God’s love

“I have been all things unholy;
if God can work through me, He can work through anyone.”

St. Francis of Assisi


(Mother’s roses are blooming / Julie Cook / 2019)

“On the whole, God’s love for us is a much safer subject to think about than our love for Him.
Nobody can always have devout feelings: and even if we could,
feelings are not what God principally cares about.
Christian Love, either towards God or towards man, is an affair of the will.
If we are trying to do His will we are obeying the commandment,
‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God.’
He will give us feelings of love if He pleases.
We cannot create them for ourselves, and we must not demand them as a right.
But the great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go,
His love for us does not.
It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference;
and, therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins,
at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him.”

C. S. Lewis, p. 132
An Excerpt From
Mere Christianity

What is a saint?

A saint is somebody who has learned to love God.
Learned to love. It’s nothing extremely mystical.
It’s that a person really tries to be united to God, to love our Lord with all his heart.
To escape from that prison that we find ourselves in sometimes of our personal
selfishness and self-centeredness, which we carry with us.
In spite of the fact that we have all sorts of shortcomings and sins and so forth,
if we are striving to love our Lord with our whole strength,
that is a growing in the sanctity of life.

Fr. Jerry Gehringer
from Being a Saint in the World


(mother’s tea rose bush is blooming again / Julie Cook / 2018)

“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,

Healing

“I didn’t expect to recover from my second operation but since I did, I consider that I’m living on borrowed time. Every day that dawns is a gift to me and I take it in that way. I accept it gratefully without looking beyond it. I completely forget my physical suffering and all the unpleasantness of my present condition and I think only of the joy of seeing the sun rise once more and of being able to work a little bit, even under difficult conditions.”
― Henri Matisse

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(roses / Boston Public Gardens / Julie Cook / 2014)

I’m traveling bright and early over to Atlanta today, taking my son to a specialist at Emory as we seek some much needed healing of body. Complications from the kidney stones are not getting better but seem to be worsening.

As we travel to Emory I am very mindful that Dr. Kent Brantly is currently in Emory’s infectious diseases facility for treatment of the dreaded Ebola virus he contracted while in Africa treating the growing number of victims of this frightening virus. Tuesday Nancy Writebol, a missionary also in Africa to help those victims of the virus, as well as, the second American to contract the virus, will arrive in Atlanta for treatment.

I am aware, as a mother, how I am concerned over the health of my now grown son–I can only imagine how the families of both Dr. Brantly and Mrs. Writebol must feel. The fear of the unknown coupled by the knowledge of what a virus such as Ebola can do to the human body with a vicious and deadly rate of speed.

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(roses / Boston Public Gardens / Julie Cook / 2014)

Today may we all offer our hopes and prayers for healing.
Healing for all who are currently afflicted by illness of both body and mind.
May we remain prayerful for those suffering in Israel and Gaza.
May we remain prayerful for those in China who were affected by yesterday’s deadly earthquake.
May we remain prayerful for those in Ukraine and Russia as that portion of the world remains in crisis.
May we continue to be prayerful for the families who have lost loved ones on both the Malaysian planes–one downed and one still missing.
May we pray for all in Africa who are afflicted with Ebola.
May we pray for all the healthcare workers throughout this world who work tirelessly to bring hope and healing to all who suffer.

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(roses, Boston Public Garden / Julie Cook / 2014

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:4-5

Ode to all the types of mothers

“In the book Soldiers on the Home Front, I was greatly struck by the fact that in childbirth alone, women commonly suffer more pain, illness and misery than any war hero ever does. An what’s her reward for enduring all that pain? She gets pushed aside when she’s disfigured by birth, her children soon leave, hear beauty is gone. Women, who struggle and suffer pain to ensure the continuation of the human race, make much tougher and more courageous soldiers than all those big-mouthed freedom-fighting heroes put together.”
― Anne Frank

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(miniature rose / Julie Cook / 2014)

A happy day of remembrance to all the mothers out there.
To the biological mothers.
To the adopted mothers.
To the sisters who play the role of mother.
To the fathers who play the role of mother.
To the teachers who are mothers to so many.
To the friends who play the role of mother.
To the grandmothers who play the role of mother, again.
To all of those who love,
who work,
who cook,
who clean,
who work some more,
who dry the tears,
who pay the bills,
who bandage the cuts,
who bandage the hearts,
who know to say no,
who yell and scream,
who whisper “I love you”,
who pick up the pieces of the broken lives
who lie awake night after night wondering. . .
wondering where you are,
wondering how to pay the rent,
wondering how to pay your tuition,
wondering how to pay for your uniform,
wondering if you’re safe,
wondering if you’re happy,
wondering if you’re in trouble
wondering if they made the right decision. . .
To the hearts that hold your heart
To those who pray for you each and every day.
To all the mothers in our lives. . .
Thank you.

little pleasures

“After all,” Anne had said to Marilla once, “I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

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(beautiful roses at my son’s new home / Julie Cook / 2014)

This is my small gift to you this new morning of this new day, of this new week, of this new month–these beautiful roses.
May these roses bring you some small sense of joy–
Happy Day!!!

Hope from the flowers

“What a lovely thing a rose is!… Our highest assurance of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers. All other things, our powers, our desires, our food are all really necessary for our existence in the first instance. But this rose is an extra. Its smell and color are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it. It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle

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Crazy thing—this sweet little demure rose belongs to a small potted rose bush which sits out on my front porch. It is the small little rose bush I reported on, and wrote a post about, back in May–the one my son and his bride-to-be bestowed upon me for Mother’s Day. It was a beautiful petite white rose bush. And of course the tiny white roses reminded me of the young German resistance movement championed by Sophie Scholl, her brother and a handful of youthful friends, which lead to the creation of the White Rose Movement.

