dirty windows or smudges on a heart?

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret:
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly;
what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


(a front door in need of cleaning / Julie Cook / 2019)

Life has certainly been busy has it not?

When I was still teaching, the two busiest times of the school year were the first month
as well as the last month of the school year.
Fall and Spring.

The opening and the ending.

Those were also the two most important keys to teaching…
it was not only critical as to how you started a year…it was equally as important
as to how you ended it.

So no surprise, this Spring has been a busy time in my tiny little corner of the world.

My little world has been so busy that blogging has actually had
to take a back seat…
Imagine that…life getting in the way of blogging!?
Who knew?!

Hence why my posts have become sporadic and my reading and commenting
have become fewer and farther between.

There have been recent days that I’ve thought, that after 6 years perhaps, it’s time to
shutter the doors in Cookieland…
but then I catch the latest episode of Anglican Unscripted
and I’m reminded that voices to the Truth need to continue sounding…

But more about that and the good Bishop’s words tomorrow as time hopefully allows.

But first, let’s get back to that picture up above…
that picture of a seemingly smudgy storm door.

It seems that my weekend company went home yesterday afternoon.

They came for Mother’s Day and they left Tuesday afternoon.

In and out right?
Short and sweet…

Throw in two cats, one awaiting leg surgery,
and a large dog who currently happens to be on a small vacation this trip.
Add in the 4 adults in the room.

The key players, however, were a 15-month old and a two week old.
Seems simple enough, right?
Two under two…with one being way under the first one who’s under two.

They’re small.
They’re simple.
They’re sweet.

Well, mostly.

Yet these two small beings come with a wealth of stuff and each one requires their own
fair share of stuff when and wherever they may roam.

They also require 24-hour a day constant care.

24 x 2 = 48
48 into 24 doesn’t exactly fit.

Things seem to appear out of nowhere
Things appear in places where they shouldn’t.

There are smelly things that happen.

Accidents, spills, “uh oh’s” and “OH NOs!”

Things are dropped that should never drop.
Things disappear…only to be found days, even weeks, later.

Too many bodies try sleeping in beds made only for two…
with one preferring to sleep sideways, while everyone else sleeps longwise.

There are fingers that end up in closing doors and drawers.
There are jealous cats coupled with jealous babies.

There are tears, screams, laughter, kisses, messes, and lots of chaos.

There are spills along with sticky, greasy smudges and smears…everywhere.

Smeary, smudgy tiny handprints all over the place…

Just as in that glass door pictured up above…

But here’s the thing…

Where most folks see a dirty smudged up window…

Those aren’t really dirty smudges…

Those are simply the marks etched upon my heart…


(the Mayor / Julie Cook / 2019)


(The new Sheriff / Julie Cook / 2019)

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.
And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36:26

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

prayers for dear Percy


(my little boy / Julie Cook / 2019)

We’ve come a very long way.
A very very long way….in 8 short years


(the dying kitten that found us in 2011 / Julie Cook)


(a cleaned up and slowly healing baby / 2011/ Julie Cook)

If you’re not familiar with how this dear member of our family came to be a part of our family,
here is a link from 2013—two years after he had become ours:

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/my-best-friend/

In a nutshell, Percy, short for Perseverance, was thrown from a car,
smacking either a sign or the pavement.

He was a kitten that would fit in the palm of one’s hand.

He had a broken nose.
A broken eye socket.
A smashed mouth full of broken teeth
All of the skin was gone from the left side of his face…
he was covered in maggots and with what I call death flies… all by the time
we had found one another…
or actually by the time he had found us.

Long story short—
he lived!

Despite there being no guarantee he’d live,
he survived and he thankfully thrived.

Hence his name—Perseverance—Percy for short.

It’s amazing what love can do.

It was not easy in the beginning as he had to have rounds and rounds of strong antibiotics
and multiple surgeries while only being a few weeks old.

Over the years, we’ve had to have a tooth pulled here and there…teeth that were still
broken and would eventually become infected.

There have been some urinary issues so there is a special diet.

And due to a lack of teeth, he is more or less an indoor cat…
with the back deck being his backyard.

Plus, after all we’d been through, keeping him inside was a better option for my nerves…
just as I suspect it has been best for all our birds.

