no distinction

“There may be a time in life when one is tired of everything
and feels as if all one does is wrong,
and there maybe some truth in it-
do you think this is a feeling one must try to forget and to banish,
or is it ‘the longing for God,’ which one must not fear,
but cherish to see if it may bring us some good?
Is it ‘the longing for God’ which leads us to make a choice which we never regret?
Let us keep courage and try to be patient and gentle.
And not mind being eccentric, and make distinction between good and evil.”

Vincent van Gogh

“No people is fully civilized where a distinction is drawn between stealing an office
and stealing a purse”

Theodore Roosevelt

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(turban squash / Julie Cook / 2016)

God does not draw a distinction between the beautiful verses the plain
The haughty verses the lowly…
the well to do verses the insufficient…

We are the ones who have drawn the line between inviting verses common
extravagant verses meek…
slick verse slow,
powerful verses humble…

Preferring always the greater verses the lesser
the influential to the simple
the rich to the poor…

As we are left to wonder who is the better for this distinction of choice….

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you:
Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought,
but rather think of yourself with sober judgment,
in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

Romans 12:3

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I marvel in the simple

“There are many going afar to marvel at the heights of mountains, the mighty waves of the sea, the long courses of great rivers, the vastness of the ocean, the movements of the stars, yet they leave themselves unnoticed!”
Augustine of Hippo

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(small mushroom after the rain / Julie Cook / 2016)

All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word:
freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.

Winston Churchill

Who is this King of glory?
The LORD of hosts,
He is the King of glory

Psalm 24:10

lost in translation

“The word ‘translation’ comes, etymologically, from the Latin for ‘bearing across’.
Having been borne across the world, we are translated men.
It is normally supposed that something always gets lost in translation;
I cling, obstinately to the notion that something can also be gained.”

Salman Rushdie

“Live the questions now. Perhaps then,
someday far in the future,
you will gradually, without even noticing it,
live your way into the answer.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

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(detail of an Irish manuscript and cover of Timothy O’Neills book The Irish Hand, Scribes And Their Manuscripts From The Earliest Times–as seen in a Kinsale Bookshop, Kinsale, County Cork Ireland)

Ce que tu ne comprends pas?
Lo que no entiendes?
Was Sie nicht verstehen?
あなたは何を理解していません ?
ما لا تفهم ?
Wat begrijp je niet ?
מה אתה לא מבין ?
что вы не понимаете ?
Quello che non capisci?
Nach bhfuil cad a thuigeann tú ?

No matter the language, the question remains the same…
“what don’t you understand?”

It is a question asked of the confused, the lost,
the ignorant, the arrogant as well as the simple.

“Is there some confusion?”

“Do you need for me to re-explain something?”

“I’m sorry, did I not make myself clear?”

“You’re not from around here are you?”

“Are you a moron?”

The way in which the question is asked pretty much explains to the one asking the question whether or not their query is worthy of further explanation or has simply exasperated the one being questioned.

It can even be issued as a defiant statement rather than a question.

As in…

“yeah, you see it, it is what it is…what don’t you understand?!”

Sometimes I feel that way…
as in the frustrated way of things….

As in…
“Yes.
God did say not to do that.
Or
“Yes.
God did say that was okay.”

It’s all pretty simple.
Pretty much cut and dry.

Have you ever had to sign a contract or a legal document?
Have you ever taken the time need to fully read…
or the legal ability in order to comprehend all the fine print?
Has a salesperson or legal type person ever asked, “what don’t you understand?”
With you pretty much resigned to the answer being simply “everything?!”…

God gave a list of some pretty simple commands…
or rather rules for living if you will.

A concise list of don’ts.

Pretty simple.
Pretty direct.
A relatively short list.
With no hidden fees.
No hidden clauses.
All in simple language.
No legalese.
No gobbledygook.

Just very straightforward…

Oh, and by the way, where there were no fees involved,
there were / are penalties with each broken “law”

But they were set to make life easy.
Follow the rules, the laws, and life was to be pretty much… golden….

