a little more empty during a tough year…

“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not;
and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


(The Very Rev. and Mrs David B. Collins–David and Virginia “Ginny” /
Julie N.Cook / 1981)

In this grainy old photo you see two people who were very much in love—

…and those two people were two individuals who I loved very much as well.

He had been a Naval Officer during WWII and she a staring actress in the original
production of Carousel on Broadway—and yet they somehow met, fell in love, married
and loved one another well into their 90’s….

And they had each loved me.

The year of the photograph was 1981 and it was taken during an evening
a group of us had met up at our favorite British Pub in Atlanta.
The Churchill Arms.
One could have walked into this pub and felt magically transported across the
proverbial pond to a different place and time.

I think both young and old in our group that night wished we were all in England–
during a different time.

Back then, back when I was young, at that pub on Thursday nights,
the Atlanta Bagpipes and Drums would hold court and practice.
There were the nightly dart competitions.
And on Friday and Saturday nights, a dear older lady would play the piano
as everyone would gather around to sing rousing renditions of Waltzing Matilda,
Keep the Home Fires Burning, Over There, etc….
all the while enjoying a pint of Whitbread, Guinness or New Castle….

Funny thing thinking about a bunch of late 70’s college kids singing Waltzing Matilda
and actually knowing not only the words but what the song was about and when it had actually been popular….

I think the pub is still there…where it was back in my youth…
But it’s now a modern trendy sort of place sans all the typical Anglophile
paraphernalia.
No longer does it harken back to a better place and time.
As it beckons to the cutting edge millennial…with it’s more otherworldly
bar atmosphere of the 21st century.

It was probably an odd place for a group of college kids to gather along with their
parish priest, the current Dean of the Episcopal Cathedral of St Philip…along
with this vicar’s wife…..but the church was no small parish,
he was no small church vicar and we were no average lot of kids.

There was very much a homey feel here, there was a fire place, lots of wood—
a place we, a bedraggled little extended “family,”
could all gather to enjoy one another’s company.
A place we could chat, catching everyone up on life at our various colleges and
hear what we had missed at Church.

The drinking age at the time was 18 so we were all good and by the time this
picture was taken, I was well into my early 20’s.

I’ve written about both of them before.
For various reasons…be it because of my adoption, my faith, my family, my life…
as they each had had a prominent role in my small corner of the world.

They each taught me a great deal about life, love, living, dying, fighting,
believing…. as well as lessons about Faith, God, hopefulness, healing and Grace.

They each saved me, more times than I care to recall, from myself.

They each knew of the failings and egregious actions of my life yet
loved me none the less.
As I certainly worked hard at testing that love many a time.

I am who I am to this day because of them.
Better because of who they were.

They actually laid hands upon my head, several times, as they prayed for healing.

Not for a physical healing but for a more profound and more important healing.
A deep spiritual healing.

He was adopted, just like I was.
We shared that—just as she shared us.
She knew the importance of deep healing.
And she knew how important such healing was for both of us and to our pasts—-
to the two people she loved.

They had 4 children of their own…
and then there was me—the surrogate 5th.
They claimed to be my Godparents…by proxy really…for when I was baptized
as an infant, our paths had not yet crossed.

The relationship was set in motion in 1966 when they first moved to Atlanta
in order for him to take the over the position of dean at the Nation’s largest
Episcopal Cathedral.

They are not my parents yet my own parents knew of the great importance and role
this couple played in my life…and where there was jealously there was also
a knowledge that the relationship was necessary for all of us….
Just as their children knew that they were sharing their parents with me
and yet they often spoke in terms of me being “the truly good child”.

Over time, I learned, as I grew and matured, that they needed me just as much
as I had needed them…
life has a way of teaching us such things.

The end of the year will mark a year since he’s been gone.
Her passing was on Tuesday….
And now they are Home, together.
This I know.

