“Arm yourself with prayer rather than a sword;
wear humility rather than fine clothes.”
(desolation in the countryside / Julie Cook / 2021)
“Do you know what it is to be truly spiritual?
It is for men to make themselves the slaves of God—branded with His mark,
which is the Cross. …
Unless you make up your minds to this,
never expect to make much progress,
for as I said humility is the foundation of the whole building and
unless you are truly humble,
Our Lord, for your own sake,
will never permit you to rear it very high lest it should fall to the ground.
Therefore, sisters, take care to lay a firm foundation by seeking
to be the least of all and the slave of others,
watching how you can please and help them,
for it will benefit you more than them.
Built on such strong rocks, your castle can never go to ruin.
I insist again: your foundation must not consist of prayer
and contemplation alone: unless you acquire the virtues and praise them,
you will always be dwarfs; and please God no worse may befall
you than making no progress, for you know that to stop is to
go back—if you love, you will never be content to come to a standstill.”
St. Teresa of Avila, p.209-10
An Excerpt From
Rocks and waters, etc., are words of God, and so are men.
We all flow from one fountain Soul.
All are expressions of one Love.
I suppose we all think the eras in which we grew up were the craziest of times…
but I really think the mid 60’s through the late 70’s most likely will take the
cake in the annals of time…
that or those of the roaring 20’s
Thankfully I was too young to be a hippie…
So the craziness which was known as the time of love-ins, Woodstock, the summer of love,
bra burning, sit-ins, Woman-power, Black Power, and those days of the psychedelic high were,
thankfully, not pieces to my raising.
Yet I remember it all most vividly as I was an impressionable preteen during those
And those early days were truly heady days…
they were wild, weird and full of fads…
Bellbottoms, birth control, peace signs, smiley faces…and…pet rocks.
I can remember wanting a pet rock.
By the time Pet Rocks became popular,
I was driving, babysitting and making my own spending money.
So blowing hard earned money on a rock touted as a pet…well I suppose it wouldn’t be
my last endeavor into wasted folly…
As I write this, I vaguely recall the Tamagotchi craze of my son’s childhood—
at least a digital pet was a bit more interactive, or should we say demanding,
than a rock…but I digress.
Imagine a rock being marketed as a pet.
Let that sink in…
A rock.. a hard inanimate wad of some sort of mineral or other sundry substance…
being marketed as something to be cared for, held and loved…
And imagine it coming with its own vented carrying case and little straw bed.
The only positive, you didn’t have to feed, water, or clean out it’s “cage.”
Genius or madness??
Perhaps we should consider the millionaire…
Pet Rock is a collectible conceived in 1975 by advertising executive Gary Dahl.
Pet Rocks are smooth stones from Mexico’s Rosarito Beach.
They were marketed as live pets, in custom cardboard boxes,
complete with straw and breathing holes.
The fad lasted about six months,
ending after a short increase in sales during the Christmas season of December 1975.
Although by February 1976 they were discounted due to lower sales, Dahl sold 1.5 million
Pet Rocks for $4 each, and became a millionaire.
Anywhooo…since I’ve mentioned several times, in oh so many days, the notion of the
singing rocks of which Mark reminded us of the other day…
I suppose its only natural that the memory of pet rocks pops into mind…
For I am still left marveling at the thought of rocks singing…
singing because God would command such.
The thought which leaves me both marveling and utterly humbled by the thought of God,
the magnificent Creator of all that was, is and will be, never allowing His praise
to be silenced.
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
I read those words and I am made small…
and it is because I am small as compared to all of Creation
that yet I know not a single hair on my head falls without God’s knowledge.
And trust me, with a bad thyroid, hair falls…
Yet not a single hair falls without Him seeing and knowing…for He has counted each hair,
He knows each hair…
I read those words and I am silenced because I am small…
Because I am the created and He is the Creator…
Yet others will read those words and won’t even blink an eye…they won’t flinch and some
will even find such words folly and fantasy…
What is it that makes me stop and actually shutter over such words while others
are left empty or even chuckling??
When you heard the message of truth,
the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him,
you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.
He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession,
to the praise of His glory.
“Courage is being scared to death,
but saddling up anyway.”
