A time for yearning…

“If you learn everything except Christ, you learn nothing.
If you learn nothing except Christ, you learn everything.”

St. Bonaventure


(Independant Presbyterian Church steeple / Savannah, GA / Julie Cook / 2019)

I must say that I have a small regret…

My regret is that of time…but who doesn’t regret time right?

Sometimes we might think we have enough or even too much, but if the truth be told,
we never have nearly enough.

I use to be able to catch a youtube or video blog post of Anglican Unscripted.
I use to listen to the podcasts of our friend the Wee Flea, Pastor David Roberston…
as well as our favorite across the pond rogue bishop, Bishop Gavin Ashenden.

But first, the Mayor came on the scene.
Next, my better half retired.
And then, the Sherrif came on board.
Suddenly there was no more time….well, no more time for me to do those
things I use to do with time before my new time needers all arrived.

Now I am certainly not complaining mind you…as this use of time
is a good use…exhausting, but good.

It’s just that when I had time to do so, I would
listen/watch and take copious notes of the teachings by our two Christian Scholarly friends.
I would craft posts featuring the teachings of these most knowledgable individuals.
I learned and, in turn, wanted to share the learning…that’s a teacher thing and it matters
not if we retire…sharing knowledge is what we do.

So I was very excited the other day when I actually carved out some unexpected quiet
and surprisingly alone time in order to listen to a podcast offered by one of my
favorite publications, the UK publication The Spectator.

Happily, I got to listen, almost uninterrupted,
to an interview by Damian Thompson with Bishop Gavin Ashenden—
who by the way is a recent convert to Catholicism.
The interview focused on the Chruch of England and its current dangerous walk toward socialism.

Now for those of you who think you don’t have a dog in the fight over anything Catholic,
Anglican, Chruch of England or Episcopalian…or even Socialism…
may I quickly remind you that many of our Nation’s current politicians are touting
all things Socialism while Socialism currently creeps its ugly way into our
Nation’s political narrative.

Think Bernie, AOC and the Progressive left…

I think the good Bishop gives a sound foundation as to why all Christians
must be very wary of this most troubling dalliance of the Chruch of England.

The podcast is about 20 minutes and is well worth the time, if you are fortunate to
find some…time.

“Just before Christmas, Dr. Gavin Ashenden, a former Chaplain to the Queen,
converted to Catholicism. But that’s not the main subject of my interview with him in
the first Holy Smoke episode of 2020. In it,
he deplores the Church of England’s surrender to secularism under Archbishop Justin Welby,
who won’t enjoy his former colleague’s assessment of his talents.

Dr. Ashenden may not be Anglican any more,
but he does think that the Established Church has a historic mission –
and that its ‘middle managers’ have betrayed it in favour of ‘soft socialism’.
To which I reply that Pope Francis is busy hoisting the white flag,
or perhaps a red one, on the other side of the Tiber.
At which point our conversation takes an unexpected turn. Don’t miss it!”

https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2020/01/holy-smoke-podcast-has-the-church-of-england-surrendered-to-soft-socialism/

Blink and you just might miss it

“I am somewhat exhausted;
I wonder how a battery feels when it pours electricity into a non-conductor?”

Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Dying Detective


(the first morning of the New Year as everyone made it to midnight, and look it)

I don’t know about you but I am somewhat exhausted.

Is it my age?
Was it the holidays?
Is it both??

Sprinkle in a heavy, or is that heavenly, dose of The Mayor and Sheriff.

They both go fast and hard…wide open…until


(The Mayor pushing around her little Sheriff, literally / Julie Cook / 2019)

they crash…falling in their tracks as the need to recharge runs deep
and is impossible to ignore.

And as hard as it can be for me to keep up or keep track or keep going…
I am reminded that in a blink of an eye…I will turn around and they will run,
or rather make that drive, off on their own all too soon…

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Psalm 121

A double take on New Years…

Happy New Year!!!
We enjoy.
We rejoice.
Some of us recover.
Some of us ready for some football…

But as we do so…perhaps we must do so with one eye glancing sideways…
or perhaps, is that backward?

