looks are deceiving

Lying to ourselves is more deeply ingrained than lying to others.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky


(driving into Atlanta from the west / Julie Cook / 2020)

Nearly 40 years ago when I first moved away from home, having taken my first teaching position
in a small city about an hour’s drive west of Atlanta, this was the view that would
herald my return to the city.

This was the view I would see, as I crested the last hill on the interstate before I was near my
home stretch.

It is the view of the city as seen coming in from the west on 285, just before Six Flags.
It is also a view of a city that has only grown in its vista’s expanse over these
past 40 years.

And yet what a deceiving view it is currently.

This particular Sunday morning there were a few popcorn clouds dotting a sweeping blue
summer’s sky coupled with a lighter than average load of traffic—
all of which just might deceive one into thinking that everything was peachy perfect and
right with the world.

But I knew differently.

I was heading over to stay with the Mayor and Sheriff as their mom had some
appointments Monday morning–but I knew that life in Atlanta was not what it seemed
to be from this bucolic meets urban vista as seen from afar on this Sunday morning.

There had been an arrest gone bad over the weekend and once again,
there was someone resisting arrest.
This person made the decision to wrest a taser from an officer then opted to
run away while pointing the taser back at the officers, and thus…
he was shot and killed.

The choices we make can be life-altering, and even life-ending,
yet we don’t seem to grasp the severity of such choices.

Crowds once again gathered overnight, not to simply protest, but opting rather to riot–
shutting down the major downtown interstate and burning a Wendy’s to the ground.
The same Wendy’s that had been the scene of the altercation.

Police were again immediately fired—and thus so much for due process at the workplace.
And the Atlanta police chief, who had just been praised a mere week prior for her
steely approach to Atlanta’s chaos, averting catastrophe, sadly abruptly resigned.

Groups such as the NAACP cried for the white sheriff’s head on a platter.

And so I was driving and the city grew closer with each passing mile,
I wondered what sort of mayhem was now simmering in the city of my birth.

According to news outlets both local and national…Atlanta is a city on edge.
I did not see that during my stay…but then again I was watching during the day
and was not visiting downtown.

It would behoove us to always remember that looks may indeed be decieving…

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption,
but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

Galatians 6:7-8

Quick change of course

“Fortunately Jesus didn’t leave [the disciples]-
or any of us-without hope or direction.
Where we fail, Jesus succeeded.
The only One who as able to recognize and follow His purpose from the beginning was Jesus.
He alone was able to obey consistently and please God completely.
And His divine mission was to make a way for each of us to do the same.”

Charles R.Swindoll

I don’t know why I am still amazed…still amazed at how quickly our lives can
take a turn as our little worlds can quickly change in the blink of an eye.

This came to mind last night while watching the breaking news from Florida
when it was reported that there was a jewelry store robbery in
Coral Gables, Fl.

The armed robbers shot an employee of the jewelry store in the head,
took off from the store, carjacked a UPS truck, held guns to the driver’s head
and lead police on a chase that ended in a hail of gunfire.

The UPS driver and an innocent bystander were both killed.
The robbers were apprehended and both already had a laundry list of
past serious committed crimes.
I do not know how the store employee has fared.

As the wife of a man who ran his own jewelry store for 50 years,
we always thought about these incidents.
In fact, a few years before I had met my husband, he was shot in his store when
three armed men came into his store in an attempt to rob the store.

His body still bears the scar.

He was lucky.

I see a lot of UPS trucks out and about this time of year.
They actually come to our house a lot this time of year as I tend to
shop a bit more easily the older I get.

It’s a matter of a click and poof…
in a couple of days, a UPS driver rolls down my driveway.

So the thought of a man who got up yesterday to go to work and didn’t come home
last night tugged at my heart.

Then I think of the two shootings we’ve had on two of our different military bases
in the past two days…
People got up to go to work and didn’t come home because
of the evil intent of others.

So when I got an early morning call that The Mayor was throwing up
uncontrollably and they were headed to the ER of the Children’s hospital,
I simply got dressed and got in the car and made my way to Atlanta.

It hadn’t been my plan to make a mad dash on a Friday morning to Atlanta nor was it
our daughter-n-law’s plan to call into school and request a sub at the last minute.
Nor was it in the thoughts of a 22-month-old little girl to become suddenly
violently ill out of the blue.

But life happens…for good or bad.

I don’t know about you, but I pretty much take each day for granted.
Getting up, going through the motions of the day as I plan on doing the same
the following day.
I think we all do.

