dirty windows or smudges on a heart?

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret:
It is only with the heart that one can see rightly;
what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


(a front door in need of cleaning / Julie Cook / 2019)

Life has certainly been busy has it not?

When I was still teaching, the two busiest times of the school year were the first month
as well as the last month of the school year.
Fall and Spring.

The opening and the ending.

Those were also the two most important keys to teaching…
it was not only critical as to how you started a year…it was equally as important
as to how you ended it.

So no surprise, this Spring has been a busy time in my tiny little corner of the world.

My little world has been so busy that blogging has actually had
to take a back seat…
Imagine that…life getting in the way of blogging!?
Who knew?!

Hence why my posts have become sporadic and my reading and commenting
have become fewer and farther between.

There have been recent days that I’ve thought, that after 6 years perhaps, it’s time to
shutter the doors in Cookieland…
but then I catch the latest episode of Anglican Unscripted
and I’m reminded that voices to the Truth need to continue sounding…

But more about that and the good Bishop’s words tomorrow as time hopefully allows.

But first, let’s get back to that picture up above…
that picture of a seemingly smudgy storm door.

It seems that my weekend company went home yesterday afternoon.

They came for Mother’s Day and they left Tuesday afternoon.

In and out right?
Short and sweet…

Throw in two cats, one awaiting leg surgery,
and a large dog who currently happens to be on a small vacation this trip.
Add in the 4 adults in the room.

The key players, however, were a 15-month old and a two week old.
Seems simple enough, right?
Two under two…with one being way under the first one who’s under two.

They’re small.
They’re simple.
They’re sweet.

Well, mostly.

Yet these two small beings come with a wealth of stuff and each one requires their own
fair share of stuff when and wherever they may roam.

They also require 24-hour a day constant care.

24 x 2 = 48
48 into 24 doesn’t exactly fit.

Things seem to appear out of nowhere
Things appear in places where they shouldn’t.

There are smelly things that happen.

Accidents, spills, “uh oh’s” and “OH NOs!”

Things are dropped that should never drop.
Things disappear…only to be found days, even weeks, later.

Too many bodies try sleeping in beds made only for two…
with one preferring to sleep sideways, while everyone else sleeps longwise.

There are fingers that end up in closing doors and drawers.
There are jealous cats coupled with jealous babies.

There are tears, screams, laughter, kisses, messes, and lots of chaos.

There are spills along with sticky, greasy smudges and smears…everywhere.

Smeary, smudgy tiny handprints all over the place…

Just as in that glass door pictured up above…

But here’s the thing…

Where most folks see a dirty smudged up window…

Those aren’t really dirty smudges…

Those are simply the marks etched upon my heart…


(the Mayor / Julie Cook / 2019)


(The new Sheriff / Julie Cook / 2019)

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.
And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36:26

Mother’s Day–happy and nostalgic

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born
and the day you find out why.

Mark Twain


(me and mom circa 1980 )

The fact of life is that we all have two parents.
A mother and a father.

If life is as we would wish it to be, we will know both of these parents.
They will love us and we will love them.

We will all grow together through both ups and downs.

Yet if life opts for a different path, we may or may not know our parents…
or we may not love them and they may not love us.

However, the fact of the matter remains— we all have had two parents.

And we all had a mother who carried us for, give or take, nine months.

If you’ve ever been pregnant, you know that those 9 months can be joyous, fretful, painful,
jolting, frightening and certainly changing.

Most of us have one mother…
I, on the other hand, had three.

My first mother, my original mother, my birth mother, is unknown to me.

In early 1959 a 23-year-old woman became pregnant.
Plans did not go as perhaps they should have and this young woman up and moved away
from her home…moving to a large city where she could blend in and become,
for the most part, anonymous.

She never traveled home for those many months as her pregnancy was her secret to keep.

She gave birth to a premature baby girl and left the hospital shortly thereafter.

Leaving behind…me.

I eventually went into foster care until I was adopted by the woman who would become my
second mother, or what is commonly known as an adoptive mom.


