Updates on our LEO–one heartbeat at a time….


(Sgt. Rob Holloway’s officer code, 229)

LEO–Law Enforcement Officer.

I wanted to offer an update on Sgt. Rob Holloway, the husband of my
longtime colleague and friend Stephanie.

If you’ve read my posts as of late, you will recall that Rob was a
Carrollton City (west Georgia) police officer who was shot in the head
while responding to a county-wide call for assistance during a shooting
and high speed chase in the wee hours
of a Monday morning three weeks ago.

Rob was shot in the head by the fleeing suspects, and subsequently crashed
his patrol car into a utility pole.

The bullet remains lodged in his brain while the surgeons had no choice
but to remove part of the right lobe of his brain.

Rob spent two weeks in Atlanta’s Grady Trauma unit and was recently
transferred to Atlanta’s Piedmont Shepherd Spinal Hospital for rehab.

One thing I will always remember about my years of working with
Stephanie was her enthusiasm and positive high spirit.

Stephanie is much younger than I am, yet she taught my son when he
was in high school and assisted me when we implemented a food pantry
for our at risk kids.

It seems that both Grady’s trauma center and the Shepherd’s Spinal Rehab
have each played important roles in the lives of several of our school’s
extended family.

A few years back our beloved basketball coach was involved in a near
fatal bicycle accident.
He was life flighted to Grady and eventually transferred to Shepherd.

We all read his wife’s daily journal postings regarding his progress
on Caringbridge.

And now once again our Carrollton City School System,
along with extended friends and family, are reading the progress
of another member of our city’s family as they struggle to
survive a life threatening injury.

I am including the last three posts offered by Stephanie regarding
her husband Rob’s progress.

In a word, it is “miraculous.”

Stephanie references our school system’s superintendent Dr. Mark Albertus.
When I was still teaching, Dr. Albertus was my last principal.
He was promoted to superintendent following my retirement.

Mark is a former military officer and father of 4.
I considered myself fortunate for having him as my “final” principal.

The last two principals, out of a total of 8, were truly men of God.

Stephanie references a book that Mark had his school’s leadership team
read.
It is a book that she is now reading to Rob.

I am amazed by both Rob and Stephanie.

Their faith is so very tangible.

While this nation reels over so much drama as it works its way
to outright socialism…while groups such as Antifa and
Black Lives Matters vie for supremacy as a weak and truly
weak minded president struggles to find a way to lead a waywardly
lost nation—the lives of our first responders are in grave
jeopardy.

Please take the time to read Stephanie’s latest three postings.
Find joy and hope–just as I have…

May 5, 2021
Journal Entry by Stephanie Holloway — May 5, 2021
Hey friends!

Wow!
What a wonderful day!
Rob woke up around 7:00 a.m. ready to get started marking things off of his list.
He started the day by taking a shower with his occupational therapist and a tech.
The tech was able to help him walk from the bed to the shower
and sit on a shower bench.
The therapist helped him shower, wash his hair, and get dressed.
Then the tech helped him walk all the way back to his chair.
It was miraculous!

After his shower, he was served breakfast in the room.
Today, we had his usual – scrambled eggs, grits with cream cheese, and yogurt.
While I was mixing the cream cheese in his grits,
he started eating the eggs all by himself.
He was almost finished with them by the time I was able to finish the grits.
🙂
He ate almost all of his breakfast and fed himself.
All of his medications have been converted to a pill form so
‘that he can take everything orally.
He is doing that well, too.

After breakfast, Robbie went to recreational therapy,
speech therapy, and then physical therapy.
Once he got back to the room after physical therapy,
he was weighed to see if we could take out the feeding tube.
He gained two pounds, and since all his blood work and vitals are still good,
the feeding tube was removed!!!
Praise God!
The process was quick and a little uncomfortable,
but he took it like a champ.
Then, he was ready for his lunch.
His speech therapist brought him another sampler plate,
and Robbie was able to eat two slices of London broil, pasta, a bowl of fruit,
and his frosty.
He said it was delicious and was so grateful he is able
to eat a regular meal.
The speech therapist is going to see how he does tonight and tomorrow,
and if all is well, he will be moved up to the next level on his diet.
No more shredded, mushy meals!

After his lunch, he had about an hour break before his neuropsychological evaluation.
So, we reclined his chair and he took a little power nap.
He worked with the neuropsychologist and was able to recall about 75%
of the information that she shared with him.
This is a great starting place.
When she brought him back to the room, he was ready for
a real nap in his bed.
He napped for a couple of hours while I worked a little.

When he woke up, it was almost time for dinner.
We were able to get him out of the bed without using the lift
and we were also able to mark two things off his goal list:
(1) removing the feeding tube and
(2) not being required to sleep with with the mitts of shame.
It felt really good to strike those two things off his list.
Once dinner arrived, we learned that his speech therapist and his dietician
had permitted him to have regular foods.
He was served tortilla-crusted tilapia and macaroni and cheese.
I tried one bite of each, and they were both delicious.
He enjoyed dinner, and then we were able to mark something else off his list:
(3) eating real food instead of pureed.

Dr. Albertus (our school superintendent) purchases the district leadership team
a book every summer that we read and study together.
Last year, he gave us the book, Make Your Bed by Admiral William H. McRaven.
The lessons discussed in each chapter are very fitting
for many situations in life.
Dr. Albertus said he asks his children to read it during their senior year,
so I had Grady read it with me last summer.
It’s an incredible book and a very easy read.
If you have not read it, I strongly recommend it.
Anyway, the book discusses overcoming obstacles within the context
of Navy Seal training, but the author applies the lessons
he learned to other situations in life.
I felt it was very applicable to what Robbie is experiencing right now,
so I started reading it to him this morning.
We got through the first chapter, and he loved it.
Tonight after dinner, he wanted to continue reading it.
Like a good teacher, I checked for understanding before I started
the second chapter this evening.
He remembered a lot of the details from the first chapter,
so I was very excited and quickly began reading the second chapter.
I was about halfway finished with the second chapter when he said,
“Steph, I’m sorry but I’m ready for bed.”
So, his tech and I got him settled into bed.
His nurse gave him his evening medications,
and he is sleeping soundly beside me.
He did ask me and his nurse to make sure he was up tomorrow
for “his training.”

Robbie’s medical team is meeting tomorrow after lunch.
My prayer is that they have enough information
collected with his evaluations to give us some idea of a timeline
of our stay at Shepherd.
I do not want to leave here until Robbie is ready physically,
mentally, psychologically, etc.,
but I desperately hope we can be home before Grady’s birthday and graduation.
Grady will turn 18 on May 26th, and he will graduate with honors on May 28th.
So, if you would like to help me pray for Rob to be well
enough to be home for Grady’s birthday,
I would greatly appreciate your help.
Also, please help me pray for Rob to have the strength,
willpower, and endurance to accomplish his goals.
I cannot wait to tell you what goal we cross off his list tomorrow.
Until then, may God richly bless you and your family.

