expect the unexpected

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city,
spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life?
You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

James 4:13-14


(the back of my dads old Philco radio/ Julie Cook / 2021)

Some of you might be old enough to remember that radios, televisions, and other pieces,
of so called old school electronics, all once required vacuum tubes in order to work.

Wikipedia offers us a small history lesson:
A vacuum tube, an electron tube, valve (British usage) or tube (North America),
is a device that controls electric current flow in a high vacuum between electrodes
to which an electric potential difference has been applied.

The type known as a thermionic tube or thermionic valve uses the phenomenon of
thermionic emission of electrons from a hot cathode and is used for a number of
fundamental electronic functions such as signal amplification and current rectification.
Non-thermionic types, such as a vacuum phototube however,
achieve electron emission through the photoelectric effect,
and are used for such purposes as the detection of light intensities.
In both types, the electrons are accelerated from the cathode to the
anode by the electric field in the tube.

The simplest vacuum tube, the diode, invented in 1904 by John Ambrose Fleming,
contains only a heated electron-emitting cathode and an anode.
Electrons can only flow in one direction through the device—from the cathode to the anode.
Adding one or more control grids within the tube allows the current between the
cathode and anode to be controlled by the voltage on the grids.

These devices became a key component of electronic circuits for the first half
of the twentieth century. They were crucial to the development of radio, television,
radar, sound recording and reproduction, long-distance telephone networks,
and analog and early digital computers.
Although some applications had used earlier technologies such as the spark gap transmitter
for radio or mechanical computers for computing,
it was the invention of the thermionic vacuum tube that made these technologies
widespread and practical, and created the discipline of electronics.

In the 1940s, the invention of semiconductor devices made it possible
to produce solid-state devices, which are smaller, more efficient, reliable,
durable, safer, and more economical than thermionic tubes.
Beginning in the mid-1960s, thermionic tubes were being replaced by the transistor.
However, the cathode-ray tube (CRT) remained the basis for television monitors
and oscilloscopes until the early 21st century.
Thermionic tubes are still used in some applications,
such as the magnetron used in microwave ovens, certain high-frequency amplifiers,
and amplifiers that audio enthusiasts prefer for their “warmer” tube sound.

As a young man hoping to tune into his favorite radio program during the early 1940’s,
The Shadow, my dad would eagerly await the week’s latest new episode…
“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows.”

Yet if the radio suddenly blew a tube, there’d better be a replacement or there’d be no
new episode but rather, there would only be silence.

Recently rummaging through dad’s old attic, I actually found an old box
of replacement tubes.
Dad always wanted to be prepared lest he miss an episode of his favorite show.
He never felt the need to toss the tubes despite the advancements in technology.
He wanted to be prepared…old school or not.

And just like Dad, I prefer to always be prepared for the unexpected.

So imagine this move…

We only thought we had everything plotted and planned…but this house,
this new nemesis, is testing our mettle on preparedness.

A leaking roof…
a need for an electrician…
a need for a plumber,
the need for a painter…
throw in a few trees that needed to be cut from around the house…
and the list of needs has grown exponentially.

Nothing that had been anticipated.

Just today, we experienced yet another unexpected surprise.

A gentleman came out to grind the stumps from those cut trees—
the trees that were only adding insult to the house and roof,
and as he worked his grinder, he hit the main waterline.

The sun was quickly setting, the rains were moving in,
and we had big problems on our hands.

Yes, we did think to have the utility lines marked…
but…
somehow, someone forgot to mark the water line.

Ode to the unexpected.

So the one thing we do know…life is not neat nor tidy…
no matter how much we plan or wish it were.

So my advise… always expect the unexpected!

That Unexpected Last Day
Would it not be good for us to put away the vain dream of countless earthly days and face
up to the blunt fact that our days on earth may actually not be many?

For the true church, there is always the possibility that Christ may return.
Some good and serious souls hold this to be more than a possibility,
for it seems to them as it seems to this writer that
“the earth is grown old and the judgment is near,”
and the voices of the holy prophets are sounding in our ears.

And when He comes, there will not be a moment’s notice,
not an added day or hour in which to make frantic last-minute preparations.

“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation,
drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.
For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth.
Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen,
and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:34-36).

A.W. Tozer
https://www.cmalliance.org

Holy discontent

“Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.”
― Ray Bradbury

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Spring has sprung a bit early…so it seems
Temperatures are running 15 to 20 degrees above the average for this time of year…
Early March is feeling a lot like late May…
It is an unexpected delight…yet troubling just the same.

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(shots of the blooming cherry trees complete with bees and ladybugs / Julie Cook / 2016)

We aren’t much for being the creatures of the unexpected…we humans…
we grow alarmed and anxious when things, especially in nature, step out of sync.
We prefer the expected…
The tried and true…
that of the habitual habit…
We know our times, our seasons, our rhythms of life,
and we like for them to be, well, predictable.

