in pursuit

“Among the strange things of this world,
nothing seems more strange than that men pursuing happiness should knowingly quit the right
and take a wrong road, and frequently do what their judgments neither approve nor prefer.”

John Jay


(some of norht Georgia’s finest…Arkansas Blacks and Winesaps / Julie Cook / 2019)

The rains had departed, the clouds were racing off, chasing the latest weather front,
and now the air was actually, delightfully, a bit chilled.

This was to be a short-lived moment as the weather folks were telling us that the
temperatures would be rising this week while the rains would be returning by Tuesday with a vengeance.
Bad weather in the South, no matter what the time of year, is something to be wary of…

So if we wanted to seek out a single colored leaf, now was our moment.

And thus we got into our vehicle Sunday morning and decided to point the truck following
the compass arrow pointing north…or so said the dashboard readings…north.

It’s just about a 2-hour drive from the house to reach North Georgia’s apple capital–
Elijay and her fellow communities of Blue Ridge, Cherry Log, etc…

We almost thought we’d move up this way about a year ago…
but that’s another story for another day.

As the truck’s compass continued pointing north, north-east, we drove on, passing
various polestars pointing towards various destinations…

I must confess, I’ve never been to, let alone seen, Rock City.
Have you?

It was always my understanding, since I was a little girl back in the day,
that farmers were paid to paint the famous “See Rock City” on the sides or roofs
of their barns but I can’t say for certain…
However I always did want a Rock City birdhouse…but I digress

Finally, just before noon, we found the ‘apple barns’ selling the fruits of their labors and harvest.

There were fried apple pies, preserves of every shape and description along with pumpkins for sale.
However, we had come for apples and apples it would be.

There were Grannysmiths, Jonagolds, Pink ladies, Honey crips, Winesaps, Arkansas Blacks, Ozark Gold, Romes,
Fujis…any variety you’d like to purchase is most likely found by the bag or bushel.

I opted for the tried and true Winesaps and a bag of Arkansas Blacks—
an apple variety that I’m told does best if it is stored chilled in a root cellar for a few months—
Since I don’t have a root cellar, I’ll opt for the fridge in the basement.

After gathering our apples, we continued northward toward a stop in the quaint mountain
town of Blue Ridge…the home of the North Georgia Railway offering train rides up through
the north Georgia mountains.

Blue Ridge is such a dog-friendly little town.
Some of the public parking lot’s proceeds go toward the local animal shelters.
We saw every kind of dog on holiday with “their people.”

We stopped for lunch at a lovely spot on the crowded downtown strip, Harvest on Main,
a place we’ve enjoyed on previous visits.
I had the tastiest drink sporting some local bee pollen…go figure!


(The Harvest / Julie Cook / 2019)

As the afternoon was beginning to wane, we opted to head back toward the more flatlands of home
rather than continuing eastward over the northern part of the state towards Blairsville, Helen
and Georgia’s gold capital of Dalonagha…

Sadly, however, we were more than aware that we had yet to really see any colorful foliage,
as our Fall is struggling from our having had one more extreme record hot and dry Summer.

We retraced our steps back towards Elijay, opting to take Hwy 52 / 2, a road that would carry us over
Fort Mountain back towards Chatsworth, Ga. and Hwy 411 South.

I’ve lived in Georgia all of my life, less than two hours away from Fort Mountian,
and yet I had never heard of this “mountain” nor of the state park of the same name.

“Mystery shrouds the ancient stone wall of Fort Mountain State Park,
located near the Cohutta Wilderness, offering you a look back in time to the previous inhabitants,
as you discover 60 miles of recreational trails and majestic overlooks.”
A scenic drive on Highway 52 near the Cohutta Wilderness leads visitors
to this mountain getaway.
Hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders will find some of the most beautiful trails in Georgia,
winding through hardwood forest and blueberry thickets,
crossing streams and circling a pretty lake.
Hikers can also explore a stone fire tower built by the Civilian Conservation Corps
and an ancient rock wall that stands on the highest point of the mountain.
The mysterious 855-foot-long wall is thought to have been built by early Indians
as fortification against more hostile Indians or for ancient ceremonies.

