It’s a lovely day in the neighborhood….is it? Is it really Mr. Rogers???!!!

“All of us, at some time or other, need help.
Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world.
That’s one of the things that connects us as neighbors–
in our own way, each one of us is a giver and a receiver.”

Fred Rogers


(Fox News)

Here is a great story I caught during a quick foray into doing something novel…
such as actually sitting down, breathing and reading things that were not Disney
or child-related.

And this oh so novel activity took place during the briefest of moments of quiet
when my two wee charges were finally napping simultaneously—

IT’S A MIRACLE!!!

A MIRACLE I tell ya!!!

You do know that the Mayor and the Sheriff, along with their mom,
are here during Coronagedon right?

What is this…nearing the end of week 2 ???
And by the way, what day is this???
Thursday, I think.

So our daughter-in-law is a teacher.

She is now spending 8 plus hours holed up in our makeshift office/ guest bedroom
each Sunday trying to create a week’s worth of lessons for the middle grades
that she teaches—
Social Studies to various grade levels–6th, 7th, and 8th grades.

During the weekdays, she is submitting attendance,
for those students logged in onto the learning platform via the computer each morning.
She is then live on-line for 4 or more hours each day in order to answer questions,
post more webinar assignments while e-mailing with
parents and students— of which is an all-day and night activity.

This is on top of being a mom to two kids who are two years old and 11 months old.

Hence why she’s with us while her husband, our son, is home in Atlanta, working
from home.

The state’s on lockdown so the separation is a little tough on this little family.

And it is beyond my soul as to how two working parents with young children
are managing to work from home during the Coronageden without extended
family to help.

My daughter-in-law is sensing that some parents are getting very testy.
Some have e-mailed words of thanks…
Some, on the other hand, have been downright ugly.
Yet some were ugly before all of this mess, so needless to say,
the caddyness has ramped up exponentially.

It’s as if the parents have forgotten the fact that their children’s teachers
also have children and lives, and are all stuck inside just like they are…
doing the best they can under the circumstance.

Patience seems to be as scarce as toilet paper!

Our daughter-in-law teaches at an Atlanta private school that feeds into the larger
private high schools—so some of these parents are, in a word, a tad uppity
while blessedly some, on the other hand, are more than kind.

As a former educator, I can sympathize greatly.

So let us look at what is happening here with this whole national learning from home
emergency.

Homeschooling has now gone national…as I suspect it has gone global.

We have parents and their children all together in the house
for an extended length of time….as in weeks on top of weeks.

No sports.
No scouts.
No recess.
No clubs.
No nothing.

Just parents, kids and home.

Children are used to having hands-on instructors despite working
on-line or from textbooks…there are still adults in the room
instructing and or assisting.

These are usually trained adults, as in educators.
Folks who know their subject matter readily and fluently.

With schools being shut down, kids are home with “instructor” assistants
who are now their parents…parents working from home and also assisting with schooling.
With the majority of parents ill-equipped to instruct in subjects, they know nothing about.

And all of this just doesn’t seem to be going very smoothly.
Or so the following story seems to explain.

As funny as the story is, I was touched reading it as it seems
that parents all over the country, and I suspect all over our globe, are
now each carrying the educational burden for their children and
they are not carrying it very well.

So my word today to everyone is kindness—as well as patience.
So make that two words.

We are all tired.
We are all stressed.
And we are all in this together.

Here’s the story…

An 8-year-old boy’s hilarious journal entry is going viral for his candid thoughts
on his mother’s attempt at homeschooling during the coronavirus outbreak.

“It is not going good,” says the boy, whose name is Ben.

“My mom’s getting stressed out. My mom is really getting confused.
We took a break so my mom can figure this stuff out. And I’m telling you it is not going good.”

Ben’s mom, Candice Hunter Kennedy, wasn’t entirely upset by her son’s remarks,
seeing as she herself shared a photograph of the journal entry to Facebook.

“Y’all I’m dying!!!” she wrote on Facebook last week, adding that she was
particularly amused by “that last sentence.”

Thousands of Facebook users agreed with Kennedy in the comments,
telling her they found it “so funny,” and assuring her she wasn’t the only
parent struggling with homeschooling her kids.

“My kids feel the same way,” one said.

“This will be all of us next week,” added another.

