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Less of me . . .

I’ve been sitting here, staring at a blank screen, contemplating just what it is I want to write and how to write it, I’m not having much luck. When this happens to me, it’s a sign telling me I am not supposed to organize, plan, or prioritize my thoughts. I’m just supposed to write, so I shall.

I’ve been thinking, sometimes a dangerous occupation for a mind as random as mine, seriously, things can get a little crowded in there. I need change. I need more. Actually, I need less, less of me and more of my creator. I’m not having a crisis of faith, my faith is strong. My convictions are firmly planted and my hunger for God is great, but I’m not doing anything to feed that hunger. Not enough to satisfy it by any means.

I realize I’ve been standing still, waiting for God to come to me instead of actively seeking him. I’ve been sitting in the stagnant waters of what I’ve already learned when I could have been wading through the vast ocean that lay before me. I’ve become complacent, that’s a nice way of saying lazy.

I read headlines and hear sound-bytes about the state of our country, our world, our people, and my heart aches. Society has accepted the once unacceptable, demanded we all embrace the changes or be labeled. Racist, homophobe, hypocrite, it really doesn’t matter what your heart or your faith dictates, only what the politically correct, offended by everything but what they believe say is truth, justice, right, and wrong matters now.

imageChristianity has been skewed, true Christianity. I am talking about the born-again, the ones who believe the only way to salvation is through Christ Jesus, the ones who read and heed the word of God. Not the sweeter, softer, watered down and altered versions of the word, but the actual teachings of Christ, all of it, not just the pretty parts, not just the parts used to either justify or condemn, but all of it.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. — Isaiah 5:20

The hard to swallow stuff, the parts that make people uncomfortable, the parts that convict your spirit to take action. The Bible is the past, present and future. We were meant to learn from it, not argue over it and alter it to better suit our tender sensibilities. It is a guide to salvation and so many are going to miss out on that gift, the one Jesus bought and paid for as he died on the cross. What ungrateful recipients we’ve become.

The seven deadly sins were once the things we were taught to avoid, now they seem to represent the American Dream, at least what the American Dream seems to have become. We are all guilty to one degree or another of at least a few, there’s no denying it. We are sinners. The most righteous among us are sinners, isn’t that precisely why Jesus laid down his life? He was nailed to a cross because he believed in us enough to make that sacrifice. Did you read that part about the nails? They pierced his flesh, they broke his bone, and instead of cursing those who hammered him to a cross, he asked His Father, our God, to forgive them.

I cannot write those words without shedding tears. Jesus was flesh and blood, the same as you and I, he felt the same pains we feel, the same sorrows, the same joys. He spread nothing but hope and he was persecuted for his devotion. Jesus is more than stories in an old book, more than a myth as some people call him. He is not a fictional character from someone’s imagination. History cannot deny he walked the Earth, scholars cannot disprove the accounts transcribed detailing his life. He lived.

Because He lived, because He died, I have a path to glory before me and one day I will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, so long as I don’t stray from the path of His word, His teachings. I have to remember to place God’s will on a pedestal far higher than my own. Salvation is not guaranteed, it is earned. Salvation is not a right, it’s an honor.

It’s not enough to be a good person, I don’t think everyone knows that. I know not everyone knows that, at least they refuse to believe it. If they did, they would have to be accountable for their every action, their every thought, they would have to repent when they fell short of the Glory of God, which is inevitable. There will be many standing before The Lord on Judgment Day who lived good lives, helped those less fortunate, loved and even worshiped God, but they will not gain entrance because they thought how they lived was enough.

Repentance and forgiveness are not suggestions, they are conditions. There are those who call themselves Christian who will never inherit the Kingdom of The Lord because they didn’t bother to read the rule book. They didn’t study or bother following the lesson plan. There really isn’t a learning curve here. The instructions are clear if you bother to read them.

Crystal R. Cook

Casting Out & Letting Go

Nightmare in a bottle - Crystal R. Cook

I put my nightmare in a bottle
and I cast it out to sea,
I watched it ebb and flow
as it drifted back to me.

