Dear God,

I told you that I would thank you.

That I would thank you here, on the most public platform I have available.

For you, oh Lord, have blessed us, this small family of ours, beyond measure.

You have heard our petitions and our cries, all on more than one occasion…
You have heard our groanings and our anguish…our pleas and our laments…
and You have always been faithful, even while we were undeserving.

You know my heart oh God.

You know exactly for what it is that I am offering you my thanks…

And yet…for today…I will simply let these two small little people represent
the outward symbol of our family’s gratitude…the deep offerings from my heart to Yours.

I thank you for their presence in our lives.
I thank you for their wellbeing.
I thank you for the opportunity for allowing me to be a part of their lives.
I thank you for the joy they bring…to all of us…

Be that when they are awake and happy…


(the Mayor and her new Sheriff / Julie Cook / 2019)


(the new Sheriff enjoying a bath / Julie Cook / 2019)

Or when they are blessedly asleep, both at the same time when I’m babysitting!


(a moment of blessed peace when “Biya” aka Mopie comes to babysit/ Julie Cook / 2019)

Thanking you even for this…reasons some of us get hand, foot and mouth disease while thinking
we’re just being silly and playing a game of “don’t do that”
and then wonder why later we don’t feel so good.


(the Mayor thinking she’s being funny rather than gross / Julie Cook / 2019)

But most importantly God, I thank You for hearing our small family’s prayers and for
answering those prayers…

Sometimes You answer in ways we see and understand and sometimes You answer in ways that we
do not nor cannot see let alone comprehend…

And yet, no matter what, You hear us nonetheless.

Please continue in Your guidance as I continue to learn gratitude…

Love, Julie

update on sweet baby James

Years ago during the angst-ridden days of adolescence, 
little did I know that when I would lay back on
my bed with arms folded under my head, staring up
at the ceiling, all the while listening to
my vinyl album of James Taylor’s Sweet Baby James playing over and over,
an album full of both melodic and even haunting songs and lyrics…
the memory of one song in particular, would come racing back to the forefront of
my thoughts all these many years later…the song being the same name as the 1970 album,
Sweet Baby James…

And speaking of sweet baby James…
Our sweet baby James got a clear report last night from the ER at
Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital.

With his UTI issues, we’ve been told that should his fever
spike to 100.4 or higher, he needs to be taken to an ER pronto.
Last night, after the Father’s Day festivities, it hit 100.5.

James remains on a maintenance regime of antibiotics until
his surgery come December.
However, we will meet with the Pediatric Urology Surgical doctors
next week for a thorough exam and a projected course of action until he
has grown enough for the surgery.

I greatly appreciate your prayers last evening and those lifted up today…
just as I appreciate those continued prayers!
Please add in his mom and dad to those prayers as they are about to worry
themselves to death as they keep up with a thermometer vigil.

There is a young cowboy, he lives on the range
His horse and his cattle are his only companions
He works in the saddle and sleeps in the canyons
Waiting for summer, his pastures to change
And as the moon rises he sits by his fire
Thinking about women and glasses of beer
And closing his eyes as the doggies retire
He sings out a song which is soft but it’s clear
As if maybe someone could hear

Goodnight you moonlight ladies
Rockabye sweet baby James
Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose
Won’t you let me go down in my dreams
And rockabye sweet baby James

Now the first of December was covered with snow
So was the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston
The Berkshires seemed dream-like on account of that frosting
With ten miles behind me and ten thousand more to go

There’s a song that they sing when they take to the highway
A song that they sing when they take to the sea
A song that they sing of their home in the sky
Maybe you can believe it if it helps you to sleep
But singing works just fine for me

So goodnight you moonlight ladies
Rockabye sweet baby James
Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose
Won’t you let me go down in my dreams
And rockabye sweet baby James

Song and Lyrics by James Taylor

they came, they played, they departed and now they’re in the ER


(the Sheriff today for Father’s day / Julie Cook / 2019)


(James currently at Children’s Hospital in Atlanta / 2019)

If you’ve ever had grandchildren, you most likely already know how quickly your
neat, orderly and tidy little world transforms when they are tiny, young and small.

Your life turns upside down while your heart grows both deep and wide.


(what was our family room)


(The Mayor’s new Woobooville office / Julie Cook / 2019)

You get tired, overwhelmed, happy, crazy and filled beyond measure…
You are not as young as you once were…the heightened momentum can leave you lagging.
Your stamina lessens, your bones and joints ache and as my husband loves to remind me,
“you’re no spring chicken anymore you know.”

The heck I’m not!!!

You work to keep up.
Chasing, running, scooping up, rocking, kissing, holding, feeding, cleaning, bathing
soothing…
Never stopping until they drop…

And then they look at you and smile or they kiss you, or they cling to you sobbing when
it’s time to leave, and your heart simply explodes…it nearly shatters from what can only be
explained as pure love…
because it is at these moments that you actually realize that this is all about
something so much more than yourself.

