imports and exports

“Jesus, help me to simplify my life by learning what you want me to be,
and becoming that person.”

St. Therese of Lisieux


(a lovely orange bell pepper / Julie Cook / 2018)

Here it is the height of the summer despite many school systems already heading back
for the start of the new school year.

Living down South, in a place where summer’s luscious produce is hitting its zenith, despite
the stores beginning to put out their fall and Thanksgiving goods, I happened to notice
an odd occurrence when stopping by the local grocery store.

I ran in the store in order to pick up a few things the other day and grabbed one
of the colorful bell peppers stacked ever so neatly on the grocery store’s produce shelf.

I usually prefer the red, yellow or orange varieties over the innocuous green ones as
they taste no different but add a splash of color to whatever one is preparing.

Once home, as I was putting away the groceries, I pulled out my bell pepper.
I looked at the tag stuck to the pepper, reading to see if my bell pepper came from
either Florida or California…all the while secretly hoping it would read Georgia.
It’s that time of the season you know here in Georgia—when gardens are now fully bearing
their long-anticipated fruits of a farmers labor.

Yet I am well aware that our Nation’s produce belts lie in our more temperate climate states…
States such as California and Florida…for various fruits and vegetables and places like
Nebraska or Iowa for corn.

However, imagine my surprise when I read that my beautiful bright colored pepper hailed from none
of the aforementioned states but was actually born and raised in Holland.

The last place I think of when I think of something like a bell pepper is Holland…as in this
low land, country is known for several other things besides bell peppers.
Beer yes, peppers no.

If I still had a garden, this is the time when my own peppers were coming into their own.
Would it not make more sense to have a pepper from right here in Georgia…
since this is our time of year for the likes of produce such as peppers???

Instead I picked a pepper, not a peck of peppers mind you, that had to actually come to me
via a cargo container…and yet despite an arduous journey from the land of canals and windmills
over the Atlantic Ocean, a beautiful orange pepper arrives at my grocery store…
looking pretty as the day it was most likely plucked.

Makes me wonder as to how this pepper has stood up so well during its travels from Holland
to my fridge here in Georgia.

And so yes, it may not be convenient for me to trek out to the local farmer’s market–
getting grocery items at the grocery store and produce items at the produce market and then
butcher goods from a local butcher (of which we no longer have in our smaller community)
I just might want to rethink my shopping habits as I would prefer a fresh locally grown
pepper as to this lovely trans Atlantic pepper.

And nothing against Holland nor this beautiful pepper…but I do prefer local when I can find it.

There are things that each country does well—think Chocolate form Belgium, Beer and sausages from Germany, olive oil from Italy, Spain and Greece…along with olives…
think wines from France, Italy, Portugal and yes, California…

We all have something that is indicative to each of our home nations…
products that we do well…and it should be noted that some nations have been
doing what it is they do now for centuries…

But when it comes to summer produce…well, I kind of prefer mine to grown a bit closer to home…
because Heavens knows that here in the South, we are in the height of the season…

Makes me think about my own seasonal worth and productivity…
that of my own exports and imports…

What has God labored over within me that is now ready for harvest…

And once harvested, it’s time to share…

“However great our efforts, we cannot change ourselves.
Only God can get to the bottom of our defects, and our limitations in the field of love;
only he has sufficient mastery over our hearts for that.
If we realize that we will save ourselves a great deal of discouragement and fruitless struggle.
We do not have to become saints by our own power;
we have to learn how to let God make us into saints.
That does not mean, of course, that we don’t have to make any effort…
We should fight, not to attain holiness as a result of our own efforts,
but to let God act in us without our putting up any resistance against him;
we should fight to open ourselves as fully as possible to his grace, which sanctifies us.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 14-5
An Excerpt From
In the School of the Holy Spirit

come in out of the wind

“It comes the very moment you wake up each morning.
All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals.
And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back;
in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view,
letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.
And so on, all day.
Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings;
coming in out of the wind.”