Let me explain.

Yesterday morning I had an appointment at the urologists
for a CT scan.
On New Year’s Eve of all day’s…

Long story.

I had gotten up early, already putting a nicely seasoned Boston Butt on the grill for
an all-day smoking. Bowl games were to begin at noon and the Mayor and the Sheriff
were scheduled to come.

I then readied and headed over to the doctor’s office to be there by 9.

I was surprised at how crowded the waiting room was so early.
Looked like I’d be there a while…sigh.

Backing up our story, before even having gotten up that morning…
sleep had been elusive during the night.
Tossing and turning, unable to stay asleep, at 4:30 in the morning I heard a breaking news alert.
Then an hour later, another alert.
Gees, I knew something bad was taking place someplace in the world…

At 6, hoping not to wake my husband, I finally reached for my glasses to see
what in the heck was exactly going on.

It was the US Embassy in Baghdad…and oddly enough it seems it was the Iranians who
were to blame…UGH!

It was when I was in college that I seem to recall trouble with Iran–going back
to the Carter Administration.

A sense of Deja vu crept over me as I read the story and then of the President offering
a strong and swift response.
What would that look I wondered?

Back then in 1979 ‘college’ students had stormed the US Embassy in Tehran and had taken
52 Americans hostage.

I remember one of my roommates vowing not to shave her legs until
the US Embassy hostages were released
Her personal showing of solidarity…
Her wait would be well over a year.

Those were very tense times in our Country…
We all had quick lesson regarding ayatollahs and what religious regimes looked like.

Before the hostages were released, Reagan would be elected as Carter was
to be a one-term president.

Being from Georgia, I was never a Carter fan…from the time he was Governor to the
time he was elected president.

It would be Reagan who would become the president.

Flash ahead to the waiting room where I sat, oddly enough, waiting on New Year’s eve.
I decided to check the news to see if there was any more regarding the US Embassy…
I spied the following headline, thinking it was a story from a time that once was…
but then I caught the word “tweet” and I knew this seemingly half-century-old story
was actually a current story…as in are you kidding me?!

Russia-Poland row over start of WW2 escalates

And so I read the story…

And then I knew— some things will obviously sadly, and even frighteningly, never change…

Add the fact that Putin, whose father served under Stalin,
is working to resurrect the ghost of Stalin past, is well…certainly disturbing
yet oddly not surprising…

Then throw in the fact that Poland and the ‘Allies’ (aka EU) are now near 80 years
later fussing over who started WWII is only more fodder for my day’s Deja vu…

So happy New Year…but just know that some things will never change…
as history continues repeating itself…

(from the BBC)

A row between Russia and EU countries over the causes of World War Two has escalated,
with a top Russian official condemning the US ambassador to Poland.

Parliament Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said a tweet by Ambassador Georgette Mosbacher was
“insulting” to Russians and Americans.

On Monday she tweeted:
“Dear President Putin, Hitler and Stalin colluded to start WWII.”

President Vladimir Putin says Poland and its allies are distorting history.

During a marathon news conference on 19 December,
the Russian president said it was “totally unacceptable and inaccurate”
to cast equal blame on Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin
for the war’s outbreak.
Mr Putin said he had requested Soviet archive documents in order
to write an article on the subject – Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939 –
and, in his view, to set the record straight.
He argued that the Western powers and Poland had appeased Hitler’s aggression by letting
him grab Czechoslovakia in 1938.

The Nazi invasion of Poland came just a week after Hitler’s
Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov
had signed a non-aggression pact on 23 August 1939, which stunned the world.
A secret clause in the pact carved up Eastern Europe into Nazi and Soviet spheres of influence,
allowing the two dictators – one fascist, the other communist – to occupy and dismantle Poland.

Ms Mosbacher’s tweet recalled that Poland was a victim of the two dictators.
But Mr Volodin, who is close to Mr Putin, said the US state department ought
to make sure that an ambassador such as Ms Mosbacher had sufficient knowledge
of a country’s history before sending her to work there.

