determination

“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing,
great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions
of honour and good sense.
Never yield to force.
Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

Winston S. Churchill, Never Give In!: The Best of Winston Churchill’s Speeches


(the wee one working on what it takes to crawl / Julie Cook / 2018)

Spending time in Atlanta with the wee one celebrating Poppie’s or Papa’s birthday
(depends on who your ask) )

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize?
So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.
They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.
But I discipline my body and keep it under control,
lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

The push for victory

“Do not be anxious:
go straight on, forgetful of self, letting the spirit of God act instead of your own.”

St. Julie Billiart


(vintage WWII rally flag / Julie Cook / 2018)

This year, back in May for Mother’s day, my daughter-n-law, son,
and new little granddaughter all gave me a most unique and oh so fitting gift.

Those of you who know me, know that such a gift, for me, could be none better.

My daughter-n-law scoured places and sites in search of something that she knew
I’d truly appreciate.
She pondered, compared and searched high and low.

Whereas my poor husband gave up years ago under the weight of the knowing how difficult
I am to buy a gift for, my daughter-law-remains true to the challenge.

This little fact alone is gift enough.

The simple act of exerting the time, thought and study all on my behalf…
the fact that to give a cursory expected gift, that proverbial tie for dad mentality
was and is not to be had—
her efforts have not been lost on my deep sense of appreciation.

But this gift…this gift was special and unexpected.

Anyone who knows me knows of my affinity over, for and with
Sir Winston Spencer Churchill.

I won’t reiterate all of that here as I’ve written a myriad of posts previously
on the man.

Vision, tenacity, and valor, coupled with a hardy dose of vanity and ego,
all aided in what we in Western Civilization enjoy today…
the bashing and abusing of our various democracies.

Had it not been for Churchill, my life and yours would most likely be very
different today.

But enough history for today, back to the gift.

My daughter-n-law found a vintage WWII rally flag located somewhere in the UK
that someone was selling.
It is very obvious that it was homemade as the single stitched black thread silhouette of
Churchill is plainly sown on a piece of now mildewed muslin cloth.
In addition, there is a small sewn sleeve opening on one side for the addition of the
long lost stick.
The flag is out of square and finished quite simply…
It’s not a fancy piece of highly polished embroidery but rather something made in a bit
of haste.

V is for Victory is stitched below the silhouette.

This is the type of flag someone would have used during a morale-boosting parade,
something to wave on the streets had the Prime minister come to inspect damage after a bombing
or even waved following the celebration for Victory in Europe Day on May 8, 1945.

It was a perfect gift.

And now this tiny piece of history proudly graces the wall in my den…
a wall that is more what some might call a shrine.

All in tribute to one man who made a difference for our freedom.

And so with all of this talk of Churchill, I’m reminded that we must always be
prepared to fight the good fight no matter what the cost to self.

And we also must know what it is that is truly worthy and lasting in which to fight for.

And so it is, in his latest offering, that our friend the Wee Flea reminds us of
this same very mindset and of the importance of maintaining a steadfast and focused
clarity in what we are fighting for.

In an observation, that at first glance seems mundane, something that would be
a mere blip on the news, of which the good Pastor actually acknowledges…
this latest puff of smoke rising on the horizon is something that David actually
sees as far more troubling than what most folks would imagine.

I am reminded of the years that Churchill rang the clarion bell to the rising concern
of what was taking place in Germany in the early 1930’s yet no one wanted to hear
or acknowledge what he had to say.
Instead, they ignored him or simply thought him daft…
he had been out of public service for nearly 10 years and here he was still trying to
make waves.

There is a small story happening in the Scottish region of Dumfries and Galloway
which tells us a great deal about what is happening in the UK today
https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/968942/bibles-bedside-hospital-christian-leaders-galloway-royal-infirmary

At first glance it just appears like a minor spat that is hardly newsworthy at all.
But the story and how it is reported is revealing of the current state of the culture
and the church in the UK.

The basic facts are that Gideon Bibles were due to be placed in every room in
the new state of the art Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary.
But one person complained that this was giving Christianity preferential treatment
and therefore should be stopped.
The NHS board agreed and so the Bibles will not be placed –
although patients are free to request them if they wish.

So what does this tell us?

