Now I lay me down to sleep…

“now I lay me down to sleep…”


(The Mayor on a recent visit to the statalite office of Woobooville / Julie Cook / 2019)

Feeling rather discouraged last evening…as I readied myself for bed, I had hurriedly read the post
of a dear blogger friend in Colorado who was sharing her feelings about adoption,
abortion, Woe v Wade, life, death…
and of course, with my having been adopted, it hit a strong chord.

I have really not felt very well as of late and that has had a great deal to do with how I
filter what it is that I take in from the world around me, around us…
all of which has been at best– abysmal.

The Covington Catholic Shcool debacle has really shaken my feelings about this country of ours.

Add to that a sitting president being told by the speaker of the house that he cannot deliver
a state of the union address…
yes all lower case letters because it is such a true all-time low that this
Nation of ours has hit.

Here is Shara’s post from Tuesday:
Unhappy Birthday Roe v. Wade!

As I was putting down my phone for the evening, having tucked my laptop in for the night…
I told my husband, as I turned out the bedside light, “you know, despite all the bad, all the
negative, all the hurtful and distressing…
I still feel a tremendous sense of hope.
There are folks all over out there…
out in Colorado, California, Virginia, Washington, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Arkansas, Texas,
England, Wales, Scotland, Africa…
posts I read that offer me a tremendous sense of hope and well being.

Christians who maintain a sound position of Truth.

I am comforted in knowing that all is not lost.
And so I thank each of you who continue to offer me, as well as all of us, the hope everlasting that
is found simply in your words…
You offer the eternal Truth that God remains…no matter what, He remains eternal and Omnipotent.

For all that is bad…
For all that is negative…
For all that is disparaging…
there remains…
Hope…

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
May the angels watch me through the night,
and keep me in their blessed sight.
Amen

simple and vulnerable… tiny and small

“He who carries God in his heart bears heaven with him
wherever he goes.”

St. Ignatius of Loyola


(julie cook / 2013)

While it is the loudest, the brightest and the biggest that currently vies desperately
for attention…

A culture dares to scream out to all who give ear…that bigger is better…
and that even bigger is better still…

It is a time when more equates to satisfaction and it is only in fullness where true
happiness will be found…

Yet it is also oddly a time when more is never truly enough…and the full
are never contently satiated…

It is a time of glaring sensory overload…
when even in sleep a brain is unable to find rest…

Yet Omnipotence continues to seek out the lowly,
capturing the attention of a world gone mad.

A reminder is currently proclaimed…
that it was but a baby who entered the world, humble and meek, who would
in turn, be King.

It was the simple and the vulnerable, the tiny and small, who stopped the world from
spinning…but for the briefest of moments.

Where have all those prophets of old now gone?
Those voices who foretold the glories of Salvation?

Where are those who defied the world while proclaiming both Hope and Peace?

Rest assured, we are told, they have not gone far from view.

They are still very much amongst us.
Walking tiny and small between the giants of this land

They are quieter than the oh so loud and prideful self-consumed…

They are the ones who stop, lingering long enough to listen…those who
will hear the baby’s cry while standing ever so still…

“Write:
I am Thrice Holy, and I detest the smallest sin.
I cannot love a soul which is stained with sin; but when it repents,
there is no limit to My generosity toward it.
My mercy embraces and justifies it.
With My mercy, I pursue sinners along all their paths,
and My Heart rejoices when they return to Me.
I forget the bitterness with which they fed My Heart and rejoice at their return.
Tell sinners that no one shall escape My Hand; if they run away from My Merciful Heart,
they will fall into My Just Hands.
Tell sinners that I am always waiting for them,
that I listen intently to the beating of their heart . . .
when will it beat for Me?”
St. Maria Faustina
excerpt from The Diary of St Maria Faustina

“Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, a simple, uneducated, young Polish nun receives
a special call.
Jesus tells her, “I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world.
I do not want to punish mankind, but I desire to heal it,
pressing it to My merciful Heart.”

Jesus also tells her to record His message of mercy in a diary:
“You are the secretary of My Mercy. I have chosen you for that office in this and the next life.”
These words of Jesus are found in the Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska,
which chronicles Sr. Faustina’s great experience of Divine Mercy in her soul and her mission
to share that mercy with the world.