A few months back, one morning I noticed Percy walking with a very pronounced limp.
I took him to the Vet and an x-ray later revealed a torn Achilles tendon in his back left leg.

It would be about a $4000 surgery and we’d have to go to either
Auburn’s or Georgia’s Vet Schools for such a specialized surgery.

I went to Georgia and our Vet went to Auburn…sigh.

Neither the money nor time was not on our side due to my having to help on and off over
in Atlanta with our granddaughter Autumn (aka The Mayor)— so I thought we should
keep him as immobile as possible for as long as possible allowing for rest and healing.
Praying for the best.

Low and behold, the leg did heal…well, at least for the most part.

The tendon would never be the same, but blessedly, he was walking without a limp…
however he was now “flat-footed”—cats jump from the ends of their feet…
think off their tiptoes.
Percy was coming up off what I call his back knee, what the Vet calls ‘the hock.’

He had long worn all the fur off of both his back “knees” to this long-standing issue
with both tendons that we were unaware of…
his left leg is the worst of the two “knees” and it recently began to bleed.
The calloused skin was wearing thin.
It could no longer absorb the shock of jumping and landing.

Add in his fastidious licking to the point of being OCD and
he was licking the wound raw.

Another trip to the Vet.

This time she kept him and proceeded with a mini surgery…
cleaning out the wound while attempting to sew the existing skin together.


(Percy with his origianl wrapping following surgery / Julie Cook / 2019)

He kept the bandage on for a few days before jerking it off.

We went back for it to be re-wrapped.

This has now been an on-going, week after week, ordeal…
all over the course of a month.

I’m now changing out the bandages as he’s pulling and biting them off as
fast as we get them back on.

However last night I noticed something troubling.

We were back at the Vets bright and early.

The skin on “the knee” is gone and the tendon is now exposed.

Ideally, the Vet told me that Percy would need to go to Auburn for a skin graft but
with our waiting on a baby to arrive any minute now, that is not an option.
She knows this and told me she would do another surgery.

She’d pull the skin as tight as she could over “the knee”
while stitching it together with stronger sutures.
She would even put him in a cast if she thought it would help.

She then told me she would need to keep him for about a week if not longer…
keeping him in a cage and as still as possible, allowing the surgery to do its job
without him jumping up and down off that knee.

He hates the Vets.
He shakes, is scared and a nervous wreck.
He usually won’t eat if he’s there.

He loves his mommy as he sits in my lap at every opportunity and
snuggles against my back at night.

I left the office and cried the entire drive home.

Percy is more or less my life here at home.

He has decided that whatever is Autumn’s is in turn naturally his.

I think that any time we “rescue” an animal, an animal that happens into our lives on
a wing and a prayer, they become innately intertwined in our beings.

We care for them as babies and we nurse them back to life…practically willing them to live.
And more often than not they, in turn, thrive, making them some of the best pets
we could ever ask for.

I think they truly know the toll their nurturing back to health takes on our own lives,
psyches and hearts, in turn, they are genuinely grateful.

It may be silly for me to ask, but I am asking anyway…I’m asking for prayers for Percy.

Prayers for Percy’s healing of his knee/hock and also for a sense of peace in his spirit this
week while he’s kept away from home, stuck in a cage in a strange place…way out of his
comfort zone.

I’m also asking for prayers for our latest family’s addition to be, baby James.
I pray that he will arrive readily, happy and healthy..and if his mother might add, soon.
Prayers for our daughter-n-law as she prepares to go through this delivery business one more time…

Prayers also for a 14-month old little girl whose neat and tidy little world of
being the single shining light, is about to be turned upside down.

Prayers for mom and dad…and prayers for a worn out grandmother and grandfather!

Thank you!!!

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10

heartbeat

Listen to your heart when he’s calling for you
Listen to your heart there’s nothing else you can do

Lyrics to Listen to Your Heart by Roxette

The heartbeat…the rhythm of life…or….when it stops without restarting,
becomes an ending…an ending that results in death.

The stopping of the heart is the sole signal to all present that life has passed from
that of the brief to that of the unending.

And so why might it be important that doctors tell us that a baby in the womb,
a fetus’s heartbeat, can be detected by six weeks old?

