dirty windows or smudges on a heart?

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret:
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly;
what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


(a front door in need of cleaning / Julie Cook / 2019)

Life has certainly been busy has it not?

When I was still teaching, the two busiest times of the school year were the first month
as well as the last month of the school year.
Fall and Spring.

The opening and the ending.

Those were also the two most important keys to teaching…
it was not only critical as to how you started a year…it was equally as important
as to how you ended it.

So no surprise, this Spring has been a busy time in my tiny little corner of the world.

My little world has been so busy that blogging has actually had
to take a back seat…
Imagine that…life getting in the way of blogging!?
Who knew?!

Hence why my posts have become sporadic and my reading and commenting
have become fewer and farther between.

There have been recent days that I’ve thought, that after 6 years perhaps, it’s time to
shutter the doors in Cookieland…
but then I catch the latest episode of Anglican Unscripted
and I’m reminded that voices to the Truth need to continue sounding…

But more about that and the good Bishop’s words tomorrow as time hopefully allows.

But first, let’s get back to that picture up above…
that picture of a seemingly smudgy storm door.

It seems that my weekend company went home yesterday afternoon.

They came for Mother’s Day and they left Tuesday afternoon.

In and out right?
Short and sweet…

Throw in two cats, one awaiting leg surgery,
and a large dog who currently happens to be on a small vacation this trip.
Add in the 4 adults in the room.

The key players, however, were a 15-month old and a two week old.
Seems simple enough, right?
Two under two…with one being way under the first one who’s under two.

They’re small.
They’re simple.
They’re sweet.

Well, mostly.

Yet these two small beings come with a wealth of stuff and each one requires their own
fair share of stuff when and wherever they may roam.

They also require 24-hour a day constant care.

24 x 2 = 48
48 into 24 doesn’t exactly fit.

Things seem to appear out of nowhere
Things appear in places where they shouldn’t.

There are smelly things that happen.

Accidents, spills, “uh oh’s” and “OH NOs!”

Things are dropped that should never drop.
Things disappear…only to be found days, even weeks, later.

Too many bodies try sleeping in beds made only for two…
with one preferring to sleep sideways, while everyone else sleeps longwise.

There are fingers that end up in closing doors and drawers.
There are jealous cats coupled with jealous babies.

There are tears, screams, laughter, kisses, messes, and lots of chaos.

There are spills along with sticky, greasy smudges and smears…everywhere.

Smeary, smudgy tiny handprints all over the place…

Just as in that glass door pictured up above…

But here’s the thing…

Where most folks see a dirty smudged up window…

Those aren’t really dirty smudges…

Those are simply the marks etched upon my heart…


(the Mayor / Julie Cook / 2019)


(The new Sheriff / Julie Cook / 2019)

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.
And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36:26

musings of a retired educator…

“The words are not good for the secret meaning, everything always becomes a bit different,
as soon as it is put into words, gets distorted a bit, a bit silly—yes,
and this is also very good, and I like it a lot, I also very much agree with this,
that this what is one man’s treasure and wisdom always sounds like
foolishness to another person.”

Hermann Hesse


(a bunch of wilted and rotting swiss chard in the trash / Julie Cook / 2018)

Or so that was the impetus behind my wanting to start a blog 5…ish years ago..
I was a retired teacher who still had things to “teach”…
or so I figured.

But then ‘it’ happened.

It happened not all at once but rather it came upon gradually…slowly and almost undetected.

It was life and we all know life brings with it…change.

Life changed.
I changed.

It happens.

But that didn’t mean that I didn’t have musings or things I still felt compelled
I needed to “teach”…
I did and I do.

Take for example the above image of the spent swiss chard.

I like swiss chard.
I grew it myself once when I use to have a garden.

I had a garden when I first started blogging.
I blogged about my garden…
then ‘it’ happened.

Life happened and things changed and now I don’t have a garden to blog about.

So now I buy swiss chard at the grocery store.
I like to chop it and sautee it with bacon, onions, a little chicken broth and salt and pepper.

The swiss chard you’re looking at is in the trash.
As has been the last five or so bunches of swiss chard I’ve brought in oh so many weeks.
They’ve all been sent to the rubbish bin…because ‘it’ happened.
Life happened and my swiss chard wilted and got past its prime and I had to throw it out.

Life can be that way…wasteful as well as expensive.

Life can also grow and expand or it can shrink and shrivel.


(two cousins enjoying the human’s couch / Julie Cook / 2018)

I had two cats when I started my blog.

I still have the two cats, but I also have a granddog that has come to stay with us since her new
human baby sister arrived.

They’re all staying with us.

Because ‘it’ happened.

Life brought new life and old life had to go back to work so now older life is caring for the
new life and the two cats and the dog.