During summer, visitors can cool off on a lakeside beach.
Park guests may stay overnight in fully equipped cottages, a campground or backpacking campsites.

Fort Mountain State Park History

Fort Mountain State Park sits at the southwestern end of the Cohutta Mountains
near the Cohutta Wilderness. Sitting at 2,850 ft above sea level, Fort Mountain
is a great destination for hiking and history lessons alike.
The area in and around the park was home to the Cherokee Indians for hundreds of years,
and their legacy is still felt throughout North Georgia today.

We stopped at an overlook, just before reaching the state park, that was actually the pinnacle of this
“mountain”— hoping to catch a touch of color.
The vistas pointed toward both Tennessee and North Carolina.

There was a couple with their dog who had also climbed up to the outlook.
They asked where we were from… we told them and they told us that they were from
Jacksonville, Fl. They had driven up last year and had opted to come back this year.
They were just so impressed to know that Georgia had such splendor.
I inwardly smiled with a touch of pride as we all like hearing folks from other states
saying nice things about your own state.

But as you can see, there was little if any color for viewing.
A few yellows, a few reds but green is still reigning supreme.

Maybe in a few more weeks things will be turning more colorful…

Despite the lack of fall color—the deviation of a pursuit that was other than
the typical was most welcomed and most refreshing…plus I learned a thing or two
about my state that I didn’t know before…

How’s that little verse, or is it a poem, go??
‘The world is wide and wonderful, wherever we may roam…
but our thoughts return to precious things such as friends and love and home…

It’s not always the pursuit now, is it???…
It is, more or less, the journey itself that is what matters most…

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Psalm 119:105
(as seen on a small country chruch’s sign during our drive northward)

well that didn’t go as planned now did it?

“Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”
Allen Saunders


( I snapped this little spine chart yesterday sitting in the exam room waiting on the doctor / Julie Cook /2019)

Pour yourself a cool glass of lemonade and pull up a chair, this may take a minute.

Yesterday I found myself sitting in the orthopedic’s exam room waiting on the doctor.
They were kind to work me in as I called on Memorial Day and they were closed.
During grandmother duty this past Saturday, something went awry in my back…
I knew when it happened…much like 3 years ago when I could be found in the same office.

Last time it was two herniated disks.
This felt much the same…sooo I knew the drill.

Shots in the back for now…we’ll see how that works before we pull
in the big guns as we did last time with an epidural and nerve block.
Sigh.

Things like back issues, bone issues…any medical issue really, in almost all cases,
have a hereditary leaning.

We inherit so much from our parents and from those even further down the line from previous generations.

That’s in part why our doctors are always asking us if we have a medical history for __________
allowing you and I to fill in the blank.

When you’re adopted, you almost never really know the answers.
You never really know a thing about any sort of medical history.

They don’t send home care instructions or medical charts with babies who are being adopted.
Well, they didn’t in 1959 when I was born.

So I usually tick the boxes on my doctor’s charts with an NA or an “I have absolutely no clue”

Every medical issue I’ve ever stumbled into during my lifetime has seemed to be an anomaly…
an out of the blue sort of occurrence.
Who knew this short person who has been relatively active her entire life would have bone
and back troubles?

I certainly didn’t.

I’ve written about my having been adopted on numerous occasions.
When I first began this blog 6 years ago, I pegged adoption to be one of my “discussion” topics.
We former educators always think along educational lines…so much so that when I started writing,
I was all about wanting to inform and educate…
Be it about cooking, art, travel or adoption…education was the impetus.

But in the middle of those 6 years, God redirected my words…
I found I wasn’t sharing much about those sorts of topics anymore but rather topics
God had lead me to share.
And who am I to argue with God??