Love,
🙂 Steph

May 6, 2021
Journal Entry by Stephanie Holloway — 23 hours ago
Hey friends!

Today was so amazing!
There are several things we were able to check off of Robbie’s goal list today.
But, I will not get too ahead of myself.
Let me start from the beginning.

Last night was the first night Robbie was able to sleep
without the feeding tube and mitts.
Every night before, his nurses came into our room every three hours
and rotated him from laying on his left side, laying on his back,
and laying on his right side.
Last night, every time the nurses would rotate him,
he would roll over another way.
This is great news because now they may not have to turn him any longer.
They will just check to make sure he is not staying
in the same position all night long.

We both slept really well and woke up refreshed and ready for the day.
Robbie freaked out a little thinking he had overslept
and I had let him miss therapy.
If you have traveled anywhere with me,
I make a schedule for every day.
I do not want to waste a minute,
and so I plan out my entire trip.
My family makes fun of me.
So, can you believe he would think I would let him oversleep?
As if!
Lol! 🙂

When his breakfast was served, we were surprised to find bacon
accompanying his scrambled eggs, grits, and yogurt.
I make a picture of his meal before and after he eats
to share with his dietician and his speech therapist.
They are tracking his food and liquid intake to make sure
he is eating and drinking enough.
Before I could take the “before” photo of his breakfast,
he grabbed a piece of bacon and had the entire thing in his mouth!
Needless to say, he ate well for breakfast even if my before picture
did not capture the entire meal.
After he ate breakfast, we read Chapter 2 of Make Your Bed,
and the lesson for this chapter was so timely
for our current living situation.
We were both in tears when we finished it.

Rob’s morning was full of therapy,
so I worked from about 9:30 – 11:00 a.m.
At 11:00 a.m., I was on the phone speaking with a member of our family,
and the door opened, and Robbie was standing there!
I almost fell out of my chair.
He walked from the therapy room all the way to our hospital room.
He had his therapist there with him and supporting him,
but it was him! Standing!
Walking!
He was exhausted by the time he returned to the room,
so his therapist helped me get him settled into bed,
and he slept until his lunch arrived.
But, wow! I
t took my breath away.
How great is our God!!!

Robbie was scheduled to have therapy again after lunch,
but his therapist invited me to join them for his physical therapy session.
She wanted to train me to help him walk so that I could help him in our room.
This was the highlight of my day!
I got to watch him walk with her, and she taught me how to do it as well.
We also traded in his big wheelchair for a smaller one that he can use
all by himself for longer distances.
After that, he continued therapy until around 3:00 p.m. while I worked.

His amazing nurse joined us when Rob returned to our room
to let us know she had the order to remove his staples
and take out his mid-line IV thingie in his arm.
I walked away while she did all that because I didn’t want
to faint and have to receive medical attention as well.
Lol!
Afterward, I was able to help him stand from his chair,
walk to the restroom, use the restroom standing like a man
(sorry I know that is gross, but it’s a big deal right now),
and then walk back to his bed for a nap.
What a victory!
That’s three more things off of his goal list!

After all of that excitement,
he enjoyed a nap until they brought his dinner.
He enjoyed his dinner, and then we decided to go to the garden again.
The weather was perfect, the garden was not crowded,
and we enjoyed every minute. We were able to sit together
and talk for a while, and then he wanted to call some of our family.
We lost track of time and the nurses had to come to
get us to go back inside.
Lol!

By the time we got back up to the room,
Robbie was ready for a bed bath and his night medications.
His tech helped me get him in bed, and his nurse administered his meds.
They were doing shift change though,
so I volunteered to bathe him and get him settled.
I love taking care of him. He takes such good care of me.
So, it did not take long for him to doze off, and he’s sleeping soundly
beside me now and looking forward to another miraculous day tomorrow.

Someone asked me how we stay so positive when this
road is so very difficult.
I want to be real with you.
There have been times where I have been terrified
of losing him or his condition worsening.
Every day has not been on the mountain top like today.
BUT, the answer to that question is simple and found in some scripture
that I’d like to share with you to digest this evening.
The pastor that married us had a verse he would quote often.
Philippians 4:8 reads,
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest,
whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely,
whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue,
and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Even in the darkest moments of the last few weeks,
I could hear Brother David repeating these words.
It is easy to dwell on the negative and let fear consume you.
But, fear is the absence of faith and is not of God.
You have the power to change your thoughts and your words.
There is so much power in thinking and speaking positively.
So, we choose to focus on the positive and to fill our minds
and our speech with His Word.
We celebrate every victory, and we will not let fear or doubt cloud our minds.
When we are discouraged or afraid, we quote scripture.
It gives us peace and hope, and we focus on the end of this journey –
not the present.
We also have a huge support system and when I need a boost,
God always puts us on the mind of someone who will send me a text
or a Facebook message at that very moment when I need it.
There are a ton of things in our lives right now that are true,
honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report,
virtuous, and worthy of praise – we think on these things,
and I share these things with you.
So, if you are discouraged or afraid,
if you have had a rough day or even a string of rough days,
fix your mind on the things described in Philippians 4:8.
Cast your cares upon Him (1 Peter 5:7).
Your Father in Heaven loves you (John 3:16),
and we love you, too.

Thank you for walking this journey with us.
Your comments bless me so much, and one day,
Robbie will read this journal and your comments will bless him, too.
Until then, I’m trusting in his complete restoration and a graduation
day at Shepherd before Grady’s graduation day at CHS.
Have an amazing evening and a wonderful Friday.

Love,
🙂 Steph

May 7, 2021

Happy Friday, Friends!

I hope you all had a wonderful day today.

Our day was full of happy moments.

Rob and I both slept really well, and then we woke up and ate breakfast together today.

I ran downstairs to the cafeteria while he was still sleeping and picked up the same breakfast he had.  When I got back upstairs, I had a table set up for us both to have breakfast together.

We were able to get him dressed, transition him from his bed to the chair at the table,

and eat breakfast like normal.  He blessed the meal, fed himself while I ate,

and other than the location, it seemed like a normal meal together.

After breakfast, Robbie wanted to call and talk to my parents.

It’s the first time he has really spoken with both of them since his injury, and it was a tear-filled, joyous call.  After that, he had a morning full of therapy.

He worked on word puzzles with his speech therapist, played a card matching game

with his occupational therapist, and worked on sitting and standing without assistance and without using his hands for balance with his physical therapist.

When he got back to our room after his therapy today, he told me he spent the whole morning dominating card games and working on squats.  He was laughing and joking with the therapists,

and even laughed and joked with his doctor about his glasses.

By the time he returned to the room, he was exhausted and ready for a nap.