And since all these lives are currently living under our roof,
I find that I visit places like the grocery store and Target a lot more often then I use to.
And sadly waste more and more and more swiss chard as life keeps getting in the way.

Take for example yesterday when I had to go to Target for a few things for the new life currently
living under our roof.

Look what I saw for sale…

Politically Correct band-aids.
For when life gives us boo boos.

They are marketed as diverse band-aids.
Skintone correct.

Yeah, right.

Kind of like a Crayola crayon box—talk about diversity in a box.

Because even band-aids have now decided to be all about diversity and the politically correct.

“Genius” some would muse.
“Why didn’t I think of that” others would lament.

All the while I look at traditional band-aids while shaking my head as I know they match
my skin tone about as much as a strip of duct tape does.

Simply put, they don’t.
So let’s not pretend that cream colored band-aids are just for creamed colored folks…
Next, we’ll be changing the color of gauze or surgical tape…

I think the clear band-aids were more along the lines of correctness.

These stips of sticky color are just one more example of members of the bandwagon
jumping on that proverbial train ride while touting that diversity brings everyone together…
yet failing to understand that diversity is really all about splintering.

And then there were these desk signs…

I’m a girl.
I have a granddaughter.
I’m all for equal pay for equal work no matter who’s doing the work…
But if the furture is all about being female…where does that leave our male population?
And where will that leave the making of more males and yes, more females…???

Sigh…

Another example of all things marketing taking life to the same level of
the militant movements of activism…
Hurray for more militant activism…

Sigh…

But happily, I am pulled back to thinking about that new life currently,
yet temporarily, living under our roof.

She got very sick this past week.
Life threw us a tremendous curveball.
A frightening, scary, grab you by the collar, curveball.

When we got home from the second hospital, after a very frightening couple of days
of touch and go, her grandfather presented her with her first bouquet of flowers.

See…this is what life and new life can do to older life.

It can make older life think and do things it normally would not have thought about
or done before…
Like walk up the sidewalk to a store selling flowers in order to bring the sickly little
new life a pot of pretty purple flowers.

Which brings us to a hard part of new life.

Sleeping.

Some new life is all about, well, life…sleep is not an important factor…
because sleep precludes one from , well, taking it all in.
It gets in the way of eating, being held, having diapers changed and missing out
on the older lives scattered about.

And so we now introduce the Finnbin

A couple of years back, before I had this new life in my life, I read an article about
babies in Nordic countries who sleep outside—even in the dead of winter.
Parents make no never mind about meeting up at a cafe for a coffee while their babies hang out,
outside in the sub-zero temps, bundled up, yet happy as little snuggly clams.
They claim babies sleep better out in the fresh air versus inside…
makes sense as I have been known to go a bit stir crazy when I can’t get outside.

I thought the concept intriguing at the time and that perhaps our Nordic friends
were on to something.

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-21537988

And so when this new life came into my life and had a nice new crib, a functional pack and play
and two Mama Roos yet still found sleep elusive,
I recalled the story of our Nordic friends and the other stories I’d seen about
Finnish babies sleeping in boxes…
yep boxes.

A box seemed a bit safer then shoving the new life outside to fin for herself in a stroller.

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-22751415

And so, in desperation…I found the Finnbins.

Boxes for baby sleeping—albeit made in America, The Finnbin is a Finnish style sleeping
baby box.

The concept tips its hat to the Finnish Government providing all new parents-to-be with
a baby sleeping box full of all kinds of goodies for new parents to be.
Finnbins make great gifts for expectant parents.
We’re hoping it will provide a happy and much cheaper alternative spot to this new life’s
other more expensive sleeping devices.

Or maybe the stroller will just have to do….

Maybe I’ll go to the store tomorrow and pick up a new bunch of swiss chard…

My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.

Proverbs 4:20-27

the great escape or a bad case of follow the leader….

… Men for the most part follow in the footsteps and imitate
the actions of others…”

Niccolò Machiavelli


(a working sheep farm near Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

I caught an interesting story day before yesterday…
interesting but also a bit sad.

Seems there was a herd of sheep, on a farm located somewhere in the
Pyrenees Mountains along the border of France and Spain,
who were apparently being stalked or chased by a bear.
All 200 plus sheep leapt to their deaths off the face of a cliff as they were
desperate to escape the bear.

So rather than scattering…with some of their numbers dashing off in one direction,
while others dashed off to a different direction…
with chances being pretty good that 199 or so should survive,
they all opted to jump to a joint death.

And it seems this odd phenomena is nothing new as it’s been known to happen
to other herds.

here’s the link…
http://www.foxnews.com/great-outdoors/2017/07/24/bear-panics-200-sheep-and-jump-to-their-deaths.html

So this mob mentality of herd animals and their reaction to panic and hysteria
obviously got me thinking….

See this picture….