But for whatever reason, I am back to revisiting the topic of adoption…
In great part, due to my concern over this culture of death we seem to be living in…
a culture that puts money, lifestyle and convenience over the sanctity of human life…
but I digress.

Adoption is a funny thing.

We adopted children are actually given a second chance at life.
Aborted babies, not so much.

Adoption is either a hard and painful choice for a woman or it is relatively simple.
It just depends on the woman.

Yet adopted children, those whose adoptive parents are very open and transparent about the adoption,
live with the knowledge that they, in essence, have two sets of parents…
a biological set and an adopted set.

It’s just that many fathers in the biological set may or may not know that they had ever fathered a child.
But that is not to be the pig trail for today’s discussion…we shall stay on topic.
Educators do try to keep the discussions on track…not unless they see a teachable moment taking
place in the diversion…today, we are on track.

A couple of weeks ago, before baby James got so sick, I wrote a post about my search for my biological parents.
Well, not totally an in-depth tale and not so much about my parents, but actually, a search for my mother.
Suffice it to know, things did not go so well.

The link is here:

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2019/05/18/i-think-we-could-have-been-friends-and-i-do-have-some-really-nice-lamps/

However I want to back up a bit.

I was born in 1959 and adopted in 1960.

There was a little book put out in those early days for adopted parents to read to their adopted children,
a book read when the adopted parents deemed their adopted child was ready…ready to learn
the truth and could help explain the situation.

Dad read me the story when I was about 5.

I loathed that little book and I loathed the story.
Suddenly I felt separated from everyone I thought I knew as mine.

I then set out living my life,
while trying to keep the feelings of separation from that life, at bay.

I think we call that suppression.

This was the first post I wrote about my adoption—
https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/who-in-the-heck-is-sylvia-kay-and-what-have-you-done-with-her/

I didn’t want to talk about being adopted nor think about it.
If I did, then my neat and tidy little world wouldn’t be so neat and tidy.
Plus I fretted about my parents and their feelings…I never wanted them to feel hurt or
pain that I was really not theirs, but rather that I was someone else’s child.

The child playing a role far beyond her age, responsibility or capacity.

For you see their second adopted child, my adopted brother who was 5 years younger than
I was, was a mess.
His life with them and the life of us as a family was doomed…
because in essence he was doomed.

He did not handle being adopted well at all, and we all suffered grievously.

It is probably one of my better posts, despite the difficulty in writing it as well as the pain
in re-reading it of which adds to the re-living…

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/forgiveness-one-step-at-a-time/

So I suppose we could say adoption has almost haunted me my entire life.

Once, when I finally became a grown woman with my own family, I wanted to learn more.
I wanted to be able to know things for my son’s sake.
Mainly medical information, but genealogy as well.

So 10 years ago, I was troubled by those nagging questions.
Adopted children live with questions.
That’s not a bad thing…don’t educators always say, no question is a bad question?
And I thought I’d seek a few of the answers.
I had always told myself, because of what my dad had lived through with my brother,
that I would never search for my biological parent—
I knew that the thought of possibly “losing” his only living child would be too much.

So rather than seeking the answers to the big questions, I decided to look for smaller answers.
But when I did find those “answers”, they only created giant gaping holes in the story
of who I was.

I reached out the Family’s First, Georgia’s Adoption Reunion Registry—
it is what the Atlanta Adoption
Agency, the place I came from, had morphed into.

For a small fee, they would provide me with my redacted case files—
no identifying cities, last names
or any hints as to people, states, cities or places.

But the story left larger questions.

Questions I would sit on for another 10 years.

Dad died two years ago.
I now have grandchildren.
I continue to look in a mirror wondering.
What is in me that is now in those grandchildren of mine?…and whose DNA is in them?

My doctor and I had talked about me doing one of those popular DNA tests so I could
find out some medical
information to pass on to my son.
She preferred 23 and Me as it provided the best medical info.