During Rob’s afternoon therapy sessions, the “games” his therapists used to help

test the limits of his memory and processing abilities frustrated him.

So, his physical therapist suggested we all go to the garden for her session and walk around the garden.

I loved that idea and jumped on the opportunity to participate in therapy with Robbie.

The weather was perfect in the garden, and there were several people enjoying the fresh air today with us.

His physical therapist parked his chair at the base of the ramp entering the garden and asked Robbie to go ahead and stand up.  She walked behind him providing support using his gait belt while I walked beside him holding his hand. 

His therapist would designate a target (bench, flower pot, etc) and ask Robbie to walk to it.  We would walk to the target area, rest a moment, and then stand back up and continue. 

We walked around the entire garden holding hands together.  It was so wonderful.  When we got back to the chair and ramp entering the building, Robbie did not want to sit down just yet. 

So, his therapist suggested they “try the steps.”  Rob said ok, and off they went. 

He walked up three steps into the building like he had been working on climbing steps all week. 

It happened so fast that I almost missed the video opportunity! 

Once we got back into the building, Rob wanted to walk all the way to the room. 

So, while he and his therapist walked together, I pushed the wheelchair. 

We walked around to the Shepherd Building elevators, rode up to the 2nd floor,

and walked all the way to our room.  By the time we got there, ‘

Robbie was exhausted and ready for a nap.  His spirit was triumphant though,

and he was smiling as he fell asleep.

While Robbie napped, I met with one of his therapists and we discussed his injury in great detail.

Rob has an acquired brain injury to the right hemisphere of his brain.

This injury causes him to have trouble with attention, perception, memory, and a loss of mobility on the left side of his body.   In the paperwork she shared with me, the right side of the brain also is in charge of “visual awareness, imagination, emotions, spatial abilities, face recognition, music awareness, 3D forms, interpreting social cues, left-hand control, and some math estimations and comparisons.  We discussed how this could impact his daily life; however, he has really been doing well in most of these areas this week.  We also discussed ways I can help him work to improve these areas and ways I could help keep him safe with deficits in these areas as we transition home.  While she believes we are still weeks away from going home, she did say that every brain injury is different and that it is still too early to even estimate a date we might get to go home.  So, I took this opportunity to remind her of the dates of Grady’s birthday and graduation ceremony.  She said that Robbie reminds all of them daily that he cannot miss these dates. She promised me that his team is keeping Grady’s week in mind when they plan. But, she also said Rob’s health and wellbeing will determine when he leaves Shepherd.

Robbie started waking up from his nap as I returned to his room.  I ran down to the cafeteria to get my food, picked up his meal tray, and we ate together again like normal.  After dinner, Robbie spoke with his mom for a little while and with Grady.  Then, he decided he wanted to sit in the big comfy chair in our room for a while because “his butt was going numb” in his chair.  So, I helped him move into the chair and put my feet beside him in the chair.  Then, he started rubbing my feet for a while while we talked about the day.   Before his injury, we would sit like this in the man cave and he would rub my feet the same way.  Right now, I’m enjoying the opportunity to take care of him, but it was so nice to slip back into our pre-April 12th routine.

After a while, he was tired and ready to get back in bed.  I helped him take a bed bath, changed his sheets and clothes, and helped him settle in bed.  His nurse came in and administered his evening medications, and he has been sleeping soundly for a while now.

I hope you all have a wonderful evening, and I’ll update you again on his progress tomorrow.   Luke 1:37

Love,
🙂 Steph

Thin Blue Line Strong

“It may…be judged indecent in me to come forward on this occasion; but when I see a fellow-creature about to perish through the cowardice of her pretended friends, I wish to be allowed to speak, that I may say what I know of her character.”
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

A few weeks back I read a dialogue between a BLM activist and a Thin
Blue Line supporter. Note how I use the words activist and supporter.

Activist: a person who campaigns to bring about political or social change.

Supporter: a person who approves of and encourages someone or something
(typically a public figure, a movement or party, or a policy).

The BLM activist had gotten into a tit for tat with the Thin Blue Line Supporter

(in case you didn’t know…BLM–Black Lives Matter
Thin Blue Line—supporters of our law enforcement)

The BLM activist was vehemently going on about how black lives mattered,
while the Thin Blue ling supporter shot back that blue lives mattered too.

Well the BLM activist quipped that there are no such things as blue people.

But here’s the thing—we know the metaphors but oddly the metaphors are
only allotted to one side.

In the immortal words of our biology wiz and friend IB, ai yi yi….

Po-tah-toe vs Po-ta-to

And thus this conversation came flooding forward after I read Stephanie’s
latest Caringbridge journal entry regarding her husband Rob—the policeman shot
in the line of action earlier this week and who remains in Atlanta’s Grady Hospital’s
ICU.

Our school (the school I taught at for 31 years) has an
academic awards ceremony each spring.
The evening highlights the various academic and scholarly accomplishments
of our students..and yes, even our scholarly athletes.

Each year those students who have maintained a certain high GPA,
are earmarked as an honor graduate—
honor graduates are in turn encouraged to look back over their school years
in order to pick one of their teachers from their entire
schooling who they believe made the biggest impact on their educational growth.
These teachers, be they elementary, middle school or high school
are then awarded an “apple” plaque that is engraved with the name of the honoring
student during the academic honors program.

I was blessed over my many years to receive a lovely orchard of apples.
It was / is a tangible reminder of why we teachers do what we do.

So reading Stephanie’s latest entry regarding her and Rob’s son
Grady’s honor night this past week was more than touching.

The fact that our principal, superintendent and admin staff went that
extra mile to live-stream the event to Rob’s hospital room,
just so he could experience this special night with his son, as well as wife,
is, well…what CHS does best.

On top of that, knowing that Carrollton and Carroll County’s local
law enforcement personnel gathered together to participate en masse
to help Grady celebrate this important night all the while he is
fully aware that his dad is in a bit of dire straights was and
is tremendous.

Yes…blue lives do exist…they go the extra mile for all of us mere mortals

From Stephanie:

I left the hospital before visiting hours concluded today to attend
Honors Night with Grady and watch him receive awards for being
a projected honor graduate and a beautiful plaque for earning
his fourth-year academic letter.
So many members of our law enforcement family joined us for this celebration.
We are so grateful for the sacrifices they make every day,
but tonight was super special to have them surrounding us to support Grady.
The school was able to stream the ceremony live for Robbie to be able
to watch it from the hospital,
and they scheduled Grady to receive his awards at the beginning
of the ceremony so that Robbie would not tire while viewing the video.
Our school system’s superintendent, Grady’s High School Principal,
and the High School Administrative Team did a beautiful
job organizing the ceremony.
They recognized our law enforcement family and made a beautiful tribute to Rob.
They asked us to join them on stage for Grady to present his Honor Teacher award,
and he gave it to me.
I was so surprised and shocked.
Receiving an “apple” from a student is the most humbling and
rewarding experience for an educator.
To receive one from my own son truly was the most
fulfilling moment of my entire career.


