an adopted path to Grace

“All the natural movements of the soul are controlled by
laws analogous to those of physical gravity.
Grace is the only exception. Grace fills empty spaces,
but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it,
and it is grace itself which makes this void.
The imagination is continually at work filling up all
the fissures through which grace might pass.”

Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace


(Rosemary Beach during Hurricane Sally / Julie Cook / 2020)

Tossed within the surf of a sea churning with tumultuous emotions…
joy, sorrow and even regret now vie for prominence within my heart.

An engulfing crescendo of deep abiding love is gently offered…
yet is is overshadowed by the inward naysaying whispers of a past
that speaks of unworthiness.

Grace and Graciousness, along with open forgiveness,
have each been tenderly extended…
freely extended by the hands of unconditional love.

The very word unconditional has always made these eyes fill with tears.

Humbled by such a love leaves this heart feeling only more unworthy
and even trembling.

Ode to a child of adoption…the child who finds the unconditional
a foreign gift.

Condition most often becomes the wiring of the adopted one.
And thus the thought of such worthiness is oh so far away from anything
the adopted individual finds possible…
for the single sense unworthiness clings for dominance.

If you’ve ever visited this little corner of the blogosphere of mine very often,
then you know I’ve written at length about such feelings and that of
my own adoption over these many years.

The highs and lows, the battles and the healings.

With adoption, the notion of healing and that of worthiness each become
a lifelong quest.

For the one who was given up and given away…to be able to ever feel worthy
of accepting such a precious offering of true and abiding love…a gift given from one
freely to another, feels as a near impossibility.

And so a battle ensues…

The adult who has lived life and attained hindsight now fights with the
ever present child who was born of rejection.

Logic wrestles with raw emotion.

Yet what we know, is that in the end, love does indeed win.

Because we know that anyone who calls
themself a Christian, is adopted by Grace.

I am a child of Grace and I am a person who is so ever grateful
to that of the unconditional…

to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,
crying, “Abba! Father!”
So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Galatians 4:5-7

Prayer of the insignificant (repeat 2015)

There is nothing insignificant in the world.
It all depends on the point of view.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


(mum / Julie Cook / 2015)

Who am I oh Lord that you should consider my worth…
That you, the God of all that was…
Of all that is…
And all that will be…
Whose hands sweep across time…
Who has masterfully scattered the stars across the heavens…
And whose own breath is captured in the rhythmic roll of each and
every crashing wave…would look upon me,
a tiny speck in the vast churning sea of life and humanity…
And call me your own


(mum /Julie Cook / 2015)

A thousand tiny petals…
Each lovingly placed by your hand and your hand alone.
Counted, numbered and perfectly aligned.
Tightly woven.
Spiraling outward.
Unfurling simultaneously.
An insignificant happening transpiring daily and unnoticed by millions…
Yet You are keenly aware of it all as nothing, absolutely nothing,
takes place on this planet without your desire and knowledge


(stamens full of pollen / Julie Cook / 2015)

Each tiny microscopic dot of pollen exists because You have deemed it so.
Every single unassuming spore, necessary to set a miraculous chain
of events into motion,
Exists only because of You.
Pollination, a miracle unto itself, yet countlessly taken for granted,
Plays out every day, over an endless expanse of time,
as yet another flower blooms.

My mind is woefully limited, unable to grasp the vastness of all that is You.
I cannot understand how or why You, the all encompassing You,
stops because of the small and insignificant me.
Yet stop You do.

You stop to
Listen
See
Touch
Care
Love

Long before my birth, You claimed me as yours–
with both the rising and setting of the sun.

The Psalmists tells me that each hair on my aging head is accounted for
And that nothing which transpires in my life escapes your knowledge.
As I often…
Question…
Wonder…
Argue…
Curse…and rail against the seemingly random and mindless fates
of life that appear unfair and unjust.

