Can’t you see? Not exactly.

Can’t you see (I’m gonna take a freight train) can’t you see
(I’m down at the station lord) what that woman (ain’t never gonna go back) been doin’ to me
Can’t you see oh can’t you see (gonna ride me the southbound)
(All the way to Georgia) what that woman (till the train run out of track) been doin’ to me

Marshal Tucker Band 1973


(from N-lightenment.com)

Ok, I’m diverging today entirely from any topic we’ve been riding lately.
Driving basically off the cliff and jumping the tracks of all subject matter.
No politics.
No debate observations.
No current civil unrest rants.
No religious tit for tat…
Something entirely off track.

That Marshal Tucker Band song up above, that I’ve allowed to open this post,
is from my youthful days of high school and it came racing to my mind
yesterday morning.
It came after I’d woken from the longest and oddest dream I think I can ever
remember having.

Now, remember I’ve been fighting the withdrawals from my HRT (hormone replacement therapy)
for almost 3 months.
There has been NO, I repeat, NO sleep worth mentioning in all that time—
only insomnia and rolling hot flashes on and on all night long.

I begged my doctor to do something.
Yes begged and pleaded actually…that’s how bad me not sleeping becomes.
Reluctantly she put me back on the HRT but it is a dose fit for a mere ant.
And an ant’s dose isn’t doing me any good.

So yes, me without any real consequential sleep is not pretty.
Just ask my long-suffering husband.
He now gets very little sleep as well because all I do is toss and turn and
kick off covers all night long.

So the night before last, I doubled the CBD oil dose (yes the doctor said she
hears it helps with hot flashes but I take it for IBS and no it is not
helping with the hot flashes) plus doubled my IBS meds.

And so I actually slept without fighting my hormonal self.
Maybe I had drugged myself…but I digress.

But in that sleep came that bizarre dream.

They say that dreams are actually quite brief but I swear this particular dream went
on all night.
Even when I’d groggily come to some sort of consciousness,
I’d quickly tell the dream part of my brain to let it keep playing out because
I wanted to see how it all ended.

I believe that dreams are a mixed bag.

I believe God can speak to us in our dreams.
I believe that the devil can speak to us in our dreams…which are more like nightmares
but again, I digress.
And I believe we can speak to ourselves in our dreams.

So this dream had a younger me and an old childhood friend galivanting about.
I’ve not seen this friend of mine in years so that was the first odd thing.
Plus we were more like our younger teenage selves.

Next, we ran into a former President and first lady.
Now that is really odd because I’ve not thought much of this presidential duo
in several years. A bit of a past president but not too long ago.
Think W and Laura…
And I usually don’t think that much about presidents, let alone first ladies.

There was a woman who I think was actually that first lady.
She was kind and soft-spoken.
In the dream, something bad had happened to her,
a terrible betrayal and I had known about it.
And I felt terrible for her.
Yet there was nothing I could have done to stop it as I realized the trauma when she had–
that being after the fact.
Yet I ached for her anyway.

I can remember looking at her and she looking at me—so I impulsively took her in my arms to
hug her and offer comfort.
Not that I’m a big hugger in real life, but I do hug those who I feel are in need.
People who hurt do need hugs, but overall I’m not touchy-feely.

However, it was the look on her face, the love in her eyes towards me,
and her embrace of me that was what got to me.
Now granted her face is not the face of the real first lady in question.
Dreams work that way…you think it’s a real person but the faces are
never quite what we actually know them to be.

I woke almost with tears in my eyes.
And then started ruminating.
And then the Marshal Tucker Band song just revved up, playing in my head.
And no, the CBD oil does not contain any THC!
This craziness is all me and me alone.

Now we all know that I’m adopted.
We all know how that crazy story played out as I’ve written at length about
being adopted and having learned the identity (sort of) of my birth parents
all these many years later— written just last year.

I know who my biological father was—and from everything I’ve heard, he was a
good and kind man.

My birth mother on the other hand, who is, yes, still living, has not been as kind.
She let her lawyer inform a social worker that I was in the past and that
was where I was to stay.

And I was like, ‘Ok, you’re what…84? and I’m almost 61??…so yeah,
I’ll just stay in that past.’
Paaaallleeeezzzze.

Anyway, I did come to a peace about all of that a while back…something I’d also written
about…so it’s good to have all this material to write about I suppose.

But what I knew from this dream was that something deep inside of me yearns for that
sort of love that I saw in that woman’s eye for me and felt in her embrace.
Something I’ve never seen or felt before.
Nope never.
A deep abiding, unconditional love of a mother to her child.
And all I know is that I wanted it…or shall we say, want it.

Yep, you read it— a 61-year-old sleep-deprived woman is pining for a mother’s love.
Go figure!?!

And yes, I’ve written about this before as well…my adopted mom and I,
before her premature death to cancer at 53, had had a fractious relationship while
I was growing up—especially when I was a teenager.
But I don’t know too many moms and daughters who delight in one another
during said teenage years…
We were much closer when she suddenly got sick and died prematurely.

As that angst-driven teen, I was headstrong, stubborn, and detached from both my mom and my family.
Our family was a dysfunctional hot mess and I resented every minute of it.

I’ve written about that too…
all about my brother’s mental illness and his inability to cope
with his having been adopted…and thankfully we were not biologically related.
So you would think I’d quit having these random, out of the blue, type dreams…
but nooooooo.

And no I don’t need therapy.
I have been prayed over long ago for healing and healing came.

