Beauty and life found in a winter’s dismal cold rains

“In winter, when the dismal rain comes down in slanting lines, and wind, that grand old harper, smote his thunder-harp of pines.”
Alexander Smith

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Psalm 19:1

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And for those who have not choice but to be outside, it’s time to hunker down. . .

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My neighbors two horses bear up, or down, under the dismal weather.
When it gets too terribly cold or snow and ices, she does put on their coats.
The horses are probably 25 years old, and when you see one, you see the other–always together in tandem. Today they looked much as I have felt.
Supposedly the sun is to make its appearance tomorrow. It will be the first time in several weeks. None too soon may I add as I think man, beast and fowl can all benefit from a little sun!!
Here’s to sunny days ahead and thoughts of the coming Spring. . .

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(a collection of images from the yard: rain drops, a tufted titmouse, a bluebird, and a pair of forlorn horses / Julie Cook / 2015)

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Ecclesiastes 3:11

Intricacy

Part of my journey is to say that the soul of the human being must be a massively intricate, wonderful creation that God has a respect for in ways that we do not and that leaves a huge amount of space to go explore.
William P. Young

My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Psalm 139:15

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(a collection of Gulf shells / Julie Cook / 2014-15)

Consider the humble shell.
The exoskeleton of a small soft bodied sea creature consisting of 98% calcium carbonate and 2% protein.
Amazingly symmetrical in both shape and design.
A wonderful natural formation of near perfect dimension.
Intricately formed and polished to perfection by mere sand and water.
The ultimate prize of those who wander the waves.

How many times has a young child reached down, into the damp heavy sand,
digging frantically to retrieve a prized shell?
Excitedly extracting the shell, with or without inhabitant, up from the surf and gently cradling the new found treasure, they scurry triumphantly toward mom and dad proudly proclaiming the finding of the hidden treasure.

How often does an adult do the same? Ambling idly along the surf, mesmerized by the rolling waves, lost in a world of thought, when suddenly looking down, there lies a beautifully glistening shell partially buried in the sand–intact, not broken or chipped–perfect. A sense of wonderment and awe fills the would be treasure hunter as they joyfully reach downward, ready to grasp the prize.

Consider the human body
96.2 % oxygen, hydrogen, carbon and nitrogen, with almost 70% of that being water.
Amazingly symmetrical in both shape and design.
The ultimate design of all living creatures.
A treasure whose inception is set mysteriously into motion, hidden in the sacred depths of an intimate holiness.

Woven intricately by the Master Creator, each individual is just that—an individual.
Each different from the next
Different from all of those who have been and of all those who are to be.
Unique
One of a kind
Special

Fluids flow
Bones grow and form
Nerves fire
Muscles twitch
Eyes see
Ears hear
Sounds are made
Thoughts are formed. . .
as life begins moving forward. . .

All as a watchful Father looks downward, mesmerized with joy, gently breathing life into the tiny form he cradles in loving hands, knowing that He has just found the prize. . .

Beauty in a bucket

“The power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes home happy and life lovely.”
Louisa May Alcott

“No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face.”
John Donne

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(the fallen late blooms of the meyer lemon tree and an oak leaf float in a bucket of water / Julie Cook / 2014)

When might debris in a bucket deep,
take on such beauty doth to keep?
Which floats upon a surface sweet,
while wind and rain so strangely meet.
In Autumn’s late grey days of myth and lore,
as light doth fade forever more.
Be quick to see all who so chose,
for beauty hides just under your nose.

Blessings for a Tuesday full of surprising beauty and joy

For thus says the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.
Isaiah 45:18

“Baby it’s cold outside”

Love keeps the cold out better than a cloak.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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(a frozen birdbath on a frosty November morning / Julie Cook / 2014)

As the mercury in the old glass thermometer begins to make its steady descent, falling lower and lower in the tiny glass stem, reaching that crucial 32º F, magic begins to unfold in the ancient crumbling birdbath.
Liquid collides with frigid air as molecules slow.
Interlocking and spreading outward from itself as frenetic now becomes static. A surface oddly appears where moments before there was none.
Dripping, sloshing and evaporating, everyday miraculous occurrences taken for granted, are now trapped and caught in a single moment of time being transformed from the familiar to the foreign, as a season shifts and a cold stalk reality settles in making itself at home.