I filled it up with pebbles
from the sandy shore,
so certain it would sink,
I threw it out once more.

I waited and I watched
until it surfaced once again,
I snatched it from the water
and cursed it for its sin.

All the night I tossed it
into that lonesome sea,
through salty tears I prayed,
I would at last know peace

When the sun cracked the horizon,
I was spent of all my strength,
that nightmare in the bottle,
lay in the froth beside my feet.

I turned and walked away
as the tide began to grow,
it took away my nightmare,
and I did not watch it go.

My mother always told me to let go and let God, I’ve found this isn’t always easy to do. We tend to hang on to the very things we need to release, keeping ourselves bound to them.

We clutch them close and try to fix them on our own, we let them go only to take them right back. Instead of releasing them and moving forward, we nurture our pains and we feed our sorrows.

We wear our burdens like armor then ask God why we must bear the weight of them. The answer is so simple, yet so easily cast aside . . .

He is waiting for us to lay them at His feet and walk away.

Crystal R. Cook

Dear Me . . .

Dear Me - The Qwiet Muse

Just to clarify ~ I’m not crazy. I don’t have split personalities, the one I have may be splintered just a little bit though. Truthfully, we all have many faces and facets that make up the entirety of who we are. Sometimes we disconnect from self, we may not even be aware we’ve neglected certain aspects of ourselves, but eventually it begins to manifest outwardly and when it does, people notice.

It may be some internal attempt at self-preservation, it may be our experiences in the moment are simply so overwhelming they overshadow parts of who we are. When his happens it can lead to depression, self-doubt, and a sense of emptiness in our lives. I’ve seen it happen to those around me, people dealing with illness, heavy work loads, and other life-changing events. I see it happen often with caregivers and parents. It’s happened to me.

Women seem particularly susceptible, especially mothers. We tend to forget we are more than just wives and mothers and the ten thousand other things we are expected to be. We are unique and complex individuals, there really is more to us than what the world sees, there is more to us than we can sometimes see as well.

We often push parts of ourselves to the deepest depths of our inner being, we become what we think everyone needs and expects us to be. That’s okay as long as we don’t forget to nourish the essence of who we are. Sometimes, we just need to remind ourselves we are important too.

When my kids were still little ones, I went through a period of loss. Loss of self. My life was a whirlwind of schools, doctors, therapists, and medication. I had four young children, two with developmental disabilities, a husband frequently away in service of his country, and a recent diabetes diagnosis. I lost myself in the mayhem.

In a rare and quiet moment the weight of it all bore down on me and I knew I had to do something or I wouldn’t have the strength or the will to continue. I hadn’t picked up a pen to write much more than grocery lists and schedules to keep for a long while, that night I decided to dust off my journal and try to make sense of it all.

What I ended up penning to the page seemed odd, and to be honest, I thought at the time, stupid. I closed my journal feeling no better than I had when I’d opened it. The next day though, I felt stronger. I took little breaks throughout the day to sit and read, to simply sit in thought. I felt a sense of peace. The rest of the week I felt lighter, I enjoyed my days a little more.

I’d forgotten about my journal entry until I decided to write something about a month later, I was surprised at what I found. I didn’t recall writing the words I was reading. I’d penned a letter to myself. It was the first of many . . .

Hello there my old friend. It’s been so long since we’ve had a moment to talk. I just thought I would check in with you and see if you’re okay. Are you? I only ask because you’ve been so distanced from me lately. Remember the hours we used to spend together in thought or in silent prayer? Have you forgotten how wonderful it was, sitting back in the sun, reading and resting?

I miss the quiet moments we used to spend together. I miss hearing your laughter. Do you laugh anymore? Tears seem to have replaced that twinkle in your eyes and that saddens me. I wish I could help. I am trying, do you even hear me? I know you must, you simply have to. If we could just reconnect I know it would ease your troubled heart.

I can feel your loneliness, it is mine as well. There’s no need to be lonely, I am still here. My presence seems to be crowded and nearly lost by all of the pressures and pains you’re feeling. I know the responsibilities you have are great, but what happened to the time you used to make for us . . . for you, the time used to rejuvenate your soul and refresh your mind and spirit?

