the old shell of self

God’s means of delivering us from sin is not by making us stronger and stronger,
but by making us weaker and weaker.
That is surely rather a peculiar way of victory, you say;
but it is the divine way. God sets us free from the dominion of sin,
not by strengthening our old man but by crucifying him;
not by helping him to do anything, but by removing him from the scene of action.

Watchman Nee

We must die if we are to live.
There is no spiritual life for you, for me, for any man, except by dying into it.
Have you a fine-spun righteousness of your own?
It must die.
Have you any faith in yourself?
It must die.
The sentence of death must be in yourself, and then you shall enter into life.
The withering power of the Spirit of God must be experienced before his
quickening influence can be known:
“The grass withereth, the flower fadeth:
because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it.”
You must be slain by the sword of the Spirit before you can be made
alive by the breath of the Spirit.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon


(the shells of cicadas discarded on a pine tree / Julie Cook /2017)

Summer, to a young child growing up in the South, meant evenings spent
catching lighting bugs in an old mayonnaise jar or scouring the sides of pine trees
for the crunchy fragile brown leftover shells of cicadas.

These leftover exoskeletons often found on the sides of pine trees or fence posts
are simply the shedding of the old skin of an ever growing and ever changing cicada.
Cicadas being the creatures responsible for the loud raucous screeching heard
throughout the landscape of the waning days of a southern summer.

Finding a shell was akin to finding a small treasure…
of which was then joyfully and ceremoniously carried to the start of school,
nestled safely in a small cotton ball lined box,
all for the start of the new school year’s show and tell.

But the shell was always quickly beaten out for the coveted oohs and ahhs
when the shark tooth, that someone else brought in from their summer trip
to the beach,was triumphantly presented…

Science teaches us that there is a wealth of amazing creatures scattered
across this globe…all of which constantly shed their old shells or skins only to
emerge as something new, clean and fresh…

And the fact is… that we, that being you and I, are really no different.

Whereas we may not break out of our skin, leaving the old sloughed off
empty layer littered along the floor, we do however…and we must…
do away with our old selves.

For if we insist on keeping that which is old and bound to this world, refusing to
relinquish worldly flesh, then we are bound to death….
for all that is of the world’s will perish.
There will be no new birth, nothing fresh, nothing clean.

Yet if we are willing to die unto self, surrendering that which is earth bound,
yielding to the desire of the spirit to be reunited from whence it came,
then we will have life eternal…which is the treasure indeed.

So then…
Two choices…
life or death….
that should be an easy choice….
and yet oddly, it is not.

“Many, indeed, cry “Lord, Lord,” and make mention of him,
but honour him not at all.
How so?
They take his work out of his hands,
and ascribe it unto other things;
their repentance, their duties,
shall bear their iniquities.
They do not say so; but they do so.

The computation they make, if they make any, it is with themselves.
All their bartering about sin is in and with their own souls.
The work that Christ came to do in the world, was to “bear our iniquities,”
and lay down his life a ransom for our sins.

The cup he had to drink of was filled with our sins,
as to the punishment due to them.
What greater dishonour then, can be done to the Lord Jesus,
and to ascribe this work to anything else, –
to think to get rid of our sins by any other way or means?”

John Owen

Waning and Waxing

When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the Creator.
Mahatma Gandhi

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(the waxing crescent moon of the end of August / Julie Cook / 2014)

A waning summer is soon to be written down in the annuals of time as just another volume known simply as the memories of a summer come and gone. . .

First it was June who offered her sheer joy of freedom and the simple recklessness of abandon which was to be found lurking in the heart of both young and old. Freedom whispered as Summer offered her enticing and welcoming warmth, coaxing all winter weary souls back into the light of day. The Days grew long and luscious as bare feet relished the cool tall grass. Soft laughter was heard across the evening skies as we gave ourselves permission to sit out just a little bit longer and a little bit later while savoring the perfume of gardenia and jasmine on a summer’s night breeze as we watched the fireflies dance with the stars.

Next came July, marching forth wearing her Red, White and Blue. Her night skies lit bright with the colorful displays of triumph and freedom. Reminding us of who we are and why we are and why any of that really matters. Children squealed with delight as the juice of watermelons and ice cold popsicles trickled down cheeks and chins. We packed our baskets full of fried chicken and potato salad. We gathered by lakes and ponds, casting our lines and pulling our skis–donning lotions and potions keeping sun and insect both at bay. Happiness and joy mingled sweetly together with the myriad of pitchers of lemonade, the bottomless bowls of homemade ice-cream while the smoke of a thousand grills and cookouts wafted heavenward.

Finally August arrived on a long hot summer wind. The sun bore down as a brilliant flame ready to bake a silent earth. The grass withered, the creeks dried as air quality alerts were sounding the alarm. Triple digits danced across the meters as we darted and dashed from house to car, from car to work in the maddening avoidance of the furnace blast of an unforgiving month. Our clothes clung to sweat soaked bodies as each breath labored under the thick stagnant humid air. Energies were drained as the heat of the day took its toll. Joy and pleasure took a nap along with the brilliant colors of flowers and blooms which gave way to dried crunchy browns. The cicadas sang their endless song under the blanket of a hazy heavy night.

