the sweet and the bitter…

“God be praised for His mercy! I have seen a little sunshine–
I have had a happy time.”

Wilkie Collins

For home is where the heart is
And my heart is anywhere you are
Anywhere you are is home

Songwriters: Hal David / Sherman Edwards


(Sometimes referred to as the “kudzu of the north”, oriental bittersweet
(Celastrus orbiculatus)
is a non-native species that continues to grow and spread in Ohio.
The vine is popping up in our woods, fence rows, landscapes, and places in between.

Ohio State University)

This is not a post about invasive vines or that of taste…the bitter and the sweet…
this, on the other hand, is just a brief post about the bittersweet of the heart.

This is a long story, of which I will elaborate upon when time allows,
but in a nutshell, we put our house of 21 years on the market about 3 weeks ago.
The house we built and nurtured all these years.

Out of the blue, we received a quick and sudden offer late last week.
Too good not to accept.

In what appears to be a sudden, somewhat rash decision, we have actually
been ruminating over such for a couple of years…

It is…
our ages
the acreage
the maintenance
the upkeep
the desire for a closer proximity to grandkids…

So…now…
there is nowhere to go— yet.
And there is a lot of work to start doing, NOW.

And so my time here in cookieland will become a hit and miss…
a coming and a going…that is until things are purged, packed, boxed
and eventually found and settled.

A new journey…but…

I don’t like upheaval or uncertainty.
I prefer consistency.
I am a homebody, who is soon to be without a home.
But God’s hand has been way too evident in this latest chapter.

I’ll keep you posted while I ask that you keep us in your prayers!!!

the soul humbles herself…

“Our perfection does not consist of doing extraordinary things,
but to do the ordinary well.”

St. Gabriel Possenti


(Julie Cook / 2020)


(Julie Cook / 2020)


(Julie Cook / 2020)*

“No human motive should lead us to pray:
neither routine, nor the habit of doing as others do, nor a thirst for spiritual consolations.
No, we should go to prayer to render homage to God.
It is not, however, a common-place visit of propriety,
nor a conversation without any precise object;
we want to obtain from Him some definite spiritual good,
such or such progress in the uprooting of some vice, in the acquisition of some virtue.
We have, therefore, a purpose upon which we are bent, and all our considerations,
affections, petitions, and resolutions should combine for its attainment.
God is there, surrounding us and penetrating us;
but we were not, perhaps, thinking of this.
We must, therefore, withdraw our powers from the things of the earth,
gather them together, and fix them upon God;
thus it is we place ourselves in His presence.
Naturally, we approach Him by saluting Him with a profound and humble act of adoration.
In presence of so much greatness and holiness,
the soul perceives herself to be little and miserable;
she humbles herself, purifies herself by an act of sorrow;
apologizes for daring to approach a being of so lofty a majesty.
Powerless to pray as she should, she represents her incapacity to God,
and begs the Holy Ghost to help her to pray well.”

Rev. Dom Vitalis Lehodey, p. 91
An Excerpt From
The Ways of Mental Prayer

(Fall’s wild persimmons hang and fall from the tree)

Yard sale…but more importantly, prayers

We’ve spent weeks purging and sorting.
And thus the BIG sale is today!

But…

What is most important today is that we need to think of and offer
our prayers for The Frist Family as they now battle COVID 19.

I am both incensed and angry that there are many Americans who are wishing ill
of the President and his wife…that there are people who are actually gleefully
hoping for a fellow human being to not only succumb to illness but to actually die.

When does the hope of death become the rallying cry of any advanced society?

We have become an abysmal lot when we have lost our humanness.

I would normally note that we are an abysmal society, but to use the
word society would be too gracious.
A society does not wish for the death of others but rather it bans together
working toward the betterment of the whole.

So I offer my prayers for healing and restored health for our President
and the First Lady.

I pray for our Nation…I pray that it can learn, or perhaps re-learn, what it means
to be a cohesive body that is concerned for each member of her whole.

I pray that she may regain her love for each neighbor.

I pray for physical healing as well as collective healing.

May God have mercy on the United States.
And may the United States remember what mercy is all about.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5

blasted groundhog day!!!!!!

Phil:”Do you ever have deja vu, Mrs. Lancaster?”
Mrs. Lancaster: “I don’t think so, but I could check with the kitchen.”