So all metaphors aside—all lives matter—and that’s not racist…

that’s simply biblical… 

Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

1 Corinthians 12:14

Does our anxiety separation grow exponentially with age?

“The geographical pilgrimage is the symbolic acting out of an inner journey.
The inner journey is the interpolation of the meanings and signs of the outer pilgrimage.
One can have one without the other. It is best to have both.”

Thomas Merton


(the unhappy traveling Mayor when a loved one leaves the car and she does not / Julie Cook/ 2021)

Recently it’s been hard to ignore, but both the Mayor and Sheriff have developed
a bit of separation anxiety when one of their loved ones gets out of the car
in order to run an errand.

I tend to be the lucky one left behind to sit with the unconsolable two
while their mom or dad runs in to a store.

What started out as a content and happy journey of riding in the car
has slowly morphed into the understanding that a loved one is leaving
while they are being left behind.

And so this latest toddler developmental drama has gotten me thinking.

Our past year, meaning both yours and mine, has been anything but pleasant.
To say it’s been trying is simply putting it mildly.

Anxiety ridden?
Yes.

We’ve been forced to mask up, sanitize until our skin cracks, be vigilant against
an unseen enemy, line up for a questionable shot, forced to become TP hoarders…

We’ve put education on the back burner, we’ve worked and lived in isolation,
we’ve balanced home and work all within the home, we’ve stayed put, stayed apart,
watched helplessly as our government has turned on us, wondered who we are as a nation,
struggled to find new ways to reinvent ourselves, labored to balance our physical
and mental health, locked down life as we knew it, missed out on our favorite activities…
etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…

I think the worst has been the separation.
Physically, mentally and emotionally.

It has been thrust upon us… and the jury is still out as to whether it
has been the right choice.
Chances are, when we look back, we will know it was indeed wrong.

Our seniors have been left alone in their Assisted Living facilities…
often falling ill and even dying alone…as family has not been allowed to visit.

Funerals have come and gone without the attendance of the typical respect of attending mourners.

Schools have shuttered their doors, leaving kids to “learn” remotely, alone.

The very nature of our beings, the social creatures that we are, has been stripped from us.

It has just over a year when this madness began.

This virus that has disrupted the globe, originated in Wuhan, China…

I don’t know a single person who has ever blamed the Asian community for any of this…
The CCP, the Communist Chinese Party is who is to blame…not the Asian people.

So for our news media, and even some governmental leadership, to spin that there is
a surge in crimes against Asian Americans carried out by white suprematists…
what we know as those majority of Trump voters who are simply white conservatives,
is blatantly egregious and a glaring lie.

A disturbed man in Atlanta went on a killing spree this past week, killing 8 people,
near and around Atlanta’s metro area.
His victims were all associated with Asian Spas as either customers or workers.
He claims a sexual addiction made him do such.
Shades of Flip Wilson claiming “the devil made him do it”

And that is what it is…the devil.
The Evil One who reigns supreme.

The young man is an unbalanced “nut job” and not a serial killer of Asian people.
He is not a minion of Donald Trump, contrary to what the news and certain leaders
would have us believe…
all because the former president told us that this current virus is from China.
Of which it is.

Our media and leaders are lying to us by creating ghost scapegoats where no
scapegoats are to be found.

Our journey this year has been hard enough.
If we begin being sucked into believing lies,
the year suddenly becomes heavier and even much more difficult.

Our separation from the Father of all creation is at the root of all our angst.

We have turned our vision from the greater to that of the lesser.
We have turned away from our Creator and turned rather to the mortal man.
Allowing man to become our greater god.
A small god who will always disappoint.

This journey has just become even more miserable…all because of our separation…
Separation from one another but more importantly, the separation from our God.

I think the Mayor and Sheriff are on their way to true knowledge.
When the very one who you put your entire life into their hands leaves you…
it is indeed dire.

Our opting to separate from our God our Father is becoming life ending.

In order to continue this difficult journey…we need God.
And if you find yourself laughing at such a thought or mocking this little proclamation of mine…
you just tell me how you want to keep moving forward if you don’t have Grace to
help you keep going…
Good luck with that.

Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:6-9

what will you risk for what is right?

If you take no risks, you will suffer no defeats.
But if you take no risks, you win no victories.

Richard M. Nixon


(a picture I’d taped to my classroom door of Mikhail Gobachev being driven through East Berlin)

As I continue to clean out what was my former life…out of the myriad of boxes and bins
buried in our basement, boxes from my life of teaching, I found a box of things
I’d pulled off my classroom door when I was cleaning out my classroom upon retirement.

I also had this picture of Mother Teresa’s feet…
I’d placed the photo on my door, backing it with a simple black sheet of mat board.
I had written on the mat “these feet never complained—they just kept moving in the name of Love”

Many of the kids commented that they thought the picture was “gross”.
Such comments afforded me the opportunity to explain to them as to why someone would allow their
feet to get in such a sad state of affairs.

I wanted to challenge my kids, as well all the other kids who would pass by my door,
with such issues of truth, life, sacrifice, love, conviction, bravery and the notion
of looking beyond self to things that were much greater…

My prayer is that we continue to seek that which is greater than ourselves.

If we do so, we might just erase the current senseless violence besieging our cities.

OK, here’s my story…


(the Mayor and Shreiff checking a fall hunting blind / Julie Cook / 2020)

Ok, so I kind of abruptly signed off mid-week with a bit of a sketchy post…
A post eluding to a bit more than met the eye.

So here’s the story….

The Mayor (it’s always the elected officials at fault–just so you know) and the Sheriff
started a new daycare for the new school year.
They started sporadically in July, hitting full stride the past two weeks
as their mom was having to gear back up for the coming school year.

Ohhhhh the coming school year…but I digress.

So the Mayor always gets daycare crud…always…and not just once but throughout
the school year.
In turn, I always get daycare crud because I then have to keep her when she can’t be in
daycare because she has the crud.
I think you see the vicious cycle here.

So this time last week when she came home puny with the crud, her daddy got the crud.
Daddy thought he had strep throat.
He called his doctor…in Atlanta some are still sticking to “telemed”
They told him to go to urgent care.
He did.
They treated him for strep but sent him to go be tested for COVID…or what my
husband sneerily refers to as the Chinese Flu–he says if we can call it the Spanish flu,
we can call it the Chinese flu,…but again, I digress.

So the Mayor’s mom, aka our daughter-in-law, had to tell her principal that her husband
was having to be tested.
That “having to be tested” phrase is a death sentence in our society.

So her principal, despite school starting in person, as well as virtual,
on the very following day, Wednesday, sent her home on Tuesday until the test results
could have a chance to come back.

