temptation and humility

“God wishes us to be meek even toward ourselves.
When a person commits a fault, God certainly wishes him to humble himself,
to be sorry for his sin, and to purpose never to fall into it again;
but he does not wish him to be indignant with himself,
and give way to trouble and agitation of mind; for,
while the soul is agitated, a man is incapable of doing good.”

St. Alphonsus De Liguori, p. 259
An Excerpt From
The Sermons of St. Alphonsus Liguori


(lone plover / Rosemary Beach/ Julie Cook / 2019)

At this point, it is extremely important to keep in mind that a person is not bad
because he has a temptation.
Many believe, because they have a temptation to pride, to avarice, to hate, to lust,
that there is something wrong with them.
There is nothing wrong with you if you are tempted.
You are not tempted because you are evil; you are tempted because you are human.
There is nothing intrinsically evil about human nature just because a little devil knocks
at the door.
Evil begins only when we open the door and consent to the temptation.
Scripture praises the man who suffers temptations. When we resist temptations,
we strengthen our character.

Ven. Fulton J. Sheen
from Life is Worth Living

the nagging issue of a name

“I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,
but I’ve never been able to believe it.
I don’t believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.”

L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables


(the crest for my maiden name, Nichols)

If you’ve read any of my recent posts, you know that I’ve written a good bit
about my adoption…and that of a quest.

It has been a roller coaster of emotions with the exhilaration of discoveries–
all of which have been met by the slamming of doors, tightly shut…
all the way to the bewildering opening of different doors, much more welcoming.

In all of this is a name…
or more aptly, two names.

A before name and an after name.

The ‘now’ name of Julie and the ‘then’ name of Sylvia Kay…

Two names for one person that were exchanged after only three short months.

The Julie side of all of this has had the staying power of nearly 60 years while the
initial Sylvia Kay side was used but for a short time…

The whys and significance of Sylvia Kay remain unknown but to one.

Albeit a brief name, it none the less has most certainly remained in the recesses of the
conscience of a certain 83-year-old woman.
She has slammed shut the door but none the less has obviously allowed this name to fester…
just as it has festered in my own thoughts.

Yet Sylvia Kay was the “before” name.

The name following, which was officially Mary Julia and shortened by Dad to ‘Julie’,
has been the ‘after’ name—a name that has remained for all these many years…
the name with the real staying power of identity.

And so it was this morning, as I was reading a verse from the Bible, that I noticed
the real importance of before and after names.

I read a verse in which Abraham was referred to as Abram.

I am obviously no Bible scholar.
I was raised an Episcopalian and we all know Episcoplains are not Old Testament,
let alone Bible, aficionados.

I noted that it seemed odd as I am more familiar with the name Abraham
but I figured it must indeed be a “before” name for Abraham.

A sort of ‘before God encounter’ name.

And it seems that I was more correct than I realized.

You’ve often heard me quote and share the teachings of a simple
Benedictine monk from Australia who is currently living in a monastery in England.
He is best known as Father Hugh—Father Hugh Somerville-Knapman OSB

The good Father’s post from yesterday opened with a picture of the
Jerusalem-version lectionary used throughout England and Wales.
Father Hugh asks all viewers if they can spot what it is that is the glaring mistake…
a mistake that is actually used twice.

The glaring mistake is found in a name.
The name Abraham.

Because of where this name falls in reference to the before and after encounter
of Abram with God, it is indeed, incorrect.
Instead of the after name Abraham, the Lectionary should use the before name of Abram.

Before Abram encounters God, he is known as “exalted Father”
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth.
And praise be to God Most High,
who delivered your enemies into your hand.”

Genesis 14:19-20

After his encounter and ensuing covenant with God, Abram becomes Abraham, “father of many nations.”

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said,
“I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless.
Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”

Abram fell facedown, and God said to him,
“As for me, this is my covenant with you:
You will be the father of many nations.
No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham,
for I have made you a father of many nations.
I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you.
I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your
descendants after you for the generations to come,
to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.

Genesis 17:1-7

Why does any of this matter?
What is the big deal about a before and after name?

Well, it matters a great deal…
For we see time and time again throughout the Bible, names matter.
Names have meaning…purposeful meanings.
And in this case, the case of Abram, it matters because of the implications
of a covenant.

A covenant being an agreement.

And this agreement between Yahewh and Abram has lasting implications for all
generations to come…of which include both you and me.

