God is laughing

“I love people who make me laugh.
I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh.
It cures a multitude of ills.
It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”

Audrey Hepburn


(A closeup shot of Pere(Father) Jacques Marquette, a 17th-century Jesuit missionary and explorer of New France, along with his visiting gull pal, whose statue graces the central green on Mackinac Island, MI / Julie Cook / 2017)

Sometimes I feel like one of those poor city statues…you know the ones…
those once well thought of monuments to those once notable figures
which are now more of less forgotten to time and are relegated to being a
resting spot for both weary tourists and disprespectful birds.

Now whereas Fr Marquette’s statue is looking rather regal and very clean,
not yet having been “desecrated” on this particular day with the random and
less than nobel telltale signatures left by resting birds—
I just can’t help but feel that my life lately is that of such a statue…

I feel as if I’ve become just another old forgotten statue that currently
has an entire flock of birds resting on my head,
just waiting for the moment when the commanding bird gives the signal for the
troops to simultaneously do what it is they do…
all the while, being simply left to their mercy.

And then it would be just like God, or so I would imagine,
who’d be the first one to laugh.
Yet what a joyful laugh it would be….

For you see I tend to take life seriously….
a little too seriously…

I tend to think things are a big deal.
I allow myself to get all worked up and bent out of shape when my
seemingly grandiose, well thought out,
detailed plans get all skewed as I watch everything I’ll have worked so hard over
collide head-on with the proverbial Murphy of Murphy’s law.

I can come unglued and unraveled as I sit in the midst of the debris…
sadly picking up the pieces, while crying over my life’s spilled milk….
As I furiously and frustratingly try to figure out the lessons
I’m to find in the current spate of misfortune, error, accident and
simple run of bad luck that has all come my way.

For you see I believe things in this life are never random—
everything has a purpose and a plan.

God has a plan in not only the good events of life…
but more importantly and most especially, His plans are even found in the
bad events…

And being the ever impatient one, I try to quickly figure it all out so the
current run of misery will not seem to be all for naught….

And then He laughs because He knows it’s really a matter of His timing
and not mine.

I have a post to write—a little self deprecating post but one filled with lots
of humor.
All because I was much like someone sitting in the middle of one of those
Chevy Chase family vacation movies last week during the little trip my husband
and I had taken—
if it was to go wrong,
it would…
and boy… did it ever…
over and over and over.

First there were the tears of utter frustration as I saw our precious “away”
time being bombarded by misfortune…
with my poor husband trying to offer comfort.
The smart man knew it was best that he keep his temper and composure over
our relentless misfortune and misadventure as I was likely to come totally
unglued…
And not knowing if anyone could survive a total meltdown by his now
distraught wife—heck I didn’t know if I could survive such a self implosion
as I’ve never had a total crumbling….
he managed to keep his cool–something he’s usually not good at doing.

However by week’s end, it all became almost comical…
the kind of stuff one looks back on when fondly remembering some of life’s
greater adventures.

Yet when we got back home, trying to put things back into the play of routine,
there came word of something else–something, when compared to all that we’d
just been through, went totally over the top.

For this latest “event” has now put the icing on the cake…
which in turn is giving me grand pause to sit back and see that God has
indeed had the final teaching moment…

And it all is culminating with God delightfully laughing…
Laughing a grand ol belly laugh full of love and full of hope and full of joy…

and soon, when life slows down, at least just a tad,
and I find myself caught back up with things here…
I’ll share my tale…
One in which we will all be able to commiserate together and then joyously laugh
triumphantly…

Sarah then said,
“God has given me cause to laugh,
and all who hear of it will laugh with me.

Genesis 21:6

Hurdles

The boy who is going to make a great man must not make up his mind merely to overcome a thousand obstacles, but to win in spite of a thousand repulses and defeats.
Theodore Roosevelt

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(St Kevin’s Tower / St Kevin’s Monastery, Gleandalough, Co Wicklow, Ireland/ Julie Cook / 2015)

At some point or other during the course of living,
difficulties and trying times will engulf each one of us.

No one is exempt from the various hurdles Life places in our paths.
We will be faced with two options…

Either we just keep running and jumping
or
we stop.

We can stop before each hurdle, pondering the height and possibility of clearing each safely,
opting to drop out of the race all together…
or
we can decide to simply keep going.

Some days the prospect of continuing the race, with all of the hurdles needing to be cleared, seems more than we can bear.
We may actually even trip over the hurdles, temporally losing our balance…stumbling wildly while trying to recover…
Or
We may actually fall, crashing down onto the track scraping up knees, elbows and even damaging muscles and bones.

Then the choice will be…

Do we just lay there bleeding while grimacing in pain, bemoaning that the hurdles are simply too high and have just beaten us
or
Do we pick ourselves up, bruised and bleeding, and continue on with the race?

As I ccurretnly find myself laying on the track grimacing in the pain and bleeding, having stumbled over Life’s most recent hurdle… I received some very wise counsel…

“God always hears [sees] you.
You are just seeing things from the perspective of this moment,
while He is looking from the perspective of resolution of all these issues.
He is busy getting you to that point, too.”

So as my perspective,
while having tripped over life’s latest hurdle with me now being down for the count on a track that has just torn me to pieces, is limited.
I’m holding on to bruised, bleeding and broken limbs while staring upward at something that seems nearly impossible to clear…
through clenched teeth I pray…albeit it frustratingly.
Yet what I can’t see from my perspective on the ground,
is that God is already seeing the finish line…
He knows the outcome…
I just need to get back up to finish the race….

With your help I can advance against a troop;
with my God I can scale a wall.

