dirty windows or smudges on a heart?

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret:
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly;
what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


(a front door in need of cleaning / Julie Cook / 2019)

Life has certainly been busy has it not?

When I was still teaching, the two busiest times of the school year were the first month
as well as the last month of the school year.
Fall and Spring.

The opening and the ending.

Those were also the two most important keys to teaching…
it was not only critical as to how you started a year…it was equally as important
as to how you ended it.

So no surprise, this Spring has been a busy time in my tiny little corner of the world.

My little world has been so busy that blogging has actually had
to take a back seat…
Imagine that…life getting in the way of blogging!?
Who knew?!

Hence why my posts have become sporadic and my reading and commenting
have become fewer and farther between.

There have been recent days that I’ve thought, that after 6 years perhaps, it’s time to
shutter the doors in Cookieland…
but then I catch the latest episode of Anglican Unscripted
and I’m reminded that voices to the Truth need to continue sounding…

But more about that and the good Bishop’s words tomorrow as time hopefully allows.

But first, let’s get back to that picture up above…
that picture of a seemingly smudgy storm door.

It seems that my weekend company went home yesterday afternoon.

They came for Mother’s Day and they left Tuesday afternoon.

In and out right?
Short and sweet…

Throw in two cats, one awaiting leg surgery,
and a large dog who currently happens to be on a small vacation this trip.
Add in the 4 adults in the room.

The key players, however, were a 15-month old and a two week old.
Seems simple enough, right?
Two under two…with one being way under the first one who’s under two.

They’re small.
They’re simple.
They’re sweet.

Well, mostly.

Yet these two small beings come with a wealth of stuff and each one requires their own
fair share of stuff when and wherever they may roam.

They also require 24-hour a day constant care.

24 x 2 = 48
48 into 24 doesn’t exactly fit.

Things seem to appear out of nowhere
Things appear in places where they shouldn’t.

There are smelly things that happen.

Accidents, spills, “uh oh’s” and “OH NOs!”

Things are dropped that should never drop.
Things disappear…only to be found days, even weeks, later.

Too many bodies try sleeping in beds made only for two…
with one preferring to sleep sideways, while everyone else sleeps longwise.

There are fingers that end up in closing doors and drawers.
There are jealous cats coupled with jealous babies.

There are tears, screams, laughter, kisses, messes, and lots of chaos.

There are spills along with sticky, greasy smudges and smears…everywhere.

Smeary, smudgy tiny handprints all over the place…

Just as in that glass door pictured up above…

But here’s the thing…

Where most folks see a dirty smudged up window…

Those aren’t really dirty smudges…

Those are simply the marks etched upon my heart…


(the Mayor / Julie Cook / 2019)


(The new Sheriff / Julie Cook / 2019)

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.
And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36:26

Jesus vs Mohammad and Marx

And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them;
but the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them,
“Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them;
for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
“Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child
will not enter it at all.”

Mark 10:13-16


(the Mayor busy on Easter afternoon gathering eggs / Julie Cook / 2019)

Almost a week ago on Easter Sunday, my small family had gathered together in order to
celebrate the Ressurection of Jesus Christ.

We basked in the warmth of an April afternoon while hunting plastic eggs with
the smallest member of our clan.

We gathered around a table and enjoyed the bounty of the season.

We feasted and fellowshiped, celebrating our faith within the presumed safety of
our democratic afforded freedoms.

Yet around the world that “afforded freedom” is not exactly afforded to others
and if it is, it is often viewed with disdain.

While I’m on babysitting duty, I thought I’d take this busy time to share a
very important post from our across the pond friend and former Anglican Bishop,
Gavin Ashenden.

It is a heart wrenching yet very honest and truthful post…
…And tragically, it is a very sobering post.

When I read his introduction, which was actually taken from a letter penned by one of
the bombed Sri Lankan church’s Sunday School teachers,
I felt the hot tears of sorrow trickle down my face.