C.S. Lewis


(Papa, or Poppie as it depends on who you ask, and Autumn on the last day of
business/ Julie Cook 2018)

50 years is a long time to wait for that final day when you don’t have to unlock shop and carry
on the business of life in retail.

There will soon be, on this mile marker along life’s journey, more to this story
but there is still a good bit of moving, settling and simply exhaling after such a
very long haul.

We’re turning a page…for good or bad…


(anticipating being able to actually fish when they say the fish are biting rahter
than waiting for a stray day off when it’s windy and cold)


(it was such a cake filled day of celebration as well as tearful good-byes…
and thank you Melissa and Mark for all the added sweetness)

One very long and tiring chapter is now complete as we look forward to
the next chapter…
and that chapter’s name is Autumn…


(Autumn with mom Abby as they survey Papa’s cake / Julie Cook / 2018)

am I content?

“Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold your King is coming to you,
Gentle, and mounted on a donkey,
Even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.”

Matthew 21:5

“Happiness can only be achieved by looking inward and
learning to enjoy whatever life has and this requires
transforming greed into gratitude.”

― John Chrysostom


(tree frog basking in the warm sun of a cool spring morning /Julie Cook / 2017)

The crowds were so excited…
with each man woman and child being caught up in the moment.

Hailing and shouting exultations.
He was everything they thought they wanted.
Welcoming, inviting and enthusiastically waving…
each person was so very delighted, happy and pleased.

Finally…it was him…it was the One everyone had waited for….
yes, finally…all would now be well
They were all so certain that things were to be different, better…
and finally…as they should be…

There was a general sense of satisfaction radiating from the crowd…
a sense that all things were right with the world…

As a sense of contentment settled over the crowd.
Today was to be their day…
because He had finally come…

Yet there was something in the shifting winds that signaled an impending
sense of change…
and He was the only one who felt it….

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:12-13

Ready and waiting

“Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.”
Leon Joseph Cardinal Suenens

“Wait on the Lord” is a constant refrain in the Psalms, and it is a necessary word, for God often keeps us waiting. He is not in such a hurry as we are, and it is not his way to give more light on the future than we need for action in the present, or to guide us more than one step at a time. When in doubt, do nothing, but continue to wait on God. When action is needed, light will come.”
― J.I. Packer

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(our friend the dragonfly bides his time on a bramble twig / Julie Cook / 2015)

The wind whispered to the trees today that change would soon be sweeping in. . .
As the fullness of the woods soon commences to gently shrink. . .
Once lush full thickets, pregnant with vibrant green growth, now forlornly expose their thorny secrets. . .
Where berries plump and lusciously ripe beckoned to be picked, gnarly brown twigs are now seen to crisscross the path along a wooded glen. . .
Those who lay claim to Summer’s realm know that their time soon draws nigh. . .
“Best to be one our way” they lazily call,
for the winds are shifting and the sun is soon to be hanging low. . .
“Let us hurry”. . .
As it is soon time to make way for those who eagerly wait a change . . .

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31

A disclaimer of Wonderment

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.”

― William Blake

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(beauty found in the wild grasses of a meadow / Julie Cook / 2015)

The beauty and wonder of nature. . .
They stand before us in majesty and splendor
just as they float to us upon a sweet whisper of wind.

Striking and stirring
Humbling and demure.

Perhaps you’ve seen the commercial, a car commercial I think. . .
A dad takes his young son, who is perhaps eight or so, to see the massive
great Sequoias of the Redwood Forest.
The child stands at the foot of one of the oldest and tallest trees on the planet with
little to no sense of acknowledgement other than a passing “thought they’d be bigger”
The dad simply looks at his son with a slight bemused smile of “Really??”

Next scene—-the dad stands with his son on the rim of the Grand Canyon with its sweeping and overwhelming beauty.
The child merely shrugs his shoulders with the unheard sound of an unimpressed “ehhhh”
The dad slowly shakes his head in disbelief–as if to say “you’ve got to be kidding me??”