Time moved on and Summer came and went. Fall came and went. The small rose bush hung on. Winter has arrived settling in upon us like an old thick heavy blanket with the poor little rose bush having maintained its position on the front porch since May. Days have turned into weeks and my forgotten little friend out on the front porch has weathered first the dry hot days of a Georgia summer and now the freezing temperatures of a wet cold dreary winter. This poor little rose has gone days without much water, care or attention—and yet, it holds on and perseveres.

Imagine my surprise, when I was out front taking down all of the Christmas lights this afternoon in the blowing wind and rain, upon seeing my tiny little rose bush sporting a single beautifully pink tinged bloom.
Hummm–I thought this was a white little rose bush. . .?
Is this a marvel or anomaly? Amazingly through the ups and downs of the seasons, the lack of water and proper care, the extreme heat and now the extreme cold–this little rose bush has not only survived, it appears to have actually thrived. . . as well as taking on a bit of a new color.

Could it be that maybe, just maybe, perhaps this tiny little plant is simply offering me a bit of hope for the excited anticipation of warmer and brighter days? A precursor of what will soon be?

It is on this new day to this new week of the last waning days of yet another year, that I offer to you this sweet demure rose—it is our reminder, your’s and mine, that not only is a new day and a new week dawning but there is a new year waiting for us in the wings, for better or worse, to offer us a new start, a new way, a new life, new hope, new dreams, new possibilities. Sometimes all we need is a single little flower to remind us that there is always hope for goodness and new possibilities. May you be cheered on by the sight of a single small rose—here is to a hopeful new year–for us all.

A rose among thorns

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“O my Luve’s like a red, red rose That’s newly sprung in June; O my luve’s like the melodie That’s sweetly play’d in tune. As fair art thou, my bonie lass, So deep in luve am I; And I will luve thee still, my Dear, Till a’the seas gang dry. Till a’the seas gang dry, my Dear, And the rocks melt wi’ the sun: O I will love thee still, my Dear, While the sands o’ life shall run.”
– Robert Burns

Granted this is not a red rose, and I’m not in Scotland (unless I took the low road and you took the high road 🙂 ) but it is June and I thought it fitting that my single little wild primrose should find itself fortunate to be honored by the likes of Robbie Burns.

I actually spied this little beauty on a jaunt last Sunday out in the middle of nowhere….my husband is an avid outdoorsman and recreational hunter….I know, I know, I hear you– but you must understand that he is a rare bird—responsible and always a good steward of the land—he hunts what we can eat and only if it is of certain standards. I can’t help it—I’m the city girl who moved to the rural part of our state and married a country outdoorsman.

All of that being said we were actually down on some property in middle Georgia last weekend, surveying some land. This is a big hunting area in our state and he was there to explore this particular piece of property. On the side of an old dirt road I noticed a beautiful wild primrose bush growing, covering the side of the road like a giant canopy, climbing up trees and snaking along the edge of this particular dirt road. I always wonder how something so sweet and demure as a primrose wends up in such a barren place, void of any human habitation as this is big timber land—land owned by some of the country’s largest timber companies—but primroses seem to do best in these sorts of locals….

There was a section covered in blooms, most of them spent and fading quickly. As we ventured past the majority of the bush, there, in the middle of leaves and brush, was this lone small pink bloom. Blooming for no one in particular–not cultivated or cared for–no one to prune or fertilize and yet– there it was in all of it’s splendor.

Of course I had the stop and take the picture–something about it said “here I am, you may come share in this special moment of mine…” This little rose reminded me of my mom—before my mom had died, she had planted a small primrose bush on the edge of their carport. When she became sick, there was no one who thought to tend to the little bush. I remember how distraught my dad was after mom’s death when he noticed that her little rose bush looked as if it too would not be with us much longer—but low-n-behold, after Dad watered it a bit, the bush actually began to thrive.

27 years later that little bush is still growing and each season blooming in full regalia. That bush is a tangible link for my dad to my mom. He always points it out to me when I come home to visit…”look at Mom’s little rose bush, remember how it almost died…..” as his words trail off from the story, we both admire the little bush in silence.

I suppose we are all like the little primrose bush—we tend to pop up in all sorts of places–some of us struggle more so than others, but with just a little bit of attention, we tend to thrive. I need to be more mindful of this when I see people who may appear to be not like me, especially those who are elderly.

I am blessed in my life with friends and family–I have a support network very close to me—not all of us are as fortunate. I think often of those who are sick or those in nursing homes, the “shut ins” of our communities—those who are often put aside as their “worth” appears to be no longer viable as our’s is a society that values worth—worth of finance, worth of ability and worth of effort—when all of that worth seems to have waned, then our society seems to wish to toss those now “worth-less” ones aside.

Be it at church, the grocery store, a department store… when I see an elderly person, always alone, struggling a bit, I am reminded of the primrose bush. Alone and untended, these folks tend to fade, but the minute I speak, ask a question, offer assistance, smile in their direction, they perk up and quickly “blossom”—

Let us all remember those we see who are older and alone—as long as anyone on this planet has breath, they are “worthy” of human care and attention. God never discards any of us. He never decides we are past our “worth” and therefore expendable. To Him, we are all precious, up to our dying breath—it would behoove us to be more mindful of the same.

Always remember that among the thorns, the brush, bramble and barren land, often lies the beautiful flower, blooming for no one in particular—but maybe you will be the lucky one to find it. Even the single lone bloom is precious.