Sunday was Easter right? Why does this still feel like Lent? Hope found in an egg

“A box without hinges, key, or lid,
Yet golden treasure inside is hid.”

J.R.R. Tolkien


(pretties found during the lockdown / Julie Cook/ 2020

Today’s other title choices…wait for it…WHEN WILL THIS BE OVER?!

And then there was the alternative, Crisis within a Crisis…

I don’t know, maybe you are like me and prefer not to admit it…

You should know, there was this subconscious thought, deep down somewhere in my being,
a subconscious thought that pondered that once Easter got here, and what with a couple of weeks
of this lockdown business under our belts, this madness would joyfully all be over.

But the somber and sober reality was that once Easter actually arrived here in the South,
we were met with a deadly and storm ridden day.

Grey, windy, humid and eerie.

Eerie for all sorts of reasons.

We were under a tornado watch throughout both day and night with the storms
making their presence known here in Georgia around at 2AM

They had already left their deadly mark in Lousiana and Mississippi.

There were tornados in the neighboring counties and states all around us, but
we were thankfully spared the brunt of mother nature’s deadly fury.

Lives were lost, homes and properties destroyed.

I was reminded of the Easter Sunday years ago when a storm rolled through a tiny town
in neighboring Alabama, making a direct hit on a rural Methodist Chruch.
The pastor, a wife, and mother, was killed and the church destroyed.

Mother Nature does not discriminate.

Nor do crises or viruses.

Just before all this madness ramped up, I had to have a molar’s crown replaced.
I was fitted with a temporary and was to come back in two week’s time for the
permanent crown to be put in place.

Well the pandemic reared its ugly head and my appointment was canceled as all businesses were
shuttered.
No worries, I thought, this temporary molar is great.

That was until yesterday morning, Easter morning when the Mayor offered me one of
her jellybeans–out popped the tooth.

Well, knowing it was, A. Sunday and B. Pandemic, I knew I was a ship load out of luck.
So what does a former girl scout/educator do in a small crisis?
She finds the super glue to poke the tooth back in.

The only problem was that it was in the back, in between two other teeth, I was having
a hard time seeing in the mirror, holding the flashlight while trying to figure out what
was the correct line-up for the tooth.

Have you ever gotten super glue on your tongue?

Take it from me, DON’T!!!
Then do not use fingernail polish remover to get rid of super glue on your tongue.

I got the tooth back in but not lined up for the bite.
So now, it hurts and doesn’t align when my teeth touch and I can’t “pop” it back out
because it’s glued in like nobody’s business.

I called the dentist Monday morning and the recording told me all I needed to know…
PANDEMIC. CLOSED!

But I did, however, leave a message.
And a gal did call back.

I explained what happened but she said that for now, they needed to remain closed
but if it popped back out, do not use superglue…well duh…
and to call back as they’d see if they could get me in.

I hung up wondering why I couldn’t get in now but I suppose we’ll wait until
infection sets in and my head begins to throb.

Oh, and did I mention Percy?

Last week, I had let the Mayor and Sheriff’s big black lab out onto the deck for water.
I went to fill up the water bowl when I saw a good bit of bright red blood on the bowl.

I asked my daughter-in-law to check the dog’s mouth to make certain she had
not lost a tooth.

Nope—all was well.

And that’s when I saw it.

Percy looked up at me and his entire mouth was swollen with his bottom jaw almost
swollen beyond recognition.

I immediately called the vet asking how they were seeing emergency cases.

Of course, they know Percy most intimately.

They told me to bring him to the parking lot and call once I got there.
They would send out a masked and gloved tech to get the carrier while I
waited in the car.

Several of the techs who had endured those agonizing months with me as
Percy was a daily patient dealing with his bone infection, all came to the door
to wave.

I think that’s what I miss most throughout this madness—our daily
mundane, yet comforting, interactions.

After about 30 minutes, the vet came out and told me Percy had bitten into his bottom lip.
Remember, Percy has some very messed up teeth, those of which have not been pulled or
lost to his abuse as a kitten, before coming to us.