“Dead,” someone else simply wrote.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear initially recommended the closure of schools in the state
on March 12 in a bid to slow the coronavirus outbreak. All districts soon complied,
with plans to shut down for at least two weeks, per the Louisville Courier-Journal.

In fairness to Kennedy, though, she knew homeschooling was going to be tough on the very first day.

“We are 39 minutes into [non-traditional instruction],” she wrote in a Facebook post on March 16.
“Papers are everywhere. Kids are panicking. I am stress-eating while trying to keep it
together so the kids can’t see my own panic. Teachers need triple raises ASAP!!”

https://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/boy-journal-moms-attempt-homeschooling-coronavirus-not-going-good

Captain’s log—has it been almost a week????

“The Divine Heart is an ocean full of all good things,
wherein poor souls can cast all their needs;
it is an ocean full of joy to drown all our sadness,
an ocean of humility to drown our folly,
an ocean of mercy to those in distress,
an ocean of love in which to submerge our poverty.”

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

I went back to the grocery store yesterday…
The sign reads, ‘meat custom cut the way you like”
I ask, what meat???

We’re all hunkered in and down in the house…all together.

And right now, we’re all having to make sacrifices…

Consider changing the Sheriff’s big messy diapers…
they have now become a massive joint effort…

I actually took my chances today and in a moment of desperation, I went to Target.
I walked in carrying my own Lysol wipes.
I bought the Mayor a dart shark board.

Plus some sidewalk chalk…but it’s now supposed to rain for the next three days…
of course it is…

Luckily we can play darts sharks and fish
in the house.
Or fill an empty water bottle full of dried rice, screw the cap on tight and shake it
till our heart’s content, or I’m crazy.

And in the middle of all of this new craziness that we’re each finding ourselves
living in, I really don’t know what should be considered new, normal or merely insane.

I have a dear friend in Florence, Italy…I’ve tried getting in touch with her now
for over a week…not a word.

Each day there is a new tally of loss.
Italy has not experienced losses like this since WWII

And what about Spain?
Iran?
France?
The US?
My state of Georgia.
My county?
My city?

I walked outside this afternoon and I heard the birds.
This is such a wonderful time of year to hear the melodic symphony of singing.

I can actually see Spring rounding the corner and I think life is oh so normal.
Oh so rhythmic.

But yet I know it is anything but normal and our ‘oh so taken for granted’
rhythm has been broken.

We only think that we are living with inconveniences.

We grumble.
We grouse.

But what we are seeing, experiencing goes far beyond inconvenience.
This goes beyond our grumbling and complaining.

And I think it is slowly dawning of those who had thrown caution to the wind and went on
living life as if nothing was different…I think maybe, just maybe, they might finally
be getting the memo…life is now very different.

I had read a friend’s post today and she said in all of this craziness she had actually forgotten
it was Lent—and it dawned on me that I too had forgotten Lent as well.

But then I considered the thought that I hadn’t actually forgotten Lent…but rather
I am living Lent.
We are all living Lent.

In this desert wasteland that we now find ourselves wandering,
I am assured that both good news and Hope remain.

Victory is waiting for us on the other side of this desert.
We just need to keep making our way through the barren wasteland because when we do,
we will find Christ waiting with open arms…in part because he walked this desert long
before we ever took the first step.

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God!
He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:55-57

Captian’s log, day 3…bartering, laughing, crying…empty shelves…what then?

If I had my life to live over again,
I would elect to be a trader of goods rather than a student of science.
I think barter is a noble thing.

Albert Einstein

Ok, so I don’t have any Lysol wipes let alone packs of toilet paper.
And I’m hanging onto the less than 10 rolls we’ve got.
But I would love to trade, say, some frozen blueberries from this past summer
if you’re still interested…

I have not wipes nor toilet paper– for this is what specter greeted me this morning
at my grocery store…
The ghost of stores shelves past.

My past or long past you muse…
long past…for our time has been one of amplitude and plenty.


(my store’s shelves / Julie Cook / 2020)

I came, this morning, however, for diapers, waters, fresh fruits, and vegetables
along with some kid and adult-friendly snacks.
I would have liked to have gotten some more chicken and pork chops—but there were none.
I was fortunate in that I got the last pot roast.

The egg shelves were no better.


(Julie Cook / 2020)

I managed to snag the far left top dozen.