Yet each life is inextricably linked together
Each breath, each tear, each sound of joy, pain or sorrow
is woven tightly together, as the Master of the Universe
Jehovah-Jireh has declared it so . . .
As You, the Master weaver, Jehovah-Rapha has knit my heart to your own.

May the Glory of the Heavens declare your Majesty, Oh Lord. . .
May the earth, and all that is in it, sing your praise.

And may my seemingly insignificance, which is held tightly in your hand,
as I am never from your sight, be a testament to your enduring Love
Forever and always…
Amen


(Hope in a flower / Julie Cook / 2015

God Blessed Texas

‘God blessed Texas’
First He lit the sunshine, then He made the water deep
Then He gave us moonlight for all the world to see
Well, everybody knows that the Lord works in mysterious ways
He took a rest, then on the very next day
God blessed Texas with His own hand

Songwriters: Porter Carleton Howell / Brady Seals

Now I can’t really brag too much on a personal level about Texas because
I’ve only visited the state twice.
But those two times were great trips.

And yep, Texas is as big as it is wide.
They say they do things bigger in Texas, and I suspect that might be so.

So thinking about Texas, I’ve started another book.
It was a recommendation offered by Dawn Marie over on https://hugsnblessings.com

And no, this book is not about Texas, but stay with me for a bit.

The book is by Peter Kreeft—
a professor of philosophy at Boston College and The King’s College.
He is a convert to Catholicism and a prolific writer.
This particular book is titled
How To Destroy Western Civilization And Other Ideas From The Cultural Abyss.

The book opens with the following sentences…

The single most necessary thing we can possibly do to save our civilization—
the single most necessary thing citizens can ever do to save their civilization,
at all times and all places and in all cultures, whether they are good or evil,
religious or irreligious, ancient or modern–is to have children.

If you don’t have children, your civilization will cease to exist.
Before you can be good or evil, religious or irreligious, you must exist.

And this is when what I’ve been reading collides into thoughts about Texas.

I have been a huge proponent of Georgia’s House bill 481,
aka the Georgia Heartbeat bill.
A bill that was put into place to protect the rights
of the unborn.

The gist of the bill is that when a heartbeat is detected, life is detected.
And if life is detected, then abortion would be considered murder.

Several states have put forth their own versions of a heartbeat bill.
Life begins with the heartbeat and therefore abortion is no longer an option.

And so with each bill introduced by various states,
protests and lawsuits have ensued.

Sadly but not surprisingly, Georgia’s bill has been deemed unconstitutional.

Many cases have been going from court to court, with many eventually
falling on the desks of the highest court in the Nation,
The Supreme Court.

This week Texas’s version of the heartbeat bill was allowed to pass
via the Supreme Court.

And the oh so Catholic President Joe Biden…as in Catholics are deeply
opposed to abortion because abortion equates to murder, is now loudly
protesting the Supreme Court’s ruling on this Texas Law.

But I say, God Bless Texas!!!!!

who says 2 is terrible

“Having a two year old is like having a blender without a lid”
Jerry Seinfeld


(Somebody is going to wake up to a yard sign of celebration)

They say two is terrible…but turning one during a pandemic, which meant
no party or family gathering, might have been worse.

Yet what matters most today, is that you are here…
happy and healthy and all ready for turning number two…

And that first missing party is, well, all yours this year.
Plus it’s something you don’t have to share with “sister”—
because it is all yours–your day, your birthday.
but allowing her a piece of cake might be nice.

From those scary first day’s in a neonatal unit ’til today—you have been our
joy and indeed our hope. And if the truth be told, I think ‘sister’
wouldn’t have life any other way than sharing it with her “Je”

So Happy Birthday to our little man—
and get ready—your party is coming Saturday!!!!

And remember…never put all your eggs in one basket…

Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good,
pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2

the best kind of ‘extremes’

“If you wish to go to extremes, let it be in sweetness, patience,
humility and charity.”