Would that mean that life, life as we know it, begins at a mere six weeks following inception?

Just a month and two weeks old inside the womb, a baby’s heart beats on its own.

Making this being a separate entity from that of the mother.
Two as one and one as two…

For centuries prior to modern medical technology, those in the know, be it
physicians or priests would be the official determiners of the passing of a life—
They had the final say as to whether or not there was a detected heartbeat.
Much like the attending physician or the coroner today—
they are the ones who sign off on the official death certificates, they were and remain,
in essence, the harbingers of death.

The notion of a heartbeat determining life dates back for centuries…
going back to the ages long before the birth of Christ.

Gilgamesh, the hero-king in the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh uttered the following lament on
the death of his best friend in 2600 BC:

“I touch his heart but it does not beat at all.”
Gilgamesh, c. 2600 BC

The passage is thought to be the earliest reference to pulse-taking indicating that,
as early as 2600 years BC, man understood that the heart beats and can be palpated.

The National Library of Medicine

Be it ancient Mesopotamia or ancient Egypt, man appears to have long understood the correlation
between the beating of a heart and that of life:

So perhaps it should come as no surprise that the idea of a heartbeat is to be a deciding
factor in regards to a baby in the womb…a heartbeat determining whether or not the unborn
baby is truly a living entity vs that of a simple mishmash of cells and fluid.

Georgia’s House Bill 481, which would ban abortions once a doctor can detect a
heartbeat in the fetus, was put to a vote Thursday evening.

The bill passed… but not without issue.

WSB news reported that:
In a remarkable show of defiance, House Democrats turned their backs on the Acworth lawmaker
sponsoring the so-called heartbeat bill before it was introduced.”
Acworth lawmaker Ed Setzler did continue,
explaining why he believes Georgia should ban abortion after six weeks, instead of 20 weeks,
as under current law.
“It seeks to recognize that the child in the womb that is living distinct from their mother
has a right of life that is worthy of protection,” Seltzer said.

But even as Setzler spoke, some Democrats walked off the floor.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the response of some Democratic members…
“This is what women will be relegated to,” said state Rep. Park Cannon
outside the House chamber.
The Atlanta Democrat held a hanger with the names of Republican supporters
of the bill, hinting at the tool some women used to end their pregnancies
before abortion was legal in the country.
AJC

Today there have been growing protests outside of the state capital with more defiance planned as
opponents and Democrats have pledged to rally in order to fight this bill before
the Governor signs it into law.

My question, because I honestly don’t understand, is why do a majority of Republicans
and Conservatives believe in life while a majority of Democrats and
Progressive Liberals believe in death?

A heartbeat is the telling sign of life.
Why then would anyone argue otherwise?

May we as a Nation choose life…

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my
portion forever.

Psalm 73:26

Please do not turn away from us

“If JESUS cannot control you, HE cannot save you.
And if HE cannot control ALL of you HE cannot control any of you.”

A.W. Tozer

“The darker the night, the brighter the stars,
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!”

Fyodor Dostoevsky


(lone starling waits / Rosemary Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2019)

My heart was so grieved last night when I finally crawled into the bed—
I had thought I’d read a bit but then thought better of such a notion and opted
to just turn out the lights.

Sorrowfully, I blankly stared out into the darkness until finally squeezing my eyes shut.

The words, ‘Third Term Abortions’, swirled in my brain.

Abortion is horrific.

And yet we now have those who wish to make it even more horrific…if such was possible.

We have been greeted with the news this week of those who now callously think that a live birth,
a living, brand new baby should be allowed to simply be left to die—
that that child may not be allowed to live, to thrive, to grow, to love, and to be loved…
it was, it is, more than my heart could or can bear.

What world do I live in?
What nation is this?
What century is this?

Educated we brag.
Highly evolved we boast.
Egotistical we are.
Humble we are not.

