I can feel it coming…

Between stimulus and response there is a space.
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Viktor Frankl

I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh lord
And I’ve been waiting for this moment, for all my life, oh lord
Can you feel it coming in the air tonight, oh lord, oh lord

Lyrics by Phil Collins


(a single leaf suspended between tree and earth / Julie Cook / 2021)

I can feel it.
The question however is, can you?

Can you feel it?
Can you sense it?
Or have you been too desensitized to that which is taking place
all around us?

Change– a great, mighty and yes, even grave change is in the air.

Many of us are already well aware that we cannot possibly know the time
nor the place…
But yet, this change is coming nonetheless.

A great many of us sense that the change is coming and coming soon.

It might be incremental at first.
Slow and innocuous.
Seeping in quietly yet deadly, like a colorless and odorless gas.

Maybe it’s merely what we’ve been witnessing taking place throughout our country
in these past few years…
think BLM, Antifa, the Proud Boys…

Was it born during a crusade?
Was it born in the dark ages of the plague?
Was it born in a Spanish Inquisition?
Was it born in France during the Reign of Terror?
Was it born in the birth of a young nation following its own revolution?
Was it born on the fields of Antietam, Gettysburg, Bull Run, Vicksburg,
Appomattox…or the scorched earth tactic ravaged on Georgia?
Or was it born in the corded nooses dangling from trees?

It might have been born in the mustard gas wafting through
the trenches of WWI ….
It might have been born in the death chambers and ovens of Poland
and Germany.
Maybe it was born in Stalin’s iron fisted USSR gulags.

Maybe it was born in a fast paced and currently overreaching technology.
Maybe it was born on the heaviness of 9/11
Maybe it’s born on our southern borders?
Or was it born in Benghazi or Afghanistan?

Or was it simply born in the disobedience found in a now hidden garden?

Has it simply been unfolding, ever so slowly, for eons?

Division.
Anger.
Resentment.
Fear.
Paranoia.
Bullying.
Lying.

The latest pandemic has only helped to embolden this ensuing change.

Mandates.
Masks.
Ultimatums.
Us vs them.
Passports.
The clean vs the unclean.
Freedom vs dictation.

Virus and illness vs death or life…

Elitism.
Wokeness.
Liberalism.
Cancel Culture.

Christianity, morality, conservatives all now equated to pariah.

Persecution?
Yes.

And with these overwhelming thoughts of change—
in that change is indeed a’coming–
I was actually amazed at the coming together of some giant collective
thinking taking place on a single afternoon.

First there was IB offering a telling vid clip based
on a post found on http://www.aier.org

And I think it’s that ‘in your face’ flaunting by a maskless Squad debutant
that has been truly the taunting on the cake.
An exorbitantly decadent who’s who Met affair featuring
the likes of a young woman feeling her oats, daring
to wear her statement of taxing the rich, stretched across her derrière
as she tips her bareless shoulder, rubbing it with her ever so rich fellow guests.
It was enough hypocrisy to last a lifetime.

The Best Defense Against Violence


https://insanitybytes2.wordpress.com/2021/09/15/the-moral-vacuum-kate-wand/

Then our dear wise sage Oneta offered up her own take on
this air of change with the following post:

MANDATES AND WEARY CHRISTIANS

Posted on September 16, 2021 by oneta hayes

“I’m just not watching anymore TV,” stated my friend.
We had just attended a meeting in which someone said the mess
in our country was our fault, speaking of senior-aged Christians,
laying the blame on our lethargy in letting “stuff” happen without speaking up.
I agree completely.

We have been taught “Live in peace with all men”
and “let there be no divisions between you.”
Letters to editors of papers and magazines—almost unheard of;
attendance at local political rallies—almost unheard of;
protests on the streets—almost unheard of;
spitting fire on tweeter—unheard of.
That’s the way it has been!
It is the fault of sleeping Christians.
Too often Christians point out that we do not fight the way the world fights.
Our duty is to put on the armor of God and pray.
Yep.
But do you believe even five percent of people who
claim to be Christians do that?
Even if we do that, it does not absolve us of having
an obligation to be good citizens of the nation in which we live.

Meanwhile the evil has crept in tide by tide so it is
now a huge wave swamping the land.
Boy scouts have to take girls; “rainbow”
no longer represents a promise of God;
urinals removed from restrooms because it might offend
“persons with no male genitalia;” babies murdered by the millions.

So it goes. Evil has overtaken us. And Christians are weary.

My nephew, Teral, put the following scripture on FB this morning.
And he shall speak great words against the most High,
and shall wear out the saints of the most High,
and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given
into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.

Daniel 7:25 KJ

This is speaking of the anti-Christ.
I do not know whether or not the anti-Christ now lives.
But I do know there are things happening right now that
are preparing the way for him.
The current “mandate” orders are a significant sign.