You cannot keep going without checking in with me every now and then you know. You need me and I need you. What would we be without one another? I shudder at the thought of it. I know right now you feel you do not have time for me, but I think if you tried you would find you really do.

I’m not asking for days or even hours, just a few stolen moments every once in a while. We could read a chapter or two in an old book or step outside and let the cool winters breeze give us goosebump kisses. We could sip a cup of tea and write poetry and breathe.

Please think it over, I know you will feel better once we have been in each other’s company for a spell. I will be here for you when you’re ready, just as I always am. I do hope you will squeeze me in soon. I’m afraid if you do not I will lose you forever. What would become of me? What would become of you?

I whispered a prayer for us. I look forward to spending some time with you soon. Sooner than later I hope.

I miss you and I love you . . .

Sincerely yours.

A little part of you.

Crystal R. Cook

Eye of the storm

image

Words in red
twisted, eliminated
misconstrued and abused

The master canvas
crumpled and creased
ripped into pieces
used as a crutch

Forged into weapons
of self-righteous wrath
in a pointless war

Brother against brother
mothers in anguish
children in fear

Faith is punished
belief is crushed
beneath boots
of misguided
soldiers and
false profits

Pretend gods
are worshiped
from altars of lies
the Son is denied

Judgments are passed
without jury
the accused have no
recourse or defense

Criminals without
crime sentenced
to silence
shunned for swimming
against the tide
refusing to melt into
the mindless mass
society has become

In the eye of the storm
no one seems to see
the damage
that’s been done

There may be
nothing left
when the blind
finally open
their eyes

Crystal R. Cook

Unconditional Love

What is unconditional love?

“The measure of love is to love without measure.” Saint Augustine

What is unconditional love? Exactly what it sounds like, love without condition. We cannot truly love if we place conditions upon our giving of it. I’m not certain as human beings we are completely capable of embracing the concept of unconditional love in its truest and purest form, in my heart I believe we can come close.

I know without a doubt I am loved unconditionally by my Heavenly Father, and I return such love in faith. I am loved without condition by the ones who gave me life and by the ones I have given life to. I’ve felt the power of love; I have seen it and I have been blessed with it.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it his not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Mother Theresa said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” It seems to be a part of human nature to judge our fellow man based on nothing more than learned ignorance without regard to reason. While this may not be true for all, it is the unfortunate reality of many. Perhaps those who place conditions upon their love and acceptance of others were never given this gift of powerful and consuming love, and in turn, do not know how to give it.

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.” Martin Luther King, Jr..

In their most basic definitions, we take these two words, which together symbolize one of God’s greatest gifts, and we can see the simplistic beauty they create when combined; unconditional love truly means love without condition.

Unconditional: Adj. – Not limited by conditions; absolute.

Love: Noun – There are many definitions pertaining to the word love, among them are . . .

– A profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.

– A feeling of warm, personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child or friend.

– The benevolent affection of God for his creatures, or the reverent affection due from them to God.

Unconditional love is the purest of love; it is the truest of love.

It is the love our Lord has for us, the love we carry for him.

Unconditional love is the expectant mother, who without thinking, places her hand upon her growing belly to caress the new life growing within her.

Unconditional love is the father with trembling hands, cradling his newborn babe in the tender warmth of his arms.

Unconditional love is the crying baby, soothed by a mothers soft song.

Unconditional love is sitting by the bedside of someone you love, letting them know it’s okay to let go.

Unconditional love is the butterflies stirring in your heart when that special someone reaches for your hand.

It is a shoulder to cry on, it is forgetting and forgiving.

It is allowing for a mistake now and then.

It is faith, belief, and hope.

It is not expectant, asks for nothing in return and lasts forever.

Unconditional love is a gift worthy to be given and a blessing to receive.

Luciano de Crescenzo whispered beautifully profound words when he said, “We are each of us angels with only one wing; and we can only fly by embracing one another.”

Crystal R. Cook