best to be prepared

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
Benjamin Franklin

“If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him.
If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him.
Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest.
If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord,
put division between them.
Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected .”

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

When I was a young girl, I was a girl scout…well actually I started out as a Brownie then
I rose in the ranks to that of Girl Scout then eventually to that of Cadet…

Life as a Cadet, however, was short-lived as there seemed to be other things for me
to do by the time high school was on my horizon.

But the one thing, the one lesson, that I seemed to have gotten down pat from my time as
a “scout” was that I was to always be prepared.
Meaning…whatever life threw my way I needed to be ready…
even for those out of the blue curveballs…
plus I was to always have a Plan B.

Such thinking certainly served me well during my years spent in the classroom.
Teaching high schoolers meant that one had best be prepared–always…
as well as have a guaranteed Plan B… as both were required for survival…

Now that didn’t mean that I could nor can I see into, let alone read the future.
None of us can do that…except maybe for Sister Grace down on Hwy 16 whose sign out front
of her house claims that she can indeed read the future…

But Sister Grace aside, most of us are not gifted with a clear prophecy for what the
world’s future holds.

Yet for those of us who claim the Bible as the Word of God, well,
we already have a pretty solid glimpse as to what lies ahead…
and we know that things will get pretty ugly before they get really pretty.

And it certainly doesn’t require rocket science to see that things are indeed pretty ugly all
the world ’round.

Our friend The Wee Flea has just offered his view of this new year’s future…
again, not a pretty picture…

https://theweeflea.com/2019/01/02/ten-predictions-for-2019-confusion-china-and-christ/

I think we’d all agree…politics on both a local as well as a global scale is more or less dismal.

We’ve managed to sink to such banal lows having lost any and all sense of dignity, decorum, morality,
manners, and simple etiquette.

We’ve basically come unhinged…be it left or right.

The word “apocalyptic” is used fast and lose on both sides of the aisle when referring
to the thoughts of one another…as in if we are left to one or the other…
very bad and life-threatening things will happen.

And so after reading over David’s predictions and knowing that he has been pretty much on track
and most insightful with most if not all of his observations regarding the Chruch in the 21st century
as well as for politics and life on the Western front—
I’d say that he’s once again on the money with his visions of a 2019 year.

And so this is where it comes in handy to always be prepared.

One of David’s predictions has to do with the plight of the family.
As in the continued attacks on and the demise of the traditional family as defined
by God and later by His own son.

But David was not the first to ring this clarion bell.
Both Pope John Paul II as well as Mother Teresa each saw the demise of the traditional family
as the lynchpin to humanity’s demise.

Our politics are awash.
Our global relations are strained at best, nearly severed at worst.
Our economy is a see-saw.
Our Chruch has lost her focus
And now the family unit, a basis for all things bearing the survival of humankind is
so fractured and redefined that it is no longer recognizable as to what God has sanctioned.

So it’s time to suit up and saddle up.
It’s time to put on that armor…
It’s time to get ready because I think our time of preparation is almost past…

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,
against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand
your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,
with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the
flaming arrows of the evil one.
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ephesians 6:11-17

Xena, princess warrior

I would rather die than do something which I know to be a sin,
or to be against God’s will.

Jean d’Arc

Victorious warriors win first and then go to war,
while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.

Sun Tzu


(image of St Joan of Arc–Jean d’Arc / Joan of Arc, c.1450, Illuminated manuscript on parchment, Musée de l’Histoire de France, Paris)

No this is not a picture of the fictional character Xena, Warrior Princess but
rather an image of Saint Jean d’Arc otherwise known as Joan of Arc .

Joan was a warrior…a righteous warrior.

Myself you ask….
well, for as long as I can remember, I have often felt that I’ve been called to be
some sort of a warrior…like Joan…a holy warrior who has been called to
raise the sword of righteousness….

And adding the word princess behind the notion of warrior just seems to be
an added nice touch…
allowing any and all female warriors to still be a girly girl if she so chooses.

Yet my calling however may be more along the lines of a Queen Margaret of Scotland
or even a Queen Adelaide of Italy and the Holy Roman Empire…a role of leading
by example without the sword….as the word “Queen” simply adds a bit of umph and sophistication to the role…

For all of these were sainted women who lived virtuous and holy lives….
heeding the call of God by following the internal compass of the Holy Spirit…
be it with sword in hand or generosity of heart.

Holy warriors, be they of the literal role like Joan who led the troops into battle
or more like our two queens who opted to lead lives of holy virtue,
while living in the face of all that was not virtuous nor holy,
as each was following their gift and calling.