When you are the young parent(s), you are so busy living the day to day, getting everyone
through the day by day in one piece…working, living and surviving, you don’t have the time to actually
step outside of the moment and see it for what it is.

That’s the joy of becoming a grandparent…you have that ‘outside of the madness’ perspective
that shows you just how precious all of this really is…

That’s why you jump right in and roll up your sleeves.

And so it was…
For the past four days, our own world has been transformed.
We babysat, we enjoyed, we worked and then we celebrated Father’s day on many different levels…

And as the day waned and it was time to go, the tears began to flow.

And once they all returned back home, the call then came.

“His fever is high again, we’re going to the ER like they told us to do if it spiked again.”

And so I ask that you will please join our little family in prayers over our little James.
Prayers for healing from the lingering fever and infection.

As I type we are waiting on the cultures to return to determine if they keep him again.
We are praying they will send them back home.

It’s up in the air as to whether I will go or stay.

Happy Father’s Day to all and thank you for saying prayers for our little James.

there’s no place like home…for so many reasons

“After all,” Anne had said to Marilla once,
“I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid
or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures,
following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”

L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea


(being home, for James, is a okay / Julie Cook / 2019)

Lots to say but not being afforded much time, I really just wanted to let those who have
wondered and been praying for our little family…that James got to
come home Friday evening!!

He came home with a 6 month supply of antibiotics.
He will have to be checked out between his pediatrician and Pediatric Urology
surgeon most likely weekly until he grows enough for surgery…
of which will  be in 6 months.

Because he is now so susceptible to infection that is why they are basically keeping him on
meds until he can have the surgery…lest he has to return to the hospital with
a high fever.

And for those of you who have had to either be in the hospital or keep watch over a loved
one who has, you can certainly relate to the joy of getting to finally head home.


(James channels his inner Batman / Julie Cook / 2019)

James has been a stalwart trooper throughout all of this…
his sister on the other hand…
well, let’s just say that the Mayor may have taken advantage of taxpayer money by
misappropriating funds to furnish herself a small oasis of a vacation while her
brother, the Sheriff, was out of the picture.


(The Mayor and Woobooville Chief aide enjoying a break from the unseasonable heat / Gregory Cook /2019)

But as we can all plainly see, The Mayor remains defiant over such allegations…


(trying to keep the hair out of her eyes, The Mayor does not like anything on her head/ Julie Cook / 2019)

We finally took the Mayor back to her Atlanta Office yesterday only to return home today.
But not before this Chief aide at the Sattelite Woobooville office ruptured another
disc in her back.

Shades of three years ago—except this time, it was from the constant picking up of a 24 pound Mayor
who likes to stay on the move.

The Chief aide is now on the floor gravitating between ice packs and heating pads…
and will call the Orthopedic Clinic tomorrow or Tuesday…depending on when they’re open.

Yet despite the hell of this past week that we have just journeyed through,
we give thanks, Glory, and Praise that the Mayor and her new Sheriff are finally
back together again at home—
despite her reluctance to ever admit such.
Always the fickled politician.


(The Mayor nonplused about going home / Julie Cook / 2019)

And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings,
because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through
the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 5:2-5

update on James

First…I want to thank each of you from the bottom of my heart for your continued prayers
for this newest family member of ours.

My husband and I had thought to steal away for a few days while our son is still on paternity leave—
because once he heads back to work, I’ll head back to Atlanta in order to help out.

Throw in a cat (Percy) who will have a joint fusion surgery the first of June,
and time is nowhere near on my side.

We had only been at our beach destination a few hours when we got the call
from our son that they had raced 3-week old baby James to the ER due to an out of the blue high fever.

The Children’s hospital began running a myriad of tests including a spinal tap and an ultrasound
on his kidneys.
His white blood cell count was high.

They are currently treating him with antibiotics through an IV for a urinary infection with
the concern that he might have something known as urine reflux–where the urine flows back into
the body…
Tomorrow they will conduct a dye test in order to monitor the flow.

Remember he was born with what is thought to be a skewed urethra and so his circumcision is
going to have to be delayed….
this new caveat may or may not necessitate some sort of faster action.

They’re hoping he can be released by Saturday.

Meanwhile, we drove nearly a 10-hour roundabout way from Florida to Atlanta back
to Carrollton.
We drove to Atlanta to pick up Autumn (aka The Mayor) visited with our son while
he and our daughter-n-law are tag-teaming time at the hospital.

Did I mention the gas leak?

We were up visiting Sunday. Our daughter-n-law kept telling us she smelled gas.
My husband and son scoured the basement but couldn’t really detect much of an odor
but we did catch a whiff now and then.

