more about prayers

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
James 5:16 NIV


(image from flicker)

It was on yesterday’s post where Marie had left a comment.
It wasn’t so much a comment about that day’s post but rather a comment about
what she thought she had missed…
that being the notion of a unified prayer.

You may remember that a week or so ago, I had sent out a solicitation of sorts…
A solicitation imploring those of you visiting my little corner of the blogosphere, that given
the dire times in which we are finding ourselves currently living in,
could not this collective family of Believers come up with some sort of unified and
specific prayer that we could unite over—
praying as a collective body with a specific focused request—because we are told that
from the prayers of but two or three, God hears and will be in their midsts.

We had some great suggestions and thoughts.

With several thoughts being that we center our prayer around the Lord’s prayer…
because, as we are taught, that is a prayer that is both true and is the ultimate prayer.

We even had a suggestion to divide up the week with that prayer as a guide—
with each day having its own particular direction.

And yet, whereas all of those ideas and suggestions were great,
I still felt a deep confliction because I did not feel as if that was where I was being led
with my thoughts of a prayer.

So with a good three days of God pulling me back to my original burden, I wrote the post
Burdens and Birth and a Prayer

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2019/02/28/burdens-and-birth-and-a-prayer/

I explained to Marie that I felt very strongly about praying for those who had no voice…
no say as to whether they would live or die.

And so, in turn, I simply left that post as an open-ended post
stating that if anyone felt so obliged, they could join me in that prayer.

I did not, however, post a collective prayer regarding abortions, aborted babies, those
mothers contemplating abortion nor of those women who now live with the aftermath of having
had an abortion nor for our legislature and those in governmental authority who make and pass
laws regarding abortions nor for those in the various medical professions who aid in
or conduct abortions…
but rather I left the specifics of such a prayer up to each individual—
as so many kept telling me that most folks seem to pray in their own intimate way.

Coming from a liturgical church background, I am very familiar with and comfortable with
the notion of collective prayers—
prayers of the people if you will.

Episcopalians are not known so much for their spontaneity as their fellow Christian kith and kin
are known…

So whereas I would like some sort of unified guide—most folks let me know that when it
came to a unified prayer, such a prayer was more of an individual and personal petition.

And so when all has been said and done, I really did want to give Marie and others who may have
missed that post, some sort of update about the idea of a prayer…
with my direction being that of a prayer for and over abortion.

I stumbled upon an organization called Care Net—a Christian organization that works collectively
against abortion and in turn, offers support to women who find themselves pregnant and
who are contemplating termination or aborting their pregnancy.

Care Net’s history and mission is:

Founded in 1975, Care Net is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that supports one of the
largest networks of pregnancy centers in North America and runs the nation’s only real-time
call center providing pregnancy decision coaching.

Vision – Care Net envisions a culture where women and men faced with pregnancy decisions
are transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ and empowered to choose life for their unborn
children and abundant life for their families.

Mission – Acknowledging that every human life begins at conception and is worthy of
protection, Care Net offers compassion, hope, and help to anyone considering abortion
by presenting them with realistic alternatives and Christ-centered support through our life-affirming
network of pregnancy centers, churches, organizations, and individuals.

To learn more, here is the link to their website.

https://www.care-net.org/prayers-for-life

I might add that Care Net is just one in a vast network of Christian sites that are
out there to assist women who stand at a crossroads.
There are both Catholic as well as Protestant groups who work tirelessly to protect the unborn.

So if you feel so inclined, may I ask that you please include in your Lenten prayers, and or
your daily prayers, a prayer for those tiny ones who have no voice or say as to whether they
are either afforded to be born and live or to be aborted and killed.

And yet last night, I crawled into bed…I found my thoughts pulled to our fractious Nation…
as I began feverishly praying for our oh so divided Nation—God lays the burdens
in our hearts—then we must choose what to do with them…

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Psalm 139:16

To all those who won’t be making it home this Christmas

Christmas is a time when you get homesick —
even when you’re home.

Carol Nelson

I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time;
a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of,
in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open
their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were
fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.

Charles Dickens


(an odd site here at home / Julie Cook / 2018

Driving home yesterday after visiting the dentist, I was cutting through an area of town
full of some of our communities older homes, when I found myself driving behind a
vintage WWII Army ambulance.

An odd sight but suddenly I felt strangely transported to a different time and era.

The vehicle, the homes, the time of year.

If you didn’t happen to notice the small security company sign out front of this house,
you might just think it was 1943.

My thoughts drifted across time and space to places that were far away from
my own current little corner here in Georgia.

