Mother’s Day–happy and nostalgic

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born
and the day you find out why.

Mark Twain


(me and mom circa 1980 )

The fact of life is that we all have two parents.
A mother and a father.

If life is as we would wish it to be, we will know both of these parents.
They will love us and we will love them.

We will all grow together through both ups and downs.

Yet if life opts for a different path, we may or may not know our parents…
or we may not love them and they may not love us.

However, the fact of the matter remains— we all have had two parents.

And we all had a mother who carried us for, give or take, nine months.

If you’ve ever been pregnant, you know that those 9 months can be joyous, fretful, painful,
jolting, frightening and certainly changing.

Most of us have one mother…
I, on the other hand, had three.

My first mother, my original mother, my birth mother, is unknown to me.

In early 1959 a 23-year-old woman became pregnant.
Plans did not go as perhaps they should have and this young woman up and moved away
from her home…moving to a large city where she could blend in and become,
for the most part, anonymous.

She never traveled home for those many months as her pregnancy was her secret to keep.

She gave birth to a premature baby girl and left the hospital shortly thereafter.

Leaving behind…me.

I eventually went into foster care until I was adopted by the woman who would become my
second mother, or what is commonly known as an adoptive mom.


(me and mom on my wedding day, 1983)

When I was a teenager I was sent another mother…a God-mother.
I say ‘sent’ because I honestly believe God sent in a pinch hitter because He knew
the turns my life would take and that I would need someone to catch me when I’d fall.

And I fell many times.

This third mother was the wife of the Dean of the Cathedral of St Philip.
Both she and her husband designated themselves as my God-parents.
They were keenly aware of the fact that I was in desperate need for Godly parental guidance…
and it was at such a pivotal age.

They offered stability, encouragement and a clear Spiritual direction.
This Godmother taught me the importance of what it was to be a Godly woman, wife and mother…
despite all evil attempts to disrupt such.

She also taught me about Spiritual healing…healing that was crucial to my very survival.


(a grainy photo of Ginny Collins from 1978 / Julie ‘Nichols’ Cook)

Tragically, due to my brother’s mental illness, my adopted family was a caustic and dysfunctional mess.
It was an illness that took a grave toll on all of us,
but perhaps none greater than upon our adopted mom.

My brother and I were both adopted, five years apart, and we each had different biological parents.

Mother died very unhappy and prematurely at the age of 53.

My Godmother then stepped deeper into the fray of acting as a surrogate guide.
Her support and guidance remained a key part of my life until up until the time she died.

She died two years ago at the age of 94.

On the polar opposite end of the spectrum of life and of the two women, I eventually lost,
is my biological mother.
She is now 83 and is still living–but where I truly cannot say nor of what path her life
eventually took.

Maybe one day we will meet and I can tell her something very important.

Maybe I will be able to say to her “thank you.”
Thanking her for the selfless gift she gave me…that being the gift life.

Had she been selfish, putting her life and plans first, you and I wouldn’t be currently sharing
this moment together.

And I wouldn’t have my son or his wife or their two children in my life.

The choices we make in this thing we call life all have far-reaching and lasting effects…
be they negative or positive.

Life is positive.
Abortion is not.
My biological mother chose life rather than my death.

So today I want to thank all three of these women…
these three mothers who were, unbeknownst to one another,
intertwined in a single life..that life being mine.
Be it either briefly or for far much longer, they each gave me various gifts of love.

A love that now lives on in two precious little grandchildren…

And so on this Mother’s Day 2019, I want to say thank you to three women.

Firstly, thank you to my biological mother for the choice of giving me life.
I miss not having known you.

Secondly, to Mary Ann my adoptive mother, thank you for taking me into your heart and raising me–
a role that was no easy task—I have missed you terribly.

And finally to Ginny, my adopted Godmother, thank you for instilling in me the
importance of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…thank you for teaching me
what it means to live, to love, to confess, to repent, to forgive and to be forgiven…
I miss your wisdom.

