pardon the small disruption in service

No man needs a vacation so much as the man who has just had one.
Elbert Hubbard (1859-1915)


( a little seaweed / Julie Cook / Rosemary Beach, FL / 2019)

Apologies abound for the slight disruption recently in blogging…
But our family packed up two cars late last week and headed southward
toward the emerald waters and those sugar-white sands of Florida’s northern Gulf coast.

But more about all of that later…

So yes, a family vacation.

And so what do we know about vacations?
What do we know vacations to be?

In part, a vacation is intended for those who opt to head off to parts known or unknown,
in order to unplug, to unwind, to relax and perhaps actually reconnect with those
closest to the heart.

Our own little personal family’s jaunt included two under two,
so there wasn’t a whole lot of relaxing…
however there was a delightful shift in focus.

We were together.

And we were isolated from the rest of the world…or so it seemed.

The television, while seldomly turned on, was never turned to the news.

Computers were not turned on, let alone even touched.

Phones were used to take pictures not to check emails or alerts.

There was a much-welcomed 5 days of sheltered isolation.
We were simply left savoring the magic that happens between children and the seashore.
Nothing more, nothing less.

Yet yesterday, as we reluctantly and sadly loaded the cars in order to head back
to our real worlds, we were reminded in very quiet, yet very powerful ways,
that news had happened in our absence.

In small out of the way towns to tiny outpost post offices, as we journeyed northward,
flags were all flying at half-mast.

A US flag at half-mast is a very visceral and sobering gut check.
It reminds us that we are indeed a united Nation…no more so than in our
collective sorrow.

The half-mast flag is a significant sign of unification for a nation that has smugly
forgotten the very fact that it is united rather than divided.

It seems that there were more mass shootings taking place almost simultaneously around
the country.

31 lives lost
while many more hang in the balance from their sustained wounds.

And once again, the people cry out to their government, “What will you now do?!”

And it is in that cry that I am once again perplexed…

The people cry out to their government, their legislators, their president…
“what will you do to stop all of this???”

This oh-so divided Nation that tends to draw within herself when her flags are lowered,
now demands its government do something to stop the madness.

The evil madness of mass murders.

The real help, however, the real answers, will not be found in the voices of our
presidential pundits or of our local or national legislators…or even
in the words of our much-maligned president…

No…the answers will not be found in what man can do for man…
simply because man is too busy killing man…

The answer is simple really and is found in the tiny fact that we are a nation
that has abandoned our God.

There will be those, many in number, who will argue that God matters not when
a madman takes a gun…

And yet the evil remains does it not?

And so, therefore, where lies our hope, our help, our solutions, our redemption,
our salvation…?

In our government?
In our leaders?
In the words of man?

I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;
I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name,
I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’
All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people,
who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations—
a people who continually provoke me to my very face,

Isaiah 65:1-3

is my heart strong enough???

The goodness of God is the highest object of prayer, and it reaches down to our lowest need.
It quickens our soul and gives it life, and makes it grow in grace and virtue.”

St. Julian of Norwich


(The Mayor is all smiles…if only she knew what was coming her way…./Julie Cook / 2018)

Almost two years ago, before my husband sold out his business and before we had
The Mayor in our lives…
we had both already lost our parents, I was retired and our son and daughter-n-law
had moved away.
We knew we didn’t have much that was remaining keeping us here in our current community.
No family to speak of…so selling, downsizing or simply resizing seemed like a
viable thought.

We toyed with the idea of perhaps moving and in turn, started kind of looking around.

I like nature, the woods, the mountains, the ocean, water…
He likes nature, the woods, the mountains, not so much the ocean, but definitely water
as in lakes and streams.

Maybe someplace out west?
Someplace wide, unpopulated and quiet?

Maybe somewhere down in Florida’s panhandle…white sands or better for him, out on the bay?

Maybe up in the mountains of Tennessee or North Carolina?

It doesn’t hurt to look and dream right?

We actually came very close to pulling the trigger a year ago on a place in Florida
but walked away before going too far.

And it was shortly thereafter that we found out that The Mayor would be coming.

Sooooooo our vision changed. We couldn’t be far away.

The idea of The Mayor coming into our lives put a halt to ever being further away
then we are now.