St. Philip Neri


(one of my first Christmas ornaments, circa 1963 / Julie Cook / 2014)

“Augustine drew out the meaning of the manger using an idea that at first seems almost shocking,
but on closer examination contains a profound truth.
The manger is the place where animals find their food.
But now, lying in the manger, is he who called himself the true bread come down from heaven,
the true nourishment that we need in order to be fully ourselves.
This is the food that gives us true life, eternal life.
Thus the manger becomes a reference to the table of God,
to which we are invited so as to receive the bread of God.
From the poverty of Jesus’ birth emerges the miracle in which man’s redemption
is mysteriously accomplished.”

Pope Benedict XVI, p. 68
An Excerpt From
Jesus of Nazareth Infancy

a study in tense

From Holy Saturday 2017:

“To be sure, it was not Easter Sunday but Holy Saturday, but,
the more I reflect on it,
the more this seems to be fitting for the nature of our human life:
we are still awaiting Easter;
we are not yet standing in the full light but walking toward it full of trust.”

― Pope Benedict XVI, Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977

“Bible teaching about the Second Coming of Christ was thought of as “doomsday” preaching.
But not anymore.
It is the only ray of hope that shines as an ever brightening beam in a darkening world.”

Billy Graham

One cannot and must not try to erase the past
merely because it does not fit the present.

Golda Meir


(the beginning cracks of life in the robin’s nest / Julie Cook / 2017)

Past
Present
Future

He was born and He lived.
He died and He was buried.
He rose and He will come again…..

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into his death?
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that,
just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father,
we too may live a new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his,
we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the
body ruled by sin might be done away with,
that we should no longer be slaves to sin—
because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead,
he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.
The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives,
he lives to God.

Romans 6:3-10

ward of the state…

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings;
the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance,
and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.

Sir Winston Churchill

Socialism is the same as Communism, only better English.
George Bernard Shaw

A ward of the State.

When we talk about wards of the State, what do you think of?

Perhaps no surprise, I immediately think of Annie…
as in “the sun will come out tomorrow”…Annie.
As in the little red-headed orphan who was, in essence, a ward of her state…


snoopnest.com

The definition of the ward of the state, according to legalbeagle.com is the following…
“Not all adults have the ability to care for themselves.
Whether from disability, disease or age, some adults are unable to make their own decisions without help.
They can become adult wards of the state when this happens.
Adult wards of the state don’t have adult family members who are willing or able to serve as guardians.
Guardians are instead appointed by the court from local government agencies to make decisions for them”.

In theory, I too was a ward of the state.

The day I was born, my mother signed the papers and in turn, walked directly out of the
hospital after having giving birth, while I then became a ward of the state—
all before my adoption.

So I get it.
I understand the notion of falling under the care of “the state.”

However my concern today, well past adoptions, is now for our Nation…
and the fact that so many of us seem to want to become wards of the “state.”

“Say what?” you ask…
“Who in the heck wants to be a ward???”
“A ward of the State?!”

But yet sadly, you have read correctly…
it appears as if a wide swarth of Americans want to become wards of the State.

As in giving up one’s ability to make it on one’s own, by one’s own merit,
and simply rest and relay upon one’s “State”— ie, one’s government…
relying on the government to care for us and to keep us up…and thus what does
the State requires in exchange?

Has history taught us nothing?!

Or perhaps the better question remains, do Americans really care?

Do Americans care whether or not they/we rely upon themselves/ourselves or rely upon their government
in order to provide for their needs?

Have we, as a people, not historically been known for our tenacity and fighting spirit
for all that exemplifies freedom??

Yet under a socialist state, citizens become wards of the State and therefore,
all their needs are covered, met and cared for..there is no need to fight for freedom.
They, in turn, become minions rather than fighters.

And so is that what we are?
Is that what we want?

As Americans, is that what we are–is that what we want?

We simply want to be minions?

Do we want to be placated underlings or do we want to be freedom fighters?

Do we want to be free to make our own choices?
Or do we simply want to give all of that up while simply being told what
we can or cannot do?

