to appear before man or God, that is our choice

“He took what is mine in order that He might impart to me what is His.
He took it not to overturn it but to fill it.”

St. Ambrose


( a quiet January morning / Rosemary Beach / Fl / Julie Cook / 2020)

“A hidden and obscure life affords great security to those who sincerely desire to love God.
Our Divine Master Himself deigned to teach us this by His own example,
for He spent thirty years in the obscurity of Nazareth and the workshop of a humble carpenter.
In imitation of their Divine Model, many saints withdrew into the desert and lived
in remote caves to escape the esteem of men.
The desire to put ourselves forward and merit the plaudits of men,
to be regarded as very successful in our undertakings, is, according to St. Vincent de Paul,
an evil that causes us to forget our God;
it vitiates our holiest actions and more than anything else impedes our progress in the
spiritual life. To be pleasing and acceptable in the sight of God,
we must therefore banish from our hearts the desire to appear before men to win their
approval and applause and especially the desire to rule over others.”

St. Alphonsus Liguiori,
p. 128-9
An Excerpt From
12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation

If I were queen for a day

Monarch of all I survey — Mo–na-a-a–a-arch Of all I survey!
the Lion singing
If I were King of the Forest
from the Wizard of Oz


(Queen Elizabeth’s Emprial Crown)

If I were Queen for a day…
I’d give them what they want.

Their freedom.

They want to carry no burden of duty while desiring
all freedom from responsibilities…

I’d strip them of their titles.
I’d cut all funding, entitlement, privileges, and perks.
Fly economy I say.
Put in a home security system, setting your own agenda
and hope for the best.

Come home for the holidays if you’d like, or not.

Last name you say?…
Well, no longer Sussex, not even Windsor
but perhaps Mountbatten.

As Monarch, I know that one cannot have
one’s cake and eat it too…we saw how that worked
once for a distant French cousin.

I also know that sometimes giving someone what they
think they want is the best lesson learned.
A hard lesson that makes for a lasting impression.

For better or worse, birth into this family is shadowed by burden.
Duty.
Service.
Obligation.
Constancy.
Accountability.
Commitment.

Not all have done it well.
One before you also chose to go.
Torn between want versus responsibility.
Others have relished in the gifts while forgoing the noble route.

I have borne the disappointments alone.
My hopes rested in you, your brother and cousins.
Learning the lessons your parents failed to learn.

Sometimes loving someone means allowing them to have what
they so desperately think they want–
Yet knowing that it will not end well and is not what they
actually need.

To lead is hard.
To love is even harder

If I Were King

I often wish I were a King,
And then I could do anything.

If only I were King of Spain,
I’d take my hat off in the rain.

If only I were King of France,
I wouldn’t brush my hair for aunts.

I think, if I were King of Greece,
I’d push things off the mantelpiece.

If I were King of Norroway,
I’d ask an elephant to stay.

If I were King of Babylon,
I’d leave my button gloves undone.

If I were King of Timbuctoo,
I’d think of lovely things to do.

If I were King of anything,
I’d tell the soldiers, “I’m the King!”

A.A. Milne

A time for yearning…

“If you learn everything except Christ, you learn nothing.
If you learn nothing except Christ, you learn everything.”

St. Bonaventure


(Independant Presbyterian Church steeple / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)

I must say that I have a small regret…

My regret is that of time…but who doesn’t regret time right?

Sometimes we might think we have enough or even too much, but if the truth be told,
we never have nearly enough.

I use to be able to catch a youtube or video blog post of Anglican Unscripted.
I use to listen to the podcasts of our friend the Wee Flea, Pastor David Roberston…
as well as our favorite across the pond rogue bishop, Bishop Gavin Ashenden.

But first, the Mayor came on the scene.
Next, my better half retired.
And then, the Sherrif came on board.
Suddenly there was no more time….well, no more time for me to do those
things I use to do with time before my new time needers all arrived.

Now I am certainly not complaining mind you…as this use of time
is a good use…exhausting, but good.