In the Diary, this woman mystic’s childlike trust, simplicity,
and intimacy with Jesus will stir your heart and soul Her spiritual insights will
surprise and reward you.
“Only love has meaning,” she writes.
“It raises up our smallest actions into infinity.”
(The Catholic Company)

Sister Faustina was a young, uneducated nun in a convent of the Congregation of
Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Poland during the 1930s.
She came from a poor family that struggled during the years of World War I.
She had only three years of simple education,
so hers were the humblest tasks in the convent, usually in the kitchen or garden.
However, she received extraordinary revelations — or messages — from our Lord Jesus.
Jesus asked Sr. Faustina to record these experiences, which she compiled into notebooks.
These notebooks are known today as the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska,
and the words contained within are God’s loving message of Divine Mercy.

“Though the Divine Mercy message is not new to the teachings of the Church,
Sr. Faustina’s Diary sparked a great movement,
and a strong and significant focus on the mercy of Christ.
Saint John Paul II canonized Sr. Faustina in 2000 making her the
“first saint of the new millennium.”
Speaking of Sr. Faustina and the importance of the message contained in her Diary,
the Pope calls her “the great apostle of Divine Mercy in our time.”
thedivinemercy.org

The Creator

“To argue that God is “trying His best” to save all mankind,
but that the majority of men will not let Him save them,
is to insist that the will of the Creator is impotent,
and that the will of the creature is omnipotent.”

Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God


(Le Mont-Saint-Michel / Normandy, France / Julie Cook / 2018)

“Now, may our God be our hope.
He Who made all things is better than all things.
He Who made all beautiful things is more beautiful than all of them.
He Who made all mighty things is more mighty than all of them.
He Who made all great things is greater than all of them.
Learn to love the Creator in His creature, and the maker in what He has made.”

Saint Augustine, p. 136
An Excerpt From
Augustine Day by Day


(a view of the “chruch on the rock” at low tide / Julie Cook / 2018)

“God writes straight with crooked lines…”

If I were worthy of such a favor from my God,
I would ask that he grant me this one miracle:
that by His grace He would make of me a good man.

Saint Ansgar

What a marvelous desire—simply that God would make me good.

And oh what a miracle that would be.

For in this wish, is the knowledge that said goodness will not come by my own hands nor
by my own works…
but rather, only by the hand of God’s Grace and God’s Grace alone…
and thus a miracle beyond my mortal bounds

That such a goal should be my sole aim, my sole prayer…in this life…
that God would work to make me good…

Nothing grand, nothing special, nothing newsworthy, nothing glamorous…
neither rich, nor beautiful, nor thin, nor even particularly healthy…
nor powerful, nor smart, nor gifted…
but simply…good.

For the past couple of days, a few of the saints from day’s gone by,
have crossed my 21st-century path.
The other day it was St Boniface, today it’s St Ansgar.

And not that any of those brave men and women,
those who helped to forge our faith into what it is today,
are ever very far from me— my thoughts, my observations or my recollections…
it’s just that when God throws a few of those stalwart souls before the steps of my path,
that obviously, I must stop and pay attention…
for with God, there are no accidents.

Saints, mind you, are not individuals who would have ever claimed, nor claim today,
themselves to be such…
More realistically they were, as the familiar expression goes, ordinary people,
doing extraordinary things…

Many were actually sickly and feeble of body, others, such as our dear St Peter, had moments
that were less than stellar, in fact, moments that screamed of deep character flaws.

But whoever said God wasn’t able to make those silk purses from the ears of swine?

He’s good that way…and I am most grateful!

For it seems that there are days, that I am more often than not,
content to spend my time lounging in the pigstye.

Yet this loving Father continues reaching into that nasty pit in order to pull me from the
odious mud, working to clean me off as He nudges me forward…

Only to watch me, bewildered I would imagine, time and time again running back to
the comfort of the mudstye…as I readily put off once again His agenda at hand.

But I don’t think God is ever bewildered as He already knows my choices and my decisions…
just as He persistently continues cleaning and nudging.

So today I must confess that St Boniface is much more recognizable to me than St Ansgar.

In fact, I had never heard of St Ansgar before today.
But it seems that he is known as “the apostle of the North”
North being Scandinavia.

He is also known as the patron saint of Denmark.

Now when I think of Scandinavia, I think of Vikings…and if we know anything about Vikings,
it’s that they were not the most peace-filled, warm and fuzzy, full embracing sort of individuals
one would want to actually encounter.

Theirs was a deeply rich and entrenched culture immersed in the notion of the Norse gods
and Valhalla.
The raging sea and the cold of their lands.
Throw in some plundering, pillaging and raping and you had the warrior clans of the North.

I can only imagine the trepidation about having to head into their territory to spread the Gospel
of the One Omnipotent God and the saving Grace found in His resurrected Son.

