temptation and humility

“God wishes us to be meek even toward ourselves.
When a person commits a fault, God certainly wishes him to humble himself,
to be sorry for his sin, and to purpose never to fall into it again;
but he does not wish him to be indignant with himself,
and give way to trouble and agitation of mind; for,
while the soul is agitated, a man is incapable of doing good.”

St. Alphonsus De Liguori, p. 259
An Excerpt From
The Sermons of St. Alphonsus Liguori


(lone plover / Rosemary Beach/ Julie Cook / 2019)

At this point, it is extremely important to keep in mind that a person is not bad
because he has a temptation.
Many believe, because they have a temptation to pride, to avarice, to hate, to lust,
that there is something wrong with them.
There is nothing wrong with you if you are tempted.
You are not tempted because you are evil; you are tempted because you are human.
There is nothing intrinsically evil about human nature just because a little devil knocks
at the door.
Evil begins only when we open the door and consent to the temptation.
Scripture praises the man who suffers temptations. When we resist temptations,
we strengthen our character.

Ven. Fulton J. Sheen
from Life is Worth Living

Confession, good for the soul? Actually, more like the saving of the soul.

“Confession heals, confession justifies, confession grants pardon of sin.
All hope consists in confession.
In confession, there is a chance for mercy.
Believe it firmly,
do not doubt,
do not hesitate,
never despair of the mercy of God.”

St. Isidore of Seville


(one of the many confessionals inside of St. Peter’s Bascillica / Rome, Itlay / Julie Cook / 2018)

Confession, it is said, is good for the soul.

And I must say, I agree.

Confession comes readily to some.
For others, not so much.

It can be the swallowing of one’s pride, position or place.

To confess is to become less than the ego, less than self…
it means to become humble before all or simply before God…but most likely before both.

It is the ability to admit wrongdoing or a habitual shortcoming.

It is often hard and difficult and yet, it is so utterly obvious.

Mercy rests in confession, as well as Grace.

May we seek Mercy.

May we seek Grace

“When we are living in the world, we can easily take on the mindset of a secular society.
It is important for us to cultivate in our lives, with great care,
God’s way of looking at things and life in general.
His Word guides us.”

Rev. Thomas J. Donaghy, p. 22
An Excerpt From
Inspirational Thoughts for Everyday

It only takes a sign

God said to Moses, “I am who I am.
This is what you are to say to the Israelites:
‘I am has sent me to you.’”

Exodus 3:14


(James / Julie Cook / 2019)

So the past couple of weeks have been absolutely crazy as well as exhausting.

We had another bit of a scare yesterday morning with our little fellow concerning a
potential liver disorder…and so another trip to the pediatrician has us
thankfully monitoring for the time being rather than doing something much more serious.

This little brother is proving to be a far cry from his big sister…
as he is just more fragile and not as seemingly tenacious…

And speaking of The Mayor, she is none too keen having this new usurper in
her midsts.


(first outing for the Mayor and new sheriff—pizza for the family / Julie Cook / 2019)

I’ve spent the better part of the last three weeks in Atlanta with a drive or two home
for a day of rest and regathering.
Nerves, for all of us, have been both frayed and raw…
Fatigue, exhaustion, and worry have dominated our days and nights.

So since I have been driving back and forth over these past many weeks,
two small rural church signs have caught my eye…

The first sign:
God is speaking.
Are you listening?

The second one:
I Am is coming

Both signs piqued my tired soul’s interest.

The first sign offered a good wake up call.

For despite my willy nilly running around all frantic, coupled by a self-absorbed burden of worry…
I fear I’ve not been listening…I’ve not been listening to anything around me let alone
listening to the Great I AM.

Secondly, when I initially saw this second sign, I had to do a quick double take…
because grammatically I was a bit perplexed…

I.
am.
is.
coming.

I am is…??

Huh??

And then it dawned on me….ahhhhh….

The great I AM is coming…

And it was in those two statements that I found a sudden rush of calm along with a sense of
great humility.
Because it was twice the Great I AM spoke to my weary soul.

The One who is greater and bigger than any burden or worry I may have on this earth.
He sees.
He knows.
He hears.
He is listening.
And He is present.

Sometimes it only takes a sign…or two.