The notion and thought of different, however, remained…particularly as my husband
sold out the business in June.

Maybe we should move closer to The Mayor?

Despite having grown up there, I hate Atlanta…
And my small town husband…well, I think living in the city would kill him or kill
me for having to live with him in said city!

Still, there just wasn’t anything keeping us here…albeit the house we built 20 years ago.

And it’s 5 acres are getting more and more overwhelming…
more than either of us can physically maintain…we have
more than enough bedrooms…let’s just keep looking…right?

So we thought we had found a place in North Georgia, up in the mountains and not much
further from The Mayor than we are now.

We got right close to closing on this latest pipedream of ours when we realized
the impending house was in worse shape than we actually were aware and that getting
it up to speed, to the necessary shape expected before the closing, just wasn’t happening…
and who wants to buy a house in bad shape for a price beyond its shape???

Not us.

So that was our wrinkle this past week, besides drawing the ire of realtors.
But such an investment needs to be worth what you’re paying for—not something you
want to be overpaying for…only to turn around to pay more down the road as an
unending fixer upper…think the classic movie The Money Pit.

We’re too old for that.

Add to all of that… we are both still dealing with the messes our respective father’s
each left us upon each of their deaths.

Besides having almost been house poor, we are currently a bit lawyer poor.

At some point, I will be free to write about these two messes we’ve inherited….or
perhaps I’ll simply write a book from our experiences…
Maybe I could title it…
“When it’s your time to go,
make certain those who remain aren’t left cleaning up after you!”

Sooooo…there we were Wednesday night, eyes glazed over, licking our wounds
when the phone rang.

It was The Mayor.

Well actually it was The Mayor’s father who was facetimeing Moppie and Poppie on
behalf of The Mayor.

Our son says…”Mother move away from the phone, just let daddy look”

Hummmmmm…what’s up with that I wondered???!!

Peeking over my husband’s shoulder, aka Poppie, I see The Mayor rolling about like
the wild rabbit she is…I notice she’s wearing some sort of new little shirt.

I can make out only one word, but it’s a keyword that has me instantly jerking the
phone out of my still clueless husband’s hand as I immediatley holler into the phone…..

OH MY GOD, ARE Y’ALL PREGNANT???????!!!!!!!”

The shirt reading “I may be small but I’m going to be a Big Sister”

WHAT THE HELLO DOLLY?????


(The Mayor is mad to be held still so Moppie can clearly read the shirt)

So yeah…not planned, but The Mayor is about to have an assistant…

The assistant, James Gregory, is due May 1…and yes it is a he…
and it’s a safe bet that Poppie is already planning a fishing trip…
So I just bet a lake may be in our future…who knows…

All I do know is that I only thought we were consumed by The Mayor…
now there will be two…under two…

Yes… God help us all!!!!!

“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
Julian of Norwich

so much for remedies

Substantial progress toward better things can rarely be taken without
developing new evils requiring new remedies.

William Howard Taft

DSCN4299

This picture of the collegiate dammit doll, that does not always
successfully assist my beloved Georgia Bulldogs with a win,
is looking more and more like a potential
voodoo doll as I am just about at that point…
To the point that if I rip off said left leg of dammit doll,
will my own left leg feel any better??

So I went for my little nerve block yesterday…the one I had high hopes for.

Arriving a tad early, they finally called me back to the procedure room.
I had to hop up on the table and was instructed to lay on my stomach
as the cute young assistant pulled my tee shirt up to my head
and my shorts down to my keister while she proceeded to place the
sterile papers on my back in such a fashion that only a sectioned portion of my back was exposed.
She then rubs me down with betadine, alcohol and whatever else she had on that tray.

The doctor comes in donning a lovely lead gown complete with a lead apron for his neck.
I cock to my head to the right to see that the little assistant is now donning
her own cute polka dotted lead gown with matching neck guard as they were both
making darn certain their thyroids were covered up from the x-rays
they’d be using on my back during the procedure.

I didn’t have a lead guard for my thyroid…
maybe cause I was on my stomach or maybe they just knew
that my thyroid was already too far gone to be concerned with.

