We choose to celebrate life

Each day holds a surprise.
But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us.
Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise,
whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy.
It will open a new place in our hearts,
a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.

Henri Nouwen

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(black eyed susans / Watercolor Beach Resort / Julie Cook / 2016)

To celebrate life is not always an easy option.

For life is not always easy…

Nor is it…
perfect,
happy,
joyful,
or smooth…

Yet we find in its ups and downs, in its ins and outs, in its rhythmic breathing…
our joy.
our peace.
our hope.

We choose to live and let live.
We choose to embrace and be embraced.
We choose to go forward and not back.
We choose Grace…

We are given one more day…
Yesterday is no more
Tomorrow is not guaranteed…

We rejoice or we lament
Yet we live…
and that is the gift..

Celebrate

You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Psalm 16:11

Perfect Love

“As people who have hearts that long for perfect love, we have to forgive one another for not being able to give or receive that perfect love in our everyday lives.
Henri J. M. Nouwen

So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.
God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

1 John 4:16

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(White shelf fungus / Troup Co, GA / Julie Cook / 2015)

We spend a lifetime in search of it. . .
We expect it from parents
We demand it from siblings
We seek it from friends
We look for it in a spouse
We hope for it from various organizations
We yearn for it in our jobs
We assume it’ll be in our
churches
pastors
priests
We want it in our
physicians
healthcare providers
teachers
students
Our pets seem to come the closest. . .

We rationalize that we certainly give this “perfect love”. . .
so therefore. . .
Why don’t others give it back to us?

The end result of this lifetime spent digging, demanding, expecting and searching, all for this elusive prize, is. . .
frustration
resentment
heartbreak
anger
bitterness
and emptiness. . .

and yet. . .
It waits, quietly and patiently—waiting to fill our hearts with an unquenchable, yet satiating, one and only true Perfect Love. . .

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
1 John 3:16-18

The Continuum

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

“Life is not a continuum of pleasant choices, but of inevitable problems that call for strength, determination, and hard work”
Indian Proverb

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(Victorian Plant stand / Julie Cook / 2014)

A circle.
360º
No beginning.
No end.
Never stopping.
Never starting.
A continuum.

Very much like a cycle.
A repetition.
A loop.
A rhythm.
Over and over.
Constant.
Consistant.
Again and again and again.

Very much like the seasons.
Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall
One following always after the other.
Again and again.
Over and over.
A sequence.
Year after year.
Very much like life.

Yet. . .

In life, there is always a beginning,
as in birth.
And following, there is always an end,
as in death.
A beginning.
And eventually an end.
Birth
Life
Death
End of sentence.

Yet,

We know that God is more like the circle. . .
for God is a continuum.
as in. . .
He was.
He is.
He shall ever be.
As in forever.
As in forever was.
As in forever is.
As in forever will be.
The Alpha
The Omega

Not so however for our earth.
For the earth, and all that is in it,
shall pass away.
Because for the Earth,
there indeed was a beginning.
And therefore there will certainly be an end.
As in. . .
Decay
Demise
Destruction
Death

Yet

We know that with God there is no end.
Because with God there was never a beginning–
because He always was.
And therefore if there was no beginning,
there can be no end.
As in the perfect continuum.

He, in turn, offers us a place in the continuum.
A place with Him.
As in, the adopted children of Grace.
Who may join their Heavenly Father.
But as a loving Father,
He offers a free choice . . .

Beginning
Life
Death
as in it’s over and simply no more

Or

Beginning
Life
Earthly death
Heavenly Life. . .
as in eternity
as in forever and ever and ever

As in a perfect continuum

Lessons in a basket

It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.
Leonardo da Vinci

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(a lovely collection of flowers at a street stall in Copley Plaza Boston, Massachusetts, Julie Cook / 2014)

As I still manage to find a few treasures lurking here and there in the now mostly overgrown, rapidly declining and terribly neglected garden, yesterday’s collected basket yielded a few choice items and a few items of the unexpected variety. . .

And as I am constantly reminded, Mother Nature will prove time and time again, even in a hodge lodge basket of late season goodies, that there are always lessons waiting to be learned. . .

1.If you turn your back, even for just a moment, things can certainly get away from you. Remember to always be mindful, be not forgetful and always be watchful. Remember to seize the right opportunity and certainly don’t wait nor leave things to chance.. . because if you do, the okra will get too big and too hard and the eggplant will get too long and bitter. . .

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2. Things are not always going to be perfect—so remember, “life happens”–for good or bad. Remember that there is no such thing as a perfect plan because invariably life happens, Always take the good with the bad–because there will always be good and there will always be bad. Rejoice because there is beauty and goodness even in the not so pretty or perfect–as in again, life happens–pretty or ugly, good or bad.
Remember that an ugly tomato will taste just a good as the pretty vine mate

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3.And just when you thought you had it all figured out, something comes along, putting you back in your place and reminds you that no matter how long you live, you’ll never truly figure it all out. Remember to always remain humble, full of wonder and don’t let the surprises throw you.
Who knew that a gourd of such could be produced along side a nice yellow summer squash—go figure.

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4. And just when you thought it was over, finished, dried up, washed up, dead and gone—life seems to thankfully keep coming. When all the other vegetables have run their course and are drying and dying on the vine, the eggplant is coming on strong! Remember, never ever give up HOPE!!!

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May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13 NIV