God’s work

The spirit and the soul are two totally different organs:
one belongs to God, while the other belongs to man.
By whatever names one may call them,
they are completely distinct in substance.
The peril of the believer is to confuse the spirit for the soul and the soul
for the spirit,
and so be deceived into accepting the counterfeit of evil spirits
to the unsettling of God’s work.

Watchman Nee
March 8, 1933


(Gulf fritillary butterfly / Julie Cook / 2017)

God’s work…
that is what this is all about is it not?
That being this thing we call life….

Watchman Nee (1903-1972) was an ardent Chinese Christian Church leader.
He was also a profuse author.
I was first introduced to Watchman Nee and his books when I was in college
by a friend who was a bit older and had lived and weathered more of life than
I had up to that point.

Nee is not easy to read, for me at least,
In part because of the sheer depth of his faith.
as well as because much of his work spans the course of a century
that was full of great change.
It is as if one is reading the words of a mystic.
Deeply spiritual, deeply profound.

I have ebbed and flowed over the years with Nee.

Nee’s words have resurfaced recently in my life…
at a time when such words have not only been needed but most certainly
welcomed.

My road as of late has been difficult as I’ve watched my already small family
shrink even smaller. Losing the shoring piers to a heart that is being
battered and tested.

I remain consumed by what all it is taking to get dad’s life, post dad,
to a place of management.
The legal and financial aspect is simply daunting.

Add to the loss of dad, coupled by this organization and bureaucratic nightmare,
the untimely death of my aunt…a death seemingly so sudden.
Granted we knew she had been gravely ill,
despite the doctors saying “not to worry” give the meds time…”
As her body could simply no longer hang on.

My husband and I will be driving the 10 hour journey southward at the
end of the week in order to attend the memorial service.
We will remain for a few days sorting through what made Martha’s life her own.

On top of all the sorrow and frustration we are dealing with the early news of
becoming grandparents…as we worry over our son and daughter-n-law as they are
in the midst of job changes, long commutes and a bit of uncertainty.

So there is certainly a great deal of emotional overload…both up and down…
both good and bad.

That is why the words of those such a Nee are ever so important.

A wise friend of mine…
as I am fortunate in that I have many friends who are indeed wise,
recently shared with me his thoughts on my latest stand of sorrow and worry.
He told me that…
“Only when we realise that we can not do it all [alone]
(whatever the it might be in our lives)
we then cry out…
I believe God is so close to you at this time because you are crying out to him…”

I too believe that when we cry out, God draws ever closer despite our feelings
of isolation…
for it is in the isolation of loneliness…
when we are stripped bare of all distraction and false protection.

In 1949 when China became a Communist Nation, Nee was imprisoned—
He had refused to stop preaching, speaking, writing and sharing the Word of God.
A practice counter to all things communist.
An underlying theme in Communism is that it is important, if not essential,
to create false accusations in order to arrest, impression or even execute
those who speak Truth against the atheistic beliefs of the Communist state.

This was not an exception in the case of Nee.
He was falsely accused of crimes he never committed, arrested and sentenced to
spend what would be the last 20 years of his life in a forced hard labor camp.

His final words where found scribbled on a sheet of paper that had been tucked
beneath his prison cell pillow…

“Christ is the Son of God who died for the redemption of sinners and
resurrected after three days. This is the greatest truth in the universe.
I die because of my belief in Christ.”

Watchman Nee

So what we must come to understand, as hard as it often is, that this life
that we claim as our own, is not for our benefit and glory but rather for
that of God’s…it is for His work, and His alone…
as we learn that we both live and die because of Christ Jesus….

“The greatest advantage in knowing the difference between spirit and soul is in
perceiving the latent power of the soul and in understanding its falsification
of the power of the Holy Spirit.

