the underdog who wants its Sunday’s back

But I will go down with this ship
And I won’t put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I’m in love and always will be..
.

White Flag lyrics by Dido

The great danger for family life,
in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort and independence,
lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish.

Pope John Paul II


(Alice, our grand-dog, is not an underdog necessarily, rather a very much loved dog
/ Julie Cook / 2017)

I have always been a person who likes to pull for the underdog…
that team, group or individual who has the odds stacked against them, him or her.

Maybe that’s because, as a wife and mother, I have often felt my brood has
at times fallen into the category of the underdog.

Those who stare from the bottom of the barrel upward at those perceived to be bigger,
better, brighter, smarter, richer, luckier, more successful, more this and more that.
As the bottom is pitted against the upper—
with the odds never being good or favorable.

Maybe it’s that little college team that has no chance playing against that top
ranked huge opponent but who must play anyway…all in order to bring much needed
revenue in to their less advantaged school.

They are out coached, out weighed, out numbered and out financed..
To play is a risk both physically as well as mentally…but nonetheless,
play they do.

They go forward despite the odds.
The roll up their sleeves despite the inevitable.
They hold their heads up knowing they will soon be knocked down.

Yet there is never shame in trying and holding ones ground.

And so when I read the latest post, of which I have provided the link…
a post from a delightful blog I follow—
a blog that doesn’t post often, but when there is a post, it is usually very profound
and or powerful….
I was reminded again of why I like an underdog….

The blogger and family wouldn’t dare consider themselves profound or powerful—
for theirs is a simple sort of life but one that possesses a deep
rooted spiritual faith.
They are a Catholic family living in the shadows of Notre Dame…
who are just one more link in the chain of defenders of this collective
Christian faith of ours….

Thoughts from the side of the House…..

America Implodes on “Black Friday”…. Meanwhile, POLAND Leads the Way Towards Sanity

This post captured my feelings exactly of how I feel not only about Black Friday
but how I feel as to how America, along with most of Western Civilization, has turned
Christmas into something totally unrecognizable.

And maybe that has been the goal all along.
No longer is it Christmas as we thought we knew Christmas…
but rather it is a “winter” moment, or if in the Southern Hemisphere,
it is a “summer” moment…a moment that just so happens to have copious gift
giving attached.

And just when we thought the world had gone mad with all things materialistic
and secular… in steps the often mocked, maligned and overlooked nation of Poland.

I have written about Poland before, for various reasons.

I don’t think many of us living in this Western Civilization of ours actually
realizes the debt of gratitude we truly owe to Poland.

Poland for well over 1000 years has stood on the defining line between
Western Civilization and all sorts of barbarism, communism, socialism, Nazism, totalitarianism and now secularism.
For every ‘ism’ out there—Poland has stood against it as the defining line
of right verses wrong.

Poland was the line between the Mongols, the Saracens, the Nazis and the Communists…
just to name but a few of the invading hordes whose sites were always set on
freedom and democracy.

But Poland has said “NO!” time and time again,
even at the greatest cost to herself and her people.

She sacrificed herself more times than not…and yet was the butt of
every American’s jokes in the late 60’s and 70’s…
“how many Pollocks does it take to unscrew a light bulb?”
You remember the jokes.
Even Archie Bunker of All in the Family fame helped fuel the ridiculing fires.

Yet it is to Poland and her people who those of us enjoying life in the Western World
owe a great deal of gratitude to…
gratitude for the very freedoms we each enjoy today as it was Poland who stood on the
defending line of “us verses them” for over 1000 years.

Selflessness verses the often sought self preservation

She has even disappeared off the map more than once when she was gobbled up by
usurpers who ate the nation and her people only to later spit them back out.
A sacrifice made and given as that has been her lot and her role.

When we think of mighty nations, Poland does not come to mind.

Yet it was in Poland that Hitler had the majority of his Death Camps.
And it was Poland who was sacrificed to Stalin by Roosevelt.
And it was Poland who stood up to the mighty USSR.

And it is now Poland who wants her Sundays back.

Sundays back you ask…???

Sundays yes…because out of all the nations, Poland is still considered to
be a decisively Christian nation.

No other nation is considered such—not even
France, Ireland or Italy…as most of the the West, along with most of North America,
has fallen to the god of all things secular.

Here in the West, we have gotten quite accustomed to living life 24 /7
Meaning we can go, do, buy, see whatever it is we want on any given
single day of the week.

It use to not be that way.

Sunday was the sabbath….
It still is but most folks have forgotten that little fact.

Most everything was closed in observance of the Sabbath.
People were off from work, they would attend church, they would spend time
visiting, eating together, being a family together….

In the West we had what was known as blue laws—laws that restricted certain
activities on Sundays as Sunday was to be a day of Christian religious observation.
Malls were closed, banks and the Post offices were closed, many stores were closed,
bars were closed, most restaurants were closed, the sale of beer, wine and liquor was prohibited…on and on it went.