And lastly, I want to thank a fourth woman.

Thank you, Abby, my dear daughter-n-law…

Thank you for loving our son.

Thank you for opening your heart to us and our family…
and thank you for the gift of two precious babies…The Mayor and her new Sheriff…

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things
your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live.
Teach them to your children and to their children after them.

Deuteronomy 4:9

the right side of history…where will we be?

The history of the West is built on the interplay between these two pillars:
Divine meaning and reason. We receive our notions of Divine meaning from a
three-millennial-old lineage stretching back to the ancient Jews; we receive
our notions of reason from a twenty-five-hundred-year-old lineage stretching
back to the ancient Greeks.
In rejecting those lineages–in seeking a graft ourselves to rootless philosophical comments
of the moment, cutting ourselves off from our own roots—
we have damned ourselves to an existential wandering.

Ben Shapiro


(Michaelangelo’s God from The Sistine Chapel)

And we’re also remembering the guiding light of our Judeo/Christian tradition.
All of us here today are descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
sons and daughters of the same God.
I believe we are bound by faith in our God, by our love for family and neighborhood,
by our deep desire for a more peaceful world, and by our commitment to protect the freedom
which is our legacy as Americans.

Ronald Reagan, Former U.S. President (1980-1988)

I had to take my husband to the hospital yesterday for a nuclear stress test–
the glowing type of test I suppose.

So while I sat for my near four hours, I had the foresight to carry a new book with me…
The Right Side of History
How Reason and Moral Purpose Made The West Great

by Ben Shapiro

Ben Shapiro is, if you’ve never seen nor heard him, is a young sharp cookie.
Not like this cookie here in cookieland…but a much younger and much smarter cookie.
A good kosher cookie.

Ben is a 35-year-old Orthodox Jew.
He is a graduate of Harvard Law School, a married man with two young children.
He also happens to be a conservative commentator which labels him as persona non grata
or better, a pariah.
An outcast from what is considered our progressive liberal mainstream society.

Each time I’ve had the opportunity to catch an interview featuring Ben as a guest,
I have been greatly impressed with his views, data, and points.

His interviews are reminiscent of when I was teaching high school and was listening to our
debate team kids engaging in debate “presentations”.
Barely discernable facts spouted off at the speed of light.
It took a gift of keen listening in order to keep up.

Ben tends to spout off his facts in that same machinegun type of fashion.

Yet in Ben’s case, he has had built quite the resume of political journalistic prowess.

And so I sat in that lovely waiting room with its lone TV on the game show channel,
with my trusty highlighter in hand…that was until it ran dry.
I then grabbed a pen out of my purse and went to town.

At the beginning of this latest book, Ben recalled a moment when his wife once asked him
if he was happy.

Now being the smart young husband that he is…
Ben readily noted that when a spouse,
in particular one’s wife, asks if you’re happy…that can be a dangerously loaded question.

He shared that she asked this question during a rather stressful period in their lives—
their children were young and naturally required, as children do, lots of time and attention.
His wife had a career as a doctor while he was in the early stages of working with
his business partner trying to get their website and podcast venture off the ground–
all the while traveling the country, busy with speaking engagements.

Ben took the question deeper… to that of a question as to when was he was the most happiest—
and that answer was found on the Sabbath.

Ben is an Orthodox Jew who cuts off the world for 25 hours each weekend when he
and his small family take time to observe the Sabbath.

No TV
No computer
No work
No politics.

Only God, then family.

He recalls a traditional Jewish saying…
“the Jews didn’t keep the Sabbath, the Sabbath kept the Jews”

Ben makes the point that politics is not the driving force for his happiness despite
the fact that it is the pursuit of politics that is where he makes his living…
yet it is the same revelation that our founding fathers also knew.
Our faith is our root—not our politics.
A root that came to us on Mt Sinai.