Just last night I was reading what F. B. Meyer once said in a meeting shortly before
his earthly departure. Here is a section of it:
‘This is an amazing fact that never has there been so much spiritualism outside
the church of Christ as is found today…
Is it not factual that in the lower part of our human nature the stimulation of
the soul is quite prevailing?
Nowadays the atmosphere is so charged with the commotion of all kinds of counterfeit that the Lord seems to be calling the church to come to a higher ground.’
Today’s situation is perilous.
May we ‘prove all things; hold fast that which is good’ (1 Thess. 5:.21)
Amen”

Watchman Nee
March 8, 1933
(forward from The Latent Power of the Soul)

acknowledgement

“When twilight drops her curtain down
And pins it with a star
Remember that you have a friend
Though she may wander far.”

L.M. Montgomery


(my mom’s camp autograph book from the summer of 1947)

“Society is neither my master nor my servant,
neither my father nor my sister;
and so long as she does not bar my way to the kingdom of heaven,
which is the only society worth getting into,
I feel no right to complain of how she treats me.
I have no claim on her; I do not acknowledge her laws–hardly her existence,
and she has no authority over me. Why should she, how could she,
constituted as she is, receive such as me? The moment she did so,
she would cease to be what she is; and, if all be true that one hears of her,
she does me a kindness in excluding me. What can it matter to me, Letty,
whether they call me a lady or not, so long as Jesus says “Daughter” to me?”

― George MacDonald

The importance of acknowledgement.
To be thought of, recognized, considered, remembered….
it’s all any of us want.

It seems as if we are wired to vie for attention, affection, place, prestige, recognition…
For who among us doesn’t remember the grade school moment of being passed over
when teams or sides were chosen.
That demoralizing trauma of childhood of being ignored or considered less than
and unworthy…

As children we wanted to be able to count our friends as we would marbles…
creating our own special royal court…
or…
we wanted to be a part of a special court…
a part of a group of cohorts, the proverbial band of brothers..or sisters….
We yearned to be acknowledge just as much we desired offering acknowledgment.
Even the quietest and most shy among us secretly desired to be acknowledged,
albeit in more simple and subtle ways.

So why should we assume that the God of all Creation, He who calls us His own,
would be impervious to also wanting to be acknowledged by those He deeply loves
and adores…

For I am His and He is mine…

In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:6

I have chosen you

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might
go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name
the Father will give you.
This is my command: Love each other.
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.
If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.
As it is, you do not belong to the world,
but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

(John 15:16-19)

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“But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances.
A secret Master of the Ceremonies has been at work.
Christ, who said to the disciples “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,”
can truly say to every group of Christian friends
“You have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.”
The Friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out.
It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of all the others.
They are no greater than the beauties of a thousand other men;
by Friendship God opens our eyes to them.
They are, like all beauties, derived from Him through the Friendship itself,
so that it is His instrument for creating as well as for revealing.
At this feast it is He who has spread the board and it is He who has chosen the guests.
It is He, we may dare to hope, who sometimes does, and always should, preside.
Let us not reckon without our Host.”

― C.S. Lewis

purpose

“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive,
but in finding something to live for.”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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( a jar of Pickles from Pickles with a Purpose)

I suppose a jar of pickles and Christmas seem to have nothing much in common…
But as you may know, those of us predisposed to all things Southern, love a good pickle.
As we love the sheer notion of pickling.

We pickle everything from cucumbers to okra to quail eggs, to pigs feet.
And mind you whereas I prefer all things of the cucumber variety, I have been known to
venture out on a limb by trying a pickled green bean as well as an okra,
I simply draw the line however with the eggs and pig’s feet.

I live in a small Georgia town, a growing town, but considered small
none-the-less by the larger city dwellers…
And I should know having grown up in the big city…
we are indeed small, despite having a super Kroger and a Super Wal-Mart.

I don’t like super…super is too big, too generic, too impersonal.

I do like my small town as opposed to the big city.

Whereas the big city has more to offer such as great places to eat,
unique places to shop, and abundant things to do….
the small town is more homey.
And I like the feel of homey.

