no coincidence, no accidents…only Masterful order in perseverance

“And I saw that truly nothing happens by accident or luck,
but everything by God’s wise providence …
for matters that have been in God’s foreseeing wisdom,
since before time began, befall us suddenly, all unawares;
and so in our blindness and ignorance, we say that this is accident or luck,
but to our Lord God, it is not so.”

St. Juliana of Norwich


(the odd clouds on a chilly late December Saturday afternoon / Julie Cook /2020)

“Many of the saints tell us that these times of God-ordained ‘desolation’
or dryness are very important times of growth if we persevere through them
by exercising a deeper faith, hope, and love. It is particularly important,
they tell us, not to give up our spiritual practices but to remain faithful.
God in His wisdom knows how long and how deeply we must be tried in order
to come closer to Him, and we should patiently trust Him during the
trial while persevering in our practices.”

Ralph Martin, p.174
An Excerpt From,
Fulfillment of all Desire


(a chilly puffy afternoon / Julie Cook / 2020)

losing, looking, knowing, seeing…

“There are two ways of knowing how good God is:
one is never to lose Him,
and the other is to lose Him and then to find Him.”

Archbishop Fulton Sheen


(Christ Pantocrator, the oldest known Icon of Christ, 6th Century AD / St Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai)

This past week has been one full of ups and downs, highs and lows,
and a week of all things in between.
Much of which has been beyond our immediate control.

So I think it was Tuesday morning when I actually was afforded my “quiet time”—
a time when I could truly be alone and in fellowship with God.
A time that was once as regular as clock work…
then people retired and mornings were no
longer my own…
Juggling time took on a whole different sort of meaning.

Tuesday morning I opened my morning devotion, a book of The Divine Hours—
I pray the liturgy of hours—an ancient form of
prayer based on a fixed time of prayer during the course of a day—
mine is an abbreviated devotion of morning, midday, and vespers.
A typical monastic cycle is based on a schedule of 7 times dispersed over a 24 hour period.

According to prayerfoundation.org:
The Seven Historical (Canonical) Hours of Prayer is based upon Psalm 119:164
“Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws.”

6:00 am – First Hour (Matins / Lauds / Orthros)
9:00 am – Third Hour (Trece)
Noon Prayer – Sixth Hour (Sext)
3:00 pm – Ninth Hour (None)
6:00 pm (Vespers / Evensong
9:00 pm (Compline)
Midnight Prayer.

These times basically overlap in the three large liturgical denominations…
Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican communions.

When I was attending the church of my childhood, Evensong was my most favorite service–
It was small, quiet, and intimate.
And that’s probably because I grew up in a massive Cathedral
and Evensong was always in a small gothic chapel rather than the cavernous sanctuary
and was always sparsely attended…but I digress.

Nowadays, I’m just lucky to be able to get in the morning devotional–

So Tuesday morning, when I began my reading and recitations, I began reading the affixed
reading for the day—a reading from the Book of Revelation:

Because you have kept My word of perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of the testing,
that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who live on the earth.
I am coming quickly; hold firmly to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.
The one who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God,
and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God,
and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God,
and My new name.
The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Revelation 3:10-13

This is not a revolving sort of reading but a fixed reading.
Meaning it was not chosen precisely for this year of 2020.
It was not chosen for this surreal time but was rather more of a permanent piece of scripture–
it is the same verse read over the years, over the seasons on this particular day–
this Tuesday, the 3rd week of Advent.

And yet here it was staring at me on this particular Tuesday morning,
plain as day— speaking so pointedly to our trying days and time,
speaking plainly to our current prickly world which has been trying our souls day and night
since early March.

We have got to remember that God still sees and He still knows—
He knows we are heavily burdened.
We knows we are down trodden.
He knows.
He sees.
And in that seeing and knowing, He will write his Name upon us.
We will be His and He will be ours.

Hold fast.
The time draws nigh…

Advent.
We wait.
We watch.

dying unto self

“Every pious desire, every good thought, every charitable work inspired by the love of Jesus,
contributes to the perfection of the whole body of the faithful.
A person who does nothing more than lovingly pray to God for his brethren,
participates in the great work of saving souls.”

Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich


(Vasari’s Annunciation / The Louvre / Julie Cook / 2011)

“The life of our flesh is the delight of sensuality;
its death is to take from it all sensible delight.
The life of our judgment and our will is to dispose of ourselves and what is ours,
according to our own views and wishes; their death, then,
is to submit ourselves in all things to the judgment and will of others.
The life of the desire for esteem and respect is to be well thought of by everyone;
its death, therefore, is to hide ourselves so as not to be known,
by means of continual acts of humility and self-abasement.
Until one succeeds in dying in this manner, he will never be a servant of God,
nor will God ever perfectly live in him.”