(me and mom on my wedding day, 1983)

When I was a teenager I was sent another mother…a God-mother.
I say ‘sent’ because I honestly believe God sent in a pinch hitter because He knew
the turns my life would take and that I would need someone to catch me when I’d fall.

And I fell many times.

This third mother was the wife of the Dean of the Cathedral of St Philip.
Both she and her husband designated themselves as my God-parents.
They were keenly aware of the fact that I was in desperate need for Godly parental guidance…
and it was at such a pivotal age.

They offered stability, encouragement and a clear Spiritual direction.
This Godmother taught me the importance of what it was to be a Godly woman, wife and mother…
despite all evil attempts to disrupt such.

She also taught me about Spiritual healing…healing that was crucial to my very survival.


(a grainy photo of Ginny Collins from 1978 / Julie ‘Nichols’ Cook)

Tragically, due to my brother’s mental illness, my adopted family was a caustic and dysfunctional mess.
It was an illness that took a grave toll on all of us,
but perhaps none greater than upon our adopted mom.

My brother and I were both adopted, five years apart, and we each had different biological parents.

Mother died very unhappy and prematurely at the age of 53.

My Godmother then stepped deeper into the fray of acting as a surrogate guide.
Her support and guidance remained a key part of my life until up until the time she died.

She died two years ago at the age of 94.

On the polar opposite end of the spectrum of life and of the two women, I eventually lost,
is my biological mother.
She is now 83 and is still living–but where I truly cannot say nor of what path her life
eventually took.

Maybe one day we will meet and I can tell her something very important.

Maybe I will be able to say to her “thank you.”
Thanking her for the selfless gift she gave me…that being the gift life.

Had she been selfish, putting her life and plans first, you and I wouldn’t be currently sharing
this moment together.

And I wouldn’t have my son or his wife or their two children in my life.

The choices we make in this thing we call life all have far-reaching and lasting effects…
be they negative or positive.

Life is positive.
Abortion is not.
My biological mother chose life rather than my death.

So today I want to thank all three of these women…
these three mothers who were, unbeknownst to one another,
intertwined in a single life..that life being mine.
Be it either briefly or for far much longer, they each gave me various gifts of love.

A love that now lives on in two precious little grandchildren…

And so on this Mother’s Day 2019, I want to say thank you to three women.

Firstly, thank you to my biological mother for the choice of giving me life.
I miss not having known you.

Secondly, to Mary Ann my adoptive mother, thank you for taking me into your heart and raising me–
a role that was no easy task—I have missed you terribly.

And finally to Ginny, my adopted Godmother, thank you for instilling in me the
importance of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…thank you for teaching me
what it means to live, to love, to confess, to repent, to forgive and to be forgiven…
I miss your wisdom.

And lastly, I want to thank a fourth woman.

Thank you, Abby, my dear daughter-n-law…

Thank you for loving our son.

Thank you for opening your heart to us and our family…
and thank you for the gift of two precious babies…The Mayor and her new Sheriff…

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things
your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live.
Teach them to your children and to their children after them.

Deuteronomy 4:9

It only takes a sign

God said to Moses, “I am who I am.
This is what you are to say to the Israelites:
‘I am has sent me to you.’”

Exodus 3:14


(James / Julie Cook / 2019)

So the past couple of weeks have been absolutely crazy as well as exhausting.

We had another bit of a scare yesterday morning with our little fellow concerning a
potential liver disorder…and so another trip to the pediatrician has us
thankfully monitoring for the time being rather than doing something much more serious.

This little brother is proving to be a far cry from his big sister…
as he is just more fragile and not as seemingly tenacious…

And speaking of The Mayor, she is none too keen having this new usurper in
her midsts.


(first outing for the Mayor and new sheriff—pizza for the family / Julie Cook / 2019)

I’ve spent the better part of the last three weeks in Atlanta with a drive or two home
for a day of rest and regathering.
Nerves, for all of us, have been both frayed and raw…
Fatigue, exhaustion, and worry have dominated our days and nights.

So since I have been driving back and forth over these past many weeks,
two small rural church signs have caught my eye…

The first sign:
God is speaking.
Are you listening?