I was at the pharmacist’s the other day getting a prescription filled.
I like my pharmacy.
It is owned and operated by a local gal whose husband I once worked with at the high school.
I remember when they got married.
They now have boys in junior high.
Time flies in small towns.

Her dad works the counter, while she works at filling the bottles.
It’s nice as in it’s homey, as they know me by name.
They know my husband and they know my son and daughter-n-law.
They order things I need.

So the other day as I was waiting for my perscribtion to be filled, I wandered about
looking at the items she has in for Christmas.

Sitting amongst the ornaments and specialty soaps sat a jar of pickles.
Curious I picked up the jar.
The label simply read Pickles with a Purpose.
The side label gave a listing of ingredients and the fact that they came
from Marietta, Georgia…once a small town of its own,
but Marietta is now a part of the mega growing Cobb County, the
soon to be new home of the Atlanta Braves.
How an Atlanta baseball team can still be known as just that, Atlanta’s baseball team,
when moving out from Atlanta to a neighboring county still has me confused…
but that is not my worry, not today.

There was also a website listed on the back label of the pickles.
A website where one could learn more about the story behind the pickles.

I did however notice a small card propped up by the pickle jars…
so I pulled it out hoping to read a little further into the story.

It seems the idea of the pickles came from a 9 year old boy named Luke
from Marietta, Georgia who felt God wants him to help raise money for an older man
he knows who happens to be homeless.

The young man’s grandmother graciously offered her secret pickle recipe as a means
of having a product to sell in hopes of raising enough money to buy Luke’s
homeless friend a home.
The homeless friend, named Tim, is a middle aged black man whom Luke
had met while helping his mom at a business she manages…

At that point, with tears in my eye and my prescription being ready,
I grabbed up 4 jars… all I could carry, as made my way to the counter to pay.
I was told that the pickles were really great so I went back and grabbed the last jar.

It wasn’t the fact that the pickles were supposedly really good…
It wasn’t because I like pickles…
but rather it was the story behind the pickles that actually inspired me…
as I normally wouldn’t buy jars of pickles to give as Christmas gifts.

Later at home I got on the computer and looked up Pickles with a Purpose and found the
following You Tube video of the young man Luke sharing his plan of raising the money
to buy his friend Tim a home…

I hope Luke’s story will inspire as well bless you as much as it blessed me…
As Luke’s pickle story is really just another reminder of what Christmas is really all about…

I’ll be going back to pick up some more jars of pickles…
Small towns are nice that way….

friends and mates

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends.
I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”

―Jane Austen

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(the latest friend in the dammit family / Julie Cook / 2016)

Over the course of the past weekend, my son and his wife moved into their new apartment.
They did so with the help of group of friends.
Going from a house in the suburbs to a smaller apartment in the city will naturally take some adjusting,
however I think their level of excitement is far exceeding any need for adjustment.

I mention that they had a group of friends helping because that got me thinking.
Whereas my dear friends, or better yet mates, in the UK would naturally say
that it was my son’s mates who helped him out…
with mates referring to his friends,
I simply use the word friends…

All variances of semantics I suppose.

Yet when hearing the word friends referred to as mates,
I find that I actually prefer using the word mates as opposed to friends.

Friends come in all sorts of varying degrees of difference.
Close friends,
dear friends,
intimate friends,
partner,
buddy,
pal,
associates,
acquaintances,
roommates,
co-workers,
colleagues…
all of which constitute falling under the one umbrella of the collective word friends.
Some close, some really close, some not so close…

In my opinion however, the word mate, or the plural form mates, seems to refer to a tighter knit connection.
A closer level of familiarity and knowledge.

And when it comes to moving house—
especially with moving from a larger house to a smaller apartment almost 70 miles away,
it takes a really tight knit group of “friends,” hence mates,
volunteering their precious weekend time to drive back and forth,
hauling, lifting, toting, dissembling, reassembling the possessions of another….