But to still want that sort of love is not to simply be dismissed
or even purged.
There’s something there and it keeps knocking
at a deep door in my being.

It’s a good thing to want love and to be loved.
I don’t think there’s a whole lot of that running around this country of ours these days.

So maybe that’s it.
God is bringing the idea of unconditional love to the forefront of my thoughts
because we are all living knee-deep in divisive hate.
And no, that is NOT the fault of the sitting president…it is
the fault of every human being who is ranting and raving these days.

So yes, I still yearn for that embrace.
Just as I still yearn to see that look of love in some unknown mother’s eye.

And I suspect, one day…I will both see and feel that look and that embrace…

So here’s to love.
Ture abiding love…

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.
God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

1 John 4:16

thin black line, 6th Ave Heartache

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

An odd thing happened two nights ago.

Now you need to remember that I was taken off my HRT (hormone replacement therapy)
about 7 weeks ago.
Hormones, I’d been on nearly 30 years.

Sleep has never been great, but take away the hormones and things immediately went
from bad to really really bad in literally a single night’s time.

However two nights ago, despite battling the need to breathe while living
with a sinus infection along with poison ivy, I was actually asleep.

How do I know?
I was flat on my back.

I’m usually a side to stomach sleeper yet at some point or other,
when I’m really asleep, asleep—
I’m always mysteriously flat on my back.

At 1:30 in the morning, I became aware that I was itching.
Groggily I started scratching at my poison ivy now spreading across my torso.
Suddenly in my head, I was hearing a song that I know I had not heard playing that day
as some sort of background music in a store.

Clear as day, playing lyrically in my head.

It was a song I’ve always liked..a 90’s sort of song…Why I’ve always liked it,
I don’t know, but it has always made me feel a bit heavy-hearted and melancholy.
Again, I’m not sure as to why.
Although it’s an older song, it seems to still be quite relevant.

Rousing my brain to full awake mode, I opted to get up and head into the bathroom
in order to slather on some more anti-itch medicine— all the
while that song kept ringing in my head…

“And the same black line that was drawn on you
Was drawn on me
And now it’s drawn me in…”

I crawled back into bed now restless as my thoughts were racing.
All the while still itching and listening to non-existent music playing.

Why was this song stuck in my head—especially when I was good and asleep??

The following morning, after grabbing my coffee, I googled the song.

According to Wikipedia , The lyrics are based on Dylan’s (Jakob Dylan)
own experiences while living in New York City, in particular, the story of a homeless man
who would sit outside Dylan’s window and play the same songs every day.
One day, the man was gone, but his things were still there,
until gradually people started taking them.

Well, that seemed to make it all feel even worse…doubly more sad than before.

So I kept digging a bit further.

What did the Bible have to say about a black line??

As I kept looking, I was constantly being redirected to the mark of Cain.

Hummmm.

Remember, being raised a poor illiterate Episcoplain kid, the breadth and depth
of Bible study was never my forte.
But I was now intrigued.

I knew Cain and Abel…really the very first tale of humankind’s lowest moments.
Or actually, that might have been their parents…but either way, we humans weren’t off
to the best of starts.

Choice…we never seem to have mastered choice…but I digress.

Why would God want me to think about all of this at 1:30 in the morning?
I know, I know…time to God is irrelevant but to a woman who hardly ever has deep
sleep, as in REM, I was just a tad frustrated.

There were (are) a lot of articles on the web about the mark of Cain
and many of them have some sort of racist connotation.
Naturally…it always goes back to race.

It seems race has been with us since the beginning of time and we still don’t know how to
deal with it—- gees…!
But again, I digress.

So after reading, I managed to find an interesting article on Bibleodyssey.com
written by Eva Mroxzek, an assistant professor of Jewish studies at Indiana University.

She hit on the whole good mark, bad mark thinking…
Cain killed his brother and God marked him for life.
The question…was or is…. was or is the mark a mark of shame or a mark of protection?

Was it leprosy?
A ‘keep your distance’ sort of mark?
Did God turn his skin a darker color?
Did God have a horn grow out of Cain’s head?
Did it have to do with circumcision?
Did God give Cain a dog?
Huh???

Did God have mercy on Cain and forgive him for having killed his brother…the first
recorded murder in human history only to followed by the greatest act of forgiveness??

But wait…was that the greatest act of forgiveness or was that actually
during Good Friday…
digressing again…

So, was the mark a mark of forgiveness…

On and on the so-called wise ones have debated this issue for eons.

And yet oddly here it comes visiting me at 1:30 in the morning by way of a 1996 song.

Ms, Mroczek notes at the end of her article…
“But the most striking interpretations rely on a later meaning of the Hebrew word oth:
a letter of the alphabet.
A midrashic text suggests that God inscribed a letter on Cain’s arm as a mark of protection
(Pirqe Rabbi Eliezer 21).
Thus, the mark of Cain becomes a sacred sign.
In another midrash (Tanhuma Genesis 10),
it is the word Sabbath that is inscribed on Cain’s face—after the personified Sabbath day
itself begged God to forgive Cain’s sin.
And a targum—an Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Scriptures—
identifies the mark as the holiest sign of all: God inscribes on Cain
“the great and honorable name of the LORD,” namely the tetragrammaton,
the four-letter name of God (YHWH).

https://www.bibleodyssey.org/people/related-articles/mark-of-cain

So the jury is still out.

Why the song?
Why the direction toward Cain?
And is this a message of foreboding or passage of forgiveness.

