How can you mend a broken heart…

And how can you mend a broken heart?
How can you stop the rain from falling down?
How can you stop the sun from shining?
What makes the world go round?

Song Lyrics, Robin and Barry Gibbs (the Bee Gees)


(The Mayor itching to get in the rain / Julie Cook / 2020)

These are pictures of The Mayor itching to get out into the rain
What is it that draws kids to the water…itching to get out into the rain???

Well, we had to take the Mayor back home yesterday and naturally, it broke my heart.
It always breaks my heart to take her home.
She was adamant that she did not want to go home.
I suspect that it had a great deal to do with the fact that she did not
want to go home because she knew that the new daycare was in her future, once again.
Funny that a 2 and half-year-old knows what the cards have in store.

And naturally, it breaks my heart that I can’t just keep her 24/7.

I can’t tell you how much I love those kids–The Mayor and her brother, the Sheriff.

And so I think about how much we love our children and our grandchildren…
and yet I think about what just happened in Georgia–

The Georgia House bill—the Abortion Bill 481–aka the Georgia Heartbeat bill,
was unsurprisingly ruled unconstitutionally this week.

A heartbreaking ruling…

Children are our future, our hope, our love…not some sort of commodity that can
easily tossed aside on some sort of whim…

Life is not a mere whim…

https://www.wsbtv.com/news/georgia/federal-judge-says-georgias-heartbeat-abortion-bill-is-unconstitutional/X6N3AMLHRJCORN424DJK672ZYA/

There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.

Proverbs 6:16-19

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

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

jumping on the bandwagon

If you see a bandwagon, it’s too late.
James Goldsmith


(the Mayor and Sherrif’s summer ride / Julie Cook / 2020)

“You must not follow the crowd in doing wrong.
When you are called to testify in a dispute, do not be swayed by the crowd to twist justice.

Exodus 23:2

According to bloomsbury-international.com, the idiom “jumping on the bandwagon”
is of US origin—
of course it is:

“This idiom originated in the USA probably in the 18th century when musicians were
carried in a bandwagon ahead of everyone else when going to a parade or a political rally.
The phrase suggests that people will follow any event for the excitement of it rather
than actually knowing if it is true or not.

The transition from the literal to the figurative use we now know was complete by the 1890s.

Meaning…we must be thoughtful rather than impulsive and rash with those things we
feel compelled to join, chase after, or align ourselves to.

We, humans, tend to follow hook, line, and sinker our emotions rather than our brains.
Has history not taught us that these emotions of ours do not make for reliable decision making.

All we have to do is take a quick look around…
The bandwagons are fully loaded and skidding around on just two wheels…
the crash is inevitable.

Be smart, be wise… think twice before jumping on…
the inevitable crash will be catastrophic.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God,
for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ
has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.
This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them,
for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them.
We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us;
whoever is not from God does not listen to us.
By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

1 John 4:1-6

choose life over fear

“Nothing in life is to be feared,
it is only to be understood.
Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

Marie Curie


(Two grandparents overun / Brenton Cook / 2020)

After nearly three months of going nowhere but to the grocery store,
the curbside pickup liquor store, occasionally to Target and most recently to a
Chick-fil-A drive-through…

After three months of being cooped up…caring for wee ones while others work from home…
Living life shrouded daily within a veil of trepidation, questions
and fear…today we opted for living life a bit more boldly and actually ventured
forth on Mother’s Day.

We took our small show on the road.

We drove southeast to a small quaint town, about 45 minutes away, in order to enjoy
a lovely alfresco Mother’s Day lunch.

Actually sitting outside, basking in the lovely May sunshine along with a
slight cool breeze, we couldn’t have been happier.
.
When we arrived, we were greeted by several gracious masked waitresses and waiters,
along with hand sanitizer at the ready…a familiar staff despite the covered faces.
Their twinkling eyes said it all…”Welcome back!”

It was finally a real sit-down meal away from our own kitchen of chaos.
A truly treasured moment.

Eating out has always been a treat and a diversion from the rut of the every day…
but today…today was different!
Everything seemed brighter, lighter.

This little restaurant is one we have enjoyed visiting over the years.
One we don’t mind driving to.