Yet that doesn’t make me less sad.
Doesn’t make me feel less lonely.
Doesn’t stop from reminding me that all my parents are now gone…
along with an aunt and uncle, a brother and cousin along with all grandparents.
That all are gone…but me.

Odd how that makes one feel.
Even at almost 60 years of age.
Good-byes are never easy.

There was a time when I could not have weathered this tremendous amount
of loss I’ve experienced this past year…
but I now have a deep knowledge and understanding of Grace.
I am saved by that Grace.
They taught me that…and then some…

Swinging on a wire

“Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be,
since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.”

Thomas à Kempis

Have you ever just sat back and really watched some of the news out there?
And I’m not talking fringe news, I’m talking basic television sort of news.
And it matters not which side of the pond you are on or wether you’re in the US or
even Canada…
madness prevails and is not discriminatory…

Put aside your knee jerks and just take a minute to listen and watch….and you
might just catch yourself actually laughing…

As in the hysteria has really gotten quite comical… pathetic yes,
but comical none the less.

The punctuated adjectives and facial expressions of the
gravely concerned and actually accusatory news anchors has been some of the most
superb acting I’ve noted as of late.

And just to make certain we’ve touched all of our PC bases,
we shall now que the overtly sensitive snowflakes
and progressive liberals who would so wish to accuse me of belittling the
trauma suffered by the recently uncloseted abused or the merely confused.

And my response to you would be to remind you that I began my working career in
the late 70’s—
I know all about lecherous and inappropriate professors, co-workers and bosses—
so much so that my own tales could make your head spin…
So do not attempt to lecture me on being insensitive…
I just prefer to be more real…as in we live in an imperfect and very broken
world.

One again I was listening to and reading two of my most favorite men of the cloth,
Pastor David Robertson and the Rev Gavin Ashenden, and their collective takes
on the latest madness regarding the implosion currently happening
in Hollywood, the Entertainment industry and even our Political circles
regarding the who’s who of the abused.
And I say “our” as a collective sort of Western Civilization ‘ours’…..

The who–or more like the who, who after 20 years or so, has come forward offering
tales of scandalous proportion.
As we only thought Bill Cosby was bad….
For it now seems as if the flood gates have been
opened and the dam has been released—-as everyone is currently racing as far
away as possible in order to now distance themselves one from another…
tripping over one another in the process as most anyone who is someone is now
considered a Typhoid Mary.

Add to this the latest lunacy over all things sexual….
as in what sex do you wish to be today and well…. we’ve created our own bit of
sideshow entertainment for the modern world.

I do not say any of this to lessen the real and actual traumas experienced by those
who have been sadistically abused at the hands of those they’ve loved, trusted and or admired…as there are many genuine individuals who have been hurt and continue to hurt…but the current onslaught showcased each evening on the nightly news has become something of epic pandemonium.

And maybe that’s the thing…

In Christianity we are not surprised, let alone shocked, by the news and tales of
fallen and sinful man and or woman doing just that—being fallen…or broken
and in turn being very sinful because we know that all of mankind,
and yes that includes womankind for those so obsessed with the use of words,
is all fallen and therefore very broken and in great need of healing.

We also know that there is true evil that runs rampant on this planet.
So whereas we of the Faith may be horrified, sickened and very saddened,
we are not shocked nor are we surprised.

The other thing in all of this is that the world, in the words of Bishop Ashenden,
“doesn’t make use of repentance and reconciliation”—
the world rather involves itself with that of power and position rather than grace
and mercy.
According to the good Bishop, “in the world, the room for grace is dreadfully
minimized.”

For this the current exposed misuse of the powerful as well as this
latest war of genderism does not surprise Christians nearly as much as it seems
to surprise news outlets and secular society because the majority of the
Christian faithful are well aware of both sinfulness and human frailty.

