“Shadow of the Almighty rather than the shadow of death”

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty
Psalm 91:1


(image courtesy decidingvoteblog)

As the fluid situation of all of our lives continues to swirl, the post I had hoped to
write today…a post about looking back at how we Americans have overcome past crises
is now on hold.

We’ve been called into a bit of action—for we are off to fetch the Mayor today
with the Sherrif following in a few more days.

With the schools now shuttering in Georgia, our daughter-in-law the teacher
will find herself at home. She will be home with two little ones, along with
a husband (our son) who is already working from home.
And as a teacher, she will be responsible for conducting virtual learning classes
so in turn, they will need help with the kids….so…
the kids will be coming to us.

For how long is yet to be determined.
Therefore, any blogging will be sporadic.

The Mayor tends to demand a great deal of her staff’s time and energies.
And as a governing official, she has her hands full…as we all do.

But before I leave you, I wanted to offer you some lovely words of hope.

The following message…a message of hope in the face of global adversity,
is from our dear friend The Wee Flea, David Robertson.

Living now in Australia but with family still in Scotland as well as England,
David understands first hand the fretfulness we are all feeling during these
times of uncertainty as well as times of fear…

How do we as Christians respond?

My wish is that you will find comfort in the following words…
the link to the full post is found at the end…

Be blessed, stay well and be safe…

One of my greatest concerns is that the Church far more often reflects the society
than it does lead or love it.
This pandemic is a real test for the reality of our faith and the relevance of our doctrines.
And there is no doubt that our world is being taught some real lessons –
lessons the Christian should, if we believe the Bible, already know.

Humility

We are being taught humility.
Fintan O ‘Toole had a marvelous article in The Irish Times pointing out that we are not
kings of the world and we are not masters of our own fate.
It’s a hard lesson to learn. And one that humanity, in our hubris,
has to keep being taught.

History

We have a lot to learn from history –
not least because we keep forgetting it.
Plague and disease are not new to humanity.
When we look at how the Church in the past has dealt with plague –
whether in ancient Rome, medieval Europe, 19th century London or numerous other examples
we can get a better perspective.
My predecessor in St Peter’s Dundee, Robert Murray McCheyne died aged 29 after he visited
the sick and dying in an epidemic among the poor in the city.
The Church today seems to be more concerned about not getting sick, rather than visiting the sick.

Hebel

I love this Hebrew word.
I don’t really know an exact English equivalent.
It’s what Solomon uses in Ecclesiastes when he describes everything as ‘meaningless’ or ‘vanity’.
It carries the idea of trivial froth.
The coronavirus is exposing our societies’ Hebel.
Sport, wealth, leisure, entertainment –
how light and frothy they appear to be in the light of such a foe!

I was in a barber’s in Sydney yesterday where my fellow clientele would normally have been
outraged at the cancelling of the major sporting events which play such
a large part in our lives, but there was general agreement that it didn’t really matter.
(I loved the sign above the door – “if you’re sick you need a doctor, not a barber!”).

Hope

That is the great missing thing.
Real hope has to be more than the wish that this would soon be over and that we could carry on
with life as normal. This virus has exposed the shallowness of that approach to life.
Where do we find hope?
As always I find it in the word of God.
Let me share with you three readings from this morning.

Proverbs 1:20-33 warns us of what happens when we neglect the wisdom that is calling aloud
“in the public square”.
There will be calamity and “disaster that sweeps over you like a whirlwind”.
The waywardness of the simple and the complacency of fools destroys them but
“whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm”.

Then there are the great words of Psalm 91 –
a Psalm that sustained me when I lay on my bed in the ICU unit in Ninewells hospital,
helpless and fearful.
We can rest in the ‘Shadow of the Almighty’ (rather than the shadow of death).
We are covered by his feathers, and his faithfulness is our shield and rampart.
“You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday” (v.5-6).

Finally, my song for this morning was Psalm 139 where,
amongst other things, we are assured that all the days ordained for us were written in the
Lord’s book before they came to be. These verses surely speak to our situation.
Are we listening?
Or are we listening to the voices of doom both within our fearful selves
and our frightened society?

Listening to what God says is not burying our head in the sand;
it is allowing the light to expose our darkness and to point us to a greater and better truth –
to The Rock that is higher than us.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
my anxious thoughts survey.
Show me what gives offence to you,
And lead me in your way”

(Psalm 139:23-24 – Sing Psalms – The Free Church of Scotland)

Three Bible passages to Replace Fear of Coronavirus with Hope in God

I’ll wait until October….


(Scrooge played by Alistair Sim and the Ghost of Christmas past play by Michael Dolan / 1951)

For all intense purposes…the calendar date reads December 6th—well past October.
But this was my lament and statement back in say, June…

“I’ll wait until October”

Let’s back up a tad…

At the end of spring and the start of summer, we had finally decided to “makeover” two
of the three bedrooms upstairs that were long in need of redoing.

The third room that was already up to speed, is our guest bedroom.
A room that we had lovingly dubbed “Martha’s room”
as it was where my aunt would stay when she’d come to visit.

Of the other two rooms–one had been out son’s room.
A room he vacated, for all intent purposes, in say…2007…upon high school
graduation.

He occasionally returned throughout college for a few extended stints
before heading off to a fraternity house and later various apartments…and blessedly
basically forever upon graduation.

He is now married for almost 6 years, with two kids…
I think we were safe and in the clear for changing out the room.

However, that’s not to say that the door doesn’t always remain open should a need ever arise…
but it’s just that the content is now drastically and delightfully altered
as the room has been brought up to speed.

The other room had been pretty much a catch-all for things such as a
weight machine (something our son never seemed to think much of in order
to take it with him when he finally moved out–sigh),
along with boxes and boxes of files that had been dad’s world, of which I inherited
when he was no longer able to care for himself.

