how does anyone know?

“What is happening to me happens to all fruits that grow ripe.
It is the honey in my veins that makes my blood thicker, and my soul quieter.”

Friedrich Nietzsche


(ripening persimons on the tree / Julie Cook / 2017)

Ripe: fully grown and developed: mature ripe fruit
:having mature knowledge, understanding, or judgment

Unripe: not fully matured
2. not fully prepared or developed; not ready

How do we know when something is ripe?
Color?
Touch?
Taste?
All of the above?

Ripe equates with that which is good.
That which is pleasing.
That which is inviting.

Ripe is as good as it gets….

Unripe is bitter, hard, immature, not ready…
unripe is unproductive.

If you profess to being a Christian,
how does the anyone know whether or not you are ripe and ready?

One basket had very good figs, like those that ripen early; the other basket had very bad figs, so bad they could not be eaten.

Then the Lord asked me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?”

“Figs,” I answered.
“The good ones are very good, but the bad ones are so bad they cannot be eaten.”

Then the word of the Lord came to me:
“This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says:
‘Like these good figs, I regard as good the exiles from Judah,
whom I sent away from this place to the land of the Babylonians.
My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land.
I will build them up and not tear them down;
I will plant them and not uproot them.
I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people,
and I will be their God,
for they will return to me with all their heart.

Jeremiah 24:2-7

where will you be???

On the mountains of truth you can never climb in vain:
either you will reach a point higher up today,
or you will be training your powers so that you will be able to
climb higher tomorrow.

Friedrich Nietzsche


(solar viewing glasses / Julie Cook / 2017)

Maybe you’ve heard,
maybe you haven’t….
there’s to be a really big event on August 21st.

I figured this out when a local realtor mailed out to the folks in our county
some funky little paper gasses advertising her reality business.

The glasses are paper things similar to what you use to get to view things in 3D.
These however have foggy looking lenses with the realtors name splashed on the sides.

I figured they were for viewing the fourth of July’s fireworks…
that is until I spotted the words “solar viewing glasses” on the inside of
the frames.

Curious I thought maybe there’s something going on I don’t know about.
A little search quickly informed me that yes, something big is to be going on…
on exactly August 21st.

A total solar eclipse will skirt across North America from Oregon to South Carolina.
It’s being dubbed “the Great American Total Solar Eclipse” as it’s isolated to
just North America, from sea to shining sea.

And you better believe the Atlanta news is already rife with the stories of where,
when and how to best view this rare occurrence.

My cousin who lives up in North Georgia, just this side of the South Carolina border, called asking if we wanted to drive up for the “show” as they are to be in
a great place for viewing.

Really?

I think those who will be in the path will be treated to about a 2 minute show
give or take.

“It brings people to tears,” Rick Fienberg, a spokesperson for the
American Astronomical Society (AAS), told Space.com of the experience.
“It makes people’s jaw drop.”

Really?

Now granted the last total such eclipse was in 1979.
Back then there weren’t fancy little viewing glasses—
just a piece of paper along with another piece of paper cardboard with a hole
cut in the middle… such that the cast shadow of the event would then show onto
the other paper…
all this for “safe” viewing lest you go blind staring at the sun.

Staring at the sun is never wise to those who treasure sight
as well as their eyes!

I think the glasses will make it all way cooler then our old school two
pieces of paper…just saying.

There will be about a 70 mile wide swarth flowing across Oregon,
Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee,
Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
With reports that “Aug. 21, 2017, may be one of the worst traffic days in
national history, some NASA representatives predict”…
so they’re telling folks to plan accordingly.

Really?

Now granted I may sound a bit cynical.
And don’t get me wrong….
I love a “heavenly” occurrence just as much as the
next person.
I can get swept up in the hoopla just as easily as everybody else
when something really big is anticipated to happen.

Remember partying like it was 1999…
in 1999…
at the stroke of midnight when we went from one millennium to another???
What with all that Y2K pandemonium…
that whole ‘where will you be when the earth goes black’ frenzy???