And sugar…..
Well forget it….there wasn’t a sack of sugar to be had in the entire store and cooking oil
wasn’t much better.

The milk you ask.
Ha!

I was met at the door with the managers wiping down all carts before they handed them over
one by one to each entering customer.

Walking in I was met by a flurry of mostly older shoppers, many decked out in full masks and gloves.
Eyes darting intently here and there over the top of the blue sterile masks.

Yet the gal in the floral department was busying herself with her flowers and for the
briefest of moments, I felt a sense of what was…normal.

The carts now whizzing past me with nervous eyes peering over masks jolted me back to
a frightening new world I’d woken up to.

And what world is this I’ve woken to?

My dentist has canceled my appointment for next week since they’re closing their office.
The shopping center, where our grocery store is located, was much less full given
that the Belks store is closed, as are some of the smaller retail shops.
Just Publix and Target were open—and now their hours are limited.

I watch the cars driving up and down our street and I wonder where they are going.

Our daughter-n-law and the Sheriff are coming down this afternoon to join us and the
Mayor—leaving our son, the dog, and cat at home while he works from home.
Our daughter-n-law will be teaching “remotely’ during the day while we watch the kids…
for how long, is any one’s guess.

If the sun comes back out and things begin to dry out…
life with a rambunctious two-year-old might smooth itself out.

And I am cooking…a lot– but nothing over the top fun as I’ve got to
manage the eggs, milk, sugar, and oil that we currently have.

So as I pushed my cart up and down aisles more empty than full, with fellow
shoppers looking more suspicious at one another than kindly…
I felt warm tears welling up in my eyes.
I felt a sense of deep melancholy wash over me—but I quickly pushed it
away.
I had to be a normal person with a positive outlook for tomorrow.
Not one of the blue masked, darting eyes people!

By the time I got home, my husband wanted to know if I had gotten any frozen foods
or canned goods.
He’s our resident Eeyore with a black cloud over his head.
He also has a friend he’s known since they were kids who has become a
sort of gloom and doom prepper.
He’s watching way too much news.

“Buy up all the cans of beef stew you can find” he lectures my husband.

I told my sweet Eeyore that I had gotten some boxed chicken broth, frozen tater tots
(for the Mayor) since all the frozen mac-n-cheese was gone. I wanted to buy fresh things…
he then warily chides me…what happens when all the fresh is eventually gone
and the shelves remain empty…what then?

And in the back of my mind…I pondered…what then??

“Shadow of the Almighty rather than the shadow of death”

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty
Psalm 91:1


(image courtesy decidingvoteblog)

As the fluid situation of all of our lives continues to swirl, the post I had hoped to
write today…a post about looking back at how we Americans have overcome past crises
is now on hold.

We’ve been called into a bit of action—for we are off to fetch the Mayor today
with the Sherrif following in a few more days.

With the schools now shuttering in Georgia, our daughter-in-law the teacher
will find herself at home. She will be home with two little ones, along with
a husband (our son) who is already working from home.
And as a teacher, she will be responsible for conducting virtual learning classes
so in turn, they will need help with the kids….so…
the kids will be coming to us.

For how long is yet to be determined.
Therefore, any blogging will be sporadic.

The Mayor tends to demand a great deal of her staff’s time and energies.
And as a governing official, she has her hands full…as we all do.

But before I leave you, I wanted to offer you some lovely words of hope.

The following message…a message of hope in the face of global adversity,
is from our dear friend The Wee Flea, David Robertson.

Living now in Australia but with family still in Scotland as well as England,
David understands first hand the fretfulness we are all feeling during these
times of uncertainty as well as times of fear…

How do we as Christians respond?

My wish is that you will find comfort in the following words…
the link to the full post is found at the end…

Be blessed, stay well and be safe…

One of my greatest concerns is that the Church far more often reflects the society
than it does lead or love it.
This pandemic is a real test for the reality of our faith and the relevance of our doctrines.
And there is no doubt that our world is being taught some real lessons –
lessons the Christian should, if we believe the Bible, already know.

Humility

We are being taught humility.
Fintan O ‘Toole had a marvelous article in The Irish Times pointing out that we are not
kings of the world and we are not masters of our own fate.
It’s a hard lesson to learn. And one that humanity, in our hubris,
has to keep being taught.