However this is where we’ll stop for the time being.
Whetting your whistle.

This is a meaty book—
a book that is steeped not only in our Nation’s history but steeped in that of
Western Civilization’s root history–
the history of both our Western Civilization and that of our Judeo/ Christian roots.

A root system we have taken for granted as we are currently watching its erosion.

Like I say—more to share in the coming days…

“Lasting happiness can only be achieved through cultivation of soul and mind.
And cultivating our souls and minds requires us to live with moral purpose.”

Ben Shapiro

can you read between the lines or do I need to loan you my glasses?

Others have commented that it was such a powerful message and it should
get people to reading the bible.
Still others that even if it wasn’t spot on we should take the Philippians 1:18
attitude “But what does it matter?
The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true,
Christ is preached.” –
But that is the key question – was Christ preached?
Was the love of Christ preached?

It wasn’t.
David Robertson


(what will be/ Julie Cook/ 2018)

I suppose I should clarify a few things.

I do not describe myself as an evangelical, a charismatic, a reformist, a progressive,
a liberal, a right winger, a holy roller, a Calvinist, a Wesleyan, a Lutheran,
or even a Henry the VIII follower for that matter…although I was raised in his brand of
the church…

Rather simply put, I claim that of being orthodox—-
Meaning that which is “sound or correct in opinion or doctrine,
especially theological or religious doctrine.
Conforming to the Christian faith as represented in the creeds of the early church.”

As in God said it…therefore it is.

It’s quite simple really as there are no mincing of words.
As the mincing of words, God’s word to be exact, is a practice that so many Believers,
as well as nonbelievers alike, deeply enjoy engaging in these days.

It’s a cut and paste sort of mindset.

Meaning we cut out that which we don’t like while pasting in the parts we do like.

We embrace words such as love, inclusive, wide, happy, feel-good, acceptance, united,
renewal and even embrace itself…
all the while rejecting words such as truth, covenant, tenant, consequence, choose,
narrow, difficult, hard, fact…

My orthodoxy is a very far cry from today’s post-Christian, post-modern, anything goes,
feel good ideology that’s currently spreading like wildfire throughout Western Civilization.

And you should know that I’ve tried it my way, the world’s way, other’s way, no way…
but the only way, of which I’ve always learned the hard way, is that in the end,…
it can only be God’s way.

And so when I hear, see and read so much heightened excitement over a sermon delivered
during a wedding that has been passed off as some sort of faith grounded Christian
new age theology, I am perplexed.

In oh so many weeks I have uttered the same words over and over again…words steeped all
within the same and similar vein…
that of false prophets, false doctrine, cultural shifts, culture gods…
as I remind all of us that the Devil’s minions can recite Scripture with the most
sound theologian.

I have long stated that we are at war…

A deep and divisive Spiritual war.

I know that the battles will rage on but the actual war has already been long won…
I know this good news.
This while many of us are left here to continue the good fight.
As well as left to sound the clarion call into battle.

The sheep and goats are being separated.
There is no getting around that fact.

And that is not a gloom and doom prophesy but sound Scriptural fact.
One of those facts our post-Christian society hates to acknowledge.

So when an animated prelate delivers cut and paste words of which our culture
longs to hear is it a wonder we embrace them??
We say “see, he get’s it…”
He uses the right words…words of love, inclusiveness, union, Jesus, acceptance…

But what our itchy ears fail to hear is that the words don’t fit in sequence with one another.

Chunks of mandates are left out.
Entire tenants are ignored.
A whitewashing has taken place of the original facts.
All being passed off as an old Gospel that is actually quite new.

I could hear all of that in his sermon.
Why do so many others not hear?

Gavin Ashenden heard what I heard.
David Robertson heard what I heard.

“I don’t believe that 2 billion people heard the Gospel in this sermon.
The only people who heard the Gospel in it were Christians who already know Gospel.
Instead of rejoicing in the crumbs we get from heretics,
we should be seeking to learn more of Christ ourselves and get out there and tell the world
about the real Jesus – one person at a time!