So my husband and I discarded, sorted, thrashed, regrouped all the stuff that was to
stay and all the stuff that was to go, turning that last room into a lovely home office of sorts.

However, it now irks my husband to no end that I went to a great deal of trouble,
not to mention expense, decorating and arranging with some wonderful old pieces
I’d found, just to simply continue using the kitchen table for my “workspace.”

He, on the other hand, uses the office religiously.

When he retired, he was accustomed to having had an office.
A place where he kept his files, bills, notices and where he sat down
to pay bills and do paperwork.

On the other hand, as a teacher, I was used to simply grabbing space at a clean table.
Hence, my affinity for the kitchen table.
I also like the wall of windows in the kitchen which provides ample light.
Much like my classroom use to provide.

I did have an “office” but “the office” consisted of a computer table with the bulk of the
room being, more or less, storage space and where we housed the kiln.
I, therefore, preferred the open space of the classroom.

For a while, following dad’s slow demise, my home “workspace” was moved to the dining room
table as the papers and boxes were growing exponentially and the kitchen was simply not the place.
Following dad’s death and the gutting of the two rooms, I moved dad and my
“stuff” to the new office.

Since the closets in those two made-over rooms were now basically gutted,
I thought I would store a few of my more cherished and ancient family Christmas ornament
boxes in the two vacated closets.

“Get them out of the attic,” I told myself.
The summer heat, in a house’s attic in Georgia, is deathly.
The winter is equally as harsh.
Not the place to store things of “treasure” but sometimes
that’s all one has.

The boxes contained much loved and long passed down ornaments.
With each ornament telling a story.

One box contained the porcelain Christmas angels and tiny nutcrackers I’d been
collecting since I was in high school.
Gifts along with those offered by long-gone family members.
Boxes that always quickened my heart each Christmas when I brought
them out to the tree.

I thought the move out of the attic would help their survival.

HA!

Do we call that the best-laid plans…????

Almost as soon as I moved the boxes to the closet, I placed one on a shelf
in order to come back when I’d next move in a few more, allowing for me to
rearrange my sorting.

Suddenly, there was a loud crash.

UGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

Before even looking, I knew.

Sure enough, the porcelain angel box was on its side as pieces of angels were
strewn across a closet floor.

I opted to play Scarlett–for tomorrow would be another day…


(Scarlett following Rhett’s departure / Gone With The Wind / 1939)

I uprighted the box, scooped up all the pieces, dumping them back in the box,
all willy nilly, and closed the top…
I stopped long enough to announce aloud to no one but myself,
I’ll worry about this little disaster in October.

The small disaster was more than I could deal with or bear that day.
Or seemingly any day thereafter.
I dreaded what I would find and I dreaded the meticulous gluing that would ensue.

Well as time past, I kept reminding myself about October.

July came and went.
August came and went.
September came and went.
October…came and went.
November came and went.
December is here.

I have decided there will be no tree this year.
The first treeless Christmas in 60 years of my life.

Nor is the manger scene box unpacked or moved from the closet.

It’s not so much over the broken bits and pieces of my Christmases past but
really because the kids won’t be able to come home before
Christmas comes and goes as both work and other demands of time will keep them away.

The plan is that we will go up on Christmas Eve to spend the night.
And I’ll go up in about a week to get the kids and help out at home.

The tree is a pain to haul up from the basement–it’s large and cumbersome.
The decorating requires various ladders.
Not to mention the hauling of the ornament boxes down from upstairs.

The fluffing of the tree, the sorting, and unpacking of the ornaments—
only to turn around and pack it all right back up.

A friend of my husband’s had offered to help him haul up the tree but I told him
not to worry.

“I don’t think we’ll put up the tree this year.”
“But why?” he implored.
“Because no one will be coming home, it’ll be just us.”
“Well, the two of you can enjoy it”
“Well, it’s an awful lot of work for just two people to stare at.”

Maybe it’s the melancholy of the season.
Maybe it’s the fact that the house will be quiet.
Maybe it’s the fact that we’re both a little older.
Maybe it’s the lunacy griping our Nation.
The country is being railroaded and no one seems able to stop the madness.
Maybe I’m simply tired.

The jury is still out, but I’m pretty certain there will be no tree…

One day, some cold rainy day, I’ll pull out that box of
debris and start gluing things back together…

But for now…I did at least manage to get the lights and decorations up outside…
so no one passing by the house is any the wiser that on the inside,
only the stockings are hung by the chimney with care.

Oh and by the way, my son stole the stockings I had made for his little crew…
they’ve been spirited off to Atlanta only to hang on the same mantle
my stocking once hung…
So the stockings I’ve hung are quite the hodgepodge.

Hummmmm…
maybe Ebenezer was right, “wouldn’t it be better if I just
went home to bed?”


(Alistair Sim

Ebenezer : [to the Spirit of Christmas Yet To Come]
I am standing in the presence of the Spirit of Christmas Yet To Come?
And you’re going to show me the shadows of things that have not yet happened but will happen?
Spirit of the Future, I fear you more than any spectre I have met tonight! But even in my fear,
I must say that I am too old! I cannot change! I cannot! It’s not that I’m inpenitent,
it’s just… Wouldn’t it be better if I just went home to bed?

“Our freedom always has this marvelous power to make what is taken from us—by life,
events, or other people—into something offered. Externally there is no visible difference,
but internally everything is transfigured: fate into free choice, constraint into love,
loss into fruitfulness. Human freedom is of absolutely unheard-of greatness.
It does not confer the power to change everything,
but it does empower us to give a meaning to everything, even meaningless things;
and that is much better. We are not always masters of the unfolding of our lives,
but we can always be masters of the meaning we give them.
Our freedom can transform any event in our lives into an expression of love,
abandonment, trust, hope, and offering.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 58
An Excerpt From
Interior Freedom

time is not my friend…it’s not yours either

“We must now define what it means to be Christian because the hypocrisy
of some can be confusing to a watching world.”

