When God speaks

“In the silence of the heart God speaks.
If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you.
Then you will know that you are nothing.
It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness,
that God can fill you with Himself.
Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”

Mother Teresa


(a bluebird laying claim to the birdhouse / Julie Cook / 2017)

χάρισμα—xárisma–chrisma
a gift of great Spiritual proportion…
a favor Divinely given despite the lack of deserving merit…

During the course of one’s life, knowing one soul who seems to speak words that come
from a place that is beyond the confines of this world…words of Divine origin…
it is a gracious gift most precious and rare.

Most will pass through this world without ever hearing the words spoken by one who
has been gifted, or burdened, with listening, discerning and then sharing.
Many will claim such a knowledge…
and many will be wrong…
being caught up in the emotion of something greater than that which can be comprehended.

Divine Grace operating within a few, directed by the Holy Spirit.

I have known 3 such persons.

One of those three has spoken…
reminding me…
and I have listened…
as I am reminded that…

God has spoken…to me, again

You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139

what’s in a word

“My task, which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel–it is, before all, to make you see.”
― Joseph Conrad

“A man must be prepared not only to be a martyr, but to be a fool. It is absurd to say that a man is ready to toil and die for his convictions if he is not even ready to wear a wreathe around his head for them.”
― G.K. Chesterton

“If there were no God, there would be no atheists.”
G. K. Chesterton – Where all roads lead, 1922

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(St Kevin’s Monastery / Glendalough National Park, Co Wicklow, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

“Strike while the iron is hot”
or so they say…
I don’t know if the iron is truly hot but the thoughts are fresh and the spirit seems willing…

I am a far cry from being a grammarist or etymologist.
And those of you who read much of anything I write, probably painfully observe I would imagine, that often I either fall victim to my own inability of having ever mastered spelling or either I fall prey to the dreaded autocorrect monster who simply doesn’t understand me or gets where I’m coming from.

Add to that that I am a southern belle, born and bred, with my syntax and or jargon often being more times than not, based on my regional dialect and verbiage….ie my southern drawl….so anyone who stumbles this way may be hard pressed making sense of things…

Yet despite all of the aforementioned, one thing is certain, I love words.
I am most intrigued by words.
I find words fascinating.
Just as I find language fascinating…
Yet sadly my brain has failed miserably when it comes to
learning a language…other than my own southern style of english.

Yet that never stopped me from incorporating the use of words, language and even alphabets within my classroom with my kids or in my own art work.

One thing that I have found intriguing, when delving into the use of words, is that of their origins and of how the original meaning morphs over the passage of time. It is also interesting when words sound alike but are vastly different in meaning.
Those who try their hand at learning English, I am told, have quite a time as we, primary english speakers, have so many similarly pronounced words that have vastly different meanings— a quick example being there and their.

Let’s take another word—apology.

A word rooted in Greek which means to admit a wrong doing or owning up to a slight or misdeed.
Yet the word apologetic is not necessarily referring to one who is sorry for said misdeed but rather refers to one who is defending a certain belief or stance.

I can see where this can all become confusing.

I never really understood why the word apologist was used when referencing one who was defending a point of view verses one who was offering an “I’m sorry”

The Greek, ἀπολογία, translates to “speaking in defense”—or—apologetics
With the classical Greek word being apologia
Wikipedia explains it with this sort of example… “the prosecution delivered the kategoria (κατηγορία), and the defendant replied with an apologia.”
Meaning the defendant wasn’t apologizing but rather was arguing in defense…

Talk about confusing…

Interesting that the word used to admit a wrong sounds so much like defending a stance.

Which brings me to the meat of this wondering…

I read many Christian blogs that are written by very knowledgeable, learned individuals, who are equally passionate in what they write.
They are well versed in their knowledge and they are true defenders of the Faith.
They are apologists.
They are staunch and even zealous in and of their defense…
They are not ones to apologize….nor should they

And that’s the thing…
They are witnessing and presenting a case and / or defending a case…not apologizing for it.
There is no need for an apology…but there is need for the apologetics.

In today’s society we may or may not see any similarities to nearly 2000 years ago when the Church was but young and new. However it may certainly behoove all of us to take a closer look.

Back then the disciples and followers of the risen Christ had begun to spread far and wide in order to teach, preach and share the Gospel of both Hope and Salvation.
Some of the faithful found themselves in positions of acting defense attorneys, where the preaching had quickly turned into the defending of one’s beliefs.
There were arrests and trials.
There were deaths and persecutions.
And there were the apologetics.

Yet how familiar a position are the faithful now finding themselves today.

What had become accepted and even commonplace in the day to day life of mainstream folks, is now questioned and even actually banned out right.
The talking about one’s faith in Jesus with fellow students on college campuses is being banned.
Those who opt to join in prayer before and after sporting events are now warned against such.
The display of Christian religious symbols in public settings is now outlawed.
The use of bibles in various places of learning are now prohibited.
Those who profess to be believers of the Faith are now finding themselves as targets of violence and hate.
Those of the Faith are being pegged as scapegoats for all the is now wrong with the world.
Those who write about their beliefs and faith in magazines, papers and blogs are being called to task
to defend such beliefs as they are mocked, ridiculed and scorned.