Atheist secularists are able to impose their views on the whole of society because those
who are the decision makers in our culture lack both reason and courage.

In what possible world can it do any harm merely to have a bible placed in a room?

It is not reasonable to claim that it gives one religion an advantage.
The vast majority in that area of Scotland profess some kind of Christianity or
are non-religious.
It is offensive to other religions to imply that they would be offended at bibles
being made available.

When I am in a Muslim country I am not offended at the Koran being available.
When I fly Malaysian airways I don’t get upset when the TV unit tells me where Mecca is
so that I can face the right direction when I pray.

It’s called tolerance.

The trouble is that our militant secularists have no concept of tolerance and cannot
conceive of a world in which their every diktak is not followed.
They use the excuse of multi-faith to ban any expression of faith
(and especially Christian faith) in the public sphere

And ‘civic society’ permits this pettiness.

The article continues and you may read the full article by clicking on the link
I provide below, but David closes out the article leaving us, his reader,
with more of a warning than a closing…

“The hospital bible ban demonstrates that we are well on our way to becoming
a Godless culture,
policed by militant secularists and opposed by a gutless Christianity.
It’s sad that those lying in hospital sick and fearful,
won’t be able to read about the great healer,
the one who calls all to come to him and receive rest.
The words of Christ as he wept over Jerusalem are surely apposite for the UK today.
We share in his tears.

And in a final aside at the end of the article,
David notes that this blog posting was actually an article he had written for
Christian Today…a publication in which he’s been writing twice-weekly article for
now going on over a year…yet suddenly the magazine had informed him that due to
financial restraints, they are no longer going to be able to continue needing his
services nor will be publishing his column…

An odd happening that…

“As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said,
“If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—
but now it is hidden from your eyes.”

(Luke 19:41-42)

Banning the Bible in the NHS

written words from a father…

DSC01114
(an early blog pic / Julie Cook / 2013)

“[you have] demonstrated beyond refutation your slovenly happy-go-lucky harum scraum style of work.
If you cannot prevent yourself from leading the idle useless unprofitable life you have had during your schooldays and later months, you will become a mere social wastrel, one of the hundreds of the public school failures, and you will degenerate into a shabby unhappy and futile existence….”

These words were penned by a distant and aloof man who found no merit or worth in his eldest son.
His son had proved to be a miserable student which was of great embarrassment to the likes of this most well-do-to and one of the day’s most notably recognized politicians.

The boy’s school marks were so low that his father stated that he was “too dimwitted” to peruse a career as a barrister (lawyer), an assumed career path for a boy of his family’s social status, but rather was relegated to following a path towards a military career.
His father hoping for a bit of redemption in the boy, convinced himself that if the boy could succeed as an Infantry officer, all would not be lost.

However the embarrassment and disappointment only continued as the boy scored so low in school and twice failed the entrance exam to the prestigious military academy that his father all but gave up on the boy. On his third and final attempt the boy finally received a passing score, yet it was still considered too low to qualify for the revered infantry training…leaving the boy the only route of choice…. becoming a calvary man, much to the humiliation of his father.

Yet this emotionally harangued young man was undeterred by his father’s lack of affection, obvious disappointment, acknowledgement and support.

The father had always been bigger than life in the eyes of the young boy.
A stranger and hero to be worshiped from afar.

All of this even as the boy pined away homesick in boarding school…
With news that his father had actually come to the same town in which the boarding school was located in order to address a political function, the boy was devastated learning that his father made no attempt to visit or call upon the boy.

Crestfallen the boy wrote immediately to his father—yet rather than showing his very real pain and disappointment as one would expect, the boy merely states that he doesn’t understand why his father couldn’t visit yet in the same breath states that he knows him to be a very important and busy man.

The father, who had become quite sick while the boy was away at boarding school, died rather prematurely at the age of 45.
This sudden death of his father only heightened the boy’s sense of hero worship in a man who had remained distant at best and blatantly detached.

The boy would grow to be a man who always kept his father at the forefront of his thoughts and actions. His life’s goals and ambitions were always focused on following in the footsteps of his father.

One would only think that such words and actions by a man so detached and so vocally dismissive from his son would simply breed a seething loathing within a growing boy…allowing the seeds of resentment and hatred to fester.
Yet within this particular young boy turned man, anything could have been further from the truth.

