throw it out and start all over

Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.
Meister Eckhart


(harvest time, in the dead of winter, go figure / Julie Cook / 2018)

Here in northwest Georgia, we are currently in the midst of our typical dreary Georgia winters…
grey, damp, misty, rainy and utterly foggy…
all of which gives way to just a sunless chilly dampness that gives way a heavy case
of the “meh’s”…
Not depressed but not joyful.
Not sad but not perky.

Yet despite this damp dreariness, believe it or not, all the citrus trees, that have been
moved to the basement for the season, are now bearing a plethora of fruit…
go figure!

So when life gives you an abundance of lemons in the dead of winter…
I suppose one gets busy making
something lemony.

Of which I did…today (yesterday by the time you’re reading this today)

I was going to look up lemon recipes that require a good bit of juice but I was
in the process of “migrating” again my old computer to the new computer.
It seems that the 5 hours required the other day was not enough,
I needed to add two more hours today in order to complete the “migration”…
I don’t think it takes geese that long to migrate!

Computer migration meant I wouldn’t be looking for all things lemony on the computer anytime soon
so I would be doing so with my phone instead. Sigh.

Searching, reading and squinting, I found a recipe for a lemony loaf cake that needs 1/2 cup
of fresh juice.

Perfect.

I headed to the basement in order to pluck what lemons were ripe…6 for now.
3 limes and 2 tiny calamondins.

I zested three lemons and juiced them while the butter softened.

My phone screen kept closing so I kept having to find a clean finger in order to touch the screen
and click back on the recipe.

I read over what I needed, what the oven needed to be set on and scanned over the step by steps–
in between the on and off screen…

I creamed the butter with the sugar, I added the eggs, I shifted the flour,
I measured the baking soda, baking powder, salt…
WAIT
was that 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder or
was it 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon baking powder???????

It was too late, I had gone with the first thought…
that being the full teaspoon of the baking soda and
the 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder.

When I clicked my phone from black back to the recipe, I read I had reversed the two…
I tasted the batter…yuck…definitely too much soda.
The lemon juice seemed to make it start growing in the bowl.
Now I’m no chemistry major, but there was certainly a reaction beginning to react…

But what the heck, what’s 1/2 teaspoon too much??

I poured my “growing” batter into the pan…oddly it was now right at the rim and seemed
to still be growing…
I fretted what would happen when it hit the heat????

I shoved a sheet of foil underneath in case it opted to spill over.

I set the timer and quickly grabbed my phone now with two dirty hands yet full attention.

I quickly googled what happens if one adds more soda than what is called for.

All of the listed articles might as well as have had a nuclear warning sign as a header
as each one read of disaster.

The batter will taste bitter and soapy. Check
The batter will expand beyond capacity especially if an acidic base is added. Check
The batter will flow out of the pan once it’s placed in the over. Double check,

Solution…

Throw it all out and start over.

One article did advise that you could possibly double the flour, butter, eggs, sugar
and make a double batch but I wasn’t going there.

I yanked open the oven door and grabbed the now overflowing pan and headed straight to the trashcan.

I started over.

This time being careful to get my soda and powder measurement right.

I threw out 2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup of lemon juice, 3 eggs, 1/2 cup of milk, 1 stick of butter,
1 Tbl of lemon zest…a huge waste but the only salvageable option.

And so as I started over from scratch on this now seemingly costly cake of mine,
I was reminded that we are currently perched on the tossing out of one year
as we prepare to start fresh on a new year.

I can honestly say that I am happy, for many reasons, to be tossing out this past year.

It’s like my batter with the too much soda, it just needs to be thrown out and started anew…
despite the seemingly lost cost.

On a personal level, this past year was a blessing in that we had great joy with the birth of this
first grandchild of ours…and the news of another one soon on his way…
As well as with the successful retiring of a 50-year business.

Yet I can’t help but think about this country of ours and of our global community.
The uncertainty.
The hatefulness.
The sinfulness.
The anger.
The turning away from our Judeo / Christian heritage.

I can only pray that God, in His Mercy, will continue to afford us His Grace…
And that He will indeed remain gracious and merciful to his wayward children.

I pray that we can hold onto a continued sense of hopefulness while we look forward to a
fresh beginning…because Lord knows, it’s time we get a brand new fresh start!
Just like my cake…that finally turned out a great success.

Here’s to a hope-filled successful new year for us all!!!

“Hope
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace,
that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:16

if I only had a heart…

“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


(mother’s kitchen funnel has seen better days / Julie Cook / 2018)

This pitiful image of what was once my mother’s kitchen funnel, that I have
obviously “loved” to death by overuse and wash, always reminds me of the hat of
the head of the tinman from the Wizard of Oz…
albeit a kitchen funnel and not an oil funnel.