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
David Robertson.

David has offered a reflection for Christian Today, here is a link to his thoughts with only
more to follow…

Bishop Michael Curry’s Sermon – A Distorted Gospel Divides the Church

speaking of fragile….

“Man is harder than iron,
stronger than stone
and more fragile than a rose.”

Turkish Proverb


(an exhausted hummingbird / Julie Cook / 2017)

You may recall that yesterday’s post was born from finding a dead butterfly
in the yard.
Perhaps an odd starting point, but who am I to question inspiration.

It was a post based on the idea of fragility…
and of how our lives are laced with such a delicate underpinning…
despite our living life to the contrary.

This was not to imply that we are to live life by walking around as if we were
inside of some sort of delicate glass bubble…encouraging us to be oh so careful
and walk around as if at any moment the sky would be falling on our heads.

Rather it was a post to remind us all that life on this earth is fleeting.

For some of us this life is longer than it is for others…

Yet no matter the time,
none of us know nor have we been given any sort of guarantee as to how long
or how short or to how fragile our life is to be.

And my concern in yesterday’s post, for all of us, was how exactly were we or
are we planning on living under this said umbrella of fragile’s time.

With our limited time, health and energy….how are we opting to spend such…

And with any quick glance around…not only around our own country but rather by
viewing the world at large…
It just seems as if the choices being made are simply not choices that seem to
appreciate the sheer fleeting fragility….of any of our lives.

And it also seems that this notion, for me at least, was not to easily come and go…

For the subject matter of posts is simply not always a neat, orderly or tidy
sort of affair…not a one and done sort of thing.

And as I’ve said before, I do not believe in randomness–everything under the heavens
is interwoven and interconnected.

For the very words I write today may be intended for someone who stumbles upon them
in 5 years…in some far off land….
or even words I myself might need to reread and reconsider at some unseen time…

So yesterday, late afternoon…our heat index had quickly shot up as
mid July is now in full swing here in west Georgia.

This time of year, without fail, the hummingbirds will zip into our garage and for
reasons beyond my soul, will not be able to zip out…
they just can’t seem to figure out how they got in to turn around to get out.

They will spend hours circling the ceiling of the garage.
Something to do with the white ceiling and a presumption of depth and space.
They will exhaust themselves if I don’t find them first.

All of which then has me scrambling for an expansion pole that is used to clean
ceiling fans…
With the pole extended, walking around the garage in circles, with my neck creened precariously back and upward, all the while as I’m balancing said long pole…
I attempt coaxing a tired and confused hummingbird to light upon the end of the pole…
In turn allowing me to dip the pole low enough to ease the bird outside…
where the tired bird flits back from whence it came—the clear blue yonder.

This ritual happens every summer and often on multiple occasions.

Sometimes the bird will tire and simply land on the windowsill…
allowing me step up on the brick ledge where I can gently put my hand around
the exhuasted bird, carrying it back outside, setting it free.

Yesterday however was different.

For whatever reason, while on the phone with my cousin, I looked out the back door
into the garage.
I had to look twice to make certain I wasn’t seeing what I hoped to be just a leaf
and not what I thought…

A hummingbird was laying on the garage floor, wings spread wide.

I went out to inspect the bird.

It was alive and either hurt or exhausted or both.

Gently and gingerly I picked up the tiny little bird as it was simply listless.

The sun was glaring into the garage and the temperature was in the mid 90’s.
I carried the bird outside where usually they will take off once they figure
they are free to fly….

But not this bird.

I gently placed the bird in the empty robin’s nest I knew was still in the
bush by the garage. I thought it would be safe while it cooled down and
gathered back its strength.

My husband and I left to grab a quick bite to eat while I assumed the bird would be
long gone upon our return.

But again, I was wrong.

