shuttered and unplugged

When I was a boy, the priest, my uncle,
carefully inculcated upon me this proverb,
which I then learned and have ever since kept in my mind:
‘Dico tibi verum, Libertas optima rerum; Nunquam servili, sub nexu vivito, fili.’
‘I tell you a truth:
Liberty is the best of things, my son;
never live under any slavish bond.’

William Wallace


(the shuttered windows and doors at the Jameson Whiskey Distillery in Midleton, County Cork, Ireland
Julie Cook / 2015)

Over the course of the following week I will be in and out of blog land—and  more out
than in…
for you see…
for the first time in history….
my husband is shuttering his business this holiday week in order that he and his employees
may all actually be off at the same time…
allowing everyone to enjoy a holiday’s festivities all at the same time.

And in light of this momentous occasion, I will disconnect myself from my electronics,
as it were,
in order to be more focused and more attuned to his first real taste of of freedom
in many many years….

May we all give pause this special July 4th week to remember why we are allowed the freedom
to enjoy such a special time of celebration…

And I will leave you with the immortal words of William Wallace ….

FREEDOM!!!!!!!

I always showed myself in the face of day,
asserting the liberty and independence of my country,
while some others, like owls,
courted concealment and were too much afraid of losing their roosts to leave
them for such a cause.

William Wallace

God Bless America?

“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ.
For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded freedom of worship here.”

Patrick Henry

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(1940’s Political Poster by Glen Osborn / Julie Cook / 2016)

For all the smug dissatisfaction,
For all the protests,
For all the anger,
For all the divisions,
For all the disenfranchisement,
For all the polarization,
For all the blasted political correctness
For all the current attacks…

There have been men and woman who have sacrificed everything…
their very lives…
for you and I to be able to open our eyes this morning in a free country

God Bless America?
YES, you better believe it…
May God, indeed, bless America…

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 I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14

Urgency

“How much does one imagine, how much observe?
One can no more separate those functions than divide light from air,
or wetness from water.”

Elspeth Huxley

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing.
Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Being willing is not enough; we must do.”

Leonardo da Vinci

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(Remnants of stain glass, Bunratty Castle / County Clare / Julie Cook / 2015)

At some point or another, we will all find ourselves at a crossroads.
We will be confronted by a choice.
Left?
Right?
Perhaps even, back….

It will be at such times that the Spirit of God will be resting His hand upon our shoulder.
He will be nudging, or perhaps pulling, or more urgently yanking us…
For the path we are to choose is crucial…dare one might even say, dire.

We certainly may not discern the current quandary of choice in direction as spiritual…
especially if we do not consider ourselves to be such…
In fact, as we stand before this choice of left, right or back,
the last thing we are considering is our belief in a god…
or whether God would be, could be, the source of our quandary.

Beginning this blog 3 or 4 years ago (I’ve lost track) my initial desire was to sprinkle out a few little cookie crumbs here and there….a little bit of this and that…always with a spiritual sense about it all, but still more hodge podge than not.

Then a trip to Ireland and an encounter with someone I’d never known prior, and all of what I thought or imagined changed.

My original intent for dabbling in writing, sharing and creativity were keyed more into my life’s experiences—that of retired high school teacher, artist, Christian, wife, mother, daughter of a man living with Alzheimers, a lover of cooking, an adopted child, etc….

But then all of that shifted after Ireland.

It’s not so much that one must take some grand adventure or trip in order to feel something seismic…
not in the least.
Seismic can take place sitting in ones car while stuck in rush hour traffic.
It matters not the place nor time for seismic.
When the Spirit touches our shoulder,
and the original intentions lift, revealing our truer purpose,
that is when we can begin to finally see with the utmost clarity.

And it just so happened that I felt that seismic shift while sitting at a dinner table in a country not my own.

No longer did I feel compelled to rattle on about the random, but I felt a sense of urgency in speaking the Truth.
The Truth as in the Word of God.

Not like some itinerate tent evangelist.
It’s not like I’d been down some crazy bad path in life, had some catastrophic mishap, then bam,
it was a religious conversion of the utmost that needed sharing.

No, it wasn’t any of that…
actually quite the contrary.

I am not a fundamentalist.
I am not a Pentecostalist.
I am not gregarious in my faith.
I am not a theologian who is versed in every verse of scripture or translation of the bible.
Nor am I a mystic who has visions.
No, I’ve never had a vision…migraines yes, visions no.

Yet I knew last fall that my sharing, my words, my offerings were no longer to be my own.
There was a sense of urgency placed in my being—
time was / is of the essence.

God, His Truth and His Word…have never been readily accepted by man.
For we are a fickled lot.
Our internal struggle for independence often precludes our understanding of need.

The filters of the world have always lowered over our eyes, changing our view of the Truth…
Altering our perception of what is real and what is false
We have been told lies and we have allowed those lies to become our truth….

The lies are slick, told by a master in telling tales.
They come guised in forms which speak to our brokeness…
To those areas where we are least secure.
They speak to our ego and bravado and to our desire to having it all.

They are thinly veiled in soothing comfort…
as they tell us that we truly are ok and that our desires are, in turn, also ok.

We are told that we can have our cake and eat it too.
We are told that everything goes as long as we are happy..
because isn’t that all that matters…our happiness?

We are fed a bunch of garbage about fairy tales and fables..
That the stars point more to Life’s truth than the supposed Word of an unseen made up god.
Yet within those stars is found His very hand…

His word is mocked and scorned as are those who claim it as their own.
Misguided, ignorant, weak, clueless lemmings chasing after that which is
neither seen, felt nor heard…

That is until we stand at the crossroads,
a place we will each find at ourselves at one point or another…
We will have to decide…
Left?
Right?
or back

That internal struggle will rage…
and you will either try and ignore it or you will know it for what it is…
and at that point, everything will become clear and you will never be the same…

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying,
“This is the way; walk in it.”