But maybe we, me, you all need to be a bit more reflective,
a bit more thought-filled.
Maybe we need to consider our lives a bit more reverently.
Considering it as a fragile gift that is to be savored and cherished.
Reveling in those who are nearest and dearest rather than the cursory hi’s and byes
as we pass like ships in the night.
Relishing, rather, in those brief moments we can spend together at home.

Maybe it’s the time of year, maybe it’s my age, but the revelation that life is fleeting
is felt more keenly.
And so the divisiveness eating away at our country, I find to be such a terrible waste
of time and energy.

God.
He is good…
and yet…

We are living in a time that has the lowest number of people attending a
Church or Synagogue.
We have the lowest number of people who consider religion as an
integral part of life.
We have the highest number of people who doubt the existence of God.
And yet we have some of the highest numbers of depression, suicide, addictions,
and a large number of the population that has a deep dissatisfaction with life.

I recently read that the traditional religions of Christianity and Judaism are
both being replaced in younger generations with an odd mix of yoga, self-help,
and meditation.

I saw the same thing happen in the early ’70s just as we were coming out of
the tumultuous ’60s along with a war, as people were looking desperately for some sort
of numbing agent. Self-help books were flying off the shelves.

But what is the first place we turn in the face of disaster?
We look to God.

A perplexing quirk and fickleness of humankind.

In our world, a little girl got medicine and got better.
In the world of others, they are trying to put to pieces
back together without their loved ones.

May we take this season of all things holiday to reconsider the
importance of our lives and of those in our lives.

Cherish those closest to you.
Hold them a bit longer, hug them a bit tighter.
Linger in their presence.

For both time and life are fleeting…


The Mayor and Moppie or Biyah or Ba easing back to better health / Julie Cook / 2019)


(The Mayor managing to eat a Pedialyte popscilce / Julie Cook / 2019)

Be strong and courageous.
Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you.
He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV

pardon the small disruption in service

No man needs a vacation so much as the man who has just had one.
Elbert Hubbard (1859-1915)


( a little seaweed / Julie Cook / Rosemary Beach, FL / 2019)

Apologies abound for the slight disruption recently in blogging…
But our family packed up two cars late last week and headed southward
toward the emerald waters and those sugar-white sands of Florida’s northern Gulf coast.

But more about all of that later…

So yes, a family vacation.

And so what do we know about vacations?
What do we know vacations to be?

In part, a vacation is intended for those who opt to head off to parts known or unknown,
in order to unplug, to unwind, to relax and perhaps actually reconnect with those
closest to the heart.

Our own little personal family’s jaunt included two under two,
so there wasn’t a whole lot of relaxing…
however there was a delightful shift in focus.

We were together.

And we were isolated from the rest of the world…or so it seemed.

The television, while seldomly turned on, was never turned to the news.

Computers were not turned on, let alone even touched.

Phones were used to take pictures not to check emails or alerts.

There was a much-welcomed 5 days of sheltered isolation.
We were simply left savoring the magic that happens between children and the seashore.
Nothing more, nothing less.

Yet yesterday, as we reluctantly and sadly loaded the cars in order to head back
to our real worlds, we were reminded in very quiet, yet very powerful ways,
that news had happened in our absence.

In small out of the way towns to tiny outpost post offices, as we journeyed northward,
flags were all flying at half-mast.

A US flag at half-mast is a very visceral and sobering gut check.
It reminds us that we are indeed a united Nation…no more so than in our
collective sorrow.

The half-mast flag is a significant sign of unification for a nation that has smugly
forgotten the very fact that it is united rather than divided.

It seems that there were more mass shootings taking place almost simultaneously around
the country.

31 lives lost
while many more hang in the balance from their sustained wounds.

And once again, the people cry out to their government, “What will you now do?!”

And it is in that cry that I am once again perplexed…

The people cry out to their government, their legislators, their president…
“what will you do to stop all of this???”

This oh-so divided Nation that tends to draw within herself when her flags are lowered,
now demands its government do something to stop the madness.

The evil madness of mass murders.

The real help, however, the real answers, will not be found in the voices of our
presidential pundits or of our local or national legislators…or even
in the words of our much-maligned president…

No…the answers will not be found in what man can do for man…
simply because man is too busy killing man…

The answer is simple really and is found in the tiny fact that we are a nation
that has abandoned our God.

There will be those, many in number, who will argue that God matters not when
a madman takes a gun…

And yet the evil remains does it not?

And so, therefore, where lies our hope, our help, our solutions, our redemption,
our salvation…?

In our government?
In our leaders?
In the words of man?

I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;
I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name,
I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’
All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people,
who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations—
a people who continually provoke me to my very face,

Isaiah 65:1-3