Two shots, antibiotics, steroids, and a million dollars later, we were headed back home.

They even brought me back my bank card back out wrapped in Lysol wipes.

Only Percy would have a crisis during a global pandemic!

And so I went back to the grocery store today.

Again, the emotionless masked shoppers were out in droves.

The chicken and meats were back up to speed but limited to two packs per person.

All the chicken broth was out as was all flour and sugar.

The aisles were now marked with an arrow or an x—directional markers as to how to travel.

I had to weave up and down.
If I forgot something, there was no backing up or u-turning.

Cheese was only two per person as was most everything else.
There were actually 5 packs of toilet paper on the shelves.
Yet no Lysol or disinfectant wipes to be found.

Eggs were also a bit sparse.
But of course, it had just been Easter.

In the background there was some late 90’s song playing on the intercom
that pricked at my senses.
I felt tears welling up in my eyes.

I had a moment of sheer visceral sadness.

Normal.
I just wanted normal.
Not some kind of science fiction, brave new world NEW normal.
I just wanted plain ol normal.

Afraid that the enormity of all of this twilight zone life was just about to
push me over the edge…I blessedly saw them.

Eggs.

And not just any eggs…it was a package of a lovely multi-colored palette
of perfectly shaped beautiful ovals

And just like that, I was jolted back to the bigger picture…
that of new life and new birth.

Something so much greater than this current madness.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2 Corinthians 5:17

running on empty

Running on (running on empty)
Running on (running blind)
Running on (running into the sun)
But I’m running behind

Lyrics / Jackson Browne

Well I’m a-runnin’ down the road try’n to loosen my load
Jackson Browne /The Eagles


(vector stock)

Everyone who is tired, raise your hand.

Everyone who is stressed, raise your hand.

Everyone who feels as if they are running on empty, raise your hand.

Okay now…put down all your hands.

You are not alone…

Obviously, we know this from all the raised hands…

There is comfort in not being alone.

Unfortunately, however, there are many of us right now who are
alone because of the “lockdown” while there are many of us
locked down with a passel load of family.

So…we agree that many of us are physically tired or emotionally tired, or simply both.

Well, I had to venture back out yesterday into the world of contagion to gather food.

Remember, my hunter /gathering senses have kicked into overdrive during this madness…
yet I still can’t seem to snag any of that elusive toilet paper…but I digress.

So as I made my way through the grocery store as quickly as possible,
holding my breath when passing anyone closer than 6 feet,
the fellow stocking the cheeses was loudly lamenting to a co-worker,
who by the way was standing right next to him and not the required 6 feet,
that he was sick and tired…
His voice was rising as he hit the word tired.
He loudly announced that he oh so needed a vacation but…. there was now nowhere to go.

So naturally, I chimed-in in agreement.
We are indeed all tired.
And we all desperately need a vacation…
and no, there is nowhere to go!
So there you go.

I could hear him still bemoaning as I rounded down the flour and sugar aisle.
All of which are still sparse.

The thought of him flipping out while stocking cheese did cross my mind.
As I probably would have joined in by grabbing more than the allotted two packs
while making a mad dash to the exit.
The police would have probably persued the crazy woman with more than her two packs
of cheese.

Life is now oh so odd is it not?
And it seems to just keep getting odder by the hour.

There were more masks worn on emotionless faces at the store,
yet I noted that none of the employees wore masks or gloves…
I don’t have a mask—

However my cousin did send me the funniest video of a woman making her own mask from a pair of
her husband’s briefs…I tried it…

My husband didn’t seem to like it.
(rest assured, I had just taken them from the dryer)

I did think it probably was better material for a mask vs the homemade cotton masks.
But for now, I’ll forego my homemade mask.

So yes, I worry.
I’m a mother…we worry.

I worry about us, our American family, throughout this nuttiness.
We were bad off enough before this pandemic what with all our PC mania,
our progressive left thinking, our socialism wannabees..

And so I took heart while reading the following by Newt Gingrich–
the sound of wisdom found during the storm:

Beyond the Crisis: We Will Endure and Prevail

According to the pandemic experts, we are in the heart of the crisis.