I’ll let you know what happens when the next hot flash rouses me from
what little precious sleep there is…I’m sure God will have His say…
I just wish I was wise enough to figure out where He was taking me.
But if I knew that…there’d be so many answers to so many questions…

Heartbreak does seem to be happeing on all sorts of 6th Avenues across this Nation…

Sirens ring, the shots ring out
A stranger cries, screams out loud
I had my world strapped against my back
I held my hands, never knew how to act
And the same black line that was drawn on you
Was drawn on me
And now it’s drawn me in
6th Avenue heartache
Below me was a homeless man
I’m singin’ songs I knew complete
On the steps alone, his guitar in hand
It’s fifty years, stood where he stands
Now walkin’ home on those streets
The river winds move my feet
Subway steam, like silhouettes in dreams
They stood by me, just like moonbeams
Look out the window, down upon that street
And gone like a midnight was that man
But I see his six strings laid against that wall
And all his things, they all look so small
I got my fingers crossed on a shooting star
Just like me just moved on

How can you mend a broken heart…

And how can you mend a broken heart?
How can you stop the rain from falling down?
How can you stop the sun from shining?
What makes the world go round?

Song Lyrics, Robin and Barry Gibbs (the Bee Gees)


(The Mayor itching to get in the rain / Julie Cook / 2020)

These are pictures of The Mayor itching to get out into the rain
What is it that draws kids to the water…itching to get out into the rain???

Well, we had to take the Mayor back home yesterday and naturally, it broke my heart.
It always breaks my heart to take her home.
She was adamant that she did not want to go home.
I suspect that it had a great deal to do with the fact that she did not
want to go home because she knew that the new daycare was in her future, once again.
Funny that a 2 and half-year-old knows what the cards have in store.

And naturally, it breaks my heart that I can’t just keep her 24/7.

I can’t tell you how much I love those kids–The Mayor and her brother, the Sheriff.

And so I think about how much we love our children and our grandchildren…
and yet I think about what just happened in Georgia–

The Georgia House bill—the Abortion Bill 481–aka the Georgia Heartbeat bill,
was unsurprisingly ruled unconstitutionally this week.

A heartbreaking ruling…

Children are our future, our hope, our love…not some sort of commodity that can
easily tossed aside on some sort of whim…

Life is not a mere whim…

https://www.wsbtv.com/news/georgia/federal-judge-says-georgias-heartbeat-abortion-bill-is-unconstitutional/X6N3AMLHRJCORN424DJK672ZYA/

There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.

Proverbs 6:16-19

this is the moment

Faith is a force, one so powerful that it cannot tolerate anything next to it.
How weak in faith we are: we are constantly letting things outside of God take up space in us!

Adrienne von Speyr
from Lumina and New Lumina


(a meme sent by a friend)

This meme pretty much sums up our collective year thus far…
as in 2020 probably won’t be the year you’ll want to invest in that special case of wine
to save for a momentous occasion on down the road.

The way things are going, there may be no more momentous occasions and
there may be no more roads…just saying.

So yeah, 2020…NOT, a very good year.

My husband and I basically quit watching the news almost two weeks ago.
It had gotten to such a depressing point.
Leaving us feeling helpless, frustrated, and downright mad.

Our leadership is abysmal—plain and simple.

They’ve not been able to handle a pandemic and Lord knows they
are not handling this cultural civil war worth a flip.

Arrogance, infighting, ignorance, hatred…you name it.

I do believe the President is truly trying to cull the madness but
the opposition, along with some of his own party, are making all things
impossible.

I feel like a person who’s been cut adrift in a raft,
drifting helplessly out to sea.

I imagine I am not alone.

I could write on and on about Antifa or Black Lives Matters, both
Marxist organizations bent on violence as an end means at any cost.

I could write about a society that wants handouts rather than hands up.

I could write about the never-ending demands for abortions and the deaths
of babies aborted who actually live– those so-called late-term abortions
that are gone awry.

I could write about a sexually confused swarth of society that
no longer believes in biology.

I could write about the lunacy over the “defund the police” movement…
as that is plain idiocy run amuck.

I could write about the destruction of monuments, statues, buildings,
churches, synagogues all because of a white European legacy…
all of which is simply stupid.

I could wirte about the capitulation by Church leadership
bending to the whims of a progressive culture that takes
no prisoners.
You either get on board or you get destroyed.

I could write about a culture that will strike you dead for
disagreeing with their rabid ideals.

I could write about being woke…or is that arrogantly ignorant?

I could write about violence, hatred, anger and zero civility.

I could write about the emotionalism found in a younger generation who
feels compelled to kneel against a flag and anthem of which is simply
misguided and historically ignorant.

I could write about a pandemic that has crippled a global economy
while leaving those in the know scratching their heads.

But I won’t.

I won’t belabor what the sane amongst us already know.

About 7 years ago, when our son was engaged to be married, I decided,
as the mother of the groom, I needed to get myself into some kind of
presentable shape.

My husband had bought me an elliptical machine for Valentines…a truly heart-healthy
gift…and so I decided I needed to get serious about using it.

I would spend between 30 to 60 minutes daily pushing, pulling and trucking
myself to nowhere all in the confines of our basement.
Sweating like a pig in the process.

After about two weeks I could actually feel a difference in my legs and ‘behind’.
A good difference.
My shorts fit better.
That was then…no so right now but I digress.

When I’d “workout”, I played music to help me push through the pain and strain.
One of the peppier songs was ‘Can’t Hold Us’ by Macklemore.

I didn’t really know all the lyrics…if I had, I probably wouldn’t have listened to it
but the beat was great when one was pumping one’s arms while practically running uphill
via a machine.

