temptation and humility

“God wishes us to be meek even toward ourselves.
When a person commits a fault, God certainly wishes him to humble himself,
to be sorry for his sin, and to purpose never to fall into it again;
but he does not wish him to be indignant with himself,
and give way to trouble and agitation of mind; for,
while the soul is agitated, a man is incapable of doing good.”

St. Alphonsus De Liguori, p. 259
An Excerpt From
The Sermons of St. Alphonsus Liguori


(lone plover / Rosemary Beach/ Julie Cook / 2019)

At this point, it is extremely important to keep in mind that a person is not bad
because he has a temptation.
Many believe, because they have a temptation to pride, to avarice, to hate, to lust,
that there is something wrong with them.
There is nothing wrong with you if you are tempted.
You are not tempted because you are evil; you are tempted because you are human.
There is nothing intrinsically evil about human nature just because a little devil knocks
at the door.
Evil begins only when we open the door and consent to the temptation.
Scripture praises the man who suffers temptations. When we resist temptations,
we strengthen our character.

Ven. Fulton J. Sheen
from Life is Worth Living

Grace, Glory and ….a white pigeon?!

“If you are suffering from a bad man’s injustice,
forgive him—lest there be two bad men.”

St. Augustine


(an odd visitor / Julie Cook / 2019)

Yesterday morning, I was out picking the burgeoning blueberry bushes.
I must confess that I’ve gotten a late start doing such due to both a lack of time
and desire…
So in my absence, the birds have pecked their fair share and the latest rains
have plumped them up a bit too much…
Yet I felt obliged to get to my picking responsibilities…

Suddenly I hear my husband hollering.
What he was hollering was alluding me, but I could tell it was with a heightened sense of alarm.

I drop my berry bowl and race up the bank toward the carport.
He’s not there.
I race into the house and he’s now on the back deck scanning the yard looking for me.

“Did you see it???!!” he exclaims—
“See what?” I reply with heightened concern.

“The white bird!!”

Huh???

“The white bird by the driveway??”

“No” I dead pan.

“How could you miss it???”

“Well I heard you hollering and I thought something was wrong…I wasn’t aware there was a bird…”

But sure enough, I walk out into the carport and I see a white bird bobbing about in the grass.

It was too big to be a white dove.

I walked closer.

The bird was nonplused and was obviously accustomed to people as it paid me no never mind.

Upon further investigation, we determined the dove was a pigeon.

Firstly, pigeons don’t hang out in our neck of the country woods and secondly,
a solid white pigeon is certainly an anomaly.
The bird was not an albino.

In his own little world and not bothered by us, the bird sauntered up the driveway
over to the other side of the yard where the grass is actually greener—
he just kept bobbing up and down making his way through the grass while I went back to berry picking.

My theory was that perhaps there had been a wedding over the weekend and
someone released white birds…one of which was not a dove but a pigeon who just
kept flying.

And so as we were gifted by this odd little visitor, a white bird that brings my thoughts
immediately to that of the Holy Spirit…and given the fact that Sunday was the marking of Pentecost,
I will leave us with these thought-provoking words by Blessed Cardinal Newman…

“My God, you know infinitely better than I how little I love you.
I would not love you at all except for your grace.
It is your grace that has opened the eyes of my mind and enabled them to see your glory.
It is your grace that has touched my heart and brought upon it the influence of
what is so wonderfully beautiful and fair . . .
O my God, whatever is nearer to me than you, things of this earth,
and things more naturally pleasing to me, will be sure to interrupt the sight of you,
unless your grace interferes.
Keep my eyes, my ears, my heart from any such miserable tyranny.
Break my bonds—-raise my heart.
Keep my whole being fixed on you.
Let me never lose sight of you; and, while I gaze on you,
let my love of you grow more and more every day.”

Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman, p. 44-5

calling turkeys

The life of a Christian is to be different than the life of the unbeliever.
Like all human beings, Christians need certain things of this world to live,
but Jesus calls us to be primarily occupied with living for the kingdom.
If we do this, He promises that the things we need for life on this earth
will be given as well.

Ralph Martin
from Fulfillment of All Desire


(Cades Cove, wild turkeys /Julie Cook/ 2015)

I may have mentioned this before but my husband is an avid outdoorsman.
He’s been this way ever since he was a young boy.

Such is the predisposition of anyone having grown up in a more rural
area of the state.

And despite my having been born to a city a dwelling family, I too love the outdoors.

Now my husband has hunted and fished his whole life—
and I must say that one of the more colorful seasons of hunting is that of turkey hunting.

The other morning we were outside on the back deck, grabbing our first cup of coffee
for the day, when I heard that unmistakeable wobbling echoing from deep within the woods…

Gobblegobblegobble…

If you’ve never heard a real turkey gobbling–do a quick youtube search in order to hear
that worbbly gobbling because it really is quite humorously unique.

Being the ever-ready hunter, my husband had his turkey call mouthpiece within arms reach.

With a glint in his eye and turkey call ready to pop in his mouth, he tells
me to “listen and watch”…

My husband then proceeded to make that lovely musical sound for any and
all male turkeys…that chirping sound of a female hen looking for amore.

Sure enough—there was an echoing return, a gobbling that was louder—
and I could tell the sound was closing in.

My husband “putted” again (that’s what you call a female’s response).

The responding male, or tom turkey, was now louder and much closer.

Turkeys crack me up.

They aren’t the smartest birds in the wild.

The male gobbler, or tom, will literally come in running, puffed up, tail unfurled,
strutting his stuff, in an attempt to look as attractive as possible
for his “lady”, when he hears the call.


(a tom turkey’s tail / Julie Cook / 2014)

Sadly however during hunting season, that ‘lady’ is often a hunter looking
to put a turkey dinner on the table.

And so it is with this thought of calling in turkeys that my thoughts have turned toward
Washington D.C as our capital seems to be rife with its fair share of turkeys…
both toms and hens.
A rafter of turkeys—with a rafter being what we call a flock of turkeys.

Washington is plumb full.

It’s kind of how I feel when I see a certain youthful and prideful politician wag her finger at
the camera all the while extolling the issues as to why the opposition dislikes her.

Despite being a female, this particular politician puffs up for the camera much
like a tom turkey, with a most youthful and prideful zeal, much like that of
the tom turkey—
all the while acting more like a jake…a jake being a young male turkey who
lacks that old tom wizened wisdom.

She’s too young and too inexperienced to understand what makes wisdom what it is…
She falls prey to what she has perceived as real but in actuality is false.
Something that an old and wiser turkey would know to be false.

The older birds are not lured in as readily to an initial call as
are those younger more eogtistical birds.

Falsehoods such as a farce of some far fetched expensive new Green Deal—
or that of polarizing Socialism.

She has temper tantrums, screaming as loud as possible, popping her head back and forth
in an effort to silence what is Truth…a display indicative of a younger,
more inexperienced turkey.

The Henny Penny, the sky is falling lunacy that now besieges us…
The world will end in 12 years.
The Republicans amended the constitution to end FDR’s run.
The methane resulting from a cow’s excessive flatulence will kill us.

On and on she rants…puffing up ever grander and larger while feeling her oats
in hopes of luring in the unexpected.

But what of the other turkeys…what of those who now demand that convicted felons
should be allowed to vote–when a key component to breaking the law is to lose that
same right to vote…
a repercussion, a consequence, of not following the rules…

Yet turkeys find repercussions passe…

Just like allowing illegal aliens the right to vote in a country of which they are not citizens..

May the dead now recast their votes.

Or what of all the chatter over reparations?

What of those turkeys…turkeys who puff up all feathery for those unseen voters promising that
slave owners and businesses that profited from such, albeit it now 200 years past, must
repay those of some sort of slave heritage…

How might that ever work???

