it about broke my heat

Through prayer you will receive the strength to resist the
spirit of the world.
You will receive the power to show compassion to every human being—just
as Jesus did. Through prayer you will have a part in salvation history
as it unfolds in your generation.
St. Pope John Paul II


( a three legged doe / Julie Cook / 2021)

Driving along a lonely back road in an eastern Georgia National park,
we weren’t really surprised to suddenly spy a deer meandering down a bank…
ready to cross the road in front of our car…
But the problem was that this deer was not exactly meandering.

The deer was oddly and slowly coming down the bank.
There was something odd about her gait.
Struggling with each step…up, down, nearly collapsing,
up down, nearly collapsing…and that’s when we saw the reason
for the odd cadence of walking.

She did not have a left front leg.
The leg was missing clear up to her torso.

This deer had two hind legs and only a single front right leg.
We pretty much figured that she had either been shot in the left leg
or perhaps hit by a car…
she had lost the leg and yet she managed to survive.

Naturally we stopped the car, allowing her to slowly navigate
crossing the road.
By the time she hobbled up and down across the road, she simply stopped…
resting, while taking the opportunity to nibble
on some nice green grass.
I think she knew we’d respectfully wait on her.

Her ribs rippled underneath her sagging skin,
but we know this is the season that deer tend to be
the most lean.
She seemed to be keeping her own.

I wanted to take a picture and yet, I didn’t.
I wanted to respect her dignity along with her struggle.
I was slow to get the camera, capturing her only after she had
traveled across the road and was already headed back up the opposite bank.

So far, she’s managed to defy the odds.
Be that for good or bad.

Crippled yet persevering.
Hanging in and on despite the odds being stacked heavily against her.
A wild animal, who depends upon running and jumping in order to avoid
predators while managing on only three legs, is not high with the
odd makers.

And yet, here she was.

Believer…be encouraged!
Broken and wounded, yet we are still here.

We persevere just as He persevered before us for us…

Odds are not in our favor yet Hope always prevails.

“On the whole, God’s love for us is a much safer subject to
think about than our love for Him.
Nobody can always have devout feelings: and even if we could,
feelings are not what God principally cares about.
Christian Love, either towards God or towards man,
is an affair of the will.
If we are trying to do His will we are obeying the commandment,
‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God.’
He will give us feelings of love if He pleases.
We cannot create them for ourselves,
and we must not demand them as a right.
But the great thing to remember is that,
though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not.
It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and,
therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination
that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us,
at whatever cost to Him.”

C. S. Lewis, p. 132
An Excerpt From
Mere Christianity

old made new

The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become –
because He made us.
He invented us.
He invented all the different people that you and I were intended to be…
It is when I turn to Christ, when I give up myself to His personality,
that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.”

C.S. Lewis


(a green chameleon perches amongst the shrubs / Julie Cook / 2021)

At our previous home, we always had a small menagerie of critters that
called our home and yard, their home and yard…

This new house is no different–it’s just that some of the residents are,
well, different.

A post regarding these new residents will be a post for another day….
for today’s thoughts come from my having spotted a chameleon who was
in the process of literally losing his or her skin—
sloughing off the old for the new.


(a chameleon shedding / Julie Cook / 2021)

Maybe I knew this little fact about lizards shedding…
maybe I’d forgotten…
I certainly knew it about snakes and cicadas shedding…
but I’d never given much thoughts about lizards doing the same.

We have a group of skinks and chameleons who call our back patio theirs.
As in they were here before us.

The chameleons gravitate from green to brown depending on their
whims…or more aptly…depending on where they opt to traverse or
spend their time.. be it on the furniture or in the bushes.

Amazing how God gave such creatures the gift of change depending
upon their circumstance.

So imagine my surprise, or more aptly my shock, when I went to sit down
on a chair situated on the patio, and suddenly spied two chameleons chasing
one another on the chair…with one of the two looking pretty rough.
As in a bad hair, or make that skin, day,

Upon closer inspection, I realized the smaller of the two lizards was
shedding its winter coat, readying itself for a glorious spring and summer.
As well as hoping to look its best in order to snag a would be mate.

I think we humans feel much the same following our winter
hibernations…especially this year…
This past year having been a full length marathon hibernation…
Meaning it’s past time to let go of the old and become fresh and new.

I really like Mr. Lewis’s thoughts offered at the start of this post–
the thought that God invented all the different persons we are to become
throughout our lifetime–both good and bad actually.

