I’m baaaaack

“The glory of God is man fully alive,
and the life of man is the vision of God.”

St. Irenaeus


(a willet in the surf /Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2021)

We got home yesterday from our week away and I’ll share more about our
adventure with the Mayor and Sheriff at the beach… soon…
just as soon as I get alllll these clothes washed.

My last post was about the homecoming for Sgt. Rob Holloway’s as he
and his wife returned home to Carrollton after months in two
different hospitals…this following his having been shot in the
wee hours of April 12th during a high speed chase.

Rob and Stephanie got home Wednesday…they were to spend a few days home
before heading back to Atlanta to begin a transition period at Pathways
which is a program to help Rob learn how to manage his daily routines
while getting back to “normal” as best as possible.

However on Thursday, Rob began running a fever.
The Hospital told Stephanie to get him back to Atlanta ASAP
where he was placed back in ICU.

He has since received IV fluids and antibiotics…
and is reportedly feeling better.

Because bullet fragments remain lodged in Rob’s brain and due to having the
reconstructive skull surgery, the risk of meningitis remains high.

So will you please join me as we offer up prayers for Rob and his family…
as we also pray for all our men and women in blue, as well as for their families…
those members of our various law enforcements who give their all for us….

“The Creator of the universe awaits the prayer of one poor little person
to save a multitude of others, redeemed like her at the price of His Blood.”

St. Therese of Lisieux

now hiring

“A great disaster had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God;
that’s why all this has happened.”

Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn

We’ve recently taken to exploring some of the highways and byways in
this new area of the state that we now call home.

Since I actually spent about 5 years of my life in this area,
nearly some 40 odd years back, a few of these roads are vaguely familiar…
yet many more are not.
There are many more roads…

I think they call that progress.
I call it confusion.

On this side of the state, we are closer to the North Georgia mountains
then we were at our previous home.
And one thing I can say is that the ins and outs to those mountains have all
pretty much remained the same since my youth…paved, yet narrow
and curvy.

So as we traversed our way northward, we were met in all the tiny,
medium and larger towns and cities with the sign of the times…
HELP WANTED…
NOW HIRING.

And many of those signs were offering hiring bonuses.

Factories, restaurants–both fast food and fine dining, gas stations,
convenient stores, medical facilities and even farms…
places both urban and rural were each asking for one thing…
employees.

Why you ask?

Well, firstly, we had a pandemic.
It put a kink in our way of life.
It hit our job force—it hit the way we worked and our ability to
provide services… and it fired a direct hit at our economy.

And so in turn, our national level leadership decided
to offer some quick help by sending out stimulus money
in order to tide folks over.
Tiding over until we could get back to business as usual.

The Big Government with a Big G, was expected to bail us
regular folks out.

Who would pay the rent, the utility bills, the insurance when
businesses were shuttered or our income was cut??

All eyes turned to Washington.

Well, we are now basically thankfully reopened.

We are trying to get back to “normal”—whatever that might now be.
But here’s the thing, folks are not going back to work…

They are not going, in part, because the government money is better than a
pay check–it beats having to go to a job. Home beats work right?
So if that money keeps coming, what would be the impetus to get
folks back to work?

There wouldn’t be one.

Because who cares if an economy tanks…just as long as a Big G
government continues sending free cash.
Oh but wait…if an economy tanks can a Big G government keep sending out
free money??
Well folks like Bernie and AOC and Joe and Kamala seem to think so.
Hummmm…

I think this notion of Big G taking care of its people,
and in turn keeping the people on the hooks for the desires of the Big G,
rings of an insidious past…and in turn,
the need for a small history lesson.

Names like Trotsky, Lenin, Marx, Mao, Ho Chi Minh all come to mind…
men who believed Big G knew what was best for the people.
Level all playing fields.
Work for the whole…no personal gain…no one having more than another.
The people are the ants, the leaders are the ones, like the grasshoppers,
who gather the fruits of the labor.
They have the dachas…and we the people are to fall into place and do
our part.
Big G then becomes the god of the people.
And in turn, a perfect utopia…

Well, if you know your history, which nowadays most folks don’t, well none
of that had a very happy ending…just saying…

“If only it were all so simple!
If only there were evil people somewhere
insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary
only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them.
But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of
every human being.
And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956

normal

“A perfectly normal person is rare in our civilization.”
Karen Horney


(courtesy the Web)

We try to walk about an hour every morning.
And during our morning jaunts, we see an array of creatures
both great and small.