President Ronald Reagan quoting Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain noted that…
“The Founding Fathers were neither metaphysicians nor theologians,
but their philosophy of life and their political philosophy,
their notion of natural law and of human rights,
were permeated with concepts worked out by Christian reason.”
Reagan continued, “From the first, then, our nation embraced the belief that the individual
is sacred and that as God himself respects human liberty, so, too, must the state”

The Founders believed that freedom of religion and of conscience were both sacred–
more sacred than a man’s castle, as James Madison put it.
“The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man:
and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate,”
wrote Madson, who called conscience” the most sacred of all property.”
The Divine Plan / Paul Kengor and Robert Orlando

President Reagan, long before he was president, riled against the notion of an insidious
and far-reaching ‘state’ —a state that wants to not only care for the physical needs of its
people but a state that wants to make the final decision for man’s personal
relationship with his God.
As in there is no God…only the State.

In 1975, years before he became president, Reagan stated
“Socialists ignore the side of man that is of the spirit,”
“They can provide shelter, fill your belly with bacon and beans,
treat you when you’re ill –
all the things that are guaranteed to a prisoner or a slave.
But they don’t understand we also dream, yes, even of owning a yacht.”

It would behoove us to remember that the current folks running for the Democratic
party’s nomination are each touting the notion of the ‘big State’…
that being the big State making both your and me its wards…it’s minions.

Wards are not free but are rather dependant…as in totally dependent.

Dependance did not win us a Declaration of Independence.

Please click the following link which is a story about a prophetic warning.
A warning offered by Ronald Reagan, long before he was president…

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/paul-batura-ronald-reagan-warned-us-about-bernie-sanders-over-40-years-ago

(back to the Mayor and the Sheriff–the life lesson post must wait a bit more)

in a manger

“Augustine drew out the meaning of the manger using an idea that at first
seems almost shocking, but on closer examination contains a profound truth.
The manger is the place where animals find their food.
But now, lying in the manger, is he who called himself the true bread come down from heaven,
the true nourishment that we need in order to be fully ourselves.
This is the food that gives us true life, eternal life.
Thus the manger becomes a reference to the table of God,
to which we are invited so as to receive the bread of God.
From the poverty of Jesus’ birth emerges the miracle in which man’s
redemption is mysteriously accomplished.”

Pope Benedict XVI, p. 68
An Excerpt From
Jesus of Nazareth Infancy


(image courtesy Maxlucado.com)

I love this offering by Pope Emeritus Benedict regarding St. Augustine’s comparison in that a manger
is the place where animals are both sheltered and fed…is, in essence, the same place where mankind
finds both his shelter and food—

That the saving Bread of Life…the body and blood of our Savior, first came to us in the
way of a humble manger on a precarious night and located in a far-flung middle eastern village.

A trough turned crib, resting in an animal’s manger.

A newborn infant becomes both the sustenance and, in turn, Savior of all mankind.
The analogy of feeding and nourishing the soul of man.

We know that birth leads to life and life requires sustenance…
yet in the end, when death does come…we know that death is but a mere formality…

For the one who was born in a humble animal’s stall brings both sustenance
as well as eternal life…

Merry Christmas…
and to our Jewish brethren, Happy Hanukkah.

It’s off the to the Mayor and Sheriff…

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Isaiah 9:6-7

overcoming by birth

A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered,
each to your own home. You will leave me all alone.
Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart!
I have overcome the world.”

John 16:32-33


(The Atlantic)

To look out over, or perhaps down upon, seeing this celestial orb floating mysteriously
out in space, I would image might leave a viewer feeling a sense of awe, perhaps
even serenity.

A mesmerizing, undulating and oddly rolling ball consisting of calming oozing hues.

The cooling colors, the swirling of clouds in the atmospheric covering, the wonderment of
what might it be…could not be lost on anyone fortunate enough to view such at
quite the vantage point.

However, for those of us bound by gravity, we smugly know otherwise.

For wherever mankind inhabits, there is always to be a certain level of strife.