It’s just that when I had time to do so, I would
listen/watch and take copious notes of the teachings by our two Christian Scholarly friends.
I would craft posts featuring the teachings of these most knowledgable individuals.
I learned and, in turn, wanted to share the learning…that’s a teacher thing and it matters
not if we retire…sharing knowledge is what we do.

So I was very excited the other day when I actually carved out some unexpected quiet
and surprisingly alone time in order to listen to a podcast offered by one of my
favorite publications, the UK publication The Spectator.

Happily, I got to listen, almost uninterrupted,
to an interview by Damian Thompson with Bishop Gavin Ashenden—
who by the way is a recent convert to Catholicism.
The interview focused on the Chruch of England and its current dangerous walk toward socialism.

Now for those of you who think you don’t have a dog in the fight over anything Catholic,
Anglican, Chruch of England or Episcopalian…or even Socialism…
may I quickly remind you that many of our Nation’s current politicians are touting
all things Socialism while Socialism currently creeps its ugly way into our
Nation’s political narrative.

Think Bernie, AOC and the Progressive left…

I think the good Bishop gives a sound foundation as to why all Christians
must be very wary of this most troubling dalliance of the Chruch of England.

The podcast is about 20 minutes and is well worth the time, if you are fortunate to
find some…time.

“Just before Christmas, Dr. Gavin Ashenden, a former Chaplain to the Queen,
converted to Catholicism. But that’s not the main subject of my interview with him in
the first Holy Smoke episode of 2020. In it,
he deplores the Church of England’s surrender to secularism under Archbishop Justin Welby,
who won’t enjoy his former colleague’s assessment of his talents.

Dr. Ashenden may not be Anglican any more,
but he does think that the Established Church has a historic mission –
and that its ‘middle managers’ have betrayed it in favour of ‘soft socialism’.
To which I reply that Pope Francis is busy hoisting the white flag,
or perhaps a red one, on the other side of the Tiber.
At which point our conversation takes an unexpected turn. Don’t miss it!”

https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2020/01/holy-smoke-podcast-has-the-church-of-england-surrendered-to-soft-socialism/

And I thought ‘woke’ meant something you did after sleep

In 2020, Americans are going to be forced to choose between two opposing visions:
the pro-American vision of President Abraham Lincoln
and the deeply anti-American vision of the modern left…
The modern left’s outlook is radically different from —
and deeply hostile toward — the classic definitions of
American liberty and history.

Newt Gingrich

Yep, it’s hard to keep up if you’re of a certain age.
And perhaps even harder if you make the conscious decision to abstain from
social media…
Because it appears that social media is THE place to learn all sorts of new words,
both good and bad, and oh so part of our ‘woke’ culture.

According to an article on business2community.com:
The Oxford English Dictionary has added a plethora of new words to their online database.
Those searching their dictionary can now find the definitions of words such
as “woke,” “hygge” and “post-truth,” which they named last year’s Word of the Year.

One of the most notable entries for many on social media was “woke,”
a slang entry that was met with both praise and backlash.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines “woke” as:
well-informed, up-to-date. Now chiefly: alert to racial or social discrimination
and injustice; frequently in stay woke (often used as an exhortation).

In later use perhaps popularized through its association with
African-American civil rights activism
(in recent years particularly the Black Lives Matter movement),
and by the lyrics of the 2008 song Master Teacher by American singer-songwriter Erykah Badu,
in which the words I stay woke serve as a refrain.
In addition to having an original meaning of simply “awake,” the adjectival “woke”
has been around far longer than some may think.
According to Oxford Dictionaries, the earliest use in a figurative sense was
in a 1962 New York Times article.
Titled “If You’re Woke, You Dig It,”
it “describes how white beatniks were appropriating black slang at the time.”
The term is now widely used to challenge others to be more aware of
injustices in the world.

It seems that the folks of all things dictionary, be that Merriam-Webster, Oxford or others,
have actually added 600 new words this past year.