Deer
Rabbits
birds of every shape, size and description
bugs
dogs
cats
squirrels
chipmunks
and then there are a few oddities…
several fox squirrels along with several species of snakes..
the pictures offered today are of a black headed fox squirrel and a grey rat snake— the first image is taken by a photographer–my pictures are below…

The fox squirrels and the snakes wandering out along the neighborhood roads
appear a bit out of place…not exactly the normal animal fare.


(fox squirrel spied while out walking / Julie Cook / 2021)

And suddenly normal takes on a new meaning…

Due to my recent babysitting hiatus, I’ve been playing catch up here in blogland.
As I was reading over the various blogs that I oh so enjoy, I noticed an underlying
thread weaving its way throughout each post…it was the word normal

So I thought that it would be best if I looked up the word
to see what a dictionary might offer in the way of explaining the word…

adjective: normal
conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected.

MEDICINE
(of a salt solution) containing the same salt concentration as the blood.

noun: normal; plural noun: normals
the usual, average, or typical state or condition.
“her temperature was above normal”

mid 17th century (in the sense ‘right-angled’): from Latin normalis,
from norma ‘carpenter’s square’ (see norm).
Current senses date from the early 19th century.

conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern :
characterized by that which is considered usual, typical, or routine

according with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule,
procedure, or principle

occurring naturally

generally free from physical or mental impairment or dysfunction :
exhibiting or marked by healthy or sound functioning

So it appears that ‘normal’ is a standard.
It’s routine.
It’s centering.
It’s sound, stable…
It’s not out of the ordinary
It’s a means of measure.

It’s the starting point while anything deviating outward, upward, downward
or backward moves away from the standard, the norm, the home place.

And so as I consider the word normal, I can’t help but look at what is
currently transpiring around this country regarding
our public schools…a three ringed circus full of everything but that
which is normal.

Abnormal is actually more accurate.

It was in the mid 19th century that the nation’s leaders determined that
our youth needed to be educated.
Not merely the upper crust whose families could afford private educations
or tutors…but education for each and every child.
(and no that was not an example of white privilege–it was a matter of
aristocracy vs the average citizen…hierarchy has been with us through
the ages…
hence why the Marxists are hard at work to “level the playing field”
and that, mind you, is a key educational phrase…but I digress)

With a booming growth taking place in our cities, along with
a growing influx of immigrants, coupled with an upward spiraling industrial
revolution, we had transitioned from being that of a nation based solely
upon an agricultural economy to one that was of an
up and coming economy of technological growth.

Our wealthier children had tutors and private schools…
yet the general populace needed rudimentary basic educational skills.
Thus a free public education would focus on what was thought to be
the most important basic needs when it came to “educating” children…
reading, writing and arithmetic.

Eventually science, literature and history entered the picture.

And as the nation grew and expanded while young men were sent overseas to wars,
it was determined a wider depth of knowledge was needed and so courses in
geography, latin and civics were added.

Throw in courses such as drafting, the fine arts, music and we
had a full well rounded education shaping up

Now granted this is all just a simplified look at the the inception and growth
of our nation’s public schooling…
however somewhere in the 20th century, things took a turn.
And that turn was not necessarily for the better.

Sex education came onto the scene.

Mainly because the ‘powers that be’ were concerned about all the young
men who were being sent overseas to fight in wars and yet were contracting
a variety of sexually transmitted diseases at a rapid rate.

Fast forward through prohibition, a depression, a post war world,
an iron curtain, the growth of baby boomers, a police action,
rock and roll, civil rights, a sexual revolution, women’s liberation,
a space race, a drug revolution, assassinations, flower power,
a summer of love, an endless war, an angst ridden youth…
all the while, our public educational institutions were quietly
changing.

Normal quietly became a casualty of the times.