That also meant the kids had to come home from daycare until we knew the results.
That, in turn, meant she and the kids needed to come to us ASAP…
She was now having to teach totally virtually.
Think March all over again…think Groundhog’s Day.

Possible COVID coming to a 60 and newly turned 71 year old might seem unwise…
but they had already been with us the previous weekend for “Da’s” birthday,
so we figured if we were exposed, well that had happened last weekend…
call us brave, call us stupid–you do what you have to do.

We had dinner plans Thursday evening for our Anniversary but that had to be put on hold.
They came down Wednesday morning and we’ve been running full throttle ever since.

The Mayor still had crud but was feeling footloose and fancy-free.
So I wasn’t worried…plus her dad, our son, felt 100% better after being on
the strep antibiotic… but yet he still had to wait.

If you were ever a teacher then you can understand our daughter-in-law’s sense
of anxiety having to miss the first few days of school.
That would be nerve-racking enough during a normal year, but this is certainly not
a normal year.

As a former teacher, to be home when I wasn’t the least bit sick, would have
felt like sitting on the bench while watching one’s team being down by 7 and knowing
you could easily score to help the day.

So finally, blessedly, our son got the green light late Friday afternoon.
He was COVID free…thank goodness.

Our little motley crew was then ready to pack up and head home to
be together as a family.

Tired, exhausted, I cleaned the house in the aftermath of chaos,
but all the while wondering…what will next week bring.
What will all of this uncertainty bring?

We are all so tired.
So tired of waiting for the other shoe…knowing it will drop…
because it is only a matter of time.

And remember, I’m coming off all hormones…talk about one
massive hot flash!!!

So yeah, that’s my story.

Let us pray for all those affected by this virus and let us pray for
our cities and the poor businesses in those cities affected by the
virus of civil unrest.

Lord hear our prayers!

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

let’s do this…going forward

“Don’t follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you.”
Margaret Thatcher


(the Mayor on a mayorial visit, enjoying a BLT with homegrown tomatoes/ Julie Cook/ 2020)

Both the Mayor and the Sheriff started a new daycare this past week.

Due to the Pandemic and life shuttering back in early March,
they’ve basically been footloose and fancy-free for a near 5 months.

With their mom’s school preparing to reopen, while she’s having to gear up for what will
be both an open school coupled with optional virtual learning—in other words, teaching
to those seated in desks alongside those opting to stay home—a new daycare was in order
and the only option was to begin now.

As a retired educator, whose child served bided his time in daycare,
I can vividly remember those trying days–
a time that our pediatrician dubbed ‘the necessary evil’.

But since both their mom and dad must each work, and we live over an hour away,
daycare becomes a difficult, yet necessary, thing to utilize.

I can remember crying each and every morning, after having dropped off our son
at his daycare, as I drove on to work.

Guilt is always the working mom’s middle name.

The Mayor and Sheriff’s mom has also experienced this same sense heaviness,
each morning this past week.

So “mom” (aka moi, the grandmother) drove over Friday for a bit of a needed diversion.

The Sheriff was nonplused…


(the week’s new schedule has been exhausting)

And the Mayor insisted she immediately leave the Atlanta Woobooville office in order to return
ASAP to “Da” (aka my husband the grandfather) who was busy at the satellite Woobooville office.

There were no if’s, and’s or but’s…she grabbed her “pursh (aka purse),
put on her rain boots (no rain in sight), blew kisses to her parents, hugged the dog,
waved good-bye to “Je” (the Sheriff), took hold of my hand while announcing for one an all…
“SEE DA!”

And so we left to come to see Da—a weekend visit of sorts.

But with visits and kids aside,
I am painfully reminded that we are living in some mighty precarious days.

They are challenging for all of us.
Frightening.

We don’t know what’s the right thing to do.
Daycares are opening as workplaces begin to re-open…
as schools prepare to re-open…
as cases continue to increase.

And yet we trudge through it all…
we do so because that is what we do….it is who we are.
We roll up our sleeves and head forward.

Standing still or going backward are simply not options.

And so we live each day, one day at a time.

We enjoy the precious moments a bit more strongly,
while feeling the day’s heaviness a bit more keenly.

As we prepare for the coming weeks ahead of life…of school…of work…of sports…
of living…
We say, “let’s do this”—
but let’s do this with God’s grace.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace,
that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:16

It’s a lovely day in the neighborhood….is it? Is it really Mr. Rogers???!!!

“All of us, at some time or other, need help.
Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world.
That’s one of the things that connects us as neighbors–
in our own way, each one of us is a giver and a receiver.”

Fred Rogers


(Fox News)

Here is a great story I caught during a quick foray into doing something novel…
such as actually sitting down, breathing and reading things that were not Disney
or child-related.

And this oh so novel activity took place during the briefest of moments of quiet
when my two wee charges were finally napping simultaneously—

IT’S A MIRACLE!!!

A MIRACLE I tell ya!!!

You do know that the Mayor and the Sheriff, along with their mom,
are here during Coronagedon right?

What is this…nearing the end of week 2 ???
And by the way, what day is this???
Thursday, I think.

So our daughter-in-law is a teacher.

She is now spending 8 plus hours holed up in our makeshift office/ guest bedroom
each Sunday trying to create a week’s worth of lessons for the middle grades
that she teaches—
Social Studies to various grade levels–6th, 7th, and 8th grades.

During the weekdays, she is submitting attendance,
for those students logged in onto the learning platform via the computer each morning.
She is then live on-line for 4 or more hours each day in order to answer questions,
post more webinar assignments while e-mailing with
parents and students— of which is an all-day and night activity.

This is on top of being a mom to two kids who are two years old and 11 months old.

Hence why she’s with us while her husband, our son, is home in Atlanta, working
from home.

The state’s on lockdown so the separation is a little tough on this little family.

And it is beyond my soul as to how two working parents with young children
are managing to work from home during the Coronageden without extended
family to help.

My daughter-in-law is sensing that some parents are getting very testy.
Some have e-mailed words of thanks…
Some, on the other hand, have been downright ugly.
Yet some were ugly before all of this mess, so needless to say,
the caddyness has ramped up exponentially.

It’s as if the parents have forgotten the fact that their children’s teachers
also have children and lives, and are all stuck inside just like they are…
doing the best they can under the circumstance.

Patience seems to be as scarce as toilet paper!

Our daughter-in-law teaches at an Atlanta private school that feeds into the larger
private high schools—so some of these parents are, in a word, a tad uppity
while blessedly some, on the other hand, are more than kind.

As a former educator, I can sympathize greatly.

So let us look at what is happening here with this whole national learning from home
emergency.

Homeschooling has now gone national…as I suspect it has gone global.

We have parents and their children all together in the house
for an extended length of time….as in weeks on top of weeks.