I still recall one part of the song that still resonates in my head…

Can we go back?
This is the moment
Tonight is the night, we’ll fight ’til it’s over
So we put our hands up like the ceiling can’t hold us
Like the ceiling can’t hold us

And so yes—
“This is indeed the moment”

All week long I’ve waxed and waned about the notion of discovering one’s true calling.
I’ve written about the differences between a vocation versus a job.
I’ve written about the curse of the repetition of history.
I’ve written about a world gone simply mad.
I’ve written about being lost while longing to be found.

But the one thing I do know, and know most clearly, it that
this is the time for those who call themselves Christians to stand up and stand firm.

You have not been called to be timid.

Those who waffle will fall.
Those who prefer appeasment will be dismayed.
Those who yield to the world will be damned.

It is the one thing that I know more clearly than anything else.

God has called us to be resolute.
This is our Spiritual call to arms.

Accepting a rewritten version of God’s word is unacceptable for a follower of Christ.
Condoning death as a viable and convenient option rather than choosing life is a sin.
Marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman, end of sentence.
Denying Christ before the vile and violent mob, kneeling before the world might
spare your earthly life but it will not find you seated by Christ’s right hand.

Enough is now enough.
God has given us a voice.
It’s time we use it.

They can kill the body, but they cannot kill the soul.

Cry aloud; do not hold back;
lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
to the house of Jacob their sins.

Isaiah 58:1

the saga continues and the irony of grocery store music

I don’t want to wait for our lives to be over
I want to know right now what will it be
I don’t want to wait for our lives to be over
Will it be yes or will it be sorry?

Lyrics by Paula Cole

I was in a bit of a daze, lost deep in my thoughts as I pushed my
shopping cart up and down the aisles of the grocery store.
A familiar song, that was playing over the store’s intercom system, pierced
my melancholy mood with a bolt of searing heat.

Suddenly I was very conscious of my attempting to blink back stinging tears.

“I don’t want to wait…for our lives to be over…”

And just as suddenly, I had to stop myself from shouting it out loud, lest everyone look at
me like some sort of nut was now loose on the cereal aisle.

NO!
No, I don’t want to wait.
I’ve already waited for 60 years.
And in many ways, it is too late.

Most of you probably recall my recent posts regarding my quest to find my birth mother
along with how that abruptly ended via the response of an attorney to a social worker.

“You are in the past, and the past is where you will remain…”

However, biology teaches us that there are two parents involved in the
making of a baby.

A mother ‘and’ a father.

Yes, yes, I know… we are living in odd times when the father may simply
come frozen via a sperm bank…but nonetheless—there is a female and a male involved.

And to me, that female remains the biological mother and that male, the biological father.

The door was obviously gut punched shut regarding my birth mother but the social worker
followed that slamming of a door with a question…
“would you like for us to now search for your father?”

Now let’s back up this story a tad.

You may remember me telling you how, at the first of the year, I opted to
participate in the growing DNA puzzle quest…23 & Me

And thus searching for my past, I sent in a vile of spit.

But if the truth be told, that was in part because my doctor suggested that I do so
in order to learn some of my medical history.

Odd things continue creeping up and my doctor didn’t want my son and grandchildren to
have the same sort of out of the blue surprises.

Once the specific DNA company sends you your breakdown, as part of the information
you receive, DNA matches are automatically shared.

And it just so happened that there was a very strong DNA match with a person
who was marked as a first cousin.

Out of the tens of thousands of “relatives”, I had but one close relative match
and that was of a first cousin.

As more tests continue being processed, more matches come your way.
And nearly 6 months after the fact, I still have but one close match.

There is a messaging option on the DNA site so when I saw the numerical link,
knowing this might be my only opening for some sort of answers,
I immediately knee jerked and excitedly reached out to this man.

His smile in the provided thumbnail picture was warm and genuine.

I explained who I was and provided an abbreviated version of my story of adoption,
an adoption of which eventually lead me to look for answers in a DNA test.

I’m sure it is no doubt a surreal feeling to find sitting in one’s inbox
a new and unknown relative has, out of the blue, reached out.

But I was fortunate—he messaged me back.

We exchanged e-mails and began corresponding.
I shared the redacted information from my original adoption file
regarding my birth father and he shared his family’s history.

I told him my father was…
28 years old
A Lt. in a southern state’s State’s patrol
Romantically involved with a 23 yr old nurse in Georgia…

He later shared this story with his two brothers.

Following a few days, he emailed back that both his dad and his dad’s cousin were
28 in 1959 and were lieutenants in their state’s State Patrol…
but that it was the cousin who had dated a nurse in Georgia.

And given our DNA percentage as only cousins and not high enough to be siblings,
he was pretty certain, the cousin was my father.

Sadly both men are now deceased.

There is, however, a daughter, now grown and two years younger than myself.
This cousin of mine has now encouraged her to do the DNA testing.

So when the social worker had asked about searching for my biological father,
I had shared with her about the DNA testing and the connection with this cousin.
She asked if I had a last name.
I did.

Yet the surreal thing throughout all of this process has been the fact that my complete file,
a file full of all the answers to all my questions,
has been sitting right in front of this social worker all along— a person who knows
the names, the states and the dates to my entire life but due to the laws, she
can not share a word.

It’s as if I’m telling her everything she already knows…things I’ve labored and toiled
over discovering yet information that is readily sitting in a dusty old file on the desk
of the person I find myself spilling my guts to.

Well… she called yesterday.