And so I did—I did so also hoping to find some sort of family.

I found a 1st cousin in Tennessee.
When I saw his information pop up on my computer screen, I felt my heart stop.

I nervously reached out to this man and shared the story of me that I knew.

That is an on-going story but he is my first cousin on my dad’s side of the family.
He is almost certain his second cousin is my half sister—but they are all still
working on that.

The story I shared added up.
Jobs, dates, etc.

I felt euphoria.
Which quickly faded as they have lives, they are busy and a long lost sibling is
not top on their radar…
but that is not to say that they have not been kind and helpful and eventually
want to meet and share pictures.
But they are younger than I am and are in different places.
My birth dad, one of the three brothers, their uncles, has since passed away…
so no reunion there.
And as I say, that is a story still in the making.

During all of this, however, I opted to reach back out to Families First.
I was ready to pay a larger fee for a full-fledged search for my biological mother.

The social worker told me they always start with the mother.
If she is deceased, then they share information and move on to a search for the father.

She told me that I was to come up with a top 10 list of questions I wanted to be answered,
as well as a letter is written directly to my birth mother.

At the time, I was feeling a bit disconnected…perhaps it was a protection mechanism as
I was almost stoical bordering on flippant in my going forward with all of this.
I was generic in my questions and really didn’t have a full 10.

The social worker told me that they enlist the aid of a private detective and don’t
be surprised if the search takes up to 6 months.

I then tucked all of this away on a back burner.

Yet I was actually becoming a bit of an internal emotional wreck.

But as life would have it, our second grandchild was born nad life quickened.
There were some complications and time was not my own.

I really wasn’t thinking about adoption searches anymore.

But then one day out of the blue I received a call from the social worker informing me that
they had found my mother and she was indeed still alive.

I felt an electric jolt of excitement–a smile filled my face.
Hope of sorts was entering my life’s quest.

The social worker now wanted those questions and that letter—
in hopes of giving them to my mother
when she reached out to her.

I wrote fast and quick…I didn’t want to overthink or reconsider.
I wrote without even reading over what I wrote—
a letter filled with gratitude and kindness
and well wishes…and lots of typos.

And then I waited.
And life got busy, again.

So it was not until the other week when my husband and I were getting ready to
walk out the door that my phone rang.

I immediately recognized the name of the social worker and I stopped dead in my tracks.
She had been good to keep me up to speed via email, but here she was calling.
I fumbled all over myself answering and offering pleasantries.

What had begun as a rather low key nonchalant search of curiosity now had turned into
something much more…
It had grown into the notion of me seeing all of this as a second chance…a second chance
with a crucial relationship in life.

Yet I’ve known of family horror stories—those who were seeking, just as I was,
only to find disaster.

I was well aware of the risks—yet I was willing to take those risks…
because I wanted to know who made me who I was…who I am…
all those nuances that are simply the by-products of personal shared DNA.
Who looks back at me in that mirror every day.
Who has helped to build this wall inside of me?

The social worker started the conversation with,
“Julie, I heard back from your mother today through her attorney…”
I swallowed hard and stammered “attorney”…as in “oh, ok, well that says it all does it not?!”

I felt a sicking weight hit my guts.

The room shrunk in around me and I felt as if I might suffocate.

My family has had enough dealings with attorneys as of late due to
deaths and wills…here we were to go again.
Nothing with an attorney is positive.

She continued—she wants nothing to do with you…” you were from the past and
that is where you are to stay.”

Hot tears now formed in my eyes.

I wanted to yell into the phone that “you tell that attorney and that woman
that I am a good person. A kind person…
a person who I think she could be proud of…”

But I didn’t.

I was the baby she bore prematurely, without any prenatal care.
The baby she fled her family over, moving out of state.
The baby who she ended her relationship with my father over—
a man who had asked her to marry him.
She was 23 and he was 28—yet she said some things and things went too far…
and she ran—she ran from everyone and everything…and she ran into hiding.