The next few weeks will see a substantial increase in American deaths even as the virus
begins to be isolated and lose momentum.

For many families, there will be anguish and a deep sense of loss.

For communities, there will be a sense of grief as the virus takes its human toll.

Americans have suffered grievous loss before.
The surgeon general cited Pearl Harbor and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
He could have added the battles of Antietam and Gettysburg,
the cost of the Normandy campaign,
and the Army and Marine losses to the Chinese Communist offensive in Korea
in the winter of 1950 to 1951.
Americans have suffered losses going all the way back to
Gen. George Washington’s long, painful winter at Valley Forge during the American Revolution.

And after each cycle of loss, there has been a rebirth of the American spirit,
determination to build a better future,
and deep belief that we Americans cannot be defeated or conquered.
Instead, we have a compulsion to work toward a bigger, better,
more fulfilling life for our children and grandchildren.

The great novelist William Faulkner captured this spirit in his 1950
Nobel Prize acceptance speech when he said:

“I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is
immortal simply because he will still endure: that when the last ding-dong of doom
has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red
and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound:
that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking.

“I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure:
he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures
has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable
of compassion and sacrifice and endurance.
The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things.
It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart,
by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion
and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past.
The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man,
it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.”

We must once again call upon this American tradition of overcoming challenges.

A few weeks ago, we had the strongest economy in American history.
A few months from now we can have an even stronger economy.
As the entire world gears up after the pandemic,
there will be a real hunger for American medical breakthroughs,
American health technology, and all the capabilities of the
American system to respond to market opportunities.

Americans should be encouraged right now to start thinking about the next four or five years.
What do you want to be doing? What do you want to achieve with your life?
What have you learned from this experience that can lead to a more productive and fruitful life?

We need to remember the Declaration of Independence’s promise that we are endowed
by our Creator with certain inalienable rights including life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This still applies to every one of us.

So, as you spend these last few weeks of sheltering in place,
take stock of what pursuing happiness means to you and the people you love.
Start making plans for how you and yours are going to pursue happiness the minute we defeat the virus.

Remember President Ronald Reagan’s favorite line,
“you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

That is the optimistic, buoyant,
happy way we should approach the world after we have defeated the virus
(and we will defeat it decisively).

We will get beyond the crisis, and we will be bigger and better than ever.

Beyond the Crisis: We Will Endure and Prevail

conspiracy musings

“All that happens is as habitual and familiar as roses
in spring and fruit in the summer.
True too of disease, death, defamation, and conspiracy—and
all that delights or gives pain to fools.”

Marcus Aurelius


(apple blossoms /Julie Cook/ 2020)

Now you should know I don’t believe in aliens.

No area 51…no code blue book.

And I don’t necessarily believe in ghosts…

But… I do believe in spiritual warfare…
meaning…demons/evil and angels/heavenly are defintily real.

However…

The jury remains out on this whole virus business.

Where are the real power players during all of this?
Have we heard from George Soros?
Hillary or Bill?

Where are those who believe they wield world power and domination?

It does make for intriguing thoughts while one is confined to quarters going on
now nearly 5 weeks, with a houseful of demanding family.

China seems now almost giddy.
Free and ready to rally en masse.

All the while our stock market rides a daily roller coaster and our
fellow Americans “screw” one another to the wall over essentials such as toilet paper
and Lysol.

To mask or not to mask…that is the question.

How does such a virus make such rounds in such a short and narrow window?

There is a southern county in our state that has experienced some of the highest
numbers of cases and deaths.
It is not near a metropolitan area, yet it has maintained a consistency with Fulton County,
home to Atlanta…

It is all so strange and surreal.

And is it not odd that we may readily go to and from various stores and businesses
albeit at qued distances…yet our houses of worships, are deemed by law, forbidden?

If ever we needed a church to open its doors to those who might wish to pray
or simply sit and ponder…it is now!

Yet faith and the observance of such is suddenly deemed non-essential.