However…. this is not the time for apologies…
But simply, rather, a time for apologists….

and rightly so it seems…

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt,
so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Colossians 4:5-6

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
1 Peter 3:15-16

Heady times

“God is over all things,
under all things; outside all;
within but not enclosed; without but not exclude;
above but not raised up; below but not depressed;
wholly above, presiding;
wholly beneath, sustaining;
wholly within, filling”

Hildebert of Lavardin

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(Timoleague Friary, County Cork, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

There had been a whirlwind of emotion
Exuberance road wildly as if on the back of a bronking bull…
Holding on for dear life…
Yet madly giddy within the rush and exhilaration of the ride.
Major changes raced across the winds…

Soaring endlessly upward, words and feelings rapidly flowed downward…
as if caught in a raging torrent…
There was so much that needed to be shared, expressed, re-lived.
Time was the enemy, this much we knew…
If put on hold or held back, it might all be too late…
or so we reasoned…

The depth of feeling was so raw yet so very real.
Clarity had been granted, but for how long was anyone’s guess.
There was a sense of power beyond self…
As if one was being guided and willed onward from some other different place and time.
This was bigger than all of us combined and it had to be shared…
It was truly a race between life and death…

All consuming is the best way to describe it.
Mad we were labeled…the activity deemed by the State…nefarious.
Hope and death mingled dangerously together…yet at the same time there existed a calm which surpassed understanding.
We had seen the results of being caught, accused, condemned….
Yet a resolute feeling of determination prevailed…we knew that all would be well…
With this feeling of hopefulness spurring on the momentum…
It was a heady time…

It was a time of grave danger with imminent death if discovered.
Yet there was no turning back…the die had been cast
Three years had laid the foundation, three days cemented our fate
A lifetime would be our legacy as thousands more would follow suit.

As it turned out, time would not be the deterrent…
We would weather the centuries of both denial and persecution…
We would work together across the oceans of the world, hand in hand…
allowing our words, our deeds, our actions to tell the story…
There were times when voices were silenced and many lives were lost…
But transformation had been found
Renewal had become a reality
Power was indeed found in the weak
The blind had seen and the lame had walked
As Salvation blanketed the land…

Yet now we wonder…
Where has the urgency gone?
Where has the importance of this story gone?
Has the truth been lost in complacency?
Where is the momentum…?
Do lives still not hang in the balance?
Is Hope not still viable…?

Miracles have not ceased…
Hearts are still turned…
Life has indeed conquered Death
Yet the headiness,
the acuteness,
the gravity…
seem all but lackluster…

The importance
The need
The urgency
are still very much necessary…
Yet those of us who have been left to further the cause, spread the word,
live the story…
have fallen into lethargy, compliance with the world and sadly indifference…

May we once again find the strength, the need, the urgency to continue to fight the good fight…
For it is Time who is no longer on our side….or so we have been warned.
The winds have shifted, the signs are real and the headiness of exuberance, need and necessity is all but waiting…for our time has come….
are we still willing to be the voice behind the story….
If not us, then who….


Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—
his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:1-9

I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.
1 Corinthians 4:14-17

Nous pleurons avec vous France

All for one and one for all,
united we stand divided we fall.”

― Alexandre Dumas

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(Winged Victory, The Louvre / Julie Cook / 2011)

Dear France:
We weep freely for, as well as with, you–our dear friends
Our hearts are breaking
Our minds are reeling
Yet we stand together with you in our determination to live united in Liberté

God bless France
Vive la France

A bad day for the birds

Do you ne’er think what wondrous beings these?
Do you ne’er think who made them, and who taught
The dialect they speak, where melodies
Alone are the interpreters of thought?
Whose household words are songs in many keys,
Sweeter than instrument of man e’er caught!

HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

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(5 tiny bluebird eggs / Julie Cook / 2015)

If you’ve followed much of cookiecrumbs for any length of time, then you know I love my birds.
Not the Atlanta Falcons or Hawks mind you nor some sort of pet parakeet but rather those beautifully wild birds which frequent my yard.
I just love all the various wild birds that either call my yard their permanent home or those more transient species who just happen by on a short lay over as they travel onward to wherever it is they go. . .

I enjoy the commotion on the feeders, especially after a recent replenishing.
I relish those fleeting occasional sightings of some rare bird making an impromptu pitstop.

From hummingbird to hawk, I love my birds.

Yet sadly there have been three incidents as of late which have left me rather troubled and to be honest, quite sad.

I realize that Nature is Nature–wild and free so to speak.
There’s that whole food chain thing going on. . .
The survival of the fittest. . .
That whole eat or be eaten mentality. . .
All out taking place in that yard of mine.
Be it raccoon, copperhead, rat snake, possum, mole, armadillo, coyote, bobwhite, bobcat, buzzard, cardinal, robin, turtle, lizard, chipmunk. . .living harmoniously is certainly a very fine line.

