the underdog who wants its Sunday’s back

But I will go down with this ship
And I won’t put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I’m in love and always will be..
.

White Flag lyrics by Dido

The great danger for family life,
in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort and independence,
lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish.

Pope John Paul II


(Alice, our grand-dog, is not an underdog necessarily, rather a very much loved dog
/ Julie Cook / 2017)

I have always been a person who likes to pull for the underdog…
that team, group or individual who has the odds stacked against them, him or her.

Maybe that’s because, as a wife and mother, I have often felt my brood has
at times fallen into the category of the underdog.

Those who stare from the bottom of the barrel upward at those perceived to be bigger,
better, brighter, smarter, richer, luckier, more successful, more this and more that.
As the bottom is pitted against the upper—
with the odds never being good or favorable.

Maybe it’s that little college team that has no chance playing against that top
ranked huge opponent but who must play anyway…all in order to bring much needed
revenue in to their less advantaged school.

They are out coached, out weighed, out numbered and out financed..
To play is a risk both physically as well as mentally…but nonetheless,
play they do.

They go forward despite the odds.
The roll up their sleeves despite the inevitable.
They hold their heads up knowing they will soon be knocked down.

Yet there is never shame in trying and holding ones ground.

And so when I read the latest post, of which I have provided the link…
a post from a delightful blog I follow—
a blog that doesn’t post often, but when there is a post, it is usually very profound
and or powerful….
I was reminded again of why I like an underdog….

The blogger and family wouldn’t dare consider themselves profound or powerful—
for theirs is a simple sort of life but one that possesses a deep
rooted spiritual faith.
They are a Catholic family living in the shadows of Notre Dame…
who are just one more link in the chain of defenders of this collective
Christian faith of ours….

Thoughts from the side of the House…..

America Implodes on “Black Friday”…. Meanwhile, POLAND Leads the Way Towards Sanity

This post captured my feelings exactly of how I feel not only about Black Friday
but how I feel as to how America, along with most of Western Civilization, has turned
Christmas into something totally unrecognizable.

And maybe that has been the goal all along.
No longer is it Christmas as we thought we knew Christmas…
but rather it is a “winter” moment, or if in the Southern Hemisphere,
it is a “summer” moment…a moment that just so happens to have copious gift
giving attached.

And just when we thought the world had gone mad with all things materialistic
and secular… in steps the often mocked, maligned and overlooked nation of Poland.

I have written about Poland before, for various reasons.

I don’t think many of us living in this Western Civilization of ours actually
realizes the debt of gratitude we truly owe to Poland.

Poland for well over 1000 years has stood on the defining line between
Western Civilization and all sorts of barbarism, communism, socialism, Nazism, totalitarianism and now secularism.
For every ‘ism’ out there—Poland has stood against it as the defining line
of right verses wrong.

Poland was the line between the Mongols, the Saracens, the Nazis and the Communists…
just to name but a few of the invading hordes whose sites were always set on
freedom and democracy.

But Poland has said “NO!” time and time again,
even at the greatest cost to herself and her people.

She sacrificed herself more times than not…and yet was the butt of
every American’s jokes in the late 60’s and 70’s…
“how many Pollocks does it take to unscrew a light bulb?”
You remember the jokes.
Even Archie Bunker of All in the Family fame helped fuel the ridiculing fires.

Yet it is to Poland and her people who those of us enjoying life in the Western World
owe a great deal of gratitude to…
gratitude for the very freedoms we each enjoy today as it was Poland who stood on the
defending line of “us verses them” for over 1000 years.

Selflessness verses the often sought self preservation

She has even disappeared off the map more than once when she was gobbled up by
usurpers who ate the nation and her people only to later spit them back out.
A sacrifice made and given as that has been her lot and her role.

When we think of mighty nations, Poland does not come to mind.

Yet it was in Poland that Hitler had the majority of his Death Camps.
And it was Poland who was sacrificed to Stalin by Roosevelt.
And it was Poland who stood up to the mighty USSR.

And it is now Poland who wants her Sundays back.

Sundays back you ask…???

Sundays yes…because out of all the nations, Poland is still considered to
be a decisively Christian nation.

No other nation is considered such—not even
France, Ireland or Italy…as most of the the West, along with most of North America,
has fallen to the god of all things secular.

Here in the West, we have gotten quite accustomed to living life 24 /7
Meaning we can go, do, buy, see whatever it is we want on any given
single day of the week.

It use to not be that way.

Sunday was the sabbath….
It still is but most folks have forgotten that little fact.