Oh the irony in such thinking…

And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God.
Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain,
‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart,
but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer,
believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Mark 11:22-24

Bitterness

Between the uprightness of my conscience and the hardness of my lot,
I know not how either to show respect to my feelings or to the times.
The bitterness of my mind urges me at all hazards to speak what I think,
whereas the necessity of the times prompts me, however unbecomingly,
to keep silence.
Good God!
Which way shall I turn myself?

Thomas Becket


(5 o’clock somewhere / Julie Cook / 2020)

Way back in the early ’80s, I was but a young naive, early twenty-something art teacher.

As an art educator, I thought it was my duty, meaning I had the bright idea,
that I should create a European adventure in order to take my students upon—
one that would focus on the great art capitals of Europe.

Ahhhhh…

Note to self…when you are mid-twenties…don’t take teens on a trip…
especially out of the country.

And don’t do it when terrorism was actually becoming a thing
and there was no such things as cell phones.

That will be another story for another day.

However, for now, I want to share one little story.

At that time, as a young art teacher, who had recently been a young student myself,
I had a deep love and fascination with all things Italian.

I had minored in Art History with a focus on the Italian Renaissance.
Italy was, to me, the mecca of the art world.
And to truly appreciate such, I had immersed myself in all things Italian.

As a kid, I always loved Italian food, albeit 1960’s Americana Italian.
As an adopted kid, I just knew my true roots were Italian.

Was I not the secret love child of Sophia Loren???

Yet sadly that all actually proved to be a Scotch / Irish and English background,
but I digress.

So when our little adventure finally brought us to Italian soil, I had the
bright idea that I would, by gosh, treat myself to a quintessential Italian drink…
Campari.

That glistening brilliant red Italian liqueur.
I had seen all the famous advertisement posters… Campari was THE
Italian drink…

I remember marching up to a bar at a disco we had taken to kids to enjoy
and boldly telling the bartender I would like a Campari on the rocks.

Oh I felt so Sophia Lorenesque—-waiting on Dean Martin to come croon me a sweet Italian
love song.

I was so excited, so full of expectation…that was all until I brought that glass to my
expectant lips and took a big swallow.

There are no words for the nano-moments following.

It was a swallow followed by a quick spitting out what remained in my mouth.

Oh my great heavens above, I had just ingested kerosene!!!

A fire was now coursing down my throat as the bitter taste of poison cloyingly
coated my mouth.

If not some sublime red delightful liquid, what in the heck was Campari!!!?????

Oh, what my naivete and immature taste did not understand of aperitifs and digestifs
and more importantly bitters.

A story I now recall fondly as I’ve actually acquired quite the taste for Campari–
albeit mixed with a bit of lime and prosecco.
In more of a spritz verses that of a hardcore sipper.

And all this talk of bitters brings me full circle to our lives today.

For we are living during some bitter days.

A shadowy Spector seems to be waiting on each of us with some sort of sadistic
bated breath.

We are finding ourselves isolated, dislocated and as if living in some strange foreign land.

Our world has been literally turned upside down.

And how ironic that we should find ourselves in the midst of one of the holiest times
in all of Christendom—the week leading to Good Friday…and eventually Easter.

A time of jubilation followed by humility, betrayal, torture, and eventually death…

It is a bitter time.
A time of gall and bile.
A time of blood and vomit.

Not a pretty picture.
Not a picture of sweet little bunnies and precious little lambs.

This is a time of reality.

A time of life, lies, deceit, and death.

And how odd that our world now is actually walking the same sacred
walk we Christians have walked now for nearly 2000 years…
the Via Dolorosa…

A painful and difficult journey.

Yet what we followers of Christ already know…
the ending is not nearly as tragic as the world would have us believe.

Victory, in the end, is truly ours.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes,
and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning,
nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

our resolve

“It is not enough that we do our best;
sometimes we must do what is required.”

―Winston S. Churchill

I have never lived through a world war, although I have lived through wars.
I have not lived during a pandemic, although I have experienced illnesses.

I have not physically wandered through a wilderness, though I have known
the loneliness of the wilderness.
I have not experienced a physical death, but I have known the loss and isolation of death.