Despite there being such a heightened sense of urgency wafting through the air
this time of year…
What with the odd increase in mid-day traffic and the massive number of folks hustling
here and there…along with that unseen force that was moving the masses of folks
to go out and buy, buy, buy with a frantic frenzy…

And despite the current pull I was personally feeling to race from the dentist to some
local den of commercialism, seeking out those last minute items to fill in the blanks…
I felt a tinge of warming nostalgia instead.

I heard Bing Crosby’s crooning…his rich melodious voice echoing deep in my head.

A small smile spread across my face for no one in particular to see.

A simpler time, yet a precarious time.
A warmer time of humanity, yet a violent time for our world.

No matter that it was an ominous time,
we knew what our collective civilization was fighting for.
We were a united civilization standing against a giant monster of tyranny and an invasive evil.

There was a decisive and determined collective willingness to sacrifice.
Rations, victory gardens, sharing and giving when there wasn’t ever much to give nor share.

There was a joint desire for unity.
A shared experience of apprehension blanketed by a blessed sense of thankfulness.

I found myself gently humming a familiar yet comforting tune.

My gift to you today…

“In 1943, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” joined “White Christmas” to become one of
America’s most popular homegrown holiday songs.
Recorded in a rich baritone by Bing Crosby,
“I’ll Be Home for Christmas” shot to the top ten of the record charts
(as “White Christmas” had for Crosby the previous year)
and became a holiday musical tradition in the United States.”
Library of Congress

Barking all up the wrong tree…

Don’t tell me of deception; a lie is a lie,
whether it be a lie to the eye or a lie to the ear.

Samuel Johnson


(a pine in the Agawa Canyon River Park, Ontario, Canada suffering with a massive burl
/ Julie Cook / 2017)

Have you ever seen a tree with a large growth similar to the poor pine in the picture above? The growth is known as a burl, bur, burr, knob or gall.
These burls or galls are actually an overgrowth usually stemming from some sort
of stress, fungus or infestation that the tree has experienced.

And often as in life, what is one man’s, or in this case tree’s, disease,
eyesore or infestation, is another’s treasure….
as in woodworkers, furniture makers and sculptors will seek out trees with burls
as the wood patterns inside and underneath the bark is often unique and quiet lovely.

As in actually prized.

For the fibers of the wood’s growth within a burl is very dense and
overlapping. This creates an extremely thick and hard sort of wood—
one that is prized for making bowls and other decorative pieces
as it is very difficult to split or crack and the patterns
make for a very visually appealing piece.

The notion of some sort of deformity, disease or growth being actually
considered to be of value or something quite lovely has made me think
long and hard about outward appearance verses what remains inside and underneath.

The other day when I wrote about Christianity needing her warriors, the good
pastor in Scotland, David Robertson posted on the very same day an observation
that seemed almost to be an exclamation point to my thoughts and feelings.

Now being raised in an American Episcopal Church, in a church that
was known as a high church,
it may strike some as odd that I enjoy reading and often quoting,
as I greatly appreciate the thinking of Pastor Robertson,
a man who represents the Free Church of Scotland—
And mind you his is mostly an evangelical group…
an evangelical group within the Scottish Presbyterian church that broke away
from the mainstream church body in the mid 1800’s…

There is something in his teachings that this more high church
traditionalist has found to be truthful…
truthful teachings firmly planted, grounded and rooted as there is a welcomed
dose of commonsense as well as common ground in the good pastor’s no
nonsense biblical approach…
an approach that does not try to mince or change God’s Word to suit or appease
today’s wash of secularism that is rapidly invading and seeping into
each and every church body.

For I do enjoy his teachings and points of view.
And granted I have read some things that I don’t necessarily agree with,
for the majority of what the good pastor shares,
I’m usually totally 100% on board.

And maybe this Christian faith of ours is a lot like a tree with a burl….

Our varying denominations be they Catholic, Pentecostal, Evangelical, Orthodox,
mainstream Denominational has each, at times, caused this tree of faith of ours,
to form an out of character growth.

Yet the fibers beneath the outward deformity are still rooted in the
basis of a single principle and property—
that being that Jesus Christ is the risen Lord and is God’s only begotten son…
A son who died on the cross and rose again three days afterwards…
in order to save each of us, those who so choose to accept and follow,
from eternal death and damnation…

It is our weaving of belief that has been woven taut, creating something
difficult to spilt or break no matter what over the decades
we’ve called our particular selves
nor how often we’ve foolishly tried to destroy that very weaving.