I explained that the drilling pain in my back and hip had subsided
but that there was now an excruciating burning pain in my inner thigh
and groin with the top of my thigh being totally numb.

“Hummmm, that’s odd…”

Not a reassuring comment from my young tall, just recently married, Asian doctor.

I asked the doctor if this little shot business was instantaneous and he couldn’t exactly say.
He says the goal is to get rid of the pain…
Yes that is my goal as well.

“How will you know where to shoot in order to help these oh so fiery nerves of mine” I ask
“Will the X-ray show that?”

“Oh no, the x-ray just let’s me see the spine, but from what you tell me I might
need to shoot higher.”

Great.

The reason they did a MRI was because they couldn’t see the two bulging discs on the x-ray—
so now he thinks an x-ray is going to steer him straight….?

Like I say,
Great.

As they position the x-ray machine, letting it fire off for an image, they both step back.
I begin feeling a little like Typhoid Mary as they keep taking steps back to a safe distance…
Them in their lead gowns and guards and me in my jacked up tee shirt,
jacked down gym shorts and tennis shoes.

“you’re going to feel a pinch.” he tells me.

Try more like a skewer has just been threaded deep into your back.

My fists clinch as the little beep beep monitor on my finger lets all present know
that I am now in pain.

With each x-ray blast, each step back, each skewering, lidocaine and steroids are injected
deep into my back

“Do you feel the steroid going in, feeling it down in your leg?”

“No”

“Hummm.”

I did however feel not so good.

Kind of heavy in a weird way and now my neck was hurting from being cocked backwards…
herniated discs there as well, but that’s for another day.

They x-ray and skewer me several more times before they finish.

And just like that, my tall, recently married, lead covered Asian doctor leaves the room.

The assistant slaps a small band-aid on my back and tells me to go home, sit with
my feet and legs elevated, no lifting, no cooking…just rest.
“Watch for any white liquid coming from the holes”…leaking spinal fluids I fear,
as she adds “no showering for 12 hours”…

I sit up on the table as I ask her how long it would be till I could tell any difference.

“possibly tomorrow, but give it a week.”

A week???
A freaking week?????
UGH!!!

I get up and go out to my waiting husband…
Who’s looking ever so hopeful—

“How do you feel?”

“Let’s just say that the pain that I came in with, is now going out with us.”
“Add to that a sore back like I’ve just been beaten.”

He takes me home, helps gets me situated and tells me not to worry about supper, he’ll
pick something up.
I tell him, no, that I can cook as I feel no different, but my back is just sore as hell.

I sit on an ice pack for about 30 minutes when I say to hell with this.

My leg still feels like crap and I was now mad.

I started getting supper ready, slamming every drawer and door in my wake.
I went out to start the grill, still slamming and bamming.

My husband comes home to find me in the throws of the tears of utter frustration.

I fall into his arms sobbing that first it was dad, now it was me…
He tells me that we’ll go to the clinic down in Columbus but I sob that
between all the doctors I’ve been to in the past month, between both me and dad…
I’m done…

We’ve seen…
Primary care physicians, his and mine.
Urologists,
Gastroenterologists,
Oncologists,
Radiologists,
Orthopedic surgeons..
everyone’s PAs
CT scans,
Cystoscopes,
Surgeries
x-rays
MRIs
Nerve Blocks
Hospice

you name it, dad and I have done it all… starting late August.

I am done for a while…

When it was finally time for bed, I decided I’d take half a pain pill.
I have amassed a small arsenal of prescriptions that each and every doctor and PA has prescribed…
with me forgoing all of them as they have been various drugs from hell—
sedatives, pain meds, anti-inflammatory meds, nerve meds…
none which have been the first bit helpful, curative, let alone safe with me driving
back and forth literally every other day to dads…

I take only half of the hydrocodone as a whole pill will keep me up and wired for hours.
Hopefully half will help.

At 3AM with my eyes never having actually shut and with sleep now long elusive,
my mind frantically racing, I pondered how in the hell people could
ever get addicted to these things as they only make me wild and
ready to go run a freaking marathon.

I ponder the current affairs of the world.
I’m thinking that in my current mood and state of mind that I could
be put in a room with both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton
and could knock some sense into both of them,
or better yet,
I could knock them both silly.
I was ready to take on Basher Assad, Kin Jong Un, Vladimir Putin and all of ISIS combined.