Yet both of these sorts of hearty holy souls heard God’s call and in turn
yielded to His instruction.
They do this by way of deep prayer, contemplation,
reflection, study of Holy Scripture as they then follow the God given
directions offered by the leading of the Holy Spirit.

They are not knee jerk individuals.
Nor are they passive pushovers.

They are tempered.
For their faith has been tried and tested and refined in a furnace of righteous indignation.

I am neither necessarily virtuous nor holy but I am willing to take my stand,
raising my sword and my standard when I see it necessary….
as I continue to learn how to bide my time, bite my tongue…
while holding my knees at bay.

Which is hard in today’s world with its current run of chaotic lunacy.
I keep telling God, “just say the word”…
and I’ll take off running and screaming into the fray like a banshee brandishing
my sword of righteousness….

Funny thing, He’s yet to sound my call into battle.

This country is currently teetering on the edge of a very dangerous precipice.
The slippery slope that our leaders, on both sides of the aisle, have chosen,
which is only pushing us even closer to the loss of balance.

Things around this nation and around this globe are an absolute mess.
The worst I’ve ever seen.

Not even during WWII followed by Korea which beget Vietnam,
or even the psychotic Cold War…because in each of those incidences, we
pretty much knew the enemy or at least what we were fighting for and against…
Western Civilization rallied together to stand united against blatant
evils and tyranny.

Not so in today’s world…for today we have seen the enemy and he is
actually us…as in ourselves

It is us with our ungodly choices of liberalism, socialism, Marxism, materialism,
anarchy, along with a free and open society..
all of which are not working…

Why isn’t it working?

Because we are a nation, we are a Western Civilization, that has turned
our backs on our God….
and there are repercussions for a people who turn their backs on God.
As we are living those very repercussions and they will only grow in
severity as we continue down this road of self destruction.

The global Christian family has become not only the whipping boy to an
out of control society, but the sacrificial lamb for all the worlds ills.
Well, maybe the first blame usually falls to our sitting President, but
eventually it comes around to those conservative, moralistic Christians.

(This is where I wrote about 4 more paragraphs that I had the presence of mind to
go back in and cut due to that pesky problem of knee jerkitis….)

Because the intolerant and childish behavior of the
‘oh so pious pseudo tolerant, materialistic, human rights, anarchist, liberal
loving, socialist blind ignorant progressives who clump everyone they can think
to blame, other than themselves,
into a single basket of their own perceived ills as they’re working fast and furious
to be our own true demise….

And just to make certain folks “get it” this “new” no holds bar liberalistic
society will riot, picket, protest, sue, demonstrate and demand capitulation…
and just incase you don’t get the point, they’ll break some windows,
block the streets, threaten your livelihood, scream and kick until you
bend to their will.

Yet during all of this, many Christians are simply turning the other way hoping
it will all just go away.

Yet the picture however has been painted and the die has been cast…
as the masses are demanding a head on a platter…
and that head is Christianity.

So they proclaim that the teachings of the Church, the words of Christ,
the teaching of the tenants of our very God… are in a word… passé…
as in no longer suitable,
no longer relevant,
no longer tolerable.
and therefore are no longer allowed.

And if you think such talk baseless or extreme or fanatical…
then you have failed to see the headlines from around the globe.

As we the faithful passively sit silently watching while allowing the masses to
chip away at the footings of the very structure that has upheld the life of our
monotheistic Western Civilization since Emperor Constantine conferred
the first council of Nicaea and Gregory the Great in 590 set the western
Christian Church in motion.

So I’m standing,
with a nervous hand upon the hilt of my sword,
as I await the call.

As our dear friend Citizen Tom so eloquently stated in his comment on yesterday’s post…the time for being nice is over.

(If you want some Christian perspective and wisdom regarding our nation, her history
and how God’s hand is a part of each and all, please visit Citizen Tom…. https://citizentom.com/2017/08/20/what-you-must-learn-from-white-supremacists/)

For we are not contending against flesh and blood,
but against the principalities, against the powers,
against the world rulers of this present darkness,
against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Ephesians 6:12

Do you know this man? (a revised re-posting)

This is a post I wrote almost four years ago.
Since that time my father has passed away and in such,
I have lost one more person who could help with a few of the pieces of the puzzle.
Also in that time since passed, I had put this quest on the back burner
as I spent all my energies caring for Dad…
However in light of the 4th of July celebration and our Nation’s observation of our Independence,
I thought it appropriate to rerun this particular story about a lost soldier who offered
the ultimate sacrifice to this great Nation of ours….

Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into
the deepest valleys;
look on them as your own beloved sons,
and they will stand by you even unto death.

Sun Tzu

DSCN1782
(Capt. Frank F. Crenshaw)

No, of course you don’t.
I wouldn’t think that you would know the man looking
out from a grainy ancient photocopied image, but if you do…
I’d love to talk with you as I have a bit of a mystery on my hands.

This is Captain Frank F. Crenshaw, my great-grandfather.
I always knew that he was heroic in battle during the Philippines Insurrection;
a fallout from the Spanish American War, in which he was gravely wounded
as he lead his men against an ambush attack in a battle known as the Battle of Puttol.
He eventually died from his wounds….
But that’s about all I’ve know of this enigmatic figure.

I always knew that he was buried in a historic cemetery in the west Georgia city of
LaGrange, about an hour south from where I live now.
I’ve driven passed this cemetery for years,
always vowing to stop one day to find his grave.

And that’s exactly what my husband and I decided to do one Sunday afternoon
last summer (2012).
I just knew his was one of the old historic graves with the elaborate decorative headstones.
No problem—I’d find it right off the bat…

Two hours later, having wandered all over an old historic cemetery,
in the heat of day on a hot summer afternoon,
watching for copperhead snakes hiding amongst the rubble of an old cemetery,
and sweating like a dog…I was frustrated like nobody’s business.
“Where in the heck is he?” I lamented to my husband.
Capt. Crenshaw was nowhere to be found.
Ugh!

He had come from a rather well to do family of the area.
He had received a war hero’s funeral but as to where his grave was currently located
was suddenly a huge mystery.
This made absolutely no sense.
“I will follow up tomorrow with a call to the city, to the county,
to someone who knows this cemetery!”
I declare to my husband once we get back in the car headed home.

I called Dad once I got home.
This is his grandfather, his mother’s father.
He had no idea as to why I couldn’t find the grave and was not as up in arms over
the ordeal as I was—and that may have to do with the fact that he never knew the man.
I never knew the man either, but you didn’t see that stopping me!
I was now bound and determined to find him!!

I called my dad’s cousin, his 88 year old cousin,
who is also a grandson to this war veteran.
This cousin is also a bit of the remaining family’s resident historian.
He too was stumped to the lack of a grave.
But I was getting the feeling there was more to be known about the other side,
this long lost soldier’s wife’s side of the family than his—-
which I’m sure is due in part to the fact that he died at such a young age and she went on,
albeit it as a widow for the rest of her life, to live a long life well into old age.

This actually all started really a few weekends prior as I was accompanying my husband
while he was on a quest looking for some recreational property as an investment thought.
We were in the vicinity of the small middle Georgia town in which my grandmother
was born and raised.
I talked my husband into to driving to the town so I could find the city cemetery
and look for the Crenshaw family plot.

I called Dad on my cell phone and he told me where the cemetery was located—-
sure enough we found it.
The town is so small, that finding a city cemetery is not too hard as it just
can’t be missed sitting in the middle of town.
I bound out of the car and within 2 minutes, I spot the Crenshaw’s—
my great-grandmother is buried here but her war hero husband is buried in LaGrange—
“that’s odd” I muse but I’m so taken with this moment of lineage discovery that I simply
file that thought away for later.

My great aunt and her husband, my great uncle and his wife,
another great uncle who died as a child, plus their mom, my great-grandmother are all here.
I take pictures of the graves and markers while feeling a sense of melancholy resignation.
History, family and mystery all buried in the ground before me….
some of whom I knew and others I had never known…
and yet these people were connected to me, as I was to them—
and that connection is in part as to who I am to this day.
Funny how that all works.

Now lets fast forward to a couple of weeks ago.

I had let the whole grave marker search fall by the wayside during the winter months
as it seems other things just took over life.
I’d not thought much of it at all until a couple of weeks ago.
I had actually stumbled upon a number for the Troup Co Clerk of Courts which prompted me
to call inquiring as to how I could go about locating information about burial sites
in the city cemetery.
I was given a number to the city cemetery which I immediately called.

The man who answered probably regrets to this day having answered the phone after
I finish my story.
However he kindly takes my name and number and tells me he’ll “do a little research”
and will call me back the next day.
A week passes with no word.
I give it another go calling the cemetery office.
This time I get a machine.
I briefly recap my story, leaving my name and number.
Within just a few minutes the phone rings.
“Mrs. Cook, I apologize for not calling you back, but I’ve been doing a little research.
It seems your great-grandfather is indeed buried here, but…”
long pause…
“he doesn’t seem to have a marker.”
What!!” I practically scream.
“Well, for some reason, the family didn’t provide a marker.
Perhaps they were not in a position to do so.”
“Oh no sir,” I almost indignity respond,
“they could afford it if that’s what you mean.”