She was a nurse who didn’t seek prenatal care.
She delivered under me using an alias.

Even a different hospital then what is on my legal birth certificate.

She gave birth and left the hospital that day.
But the social worker at the time noted in the files that twice she was called back
because I was sick
She was worried and had tears in her eyes when returning to the hospital.
The social worker noted that she was still very much emotionally attached to my birth father
despite his having moved on and becoming engaged.

So many questions.
Such a sad past.
And that was where I was to stay…in her sad past.
A past that could have had a happier ending.

The social worker told me that because of this, she was unable to share my
questions and letter.
I half-heartedly laughed telling her it was a letter chocked full of grammatical errors and
typos as we both laughed.

I asked if she could, perhaps clean it up and send my letter to this attorney.
I even almost found myself asking for the attorney’s name before I thought better—
knowing all of this was such an anonymous process, protecting her identity.

In the state of Georgia, one’s adoptions records remain sealed under the court of law.
They may only be opened by petitioning the court and the reason better be pretty darn good.
Curiosity and the answering of questions are not good enough reasons.

And so that is why I wrote that post the other week.

Tomorrow I will post the letter I wrote to my mother.

I figure what the heck.

The social worker was having to send some sort of affidavit to the lawyer for my
mother to sign—
I suppose a paper to put in my file that states she is not to ever be contacted
and my records…may never be seen.
Despite the fact that they are also my records.
As in mine and just as much mine as hers.

I told the social worker, to again, please assure this attorney that it had not my intent
to invade into this woman’s life.
I also told her I figured this would be how it would end.
“Why is that Julie” she inquired.
“It’s just my luck Stacy”

After writing that post the other day, a dear blogger friend, Dawn Marie,
in Pennsylvania offered this comment:

I am so sorry, Julie.
But even sorriest for the woman who opened her womb to you, but not her heart.
I will pray for her.
And I would ask you to consider perhaps this “rough” ending was put in place by God
to protect you & not harm.
He revealed, through her calloused legal action, a lot about her –
perhaps sheltering you from further harm.
May you be at peace.
A warm hug sent your way to uplift you.

I’ll add a few more words tomorrow when I share my letter.

After I hung up the phone I dropped my head like a small child might do,
and sobbed into my husband’s arms.
A double rejection.
The grown me, the grown 60-year-old woman, crying like a small child whose
own mother had rejected her…again.

But as Dawn reminds me…God is in the midsts of all of this
just like he was when in 1959 when I was conceived and born…
and later in 1960 when I was eventually adopted.

When we opted to go down to the beach for a few days last week, I thought it would be
a time that I could ponder, contemplate and make sense of things…
and to natually lick my wounds.

Yet God thought differently—no time for self-pity…
He called us to race home to be with our grandson who was rushed to the hospital.

See…life, my life, does go on.
It goes on in three blood relatives…
My son and his two children.
Of whom mean the world to me.
They are mine and I am theirs.

Some reasons in life we know,
some we do not—
The best we can do is to always pick ourselves up when we fall and move one foot in
front of the other–
always moving forward…and never back.

The letter tomorrow.

Sin and Confession

“No conflict is more pivotal to the heart and soul of America than the sin battle.”
David Fiorazo

“If forces of sexual deviancy prevail, every part of our culture will be corrupted
and contaminated beyond repair…
Religious principle, tolerance, and rights of conscience mean nothing to pro-sodomy advocates.
They will remorselessly crush anyone and anything that gets in their path…
In their quest for cultural domination,
they will relentlessly extinguish the light of sexual normalcy and morality,
as well as the light of Christianity.”

Bryan Fischer
former Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association


(fungus growing on a fallen tree / Cades Cove, TN / Julie Cook / 2018)

Sin.