For the word of God is alive and active.
Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit,
joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

prayers for dear Percy


(my little boy / Julie Cook / 2019)

We’ve come a very long way.
A very very long way….in 8 short years


(the dying kitten that found us in 2011 / Julie Cook)


(a cleaned up and slowly healing baby / 2011/ Julie Cook)

If you’re not familiar with how this dear member of our family came to be a part of our family,
here is a link from 2013—two years after he had become ours:

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/my-best-friend/

In a nutshell, Percy, short for Perseverance, was thrown from a car,
smacking either a sign or the pavement.

He was a kitten that would fit in the palm of one’s hand.

He had a broken nose.
A broken eye socket.
A smashed mouth full of broken teeth
All of the skin was gone from the left side of his face…
he was covered in maggots and with what I call death flies… all by the time
we had found one another…
or actually by the time he had found us.

Long story short—
he lived!

Despite there being no guarantee he’d live,
he survived and he thankfully thrived.

Hence his name—Perseverance—Percy for short.

It’s amazing what love can do.

It was not easy in the beginning as he had to have rounds and rounds of strong antibiotics
and multiple surgeries while only being a few weeks old.

Over the years, we’ve had to have a tooth pulled here and there…teeth that were still
broken and would eventually become infected.

There have been some urinary issues so there is a special diet.

And due to a lack of teeth, he is more or less an indoor cat…
with the back deck being his backyard.

Plus, after all we’d been through, keeping him inside was a better option for my nerves…
just as I suspect it has been best for all our birds.

A few months back, one morning I noticed Percy walking with a very pronounced limp.
I took him to the Vet and an x-ray later revealed a torn Achilles tendon in his back left leg.

It would be about a $4000 surgery and we’d have to go to either
Auburn’s or Georgia’s Vet Schools for such a specialized surgery.

I went to Georgia and our Vet went to Auburn…sigh.

Neither the money nor time was not on our side due to my having to help on and off over
in Atlanta with our granddaughter Autumn (aka The Mayor)— so I thought we should
keep him as immobile as possible for as long as possible allowing for rest and healing.
Praying for the best.

Low and behold, the leg did heal…well, at least for the most part.

The tendon would never be the same, but blessedly, he was walking without a limp…
however he was now “flat-footed”—cats jump from the ends of their feet…
think off their tiptoes.
Percy was coming up off what I call his back knee, what the Vet calls ‘the hock.’

He had long worn all the fur off of both his back “knees” to this long-standing issue
with both tendons that we were unaware of…
his left leg is the worst of the two “knees” and it recently began to bleed.
The calloused skin was wearing thin.
It could no longer absorb the shock of jumping and landing.

Add in his fastidious licking to the point of being OCD and
he was licking the wound raw.

Another trip to the Vet.

This time she kept him and proceeded with a mini surgery…
cleaning out the wound while attempting to sew the existing skin together.


(Percy with his origianl wrapping following surgery / Julie Cook / 2019)

He kept the bandage on for a few days before jerking it off.

We went back for it to be re-wrapped.

This has now been an on-going, week after week, ordeal…
all over the course of a month.

I’m now changing out the bandages as he’s pulling and biting them off as
fast as we get them back on.

However last night I noticed something troubling.

We were back at the Vets bright and early.

The skin on “the knee” is gone and the tendon is now exposed.

Ideally, the Vet told me that Percy would need to go to Auburn for a skin graft but
with our waiting on a baby to arrive any minute now, that is not an option.
She knows this and told me she would do another surgery.

She’d pull the skin as tight as she could over “the knee”
while stitching it together with stronger sutures.
She would even put him in a cast if she thought it would help.

She then told me she would need to keep him for about a week if not longer…
keeping him in a cage and as still as possible, allowing the surgery to do its job
without him jumping up and down off that knee.

He hates the Vets.
He shakes, is scared and a nervous wreck.
He usually won’t eat if he’s there.

He loves his mommy as he sits in my lap at every opportunity and
snuggles against my back at night.

I left the office and cried the entire drive home.

Percy is more or less my life here at home.

He has decided that whatever is Autumn’s is in turn naturally his.

I think that any time we “rescue” an animal, an animal that happens into our lives on
a wing and a prayer, they become innately intertwined in our beings.

We care for them as babies and we nurse them back to life…practically willing them to live.
And more often than not they, in turn, thrive, making them some of the best pets
we could ever ask for.

I think they truly know the toll their nurturing back to health takes on our own lives,
psyches and hearts, in turn, they are genuinely grateful.

It may be silly for me to ask, but I am asking anyway…I’m asking for prayers for Percy.