The bird was in the nest with wings spread wide as I feared it had died.

Reaching in the nest I gently lifted the bird to see that it was still alive but
still listless and exhausted.

Next I actually carried the bird into the house and then back out to the back deck
where I placed it in a small little woven ‘nest’…
I filled a syringe with hummingbird nectar, placing it
along the edge of the nest…just incase it needed a little sustenance for strength.
I then went inside for the night and hoped for the best.

Getting up early the next morning, as I was headed over to Atlanta to met with Dad’s lawyer, I immediately headed out on to the back deck expecting to find my little
friend having perished during the night.

But that is not what I found.

I found an empty nest.

Ours is a covered deck that sits high off the ground so no animals or birds make
their way to this space.
I checked all around and did not see any signs of my wee friend…
So I’m going with the happy ending here…

As life is just too fleeting and oh so fragile,
is there not then room to find just a little tiny bit of happy!

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more,
neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore,
for the former things have passed away.

Revelation 21:4

one day

There is only one day left, always starting over:
it is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk.

Jean-Paul Sartre

One day, while you’re out and about simply minding you’re own business…


(pigeon waddling on the beach / Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2017)

As you’re merely caught up in the day to day business of living life while
pecking out an existence…


(a flock of plovers / Rosemary beach / Julie Cook / 2017)

Yet without hardly noticing, life begins to grow a bit dark as things
just seem to grow harder and harder…


(sparrow / Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2017)

Suddenly one day, and very much out of the blue, you find that you’ve face planted…
falling helplessly into the sands of life…
and you realize you’ve all but given up the ghost…


(a dead loon / Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2017)

The situation, having grown dire, hinges on just a matter of time…
For it is now or never…
Either you get up and get going, flying the coop….
or you succumb to the shifting sands…


(seagull /Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2017)

And yet it is within the change in scenery…
that you slowly and most assuredly begin to find the solace,
along with the long sought healing,
all within the rhythmic motion of the tide…


(brown pelican / Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2017)

and finding your happy place…
you begin to feel a bit more like your old self…


(yours truly / happy in the chilly gulf surf / Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2017)

He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.

Psalm 147:3

see you at the pig….

“The paradise of my fancy is one where pigs have wings”
― G.K. Chesterton

The pig and the chicken were on their way to breakfast,
trying to decide what to have.
When chicken said,
“Let’s have ham and eggs.”
The pig then replied,
“That’s fine for you,
it’s a small donation on your part,
but it’s a total sacrifice for me.”

anonymus


(my view on the interstate / Julie Cook / 2017)

As most of you know, my corner of the world has been anything but happy.
Dad is hanging on by a thread…on a very much borrowed thread of time…
And given that it is all just a terrible time, I’ll spare you the dreadful details…

Plus, I am just very very tired…

However…

I learned long ago that it is in the little things found in life that we can truly
find a little piece of happiness and or comfort…

So while I was mindlessly moving onto the ramp to merge from I-20 to 285
Thursday morning, I suddenly realized that the happiest of faces was actually smiling…
at me!!
Nobody smiles on the interstate and to be honest,
I can’t remember the last time I actually
saw a genuine happy smile coming my way….

When I finally tuned in and focused one the back of the tractor trailer truck
in front of me, I saw the Piggly Wiggly Pig smiling and happily inviting me to visit
his neck of the woods..
It was then that I actually felt my face move…as in I too started to smile.

And naturally I had to take a picture because I wanted to share this momentary slice of
happiness with someone else who might just need a smile coming their way as well!

So here’s to happy smiles…
which in this case just so happens to be courtesy of the Piggly Wiggly Pig!
May you receive some genuine smiles your way today!!

(also, I’d like to dedicate this pig to both Wally and Kathy—sooouuuiiiieeeeee)

I sought the Lord, and he answered me,
and delivered me from all my fears.
Look to him, and be radiant;
so your faces shall never be ashamed.

Psalm 34:4-5