I found my mind imploring…
Please God, do not turn your back to us.
Please do not leave us..
Do not leave us to this…

But this is what I know…God will leave man to his own devices.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people,
who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them,
because God has made it plain to them.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have
been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him,
but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God
for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading
of their bodies with one another.
They exchanged the truth about God for a lie,
and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.
Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts.
Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.
In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.
Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God,
so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.
They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.
They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice.
They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful;
they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;
they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.
Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death,
they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Romans 1:18-32

If we only had a brain…and a heart…

I could while away the hours
Conferrin’ with the flowers
Consultin’ with the rain
And my head I’d be a scratchin’
While my thoughts are busy hatchin’
If I only had a brain

Lyrics from “If I only had a brain”
Wizard of Oz


(Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz)

A few weeks back, I wrote a post entitled “if we only had a heart”

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2018/12/14/if-i-only-had-a-heart/

But now I fear we truly need our brains as well…

Spurgeon reminded us that we needed to use our brains.
We needed to read, and in turn, learn from what we read…
meaning we learn from other’s brains…

In Education, we call this ‘teach one, tell one’…

The notion being that one is taught, and they, in turn, teach another…

The passing on of knowledge…

“Give yourself unto reading. The man who never reads will never be read;
he who never quotes will never be quoted.
He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains,
proves that he has no brains of his own.
You need to read.
. . .
We are quite persuaded that the very best way for you to be spending your leisure time,
is to be either reading or praying. You may get much instruction from books which
afterwards you may use as a true weapon in your Lord and Master’s service.
Paul cries, “Bring the books” — join in the cry.”

But what if what we now read is actually all wrong?

What if the sources we have trusted, the people we have trusted are no longer using their brains?
What if what they write, report and share are all wrong?

And so in turn, what we think we are learning, seeing and reading and eventually sharing
is all wrong?

The most egregious of which is what we have today–a story known simply as
“The Covington Catholic Boys”

I’m pretty outraged by all of this…
This idiocy of ours.
This indignation gone mad.

I’ve read some marvelous posts regarding this madness written by those with brains…
those who can say what I want to say but find myself currently at a loss…
At a loss due to this lunacy and due to just feeling too crappy to put decent
thoughts together in order to flow…
So I will let my friends with brains set the story straight while I have come to the conclusion that
we need to be a people who must now yearn for both our hearts and brains:

Slim Jim from the Domain of Truth:

https://veritasdomain.wordpress.com/2019/01/22/nathan-phillips-problematic-slander-of-the-covington-boys/

Citizen Tom:

THE DANGER OF BELIEVING PROPAGANDA

IB from Insaitybytes2

https://insanitybytes2.wordpress.com/2019/01/21/about-those-covington-catholic-boys/

I could while away the hours
Conferrin’ with the flowers
Consultin’ with the rain
And my head I’d be a scratchin’
While my thoughts are busy hatchin’
If I only had a brain
I’d unravel ev’ry riddle
For my individdle
In trouble or in pain
With the thoughts
That I’d be thinkin’
I could be another Lincoln
If I only had a brain
Oh, I could tell you why
The ocean’s near the shore
I could think of things
I’d never thunk before
And then I’d sit down
And think some more
I would not be just a muffin’
My head all full of stuffin’
My heart all full of pain
And perhaps I’d deserve you
And be even worthy, even you
If I only had a brain

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Psalm 51:10

I will always be…wherever you may go…

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol,
you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.

Psalm 139:7-10 ESV

God wants to walk with us, speak with us, share our hopes and dreams, bear our burdens and sorrows,
guide us, guard us, and lead us to our perfection in Heaven.

Mike Pacer
from Mercy and Hope


(the Mayor and Geoffery / Julie Cook / 2018)

The Mayor has come and the Mayor has now gone….home.

And so as I find myself somewhat lost in the now palpable emptiness and stillness…
much like any grandparent, the separation of missing those minuscule daily changes
of growing, and the impenetrable bonding of heart to heart…
I struggle with how things are meant to be.

Where is my solace?
Where is the consolation of my now eerily quiet life that was once just so full and constant?

In knowing that my heart will always be with her, no matter what, no matter where,
no matter the time nor the space of life or death…
It is because I know that God is forever mine and I am forever His…
and so… we are all of His heart.

“Let each of us accept the truth of the following statement and try to make it
our most fundamental principle:
Christ’s teaching will never let us down, while worldly wisdom always will.
Christ Himself said that this sort of wisdom was like a house with nothing but sand as its foundation,
while His own was like a building with solid rock as its foundation.”

St. Vincent de Paul