The second one:
I Am is coming

Both signs piqued my tired soul’s interest.

The first sign offered a good wake up call.

For despite my willy nilly running around all frantic, coupled by a self-absorbed burden of worry…
I fear I’ve not been listening…I’ve not been listening to anything around me let alone
listening to the Great I AM.

Secondly, when I initially saw this second sign, I had to do a quick double take…
because grammatically I was a bit perplexed…

I.
am.
is.
coming.

I am is…??

Huh??

And then it dawned on me….ahhhhh….

The great I AM is coming…

And it was in those two statements that I found a sudden rush of calm along with a sense of
great humility.
Because it was twice the Great I AM spoke to my weary soul.

The One who is greater and bigger than any burden or worry I may have on this earth.
He sees.
He knows.
He hears.
He is listening.
And He is present.

Sometimes it only takes a sign…or two.

For the word of God is alive and active.
Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit,
joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

the Sheriff has arrived for duty

“Human happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.”
― George Washington


(the Sheriff dressed for his arrival at home…finally)

It’s been a whirlwind of time and activity…
trying and hard as well as grateful and good.

It’s like I told Tricia the other day…when our family’s newest addition ended up in the
neonatal unit shortly after his birth, it was as if the world simply stopped and stood still.
Nothing outside that hospital mattered…

no politics
no societal or cultural idiocy
no countries
no governments
no Democrats
no Republicans
no tit for tat…

Absolutely nothing mattered but that our little guy would rally.

In hindsight, we learned that one of his lungs had collapsed and he “strangled” on amniotic fluid—
of which was suddenly realized when the “crisis” occurred while he was being kept in the nursey
following his birth.
Hence the surge of staff presence and the rapid removal to the neonatal care unit.

Add to that a few other issues that would delay circumcision for at least 6 months.

When my son and daughter-n-law returned home without a baby…
the very baby they had raced to deliver Sunday night, it was a sad arrival back home
and it was hard.

I had just returned home from having spent 4 days with them—we thought we still
has about 3 days when at midnight I got the call…
“Mother, I need ya’ll to come back, NOW!”

But how many couples experience such…?
How many parents continue to leave for the hospital only to come back home without the baby
they had left to go deliver?

It quickly put a spin of reality on birth…
something that we in the “civilized world” now take for granted.

We treat delivering a baby much as we do a trip to the dentist— a simple in and out.

100 years ago…folks knew not to take such for granted…

Perhaps it is our technological advances that have left us jaded and smug while feeling
almost infallible and indefensible to those worst-case scenarios…
situations that a century ago our grand and great grandparents knew better than to assume
that all would be well.

I learned as an educator to expect the worst, but rejoice when the success comes…

Maybe that’s why I consider myself more or less a pragmatist…
despite the fact that I claim and often cling to the positive…
I know, however, that life can change on a dime.

We were fortunate.

His initial tests came back negative and he got to come home to us late Thursday afternoon.

He weighed nearly a pound less than and was shorter in length than that of his sister,
The Mayor, when she was born nearly 15 months ago.

He lost weight in the hospital…backtracking from his birth weight.
But is slowly making a come back to the weight he arrived with.

Lanky and spindly vs a sister who was more round and full.

And speaking of the Mayor…she was a bit apprehensive on the day of her brother’s birth.

And note that face on The Mayor when she clamored up to sit by Mopie (aka “Biya”) when holding
the new Sherrif…

The Sheriff now wears a tiny monitor on his foot which measures his heart rate and oxygen levels…
And thankfully so far so good.

He’s just so tiny and seemingly frail…but I suspect that having to live under the tutelage
of his new boss, the Mayor, will require a ramp up in fortitude…
something I suspect our little Sheriff will certainly rise to occasion for…

I have no doubt…

Rejoice in the Lord always.
I will say it again:
Rejoice!
Let your gentleness be evident to all.
The Lord is near.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

Is our post modern cultural Marxism rooted in a sexual revolution that was disguised as a women’s movement?

You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good-bye.
Teach your children well,
Their father’s hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you.