At this rate, my communication skills will no longer be woke but more like asleep…

And I for one find such words stupid…as in dumb, useless and if the truth be told, lazy–
as they are nothing more than slang.

There already exist some pretty great civil descriptors out there–
of which mean very much the same.
Yet I wonder…is it because these existing words are more pointed and
seemingly painfully direct…Because we know this progressive culture of ours is actually
afraid of pointed, direct and painful.

And as a small aside, might I just add that I am sick and tired of hearing,
seeing, reading the ‘F’ word at every turn. We went to the movies last evening
to see the movie 1917 and in the very first preview of coming movies, Will Smith opened
the preview spouting off the F word…sigh…
And despite my having written many a post of the use of vulgar slang as being now
acceptable, I am digressing…

So all this talk of culture, words, and of being woke had me thinking when I caught
the following article by Newt Gingrich.

If anyone out there is woke (please note that my Grammarly correction wants that to read ‘is waking’),
I would think it would be Newt.
As a history professor, author, historian and former Speaker of the House,
Newt knows a thing or two when he looks back while looking forward.

Here are a few tidbits from his latest article followed by a link for the full
story.

Newt Gingrich: In 2020, Abraham Lincoln will be controversial and divisive.
(Yes, Lincoln!) Here’s why

Lincoln clearly admitted that the work of freedom was unfinished and that we owe it to those
who gave their lives to continue the work of extending and improving liberty for all people.
In fact, Lincoln said it is our duty to extend “under God, … a new birth of freedom.”

(Of course, the anti-religious left would scoff at the reference to God.
Yet, both Lincoln and Washington shared a belief that America existed because of
Divine Providence’s benevolence.)

We have moved from government of the people to government of the experts.

The gap between Lincoln’s belief in the people and the contempt elitists such
as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.,
have for those who Hillary Clinton called “deplorables” tells you a lot about the gap
between Lincoln’s values and the values of the modern American left.

One of the great challenges for the Trump administration and its allies is
to re-center government on Lincoln’s values and dismantle the elitist
“bureaucrats know best” model that now defines so much of our government.

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2020-abraham-lincoln-controversial-newt-gingrich

it isn’t worth disappointing your grandmother


(Nany’s passport photo circa 1960)

Back in October, I penned a post that began with a look at our seemingly
“Royal” obsession.

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2019/10/21/we-are-a-coveting-people-yearning-for-royalty/

The post touched on our coveting and yearning for a sense of royalty…
At the beginning of the post, I mused over the US obsession with all things Royal, as I
wondered where that may have come from.

A few weeks later I wrote a post about the Queen and her quintessential purse…

So many folks wonder as to why a Queen would constantly be seen carrying a handbag
hanging from her arm.
The post also touched on the boorish behavior displayed by some of the guests she
entertained during a dinner for the NATO leaders

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2019/12/05/the-purse-never-lies/

So should we think it odd that the Royal family is not even “ours” and yet they are
practically all over every news outlet we have?

We are Royal watchers even if we don’t mean to be as their faces, names,
and stories, especially in recent months, have been all we see.

They are there when we flip on our televisions.
They are there when we are standing at the check-out line at the grocery store staring out at
us from every tabloid stacked on the shelves.
They are there when we click on our computers.

I wonder, are our across the pond cousins equally as intrigued with their Royals as we are?

Elizabeth was crowned Queen on June 2, 1953.
My parents were married on June 16, 1953.

With those two events each taking place within days of one another, my parents
actually received several Royal pieces of china commemorating the coronation
as wedding presents.
Items I still have today.

As long as I’ve been alive, the Queen has always been…a constant during my 60 years of life.
Just as it should be as she is the longest-reigning monarch surpassing
her great grandmother Victoria and her namesake predecessor, Elizabeth I.


Sean Gallup Getty Images

When I was a 21-year-old college kid, I had spent my college summers up in
North Carolina as a camp counselor at a Christian girl’s summer camp.

Our home, when I was growing up, as many of you well know if you have read any
of my posts, was quite dysfunctional.