And maybe, just maybe, what is needed now in this world turned upside down…
is for those of the Christian faith to stand united in the face
of what is besieging this world of ours….

Yet the frenetic and liberal press, along with the wanton cultural demigods,
of which have been beset upon our Western Civilization, want
nothing more than to silence those who dare to challenge the unrelenting
din of cultural self promotion and death.

The following quote below is one from the good pastor’s column taken
from Monday’s posting as Pastor Robertson in turn quotes Brendan O’Neill,
an Australian journalist…
and a bit of caution mind you as Mr O’Neill does use some rather strong wording
toward the end of the quote when making reference to politicians.

Brendan O’Neill expresses it best:
“The footage coming out of Barcelona is deeply disturbing.
In terms of ideological hatred, violent misanthropy and utter contempt for
the freedom of everyday life,
America’s neo-Nazis don’t even come close to these Islamist sects.”

“They’re still talking about Charlottesville.

Still.

Even as the barbarism in Barcelona raises the number of European citizens
slaughtered by Islamists since 2014 to *461*.

Four-hundred-and-sixty-one people killed in Europe in three years.
Four-hundred-and-sixty-one.

Let that sink in for a minute.

By extremists who loathe liberty,
democracy and mankind far more seriously than those sad neo-Nazis in the US do.

But don’t look back in anger, eh?

We wouldn’t want to create community tensions.
“Don’t make a scene” — that’s always the response to Islamist terror.

The message is so clear now:
the political set will only give a shit about you if you’re killed by a white extremist.”

LED 5 – Barcelona, Charlottesville – Glasgow Pride – Love is Love – Sarah Champion – The Real Modern Slavery – Google’s Tolerance – Endeavour – Is the Church like an Empty Whisky Bottle? – Kris Kristofferson

With evil running rampant, no longer hidden within the shadows but rather
confidently out in the open and totally out of control…
the world’s leaders and politicians are trying their best to throw
diversions to what is actually the truth.

Now is the time that the faithful are being called to stand united as one,
in the name of righteousness, holiness, morality, values, family and yes,
even freedom and liberty…
while the culturally correct media and sea of blind political leaders
wish nothing more than to have us all barking up the wrong tree…

“Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us?
Why do we deal treacherously each against his brother so as to profane
the covenant of our fathers?

Malachi 2:10

Palm Sunday and the Copts

“In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt,
and a pillar to the LORD at its border.

Isaiah 19:19


(a Coptic Cross…it reads, Jesus Christ, the son of God)

While Christians gathered around the world to pray, worship and celebrate the
beginning of the most revered and holiest season’s of the Church’s calendar,
two Coptic Churches and their members in Egypt were attacked.

Despite being outfitted with metal detectors, two suicide bombers joined the Palm Sunday
worshipers detonating their explosive packs near the altars of the two crowded churches.
In their wake two holy and sacred places were transformed into grisly crime scenes comprised
of splintered woods, crumbled stone, blood and body parts while lives and families were
transformed forever.

Coptic Christianity is regarded as the oldest sect of the Christian Church.
It is a church that was established by the apostle and evangelist St Mark in Egypt during the
reign of the Roman emperor Nero in the 1st century.

Egypt and the Coptic Church is also home to the inception of Christian monasticism.
History notes that it was in Egypt that both the Desert Fathers and later, the Desert Mothers,
sought the solitude of the desert to pray and in turn build monasteries that have been
in continuous operation for the past 1900 years.

And since 2010, the Islamic State has made the life of Coptic Christians a
living nightmare.

The latest two murderous attacks taking place yesterday during Palm Sunday.
Egypt’s Copts, who have suffered repeated deadly jihadist attacks,
say they feel abandoned and discriminated against by the authorities in the
predominantly Muslim country.

But despite their fears, the Christians of Tanta said they are determined to defend
their faith.

“We’re Christian and we will stay Christian,” one woman said in a defiant tone.
AFP News

As we solemnly enter this holiest of weeks of our Christian faith,
may those of us who are privileged to worship openly and free,
be mindful of our brothers and sisters across the globe who continue to worship
under the black cloud of persecution and terrorism.

Let us pray for the victims, the wounded and the collective Christian families of these two
Egyptian churches.
Knowing that what we take for granted, that of our freedom to worship in relative
safety and security, is not the standard for many worshipers around this fractured world.
May we stand in solidarity as the family of Believers as we continue to
proclaim that Jesus Christ is the Risen Lord…

Alleluia….

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.