The husband and wife team who own the restaurant, where she is the chef,
have made the most of a farm to table restaurant with a relaxed french flair.

The host and husband of the duo, who I know, asked me, before we left if we had enjoyed ourselves…
my response was one of a long exhaled sigh of relief.

I told him that after almost 3 months of going nowhere…today was absolutely grand!
I could tell he smiled in satisfaction despite having a mask cover his face.
His eyes said it all.

They have provided curbside pick-up throughout the state’s lockdown but
today was their trial run for a “soft opening.”

After a delightful afternoon, when we were headed back home, satiated and content with
having enjoyed both a peace-filled afternoon and good food,
a small sign outside of a little country church caught my eye…
Choose life over fear.

Today on this Mother’s Day 2020…we chose to live life just a little bit freer
pushing aside the nagging fear of the past three months…

Here was to a Mother’s Day not to be forgotten but absolutely cherished
for all sorts of reasons…


(“mom” and The Mayor / Gregory Cook / 2020)


(Dada with his brood/ Abby Cook / 2020)


(mama with The Sheriff /Gregory Cook / 2020)


(Da with “Je” / Julie Cook / 2020)

“Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine.”

Isaiah 43:1

not exactly the Mother’s day you may have wanted…

“Be a Mother who is committed to loving her children into standing on higher ground
than the environment surrounding them.
Mothers are endowed with a love that is unlike any other love on the face of the earth.”

Marjorie Hinckley


(the styling and profiling Mayor / Julie Cook / 2020)


(The ever smiling Sheriff / Julie Cook / 2020)

What does a Pandemic Mother’s day look like?

Well, I’m not certain.

I wasn’t certain what a Pandemic St. Partick’s day would look like.
Nor what a locked-down Pandemic Easter would look like.

I didn’t know what a 1st birthday would look like as we hunkered down inside…
Nor did I know what a festive Cinco de Mayo would be from home.

What I do know, however, is that we celebrated together none the less.
We lived through and did the best we could with what we had
and with what we could do…making the most of the simple and reserved.

And now I suppose this Mother’s Day will be much the same.

We will miss those who are not with us to celebrate just as we will mourn those who
have gone on ahead of us.
We will grieve for those who now grieve and rejoice with those who rejoice.

It has not been easy on you living here these past two and half months…
away from your own home, your comfort and familiarity, as well as that of
your own complete little family.

Yet we’ve each done the best we could do.

And so, on this Pandemic Mother’s Day,
I want to thank you for allowing me to share your children.

I want to thank you for allowing me to share in the day to day caregiving
and responsibility.
You have been gracious in allowing me to be that now missing and yet extra parent.

There are only three people in my life who I am related to by blood—
and you and I share those three people.

One of those three I have shared with you while you in turn have shared two with me…

And so I thank you for that.

Long ago, one of my own mother’s favorite folks was Erma Bombeck.

She was that folksy, common sense female author and journalist so endeared by
“the commmon woman.”
She was a woman who didn’t need hashtag movements, protests, marches or amendments to know that,
as a woman, she could and would make a difference in the lives of others…all the while, doing
so with a deeply rich and delicious humor.

She was self-deprecating in the best sense of the word.
She knew how to laugh at herself as she invited others to laugh as well.

At that particular time in our culture, Erma Bombeck was the sole spokeswoman
for the most underappreciated being on the planet…that being the mom…
and in particular, the stay at home mom.

My mom was a stay at home mom.

An often lonely and mostly underappreciated role.

She was a woman who did not have extra money like those of her working friends.
She was a woman who didn’t have fancy clothes or a nice car, or a super nice house.
She was a simple woman who probably would have enjoyed being complicated.
A woman who knew how to make $50 dollars a month feed a family of four
while sewing clothes for school.

A woman who knew what it meant to hurt and suffer as one of her children
battled mental illness.
A woman who bore cancer, and its eventual loss of life, without nary a complaint.

And so I share with you a tale by Erma Bombeck—a piece
about when God created mothers—-something my mom certainly understood
and something I think you may already understand.

Happy Mother’s Day to my daughter-in-law…

“When God Created Mothers”

When the Good Lord was creating mothers,
He was into His sixth day of “overtime” when the angel appeared and said.
“You’re doing a lot of fiddling around on this one.”