Who can forget Jack Haley singing…if I only had a heart…

When a man’s an empty kettle he should be on his mettle,
And yet I’m torn apart.
Just because I’m presumin’ that I could be kind-a-human,
If I only had heart.
I’d be tender – I’d be gentle and awful sentimental
Regarding Love and Art.
I’d be friends with the sparrows …
and the boys who shoots the arrows
If I only had a heart.
Picture me – a balcony. Above a voice sings low.
Wherefore art thou, Romeo? I hear a beat…
How sweet.
Just to register emotion, jealousy – devotion,
And really feel the part.
I could stay young and chipper
and I’d lock it with a zipper,
If I only had a heart.

Wizard Of Oz – If I Only Had A Brain/Heart/Nerve Lyrics

If I only had a heart…

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you;
I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36:26

To remove the heart of stone and receive the heart of flesh…

And so it seems on that fateful day when an apple was received and in turn eaten,
two hearts grew hard…
spawning a spiraling outward of generational stone hardened hearts.

Shuttered hearts.
Closed hearts…
turned cold

Yet all the while the mind deludes, claiming otherwise.

The mind convinces the heart to remain closed and hardened,
otherwise, there will be pain, weakness, and vulnerability…

C.S Lewis says it this way…

“There is no safe investment.

To love at all is to be vulnerable.

Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken.

If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one,
not even to an animal.

Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements;
lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.

But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change.

It will not be broken;
it will become
unbreakable,
impenetrable,
irredeemable.

The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation.

The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers
and perturbations of love is…
Hell.”

Yet it was the famed English preacher, Charles Spurgeon, who had previously addressed this
notion of the heart of stone.

“Spurgeon surmised that the stony heart is, specifically:
cold,
hard,
dead,
not easily softened and utterly senseless.

He said the person with the hard heart is “Satan’s throne.”
And he said the hard heart is “impervious to all instrumentality,”

(Cliff Vaughn)

In a sermon delivered in 1887 Spurgeon addresses the hardened heart:

Hardness of heart is a great and grievous evil.
It exists not only in the outside world,
but in many who frequent the courts of the Lord’s house.
Beneath the robes of religion many carry a heart of stone.

Nothing good can come out of a stony heart;
it is barren as a rock.
To be unfeeling is to be unfruitful.
Prayer without desire,
praise without emotion,
preaching without earnestness — what are all these?
Like the marble images of life, they are cold and dead.

Yet he reminds us that all is not lost.

The Holy Spirit makes us like wax, and we become impressible to his sacred seal.
Remember, you that are hard of heart, that your hope lies this way;
God himself, who melts the icebergs of the northern sea,
must make your soul to yield up its hardness in the presence of his love.
Nothing short of the work of God within you can effect this.
“Ye must be born again,” and that new birth must be from above.
The Spirit of God must work regeneration in you.
He is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham;
but until he works you are dead and insensible.
Even now I perceive the goings forth of his power:
he is moving you to desire his divine working,
and in that gracious desire, the work has already begun.

Note next, that as this tenderness comes of the Spirit of God,
so it also comes by his working in full co-operation with the Father and with the Son.

We hear the Father say, “I will pour upon the house of David the spirit of grace,”
(angelfire.com)

And so it is from that same genealogical house–the house of David which is born the Grace
which is our hope from the impenetrable death found in the stone cold heart.

It is a hope found in the genealogical line from Abraham, to David, to the Christ.

Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David,
fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon,
and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.
(Matthew 1:17)

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea,
to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and
was expecting a child.
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,
and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
(Luke 2:4-7)

And so the genealogical line of hardened hearts, hearts which once seemed destined to reside
closed for all time and destined to spend an eternity in Hell,
will be broken…broken by the gift found in a genealogical line of hope,
the gift found in the birth of a single child…

And a little child shall lead them (Isaiah 11:6)

Leading once stone hardened hearts, now broken by Grace, to healing found only in Salvation.

the rocks will cry out

“In order for the inner man to be strengthened with power through the Holy Spirit,
the children of God must discharge their responsibility.
They need to yield specifically to the Lord, forsake every doubtful aspect in their life,
be willing to obey fully God’s will, and believe through prayer that
He will flood their spirit with His power.”

Watchman Nee


(Anchorage Daily News image of the latest damge from this past week’s earhtquake)

Remember yesterday how I shared that Twitter was attempting to ban both
The Anglican Bishop, Gavin Ashenden
(well, they already did try with Gavin but I believe he’s been “reinstated”)
as well as the Scottish pastor David Robertson…??

And remember how I offered not only the link to David’s open letter to Twitter but I
shared this quote…part of David’s ending response in his letter…??

“Meanwhile I will continue to use your platform to undermine your hateful
and irrational ideology.
And I will do it by using logic and love – the love of the Logos.
We don’t need Twitter (or Facebook, or government or the media) to be able to speak of Christ.
And you will never silence us.
Though you kill us the very rocks would cry out!

