a shot of fortitude, knowing I can do anything for two weeks…

“True Christian fortitude consists in strength of mind, through grace,
exerted in two things; in ruling and suppressing
the evil and unruly passions and affections of the mind;
and in steadfastly and freely exerting and following
good affections and dispositions,
without being hindered by sinful fear or the opposition of enemies…
Though Christian fortitude appears in withstanding and
counteracting the enemies that are without us;
yet it much more appears in resisting and suppressing
the enemies that are within us;
because they are our worst and strongest enemies and
have greatest advantage against us.
The strength of the good soldier of Jesus Christ appears in nothing more
than in steadfastly maintaining the holy calm, meekness, sweetness,
and benevolence of his mind, amidst all the storms, injuries,
strange behaviour, and surprising acts and events of this
evil and unreasonable world.”

Jonathan Edwards

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(a jumbled mess of fishing line, fishing hooks and seaweed washes ashore / Santa Rosa Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2016)

The other night, my husband and I found ourselves at our favorite restaurant celebrating
a month late anniversary. This particular restaurant is a place we love to visit whenever we are fortunate enough to find ourselves at the beach.
The restaurant is very nice and the clientele can be equally as nice…with the exception
of some not so nice diners, but that’s for another story for another day.

As we arrived a bit early for our 7PM reservations, the host kindly asked if we
wouldn’t mind waiting as they prepared our requested table.
“Not a problem” I replied as it is often nice to sit for a minute and observe
those who have also opted to come dine…
Folks at the beach are always most colorful in a variety of ways….

As we waited, we watched as two couples entered together through the front door.
Very attractive couples…say, mid 60’s.
The women were puffed and coiffed to the Nines.
Giving the air of overtly well to do.

They waited a bit and were shown to their table as one of the men excused
himself from the group asking for the men’s room.
About two minutes later the other gentleman wandered back out for
what we assumed was to direct his friend to their table.
But rather than wait on his friend, he headed straight to the bar.
He appeared very impatient wanting the bar tender to hurry to his aid.

He ordered what appeared to be a triple shot of scotch.
I know these things as my dad use to be drawn to the same sort of amount and
libation back in his younger years….

The man took glass in hand bringing it quickly to his lips as he threw his head back,
draining the brown liquid from the glass in one quick swallow…
As he just as quickly plopped the glass on the bar.
No savoring, no sipping nor enjoying…
more like a “wham, bam, thank you mam, sort of moment.

At this point his friend emerged from the men’s room and
off they went to join their wives.

My husband and I kind of laughed to one another as we wondered aloud
if spending time over dinner with his wife was such that he
needed a heavy shot before continuing…

Fast forward to today…
I was back at the Orthopedic’s office following last week’s MRI.
I sat in the exam room almost 45 minutes before the PA came in.
How are you feeling she asked.

“Well…
imagine that the top of your thigh is numb yet at the same time it feels
as if your inner thigh and groin have been flayed wide open
while someone is constantly scrubbing said area with a brillo pad…
All the while someone else has a drill and is drilling right
into your hip bone and lower back, just a tad over from you lower spine…”

“Hummmm, that good eh?”

I flatly looked at her and stated more then questioned…
“I suppose the MRI didn’t show a thing did it?”

“Oh no, it showed something alright…
that’s what took me so long, the doctor had to keep looking over the MRI”
The scan wasn’t as high as we wanted it to go nor as deep…
but there is definitely a distribution of disc material outside of the
column on the left side…and it’s squeezing the emerging nerve.”

In other words, a bulging disc with severe nerve inflammation.

I asked if they wanted to repeat the MRI…
with her response being “only if we have to do surgery.”

Surgery?

“We have two options…we can be conservative and do therapy and traction….”

The thought of traction conjured an image of me flat on my back in a dingy cell
tied to a dark wooden plank as my hands and feet are chained to a roller
all the while as the masked torture master cranks the medieval rack…
stretching me till I snap.
Which mind you might feel better than flayed skin and brillo pads….

“Or, and this is my recommendation, we schedule a spinal nerve block.”

Ahhhh another torturous device where a large long horse needle is wiggled deep into the spin,
injecting steroids and anti-inflamation meds directly into the source….

“Ok, I’m in” I said probably a bit too eagerly…
but I think she grasped the fact that the pain has got to go…as in now.

“We’ll need to schedule it with one of the other doctor’s who normally does this sort
of procedure…and I’m afraid it could be a couple of weeks…”

“WHAT?”

Sure enough, the first available time is in two weeks.

“I can do anything for two weeks,” I hear myself chanting in my head.
That use to be my mantra when I was a much younger mother and teacher.

I would always have to take some sort of continuing ed training or coursework,
usually during the short summer, and it always seemed to be for two weeks.

I despised having to give up my precious home-time–
Whenever I was home, that’s when I savored being like a full time wife and mom…
Having to give up any of the sacred home-time was…in a word, torturous…

But….