Other translations of the above scripture say
“saints are worn down, oppressed, persecuted.”
I am witness to that truth.

Another interesting thing about this scripture is
“think to change times and laws.”
Isn’t that referring to breaking down of traditions and laws?
Looks like it to me. We are certainly having a change in laws,
moral laws, even in Constitutional laws.
And traditions?
Now it is no longer to talk of mothers and fathers!
A combination of anything can be family –
if indeed one demands a family at all.

And lastly there was the wisdom of Mel Wild of In My Father’s House.
His latest post (actually last two posts) explores the current ignorance found
in those claiming that Christianity is actually Socialism in sheep’s clothing.
His post Sorry, Jesus is NOT a Socialist lays out the truth
that our current culture cares not to acknowledge.

https://melwild.wordpress.com

So let’s round out this small treatise with the master of drums himself,
Phil Collins…who sadly today, due to injury can no longer play his
beloved drums…

down the slippery slope –off we go…time for a revolution?

“To join two things together there must be nothing between
them or there cannot be a perfect fusion.
Now realize that this is how God wants our soul to be,
without any selfish love of ourselves or of others in between,
just as God loves us without anything in between.”

St. Catherine of Siena

‘He that deceives me once, its his fault;
but if twice, its my fault.’”

“The Italians having a Proverb,

Bumbling, stumbling, fumbling, miscues, incompetence, misguided,
bloodied guilt, laughter, foolishness, ignorance, blindness, calculating,
arrogance, ineptitude, stupidity, mismanagement, hapless, clueless,
blatant defiance, wrong, hurtful, deceitful, cold, uncaring, blame…

Shock, anger, resentment, betrayal, loss, sorrow, bereft, bewildered,
now rage…

Tumbling, falling, rolling, sliding— lost..into an abyss

Hear us oh Lord…

He said:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you,
persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven,
for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

“You are the salt of the earth.
But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?
It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out
and trampled underfoot.

“You are the light of the world.
A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.
Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone
in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds and glorify
your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:3-16

And Jesus said…I am here for a revolution.
Not a revolt, but a revolution.
Believer…are you ready?

The art of how to or how not…

The God of all mercy teaches us that our vocation is to learn to love
and also to be able to love after the image and in imitation
of the Most Holy Trinity.
Christ, therefore, is situated at the heart of marital and family life,
in other words, at the heart of the gestures and the attitudes of
the husband toward his wife, and vice versa,
of the father and the mother of the family toward their children—
which you seek to put into practice in trust and in truth.

Robert Cardinal Sarah
From his book Couples, Awaken Your Love!


(the Mayor struggling with the art of the fondue / Julie Cook / 2021)

In yesterday’s post, I noted that I had not kept up with the news during our
small family’s recent little getaway.
A smart and delightful choice I might add.

And thus, upon our return home, I foolishly thought that I needed to play
a bit of catch-up.

So of course there was the story about the plane full of smug, arrogant
and really stupid Democrats who thought they were running away from Texas,
setting their sights on being liberated in Washington D.C.

But what it really was…was a plane full of super-spreaders of Covid.
So why do we vote for such people…??
I digress.

And then there was and is the continuing migrant story…
but where do we start with that one???
Covid, welfare, gangs, sex trafficking, drugs…
Simply not enough time.

Then there was the typical story of hostility in The House between
Dems and Republicans.
A bipartisan panel to look into that House infiltration fiasco…
HA..bipartisan…that’s a good one!
But what’s new???

And of course there was the story about Dr. Fauci proclaiming that we
all need to mask up again…vaccine or not.
But maybe it’s more about the haves and the have nots.

Yet Dr. Fauci now wants us to mask our toddlers…
wee ones who will be heading to pre-school and or daycare.
So hear me now as I channel my best Charlton Heston voice…
NOT ON MY WATCH–NOT MY GRANDCHILDREN!
And no, NO SHOTS for toddlers.
We simply don’t know enough.
Perhaps that shall be one of my many mountains to perish upon.

And once again, there was the continuing story about CRT.
That idiotic ideology which I referenced yesterday.
How to teach about not being a racist…
Lets set people apart, teach them about shame, teach them about resentment,
teach them about angst and anger—those are some really powerful
kumbiya thoughts…right????
Eyes rolling.

And now there’s this latest story about the White House promoting the
Abolitionist Teaching Network whose desire is to “disrupt whiteness”…

What in the heck is that all about???

So let me backup to where we really need to be with this whole
education thing.

If you want to go backwards, which it seems the woke folks are bent on…
let’s go back to what actually worked back in the beginning…

God.
Prayer.
The Ten Commandments.
Faith.
Family.