Then that all changed.
For a myriad of reasons— profits, selfish wants, greed…
The notion of wanting and having when and how one wanted things took precedence.
Laws were changed.

But Poland wants to see all of that changed…reversed back to Sunday being a day of
reverence, a Sabbath, a day for family….
“Just this week the lower house of the Polish parliament passed a bill to phase out unnecessary consumer spending on Sundays.
The law would curtail most shopping in order to allow the Polish people
to spend time with their families.”

Once again, Poland, that underdog of nations, demonstrates that despite being small
and considered by others as less than….no one will ever say that Poland is afraid
to stand up against what she perceives to be wrong,
standing even that means she stands alone for what is right…..

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all
kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven,
for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:10-12

measuring

The measure of a life,
after all,
is not its duration,
but its donation.

Corrie Ten Boom

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(everything is so early this year—blooming cherry trees and the visiting honey bees/
Julie Cook / 2017)

We are a measuring people…
we just seem to love to measure…
It’s as if we’ve been measuring ever since the dawn of Creation.

We measure everything….
space,
time,
distance,
amounts,
gains,
averages,
percentages,
odds,
growth…

Just as we measure…
decline,
decrease,
failure,
depletion,
shrinkage,
loss,
and demise…

We measure both life and death…as well as the distance separating the two.

This whole concept of numbers, benchmarks, averages and time seems to be of the
utmost importance to us.
Measuring allows us the satisfaction of knowing if we’ve actually been successful,
having accomplished a certain task, goal or desire.
It also gives us some sense, some idea, as to how far we still need to go in order to
reach a set goal, desire or postion.

Measuring and its results makes us feel in control.

And it is certainly paramount when considering such endeavors such as construction,
tailoring, manufacturing, producing, building, mending…
It is in such that both precision and measurement walk hand in hand.
Meaning… we can’t have one without the other.
Anything other then precise leads to skewed, crooked, awkward, flawed
as well as imperfection…
as we’ve learned to equate measurement with both precision and perfection…
as well as with safety.

Yet no matter how precise we try to be, no matter how perfect, how accurate…
we continue making mistakes.
And our mistakes can have catastrophic results…
leaving us not in the place we prefer…
that of being knowledgable and in control…
but rather…
we find ourselves as helpless victims of our own failures and errors.
Wishing to hide, lest anyone know it was upon our mistake of flawed measuring
which resulted in disaster….

Yet we simply, and often flippantly, chalk that up to human nature…
for we are indeed an imperfect lot…
despite our best attempts to measure…along with precision, perfection,
accuracy and control…
we misread, mismeasure and miscalculate…

Yet in our busyness of measuring, we have become accustomed to measuring
not only the abstract…
but we are very comfortable measuring ourselves…
We measure our self worth and our sense of well being…
With our benchmark being anything and everyone other than ourselves…

We constantly gauge our level of satisfaction by how others measure up to us and
how we measure up to others…

Are we happier than…
Are we more successful than…
Are we better off than…
Are we more financially secure than…
Are we healthier than…
Are we prettier than…
Are we thinner than…
Are we younger looking than…
Are we more comfortable than…
Are we further along than…
Are we more popular than…

Our question must therefore remain…what is it that we measure?
And what shall we be measured by…

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you:
Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought,
but rather think of yourself with sober judgment,
in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

Romans 12:3

‘You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measurement of weight, or capacity.
‘You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin;
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from the land of Egypt.

Leviticus 19:35-36
(ephah: a Hebrew dry measurement / hin: a Hebrew liquid measurement)

You must be a gambler

“Yes, I can understand that a man might go to gambling table – when he sees that all that lies between himself and death is his last crown”
Honoré de Balzac

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

James 4:14

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(an unmarked ancient grave in the cemetery of St. Kevin’s Monastery Glendalough, County Wicklow, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Words were once uttered.
Promises were clearly made
Covenants and tenants were freely given.

A roadmap, if you will, to living within the realm of balance.

Dos and Don’ts
Cans and can’ts
Yes and no

The wisdom of one Wiser than yourself issued a decree.

Ancient words now reduced to dust
Mumbo jumbo and poppycock
Fairytale dribble

You deem its relevance unnecessary

Was it real or imagined
Made up, fabricated, perpetuated
Promises given or just a pack of silly lies?

Yet in the back of your mind, you’re always left wondering…
There are days you consider the possibilities
Did He?
Didn’t He?
Was He?
Wasn’t He?

Is He…?

You live your life as though He never was.
His words, if they were His words, mean nothing to you.
You scoff, you ridicule, you curse His very existence.
Yet the words dog you, nagging and nipping at your heels.
Why curse that which you deem non-existent?
Why do you let it bother you, allowing it under your skin,
if it’s nothing but a tale?