And God said, “Have you read the specs on this order?”
She has to be completely washable, but not plastic.
Have 180 moveable parts…all replaceable.
Run on black coffee and leftovers.
Have a lap that disappears when she stands up.
A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair.
And six pairs of hands.”

The angel shook her head slowly and said.
“Six pairs of hands….no way.”

It’s not the hands that are causing me problems,” God remarked,
“it’s the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have.”

That’s on the standard model?” asked the angel.
God nodded.

One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks,
‘What are you kids doing in there?’ when she already knows.
Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn’t but what she has to know,
and of course the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say,
‘I understand and I love you’ without so much as uttering a word.”

God,” said the angel touching his sleeve gently,
“Get some rest tomorrow….”

I can’t,” said God, “I’m so close to creating something so close to myself.
Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick…
can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger…
and can get a nine year old to stand under a shower.”

The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly. “It’s too soft,” she sighed.

But tough!” said God excitedly.
“You can imagine what this mother can do or endure.”

Can it think?”

Not only can it think, but it can reason and compromise,” said the Creator.

Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek.

There’s a leak,” she pronounced.
“I told You that You were trying to put too much into this model.”

It’s not a leak,” said the Lord,
“It’s a tear.”

What’s it for?”

It’s for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness, and pride.”

You are a genius, ” said the angel.

Somberly, God said,
“I didn’t put it there.”

― Erma Bombeck, When God Created Mothers

politicians, the ugly, the bad, the good…

“In the present case it is a little inaccurate to say I hate everything.
I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty and common decency.
This makes me forever ineligible to any public office of trust or profit in the Republic.
But I do not repine, for I am a subject of it only by force of arms.”

H.L. Mencken


(oh the Mayor / Julie Cook / 2020)

It is during such perilous times as these that chaff is separated from wheat–

Meaning…we learn who amongst our leaders rise to the top as we disappointingly
watch others sink to the depths of deceit and self-absorption.

Case in point— here in our local locked-down town of Woobooville…
we see how the Mayor is acting somewhat shady—as seen in the paparazzi gathered
clandestine photo above.

Next, we see how easily a politician can head down the toilet…as in literally trying to
put one’s head through the potty seat…

Or what of those politicians who are known as pork bellies–
gorging themselves on taxpayers dollars (or baked beans and ribs)
while trying to pad frivolous and unnecessary money pits…


(The Mayor has a thing for all things beans…/ Julie Cook / 2020)

But in the end—our local politician and head of our sheriff department do their best
to keep our spirits raised


(the Sheriff is learning to walk!/ Julie Cook / 2020)

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 16:11

a nudist beach at….

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.
Helen Keller

A nudist beach at Camp Cookie????
It seems that some folks at Camp Cookie just couldn’t wait for their bathing suits!!!

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
Oscar Wilde

Sunday was Easter right? Why does this still feel like Lent? Hope found in an egg

“A box without hinges, key, or lid,
Yet golden treasure inside is hid.”

J.R.R. Tolkien


(pretties found during the lockdown / Julie Cook/ 2020

Today’s other title choices…wait for it…WHEN WILL THIS BE OVER?!

And then there was the alternative, Crisis within a Crisis…

I don’t know, maybe you are like me and prefer not to admit it…

You should know, there was this subconscious thought, deep down somewhere in my being,
a subconscious thought that pondered that once Easter got here, and what with a couple of weeks
of this lockdown business under our belts, this madness would joyfully all be over.

But the somber and sober reality was that once Easter actually arrived here in the South,
we were met with a deadly and storm ridden day.

Grey, windy, humid and eerie.

Eerie for all sorts of reasons.

We were under a tornado watch throughout both day and night with the storms
making their presence known here in Georgia around at 2AM

They had already left their deadly mark in Lousiana and Mississippi.

There were tornados in the neighboring counties and states all around us, but
we were thankfully spared the brunt of mother nature’s deadly fury.

Lives were lost, homes and properties destroyed.

I was reminded of the Easter Sunday years ago when a storm rolled through a tiny town
in neighboring Alabama, making a direct hit on a rural Methodist Chruch.
The pastor, a wife, and mother, was killed and the church destroyed.