No sports.
No scouts.
No recess.
No clubs.
No nothing.

Just parents, kids and home.

Children are used to having hands-on instructors despite working
on-line or from textbooks…there are still adults in the room
instructing and or assisting.

These are usually trained adults, as in educators.
Folks who know their subject matter readily and fluently.

With schools being shut down, kids are home with “instructor” assistants
who are now their parents…parents working from home and also assisting with schooling.
With the majority of parents ill-equipped to instruct in subjects, they know nothing about.

And all of this just doesn’t seem to be going very smoothly.
Or so the following story seems to explain.

As funny as the story is, I was touched reading it as it seems
that parents all over the country, and I suspect all over our globe, are
now each carrying the educational burden for their children and
they are not carrying it very well.

So my word today to everyone is kindness—as well as patience.
So make that two words.

We are all tired.
We are all stressed.
And we are all in this together.

Here’s the story…

An 8-year-old boy’s hilarious journal entry is going viral for his candid thoughts
on his mother’s attempt at homeschooling during the coronavirus outbreak.

“It is not going good,” says the boy, whose name is Ben.

“My mom’s getting stressed out. My mom is really getting confused.
We took a break so my mom can figure this stuff out. And I’m telling you it is not going good.”

Ben’s mom, Candice Hunter Kennedy, wasn’t entirely upset by her son’s remarks,
seeing as she herself shared a photograph of the journal entry to Facebook.

“Y’all I’m dying!!!” she wrote on Facebook last week, adding that she was
particularly amused by “that last sentence.”

Thousands of Facebook users agreed with Kennedy in the comments,
telling her they found it “so funny,” and assuring her she wasn’t the only
parent struggling with homeschooling her kids.

“My kids feel the same way,” one said.

“This will be all of us next week,” added another.

“Dead,” someone else simply wrote.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear initially recommended the closure of schools in the state
on March 12 in a bid to slow the coronavirus outbreak. All districts soon complied,
with plans to shut down for at least two weeks, per the Louisville Courier-Journal.

In fairness to Kennedy, though, she knew homeschooling was going to be tough on the very first day.

“We are 39 minutes into [non-traditional instruction],” she wrote in a Facebook post on March 16.
“Papers are everywhere. Kids are panicking. I am stress-eating while trying to keep it
together so the kids can’t see my own panic. Teachers need triple raises ASAP!!”

https://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/boy-journal-moms-attempt-homeschooling-coronavirus-not-going-good

the dangling carrots

Individual commitment to a group effort–
that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work,
a civilization work.”

Vince Lombardi

I watch a lot of college football, as most of you already know.

I am known to watch pro-football, but the love is not there like it is for
college ball…
It just happens to be football and I like football.

Maybe this love comes from the fact that my husband played college football.

Maybe this love can be traced back to my having gone to a college where the name Herschel
was the most important name on campus…or more like the most important name in the
entire state of Georgia…
that is unless, of course, you were a GA Tech sort of person.

In my 4.75 years at that college, I never missed a home football game.
I also went to a few away games along with a bowl game or two.
And the name Dooley will always be the name of ‘my’ coach…much
like “the Bear” will always be the name for many in our neighboring state.

But maybe, just maybe, this love goes back to my having grown up in a household
where football was about the only thing ever watched every Saturday and Sunday.

Back in the day, when most bowl games were all played on New’s Day
and there were but three major networks showing the handful of games,
my dad would move three televisions into the den in order
to see all the games airing simultaneously.
It was that serious.

But no matter the origin, the love is in my blood.

So last year about this same time, I wrote a post of both lamentation and discontent.

I wrote about my dismay and even anger over football players “opting out” of playing
in their school’s bowl game.
Opting out due to the fear of getting hurt, or some other excuse,
as they declared their intention to leave school for the NFL draft.
Playing in the bowl game might mess up that chance of going pro.

Never mind that they might never be picked or picked up as some sort
of free agent…

Some players are leaving early, only after a year or two of playing college ball–
forget about getting a degree—the carrot is calling.

At least some are actually graduating seniors…which is what makes sense.
It’s all about a progression—school, work, study, play, degree then a job or the
elusive dream of professional sports.

I wish the NFL would quit dangling the money carrot to these kids the minute
they seem to step foot on the playing fields of their campuses of choice—

Just as I wish colleges would quit dangling scholarship carrots to kids as young
as the 7th grade–making promises to a 12-year-old kid if they’ll, in turn, give a
little verbal sort of promise of their own.

However back to what has truly stoked my ire…

Between injuries and those opting not to play, there was something like 13 Georgia
players not participating in the bowl game.
So when the game started New Year’s night, it was as if an entirely new and
different Bulldog team was taking the field…
much like an opening game of a new season.
There were some familiar old faces but there were also many new faces…
No one could really say what the team would be like as it was to be a new rhythm with
many unknowns.

The outcome was a success but that’s not really the issue.
A win is always a good thing but doing the thing that should truly be done is really
the most important thing.

We can’t help an injury roster.
We can’t help the list of ineligible players due to failed courses or poor grades.
We can, however, do something about kids deserting…or so I’d like to think.

The thing is these kids are a part of a team.
Each member being a connecting piece to a whole.
We always hear that it isn’t about the individual but rather about the team as a whole.
Yet we are seeing more and more about those who prefer being an individual when
the carrots start dangling.

I think those opting to leave school after only a year or two of play, say
the sophomore year, for the NFL, is self-indulgent and overzealous.
But to ditch a bowl game because of wanting to keep oneself in prime condition
for the draft is, in a word or two, selfish and self-serving.

Firstly, most often these players were given a scholarship to come play.
Secondly, these players worked day in and day out with a team—a team they often
refer to as “brothers”—where others helped each individual to become that shining star
they hoped to become.

Quarterbacks throw.
Receivers catch.
Linemen block.
Tackles tackle
Kickers kick.

Each individual doing what they do to ensure that the whole can become successful.

And so after all of the investment, the time, the work, the sweat, the pain, the
ticking off of one win after another…the climbing of the mountain to become
bowl eligible, an achievement that once meant something—only to suddenly announce
a “no thank you” is, in my opinion, a sad demonstration of this really being
all about me—as in the individual and not the team.

Forget those “brothers” of yours as you leave them behind when they truly need you.
Forget those coaches who invested their time in making you the best you could be.
Forget the school that helped to pay for your going to school.
Forget all those opportunities given you…
Because you’re leaving all of that behind for nothing more than an elusive carrot.

I fear we might be witnessing a reality where things such as bowl games,
which were once the long-sought-after goal of a season, lessening as they become
just another game while the dangling carrots of a Draft grow more tantalizing.

