Signs of the times…

*****First a small disclaimer… if you find foul language offensive, of which I do…
then don’t study the picture too closely.

However, I’m thinking that my disclaimer will probably make you a bit curious and
you will study it…so just know I told you so…

(a lovely tagged utility box near 10th St in downtown Atlanta / Julie Cook / 2019)

The other evening, I was driving in downtown Atlanta, with my daughter-n-law
along with the Mayor and New Sheriff, on our way to try a very talked-about
trendy seafood restaurant.

And you should know that good seafood in Atlanta is not easily come by despite
what many restaurants may claim, so we were excited.

The restaurant is actually located in an area of the city that is attempting a revitalization.
Atlanta is noted as one of many cities across the nation that is attempting to re-claim
its heavily neglected urban areas…sprucing them up while encouraging folks to move back,
shop and visit.

It is in an area that, as a kid growing up, we would never have graced but rather
have driven down to look at the flower children calling the area home.
They lived on the streets, communally, and would occasionally, mass together
while protesting the war.
And driving down to see such was something we’d do during sleepovers—
Parents looking for easy entertainment for a bunch of young kids figured that
driving downtown to see the hippies during that summer of love would be it…
but I digress…

This particular area is now being touted as an up and coming area…
yet it is still rife with dereliction, crime, drugs and many,
many homeless folks despite the opening of high-end apartments, boutiques,
bars, and restaurants.

We passed by many an abandoned building with broken windows,
lots of trash and some empty lots, while a side street was full of vagrants
and homeless folks sheltering in boxes and tents.

And so when we stopped at a red light and I glanced over at a utility box
wearing derogatory graffiti regarding the President,
should I then be surprised given the area?

Probably not.

But such an observation will naturally draw the wrath and the ire of others for my
having associated the area, an area filled with its fair share of rift raft,
with what I find to be foul graffiti regarding the President.
Would it matter if I said I’ve not seen the same foul graffiti when driving in other
family-oriented areas north of the city?

Fair enough.

So on a different day, in a different area of the city, in an area that was once home
to many of my mother’s and aunt’s friends when they were growing up—
an early 20th-century family neighborhood that was popular in the 1930s and 1940s…
just as it is popular today but with the houses having been brought up to
chic speed. Really cute older neighborhoods made uber-trendy and most desirable.

We were driving up one of the streets as I was admiring the charm of these once modest
homes that now fetch upwards to $1,000,000. when a homemade sign perched in
one yard caught my eye.

It was a handpainted sign with large black letters scrawled on a neon yellow piece
of poster board. The sign read:
‘Only Nazis and Fascists separate children from their mothers!’

I did a double-take.

“Really?!” I heard myself groaning or was it more like moaning?

Back in the day when my mother and aunt roamed these same streets,
WWII was in full swing.
Flags were flown from every home’s front stoop while the victory gardens were
sprouting out back. Patriotism was part and parcel of the nation’s pain and suffering
in the midst of war and rationing.

During the summer of love, when I was huddled in the back of a family station wagon
with 6 or my closest little friends, as we peered out the window at what was then the
flower children of the late ’60s…peace signs were flashed and posters held high
which read make love, not war.
A nice enough sentiment when our young minds only thought love meant just that…
simply to love one’s neighbor.

Now, as I drive down these very same streets—streets very much the same
and yet very different…
I actually fret over what our young children are reading sprayed on electrical boxes.
Do we want to have to suddenly explain what a Nazi or a Fascist has to do with
the fate of mothers and children to our own impressionable kids who have no idea
what a Nazi or Fascist is?

I think I’d prefer to do so when I thought my wee ones were old enough to comprehend
the complexity of our culture.

And at this rate, I doubt I’ll ever be old enough to understand.

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities,
for there is no authority except that which God has established.
The authorities that exist have been established by God.

Romans 13:1

Might a new day be dawning????

“When the church redefines sin and eliminates repentance,
it can no longer offer the good news of eternal salvation from sin in Jesus;
the church no longer remains distinctly Christian;
it is no longer salt and light in the world,”

(excerpt from the Southwark Declaration nailed to a Cathedral door)

(recent Southwark Declaration grievances nailed to the doors of Rochester Cathedral)

And so it has begun…

And I for one rejoice!!!

Almost 500 years to the day, over the course of the past 48 hours,
a band of “back to the Bible” disgruntled, dare we say it, Orthodox Anglicans
have followed in the footsteps of Luther and set about nailing,
or in most cases tacking or taping, a two page document of grievances
to the doors of Anglican Cathedrals across the UK.

The document is known as the Southwark Declaration named for the
Diocese of Southwark in which the original letter was composed.