Sir Winston Spencer Churchill, the particular boy in question, grew to be one of the West’s greatest men to have lived.
He had a long prolific, heroic and stellar career as a soldier, writer, artist, painter, statesman, historian, cabinet member, Prime Minister, world leader, husband and father.
He never cowered at the painful rebuffs of a man he idolized…never allowing the continued hurt and detachment of Lord Randolph Churchill to deter his quest to succeed at the things in which he tried his hand.
He always wanted to make his father proud…
dare we say, he most assuredly did…

Happy Father’s Day to all the men in my life who have overcome the obstacles in their paths in order to forge a life worthy of praise….

I marvel in the simple

“There are many going afar to marvel at the heights of mountains, the mighty waves of the sea, the long courses of great rivers, the vastness of the ocean, the movements of the stars, yet they leave themselves unnoticed!”
Augustine of Hippo

DSCN3244
(small mushroom after the rain / Julie Cook / 2016)

All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word:
freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.

Winston Churchill

Who is this King of glory?
The LORD of hosts,
He is the King of glory

Psalm 24:10

We all have them…

“Our vision is so limited we can hardly imagine a love that does not show itself in protection from suffering…. The love of God did not protect His own Son…. He will not necessarily protect us – not from anything it takes to make us like His Son. A lot of hammering and chiseling and purifying by fire will have to go into the process.”
Elisabeth Elliot

images
(Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II / image borrowed from the web)

Elizabeth has had them….
She’s actually had what she referenced as an annus horribilis
An entire bad year…

Churchill had them…
just mention the word Gallipoli

Eddison had them…
think electric chair

David had them…
think plotting to have someone killed just to cover up your own bad choices…
As it just seems to get worse and worse…..

Joseph had them…
think betrayal by your own brothers…

Paul had them…
as it took three days of blindness to figure it out that raging murderous ways were not
the best use of ones talents.

Peter had them…
something about crowing roosters

Einstein had them…
A Nobel Prize winner actually failed his college entrance exam

Louis Zamperini had them…
think plane crash, 47 days in a life raft and over 2 years as a POW

FDR had them…
one word…polio

Indeed, we’ve all had them…
bad days,
bad weeks,
bad months,
bad years,
bad turns,
bad runs,
bad lives…

Times we would just rather forget.
Times we wish we could ask for the re-do or the re-start
Times we found unbearable, insurmountable and devastating…
Times we thought we’d not survive…

The thing is we will all face them…
bad times,
hard days,
difficult periods in our lives.

Some will seem endless as others will seem to be the end of us…

It will not be a matter of when they come…
because they will come whether or not we are ready, prepared or armed…

The important thing will not be what they do to us,
But rather what we do in spite of them…

Will we be beaten?
Giving up,
Lying down,
Rolling over,
Giving in…
growing bitter
resentful
resigned
hateful…

Or will we come out of it…
better,
stronger,
wiser,
kinder
even more courageous than before….

Unknown

Have I not commanded you?
Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,
for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

Christian how are your defenses?

“If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known, that we are at all times ready for War.”
― George Washington

We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.
Winston Churchill

DSCN0548
(Rock of Cashel / County Tipperary, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Christian how are your defenses?

Do you lock your doors?
Do you lock your car?
Do you lock up your bike?
Do you have a security system?
Do you have a chip in your pet?
Do you have security cameras?
Do you have security for your phone, your laptop, your car?
Do you have insurance protecting your property?
Do you expect your bank to protect your assets?
Do you expect the FDA to protect your food?
Do you expect your bill of rights and constitution to protect your speech, your vote, your way of life?
Do you have police and sheriff departments protecting your city and town?
Do you have a military protecting your nation?

Yet do you defend and protect your faith?

Oh you say you don’t see the need?

You say you pray, that’s enough?

What about worship?

What if that was invaded, threatened, taken…away?

Have you ever worried that going to church could be taken away, stolen, lost, destroyed…?

Are you willing to fight for your beliefs?

If you defend and protect everything else in your life, why not your faith…

Who rises up for me against the wicked?
Who stands up for me against evildoers?