I do, however, know paradox because we are currently living in such an anomaly.

Our current situation is not typical nor is it one that we can fully comprehend.

On some levels, life remains as we know it.
On others, not so much.

I still find great frustration in the cars I see driving constantly on the roads.
I am frustrated that we are told one thing and most choose to ignore the mandates.
The consequences of ignorance puts us all at great peril and risk.

Yet what of economics and loss?

What is the correct wisdom?

Stay in and isolated or open up and encourage commerce?

I agree with what I read from a fellow blogger’s post:
I have a sense of shame for myself which is natural.
How much more should I have been prepared spiritually for such an event as this?

(https://smokeofsatan.wordpress.com/2020/04/05/are-we-entering-the-false-world-of-virtual-reality-virtual-truth-and-virtual-church/)

And I greatly enjoyed the speech offered yesterday by The Queen of England.

Whereas the Queen gives her usual Christmas greeting to her Commonwealth,
this particular speech was one of only a handful that she has delivered to her Nation
during times of grief or need.

I respect her words of wisdom and resolve, in part because I know she has lived in
times that I have not.
She has maintained, now for her 93 years, a resolve that some would find harsh
while others would find stalwart and actually comforting.

I am of the latter thinking…

A few highlights—

“While we have faced challenges before, this one is different.”

“I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge,”
And, those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any,
that the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet, good-humored resolve,
and of fellow feeling still characterize this country.”

“The pride in who we are is not part of our past.
It defines our present and our future.

“We will succeed, and that success will belong to every one of us,” she concluded.
“We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return.
We will be with our friends again.
We will be with our families again.
We will meet again. But for now, I send my thanks and warmest good wishes to you all.”

firstly…

“Detachment produces a peculiar state of mind.
Maybe that’s the worst sentence of all,
to be deprived of feeling what a human being ought to be entitled to feel.”

James Dickey

Firstly—
the magic hour currently is 2PM.
Why you ask??

I live for 2PM…

Secondly,
Spring is in the air and we know that lots of bad decisions have been being made…
think Spring Breakers who each defied rational thinking and opted to live large and,
what has now turned out to be actually, living deadly.

Dumb, stupid and selfish…but such is Spring Break and youth—as are the adults
who claim to be their parents–all for having allowed them to go in the first place…
but I digress.

Here, closer to home, we have some Spring breakers who are also not demonstrating wise
decision making…

It seems the purple finches have decided that our last leg of a front porch light
should be the location for all things amore…and egg-laying.

The problem has been getting any and all straw and whatnots to stay in place and
not simply fall out.
Then there’s the matter of the physical getting in and out.
Throw in the overt swinging when there’s a storm or simply wind…
all of which, I imagine, will make for seasick residents.

Thirdly…
I had to venture back out into the land of contagion today to the supermarket in order to gather
more supplies—namely more baby food—along with adult people food as well as some cat food.
My husband has suggested that we simply let the cats run loose to seek out field rats but
I will save that as a last resort.

Fourthly, but still related to thirdly,

Our local hospital has issued the grade of a D for our community on following the guidelines
of sheltering indoors.
This sort of disturbing news comes as this small brood of mine has all but killed one another
as we’ve sheltered in place now for nearly three weeks…all but for my treks out for supplies.

Our county ranks 7th in our state of 159 counties for active cases of Covid19.
I am ashamed that we have been given the grade of D…
Selfish idiots live among us and it all makes me so mad.

I read a story of how some Maine residents took matters into their own hands when a neighbor
would not stay put…meaning they wouldn’t shelter in place.
So they cut down a tree across the neighbor’s driveway.

I’m wondering if I can randomly go out and cut trees down all over our county…

So fithly, and back to both fourthly and thirdly…

I have always loved grocery shopping.

Call me crazy but I really do enjoy it.
I think it’s because I was hard-wired with that whole hunting and gathering notion
pretty strongly.

I love to cook, as it has always been a way for me to be creative
(imagine an art teacher finding her creativity in the kitchen vs an art medium..who knew?!)
plus I love finding new and different things to add to my cooking repertoire.