And other casualties of this generational madness…

Our:
Reverence
Respect
Parental authority
Nuclear family
Judaeo/ Christian corner stone

We are now being sold a sorry sack of lies…
Our schools, school leadership, school boards have all given in to the lies…
lies such that our original normal is now a new normal…
and thus we must teach to a new normal…

any deviation from normal, according to each definition of normal,
means that things are not normal.
Normal is the standard.
New is not.

so tomorrow lets explore this new normal notion…
that of the abnormal

You believe that God is one; you do well.
Even the demons believe—and shudder!

James 2:19

God’s mercy

“Confession heals, confession justifies, confession grants pardon of sin.
All hope consists in confession.
In confession there is a chance for mercy.
Believe it firmly, do not doubt, do not hesitate,
never despair of the mercy of God.”

St. Isidore of Seville


(Southern summer evening sky /Julie Cook / 2021)

“When we are living in the world, we can easily take on the
mindset of a secular society. It is important for us to cultivate
in our lives, with great care,
God’s way of looking at things and life in general.
His Word guides us.”

Rev. Thomas J. Donaghy, p. 22
An Excerpt From
Inspirational Thoughts for Everyday

warm weather color

“Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form,
can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways.”

Oscar Wilde


(goldfinch / Julie Cook / 2021)


(purple Iris /Julie Cook / 2021)


(daisy’s / Julie Cook / 2021)


(gardina–a southern classic / Julie Cook / 2021)


(purple aster / Julie Cook /2021)


(Sunflower…all pics taken from my daily walks or backyard / Julie Cook / 2021)

But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—
and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.

Ephesians 5:13

what was is certainly not now…

“. . .Looking forward to things is half the pleasure of them.”
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables


(the Hamilton-Phinizy-Segrest House, aka The Phi Mu House / Athens, Ga )

Perhaps a more appropriate title might read, 250 S. Milledge, Room 5 where are you?

So let's talk about living suddenly in a Twilight Zone…

A now surreal place where you thought you knew what was what..but now,
that what, is no longer what you thought.

It was a daily part of your own small world and it seemed bigger than life…
it was larger than anything you had known…because you had become it,
and it had become you and you both belonged together, becoming a quasi one.
Whatever that one might be.

But that was multiple lifetimes ago.

You were young and very foolish.

Fast forward 40 years along an odd spectrum of time,
and you suddenly find yourself no longer recognizing any of
the what that was.

There are a few glimpses here and there which are fleeting
all the while your brain races and rages in an attempt
to right the topsy turvy twist of time.

That building, that street, that park.

You are a compartmentalized thinking individual.
Mis en place, mis en place…as in… everything has its place.

Every place and every person has long been pegged for a certain
time and space…
and yet you never imagined that two time periods would, or could,
ever overlap.
Or maybe better yet, they have collided.

An odd continuum of time is simply circling back around.
But can a continuum actually bend?
Does it not simply travel straight?
Time does not, cannot split right?

Driving up and down roads whose names are familiar, you
find yourself looking for those familiar faces from
all those many years prior.

40 years ago, you lived in a pre-civil war home.
You lived in that house 120 years following its
original inception.
Yours was room 5.

Green and pink was a theme.
Your personal room's veranda was nothing but a window sill.
It looked out over a small patch of grass with a lone oak tree.

If you are really still, you might be able to hear music
whispering on the wind…

It was a time for both romanticism and foolishness…
contingent only upon one's age and experience.

And now when the two collide, both the what was and the what is,
it is a surreal mix of regret, expectation, remorse
and hope.

And isn't that what our lives are all about…
the what was, the now and the what will be?

If we are fortunate, blessed with longevity and health,
clear of mind and vision…
we may have the luxury of merging our what was
with our what will be.

But there is never any given guarantee.

If we have regrets, so be it.
The fact of the matter is that it is more important to have hope…

Regret lives in the what was.
Like rustling lifeless fallen dried leaves
blowing helplessly in the wind.

Wonder lives in the now.
A freshly opened flower…yet its beauty is shortly lived.

Hope, on the other hand, lives for the what will be.
An endless sea of possibilities.
No matter the time or age.

