extend love and forgiveness

God wants us to receive His mercy and, in turn,
be merciful to others through our actions, words, and prayers.
He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He extends
love and forgiveness to us.

Fr. Chris Alar, MIC
from his book Understanding Divine Mercy


(hidden creatures amongst the rosemary /Julie Cook / 2021)

Free me from evil passions and heal my heart of all disorderly affections,
that being healed and well purified in my interior,
I may become fit to love, courageous to suffer and constant to persevere.
Love is an excellent thing, a great good indeed,
which alone maketh light all that is burdened and makes all that which is bitter sweet and savory.
The love of Jesus is noble and generous;
it spurs us on to do great things and excites us to desire always that which is most perfect.”

Thomas á Kempis, p. 89
An Excerpt From
Imitation of Christ

bloom more beautifully

“And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”

Isaiah 35:10


(a former rose bush / Julie Cook / 2013)

“Strong passions are the precious raw material of sanctity.
Individuals who have carried their sinning to extremes
should not despair or say,
‘I am too great a sinner to change,’ or ‘God would not want me.’
God will take anyone who is willing to love, not with an occasional gesture,
but with a ‘passionless passion,’ a ‘wild tranquility’.
A sinner, unrepentant, cannot love God, any more than someone on dry land can swim;
but as soon as a person takes his errant energies to God and asks for their redirection,
he will become happy, as he was never happy before.
It is not the wrong things one has already done that keep one from God;
it is present persistence in that wrong.
Someone who turns back to God, as the Magdalene and Paul,
welcomes the discipline that will enable him to
change his former tendencies.
Mortification is good, but only when it is done out of love of God…
Mortifications of the right sort perfect our human nature;
the gardener cuts the green shoots from the root of the bush,
not to kill the rose, but to make it bloom more beautifully.”

Venerable Fulton Sheen, p. 185
An Excerpt From
Peace of Soul

Calm, cool, and collected…

Faith looks not at what happens to him but at Him Whom he believes.
Watchman Nee


(a Lady Amherst pheasant / Parrot Mt and Gardens, Pigeon Forge, TN / Julie Cook / 2020)

I think we all wish we could be as calm, cool, and collected…as well as stunning
as this Lady Amherst Pheasant…

Well, we can!

Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good,
pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2 NIV

And with a tail like that…

laid waste

Say to the people of the land:
‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says about those living in Jerusalem and
in the land of Israel:
They will eat their food in anxiety and drink their water in despair,
for their land will be stripped of everything in it because of the violence
of all who live there.
The inhabited towns will be laid waste and the land will be desolate.
Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

Ezekiel 12:19-20


(double trouble / Black swallowtail caterpillar/ Julie Cook /2020)

Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them,
“Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined,
and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.
If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself.
How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul,
by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges.
But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons,
then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Matthew 12:25-28


(the caterpillers have decimated the pasley/ Julie Cook / 2020)

the sharing season is here…

“Wisdom cannot be imparted.
Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else…
Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom.
One can find it, live it, do wonders through it,
but one cannot communicate and teach it.”

Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha


(black swallowtail caterpillar / Julie Cook / 2020)

Well, I knew it was just a matter of time.

The caterpillars have found the parsley.

There must be at least 15 caterpillars now making the most of my nice pot of parsley.

And so you should know that this lowly creature will…

Become this lovely creature:

And this one…

And this one…

And this one…

Will all become one of these…


(Black swallowtail / Julie Cook / 2020)

These guys, well, I moved one of their caterpillars out from the garage yesterday,
so there are no before images…only the after shots


(Eastern tiger swallowtail / Julie Cook / 2020)


(Eastern tiger swallowtail / Julie Cook / 2020)

And so now, I share…my parsley.

Yet I must confess that sometimes I’m not too keen to share certain things.
I think we all have a bit of the selfish child that remains buried within.

As adults, we know that sharing is a good thing.
And so we can bend our will in order to do what is kind, considerate and decent.
We strive to teach children to do the same.

We must teach them to share as they/we seem to come into this world
hardwired with a distinct “mine” mentality.

When I first started to keep a garden…I would get so mad at the rabbits, the crows,
the other birds, the squirrels, the deer, and yes the caterpillars, who would
all invade, dig up or purge my labors by eating seeds, the tender new shoots
or the actual fruits of said labor, my fruits and vegetables.

And then I figured out that if I planted a little extra or a few distractors, things
that would appease my thieves, I could then strike a delicate balance between
what I knew would be stolen versus what I wanted to be harvested.

And sometimes, despite my best-laid plans, it just came down to who was the fastest
on the scene.

Now granted this was not always the perfect relationship as the deer would seem to
poke their feet in the melons simply to be spiteful…or the birds would jab
each blueberry, leaving the berry on the bush, full of holes.
But if I was going to be successful with a garden…there had to be give,
take and yes, share.