It’s a word that we take for granted yet it is a word whose actions are destroying us.
For we are its actions and we seem not to even care.

Our culture has opted to expunge the word from our vocabulary while blindly
embracing its very nuances.

And what of the Chruch?

She is either impotently silent or either she busies herself by embracing those
very nuances in order to appear more viable, more likable, more cultural.

And yet sadly, once again, we hear of the scandal and predation from those very
souls who are entrusted to represent this bride of Christ, the Church.

We are betrayed.
We are complicit.
We are quiet.
We are culpable.

The following quote by the martyred Confessing Church pastor Deitrich Bonhoeffer could have
easily been stated today rather than 78 years ago.

Bonhoeffer was speaking of Nazi Germany and of the German Lutheran Chruch’s blood
it bore upon it hands… but his words could readily speak to us today…
speaking to the Catholic Chruch, the Anglican and Episcopal Church, the Methodist Chruch,
the Presbyterian Church…
his words could be directed to most of us who claim to be Christians of the 21st century.

We the church must confess that we have not proclaimed often or clearly enough
the message of the One God who has revealed Himself for all time in Christ Jesus,
and who will tolerate no other gods beside Himself.

She must confess her timidity, her cowardice, her evasiveness and her dangerous concessions.

She was silent when she should have cried out because the blood of the innocent was
crying aloud to heaven.
The church must confess that she has witnessed the lawless application of brutal force,
the physical and spiritual suffering of countless innocent people,
oppression, hatred, and murder.

And that she has not raised her voice on behalf of the victims.
And has not found a way to hasten to their aid.
The church is guilty of the deaths of the weakest and most defenseless brothers
of Jesus Christ.
The church must confess that she has desired security and peace, quiet,
possession, and honor to which she has desired security and peace, quiet, possession,
and honor to which she has no right.
She has not born witness to the truth of God and by her silence,
she has rendered herself guilty,
because of her unwillingness to suffer for what she knows to be right.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1940

Bishop Gavin Ashenden has recently addressed the tragic issue of predation in the church
and of the current need for the Chruch to speak up while she owns up to her responsibility–
finally speaking the Truth while she gets busy with a much-needed Spring cleaning…

Gay predators, telling the truth and spring-cleaning the Church.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sine that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…

Hebrews 12:1

to eat

“Eat without scruple whatever God has prepared for you at the common table…
whatever God provides for you, take that with simplicity of heart from his hand”

St. Philip Neri


(wile turkey gobbler / Cades Cove, TN / The Great Smokey Mt National Park / Julie Cook / 2018)

“For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks
my blood abides in me, and I in him…this is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.

John 6:55-56,58

Somebody needs to eat them….

“Nature alone is antique,
and the oldest art a mushroom.”

Thomas Carlyle

Toadstools and mushrooms…the prevalent fungus among us…
With all those fungi surely someone out there has to be a beneficiary…
as this squirrel is doing his best to make the most of a free meal…

One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak,
eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt
the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does,
for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?
To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand,
for the Lord is able to make them stand.

Romans 14:2-4

live to see another day

God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.
Voltaire


(a young bear scales the tip top of the trees in Cades Cove / Julie Cook / 2018)

We’ve come up to Tennessee, to Cades Cove for a couple of days.
It is by far one of my most favorite places on earth…as I have seen some mighty grand and
lovely places on this planet. But Cades Cove is special.

I’ve written about Cades Cove before so I won’t go into all of that all over again
but just know that it remains a small remnant of who and what settled this great
land of ours.

Today in the Cove (an 11-mile one-way loop around what was once an early 19th-century
mountain valley settlement and centuries-old Indian territory)
we actually came upon two bears climbing like nimble footed acrobats
to the tip-top branches of the trees…
there were berries.

Cars had stopped as everyone got out, careening necks upward while staring in amazement,
watching these two big black bears acting more like squirrels.