It was a ‘don’t mess with me’ moment to be sure in the wee hours of the morning…
all the while as my leg was on fire…
which got me singing Alicia Keys’ “this girl is on fire” in my head at 3AM…

I was relieved at first light…the mental madness would now come to an end as
the day and fire of leg would resume..

So, it’s back to square one…whatever square that is….
With the thought of me finding a nudist colony as the whole pants thing is not working
for my leg…
I’ll keep you posted at to what I find…

I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths,
from the realm of the dead.

Psalm 86:12-13

Never in all my life….

I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.
Leonardo da Vinci

DSCN3239
(a troublesome wild onion allowed to shrivel / Julie Cook / 2016)

Never in all my life have I seen a President of these United States have a more difficult time looking at a clear and present trouble and not being able to address it as such.

Hem and haw….
Fuss and cuss…
Pass the buck…
Play the blame game…
and skirt around the issue…
Anything and everything other than facing this crisis,
And that’s what it’s becoming,
a crisis!
Never meeting it eye to eye…

How many more lives must needlessly be lost?!
How many more innocent people in these western parts of this world of ours
must die needlessly before this western part of this world sees trouble for what it is…
Trouble?!

I don’t know…
Maybe it’s just me…
Maybe I don’t get it…
Maybe I don’t understand…

“Lone wolves” they say
“Random or rogue acts” they say…
I don’t know, they all seem to be saying the same thing to me…
“Allah Akbar”
“Claimed in the name of ISIS”
“This is Jihad”

Yet our leader, our chief defender, busies himself with the mundane minutia of rhetoric.
Twisting the obvious around into something else entirely…as he spins this latest act of Jihad into an issue of gun control….
You can lock up all the guns ever made and yet those who wish to kill us will find their way.
(and not saying something doesn’t need to be done with our guns…
but for now, this is not that, not this time)

A whole lot of good any of this fussing does us…as families once again plan funerals and try to figure out how to live life without those they love because Radical Muslims want to kill us.

“Oh but that’s not a tolerant stance” you say.
“You shouldn’t talk so harshly about our neighbors…”
“Don’t lump everyone into one category…”
“You must be accepting and tolerant”

As how many more of us will randomly be shot, stabbed, blown up, or maimed?

So ok then, you tell me what’s going on.
You tell me why Muslims continue shooting, stabbing, blowing up, and basically destroying lives of westerners….
Given all the news about Orlando you may have missed the stabbing deaths of two married police officers in Paris–an Islamic Extremist broke into their home and stabbed them to death in front of their young child—in the name of all things Holy…

Holy?
Right.

But instead of taking a stance—yes as in actually doing something that says “hey, we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore” our President fumbles over his words that by calling a duck a duck will not help in the global fight on Terror and takes rather to fussing and cussing a would be presidential candidate. I think Obama has more on his plate then to play tit for tat with Donald Trump—yet Mr Obama seems to think otherwise.
This is not the time for the President of the United States to have a public hissy fit with a rival pundit.

All of this as we, the average citizen, now keeps a constant look out and an ever ready vigilance as we continually glance over our shoulders at sporting events, outdoor venues, airports, concerts, subways, train stations, soccer fields, shopping malls, our offices, our churches, our synagogues and now even in our bars and clubs…

How safe does that feel?
Oh but our leaders just tell us it’s the “new normal”
“The way things just are now”

Radical Muslims hate us, we’ve pretty much figured that one out.
Radical Muslims won’t rest until the West, and that includes Europe, is no more…
as we are now figuring that one out while we’re on the defensive run.

Regular Muslims don’t speak up and seem to take the “I don’t have a dog in that fight” sort of attitude…
But oh yes they do!! as we’ve pretty much figured that one out as well.

Saudia Arabia is our biggest ally in the Middle East, yet many of these “troubled” young men and woman, who keep trying to kill us, seem to have ties all back to Saudi Arabia…
we’ve pretty much figured that one out too…

So if you and I can figure this all out.
Seeing the troubles for what they are and where they are…
Why can’t our leaders????