That pretty much covers all of this lunacy in a nutshell!
Go back to those particular key components and all this fiasco will
finally be righted.

Righted only if those 5 things fall back into their original place…
then and only then will we ever have some sense of normalcy and peace….
otherwise it’s Katie bar the door—
all Hell is about to break loose and I mean hell with a big H…
as in literally.

Love, by its essence, involves a leap into the unknown, a death to oneself,
because genuine love is a love that loves to the end.
And to love to the end means to die for those whom you love.

Robert Cardinal Sarah
From his book Couples, Awaken Your Love!

from one adopted kid to another…it’s all about unity and not division


(former NFL player Colin Kaepernick)

As the unofficial family historian of this clan of mine, I have certainly enjoyed the
stories I’ve uncovered over the years—especially the lineage of my dad’s family.

My grandmother had done her fair share of work and what was uncovered is
quite the storyline—Mayflower fame and all.

Yet despite having taken over the helm, following my grandmother’s death, of
being the unofficial family history loving sleuth,
I must confess that there has always been a nagging concern buried deep in
the back of my thoughts.

As an adopted member of this clan, I have always known that this clan is truly not my own.
Their story is not my story.
Or so I kept telling myself.

And yes, I know I’ve written extensively about all of this not long ago, but a part of my
own story came to the forefront of thought today while I was braving the heat picking
blueberries.

When things like this pop into my head out of the blue, I know the Holy Spirit is stirring.

Those of you who know me, know how much I love college football.
I don’t care whose playing, I’ll watch.

So I actually remember quite a few years back watching a game featuring UNLV
along with some other team.
I remember it was UNLV because of one of the stories, that the sports announcers shared
during the game, touched my heart.

It seems there was a young quarterback leading the UNLV team by the name of Colin Kaepernick.

During the game, the sports announcers offered a little background regarding this
seemingly phenom QB.

It seems that Colin’s mom had shared the story that Colin,
while being an outstanding high school quarterback, had not been offered any scholarships
to play at the next level…except for an offer by UNLV.

Not one of the “big schools” by any means…but it was an opportunity.
And obviously wanting to play at the next level, the Kaepernick family agreed that this
was his chance.

They also shared that Colin had been an adopted kid.
He is obviously a mixed-race kid while his adopted parents are white.

Adopted kids have a soft place in my heart.
And so I have something I’d like to say to Colin…my fellow adoptee.

Adoption, my young friend, is about unity and not division.

Colin, however, seems to be a rather unhappy young man…
some might argue that my observation is unfair…but I’ve never met a happy person who
is hell-bent on creating divisiveness.

He has made no bones about detesting our flag, our national anthem, our national monuments,
Betsy Ross and now he seems to detest our celebration of independence.

In fact, Colin seems to prefer being all about division these days.

His is a Black world or a White world.
Either or, but not both.
His is a world of one divided by race.
His is a progressive left world battling a presumptive non-inclusive, racist world.

I’ve always known I was adopted.
And for better or worse, I physically favored my adopted family.
I realize that Colin did not physically favor his adopted family—
what with his being mixed and his parents being white.
But one thing I do know about both of us, our adopted parents loved us
unconditionally as their own.

You just need to read some of what his mom has had to say about him over the years
to understand the love they have for this son of theirs.

Yet I never had to have that battle within myself over not being the same race
as my family.
I imagine that might have kept the matter of adoption more at the forefront of
Colin’s thoughts more so than perhaps my own.
I don’t know that for certain but knowing that I would look into a mirror always
wondering who it is I truly looked like… I suspect that mirror looking might
have been more frequent in Colin’s life.

I don’t know his full story of adoption…the background etc.
Heck, I barely know my own.

Those of you who know me and read this blog already know my story’s journey so
I won’t belabor that story but I do want to make a point…
a point for our friend Colin.

I do believe that adopted kids are born with some prewired emotional baggage.
I know this without doubt.
I truly understand the whole emotional transference during pregnancy.
It is real.

I also know what’s it’s like wanting to know one’s own story and not what someone
else’s story is all about…
We simply want to know our own story…plain and simple.

I went on that quest.

After hemming and hawing…after being full of trepidation and anguish…after
waiting and waiting…some answers and even more questions arrived.

On my biological father’s side, there has been discovery, connections to a cousin, and a peace.
On my biological mother’s side, there has been a painful dose of double rejection…
a disaster in a nutshell…or so I thought at the time.

I learned that my biological father died several years ago…
but there are living relatives…some of whom have opened their hearts.

My mother, on the other hand, is in her 80’s and despite my now being 60, vehemently
denied any sort of acknowledgment or contact.

I will say that that whole situation not only stung my heart, it also left me
emotionally reeling.
The child still deep within this adult body rebroke.