Later, His Son came along and offered a few more to the list…
This time there were actually a few additions in the affirmative…as in “do this”

Things like…
Loving your God with all your heart, mind, body, and being…
Secondly… love your neighbor as yourself.
Do unto others as you would wish others to do unto you.

Again straightforward with a direct approach.
Nothing buried in the fine print.

There were also a few more don’ts and do’s added to the list.
Don’t have sexual intercourse or anything close with those of your same sex.
Don’t do things in excess…like drink or eat, or…you name it.
Don’t neglect those less fortunate
Do take care of widows and orphans
Do remember those in prison.
Do show mercy.
Do show kindness.
Do show compassion.

All simple.
All direct.
Rules for living—in order to make the living…golden.

Yet over time, everyone has wanted to complicate the simple.
Muddy the waters.
Argue the point.
Defy the point.
Create fine print.
Throw in some hidden agendas and clauses.

And I just want to look at everyone with that exasperated look saying….
“What don’t you understand??????”

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.
Proverbs 18:2

Making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.
Proverbs 2:2-5

the simple difference

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.
Winston Churchill

“Perhaps it takes a purer faith to praise God for unrealized blessings than for those we once enjoyed or those we enjoy now.”
― A.W. Tozer

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( a leaf dances along the wind, Cades Cove, TN /The Great Smokey Mountains National Park / Julie Cook / 2015)

Today was busy…
It was a day of cooking, preparing and sharing.
It was a day for an early Thanksgiving celebration… for one part of my husband’s family.
It was a day of reconciliations of sorts.
A day for some healing…between an elderly in-firmed father and two of his three grown children…of whom he had estranged himself from years ago.

Lives have been lived…as grandchildren have grown, as now great-grandchildren have grown as well…as time has, all too casually, been allowed to pass…
when it never should have been allowed pass,
for such a very long time in the first place…

The two now grown children had suffered grievously as children under the destructive blanket of abusive alcoholism–only to have suffered again years later as adults..
Odd how that cycle of hurt and pain seems to simply ebb and flow over the odd passage of time…

A small bridge was crossed today…and that was good.
One can never give back nor take back the words, the abuse, the pain, the embarrassment, the resentment and the grievous loss of place, time and years…and yet one can’t help but see the positive effort now taken in the writing of one small wrong in a sea of many wrongs—as it is the uplifting conscious admission of this one said wrong which is what now really seems to matter most.

And as I feel that a small bridge was indeed crossed today, it obviously will never erase or take away that which was…yet it does however bring a bit of peace to two sorrowfully long grieved hearts…

And as I silently stood back watching these tiny hopeful events unfolding during the course of this very cold yet sunny Sunday, resting gratefully in the idea and concept of thankfulness…my mind has not been far removed from the heavy thoughts of Paris and now of the black cloud which hangs heavy and low over Belgium…

I found myself pondering over the “us verses them” divide…that great crevasse which separates the sane and insane within the whole craziness of ISIS Islamic extremism and that of the rest of us…

…As I have labored racking my brain as to what it is that makes a person, or in this case an army of people, to be filled with such seething disregard for the gift of life and living…I have merely been left mystified and stymied–scratching my head in a totally overwhelming disbelief.

The recent pictures of that young woman flashing a familiar hiphop / rap hand sign, garbed in the hijab, who would later don a suicide vest, detonating herself in hopes of taking out as many law enforcement and civilians as possible, goes beyond the average human being’s comprehension.

What sets us apart from these mostly youthful members of an army of hate and destruction…?

Oh we hear the familiar bleeding excuses of disenfranchisement, of socioeconomic disadvantagement, the lack of schooling, the barriers of culture, language, religion, the inability to assimilate to a new country….etc, etc, etc…
…none of that holds water nor is a true paving stone filling the gulf between right and wrong, hate and love, murder and life….