(lines from the Groundhog Day)

If it wasn’t for bad luck, we’d have no luck whatsoever…

However, as a Christian household, we don’t believe in luck…
and yet…

See this little guy below…


(The Sherrif)

That’s the Sherrif earlier this summer.

Yesterday, the daycare called his parents.

The Sherrif was running a fever.

Dada (aka our son) had to go pick up the Sherrif and head to the pediatrician’s office.

Remember last week?

The Mayor, Sherrif, and their mom had to stay with us while our son waited on
a COVID test to return…
he had strep throat but had to be tested none the less.

It appears that it is now standard if you are sick with anything, to be tested.

Hence why the kids and their mom came to us as we all waited.

After 3 days, late Friday evening, he finally got the all-clear.
Life was normal again as it was merely strep throat! When strep throat is considered normal, we’ve got problems!

And so yesterday was the first day back to work for their mom, a teacher, who by the way,
had to miss the first three days with students being back while we all waited on the
COVID test to come back.

That whole quarantine business.

And so once again , since the Sherrif was running a fever,
the pediatrician had to do a COVID test.

Pre-pandemic days, this would have been simply labeled a viral infection.
Give him Tylenol or Motrin and keep him hydrated.
However today, we as a society, are now all about some gloom and doom and falling skies!

GRRRRRRRR.

So Da (aka my husband) and I raced over to Atlanta late Monday afternoon to fetch
The Mayor, who by the way, will now be staying with us until we get word on this
latest test… she appears to be on the up and up from her daycare crud which seems to have been the impetus to all this mess in the first place!

And so once gain, possible COVID exposure around a 60 and 71-year-old may seem stupid
but again, we do what we have to do for our family.

Last week I had to cancel our anniversary dinner, of which I re-made again
for this coming Thursday…of which I’ve in turn canceled– again.

Are you beginning to see a pattern here??!!

So for now, I bid adieu.

I humbly ask for your prayers for our wee Sherrif…
You never want your child or grandchild to be sick…but now
a childhood viral infection sure would beat a possible COVID diagnosis.

He needs your prayers.

Behold, I will bring to it health and healing,
and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security.

Jeremiah 33:6

waiting rooms and prayer

Believers ought to be distinguished not only by their place,
but by their way of life. They ought to be obvious not only by the gift,
but also by the new life. He should be distinguishable by everything—
by his walk, by his look, by his clothes, by his voice.

St. John Chrysostom
from A Year with the Church Fathers


(a Bible sits on a table in the waiting room of a doctor’s office / Julie Cook / 2020)

This is a week spent running from a myriad of doctor’s offices and the hospital for tests…
Long story.
Schedules have just worked out making this a full packed week.

So this morning, on my first stop of the day, I was sitting in the brand new
waiting room for my general practitioner.
They’ve just recently moved into a brand new, state of the arts,
fancy schmancy medical complex that sits across the street from our city’s hospital.

You know how waiting rooms can be.
Someone is always talking on their phone when they shouldn’t be.
There’s coughing, sneezing along with some idle chit chat amongst the fellow waiters.

I had not brought a book and my eyes were tired of squinting at my phone so I
opted to survey my surroundings.

I spied the table sitting across from me to see if there might be a magazine of interest
but then I thought better about picking anything up because the flu was running
rampant around the room.
I’ve been lucky thus far and didn’t want to chance things so I dug out some paper
from my purse to scratch off a list for the grocery store.

Yet before I could even start writing, my eye caught a Bible sitting rather prominently
on the table across from me as I immediately inwardly smiled.
I know that my doctor is an ardent Christian.

So I started thinking.
So many people, the rabid nonbelievers amongst us, rattle sabers when they catch a hint
of Christianity out and about in plain view. They protest the outward symbols of
the Chrisitan faith, claiming it is some sort of infringement of their civil rights.

Yet here in plain sight sat the foundation of our faith.
And what an appropriate place for a book of hope to be found since this is often the
place of bad news and burdened individuals.

Throughout the day, as I traversed from one appointment to another, I was constantly
reminded of the fiasco taking place in Washington…be it from a television in a waiting room
or news alerts on my phone…I knew a three-ring circus was filling our lives.

It is so easy for me to fuss and cuss the idiocy taking place from both sides of the aisle
as these people, this body of governmental leadership, has put the running of our Nation’s
business on permanent hold as they wage a petty battle among themselves.
And for what?
Vindictiveness?