Yet over the past several months, since my discovery, peace has filled my wounds.
And that peace came from one place and one place only…the healing and soothing balm
of Jesus Christ.

I couldn’t have experienced that on my own.
On my own, there was anger and resentment…but God had other plans.
That of His peace.

God already knew my story but He also knew that I was hard-headed.
God will allow us to pursue what we think we want even when
He knows better.
He loves us that much that He will allow us to shoot ourselves
in the foot from time to time—always turning that self-inflicted wound
back around for His good purpose.

So certainly questions will always remain but the anger and the resentment are both gone.

I have come to see, feel, and claim that this adopted clan of mine is indeed mine.
I sit on a branch of their tree, adoption, or not.

So what I say to my fellow adoptee Mr. Kaepernick— is that the peace of heart,
the peace of spirit is of God and of God alone.

It is one of unity and not division.

It is not of anger or resentment.

It is neither black nor white.
Male nor female.

Black power, black lives, militancy…those are separators, not unifiers.

We are all children of God…despite how we come into this world.
We are all equally valued by God…despite physical differences from others.
There is not one single life that is greater than nor matters more than another’s.
The humility found in being created and not Creator is both freeing and soothing.

I would behoove Colin to seek a Savior and not a civil war of culture.

We are all of one America.
Black men and women, white men and women, Asian men and women, Native American men and women,
Hispanic men and women have each shed blood for the freedoms our now angry Nation enjoys.

No division is found in our freedom but rather unity.
No division is found in the children of God, but rather unity.

Unity and not division will bring one’s soul peace.
Until then…there will be only anguish and wasted energies at the expense of everyone.

But then again, one has to ask oneself: do you want peace in your being or do you
desire hate, resentment, and anger.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free,
nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28

recant no more, just start reading and what the heck is “an influencer”

“We are in a dangerous place when the church is looking to 20-year-old
worship singers as our source of truth,” he wrote.
“We now have a church culture that learns who God is from singing modern
praise songs rather than from the teachings of the Word.”

John Cooper, lead singer for the band Skillet


(a bit of sea lettuce / Rosemary Beach, Fl / 2019)

I’ve been hearing a lot about a single word as of late.
The word is “influencer”

Now granted, I get it, I understand it…as in I know what the word means and all…
however, I’ll offer it as defined through the lenses of the 21st century…

What is an influencer?
An influencer is an individual who has the power to affect purchase decisions of others
because of his/her authority, knowledge, position or relationship with his/her audience.
An individual who has a following in a particular niche, which they actively engage with.
The size of the following depends on the size of the niche.
It is important to note that these individuals are not simply marketing tools,
but rather social relationship assets with which brands can collaborate to achieve their
marketing objectives.

influencermarketinghub.com

Think social media and those who are constantly in some sort of limelight on
FB, blogging, tweeting or news thread.

They tend to be constantly on the web’s airwaves.
Their names, be it in or even out of their circles, are well known.
They’re usually young, trendy, progressive and the majority worship at the altar of the
latest culture gods.

They are liked and followed by the multitudes.
Matters not too much what they’re worshiping…they are liked and followed none the less.

They want to wield power with both their words and their ways…
all because of their choices and their likes and dislikes.

Their whims and fickleness actually have sway with the whims and fickleness of others.

And we must note that this influencer business has been in the news feeds a lot this
past week as there have been some “Christian Influencers” who have very publicly
recanted their faith.

I don’t know about you but when I feel lost and dismayed, I certainly don’t want to
be grandstanding.
Attention, especially public attention, is the last thing I want.
I actually want to be alone.

I don’t want to publicly shout my dismay or sense of shame over a life I only
thought I was living.
I would instead tend to fall into a deep abyss of introspection and perhaps even a bit
of depression.

Yet isn’t that how we are when we feel angry and disappointed by someone we feel
has deeply let us down?
We want to fuss and cuss the cutting sense of betrayal.
And we usually do so very loudly and very vocally…
We’ve been wronged by gosh and we want the world to know it!

And so I’d like to ask…is that what all of this current trend has been about??
This very public angst offered up by a bunch of young Christian ‘influencers’ who are
feeling wronged and let down by…God Himself?

And for what?

I have written about this before but I think the story is more than worth repeating
right about now…

I think we all know of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

You know…
that tiny little white and blue-clad nun who spent her life tending to the
needy and destitute of Calcutta?

Well—-long before she was known as Mother Teresa…
a young Albanian nun who was a member of the Sisters of Loreto out of Ireland
had gone to India as a teacher. It was in 1946 that Mother Teresa experienced what she
would later refer to as a “call within a call”

She was riding on a train heading off to a retreat when she plainly heard, what she
would eventually write, was the voice of Jesus.
He said to her, “I thirst”

Mother Teresa would go on to say that what she had heard was her call within a call…
her ministry was to change, leading to the formation of the Missionaries of Charity.

