beat down but not broken

“Never give up prayer, and should you find dryness and difficulty,
persevere in it for this very reason.
God often desires to see what love your soul has,
and love is not tried by ease and satisfaction.”

St. John of the Cross


(The pampas grass beat down following the deluge of TS Fred / Julie Cook /2021)


(The pampas grass beat down following the deluge of TS Fred / Julie Cook /2021)

Like many of my fellow Americans, I think it would only be fair of me
to acknowledge that I too am frustrated.

Frustrated, mad, sad, depressed, angry…and any other words that
describe this feeling of betrayal and disappointment.

I think many of us are feeling that we should just throw in the towel.
Throwing up our hands….up in the air proclaiming “WE QUIT!”

Yep. We. Quit.

As in we are mad as hell and do not care to take this nonsense any more!

Like many of you, I am so angry over the apparent loss of direction and
leadership that is supposed to be keeping a steady hand on this ship’s wheel…
With that ship being the good ol USA.

The latest frustration, coming on the heels of consecutive years of frustration,
is currently happening half a globe away.
Despite being so far away, it is something that is supposed to be under
the watchful eye of the leadership in our Nation’s capitol.

I read today that a former soldier stated that the Afghanistan debacle
is nothing but an out of control dumpster fire….
meaning that it is an out of control mess that has erupted into
uncontrollable flames.
A raging fire with no one there to work at putting out the flames.
Think instant combustion produced when multiple toxins collide.

It all could have been prevented if the right set of eyes were
keeping watch.

And like many of you, I am tired of the more elite folks among us…
those sions of business, technology, entertainment…
oligarchs and technocrats who hold control over so many of us…
controlling with the power wielded by their mega bucks…
Those movers and shakers who vie for the throne of rule.
I am tired of their attempts at controlling me and you and what we
can and cannot do all because they vie to play God.
They who think they know what is best for both you and I.

I am tired of elitist politicians who, long ago, lost their way.

I am tired of woke athletes who prefer lecturing fans rather
then playing ball.
Athletes who put politics above what they are being paid to do–play ball.
Athletes who belittle the fans who actually pay for their elitist lives
via tickets and merchandise support, fans who just want folks to play ball.

I am tired of being belittled and disparaged because I claim to
be a moralist, a conservative, a Christian…a person who loves this country.
I am tired of the ridicule simply because I chose not vote for Bill,
Barak, Hillary or Joe.
I am tired of being equated with ignorance, backwardness and
living out of step with the times only because I choose to have
a differing opinion.

And I dare say, I am not alone.

Yet this is all most likely due to our own ‘bad’.
Our sitting back a bit too long.
Our settling into complacency.
Our allowing ourselves to be swayed and swept up into the zeal
of the pigs wearing lipstick.
The distracting shimmering sparkles of false riches they’ve tried
offering us.

When the tropical storm Fred made its way northward, it brought with
it a torrent of rain.

I looked out from the back porch as a racing river of rain tore
its way downward through our yard.
A grassy yard that was now a churning angry lake.

Later in the day, once the rains had passed, I looked outside again.
That was when I saw how badly the pampas grass bushes
had been beaten down by the downpours.

Suddenly I felt very much like that pampas grass.
There was a time when I felt content…seemingly tall while
being able to sway to and fro with the wind.

Now I feel as if I’ve been reduced to the look of being trampled.

And just when I felt a sea of despair washing over me,
I stumbled on these two quotes of the day…
one by St. John of the Cross, the author of The
Dark Night of the Soul…and the other by
St. Augustine of Hippo—an early founding leader of
this thing I call my Christian Faith.

A faith that was honed, forged and tested by countless men and women
who bore much but have long gone before now…
Men and women who knew the trials of frustration, lies, wars,
torment, persecution…but men and women who, like the pampas grass,
may have been beaten down…yet what we know about them,
they were never ever broken…

Their bodies may have broken but their spirit and faith remained…
and it is why we are still here these 2000 some odd years later.

These may feel like beaten down days…
but what we as Believers must remember, we will never be broken.

“There are two loves, the love of God and the love of the world.
If the love of the world takes possession of you,
there is no way for the love of God to enter into you.
Let the love of the world take the second place,
and let the love of God dwell in you.
Let the better love take over.”

St. Augustine, p. 34
An Excerpt From
Augustine Day by Day

The Mayor and the storm

“There is peace even in the storm”
Vincent van Gogh


(the Mayor knows no fear at the park / Julie Cook / 2021)

The Mayor has stayed on for a few days following the Sheriff’s big birthday
celebration…so a trip to the park was in order.

Sadly, the weather has taken a turn for the nasty worst…
thunderstorms, flash floods and tornado warnings have been on tap for most of today.
and I fear much the same remains in the forecast for tomorrow as well.

Time to get creative with a three year old who is stuck inside during
bad weather!

Meanwhile, our back yard is now a raging river…
time to batten down the hatches!!