Yet the world would prefer that we “accept” such sinfulness and frailty
as the status quo of living—refusing to acknowledge any of it as sinful living
or living counter to the Word of God—
as the world would simply just rewrite said Word of God to suit her own
struggles, brokeness and sinfulness.

And perhaps the most disconcerting business in all of this is that the Church,
the church with the big C as in the collective Church,
has allowed herself to be modeled on the basis of the world–
as in what the world deems acceptable or not… and not rather on what Christ
himself has stated as acceptable and not….

And in her lack of intervention, when she and her leadership should have
intervened in some of the most grievous areas of abuse, she opted rather not
to do nor say anything when it was obvious that brokeness had made its way into the
both the clergy and the fold. She opted to remain silent…
further distancing herself for the very souls who needed her.
And in turn fueling the ire of an already leery and angry world.

And this has been a severe ‘dereliction of duty’ and most grievous offense to
a world that she had been entrusted to rather lift up her light unto….

So whereas those in the news circles and those power brokers of all things
entertainment and political are now seen to be running around like a bunch of chickens
with their heads cut off, the Faithful have been steadfastly praying for Grace,
Mercy and Salvation….

Because we know that in all of this latest brouhaha and sheer pandemonium of the
dominos falling of those large and powerful, along with the not so large and powerful,
that the only Hope and the only healing is to come from Jesus Christ, and Him alone.

And on that note, I leave you with a link to this week’s posting by the Wee Flea–
the Scottish Pastor David Robertson…as well as the offering from Bishop Ashenden

LED 15 – Scottish Government Trans Madness – Jordan Peterson – The Moral Panic – Expensive Piano Lessons – Walter Magaya – Blame it on Brexit – Jesus and the Jedi in Dundee –

Melanie Phillips writes in the Times: ‘ The Church of England is sowing the seeds of its own destruction’; re- Lorna Ashworth, Gavin Ashenden and Joshua Sutcliffe.

Heal me, LORD, and I will be healed;
save me and I will be saved,
for you are the one I praise.

Jeremiah 17:14

reflective remembrance

“Nature gives you the face you have at twenty;
it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty.”

― Coco Chanel


(a slice of the Mile High Pie from Bones in Atlanta / Julie Cook / 2017)

As long as I can remember, my birthday has always fallen on the weekend of the
Georgia / Auburn football game.
Never mind if my birthday was on, say a Wednesday,
the birthday has always been marked by this hallowed grudge match.

A grudge match rivalry game considered, by those who write the history of
collegiate sports, to be the oldest college rivalry
in all of college football dating all the way back to 1892.

So this past weekend was no exception when it came to birthdays and football games…
despite the actual day being a few days after the fact of said game.

And so it would have only seemed to make sense that my beloved Dawgs would have
stepped up to the birthday plate by delivering the best gift possible—
a defeat of this most ancient of foes…putting them one more game closer
to a year of perfection….
Yet alas…
it was not to be….

Yet defeat is not the intent of today’s thoughts but rather the musing of what was,
what is and what will be…

When I turned 21, way back when I was in college at this same beloved college of
which I speak of today, I had been invited by a young man who I really liked at
the time, to travel down to Auburn for the game in honor of my birthday.

But I had a conundrum.

My godparents, the priest of my church and his wife, had already invited me to come
home as they wanted to have a small party in my honor.

Now I don’t know too many 21 year olds who would spend even a second weighing out such proposals…as whether to stay or go—as most any 21 year old in their right mind
would have wholeheartedly opted to go to the football game…
excitedly ready to spend a great weekend with great friends
and a potential great beau all the while living it up as one’s team beats
up another—

I however chose the latter.
I went home.

I really can’t say how many 21 year old kids had the Episcopal Bishop of Atlanta,
at the time, bake them a birthday cake, but me…

And yes it was indeed a small intimate gathering… yet one that was, obviously, most memorable.