He proceeds to give me another number to the city archive museum of which
I immediately call and, once again, leave a message.
I later get a call from the city historian–a retired history teacher… of course.
I give him my story and he basically reiterates the story I know.
He has some old county local Domesday tome complete with deaths and burials.
Sure enough, Capt. Crenshaw is there,
or so states the book of books,
but as to exactly where, well that’s still up for discussion.
The million dollar question of the hour is–
where is he and secondly– why no marker– given his astonishing story…

And speaking of, here is his story…

My great grandfather, Capt. Frank Frost Crenshaw severed in the 28th Infantry, A Company.
He was a resident of LaGrange, Georgia.
He was first stationed in Guantanamo, Cuba, fighting in the Spanish American War,
with the rank of First Lt.
He was a member of Ray’s Immunes;
a regiment of southern men chosen specifically to serve in Cuba during the
Spanish American War.
It was thought that due to their being from the deep south,
they may be more “immune” to yellow fever
(what a comfort is the logic of our Government, but once again, I digress…).
His regiment was sent to Cuba where many of the men contracted “Cuban” fever,
what I am assuming to be Malaria.
At the end of the war, his unit returned to Georgia.
38 men from the unit died from the fever; my great-grandfather contracted the illness
but fortunately survived.
At the end of the war, his unit was mustered out.

The following year President McKinley appointed him to the rank of Captain
(which I am assuming was incentive for him to “re-enlist” in the then volunteer
branch of the US Army).
He was given command of A Company of the 28th Infantry stationed at Camp Mead in Pennsylvania.
His unit was immediately ordered to Payapa, Batagas Island, the Philippines,
where they were to take command of that particular Island as it had fallen to the control
of guerrilla insurgents.

On June 5, 1900, Captain Crenshaw led his men,
who had been ambushed during a surprise attack by guerilla fighters in the area of Puttol,
the Philippines.
This was a counter attack in order to quell the entrenched militia,
as it seems that one of the trusted local scouts, who was working with the American unit,
deceived the Americans leading them into an ambush.

The American forces fought off the attack, with Captain Crenshaw leading the counter attack.
Captain Crenshaw had his men to take cover but as he rose to lead the charge,
his horse being shot out from under him, he was shot in the head.
Gravely wounded, he continued leading the battalion until the insurgents were defeated,
at which time Capt. Crenshaw lost consciousness.
Only two of the men received wounds, with Capt. Crenshaw’s being the gravest.

He was now paralyzed on his left side and blind in one eye and had lost a considerable
amount of blood.
Evacuated to Manila, he was eventually placed on a transport ship for home,
but due to rough seas in the South China Sea,
the ship had to head to a Chinese harbor to wait out the storms.
Capt. Crenshaw reported of the deplorable conditions,
while aboard the ship, to which he was subjected.
He had received no proper medical care, no surgeries but rather placed
in the cargo hold in the engine room with the men who were held there as having been
labeled as “insane”.
Being paralyzed and in considerable pain, he was unable to care for himself.
He bribed a ship’s steward to help tend to his wounds.

Once docked in China, he again did not receive adequate medical attention.
Almost 2.5 months after being shot in the head, with the musket ball still lodged in his skull,
both blind and partially paralyzed,
the ship eventually docked in San Francisco.
Captain Crenshaw’s uncle had made the journey form Georgia to await the arrival of his nephew
and to procure him proper medical care.
For reasons I do not understand, he did not receive medical attention in San Francisco.
He was placed on a train where he made the journey across country and was immediately
taken to an Atlanta area hospital for emergency surgery.

Sadly Capt. Crenshaw died on the operating table almost 3 months after having been wounded and not properly cared for, yet while fighting to defend his country’s foreign interests.
Captain Crenshaw was only 28 years old.
He left a young widow of 24 with 4 small children to raise alone
(my grandmother being on of the 4 children).

He is recorded as having been the only non-political figure to have ever lain in
state in the rotunda of the State Capital of Georgia.
There was a full military train cortege that escorted the body,
which was led by General John B. Gordon,
taking Capt. Crenshaw from Atlanta to the final destination of LaGrange, Georgia.
Upon his death,
Captain Crenshaw was awarded the title of both Major and Lt. Colonel,
as was put forth by the President of the United States …
and yet he is in an unmarked grave.