It was my saving grace being able to transition from my 9 months away at school
to my 3 month summers up in North Carolina.
Meaning, I was home only sparingly.

The last summer that I was working at camp prior to my senior year in college,
when the two sessions had each ended, I came home for a few weeks before I was to head
back to school.
I had several older friends who actually lived year-round on the grounds of the camp
or near the camp and I was already missing them terribly.
Despite being home for only a few days, I was homesick for my home-away-from-home.

If, following graduation, I could have made a full-time job working at camp year-round,
I would have done it.
At that time in my life, it was about the only place I actually felt God’s presence
deep in my being.

So one mid-August night when I was back home,
I’d come in from an evening out with friends finding my brother still up watching TV.
If you’ve ever read any of my posts about my brother, you know he was the lynchpin
of our family’s dysfunction having been diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic
several years later.

Our relationship was fraught, erratic and tenuous.
Yet that particular night we were actually having a civil conversation.
I remember lamenting aloud about how much I missed being back at camp.
I debated about just getting in my car and driving the 4 hours back for the
weekend.
My brother then offered that he’d go with me to see it if I’d like.

Whoa.
Really?

A road trip with my 16-year-old brother allowing me to share with him
something that I cherished…could this be a breakthrough for us???

Ode to the mind of a wistful 21-year-old.
Forget consequences, let’s just throw caution to the proverbial wind, shall we…

He had to work at the grocery store, where he’d gotten a part-time summer job,
the following afternoon so I calculated that we could drive up, getting there
in the wee hours of the morning, hang out with my friends having breakfast,
show him the camp and in turn, get him back in time for work.

But wait…. what about our parents?

They were fast asleep.
They were not ones to embrace such impulsive acts.
Nor was I ever the type of kid to do something so daring.
And in hindsight, something so selfish.

Yet throwing caution to the wind, I scribbled a quick note, leaving it on
the kitchen table.
The note promised we’d be back in time for my brother to be at work…
And with that, in the middle of the night, we headed out the door.

The drive and time we spent at camp were quick but truly nice.
And nice was a very rare experience that he and I ever shared.

I found that I actually enjoyed the civil time we shared on the ride.
I explained how I wished it was light enough for him to see the mountains
cresting over the horizon.
It was as if we had bonded over the thrill of the clandestine.

When we got back home, with time to spare for my brother to go to work,
our parents were so incensed, they did not speak to me.
Not a word.

So with no one speaking that afternoon, I opted to go see my grandmother, Nany.
Nany and I were very close.
She had afforded me a great deal all my growing up and I adored her
and our times spent together.

When I walked into her condo, she was sitting in her usual spot in her den
watching the television.
When I entered the room, she turned her back on me.

Whoa.

Never had my grandmother ever shown anything other than generosity, kindness, and love.
Anger and disappointment were each relegated only to parents and not grandparents right?!

All she said was “you should have seen how sad they were when they came
by here after church.”

Under the weight of a very heavy silence, I showed myself out the door.

Yet as it is with life, both time and my actually growing up worked to heal all gaping wounds.
Soon forgotten were both my youthful stupidity and folly as life pressed us all forward.

However, I have never forgotten my grandmother turning her back to me.
That image has remained in the recesses of my memories.

I was crestfallen back then and it still pains me to this day.

It hurts knowing that I hurt her like that.
That I was capable of hurting her so much.
Funny how hurting her was more troubling than how much I had hurt my parents.

I had been thoughtless and selfish—yet are we not so during our youth
as we often learn the hard way by surviving our many mistakes?

We can only pray that we learn and survive those youthful errors and
often self-destructive ways, hoping to go forward, carrying with us the gift of wisdom
rather than the burden of selfishness and recklessness.

I was but 21—Harry, the Duke of Sussex, is a 35-year-old man.
And yet it appears as if Harry is acting more like a selfish child
than that of a grown man. Putting his wants before responsibility.
He continues to hurt his “Granny,” as she is affectionately known by
her grandchildren, with his on-going selfish and reckless actions.