As perhaps one’s mates come with a certain level of deeper commitment,
whereas ones friends fluctuate.

And of course in this country we refer to a spouse as a mate.
As in a pair.
As in a help mate.
As in soul mate.
As in a union of two becoming one.

So once again, mate having a tighter connection than just that of friend.

And as we so often refer to our Savior as our friend…
having the relationship with Jesus, as Lord and Savior is anything but that of a friend…
Despite hymns singing to the contrary and many who reference Him as their best friend…
there is difference between friend and God….

For the Xristósis, the Christos, the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ…
is far greater than that of friend.
He and His relationship with us, those who claim Him as God,
exceeds the confine of friendship..

Being both God and Spirit, as He is of the Triune Godhead,
He commands so much more than our mere friendship…

Rather He commands our awe and wonderment…
And our reverence and our homage.

For He is not a mere friend,
not even a mate…
but rather a Sovereign God…

A God who cares about both our physical and emotional wants and needs,
yet deserves our reverence, our wonderment, our praise, our worship…

It is good to have friends, even better to have great mates…
but most importantly it behooves us to have a Savior, who gave His very life
for each and every last one of us…..

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

Romans 5:8

circling the wagons

“Yup.
The end of a way of life.
Too bad.
It’s a good way.
Wagons forward!
Yo!”

John Wayne

A faithful friend is a strong defense;
And he that hath found him hath found a treasure.

Louisa May Alcott

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I’ve spent the better part of the past two years circling my wagons…
As I’ve been riding on a merry-go-round of all things focused on caring for a dad…
one who has been more child than father…
as it should be noted that that has been pretty much him for the majority of my adult life.

As a life long high school teacher, I can multitask with the best of them…
except when it comes to a crisis…
then my mind and actions narrow.

I become steely eyed…
as I grow laser focused,
blocking out most everything that sits on the periphery of life,
as I turn every available resource to the problem.

Trouble is, there have been a myriad of troubles during the course of
the last couple of years…
all of which have kept me and my sights narrowed and hyper-focused
for much longer than is most likely healthy….
hence my back, or whatever it is back there that has me unknowingly holding my hand
to my lower back as I go about my day in a gingerly fashion….
So unlike my ADDness of darting here and there all before blinking…

As an only child caring for two elderly individuals who have varying degrees of dementia,
as well as a wealth of physical ailments…
and who live miles away in a different city from my own…
it has all left me more and more isolated and emotionally spent

It seems my closest friend these days is the main caregiver who spends her days
making certain no one falls or forgets their medications…
let alone forgetting to eat…
which for one of them is a constant battle.

I live on the road, traversing back and forth.
The days I spend not traversing,
are spent on the phone with various doctors and healthcare facilities,
or paying a sea of endless bills,
or simply organizing a home and household other than my own…
A house that is nearly 65 years old and needs much in the way of care….

My phone rings constantly with the calls from an ever growing confused 88 year old man
who has decided he will die in the hospital come Friday during his surgery…
as his wife, my stepmother,
just can’t understand and is irritated as to why he keeps having to run to the loo.

The concept of a large tumor and bladder cancer has simply flown totally
over her head as she has decided she hates the new dishwasher.
I had to buy it,
have it installed
and now she hates it
for the one single reason…
that I bought it…
Go figure…

She now demands that the caregivers hand wash every dish and glass.
Just as she refuses to eat the groceries brought into the house
because she is convinced they have all gone bad and are rotten upon
arriving fresh from the store.

And if it’s not dad calling, it’s the caregivers calling with the latest craziness
as I work my magic to put out the fires of bodies and minds fighting themselves….