Mother Nature does not discriminate.

Nor do crises or viruses.

Just before all this madness ramped up, I had to have a molar’s crown replaced.
I was fitted with a temporary and was to come back in two week’s time for the
permanent crown to be put in place.

Well the pandemic reared its ugly head and my appointment was canceled as all businesses were
shuttered.
No worries, I thought, this temporary molar is great.

That was until yesterday morning, Easter morning when the Mayor offered me one of
her jellybeans–out popped the tooth.

Well, knowing it was, A. Sunday and B. Pandemic, I knew I was a ship load out of luck.
So what does a former girl scout/educator do in a small crisis?
She finds the super glue to poke the tooth back in.

The only problem was that it was in the back, in between two other teeth, I was having
a hard time seeing in the mirror, holding the flashlight while trying to figure out what
was the correct line-up for the tooth.

Have you ever gotten super glue on your tongue?

Take it from me, DON’T!!!
Then do not use fingernail polish remover to get rid of super glue on your tongue.

I got the tooth back in but not lined up for the bite.
So now, it hurts and doesn’t align when my teeth touch and I can’t “pop” it back out
because it’s glued in like nobody’s business.

I called the dentist Monday morning and the recording told me all I needed to know…
PANDEMIC. CLOSED!

But I did, however, leave a message.
And a gal did call back.

I explained what happened but she said that for now, they needed to remain closed
but if it popped back out, do not use superglue…well duh…
and to call back as they’d see if they could get me in.

I hung up wondering why I couldn’t get in now but I suppose we’ll wait until
infection sets in and my head begins to throb.

Oh, and did I mention Percy?

Last week, I had let the Mayor and Sheriff’s big black lab out onto the deck for water.
I went to fill up the water bowl when I saw a good bit of bright red blood on the bowl.

I asked my daughter-in-law to check the dog’s mouth to make certain she had
not lost a tooth.

Nope—all was well.

And that’s when I saw it.

Percy looked up at me and his entire mouth was swollen with his bottom jaw almost
swollen beyond recognition.

I immediately called the vet asking how they were seeing emergency cases.

Of course, they know Percy most intimately.

They told me to bring him to the parking lot and call once I got there.
They would send out a masked and gloved tech to get the carrier while I
waited in the car.

Several of the techs who had endured those agonizing months with me as
Percy was a daily patient dealing with his bone infection, all came to the door
to wave.

I think that’s what I miss most throughout this madness—our daily
mundane, yet comforting, interactions.

After about 30 minutes, the vet came out and told me Percy had bitten into his bottom lip.
Remember, Percy has some very messed up teeth, those of which have not been pulled or
lost to his abuse as a kitten, before coming to us.

Two shots, antibiotics, steroids, and a million dollars later, we were headed back home.

They even brought me back my bank card back out wrapped in Lysol wipes.

Only Percy would have a crisis during a global pandemic!

And so I went back to the grocery store today.

Again, the emotionless masked shoppers were out in droves.

The chicken and meats were back up to speed but limited to two packs per person.

All the chicken broth was out as was all flour and sugar.

The aisles were now marked with an arrow or an x—directional markers as to how to travel.

I had to weave up and down.
If I forgot something, there was no backing up or u-turning.

Cheese was only two per person as was most everything else.
There were actually 5 packs of toilet paper on the shelves.
Yet no Lysol or disinfectant wipes to be found.

Eggs were also a bit sparse.
But of course, it had just been Easter.

In the background there was some late 90’s song playing on the intercom
that pricked at my senses.
I felt tears welling up in my eyes.

I had a moment of sheer visceral sadness.

Normal.
I just wanted normal.
Not some kind of science fiction, brave new world NEW normal.
I just wanted plain ol normal.

Afraid that the enormity of all of this twilight zone life was just about to
push me over the edge…I blessedly saw them.

Eggs.

And not just any eggs…it was a package of a lovely multi-colored palette
of perfectly shaped beautiful ovals

And just like that, I was jolted back to the bigger picture…
that of new life and new birth.

Something so much greater than this current madness.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2 Corinthians 5:17