And so speaking of sharing, last week when I had to go to Atlanta to keep the Mayor,
who had contracted the Sheriff’s viral infection from the previous week, the
very notion of sharing took place in the form of “rain.”

And no, I do not refer to the sort of rain that falls from the sky.

If you’ve ever been around a young child who coughs or sneezes or
God forbid, suddenly needs to throw up…well, you know that kids
don’t cover their mouths, turn away, cough into the crook of an arm, or
race to the bathroom when an emergency calls.

To a child, if it comes, whatever it might be, it comes for good or bad…
matters not who might be in its path.

So there was a puny Mayor, who was sitting on my lap last week while we were watching cartoons.
Suddenly she started sneezing…and a spray of mist subsequently blanketed my lap and legs.
Gleeful the Mayor happily announces “RAIN”!!!!

“Yes”, I sardonically noted, “it has rained…”
…as I grabbed a sacred Clorox wipe in order to wipe down my legs and arms.

So should I be surprised that I now have felt like crap for the past two days and find
myself unable to breathe due to such a cloggy nose?

No.
No, I am not surprised.

For a sick child shared her “rain” with me.

And well, despite the shelves being long bare of Clorox wipes…
the sacred canister we had on hand was simply no match for the Mayor.

And so why do we seem so mystified when folks continue getting that
Wuhan flu??? That COVID mess?
Why do we ponder as to how it keeps making the rounds?

Sharing just seems to happen…even when we try being selfish.
No matter the best precautions, the best-laid plans…sharing is going to happen
whether we want it to or not.

Oh and for the record…that poison ivy…well, it keeps sharing too.

Everything seems to want to share…all the wrong sort of things!!!

So regarding the following verse, just know that God did not mean that we should share
our germs…but other more treasured items and deeds….
the germ part is just part and parcel of being alive.

The good and bad.

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have,
for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Hebrews 13:16

generation…redeemed

“God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say.
Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful:
he makes saints out of sinners.”

Soren Kierkegaard, The Journals of Kierkegaard


(gulf frittilary butterfly /Julie Cook / 2020)

Yesterday our friend Kathy, over on atimetoshare.me, offered a marvelous post examining our various
generational monikers.

We have the greatest generation, the baby boomers, the silent generation, the Me generation,
along with that X, Y, and Z business.
A crazy mishmash of generational clarifications.

These labels are not necessarily meant to definitively define a specific group of people, given their
time of birth and their time of growing up, but it does, none the less, have a lasting pigeon hole
for those born during various time periods.

Were they quiet and steadfast?
Were they daring and wild?
Were they hyperfocused and driven?

Yet it wasn’t so much the names and characteristics of each generation that caught
my attention but rather it was the afterthought Kathy offered…

She noted that we should add in the Redeemed generation…

And I’d like to think that is this is the defining highlight of the pandemic /civil unrest generation…
a group of people that transcend both generational monikers or age barriers.

A collective group of ages and backgrounds.

Redemption that crosses both space and time…

Kathy reminds us:
The beautiful message of the Gospel, assures our forgiveness if we only believe it.
Isn’t it wonderful that in this world, where evil and selfishness prevail,
those who have faith in the most important gift of God can still be part of the “Redeemed Generation.”
Because of His grace alone, we will inherit His heavenly kingdom.
Through our faith alone, which is also a gift from God,
we receive the promise of eternal life.
Through His inspired Word, we have the perfect handbook for life provided by the King of Kings.
It isn’t complicated.

May we all strive to be a part of this Redeemed generation….

GENERATION REDEEMED

Got our work cut out for us…

“I am sent not only to love God but to make Him loved.
It is not enough for me to love God, if my neighbor does not love Him.”

St. Vincent de Paul


(Black swallowtail butterfly / Julie Cook / 2020)

“Even though we know that God’s will and commandments apply to everyone,
we do not always have the strength to fulfill them.
Now, every time we respond faithfully to a motion of the Spirit,
out of desire to be docile to what God expects of us,
even if it’s something almost insignificant of itself,
that faithfulness draws grace and strength down on us.
That strength can then be applied to other areas and may make us capable of one day
practicing the commandments that up until then we had not been capable
of fulfilling entirely.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 20
An Excerpt From
In the School of the Holy Spirit

evil lurks in a garden…humm…where have I heard that before?

When confronted with two evils,
a man will always choose the most attractive.

Anonymous


(the quince faded and yet in the summer’s dogdays, are now reving back up / Julie Cook / 2020)

With little to no time to tend to the yard as I would normally do this time of year…sadly,
surreally, this time of year has not been like previous times of year…

So having taken out the garbage the other evening, I glanced once again forlornly,
over to the ever-growing leggy quince, the fledgling maple trees,
and some stubborn resprouting crepe myrtles all dotting the back bank…

Disgusted by what I saw…weeds were thriving amongst that which was treasured.