The journey getting here was slow and almost unnoticeable at first.
There were, however, signs and warnings…

Signs and warnings, that perhaps in my naiveté,
I thought would all turn out differently
or never materialize in the first place…

Just like the pictures I had in my mind of my future with my mother…

That when she would one day grow old and grey…as dad is now,
I warmly entertained the thoughts of how we’d have fun together…
We’d go to lunch and to the antique shops we each enjoyed when she and I were younger..
Just as we would then travel and see the world…together…

But those thoughts were smashed 30 years ago when she suddenly died from cancer….
So I don’t know why I try to imagine things as a certain way,
as that is not how they will be…

For the snowball has picked up momentum and is barreling at breakneck speed toward me…

And so, yes, I have circled my wagons…
drawing my camp ever near.
As my circle in life has tightened..
excluding many from what once was…

My eyes have narrowed
As I hold my cards tight to my chest,
lest they reveal too much…hopefulness…

Yet this story of woe is not as tragic as it might seem…
Nor is this heart bitter as it might sound…

For despite the fact that my world has shrunk from what it was…
from my friends
from my freedom
from my choices
from my comings and goings…

there has been much…
inward growing
inward learning
inward bending
inward moulding
inward shaping

For the winds of this life are shifting…
And attentions must be turning…

So I ready myself and my camp
for that which comes our way…

‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’
declares the LORD,
‘plans for welfare and not for calamity
to give you a future and a hope.’

Jeremiah 29:11

The Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.

Amen.
A prayer attributed to Reinhold Neibuhr (1892-1971)

life begets death, begets life

None but praying leaders can have praying followers. A praying pulpit will beget praying pews. We do greatly need pastors and evangelists who will set the saints to this business of praying. We are not a generation of praying saints. Who will restore this breach? The greatest will he be of reformers who can set the Church to praying.
Edward McKendree Bounds

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(seaweed washed on shore / Santa Rosa Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2016)

To be born again…man’s age old conundrum…

Atop an open roof top, deep within a quiet summer’s evening,
two new friends chat late into the night.
The air was heavy yet dry as slight breeze aided in taking off the edge from the day’s remaining heat…
A dog can be heard barking in the distance.

One man is elderly yet a trusted and learned member of the local religious community.
The other man is new comer to the area and is known by the locals as a traveling young teacher.

The elder of this odd twosome knows that to be seen with this young teacher would cause unnecessary chatter amongst the established community, yet he also knows that there is just something otherworldly about his new young friend…something about the confidence in which he speaks that stirs the heart of the older gentleman.

The elder man shares his observation with the young teacher that he believes the young man is truly in the favor of God—for the things of which he speaks and the things of which he does could have no other authority but that of God’s.

Noting the intuitive perception of his elderly friend, the young teacher acknowledges his friend’s insightfulness adding that “no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again”

Incredulous the older man asks how could such be possible…how can a man be born again as the only way would be to re-enter the womb…of which is a sheer impossibility.

But the young teacher responds…
“Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

Again, mystified the elder man asks how this can be.
And again the young teacher explains to his friend the meaning behind his words…

“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

It was in Jesus’s agonizing walk to his own death in which we were shown the door to our new birth.

The timeless words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer continue to remind us of such…

We pay more attention to dying than to death. We’re more concerned to get over the act of dying than to overcome death. Socrates mastered the art of dying; Christ overcame death as the last enemy. There is a real difference between the two things; the one is within the scope of human possibilities, the other means resurrection.
It’s not from ars mourned, the art of dying, but from the resurrection of Christ, that a new and purifying wind can blow through our present world. Here is the answer to Archimedes’ challenge:
“Give me somewhere to stand, and I will move the earth.” If only a few people really believed that and acted on it in their daily lives, a great deal world be changed. To live in the light of resurrection–that is what Easter means.

The conundrum lies within the choice…
the choice between living a life in this world complete with its ensuing death…
or the choice to live life outside of this world, in the victory over Death, with its ensuing life…
Each comes with a cost…eternal death, or a rebirth into eternal life
Seems easy enough….

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.
Deuteronomy 30:19

Can love come in a box…along with the wisdom gleaned from the road

“What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”
St. Augustine of Hippo

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(Meet Namar Nich, the latest member of the family / Julie Cook / 2016)

To quickly answer the question posed in today’s title…
…in a nutshell…
“no”
Love cannot come in a box….