The game would have been no doubt memorable as well…or maybe not…
because I couldn’t even begin to tell you who won that year…
and I can recall that that young man was only a beau for a short time…
but on the other hand I do remember those other particular individuals who loved me
enough to want to make a special day even more special in their own small way.

And so it is with this day of marking the passage of time,
that I find myself being a bit wistful.
Because isn’t that what we do as we age, we become wistfully reflective.

So in keeping with this notion of being both wistful and reflective,
I am poignantly reminded that this is the first birthday that is to be spent
in 58 years without my dad and aunt.

Mother has been gone since just before I was to turn 26, but Dad and Aunt Martha
have been around throughout of what seems to be the duration of time…

Each of them knew how to make a birthday celebration both special and memorable.
As I remain grateful in recalling the years gone past that they did make a special
day just that— special.
Just as I am sad thinking of a new year without them.

And whereas there will definitely be some sadness on an otherwise momentous day…
besides nursing what could have, should have, been with the Dawgs running the table
on a possible all out rout of a season of wins…
it will be a day marked with a sense of without…
of what was and of what is no more…

Yet as our dear friend Coco Channel so pointedly reminds us—
it is not necessarily a matter of what we may have once been or been given,
rather it will be a matter of who and what we will opt to one day be…

May we opt to be both wiser and kinder….


(my husband with his birthday girl / 2017)

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,

Isaiah 42:2,3,4

education verses wisdom

Before He is power… God is Mercy, Love and Vulnerability
and He wants to make us into
that same image.

The Rev. Gavin Ashenden


(a section of the magnificent Library at Dublin’s Trinity College / Julie Cook / 2015)

As a former educator, whenever there is talk about our ailing school system–
-of which has been an instrumental part of the bedrock of Western Civilization since
the beginning of such time, my ears most assuredly are always piqued.

I have read, watched and lamented these many months now over the fracas and
sideshows that seem to be happening across our major universities and colleges—
even since before last year’s election was really heating up.

Tales of snowflakes, cupcakes, safe zones, coloring sessions, happy talk and
fairylands has left me both frustrated as well as sad.

The images coming from so many upscale universities and colleges of violent protests
have amounted to nothing more than overgrown temper tantrums…
as students, and even the supposed role models of educators, converge upon all things
they currently find themselves whining against….
All the while administrators are afraid…afraid of law suits, of life, limb and job security as they stand cowering, daring to say nary a word.

Be it speakers who have actually been invited to discuss various viewpoints,
writings or books that just so happen to run counter to the current self absorption
many students are currently wallowing in—-
Or the odd professor who tries to offer some actual sort of sanity by suggesting
that the students should maintain an open mind…..

These students will immediately either rudely walk out
on said guest in some sort of protest when the lecturer dares to
say something these students find “offensive”—or even worse, they will go into a
fit of violent rage….
as most everything said today seems offensive to them.

Were not our hallowed halls of higher education intended for a better purpose?

Intended not to only stir the consciousness of young minds but to challenge said
youthful minds to dig deeper and go further…all in a quest of learning while seeking knowledge and dare we say it, eventually a bit of wisdom….

Did we not ourselves, as students, seek to further our education in order to
learn new thoughts and ideas while venturing further into the
unknown of possibilities?

So I have found it perhaps no coincidence that two of my favorite clerics
from across the pond, just this very week, were discussing issues about both
learning and wisdom in this most modern topsy turvy world of ours.

The Scottish Pastor David Robertson was musing about knowledge and wisdom from the standpoint of the Book of Ecclesiastes and King Solomon while The Rev Gavin Ashenden
discussed the growing concern that anyone who upholds traditional Christian views, particularly on a college campuses, is perceived as anathema and a cause for
censorship—or even worse.

Pastor Robertson reminds us that “in our Western cultures we have largely
forgotten what education is supposed to be about—[that being] the search for wisdom.”

He goes on—We live in a culture where there is lots of information –
but little understanding: what the Bible calls wisdom.