The last scene is of the dad at the wheel of the car with his son strapped into the back seat. The car is stopped in the middle of a road that one assumes is in Yellowstone Park as a massive Bison has sauntered up to the child’s window and is staring down at a now very impressed young man.
He looks up at the bison then over to his dad with an ear to ear grin across his face, as the dad finally has a sense of satisfaction in having found something in this most majestic world that has left his son speechless. . .

I believe this commercial speaks volumes to our current plight of jadedness.

It seems we’ve become so inwardly involved with our technology, our gizmos and social media overload that we are failing to be impressed, let alone acknowledging, the outward wonders which surround us each and every day.

Are we failing when it comes to our youth who seem to be more impressed by video games, television and gadgets than by the gifts of Nature? Are we failing ourselves when we don’t stop long enough to wonder at a sunset, the blooms of a flower, the majesty of a tree—no longer impressed by blossoms, sprouting, growth or natural wonder?

I stop in on occasion to read various posts by other bloggers.
I am awed and humbled most often by the shared perspectives that are offered–be it thoughts regarding the beautiful gifts of Nature, the joy of creativity found in the Arts, or the teachings and shared delvings into our relationship with the Creator of the Universe.

One Christian site, whose author pretty much tells it like it is, mixes allegory with reality while painting a most colorful observation of the relationship of man to the Holy Word of God.
In so doing he has drawn the ire of a huge crowd of non believers, as well as a few lukewarm believers who find his view a bit much, extreme, or in the thoughts of some, just totally wrong.

I for one think that Christians (of any denomination) shouldn’t dumb things down nor should we sugar coat the Word of God—To the Believer, the word is The Word and to honor that Word it is what we do—I believe we call that worship. . .
To a non believer, however, it is all simply mumbo jumbo hocus pocus.
I therefore applaud this blogger’s approach to what we Christians deem as Truth—but what is Truth to some, speaks of falsehood to another. . .as is sadly, much the way of the world. . .

Unfortunately this particular blogger is besieged with vehement commentary that reeks of on-line bullying.
The teacher and mother in me gets quite upset with the ugly things thrown his way, which are in turn, subsequently thrown to those who respond with supportive comments. It’s one thing to disagree with a fellow blogger while offering a counter thought but to sling ugly names and accusations is something else entirely.

My thought is if you don’t like what you’re reading, for Heaven’s sake, go find what it is you do like reading. And if you find something you consider out in left field, well, seek the field that makes you happy. . .allowing the Christians their right to speak their minds while allowing all the other worldly and varying religions and non religions to speak their minds as well.

The blogging world is truly a vast region to be sure. . .

Why do we attack others and their opinions?
We are all still entitled to opinions are we not?
Good or bad?
Wrong or right?

What does a blog battle of believer verses non-believer have to do with a commercial, the grandeur of nature and of you and I. . .everyone must now be wondering. . .well. . .

I suppose it’s just that I marvel at those who don’t marvel in the created marvels which have us constantly and marvelously surrounded.
How does one stand on the edge of the Grand Canyon, or along the shoreline of an ocean or at the base of a massive tree without feeling awed, wowed, or simply swept up in the greatness by feeling perhaps humbled and small?

Maybe if we turned our sites outward, rather than inward.
Maybe if we found the wonderment in our natural surroundings.
Maybe if we fought less with one another and. . .
wondered more,
wandered more,
marveled more. . .

Yes, I claim the Word of God to be the Word offered to me, and to anyone else for that matter,
who has ear to hear or desire to seek. . .
I in turn offer it here, in small humbled doses, as He offers it to me to share.
I am a vessel,
a vehicle,
a facilitator.

I don’t have all the answers to all the questions.
I stumble and fall most often along this journey known as life.
I make mistakes and screw up royally as I am no poster child for what is Holy and Pure for I know that I am broken and flawed. . .
Yet it is in that brokeness that I find. . .
Hope,
Healing,
Salvation. . .