So yes, our sports and sadly our players are out of hand.
The importance of such is now deeply skewed.
The notion that all of this is just a mere game and it’s simply supposed to be fun
left us long ago.
That was when the carrots started dangling.

a reminder of an important time

“Men more frequently require to be reminded than informed.”
Samuel Johnson

American infantrymen of the 290th Regiment fight in fresh snowfall near Amonines, Belgium. January 4, 1945. Braun. (Army)

This time of year usually catches all of us living life in a whirlwind of extra busyness.

Throw into the regular regime of work, school, and fickle weather added by the demands
of a heavy dose of shopping, cooking, running all over town, traveling, wrapping, packing,
shipping yada, yada, yada…and we can very quickly forget what all of this is really about.

Or on the flip side, we could be watching those around us busy and merry while
our small world is quiet and lonely.
An extra blanket of suffocating heaviness has just covered an already aching heart.

Either way, this time of year can be extra taxing on us all.

We get so caught up in our own little holiday worlds while at the same time
we are currently living with a madness playing out before our eyes in our own government.
We find ourselves with a mixed sense of wonder, frustration, sorrow, joy, and confusion.

We want to be happy…but.
We want to be mad…but.
We want things to be right…but.
We want to be jolly and bright…but

So when I received my periodic email from Fold3, which is an arm of Ancestry.com
which is the military record archives that Ancestry pulls from,
I was reminded of another Christmas that was also a duality of both joy and anguish.

And here’s the thing…
If it was not for the duality of emotions during that Christmas time in 1944,
then you and I may not even find ourselves living out our own Christmas today in 2019.

We owe the people of that winter of 1944 more than we can ever repay.
For you see the infamous Battle of the Ardennes, better known as the Battle of the Bulge,
was a turning point for the allies during WWII.

Yet it came at a tremendous cost and sacrifice on both sides of the proverbial pond.
Soldiers doing their duty as families were home doing theirs.
Waiting, hoping, praying.

Yet sadly we have an entire swath of this nation that has never heard of such a battle
and frankly does not care.
All because that was then and this is now.

‘And so what does then have to do with now’ they smugly ask.

Everything my friend, absolutely everything.

And so this afternoon as I sat in a doctor’s waiting room reading this article on my phone,
a man was also sitting in the waiting room, began listening to Silent Night playing softly
over his phone.
I wasn’t upset that this man had allowed a song to play out in this small
quiet space as I found the song a very appropriate song for this particular story…

Here is one story from that Christmas of 1944:

from Fold3.com

Christmas During the Battle of the Bulge

December 1, 2019 by Jenny Ashcraft

On December 16, 1944, German forces surprised American soldiers in the densely forested
Ardennes region of Belgium, Luxembourg, and France, with a massive offensive also known
as the Battle of the Bulge, or the Ardennes Counteroffensive.
Germany pushed through an Allied line, creating a bulge in the Allied defensive lines.
The deadly battle, which lasted until January 25, 1945, was the largest on the European
western front during WWII and resulted in an estimated 1 in 10 American combat casualties
during the entire war. It also meant that thousands of soldiers spent Christmas 1944
in temperatures that hovered around zero, in knee-deep snow, and with limited rations
for Christmas dinner.
On the home front, their families spent a nervous holiday season,
waiting for word of their loved ones.

Cpl. Frank D. Vari spent Christmas Eve huddled in a foxhole as shells exploded
around him all night long.
“We could hear their guns going off and the shells landing at the same time.
They were close.
They almost surrounded the whole place.
I remember Christmas Day.
I got up, and we had a real bad night, with artillery and everything.
The first thing I saw was the steeple of a church down in the valley.
It was a beautiful day, the sun was just coming up over a little village at the bottom.”
The clear skies allowed US planes to reinforce soldiers along the front.
The break in the weather saved Vari’s unit.

Sgt. Metro Sikorsky woke up Christmas Day 1944 in a bombed-out building.
He was 25-years-old and serving in Company B, 17th Tank Battalion of the
7th Armored Division.
It was his first time away from home in Pennsylvania.
All around were the bodies of the frozen and his job included picking up the dead.
He said it was so cold that when a soldier died, in a short time the body
froze where it lay.
There were no presents and no Christmas dinner, but Sikorsky felt lucky to be alive.
It was so cold that soldiers cut blankets into strips and wound
them around their frozen feet.

Tech Sgt. Maurice Glenn Hughs remembered the terrible winter conditions during the battle.
“Hundreds of people lost their feet because they were frozen,” he said.
Hughs was hospitalized after the battle and doctors in Paris told him that his feet
would need to be amputated.
“My legs were painted up to my knees to be amputated.
And then the doctors checked and said they wouldn’t have to be,” said Hughs.

Mattie Dickenson of Georgetown, Louisiana, remembered Christmas 1944 as a difficult one.
She anxiously waited for news from her husband Benjamin F. Dickenson.
Benjamin was drafted when he was 38-years-old and found himself fighting in the Battle of the Bulge.
“I do remember that was the saddest Christmas I ever spent.
For 21 days I didn’t know if he was dead or alive,” said Mattie.
Though Benjamin was wounded, he made it home alive.
Mattie kept a piece of the parachute that dropped supplies to her husband
at Bastogne.

Soldiers from the Third United States Army carried a printed copy of
Gen. George Patton’s Christmas Prayer of 1944.
Patton had a copy distributed to each soldier before the battle.
It petitioned the heavens for good weather and concluded with a Christmas greeting
from the General.
It read,
“To each officer and soldier in the Third United States Army, I wish a Merry Christmas.
I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle.
We march in our might to complete the victory.
May God’s blessings rest upon each of you on this Christmas Day.”

The Battle of the Bulge was Hitler’s last major offensive along the Western Front.
Within a month Allied forces pushed the Germans back and closed the bulge.
The battle was called “the greatest American battle of the war” by Winston Churchill
and it crushed Germany’s hopes for ultimate success in the war.
To learn more about the Battle of the Bulge and soldiers who fought in it,
search Fold3 today!

Christmas During the Battle of the Bulge

(***Off to see the Mayor and Sheriff this weekend so posts may wait until Monday)

let me tell you…

It is the characteristic excellence of the strong man that he can bring
momentous issues to the fore and make a decision about them.
The weak are always forced to decide between alternatives they have not chosen themselves.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer


(our son and his daughter, the Mayor / Julie Cook / 2019)

Let me tell you a little bit about our son…

He turns 31 later this year and would absolutely die if he knew his mother was
sharing anything about him on her blog.

Oh well.

I’ve written about him before, several times…it’s just that I don’t tell him that I do.

I’ve written about him not because he’s simply my son nor because he’s famous, infamous
or terminally ill…thank the Lord he’s none of those things but just our son.

I write rather because his growing up was not an easy journey…

It was a journey that seems oh so long ago and yet the memories of the difficulties
remain.

Despite that long and often difficult journey, we, his parents, are so exceedingly
proud of the man, husband, and father he’s grown into.