This lack of wisdom is what results in a great deal of argument, irrationality, confirmation bias, fake news, virtue signalling and ignorant prejudice.

He continues….
It is that human beings observe and what we observe in real life is not
always pleasant. There is a heavy burden God has laid on men.
We may live as secularists but the problems we face have been ordained by God.
Mankind thinks and plans. We have been wired that way.
We want to understand.
The problem of life is for us all not just a hobby for philosophers.
The quest of meaning is a quest for God and it is something that God has placed
in our hearts.

Today we may know a lot more.
But are we happier?

Have we progressed?
Are we wiser?
Lets be brutally honest – most of us cannot face the truth.
‘With much wisdom comes much sorrow;
the more knowledge, the more grief.’
Is it not the case that the more we really understand, the more we ache?
Is that not why people escape into the fantasy world of films, dramas,
drink and drugs, celebrity gossip and computer games?

David Robertson

Wisdom and Meaning for the 21st Century – Ecclesiastes

Bishop Ashenden in the latest interview on Anglican Unscripted explains that
“our colleges are broken”

He notes one example as to just how broken with the story about the former Bishop of Rochester, who just so happens to be a greatly esteemed theologian and gifted orator,
had been invited to speak at Cambridge. Yet it seems that someone did a little digging
into the background of this intended guest and discovered that he was a priest
who actually held traditional views regarding marriage…
imagine that…
a priest with traditional views….
Who upon which discovery was quickly uninvited.

As it seems that anyone who has a counter thought, particularly one that is a
more Orthodox thought or standpoint, is no longer welcome on the campuses of
higher learning.

The good Bishop notes that Orthodox Christians are being grossly marginalized…
particularly by our more liberal society and on our campuses of higher learning.

Both men agree that there is rather  a sad and frightening trend that we are turning out generations of individuals who have not actually gone to college to seek knowledge or
even wisdom but rather those who have been coddled and merely given a piece of paper

The good Scottish Pastor Robertson notes that “we live in a culture where there is lots of
information – but little understanding…
adding that perhaps it would behoove us to
“stop following the marketing and ‘knowledge’ ways of this world.
Instead let’s return to the ancient paths of wisdom and seek the Lord whilst
he may be found.
We can chase the wind – or we can build on the Rock!

Perhaps a suitable motto for every school and University and church would be these
words from Hosea 14:9.

Who is wise?
Let them realize these things.
Who is discerning?
Let them understand.
The ways of the LORD are right;
the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.

Hosea 14:9.

Oh really?

“Jesus is not one of many ways to approach God,
nor is He the best of several ways;
He is the only way.”

A. W. Tozer


(The Stoning of St Stephen by Rembrandt who just happens to make a small cameo appearance in the scene…the awkward face peeking out from just under the raised arm
of the man with the large stone / 1625 / Musée des beaux-arts, Lyon, France

Day before yesterday I wrote a post featuring a story about the first Christian
martyr– Stephen.

I gave a bit of the back story behind what led to Stephen’s martyrdom.
We learned that Stephen would not back down from his conviction of belief even
when faced with his own imminent demise.
He wasn’t about to start back peddling when he knew what the Truth of life
and living actually was all about…despite facing a horrific death.

That truth which was the chief cornerstone to Stephen’s very existence, was a living
and breathing knowledge of God as Father and Christ as Son
and the Spirit as mediator.

Stephen did not waiver or waffle nor did he mince his words to the those in authority
as to what his life’s choice would be…and that was to stand as a man who believed
in Jesus Christ as both his Lord and Savior….there was no thought of cost or hurt feelings or loss…

And yet the cost for him was pretty tremendous as far as the world was concerned..
It cost Stephen his earthly life.

Not his friends, not his job, not his security, not his comfort, but his life.

Conviction….a fixed or firm belief..

Stephen had such conviction.

So yesterday I came across a story in the news about a college in the Oxford
University system there in England that banned a campus Christian organization
from participating in a welcoming fair for the incoming freshman class.