And don’t try telling me it’s not so simple or that it’s much more complicated…
there is nothing complicated about figuring out one’s troubles…

George Washington could discern this great Nation’s troubles.
Andrew Jackson could discern this great Nations’ troubles.
Theodore Roosevelt and his cousin Franklin could each discern this great Nation’s troubles.
John Kennedy could discern this Nation’s great troubles.
Ronald Reagan could discern this great Nation’s troubles…

So why is it now so hard for this president to discern the troubles laying hold of this great Nation?

And now, we the faithful, call upon the name of God…to deliver this great Nation…
something our President does not like us to do because once again,
that’s not being openminded…

Hear my sighs…

Prayers for all who have suffered and continue to suffer at the hands of those whose sole desire is our destruction…

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.

Psalm 9:9-10

a need for prayer

“The function of prayer is not to influence God,
but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”

― Søren Kierkegaard

“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God,
at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”

― Mother Teresa

DSCN3257
(broken sand dollar/ Santa Rosa, Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2016)

I’m a huge believer in prayer and the power found in this sacred and mystical transcending form of communication.

I’ve lived long enough to know that not all prayers are answered as we often hope or even expect.
But I know that there are indeed answers—
I know that there is a powerfully innate connection that takes place when we earnestly seek the presence of the Creator…

We are told …
“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for,
it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Matthew 18:19-20

So I come before you this evening to ask for your payers…

Our niece, my husband’s younger sister’s middle child, was rushed to the ER yesterday morning and remains in ICU.
Her potassium levels are deathly bottoming out for reasons yet discovered.
She is not responding to the emergency treatments.

Her father, a physician, told us this morning that “they” were being cautiously optimistic but his face told us otherwise.

Her name is Chrissy…she’s a 44 year old wife and mom.

The obvious prayer is that Chrissy be made well…
but I know that there is more to just praying for a “miraculous healing”

I know that prayers must also be said over and for her husband Bill and 14 year old son Eli.
Prayers for her brother, sister and their respective families…
As well as for my sister-n-law and her husband…

Prayers are offered for the nursing staff and the doctors…those charged with solving the mysteries and saving lives.

I believe that many hearts and voices raised in unison create a powerful force.

I ask if you will please join me in this time of needed prayer….

Thank you….

when it’s raining, you can bet it’ll be pouring

“Never forget that there are only two philosophies to rule your life:
the one of the cross, which starts with the fast and ends with the feast.
The other of Satan, which starts with the feast and ends with the headache.”

― Fulton J. Sheen

Be sober-minded; be watchful.
Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

1 Peter 5:8-9

DSCN1044
(drying umbrellas, Killarney Park Hotel / Julie Cook / 2015

“When you cannot use your sword you may take to the weapon of all-prayer.
Your powder may be damp, your bow-string may be relaxed,
but the weapon of all-prayer need never be out of order.”

― Charles Haddon Spurgeon

There will days when it is best to have an umbrella at the ready…
And I’m not talking about being ready for the ever looming showers of Spring….

Our ancient adversary, the Prince of Darkness,
relishes raining assaults upon the heads of all Believers.
He does so to nonbelievers as well,
it’s just that they don’t realize what it is…but I digress.
Yet it is to the faithful who are the prime recipients…as Satan loathes all believers.

I am obviously living through a downpour at the current moment….
but I take courage.

I have always known that when God’s hand is clearly active, those times in our lives when His work is most evident and we are drawing ever closer, Satan will be relentless to severe any and all ties that bind—as He is most irritated by our drawing close and ever closer to our Lord.

It is at such times when we find ourselves victims of such never ending attacks,
that we must not be dismayed…
We mustn’t allow ourselves to be overcome by the relentless struggles and assaults…

Although that is so much easier said than done…

It is at such trying times that we must remain vigilant as well as tethered
to our faith…

To be vigilant in prayer.

Calling upon the name of the Savior…

Jesus Christ, Son of God…have mercy…

HELP…

Assist us mercifully, O Lord, in these our supplications and
prayers, and dispose the way of thy servants towards the
attainment of everlasting salvation; that, among all the
changes and chances of this mortal life, they may ever be
defended by thy gracious and ready help; through Jesus
Christ our Lord.

Amen

(prayer, Book of Common Prayer)