You roll the dice each morning when you wake.
You’ve perfected a poker face…all the while hiding behind the emptiness
You live your life as if the odds are stacked forever in your favor…
yet you can’t help but wonder…

Take the risk or play it safe, throwing caution to the wind…
Or do you simply turn around, walking away forever…
A friendly little wager of “what if”…
…or is it really something much more costly…

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

Ephesians 5:15-17

time is fleeting

“Your poor heart, in which God put appreciation for everlastingness, will not take electronic gadgets in lieu of eternal life. Something inside of you is too big for that, too terrible, too wonderful. God has set everlastingness in your heart. All the things of this world are here for but a moment and then are gone. None can satisfy the longing for that eternal ragging in the soul of every man.”
― A.W. Tozer

DSC02433
(a fleeting tiger swallowtail / Troup Co. Georgia / Julie Cook / 2015 )

Time is not mine this week. . .
Yet I wonder. . . is time ever really our own?
There are no guarantees, just all assumptions on our part.
I think we’re all actually just a bunch of gamblers who play the odds. . .
We bet that our days, our weeks, our months and our years will always play out
neatly and conveniently. . .that is. . .up until the moment both Time and Life intervene. . .

So while Life and Time have their way with me this week, I will grab hold, riding the waves come what may. . .clinging to the one Truism in my world—that no matter what life, time, the world may throw my way, God already knows how this week will pay out and in that I find my Peace. . .

Behold, the LORD’S hand is not so short That it cannot save;
Nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear.

Isaiah 59:1

Win, Place, Show

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
Mahatma Gandhi

DSC01149
(bottle stopper / Julie Cook / 2015)

Are you a betting man or woman?
Have you studied the odds?
What are the bookies and odd makers saying?
Who’s the trainer?
Who’s the owner?
Have there been other races, any wins?
What’s the story?

50 / 50 chance really.
Be there two in the field or 100
Either it does or it doesn’t.
Either it is or it isn’t.
On any given day, it’s anyones game
It’s a. . .
Yes
or
No

Take the chance?
Or
Play it safe?
Go with the favorite, the sure thing
Or
Take your chances on the long-shot?

Risk taker?
Gambler?
Safe?
or
Risky?

Does it ever really matter who comes in 2nd or 3rd?
Any one other than the winner might as well have been last.
As the only one anyone ever remembers is the winner. . .
And once another race rolls around, most often than not,
All previous winners go out the window as the new winner is crowned.

We all like a winner, that’s for certain.
We cheer for winners.
We pay money for winners.
We follow winners.
We celebrate winners.
We want to surround ourselves by winners
We even seem to buy into the notion that winning should come at any and all costs. . .
And we are devastated when a winner loses. . .

That is until we find a new winner to cheer. . .

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
2 Timothy 4:7-8

Odds not looking too good?

“The things a man has to have are hope and confidence in himself against odds, and sometimes he needs somebody, his pal or his mother or his wife or God, to give him that confidence. He’s got to have some inner standards worth fighting for or there won’t be any way to bring him into conflict. And he must be ready to choose death before dishonor without making too much song and dance about it. That’s all there is to it.”
Clark Gable

Frankly Scarlett, the odds looked stacked against our little friend.
Two giant Goliaths against our little David the Crab.

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And suddenly the odds seemed to even out a bit, as it was now at least one against one.
Yet, sadly, the odds were still looking to be going against our small friend’s favor.

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Never being one to tolerate the picking on or bullying of those who are smaller or less than, and not too keen on how Mother Nature was wanting to play her hand out against this little guy this particular morning, I moved in, making my presence known—with the result sending the bullying gulls scurrying down the beach in search of other troubles and meals—all the while one lone crab remained, having seen, literally, better times.

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It was my hope that the little crab would be able to make it with the one good remaining eye. . .with that thought passing through my mind, a wave gently pulled our small friend back into the water, away from hungry gulls, but into what new troubles and foes which may be lying in wait, in the depths of the sea, I simply knew not.

With this small microcosm drama, playing out on a lone stretch of beach, I was suddenly palpably aware of our own plights of struggles and peril when life appears to stack the odds against us.

There will be many times throughout our lives when we will play the part of David–perhaps young and naive, or perhaps ill prepared while facing a foe bigger than life. Our Goliaths may not be actual giants but rather something more sinister, deadly or seemingly insurmountable–be it a dreaded illness, a chronic illness, a death sentence. . . the loss of a career, the death of a spouse or child, a divorce, a loss of home, a failed test, a lost savings, a move—giant odds, difficult odds, challenging odds, deadly odds, unbeatable odds. . .

It is not necessarily a matter of our winning the battle, or of our beating the odds. . .but rather it is the fact that we have what it takes–the courage, the finesse, the desire, the hutzpah, the moxie, the will, the tenacity, the stubbornness, to reach down and pick up that rock—because if we don’t bother to pick up the rock, the odds will win, every time.