(a working sheep farm near Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

It’s the picture of a sheep farmer with his sheep dogs and his herd of sheep.

Notice how the farmer has his hand out alerting the dogs to stay.
Notice one of the sheep looking back over his shoulder at the dog,
a bit hesitant and nervous, as if he’s anticipating what the dog is about to do.

As soon as the farmer gives the word or signal or both,
the dog will go about his task, herding the sheep…
keeping them all together while working them into the direction he wants them to go.

And the sheep who are afraid and nervous, despite the fact that their numbers
and physical size exceeds that of the dog, place themselves at the mercy of
the guidance of the dog.

They say sheep aren’t the brightest animals on the planet.

And yet we the faithful are often referred to as sheep…
as we are reminded of our similarity to sheep throughout much of the Bible…
With us being the proverbial sheep of his pasture while Jesus is in position
of the Good Shepherd.

We are reminded that when 99 sheep out of a flock of 100 are present
and accounted for—with one errant sheep being lost and left behind
as expendable…
Jesus will go out and seek that one errant sheep until all sheep in the
fold are present—not willing to allow even one to be lost to some sort of
collateral damage.

And like sheep, we have the same tendency to go running about all willy nilly
as if being chased by some sort of threatening bear…
even if there isn’t any real physical threat–
perceived threats are counted as equally as powerful in our own little
world of pandemonium.

So perhaps it would behoove the herd to remember the voice of the Shepherd
lest we continue heading toward the cliff…of our own demise…

So Jesus again said to them,
“Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.
All who came before me are thieves and robbers,
but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the door.
If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep,
sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees,
and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.
He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd.
I know my own and my own know me,
just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;
and I lay down my life for the sheep.
And I have other sheep that are not of this fold.
I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.
So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

John 10:7-16

Hopeful anticipation

Our thoughts determine our whole life.
If our thoughts are destructive, we will have no peace.
If they are quiet, meek, and simple, our life will be the same,
and we will have peace within us.
It will radiate from us and influence all beings around us.”

Elder Thaddeus


(two cousins, Peaches and Alice, anxiously wait for a handout / Julie Cook / 2017)

My son had warned me about this.
We were to “babysit” our granddog for about 9 days while her parents were out of town.
He had told me that Alice would seek out the “weak” one.

Huh?

The begging.
Her biggest fault is that she is a beggar.

Alice, an 85 pound black lab mix, is a smart and mindful dog…but
she is a tad lazy and a big baby who loves food…hers, ours and everyones.

My son told me that when it’d come time for us to sit down for supper, Alice would
be right there in the mix, hovering near the one she felt she could coax into
offering a few free morsels…breaking down the resolve of the one most likely
to offer a free handout….in other words…the weak one.

Tag!
My husband was it….
the obvious weak one…or perhaps the sucker for those wanting big brown
eyes is more like it….

And not only did Alice zero in on my husband’s weakness, but cousin Peaches
was not to miss out on any free snacks.

Needless to say, trying to eat supper while four eyes were intently and relentlessly staring
us down….
and to compound the matter….two of those four eyes also had a drooling mouth attached,
was just a tad bit unnerving.

The laser focused attention, the palatable anxiousness, the anticipation of hopefulness…
filled the entire room with a buoyant sense of both yearning and waiting.

How absolutely amazing would it be if we had that same sense of longing, desire,
hopefulness and focus as we anxiously anticipated the presence of God….

And here’s the kicker to that notion…
God doesn’t merely toss us a morsel or a piece of unwanted or discarded leftover…
He offers each one of us His entire being…
as He is ours for the asking…
For with God,
there is absolutely no begging required…..

But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman,
born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law,
so that we might receive adoption as sons.
And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,
crying, “Abba! Father!”
So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir.

Galatians 4:4-7

unconditional

“God never hurries.
There are no deadlines against which he must work.
Only to know this is to quiet our spirits and relax our nerves.”

A.W. Tozer

I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts,
there can be no more hurt, only more love.”

Mother Teresa


(Alice our granddog when she was here for a visit while her “parents” were out of town /
Julie Cook / 2017)

I think it’d be a safe bet if I said that every pet owner out there would
attest to the fact that a pet’s love is unconditional.

Meaning that their love is not limited, judgmental and is soundly absolute.

Our four legged and winged friends care not how we look, how we smell, how much we weigh,
how many wrinkles we have or the status of our finances.

They only want…us.
Yearning simply to spend all their time with us…as they set their passions
upon us and us alone.
And we in turn rest the weight of our concerns in their endless acceptance and openness.
There is a sense of safety found in their welcoming and wanting eyes.

I like to imagine that God affords us this tangible glimpse into His
own complete desire and love for us through the love of these, our animals…

But God shows his love for us in that while we were
yet sinners Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8