And it was that very last line that has stayed with me as I’ve ruminated over those words
since I read it…
“Though you kill us the very rocks would cry out.”

“the very rocks would cry out”…is a nod to the verse in Luke 19:40 when Jesus,
at what we now refer to as Holy Week, was entering into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey
while those around him laid palms at his feet, hailing him as a king…
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Well, the Pharisees rebuked these adulations…
they found such to be ill-fitting even sacrilegious telling Jesus to silence “his” people…
However, it was the response by Jesus that was so telling…
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

I’ve thought a great deal about that line since having read it yesterday…
and of course, I’ve thought about it every time I’ve either read it or heard it.

Imagine that visual image.

Stones, rocks, boulders all crying out…crying out the greatness of the Lord.

Does not our earth already cry out with groanings that are so deep and beyond our understanding?
Cries which surpass our comprehension?

Such as the image above of the Highway in Alaska?

A road buckles, as the earth opens up with audible groans and physical cries.

Does the earth not open up…leaving us like frightened children,
looking for help which is beyond us?

Of course we call such opening up and such “crying out” merely plate tectonics.

Yet do we not, when those plates slide and collide, causing devastation to the surface,
do we not cry out in fear?
Do we not cry out to be delivered from that which we cannot control?

So who are we to say that the rocks are not currently crying out.
That the earth is not yielding to her Creator?

And so as we enter into this new year of the Chruch calendar, with the beginning of Advent,
we are reminded, once again, that all of creation slumbers in darkness awaiting
the light of Salvation…

Perhaps it would behoove us to listen to the earth and her cries…as the earth might be
more aware of the coming of the Redeemer than we are ourselves.

You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens,
and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it,
the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything,
and the multitudes of heaven worship you.

Nehemiah 9:6

United in the Divine Heart

“Would that I could exhaust myself in acts of thanksgiving and gratitude towards
this Divine Heart, for the great favor He shows us,
in deigning to accept our help to make Him known,
loved and honored;
He reserves infinite blessings for all those who devote themselves to this work.”

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque


(tangerine tree /Savannah, Georgia / Julie Cook / 2018)

“If you stay united with Christ, each one of you will be able to do great things.
This is why, dear friends, you must not be afraid to dream with your eyes open of
important projects of good and you must not let yourselves be discouraged by difficulties.
Christ has confidence in you and wants you to be able to realize all your most noble and
lofty dreams of genuine happiness.
Nothing is impossible for those who trust in God and entrust themselves to Him.”

Pope Benedict XVI
An Excerpt From
Pope Benedict XVI

Signature marks

But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.

Isaiah 64:8

Russian photographer Alexey Kljatov has devised a clever way to bring the wonder
of macro photography to the minuscule world of snowflakes. Using a homemade rig comprised
of a working camera lens, a wooden board, some screws and old camera parts, Kljatov captures the breathtaking intricacies of snow, six-sided symmetry and all.
(Huffpost)

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/03/alexey-kljatov_n_4373888.html

Some days an idea for a post just kind of pops into my head.

It’s more or less like a random thought that just appears out of nowhere.

The proverbial wee small voice that speaks out of the darkness bringing
a notion into clarity.

I call it the Holy Spirit…others call it a coincidence, the subconscious or a dream
that woke up…

For me, it’s not some sort of audible voice booming down from the mountain top,
rather it’s just a thought that enters into the consciousness and makes its presence known.

So I tend to turn these pop-ups over, mulling and pondering while trying to figure a sharable angle.

I mentally formulate words and a sort of sequence and flow to this ‘out of the blue’ thought.

And so one day last week, it was the notion of our creation of uniqueness and individuality,
by the hands of God, which spoke rather loud and clear…
but more importantly, it was that of His signature marks.

Psalm 139 came into focus as I was ruminating over this idea…
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

(Psalm 139:3-6)

We are each individual and unique in His eyes.
We are each capable of having a very unique and personal relationship with Him.
Not so much the collective mass of humanity, but He is very interested in each one of
us individually.

So I thought of the opening verse to this post…
about how we have been compared to as the clay as God is the potter.
He works us and molds us uniquely with His hands.

If you’ve ever worked with clay…say making something by hand or throwing a pot on the wheel,
you will notice that your fingerprints (or those of the potter) will actually dry in the clay.
Fire the piece in a kiln and those individual fingerprints become apart of the pottery.

Signature marks.

I can remember a particular episode of M.A.S.H. when Hawkeye took off rather foolheartedly
to the front line in order to work the triage unit…all unbeknownst to Colonel Potter.
The triage units (for the Korean War which was what M.A.S.H. was based on) were mostly
comprised of exhausted and overworked medics who would frantically work to patch up
the wounded as best they could before transporting the wounded to a MASH unit for more
advanced surgeries, stabilizing and a bit of recovery before sending them to,
in this case, Tokyo before heading stateside or… in some cases patching them
up only to send them back to the battle lines.