An order dedicated to caring for the least of the least.

Mother Teresa would toil from 1948 until her death in 1997, carrying out this
call within a call.
She would spend a lifetime fulfilling the need that Jesus had laid upon her heart.

However, it was eventually made public, years following her death,
that Mother Teresa had confided to her confessor that after that initial moment on the train…
she never heard the voice of Jesus again.

She would lament to a deep darkness and palpable sense of separation.
This, as St John of the Cross, would so famously record, was the Dark Night Of The Soul.
A seemingly and almost physical disconnect from God.
A life within a dark empty abyss.

Anguish filled her soul yet no one ever knew of her pain.

It mattered not that she felt a separation of faith, she had been told what to do and
she, in turn, spent the remainder of her life doing it—
despite the personal pain and suffering.
Doubt mattered not, the poor and ailing needed her.

Day after day, she’d spend hours in prayer—yet there was never again that
audible response.
Never was there that internal sense of oneness with God.
Only silence.
And yet Mother Teresa persisted.

There was no public display of angst or resentment.
There was no recanting of her faith due to a silence from God.

She had been told what to do and she remained faithful to her word despite her own sense
of personal loss.

That’s the thing about faith.
It is not based on feeling.
It is not based on recognition or of the feel good.

It can be very difficult and it can be very lonely.
Yet it is full of perseverance and consistency.

I recently read an article about an interview with Franklin Graham, the son of
the Reverend Billy Graham, regarding this recent spate of young Christian “influencers”
recanting their faith.

Graham said he is especially disturbed by Christians who publicly renounce their faith in Christ,
citing a warning from the Book of Revelation.

“(God) warns churches that turn their back on him and these young men who have renounced
their faith have made it so public,” he said.
“Why did they make it so public?
I think they just want publicity.
Otherwise, why didn’t they just leave their faith and just be quiet about it?”

He wondered if the reason why was so that other Christians might join them
and fall away from the teachings of the Bible.

“Shame on them,” Graham said.
“You’ll stand before God one day and give an account to Him.”

We must put our faith in Jesus Christ, not a celebrity influencer.
And when we find ourselves facing difficulties in life,
we must turn to the Bible instead of self-help books.

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/todd-starnes-franklin-graham-has-a-warning-for-christian-influencers-renouncing-their-faith

Here is to the consistency of Faith…

“Reading the holy Scriptures confers two benefits.
It trains the mind to understand them;
it turns man’s attention from the follies of the world and leads him to the love of God.
Two kinds of study are called for here.
We must first learn how the Scriptures are to be understood,
and then see how to expound them with profit and in a manner worthy of them . . .
No one can understand holy Scripture without constant reading . . .
The more you devote yourself to the study of the sacred utterances,
the richer will be your understanding of them, just as the more the soil is tilled,
the richer the harvest.”

St. Isidore of Seville, p. 201
An Excerpt From
Witness of the Saints

when do we know love becomes stronger than hurt?

“Dad’s genuine contrition took the fun out of holding offenses against him.
In choosing weakness, his love became stronger than my hurt.”

Joshua Rogers


(daddy’s idea of fun / Julie Cook / 2018)

When does one first know that they are a daddy’s girl?
Is it in the womb?
Is it in the delivery room?
Is it upon the very first face to face meeting?

Is it when he looks down and sees not only himself or his wife, but his own dad
in that tiny new face staring back up at him?

Is it during that first visit to the doctors when tears are first really shed?
That he reaches to hold you, comfort you, to protect you?

Is it during those early on sleepless nights?

Is it when daddy is left to babysit and dresses you in your first crazy outfit
unbeknownst to mom…are those Mardis Gras beads?

Or is it when daddy watches his own father who once cared for him when he was your age,
who is now taking on a new role in both of your lives?

Or is it when daddy shares the Mickey Mouse show with you,
just as his grandfather had done with him at that very same age?

No matter when it is…when that first moment registers that this is the man who is charged
with your care and protection…
the man who has been given the most important role of watching after you,
caring for you, providing for you, training you, teaching you, instructing you,
having fun with you, having to correct you…
exemplifying all this it means to be a father…
just as God is Father to us, in turn, entrusting our earthly fathers to be that
same living embodiment of God Himself…

We all know that living up to such a trememdous role and responsibility is a monumental task.
It is not for the faint at heart.
For there will be joy, but there will also be gut-wrenching heartache.
Because to love is just that…
an uncontainable joy matched with unrelenting pain…

There will be those who will fall and those who will, at times, fail.