As the day waned, we made our way back to the cabin where we were staying and
decided to go hike some of the nearby trails.
We had been told upon check-in that there was a bear on the property so just be
vigilant when out and about.

Making our way up a narrow trail, my husband leading the way with his long spider stick
waving precariously in front of him like some sort of crazy conductor’s baton
(a stick or twig used to knock down all the webs that are prolific this time of year)
all the while as I lagged slightly behind with my camera snapping pictures of the various
mushrooms and toadstools and yes, spider webs…

Suddenly my husband stops dead in his tracks and urgently announces BEAR.

I freeze.

About 20 feet in front of us, at the bend in the trail, lumbers a very large mother
black bear with two tiny cubs in tow.

I threw my camera up as fast as I thought I had life left to do so in order to snap a shot,
a shot I didn’t even have time to focus, when mom and babies nonchalantly kept
walking around the curve in the path….
all the while as we prayed she wouldn’t turn and charge at us.

We just stood there as she rounded the turn and disappeared.
Then boldly, or brazenly I’m not sure which, we opted to take a few steps forward just
to see which way they were headed when suddenly one of the cubs pops back around
the corner to take a gander at us before he circles back to mom.

At which point we turned and took another trail.

Once back down to the main road we spied a maintenance worker who we decided should
hear our report of seeing a mama bear with cubs on the retreat’s property.

He casually replies “yeah…they’ve been around awhile, best to keep your distance
but that’s nothing…
two weeks ago I was standing right over there when a mountain lion came
out of nowhere and crossed the path right in front of me…
but these darn spiders…now they’re what really bothers me”

We opted to leave him our spider stick for protection.

The wild animals honor me,
the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,

Isaiah 43:20

It’s all in the name

“It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.”
―W.C. Fields


(a glimpse of the facade of Andrew Jackson’s home The Hermitage / Julie Cook / 2018)


(the Greek revival tomb designed by Jackson for both he and his beloved wife Rachel /
Julie Cook / 2018)

If you’ve ever been through the state of Tennessee, particularly in the fall of the year…
thinking that you had come to take in the beautiful and picturesque Smokey Mountains
and perhaps an eyeful of the warm and golden hues of Fall’s magnificent splendor,
you will have no less certainly seen the giant orange or white T’s
that vie for dominance over the Tennessean landscape.

Or perhaps it’s an orange and white checkerboard painted door, orange, and white flags,
a myriad of stickers donning every Tennesse car, or even a checkerboard with a giant
T painted on many an old and seemingly dilapidated barn.
For in the fall, each and every Saturday hundreds of thousands of Tennessee fans will
be heard statewide singing a rousing rendition of Rocky Top as they cheer
on their Tennesee Vols.

So I suppose it’s only natural that most of us have either earned or been given the
dubious honor of a nickname…
Usually, a name attached to us during childhood that has an odd and often irritating
way of sticking with us throughout life…
and thus the same seems true for our 50 states.

We have states boasting themselves by their nicknames as the Show-Me State,
The Sunshine State,
The Peach State,
The Sooners state,
The Buckeye state…

Some of the nicknames are for obvious reasons while other nicknames are simply lost
in the annals of the history of our Nation.

Yet you may just find yourself asking…”what exactly is a Vol?”

A Vol is a Volunteer…as in Tennessee is known as the Volunteer State.

And if you don’t quite know your history, you might think that is just a reference
to the fact that those state residents like to volunteer for things.

And in a way, you’d be partially right.

But the story, according to most historians, actually goes back to the War of 1812.

And whereas you may have only thought that the Colonies,
which gave way to these United States of America, had won their freedom from the
British in 1776…you would naturally think that that was the final end of the story…
and therefore you would need to be reminded that hard feelings die slow deaths and that
those who spent centuries vying for dominance always hate to lose.