Neglected entirely too long!

Is this not the current story of our lives?

The negative now flourishing amongst that which we hold dear because of our distractions,
our worries, our heaviness…

So I threw the trash in the bin and grabbed my clippers…enough already!!!!

I went over the quince first.

I wanted to hit the high spots…that obnoxious giant poke salat and those
annoying runners from the crepe myrtle that was cut down years ago and those shoots
from the maple trees…
but as I clipped and yanked with the ire and determination of a woman frustrated with
much more than aggravating weeds…something caught my eye…

WHAT???

Hidden amongst the quice was something rather unkind and most unwelcomed.

Poison Ivy.

Or was it worse..was it the dreaded thunder wood?

I had already clipped and pulled, without my gloves mind you, several of these
“pesky” weeds, before realizing these pesky weeds were much more insidious than shoots,
runners or the blooming plants from random dropped seeds by passing birds.

I dropped my bundle of weeds, along with my clippers, practically running inside to immediately
wash my hands.

The next day I saw this:

Okay I thought, I have prescription cream for such…I’ve got this.

The day after that, two more spots on my shoulder.

Okay, more cream.

The day after that, after itching through much of the night, may we now times these
few red blistery spots by at least 100 that now currently cover my entire torso.

The doctor gave me a steroid shot today and a prednisone pack.

Did I mention the 6 or more hot flashes I’m already experiencing throughout the night
due to stopping the HRT?

Itching, hot flashes…
Sleep?!
HA!

Insomnia is my middle name!
Don’t worry about that twitching eye, it’s trained on the madness raging all around us.

Yet in all of this, I was reminded that where we think beauty and peace reside,
where we believe calm and simplicity rest, our ancient nemesis does not sleep.

Remember this as you ponder the current madness ravaging our nation.


(Christ smashing the head of the serpent in the Garden / The Passion of the Christ)

Be sober-minded; be watchful.
Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8

favorable conditions…

“We are always falling in love or quarreling,
looking for jobs or fearing to lose them, getting ill and recovering,
following public affairs.
If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other
to end before we can really get down to our work.
The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly
that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable.
Favorable conditions never come.”

C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory


(a local acorobate dangles upside down on a birdfeeder munching on my blueberries/ Julie Cook / 2020)

I love this quote by C.S.Lewis don’t you?
Isn’t it just so us, so now, so today?

Favorable conditions never come…do they?—
Especially when one is out to find the facts and the truth.

These days, both facts and truth, are collateral damage…
Not many folks are interested in such.
They prefer a fluid sort of something that is quite far from fact or truth.

So those of us who really want to seek out such, that being the knowledge of actual
facts and truth…
well, we simply can’t wait around for the perfect conditions or for the planets
and the heavens to align.
Not now, not today.

So before we tackle such topics…let’s take another day for just ourselves…
let’s take a small reprieve from the heaviness of our times
and let’s peek at what’s going on in God’s realm


(our wee beastie gives us a wee peek / Julie Cook / 2020)


(female hummingbird resting inbetween darting and dashing from feeder to feeder / Julie Cook / 2020)


(a hawk hummingbird moth …who knew of such / Julie Cook / 2020)


(black swallowtail / Julie Cook / 2020)


(a gulf fritillary / Julie Cook / 2020)


(a gulf fritillary / Julie Cook / 2020)


(a gulf fritillary / Julie Cook / 2020)


(even a moth gets in on the act / Julie Cook / 2020)


(a gulf fritillary that is on his last wing…/ Julie Cook / 2020)

But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind.

Job 12:7-10

a harbinger

Come, fair repentance, daughter of the skies!
Soft harbinger of soon returning virtue;
The weeping messenger of grace from heaven.

Thomas Browne


(red amongst the summer green /Julie Cook / 2020)

Harbinger as a noun: something that foreshadows a future event:
something that gives an anticipatory sign of what is to come

Harbinger as a verb: to give a warning or prediction of

I’ve written about harbingers before and usually, those posts were related to changing
seasons and or weather.

However, when I was out in the yard, picking ripe tomatoes in the heat of an early August
afternoon, sweat dripping from my face…finding a fully red, fall-like leaf, sitting alone
and somewhat forlorn in the green parched yard of summer…well,
things seemed a bit out of sorts.

My thoughts were not of a coming Fall, along with the changing of leaves and cooling temps…
but rather my mind wandered elsewhere.

When I think of the word harbinger, I don’t think of a heralding of sorts but rather I think
of that which is more foreboding…as in ominous.

A shadowing of sorts.

Seems about right given our current state of affairs…

More on the subject soon…

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves,
and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways,
then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

2 Chronicles 7:14