—St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, p. 126
An Excerpt From
Cultivating Virtue: Self-Mastery With the Saints

When I read these two quotes, my thoughts went immediately to that of The Annunciation.
That momentous moment in time when Mary willingly died unto self—
all in order to say a simple “yes” to God.

And so I went hunting for an Annunciation image that I had used in some previous post.
I opted for a more obscure image…not the typical Leonardo image.

I wandered back to 2015 and found this image by Vasari.
Curious as to what post I had written prompting me to use the image, I re-read
that 5-year-old post.

Imagine my surprise when reading the post and discovering that I was writing
about an issue that we, as a society, are still allowing to percolate and circulate throughout
our culture–that of white privilege and that of “white” images causing stress to
both whites and non-whites alike.

Irrationality…but more like silliness really.

Here is the story in a nutshell:

“Well it seems that upon a recent visit to the Met,
as this individual was viewing some paintings of the museum’s collection of several
Renaissance and Baroque masters depicting Jesus Christ,
this said individual suffered “personal stress” as the images contained,
typical of the time, images of a “white” Jesus.
This individual is now claiming that these images of a white Jesus are racist and should be removed”

I’ve included that post…

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2015/12/15/whats-wrong-with-this-picture/

signs of the Spirit

“Let us love the Cross and let us remember that we are not alone in carrying it.
God is helping us. And in God who is comforting us,
as St. Paul says, we can do anything.”

St. Gianna Molla


(Girolamo dai Libri / God the Father / 1555)

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,
gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
Even though the Disciples suffered persecution, they were filled with joy.
One would have expected them to be depressed or angry or resentful.
The very fact that they responded to persecution with joy is a sign that the Spirit
was guiding their actions.
We can use that same test with our own words and actions.”

Rev. Jude Winkler, O.F.M., p. 11
An Excerpt From
Daily Meditations Holy Spirit

As I read this quote by the Rev. Winkler, I wonder do I, can I, possess this same power
of the Spirit–
a power that allows me to rise above the hardships of this day, the pressures of this life, the
trials of fighting an uphill and up-stream battle…
can I too possess joy in the face of persecution and suffering?

May God give me the gift of such a burden…

bring back our sons…a sad, frustrating and familiar plea

“Stop killing our children, bring back our children,”
Amrata Hamza mother of an abducted child, taken at the hands of the Islamic
Terrorist organization Boko Haram


(The mother of Muhammad Bello, one the students who was abducted by gunmen,
reacts in Kankara, Nigeria, on Monday. (Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters))

Well it appears that in these days of all-consuming news of all things election and or pandemic…
somehow I missed a most tragic story out of Nigeria.
It’s a story that actually took place nearly three weeks ago.

A deja vu sort of tale.
As I wrote a post 6 years ago about a very similar incident.

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2014/05/09/bring-back-our-girls/

It seems that there has been another mass kidnapping of kids from a private boarding school
in Nigeria at the hands of the notorious Islamic group Boko Haram.

A massive group of armed gunmen stormed a school in the northern section of the country
and took over 600 boys as prisoner…or captives or whatever it is one calls the taking of
so many kids.
A mass kidnapping.

Here are excerpts from the story that I read on Fox…

A Nigerian woman whose only son is among the more than 330 boys still missing
after being kidnapped from their school in the northern Katsina state last week pleaded
for their return in a protest Tuesday,
as the jihadist rebel group Boko Haram reportedly claimed responsibility for the mass abduction.

Hundreds of gunmen with assault rifles on Friday surrounded the Government Science Secondary School (GSSS),
an all-boys boarding school in the town of Kankara,
firing at police before rounding up students and forcing them to march through the heavily
forested region in separated groups, witnesses have said.

The Daily Nigerian said Tuesday it received an audio message from Boko Haram
leader Abubakar Shekau saying that his group abducted the schoolboys because
Western education is against the tenets of Islam.

“Stop killing our children, bring back our children,”
Amrata Hamza, whose only son was abducted, told local broadcaster CLIQQ TV during a protest
organized Tuesday. “I don’t know the condition of my son.
I’m speechless.
I can’t talk, I have not drank water since I arrived in Kankara.
There is much sunlight, I know our children are thirsty,
they are hungry. Please help us bring back our children.”