“The War of 1812 was a defining period in the early history of Tennessee.
For the first time, Tennessee was thrust into the national
spotlight through its military and political prowess.
When war was declared on Great Britain in June 1812,
it was a Tennessean, Congressman Felix Grundy,
who was given the lion’s share of credit
(or blame) for steering Congress toward a declaration of war against one of the
mightiest military powers of the day.
Grundy, a Nashville lawyer, along with a group of Democratic-Republicans known as the War Hawks,
provided the rhetoric necessary to lead the nation into a conflict that many considered unpopular. Tennessee’s accomplishments on the battlefield during the Creek War (1813-1814)
gave the country something to cheer about in a period of otherwise dismal campaigns
against the British.
And, of course, Andrew Jackson’s stunning victory at New Orleans
showed the world that the United States was coming of age and could take its
place among the nations of the world.

New Orleans Campaign
(December 1814 – January 1815)
After leaving a sizable portion of his army to occupy the various garrisons
throughout the Mississippi Territory,
Jackson arrived in New Orleans in early December to conduct the defense of the city
that was to be the prize of Great Britain’s southern campaign.
Located above the mouth of the Mississippi River,
New Orleans’ strategic location and accumulated wealth offered a tempting reward
to a British army fresh from its victory over Napoleon in Europe.
Elite English forces faced Jackson’s polyglot army of militia,
frontier volunteers, U.S. regulars, pirates, free blacks, Creoles, and Choctaws.
Although the famous Battle of New Orleans has been noted in song and celebration,
the British assault on New Orleans was actually composed of several different engagements:

Brief History of Tennessee in the War of 1812
Prepared by Tom Kanon, Tennessee State Library, and Archives

Yet some historians argue that the nickname actually came later during the
Mexican American War.

According to Tennessee History, future President, General Zachary Taylor,
dispatched a report to President Polk saying ‘hostilities had begun.

The report reached President Polk while he was dining and the President
immediately called his cabinet into an emergency session.

The following week, a divided Congress agreed that a state of war existed with Mexico.

“U.S. Navy Ships immediately moved to blockade the Gulf of Mexico and others in
the Pacific moved towards California ports.
With a regular standing army of only 8,000 men and General Taylor screaming
for reinforcements, President Polk was forced to call upon the states to raise
2,600 men each to supply the American Army in Mexico,” stated Tennessee History.

The proclamation went out from Nashville that the federal government needed 2,600 volunteers
to assist in the war with Mexico…
Within a week’s time, more than 30,000 Tennesseans responded to the call to arms.
And it was from this overwhelming show of patriotism that the State of Tennessee not
only assisted in winning the outright sovereignty of the State of Texas,
but also in securing its lasting title as The Volunteer State.

Appalachian Magazine – May 24, 2016

During the war of 1812, this particular time in our young nation’s tenuous growth—
most of the political leaders of the day were the movers and shakers…
they were the voters and decision makers…
they did not think the general uneducated populace of the fledgling states should be
given the vote themselves…given the vote to pick and choose such positions
like presidents…
It was a more paternal form of leadership in that the leaders decided they knew
what was best “for the people”…

And yet it was a president who sent out a call for help…be it in 1812 or 1840,
a call went out to these same uneducated farmers, laborers, and shopkeepers
who just happened to be Tennesseans, during yet another devastating war…
a call for their help in defending their young Nation.
For this war was to be a final stamp to America’s true independence.

The request was for 2,600.
30,000 came.

There was such a strong sense to protect and maintain what so many had sacrificed
their lives over.

What a marvelous moniker…
The Volunteer State…
the state where the citizens realized the importance of what was at stake…
not only for their state but for their entire Nation.

All of this history is really something to ponder yet is easily glossed over when we glance
back.

It makes me wonder…
if our president today sent out the call for help in defending our Nation…would anyone answer
the call or would they be simply too busy disparaging him and those who support his leadership?

Are we so divided today that we would actually let who we are as a Nation, simply disovlve…

I wonder…

If my people, who are called by my name,
will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,
then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14