Lyrics by Graham Nash
Teach your Children

What do Critical Theory, Marxism, Socialism, cultural liberalism, women’s equality,
homosexuality, transgenderism, and the sexual revolution all have in common?
They are the underlying lynchpins to our current day’s ills…

And they all seem to have begotten the other in some perverse orgy of thought, action and protest.

I wrote a post last week referencing a recent letter penned by Pope Emeritus Benedict
in which he states that the ills of the Chruch today can actually be traced right back
to the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s.

“Pope Benedict XVI has broken his silence in a rare essay on the sex abuse crisis
in the Catholic Church, claiming that it was caused in part by the sexual revolution of the 1960s
and the liberalization of the church’s moral teaching.

“Since I myself had served in a position of responsibility as shepherd of the Church
at the time of the public outbreak of the crisis, and during the run-up to it,
I had to ask myself — even though, as emeritus,
I am no longer directly responsible —
what I could contribute to a new beginning,”
Benedict wrote, in explaining why he is speaking out now.

But his comments on the sex abuse crisis seem certain to inflame tensions between
conservative Catholics, who largely blame homosexuality and lax sexual ethics for the scandal,
and liberals, who say there is no known connection between homosexuality and pedophilia.

In the essay, Benedict asserts that the changes in traditional moral standards
on sexuality both in society and within the Catholic Church laid the groundwork
for the sex abuse crisis.

“Part of the physiognomy of the Revolution of ’68,” he writes,
“was that pedophilia was then also diagnosed as allowed and appropriate.”

Bishop Gavin Ashenden actually expanded on this notion albeit as a separate thought than that
of the former Pope’s, all of which I shared in that same previous post.

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2019/04/12/silent-no-more-the-absence-of-god/

Contrary to what many critics now argue, I don’t see the former Pope’s letter as some
sort of feeble excuse for the scope of predation and the decades of lies and cover-ups,
but rather I see that Benedict is identifying a marker…
A key and crucial marker, marking much of our current ills and woes.

But before we proceed, you might need to read over another previous post.
It’s a post which might refresh your memory about Critical Theory,
The Frankfurt School and Marxism—all of which have been identified and brought to our
attention by Melvin Tinker in his book
That Hideous Strength:
How The West Was Lost
The Cancer of Cultural Marxism in The Chruch,
The World And The Gospel of Change

Here is a link to one of the previous teaching posts regarding Mr. Tinker’s book:
https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2019/01/30/new-left-not-so-new-raison-detre/

In a nutshell, however, “according to Tinker–
“In 1923 a week-long symposium was organized by Felix Weil in Frankfurt,
Germany in which they laid out a vision for a Marxist think-tank and
research centre.
The original name for the centre was the Institue for Marxism (Institut fur Marxismus),
but a more innocent sounding title was subsequently given,
The Institute for Social Research (Institut fur Sozialforschung).
Since that time the ISR has usually been known simply as the Frankfurt School.”

In the early 1940s, many of these German philosophers made a mad dash to the US once
the Nazis had shuttered their Institute—bringing with them not merely an academic philosophy
but rather a desire for a “new world order” of Marxism—
bringing it directly to the forefront of America’s academic schools of thought.

Their “school” of philosophy (a cultural Marxism) was readily accepted and absorbed into
America’s academic elite thinkers and schools.
New, refreshing and cutting edge, or so it seemed.

Fast forward to today…

As we now stand bewildered and nearly helpless while looking at the nation we thought we once knew,
I believe a key and crucial breadcrumb will be found if we look back to those heady days of 60s.

Those days of protests, revolutionary movements and a summer of love.

While we painfully scan the horizon, looking for reasons as to why we are currently in
a terrible mess, I believe we need to not only re-explore but we need to understand…
we need to understand that what appeared to be a movement by and for women vying for
equality in the mid-1960s was far more serious and far more sinister than equal
pay for equal work.
So much so that most of the women protesting had
no idea how their “movement” was to morph into a damning Sexual revolution.

Vietnam, Civil Rights, Women rights, peace, and love…
what a churning boiling toxic kettle of foreboding ills.