Psalm 94:16

the simple difference

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.
Winston Churchill

“Perhaps it takes a purer faith to praise God for unrealized blessings than for those we once enjoyed or those we enjoy now.”
― A.W. Tozer

DSCN2061
( a leaf dances along the wind, Cades Cove, TN /The Great Smokey Mountains National Park / Julie Cook / 2015)

Today was busy…
It was a day of cooking, preparing and sharing.
It was a day for an early Thanksgiving celebration… for one part of my husband’s family.
It was a day of reconciliations of sorts.
A day for some healing…between an elderly in-firmed father and two of his three grown children…of whom he had estranged himself from years ago.

Lives have been lived…as grandchildren have grown, as now great-grandchildren have grown as well…as time has, all too casually, been allowed to pass…
when it never should have been allowed pass,
for such a very long time in the first place…

The two now grown children had suffered grievously as children under the destructive blanket of abusive alcoholism–only to have suffered again years later as adults..
Odd how that cycle of hurt and pain seems to simply ebb and flow over the odd passage of time…

A small bridge was crossed today…and that was good.
One can never give back nor take back the words, the abuse, the pain, the embarrassment, the resentment and the grievous loss of place, time and years…and yet one can’t help but see the positive effort now taken in the writing of one small wrong in a sea of many wrongs—as it is the uplifting conscious admission of this one said wrong which is what now really seems to matter most.

And as I feel that a small bridge was indeed crossed today, it obviously will never erase or take away that which was…yet it does however bring a bit of peace to two sorrowfully long grieved hearts…

And as I silently stood back watching these tiny hopeful events unfolding during the course of this very cold yet sunny Sunday, resting gratefully in the idea and concept of thankfulness…my mind has not been far removed from the heavy thoughts of Paris and now of the black cloud which hangs heavy and low over Belgium…

I found myself pondering over the “us verses them” divide…that great crevasse which separates the sane and insane within the whole craziness of ISIS Islamic extremism and that of the rest of us…

…As I have labored racking my brain as to what it is that makes a person, or in this case an army of people, to be filled with such seething disregard for the gift of life and living…I have merely been left mystified and stymied–scratching my head in a totally overwhelming disbelief.

The recent pictures of that young woman flashing a familiar hiphop / rap hand sign, garbed in the hijab, who would later don a suicide vest, detonating herself in hopes of taking out as many law enforcement and civilians as possible, goes beyond the average human being’s comprehension.

What sets us apart from these mostly youthful members of an army of hate and destruction…?

Oh we hear the familiar bleeding excuses of disenfranchisement, of socioeconomic disadvantagement, the lack of schooling, the barriers of culture, language, religion, the inability to assimilate to a new country….etc, etc, etc…
…none of that holds water nor is a true paving stone filling the gulf between right and wrong, hate and love, murder and life….

And then it dawned on me—
As simple and perhaps even childlike that it may sound, the divide rests not in the amble abundance of vehement hate, as there is certainly plenty of that found in both words and deed, but rather the difference, the separation, is found in the lack of the simple ability to find and produce a true sense of heartfelt thankfulness.

It all boils down to the simple matter of hating verses gratitude and thankfulness.
–or rather the ability to offer genuine gratitude and thankfulness.

True genuine thankfulness…not the insane thankfulness to Allah that they all died, or all were blown up…but rather the genuine ability to feel real thankfulness which is found in the simplest of places and gestures.

Thankfulness and gratitude not for the materialism of life…not for the gathering of things, the loftiness of status of position, the greedy accumulation of wealth and prestige…but rather thankfulness for the simple and genuine gratitude of the heart…for the most simplest of pleasures—the pleasure of a smile, the thankfulness found in reunions, the gratitude for the bridging of gaps, the thankfulness for waking each day, the marveling in watching a leaf dance across the wind, the delight felt in a single touch, the joy felt in being alive on a cold but sunny November day…

And whereas all of the experts and the powers that be who continue sifting through and within the dust of the whys and hows…it really comes down to something as small and as tiny and as simple and seemingly insignificant as thankfulness and the ability to offer a true heartfelt “thank you” — which is the actual barrier, the true great divide between the us and the them…

Gratitude and thankfulness to, for and in something greater than ourselves…
to Something that revels in life not death, love not hate, freedom not imprisonment…
The gratitude in knowing that there is indeed a Creator who gives and a Savior who waits for us all in the midst of this ever growing turmoil…..

The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.
Psalm 28:7