First my bluebirds.
We’ve had a family of bluebirds here in our yard for as long as we’ve lived in this house–a good 16 years. Offsprings return each year and continue raising generation after generation.
I have several boxes up for their choice of nesting.
Last year, on Mother’s day of all days, you may remember the whole bird box incident with my husband and how Mrs Bluebird did not have a happy mother’s day. I was shocked they decided to actually come back, giving us a second chance, but we won’t relive that little trauma drama right now. . .

I had watched with keen interest this Spring as mom and dad bluebird were first busy building a nest in the box of choice and then secondly how they worked in tandem to feed the hatchlings.

Yet oddly one strange day, all was silent. There was no activity of the usual flying back and forth. No little rising crescendo chorus greeting the latest tasty morsel of worm or bug delivered for meal time—a never ending mealtime.

I watched the box for a couple of days before taking my chance. . .I eased up to the box, twisting the latch to check inside.
I found nothing.
It was still too soon for the babies to have “flown” the proverbial coop—I fretted that a raccoon or snake or feral cat had had it’s way one dark and sinister night with my wee blue family. . .

Fast forward a couple of weeks when, once again, I notice a bevy of activity. Mom sitting with her tiny head poking out of the hole as if she was on patrol as Dad made the deliveries of tasty takeout.
This went on for about two weeks, when once again, out of the blue, nothing.
No noise,
No commotion,
No movement,
No mom.
No dad.

So once again after watching the box intently for several days, I slowly inched my way to the tree, lifting the latch. . .this time, resting gently in place were 5 beautifully blue eggs. Alone.
Mom and Dad had left the box. . .
But way?

The other seemingly tragic event came around the same time as the first bluebird batch disappearance.
There was a mockingbird who had built a nest in close proximity to the bluebirds box, with its nest perched up in a Tea Olive tree.
Mother and dad mockingbird were fiercely protective and equally as busy as Mr and Mrs Bluebird.
Mom had laid several beautiful eggs that hatched into several tiny little balls of fluffy down.

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(mockingbird eggs / Julie Cook /2015)

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(the tiny mockingbird fledglings / Julie Cook / 2015)

Yet oddly, their nest grew quiet at the same time as the bluebirds. . .which certainly raised my suspicions as to what was taking place in the cloak of darkness.

Lastly the final insult to injury for my beloved birds. . .

A couple of weeks ago I had shared a post featuring our new redheaded woodpecker family.
The first couple of these gorgeous birds to call our yard home. They were truly magnificent birds to watch purely because of their striking colors. A brilliant red head offset by the white and black body feathers.
I was so proud that this pair of beautiful birds had opted to call my yard home.

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Their range was rather wide as I would often see them flying off to the woods across the street at the back of the neighbor’s pasture. They began to enjoy sitting on our black fence with runs the length of our property along the road. I imagined the pickings for bugs must have been ideal along the fence.

Last week, at the end of one long hot day finally returning home from Dad’s, I turned to pull into the driveway when I noticed what appeared to be a dead bird lying on its back in the middle of the driveway. Immediately I could hear my own voice echoing in the car “NO, NO, NO. . .”
Stopping the car to investigate further, my initial assumption was sadly was confirmed—-it was one of the woodpeckers.

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(my beautiful redheaded woodpecker is no more / Julie Cook / 2015)

From my observation I noted some blood around the beak and sadly surmised that the bird perhaps had flown out and up at the same time a car had came barreling down the road.

I brought the bird down to the house and took it out in the back to bury it.

I always feel privileged when I am afforded a glimpse into the lives of the animals, birds, reptiles, fish that I share my little piece of the planet with. . .I’ve always felt as if God has given me a tiny precious gift each encounter, each observation. . .be it here in my own backyard or along the shores of the ocean or in the wilds of Alaska. . .Those created creatures both majestic and beautiful, wild and free. . .creatures I am tasked with, as a steward of the planet and created creature myself who God entrusted with responsibility, to care for, honor and respect. . .

I am thankful for their presence in my world as they remind me of God’s grace as well as joy—as He must have taken great pleasure in their creation. . .

Here’s to my birds—may better days grace your horizons. . .

Red Sky at morning, Sailors take warning. . .

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DAWN! thou hast every possibility of life! What canst thou not reveal to man in thy flaming sky? Enough thou sayest, to recreate a world of men. Blind are we. How many of us read thy words aright? We pass them by, cold letters, divining not the fire of eternal life behind them burning. Dawn, thy opportunity is full! We, alas, know not the meaning of thy gorgeous page. Dazed we watch thy letters pale; cold embers, left upon the sky; Life’s opportunity flickering into naught.
ELISE PUMPELLY CABOT, “Arizona”

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(both images taken from the back deck / Julie Cook / 2013)

A beautiful early morning opportunity is given for the observation of a brilliant sunrise.
Life is busy.
Busier than I prefer. . .
Alas–it is merely the fate of this holiday season.
Time will simply not permit the leisure of reflection nor the joy of the recording of such.
Yet in the advent of time, the gift of a glorious morning sky, full of the expectation and anticipation of the birth of a new day, simply may not overlooked nor ignored.
This is my small gift to you.