“Julie, do you have a few minutes?”

She begins by telling me that since her office has determined that my birth father is deceased,
they could release his name…

of which she did…

and he is indeed the state patrol cousin.

This story is obviously fluid and on-going.

I have once again reached out to “my cousin” with
this latest information.

I now wait as both he and his family must process this information…

There is a half-sister who must decide whether or not she is ready for
a half-sister she never knew existed.

How they will respond is yet to be determined.

One half of my life’s puzzle is now known.

Yet, I wonder if this will be welcomed news to this unsuspecting family
or will it be just too much?

I went from feeling a euphoric sense of joy following the news the social worker shared
to that of a guarded sense of trepidation.

And in all of this, the irony came flooding over the intercom system of
a grocery store with its choice of song.

And I couldn’t help but notice…

So open up your morning light
And say a little prayer for I
You know that if we are to stay alive
Then see the peace in every eye
She had two babies, one was six months, one was three
In the war of ’44
Every telephone ring, every heartbeat stinging
When she thought it was God calling her
Oh, would her son grow to know his father?
I don’t want to to wait for our lives to be over
I want to know right now what will it be
I don’t want to wait for our lives to be over
Will it be yes or will it be sorry?
He showed up all wet on the rainy front step
Wearing shrapnel in his skin
And the war he saw lives inside him still
It’s so hard to be gentle and warm
The years pass by and now he has granddaughters
I don’t want to to wait for our lives to be over
I want to know right now what will it be
I don’t want to wait for our lives to be over
Will it be yes or will it be sorry?
You look at me from across the room
You’re wearing your anguish again
Believe me I know the feeling
It sucks you into the jaws of anger
So breathe a little more deeply my love
All we have is this very moment
And I don’t want to do what his father
And his father, and his father did
I want to be here now
So open up your morning light
And say a little prayer for I
You know that if we are to stay alive
Then see the love in every eye
I don’t want to to wait for our lives to be over
I want to know right now what will it be
I don’t want to wait for our lives to be over
Will it be yes or will it be sorry?

Paula Cole

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

born to run?

The highway’s jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive
Everybody’s out on the run tonight
But there’s no place left to hide…
Come on with me, tramps like us
Baby we were born to run…

Bruce Springsteen, lyrics Born to Run


(image of a high speed chase that ends in Houston)

We seem to be a people born to run.
Not physically mind you…as in the quickening of walking then breaking out into a full sprint…

Not running as in a physical form of fitness or sport… but rather the notion of
running AWAY from…as in avoiding.

Yeasterday, my husband and I got on Interstate 85, about 30 miles south of downtown Atlanta….
we were heading south a short ways, due to his wanting to go scope out some
recreational property..aka deer land.

We were driving in the right lane, only having to be on the interstate for a couple of exits when
my husband, looking in his rear-view mirror, nervously announces that
“I think a high speed chase it coming up behind us….”

Huh???

Sure enough, I turned around only to see a sea of blue lights as a small older, beat-up silver
Camary type of car comes flying past us on our left, in a blur… clocking in well over 100 MPH
as both GA State Patrol and local sheriff vehicles followed in a hot pursuit.

The interstate was crowded, but luckily the crowdedness was somewhat spaced out enough
for Mr.”Camary” to weave in and out while his pursuers were equally weaving.

Our exit was next and luckily we got off the interstate in one piece.
But I fretted…what of those further down the road…
did everyone avoid this selfish person who was putting all at grave risk
while running from the law for whatever reason???

This little incident got me thinking…
thinking about us…
us as in humankind…

and that of our running…
running away and running from…
as in…running to avoid, running to hide…

I was reminded of this from Genesis…

But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden,
and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
And he said, “Who told you that you were naked?
Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Genesis 3:9-13

We run and we hide…We run while hiding from others while we run from the law,
we run from ourselves and more importantly, we run from the ultimate…we run from God…

We run from everyone around us while selfishly putting everyone else at risk
with our running…

Yet what are we running from?
Why are we running?
Do we not realize that no matter time nor space, we will eventually be found,
caught, discovered?

Why do we feel compelled to run…running from not only everyone,
but most importantly from our God while hiding from His presence?

Is it shame?
Defiance?
Arrogance?

Because is not this ultimate running, running from not just
those who are immediately around us, but rather running from our Creator…
while desperately trying to hide from Him…is that not our true impetus for running?

This thought as we enter Lent.

Running to or running from..that will be the question over the next 40 days…

“The cross is not the suffering tied to natural existence,
but the suffering tied to being Christians.
The cross is never simply a matter of suffering,
but a matter of suffering and rejection for the sake of Jesus Christ,
not for the sake of some other arbitrary behavior or confession.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger,
and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.

Joel 2:12-13

The old grey mare ain’t what she use to be…

When we learn from experience, the scars of sin can lead us to restoration
and a renewed intimacy with God.

Charles Stanley


image courtsey the web)

Remember the song from childhood?
The Old Grey Mare, she ain’t what she used to be, ain’t what she used to be…
Meaning that a once fine horse was no longer the fine swift steed she once had been.
Her prime past as she was now old and sluggish…

I could be talking about myself or…
I could be talking about something else entirely.

Apostolic or Apostate…
What say you?

Apostasy:
1 : an act of refusing to continue to follow, obey, or recognize a religious faith
2 : abandonment of a previous loyalty

Apostolic:
of or relating to a succession of spiritual authority from the apostles held (as by Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and Eastern Orthodox) to be perpetuated by successive ordinations of bishops
and to be necessary for valid sacraments and orders

I received the following e-mail posting by our friend the Wee Flea but oddly it wouldn’t show up
when I clicked on his blog nor did it show up in the reader.