History

We have a lot to learn from history –
not least because we keep forgetting it.
Plague and disease are not new to humanity.
When we look at how the Church in the past has dealt with plague –
whether in ancient Rome, medieval Europe, 19th century London or numerous other examples
we can get a better perspective.
My predecessor in St Peter’s Dundee, Robert Murray McCheyne died aged 29 after he visited
the sick and dying in an epidemic among the poor in the city.
The Church today seems to be more concerned about not getting sick, rather than visiting the sick.

Hebel

I love this Hebrew word.
I don’t really know an exact English equivalent.
It’s what Solomon uses in Ecclesiastes when he describes everything as ‘meaningless’ or ‘vanity’.
It carries the idea of trivial froth.
The coronavirus is exposing our societies’ Hebel.
Sport, wealth, leisure, entertainment –
how light and frothy they appear to be in the light of such a foe!

I was in a barber’s in Sydney yesterday where my fellow clientele would normally have been
outraged at the cancelling of the major sporting events which play such
a large part in our lives, but there was general agreement that it didn’t really matter.
(I loved the sign above the door – “if you’re sick you need a doctor, not a barber!”).

Hope

That is the great missing thing.
Real hope has to be more than the wish that this would soon be over and that we could carry on
with life as normal. This virus has exposed the shallowness of that approach to life.
Where do we find hope?
As always I find it in the word of God.
Let me share with you three readings from this morning.

Proverbs 1:20-33 warns us of what happens when we neglect the wisdom that is calling aloud
“in the public square”.
There will be calamity and “disaster that sweeps over you like a whirlwind”.
The waywardness of the simple and the complacency of fools destroys them but
“whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm”.

Then there are the great words of Psalm 91 –
a Psalm that sustained me when I lay on my bed in the ICU unit in Ninewells hospital,
helpless and fearful.
We can rest in the ‘Shadow of the Almighty’ (rather than the shadow of death).
We are covered by his feathers, and his faithfulness is our shield and rampart.
“You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday” (v.5-6).

Finally, my song for this morning was Psalm 139 where,
amongst other things, we are assured that all the days ordained for us were written in the
Lord’s book before they came to be. These verses surely speak to our situation.
Are we listening?
Or are we listening to the voices of doom both within our fearful selves
and our frightened society?

Listening to what God says is not burying our head in the sand;
it is allowing the light to expose our darkness and to point us to a greater and better truth –
to The Rock that is higher than us.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
my anxious thoughts survey.
Show me what gives offence to you,
And lead me in your way”

(Psalm 139:23-24 – Sing Psalms – The Free Church of Scotland)

Three Bible passages to Replace Fear of Coronavirus with Hope in God

death warmed over

“While death isn’t a sure thing anymore, taxes still are.”
Kevin J. Anderson, Death Warmed Over


(the Sheriff watching his Mickey Mouse show/ Julie Cook / 2020)


(The Mayor likes to look inteligent / Julie Cook / 2020)

The quote above should be a most telling warning to us all as we approach a new election…
as in socialists love taxes…but that’s another story for another day…

Then the two images above are perhaps a bit misleading…
Two little people being typical little people…

But looks are certainly deceiving.

They have both been sick this past week and now their “mom” is sick.

And ‘mom’ is not their birth mother who is known as ‘mama’.

Originally I was going to be known as Mopie.
That weirdly turned into Biyah (I liked that one because it actually had a meaning–
‘gift to God’)
Then suddenly Poppie (aka papa) became Da and in turn, I became Ma
But now, it’s ‘mom.’

Having trouble keeping up?
Me too!

And since their mother is ‘mama’, I’ll happily take ‘mom’…
because at this point, I’ll take anything!

So ‘mom’ is now feeling like death warmed over.

Now whereas their mama lives somewhere between life and death on a daily basis
because that’s what working moms with two, who are both two and under, do—they exist
somewhere between exhaustion and the walking dead…but at least their mother
is young…this ‘mom’, not so much.

According to Bloomsbury International, the idiom ‘death warmed over’ comes to us via the Army:
The earliest record of the phrase is in a Soldier’s War Slang dictionary from 1939.
The phrase is suggesting that the person looks like a dead person who has been reheated
(like last night’s dinner in the microwave today).
This idiom is not usually used as an insult, but more for showing sympathy.

