Picture this…

“Only the poet can look beyond the detail and see the whole picture.”
Helen Hayes

“If God’s not in the picture, then all I’ve got is a frame.”
Craig D. Lounsbrough

(a pristine Spring day/ Julie Cook/ 2023)

A year has passed by since my life flipped on its head and I moved from Georgia–
moving to the mountains of North Carolina.

When I moved, I moved with a torn ACL that had not been fully rehabbed.
I had a brace on my knee and my world in a thousand boxes.

I’ve lived with a torn ACL before but that knee served its full time in rehab.
Surgery has never been recommended…either tear.
But rehab was a must.

I don’t play tennis nor do any pivoting type of activities–
I’m pretty much usually moving simply forward, backward, up and down…
should there be any need to twist or pivot…then it’s all she wrote.
Lateral movements are not possible and God forbid I hit a slick spot and
need to maintain balance.

I had thought that I could do the necessary exercises on my own,
but time, settling and logistics muddied the waters.
My current home’s incline is a far cry from the relatively flat
to rolling curvatures of Georgia.

Therefore it’s slow and steady goes the race.

So I’ve managed to put the brace on a shelf and have found my way to a nice walking
path down the mountain.
The walking path is carved into a large pasture. Two loops making a mile.
The path meanders by a trout stream then back out into a sunny wild grass field.
It’s been created and maintained by a local fire department as it butts up to the
back of the station.

One might not think walking a flat gravely path out in the middle of a pasture
could offer any sense of wild natural beauty…but you might be surprised.

A while back I found a great little app for my phone…PictureThis
It allows one to take a picture of a plant, tree, shrub, nut etc and it will identify
the mystery.
It offers descriptions, plant information, care information,
latin names, species, genus, etc.
What’s poisonous, what’s edible, perennial, annual, deciduous or not…

I often find myself stopping along my laps, taking quick snaps of what most folks
would consider pesky weeds only to discover tiny treasures under foot.

So imagine my surprise when I spied what I thought was
just another wooden telephone pole… only to discover it was a bit more.

Back in Georgia, telephone poles are typically tall brown, creosote embalmed pines.
The poles in my North Carolina area are more grayish in nature with a distinctive
mottled wood pattern.

Curious, I pulled out my phone and opened the ‘picturethis’ app—I snapped a picture
and quickly learned that this pole is actually a Rocky Mountain Bristlecone Pine.
Who knew?!

The app could actually identify a common processed telephone pole

So if you want to enhance your wanderings…I highly recommend getting the
PictureThis app for your phone.

(creeping buttercup / Julie Cook/ 2023)

(Mountain Laurel / Julie Cook / 2023)

(Mountain Laurel / Julie Cook / 2023)

I assure you that it is not by faith that you will come to know him,
but by love; not by mere conviction, but by action.
John the Evangelist is my authority for this statement.
He tells us that anyone who claims to know God without keeping
his commandments is a liar.

St. Gregory the Great

the bitter

“I came to the conclusion that I had to love her enough to let her hate me.”
Carol Burnett’s reflection over having to put her daughter in rehab
for a third time)

(blooming spring /Julie Cook / 2018)

I recently caught a snippet of a transcript based on an interview with Carol Burnett—
an interview she had given regarding her life and relationship with her late daughter.

Carol Burnett, now age 85, was always known for her hilarious comedic performances and
her signature pulling of her ear at the end of each performance.
She lived, however, away from the laughter and the hijinks, a tenuous and even painful life
as a mother.

Her daughter Carrie died from cancer in 2002.
She was only 38 years old.

But before the cancer, before there was a reconciliation between mother and daughter,
as a teen, Carrie suffered from a variety of addictions.

Carol paid for rehab after rehab yet it was the third time Carrie was sent to rehab that
Carol came to the hardest realization for any parent…
“I put her in a third rehab place, and oh my God, she hated me.
I came to the conclusion that I had to love her enough to let her hate me.


That one sentence speaks volumes.

To love enough, to be hated.