David Fiorazo

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God?
Or am I trying to please people?
If I were still trying to please people,
I would not be a servant of Christ.

Galatians 1:10


(the fishing seems slim / Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2018)

Piggybacking on yesterday’s post regarding David Fiorazo’s book The Cost of our Silence,
I’ll admit that my reading of this book of his will be a slow go—because time is not my friend.
Not that it is a friend to any of us.

For time is of the essence.
But it is rapidly waning.

Time being a central theme I’ve now been sounding for nearly four years.
Ever since a trip to Ireland and a Divine revelation.

And yet it remains…not a friend.

Not a friend to our lives as in it eats up what we call our own.
And it is equally destructive to our Spiritual lives.
As in it’s running out…time is running out…
but who wants to hear about that…
because that would mean we’d need to get up, get out, remove ourselves
from our comfort zones and really get ourselves busy.

And as Spiritual Beings, the idea that our time is growing more and more limited
by the day, is, well…something that should have us all gearing up to get to work.

Here are a few more thoughts from our friend and author David Fiorazo’s introduction from his
book The Cost of our Silence.
A little more food for thought.
More of the impetus for our getting up and getting going before our time runs out.

America has more Chrisitan churches and more resources than ever before–
more than any other country in the world–
so why do we look less and less like a Christian nation every day?
We have more Bibles, seminaries, Chrisitan music, and Christian entertainment than ever before.
We have the fanciest churches, the finest Christian colleges, countless ministries and no profits,
and we have an abundance of Christian radio, television, and Christin bookstores across the country.
Now consider the swindling amount of Christian influence in our culture today.
Something is drastically wrong.

Christians in America are facing indoctrination from a multitude of directions.
Schools instruct our children in evolution, environmentalism, and earth worships.
Later they learn about Freudian psychology, social justice, and homosexuality.
We are deluged with secular entertainment, promiscuity, and promotion of the abortion business.
Society is inundated with Marxism, socialism, and secularism.
Our lives are bombarded with atheism, witchcraft, false religions, and liberalism.
Even in some church denominations, liberals (some may refer to them as religious
“progressives” or the “Christian Left”) have gained power and introduced theological
heresies including New Age philosophies.

“If we are serious about our faith, others will know.”

“We as Bible-believing evangelical Christians are locked in a battle.
This is not a friendly gentleman’s discussion.
It is a life and death conflict between the spiritual hosts of wickedness and
those who claim the name of Christ.”
Francis Schaeffer

So what name are we claiming because we don’t have much more time remaining to be deciding…

But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Matthew 24:13

the cost of silence as time is not our friend

“It is impossible to be a part-time Christian”
David Fiorazo, The Cost of our Silence


(image courtesy the web)

The very first paragraph of his introduction grabbed me:

America has over 300,000 churches, but few would contest that our Christian influence
is decreasing as the nation becomes more secularized.
Our biblical values are no longer being consistently demonstrated and promoted
and therefore, do not translate out from behind church walls and into culture.
Why are there so few speaking up for Jesus Christ and for righteousness in public anymore?
Hope for revival remains, and a remnant of committed leaders and believers are doing
their part, but because of the posers and pretenders,
American Christianity has almost become a joke.
People in the Middle East look at Hollywood, the Internet, and our government.
They see our education system, media and the people we elect.
They observe our greed, idolatry,
and society as a whole and refer to us as “The Great Satan.”

I mentioned the other day having seen the book The Cost of our Silence by David Fiorazo.
After reading the small snippet regarding the book, I was intrigued…
so much so that I ordered the book…
In part, because here was what I’ve been trying to say, in so many words, in the actual
print of a book…as in, this guy was saying what I’ve
known but have felt almost alone espousing from my small blog’s bully pulpit.

And here’s the odd thing.
As I’m not on social media, my little blog is indeed just that– little.
Not much exposure albeit for here in my small corner of the world of happy WP.
So my readership is not exactly grand in scope.

That is except when I write about certain topics…
topics just like what our friend David Fiorazo is addressing in his book.

I’ve never been much of a numbers person, as math was never my strong suit.
Yet when I was still in the classroom, schools were becoming big hunters of numbers,
percentages and stats…

We were inundated with keeping stats on all sorts of things with our students…
be it testing results, benchmark results, attendance, discipline…you name it.

This numbers notion was born from the thought that “numbers don’t lie”—
Numbers were now being equated with goals…
goals met or goals not yet met.
We were told that the numbers would tell us…
they would be the polestar pointing us in the right direction.

And we knew that a successful school that was meeting its goals and or standards was
seen as exceptional. If students were meeting their goals and standards, that would
in turn mirror the success of the school.

It became a vicious cycle of goals, stats, and results equaling glowing standards which were
being met with huge success…and we all know that if a school wants to be exceptional,
its students must be meeting and exceeding goals and stats.

These numbers became the backing behind the words.
Words such that “we are a school of excellence because our numbers don’t lie”
Schools could claim this or that as long as the numbers backed up the words.

Unfortunately, due to the pressure of meeting certain statewide or national criteria,
school systems found themselves fudging numbers in order to keep up the appearance of
being exceptional.
The pressure becomes so great that jobs were hanging in the balance of
student’s measuring up to the standard, goal, criteria numbers game.

It appeared that numbers could lie if the number counters could alter the count.

Atlanta Public Schools was one such system that was “caught” fudging the numbers.
They were inflating the state and national test results of their students…
going so far as to actually changing student’s answers.