(image of a rider using a bull rope to tie his hand to a bull in order to stay on as long
as possible without being bucked off—from an Ebay image of all things)
I’ve written about this before but there is a pasture across the road from our house that
is home to a bunch of rodeo bulls.
Ours was not the luck to have horses across the street, although
two do live next door, nor could we even have a peaceful herd of dairy cows, sheep or goats…
Nope—we had to have rodeo bulls.
Loud, very vocal, very smelly, rodeo bulls.
Maybe 50 plus bulls.
Summer garden parties, when the wind is out of the northwest, are not for the faint
of heart at our house…so needless to say, we don’t host any.
(one neighbor / Julie Cook / 2013)
We don’t know the folks who keep up the bulls, as they don’t live in close proximity
to the field, but we’re told that they raise them,
or actually pasture them, for local rodeos.
I, for one, think the field looks atrocious and really question the “care” being offered
these animals but like I say, we hear the owners of the field are a curious lot.
Once, a few years back, the fence was so bad that the bulls kept pushing their way through
and would actually wander down the road or into a neighboring subdivision…
and even into our fenced property…
So you should know that an out-of-place bull is a force to be reckoned with…
Not much makes them want to move.
The local sheriffs would have a time trying to find the owners while attempting to herd the
animals back to the pasture.
The owners have since put up a new fence,
as word is the county made them an offer they couldn’t refuse,
so the bulls now thankfully remain in their pasture.
I’ve never been to a rodeo but I have caught them ever once and a while when televised on TV…
and I must admit that there is just something a bit intriguing about what it is that
makes a man want to climb on the back of a 1500 pound angry muscle machine,
tying himself to said angry beast, in an attempt to see how long he can stay on the back of
the animal before he is thrown off.
Not to mention the fact that the animal could then easily crush him under hoof or even
gore him with his horns…
Hence the life of a rodeo clown.
The cowboy will tie his hand to the bull using a leather rope known as a bull rope.
This is a means of holding on to the animal while the other hand
waves precariously in the air.
And I suppose if you want to stay up and on, tying a hand to the adversary is the
way to go.
But the hope is, that when the cowboy is thrown, his hand will come lose lest he dangles
haphazardly swinging randomly about attached to the wild flailing animal…
being drug around the arena while the bones in his hand, wrist, and arm snap
like little twigs.
All of this imagery of being tied to a bull came to mind today when I was thinking
about the current plight of most Christians worldwide.
An odd thought perhaps but stay with me a minute.
We are living in a very precarious time.
I write often about the current plight of Christianity worldwide.
Persecution is at a level not seen since the days of the Emperors of Rome.
Even here in our cozy little Western Society, Christianity is under heavy
It may not be physically brutal but the persecution is very much real, alive,
present and very much active—in a very insidious fashion.
Here is a one-minute snippet of an interview with Jim Caviezel, while on the set
of the filming of The Apostle Paul, when he was asked about Christian persecution:
The other day in the post I’d written about our friend the Wee Flea,
the Scottish pastor David Robertson, and his frustrated lament of being fed up with
measured responses, Mark over on’Thoughts From Mark “Hat” Rackley’ Origins
offered an interesting response to my post…
Mark offered a powerful observation found in scripture regarding the lost generations
and the silencing of the faithful…
“If an entire generation is lost, God will raise rocks to shout praises to Him.”
(When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives,
the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all
the miracles they had seen:
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
I was tremendously struck by that passage.
It is a very powerful passage—
Imagine… God easily and readily raising rocks to shout His praise??!!!
For if He wanted such, it would therefore be.
It’s hard enough to herd a 1500 pound bull where it needs to go,
imagine getting a rock to sing.
And so I feel as if it’s time that the faithful tie their hands to the back
of the raging bull….as we fight to hold on…
The ride is not going to be easy nor for the faint of heart.
We will be tested and tried as we narrow our focus to the task at hand.
There will be the occasional distractions, much like the rodeo clowns, but
even the clowns won’t be able to distract Satan from letting loose upon the faithful
in those / these final days…
Tie the rope tight, because the ride is about the begin…
For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
1 Thessalonians 5:2-3
I am the vessel.
The draft is God’s.
And God is the thirsty one.