So the last three times I’ve had to go to the store, it is all I can do not to simply lose
it in the store.
Meaning that this whole madness is about to bring me to my knees in my own local Publix.

I can see the headlines now—“Local woman falls to the floor in a fetal position in Publix”

I so much as told this to the checkout gal who, by the way I know by name.
I told her this today as I was checking out–that I sadly now hate coming to the store.

There is such an eeriness now at the store, not to mention a bareness.

People glance at one another hesitantly, if they actually see anyone else at all…

As in there is very little eye contact and when there is, it is with caution.
Oh, and it is always over a blue mask.

Gloved hands are the new tres chic…that is, except for my bare face and hands.
I feel so last year.

People now make wide swings away from one another or avoid aisles with more than one cart.

Shelves remain bare.

And I wonder why I even bother.

Oh, to eat, that’s right.

So yeah, these are my first and hopefully not last thoughts for the day…

Behold, I am coming soon, and My reward is with Me,
to give to each one according to what he has done.
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,
the Beginning and the End.”

Revelation 22:13

Overwhlelmed

“Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you.
All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything.
Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.”

St. Teresa of Avila


(the Sheriff giving in to his being overwhelmed by the day / Julie Cook / 2020)

Trying times overwhelm us.
There are no ifs, ands, or buts to it…

So during such times, we must be ever mindful that it is precisely how we respond
to such overwhelming trying times that will, in the end, define us—

Will we be the better for it or the worse for it?

Will the difference be life or will it be death?

And will it be either life eternal or death damnation?

Because you see, if we cry out for God’s intervention, will we be prepared for what
such an intervention will entail?

Some of us will and some of us will not.

C.S. Lewis reminds what such a cry entails…

“God will invade.
But I wonder whether people who ask God to interfere openly and directly in our
world quite realise what it will be like when He does.
When that happens, it is the end of the world.
When the author walks on to the stage the play is over.
God is going to invade, all right: but what is the good of saying you are on His side then,
when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else –
something it never entered your head to conceive –
comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us and so terrible to others
that none of us will have any choice left?
For this time it will God without disguise;
something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror
into every creature.
It will be too late then to choose your side.
There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up.
That will not be the time for choosing; it will be the time when we discover which side
we really have chosen, whether we realised it before or not.
Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side.
God is holding back to give us that chance.
It will not last for ever.
We must take it or leave it.”

C.S. Lewis

Pandemic, what pandemic??

“The difficulties of life do not have to be unbearable.
It is the way we look at them – through faith or unbelief –
that makes them seem so.
We must be convinced that our Father is full of love for us and that He only permits
trials to come our way for our own good.

Let us occupy ourselves entirely in knowing God.
The more we know Him, the more we will desire to know Him.
As love increases with knowledge, the more we know God, the more we will truly love Him.
We will learn to love Him equally in times of distress or in times of great joy.”

Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

Here’s to all the grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles as well as extended
family members, and or friends, who are on “lockdown” taking care
of the little ones or older ones, or simply the other ones, while all the others
can do this whole work from home thing!

I was talking typing with
Dawn Marie over on hugsnblessing (https://hugsnblessings.com)
as to how we were both coping with being a grandmother who was helping with our little
grandbabies while their moms were busy teaching from home
while we were all stuck at home…all together at the same time.

I’ve mentioned before that with all the parents now working from home…
someone has got to be helping with all those children who are also at home—

I told Dawn Marie that I wasn’t worried so much about a pandemic taking me out
as much as I was about stepping on the Lego that is now strewn all
around the house…all while I was walking barefooted through the minefield
that is now my home!

She told me how cooking was, becoming for her, almost monastic
as she recalled a prayer by Brother Lawrence.

Now I’ve written and quoted Br. Lawrence before.

And I too understood most clearly what she was saying.

In what seems to be a previous life,
I was once upon a time a mom who also worked outside of the home…
so I knew all too well about balance.
Sometimes I did a good job balancing, sometimes, not so much.