The Nigerian government said a joint rescue operation was launched Saturday by state police,
air force, and army after the military engaged in gunfights with bandits after locating
their hideout in the Zango/Paula forest.
Many of the initial 600 male students taken from the school escaped their captors,
but more than 330 remained unaccounted for as of Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.

This latest episode comes six years after Boko Haram kidnapped more than 270 schoolgirls
from their dormitory at the Government Secondary School in Chibok in northeastern Borno State
in April 2014.
First Lady Michelle Obama spotlighted the issue at the time with the hashtag
#BringBackOurGirls.

About 100 of the girls are still missing.
Boko Haram said at the time that it wanted to stop women from attending schools.
The recent incident at the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara,
is the worst attack on a boys’ school since February 2014,
when 59 boys were killed during a Boko Haram attack on the Federal Government College
Buni Yadi in Yobe state.

https://www.foxnews.com/world/nigeria-boys-school-kidnapping-boko-haram

These are the types of stories that should outrage us as a global family but instead,
everyone is more focused on the election circus taking place in the US.
As well as whether or not it will be safe to take this hurried up and rushed vaccine
in order to stem the tide of a raging pandemic.

And what of the millions upon millions of dollars that have been poured into the elections–
elections on the national level as well as state level.
Money poured into campaingns by the likes of silcon valley, tech oligarchs,
leftist liberals…all the while children suffer, families suffer.
Suffering locally as well as globally.

Protecting children is, as adults, our responsibility.
It matters not that if it is at the local level of responsibility or
that of a global responsiblilty.
Children are our heart, soul and future.

No full term aboritions.
No abortions, period.
No sex trafficking.
No child prostituion.
No abuse.
No kidnapings.

Only our protection, love and guidence.

Let us pray for those boys as well as for their aching families.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones.
For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.

Matthew 18:10

May it be over!!! The supposed will of the people…my a@$!

“I wonder if He anticipates the day when He can make us understand
what was occurring in our time of trial.
I wonder if He broods over our sorrows.”

James C. Dobson, Life on the Edge:
The Next Generation’s Guide to a Meaningful Future


(today’s early voting sticker/ Julie Cook / 2020)

So today was the first day of early voting for Georgia’s pivotal runoff, the runoff slated for January 5th.
The runoff that the entire country seems to have a bullseyes on…

Since today is December 14th, we are doomed to those unending commercials
for the next 23 days.
Sigh.

My husband and I obviously, given the photo of the sticker, participated
in the early voting process.

I asked the gal who was charged with registering me how this first day had been…
she told me that early on, it was “cray-cray”—meaning folks had lined up way early in
the cold morning rain on a December Monday…
but after that, for the remainder of the day, it had been steady.

I heard it was a good two-hour wait in Atlanta.

This being day one of early voting.

I still don’t understand how Trump lost the election…but what do I know???
I simply show up for early voting, wait my time, and cast my vote.

And so we will now wait, as the nation appears to be descending upon poor
little ol Georgia en masse.

“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents,
more and more closely, the inner soul of the people.
On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire
at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

H.L. Mencken, On Politics: A Carnival of Buncombe

wakeful and hopeful

Being awake for God and for other people—that is the kind of ‘waking’
that Advent has in mind, the wakefulness that discovers the light and brightens the world.

Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI)


(Rublev’s Christ circa 1420 / Icon from Svenigorod / Julie cook / 2014)

“Advent’s intention is to awaken the most profound and basic emotional memory within us,
namely, the memory of the God who became a child.
This is a healing memory; it brings hope.”

Pope Benedict XVI

(Happy Hanukkah and Advent
to all the brethren and sisters of our collective faiths)

something greater than

“He who carries God in his heart bears heaven with him wherever he goes.”
St. Ignatius of Loyola


(one of my first Sunday School homemade ornaments circa 1961 / a picture from ourn tree 2014)

God would have given us something greater if he had something greater than Himself.
St. John Vianney

culling memories

What is a man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from great loneliness
of spirit, for whatever happens to the beasts also happens to man.
All things are connected.
This we know.
Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth.
Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it.
Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

Chief Seattle


(purging a now 32 year old son’s baby clothes)

Spending today in the attic, sorting, and yes purging boxes of clothes that
should have been purged long ago…
this mother of an only child, who is trying to part with each and everything that was worn or played
with by this only child, was finding it painfully difficult.
Pulling out each piece of small, often stained, clothing…
past moments frozen in time, came racing viscerally back to the forefront of
my heart’s consciousness.

The small flannel footed pj’s worn by a young boy who was afraid of the night–
stealing himself from his own bed, standing silently by his mother on her side of her bed
waiting until she finally opened her eyes in order to lift the young boy,
placing him in a place of safety…nestled between his sleeping dad and now wide awake mom.