Mr Putin has revived wartime Soviet symbols, and portraits of Stalin are commonly
displayed in Russia now.
In 2020, the 75th anniversary of the Allies’ victory over Nazi Germany
will be marked.

More than 20 million Soviet citizens died in what Russians call the “Great Patriotic War”
after the Nazis invaded the USSR in 1941.
Mr. Putin’s father served in Stalin’s NKVD secret police and was severely wounded in the war in 1942.

President Putin argued that Stalin had tried to forge an anti-Hitler alliance with Britain,
France and Poland, but that the Munich Agreement in 1938 –
dooming Czechoslovakia – had scuppered that plan.
Stalin then had to reach a deal with Hitler, feeling betrayed by the West, he argued.

However, Western historians point out that the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact
meant Hitler did not have to fear a clash with the USSR if he invaded Poland,
so giving him the assurance he needed.
Moreover, Stalin then supplied the Nazi war machine with raw materials,
which helped fuel – literally – Hitler’s aggression against Western Europe.
How has this row escalated?

Monday, 30 December:
Besides the tweet by the US ambassador, Germany’s ambassador to Poland – Rolf Nikel –
also wades into the row, tweeting:
“The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact served to prepare the criminal invasion of Nazi Germany
against Poland. The USSR together with Germany participated in this brutal division of Poland.”

29 December:
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki issues a statement accusing
Mr. Putin of using the World War Two issue as a means to cover up recent international
setbacks for Russia, such as the sports sanctions imposed over Russian doping.
Mr. Morawiecki says “President Putin has lied about Poland on numerous occasions”.

27 December:
Poland’s foreign ministry summons the Russian ambassador to protest,
recalling that the war began with the Nazi-Soviet pact,
and that Poland lost about six million citizens in the war.
Earlier, Mr. Putin had scorned Poland and Western powers for appeasing Hitler
and had labelled Poland’s ambassador to Berlin in the 1930s an “anti-Semitic swine”.

19 September:
A European Parliament resolution – politically significant, but not a law –
urges EU states to “make a clear and principled assessment of the crimes and acts
of aggression perpetrated by the totalitarian communist regimes and the Nazi regime”.
It describes the war as “an immediate result” of the infamous Nazi-Soviet deal in 1939.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-50955273

The before and after the magic…of Santa…

“Of course there is a Santa Claus.
It’s just that no single somebody could do all he has to do.
So the Lord has spread the task among us all.
That’s why everybody is Santa Claus.
I am.
You are.”

Truman Capote, One Christmas


(the local Atlanta Channel 2 news Santa tracker report)

During the local new’s weather segment, Santa appears on a television in the house
of children across the land. He tells all the little boys and girls that he’s on his way…
and suddenly little people start losing their minds.

They don’t really know why they’re losing their minds…it just seems to be
the seasonal thing to do.


(The Mayor seeing Santa on the televison


(The Sheriff shares his sister’s enthusiasm)

And of course, there are always some who don’t lose their minds but rather think
their ‘parents’ have lost their minds by dressing them in a Christmas sweater.


(Percy not a fan of his sweater)

And here is the image of the aftermath…the moment the air, the energy and
the enthusiasm has left the room…

All having left once Santa came and went…
Gone and departed once the packages were shredded open…
Removed along with the boxes and paper now filling the recycle bin,
Swallowed and digested with the final morsels of savored Christmas foods.

Pure exhaustion…


(moppie and her posse / Julie Cook / 2019)

I could write something philosophical or even offer a psychological treatise about
the evils regarding Santa and children…the evils of secular Christmas vs religious Christmas,
the evils of the hypnosis of our commercial and materialistic world…
but I don’t want to do that…

Rather, I want to relish in what is now the memory of a Christmas that just was.

As a grandmother, I know that such moments are more fleeting on my end but seemingly
everlasting on their young end.

I’m simply going to savor this moment, this time given to me as a gift.
God’s gift to me.