It is with all of this in mind, my son’s first Father’s day, my husband’s first Father’s day
as a grandfather, that I came across a most sobering reminder of the power of both love
and forgiveness within the complicated role of parent and child.

How both love and forgiveness far outweigh anger and resentment.

Click on the following link to read one man’s story of his own relationship with a man
who had spent a lifetime letting him down, but in the end, taught him about the
most important lesson a father can offer…
that in forgiveness, there is power.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/06/16/my-dads-stunning-response-when-told-him-off.html

Happy Father’s day to the two most important men in my life….
from the one little girl whose hearts of yours, she has captured now forever.

joy….to give or to receive…

“I don’t think of all the misery,
but of the beauty that still remains.”

Anne Frank


(the work of a day / Julie Cook / 2017)

Thanksgiving afternoon, I was complaining to my daughter-n-law, dreading the notion
of having to begin the yearly arduous ritual, of “putting up” Christmas.
Some people will go into a feeding frenzy of all things consumerism and
I will go into light mode….

“Why do we do this?” I lamented.
“Why do we work our butts off, schlepping stuff up and down from basements
and attics every year….

Why do we move all this stuff in while moving all the other stuff out…
making way for holiday paraphernalia…
just to turn around to then put it all away again in just a couple of weeks???”

I lament so because I am the one who pretty much does it all….
all the lights,
all the decorating,
all the tree,
all the buying,
all the wrapping,
all the cooking,
all the cleaning etc…
because bless my husband’s heart,
he runs a retail business.

Suffice it to know that our lives are not our own right now…
nor will they be…not until about the middle of January.

Neither my husband or I truly “get” this Black Friday absurdity that consumes
this nation of ours.
He does nothing out of the ordinary for it and I don’t even acknowledge it.
Something about the wantoness of all the materialism consuming this country of ours
just oozes of emptiness.

Why do people stand in line for hours on end when they should actually be
home just enjoying Thanksgiving, family, time off, being outside, being inside, being someplace other than a strip mall, a big mall, etc…
oddly preferring to scoop up “stuff”????
Stuff no one really “needs” to survive.

Places like Syria just keep coming to mind when I see cars parked 4 deep,
wrapped around parking lots, just so folks can buy a flat screen TV or clothes,
a mixer or whatever it is they think they JUST have to have in order to survive Christmas…
along with all the other trivial things no one really needs in order to survive.
Like I say, I just don’t get it…..

So my daughter-n-law reminds me, “well you know he really does appreciate it”
He being my only child and son who was born a week before Christmas.
Christmas is his official holiday….but certainly not his dad’s.

The night our son was born, oh so many moons ago, in the wee hours of a December Monday morning…my poor husband had to leave us shortly after the birth so he could go
open the store and work all day…after having been up all night.
Missing his only child, his new son’s first day of living…
He is remorseful all these many years later, but it was how he fed us,
and for that we give thanks.
Yet how does one ever get back time?
They don’t.

In this family of ours, there is definitely some resentment concerning the consuming madness of holiday shopping…. on all sorts of levels…
and yet our son just adores Christmas…what are those odds?!

Sigh…..

So as I was lamenting, my daughter-n-law tells me about a movie they recently went
to see —-a movie I would never ever consider watching.

They are only in their late 20’s—they watch things on television and at the movies
that I pretty much consider toxic—
of which I hope they too will soon realize as toxic…but until then,
I just pray….

My daughter-n-law relayed a line from the movie which actually resonated with me….

She said that in the movie the main character was grousing, much like I was, about
this whole Christmas business.
In walks the mother who deadpan responds….
“don’t you know, mothers don’t receive
joy, theirs is but to give joy”
(a paraphrase)

It hit me like a ton of bricks.

An understanding as to what exactly a lot of this is really all about.
It hit in certainly not a martyresque sort of understanding…but a deeper sense of understanding.

It is an understanding that none of this is about me….never has been.

It’s not about what “I” can get,
not about what I can buy,
not about what I can have….
nor is it about what I want….
but rather it’s about what I can give.

It’s about the ability to give verses the ability to get and receive….
And that giving has nothing to do with stuff—not of things gathered
from a store, or from on-line or from any place else for that matter.
Nothing tangible….

It has nothing to with with savvy shopping, marketing strategy, deals, door busters
or the madness that has become what we know as Christmas in the modern world.
A time that won’t even allow most schools to utter the word “Christmas”
but rather “winter break.”

What this season is about…isn’t about all this decorating,
or about all this consuming, or about all this buying and wrapping of “stuff”….