I’ve never quite thought of it like that before.

Life without knowing our true nature as a child of God can
leave us quite dull and heavy.
And so as we advance in our relationship with the triune God,
we shed and shed….we shed off our old worn-out selves
as each shedding gives way to a newer creature…
allowing us to become lighter and much more fresh.

The shedding isn’t pretty to watch and is rather uncomfortable
to endure— think itchy and irritating and even perhaps
somewhat embarrassing…but the shedding, as unsightly as it is,
is necessary none the less.

And so during each season of our lives, as we gravitate to and closer
to our oneness with the One who gave Himself up on our behalf—
our God, Creator and Savior has seen us both before and after each of these
sloughing-off of layers.
Always loving us before, during and after we emerge into
our true and intended likeness of God’s original intention
for us, His created…

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live,
but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh
I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

focus…

“There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading
a human’s mind against the Enemy.
He wants men to be concerned with what they do;
our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.”

C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters


(reputation today)

We live in a time without any sense of true focus.

Rather, our culture focuses on the rabbit holes and not the obvious.

Our leaders continue to cross their roles, their lines and thus, our lives.

May God have Mercy…

No one can see God without falling in love with Him,
and no one can meet a saint without meeting God in him or her.
That is the good news: that in a world dedicated to the will to power,
there is no power greater than that of sanctity;
and that in a world dedicated to the pursuit of selfish pleasure,
there is no pleasure greater than that of unselfish love of God and man.
No one can ignore or refute the joy of a saint.

Peter Kreeft
from his book How to Destroy Western Civilization

for those who do not know or have forgotten—living forever

“I will go anywhere and do anything in order to communicate the love of Jesus
to those who do not know Him or have forgotten Him.”

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini


(The Mayor’s big reveal / Brenton Cook / 2021)

“Christianity asserts that every individual human being is going to live for ever,
and this must be either true or false.
Now there are a good many things which would not be worth bothering about
if I were going to live only seventy years, but which I had better bother about
very seriously if I am going to live for ever.”

C.S. Lewis, p. 74
An Excerpt From
Mere Christianity

****we’re off to the Mayor’s for her big party this weekend…you know how it is to turn 3??!!!

give my your Light

“Everything becomes more and more itself.
Here is joy that cannot be shaken.
Our light can swallow up your darkness;
but your darkness cannot now infect our light.”

C.S. Lewis


(they take the bulbs and shades…so life is in the dark / Julie Cook / 2020)

Transition seems to bring about a variance of both light and dark.
I can have a lamp, but without a bulb or electricity, I have only darkness.

The same remains true for the soul.
If there is no light, there is only darkness.

We pray for light.
Give us you light oh Lord…

“In me there is darkness,
But with You there is light;
I am lonely, but You do not leave me;
I am feeble in heart, but with You there is help;
I am restless, but with You there is peace.
In me there is bitterness, but with You there is patience;
I do not understand Your ways,
But You know the way for me.”

“Lord Jesus Christ,
You were poor
And in distress, a captive and forsaken as I am.
You know all man’s troubles;
You abide with me
When all men fail me;
You remember and seek me;
It is Your will that I should know You
And turn to You.
Lord, I hear Your call and follow;
Help me.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

at home…with God

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy,
the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

C.S. Lewis


(our home in December 2017 during a winter storm / Julie Cook)

As we prepare to move homes…from a house we built to one we did not,
I have become keenly aware of what it means to be rooted as well as somewhat uprooted.
What it means to be sheltered.
To be comfortable.
To feel safe.

Yet that’s not always the case for many of our sisters and brethren.

For many, there is no sense of stability.
No sense of security nor well-being.

So within the melancholy I’m finding in leaving,
there is a greater sense of gratitude.

If a house can feel emotion, which we know it cannot, my desire would be that this house
could feel our deep level of not only a bittersweetness in leaving but more importantly,
that it could sense our level of thankfulness for the years of shelter, safety,
and rootedness it provided.

And so it is within this flood of emotion…the type of emotion that only transition
can bring…of which I know is not coming from the leaving, the going, or the coming that
is the root of my unsettledness…it is the longing I have for “home”—
a longing for a home that transcends this world.

I know that our hearts, none of our hearts, will be at rest until we find
ourselves embraced in the arms of our Father…


(Julie Cook / 2019)

The peace coming from the Holy Spirit is more than relief from suffering,
a sense of well-being, or a sense of equanimity.
It is rooted in a deep sense of home, home amid the cosmos
(which we who have faith know is being at home with God).

Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J.
from Christ vs Satan in Our Daily Lives

‘patches of Godlight’

“Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun which you could
never get from reading books on astronomy.
These pure and spontaneous pleasures are ‘patches of Godlight’
in the woods of our experience.”

C.S. Lewis


(shelf fungus oddly existing on the dry red dirt of Georgia / Julie Cook / 2020)

I think we need to go to the woods.
Why?
Because we need a diversion from ourselves.

I am oh so weary from the vitriol and hatred that is eclipsing our senses.

We need to be reminded that we are truly small and that there is a world out there that is
actually much greater than ourselves.

We actually need to be put back in the food chain in order to grasp
the bigger picture—-
however sadly, we tend to run in the realm of human predation…so what can I say.

Let’s get out of our cities, our lockdowns, our narrowmindedness.
Let’s get out from under the bickering and hatred racing around our lives.
Let’s go to the woods…

But before we actually get into the woods, we’ve got to park the truck.
We’ve got to start walking…
and here’s what we see before we even get into the woods…

We see a lone downy turkey feather covered in the morning dew…


(turkey feather covered in dew / Julie Cook / 2020)


(detail of turkey feather covered in dew / Julie Cook / 2020)

Before we venture much further, before we leave the rutted red dusty path and diverge
into the thick stand of trees and vines, we see a carpet of dew-covered netted webs…


(a spider web covered in the dew / Julie Cook / 2020)


(detail of dew covering a spider web/ Julie Cook / 2020)

More tomorrow when we finally venture readily and willingly deep into another world…

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9

it isn’t easy, nor is it ever fair…

“The demand for equality has two sources; one of them is among the noblest,
the other is the basest, of human emotions. The noble source is the desire for fair play.
But the other source is the hatred of superiority.
At the present moment it would be very unrealistic to overlook the importance of the latter.”

C.S. Lewis


(a roped off area where a sea turtle has laid her eggs / Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2020)

Life is hard and it is certainly not always ever fair…

And yet we humans seem to be trying oh so hard to keep things as equitable, even, fair,
as well as level, as far as our conscious demands…

That is until we are stymied…

Stymied not so much by our fellow man or menacing mob, but rather stymied by
the likes of someone much more powerful…that being Mother Nature.

We can scream at one another about fairness, justice, injustice, and unfairness all we want.
We can make other men kneel at our sword and cower to our words and demands.
We can threaten, harass, harangue, and even inflict harm all in the name of making
others bend to our will for a purported notion of justice or fairness.

Yet in the end, it really isn’t any of us who will have the final say.

We had made plans long ago to come down to the Gulf this week…
our plans were long before a string of storms began advancing.
But such is any planned trip to a beach during this time of year.

The Gulf’s latest intruder is named Sally.

Unfortunately, I left my transfer cable for my camera at home so all of my
pictures from my camera will have to wait to be uploaded onto my computer when I get home…
I did, however, manage to get a few pictures using my phone.

This is the time of year when the sea turtles come to shore in order to lay their eggs.

There are beach volunteers who will mark and rope off the areas where a turtle nest
is situated.
Sea turtles, their nests, eggs, as well as hatchlings, are all protected.

Walking the shoreline yesterday evening, only hours before the storm would advance
as it has today causing massive erosion, we saw several roped-off nesting sites.
Some of the sites were far enough away from the battering surf but there was one
directly in the surf.

Poor turtle, I thought, her hard efforts, her nest, her offspring,
will most likely be in vain.

Had the weather been calm, the nesting site would probably have faired well but
I knew given the storm, there would be no site remaining the following day.

This was what we found this morning—a single staub jutting out of the surf
where yesterday there were four well marked and roped staubs.

And as we walked later in the day, as the gulls and plovers roamed what sand
was not underwater, we found a lone egg.
Cracked and dented.

(a lone turtle egg / Julie Cook / 2020)

And so as I ponder Mother Nature…her fickled ways with both life and death–
my prayers are with our neighbors to the West…those who are living in the midst of
hell on earth as wildfires ravage Oregon, Washington, and California—
just as I think and pray for yet another Gulf area that will be hit by yet another hurricane.

We may think we can bend man, or woman, to make him or her do as we please…
but in the end, it will be Mother Nature,
her and her alone, who will always have the final decisive say.