And so looking at the Bible sitting on that table, I got to thinking that I actually had
an opportunity. I could either fuss, cuss and lament about our Governmental leadership,
or lack thereof, or I could do something much more important—
I could pray.

Here are two of the prayers found in the Book of Common Prayer
offered for our Government and President.

May we pray for God’s Mercy and Grace…

18. For our Country

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our
heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove
ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will.
Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and
pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion;
from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend
our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes
brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue
with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust
the authority of government, that there may be justice and
peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we
may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth.
In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness,
and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail;
all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

19. For the President of the United States and all in Civil
Authority

O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world: We
commend this nation to thy merciful care, that, being guided
by thy Providence, we may dwell secure in thy peace. Grant
to the President of the United States, the Governor of this
State (or Commonwealth), and to all in authority, wisdom
and strength to know and to do thy will. Fill them with the
love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful
of their calling to serve this people in thy fear; through Jesus
Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the
Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.
Amen.

Prayers for Australia

“We never know how God will answer our prayers, but we can expect that He will get
us involved in His plan for the answer.
If we are true intercessors, we must be ready to take part in God’s work on behalf
of the people for whom we pray.”

Corrie ten Boom


(Newsweek)
The map shows active fires across the country of Australia as of 9:14 p.m. AEDT, January 6, 2020
GOOGLE MAPS / MY FIRE WATCH

Day in and day out, I am overwhelmed when watching the news reports regarding the
constant fires raging across the land of our brethren down under.

Simply put, Australia is on fire.

Millions and millions of acres are now burned and scorched.
Thousands of homes are now gone.
Thousands of people are now homeless, having lost everything.
There have been at least two dozen fatalities.
Thousands will suffer the health effects of breathing in air from the ash-laden skies.
And there are an estimated half a billion (480 million) animals killed.
Read that again…half a billion.

Many surviving animals are severely burned and wounded—many are being cared
for at various facilities around the country.

As Corrie Ten Boom reminds us in her quote—when we pray for others,
God will draw us into the answer—in some capacity or other.

Frustratingly it doesn’t seem as if there is anything I can do from here in Georgia
to help those affected by the fires in Australia…
So I researched for various charities and aid
foundations that are taking donations.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/118605092/australian-bush-fires-how-to-help-watching-a-continent-burn-from-our-skies-we-can-all-do-something

I know we must be careful when making credit card donations to various sites on-line
so if you decide you want to do so—make certain the site is reputable.

Normally I would donate to the Red Cross or the Salvation Army but those donations
will go into their general crisis aid accounts—
I wanted something that would be specific to Australia.

I opted for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA)
for their rescue efforts of the native wildlife.
But St Vincent’s is also a good choice to help with providing food, shelter and clothing
for those individuals who have lost everything.

May the fires be extinguished.

“True intercession involves bringing the person, or the circumstance that
seems to be crashing in on you, before God, until you are changed by His attitude
toward that person or circumstance.
People describe intercession by saying, “It is putting yourself in someone else’s place.”
That is not true! Intercession is putting yourself in God’s place;
it is having His mind and His perspective.”

Oswald Chambers

We need your payers, especially Friday morning

We’re off to Atlanta today (in the downpours) to spend the evening with the wee
trick or treaters, spending the night as it will be off to the hospital,
bright and early Friday morning—
for our little James and his long-anticipated surgery…


(our little James in his fall photos)

I humbly ask that you please remember our little grandson James,
along with his parents and sister, in your prayers.

Prayers for a successful surgery, prayers for the medical staff and prayers, in the words
of St Julian of Norwich, that all shall be well!

I’ll be staying in Atlanta next week during “rest and recovery” so posting will be sporadic
at best but I will post about recovery come Friday afternoon.

Thank you in advance for your prayers and for remembering our small family


(a gathering of pumpkins and James)

“God, of thy goodness, give me Thyself;
for Thou art enough for me,
and I can ask for nothing less
that can be full honor to Thee.
And if I ask anything that is less,
ever Shall I be in want,
for only in Thee have I all.”