A movement shattering certain social norms set the stage for our
current culture’s spiraling demise.

And sex was going to be a key factor, if not the pivotal factor.

According to Max Horkheimer (one of the German philosophers) and his fellow scholars,
bourgeois society is inherently sexually repressed,
which is a major factor in neurosis and other forms of mental illness.
‘They believed,’ as Breshears makes clear, ‘that a revolutionary,
post-capitalist and post-Christian society could liberate humanity
from this repression, so sexual liberation from the restrictions of a patriarchal society
was a major theme in their ideology.’

Both Eric Fromm and Wilhelm Reich (more of the German philosophers) re-worked
Freudianism into the neo-Marxist ideology.
Fromm argued that sexual orientation is merely a social construct,
that there are no innate differences between men and
women, and furthermore that sexuality and gender roles are socially determined.
It was Reich who coined the term
‘the sexual revolution’ (the title of his 1936 book) and contended that the
innate sexual impulse should be liberated
from artificial and man-made moral restrictions.

But perhaps more than any other member of the Frankfurt School it was
Herbert Marcuse who was to have the most far-reaching influence in this aspect of
the neo-Marxist ideology.
In Eros and Civilization he
sought to bring together neo-Marxism with a version of neo-Freudianism in order
to turn the power of the throwing off of all traditional values and sexual restraints
in favour of ‘polymorphous perversity.’ The very idea of marital love and
fidelity was considered by Marcuse to be counter-revolutionary.
Although cultural change was the ultimate goal, Marcuse understood the tactical appeal
if the pleasure principle. For we are often reminded, ‘sex sells,’
and it sells politics too, what better way
to recruit revolutionaries than to convince them that sexual promiscuity
is a sure way to bring
about the revolution?
Dinesh D’Souza notes in ‘What’s so great about Christianity?’
the centrality of this tactic by quoting neo-Marxist,
‘Against the power of religion, we employ an equal if not greater power—
the power of hormones.’/em>

These are names that are mostly foreign to those of us today who are looking for answers,
yet they are names of men who were to play pivotal roles in ushering in the mess
you and I are currently living in today…

Yet as there is much more to write, share and say…I’m off to Atlanta.
So this is part I….Part II and possibly Part III will be forthcoming…

But the Mayor is calling.

It seems her chief aides are going on a little date night prior to the arrival of their new addition
and of course, the Mayor needed a babysitter.
Plus I’ll be on baby watch this weekend standing in while my son is out of town for a wedding.
His overtly pregnant wife is in no condition to trek a couple of hours away from home
this late in the ballgame…

Stay tuned…

Oh, by the way… Percy is still at the Vets…
the surgery seems to have been successful as long as he stays
in a cage, unable to jump…sigh

Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil,
for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.
The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

1 John 3:8

the wisdom of a child

“One just soul can obtain pardon for a thousand sinners.”
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque


(a contemplative little Mayor / Julie Cook / 2019)

So I must make a confession on this Holy Saturday…

Whereas in years past my posts were reflective of this time of year…
starting with Ash Wednesday, those dark heavy 40 days of Lent leading up to the
Holy Week of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday—
as we culminate all of this on a triumphant Easter.

I’d pray earnestly.
I’d fast regularly.
I’d be diligent in my observance.
I would have even gotten some purposeful Lenten reading.
I would focus on the cross and that of an empty tomb.

However, this week has passed in a blur.
In fact, Lent passed in a blur.
As much of the year has passed in a blur.

I hardly even noted that yesterday was Good Friday as I was on the road in
torrential rains and horrendous traffic as my thoughts were elsewhere.

There was a time I would attend the 3 hours long Good Friday service while
purposely fasting this highest of Holy days.
I would go to the Great Easter Vigil…clutching my candle with deep intent.

However, this year has been different.
For lots of reasons I suppose.

Whereas there were both sorrow and loss in years past, I none the less managed to keep
the tires in the middle of the road.

This year, sadly, I pretty much simply fell off the tracks.