It has been reported that The Queen had asked Harry to wait before making a
public statement regarding his desire for life’s role reversal,
but he ignored her request– going forward anyway.

I cannot presume to understand the complexities of their tangled
relationships but if I could offer one word to Harry, it would be the word of caution.
I would caution Harry to never put his wants above his relationship with his grandmother–
Of which, if we have ever read much about their lives, is one of
closeness and caring.

One day, sooner than later, she will no longer be here as a tangible and physical
part of his life.
I know all too well that he does not want to look back, with her no longer in his life,
with either sorrow or regret for how his actions may have pained her.

And so perhaps there is a lesson here for all of us…

The lesson being that we need to stop before we act.
Stopping to think while considering the lives of those closet to us…
Thinking about them before we boldly opt to march triumphantly forth—
So bold and headstrong that we go marching gallantly forward carrying those
wants and desires of our hearts on silver platters without ever considerating the
thoughts and feelings of those who are dear to us.
Those who are hurt the most by our misguided and self-centered actions.

Selfishness can be a heavy burden.

Be very careful, then, how you live—-
not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity,
because the days are evil.
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is

Ephesians 5:15-17

won by One who makes imperfection perfect

Satan has a kingdom here on earth.
It’s called the culture of death, but his kingdom has an expiration date.
That’s good news.
Jesus has a kingdom as well.
There is no expiration date.
It will last forever.
Remember, Church, we have been won by One.
The next time the devil reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.

Jesse Romero
from The Devil in the City of Angels


(deer moss / Julie Cook/ 2020)

Do they desire to join me in thanksgiving when they hear how, by your gift,
I have come close to you, and do they pray for me when they hear
how I am held back by my own weight?

A brotherly mind will love in me what you teach to be lovable,
and will regret in me what you teach to be regrettable.

This is a mark of a Christian brother’s mind, not an outsider’s—
not that of ‘the sons of aliens whose mouth speaks vanity,
and their right hand is a right hand of iniquity’ (Ps. 143:7 f.).

A brotherly person rejoices on my account when he approves me,
but when he disapproves, he is loving me.

To such people I will reveal myself.
They will take heart from my good traits, and sigh with sadness at my bad ones.
My good points are instilled by you and are your gifts.
My bad points are my faults and your judgments on them.
Let them take heart from the one and regret the other.
Let both praise and tears ascend in your sight from brotherly hearts,
your censers. …
But you Lord…Make perfect my imperfections”

St. Augustine of Hippo, Confessions

on board and out dated

“Recent generations seem to consider ‘old-fashioned’ thinking as out-dated
and without place in the modern world.
I beg to differ.
After all, who has greater faith?
He who looks to and learns from the past, or the man who cares
not for consequence?”

Fennel Hudson, A Meaningful Life – Fennel’s Journal – No. 1


(a shirveled little pear / Julie Cook / 2014)

The other day I caught a fellow blogger’s post regarding the soon to be splitting of
the United Methodist Church over the issue of recognizing gay marriage as a
sanctified union and thus conducting said weddings.

And I took issue with some of his thoughts.

I didn’t immediately respond, as I wanted to think about my words,
but I knew I disagreed with his take on things.

According to a separate article I read regarding the split, things appear amicable in
the proposed negotiating of the soon to be un-united Methodist Church–
An amicable split might just border on being an oxymoron when talking about divisions
stemming from differing views over foundational doctrine…with everyone seeming to
be all good with the parting.

“The United Methodist Church has decided to divide over the issue of same-sex marriage.
This is not surprising, given the longstanding disagreements on this matter that have
afflicted the denomination.
The UMC has arranged the separation in a remarkably civil way:
The proposed solution, formulated by a committee of members drawn from both sides of the debate,
will (hopefully) avoid the rancor and distress and disputes about properties and pensions
that have marked other such denominational splits in recent times.

Carl R. Trueman

The blogger’s post, for which I took umbrage, mentioned that he had been reared in the
Methodist Church and was naturally troubled by the proposed split…

I think we’d all agree that “splits” are never the desired outcome.
We really do want to keep things united as one.
Or so it seems we once did.