And as we are told that “to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” we must remember, know and claim that even in the simplest act of water changing from a liquid to a solid, from the overflow of rain water in an old birdbath to a thick sheet of ice, this act of the miraculous, does not pass or escape the knowledge of the Master Creator.
Something as commonplace as water freezing during the coming of the winter months, all takes place with the knowledge and observation of a Heavenly Father who has set the planets and the seasons in motion, who has cast light into the darkness, and who continues to offer hope in a world full of hopelessness.

Even in the insignificant discarded birdbath, God’s mastery is on display for any and all to take note. His fingerprints are present in the warmth of the sun as well as in the devoid nature of ice.
Who is this who has set forth the scientific laws of motion, gravity, combustion, transformation, energy. . .man may be able to replicate and create change, for good or bad, but he can only take from what he has been given—and much has been given.

Rejoice then shall we, in the light of day, the twinkling stars by night, the warmth of the sun, the blooming of the flowers, the abundance of the field and even in the barren, harsh frozen nothingness of the silence known as Winter. For there is no place on this planet where God is not—that we may learn to rejoice even as the earth transforms from the welcoming and enveloping seasons of warmth and abundant color to a time of lonely cold and unforgiving ice.
. . . As this amazing lesson and reminder now unfolds and is on full display in a lone and forgotten birdbath.

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(a frozen birdbath on a frosty November morning / Julie Cook / 2014)

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(a frozen birdbath on a frosty November morning / Julie Cook / 2014)

The beauty of the harvest

I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation. It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green.
Nathaniel Hawthorne

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(offerings from the yard–Yellow tomato, yellow bell pepper, thyme, basil / Julie Cook / 2014)

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.
1 Corinthians 3:5-9

Oh how we marvel at the wonders that seem to literally sprout from out fingertips. We toil and labor—tilling, sowing, watering, watching, imagining. . .then triumphantly sit back in self righteous wonderment at the results and fruits of “our” doings. . .

When in actuality, with little to none of our input, buried in the cloak of darkened soil and hidden away from all to see, lies the true and marvelous mystery of Creation. As much as we boast about the results of our toil and labor, there is not much that we, from our hands and talents, will have done which can actually permit us to take full credit—-for we are merely the co-workers in this mystery of life and growth.

It is the Master of Creation, who with one single sweeping motion of His hand, has sent the seed in motion—germinating, sprouting, growing and unfurling into a fanfare of sustenance. Oh yes we may till and work the ground, we may gently lay the seed, we may weed, water and watch, but it is the Master who works in hidden silence.
Constantly, consistently and mysteriously providing for both you and I.

Improbable and Incredible

“The world is divided into two classes, those who believe the incredible, and those who do the improbable.”
Oscar Wilde

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(Photograph: Lock opening which separates the Chicago River with Lake Michigan / Chicago, Illinois / Julie Cook / 2013)

The above image is a picture of a lock opening allowing the waters between the Chicago River and Lake Michigan to level out to one equal level which in turn allows boats to traverse into and out of the great Lake as the two bodies of water are not of the same level. At one point the Chicago River ran into Lake Michigan but due to all of the human and animal waste, that was pouring into Lake Michigan from the city of Chicago, over 100 years ago engineers had to reverse the natural flow of the River. To this day, a lock is used to now even out the water levels allowing boats to move freely between both river and lake.

A rather amazing feat when you think about reversing the natural flow of a river. Another amazing feat, having to figure out how to make two massive bodies of water the same level as well as keeping them separate when the levels are not the same.

Such feats of thought and engineering are, to me, both incredible and improbable. Ingenuity and need drive so much of what we do and accomplish. Make a point today to believe in the incredible then do what it takes to make it possible by doing the improbable. If not you, who??

something magical

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Something magical transpires when you add sugar, water, heat (high heat–careful not to burn it or you)–next, some butter and cream, whisk it all up–can it get much better? Caramel!! ummmm… Using to drizzle over the chocolate molten brownies, add a little broken toffee bits, a smidge sprinkle of sea salt, a scoop of vanilla ice cream to the side and you have my 85 year old father, happy (and everyone else at the table as well 🙂 )