Glance back if you must, but don't stare too long…
the what will be might just run off without you.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect,
but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own.
But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward
to what lies ahead,
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God
in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:12-14

it about broke my heat

Through prayer you will receive the strength to resist the
spirit of the world.
You will receive the power to show compassion to every human being—just
as Jesus did. Through prayer you will have a part in salvation history
as it unfolds in your generation.
St. Pope John Paul II


( a three legged doe / Julie Cook / 2021)

Driving along a lonely back road in an eastern Georgia National park,
we weren’t really surprised to suddenly spy a deer meandering down a bank…
ready to cross the road in front of our car…
But the problem was that this deer was not exactly meandering.

The deer was oddly and slowly coming down the bank.
There was something odd about her gait.
Struggling with each step…up, down, nearly collapsing,
up down, nearly collapsing…and that’s when we saw the reason
for the odd cadence of walking.

She did not have a left front leg.
The leg was missing clear up to her torso.

This deer had two hind legs and only a single front right leg.
We pretty much figured that she had either been shot in the left leg
or perhaps hit by a car…
she had lost the leg and yet she managed to survive.

Naturally we stopped the car, allowing her to slowly navigate
crossing the road.
By the time she hobbled up and down across the road, she simply stopped…
resting, while taking the opportunity to nibble
on some nice green grass.
I think she knew we’d respectfully wait on her.

Her ribs rippled underneath her sagging skin,
but we know this is the season that deer tend to be
the most lean.
She seemed to be keeping her own.

I wanted to take a picture and yet, I didn’t.
I wanted to respect her dignity along with her struggle.
I was slow to get the camera, capturing her only after she had
traveled across the road and was already headed back up the opposite bank.

So far, she’s managed to defy the odds.
Be that for good or bad.

Crippled yet persevering.
Hanging in and on despite the odds being stacked heavily against her.
A wild animal, who depends upon running and jumping in order to avoid
predators while managing on only three legs, is not high with the
odd makers.

And yet, here she was.

Believer…be encouraged!
Broken and wounded, yet we are still here.

We persevere just as He persevered before us for us…

Odds are not in our favor yet Hope always prevails.

“On the whole, God’s love for us is a much safer subject to
think about than our love for Him.
Nobody can always have devout feelings: and even if we could,
feelings are not what God principally cares about.
Christian Love, either towards God or towards man,
is an affair of the will.
If we are trying to do His will we are obeying the commandment,
‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God.’
He will give us feelings of love if He pleases.
We cannot create them for ourselves,
and we must not demand them as a right.
But the great thing to remember is that,
though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not.
It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and,
therefore, it is quite relentless in its determination
that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us,
at whatever cost to Him.”

C. S. Lewis, p. 132
An Excerpt From
Mere Christianity

The Mayor and the storm

“There is peace even in the storm”
Vincent van Gogh


(the Mayor knows no fear at the park / Julie Cook / 2021)

The Mayor has stayed on for a few days following the Sheriff’s big birthday
celebration…so a trip to the park was in order.

Sadly, the weather has taken a turn for the nasty worst…
thunderstorms, flash floods and tornado warnings have been on tap for most of today.
and I fear much the same remains in the forecast for tomorrow as well.

Time to get creative with a three year old who is stuck inside during
bad weather!

Meanwhile, our back yard is now a raging river…
time to batten down the hatches!!


(back yard stormy weather / Julie Cook / 2021)


(back yard stormy weather / Julie Cook / 2021)


(the flood waters wash away the pine straw / Julie Cook / 2021)

Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid or terrified because of them,
for the Lord your God goes with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6

old made new

The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become –
because He made us.
He invented us.
He invented all the different people that you and I were intended to be…
It is when I turn to Christ, when I give up myself to His personality,
that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.”

C.S. Lewis


(a green chameleon perches amongst the shrubs / Julie Cook / 2021)

At our previous home, we always had a small menagerie of critters that
called our home and yard, their home and yard…

This new house is no different–it’s just that some of the residents are,
well, different.

A post regarding these new residents will be a post for another day….
for today’s thoughts come from my having spotted a chameleon who was
in the process of literally losing his or her skin—
sloughing off the old for the new.


(a chameleon shedding / Julie Cook / 2021)

Maybe I knew this little fact about lizards shedding…
maybe I’d forgotten…
I certainly knew it about snakes and cicadas shedding…
but I’d never given much thoughts about lizards doing the same.