Isaiah 30:21

Dependance

God’s means of delivering us from sin is not by making us stronger and stronger, but by making us weaker and weaker. That is surely rather a peculiar way of victory, you say; but it is the divine way. God sets us free from the dominion of sin, not by strengthening our old man but by crucifying him; not by helping him to do anything, but by removing him from the scene of action.
Wathcman Nee

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(tiny baby wrens / Julie Cook / 2016)

The age old conflict…
The internal struggle which has dogged man, constantly nipping at his heels,
is found in his angst filled struggle with dependence.

On the one hand, God, the Creator of all that ever was or will be,
asks of man but one thing…
Trust

Enter the conundrum.

Ever since that forever altering moment in the garden,
when man and woman decided they knew more,
knew better than of their Omnipotent Creator,
the battle between independence and dependence ensued.

Now man is caught in a never ending cycle…
Striving for his independence and his freedom,
proudly asserting his authority…
while boastfully, and even arrogantly, leaving his mark…

That is until his fragile world falls apart…
then he returns to that place where he was first asked to trust….

As the vicious cycle between dependence and independence continues….

My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:26

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the honored created

“For reasons known only to Himself, God honored man above all other beings by creating him in His own image.”
A.W.Tozer

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

Imagine that—having been loved and wanted so deeply, so intensely, that the God of all of creation willed our, as in yours and mine, very being.
The making, the creating, the birthing of man

And yet sadly, it all broke His heart.
We, as in you and I, broke His heart.

Oh there are those who would argue that if He was a god, and or real for that matter, then He would have, should have known better…He should have known, would have known, that “his creation” would fall short, screw up, disobey, go in the wrong direction, and multiply without ceasing…
so therefore…
He should have stopped it all…
He should have turned it all around…made it all good…fixed it all…stopped it all…rewrote it all…
but…
Love doesn’t do that.
Love stands back, waiting in the wings…for it is not controlling, dictating, ruling…

“Man is a created being, a derived and contingent self, who of himself possesses nothing but is dependent each moment for his existence upon the One who created him after His own likeness. The fact of God is necessary to the fact man. Think God away and man has no ground of existence”

Dependent.
A word and concept we have always looked upon as a negative, a weakness an undesirable characteristic.
Babies and children are dependent, not grownup adults.
For it is our goal, from the moment we begin to crawl then walk, to become independent.
We vie to live a life of independence…
freedom to make our own way, our own choices…
the determining of our own destiny, charting our own course…
setting our own comings and our own goings….
We rue the day we have to give up our independence due to accidents, illness, age…

And yet our very being is just that, dependent upon the very being of God the Creator.
Left to our own devices, well, we’ve see how that has worked out down through the ages…

Imagine…
primordial goo slinks out of the waters, crawls ashore and eventually evolves into the human being you see today walking down the sidewalk.
Without God, what of it?
Who cares that something a million years ago slunk up out of the swamps and became a human being.
What’s the purpose?
What’s the point?
There is no point…
And along with that… all that is…is, in turn, equally pointless.

And yet it does matter,
it all matters,
because God matters,
and therefore…
we matter because of God.
It is a continuum…
our continuum

And so here we are this late December…waiting, watching, expecting…
We wait, once again, not for the emergence of primordial goo, but rather for a birth…
and not just any birth…
This is the birth of the created image of the Godhead and man…
The dependent existence of One to the other, of the other to the One.
Because Love seeks that which It loves.
The Lover seeks the beloved…
and the beloved longs for the Lover..
The Lover of Life and of all that was, all that is and all that will be..
So yes, Come Lord Jesus, come….

Elusiveness

Truth is mysterious, elusive, always to be conquered. Liberty is dangerous, as hard to live with as it is elating. We must march toward these two goals, painfully but resolutely, certain in advance of our failings on so long a road.
Albert Camus

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(my elusive blue jay / Julie Cook / 2015)

Out of all the birds who frequent my yard, my blue jays are the most standoffish, persnickety, skittish—it’s as if they know I’m trying to snap their picture. The minute they see me, hear me, sense me. . .off they soar.

The jays seem to prefer hunting and pecking as compared to all my birds who relish in the abundance of seed and suet offered in the plethora of feeders I make available for both local and transient bird alike. Perhaps jays are a more independent lot. They are larger birds who are louder and more garish then their more demure counterparts. Maybe they prefer their independence to dependence on my offerings.

Spying a jay lighting on the ground in the backyard from out the kitchen window–I dash to grab my camera, making my way out to the deck–as quietly as possible, gently positioning myself, focusing the camera. . .when poof, they’re gone.

They are beautiful birds—very few creatures in the animal world are blue. How special is that?!
And maybe they have a sense of that “specialness” with no need for the likes of me and my birdseed–preferring to keep their distance doing what they do without human interference or intervention.

I often wonder if God must not think I’m a lot like that jay.
I may not be blue. . .however I am still one of a kind despite being just one in the massive sea known as humanity.
I am more often than not, fiercely independent— stubbornly preferring to always do things my way despite the gifts of abundance God has bestowed at my feet. I often go about my everyday mundane tasks without ever acknowledging His presence.

I remain standoffish, often eluding His best attempts to be near me.
Yet, very much like my own attempts to seek out the jay, despite all the other birds who make themselves happily and easily available to me for close encounters, God remains steadfast and determined to seek me out despite my often elusive behavior. He continues tirelessly working His way to me, trying to get closer to me every day, despite the fact that there are so many others who have made themselves freely available to Him.
He waits for me and me alone.
Patiently, He continues waiting, watching, hoping, offering. . .

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