Julian of Norwich

prayer and the victory over death

“There is nothing the devil fears so much, or so much tries to hinder, as prayer.”
St. Philip Neri


(it is so hot and dry here, even the toadstools in the woods are swiveling and decaying/ Julie Cook / 2019)

Yesterday I spoke of the running thread of a single word and thought that just
seemed to keep popping up at each turn and corner.

That word and act would be that of prayer.

And so again the following morning, my incoming quote of the day focused
on that very same notion.

Prayer.

As St. Philip Neri teaches, Satan fears our very prayers.
They become a hindrance to both him and his plans so therefore he painstakingly attempts
to hinder us as we long to reach out to our Father.

We become busy.
We become distracted.
We become distant.
Or we simply grow hardened.

So often we feel defeated when our prayers seem to go ignored or unanswered—
And yet even worse, we can grow despondent when they appear to be answered in a
way so utterly contrary as to how we would have hoped.
When our oh so deeply prayerful “please yes” is answered with a gut-wrenching “no, not today.”

No to healing.
No to life.
No to avoiding the bad and painful.

And yet our hearts remain steadfast because despite the answers,
despite the bitter disappointments, we still know that our prayers are our
only means of conversing with our God.

St Athanasius’ quote below adds to this thought by examining the
fear man has with death and decay.
Because if the truth be told, are not so many of our prayers aimed at avoiding
that very thing?
As we fervently pray to avoid death, pain and suffering at any and all cost?

Man sees death as the inexplicable chasm of separation.
That of isolation, loneliness and unending sorrow.

The non-believer scoffs and belittles the simplistic pleas and petitions
of the believer as he cries out to that unknown and unseen God.

The un-believer mocks and sneers at the childlike actions of the believer.

And yet I have often wondered…in that single solitary moment of overwhelming grief,
unbearable sorrow, engulfing fear and isolation of abandonment…
who does that non-believer cry to?

Who does he turn to in that micro-moment of the blinking of an eye that exists between
living and dying?

Whose hand does he reach for?
Whose arms does he yearn for to envelope him?
To whom does he cry out?

Or is his mind merely an empty void, his ego too full, his heart so hard that he has
already withered with decay?

Yet despite the ridicule and vitriol, the prayer of the humbled believer will
always be for that hardened non-believer…
it will be a prayer for blessed deliverance…
a prayer that he would find solace, comfort as well as Grace.

Even to the end, the believer prayers…even for the sake and soul of the non-believer.

“Now, man is afraid of death by nature, afraid of the decay of the body.
But here is a startling fact: whoever has put on the faith of the Cross
despises even what is naturally dreadful, and for Christ’s sake is not afraid of death.
So if anyone is skeptical even now, after so many proofs,
and after so many have become martyrs to Christ,
and after those who are champions in Christ have shown scorn for death every day—
if his mind is still doubtful about whether death has been brought to nothing and come to an end—well,
he’s right to wonder at such a great thing. But he should not be stubborn in his skepticism,
or cynical in the face of what is so obvious.
Let him who is skeptical about the victory over death receive the faith of Christ,
and come over to his teaching.
Then he will see how weak death is, and the triumph over it.
Many who used to be skeptics and scoffers have later believed,
and despised death even enough to become martyrs for Christ himself.”

St. Athanasius, p.15
An Excerpt From
A Year with the Church Fathers

a needed prayerful reminder

“I will glory not because I am righteous, but because I am redeemed;
I will glory not because I am free from sins,
but because my sins are forgiven me.
I will not glory because I have done good
nor because someone has done good to me,
but because Christ is my advocate with the Father
and because the blood of Christ
has been shed for me.”

St. Ambrose


(an early image from the spring of a robin visiting the future blueberries / 2019)

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

Isaac Watts, 1738 / Oh God Our Help in Ages Past
a hymn based on Psalm 90

Here our prayers oh Lord…Heal us oh Lord…

“The Creator of the universe awaits the prayer of one poor little person to save a multitude of others,
redeemed like her at the price of His Blood.”

St. Therese of Lisieux


(Howard Chandler Christy, Scene at the Signing of the Constituion)

Our House of Representatives has had a Chaplin since its near inception dating back to 1789.
Because it seems that our founding fathers realized that this man-made institution always needed the
assistance of a higher power.

And if it was ever needed, it is needed now…

Oh God, hear our prayers…and bring us your healing…

A prayer offered by the House Chaplin, Fr. Patrick J. Conroy, S.J