Turkey’s don’t care care how things work… not as long as they look puffy and pretty
for those luring calls

And what all turkeys must remember…someone is always patiently waiting
in the wings, waiting on having a naive turkey over for dinner.


(a poor tom turkey who was looking for love in all the wrong places / Julie Cook / 2014)

Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him, actions are weighed.

1 Samuel l2:3

drawn to God, He is waiting for you

“If you wish to strengthen your confidence in God still more,
often recall the loving way in which He has acted toward you,
and how mercifully He has tried to bring you out of your sinful life,
to break your attachment to the things of earth and draw you to His love.”

St. Alphonsus Liguori


(gull / Rosemary Beeach, FL / Julie Cook)

“God will forgive you if you ask him to.
Though your sins be numerous as the grains of sand on the shore,
God’s merciful forgiveness is far greater than your sins.
Do not be afraid. Trust in his love.
Repent of your sins without delay and return to the house of the Father.
He is waiting for you.”

Patrick Madrid, p.15
An Excerpt From
A Year with the Bible

okay, so there are no losers… because we all win…

“We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.”
Oswald Chambers


(plover / Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie Cook / 2019)

And no, that is not some new pitch line for the progressive left’s push for socialism…
but I digress…

I’m talking about prayer.

We’ve been having a bit of an ongoing input session, these past oh so many days here in cookieland,
regarding a collective prayer for those who gather here together…
a prayer we can collectively pray, petitioning God…because we know that when two or three are gathered…
there is an Ear to hear…and Heavens knows…we have a lot to pray about on this sad end of ours.

Not saying that God does not hear the cries of the individual because Lord knows, I have cried out
alone, all by myself, more times than not…
and in the end, I know He heard me before I had even raised my voice…

And yet we are told that when it comes to a Christian consensus…those two, three, fifty, etc…
are told that they can uproot trees…if only they believe…

Here are a few more thoughts that I think most worthy of consideration for our collective prayer…
and I for one was waiting to hear Oneta’s input…

Oneta:
Julie, I support this endeavor.
Plan to be with you in the prayer effort.
I lean toward a specific prayer such coming together to pray against the forces that make
abortion possible (media, social acceptance, complacency, legal systems, deception to the mothers),
against the evil embodied in abortion (selling body parts, selfishness, political advantages),
that legal steps be advanced (interpretation of the Constitution, legislation)
that medical advances continue to show the baby’s viability before birth,
that confusion causes the plans of the wicked to be exposed,
that more financial support be given to groups (Right to Life).
I don’t know whether that is complete, but I’d like to start there with a
community of believers who know God answers prayer.

Mark:
I did not respond yesterday, because I do not know what God’s will is in this situation.
Has God turned His back on us because we prefer leaders who would even conceive such things or is
their any hope to save this nation?
After serving in the military during the Cold War,
I feel utterly defeated and as soon as the Liberals get their way,
and the fickle voters will eventually see to it, it will all be over.
That leaves your prayer for Christian persecution – not a relief from it,
but the strength to withstand it.

Pat at Beholding ministries:
Blessings…yesterday was a busy day and it was my intention to come back to your post
and leave comment!…
Kathy’s comments are exactly mine.
I believe we should begin with our own repentance and humility and then move to unity.
There can be no unity until the dying of self occurs.
Any time works for me.
Bless you for this post!

And so I confess… I’m leaning with Mark in that I am not certain as to God’s will for our prayer.

I know His will is for us to pray…yet I am still a bit perplexed as to what exactly we
need to be in prayer over, because like Kathy said…
there is just so much we need to be praying about.

Yet Pat brings us back to the thought of unity and humility…
and of course, Fran reminds us of the need for us to return to obedience…our obedience under God’s
dominion.

And then we have the time issue…a set time with consideration to time zones.
So what might be a good time on the east coast, may not be a good time on the west coast or across
the pond…

So we’ll ponder for a few days…and I’ll still take all and any input you’d like to offer..