That’s just . . .
my thought,
my opinion,
my belief—
Something I’m still pretty certain I’m allowed to have. . .
Despite it not falling in-line with that of the World’s. . .

So if you don’t feel much like wondering, wandering or marveling in the marvelous world around you, you are free to leave in order to visit other places. . .
It is here that I hope to offer morsels, crumbs, and tastes of simple Wonderment from that which is truly Divine. . .

In the blink of an eye

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.
Washington Irving

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(the fleeting frozen rains from hopefully the last cold snap / Julie Cook / 2015)

And just like that, in a fleeting single blink of an eye,
the triumphant joy ceases.
The crowds have quickly lost their jovial revelry.
Things are taking a turn–yet what sort of turn is yet to be seen.
There is a subtle shift in the winds.
Deep dark whispers now drift along the alleyways, replacing the recent laughter and jubilation.
A few dried palm branches are trampled underfoot, unnoticed.

What is passion?
Is it intensity?
Is it a feeling of indescribable and voracious love, longing, desire?
It is a consuming flame within the very core of one’s being, psyche, soul, heart?
Is it with or without control?
Is it with or without pain?

Groups of men are seen huddled together.
Any observer can note the seriousness of their conversations.
There is a hurriedness in the steps of those more official looking individuals.
Even the animals sense the change.
All are now anxious, fretful, nervous. . .
The sky grows dark, a storm seems to be brewing.

Is grief anticipatory?
Can sorrow be foretold?
Is the heart warned before breaking?
What of fear and anger verses hope and love?
Is one greater than the other?
Does love trump all other emotions?
Can one be broken hearted and full of love simultaneously?

Paranoia gives way to determination,
As a final solution is now at hand.
Selfishness, greed, control, swirl into a toxic mixture of treachery
A pigeon is found and a mole is set loose as the silver is gathered.
There are those who rub their hands together in twisted satisfaction as
there are those who wring their hands with foreboding and trepidation

Sorrow and love are now woven as one
There is no turning back as the die has been cast
The sequence of events is no longer reversible.
The truth of the matter is. . .they never were.
This pivotal moment was determined eons ago
Everyone has had a hand in it.

There is but one lone figure who has remained very far removed,
yet it is he who has watched this all unfold, generation after generation.
He stands in solitude perched somewhere between space and time, watching, waiting yet knowing
A single tear is seen to fall.
It is now left to time, which is all that remains separating. . .
what was
what is
and
what will be. . .

Change is in the air

There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse! As I have often found in traveling in a stagecoach, that it is often a comfort to shift one’s position, and be bruised in a new place.
Washington Irving

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(a volunteer viola caught in the wind / Julie Cook / 2015)

Change is in the air. . .
It’s come riding in on the shifting winds.
First it’s cold
then it’s wet
then it’s mild
then it’s windy
then it’s stormy
then it’s icy
then it’s cold
then it starts all over again. . .
Usually all within a 24 hour span of a single day. . .
Ode to March. . .

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(a tiny beginning, the emergence of a lily / Julie Cook / 2015)

And change is indeed taking place, in many different places.
We’ve not talked about Dad in a while. . .
There seems to be trouble brewing on the horizon. . .
The blending of two unfamiliar families, when it comes to elderly parental care, is delicate.
Trepidation has come calling. . .

Between these grown children or these now not so grown parents. . .
This time of change is. . .
overwhelming
disheartening
discouraging
frustrating
challenging
frightening
unnerving
unending
unfair
but here it is, none the less. . .
Discussions are beginning
Decisions are having to be made
Not all parties are happy
Hoping for the best. . .
Once the winds finally cease their shifting,
We will see where this all lands. . .

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(a tulip tree bud / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(mist covered moss / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(dandelions don’t look so bad close up / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(tulip tree bud up close and personal / Julie Cook / 2015)