There were language barriers, cultural barriers, a climate barrier, a customs barrier,
a physical appearance barrier, and most importantly, an end-goal barrier—as in a Viking’s
end goal in life was not that of a Chrisitan missionary’s end goal.

Mongering and surviving vs converting.

Ansgar (801-865) who lived about 200 years following St Boniface, was much like Boniface
in that neither man lived long enough to see the fruits of their labors come to fruition.

Neither of the groups of soul’s hearts who they had been instructed to go forth and turn,
had their hearts turned during the lifetime of either of these Godly men.

Oh, there were the brief time periods of peace, hope and redemption…but nothing
permanent and long lasting…not until others followed in the footsteps of
these determined men many years later. Along a path that these men had bravely cut.

Yet neither man saw their life’s work as a waste of time.
The key was that they were doing what God had sent them to do.
God did not tell either man there would be success and glory in the end…
they each simply prayed that God would lead and they, in turn, would follow.

They had prayed to do God’s will…not their will, not their desires, but rather God’s…
and so they lived their lives doing just that.
One being martyred at the hands of those he wished to turn and the other dying after
seeing his life’s work destroyed by the very souls he yearned to turn.

History records what people do, rather than what they are.
Yet the courage and perseverance of men and women like Ansgar can only come from a
solid base of union with the original courageous and persevering Missionary.
Ansgar’s life is another reminder that God writes straight with crooked lines.
Christ takes care of the effects of the apostolate in his own way;
he is first concerned about the purity of the apostles themselves.

(excerpt from https://vitaesanctorum.wordpress.com/2018/02/01/saint-ansgar/ )

So we are reminded that no matter what He has to work with, God will always write straight…by that which will never seem straight in the eyes of the world— and it is there inwhich lies our prayer…that
by His Grace, He may make us good…

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live,
but Christ who lives in me.
And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

the Christian Paradox

“We live in an age when unnecessary things are our
only necessities.”

Oscar Wilde


(the sad little cherub birdbath has seen better days / Julie Cook / 2017)

Reflecting back over this past and most chaotic year—chaotic on so many levels….
As it has been chaotic, yes, personally but perhaps the correct word there
would be difficult….

Yet chaotic is what it has been, none the less and more importantly, on
a National and Global level….
thus making it more acute because its a sort of chaotic which affects us all.

It has been a year which has seen its fair share of words and acronyms,
some tried and true, some new and biting…each having left us changed.

Words and letters such as BREXIT, Tweet, Trump, Merkel, May,
Hillary, Russia, Putin, LBTGQ, ISIS, snowflakes, cupcakes, harassment,
sexual, misogynist, tolerance, intolerance, conservative, media, fake news,
liberal, Socialist, Nazi, Communist, accept, Democrats, Homophobic, Republicans, e-mails,
leaks, white supremacist, racist, walls, migrants….

On and on the list has grown….
so perhaps the ending of this particular year is coming none too soon.

It has certainly been perplexing watching the shift in dynamics within our Nation
as well as within the world at large.

It has been disconcerting watching this shift in Culture—
particularly in and with what we thought we knew.

It is maddening to be called “phobic” when one simply disagrees with a sinful
lifestyle.

In the latest posting of Anglican Unscripted, Bishop Ashenden was also opining
the same sorts of issues but with a more keen eye on the shift within Christian
Culture and the Church….

The good Bishop notes that there are all sorts of calls emanating from various pulpits,
all the way to Canterbury itself, the ancient seat of the Anglican Church—

Calls are being made for a total acceptance, absolute tolerance and drastic change….
Coupled by the actual accusations towards those who opt not to get on board with the
acceptance, the tolerance and the change….
Actually accusing those who cling to Scriptural Authority as being outdated,
out numbered and flat out wrong.

I can remember when words from various pulpits were words of God, Salvation, Fatih, Sacrifice, Obedience, Jesus, Love, Grace—
not this modern mantra of jumping on the culture train or else…….

Bishop Ashenden notes that it seems as if the majority of the English Clergy,
(and I would include their kissing cousins of the Episcopal Church), are
either outright socialists or of socialist leanings.
While frustratingly the more Orthodox remain silent for fear of reprisals.

As it appears that the majority of both clergy and laity have lost confidence in the Spiritual message of Salvation, that which calls for all humans to repent,
having rather “transferred their allegiance to a political solution.”
Because who wants to be told to repent from a lifestyle that society has
deemed worthy as God has succinctly and resoundingly deemed as sinful?