The fear being that a failing school would lose federal funding due to
Falling scores and stats would see administrators losing their jobs and teachers would lose
their jobs and in the end who wants their school to lose that precious federal funding?!

It was and continues to be a numbers mess to be sure.

But here in blogland, the stats and numbers aren’t as precarious or crucial.
No one loses a job over low blog stats…rather perhaps one’s sense of worth as a writer,
or of that of a cook, or a photographer, or a creative individual…

We all have on our admin page the stats section.
A chart showing the readership over a day, a week, a month, a year…
a gauge of success, or as some think, popularity.

Yet life does not hang in the balance over blog stats…not unless you’re the type
of person who keeps track of such and in turn stresses over the fluctuation and
the fickleness of blog readers.

My stats, when I write posts that are more benign, more about a grandbaby or just pretty
pictures, typically run relatively low.
Kind of like just idly flipping through a magazine…
just another eyes glazed over page-turner.

But when I write posts from the bully pulpit of Christian Apologetics such as
Christian apathy or that of abortion, or homosexuality and same-sex unions,
heresy or atheism, or the failings of The Chruch, or posts about Chrisitan morality,
God’s word, the Truth of our Faith—
my numbers soar…as does the “hate” mail.

And I’ll admit that I don’t always have the time to devote to this sort of evangelizing
posting as it demands true depth and justice.

Some days life requires the simple and glazed over page-turners all because time is
not our friend.
The true meat and potatoes type of posts need passion, time for research and even valid
documentation…all of which does the subject matter justice.

And so when I read the words of authors such as Mr. Fiorazo, I feel those fires igniting—
as in it’s time to get cooking with some really flavorful meat and potatoes.

Mr. Fiorazo continues in his introduction:

Just as Jesus wept for Jerusalem while acknowledging its judgment,
should we not weep for America as the signs clearly point to God’s impending judgment on
a once-mighty, blessed Nation?
So we expect God to stay His hand of judgment and continue blessing a rebellious and
narcissistic people with His protection and provision?

One might argue, “But God is still on the throne.”
Sue. I agree He is sovereign over all events and circumstances.
He remains all-powerful, but He does not control us or force people to love Him.
God was also on His throne when we legalized abortion,
and soon America will be closing in on 60 million babies murdered in the name of “choice.”
Chrisitan helped elect the most pro-abortion,
anti-Christian president in our history–twice.
Do you suppose God cares how we vote?

God is still on the throne–
and He is preparing to judge a complacent people who continue ducking the issue of sin.

So with all of this simply found in the first few pages from a book’s introduction,
I can only imagine what might be waiting inside the book itself.

And so as I begin the slow picking apart and digesting of what it is I will be reading,
I will certainly, time and life cooperating, be sharing some important words for all
of us who call ourselves Believers.

Hopefully offering up a hearty portion of delicious meat and potatoes.

Yet I am mindful that time is not our friend.
Our time is running nigh as God’s judgment will not remain at bay forever…

Wake up!
Strengthen what remains and is about to die,
for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God.

Revelation 3:2

civil discourse

“Of our thinking it is but the upper surface that we shape into articulate thought;
underneath the region of argument and conscious discourse lies the region of meditation.”

Thomas Carlyle


(big sister Alice with her boy friend Sonny / Julie Cook / 2018)

Civil discourse…
two words…
the first-word meaning—courteous and polite
the other word meaning—a conversation

Put them together and you have a ‘courteous polite conversation.’

Yet that is not exactly what we are witnessing taking place across this society of ours.

Firstly let’s take a look at our current protests emanating from within our schools.

This is a bit of a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, it’s a good thing that our kids are upset over the escalating violence
taking place from within our schools—of which are, in actuality, their schools.

But let us be specific here…this violence we’re speaking of would be gun violence
and gun violence only.

It has nothing to do with the fighting, the rampant profanity, the disrespect,
the brawls, the knives, the unwanted sexual advances, the thefts or the bullying
that continues taking place…
all of which continues to happen on a daily basis in many of our schools across this nation…
nor does it really address the fact that many of these kids who are coming to school with
these guns are known to and by other kids…that no one necessarily sees the coming storm or
acknowledges a hand in the making of the storm is both problematic and disconcerting.

And granted that is not always the case, as we have sadly seen at schools such as Sandy Hook…
that these are not necessarily known kids on anyone’s particular radar.
In the case of Sandy Hook, we had an older teenager coming into an unsuspecting elementary school…

So not each shoe obviously fits every foot.

We are on a case by case basis.

We are also talking about frustrated minors..aka adolescents.

Adolescents, as we all know, is a time of an emotional roller coaster full of angst
and hormones.
Emotions run high, deep and quick.

When I was a student in high school, Vietnam and the Civil Rights Movement had just hit
their zenith.
Protests, sit-ins, love-ins, demonstrations had all become standard words within the
vocabulary of our Nation.
We had witnessed college kids “expressing” themselves…
so naturally, high school kids felt equally as strongly yet were perhaps frustrated by the
inability to truly take part in the sweeping discontent as seen on many college campuses.

At the turn of the decade from the 60’s to the 70’s, I was in the 8th grade—
which was a part of our 8-12 high school.
A beloved teacher was fired for supposedly moonlighting as a bartender.

There was a walkout.

The principal came out of the school with a bullhorn—he told the disgruntled student body
that if they, the students, didn’t immediately return to class, there would be
disciplinary actions against those students insisting on continuing with the walkout.

Naturally, I went right back inside.

I didn’t want to get in trouble—not with the school nor with my parents who would be livid
if I decided to show my “butt” by being defiant and disrespectful to the rules and authority
of our principal and the school.