The story is a re-cap from the letter I have just sent to the current commander of the 28th Infantry.
It seems The Office of Veteran’s Affairs will provide any war veteran,
who is currently buried in an unmarked grave, a headstone.
I called Washington inquiring into the grave markers but was told I would need to document
his years of service or either document his pension.
“Are you kidding me? 1900 is a long time ago”
hence my letter to the Commander,
as well as copies to both of my senators.
As I told all of them:

It is my desire to be able to provide a marker for this fallen war hero.
It is also my desire to inquire into his being awarded a medal of honor,
posthumously, for his service, leadership and eventual ultimate sacrifice for his Country.
My father told me that his grandmother, who was 24 at the time of the death of her husband,
who was tasked with raising the 4 children alone,
had to actually sue the US Government in order to receive his pension.

So as you can see, I have a mystery and a mission.

Maybe this all matters so much to me because I am adopted
and the concept of “family” is of keen importance to me.
Maybe it’s because this family of mine is disappearing—
only my dad and his two cousins remain of this once older numerous clan—
I sadly feel time is not on my side.
Dad can’t even remember from day to day what I keep telling him about all of this.

And maybe, just maybe, this all matters so much to me because this was a young man,
not even 30, who gave his life for his country who left behind a young 24 year old wife
who had to raise 4 small children all alone–
with only 3 surviving to adulthood.
His widow never remarried as she considered marriage to be so sacred that it was a one
time deal– how I admire that commitment.

It was this young soldier,
not so different from today’s soldiers,
who was a leader of a band of men who fought so very far away from home,
the furtherest fighting of any American soldier to date as we had yet to be involved
in either World War.
It is this now forgotten wartime hero who was laid to rest in an unmarked grave exactly
113 years ago today who I now owe…as I owe him, his wife, his children (my grandmother) the decency of the proper recognition for his sacrifice to this country.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

DSCN1788

DSCN1787

Raise the signal flags, the enemy advances

To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy.”
― Sun Tzu

DSCN5609

There I was mindlessly staring out the basement window, sweat rolling down my brow into my eyes, giving new meaning to salt solution, Bono blasting out of my iPhone– “I’m not invisible”– when suddenly at 11:00 (as in off to my left oh so slightly) something of a raw sienna tone is indeed no longer invisible.

The enemy has emerged from the thicket, just over the barbed wire fence.
Oh the stealthy one. . .
Grabbing the music blaring iPhone, I try to get a picture while precariously balancing whilst still working the elliptical.

IMG_0709

“Back on the ol elliptical eh?” You ask in that condescending tone.
Yes, as a matter of fact, I am—during the two week wedding hiatus, there were miles and miles of brisk heat consumed walking but not the consistent fat burn of my basement nemesis. You saw me in that dress–You and I both know that there is still much work to be done–and oh, by the way, Publix has brought in a new butter.

DSCN5607

A new butter” you muse.
“How can there be “new” butter?
Prèsident–a french butter made in Normandy—with real flakes of tasty sea salt—ummmm.
Fleur de sel, the caviar of salt, is only found in the salt flats of Normandy—which has been harvested for centuries.
Chefs love to finish a dish with a light sprinkle of the flour de sel.

DSCN5608

“But I thought Normandy was only good for D Day celebrations and that apple brandy of theirs. . .” you ask quizzically.
Ahhh yes. . . Calvados.
Nothing like a sweet potato soufflé spiked with a good dose of Calvados.
But no, they do more than war memorials and apples—they do salt and they do butter.
Does it get any better than that???

Oh dear Lord, the thought of butter has sent me spiraling off track.

So there I was sweating like a pig, watching this 4 legged enemy at the far end of the yard, opposite my garden, aka, the deer salad bowl, advance. I careened my neck out about as far as I could, as my legs in tandem seemed to excelerate, just so I could see a portion of the garden to my extreme right. Was this doe sent in as a distraction while the others made haste to the tender beans?

I continued watching this doe nibbling on the blackberry bush.
And as suddenly as she appeared out of the brush—one blink, or one sweat blob in the ol eye, and she was gone. . .for now. . .

Fast forward to twilight.
We decided to go check the garden after supper.

Just as we stepped out the back door, I heard it.
SHUUU SHUUUU
The unmistakable snorting sound a deer makes as a warning.
As fast as I looked up to scan the area, there they were. . .two white tails hopping and darting
away, back into the dense venation at the edge of the woods.

Oh they are testing me to be sure.
I may need to go cut more Irish Spring.
Maybe another scare crow?
And those deer b gone granules…hummmm
Why do I fret so and work as I do. . .
All for this–the first basket load of goodies.

DSCN5611

Stayed tuned–the battle wages on. . .