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Yet what exactly might come in a box you ask…??

Well…

Comfort can come in a box.
A little excitement can come in a box.
Sustenance can come in a box.
A brief moment of happiness or even a little joy can come in a box.
A small respite can come in a box.
A dose of fun can come in a box.
A bit of a diversion can come in a box.
Something new, old, borrowed or blue can come in a box….

And in our case, a little needed levity can come in a box…

Meet Gloria the Dammit doll’s new friends….they came, in a box, from China via LA
(yeah I was a little bummed discovering this crew is not a “Made in America” friendly clan)

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However, sad as it may be, only one friend out of this foreign lot is going to be staying…
The others have places to go and people to see…
As in anxiously expectant homes already in need and waiting desperately for some comfort, joy, new, excitement, diversion, happiness, fun and levity to arrive…

Meet Namar Nich

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Handsome little devil isn’t he?
Puffed out chest, beautiful mop of hair…
and those eyes….absolutely dreamy….

Gloria can hardly contain herself…you can see it in her face….

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Notice that coy little smile of hers and see how her eyes just dance at the first sight of Namar…

What kind of name is Namar you ask…
Well if you must know…
My dad graduated from Emory University in Atlanta in the early 50’s, where he was a member of the
SAE fraternity. Upon completion of his degree from Emory, he then moseyed on over to GA Tech and earned another degree…this coming from a man who really didn’t like school…
but do you want to know what Dad did like?
He liked beer.
As I suppose most college boys, as well as most fraternity boys, do…they indeed like beer…
And in Dad’s case, it was an obscure Philadelphia brew of the day, Namar Beer.
And if I could guess, it was an inexpensive beer as we must remember dad is cheap a most frugal individual.
His college stein, that now sits proudly on a table at my son’s home, has the lovely seal of Emory University on the front and the name “Namar” elegantly printed on the back.

Years back, when I was much younger, I had taken dad’s mug out of his curio cabinet for further inspection.
I was really impressed with the whole college seal but as I flipped it around, reading the name on the back, I was greatly intrigued.
Assuming “Namar” was some deep dark secret ritual name from his time spent at college, I can remember asking him with stately reverence what it stood for.
With eyes sparkling wide, I anxiously readied myself for some marvelous tale as to the meaning of “Namar” when he causally replied…
“oh that was the name of my favorite beer…guess I drank a good bit of it as my friends nicknamed me Namar Nich…”

REALLY?

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(a can of Philly’s best, Namar Beer…looks more like a can of motor oil…)

Needless to say one more tiny bubble burst in a long line of bursting bubbles as one more notch to Dad’s pedestal was knocked out from under the once loftier height….He’s now somewhere below sea level…but I digress…

And now you must remember that Gloria the Dammit doll had told me several weeks ago that she was tired. She has been working her fingers to the bones as life at Dad’s has been harrowing at best.
Gloria, my stepmother,….oh yeah, isn’t that the craziest thing, she and Gloria the Dammit doll both have the same name…anywhooo…Gloria, the stepmother, has been…well…not good….and when Gloria isn’t good and Dad isn’t good, which is how life has been as of late, Gloria the Dammit Doll is busy.

So I had promised to find Gloria a friend.
A helpmate who would help share in the load of balancing both the lives of my dad and stepmother….

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So off to Atlanta the three of us went…

The journey was the typical harrowing adventure when traversing the Atlanta interstate system.
Pot holes litter the highway which provide drivers with the same sense of riding a roller coaster just at a speed of 75 mph or greater depending on one’s foot and the need to keep up with the traffic flow.
Bouncing up and down, thankful to be buckled in and praying not to pop a tire…

Yet there was a bit of enlightenment during today’s journey.