And then it dawned on me—
As simple and perhaps even childlike that it may sound, the divide rests not in the amble abundance of vehement hate, as there is certainly plenty of that found in both words and deed, but rather the difference, the separation, is found in the lack of the simple ability to find and produce a true sense of heartfelt thankfulness.

It all boils down to the simple matter of hating verses gratitude and thankfulness.
–or rather the ability to offer genuine gratitude and thankfulness.

True genuine thankfulness…not the insane thankfulness to Allah that they all died, or all were blown up…but rather the genuine ability to feel real thankfulness which is found in the simplest of places and gestures.

Thankfulness and gratitude not for the materialism of life…not for the gathering of things, the loftiness of status of position, the greedy accumulation of wealth and prestige…but rather thankfulness for the simple and genuine gratitude of the heart…for the most simplest of pleasures—the pleasure of a smile, the thankfulness found in reunions, the gratitude for the bridging of gaps, the thankfulness for waking each day, the marveling in watching a leaf dance across the wind, the delight felt in a single touch, the joy felt in being alive on a cold but sunny November day…

And whereas all of the experts and the powers that be who continue sifting through and within the dust of the whys and hows…it really comes down to something as small and as tiny and as simple and seemingly insignificant as thankfulness and the ability to offer a true heartfelt “thank you” — which is the actual barrier, the true great divide between the us and the them…

Gratitude and thankfulness to, for and in something greater than ourselves…
to Something that revels in life not death, love not hate, freedom not imprisonment…
The gratitude in knowing that there is indeed a Creator who gives and a Savior who waits for us all in the midst of this ever growing turmoil…..

The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.
Psalm 28:7

The simple path

“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

“The Simple Path
Silence is Prayer
Prayer is Faith
Faith is Love
Love is Service
The Fruit of Service is Peace”

― Mother Teresa

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(a simple lovely breakfast / Julie Cook/ 2015)

5 readily available ingredients. . .
eggs, simmered 6 minutes–preferably as fresh and organic as they come, hence an orange yolk
1 slice of bread, lightly toasted–preferably a nice little rustic slice
butter, a light unctuous spread of the real deal
sea salt
fresh ground pepper
and there, my friend is a meal fit for both king or pauper.

Simple, unadulterated, humble fare.

And please excuse that sound of retching in the background because when my aunt sees this picture,
she will begin to throw up as she does not like eggs–not the sight, sound, smell or taste
but we shan’t allow that to stop this particular thread of thought this morning, she’ll quickly scroll past the picture.

Now, back to where we were. . .

Simple fare.
Nothing frufru,
nothing fancy smancy
A soul satisfying plate of bare bones simple.
As in less is more.

As human beings we have grown greatly accustomed to making more from less
We think more, bigger, extravagant equates to better, perhaps even best.
We want to top this with that.
We vie to go beyond.
Often not knowing when to leave things be.
We perfect and perfect some more.
We build upon what was there striving to make it all so much more special, more grand.
Stopping is not an option let alone failing. . .
We examine, expand, explore. . .always being ready to fix and to add
We pile on while always going beyond.

Satisfaction is fleeting
Settling unheard of
Resting on laurels passe

Yet it is when we scale back
Strip things bare
Pare down
Slow down
Detox
Declutter
Downsize
Clean out
Throw out
Simplify

Life becomes sweet, savory, pleasant, peaceful, complete.

So on this new morning to this new week, as life prepares to offer you a myriad of paths throughout a busy and most likely chaotic week, don’t be afraid or deterred when choosing your path– make the conscious decision to choose the simpler path. . .you just may be surprised that the choice of the simple and the less, in the end, is delightfully more satisfying.

Sweet and simple

It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.
Laura Ingalls Wilder

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(a tiny sweet begonia blossom / Julie Cook / 2014)

Taking stock of what was,
melancholy and nostalgic,
do we count our treasures?

Looking back on a life long lived,
tired and weary,
can we hold our possessions in open arms?

Time no longer kind,
spent and gone,
is it who we know or who’ve known which matters most?