A couple of years later, during my senior year, I remember very clearly when the senior
class had prepared for some sort of no-show day…
The principal had gotten word of the senior class opting for a massive skip day so
he called in the class officers—of which I just happened to be vice president.
He told us, in no uncertain terms, that if we participated in the skip day—
there would be serious repercussions.

Now if this sort of thing happened today…the idea of a principal “threatening” a
group of students with repercussions for participating in a skip day…
well, there would be undoubtedly parents up in arms as lawyers would be circling
the wagons salivating to get involved…
Least of which would be the ACLU, who mind you, would be jumping on the bandwagon
sputtering nonsense about the civil liberties of students and threats against minors.

Our principal explained that we were the leaders of our class and that we were to set
an example of doing what wasn’t necessarily the popular thing but doing that which was
the right thing…
There were rules about skipping school and if we opted to skip…
well, there’d be penalties for our poor choices.

Needless to say, the four of us were in school that day,
along with a handful of other mindful students.

In the end, did I simply miss a good time or had I learned an important life lesson?
I would say that latter.

As a former high school teacher, I can honestly say that I appreciate the passion
many of our kids are displaying for wanting to take a stand against the gun
violence happening in their close-knit worlds.

But…

at the same time, our schools have rules about things such as disobedience,
defiance and rule-breaking…
where things such as walkouts and or demonstrations fall directly under said headings.

Schools should not be “punished” for maintaining a standard level of discipline.
If one system supports a national walkout—that’s fine…
Such being a school system’s prerogative.
Yet no one should punish or shame those schools or districts who decide to hold onto their
standards, rules, and approach to discipline versus participating in a walkout.

I was more than slightly incensed last evening when I heard an Atlanta lawyer interviewed
on the local news using his legal language insinuating that students had been
“pressured, intimidated and bullied” by school officials over their wanting to walk
out when the school had issued a ban on doing such.

If your school was one to opt out…well then…that’s that is it not?

We live with rules…whether we like it or not.
A civil society.

And our kids are just that…they are kids.
While we, in turn, are the adults.
Sometimes the responsibility of the care entrusted to us over our kids comes in the
form of rules, discipline and even tough love.
Adults are entrusted to make the rules…rules which are in place to help govern
a civil society.
And as adults, we are charged with the care of our students and children and the fact
that they must understand that we set rules for a reason.

Obviously, our legislators need to act…
And as adults, it is our responsibility to see to it that they do act—
and if we don’t like how they act…we therefore voice our objection and vote
them out of office.

Is it not our responsibility to support our school administrators who
need to be allowed to do their jobs—
of which…is to keep our kids safe, orderly and educated.

These moments, which we have been witnessing around this Nation of ours regarding the
disgruntlement our kids, are what we call “teachable moments”…
moments when its ok to deviate from the curriculum and lessons at hand as we address
a bigger issue.

But allowing the protests and defiance to take on a larger than life momentum,
as well as a life of its own, in turn, creates a disservice to each and every victim…

so…do we do our best to work toward a means of civil discourse
or do we simply allow our children to begin living as we adults are…
living by throwing civility, laws, and rules totally out the window as
the end means…
getting what it is we think we need and want by any raising the loudest and
most disruptive clamor—
Becoming a society that gets what it thinks it wants by making demands and
strong-arming any and all sense of order or civility…

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof,
for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent,
equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV

erring and snow

“There is no exquisite beauty… without some strangeness
in the proportion.”

Edgar Allan Poe


(a foot of snow blankets the yard / Julie Cook / 2017)

Whereas this unexpected early December Southern Snow has blanketed us with a
deep white blanket of mystical silence and stillness…it has not come without
a wealth of woe….

The school systems in and around the Atlanta metro area…north and westward…
school systems who usually err on the side of caution actually decided to listen
to our meteorologists who glibly reported that,
whereas it looked as if there would be some snow….,
we’d been so warm up to now that any snow would be fleeting.
A lite dusting that wouldn’t stick to roadways or driveways as it had just been
simply too warm for any real need for worry.

In other words, a short lived event.

This was to be taking place on Friday.

So on Friday, everyone opted to go about life as normal…
This is the deep South you know….we don’t really worry about winter weather
this time of year.

And so right on que the rains came, turning eventually over to snow.

And then it snowed and it snowed, and it kept on snowing…..

The schools scrambled and quickly decided that perhaps they should release the hounds students…
And so we had everyone in a myriad of counties all starting to unleash madness
upon the roadways all at the same staggering times.
Staggered releases seemed to be the best option…yet it was still snowing…hard.
Snow and ice were beating the release times.

Buses found it impossible to deliver their tender cargo as the snow and ice
were blanketing roadways…making traveling up and down hills impossible.

Our very pregnant daughter-n-law, who teaches here in our county but lives in Atlanta,
opted to come to our house verses trying to navigate the snowy icy interstates back
home to Atlanta as the News was painting a terrible traffic picture.

A typical 15 minute drive to our house from her school actually took her 2 hours…
as cars were now slip sliding away.
In fact my husband had to go meet her a mile from our house as cars had simply stopped
in their tracks on the roads as others had landed in the ditches and she was stuck in
the middle. It took him 30 minutes to get to her…a drive that should have taken two minutes.

Meanwhile, limbs were falling left and right in Atlanta.
It is a city known for her plethora of beautiful trees…yet snow and ice are not
kind to trees.

A snow laden limb fell on our son and daughter-n-laws house,
literally ripping out the power lines from the house….lines now laying dangerously
across the lawn.

GA Power has come to access the issue and now needs one of their certified
electricians to come out and reconnect the lines into the house before
they can re-run the lines from the pole to the house…
lest all things blow up.

Our son, dad’s cat and the grand dog are hunkering down in the dark, without heat
as the temperatures plunge down into the teens….
waiting for word of this elections.

