The time is nigh

Veni, Veni Emmanuel,
Captivum solve Isreal
Qui gemit in exilio,
Privatus Dei Filio,
Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel
Nascetur pro te, Isreal.

(Oh Come oh come, Emmanuel, English hymn
Latin translation Germany 1710 /
musical tune, French 15ht century)

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(inner working of victorian clock / Julie Cook / 2014)

In the bleak midwinter
by Christina Rossetti

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

Out with the old

“Life moves on and so should we”
Spencer Johnson

God is coming! God is coming! All the element we swim in, this existence, Echoes ahead the advent. God is coming! Can’t you feel it?”
Walter Wangerin, Jr.

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(remnants of Fall on their way to the compost pile / Julie Cook / 2014)

They were beginning to smell.
They were–
Sunken
Discolored
Half frozen
Smushed
Rotting
Reeking

Several could still be picked up by hand but many had simply turned to mush.
Cold, nearly frozen, mush hiding beneath cracking shells.
Those were scooped up with the old garden spade.

Back in September, they were hopeful.
They were–
bright
colorful
shapely
textural
And they spoke of harvests, waning light and golden days.

For those who were’t paying attention, time, as fickled as she is, has darted forward.
A season is ending and all which claims such as its own, is fading, withering and slowly dying.
Any and all remnants must be sorted out, moved out and eventually thrown out.

A seismic shift is set to take place.
Nature knows this even before we do.
She has set change into motion.
There is much which must take place.
This before the anticipation may truly begin.
Life must first be stripped bare.
All garish excessiveness must be removed.
No distractions are to remain.
Even color must now depart.
For the time of focus is at hand.

So for now all that remains is but the waiting.
For expectancy drifts across the chilling winds.
Watching
Waiting
Hoping
All in anticipation for the season known as Advent.

“Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this life, in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; So that, at the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal.”
The Book of Common Prayer, published in 1662

Leaving a mark

“Our days are numbered. One of the primary goals in our lives should be to prepare for our last day. The legacy we leave is not just in our possessions, but in the quality of our lives. What preparations should we be making now? The greatest waste in all of our earth, which cannot be recycled or reclaimed, is our waste of the time that God has given us each day.”
― Bill Graham

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(the remaining remnants of leaves faded onto the concrete / Julie Cook / 2014)

When all is said and done, what will be said about you?
What will people remember?
Or the question may beg. . .will they remember?
Will it be . . .
“that old rebel rouser”
or
“that old stick in the mud”
or
“they were so very angry”
“they were so terribly lazy”
“they were so selfish”
“they were such a martyr”
“they were so very mean”
“they had the first dime they ever made”
“they were nothing but a workaholic”

Or. . .
Will they say that the world was a better place for having had you in it?

It’s never too late you know.
There’s still time.
Time to turn things around if need be.
Right a few wrongs.
Turn over that new leaf.
Make a few changes.
Nothing drastic.
Just a little tweaking here and there.
Letting go of a few bad habits.
Figuring out what’s really important,
what really matters. . .

Will your mark be negative, rebellious, selfish, destructive
or
will your mark be positive, compassionate, generous, constructive.

There’s still time, but how much. . .I have no idea.

Thankfully thankful

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.
Meister Eckhart

“Anything I cannot thank God for for the sake of Christ, I may not thank God for at all; to do so would be sin. … We cannot rightly acknowledge the gifts of God unless we acknowledge the Mediator for whose sake alone they are given to us.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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(a brown English transfer ware Spode platter / Julie Cook / 2014)

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(a turkey ready for brining / Julie Cook / 2014)

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!
“Is that . . .”
A turkey in a cat litter box lined igloo cooler?
Why yes, yes it is.

And why do I have a turkey sitting in a cat litter box lined igloo cooler you ask?
Well, since I thought we could all use a good dose of humor today, I’m providing a link for the post I offered up this time last year. You know, the one about my attempts at brining a turkey. . . You remember the one. . . When I put the big bird in a brining bag, filled with the 5 gallons of solution only to have the bag split open in mid step as I began to transfer the very heavy and giant oh so wobbly bag of bird and brine to the refrigerator, only to have the entire contents of the bag, all 5 gallons worth of liquid, slosh out of said split bag, cascading onto my new kitchen rugs and all over the hardwood flooring?