We have a group of skinks and chameleons who call our back patio theirs.
As in they were here before us.

The chameleons gravitate from green to brown depending on their
whims…or more aptly…depending on where they opt to traverse or
spend their time.. be it on the furniture or in the bushes.

Amazing how God gave such creatures the gift of change depending
upon their circumstance.

So imagine my surprise, or more aptly my shock, when I went to sit down
on a chair situated on the patio, and suddenly spied two chameleons chasing
one another on the chair…with one of the two looking pretty rough.
As in a bad hair, or make that skin, day,

Upon closer inspection, I realized the smaller of the two lizards was
shedding its winter coat, readying itself for a glorious spring and summer.
As well as hoping to look its best in order to snag a would be mate.

I think we humans feel much the same following our winter
hibernations…especially this year…
This past year having been a full length marathon hibernation…
Meaning it’s past time to let go of the old and become fresh and new.

I really like Mr. Lewis’s thoughts offered at the start of this post–
the thought that God invented all the different persons we are to become
throughout our lifetime–both good and bad actually.

I’ve never quite thought of it like that before.

Life without knowing our true nature as a child of God can
leave us quite dull and heavy.
And so as we advance in our relationship with the triune God,
we shed and shed….we shed off our old worn-out selves
as each shedding gives way to a newer creature…
allowing us to become lighter and much more fresh.

The shedding isn’t pretty to watch and is rather uncomfortable
to endure— think itchy and irritating and even perhaps
somewhat embarrassing…but the shedding, as unsightly as it is,
is necessary none the less.

And so during each season of our lives, as we gravitate to and closer
to our oneness with the One who gave Himself up on our behalf—
our God, Creator and Savior has seen us both before and after each of these
sloughing-off of layers.
Always loving us before, during and after we emerge into
our true and intended likeness of God’s original intention
for us, His created…

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live,
but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh
I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

Sometimes change can be painfully slow

“Everyone thinks of changing the world,
but no one thinks of changing himself.”

Leo Tolstoy


(The Holloway Family)

I wanted to offer an update regarding my friend Stephanie’s husband, the Carrollton Police Officer
that was shot during a high speed chase in the wee hours of Monday morning.

Rob was shot in the head by a 22 year old young man.
His 26 year old cousin was driving at speeds upwards of 111 mph.

When pursued by law enforcement, the two boys began firing upon each and every law enforcement
vehicle that attempted to intervene in stopping them.

They hit Sgt Rob Holloway in the head.

Rob is the husband of a longtime colleague of mine from school.

Yesterday, my former principal text me the latest condition regarding Rob after he was life flighted
to Atlanta’s Grady Hospital Trauma Center.

The bullet remained lodged in Rob’s brain and could not be removed–
rather the surgeons had to remove part of the the right lobe of the brain.

Miraculously, by yesterday morning, Rob was talking, albeit through a morphine haze.
He asked for a sweet tea and was able to sallow his meds by mouth.

Rob is moving both hands and feet.

Brain scans are looking very positive.

We all continue to pray for Rob, Stephanie and their only child, Grady, a senior in high school.

But here is my angst in all of this.

Rob has been a police officer since 2008.

He had risen to the rank of sargent.
He was always so good to check my husband’s jewelry business in the wee hours, always
leaving a note that in the middle of the night, all was well.

He was thoughtful to this small business owner and we, in turn, were greatly appreciative.

His wife, when we worked together, was a devoted teacher who has since
moved on to being an active school administrator…
Their only child is a high school senior.

They have lived life by trusting God.

They are what we say in the South, “good people”

And yet, because of his profession as law enforcement, Rob is pigeon holed.
He is placed, by our current culture, into an ambiguous position…
a possible pariah against all mankind…
all because he simply wanted to protect and defend…

Contrary to popular belief, support for our law enforcement is not equivalent
to something racist…
despite what our current presidential administration claims to believe….the majority
of our law enforcement and first responders aim to serve the betterment of their
fellow human beings.

We have got to hold on to that and support our first responders.

Thank you all who have offered prayers of healing and hope…
There is a go fund me page for Rob Holloway set up by the wives of
local Carroll, Co. Georgia law enforcement wives.

One day, maybe, this madness will end.