And what we the Faithful must note….is that within that notion of all things
of a political solution, there is absolutely no call to or for repentance.

Anglican unscripted:

And now we look to the paradoxical…

We look to the counter balance to all of the liberal heavy handed hullabaloo
with the story of the ancient Coptic Church in Egypt.

It is a church whose roots are found in St Mark who brought the Gospel to Egypt
during the reign of the Emperor Nero.
A long suffering church body of Believers who have suffered at the hands of Islam
since Muslims invaded their homeland in 641.

Believers who do not adhere to the cultural gods, but rather adhere only to the
Word of the One Almighty and Omnipotent God…

For there is no demand for change, or tolerance of the sinful, or acceptance of
society’s demands.


(Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Church of Egypt)


(The Amir Tadros coptic Church in Minya on Sunday.
The building was set ablaze on Aug. 14)

Consider the following comment….

What kind of faith makes people go back to church immediately after that
church was bombed?
What kind of faith makes people chant the Nicene Creed right after their church
was bombed?
What kind of faith makes a community continue liturgy outside because their church
wasn’t yet safe enough to be in?
What kind of faith makes one go on national TV and tell persecutors that they
are loved and forgiven after they just attacked and killed 28 Christians?
The unshakable faith of Christ.

We mourn.
We are in pain.
We are angry.
We have lost many brothers and sisters in Christ, and their blood continues to flow.
But many of us neglect to remember something –
the Coptic Christians remain undefeated.
They continue to grow.
They continue to inspire and strengthen the faith of Christians around the world.

https://howtoreligion.wordpress.com/2017/12/29/coptic-orthodoxy-and-self-defense/

And so will round out these thoughts with the words of the late Orthodox monk and saint,
Saint Paisios…..

“[St. Paisios responds to the question: ‘Geronda, what is this joy that I feel?
Can it be that I am not aware of my sinfulness?’]

No, my child!
God gives you a chocolate here and there, in order to give you joy.
For now, it’s chocolates; later, it will be wine —
like the wine they drink in Paradise.
Do you know how sweet is the wine they drink there?
Oh my!
If God sees a little philotimo (*), a bit of good disposition,
He offers His Grace abundantly, and it intoxicates you —
even from this life.
The spiritual delight one receives, and the transformation he feels in his heart
when the Grace of God visits him, cannot be given…
even by the best cardiologist in the world.
When you feel such joy, try to hold on to it for as long as you can.”
~+~
(*) – Philotimo, is the spontaneous, self-sacrificing love shown by humble people,
from whom every trace of self has been filtered out,
full of gratitude towards God and their fellow man.
Philotimo comes from a deep, abiding connection with God,
so that one is constantly moved to do and seek that which is good,
right and honorable.
(Although this definition has been repeated many times during these teachings,
the last time was 5 months ago,
I feel it is never too often to remind us of its awesome meaning!)

From Discerning Thoughts

And so we end this year of the humanly chaotic being warned.
For we the faithful are being called.
Called not to be quiet, not to fear reprisals, not to accept that which is wrong
but to hold up to the world the Image of God incarnate in His only begotten son….

His duality is seen in the oldest documented Icon of Christ the Pantocrator.
One side of his face is the Christ who is benevolent, kind and loving,
the other side is of the Christ who sits in judgement….judgement of all mankind.

What those who clamor for all things cultural and accepting have chosen to ignore
that Jesus will indeed sit in judgement.

We are called to repent.
To be repentant.
For in that repentance and in that the turning away from sin is found
the true acceptance of Salvation.


(Christ Pantocrator, the oldest known Icon of Christ, 6th Century AD / St Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai)

truth found in the silence

He who does not understand your silence will probably not
understand your words.

Elbert Hubbard


(more images from last week’s snow / Julie Cook / 2017)

When I was still teaching, our school’s debate team was known statewide for always finishing in the top list of schools as they brought home trophy after trophy.

I taught many a debtor and my son even took a semester class but found the high pitched dithering none to his liking.

If you’ve ever observed, monitored or overseen a segment of one of these tournaments,
then you know that these kids talk faster then one’s ears and mind can process what is being said. As in how does one even comprehend what’s being said as the goal is to say
as much as possible within a short amount of time.

It reminded me more of some sort of rapid fire chanting rather than, well, debating…
and much less some sort of civilized conversation…

So this business of rapid fire gibberish came flooding back to the forefront of
consciousness Friday evening and much of Saturday morning when I found myself visiting
the blog of a Christian who was currently under fire from a barrage of atheists…
and to say that they were a bit rabid and foaming at the mouth was a vast
understatement.