I do so while thanking Him for the universal gift He gave to all mankind…
that of his only begotten Son…

Children and Christmas are certainly a magical combination…

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

James 1:17

dining partner

“Every pious desire, every good thought, every charitable work inspired by the love of Jesus,
contributes to the perfection of the whole body of the faithful.
A person who does nothing more than lovingly pray to God for his brethren,
participates in the great work of saving souls.”

Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich


(the Sheriff with that hair of his, borrowing his sister’s old ride / Julie Cook / 2019)

So this is a picture of my dining partner last night.

Well, actually this is a pre-dining picture…
And no, we are not trying to be gender-neutral people by having him ride around in a pink walker…
he’s simply using his sister’s old walker until Santa brings him his very own boy walker at Christmas.

I like the notion of boys being boys and girls being girls…girls use pink, boys use blue…
but that’s another story for another day.

This is actually the dining picture—as in, I was eating while he was sleeping.


(The Sheriff the perfect dining partner / Julie Cook / 2019)

Here is a picture of who my dining partner is 99.9% of the time—
it is a pre-dining picture as well:


(The Mayor enjoys the kitchen cabinets / Julie Cook / 2019)

I would offer you a dining picture of the Mayor but her mother had to take her outside
while we were waiting for our dinner to arrive as her behavior was not dining acceptable…
Not by us, and I’m certain, not by any neighboring tables.

Think lassoing a bull who is hell-bent on independence but is in dire and immediate need of
help in maneuvering silverware, glassware, drinks with straws and ice along with very hot food
all the while refusing to sit in a booster seat or highchair because no one else in the party
is doing so and therefore the bull, I mean Mayor, demands to sit in a chair or booth
like everyone else and thus the dining experience becomes more of a wrestling match
interspersed with a few shrieks of defiance.

Whew!

This all from a child who is long accustomed to dining out and who has been no bother,
that is, up until the last couple of months of which she has become the independent
nearly impossible handful.

We are a family that believes in removing unruly children from the surrounding
environment as it is terribly unfair to those in near proximity seeking to have
a “nice” evening out.

We did so with our son ages ago and we are doing so with his offspring.

Booths in the back of a dark restaurant or closest to the bar with music blaring
loudly has become good for us.
Both distraction and cover for and from our defiant one.

I suppose I should have taken a picture of the empty booth across from me while the
sleeping Sheriff beside me allowed me to eat unincumbered.
Once the Mayor and her mother returned, I took over with the Mayor,
as the Mayor happily decided that the perfectly cooked hand-cut french fries made for
a delightful spoon for the homemade accompanying ketchup.

This way, the Mayor’s mother did get to eat…but then the Sheriff woke,
needed a bottle, so it was still eating with one hand.

Good food and good drink, gobbled down, one-handedly with a bull sitting,
not to be confused with Sitting Bull, in one’s lap is usually the course
these days.

And so you say, stay home…don’t go out…especially with the Mayor.
And that would make sense.
But sometimes the Mayor’s mother needs to be out in the real world and I want
that for her.
So we hope, pray and go forth.

My motto as a young mother was ‘have baby will travel’…that now-grown baby
is keeping the same motto with his own kids.

And I will say that not all outings are disasters or nerve-wracking as we take
the calm behavior with the bad.

Such is life with a 22-month-old.

And so when it’s just the four of us, the Mayor, the Sheriff, their mom and me—
we’ll out we go…someplace good but still casual enough that the noise level is up.
Yet when Da and DaDa are along—things do tend to go smoother and thus nicer restaurants
may be chosen.

So why all this talk about dining out with unruly ones?

Well I was reminded the other day, when I caught a news clip, of the images of the more
liberal lawmakers out there calling for the minions of liberalism to do what they can
to make life miserable when seeing a member of the opposing party out and about.

As in derail and disrupt and make miserable.

I think it was Maxine Waters who I saw loudly announcing at a rally a few months back,
and this is a paraphrased quote of her rally speech…
“If they (they being Republicans, Conservative lawmakers, and the same
like-minded news folks) are out eating at a restaurant or are out in public doing what
folks out in public do…
go up to that table, or wherever it is they are, make them miserable until they
get up and leave.”