Odd indeed.

So I had no choice but to copy it pretty much word for word in its entirety…
as I found the words important.

Most folks reading these words probably wouldn’t really think anything written about the
Episcopal Chruch in Australia or the Episcopal Chruch of Scotland by an Evangelical
Scottish Presbyterian Free Church pastor of much importance.

The fact that the Episcopal Chruch, be it in Scotland or the US or anywhere
else for that matter—or even her Anglican parent counterpart in the UK…
is each slowly unraveling—however, such a fact is most likely not of any real concern or
relevance to those outside of these said denominations…
but here’s the thing—–
it is vastly important.

It’s important to all Christian Believers.

Bishop Gavin Ashenden, a former UK Anglican cleric, knows first hand the truth behind
David Robertson’s observations…as it is a large factor that lead him to leave his
post as Chaplin to the Queen as well as to leave the denomination he had severed since
completing seminary.

I myself have watched this same ‘observation’ unfolding since the mid-1970’s—
a slowly evolving insidious shift within my own Episcopal church.
At first, the shift was subtle…small and seemingly innocent.

But then it became bold and blatant and oh so defiant.

But when a church body takes God’s tenents, His commands, His words and rewrites them
in order to appease the masses, well, we all have problems.

And so goes one denomination, so goes her sisters.
Much like a domino effect.

The United Methodist Chruch is currently scheduled to hold a special council in order to
set straight its stance on gay marriage and openly gay clergy.

And so whereas some folks would find it rather strong wording to call a church body
an ‘apostate’, David raises the question—do we wish to be apostolic or apostate…
that is our real concern…

The following is the majority of the text body from David’s emailed posting:

The Apostate SEC
So it was with a heavy heart that I was reminded by my friend and brother,
David McCarthy of the other St Thomas’s Anglican –
(this one in Corstorphine Edinburgh) –
that there is another kind of Anglicanism.
One which is more apostate than apostolic.
Sadly as a proud Scot, it is embarrassing to have to confess that it is
the Scottish Episcopal Church which is leading the race to the bottom in
the worldwide Anglican church (although the Americans are not far behind).

The Australians recognised this.

The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia passed a motion on 7 September 2017,
condemning SEC’s decision to approve same-sex marriage as
“contrary to the doctrine of our church and the teaching of Christ”,
and declaring itself in “impaired communion” with the province.
It also expressed their
“support for those Anglicans who have left or will need to leave the Scottish Episcopal Church
because of its redefinition of marriage and those who struggle and remain”,
and presented their prayers for the return of SEC
“to the doctrine of Christ in this matter and that impaired relationships will be restored”

1) The Scottish Episcopal Church is Apostate.

It’s not just that in typical Anglican fashion it tolerates heresy and unbiblical practice.
If you belong to a mixed denomination you take that as a given and hope to see it reformed.
But because as a denomination it has now mandated a new view of marriage that
specifically goes against what God has said in his word.
In altering the canon on marriage to exclude gender,
the Scottish Episcopal church condemned Christ, divided the Church and mocked
the Scriptures.

Please note that saying a Church, as in a denomination, is apostate,
does not mean that everyone in that denomination is an apostate.
But nonetheless, why would a biblical Christian want to stay in an apostate denomination?

2) The SEC is dying.

Despite the claim that there are 100,000 Scottish Episcopalians,
the reality is that there is a weekly attendance of around 7,000.
We are told there are 300 churches but most of these are tiny and dying.
According to their own figures, 57% of their congregations are not viable.
It’s not always the case that one should leave a dying denomination,
but the key question is why remain on a sinking ship?

3) Reform from within will not happen.

One of the reasons given for staying in is that we are working for reform.
This is one of the greatest and most deceitful myths that evangelicals hang on to.
The liberals love sending ‘evangelical’ bishops to congregations that are thinking of
leaving, to tell them that ‘hang on, reform can happen, –
whilst they work to ensure that it won’t.
They want the evangelicals manpower and money –
they don’t want the evangelicals gospel, Scripture or Lord!

How do we know that reform won’t happen?
Because there are almost no examples in history of it ever happening.
Because the judgement of God is upon the church –
having left it to its own devices. And because the church has so compromised with
the world that it is determined to prevent any biblical reform.
Of course, I know the answer, often expressed as a pietistic truism –
‘God is sovereign and he can bring about renewal and revival’.

Indeed he is.
And indeed he can.
But just because God can send the ravens to feed me,
does not mean that I don’t go shopping for food!
To rely on the ‘exceptional’ in spiritual matters is as daft as relying on it in material.
God has given us normal ‘means of grace’ through which he works.
The Spirit, speaking in the Church, through the Word, bringing us Christ,
is the normal way that He builds us up. When the Church rejects the Word,
quenches the Spirit and despises the teaching of Jesus – it ceases to be the Church,
and becomes a means of destruction rather than a means of grace.

4) Faithfulness to Christ is more important that faithfulness to a denomination.

I heard a tremendous sermon from Simon Manchester (Anglican!) yesterday –
on Jesus and the temple.
The words that struck him (and me!) were those that spoke of Jesus leaving the Temple.
The temple was the central symbol of Judaism and biblical religion at that time.
But Jesus said it wasn’t about the temple, which would be destroyed,
but about him (and his words which would never pass away).
Every church needs structures –
we all have our temples. But when Jesus leaves the house –
its time to get out.