And whereas the knowledge of that little fact might, for some, be a depressing reality—
there is a small spoiler alert…

For unto us is born…a Savior…

A Savior who has overcome the world…

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

a solemn reminder

Time and tide wait for no man.
Geoffrey Chaucer


(historic marker / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)

Perhaps this is an odd place for an early morning stroll but Colonial Cemetary in
Savannah is both a peaceful and serene place to wander…
Not only are there tabby lined paths that weave throughout this rather massive burial
place, but there are also beautifully majestic ancient oaks veiled in the otherworldly
ethereal Spanish moss which cast dancing shadows across the landscape of an otherwise eerily
still and silent place …
All of which adds to the allure of this surreal and tranquil place.
It is a place steeped in centuries-old history.


(tabby path / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)

The stories and lives of the known as well as the unknown.
Folks who had come from England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France, Poland, Germany…
Most of who had come pre-Revolutionary War and who have since each found a resting
place in this protected piece of land, in a country they would each come to call home.

A Declaration of Independence bears many of their names just as do state counties.
State colleges have named buildings in their honor as we remember both the heroic and the notorious.


(historic marker / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)


(historic marker / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)


(historic marker / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)

From Today in Georgia History:
August 2, 1776- Statewide
Georgia joined The United States on August 2, 1776, the same day that Button Gwinnett,
Lyman Hall, and George Walton signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia.

The declaration was approved on July 4, but signed by only one man that day, John Hancock.
Fifty other delegates to the 2nd Continental Congress signed on August 2.
Later that year, five more brought the total to 56.

Eight of the signers, including Gwinnett, were foreign-born.
One was Roman Catholic, a handful were deists and the rest were Protestants.
They all went on to lives of public service in the republic they founded:
there were two future presidents, three vice presidents, two Supreme Court justices,
and many congressmen, diplomats, governors, and judges among them.

In 1818, 14 years after Georgia’s last signer died, Georgia named counties in their honor.
Charles Carroll of Maryland, the last of all the signers left, died in 1832 at the age of 95,
but their revolutionary idea of a self-governing free people lives on.

The experiment they began remains unfinished, as it was on August 2, 1776,
Today in Georgia History.


(Colonial Cemtetary / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)

The cemetery, no matter how many times I find myself wandering, affords me new discoveries
hidden amongst the trees and mostly ignored by the abundant squirrels who call this
park-like cemetery home.

Numerous tiny graves now protect the innocent… some who are named, some who are not.
Eternally protecting the mortal remains of those who were born only to quickly pass away—
as they were born during a time when both birth and death walked hand in hand


(Colonial Cemtetary / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)


(Colonial Cemtetary / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)

Some grave markers are elaborate—hand carvings which are each works of art
while others remain plain and simple.
Some markers offer kind and poetic words while others have lost all legibility
to the passing of time.
Names, dates, and lives seemingly washed away from both time and the elements.

It is said that despite the iron fence that now encloses the cemetery,
the buried actually extend yards beyond, extending outward into the city they
called home.
The city paved and built over many graves long before a permanent fence
was erected.

Even the office of the Archdiocese of Savannah is housed in an old colonial building
that undoubtedly was built upon the graves of the unknown as recording details of
those buried was not always a priority.

Yellow fever victims are in a mass grave in a far corner of the cemetery while
unknown Confederate and Union soldiers now spend eternity side by side.

It is said that this is one of the most haunted places in the city…
but yet this city boasts many an otherworldly spook and specter.

I like to learn of the lives who have all gone before me.
Those who lived in a time much different from my own and the
similarities of lives lived are more alike than different.

For we all live, love, hurt, suffer, laugh and cry…and each eventually die.
Not so much different as we are still very much alike.


(Colonial Cemtetary / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)


(Colonial Cemtetary / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)


(Colonial Cemtetary / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)


(Colonial Cemtetary / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)

And the dust returns to the earth as it was,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

Ecclesiastes 12:7 ESV