And that is what I want to write about.

But I also want to write, not so much about our son,
but rather about the very surreal time in history in which we are now
finding ourselves living in.

We are living in a dystopian culture that is playing fast and loose with
something so straightforward and simple as the obvious fact of biology and gender…
that being the exacting fact of male and female.

It is a culture that is trying its best to demasculate any and all males.
A culture that is shaming boys, young men, and adult men…for being just that, male.
A culture that allows children to “choose” a gender, with gender being
a fluid notion.

I, for one, believe in and very much want strong men.

I want strong men in my life.
I want strong male role models who know what it means to be a man…
I want men who know what it means to be a Godly man.
Mature men.
Men who understand God’s intention for them as husbands, leaders,
role models, fathers…

And these desires of mine do not equate me with being weak, dominated,
overrun, demure, belittled or abused.

Just shy of 40 years ago, my late godfather, an Episcopal priest,
sat me down right before I got married in order to share a few important
thoughts with me.
As my priest, but more importantly, as my Godpoppa, he felt compelled to tell me that
marriage was not going to be easy.

I think we all know that an engaged bride-to-be lives in a bit of an unrealistic fairytale
of fantasy.
There is a whirlwind of activities, details, and parties to attend to;
reality is not often found in the fanfare.

My Godpoppa told me that I was marrying a good man but a man who had been abused
both physically and emotionally as a child by a hardcore alcoholic father.
He told me that my husband-to-be had not had a positive role model of
what it meant to be a loving husband and father.

He wanted me to keep this all in mind as we prepared to embark on
a life together.
He knew all too well that there would be difficult times.

He already knew, up close and personal, of my own issues with adoption and
dysfunction within my adopted family— but in his wisdom, he knew that
two broken people were about to be joined as one…
as in two becoming one big broken person.

Not only did I have to learn how to be a loving, supportive, forgiving wife and later
a mother–of whom was also working and tending to the house…
but my husband had to learn how to be a good husband, provider,
and an eventual positive father—
the type of father he desperately wanted to be for our son.


(our son and my husband many moons ago / Julie Cook / 1995ish)

And my Godfather was right—marriage was and is hard—add work, bills,
life and parenthood to that and things can become dangerously complicated fast!

I read the following quote this morning from the author Tom Hoops:
People think of “the family that prays together stays together” as a quaint old saying.
But it was a favorite saying of Saint John Paul II and Saint Teresa of Calcutta,
and the daily practice of Pope Benedict XVI’s family, according to his brother’s biographer.

I had to learn the hard way the importance of seeking God first and foremost when
it comes to one’s most intimate relationships.
It is imperative that He be in the middle of all we do because if He is not and
we substitute ourselves in the center, then we have a toxic equation for
stress and disaster.

It is Satan’s desire that the family fails.
If the family fails, Satan gains a greater foothold in our world…as all binding institutions
begin to crumble.

But I suppose I’ve deviated a tad from my original intention with this post…

Yet we need to understand that parenthood, like marriage, is often a learn
as you go experience.

And so it was with us—especially when our 5-year-old son was diagnosed
with a rather severe learning disability and a year later with ADD.

Life suddenly took a difficult turn.

He didn’t learn to read until he was entering the 3rd grade.
We spent the previous summer driving back and forth every day to a
specialized private school in Atlanta that focused on teaching kids with
dyslexia how to read.

We spent our afternoons fighting over homework and driving from tutor to tutor.

It all sounds so matter of fact now…but at the time it was anything but.

There was a father who was gone working 16 hour days, 6 days a week, a wife who
was teaching and commuting 30 minutes to and from work to home while shuttling a
child from school to tutoring to home, to homework, to Scouts, then back home again…

Throw in making supper, tending to the house, washing, cleaning, preparing
lessons for the next day…and life just seemed to get more and more difficult.

There was enough exhaustion, frustration, resentment, tears, fears and worry
circulating in our young lives to last a lifetime.
And there were many times I angrily raised a fist and questioned God.

Yet our son wanted nothing more than to be “normal” and of course we
wanted that for him.

But what was normal?

For him to be “normal” meant that there was going to have to be a great deal of
commitment, time invested, assistance, sacrifice and lots and lots of work.

But of course, you can read about all of that in the following linked posts written years back…
because today is not a day to dwell on what was but rather today is a day to look at what is:

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2014/09/28/the-journey/
https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2016/08/01/a-large-collective-sigh/

I actually had colleagues who openly voiced their skepticism over our son ever
going to college let alone being successful.

It wasn’t easy.
There were hurdles.
There were setbacks.
There were mistakes.
There were injustices.
And there was simply dumb rotten luck.

Then there came a girl.
And then came love.
And then came marriage.
And eventually, there came a degree.

Some very tough jobs followed—they came complete with low pay, poor hours,
dangerous conditions, a lack of appreciation, pounded pavement,
all the way to a shuttered company, a lost job, and then news of a baby.

When things were looking their lowest, a ray of light shone through.

Out of the blue came a new job.
New promises from a prominent company.
A new start.
Along with that new baby.

Yet hours remained frustratingly poor, pay remained minimal and frustration remained high
as the promises kept being pushed aside.

However in all of that remained something more important, something more instrumental,
something more exacting…that being…perseverance.

It was a desire and a will ‘to do’, not only for himself but more importantly the
desire to do, to be and to provide for his young family.

He wanted to be that man he saw in his father.

A man who made years of sacrifices of self for the betterment of his wife and child.
A man who was just that, a man who possessed both determination and a respect
for responsibility.

There was work, there was a growing family as baby number two appeared…
added to all of that was more college work for an additional degree add-on.
A balance of living life while looking ahead.

And just when life was looking overwhelming and growth was looking stymied and stagnant…
along came an opportunity for something different, something new and something that
seemed improbable, unattainable and most unlikely…and yet it came none the less.

After gaining a toehold in the door and with nearly two months of
interviews and scrutiny, the new job offer came last week.

I know I’ll be writing more about all of this change in the coming weeks…
but first, there are the necessary two weeks of finishing up one job before
starting another.

There will be the training, learning the adjusting…for not only our son
but for his entire small family.

Change is good, but it is also hard.

Yet the one thing in all of this that I know to be true is that our son did this on his own.
He earned the opportunity and sold himself as the best asset he could be…

There is God’s hand and timing in all of this.
And I can say this as I’m now looking back.

On the front end, things can look overwhelming and impossible…

Yet my husband toiled to become that man, that father, he so yearned to be…
and now his son is following suit…

Living the life as the man God intended for him to be.

A strong focused man who loves his family.
A man who works to lead his family and honor his wife.
A strong role model for both his young son and daughter.
A man who continues to make us, his mom and dad, so very proud.

Correct your son, and he will give you comfort;
He will also delight your soul.

Proverbs 29:17