I detest nothing more than those who “troll” about looking to cause trouble.
A sort of pack of wild animal mentality.
En masse they are ferocious, but separate them one from another and they tend to
dissipate rather quickly.

And I really don’t know why it has to be that way…that they want to gang up
and proceed to spout off without stoping long enough to listen—to themselves as well as to anything offered by in response.

Its’ all about civil discourse and I for one don’t know where it has gone.
Lord knows we’ve seen nothing akin to civility taking place, in these past many months,
on either a national or global stage.
As sadly both civility and decorum have gone by the wayside.

I know a wealth of grandmothers who are turning over in their graves, like whirling
Dervishes, utterly distressed as to how society has lost her way.

The whole business last evening and this morning of the rolling comments
boiled down to the atheists proclaiming that Hitler was indeed a Christian.

Huh???…really?
As if this sort of commentary was serving the betterment of mankind in any sort
of form or fashion.

Why does everyone now a days kick around the notion of Hitler representing this or that
without truly comprehending what it is they’re attempting to glue him to—?
I’ve addressed such before, so we won’t rehash all of that….

And well naturally this history loving teacher had to jump into the fray by pointing
out the facts to the contrary.
And as I said, I’d go into it here but it’s not worth reiterating the facts
behind their continued arguments of myth…like the skipping of a needle on a
scratched vinyl record….making the same stuck sound over and over and over.

However Mr. Atheist, much like the debate kids, jumped on some sort of
frothy diatribe of merely cutting and pasting rapid fire gibberish…
much like the arguing for auguring’s sake.
I noted that it would be more beneficial if he, Mr Atheist, spent more time reading and digesting rather than spewing verbiage simply for the sake of spewing..

Oh he jabbered on with more of his lengthy cutting and pasting of this and that
mumbo jumbo…loud and ramling on and on he went.
as I was simply marveling over the fact that despite his time and excessive wordage,
he really wasn’t saying anything worth while….all the while as he refused to listen…
listening to anyone offering anything logical in response.

So it dawned on me that God, the Masterful and Almighty Creator of all that ever was
is, or will be has never been one to scream or rant, or debate….

Imagine that.

God the Omnipotent Master comes to us not in might and force, not in fierce winds
or fires, or earthquakes or storms….but He comes to us in the silence

So it would behoove us all to be silent…..and simply listen….

Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.
But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy peace and prosperity.
The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.
The wicked draw the sword
and bend the bow
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose ways are upright.
But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
and their bows will be broken.
Better the little that the righteous have
than the wealth of many wicked;
for the power of the wicked will be broken,
but the Lord upholds the righteous.
The blameless spend their days under the Lord’s care,
and their inheritance will endure forever.

Psalm 37:7-18

Changing in the constant state of flux

To improve is to change;
to be perfect is to change often.

Winston Churchill

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

Viktor E. Frankl

“So do flux and reflux–the rhythm of change–
alternate and persist in everything under the sky.”

Thomas Hardy

RSCN4266
(chrysalis for a tiger swallowtail butterfly / Julie Cook / 2016)

The parsley is almost all gone…
Decimated nearly overnight by the ravenous feeding frenzy
of the caterpillars.

I wondered about 22 caterpillars and where they might all go
once they finished gorging themselves…

and so now I see…

RSCN4267

All rather amazing really.

See how it’s tied itself to the stem…
All wrapped up nice and neat…
and ready for a quick change sort of performance…

Butterflies, caterpillars, cocoons, or rather chrysalis, are perhaps the most
magically odd developments to transpire within the world of living creatures…

Yet this cycle of change is in a state of constant flux.

A butterfly spends it’s very short life feeding…
A caterpillar spends it’s very short life feeding…
A chrysalis spends it’s very short life in a constant state of change…
albeit it hidden from observation.

We don’t know exactly what or how things go on in that sack of theirs…
all we know is that a long worm-like thing goes in…
and then a brightly colored, light and fragile winged thing comes out…

Something so tiny, so minuscule, so fragile so odd and even oh so mysterious
can give me such great comfort and even needed solace…

That no matter the change that comes about in my life, in all our lives…
for we are ourselves also in a constant state of flux…
that in this most tiny creature and it’s miraculous cycles
lies the full mystery and depth of
a loving Father,
an Omnipotent Creator
and an overwhelming God…

that despite all that changes in my life…
for good and for bad
He is the One true Constant that I can hold onto with all great certainty…

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them,
for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 3:16