!

“I’ve appointed the Devil to tempt and to trouble My creatures in this life
[St. Catherine of Siena reports that Our Lord said to her].
I’ve done this, not so that My creatures will be overcome,
but so that they may overcome, proving their virtue and receiving from Me the glory of victory.
And no one should fear any battle or temptation of the Devil that may come to him,
because I’ve made My creatures strong, and I’ve given them strength of will,
fortified in the Blood of My Son.
Neither the Devil nor any other creature can control this free will,
because it’s yours, given to you by Me.
By your own choice, then, you hold it or let it go if you please.
It’s a weapon, and if you place it in the hands of the Devil,
it right away becomes a knife that he’ll use to stab and kill you.
On the other hand, if you don’t place this knife that is your will into the hands of the Devil—
that is, if you don’t consent to his temptations and harassments—
you will never be injured by the guilt of sin in any temptation.
Instead, you’ll actually be strengthened by the temptation,
as long as you open the eyes of your mind to see My love, and to understand why
I allowed you to be tempted: so you could develop virtue by having it proved.
My love permits these temptations, for the Devil is weak.
He can do nothing by himself unless I allow him.
So I let him tempt you because I love you, not because I hate you.
I want you to conquer, not to be conquered,
and to come to a perfect knowledge of yourself and of Me.”

St. Catherine of Siena, p. 159-60
An Excerpt From
Manual for Spiritual Warfare

Does our anxiety separation grow exponentially with age?

“The geographical pilgrimage is the symbolic acting out of an inner journey.
The inner journey is the interpolation of the meanings and signs of the outer pilgrimage.
One can have one without the other. It is best to have both.”

Thomas Merton


(the unhappy traveling Mayor when a loved one leaves the car and she does not / Julie Cook/ 2021)

Recently it’s been hard to ignore, but both the Mayor and Sheriff have developed
a bit of separation anxiety when one of their loved ones gets out of the car
in order to run an errand.

I tend to be the lucky one left behind to sit with the unconsolable two
while their mom or dad runs in to a store.

What started out as a content and happy journey of riding in the car
has slowly morphed into the understanding that a loved one is leaving
while they are being left behind.

And so this latest toddler developmental drama has gotten me thinking.

Our past year, meaning both yours and mine, has been anything but pleasant.
To say it’s been trying is simply putting it mildly.

Anxiety ridden?
Yes.

We’ve been forced to mask up, sanitize until our skin cracks, be vigilant against
an unseen enemy, line up for a questionable shot, forced to become TP hoarders…

We’ve put education on the back burner, we’ve worked and lived in isolation,
we’ve balanced home and work all within the home, we’ve stayed put, stayed apart,
watched helplessly as our government has turned on us, wondered who we are as a nation,
struggled to find new ways to reinvent ourselves, labored to balance our physical
and mental health, locked down life as we knew it, missed out on our favorite activities…
etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…

I think the worst has been the separation.
Physically, mentally and emotionally.

It has been thrust upon us… and the jury is still out as to whether it
has been the right choice.
Chances are, when we look back, we will know it was indeed wrong.

Our seniors have been left alone in their Assisted Living facilities…
often falling ill and even dying alone…as family has not been allowed to visit.

Funerals have come and gone without the attendance of the typical respect of attending mourners.

Schools have shuttered their doors, leaving kids to “learn” remotely, alone.

The very nature of our beings, the social creatures that we are, has been stripped from us.

It has just over a year when this madness began.

This virus that has disrupted the globe, originated in Wuhan, China…

I don’t know a single person who has ever blamed the Asian community for any of this…
The CCP, the Communist Chinese Party is who is to blame…not the Asian people.

So for our news media, and even some governmental leadership, to spin that there is
a surge in crimes against Asian Americans carried out by white suprematists…
what we know as those majority of Trump voters who are simply white conservatives,
is blatantly egregious and a glaring lie.

A disturbed man in Atlanta went on a killing spree this past week, killing 8 people,
near and around Atlanta’s metro area.
His victims were all associated with Asian Spas as either customers or workers.
He claims a sexual addiction made him do such.
Shades of Flip Wilson claiming “the devil made him do it”

And that is what it is…the devil.
The Evil One who reigns supreme.

The young man is an unbalanced “nut job” and not a serial killer of Asian people.
He is not a minion of Donald Trump, contrary to what the news and certain leaders
would have us believe…
all because the former president told us that this current virus is from China.
Of which it is.

Our media and leaders are lying to us by creating ghost scapegoats where no
scapegoats are to be found.

Our journey this year has been hard enough.
If we begin being sucked into believing lies,
the year suddenly becomes heavier and even much more difficult.

Our separation from the Father of all creation is at the root of all our angst.

We have turned our vision from the greater to that of the lesser.
We have turned away from our Creator and turned rather to the mortal man.
Allowing man to become our greater god.
A small god who will always disappoint.

This journey has just become even more miserable…all because of our separation…
Separation from one another but more importantly, the separation from our God.

I think the Mayor and Sheriff are on their way to true knowledge.
When the very one who you put your entire life into their hands leaves you…
it is indeed dire.

Our opting to separate from our God our Father is becoming life ending.

In order to continue this difficult journey…we need God.
And if you find yourself laughing at such a thought or mocking this little proclamation of mine…
you just tell me how you want to keep moving forward if you don’t have Grace to
help you keep going…
Good luck with that.

Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:6-9