It’s not about the amassing or consuming….or materialism.
It’s not about the biggest gift, the best deals, the nicest trip to some
exotic wonderland.
Rather it’s about what we can offer and what we can give…

Because the original notion of this holiday Christmas business wasn’t about
Black Fridays and sale margins…it wasn’t about cyber Monday’s or on-line surfing…

It was about a gift…. but not a gift in the modern mindset of what constitutes
as a gift…

It was a single tiny gift that was actually given in order to save…
to save both you and I, as well as all of mankind, actually from ourselves….

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything
we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.
This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time..

2 Timothy 1:9

bits and pieces

In designs of Providence, there are no mere coincidences.
Pope John Paul II

You can’t sacrifice truth because some people will suffer because of the truth.
Ben Shapiro


(shelf fungus deep in the woods / Julie Cook / 2017)

Slowly a Nation is learning the bits and pieces of the unimaginable horrific puzzle that now makes up the small Texas town of Sutherland Springs.

A town shattered…along with families shattered…
as a Nation shatters just a little bit more.

The stories of a madman now percolate to the surface as fact is sifted from fiction.

People have raced to conclusions—be they true or false, mainly because people
want to validate their own thoughts, fears and notions of the hows and whys.

But as I said yesterday, the real how and why is simple.

Satan.

Satan, Evil, demons exist and it is all very much real…
all because you and I live in a fallen world.

So believe and argue as you may, there is no other rationale or
understandable explanation but for where we fall into the world of
the Creator as His created.

Evil is evil and will perpetuate itself throughout the course of all of time
while human beings walk this planet…until Salvation returns….

Yet people will blame everything and anything else, the this and that of things
because they refuse to accept that the root of all the blame is simply Evil’s
product…with that being hate.

Hate for people…
Hate for self.
Hate for God.

The Scottish Pastor David Robertson offered his own take yesterday in an article
written for Premiere Christianity:

In June 2015, when Dylan Roof, who was a militant racist, killed nine church members
in a church prayer meeting in Charleston South Carolina,
there was justified outrage which highlighted the continuing poison of racism in
US society and even led to the removal of several Confederate monuments throughout the nation.

So when a professed atheist goes into a church and kills 26 Christians,
why is that not even considered as a possible factor?
Where are the demands to remove all memorials of famous atheists?

….I have already seen several comments which mocked Christians who have prayed for the situation. “They were in church. They had the prayers shot right out of them. Maybe try something else.”
Even the BBC news report on it this evening signed off with a snide gibe that Americans seem to think the answer is in guns and God.

https://www.premierchristianity.com/Blog/The-Texas-Christian-Massacre-and-the-man-who-committed-it

Hate.
It was a word growing up as children we were told never to use.
We were taught that ‘hate’ was not to be a part of our language,
let alone a thread in our fiber as a human being…
If you were good and decent, you didn’t hate…rather you cared for, you loved,
you were empathetic, you were compassionate…you were to be anything but ‘hate’

And yet we subconsciously saw and heard it in its nuanced guise hidden behind our
fears, phobias and our sense of both right and wrong…
and when those bad unimaginable things happened,
we allowed ourselves to finally speak and feel the full fury of the word..
as the full level of our hate was unleashed under our own sense of self righteous
indignation.

Just as we now see how easily it rolls out of our mouthes and emerges ever so freely
from our own actions.

As the one glaring fact remains…that hate indeed begets further hate.
As in a perpetual state of a hate filled continuum.
And it is a continuum that we have bought into and adopted as our own.

Yet our Faith constantly admonishes us…Do Not Hate.

But how hard, how difficult that all is when Evil kills children at point blank range.

My thoughts and tears are now there in Sutherland Springs for the Holcombe family
who lost 8 family members Sunday morning to Evil’s hate.

Sons, daughters, husbands, wives, unborn babies….all gone, all taken…
as prayers were being said and hymns had been sung.

In his book Lessons in Hope George Weigel shares the tale of his personal
time spent over the years with Pope John Paul II—
Weigel recounts the assassination attempt on the Pope’s life by the assasin Ali Agca.

“In salvation history—that inner core of world history in which God’s purposes are
worked out through the action of divine grace on individual lives—there are neither happenstance nor coincidences. Rather, what appears to be sheer happenstance or coincidence is an aspect of Providence we don’t yet grasp.”

So here we now are…feeling alone, vulnerable and reeling from what seems to be
an endless march of madness against humanity….
We are left grappling with our own emotions and fears and lack of security.
We are left struggling while sorting out our disbelief, denial, acceptance,
forgiveness and even our hate…

All the while we wrestle with what is to be our reaction to Satan

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar.
For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen,
cannot love God, whom they have not seen.
And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love
their brother and sister.

1 John 4:20-21

altars

“Nothing teaches us about the preciousness of the Creator
as much as when we learn the emptiness of everything else.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“You never go away from us, yet we have difficulty in returning to You.
Come, Lord, stir us up and call us back. Kindle and seize us.
Be our fire and our sweetness. Let us love. Let us run.”