This as I watched today those who really suffer through these sorts
of weather events…the animals…
as well as those who have no shelter to call their own…

As God watches over both animal and man who remain without….


(notice to the left of the two bulls, the wee head peering out from the crack
in the dilapidated barn)


(the poor cold bulls / Julie Cook / 2017)

But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.

Psalm 5:11

alas, life is now a living satire

Dennis: Come and see the violence inherent in the system.
Help! Help! I’m being repressed!
King Arthur: Bloody peasant!
Dennis: Oh, what a giveaway!
Did you hear that?
Did you hear that, eh?
That’s what I’m on about!
Did you see him repressing me?
You saw him, didn’t you?
(lines from Monty Python and the Holy Grail)


(Monty Python and the Holy Grail / the killer rabbit scene)

Way back in 1975 I can remember going to the theater to see a rather bizarre movie.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

At the time I was not up on my British comedies and was unfamiliar with Monty Python
let alone their often avant garde and most irreverent humor

As a young girl, I was always more serious than silly so the often blatant silly
comedic humor was lost on me as I found it just too…well, silly.

Having a keen interest in history…
which first started out with a love of history of heritage…
of which took me back to roots found buried deep in the soil of the British
and Irish Isles, coupled with my often vivid imagination…
well, I could envision myself mucking about with a metal detector trying to locate Excalibur, believing Arthur to have been once a living breathing king, I would then
be claiming that mythical sword in the name of some long lost relative.

So when I first watched Monty Python’s take on Arthur and the quest of the Holy Grail..
well I wasn’t sure how I felt about it or what to make of it.

But one thing was certain, I did develop a life long enjoyment from watching
John Cleese in action.

Yet what brought Monty Python to the forefront of thought today was not some fun or
amusing sketch I glanced while perusing the web but rather it came from the latest blog offering by the Scottish Pastor David Robertson.

Perhaps an odd coupling….

His most recent posting is actually an article written for Premiere Christianity
and is written in response to an article about a troubling incident where a church school there in the UK has deemed a Christian organization of being, well, too Christian to be
permitted in a church school.

And so here is where we que the insulting French knight who sadly is not showing up.

As in here is where the overt satire of the likes of Monty Python deviates to reality…
A sort of surrealism that just happens to be real….
In such that one just can’t make this kind of stuff up….
as in it is just so over the top and so so sad and so so troubling and ridiculous
all rolled into one, that one is left standing mouth agape.

A Christian group has been banned from a Church school because a few parents have complained that Christian teaching is extremist. Premier Christianity asked me to write a response – you can get the original here – (some of the comments afterwards from people who profess to be Christian are quite chilling – not least the two professing Christians arguing that to ask for a Christian group to be able to speak at a Christian school is intolerant, discriminatory and against the teaching of Jesus!)

As a retired educator this story certainly had my attention.
Now whereas I spent my career in the often anemic sector of public education that
basks in its secularization and the separation of church and state–
so much so that there are districts who have told their educators that they may not
have a Bible in the classroom but an Islamic prayer rug is ok….
if that makes any sense….
so I understand the raised eyebrows over religious groups coming in
to address the students….
But when an actual church school claims a Christian organization is just too Christian..
well we’ve got bigger troubles then I ever imagined…

3) There is a patronising and dangerous ideology that is being used to teach our children.

Education used to be about teaching children how to think. Now it is about teaching them what to think. And nothing must be allowed to deviate from that. Instead of education our schools are being turned into centres of social engineering where the secular Brave New World is indoctrinated into our children. Our children are being taught that marriage has nothing to do with gender. And now they are being taught Queer theory; that gender either doesn’t exist, or has nothing to do with biology, or is ‘fluid’. Now there’s a really harmful and dangerous ideology!

And the good Pastor goes on to then offer the following points…
(you’ll have to click the link below in order to read the commentary for
each of the points)

4) Those of us who warned that the introduction of Same Sex Marriage would quickly move from being a permissive to being a prohibitive decree have been proven right.

5) The Church only has itself to blame –

Jesus wept.

Christ wept over Jerusalem.
We must weep at the insanity that is gripping the UK, *[and might I add the US]
of which this incident is only the tip of the iceberg.
Christ’s sternest warning was for those who would harm any of “these little ones”.
Maybe its time for the Church to reflect the priorities of the Christ who said
“let the little children come to me,
and do not forbid them”?
Maybe for the sake of the children we should come out of our own comfort
zones and challenge the new State-imposed fundamentalist doctrines that
cause so much harm. If we are to be accused of extremism,
then let’s make sure that it is the kind of extreme and courageous love
that Jesus showed.
Whatever the cost.

* my little input

So just when we thought the likes of Monty Python to be just a mere comedic group
of both stage and theater, we see that they are actually becoming quite real…
quite real indeed….

Now teaching Christian doctrine at a church school is ‘extremist’. Move over Monty Python.

You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!…
You are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful,
but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.

Matt. 23:24, 27

Frankly my dear, I knew it

“Rhett, Rhett… Rhett, if you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?”
“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

(the parting scene between Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara in the movie
Gone With the Wind)

I knew it was just a matter of time and I suppose the time is finally here.

I read yesterday morning that the movie Gone With The Wind is being pulled from Memphis theaters due to being “racially insensitive.”

Here is where I need to remember to watch my problem with my knees,
that kneejerkitis that often afflicts both of those pesky knees of mine because
I need to choose my thoughts here carefully.

When I was in high school during those heady days of the mid 70’s, I read for
one of my lit classes, J.D. Salinger’s 1951 book Catcher In the Rye.

I was an angst filled teen who longed for understanding so Salinger’s angst
filled tale seemed to be a good choice, right?
Well, not exactly.