The same holds true for our spiritual nature…
Our need to have a relationship with that which is Greater than ourselves.
As created beings we long, most often subconsciously, for our Creator…
For it seems that the need to have a relationship with that God of all Creation is truly hardwired within.

There are those who would argue that point…
As they do not see the correlation between man’s constant discontent and to his quest, nay need, to be made whole…

Those who eschew God for God’s sake, those who defiantly say…
“there is no God”
or
“I have no need for a God” …
Try in vain to fill the void, the empty abyss, with any and all sorts of need filling balms and placebos…

Be it addictions…
Those maddening and seemingly uncontrollable urges which gobble up all manner of ill in a frantic, albeit vain, need to stave the endless hunger of the spiritual void…

Or it might be the endless, yet empty, quest of searching and seeking after any and all things to worship…the longing to put something, anything, at the center of validation and justification of simply… being…
From demons to fatted calves, from nature to man himself…
humankind yearns to put something at the center of its very existence…

As man seeks, yearns, needs to hold something, anything, at the heart of his existence…
his insatiable need goes back to that very moment when God first breathed life into the lungs of the dust created Adam…

And it is to this day…
That we, me, you, us, long to breathe, once again, in rhythm with our Creator…
Seeking, longing, aching to fill the discontent with the rhythmic beating as one…
Restored within the relationship to…
God the Almighty…
The Father…
And Maker of both Heaven and Earth…

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Hebrews 11:6

Storms may come and storms may go

But the Word of God remains firmly fixed. . .

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(sunset Henderson St Park, Fl / Julie Cook / 2015)

When life becomes stressful. . .
When there is an unexpected turn of events. . .
When you feel overwhelmed. . .
When nothing seems to go your way. . .
When the frustrations mound. . .
When all manner of bad, wrong or evil is said to or about you. . .
When time seems to be running out. . .
When your elderly father and stepmother become impossible. . .
Out of the blue you get a text message:

“Don’t Let Your Storm Steal Your Faith—
“And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful?
How is it that ye have no faith?”
(Mark 4:40)
The one thing we can be assured of is that storms will come.
It’s how we act and react to these storms that test our faith.
There is nothing we can do to stop the storms.
Some come with a warning, others don’t.
But through it all, our actions demonstrate our faith level.
It’s not the storm, but our actions in the storm that the Lord looks at.
Though the storms may come, we can still stand in faith as we are covered
under the umbrella of Christ Jesus!
So for Today “Don’t Let Your Storm Steal Your Faith”

Time to expect the unexpected

“There is only one kind of shock worse than the totally unexpected:
the expected for which one has refused to prepare.”

Mary Renault

“A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes”
Mark Twain

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(premature fallen acorns / Troup Co. Ga / Julie Cook / 2015)

This morning finds us turning the page once more, summoning forth yet another day and another month.
September has rather unceremoniously arrived.
No fanfare.
No gala.
No festive celebration.

Yet September, this 9th month out of 12, is truly a month of the unexpected,
the unpredictable, the unassuming. . .and albeit a bit of the unappreciated.

Obviously no one has told the tired old thermometer that Fall is all but a few short weeks away.
The mercury continues to hover at 90 as the humidity continues to cling to our very being like a sticky, hot, wet towel. . .yet the shift has secretly begun. . .
We sense ourselves sliding into something different, something changing
and something slightly new.

We are creatures of the season you and I.
Delightfully craving the ever changing and ever new which can only be found in the trading of one season for another.

We both yearn and long for what the coming change has in store for us.
We are as giddy as children on a bright Christmas morn as we’ve anxiously waited—waited to finally feast our eyes on what lies under the tree—
Our time has finally drawn nigh.

We find ourselves shifting gears as our likes and dislikes begin, once again, to ebb and flow.
Our taste palettes are now craving the savory as our surrounding palette will soon shift to warmer tones yet cooler nights and crisper days.

Our brains are screaming that the time is here yet the world arounds us seems to be stuck in place. It’s as if life is in slow motion as it appears Mother Nature may need a gentle nudge reminding her that we have had our fill of heat and humidity, bugs and pests.
Like a hungry child anxiously anticipating the hearty simmering fare on the stove, we hold our arms outwardly stretched ready to embrace cooler, crisper, softer.

Will today be the day?
Will it be a day which still thinks of itself as a child of the Summer
or. . .
will it be a day of change. . .
refreshingly clear, cool and full of the unexpected. . .

Expecting the unexpected

“There is only one kind of shock worse than the totally unexpected: the expected for which one has refused to prepare.”
― Mary Renault

“The expected always happens”
― Benjamin Disraeli

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(an unexpected visitor rising up from the woods / Julie Cook / 2015)

It was early Sunday morning. . .my husband was outside as I was still in, cleaning up the kitchen.
Suddenly. . .out of nowhere, there is a voracious, deep engulfing sound reverberating from some place out and up.
“What in the world is he doing” I wondered as the cat flew past me racing into the house in a pure panic.