According to an article in PJ Media written by Tyler O’Neil…
On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, anonymous evangelical Anglicans posted
a 95 Theses-style complaint on the doors of five British cathedrals.
The first complaints went up on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting
of the 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church in Germany,
and the documents pinned to the doors referenced Luther in calling for the Church of England to follow the Bible on LGBT issues.

“500 years ago Martin Luther nailed 95 Theses to a church door in Germany,”
one document reads.
“He did it because the church had become corrupt.
Today a Declaration is being fixed to a cathedral door here in England because the Established Church in our land is becoming corrupt.”

“The Church of England claims it has not changed its doctrine but its practice
on the ground has already changed: clergy are adopting lifestyles which are not
biblical and teaching that such lifestyles are holy in the sight of God,”
the document explained.
“This revisionism is causing a crisis not only in Southwark Diocese but across
the whole of the Church of England.”

You can read the full article here:

The Vicar of St. James’ Church of Westgate-On-Sea, The Reverend Stephen Rae, has
opted not to remain anonymous but rather has publicly admitted to nailing the
document to the doors of Canterbury Cathedral….the Cathedral at the very heart of Anglicanism and the Church of England.

“It is with great sadness that I posted the Southwark Declaration in Canterbury
Reverend Stephen Rae, vicar of St. James’ Church, Westgate-On-Sea,
told PJ Media in a statement.
“This building that stands sentinel over the Church of England has been a symbol of Anglican leadership with, perhaps, the greatest global reach for centuries.”

“Now it has become synonymous with abdication and dereliction of duty;
it stands accused as a distracted and negligent parent that has abandoned
its children,”
Rae added.
He quoted Ephesians, noting that the apostle Paul called “the faithful
under-shepherd” to “guard the flock against the wolves that would seek to
enter the fold.”

Citing the ordination oath the Church of England, Rae added,
“We are not merely to assert biblical truth.
We who have been entrusted with the precious gospel that speaks life into the
hearts of wretched sinners are also called to drive away anything that would lead the flock away and into judgment.”

“God never calls his people to innovate in matters of first importance,”
the vicar concluded.
“If a leader of the church does this, he has misunderstood his calling.
We are to hold out the radically inclusive gospel that leads to repentance and faith. Playing fast and loose with what God really meant when he said what he said never
turns out well.”

The Southwark Declaration

As clergy and lay people in the Diocese of Southwark:

We affirm the divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures and their supreme authority
in all matters of faith and conduct.

We affirm with Canon A5 that ‘the doctrine of the Church of England
is grounded in the Holy Scriptures, and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers
and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures.’’

We affirm, with Article XX, that ‘it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any
thing that is contrary to God’s Word written.’

We affirm the teaching of Scripture (Genesis 2.24, Mark 10. 7, Matthew 19.5),
the Book of Common Prayer, and Canon B30 (‘Of Holy Matrimony’)
that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life.

We affirm it is the one God-ordained context for sexual intercourse.

We affirm resolution 1.10 on human sexuality of the Lambeth Conference (1998).

We call upon all the Bishops, Archdeacons, and the senior staff of the Diocese,
alongside all clergy and licensed lay ministers, to affirm these truths,
live by them, and to teach in accordance with them.

We call upon the Bishops to appoint to positions of teaching authority
only those who hold to these truths in good conscience.

“Where leaders refuse to repent and submit themselves to the Word of God, the Lord raises up new leadership for His church and new structures: just as He did through Martin Luther 500 years ago.”
(closing excerpt from the “nailed up” Anglican Southwark Declaration)

More on all of this tomorrow but for now, let us allow all of this to sink in…
as we pray for the brave vicar and others who are speaking up,
stepping up and letting it be known that the Gospel of Jesus Christ
and the Word of God will stand…despite man’s attempt to alter it or change it
to suit his or her desires….

Worn out welcome? Just getting started…..

It is a mistake to regard age as a downhill grade toward dissolution. The
reverse is true. As one grows older, one climbs with surprising strides.”

― George Sand


STOP!! My husband should be use to that familiar command but for someone reason he still thinks he’s just run over something or someone each time I shout out my need for him to stop. I don’t know why he gets so upset, all I want is for him to stop the car so I can jump out in order to get what seems to be a marvelous picture. Who cares if we’re in the curve of the road, the wrong side of a hill, in a blind spot, or in the middle of traffic—nothing like capturing the moment—if I don’t get the picture NOW, a great opportunity just might pass us by. I don’t understand why he isn’t on my same page with all of this….but I digress as usual.

We were out driving the other day, on some sort of mission of his, when we go sailing past a piece of property that was once home to some sort of arts and crafts yearly festival. Sadly, from the looks of things, that’s been quite a while.

STOP!! I bark out my need. Luckily we were in the middle of no where and he actually complied, imagine that!