You didn’t forget that little escaped did you?

Well incase you did, perhaps reliving that little holiday mishap is in order. I think by now, with all the food, all the family, all the weather, all the news we don’t want to think about, a little humor just might do us all some good!

It was the true stuff of nightmares and of legends all rolled into one. Plus it was a very cold rainy day—it’s all coming back to me. . .

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/11/29/the-brine-the-rugs-getting-lost-and-a-grateful-heart/

And whereas Dad won’t be making the trip over this year for Thanksgiving, as they don’t feel as if they can make the drive which means they won’t get lost again, we, on the other hand, will be going over to our son and daughter-n-law’s house to share, along with all of her family, their first Thanksgiving as a married couple. I’m certain there’ll be a story to share after this event of new togetherness!!

Despite not hosting this little annual shindig, I am cooking, not only brining but preparing to take this little fowl show on the road. Two cooked birds driving in the back of my car. . .hummmmm. Should prove to be very interesting later today. . .

When it came to this year’s brining, I was ready—the strongest bag I could find in the house was a cat box litter liner. Forget those whimpy brining bags, I needed hard core.
And as for some sort of reinforcement for the liquid and bird filled bag verses sitting a bag and a bird on some flimsy little tray, a cooler was the biggest thing I could find to put the turkey in.
Is brining necessary?
Heavens no.
I’ve cooked many a turkey without it, but when one is offering up Thanksgiving Turkeys (yes this year there are two) to one’s new in-laws. . .brining sounds impressive and will hopefully prove beneficial.

Yet before I let this day pass, basking in what I hope will be a thankfully successful meal with family, new family and fiends, I wanted to take a moment to thank you.
Yes, you.
All of my friends in this blogoshpere of ours who stop in for visits on this little blogsite world of mine.
I want to thank you for becoming a part of my circle of friends.
For your insights, for your prayers, your wisdom, your interests, your comments, your kindness and for sharing your life with me as you allow me to share mine with you.
I am blessed and my life has been made the richer for each of you!
So on this day of thanks, may I say to you, Thank You!
Now fingers crossed the new in-laws like the turkeys (yes, plural as in there are two big birds)
Happy Cooking!!

Longings

“Until the longing came again, like the longing that you hear in the whistle of a train that is going far away. But the longing isn’t really in the whistle, the longing is in you—for the wonder and the loveliness that is in the world, and everywhere.”
Meindert DeJong

“Will it be here that we shall find a place which will not elude us, or which if it remains does not exert on us a culpable attraction? Or must we, leaning over the deck and watching the shores glide by, move forever onward?”
André Gide

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(a Georgia sky on a late November evening which heralds change is in the air / Julie Cook / 2014)

What does your heart
pine for,
ache for,
yearn for?

What do your senses
long to touch,
crave to taste,
thirst to hear?

Is it a familiar embrace?
The loving sound of your acknowledged arrival?
The sought after special glance?
The intimate gathering of your sacred and long outgrown surroundings?

The time is at hand. . .
Longing and expectancy are reaching a fevered pitch.
Tis the season of fanfare and making of merry.
Cascading emotions flow like wax from a candle.
Anticipated elation mingles with tremendous reluctance.

Where does one find oneself on those magical days?
Is it in the familiar or perhaps the far far way?
Is there work to be done or is time allowed for gatherings?
And what of the missing?
Long gone or simply far away?

Open arms long to welcome.
Relief for some, trepidation for others.
A cocktail of the joyous and melancholy poured up neat.

And yet, during this new season of
longing,
awaiting,
expectancy
there is One who waits, hidden in the shadow of
the fanfare,
the hoopla,
the crowds,
the travel,
the food,
the gifts. . .