Another rampant example of waffling and wavering.

I can remember when I was a college freshman.
I recall that near ecstatic level of excitement of all that was new.
New faces, new places, new friends, new opportunities…
With some of those opportunities being right up my alley and some of them not…

And isn’t that what something like this is all about…the choices offered to us?
We pick and choose…what looks appealing while discarding that which does not.

Life is like that sort of endless buffet of picking and choosing is it not?
Yet what happens when that buffet is gravely limited due to others deciding options
should not be made available.
It is then that the buffet becomes something very different from
a buffet—it becomes more of a pre fixed plate of flavorless offerings.

The opportunity for intellectual and spiritual growth becomes near stagnant
when the powers that be decide the masses might just become too dangerous if they
are given too much choice.

When only the few decide for the many that the freedom of choice and the ability
of personal decision should be a limited offering, then there is no true human growth.

A college of Oxford University banned a student Christian group from appearing at a freshman fair out of fear it would lead to “alienating” students who practice other religions.

Yet did they opt to ban the Jewish organizations, perhaps b’nai b’rith?
What of the Muslim organizations?
Perhaps any sort of pagan organization?
What of the Buddhists?
What of any political organizations?

Here is the reasoning….if one can call such reasoning rational thought….

The Christian Union of Oxford’s Balliol College was initially banned by an
event organizer who felt students might feel “unwelcome” due to what he calls
the Christian religion being “an excuse for homophobia and neo-colonialism,”
The Times of London reported.

Potts added: “Christianity’s influence on many marginalised communities has
been damaging in its methods of conversion and rules of practice,
and is still used in many places as an excuse for homophobia and certain forms of neo-colonialism.”

At last check, there is a massive difference between something perceived as a
phobia, or irrational fear, verses simply following the tenants of one’s faith.

“Many students, especially students of colour and of other faiths, may already feel alienated and vulnerable in Oxford, a university with a reputation for racism and lack of diversity, and a city with barely any appropriate places of worship for non-Christians,” Potts said, according to The Telegraph.

Ahh, so the issue here is now of overcompensation…
the act of apologizing, once again, on behalf of a past time period…
an act that is neither productive or even necessary as we are not them and they
were not us…as in days gone by….

A time period that is far removed from modern times—

So are those mutton chop young men of all things British Academia,
say the 17th and 18th centuries, during the reign of monarchs who were setting
sail in exporation in the name of the Crown, are those such young men still haunting the halls of places such as Oxford or Cambridge….I think not.

And last I checked, if I wanted to attend school in say Beijing or Riyadh,
I think I would be hard pressed in either city on finding an openly Christian place to
worship…and I would certainly not be surprised at such as neither of these cities
have a deep Christian heritage as say England—- quiet the contrary in fact.

So is this particular school spokesperson suggesting that a predominately historical Christian country, such as England, should now do away with its own heritage in order to bend over backwards…
doing away with Christian houses of worship in order to construct more mosques as a
form of overt appeasement or as some sort of welcome mat?

“A spokesperson with the Church of England told The Times that the ban was not
in line with “freedom of religion and belief,” and “is at odds with the kind of society
we are all seeking to promote.”

Finally is there actually a bit of clarity coming from the Church of England…
really???

“Leaders of the Balliol student body reportedly condemned the ban, and passed a motion calling the ban a “violation of free speech, a violation of religious freedom, and sets dangerous precedents regarding the relationship between specific faiths and religious freedom,” according to The Daily Telegraph.

Maybe there does remain a few brave souls not afraid and who will not backdown or recant
the Word of God when push comes to shove….

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/10/11/christian-group-at-oxford-university-banned-from-fair-out-fear-it-would-alienate-students.html

Be on your guard;
stand firm in the faith;
be courageous;
be strong.

1 Corinthians 16:13

Come thou long expected….