As this was in the middle of no where, in the middle of an overgrown woody sort of area, he reminds me of one thing as I bound out of the car, wearing sandals mind you…..”watch for copperheads…” Hummm….yes, well, perhaps a careful tiptoeing over to this one time entrance gate.

Haven’t you ever felt like this thing looks?!—definitely worse for the wear. Maybe I feel a kindred connection to this thing. Moss growing on the roof, my sides, uh- I mean, its sides falling in, the welcome sign faded and skewed, overgrown by the invasive weeds of time complete with trash dumped at its feet. This thing’s got my name written all over it!

I suppose I should feel sad and melancholy, nostalgic for a by-gone heyday of sorts. And yes… the fact that this little booth did once “welcome” people to come enjoy and have a good time.. but is, sadly, now forgotten, abandoned and left to be taken over by Mother Nature…it is all quite dismal but I actually have to smile because this little puppy is actually singing my song.

I see what it was in its glory day. I also see the potential… given a little TLC, a few nails, a few new boards, a little paint, I think the moss on the roof is aesthetically pleasing, albeit not a positive for the workings of a sound shingled roof…but that moss might just as well be the grey laying claim to my hair!!

One person may see a derelict building needing to be torn down, I see hope. “Julie, are you crazy?!” I know, I know …and don’t think I can’t hear you. I’m not saying I need to go in to rescue this booth, this forgotten area of festival making—but I know that I could if I was so inclined.

When I look in the mirror, the face looking back has, well, “aged”. I use to think that I really didn’t look older…but suddenly my eyes look at though they are disappearing. Didn’t I use to have lids? I use to be able to see lashes, I have lashes, right?—are they shrinking or just falling out, or both?

When we were in Chicago a few weeks back, we had wandered into the building that housed Nordstrom’s. We had just finished with a boat tour of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. Let’s just say I have looked better—the wind blown hair look just wasn’t working for me. There in the middle of the “mall” was one of those kiosks selling some sort of cosmetic mess. I’m usually good at avoiding these little intense sales bee hives but I was tired, overwhelmed with this magnificent mile business and must have looked like easy pickings.

A sales girl immediately grabs me before I have a chance to look away as if previously occupied. My husband just stands there being no help at all in staging a rescue. The sales girl, a cute girl from Lithuania, immediately clutches my hands and before I even know what’s happening she looks at my nails as if in horror. “You must be a teacher or a nurse?!”

“Teacher.” I flatly reply almost apologetically. No, I’ve never been one to “do” my nails—whats’ the point when you work 24/7 with your hands—so I suppose it must show. She whips out her array of nail treatments and does a number on one nail. Wow, I didn’t know my nails looked so bad as this one nail now made the other nine look, well, in a word, wretched. Next, some nice looking young man, who must have been her boss, leads me over to a chair.

By now we all seem to know one another’s life stories. He is actually from Israel and loves my glasses. My husband is standing there with his hands on his hips—impatient and wondering why I don’t jump up and run. Suddenly I’m kind of liking this long needed pampering. The sales guy takes off my glasses…ooo, this is so racey. He begins applying some sort of creme on my eyes. He dabs on this and that, blots with a cotton ball, adds something else, swivels me around in the chair to a mirror and VOILA! I squint to see what he did— remember he removed my glasses. “Don’t do that” he practically screams—“no squinting, it makes wrinkles”…..oh,is that what did it? Well I must have squinted myself to death.

Long story short and $300 later, as my husband was guilted by this slick sales duo into aiding with his tired wife’s reverie, I walked out feeling lighter, a little brighter. Amazing what a little special attention can do for one’s psyche. And you must know that I have been using the eye serum religiously since our return…3 times a week and I can actually tell a difference—I think its purpose is to diminish wrinkles—maybe it’s just my imagination (such an oldie but goodie..digress…) but I think my eyes actually look a little younger, a little lighter. Is that my old twinkle I’m noticing? And my nails, well lets just say they’ve never looked so, cared for…..

What I’ve taken from my appreciation of an old abandoned building and of my old and dilapidated aging body…is that with a little attention here, and a little pampering there…that’s often all that is needed in order to have a complete turn around….or at least the encouragement of a new direction. Not being a big frufru girl..remember, I’m a tomboy at heart, it is quite amazing what just a little 20 minute single fast-tract sales pitch of a mini hyper-speed makeover of one nail and one eye can provide….it offered a tired older body a little hope of what could be, knowing what was, and of how to be ok with what’s in the middle…

So the next time you see an abandoned little building remember that it once had an important purpose. And the next time you look in the mirror, remember you too had an important purpose, the wonderful thing is that you still have that purpose, it just may be a little dingy and rusty, but it’s all still there. Now if I could just remember where I put that face creme…sadly, first the eyes, now the mind….