Most everything was closed in observance of the Sabbath.
People were off from work, they would attend church, they would spend time
visiting, eating together, being a family together….

In the West we had what was known as blue laws—laws that restricted certain
activities on Sundays as Sunday was to be a day of Christian religious observation.
Malls were closed, banks and the Post offices were closed, many stores were closed,
bars were closed, most restaurants were closed, the sale of beer, wine and liquor was prohibited…on and on it went.

Then that all changed.
For a myriad of reasons— profits, selfish wants, greed…
The notion of wanting and having when and how one wanted things took precedence.
Laws were changed.

But Poland wants to see all of that changed…reversed back to Sunday being a day of
reverence, a Sabbath, a day for family….
“Just this week the lower house of the Polish parliament passed a bill to phase out unnecessary consumer spending on Sundays.
The law would curtail most shopping in order to allow the Polish people
to spend time with their families.”

Once again, Poland, that underdog of nations, demonstrates that despite being small
and considered by others as less than….no one will ever say that Poland is afraid
to stand up against what she perceives to be wrong,
standing even that means she stands alone for what is right…..

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all
kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven,
for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:10-12

Do not…compromise

“Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–
the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings,
without milestones, without signposts,…
Your affectionate uncle,
Screwtape.”

― C.S. Lewis,
The Screwtape Letters

Right is right even if no one is doing it;
wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.

St Augustine of Hippo

An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile–
hoping it will eat him last.

Sir Winston Churchill

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(a youthful Winston Churchill in his WWI uniform)

Give and take…you were taught since being a child
Bend a little,
give a little…
Give more,
take less.

Compromise…

Yet in that unabashed revelry of our growing concession and settling…
we have deemed that everything and all, even the vast Creator himself…
should now bow down to each petty whim and want…

Never mind that the God of both Heaven and earth laid down precepts
that are to be fully obeyed.
(Psalm 119:4)

Never mind that the time has come when people no longer
live with sound teachings and doctrine…

Instead, to suit their own desires,
they gather around them great numbers of teachers who will say what their
itching ears long to hear.
They will turn their ears away from the Truth, turning rather to the side of all falsehood.

However we must remember to keep our head about us in all situations…
We will endure hardships…
but we must strive to do the work of the One who teaches the Truth
(2 Timothy 4:3-5)

For many deceivers have gone out into the world,
those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh.
Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.
Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for,
but may win a full reward.
Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ,
does not have God.
Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.
If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching,
do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting,
for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

2 John 1:7-11

spin

“We are spinning our own fates, good or evil, and never to be undone.
Every smallest stroke of virtue or of vice leaves its never-so-little scar.”

William James

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(image clowns4kids.com)

Cotton candy—the quintessential staple for both circus and fair.

Who among us seemingly mature adults doesn’t secretly yearn for their very own paper rolled cone of pink, bouffant whipped, magically melting surgery goodness when spotting any sort of advert for either circus or fair?

Who doesn’t fondly recall the yearly pilgrimage when the Circus rolled into town?
The sights and sounds of all the colors and music colliding as one…marking the magic of childhood wonder…
From the parades of the marching animals to the death defying flying trapeze artists…
from the clowns riding in tiny jalopies to the booming voice of the circus master…

Despite all of the sensory overloads, if the truth be told, it was the single chance to order a titillating cone of cotton candy which remains paramount in our memories….

Recalling one Christmas many years ago, when my son was a little boy,
Santa had delivered his very own, spin at home, cotton candy maker.
My son thought he had died and gone to heaven as he immediately wanted to make cotton candy for breakfast.

I, on the other hand, had regretted Santa’s choice from the get go as all I could envision was an endless sea of sticky hands, sticky faces, sticky clothes, sticky house…laced with the mother exhausting battle of a small child running on too much sugar….

Thankfully the novelty wore off quickly as there just wasn’t that same sense of delight about making cotton candy in ones kitchen verses the thrill of ordering it, watching it on the other side of the protective glass being spun onto your very own paper cone…add to that marvelous tantalizing moment
with the giddy savoring of the very first melt in you mouth adrenaline rush of sweet tasty sugary magic…

Oh how delightfully wonderful the simple act of spinning sugar can be…

Yet in this tale of spinning all things sugary should be a small consumer warning that not all sugary treats are as sweet nor as innocent as they may seem…

For there is one who is eagerly at work spinning, for both you and me, our very own cone full of sugary spun falsehoods and lies which he passes off as a delightful simple treat…
However there is nothing sweet nor simple to his deception.