Yet as we fast forward a good 30 years or so, into this now surreal time
of pandemics and lockdowns and sheltering in place and working from home…
I think I’ve now spent more time in my kitchen in the past three weeks than
I have in the past twenty years…or so it seems.

And this comes from someone who loves to cook!

I understand pots and I understand pans… just as I now understand laundry.
Washing, fighting stains, drying, folding…all for many a big and little wee folk
living in my current state of lockdown.

Brother Lawrence spoke of the same sort of menial acts of our lives as being
actually large thank offerings to God.
Brother Lawrence was a simple monk who toiled in the kitchen and laundry of
a Medival monastery and so if anyone knew manual labor and mundae toil and trouble,
it was Brother Lawrence.

His was the work of daily menial chores.
And yet it was in those mundane chores that he could find joy in offering to God
the simple blessings of his life.

So as we each now labor in perhaps a different capacity than what we are accustomed to—
be it working from home while balancing a family,
or perhaps sheltering in place alone and isolated,
or working to provide needed services in this time of emergency…
may we each learn to look at our circumstance not so much as our own,
but rather as a thank offering of joy to our Heavenly Father who sees
and knows of our struggles.

Learning to shift our perspective from that of carrying out thankless and
backbreaking chores into one of giving selflessly with love can miraculously lift
and change our spirits…and if there was ever a time we needed to uplift our
spirits…it would be now!

Brother Lawrence is attributed with having written a small humble book
The Practice of the Presence of God.

You can read about Brother Lawrence here:
(https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/innertravelers/brother-lawrence.html )

This is the prayer attributed to Brother Lawrence,
the French medival Christian monastic who labored in the kitchen of a medieval monastery…
may his kind and gentle thoughts bring you peace during this time of uncertainty.

Lord of all pots and pans and things,
since I’ve no time to be a great saint
by doing lovely things,
or watching late with Thee,
or dreaming in the dawnlight,
or storming heaven’s gates,
make me a saint by getting meals,
and washing up the plates.
Warm all the kitchen with Thy Love,
and light it with Thy peace;
forgive me all my worrying,
and make my grumbling cease.
Thou who didst love to give men food,
in room, or by the sea,
accept the service that I do,
I do it unto Thee.
Amen/em>

Captian’s log: Week Two—Chicken and Good Bones

“Life is an onion–
you peel it year by year and sometimes cry.”

Carl Sandburg

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary.
To one without faith, no explanation is possible.

Thomas Aquinas


(the foggy rain accentuates the somber mood of these difficult days / Julie Cook / 2020)

Three years ago I wrote a post entitled ‘The Humble Onion’.
I’ve included the link below.

The post referenced a PBS show that I once loved watching, Foyles War.
It was a seasonal type of PBS show showcasing life in Hastings, England during
WWII—as seen through the life of the local Detective Chief Superintendent, Christopher Foyle.
A local police detective charged with keeping the peace in his small town during war.

Throw in the occasional murder by hire, grand theft, larceny, etc…
all compounded by the burden of war and it was a weekly captivating tale of intrigue
while living under a time of siege.

One of the episodes featured a story about a lottery over an onion.

The humble onion, as lowly as it is…is actually an integral component to cooking—
for it adds nuance, flavor, and depth to any dish to which it is added.

I was intrigued by the fact that they were having an office lottery over
a single onion…

They each longed to win the onion.

Yet what my 21st-century mind failed to wrap itself around was the fact that during the war,
onions were a difficult commodity to come by.

For those of you who don’t cook, you should know that onions are a prized culinary wonderment.

And this fact was greatly apparent during the days of rationing and sacrifice since
onions were not easily come by.
Just as this conundrum can quickly become a modern-day reality when I suddenly realize
I’m all out of onions during the height of a cooking extravaganza that requires an onion.

So flash forward to our present day.

We are all currently living life under siege.
Not the siege of war, but rather the siege of pestilence.

And now having been scavenged by a populace afraid of shortage,
many grocery store shelves are now bare.
Meaning we too are living with shortages and near rationing proportions.