Come thy long expected One
A single star brilliantly lights your path
Your name is whispered on the wind
Open arms long to embrace
The surroundings stark and simple
No fancy settings here
As cherubim long to sing you home
Your place at the table has been set
A homecoming is fast approaching
as our Thanksgiving finally begins

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(a Georgia sky on a late November evening which heralds change is in the air / Julie Cook / 2014)

Beauty in a bucket

“The power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes home happy and life lovely.”
Louisa May Alcott

“No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face.”
John Donne

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(the fallen late blooms of the meyer lemon tree and an oak leaf float in a bucket of water / Julie Cook / 2014)

When might debris in a bucket deep,
take on such beauty doth to keep?
Which floats upon a surface sweet,
while wind and rain so strangely meet.
In Autumn’s late grey days of myth and lore,
as light doth fade forever more.
Be quick to see all who so chose,
for beauty hides just under your nose.

Blessings for a Tuesday full of surprising beauty and joy

For thus says the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.
Isaiah 45:18

Rainy days and Mondays shouldn’t always get us down

because the sun is always hiding just behind the clouds. . . .

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(rainy day / Julie Cook / 2014)

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the moldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the moldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The last word

“I die the king’s faithful servant, but God’s first.”
― Thomas More

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(the lifeless woody stem of a pumpkin / Julie Cook / 2014)

Guilt remains guilt; failure remains failure.
This is the one reality that in our life has cost and will still cost all of us the most tears.
What has happened has happened for all time.
The second fearful thing, however, is that there is no moment of standing still, that everything is going forward in eternal change and to a particular goal, to death. . .
Unmercifully, time moves beyond the moment: the moment of bliss, of joy, of blessedness, of desire. . .
Desire in the world is passing away, because the world is passing away (1 John 2:17). . .
What are a few centuries of fame in the history of God’s world, in view of the primeval stars?
What are all the culture, all the beauty, and all the power of God?
Dust, a drop in the ocean, a leaf blown by the wind, a nothing. . .the earth is passing away and the world is passing away; time rules over them both–that is, to say it quite clearly: death rules over everything.
Time and death are the same.
The world is a world of dying and death.
Everything that happens in it is only a penultimate compared to the ultimate: death.
Therefore, the last word about the world is not life and joy and desire, but transition and death.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Vol 10 Barcelona, Berlin, Amerika 1928-1931

The Power of Prayer, a Baby and a Stressed Grandma

Here is an update on baby Emmett, who we prayed for this past week as he had to undergo surgery on his skull in order to allow the bone plates to move with his growth and allowing doctors to “reshape” his skull to begin growing symmetrically—blessing now abound!!! Let us all join this family in offering prayers of Thanksgiving!!!

joy of nine9

Today we heard about our tiny grandson’s miraculous recovery from an 8 hour surgery to reshape his skull. see

right after right after operation. His head is symmetrical

.http://melaniejeanjuneau.wordpress.com/2014/11/16/plea-for-prayers-baby-facing-major-neuro-and-plastic-surgery/

This is me before the surgery.

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………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Before this eight-hour surgery, I did not realize how stressed I was till someone in France ( I assume since his first language is French but so are Quebecers), delivered a word from God on Pinterest. God was giving me a gift of joy. IMMEDIATELY the fear gripping me left and I started grinning as joy slowly bloomed in my heart.

The Mystical Body of Christ is an incredible reality. Hundreds of fellow Christians, including priests prayed for this tiny baby, from all over the world from Australia, England, Canada , the States and France.

Throughout the entire procedure, Emmett was peaceful. The I.C.U nurse had never seen a baby sleep the night after surgery, never…

View original post 191 more words

Who has whom? A tale of the Spirit

“The dove descending breaks the air
With flame of incandescent terror
Of which the tongues declare
The one discharge from sin and error.
The only hope, or else despair
Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre-
To be redeemed from fire by fire.

Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire.”

― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

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(The window of the Holy Spirit designed by Lorenzo Bernini , 1660 / St Peter’s Basilica, The Vatican, Rome, Italy / Julie Cook / 2007)

My 91 year old godmother called me yesterday.
She is actually my godmother by adoption as she and her husband, my godfather, were not my “official” godparents when I was baptized (Christened as we like to say in the Anglican realm of my world) at the ripe old age of 6 months. I was “adopted” by them when I was about 15 years old—which was a key moment in my life of which I will one day share. And it only seems fitting that as an adopted child, I should have adopted godparents, as even my godfather was adopted. . .but as I say, adoption is for another day.