So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear
a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly
waiting for him.

Hebrews 9:28


(Cross outside Drumcliffe Parish Church, County Sligo, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Our son, daughter-n-law and grand dog have all come to stay with us as a good
portion of Atlanta has been in the dark since Irma’s visit.

Atlanta is the type of city where they say a squirrel never has to touch the ground.
The trees are old and plentiful…which is such a huge part of the city’s charm and beauty, but is also a grave trouble during storms…
be it hurricanes, tornados or ice storms.

A tree fell on a neighboring street, taking out a transformer and so therefore we
now have company.

As I was busy in the kitchen last evening, I caught a bit of an interview with Bill
Bennett, otherwise known as Willian Bennett, the former Secretary of Education under
President Ronald Reagan.

I’ve always enjoyed Mr. Bennett’s sound wisdom.

Mr. Bennett was being asked about the growing violence currently coming from
the group Antifa…
A radicalized anarchist styled militant group that favors violence over anything
else as they claim to be fighting against fascism—
Yet the troubling issue at hand is that this group has decided the sitting
President of the United States is just such a person of just such a group and he,
as well as anyone who voted for him needs to be violently taken out….

Bennett notes that there is a growing and troubling support base for Antifa
now coming from a wide range of folks…
with post secondary educators being right in the middle of the mix.
While the latest vocal support is actually coming out of schools such
as Dartmouth college.

It seems this upper crust Ivy League school had a professor who had written a very
public letter expressing his support for Antifa, endorsing their violent tactics.
Dartmouth’s president in turn wrote a letter denouncing any such sweeping
support coming from his school for such groups as Antifa.

This in turn lead to a letter being signed by 100 faculty members who
expressed their support for not their College President but rather for Antifa
and the supporting professor.

And these are the very people educating our youth!!

Dejected, I turned my attention back to the dishes…
lost under the burden of thought.

Suddenly out of the blue I hear a long forgotten familiar tune…
and I’m the one humming it….

Come thou long expected Jesus….

Come, O Long-Expected Jesus
By: Charles Wesley

Come, O long-expected Jesus,
Born to set your people free;
From our fears and sins release us
By your death on Calvary.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope to all the earth impart,
dear desire of ev’ry nation,
Joy of ev’ry longing heart.

Born your people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a king;
Born to reign in us forever,
Now your gracious kingdom bring.
By your own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By your all-sufficient merit
Raise us to your glorious throne.

http://video.foxnews.com/v/5574320618001/?playlist_id=5410209611001#sp=show-clips

indebted

“I don’t know who my grandfather was;
I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.”

Abraham Lincoln

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”

Marcel Proust


(the cousins circa 1966 )

Family.
A difficult and delightful hodge podge and conundrum all rolled into one.
For good or bad…we all have family….

Do you see the wee awkward one there, the little one in green sitting in the
middle on the couch in this grainy old family photograph?

That would be me.

Little did I realize then that the two cousins, brother and sister, sitting to my immediate right and left would eventually come to be two of the most important people
in my life.

The age difference is 5 and 8 years respectively.
Enough of a deep and wide chasm to keep the young cousin at, what was hoped to
be, a safe distance.
Being just that, I was the little cousin who was to be endured during holidays,
for what was hoped to be only for a day at best.

The only catch was the fact that the two girls were also just that—
the only two girls in a sea of boys with a doting grandmother who had raised
two boys yet always yearned for a girl.
Of which forced these two mismatched girls to spend more time together than either
one particularly cared.

So should it come as any surprise that the older of the two girls tried twice to do
away with the younger one?

How was the fact missed that when these two cousins were once visiting their
grandparent’s farm, deciding to go out for a ride on the horses,
the older one opted not to secure the younger one’s saddle, leaving her dangling precariously between a deep raven or a bed of overgrown brambles…
with the only choice of survival being the brambles….