Holden Caulfield was a messed up kid.
Spoiled, lost, and empty.
And there I was a lost young girl trying to connect with a lost young male character
in a quintessential tale of the lostness of adolescents.
Sigh…

Not a good combination really.

The language was off putting to me even back then,
as was the heavy black curtain which seemed to hang over me the reader…
heavy like a cloud of suffocating stale cigarette smoke, as
Holden himself seemed to be constantly drowning in the book under the weight
of his own heaviness.

Yet it was considered a classic…a troubled classic much like Holden himself.

In 1981, it was both the most censored book and the second most taught book
in public schools in the United States

wikipedia

Talk about an internal struggle.

It was a book that was so controversial that it’s bad boy status catapulted
it to being one of the most sought after books of it’s time…
nothing like being told you can’t do, read, see or hear something
that spurs on that endless thirst to do just that…to do, read, see or hear
that which one has been told one can’t….

Catcher in the Rye is not a book I would now want to go back and read,
and perhaps it was a book that I should not have read back in high school.
I don’t like the storyline, I don’t like the graphicness, the lostness, the
angst ridden quest which never seems to find salvation….

I learned a long time ago in my Christian journey that surrounding myself with
that which is edifying is important.
It’s like being a recovering alcoholic and surrounding one’s self with a
room full of drunken sots.
A broken individual can only be strong for other broken individuals,
being strong alone, for just so long….

Which in this case mirrors my connection to the world.
If I continue to fill myself with that of the world, then I stay pretty much
in the world and a part of the world…a broken, lost, messed up, angry world.

It’s when I fill myself with those things of God’s glory and grace, and that alone,
is when I can finally be uplifted…
Yet the world, like a bottle of alcohol to that alcoholic,
keeps calling me back…’come back to being a part of the quagmire…watch the
“moralityless” shows promoting homosexuality, promiscuity, vulgar language,
lawlessness, brokeness… listen to the music that promotes gang violence,
sexual abuse of woman…’because misery is loving some company’
while no one is considering Salvation.

But all of that brokeness and lostness is not my point…
my point is back with Gone With The Wind.

When I was still teaching, I worked with probably the best Media Specialist
on the planet (Hi Phyllis)…
She started her career as a librarian…
but librarians were soon to be rocketed to the stratosphere with the advent of
technology within the schools…So what was the humble school book clerk
transitioned to being something akin to a superman or woman…the Media Specialist.
These are now the all knowing techie gurus in schools who still just so happen to
be the keepers of the books and periodicals.

Part of my friend’s job was to meet with the faculty ever so often in order to
share the latest list of banned books or books that were being challenged by
the outside…be it by parents, community members or whomever felt the need
or calling to challenge.

There would be an announced “hearing” where we the faculty and the community
would be invited to the said hearing forum where the banning arguments
were to be heard.

I never attended such hearings because I preferred laying low.
So I can’t speak first hand to the whole banning process.

But it was just all too much for the American loving freedom fighter in me who
would simply get really riled because the only thing I could picture in my mind
were the Nazi’s and their book burning bonfires.
A sure enough time when the lunatics were indeed running the asylum.

On the US list Mark Twain is a frequent guest.
As is the Bible.
As is George Orwell, Willian Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway…
with the list going on and on and on.

And yes, Gone With The Wind is also on the list.

It seems to me that we will allow current trending movies, television shows
and music to run happily amuck, promoting everything from sexual promiscuity
to violence against woman to disrespect to the glorification of gang violence…

But let us dare to perceive something in our past to be insensitive,
especially what we now consider to be racially insensitive….

Well our overtly culturally correct loving Nation is now the greatest group of
hypocrites since the Victorian aristocracy….
and yet no body seems to get it.

We have bigger fish to fry, like aiding those caught in the middle
of a raging catastrophe along the Gulf….
so therefore all this negative anger needs to be channeled toward helping and caring
for those in the greatest need…
yet everyone is too busy being selfish and too caught up in their own tunnel
vision to get it.

So like Rhett Butler, I want to say to the latest statue disputes,
Berkley protesters, Alt right and Antifa idiots among us…
as well as to the latest book or movie banning squads out there that
this growing madness over “insensitivity” is…well…
Frankly my dear, I just don’t give a damn.

And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men,
but God knows your hearts.
For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

Luke 16:15

The devil’s trick….

“La plus belle des ruses du diable est de vous persuader qu’il n’existe pas.”
(“The devil’s finest trick is to persuade you that he does not exist.”)”

Charles Baudelaire


(a silkmoth Ceratomia hagoni / Julie Cook / 2017)

Perhaps the author of today’s quote knows a thing or two about the devil as his life
was speckled with troubles…
as those who were familiar with Monsieur Baudelaire associated him with darkness and depravity…
so perhaps it is true what they say about the devil knowing his own…

But I must say that I totally agree with Monsieur Baudelaire’s observation that it is indeed
one of Satan’s main ploys…
that being to lull us into the notion of his nonexistence.

Last night I was watching a newsy talk show.
I have to be really picky and choosey over the “news” I watch as most outlets that claim
to be News oriented, are simply not….
maybe they were when I was 5, say back in 1964, but no longer is that the case.

So this particular news host was running a story about the Freedom From Religion
Foundation, an aggressive special interest group, that had forced, bullied, threatened,
you choose the word, an elementary school in Tennessee to stop allowing a before school
Bible study offered to its first and second grade students.

Last I checked anything offered before or after school is considered voluntary,
NOT a curriculum or school mandated event.
The FFRF group co-founder, Dan Barker, had sent a letter to the school warning against
having any school personnel volunteering for such an activity as they would be in direct
violation of the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment.