It’s been a surreal adventure in our normally overloaded world of plenty.

For the past two weeks, I’ve made several mad runs to my local grocery of choice
in search of supplies to feed our family—a family who is now currently calling
our house, home central, while hunkering down.

Besides toilet paper, chicken, of all things, has been hard to come by…
as in, the shelves have been completely empty and bare.
Shelves that are normally filled with a plethora of organic, free-range, farm-raised,
all-natural parts and pieces of thighs, breasts, wings, drumsticks and even
entire roasting hens…now stand barren.

And wouldn’t you just know it— all I’ve wanted to cook is a chicken.

A humble yet succulent yard bird.

So yesterday morning…despite my husband’s foreboding and warnings of the dire
consequences should I risk my life while it was pouring down rain as infection
was waiting with my name on it, I made off to the grocery store…in search of chicken.

I thought the rain would hamper others who might come on a similar quest.

I was met by gals who had bleached and alcoholed shopping carts and were handing them off
to incoming soaking wet and leary shoppers.
Folks wearing masks and gloves, while I simply donned a ball cap and rain jacket.

I made my way past the produce section and bakery, making a beeline for the
poultry section.
Would it be there?? I fretted…

And what to my wondering eyes did appear—
it was my heart’s delight…chicken!!!

A large sign alerted shoppers that only two packs could be purchased per household.

I opted for a roasting hen and a pack of chicken tenders.

I was so excited.

I made my way through the store gathering what I could from my list.
Things that were in stock but limited to, once again, only two per household.

I couldn’t believe how happy a single roasting hen could make me feel.
Something I would normally take for granted.
Something that would normally be plentiful and considered average fare.

But to me, a roasting hen is a blank canvas that has become my symbol
of comfort and normalcy.

And so later in the evening, after we enjoyed our wonderful dinner,
my daughter-in-law shared something with me
that I’d like to share with you.

It was something she read that Jenna Bush Hagar, one of President’s Bush’s twin daughters
has posted. It is a piece entitled Good Bones written by Maggie Smith.

It’s poignant, harsh, tender, painful and yet, there remains in the end…hope
The hope of what could be…
May we, for the sake of our children, try for what could be…

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2017/08/28/the-humble-onion/

Captian’s log: It’s all in the management

“Start with the end in mind.”
Stephen R. Covey

(a prized commodity / Julie Cook / 2020)

The Mayor has caught wind of the dire straits besetting the shelves of our stores…
as in, they are bare.

She has made an executive order—
As Mayor of Woobooville, she will keep tabs on any and all rolls of toilet paper
in the house.
She will dole out each family member’s allotted daily TP amount…
nothing more, nothing less…baring any sort of stomach virus during
our days of confinement.


(the Mayor busy at work sorting out each family member’s toilet paper ration / Julie Cook / 2020)

And so it dawned on me…
We are a people accustomed to living in the land of plenty.
We come, we go, we want, we buy, we gather…
The latter half of the 20th century, into the current 21st century,
has been a time of nothing but plenty.

Generations not knowing much about sacrifice.

The majority of our population has not known so much need as they have want.

My grandmother use to always say that “your wants will never hurt you”
This coming from a woman who was a young widowed mother raising two young girls
during The Depression and a world war.
She had little patience with wanting for the sheer sake of wanting.

We, however, are living in a time when kids will actually kill other kids
over a pair of tennis shoes…not because they need the shoes but because they
want a pair of popular trending shoes—
that’s when you know our’s is a society not so much of need but rather of want…
want of things and not the want of needs.

And so I wonder what this pandemic will teach us.
Other than the fact that we seem to think hoarding toilet paper is a key
to survival.

The Mayor asked that I share this video of Neil Diamond offering his take on
doing out part in washing our hands during this crisis of a virus…
Leave it to Neil Diamond to remind us that we can do this!!!!

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.
For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive,
disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous,
without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit,
lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness,
but denying its power. Avoid such people.
For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women,
burdened with sins and led astray by various passions,
always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth,
men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith.
But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all,
as was that of those two men.

2 Timothy 3: 1-9