Or what of the time the older one was told to prepare the younger one something
for supper…and so, what was dubbed a cannibal burger, was quickly served…
simply being a raw hamburger patty that perhaps was hoped served as a last meal….

The teenage boy you ask??
Well he simply had no time for any such foolishness, opting instead to spend
time his own way…away.

And little did any of us know that on that picture day so long ago that
two in the photo would leave us far too soon.

I lived in the family of the younger of the two brothers.

A quiet lazy man who called Atlanta home.
Ours was a small family of four.
The other and older brother lived with his young brood up north in a rural
city in the same state.

The distance often limited the times spent together as “family.”

The oldest cousin in the photo was soon to move states, off to college,
where he would eventually go on to medical school,
marrying and forging his life there, away,
as it is to this very day… so his presence now is of little consequence.

Add also to the photo the fact that two in the picture had been adopted…

And so it was with my having been one of the two adoptees.

Such was that I always had felt a deep void in my heart.
I always felt a disconnect from my cousins…
as if I really wasn’t related and therefore I was always an outsider,
not really related.

We all shared the same last name,
but at some point prior, I actually had had a different last name.
Different family traits, different everything.

Of course today my grown mind knows better and that such a thought never crossed
the minds of my cousins. Simply put, I was just the little cousin…
Yet in my mind I always felt separate from what made the family just that,
a blood bonded family.

As time passed all the cousins went their own separate directions…to school,
careers, marrying and forging lives of their own.
All except for the two youngest boys.

The youngest cousin there on the floor was only 3 years older than me.
We were very close growing up, as our ages dictated that we were the two
relegated to spend the most time together.

We were the best of friends, growing very close over the years as we each dealt
with our own varying family dysfunctions, that was until he was tragically killed
in a car wreck at the age of 23 while at age 20, I was left to pick up our pieces.

My little brother, the youngest of all the cousins would eventually commit suicide
as he could never reconcile himself to having been “given up” and then in
turn adopted…despite the fact that he was always loved and cherished within
this family.

There would always be the occasional wedding or funeral that would bring everyone
back together….
but time, age and distance had placed a divide in the family,
creating a group of strangers rather than bonded relatives.

My family of 4 eventually became a family of 3, then it was down to 2 and
this past March, it became only a family of 1.

Their family of 6 eventually became 5, resting now at an original 4.

But as theirs was the greater in number, it only made sense that their family’s
numbers would grow exponentially…
blossoming to the current total of 31 while mine is up to 4 with a
5th on the way.

But oddly and blessedly enough, time would be kind as it always has a way
of coming around full circle.
It has allowed for the bridging of the chasm of both age and distance…
in turn rendering all of the divides no longer relevant….delightfully
null and void.

Each cousin has lived through, as well as survived, their own life’s tumults…
And the realization and acknowledgement of such has provided a bonding effect.

Those two cousins who sat on either side of me all those many years ago,
along now with their spouses, swooped in to take my small brood of
a family under their care when it was most needed.
And when things became really difficult, they merely intensified their care.
And that care continues as I continue putting the pieces of loss back together again.

No longer was I just the little annoying cousin but I had become more
like the younger sister…
a sister who they each knew would need their love and support.

Family, as we most all know, is a complicated affair.
Never perfect, never what we hold in our minds.
However we are blessed when we realize that our adversities can actually provide
a unifying factor.

Despite having known these people my entire life, I don’t think
we actually got to truly know one another until we became adults.
And since neither of them read this blog I don’t think they’d mind
me telling you how very lucky I consider myself having been “stuck” in the
middle on that couch so very long ago…

Family, for good or bad, we usually all have one….
and how so appreciative I am that this adopted child was blessed by one
with such a tenacious zeal.


(both of my cousins with their mother, my aunt, my now 92 year old aunt,
almost 3.5 years ago in Savannah at my son’s wedding / Julie Cook / 2014)

Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their
own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

1 Timothy 5:8