5) Get out of the burning building.

Before you decide where you are going.
When your home is on fire you don’t sit down in the living room and plan a new home –
you get out.
And then rebuild.

6) There is a hope for real, genuine renewal.

I met Canon David Short.
He is the pastor of an Anglican church in Canada that left the Canadian Anglican province.
(St John’s in Vancouver where JI Packer is an assistant minister).
It is a dreadful story – they lost a $1 million lawsuit
(taken to the courts by the Anglican Church) their buildings, home etc.
They had a hard, tough time for many years.
But now there are 75 churches in their renewed Anglican church,
and they are in fellowship with the majority of Anglicans throughout the world.
The remaining Canadian Anglicans are declining rapidly, closing churches and losing members;
(it is estimated that they losing some 15,000 members per year –
although they are very reluctant to give out any statistics – I wonder why?).
The question for Scottish Episcopalians is–do you want to belong to a dying church on the
pretense that it isn’t – or would you rather be part of a dynamic, renewing church?

7) Scotland needs more Gospel churches.

Of which denomination does not really matter.
Although Australia is heading down the same route as the UK,
regressing towards a Greco/Roman/Pagan culture;
it is not doing so at nearly the same rate as Scotland.
One reason is the number of Gospel churches that there are here.
This past week I spoke to an Anglican bishop who told me that his diocese has 60 parishes –
ALL of them are evangelical (and ‘low church).
That’s 15,000 people in a population of some 1 million making a difference in every part of their communities.
I doubt the whole SEC with its 300 churches has half that number.

8) For the unity of the Church –“ don’t leave Mother Church’ is the cry.

Faithful Scottish Episcopalians will hear that cry many times –
both from liberals and evangelicals.
But who is leaving?
If people in St Thomas’s, St Silas or other evangelical SEC churches leave they are not
the ones being schismatic.
The schismatics are in the Synod and hierarchy who have voted to leave the doctrine,
tradition, Bible, and Head of the Church). For example, the TEC
(the Episcopalian church in the US) have just voted to remove the words
‘husband’, ‘wife’ and ‘procreation’ from its marriage service in order to make it more
‘LGBT compliant’.

Of course, the SEC leadership here will say that could never happen here.
But if they do so they are not telling the truth.
Evangelicals have been lied to every step of the way –
and yet like suckers, we still keep believing from the false prophets tell us!

And then the protest comes.
But that’s not loving…and it’s not loving to leave.
It’s not loving…?
Is it loving to stay?
Loving to whom?
As for ‘unloving’ just watch how the ‘loving’ wolves turn on the sheep when
they decide to follow the Shepherd and not the thieves!
Legal threats are just the tip of the iceberg.
There is nothing more intolerant and unloving that a liberal ‘Christian’
who has been spurned or challenged!
Ironically if someone votes for St Thomas’s to remain in the SEC, they are voting not for unity – but for schism and disunity.
They are allying with the apostates of the American TEC and rejecting
the vast majority of Anglicans in the Global South.

Of course, it would be ideal if the evangelicals in the SEC all left together,
as one – but given the divided nature of evangelicalism,
the tribalistic nature of Scottish church politics and the fear factor, that appears unlikely…
Still, we can pray for the real unity of the Lord’s people!

9) For the Good of your own souls –and your families.

I meet so many people who tell me that they were once Christians but have now turned away.
Some are from an evangelical background but the vast majority are from ‘liberal’ churches.
It’s little wonder that they turn away.
Because they have not been fed or taught the glorious, beautiful gospel of Christ.
Instead, they have been fed poison.
Why would I expose my family or myself to spiritual food poisoning?
10) For the glory of Christ. That should be the Christians primary concern.
It may be that someone is able to explain how remaining in an apostate denomination
which denies Christ, his Word, and his people; promising obedience to it;
financing and supporting it; brings glory to Christ, but I just can’t see it.
Leaving because you acknowledge Jesus is Lord,
because you love him and want to serve him according to his Word,
may be costly and hard – actually let me rephrase that –
it WILL be costly and hard.
But oh how glorious! We will not give the glory of Christ to another.
That’s why we obey the command of Scripture in 1 Corinthians 6:14-18.
This passage was not written about marriage…it was written about being yoked
with unbelievers in worship. Hear the Word of the Lord.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.
For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?
Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?
Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?
For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will live with them

and walk among them,

and I will be their God,

and they will be my people.”

2Cor. 6:17

Therefore,

“Come out from them

and be separate,

says the Lord.

Touch no unclean thing,

and I will receive you.”

2Cor. 6:18

And, “I will be a Father to you,

and you will be my sons and daughters,

says the Lord Almighty.”

punctuating the ordinary

“On the single strand of wire strung to bring our house electricity,
grackles and starlings neatly punctuated an invisible sentence.”

―John Updike


(grackles on the line / Julie Cook / 2014)

I imagine it happens to all of us at some point or other…
and it’s always out of the blue…

It catches us totally off guard— when we least expect it.

Suddenly a lump is forming in our throat as we find the words catching, cracking and breaking as we can barely whisper along.

And just when we frustratingly focus on the fact that no sound seems to be
coming from a voice attempting to speak, stinging tears now form in our
eyes, rendering us both mute and almost blind…

Mute and blind with raw emotion.

We blink hard and swallow hard…as we hear our brain pleading “not here, not now….”

Maybe we’re just sitting on the couch…
Maybe we’re walking down the aisle at the grocery store pushing a cart full of
paper towels and cat food…
Maybe we’re sitting in the middle of traffic, stuck…
Maybe we’re sitting in the doctor’s office, waiting….