And here we are again, preparing one last time, ready to offer up one more final “Hooray”–one last chance to capture the elusive siren known as Summer. One more opportunity to grab with gusto a little summertime enjoyment before the page turns, waxing toward a hopeful new season and time. A refreshing Fall is waiting in the wings, ready to offer her brilliance of color, intoxicating warm woody scents, and rich full heady flavors—but until that time comes, we must give Summer her due and pay her homage one last hot and humid time. . .

blueberries and bugs

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Ok, let’s move on shall we…away from accolades and awards to things that really matter, like bugs and blueberries. As I’ve been nursing this ankle of mine, I’ve not managed to make my rounds in the yard as aptly as I would prefer. Did you know that 90% of one’s weight is supported by the heavier tibia while a mere 10% is allocated to the fibula. Since it is the lower fibula that I broke, I am currently beginning to experiment with the whole concept of weight distribution.

Now when I think of weight distribution I usually think of my unhealthy consumption of butter and where it, the consumed butter, plans on distributing itself on my body. However I think this is more or less talking about what are weight-bearing bones and what bones are not weight bearing.

Now a woman of my age, not that my age is anything to consider, humph…. should perhaps be a little concerned with bone-mass as my doctor does make me have that checked on a yearly basis—something about osteopenia and needing to probably beef up on calcium… remember my friend and her tums concern…but I digress. So weight bearing seems important these days for all sorts of reasons.

Worried over the fact that one calf muscle now resembles a strand of spaghetti and the other is still nicely svelte for a non-competitive woman such as myself, I’m trying ever so gently to take off the air-cast and use a brace splint. Yes I know, a little too early I suppose but if you only knew how badly my other leg’s groin muscle and hip are now hurting due to life as a webble wobble, you wouldn’t scold me too much.

Walking on a hard flat surface such as the floor or driveway is nice. No problem. Remembering how to walk like an adult is another matter. It is also the yard, the un-level grass and ground that has me a bit worried, as that is what got me in this whole mess to begin with…that and an eager beaver let’s dig ditches and clean gutters out later type husband, but again—I digress.

90% is good as that seems to be the majority of the walking weight, but every once in a while, the 10% rears its ugly head and believe you me, I know that there is still a leg issue. Thank goodness I’m not a point toe dancer—and you can forget trying to put a leg down in the wellies. Hence why I’m now sitting, leg propped up, writing you.

Ok, so we’ve got to get the garden planted. The rain, the cold, my leg have all knocked us back weeks. The air-cast and I are not hitting the dirt together. Frankenstein meets the tomato is not my idea of a good time. So I’m gently trying out the brace splint. In my zeal to be a bit more mobile, I actually walked around to the back yard suddenly noticing that in my absence my blueberry bushes have lost all their flowers and are now actually covered in young green blueberries!! It looks to be a bumper crop. I’m so happy!

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The other odd thing…have you ever noticed a sudden bit of infestation, by some type of creature in your yard, making you feel as if you are living in a 1960’s B movie? Not that this has anything to do with the latest emergence of the 17 year cycle cicadas…which I have not yet seen, or better yet, heard…. but rather some crazy looking little black and orange spiny thing. They are on my lawn chairs, the sidewalk, the plants, etc. The blasted things also bite or sting—and are easily smushed—which makes flicking them off things a bit gross and messy.

This is how great the internet can be—now you won’t hear me say that often as sometimes I feel the internet is more bad than good but in this case I make an exception. I hit goggle and typed in “little black and orange bug” and bingo, instant image—the exact tiny creature creeping me out. Turns out this “thing” is the larvae of the Asian multicolored ladybeetle—better known as the ladybug. Who knew??!! No matter, I like it no better and wish they’d all go away. Seems they are supposedly beneficial but have gotten a bit out of hand by overpopulating—seems that’s always the case—too much of a good thing. And anything that looks like this spiny thing and bites me is not a beneficial thing.

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So that’s how things stand today. I managed to get all the little vegetable plants down to the garden, propping them up ‘til my ditch digging loving husband gets home from work, helping me to get them in the ground—he wants to dig so badly?? Let him dig in the garden!! I’m sorry, I just keep digressing. I’ve got 13 different heirloom tomato plants good to go, 4 eggplants—2 globe black beauties and 2 Japanese Ichiban, 2 red bell peppers and packs and packs of seeds—corn—yellow, white, red—okra– burgundy and green— beans– pole, bush, pinto, stingless, wax— peas, swiss burgundy chard, sweet orange watermelon, baby cucumbers, squash, zucchini—you name it—I’m salivating just typing….but wait, what is this….why is the sky suddenly looking so grey??!! Are those menacing rainclouds—-again??!!

D@m*it, is it suppose to rain—again??? AAAGGGGHHH!!!!!!!!