For therein lies the importance we are to remember…
that there is one who toils in the shadows, working tirelessly…
taking the very Truth of God, as He spins it into something diabolically other than…

With the the real tragedy of all of this being that we unwittingly and eagerly hold out our hands while impatiently waiting for our very own offering of the twisted serving of his sweet insidious lies.
Which only leads to our coming back for more and more and more…

The prince of darkness happily spins every word of God into a cloyingly sick sweet false prosaic for our sadly spiritually hungry appetites…
as we are either too blind, too naive or simply too hungry to discern the reality.

It would behoove us to remember that too much sugar and too many sweets is never a filling nor lasting alternative to the banquet that has been lovingly prepared for both you and me…
A lavish feast which will fully satisfy all of our tastes, wants and needs…

When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’

“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’

“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’

“‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’

“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

Luke 14:15-24

Elusive or certain

In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth.
Mahatma Gandhi

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(sign seen somewhere along a road in County Limerick, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

I will give you hidden treasures,
riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know that I am the Lord,
the God of Israel, who summons you by name.

Isaiah 45:3

there’s always something better

My father said there were two kinds of people in the world:
givers and takers.
The takers may eat better,
but the givers sleep better.

Marlo Thomas

“The greatest need of our age and of every age, the greatest need of every human heart, is to know the resources and sufficiency of God.”
― Albert Benjamin Simpson

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(curious and opportunistic grackles check out the water tub / Julie Cook / 2015)

Having thrown out a bucket of corn for our resident deer, it didn’t take long for the invading passerby grackles to find the golden nuggets dispersed within the grass.
With life having been relatively dry up until the last few days, we’d put out a tub of water for our thirsty four legged friends.

As soon as the grackles approached, ready to descended onto the corn, they first hesitantly and cautiously headed toward the black tub.
A single grackle arrived in order to investigate.
Then a few more appeared hoping no doubt that the big black tub held a treasure trove of corn.
More and more grackles arrived with each new arrivee having to check out the tub for a possible plethora of food–
Obviously not satisfied by the existing kernels scattered throughout the grass.

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(curious and opportunistic grackles check out the water tub / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(curious and opportunistic grackles check out the water tub / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(curious and opportunistic grackles check out the water tub / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(curious and opportunistic grackles check out the water tub / Julie Cook / 2015)

I suppose we’re a lot like the never satisfied grackles, as we often seem to think there is going to be something bigger, better and more which must be lurking elsewhere other than that which has been graciously offered and set before us. It’s as if we are constantly hoping to find that which is easier for the taking and neatly given without our ever having to work for what we get. . .

So it is with this thought in mind that my prayer for today is that we may each stop long enough, taking time from our chaotic lives, to find the gratitude within our hearts for that which we already possess, as well as for that which has been graciously offered and lovingly placed before us. . .all without the expectation and desire of seeking anything else or anything more. . .
May we truly appreciate the effort we exert. . .which in turn,
makes each reward that more sweet. . .

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But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9

I’m just asking for this one thing. . .

Praying, we usually ask too much. I know I do. Sometimes we even demand. I think I am learning to ask enough for the moment–not for the whole year, utterly veiled in mystery; not even for the week, the month ahead; but just for today.

Jesus said it all when He told us to pray: ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’

That bread is not only material, it is spiritual; in asking for it, we ask for a sufficiency of strength, courage, hope and light. Enough courage for the step ahead–not for the further miles. Enough strength for the immediate task or ordeal. Enough material gain to enable us to meet our daily obligations. Enough light to see the path–right before our feet.”
― Faith Baldwin

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(tiger swallowtail feasting on the butterfly bush / Julie Cook / 2015)

Both of my grandmothers always had a good response when any of the grandkids began rambling off a list of wants—to what must have seemed like a never ending and ever growing list of wants.
And as the children, as in me, my brother and cousins grew, the “wants” exponentially became grander and more expensive–

The response from my mother’s mother was her dry “your wants never hurt you” with the response from my dad’s mother being her famous and very flippant singsongy “too bad, too bad”.

Now it’s not as if these two ladies were not doting grandmothers—they certainly were as they lavished their grandkids with a great deal–it’s just that some of those lavished items were indeed wanted and giddily accepted while some things were certainly not wanted nor had they even been a thought on the list.

New clothes and affording an education to a private school, if and when the need arose, was gracious and welcomed no doubt in the eyes of parents, but in the mind of a growing grandchild, the more pressing issues were for more fadish items or candy, ice-cream, the circus, concert tickets, bikes, horses, etc. . .these were the real items to the list of wants just waiting to be filled.