I was on my couch….
with my husband sound asleep on one end, my son and I
watching the ball drop in Times Square on the other end…
Once the ball dropped and we still had power and the earth was still
in one piece and the 2nd coming had not come…
I sent my son to bed.

So yes, I can get just as excited.

So with all the history of eclipses now making the rounds…
Given how those in ancient times reacted to such astronomical occurrences…
as in the sky is falling Henny Penny…

Add in all the speculations from all the calculations as to what this is
now all to mean..what with this latest lining up in the heavens…
coupled by the coincidence of various dates and patterns…
What with those who are currently stock piling their prepper safe rooms…

And well….I’ve got my glasses.

And with all of this latest stirring over phenomenons that are out of our control…
I actually wonder….

What would happen if folks were to get this excited thinking about the coming of
our very final redemption?

What would everyone do that sudden moment the heavens parted,
and in that Eastern sky, Jesus made His presence known….

There’d be no time to get the special viewing glasses,
helping to keep eyes protected from His blinding Light…
there’d be no time to plot and plan where the best place would be for
viewing that true “Second Coming”…
There’d be no time for news stories,
not fees taken for prime viewing rights….
and of what time would there be to say “yes, Lord, I am indeed
a sinner who is in need of your saving Grace….”

So how much greater will that day be in comparison to a total eclipse
of the sun…..

“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth
distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves,
people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world.
For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the
Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
Now when these things begin to take place,
straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Luke 21:25-28

Here’s the link for information regarding the eclipse:

https://www.space.com/33797-total-solar-eclipse-2017-guide.html

the exchange for the lie….

They exchanged the truth about God for a lie,
and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—
who is forever praised.
Amen.

Romans 1:25

When the truth of God is turned to a lie,
his glory is obliterated.

John Calvin


(a purple passion flower found blooming deep in the Georgia woods / Julie Cook / 2017)

When I frist read today’s quote by John Calvin regarding turing God’s truth to a lie…
which therefore obliterated His glory…
I thought “YES, that’s it!”
“That’s what’s going on here”…
“That’s exactly what they’re doing…”
“They’re taking God’s word and altering it to fit the skewed and warped desires of
these current times of ours.”

“Twisting and turning everything God has uttered into some sort of carnal, wanton
and depraved acknowledgement which in turn makes these current times of wants
and desires all really ok.”

It’s been done ever so slyly with a deletion of a word here, a new interpretation or
altered context or sentence there…
and magically it’s now POOF….!!!!!
What once was a “no, not a good idea,” is now a defiant and triumphant “Yes” equating
to everything and anything now being perfectly fine and acceptable…

And in so doing… the Truth has been turned into a lie, thus obliterating and smashing
the glory of God into smithereens….

And just so we’re clear, the said “they” in all of this is pretty much our current
culture and society…
So the “they” is really pretty much us….

Yet…after reading the sentence several times over and over, I sat for a bit pondering
the statement further.

Whereas man has taken God’s words and altered, rearranged and reworded them to fit
neatly into man’s desired wants….
nothing about God has been obliterated….
Because no matter what man does or says, he cannot, will not “obliterate” God.

Nietzsche’s famous proclamation of God being dead did not render God dead…
for man cannot “kill” the Omnipotent Creator…
despite his attempt to rid God from man’s own mind, heart and life….
man does not have that power.

It’s like the angry child who stomps a foot and proclaims to be now ignoring
whomever it is who has incurred his or her wrath….
in essence attempting to render said individual, null and void, dead and gone…
the epitome out of sight and out of mind.

Yet God being outside of both space and time does not conform nor fit into man’s limited
restraints of such.
He is greater than as well as beyond limitations.
And because of that, He is incapable of being obliterated or “killed”
or even contained for that matter.