We called GA Nat Ga and they sent out a technician.
He did find a small leak leading to the hot water heater from a pipe that
had bowed over time.
He fixed it.

Then as soon as we had left on our trip, they called up saying the smell was stronger.
Another call and another technician found a larger leak.
The gas was cut off to the house which now means no hot water.

So a different plumbing technician has to come out this evening while either our
son or daughter-n-law is home from the hospital.

And so while the Mayor is non-stop and is here with two exhausted old people, I’ll
be a little slow to respond to all of the kind words offered our way…of which mean
so very much—a community of prayer warriors has blessed us beyond measure.

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

between darkness and light


(sunset at Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2018)

****Firstly, may our hearts and prayers be with the students, parents, faculty, staff
and entire community of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward Co. Florida.
Our hearts break for those families whose lives will never be the same.

Secondly, I read an updated post offered by Bishop Gavin Ashenden on Tuesday
that he was going in for emergency surgery Wednesday due to a detached retina—
this being the second and unforeseen such surgery. He asked for our prayers…
and pray we shall.

With this past Sunday marking the Christian observation of the Transfiguration, the
event in which Jesus is “transfigured” before his friends who had accompanied him to a
mountain to pray…one might find that such an event is perhaps odd fitting falling on
Sunday before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent…
because here we have a significant moment
of light versus a significant time of difficulty and darkness.

As this seems to be one more example of the juxtaposition of our faith as Christians…
Darkness versus Light….Light versus Darkness.

Bishop Ashenden notes this event in his Sunday homily taking place on the last Sunday
before Lent.
He opens his homily with the reading from Mark regarding the event we Christians
know as the Transfiguration of our Lord.

After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a
high mountain, where they were all alone.
There he was transfigured before them.
His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.
And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here.
Let us put up three shelters (some say altars)—one for you, one for Moses and
one for Elijah.”
(He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)

Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud:
“This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.

As they were coming down the mountain,
Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man
had risen from the dead.
They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant.

And they asked him, “Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”

Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things.
Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected?
But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished,
just as it is written about him.”

Mark 9:2-11

I personally have always found the timing, or rather revealing, of Jesus’ Transfiguration
being remembered on the Sunday before Lent as a bit odd as it seems somewhat out of sync.
Here we have the Church calendar making its way toward Ash Wednesday and the
beginning of Lent, a time of solemness and yet we are given a story of Light and Glory.

Lent is a hard time for Christians–it is a 40 day lead up to the walking of the Via Dolorosa–
or the Way of Sorrows…
There is such a seriousness and heaviness and yet here we have a moment of shared and
exposed Glory with the marking of Blinding Light.

And of course, the voice of God telling those disciples present that
“This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him.”

I can only imagine how those three disciples must have felt.
First and suddenly, Jesus is consumed by blinding light.
Then just as suddenly they are seeing men that needed no introduction or explanation
as to who they were, the disciples just seem to know…
the prophet Elijah (who according to Wikipedia as in The Book of Malachi prophesies Elijah’s
return “before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD”,
making him a harbinger of the Messiah and of the eschaton in
various faiths that revere the Hebrew Bible) and also Moses,
the man chosen by God to continue the lineage of mankind and all of Creation
following the near world-ending flood.

Pretty mind-blowing and unbelievable stuff.

And yet they seem to take it all in stride.

That’s the thing about the Bible—we are given specifics with very little in the way
of emotions.
“so afraid”, “trembling”, “sorrow”… descriptive words but not much in the way of
“hey!!! What just happened here??!!”

Yet Bishop Ashenden reminds us that their breath, that of Peter, James, and John,
must have been taken away by Glory…

For these three disciples suddenly found themselves out of the concept of both
space and time.

Both being humanly grounding concepts simply disappearing in the blink of an eye.

We aren’t told of the duration of this event—and I would suspect,
much like a dream that seems to last an entire night yet in actuality is but a minute
or so at best, this moment of absence yet consumingness must also be brief.

The good bishop states that time and space…of which is infused with Glory, simply melts…
Just as it does so later for both Paul and Stephen…
Just as we know that they, and eventually us, must melt ourselves in order to
truly see this Spiritual reality.
Because we can not be of either space nor time in order to be in the presence of God—
because God is not and cannot be, contained by either.

And so the Transfiguration is our moment when both space and time melt away, affording us
a Light cast just before we enter into the darkness.

For “Hope and the promise of Glory–pierces the darkness.
And we need this encouragement found in Christ’s transfiguration to feel the encouragement
in our perseverance through our own Via Dolorosa.

For we live our earthly lives caught up in darkness…
The recent shooting yesterday at the high school in Florida startingly jerks us back
to the knowledge that we live in a fallen world caught in the power play of
Light and Darkness.

As we will soon one day hear those long-awaited words…
“Behold I am with you always—until the end of time…

When both space and time and even ourselves will melt away and
we will find ourselves in the Light.