(back yard stormy weather / Julie Cook / 2021)


(back yard stormy weather / Julie Cook / 2021)


(the flood waters wash away the pine straw / Julie Cook / 2021)

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

Deuteronomy 31:6

the life of Heaven, not earth…

“By accepting the sufferings ‘offered’ by life and allowed by God for
our progress and purification, we spare ourselves much harder ones.
We need to develop this kind of realism and, once and for all,
stop dreaming of a life without suffering or conflict.
That is the life of heaven, not earth.
We must take up our cross and follow Christ courageously every day;
the bitterness of that cross will sooner or later be transformed into sweetness.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 49
An Excerpt From
Interior Freedom


(things that come ashore during a storm / Julie Cook / 2020)

We were not made for earth but for Heaven.

That is the single truth for those who claim Jesus as Lord and Savior.

It is for those who believe there was Omnipotent breath blown into Adam,
giving him life.

It is for those who believe the Word of God is both the first and last word.
The Alpha, the Omega.

It is for those who believe in the Resurrection.

It is the sole truth for those who watch a world gone mad and wonder where
and how they fit in.

The answer is simple, they don’t, we don’t, fit in.

You and me…we don’t fit into any of this mess.

God is God and we are not.
It is that simple.

I Am Who I Am (Exodus 3:14)

And we are His.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Deuteronomy 31:8

red sky at night, sailor’s delight…lies…

Jesus said, “When in evening, ye say,
it will be fair weather: For the sky is red.
And in the morning, it will be foul weather today;
for the sky is red and lowering.”
Matthew 16:2-3,


(the night before the coming storm / Rosemary Beach,FL / Julie Cook / 2020)

Well, I had said that I was off to look for America, but rather I found a hurricane.
Sigh.

More about all of that later…
Just know, when they say a hurricane is coming…DO NOT head to the beach—
reservations or not!!!

“Like a red morn that ever yet betokened,
Wreck to the seaman, tempest to the field, Sorrow to the shepherds,
woe unto the birds, Gusts and foul flaws to herdmen and to herds.”

Shakespeare

if going home was an option

“Failure is an option, fear is not.”
James Cameron


(odd things find themselves caught in a hurricane chruning an angry sea / Julie Cook / 2020)

Well, we would have attempted to venture home this morning after a long sleepless night,
but…we would have been following and driving directly back into Sally as
she ventured inland and northward.

The wind and rain have been constant all-day as are the flooding and tornados—
We just weren’t too keen on driving in such.

So maybe tomorrow will be a better day at the beach.


(Sally’s leftover mess / Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 20202)

So we do not lose heart.
Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory
beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things
that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient,
but the things that are unseen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Captain’s log: Day 4—Christ the Redeemer

I think all of our hearts and souls might need some uplifting on this fourth day of
what has become known as hunkering down.

I wanted to share this Youtube with you if you haven’t yet seen it.
Brazil’s statue of Christ the Redeemer is lit up with lights—
a showing of solidarity and unity during this global crisis…

When storms rage all around us we must remember one thing…
if we are Christ’s and He is ours…nothing on this earth can or will
prevail against us.
(turn on your volume, the music is soothing)

Storms are raging, time to get your spiritual muscle ready

“I know well that the greater and more beautiful the work is,
the more terrible will be the storms that rage against it.”

St. Faustina


(wavebreak media)

“Throughout Sacred Scripture,
we find that when God’s people fast, the power of their prayers is increased,
especially when they are engaged in spiritual warfare.
In the Old Testament,
the Lord told Isaiah that a fast properly undertaken would
‘loose the bonds of wickedness…undo the thongs of the yoke…
let the oppressed go free’ (Is. 58:6) …
In the New Testament,
we find that Jesus fasted for forty days and nights in the wilderness
in preparation for His battle with Satan, who came to tempt Him
(see Lk 4:1-2)…
If prayer is a spiritual weapon, fasting is the spiritual whetstone on which it is sharpened.
It’s the spiritual muscle that, when exercised regularly,
strengthens the thrust of that weapon to pierce the Enemy and drive him away.”

Paul Thigpen, p. 42
An Excerpt From
Manual for Spiritual Warfare

a mayoral day and last words

“As death, when we come to consider it closely, is the true goal of
our existence, I have formed during the last few years such close relationships
with this best and truest friend of mankind that death’s image is not only no longer
terrifying to me, but is indeed very soothing and consoling.”

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


(the mayor awaits Moppie’s arrival / Abby Cook / 2019)


The Mayor out to brunch with the fam /Julie Cook / 2019))

“This God of all goodness has made those things easy which are common and necessary
in the order of nature, such as breathing, eating, and sleeping.
No less necessary in the supernatural order are love and fidelity,
therefore it must needs be that the difficulty of acquiring them is by no means
so great as is generally represented. Review your life.
Is it not composed of innumerable actions of very little importance? Well,
God is quite satisfied with these.
They are the share that the soul must take in the work of its perfection.”

Jean-Pierre de Caussade, p.7
An Excerpt From
Abandonment to Divine Providence

A quick thought on this Monday morning that actually came about on the night prior—
Sunday had been a busy day for us—filled with driving and keeping up with a squirmy worm,
aka the Mayor.