Prayers for Percy’s healing of his knee/hock and also for a sense of peace in his spirit this
week while he’s kept away from home, stuck in a cage in a strange place…way out of his
comfort zone.

I’m also asking for prayers for our latest family’s addition to be, baby James.
I pray that he will arrive readily, happy and healthy..and if his mother might add, soon.
Prayers for our daughter-n-law as she prepares to go through this delivery business one more time…

Prayers also for a 14-month old little girl whose neat and tidy little world of
being the single shining light, is about to be turned upside down.

Prayers for mom and dad…and prayers for a worn out grandmother and grandfather!

Thank you!!!

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10

The Spirit and the Soul

“O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart.
Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams.”

St. Augustine


(the light coming in to a room at the old Cable home place at Cades Cove complete with rat hole/
Julie Cook / 2018)

“The strength of the soul consists in its faculties, passions and desires,
all of which are governed by the will.
Now when these faculties, passions and desires are directed by the will toward God,
and turned away from all that is not God, then the strength of the soul is kept for God,
and thus the soul is able to love God with all its strength.”

— St. John of the Cross, p. 259
An Excerpt From
Ascent of Mt. Carmel

early and above average

A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.
Dwight D. Eisenhower


(the forsythia is blooming / Julie Cook / 2018)

“No one denies what everyone knows, for nature herself teaches it:
that God is the Creator of the universe, and that it is good,
and that it belongs to humanity by the free gift of its Creator.
But there is a vast difference between the corrupted state and the state of primal purity,
just as there is a vast difference between Creator and the corruptor. …
We ourselves, though we’re guilty of every sin, are not just a work of God: we’re image.
Yet we have cut ourselves off from our Creator in both soul and body.
Did we get eyes to serve lust, the tongue to speak evil, ears to hear evil,
a throat for gluttony, a stomach to be gluttony’s ally, hands to do violence,
genitals for unchaste excesses, feet for an erring life?
Was the soul put in the body to think up traps, fraud, and injustice?
I don’t think so.”

Tertullian, p. 11

Since, then, you have been raised with ,
set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ, who is your[a] life, appears,
then you also will appear with him in glory.

Colossians 3:1-4

Meat and potatoes

One gets to the heart of the matter by a series of experiences in
the same pattern, but in different colors.

Robert Graves


(the red snapper at Bud and Alley’s Seaside Beach, Fl / Julie Cook)

Ok, I admit….this is a picture of a fish with potatoes and not a steak.
as in “meat and potatoes”

I did have a lovely picture of a prime rib roast which I had cooked a while back,
but the fish seemed a bit less red and well, meaty…as I know there are those
out there who just really are opposed to “red” meat….despite my knowing there are
those who will grouse over the whole well, whole fish…meaning head and eyes….
but we digress….

I’ve stated before, I’ve always been a meat and potatoes sort of girl.
Be that meat…fowl, pig, lamb, fish or cow…..

Yet today’s post is not about food…meat or starch…
but is a post that we might just call more of a hearty dose of the
Word of God….being sustenance for the soul verses the food for the stomach.
As in getting down to the heart of the matter….

And now that the dust has somewhat settled…as the snows are now melting…
life is settling back into its normal madness of Christmas….
sans any of the distracting, as well as debilitating, white stuff.

Power is now restored.
Limbs are now cut up and stacked.
Cars have been moved to where they belong….
As schools resume to normal schedules today.

So in the madness since late last week, when the snows did begin to fall,
I was literally pulled away from much of my reading and study as my duties
were needed immediately elsewhere—
And I was particularly pulled away from my reading and focusing on the teachings
of those 3 favorite clerics of mine…

And what a delightful hodge podge of spirituality they are—

A renegade Anglican priest, a reformed Presbyterian minister and a Catholic monk…

And may it be known that whereas each one of these men may seem,
from all outward appearances to be vastly different,
when all the pretense of what the world perceives of them is
peeled away, they along with their messages, are but one in the same.

And I for one delight in that.

In my distraction with the snow and writing about such…there has been so much
that has actually taken place that needs not only my attention but yours as well….

Jerusalem is being recognized by the US, at long last, as the capital of Israel…
much to the chagrin of most of the world as well as by many actually in the US
itself.

The Pope, much like our US President, has boldly and perhaps blindly, ventured
to where he may not should have trod, by declaring that the Lords’ Prayer
needs an overhaul….see the perspiration beads forming at my brow….