I would always reassure myself that both my young son and me could manage anything for two weeks…

Just as I reminded myself today, “I can do anything for two weeks…”
even if it means living with constant pain, no energy and no moments of rest…
while now dealing with poor dad’s conundrum….

All this while as thoughts of just running around naked seemed to make perfect sense as nothing
would then be rubbing on the skin where angry nerves recoiled at the slightest touch.

Which brings us back to the previous observation of the gentleman at the bar…

Whereas I feebly attempted to soothingly reassure myself that I could do anything for two weeks,
perhaps this particular gentleman, who found that he needed a shot of fortitude just to endure
dinner with his wife, had it more aptly figured out…

As I quipped to the nurse, “two weeks is fine, but please call me if anything comes available
sooner… as you may just find me at a bar drinking heavily….”

Here’s to doing anything for two weeks…along with a shot of fortitude!

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:12-13

wisdom then is wisdom now

We are made wise not by the recollection of our past,
but by the responsibility for our future.

George Bernard Shaw
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(seaweed / Santa Rosa Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2016)

Wisdom extolled in a different era is still offered to us today–sadly, it seems, we are not listening….

“Since the dawn of the Christian era a certain way of life has slowly been shaping itself among the Western peoples, and certain standards of conduct and government have come to be esteemed.
After many miseries and prolonged confusion, there arose into the broad light of day the conception of the right of the individual; his right to be consulted in the government of his country; his right to invoke the law even against the State itself…Now in this resides all that makes existence precious to man, and all that confers honour and health upon the State.”

In an age of mounting skepticism, Churchill proclaimed the cause of ‘Christian civilization,” notes Mansfield.
“Churchill saw external threats in the “barbarous paganism” of the Nazis, who embodied principles that were the polar opposites of “Christian ethics.”
Furthermore, Churchill was concerned about the internal threats form some of his own countrymen who had lost their Christian vision. Every Christian, thought Churchill, had a “duty to preserve the structure of humane, enlightened Christian society.”
To neglect this would send society spinning into chaos because, said Churchill, “once the downward steps are taken, once one’s moral intellectual feet slipped upon the slope of plausible indulgence, there would be found no halting-place short of general Paganism and Hedonism.

Stephen Mansfield, “the Hidden Calling” The Chrisitan Post, July 19, 2012
Excerpt taken from:
God & Churchill
How the Great Leaders’ Sense of Divine Destiny Changed His Troubled World And Offers Hope for Ours
by Jonathan Sandys and Wallace Henley

life begets death, begets life

None but praying leaders can have praying followers. A praying pulpit will beget praying pews. We do greatly need pastors and evangelists who will set the saints to this business of praying. We are not a generation of praying saints. Who will restore this breach? The greatest will he be of reformers who can set the Church to praying.
Edward McKendree Bounds

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(seaweed washed on shore / Santa Rosa Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2016)

To be born again…man’s age old conundrum…

Atop an open roof top, deep within a quiet summer’s evening,
two new friends chat late into the night.
The air was heavy yet dry as slight breeze aided in taking off the edge from the day’s remaining heat…
A dog can be heard barking in the distance.

One man is elderly yet a trusted and learned member of the local religious community.
The other man is new comer to the area and is known by the locals as a traveling young teacher.

The elder of this odd twosome knows that to be seen with this young teacher would cause unnecessary chatter amongst the established community, yet he also knows that there is just something otherworldly about his new young friend…something about the confidence in which he speaks that stirs the heart of the older gentleman.

The elder man shares his observation with the young teacher that he believes the young man is truly in the favor of God—for the things of which he speaks and the things of which he does could have no other authority but that of God’s.

Noting the intuitive perception of his elderly friend, the young teacher acknowledges his friend’s insightfulness adding that “no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again”

Incredulous the older man asks how could such be possible…how can a man be born again as the only way would be to re-enter the womb…of which is a sheer impossibility.

But the young teacher responds…
“Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

Again, mystified the elder man asks how this can be.
And again the young teacher explains to his friend the meaning behind his words…

“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

It was in Jesus’s agonizing walk to his own death in which we were shown the door to our new birth.

The timeless words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer continue to remind us of such…

We pay more attention to dying than to death. We’re more concerned to get over the act of dying than to overcome death. Socrates mastered the art of dying; Christ overcame death as the last enemy. There is a real difference between the two things; the one is within the scope of human possibilities, the other means resurrection.
It’s not from ars mourned, the art of dying, but from the resurrection of Christ, that a new and purifying wind can blow through our present world. Here is the answer to Archimedes’ challenge:
“Give me somewhere to stand, and I will move the earth.” If only a few people really believed that and acted on it in their daily lives, a great deal world be changed. To live in the light of resurrection–that is what Easter means.

The conundrum lies within the choice…
the choice between living a life in this world complete with its ensuing death…
or the choice to live life outside of this world, in the victory over Death, with its ensuing life…
Each comes with a cost…eternal death, or a rebirth into eternal life
Seems easy enough….

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.
Deuteronomy 30:19