For 91 years of age, my godmother may appear physically broken of body, but never of spirit.
She is a formidable warrior in the battle of all things Spiritual despite her now stooping and markedly bent frame.

As with anybody who lives on this earth, she too has known her fair share of frustration, hardships, agonies of the heart– as only a mother can, having felt both discouragement as well as despair. Just because one is considered a mighty spiritual warrior or committed to ones faith never exempts that individual from pain, sorrow or suffering. I often believe the exact opposite to be true. That those who are more inclined to the Spiritual find a greater assault of the hard, the negative and the difficult.

Her stories usually follow a convoluted journey with the point sometimes being remembered, sometimes not. Either way, I learn something new every time. Yesterday was certainly no exception as she held true to form throughout our conversation, weaving and wobbling on one trail of thought to another.
I’m not certain how we got on the subject, as is often the case with her.
I merely ask a simple question such as “how are you?” An hour or so later, as we weave our way from present to past and back again, I am often taken to task, reminded of what really matters, humbled or feel as if I’ve been, as Paul on his road to Damascus, knocked from my place only to be put in my place.

Somehow she got on the subject of a man that she and her husband, my godfather, had once known and worked with.
I had often heard my godfather reference this man in his later sermons, sermons near the end of his tenure as the dean of the Cathedral.
The man’s name is David du Plessis. Or maybe I should say was as he died in 1987.
David du Plessis was a South African Pentecostal minister who was eventually made a naturalized citizen of the United States. His story is steeped in a great and abiding trust in a God which would certainly lead him on a very long yet marvelous journey.
I encourage you to read about Rev. du Plessis, as I have now begun to do so. However it would be too lengthy for me to jump on that tangent today.

At some point, I think in the late 1970’s, an ecumenical group in Atlanta consisting of Catholics, Episcopalians and other various protestant members, had asked Rev. du Plessis to come address an important conference. The conference happened to be held at the Cathedral of St Philip, the church where my godfather was the dean.

Not attending the meeting himself but feeling obliged as the head rector of the hosting church, my godfather made his way to find Rev du Plessis before the meeting began, to personally welcome him to the church as well as to introduce himself as the hosting rector.
My godfather was already aware that Rev du Plessis was very active in the Renewal movement that was currently taking place in both the Catholic and Episcopal churches as he was proving to be a key component. Rev du Plessis had actually been invited by the Vatican in 1975 to address an ecumenical council held at St Peter’s in Rome of both Catholic and Anglican renewal groups.

As my godfather introduced himself, he wanted to make certain that Rev du Plessis realized that he, my godfather, was very familiar with the work of the Holy Spirit–going to great lengths to explain that he had been prayed to receive the Spirit as a baby when he was baptized, later when he was confirmed in the church, and still again later when he was ordained as a priest. As most ministers want fellow ministers to understand that they too “get it,” my godfather certainly wanted Rev du Plessis to understand that he too knew all about the Holy Spirit.

Rev du Plessis listened politely then warmly smiled telling my godfather that he had no doubts that my godfather had indeed been prayed over to receive the Holy Spirit into his heart and life but the question was not whether my godfather had the Spirit, but rather did the Spirit have my godfather.
This was the “ah ha” moment for my godfather and a pivotal changing point in not only his role as a priest but most importantly in his life.
A moment that left him speechless, troubled and found him quickly changing the subject.

His assumption had always been that as one who had been prayed for to receive the Spirit of God, the Spirit therefore had entered. . .had He not?

And so I was left yesterday, at the end of the story also wondering–not so much about my godfather as I knew he had eventually gone on to be a leading figure in the Renewal movement in both the Anglican and Catholic communities, not only in Atlanta but worldwide as he too traveled to Rome in 1980 to address a conference under the direction of Pope John Paul II.

But I wondered. . .what about my own dealings with the Spirit?
Did I have the Spirit or did the Spirit have me?
As that is now the nagging question. . .