Sexual harassment continues to prevail in our headlines as it appears to have crept
into the fold….

And my friend who I made mention of the other day…
the one whose family business my family had frequented for the past 25 years or so,
lost her earthly battle early Friday morning.
During the last time we had a chance to chat, which was just a couple of weeks ago,
I noticed that my friend was rather sad and weepy.
I asked what was troubling her….and this 78 year old friend looks me in the eye
and tells me “I miss my momma”—- as I look back at her,
telling her how I understand because I miss mine as well—of which she knew….
So I am uplifted in knowing that both her son and daughter were by her side
when she gave up the earthly ghost and headed on home to be with her mom…

All of this, along with all the other tit for tat that has been happening in what seems
to be my snow encrusted writing absence, will each be addressed in due time…..

But first I wanted to return our focus to Advent.

Because isn’t that what our focus should currently be about?
Advent.
As in The Coming….

I spent some time this morning listening to the 2nd Sunday in Advent’s homily
offered by Bishop Gavin Ashenden…I was a day late and a dollar short,
but none the less, blessed.
12 delightful minutes of good meat and potatoes for the soul.

The good bishop reminds us that Advent is a time for making space in our hearts,
more space for Jesus.

He tells us that this is the time that we are to be about repentance…
in order to make sacred space available.

Bishop Ashenden focused on the reading of the day which was taken from the Gospel of
St Mark (Mark 1:1-8) in which there is a good description of John the Baptizer…
a man wearing simple garments and who is sustained by eating wild honey and locust.

The good Bishop admits to having always been a bit perplexed as the why
the locust eating would be so important as to be included in the text….
but a Greek friend noted that the true translation in Greek, as only Greeks would understand it to be, was not that of an insect but rather actually a type of flower—
of which seemed to make much more sense.

So we get the complete picture of John…that he was a simple man,
living off and being sustained by the land.
Not the crazy loner off in the desert howling by the moon at night as he
has often been portrayed—perhaps more mad than wise.

And so as we note–John was very simple—
in turn bound by no worldly trappings what so ever ….

John both proclaimed as well as accused those of his day of having
lives way too full—
and that the time had come to make the choice…

The choice being between holding on to that which gets in the way of God or
to choose to move out and get rid of that which gets in the way…
getting rid of that which is separating ourselves from God and God alone.

Very much what we see society and our culture forcing upon us today—
Especially and particularly this time of year!

Our lives, particularly during Christmas, are so chocked full that we are
practically to our breaking point.

We are so full and overwhelmed with all that must be done to
make the “holidays” just so special, magical and wonderful…
on top of already busy lives with school and work….
that we are actually crowding out Jesus.

Crowding Him out from the very time He is to actually be at the center of
our focus.

Bishop Ashenden notes that John’s message of Metanoia, or that of our total change
and or transformation, is so important because it calls us to a new way of examining
things….

Yet at the same time the good Bishop admonishes us that…dare we say,
there is a spirit of evil actually at work, at this very moment, particularly now…
during this time of year that we are being called…called by God.
It is all so totally opposite of the call of the Holy Spirit.

For there is a force working to counter that call…
countering with the distractions and demands we actually throw upon ourselves
particularly at this time of year.

Shopping, church pageants, visits to Santa, picture taking, card writing and sending,
choir practice, school plays, sporting events, making costumes, wrapping gifts,
sorting, cooking, parties, cleaning, traveling…
all of this on top of the already endless demands of both work and school—
All of this becomes the priority while the true essence of Christ is pushed further
aside.

We fight to pretend and convince ourselves otherwise—
we rationalize that we are doing what we are doing because IT IS Christmas…
yet none of it has one single thing to do truly with Christmas—
or Christ Mass…

None of this is to be about lifestyle and clutter but about having the presence
of God at our forefront…as Bishop Ashenden pointedly asks…
“how much time then do you allot for prayer, the reading of scripture,
and loving the Lord?”…especially now during this chaotic time?

I found that I had to really look at what he was saying…
I had to look closely at what gets pushed aside…looking at what is then
actually pushing its way into being the priority….a false priortiy.
The priorities that society makes of us during this season…

Our culture clamors that we are to be all inclusive…and non discriminatory—
but should we not be exclusive and discriminatory over that which is demanding
to be the forefront of our focus—-all of which is not the true essence of Christ
nor of Christ Himself….