Psalm 18:29

finding a faith stone through the dark times

“…in our willful desire to live independently of God, we have severed the lifeline that flows from the source of all life”
Billy Graham

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(Wicklow Mountains, Glendalough National Park, County Wicklow, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

There are no exemptions in this life when it comes to difficulties, struggles, trials and conflicts.
Some are self imposed, some are random and some, for the believer, can be most vexing…
for it can often feel as if God has…
walked away,
deserted us,
or…
is proving to be more stubborn than ourselves.

Some periods will be more severe than others and there is certainly no clear window as to how long or how short such episodes will each last.

There will be times of great dryness…a rough patch of road that leaves one feeling empty…
or better yet, feeling nothing at all, as in void of feeling or emotion…
A sense of isolation, depression and emptiness…

Other times there will be the feeling as if the rug has been pulled out from under foot …
As one is left wondering if facing one more moment, let alone one more day, is even possible…preferring simply to throw in the proverbial towel while gladly giving it all up.

Maybe it’s seasonal…
What with these long cold winters of shortened days, limited light, constant gray, heavy clouds, cold rains, blanketing snow and a never ending feeling as if one can never get warm.

Maybe its the long hot summers of endless days, excessive heat, dry barren ground that becomes brittle to the touch..leaving one and all the only option of slowing down to a crawl in order to preserve energy while hoping to sweat a little less while praying for a cooling breeze to quench the fire .

Maybe life has simply dealt a wicked hand.
Tragedy has struck,
illness prevails,
and loss is paramount.

Or maybe it’s as if one has been left to simply bam ones head against a wall…as in the wall isn’t budging and neither are we. Frustration has taken hold and we are stuck in our dead-end tract of never-ending madness.

Whatever the reason, life is…
hard and difficult,
frustrating and tiresome,
sad and often unbearable…

I was offered some wise counsel yesterday from a dear friend—which I hope he won’t mind that I now share…
In our conversation my friend offered up an interesting perspective as to when we find ourselves in the midst of struggle and suffering…

“sometimes its better to go back to the last place you encountered God in a mighty way
in your life and use it as a marker….
When Moses parted the red sea and the children of Israel crossed over, the first thing they did was build a stone altar there and gave thanks to God for their deliverance…
So it is with us….
When God does something in our lives and we know it was Him, it is a marker…
A faith stone that repairs our hope in troubled times.
It is good to remember that place and a good starting point to carry on….”

For me that moment, that mile marker , when I knew that I had encountered the Omnipotent I AM, was during my fall trip to Ireland…I think we all have a myriad of moments throughout our lives, but for whatever reason we may simply miss the significance, write it off as mere happenstance, or we may have felt so dreadfully barren for so very long that perhaps it feels as if it were the only real true encounter we have ever experienced….

So my marker, my road of Damascus moment, was one September evening in Ireland.

Yet to literally re-vist that very moment in order to restudy, review, re-live that exact moment in time is impossible, impractical and far from feasible…

It is impossible for me to fly back over, gather those 3 particular friends together again on that lone September evening, at that exact restaurant table up in County Donegal…it is impossible for me to have that exact same conversation which lead to the words being spoken that shot into my mind and heart like a hot arrow piercing my very soul…unleashing the overwhelming sensation that time was standing still and I was suddenly alone with God.

It was all of a second, maybe two, for those words to be uttered and in turn to be heard…
however it seemed much longer as each word reverberated throughout my entire being…

Whereas I may not be able to actually re-live that amazing turning point, it’s not impossible to recall those three life changing words….
“Be at peace…”
“Be at peace with your God”….

Yet it was the first three words of that simple sentence that knocked me and my current world upside down.
Yet…the words were not for that night…not then…

Those simple words which were offered over dinner were not intended for that moment…not for a moment that was indeed peaceful as four friends enjoyed a good meal and drink, with good conversation in an ideal setting.
For that particular moment was of peace itself…

It was to be later when I would need to revisit those words.

As I have needed to do so this very week.
As well as last week and mostly likely next week and the many weeks which lie ahead.
Life is that way.
Life has a way of sucking out the very life of one’s being.
It can be hard.
It can also be joyous as well…
yet frustratingly those joyous times are often forgotten as one is wading through the hard with the muck of madness clinging to one’s boots.

So yes… it behooves me to remember my marker.

Three words….

Be at peace….

Thank you my friend for reminding me to find my marker, my faith stone and to return to that place where God had made His presence known….

Change is in the air

There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse! As I have often found in traveling in a stagecoach, that it is often a comfort to shift one’s position, and be bruised in a new place.
Washington Irving

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(a volunteer viola caught in the wind / Julie Cook / 2015)

Change is in the air. . .
It’s come riding in on the shifting winds.
First it’s cold
then it’s wet
then it’s mild
then it’s windy
then it’s stormy
then it’s icy
then it’s cold
then it starts all over again. . .
Usually all within a 24 hour span of a single day. . .
Ode to March. . .

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(a tiny beginning, the emergence of a lily / Julie Cook / 2015)

And change is indeed taking place, in many different places.
We’ve not talked about Dad in a while. . .
There seems to be trouble brewing on the horizon. . .
The blending of two unfamiliar families, when it comes to elderly parental care, is delicate.
Trepidation has come calling. . .

Between these grown children or these now not so grown parents. . .
This time of change is. . .
overwhelming
disheartening
discouraging
frustrating
challenging
frightening
unnerving
unending
unfair
but here it is, none the less. . .
Discussions are beginning
Decisions are having to be made
Not all parties are happy
Hoping for the best. . .
Once the winds finally cease their shifting,
We will see where this all lands. . .

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(a tulip tree bud / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(mist covered moss / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(dandelions don’t look so bad close up / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(tulip tree bud up close and personal / Julie Cook / 2015)