It is the clarity of observation made by Lauren Green in her newly published book
Lighthouse Faith that sums this all up in once simple sentence…
“that we live in the reality of God’s world,
not He in ours.”

So whereas man may think that he’s being overtly cleaver in his smug superiority–
creating verse and word according to himself…
the Truth which is both inside and outside of both space and time, cannot
be rendered anything other than what it is…
that simply being the Truth….

Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?”
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king.
For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.
Every one who is of the truth hears my voice.”
Pilate said to him,
“What is truth?”

John 18:37-38

Never abandoned

“Blessed are the forgetful,
for they get the better even of their blunders.”

― Friedrich Nietzsche

If Christ Jesus dwells in a man as his friend and noble leader,
that man can endure all things,
for Christ helps and strengthens us and never abandons us.
He is a true friend.

Saint Teresa of Avila

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(emerging daffodils/ Julie Cook / 2016)

Just when the old, grey, cold blanket of winter had grown too stifling and heavy…
Just when you thought all joy and enthusiasm had fled…
Just as everyone and everything has moved against you…
Just as you fall, fearing that you’re down for the final count…

God sends a little reminder that He’s still very much present…as in He will never allow you to fall nor will He ever leave you alone nor abandon you for any reason…

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6

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****the emerging bulbs planted back early Fall and very quickly forgotten…until now…

peaks and valleys

Life is supposed to be a series of peaks and valleys. The secret is to keep the valleys from becoming Grand Canyons.
Bernard Williams

“As the valley gives height to the mountain, so can sorrow give meaning to pleasure; as the well is the source of the fountain, deep adversity can be a treasure.”
William Arthur Ward

In the mountains, the shortest way is from peak to peak: but for that you must have long legs”
Friedrich Nietzsche

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(somewhere on the road in Gleann Cholm Cille in County Dongeal, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

I’m sorry.
You should know.
For what good it is, I’m not sure.
Yelling and screaming with the full force of fury– into the nothingness of air…
At you…
You who remain so silent and painfully elusive.

You who are up there, out there, somewhere high above the clouds.

Do you see through those gossamer layers way down here…to me…?
To me who was knocked to my knees in overwhelming frustration?
The me who continues to claim, to speak and hold on to all that is…
all that is of you…
While you continue to remain so oddly distant and so painfully silent.

Persevere,
Forge the path forward
Fight the good fight
Have faith
Be bold
I hear you
I see you
I know you
I will answer you….

Words that trail off into the frustration, the sorrow, the pain, the heartache of all the ages combined…

We have always lived our lives in hopes of being bourn upward and aloft…
To be able to take wing, as the birds, soaring heavenward…
high amongst the peaks, riding the wind while looking down…
Always with the knowledge that ‘up there’ is so much better than down here.
For high up along the tips of those peaks there are no worries nor concerns.
The air is cool, crisp, thin, yet dangerously exhilarating.
The perspective is massive as all the woes and trials of below seem tiny and insignificant.
And it is up among those peaks where you reside…seemingly without me.

Those of us in the valleys far below are constantly looking upward, wondering, wandering, wishing and hoping to be high and up above. The weight of the world does not seem to weigh heavy on the backs of those high above…not as it does on us here below.
Those of us here below who feel the full heaviness of the crushing gravity of every iniquity, every misdeed ever committed…for we are nearly crushed under the weight of all we bear…

Yet it is here, down in the valleys, where the scars are forged and the skin is thickened.
For it is down here in these valleys low, where the trials by fire reside. Where mere mortals are tried and tested true…annealed in the furnace of an ever fallen, broken world.
Hard fought, arduous and painfully endured.
Products of all the damnation that ever was, is or will be…which is found within an imperfect fallen world.

And yet…
It is you and you alone who knows of our yearning and desire to be among the peaks…
You who knows of our desire, dare it be said desperate need, to reside with and where you are. Our hopes and dreams to be bourn aloft and carried far far away from the sufferings, the agony, the mere frustrations endured down here… down within these valleys of our lives.
And it is You….the One who sees, the One who knows and the One who longs to have us up, among the clouds with You…where the weight of all that is…is simply no more…

And so He comes…

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn…

Isaiah 61: 1-2

There is always Greater. . .