(It is so dangerously dry as we have had no rain since the first of June that even the springs and creek beds, deep in the woods which are always full of flowing waters, are dry and empty / Julie Cook / 2016)
Dry and dusty are the muffled cries of the earth…
which now aches and groans.
The Creator has spoken and yet man’s ears have grown deaf
All the while the faithful are left to wonder…
Man readily dismisses any sign, any reminder of God’s sacred word..
Are the waters now dry?
Do the rocks quiver and shake?
Have the seas overtaken the land?
Are the stars falling from the sky?
Have the storms blotted out the sun…
As man turns away from his God?
May my longing and my thirst,
that only seems to increase during these waning days,
be quenched by You and You alone oh Lord…
“O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more.
I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace.
I am ashamed of my lack of desire.
O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing;
I thirst to be made more thirsty still.
Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed.
Begin in mercy a new work of love within me.
Say to my soul, ‘Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.’
Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up
from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.”
“Wherever you come near the human race
there’s layers and layers of nonsense.”
(cliff wall at Little River Canyon State Park / Alabama / Julie Cook / 2015)
Upon first glance the casual observer is greeted by an unassuming rock cliff,
gently embraced by summer’s lush growth…
The rich sensuous greens of life enveloping the hard unmoving foundation of a planet.
But upon closer inspection one is met with the…
complexity of striation,
the melding of coloration,
the confusion of abstraction
and the frustration of complication.
And then after scrutinizing what was initially the obvious,
which has now emerged into something more along the lines of the miraculous…
we see the wonderment of the unique individual fingerprints of an Omnipotent Creator…
And yet sadly…
some observers simply continue to see a bunch of rocks…..
“I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God I will gird you, though you have not known Me; That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun That there is no one besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other…
The true worth of a man is not to be found in man himself, but in the colours and textures that come alive in others.”
(Pinecones from Dad’s yard, along with a fungus covered dead branch, Julie Cook 2013)
With the rapidly approaching official arrival of winter we are, no doubt, beginning to feel as if we are spiraling into a type of color withdrawal. Gone are the beautiful scarlets, golds and burnt oranges of Autumn; gone are the golden swaying wheat fields and the intoxicatingly beautiful jasmine and honeysuckle of Summer; gone are the vibrant explosives reds, blues, greens and lavenders, of Spring. For in this deep slumbering shadow of the calendar, we are left with an empty void of nothingness, or for some, a giant blanket of white encasing every living and non-living thing as far as the eye can see.
Yet in this perceived void of lacking and emptiness, there remains a very important component to our field of vision, for suddenly open for the entire world to view, the earth lies naked before both creature and man— exposed, unprotected and vulnerable. Gone are the colorful coverings of flowers and leaves which act as accessorizing baubles and wrappings. Gone are the tall grasses and heavy ladened branches bearing fruit and flower. What remains is an intricately woven skeletal system, the undercarriage of our natural world.
Cautiously, and a bit weary, we peer out upon this barren landscape, sad and forlorn, fearing that we are doomed to grey gloomy skies, long dark nights and a lack of visual stimulation. But thankfully a slow hesitant joy begins to claim our mood, for upon closer inspection we realize that we are not the helpless victims of Loss and Void, but rather we discover that we have been granted a tiny treasured lagniappe, a treat for all of our senses, for spread out majestically before us is a different type of visual splendor—one which appears more delicate and almost fragile than what had departed–for here, in what we now find at our grasp, is beauty in its most basic simplicity.
Branches, limbs, sticks, stones, straw, bark, cones and moss—these are the bare essentials which Nature generously offers to our visually weary senses. Wonderfully we rejoice for we now know that we have not been flung out helplessly to fester in a world of monotones and dull eyed death. Here in this seemingly cold and barren world– beauty is to be had, to be seen and to be touched. The visual wonders still abound.
These visual treasures are not the garish over the top harlots of those previous seasons, but rather these beauties remain understated, subtle and quiet. They speak of structure, shape, texture and tone offering us a tactile reminder that our visual needs have not been forgotten. Old man Winter may be hard and harsh, but he is not unkind. As you fight the deep calling to venture outside to a world of cold wind, freezing rain and gloomy grays, do not be discouraged—Nature knows your need and she has provided.