Both of these ladies were born at the onset of a new century–one in rural middle Georgia the other in rural Texas. They each lived through two world wars, a great depression and a myriad of other wars, police actions and the ebbing and flowing of the security of the world. They each knew difficulties and suffered loss while growing up. They each worked hard for what they had albeit in very different fashions.

To this day, I can hear my grandmother’s “too bad, too bad” ringing in my head every time I hear myself lamenting “I wish I had a [new] _________________________.
Filling in the blank with anything that is not necessarily essential to survival.

So it is on this once again hot and overtly humid day, which is just another day in a long and never ending string of hot and humid days, that I am heard to lament. . .
“I wish it was cooler.
I wish it was Fall.
I wish the weather would change.
I wish it wasn’t so hot.
I wish it wasn’t so humid. . .”
on and on ad infinitum

And somewhere in the back of my brain, I can now hear one of those two ladies amusingly replying, “be careful what you wish for missy, you might just get it. . .”

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Learning, relearning and acceptance

“For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
― Benjamin Franklin

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(two pictures of the same little toadstool, the first one is with the old camera, the second with the new camera, I think the old camera works just as well. . .Julie Cook / 2015)

I think we all remember yesterday’s post regarding my new camera fiasco.
You remember, right?
The fancy smancy one my husband gave me for Christmas?
The one I was having to venture out onto a new learning curve over?
As in it has all sorts of different lens.
The one that scared me a little, actually a lot, but which I decided learning how to use would be a great new adventure. . .?

Well—(insert heavy sigh)—-

It’s all packed back up in the shipping box complete with the macro lens and camera bag along with the packing slip.
Also the additional zoom lens I decided I needed after it turned out the fancy smancy camera could not zoom in on distant objects as well as my old point and shoot, it too is also boxed up and ready for return shipping.

(insert another heavy sigh)

It seems I may just want the best of both worlds and that sadly does not exist.

The new zoom lens arrived today.
I attached it to the camera and went outside to “practice” zooming.
Imagine my chagrin when the new lens no more zoomed up on anything than I could by squinting.
The old Nikon point and shoot with its fixed lens, not an interchangeable lens, could certainly zoom.

AAAAAGGGGGHHHHHHH could be heard echoing off the back woods.

I immediately marched inside and proceed to call the good people at Sony.
The first person did not speak English and I worried that he knew about as much about cameras as he did English.
I thanked him and hung up.
I then called back and reached a nice and informative young lady.
I began my tale of frustration.
She assured me that the camera my husband gave me was top of the line, which I knew, and that it would take great pictures but it just wasn’t going to zoom like my old camera. They (Sony) had not yet come out with a lens for the a6000 e-mount series that could do what I wanted. Which I find odd. Why put a camera on the market without providing it, and those who purchase it, with the capacity to do what other cameras can do? Plus she told me lenses were going to be a huge investment.
UGH.

She suggested a nice point and shoot that had a super zoom ability as well as a macro setting yet wouldn’t “macro” to the extent of the fancy smancy camera’s macro lens, yet could provide most likely what I was looking for in a camera. But didn’t I have a point and shoot already in my old camera and hadn’t I wanted to try something new, hence the new camera? A new camera that just couldn’t do what the old camera was capable of doing.

Dilemma and frustration were now reaching a crescendo within me as I fretted over what to do.

It remains boxed ready to be returned. The point and shoot would probably be the more practical of the two as it would be a great travel camera and an all over “go to” when wanting to take a variety of pictures. The fancy little camera on the other hand did take great pictures with great close ups but that’s about it.

Whoever would think that the purchase of a camera could be so vexing?

So as I wrestle with the decision to keep or to return the camera, I am reminded that not only is the learning of how to work new things, along with the new skills associated with said new things, ever important, the acknowledgement and accepting of where our abilities lie is equally as important.

Multiple lenses and what all that would entail with the investing in endless pieces for a camera that requires a great deal of care and work may not, for me–a mere grab the camera and go for it individual, be very practical. And therein lies my issue—what I am is one thing and what I want to be is something else entirely. Accepting what I am and where I am as far as causal hobbyist verses working toward a level of professionalism is the key to sorting out this little issue.

So as for now I will continue to think about what I want in a camera while more importantly I begin to learn to accept the reality of my needs verses my wants–in both who I am and with what it is that I need in order to be successful in not only the big things but as well as the little things in this thing we call life.