On the other hand, my little before and after names are much smaller in scope.
They matter really only to me…and perhaps one other.
Mine is a simple matter of why…
Abram’s before and after is a matter of the beginning of reconciliation which
in turn leads to the salvation of all mankind.

Yes, big or small, names matter.

Please see the link below for Father Hugh’s most excellent teaching post

What’s in a Name

the paparazzi don’t lie…do they?

“I believe in equality for everyone, except reporters and photographers.”
Mahatma Gandhi


(visiting the Mayor and the New Sheriff—the Mayor does not appreciate the Sheriff
recieving more time and attention than herself, while demanding she occupy the same chair)

I’ve been away, over in Atlanta for the past few days,
working at the main Woobooville headquarters.

Working of course with the Mayor and her new Sheriff.

And it appears as if a bit of damage control is in order due to a few pictures that have
surfaced in a few of the tabloids.

Now if there is any truth to the pictures, well, that will be left to the viewer to
decide—however one report is that the Mayor has taken the 5th.

One image appears to show the Mayor attempting to derail, or as some unnamed
sources are claiming, actually do away with her new Sheriff.


(the mayor and the new sheriff—is she attempting to adjust the speed or merely
checking for safety…you decide)


(the Mayor denies all wrong doing)

Naturally, the Mayor is vehemently denying any wrongdoing.
She denies attempting to take a teething ring that did not belong to her while
at the same time dumping her new Sherrif from the Mamaroo.
The Mayor reports that she was actually checking to make certain that the speed was
indeed appropriate for his safety…while also claiming that she was merely
safekeeping the teething ring.

Later the Mayor took advantage of a photo op in an attempt to boost her poll ratings
with one of the local clans.
Here we see the Mayor showing her support for the local Cook Clan by attempting to treat
a cornhole board as an indoor slide…
her aides had to step in and quickly correct the mistake of sliding vs bean bag tossing.

Next, some photographer caught the Mayor, with all of her chief aides, eating out publically.
It appeared she was conducting a working business dinner while busily signing some important documents.

The reporter noted that at some point during the outing,
part of one of the crayons the Mayor had been working with was oddly and mysteriously missing.

Further investigation revealed that the tip of a crayon had actually been bitten off.
Perhaps it was just coincidence but the Mayor showed traces of orange wax on her teeth.

Again all wrongdoing was vehemently denied.
The Mayor claimed that any shade of orange near her mouth or on her teeth was
merely some residual BBQ sauce.

She quickly asked for the bill and left the restaurant.

The Mayor’s office is now claiming that her personal account has been hacked by some
foreign nationals who have obviously sold off some compromising pictures to the
highest bidder.
These images were published in a tawdry rag of a magazine showing the Mayor is a rather
risque pose donning a new swimsuit.

Unaware that her mic was hot while dining out at a new restaurant that was proud
of its pickled asparagus, all the while posing for another photo op,
the Mayor accidentally expressed her alarmed disdain for the pickled asparagus.

All the while the Sheriff is trying his best to keep his new boss on the up and up…
while maintaining the law and order in Woobooville.

But at the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, the Mayor remains securely at the helm.
She works hard running a tight ship while all of her constituents continue to give her their
full and entire support…even her new Sheriff offers his all,
given his often precarious position in her life.

Christ Crucified

“For true hearts, there is no separating ocean; or, rather, God is their ocean,
in Whom they meet and are united; they love, and lose themselves in Him and in each other.”

St. Théodore Guérin

“Jesus Christ did not think the sovereign beatitude and glory of Heaven too
dearly purchased at the price of unspeakable tortures,
and by suffering His sacred flesh to be mangled by nails, thorns, and scourges.
Great indeed must be the value of that which cost the Son of God so dear!
And yet we esteem it so little, as to be even ready to renounce our claim to it,
as, in fact, so many of us do, for the sake of some wretched pleasure or despicable interest!
Ye blind and deluded children of men, contemplate the Wounds of your
Crucified God, and see in what manner the gates of the kingdom of glory have
been opened to you!
See what it has cost Him to place you in possession of it, and understand,
if possible, how infinite a benefit was bestowed upon you by the
Son of God when He purchased for you Heaven, which you had lost by sin!…
Enter in spirit into these sacred Wounds, and you will comprehend the
value and sublimity of that eternal felicity which they have acquired for you,
and you will learn to detach your heart from the earth and from creatures,
so as to place all your affections and desires upon Heaven.”

Fr. Ignatius of the Side of Christ, p. 226-7
An Excerpt From
The School of Christ Crucified

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

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.