This is what the children of these bombed churches were doing on Easter Sunday morning.

“One of the Sunday school teachers in the Church in Sri Lanka has written about what
they were doing on Easter day.

“Today at Zion Church we asked the children,
‘how many of you would be willing to die for Christ?’
Everyone raised their hands.
Minutes later we took them into the main service.
The blast happened. Half of them died on the spot.”

In one of the two other Catholic Churches that were blown up,
the bomber waited until the children had come back into the main liturgy before he detonated.
Killing the children appeared to have been a priority to him.

The good Bishop reminds all of us, that as Christians, we are told that we are to love our
enemies, we are to offer compassion to all we meet…
with the teachings of Jesus being a far cry from that of Mohammed or Karl Marx…

And yet the world continues to defend and embrace the teachings of both violence and hate
while condemning the followers of the one resurrected Redeemer.

Please read the post here:

Islam, the media & the conspiracy of silence.

By the Grace of God

For the sake of the world, for our own sakes, and for the sake of God,
we desperately need, as individuals and as a Church,
not to behave as if what we have in the way of spiritual or material goods is due
to our own merit or a result of our own will or strength.
Rather, it is the pure grace of God

Ralph Martin
from Fulfillment of All Desire


(a bumble bee buzzing the new blossoms of the blueberry blooms / Julie Cook / 2019)

“Who art thou, that thou shouldst be afraid of a mortal man?
Today he is, and tomorrow he appears no more. Fear God, and thou shalt have no need of
being afraid of man. What can anyone do against thee by his words or injuries?
He rather hurts himself than thee, nor can he escape the judgment of God whoever he be.
See thou have God before thine eyes and do not contend with complaining words.
And if at present thou seem to be overcome,
and to suffer a confusion which thou has not deserved,
do not repine at this and do not lessen thy crown by impatience.”

Thomas á Kempis, p.148
An Excerpt From
Imitation of Christ

What is truth?

Truth is not just an abstraction.
Truth is a person, and His name is Jesus.

Jerome Bertram
from Jesus, Teach Us to Pray


(wild crabapples blooming / Julie Cook / 2019)

“And let me make it quite clear that when Christians say the Christ-life is in them,
they do not mean simply something mental or moral.

When they speak of being ‘in Christ’ or of Christ being ‘in them’,
this is not simply a way of saying that they are thinking about Christ or copying Him.

They mean that Christ is actually operating through them;
that the whole mass of Christians are the physical organism through which Christ acts—-
that we are His fingers and muscles, the cells of His body.

And perhaps that explains one or two things.

It explains why this new life is spread not only by purely mental acts like belief,
but by bodily acts like baptism and Holy Communion.

It is not merely the spreading of an idea; it is more like evolution—-
a biological or super-biological fact.
There is no good trying to be more spiritual than God.
God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature.

That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us.

We may think this rather crude and unspiritual.
God does not: He invented eating.
He likes matter.
He invented it.”

C.S. Lewis, p. 64
AN EXCERPT FROM
Mere Christianity

Truth.

We could ask Aristotle, Socrates or even Plato…

It is absolute.
A fact.

The beating of a heart.
The rhythmic breathing in and out.

I rather like what Jerome Bertram has to say
regarding truth.

Jesus Christ is Truth.

Plain and simple.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6

power goes to their heads

“The day the power of love overrules the love of power,
the world will know peace.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Ah, Spring Break.
The trees are budding, the cold ebbs and flows and the pollen lays like a thick
heavy yellow dusty blanket…

And since it is that time of year, the Mayor has called me to Atlanta for a few days—

And as I have been called into duty, my thoughts, during nap time, have been left to roam and ramble…

What is it about our politicians and the evolution of that hunger and lust for power and rule…
that uglier side of human nature—the side that leads those who are elected to lead…
to not only want more power but they appear to crave it and actually need it…

It is a vicious cycle which eventually leads them to use such power and cravings,
not to the advantage of those they serve…
but rather they use such, as well as those around them, to actually serve
them…an upside down role reversal…

It’s like something comes over them when they begin to see their office
chair as more of a throne.