And yet…in actuality,
it just might be what we do in the wake of her decisions that will make the more
lasting difference on humanity…be that for good or be that for bad.

She plays her hand and then we must respond.

Maybe she just wants to divert our attention from ourselves for just a brief respite.

By my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth, mankind,
and the animals that are on the face of the earth, and I give it to whomever I see fit.

Jeremiah 27:5

to be saved, we must first lose

But there must be a real giv­ing up of the self.
You must throw it away ​“blind­ly” so to speak.
Christ will indeed give you a real per­son­al­i­ty:
but you must not go to Him for the sake of that.
As long as your own per­son­al­i­ty is what you are both­er­ing about you are not going to Him at all.

C.S Lewis, Mere Christianity


(scene from The Chosen when Jesus heals Mary)

To be saved, we must first lose.

The concept of losing doesn’t make much sense to the mind of a 21st-century individual.
Especially to a 21st century American…losing is not something Americans are accustomed to.
Nor is it a concept on the minds of many Americans who are busy with protesting
rioting and looting…losing is not on their radar.

Burdened by so much that is taking place around this pain-racked Nation of ours,
I turned to a new devotional written by the writers of The Chosen.

The following was the entry for Day 3:

To save our lives, we must lose them.

That’s a mind-bender, for sure, but clearly vital to understand.
Jesus said it to the disciples after they’d already dropped everything to
follow Him from town to town.
They sacrificed their careers, homes, and relationships for the man
they believed was the Messiah.
Life as they knew it had turned upside down,
but more would be required of them, and Jesus was doubling down.
He knew what lay ahead. He knew He was leaving.
And He knew they would become pillars of the early church,
in charge of spreading the truth about salvation to the world,
disciplining the masses, and claiming Christ in the face of imprisonment, torture, and death.
They would lose their lives on earth—figuratively and literally–
for the sake of all they would gain in heaven.

And they did it well because their testimonies,
their personal stories of what Jesus had said and done,
were potent demonstrations of His transformative love and power in their lives.
They shared the gospel with an unstoppable, contagious, relentless passion that—
to be honest–seems kind of rare these days.

How come?
Well for starters, they weren’t in love with themselves or their own stories.
They weren’t branding their Christian narratives for maximum personal benefit,
approval, or sump[athy…or for clicks or likes.
They weren’t assigning themselves the hero role or belaboring their “before Christ”
dysfunction with all its juicy, sensationalistic tidbits.
When you look at biblical examples it’s amazing how few words are given to their broken pasts–
the almost exclusive focus is on Jesus.

Take Mary Magdalene.
The fact that she was delivered from seven demons is a crucial aspect of her
testimony because it showcases Jesus’authority and why she responded to Him
the way sed did.
And then that’s it.
That’s all the detail we need to know.
In other words, her autobiography wouldn’t have been titled
The Dark Years with three hundred pages dedicated to describing the monsters within.
Fascinating?
Sure.
But powerful and effective and glorifying to the one who rescued her?
Not so much.
There’s a reason we meet Mary subsequent to her healing—because that’s where the real story is.

There are a few other things we know about her:
(1) she followed Jesus and financially supported His ministry until His crucifixion,
which means she gave everything she had to follow Him;
(2)she endured the crucifixion and stayed close to Jesus while He suffered and died;
and
(3) as mentioned in “Delivered”, she was the first person He appeared to after
He rose from the dead, and she was the one He sent to tell the disciples
the universe-altering news.
All because the old was gone and dead.
Jesus had given her new life.

Which means that even if you’ve been a believer for all of ten minutes,
those minutes are entirely more relevant than the twenty, forty,
or eighty years of darkness prior to your conversion.
Reason being, we’re called to represent Jesus and to die to the lives
He saved us from. When we do that, and when He stays the hero of the story,
our words and lives become real-time, potent demonstrations of
His transformative love and power.

The Chosen
40 Days With Jesus

footloose and …

“I was not born to be free—
I was born to adore and obey.”

C.S. Lewis


(the Mayor’s picture of her brother the Sherrif…drawn with a little help)

We are footloose and COVID free!
The Sherrif had a viral infection, and that is all…
Sad times when we are thankful for just the run of the mill infection and blessedly not COVID.

The Mayor will head back home tomorrow and we will pray that this does not become a pattern
in this surreal new normal of ours…

Thank you all for your prayers as the Sherrif’s fever has finally dissipated and he is now
getting back to his duties of sheriffing.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:17