Loving someone enough only to realize that that love will not be met immediately in like kind—
but rather offering an open and abiding love which is to be met with vehemence,
resentment and even hate…
a love that is the epitome of the bitter reality of unconditional love…
is the most wrenching pain, for any parent, grandparent or guardian imaginable.

Painful and heartbreaking love offered freely, yet scornfully rejected.

We, as parents and grandparents, and even guardians, learn early on that we often have to love
our children and our grandchildren enough to watch them leave us for whatever reason…
be it simply due to moving away, growing up and away, illness or to the tough love as
they must be sent away to seek healing and help…

Watching them go, for whatever reason, knowing the pain and sorrow it wrecks upon our
own hearts, yet knowing that the going is the best solution or need for them is one of
the hardest acts a parent/grandparent must ever experience.

Imagine…a loving Father surrendering His only son to a known negative fate.

If you knew the outcome would be horrific, could you do it?

If you knew he would be hated, hounded, rejected, tortured and eventually murdered—
all for the sake of “other children” who had long severed all ties with
this loving Father….could you do it?

A consciously painful action that is truly quite unimaginable to grasp…

I know that my own heart has hurt.
Deeply and devastatingly so.
And so if my heart has nearly been broken, what of God’s…
What of God’s breaking heart?

What of Mary who knew that same pain of loving yet having to let go unto a fate
much greater than most could ever imagine or conceive?

And yet we will always choose love…
Love that is not met in like kind.

Because it is what love does.

Love, as the bitter taste of saline silently rolls down
our cheeks.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that
is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:35-39

fall of the legends

Some people hear their own inner voices with great clearness and they live by what they hear. Such people become crazy, or they become legends.
One Stab–Legends of the Fall

“History has its truth, and so has legend. Legendary truth is of another nature than historical truth. Legendary truth is invention whose result is reality. Furthermore, history and legend have the same goal; to depict eternal man beneath momentary man.”
― Victor Hugo

( Schönbrunn Palace Gardens / Vienna, Austria / Julie Cook 2012)

Each day, another individual who lives in our limelight, bites the dust. . .

A well known major network news anchor embellishes his in-field reporting (aka tells lies).

Another older well known and long married nationally syndicated news story reporter has been carrying on a tawdry and torrid, and now very public, affair with a much younger married woman.

A revered married and highly decorated Army General is accused of disclosing highly classified information to his biographer who also happened to be his key love interest.

Another news anchor fails to disclose his political contributions to a high profile presidential candidate which now clouds his “non biased” honest reporting.

A beloved actor and comedian is suddenly accused of a litany of sexual assaults spanning the past 30 years.

The hottest new NFL quarterback hopeful, who was living the life of the fast and furious, has spent the past 6 months of the off season cleaning up in re-hab.

Many an up and coming national political figure has been discovered to be leading a dubious double life—

Plug in any name from any state or any county and it would all sadly fit. . .

It seems that each and every day we read, we hear, we watch as another national and / or local “famous” figure falls quickly from grace.

And it’s not always a famous individual. . .

Atlanta is coming off of an unprecedented, and very nationally embarrassing, public trial of a myriad of its city school system educators who cheated on their students National Standardized tests.
Teachers going to jail for cheating.
The very people who stress to their students the importance of honesty.

It’s pretty obvious that we are living in a world that is less than keen on taking the high road.
Perhaps we’ve become a low road kind of people.
As in low is easy, cheesy and sleazy.

Morality seems to have hit the road long ago. . .moving on without leaving a forwarding address.
The current mindset is simply one of no remorse— but rather remorse comes only with being caught at whatever it was one was simply caught doing.

Mea culpas have become so common place that we have come to expect contrition as opposed to valor.

It sure seems as if man is a flawed and fractured creature.

One would think that we are a most hopeless lot.
That we are in such sorry shape that God has washed His hands of us and simply moved on. . .
And that would pretty much sum up what we deserve.
We’ve made our beds and are now destined to lie them.
Dante painted the picture rather vividly in 1337 with his 9 rings of hell. . .
Hell in a hand basket with no looking back.

And yet. . .

Within the dark days of our fallen ways, there remains a single ray of hope. . .


As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:1-10