The first happened along by way of a homemade roadside placard that was situated on a power line just to the right side of the interstate.
A large painted wooden board announced to one and all:
“Jesus is coming…Be Patient”

I couldn’t help but chuckle out loud.

I mused to myself…that yes, He is indeed coming back…
and with the way things are going in this broken down world of ours,
I know that I for one have been more than a bit anxious as to His ETA…or estimated time of arrival!

There’s a lot of wisdom in that sign…
He’s coming…it isn’t a question of yea or nay…He’s definitely coming…
Rather the concern is all in the timing…as to when exactly He’s coming…
and I can assure you that it won’t be in my preferred time frame that’s for certain—

Timing is God’s and God’s alone…and I am behooved to be mindful of such.
God’s got this…I don’t…which is often far too obvious…
I just have to trust knowing it’s all in His hands.
Not an easy task, especially with my current life in Atlanta,
but it’s not in my hands…it’s all in His….

And as I continued driving over to my life in Atlanta that is totally out of control and certainly out of my control, I am sweetly reminded that God’s got this….suddenly a wonderful sense of comfort washed over me… as I continued racing toward my destination with both Gloria and Namar in tow.

The second little life lesson gleaned happened one interstate over while I was driving past a tanker truck.
Glaring for all to behold, printed in bold black letters on the back of the tanker was the sign “if you’re getting passed on the right, you’re probably in the wrong lane”
Luckily for me I was to this guy’s left.

And here we have life in a nutshell…life by way of the world’s standards…
“hurry up or get over because the world is ready to pass you by…”

Both moments dealt with time…
One being God’s time,..or better yet, God’s timing…
while the other focused on the time of this world.
Both of which play into the craziness I call this life of mine…
with the single important factor being….
which of these two times will I abide by…??

I think I prefer the former of the two….

More to follow on life with the new couple, Namar and Gloria….
and of course the older couple…Mr Mole and Mrs. Loon

“For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”
Habakkuk 2:3

Consistencies

Consistency, madam, is the first of Christian duties.
Charlotte Bronte

Part of courage is simple consistency.
Peggy Noonan

“Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing!”
― John Wesley

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(worn weary cross, Sligo Abbey / County Sligo, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

As much as we…
try
arrange
rearrange
plot and plan
inconsistencies will forever be a constant.
For there is nothing in our lives that will remain without glitch, hiccup, accident, or
bedevilment

Not family
Not friends
Not health
Not government
Not weather
Not land
Not sea
Not sky

The only consistent aspect of our lives is our relationship with God
Void of any and all inconsistencies…
He alone is the only one true constant any of us will ever know…
Forever was
Forever is
Forever will be…

And so He comes….

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
1 Colossians 1:15-17

the hustle and bustle of the 4th Sunday in Advent

Just a hurried line…to tell a story which puts the contrast between our feast of the Nativity and all this ghastly “Xmas” racket at its lowest. My brother heard a woman on a bus say, as the bus passed a church with a Crib outside it, “Oh Lor’! They bring religion into everything. Look – they’re dragging it even into Christmas now!”
~ C.S. Lewis, Letters to an American Lady, Dec. 29, 1958, p80

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(St Patrick’s Cathedral / Dublin, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

As Christmas day draws nigh…
As you busy yourself with all that must be done…
As you hurry here and there…
Checking off your list each item one by one…
As you travel… drive, fly, rail, sail and wander your way to there and yon
As you wonder what will fill your day come Friday…
Who will you see, what will you do, where will you be….
Make certain that you stop, standing very still at some point along the way…
Being ever mindful, taking hold of what is at the very heart, the epicenter of this season of merry and bright, waiting and watching…
What it is that makes this season as exciting as it is…
Not the visit from Santa
Not the gifts all wrapped up under a tree
Not the lights nor all the decorations
Not the visits from family and friends..
but rather the something, or more exactly the someone, who makes this all exactly what it is…and that being…
Yeshua ben Yosef…
The Christ…

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.

(Micha 5:2)