But we do have lots to talk about—
my DNA tests came back…
Plus I’ve trudged through more of the book about The 21—the Coptic Christian Maytrys killed
at the hand of ISIS

So tomorrow we may chat about a few other things…if that’s ok.

Et tu…?

Perhaps the most famous three words uttered in literature,
“Et tu, Brute?” (Even you, Brutus?)
this expression has come down in history to mean the ultimate betrayal by one’s closest friend.
This scene, in which the conspirators in the Senate assassinate Caesar,
is one of the most dramatic moments on the Shakespearean stage.
The audience has just witnessed the arrogance and hubris of a ruler
who has sought, within a republic, to become a monarch, comparing himself to the gods.
Brutus, a friend of Caesar and yet a man who loves Rome
(and freedom) more, has joined the conspirators in the assassination,
a betrayal which is captured by the three words above in this famous Shakespeare quote.

Julius Caesar (III, i, 77)
enotes.com


(an odd guest / Julie Cook / 2019)

There has been a betrayal…as in an Et tu Brute sort of betrayal…but more about that in a bit…
as our story will twist us back to that moment of utter treachery shortly.

Saturday afternoon, in between laundry loads, I was walking by the kitchen’s backdoor
and instinctively cast a sideways glance out the door…
the door that leads into the garage.

Remember I’ve been gone for a week working at the main Woobooville in Atlanta.
My husband remained behind until late Friday afternoon…
just long enough for a crime to be committed.

Here is an image of a clue…breadcrumbs to a crime scene if you will…
and yes those breadcrumbs look very much like sawdust…hummmmm…

The plot thickens.

But back to Saturday and the backdoor…

“Why is there a pigeon sitting in the garage?” I holler out to my husband who is
perched in his new recliner in the den.

New recliners tend to make husbands want to perch.

He hollers back from the den, “We don’t have pigeons, it’s a dove.”
This coming from someone who has not even looked out the door to said bird of which I speak.

Well, you might want to come look at this dove that is a pigeon” I counter.

To my husband’s credit, we are more rural dwellers rather than city folks…
rural folks who have doves and not city slicker pigeons.

Sure enough, my husband meanders into the kitchen, only to see a dove/ pigeon sitting
in the garage.

“Hummmm” he muses…“that is a pigeon”

“Really?!” I sardonically reply.

We both then wonder aloud as to what has brought a pigeon to our neck of the woods…
rather make that pasture.

“I bet it’s the trees” I sharply snarl.

“I don’t see how the trees have anything to do with a pigeon being in the garage” he bristles back.

Now our plot thickens even more…

You may recall the horrific tree debacle of October 2014.

I wrote a post about it.
I cried over it.
I bemoaned over it.
I mourned over it.

And I’ll admit, I eventually got over it.

Our house was once flanked by two majestic and stately oaks.

We live pretty much smack dab in the middle of what was once a pasture.
There are a few odd trees and a smattering of blasted sweet gums that dot the property.
Not my idea of wonderful trees…albeit for those two oaks.

The oaks began losing their leaves one summer.
Like in losing copious amounts of leaves.
Leaves were everywhere and it was driving my husband crazy because it was the middle
of summer and we were dealing with leaves like it was the end of Fall.

A year passed with a threat…“if those trees do that next year, they’re gone!”

The trees were sick but I didn’t know what to do.
No arborists out in our neck of the woods…uh, pasture.

But my husband knew what to do.

Cut them down.

For you see that seems to be my husband’s answer to everything.
It’s an “Off with their heads” mentality.

The bushes are out of whack, get rid of them.
Something is causing you a problem?
Let it go…as in literally let it go.
As he is a menace with a chainsaw.

The year passed and the trees lost more leaves even faster…
And then the trees were cut.
Afterward it did appear as if they were sickly and most likely would, in time,
probably have fallen.
Possibly falling toward the house.