Yet think of this…we began with what was known as the Latin West Church,
otherwise known as The Church of Rome.
Shortly thereafter, we had the Eastern Orthodox Church of, naturally, the East…

So splits seem to be in our nature because from those original two,
we have spiraled into countless denominations,
of which each feels as if they are the ones who’s gotten it right and all figured out…
but I digress.

This particular blogger wrote that other denominations had “come to terms” regarding
same-sex marriages and that scientific facts now showed that the Bible was outdated and
out of step with said scientific facts.
Homosexuality was prewired and not a choice and therefore the Church, big C,
needs to step up and get in step.

I read just a bit more before I had to close out the post and leave for an appointment
but I made a mental note that I wanted to go back to the post and eventually respond.

Well, a few days passed and I went back into my reader looking for the post.
It is no longer there or at least I couldn’t find it if it was.
I scrolled and scrolled but just couldn’t find it.
It was not a blog that I follow but a blog post that I had seen as a
re-post by another blogger.
Since I couldn’t remember the particular blog’s name from whence the post
in question had come from, I suppose it was not meant for me to get into a
tit for tat with another blogger…
Because that is pretty much what happens when we comment often to the contrary of
what someone else has written.

A war of words so to speak.
A small microcosm of what is ailing our entire Nation, but again, I digress.

And so I will briefly share my umbrage here…as in, you are now the lucky recipient.

Unequivocally, and to the contrary, most denominations are NOT on board with gay marriage—
hence why ‘splits’ have been taking place for nearly a decade.

My dear ol’ Episcopal Chruch comes to mind.

The thought of schisms in the Episcopal Church can be traced back to the ’70s
when the notion of allowing women into the priesthood first took flight.
There was an exodus then with communicants going to more traditional “Rite I”
sort of churches.

Next came gay clergy and gay marriages all intertwined.
We saw another exodus with the founding of Anglican Chruch in North America.
Hence the split from the more liberal Episcopal Chruch to the more conservative
Anglican body of North America.

We are also seeing a huge exodus across the pond by more traditional Anglicans from
the very liberal body of the Chruch of England who is just all over the place
with what is being called “Queer Theory” and transgenderism as the issue over gay clergy
is now simply passe.

The Presbyterians, the Lutherans, the Methodists and yes even the Baptists are all wrestling
with the same divisive issue of a traditional fundamental belief in scripture verses a more
liberal interpretation and the progressive view that the Bible is outdated and simply
put, wrong.

The argument is that God is Love, Jesus is Love and the Church should, therefore, be love…
and so the thinking is that this should all be quite clear.
Clear that there is love within the LBGTQ communities.
So come one, come all because we are all about love.

And thus any church member who thinks otherwise is so last century and entirely out
of step with the new way of the world…so if you don’t like it or argue that
it is entirely against Scripture, then you, my friend, are considered hate-filled
and need to go elsewhere because the new church has no room for such thinking.

However, I find that the Bible is very specific when it comes to homosexuality,
sinfulness, sexual deviations, pansexuality, gender, etc.

It is not the Bible that needs changing but rather man’s sinfulness.

No one disputes that God is love.
He has a deep and abiding love for… the sinner….that being you and me.
Hence the birth, eventual killing, and resurrection of His Son.

So no, I don’t see that other denominations are basically “on board” with gay marriage
or all the new sprouting ‘life choices.’

To sin or not to sin is a choice is it not?

The Bible is very specific about sin and what constitutes sin.
God hasn’t changed His mind.
He has not had that “ah ha” Oprah moment of “yeah, I think they are right. I suppose
I do need to rethink my thinking on say, all those commandments…”

God is immovable.
He does not waver.
No matter how much we work to convince ourselves that our choices are ok
and therefore He’s ok with said choices.

So, in a nutshell, that’s my comment.

I the Lord do not change.
So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.
Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and
have not kept them.
Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.

Malachi 3:6-7