And so I was pondering that very notion the other night while I was eating
with my small sleeping partner and the Mayor was out strolling with her mom,
calming down—
that we, as a family, go out of our way to ensure that those around us,
no matter their political leanings or life leanings are not disturbed in any sort of way.
They are paying good money hoping to have a nice evening out amongst themselves,
the last thing they want is a screaming baby or toddler interrupting their cherished time.

It matters not that their life’s choices, thoughts and or beliefs differ from mine…
what matters is that they are people who deserve nothing more nor nothing less than
me and my family.

Maxine Waters could be sitting next to us and if our kids started acting up,
out they’d go.

So maybe that’s the difference.

Maybe that’s the difference that lies at the center of the divide of this nation.

We believe that everyone deserves our courtesy and kindness…matters not who they are
or what they have or don’t have, believe or don’t believe.

And so perhaps it’s the whole ‘doing unto others as we would want done unto us’
mentality that is at the core of all of this…

As we sit at the waning of one year and the soon to be start of a new year…
maybe the idea of both courtesy and kindness could begin to make a healing difference
helping to mend some of this divide of ours…

Stop and think about those others around you…
you would certainly want them to treat you with kindness…
so treat them as you would want to be treated…with courtsey and kindness…no matter who
your are or who they are.

“Jesus has many lovers of His heavenly kingdom, but few cross-bearers.
Many desire His consolation, but few His tribulation.
Many will sit down with Him at table, but few will share His fast.
All desire to rejoice with Him, but few will suffer for Him.
Many will follow Him to the breaking of the bread,
but few will drink the bitter cup of His Passion.
Many revere His miracles, but few follow the shame of His cross.
Many love Jesus when all goes well with them, and praise Him when He does them a favor;
but if Jesus conceals Himself and leaves them for a little while,
they fall to complaining or become depressed.
They who love Jesus purely for Himself and not for their own sake bless Him
in all trouble and anguish as well as in time of consolation.
Even if He never sent them consolation, they would still praise Him and give thanks.
Oh how powerful is the pure love of Jesus, when not mixed with self-interest or self-love!”

Thomas à Kempis, p. 88-89
An Excerpt From
Imitation of Christ

my weekend

[Our] love of neighbor is genuine love (instead of common interest) only if it includes the
love of God and leaves the other free for God.
Love of neighbor finds its fulfillment in the love of God, love of God its concretization
in love of neighbor.

Adrienne von Speyr
from The Passion from Within


(The Mayor and Sheriff sleeping until time for me to crawl in / Julie Cook / 2019)

I just got home from spending the weekend with the Mayor and Sheriff.

Leaving is always so hard.

When I’m up visiting and since there are now two babies…
there are now no spare bedrooms and thus my “bedroom” is in the den on
a sofa sleeper.

That means that I have officially turned into my aunt Martha as that
is how it worked years ago in our little world when our son was a baby.

So now when I visit, the Mayor usually sleeps with me, Moppie…
but last night the Sherrif had fallen asleep before his mom has everything situated,
so the two of them “rested” until everyone got to the right bed!!!

The chaos from the outings of the day is quickly forgotten when everyone is sleeping like
little angels…

Yet we all know that all of this peacefulness will quickly change once the sun rises
and the day is afoot as the energy of little people is recharged and renewed!

Reminds me somewhat of werewolves and vampires—but in this case, things are reversed.
Angels at sleep—whirling dervishes with tempers and demands by day…

But it’s all actually really quite grand—despite the exhaustion of adults!

Time for a soothing cup of tea for Moppie!


(an angelic Sheriff with wiley hair/ Julie Cook / 2019)


(let not the Mayor’s restful demeanor fool you for one minute—
aka hell on wheels! / Julie Cook/ 2019)

From our turkeys to yours


(wild trukeys caught on our trail cam / Gregory Cook / 2019)

From our turkeys to yours…..

A most blessed and peace-filled Thanksgiving!

The Mayor and the Sheriff wish you all happiness…