It doesn’t matter where we are or what we’re doing…it happens…
and it happens when it wants to…never mind what we want.
And there is always some sort of trigger…
as the ordinariness of life is punctured like an over inflated tire…
our breath begins to release as we are helpless to hold it in….

It comes suddenly out of the blue..
Out of nowhere…and there it is…
A familiar sound, a familiar tune, a familiar voice…more oldie then goldie…

For me this time, it was Wichita Lineman and it wasn’t even Glen Campbell
singing the song but rather someone else…

Yet it mattered not—it was still that same melodious memory drifting in on
the passage of time… swirling down on the currents until settling sweetly, yet
painfully, in the recall of memory.

My mother loved Glen Campbell.

What woman in those heady days of the late 60’s didn’t?

Dashing boyish good looks…dimples, perfect hair, sculpted nose,
laced with a velvety voice.
He wasn’t Country, he wasn’t Gospel, he wasn’t Pop…
he was simply the complete package.

I can remember sitting with mother in 1969 on that old tweed couch
watching the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour—
This was a time when children could actually watch television without fear of hearing
or seeing things that children shouldn’t really see or hear emanating
from a television….

The line is iconic…
“and I need you more than want you….
and I want you for all time….
for the Wichita lineman is still on the line…”

…as heart tugging violins finish out the notes….

About two years ago, give or take,
Glen Campbell and his current wife (I say current because he had had four marriages
with one in particular making for tabloid drama) gave what was to be Glen’s
last public interview.

Glen Campbell was suffering from Alzheimers.
A disease that actually claimed his life earlier this year.

The selfish disease was robbing his family of the husband and father they loved
while robbing a man of the one person he’d known best his entire life…
that being himself.

He was asked about singing and his songs— what song had he loved the most….

A question I would think somewhat difficult for any musician / singer,
who had had such long careers, to answer—
As songs and melodies ebb and flow with the times—
Because it’s hard to compare what was a career starter with what came about
during one’s peak moment throughout such a lengthy career…

But he answered quickly and at first very effortlessly…
“it’s really the best line of all time in a song you know…. isn’t it???”
as he then turned to his wife with that lost look of one battling with a
memory-robbing illness, when he sadly and poignantly realized he didn’t
remember now what line he was talking about.

His wife offered a small airy couple of notes with the first word, which allowed
Glen’s mind to grab hold as he finished the stanza himself in beautiful A cappella
fashion.

And it is an iconic line.
A beautiful line.
A line that has for me, over time, changed it’s meaning.

Songs, lyrics and melodies all have that effect on us.

So much so that I think I’ve written about this before—and about this very same
song for most likely the very same reason—

It simply caught me off guard.

It reached out through the abyss of time grabbing hold of my arm while pulling
me to a bittersweet place I don’t often like to go.

The hot tears formed as I attempted to utter those familiar words….but I couldn’t.

I couldn’t even speak the words because they had stuck in my throat…
as they achingly cracked coming from my mouth without sound…

And then slowly…the recesses of a memory came into focus,
I was seeing the one who had first loved that song long before I had.
She had her own personal reasons, her own personal recollections…

Things that, at the time, were unbeknownst to me.
Something that caused an overwhelming sense of melancholy…
Something that had left her with words which had no sound,
something that had left her eyes wet with warm tears…

I had no way of knowing then…no way of understanding…
for I had not lived yet what she had lived…

Yet sweetly and even oddly in that bittersweet moment of hearing that single song
with that most iconic simple lyric, I actually understood what she had known
all those many years ago…as warm tears filled my eyes and the words coming
from my mouth had no sound…I was transported one day closer to understanding
the woman I had lost so long ago…

Let this be written for a future generation,
that a people not yet created may praise the Lord:
“The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high,
from heaven he viewed the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners
and release those condemned to death.”
So the name of the Lord will be declared in Zion
and his praise in Jerusalem
when the peoples and the kingdoms
assemble to worship the Lord.

Psalm 102:18-22

unchangeable

“I the Lord do not change.
So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.
Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees
and have not kept them.
Return to me, and I will return to you,”
says the Lord Almighty.

Malachi 3:6-7


(a little toadstool deep in the woods / Julie Cook / 2017)

On my current path I have traveled to a place of impasse—
where the circumstances of life are changing while I am left at a loss….
I find myself now wrestling with the silence of God…

There are lies which are laced within a hot and ever-slight breeze,
whispering an ancient tale of abandon…
as the sweat upon my brow beads droplets of doubt.

Rage multiples upon itself.
Anger returns to the seemingly empty silence
while God’s word proclaims it will not return void…
and yet I wonder how do I know…..

Poignantly I am reminded, once again, that He is God and I am not.
His ways are not my ways…nor will they ever be…
and in that fact resides my assurance.

He does not and will not change, despite my life’s circumstance.
For He shall supply my needs despite my pleas and questions…

“The winds of change and circumstance
Blow in and all around us
So we find a foothold that’s familiar

And bless the moments
That we feel You nearer

When life had begun
I was woven and spun
You let the angels
Dance around the throne

And who can say when
But they’ll dance again
When I am free
And finally headed home

I will be weak
Unable to speak
Still I will call You by name
Creator, Maker, Life Sustainer
Comforter, Healer, my Redeemer
Lord and King, Beginning and the End

I Am
Yes, I Am”

Nichole Nordeman
Lyrics I AM

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:11