There are some distracting extenuating circumstances that will most likely be written
about when there is finally a bit of clarity…
But in a nutshell, my time and my focus have been pulled into a thousand different degrees…

And speaking of degrees—
I have been suffering through some sort of flu bug this past week that has left me hot
to the touch yet cold and shivery to the body.

Add in the Mayor visiting her satellite office and the walking dead comes to mind…
not in the zombie kind, but rather literally feeling dead while still walking.

There’s been little sleep, lots of heavy thoughts, as well as thoughts of anticipation with
a new little sheriff set to arrive any day now.

And having spent the past two days trying to keep an ever-growing, rambunctious, newly walking
borderline toddler out of harm’s way while trying to keep up at the same energy level has
been no easy task.

And yet I often find myself sitting back and simply marveling at her intense gaze.
I watch her little wheels turning while wondering what are her thoughts.

Her love, excitement, and openness to each and all she meets.
Be it animal or human or a stuffed animal or even an interesting plant.
Each one is met with a raised hand and a resounding “HI”

There is such an open innocence and trust that we adults,
who love her and are entrusted with her care, wish to warn her of the dangers
as we work to protect and keep her from harm.

Any parent or grandparent will tell you that that is a life long task that can,
in this current angry world’s day and age, leave anyone who loves a little one
both anxious and nervous.

Because we adults know that there is bad, there is danger and there is evil.

My husband noted this morning at breakfast,
as she gobbled up some bits of maple syrup-soaked waffles,
that if the world possed the same sort of sweetness and same refreshing innocence…
oh, how the world could be so different.

And so on this Holy Saturday, I am reminded that God is reminding me…
He is calling me to return to that same trusting spirit…
return to an openness…allowing Him to pour out His sweet balm
within this weary soul of mine.

Come, Lord Jesus, come!


(the Mayor in such a pondering pose / Julie Cook / 2019)

“No one who follows Me will ever walk in darkness (Jn 8:12).
These words of our Lord counsel all to walk in His footsteps.
If you want to see clearly and avoid blindness of heart,
it is His virtues you must imitate.
Make it your aim to meditate on the life of Jesus Christ.
Christ’s teachings surpasses that of all the Saints.
But to find this spiritual nourishment you must seek to have the Spirit of Christ.
It is because we lack this Spirit that so often we listen to the Gospel without really hearing it.
Those who fully understand Christ’s words must labor to make their lives conform to His.”

Thomas á Kempis, p.15
An Excerpt From
The Imitation of Christ

baby watch and viruses for the Mayor

Ok—so the Mayor started running a fever Thursday night.

And since it continued through the night and remained elevated and steady
despite baby Motrin, her top two chief Atlanta aides made the call that she was
homebound as well as doctor bound Friday.

So naturally, the chief aide in Woobooville’s satellite office, moi, came up Friday
to assist.

The pediatrician babbled something about Fifth’s disease…again…or was it Roseola?
It seems we’re running out of viruses and thus have started to lose count.
Hence the now numerical listing of viruses…but really, I’m thinking we’re up to
something like 25 by now.

Thus the Mayor opted to drown her sorrows in the consumption of copious amounts of beverage…

Oh, and did I mention that we are right at the 39-week mark for the new sheriff???

So this is what my daughter-n-law is feeling at this point…

But my son keeps saying, “but sweetie, you’re simply glowing…”

My son insisted that we venture to an old school Atlanta vestige Italian restaurant…
a 30 year old establishment that has actually been featured in renowned
foodie magazines such as Bon Appetit.

We made the trek north of the city, almost to Dobbins Air Force Base Friday evening just
so my daughter-n-law could partake in a plate of their miraculous Eggplant Parmagian.
A dish that is a near guarantee to send any and all expectant mothers to be into labor.

If within 48 hours of consumption a mom goes into labor, the baby’s picture joins the
hundreds of pictures lining the walls and the family receives a $100 gift card.
My son practically forced her to eat every last bite.

It seems this did not work on the Mayor’s arrival…
but this new Sheriff might just be different.

However, the Mayor is simply having none of it…as the thought of a new sheriff in town
is more than a bit disconcerting to her Mayorial role.

Stay tuned…