During this particular episode, the shelling was so fierce and the 4077 had lost
all radio contact with the front lines.
B.J. and Colonel Potter were both worried sick about Hawkeye and his survival
not to mention that they were now short a surgeon.

As the transports began to arrive at the 4077th, B.J. and company began the hours of surgery
on the wounded who were pouring in…
B.J. was up to his elbows inside some kids guts, working on putting this kid back together,
when he joyously exclaimed that Hawkeye was indeed alive and well because this particular
kid, who had been first quickly stitched up on the front, was stiched up by Hawkeye.
B.J. knew this because he knew Hawkeye’s signature stitchery.
As it seems surgeons can have their own unique way of sewing and splicing us back together.

Their own signature marks.

My husband who is a watchmaker by trade can most often work on a clock and
actually be able to tell how many times and when the last time the clock
had been worked on.

A watch/clock repairman will leave a small unique mark scratched on the inside back metal
plate covering of the clock.
It’s a way of letting future watchmakers know when, where and how a clock was worked on.

Signature marks.

And so the idea of signature marks became apparent that this was the “thought”
I was to work out and later share…here.

We’ve got God’s fingerprints all over us.
We are known, by Him, inside and out.
Intimately.

But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.
Matthew 10:30

And so as I contemplated what sort of image I needed to share which somehow reflected
this notion of God’s unique signature which in turn makes each of us unique…
the thought of snowflakes came to mind.

We all know that snowflakes are all different…meaning no individual snowflake is the same.
They are not cookie cut from some sort of mold or limited to a handful of shapes or patterns.

I found this story on HuffPost about a Russian photographer who has figured out a way of
capturing with hyperfocus macro images of snowflakes.

I looked at these images and was amazed by the intricate artistic details of each of these tiny
ice crystals.
They each look like tiny glass sculptures of a variety of shapes, complete with designs
that appear to be comprised of tiny perfect hearts, flowers, arrows, feathers…
each one being symmetrical, equal, balanced…all the components and elements of what
makes art, art…

So if you think it’s a random fluke of nature that snowflakes can look like these tiny pieces
of amazing design and yet have no connection to something Divine or of that which
is greater than man himself…then I think you need to consider the idea of signature marks.

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
measured heaven with a span and calculated the dust of the earth in a measure?
Weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?”

Isaiah 40:12

a plethora…

“Well, you just told me that I had a plethora,
and I would just like to know if you know what it means to have a plethora.
I would not like to think that someone would tell someone else he has a plethora,
and then find out that that person has no idea what it means to have a plethora.”

El Guapo (played by Alfonso Arau) from the movie ¡Three Amigos!


(a vast array of tomatoes and vegetables at Campo di Fiori, Rome, Italy / Julie Cook / 2018)

A plethora…an abundance…a profusion…

And that is exactly what I am grateful for…

I am grateful for the abundance of family and friends that I have both here in
my small corner of the blogosphere as well as those in my small corner of this world
in which we live.

Thank you…each of you for stopping in…
for visiting, reading, caring, writing, sharing, loving…
and for making me smile, laugh, cry…as well as think…

Thank you for being my friend…even for those of you who do not see eye to eye
with what I write.

May God’s Grace abundantly bless each of you…
Keeping you safe, happy, warm, dry, well fed, free from harm and at peace…
during not only this Thanksgiving Day but throughout this season of wonderment,
joy and awe.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Oh, and by the way…The Mayor has requested that her closet aides accompany her on a bit of
an excursion during the next couple of days.
Something about wanting to visit the place where she has her earliest family roots
while taking in a bit of serene history…she’s calling it a working holiday…
she can be such a slave driver…but when she says jump, we aides say how high 🙂

Plus… if you read yesterday’s post, I lived through the pumpkin pie making as well.

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Numbers 6:24-26

Seize us oh Lord

“You never go away from us, yet we have difficulty in returning to You.
Come, Lord, stir us up and call us back.
Kindle and seize us.
Be our fire and our sweetness.
Let us love.
Let us run.”

St. Augustine


(flower stall / Zurich, Switzerland /Julie Cook / 2018)

“When you sit down to eat, pray.
When you eat bread, do so thanking Him for being so generous to you.
If you drink wine,
be mindful of Him who has given it to you for your pleasure and as a relief in sickness.
When you dress, thank Him for His kindness in providing you with clothes.
When you look at the sky and the beauty of the stars,
throw yourself at God’s feet and adore Him who in His wisdom has arranged things in this way.
Similarly, when the sun goes down and when it rises,
when you are asleep or awake, give thanks to God,
who created and arranged all things for your benefit, to have you know,
love and praise their Creator.”

St. Basil the Great