Plus he constantly groused over the gutters and the mildew on that side of the house
always having to be cleaned…as in it was all the tree’s fault.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I like trees.
I didn’t want to admit that keeping the trees was a pain and a risk.

Fast foward to now.

We have a bank alongside the driveway that has—rather make that had–
two River Birch trees sitting at the top of the slope.

Two large, airy trees that have been home to a myriad of birdhouses, feeders, and nests
all while casting a lovely amount of shade in the summer months.

However, for those of you who do not know River Birches…
these trees need to be by rivers and not the latest greatest landscape answer.

These trees are fast growing trees and they are always shedding something
all four seasons…plus the least little storm, and snap goes their nimble thin branches…
littering the yard and driveway…not to mention clogging the gutters.

But for 20 years I’ve watched what came to me as tiny saplings grow into giants.
Hence why they are often thrown into landscaping—they grow fast and fill in the
blanks quickly.
Only to become monsters in more ways than one.

We use to have three of these trees but my husband had one cut down a few years back
that was precariously close to the house.
It didn’t start out precarious—but the rapidity of growth made it precarious.

Off with its head.
And it was gone.

Next, he threatened to whack down the remaining two.

Only to be countered with my begging and imploring wails of
NOthey are home to my birds.
They offer delightful summer shade…

So enter this past week.
I was conveniently out of town.
The plot was now hatched.

When the cat is away the mouse opts to cause havoc.

Well, I suppose this is where I should confess tell you…that maybe…
just maybe, a while back during the summer,
I might have mentioned to him–
“please, if you must cut them, do it in the winter.”

But I wouldn’t use that in a court of law because I will plead the 5th.

So Thursday evening when my husband called to check in on the Mayor and me,
he made a quick mention that the tree men were coming the next morning, bright and early,
to cut down those trees.

WHAT?! I practically scream into the phone.

“Yep. I told you I was cutting them down and you had told me to do it in the winter…and
well it’s winter”

I never recall such I frantically wail.

But I knew my pleas were futile.
His mind was made up and there would be no compromising or changing his
“off with their heads” mindset.

I then quickly responded rather definitely…“well then, you better go out and
find some other type trees and have them planted and fix that mess pronto,
and I mean it!

I wasn’t even there to see it but I knew there’d be a mess.

And sure enough, I braced myself for what would greet me when I pulled into the driveway Saturday morning.
Or make that, what wouldn’t be there greeting me!

As this is all that remains…well make that two of these is all that remains…

So the moral to this little tree tale you might be asking…

Pigeons will erroneously show up when you cut down trees as they now think they’re
in the city and never…never ever leave a newly retired husband home alone…
especially during the winter…a husband who thinks
he needs to be about some major sort of project particularly when there’s nothing else he
can be doing when it’s dreary and cold.

A landscape guy will be out tomorrow to recommend a more compact type of tree!

Have I not commanded you?
Be strong and courageous.
Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed,
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

arrow of beauty, the tiny spark of Love

“If a tiny spark of God’s love already burns within you,
do not expose it to the wind,
for it may get blown out…
Stay quiet with God.
Do not spend your time in useless chatter…
Do not give yourself to others so completely that you have nothing left for yourself.”

St. Charles Borromeo


(a gull in unfazed by the crashing surf / Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie Cook / 2019)

True knowledge is being struck by the arrow of beauty that wounds man: being touched by reality,
‘by the personal presence of Christ himself’, as [Nicholas Cabasilas] puts it.
Being overcome by the beauty of Christ is a more real, more profound knowledge than mere rational deduction.
Of course we must not underestimate the importance of theological reflection, of exact and careful theological thought;
it is still absolutely necessary.
But to despise, on that account, the impact produced by the heart’s encounter with beauty,
or to reject it as a true form of knowledge would impoverish and dry up both faith and theology.
We must rediscover this form of knowledge—it is an urgent demand of the present hour.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
from On the Way to Jesus Christ