“GET THE CAMERA” I hear reaching up through the closed windows.
Racing outside to the shouts of my husband and the mysterious intermittent dinosauresque blast of sound.
“DO YOU SEE IT??!!” IT’S OVER THERE. . .”
Careening my neck and squinting my eyes I peer toward the woods. . .
Woods. . .
We live on 5 acres of what was once pure pasture surrounded by woods. What is it that is seemingly so large, so massive and so ravenous sounding which is about to come forth from the cover of dense woods to devour us. . .shades of Jurassic Park play through my mind. . .a T Rex, perhaps a wicked little valasoraptor is about to break through the trees, racing toward my direction. . .

When from out of nowhere, the tip of a hot air ballon peeks above the tree tops.

I don’t know. . .I don’t think I want to know. . .how, why. . .where does a hot air ballon come from in the middle of the woods in the middle of the countryside. . .who knew. . .

Which brings us to today and my visit to Dads. . .

I had departed early for Atlanta this morning feeling pretty good about everything. . .the weather was great with a bright beautiful sun rising brilliantly in a deep blue summer-like sky. . .the traffic for a Monday morning was delightfully manageable and heck, I had seen a hot air balloon at my house the morning prior, this was a great day and it was to be a simple easy visit with nothing pressing. . .no major decisions, no crisis. . .

One might say that’s what I get for “assuming” all is well, for being complacent or simply for being lost in the joys of Spring. . .silly me. . .

Too long of a story to express.
There are no words. . .
It was the twilight zone meets a breaking heart
Sad
Frustrating
Exasperating
Hard
Bewildering
Aggravating
A “you’ve got to be kidding me” kind of day. . .

Just know that it was the type of day that left me driving home, in tears, debating
stopping traffic on both sides of I20, climbing on top of my car and simply screaming for the world to stop. . .

I was a girl scout.
I know all about being prepared.
I’m a mother. . .
A career long educator—teenagers for heaven’s sake!
I know all about the plan B’s of life
So why did I not see today coming?
Why do I continue to think things will be predictable, calm, routine. . .
These two people have dementia, as well as a host of maladies besetting
bodies that are betraying the owners. . .

Expect the unexpected.

God prepares us for that.
We are strangers in a strange land.
We are the apparent enemy of the state, as we are the heirs apparent to the glory of the Son.
We are the adopted sons and daughters, not of this world, but of God almighty. .
And yes, we know all about the unexpected and yet it is to the expected, the known promise to which we cling. . .as I look to comfort myself with the notion that I must continue looking for those unexpected balloons of wonderment rising up from the dark woods of my life. . .

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.
James 4:13-15

Life’s unexpected surprises

Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.
Henri Nouwen

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(perusing the soon to be blooming shrubs when I notice a little visitor / Julie Cook / 2014)

Perhaps this is a bit of an odd assessment by Father Nouwen. . .his thought being that our expecting a surprise being the only way in which we may “see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us.”

How is one to expect a surprise?!
How is one expected to expect the unexpected?
Is not the whole point of a surprise just that. . .a surprise?
A surprise is unexpected and indeed a surprise, that’s how it works right?
We don’t know it’s coming.
We’re caught off guard.
Blind sided.

And yet perhaps that is the gist of Father Nouwen’s assessment—that we should always be prepared for the unexpected.
Meaning, we shouldn’t exactly start walking around nervously looking over our shoulder 24 / 7, nor should we be living in a constant state of paranoia. . .but rather, we should be living with the knowledgable of the fact that life is constantly full of surprises and moments that are truly not expected nor planned. . .some of which are not even welcomed.

Surprises and the unexpected are just a few of the multi colored threads and cords which bind themselves to those events of our lives which are indeed well thought out, planned, and expected. We have control over one part of life’s woven fabric. . .not so much on the other half—Yet it is both pieces of cloth which make us whole.

It is therefore the wise individual who can wear these two fabrics as one. The one who can take the cloth of expectations and plans, the cloth of control and preparations and knit it to the cloth of surprises, the unexpected, the curveballs, the bombshells. . .knowing that both sides of this fabric is what makes us who we are.

The joys and the sorrows, the seen and the unseen, the planned and the surprises are those very threads which intertwine, weaving the magic of the development of who we actually are. Simply put, we must not live in fear of the unseen and unexpected happenings because like it or not, they will come. They will happen, and as Life has it, when we least expect them and are least prepared. There will indeed be the days of “I did not see that coming. . .”

And yet what Father Nouwen is merely stating is that we should simply acknowledge these occurrences within our daily lives. The unexpected should, simply put, be expected. This acknowledgment will allow us to leave our hearts open— as such occurrences of Life are part of the shared experience of our very humanity. The good, the bad, the happy, the sad all go in to making, forming and moulding each one of us as an individual— and in the end, when it is all said and done, we will truly be the better for it all. Is this not how understanding and empathy are forged? Is it not these shared experiences, be they good or bad, that lead to making us more human, more kind, more sympathetic, more concerned. . .?

All of which is forged and woven in the daily furnace and loom of what we call Life. . .