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.
Martha Washington

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(a new spring pretty at the garden shop / Julie Cook / 2015)

Maybe it’s the sudden sore throat.
Maybe it’s the weight of so much crashing down at once.
Maybe it’s the frustration rising from bewildering encounters.
Maybe it’s watching those you love slowly disappear
Maybe it’s the commute
Maybe it’s the mountain of paperwork
Maybe it’s the realization that things will never be the same
Maybe it’s the uphill battle
Maybe it’s the feeling of being alone in all of this
Maybe it’s the intense sense of missing Mom
Maybe it’s attempting to meet the situation with kindness,
only to have malice spit back in return
Maybe it’s the feeling of defeat and the lack of strength. . .

Yet in the midst of the struggles,
the sorrows,
the frustrations. . .
the one single component which keeps drawing me back,
the one remaining constant in this shifting debacle,
the one ray of hopefulness which keeps me holding on
Is the fact, mind you,
not a thought,
not an idea,
not a theory,
but merely a fact. . .
That there is One who is greater then all things which now rest upon my shoulders
That there is One who is greater than anything that can come my way
That there is One who is greater than anything that walks upon this very planet.
And it is to this One, this single solitary entity, who I will call upon to carry me through.

On the day I called, thou didst answer me,
my strength of soul thou didst increase.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
thou dost preserve my life;
thou dost stretch out thy hand against the wrath of my enemies,
and thy right hand delivers me.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
thy steadfast love, O Lord, endures for ever.
Do not forsake the work of thy hands.

Psalm 138:3 and 7-8)

Gentle Humility

The voice of beauty speaks softly; it creeps only into the most fully awakened souls”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

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(soft downy feathers of a hawk found on a walk in the woods / Julie Cook / 2014)

“These are the few ways we can practice humility:

To speak as little as possible of one’s self.

To mind one’s own business.

Not to want to manage other people’s affairs.

To avoid curiosity.

To accept contradictions and correction cheerfully.

To pass over the mistakes of others.

To accept insults and injuries.

To accept being slighted, forgotten and disliked.

To be kind and gentle even under provocation.

Never to stand on one’s dignity.

To choose always the hardest.”

― Mother Teresa, The Joy in Loving: A Guide to Daily Living

Each morning, as I begin my prayers, the very first thing I do is to ask for forgiveness of my sins, of those things known and of those things unknown–sins of self–especially that of ego and pride. And it is often those very type of sins, those of self which are the ones that I am most unconscious of as they tend to be a bit insidious, seeping in through the chinks in the armor.

Our western culture tends to embrace bravado–we like winners, we like confidence, we like fighters–we also like glitz and glamor and the notion that bigger is better, more is best. All of which runs counter to the concept of gentleness and humility. It should be noted that even our reputation in other countries is often of being loud and obnoxious. Not exactly a virtuous sort of moniker.

As I read these wise words of Mother Teresa, I am convicted of heart–as is usually the case under Mother Teresa’s gentle reprimands. Oh I can rationalize that, as an American, we / me are curious people who tend to be all over the place as far as managing our lives as well as the managing of other’s lives. We / me, tend to bristle at insults. We / me do not do well with slights or complaints, and heavens knows we / me do not tolerate provocation very well at all and we / me relish waving our dignity here, there and yon. Our Media / Entertainment worlds do not help with these nasty little habits of ours, but they seem to rather enjoy instigating such and adding fuel to the fire. Makes for better ratings I’m sure.

On this new day to this new week, in the wee hours of this new year, may we all be mindful that it is gentleness that is truly the greater virtue. That humility is stronger than bravado and hype. And that it is the meek who shall inherit the earth. . .for:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.