And when meetings with the staff do not go as planned, well, they have a hissy fit…

And what about the spending of monies and time on things that are to their benefit and not
that of their constituents…

I will keep you posted on any new developments on this notion of politicians and power
when they eventually turn their backs to the truth…

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you,
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Acts 1:8

tis the season or just one of those days…

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought,
doesn’t come from a store.
What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

Dr. Seuss


(sterilizing The Mayor’s things in the wake of her departure / Julie Cook / 2018)

Let’s face it…we all have those days when we feel like a giraffe with our heads
stuck in a pot of boiling water.

Perhaps you’ve never looked at it that way before, but admit it, it makes perfect sense.

Maybe you’re not exactly frazzled.
Maybe you’re not terribly overwhelmed.
Maybe you’re not running behind.
Maybe you’re not stressed.
Maybe you’re not tired.
Maybe you’re not a bit melancholy.
Maybe you’re not a bit stretched.
Maybe you’re not a bit depressed.
Maybe you’re not overly busy.
Maybe you’re not apprehensive or anxious.

Maybe you’re none of those…

Maybe it’s because you’re totally overflowing with the love and joy that has come to you
from this season…as in you’ve had one too many cups of the bourbon-laced eggnog
and now you’re delusional…
or you actually managed to grab a-hold of the true meaning of Advent and this Christmas to be.

Or if the truth is told…maybe… just maybe…
you’ll admit that you’re really feeling a few of those heavier things…
Actually, maybe, you’re feeling more than a few.
Maybe you’ll admit to the truth…
you’re feeling all of those and then some!

Hence a giraffe with its head stuck in a pot of boiling water.

So good, we are now on the same page.

I was tackling the laundry yesterday in the wake of The Mayor and her two closest aides
recent visit…

When I thought that I really wanted to cook some little something that seemed
holidayish and festive.

But time…
Where was the time?

Now I’ll happily tip my hat, any day of the week,
to all those women out there who have superpowers in that they
can work outside of the home, clean their house, wash all the clothes, run all
the errands, shuttle the kids, finish the presentations and reports,
cook festive holiday goodies, complete all the shopping, decorating and wrapping
while still making time to go to the gym, write greeting cards, read a book, and post
the latest decorative things they’ve accomplished to Pinterest or Instagram.

And if your name is not Martha Stewert, you probably haven’t done half of those things,
let alone two or simply even one to the utmost of your ability.
And no fair if you have a maid, a nanny, or a small army of assistants following you around.

I actually do think that I was once able to accomplish much more when I was a
younger woman who was working outside of the house while tending to all things of the house
and raising a husband and a child.

I have no idea as to what has happened except that I simply got old.

But by George, I was determined to make something festive today if it killed me.

Every winter, I have to haul the citrus trees, that I keep in large pots
outside throughout the late Spring to early Fall, to the basement when freezing
temperatures arrive.

One tree that I’ve had now for many years has gotten so big,
that I was left with no choice other than to sacrifice it…
I can no longer move it, even with the hand trucks,
so it will be the guinea pig.

As the question remains, can a citrus tree survive a winter in Georgia?
I’ll let you know.

But the Meyer lemon tree that is now happily safe and sound in the basement,
is loaded with ripening lemons. It’s not looking too good as they don’t like
an abrupt change in climate but the looming question…
what am I to do now with all those lemons??

I opted for a tried and true southern favorite recipe…something that makes me always think
of my mom…
That being lemon squares.

Not the most festive perhaps but they are relatively easy and certainly tasty.

And as I do tend to gravitate to the melancholy this time of year as I find myself
missing those who are now no longer present in my small world…
mother’s lemon squares were calling.