Complicated, overwhelming, excessive
No time, too busy, maybe later
What does any of it mean now?

Can we rewind, return, renew
The chances come and chances go
Time begs to begin again

Take it while you can
Hold on to it longer,
to all that mattes most

When everything was simple
When time never mattered
When less was happily more
When life was sweet

Simplicity


He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter…. In winter the stars seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves a fuller triumph, and the heavens wear a look of a more exalted simplicity.

John Burroughs, “The Snow-Walkers,” 1866

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True beauty is found in simplicity.
Who said that?
Nothing fancy.
Nothing glamourous.
No sparkles.
No glitz.
No shiny baubles.
No makeup.
No expensive clothes.
Simple and delightfully minimal.
A bird.
Some twigs.
A grey sky.
All accented by a backdrop of the evergreen needles of the loblolly pine.
Simple.
Peaceful.
Beautiful.
A soft bundle of puffed up feathers working as an insulating coat for a young mocking bird set amongst the barren twigs and sticks of an empty crepe myrtle and the thorns of the barberry.
No red carpet.
No camera lights.
No who’s who.
Nothing manmade.
A small gift from the hand of the Beloved.
Simply real.
Simply beautiful.

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(images of a young, cold, mocking bird nestled along the twigs of a crepe myrtle of Julie’s yard / 2014)

Raindrops on roses, er, well, not exactly

***hearing and singing the tune of My favorite Things. . .
Raindrops on tree limbs and on dirty windows. . .

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Cooped up inside till no one knows when tho’
Toll-frees keep calling, ring-a-ling, ling
Here are some shots of my favorite things. . .

Or I should say a few of the things I’ve found for gift giving which is making me happy during such gloomy days. . .

Michael’s Woodcrafts. . .remember the post on Michael and his beautiful wood work? Well the things I ordered from Michael, as part of my Christmas gift giving, have all arrived!! True to form, they are so rich and beautiful—nothing like the sight, scent and feel of finished wood. .
http://michaelswoodcraft.wordpress.com

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Here is a shot of some local honey (Wally’s Bees out of Newnan, Georgia just south of Carrollton) accompanied by one of Michael’s hand turned ice-cream scoops. . .local honey is always a welcomed gift by young and old. Here we have local wildflower, as well as my favorite, Tupelo. Tupelo is the cadillac of all honeys —it is only sourced from Tupelo trees which are only found in extreme southern Georgia and Northern Florida. Here is a nice little link to the Tupelo bee keeper information page:
http://www.tupelobeekeepers.com

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I also recently discovered a local potter who throws the cutest “cat bowls”—each bowl is finished off with raised eyes, and cheeks adding personality and character to each cute piece. When I find her card ( I know it’s here somewhere in this oh so organized life of mine—yeah, right) I’ll provide her information.

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She also makes the most delicate ornaments–the stamp of a cat on a thin disc of white clay fired then finished off with gold foil

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I found this little woolen cutie at Scott’s antique expo in Atlanta. Despite his not being of antique caliber, I still thought he was most adorable. . .for the squirrel loving step mother of course. . .

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And finally from local potter Melanie Drew here in Carrollton at Blue Heron’s ceramics, these farm to table mix and match ceramic plates. I’m going to find some local goat cheese from Carpa Dia Cheese
(http://www.atlantamagazine.com/covereddish/2011/07/21/capra-gia-same-guy-same-goats-new-outlook
here is a link to an article in Atlanta Magazine regarding this local little gem) and some locally made artisan crackers, to accompany the plates, topped off with some locally made wooden spreaders, all nicely tied up with burlap ribbon— to give to those gastronomic individuals on my list—personal, handmade and full of eclectic homey goodness.

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Department store gifts are cookie cutter nice and safe but there is just something most special about giving a gift which is the product of one person’s hands and talents, only to be shared with an appreciative recipient.
May you think outside of the box this holiday season when presenting gifts to family and friends. . . it can make the gift buying experience that much more enjoyable as the receiving is simply an event oh so very sweet!!