Isaiah 61:1-3

Therapy amongst the mint

“All of earth is crammed with heaven
And every bush aflame with God
But only those who see take off their shoes.”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”
Anne Frank

DSC02644
(a clump of freshly pulled mint mixed in a pile of roots / Julie Cook / 2015)

The air was punctuated with the pungent aroma of mint and basil mingled with a heavy dose of loamy moist dirt.
I had taken pruning shears with me, but put them aside in favor of my two gloved hands.
My intent was to simply cut it all back but instead I opted to hopefully rid my yard and life of the invasive mayhem.

The growing green mass had covered the whole front corner of the bed by the garage and was set to cover up Mimi’s ancient cement bench if something wasn’t done and done soon to stop this almost giddy encroachment.

My heart has felt much the same in recent days, overrun and over burdened with and by the onslaught of the grim global headlines.

The now burgeoning sickly yellowish green patch is usually the first thing in the yard to show its tender new verdant foliage during those sleepy hopeful wee days between winter and spring. It’s what gives me hope that life, rebirth, regrowth and Spring will indeed vanquish Old Man Winter while ushering in welcoming warmer days.

As I wondered about how best to tackle the latest infestation of overgrowth in the shrub bed, my thoughts wandered a world away to what or whom would or could now vanquish the sweeping global sorrows that were entangling both my heart and soul.

Come late Summer. . .when life is dried out and burned out, just as the seasons prepare to knock on the door of Autumn, the leggy gangly masses have become a truly unsightly tangled mess of tired and spent. As in I’m just ready to cut it all away, rid my life of the jumbled mess and happily welcome in some cool crisp colorful order.

I wish I could easily do the same for our hurting planet.

I’ve always found solace in working with my hands.
The more manual the labor the more productive and alive I feel.
There is a cleansing honesty in working with one’s hands.
Never mind that my back has been giving me fits, never mind the heat index is still in the triple digits, I will gladly get down and dirty, as the sun continues to bake the world, for working hard in the yard is good for the soul, the mind and often literally the heart.

Oh that it could be so easy with this greatly burdened world of ours.

As a true Southerner I’ve grown up with mint sprouting from every yard I’ve ever called home. What better accompaniment to one’s tea or julep, depending on your preference, than a sprig of fresh mint? Anyone will tell you mint is easy, as in it grows itself. In fact it’s just a little too easy, as in too eager and way too invasive. It’s more like a weed gone wild then a treasured herb. Plus everyone who does any work in a garden will tell you, any novice can grow mint— it offers instant gratification to the more hesitant would-be gardeners among us.

But my mint patch has been on the run and I had to stop it before things got anymore out of hand. Rather than cut it back, just for it to sprout right back to this same spreading madness within a few days, I took to pulling it up, by the long lanky root full. Even poor ol St Francis had to be laid on his side just so I could get to what was running under my favorite saint’s feet. I don’t think he was much bothered by the intrusion.

As I yanked and pulled, buried just under the top layer of straw and soil, was a criss crossing network of an eerily bone white root system stretching for what seemed to be miles. With each tugged, pulled and unearthed jumble of lanky roots and dirt, earwigs and beetles alike scurried helter skelter, madly seeking a dark cloak of safety in the damp compost soil.

The more my thoughts drifted over the latest mounding national and global turmoils, I pulled harder and deeper. Sweat trickled down my face, pooling at the tip of my nose before dripping and disappearing into the blackened soil. The sweat seemed to reach across the globe mingling with the tears of those thousands of people now walking hundreds of miles in search of asylum and safety.

As the morning turned to afternoon, I had finally pulled up the last of the mint. The piles were now all raked up, the walkway swept and the pine straw smoothed as the shrub bed now had a delightfully clean and fresh look.

I still had no grand revelations as to how to help the ever growing global crises sweeping across our lives nor how to ease the lingering tensions within our own Nation. I was hot, tired and weary of body, but there was oddly a refreshing clarity of thought.
No longer did I feel totally overwhelmed or at a loss.
Still not knowing where to even begin to help, I gratefully no longer felt as defeated as I had.
There’s just something about physical labor, with it’s overwhelming beginning and productive ending, that gives hope to the overwhelming obstacles of life. . . hope that we can indeed tackle and eventually overcome the litany of misery facing our current global family.

I trust we will be able to do so. . .
for only in God, comes hope to the hopeless, and strength to the weak. . .

Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:10

“Let me arise and open the gate, to breathe
the wild warm air of the heath,
And to let in Love, and to let out Hate,
And anger at living and scorn of Fate,
To let in Life, and to let out Death.”

Violet Fane