Augustine of Hippo

dscn0509
(altar tomb in the Rock of Cashel, the Cathedral of St Patrick / Co Tipperary, Ireland/
Julie Cook / 2015)

A thick blanket of smoke hangs heavy in the air.
It’s not the result of burning effigies or burning communities
but rather from the woods of North Carolina and northern Georgia which are on fire…
and the winds have shifted…

The sinking grey smoke is a somber reminder that there is a dangerously severe drought…
and the parched land is now beyond thirsty…

Yet there is more to this current drought than simply a lack of rain…
for there is more that is dry than mere vegetation and brush…
And there is more to this endless thirst than a need for water….

Vehemence and anger are filling the air, accented by vile and profane sentiment.
As the mobs march toward the altars of self indulgence and guile.
Immaturity laced with ignorance stokes the fires of rage as the hate filled
smoke fills the nostrils of a nation.

Self absorption and egocentric worshipers have taken to the streets.
They have taken to their computers and to their phones…their current altars of choice.
All the while they shout vile rhetoric as they stomp their spoiled bored feet.

If you must…
Protest against atrocities,
demonstrate against hunger,
fight against killing…
but not because you’ve simply forgotten, or have never known, how to lose.

Young dismayed parents now publicly lament how are they to console their
confused children who cry in fear from the big bad what ifs of hysteria…
simply because democracy has been at work–once again…

Nay, answer with truth…
the truth that one person lost while another person won…
For that is how this game is played…one person wins while one person loses…

Yet ours is a culture currently obsessed with the win win…
because we’ve grown moralistically soft while deciding everyone should be a winner…
We cannot live with the sad notion of losing…
Never mind old adages of always trying again…

There are those who are falling at the altar of womanly feminism…
which is currently shored up by gender neutrality, resentment and anger.
Marching not for policy or real equality but rather for the notion that
the wrong sex was the victor…as the votes which were cast are ignored….

Tears are being shed not because freedom has been lost
or because lives have been lost,
nor because a nation has lost all hope…
No…
rather tears are flowing because an election was lost…

And now we no longer want to play…
Because reality is simply no longer considered fun.
While we have found ourselves kneeling before all the wrong altars…

Ours are the empty altars of hero worship and of self…
the altars of gadgetry, boredom, appeasement and ignorance.
Altars of fear, anger, hostility, emptiness and divisiveness…

For what or whom has become our idol, our god?
Who or what are those hungry deities which have left us empty, sad,
frustrated, angry and resentful…
as we turn upon one another in the feeding frenzy of resentment?

We have gathered before all the wrong altars for far too long…
These altars have left us shallow and empty while also full of loathing and contempt…
We continue to march without leadership and direction…
lost and wandering…all the while lashing out at those we assume to be our enemy…
never realizing that we are all actually one.
One people…one nation…

And all the while hidden deep within the suffocating smoke of our thirst
lies the only One true proven path in which we need march…

Yet we have decided it’s far easier to wander angrily in the parched darkness
while hiding behind the vitriol sputum which oozes forth from our mouths…
spewing out upon our fellow human beings…

As it seems we’d rather choose…
paranoia to Grace
greed to Offering
ignorane to Enlightenment
darkness to Light
death to Salvation
egregiousness to Gentleness
hate to Love…

May we all fall at the foot of the one true altar,
the cross of Resurrection, Salvation, Hope and Life.

The Father willed that his blessed and glorious Son,
whom he gave to us and who was born for us,
should through his own blood offer himself as a sacrificial victim on the altar of the cross.
This was to be done not for himself through whom all things were made,
but for our sins.

Francis of Assisi

Humble

Talent is God given.
Be humble.
Fame is man-given.
Be grateful.
Conceit is self-given.
Be careful.

John Wooden

“The seeker after truth should be humbler than the dust.
The world crushes the dust under its feet,
but the seeker after truth should so humble himself that even the dust could crush him.
Only then, and not till then, will he have a glimpse of truth.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

DSCN1154
(a jackdaw / Adare, Irleand / Julie Cook / 2015)

There will be those times in life when we will be served up a hearty plate of crow or even an abundant dish of humble pie.
Often unpleasant, difficult to accepte and offensively unpalatable…
Such dishes will come unwanted, unordered, unrequested…but they will come.

The question will not be whether we asked for it, deserved it or should be served such…
the importance will rest in how we accept it.

Will we eat our share of ego crushing humility, allowing it to cleanse the palate, making room for a renewed and refreshed spirit…

Or will we simply allow the bitter taste of resentment and indignation to remain,
lingering on the tongue…

He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8