Night after night for nearly four years, this young boy was fearful…
until his grandfather bought him bunkbeds.

Found was a Christening outfit, a first Christmas onesie, a first Easter two piece,
a pair of Teenage mutant Nija Turtle sandals worn as part of an early Halloween costume…
the crochet teddy bear onesie…

Pieces of 30 some odd years ago that seem just like yesterday.

Sigh.

Maybe it’s this year, this surreal year of 2020…
Maybe it’s the packing up and moving one’s life after so many years.
Maybe it’s the time of year of all things Advent and Christmas.

A watchful time…a time of waiting for what is coming.

So much is coming.

Are we ready?
Are you ready?

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it.
The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.
And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened.
Another book was opened, which is the book of life.
The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.
The sea gave up the dead that were in it,
and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was
judged according to what they had done.
Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.
The lake of fire is the second death.
Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown
into the lake of fire.

Revelation 20:11-15

Once upon a book…

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero


(one of many piles of accumulated cookbooks / Julie Cook / 2020)

Once upon a time, long ago and far away…long before there was a thing
known as the internet…
a time when landlines were all that we knew for communication and payphones
were the only way we could touch base with others when away from home…
it was a time when the printed word was all we had—newspapers,
magazines and books…it was a time when the printed word connected us
to what was and what could be.
Our world was intertwined and deeply entrenched with all things typeset.

And so I am finding that during this trying time of packing up my world…
I’m finding that I am slightly overwhelmed by the number of books I have
accumulated over the years.

As an art teacher with a proclivity for the Renaissance, as an
armchair historian who devours all things World War II,
as a huge fan of Winston Chruchill, as a person deeply interested in Christian symbology
and mysticism…I have amassed a small personal library.
Heck, it’s more like a decent sized library.

Books, books everywhere a book!

So during yesterday’s sorting, the task was to puruse, purge and pack cookbooks.

A love of cooking has run deep in my veins.

I had grown up watching Julia Child’s cooking shows with my mom.
Later it was Atlanta’s own Natalie Dupree.
Any and all cookig shows on PBS.

Throw in all of Mother’s Southern Living cookbooks and I learned early on
the importance of food—
an importance that reaches far beyond mere sustenance.

Food is communion.
It is a tie that binds.

My mom was not the greatest cook but she could make wonderful,
made from scratch, biscuits.
Whereas I did not inherit my mother’s biscuit magic,
I did develop however a love for the magic that rests in the
creativity of any kitchen.

Yet I can vividly remember the day I felt defeat when my mother discovered the thrill
of the cooking bag and hamburger helper.
I, on the other hand, was growing more and more fascinated by all things French,
Itlaian, fricased and sauteed.

So as I was knee deep in the cull taking place in the kitchen,
seeing so many of the older books–
my mind suddenly went racing back to a different time.

This is from a post I wrote back in 2013–it was a reflection about my life in 1986…
the year mom got sick.

“Many years ago when my mom was in ICU battling cancer, and I was a
newly married young woman, I would go each day to the ICU Waiting Room
carrying an armload of cookbooks–upwards of 8 at a time.
As I would sit for hours waiting for the three 15 minute times of visitation allowed
in a 24 hour period, I would read page per page, cover to cover of every type
of recipe and cookbook imaginable.
It was my therapy and my catharsis.
Maybe I needed to know that in the dark shadows of death,
where I had found myself in a vigil for my mom, Creativity,
which I equate with life and living, was still very much present and attainable.”

I should add that I was driving about an hour and a half each day over to Atlanta just
to sit in that ICU, only to drive that hour and a half back home each evening.
A sorrowful ritual that I kept up for 9 weeks.
It was a lonely and very difficult time…but I found an necessary diversion
as well as solace in my cookbooks.

They were cookbooks that my aunt had bought on her various trips and books I had found
while rumaging through the cooking section of every book store I could find.

So as I made the difficult decision yesterday of what books I would keep and what books
I would “release”–I found myself feeling a heavy sense of sadness—
sadness not so much over losing some long loved books, but rather sadness over the fact that
we live in a time when books are becoming obsolete.

Despite my cullig and purging, I fear our movers will be none too pleased when they
find the number of boxes full of books that I have packed up.
Boxes I can’t even begin to pick up…as in they are heavy as lead.

But some things will just have to make this journey with me.
Solace that will be there for me as I unpack in a new world come January.

The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, bring when thou comest,
and the books, especially the parchments.

2 Timothy 4:13