Read between the lines—“if we discover that your faculty is having anything to do
with this, we will take you to court….
and you will be sorry and made to pay in more ways than one…”

Having been a long time educator I’ll be one of the first to tell you that if the word
lawsuit is even whispered near a school, sheer panic ensues…
so needless to say, the school shut down this before school voluntary study group—
which in turn infuriated the parents.

As the host and guest argued back and forth, the guest offered this defense…
“There are families who wish to protect their children from the depravity and
the violence that’s in the Bible,”

At which point I almost fell off the couch…
Depraved??
Really??
Ok.

They went further…
Host: You don’t forfeit your First Amendment rights, or any of your Constitutional rights,
just because you work for the government.
You know that.”

Guest: “Yes, you do.”

I think as an educator that was the single greatest thing that troubled me—
the feeling that rights afforded to all US citizens under the Constitution of the
United States somehow bypasses teachers…
as in we aren’t allowed the same rights, apparently, as our students,
or parents, or at times, even our administrators…

The other troubling notion was that these oh so important “rights” are more or less
relevant depending on your personal beliefs—

Christian teachers around this great country of ours are being told that they may not
have a bible on their desk.
Some districts are even telling their teachers that they may not wear a cross or that
Jewish teachers may not wear a star of David but a Muslim teacher may wear a headscarf,
may have a prayer rug and may teach the Quran….

So yes, Monsieur Baudelaire seems rather correct in his observation that the devil’s best
trick is to make us think that he not real as we have fallen hook, line and sinker
for every lie he’s been throwing our way…
all the while we’re holding onto these lies like a dog with a bone…

Living life in the world of lies…and the bad thing is that we’re simply sitting back
and letting it all happen without nary a word of protest from us, the Faithful…

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.
He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth,
because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature,
for he is a liar and the father of lies.

John 8:44

failures in exaggeration

“It is always the novice who exaggerates.”
C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

snow

I saw this chart on another blog the other day and thought it absolutely hilarious…
because as a Southerner,
there’s really not much to exaggerate over where snow and ice are concerned…
Pandemonium does indeed ensue.

Just as we witnessed over the past week leading up to last night’s spitting of ice.

I actually laughed out loud when reading this chart…

I can laugh like that…at us here in the South,
because it is true,
we do get all worked up and in a dither when the “S” word is mentioned.
As our meteorologists fan the flames of sheer panic, destruction and doom.

Yet I’ve noticed that we, as a society,
have gotten quite comfortable with the whole notion of exaggeration.
I think some call that hyperbole…
while other’s simply call it lying.

Yet no matter what we call it, we’ve gotten good at it…
Stretching the truth here and there.
Tweaking reality just a smidge.
And flat out altering the facts…

I think we are currently calling such “fake news”

Others call that padding, inflating and misrepresentation…
as in “oh, you misunderstood, I didn’t really mean that….”

Politicians and pundits do it…think exit polls
Corporations do it…think quarterly numbers.
School Systems do it…think standardized test scores.

Books are cooked,
Records are falsified
And lying has been elevated to a fine art of finesse.

As we’ve all now learned that if you don’t like the truth…
that you can simply…
alter it,
change it,
or merely rewrite it…

And yet in situations that really really matter, such as things like National Security,
we’ve run in the opposite direction.

Take the young man in Anchorage Alaska who was recently discharged from his
service as a military reservist.
He walks into his local FBI office telling them that ISIS is forcing him to
watch propaganda videos as he mumbles on crazily about such.

My first red flag, if I was one of those agents,
would have been that his service record showed that he’d seen
service time in Iraq.
I would have then dug deeper into his service record.
I would have contacted his former commanding officer.
I would have wondered about PTSD.
I would have wondered about radicalization
after hearing him use the key acronym “ISIS”…

He was supposedly in some sort of therapy.
Perhaps I would have contacted his therapist.

Yet, he manages to buy a plane ticket to Florida.
Check his firearm and ammo as baggage.
Makes his way through security without any sort of question
as he’s obviously not on any sort of watch list,
despite rambling to the local FBI about ISIS,
all in order to board a flight south.

But I suppose its never odd for someone form Anchorage, in the dead of winter,
to want to fly to Florida.

Once his plane lands, he disembarks the plane, heads to baggage, grabs his bags,
heads to the men’s room in order to unpack his firearm and ammo, loads the gun
then proceeds to walk back out to the baggage-claim carrousels while he
randomly starts shooting.

Once he empties his clip,
he tosses his gun down and drops face down to the ground, spread eagle
as 5 folks are now dead and countless others are bleeding and wounded.

Yet we don’t want to target anyone,
profile anyone,
watch anyone,
or raise concern over anyone as not to
offend,
insult
or overreact…
lest we be sued or deemed insensitive.

As the ACLU,
the Southern Poverty Law Center,
liberal Washington, etc
would begin chanting racism, xenophobia, ignorance, rednecks….
you name it.

So now let’s try telling any of this to the victims and their family’s…
once again.

Rather now, everyone, the President included, will begin the same mantra that
we have heard over and over and over….
that this is just another incident where the gun is at fault.

This is the fault of having guns available….

Yet should it comes as any surprise that this young former serviceman had a gun, legally?

Maybe the FBI in Anchorage should have maybe considered a former service member,
despite no longer having a service weapon,
most likely owned a personal firearm as most current, as well as former, service members do.
As service members with a firearm is merely synonymous.

Nor should it be a surprise that anyone living in Alaska has a firearm…
most Alaskans do.
So maybe, just maybe the FBI should have wondered about all of this
when this young man showed up at their office babbling nonsense….

But then that would make too much sense.

And once again we’d appear to be profiling
or targeting
or assuming
or dare we say,
being cautious and sensible…

Keep falsehood and lies far from me
Proverbs 30:8