Before the bad storms were to hit Sunday morning, we drove over to Atlanta.
We spent the day with the Mayor and her two close aides, along with the two assistants,
Auntie Sheba and Sister Alice (aka Dad’s cat and our son’s dog) as the storms rolled into
the Atlanta area.

They had actually gotten a new TV and wanted us to see it—
TVs were my Dad’s “thing”…not so much mine but my son seems to have inherited
that from his “Pops”—-so as a family, we watched the movie Hook…
…and that was not lost on my thoughts….once again as a family.

The last time, and the first time, we saw this movie was when our son was a very little boy…
— the tale, at that time, was a heartfelt reminder to my husband,
as well as to most adults—-
for the gist of the lesson of importance from this movie was that of being present
in our children’s lives—
It was a thought that both work and life be damned—for our children so very much needed
us to be “present”—-and that thought has not changed in the 28 years since that movie first
came out.
But that is a post for another day.

And yes, bless Robin Williams

Once the storms had finally past, it was late in the evening and sadly the time had
come for us to bid our farewells to this little family as we headed west—back home.
(I don’t cry nearly as badly as I use to when leaving my beloved Mayor)

Despite the heavy rains having moved out, it was still very misty and drizzling–
the roads were still very wet and coupled with very poor visibility.

My husband and I both remarked how badly the lane lines needed repainting on the interstate
as they were barely visible.

I noted that one car didn’t have their lights on.
Despite being 7:30, it was pitch dark.
The interstate was jam-packed full of both cars and tractor-trailer trucks…
much like a typical late afternoon…
and here was a totally dark car traversing the roadways on a very treacherous night.
Aiyyyiii Ayi!!

“Does anyone ever stay at home any more?!” my husband quips.

We kept driving.

I was amazed at the consistent speed of the traffic mass—
75 was the slow average…with 70 being the speed limit—
I was clocking between 78 and 80 trying to keep up, yet I was being
passed left and right—conditions were terribly poor and yet everyone was driving
like an Indy 500—
with several cars darting in, out and around…
I gripped the steering wheel a little tighter.

At one point my husband commented just how trafficky it was.
Amazed that this was a Sunday night while the interstate was a sea of vehicles.

My response was a deadpan “yeah boy”

And that was when it hit me…”yeah boy”…
wonder if a car suddenly jerked over into my lane, wonder if someone slammed on their brakes,
wonder if one of the crazy cars darting in and out, darted without really looking…??

“yeah boy” could have easily been my final words.

Did I want “year boy” to be the last words I uttered to my husband?!

And so I spent the next serval dark wet miles pondering the notion of “last words”

Finally, thankfully, we made it home in one piece.

Tired after a long day…but thankful to be home while still sad that The Mayor was
now over an hour away…yet I was still left thinking about what it is we say…
that which we say so flippantly, so often, without thinking.

We are living in a time within a culture that takes words for granted.
A time in which we change and alter the meaning or the context of our words
to suit our current whims, wants and desires…with a usually costly
consequence for our fellow man…or woman.

We use our words against one another quickly, pointedly and profanely as we use them
to shame, offend, spread falsehoods and to deeply wound our neighbors.

We use them to spread maliciousness, lies, and accusations…most often the
fodder of that which is untrue.

Perhaps it’s time we start thinking about our words…those words offered to
others…offered with little to any real thought…or words offered with
calculating cunningness that are meant to not merely hurt but rather to destroy.

“Yeah boy”…not what I would like to know were the last words uttered to my husband…

I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,
Matthew 12:36

***once we got home Sunday night, I read where up to 14 (sadly now 23 and rising) folks had lost their lives
in the storms— a tornado, in Alabama.
May our prayers be for those families who lost their loved ones Sunday evening and for those whose
lives are now turned inside out…

brave knights and heroic courage

“I was born for the storm, and a calm does not suit me.”
Andrew Jackson


(Autumn and Poppie or Papa, depending on who you ask / Julie Cook / 2018)


(Andrew Jackson and Autumn seem to have much in common / Julie Cook / 2018)

Sometimes life is more than simply chasing the proverbial dream…

“Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies,
let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.”

C.S. Lewis

After the storm

“Let the Word of God come; let it enter the church;
let it become a consuming fire, that it may burn the hay and stubble,
and consume whatever is worldly; there is heavy lead of iniquity in many;
let it be molten by divine fire; let the gold and silver vessels be made better,
in order that understanding and speech, refined by the heat of suffering,
may begin to be more precious.”

St. Ambrose


(the break following a very stormy day / Julie Cook / 2018)

“People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says,
‘If you keep a lot of rules I’ll reward you,
and if you don’t I’ll do the other thing.’
I do not think that is the best way of looking at it.
I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you,
the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before.
And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices,
all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into
a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature:
either into a creature that is in harmony with God,
and with other creatures, and with itself,
or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures,
and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven:
that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power.
To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence,
and eternal loneliness. Each of us at this moment is progressing to the one state or the other.”

C. S. Lewis, p. 92
An Excerpt From
Mere Christianity