Mother wasn’t known for her cooking or baking prowess, but those things she did
manage to succeed with while being in the kitchen are now treasured.

So the lemons squares it would be….

But where was her recipe…


(just one small pile of old cards and notes)

It’s amazing how over the years I’ve amassed such a plethora of old, spotted and stained
envelopes, note cards, papers, and even old receipts all covered with the scribblings
both of myself, family and friends.
A myriad of recipes which have been meant to be tried, tested and savored…
and yet with the advent of all things internet…it’s almost too easy to click
a button rather than dig through the drawers, books, and cabinets seeking that one
lost recipe.

Finally, I found what I had written down from my mom’s recipe…
but as to where her original handwritten card currently rests eludes me…
but this would have to do. Yet I had already moved to a different recipe as I couldn’t
find this one in time.

So as this is the time of year for gifts and gift giving…and since I use to share a lot more
about cooking and recipes when I first started this thing called a blog—
here is a copy of mother’s recipe along with the one I mismashed for today’s
Lemon’s squares…

Merry Christmas!!


(mother’s recipe)

Ingredients:
For the base:
1 stick of softened unsalted butter
2 cups sifted flour (I like King Arthur’s unbleached)
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
For the filling:
4 eggs lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup flour
the juice from 4 lemons (1/3 cup but I actually used just shy of a 1/2 cup)
grated lemon peel from the four lemons you’ll juice
(grate them whole before cutting and juicing)
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
(it is a nice rounding out of the often harshness of fresh lemon juice)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using a 9×13 pan—I spray baker’s joy on the bottom and then line the bottom with
parchment paper that I cut to fit. I then spray the parchment paper
(you can use butter and flour if you prefer)

Set the prepared pan aside.

In a mixing bowl sift the 2 cups of flour and the 1/2 cup confectioners sugar—
using a pastry blender, cut in the softened stick of butter until the mixture looks
like grainy sand—and holds together when handling.

Press this mixture down into your prepared baking dish.

Place the baking dish in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes until lightly
browned and puffed.

Cool while you prepare the filling.

In a bowl stir in 1 1/2 cups sugar, the grated lemon peel, a dash of salt,
1/4 cup of flour add the lemon juice, extract and then the beaten eggs until all
is incorporated.

Pop in the oven and cook an additional 25 minutes.

The filling will puff and might slightly brown just a tad.

When it’s finished baking, remove the pan and place it on a cooling rack,
allowing the pan to cool down.

(here is where some suggest putting the pan in the fridge to cool for at least two
hours but I just let it rest on the counter)

When cool—I dust the top with powered sugar—
I use a small mesh sieve that I shake over the pan
which adds a nice light dusting.

Next I use a bench scraper to cut the bars or you can use a knife

So before you’re hung up to dry, have yourself a merry little lemon square…

and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger,
because there was no guest room available for them.

Luke 2:7

there be varmints

“Man is the only kind of varmint sets his own trap,
baits it, then steps in it.”

John Steinbeck

“Say your prayers varmint…dead rabbits tell no tales”
Yosemite Sam


(this is all that remians/ Julie Cook / 2018)

Remember this image from early Spring?


(my spring crop looking ever so hopeful / Julie Cook / 2018)

This was just one of the four apple trees burgeoning with the hoped-for abundance
of a season that was not quite yet to be.

There was excitement, as well as anticipation, both abounding as thoughts of pies, stews
and all sorts of baked treats swirled around our thoughts.

The air just seemed heavy with sweetness and cinnamon…

That is until this week…

Out of all of those hoped for beautiful apples from those four fully ladened trees,
only 7 measly apples have been salvageable.

There is a culprit…or perhaps even multiple culprits.

But the question remains…Whom?

Deer?
Raccoons?
Birds?

I suspect all three…but the teeth marks are telling.

This tale is to be continued as I go about my stealthy sleuth work…

If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today,
the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.
All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:

Deuteronomy 28:1