It’s not considered an insult but rather a lamentation for sympathy.

And I suppose I’m feeling some small need for sympathy…and like I say,
I am feeling like death warmed over…

This has been a very long week.
The week has been spent caring for two tiny puny kiddos.

A stomach bug times two.
Multiple diapers and wardrobe changes.
Add in the crud, an ear infection, a stye, a sinus infection…
and now I too am besieged.

Ode to the life of parents and caregivers.

Ash Wednesday has come and gone…seemingly without me.
Lent?
Is it already Lent?
I haven’t even thought about my lenten fasts.

The month is nearly come and gone unbeknownst to me.
The ground hog…did he or didn’t he???

The socialist wannabes are still living a life of delusion.
Bernie Sanders is still offering everything to everyone, absolutely for free…
with you and me left holding the tab.

I’m currently living with a massive sinus infection because a sick 10-month-old
has coughed, sneezed and drooled all over me all week…
not to mention the stomach bug diapers from
both The Mayor and the Sheriff…

And so now I feel the need to slap a surgical mask over my face in order
to join the coronavirus bandwagon.

And yet in all of the madness, all I truly long for is a tub of Vicks Vapor-rub
to slather under my now raw nose…


Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

ward of the state…

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings;
the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance,
and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.

Sir Winston Churchill

Socialism is the same as Communism, only better English.
George Bernard Shaw

A ward of the State.

When we talk about wards of the State, what do you think of?

Perhaps no surprise, I immediately think of Annie…
as in “the sun will come out tomorrow”…Annie.
As in the little red-headed orphan who was, in essence, a ward of her state…


snoopnest.com

The definition of the ward of the state, according to legalbeagle.com is the following…
“Not all adults have the ability to care for themselves.
Whether from disability, disease or age, some adults are unable to make their own decisions without help.
They can become adult wards of the state when this happens.
Adult wards of the state don’t have adult family members who are willing or able to serve as guardians.
Guardians are instead appointed by the court from local government agencies to make decisions for them”.

In theory, I too was a ward of the state.

The day I was born, my mother signed the papers and in turn, walked directly out of the
hospital after having giving birth, while I then became a ward of the state—
all before my adoption.

So I get it.
I understand the notion of falling under the care of “the state.”

However my concern today, well past adoptions, is now for our Nation…
and the fact that so many of us seem to want to become wards of the “state.”

“Say what?” you ask…
“Who in the heck wants to be a ward???”
“A ward of the State?!”

But yet sadly, you have read correctly…
it appears as if a wide swarth of Americans want to become wards of the State.

As in giving up one’s ability to make it on one’s own, by one’s own merit,
and simply rest and relay upon one’s “State”— ie, one’s government…
relying on the government to care for us and to keep us up…and thus what does
the State requires in exchange?

Has history taught us nothing?!

Or perhaps the better question remains, do Americans really care?

Do Americans care whether or not they/we rely upon themselves/ourselves or rely upon their government
in order to provide for their needs?

Have we, as a people, not historically been known for our tenacity and fighting spirit
for all that exemplifies freedom??

Yet under a socialist state, citizens become wards of the State and therefore,
all their needs are covered, met and cared for..there is no need to fight for freedom.
They, in turn, become minions rather than fighters.

And so is that what we are?
Is that what we want?

As Americans, is that what we are–is that what we want?

We simply want to be minions?

Do we want to be placated underlings or do we want to be freedom fighters?

Do we want to be free to make our own choices?
Or do we simply want to give all of that up while simply being told what
we can or cannot do?

President Ronald Reagan quoting Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain noted that…
“The Founding Fathers were neither metaphysicians nor theologians,
but their philosophy of life and their political philosophy,
their notion of natural law and of human rights,
were permeated with concepts worked out by Christian reason.”
Reagan continued, “From the first, then, our nation embraced the belief that the individual
is sacred and that as God himself respects human liberty, so, too, must the state”

The Founders believed that freedom of religion and of conscience were both sacred–
more sacred than a man’s castle, as James Madison put it.
“The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man:
and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate,”
wrote Madson, who called conscience” the most sacred of all property.”
The Divine Plan / Paul Kengor and Robert Orlando

President Reagan, long before he was president, riled against the notion of an insidious
and far-reaching ‘state’ —a state that wants to not only care for the physical needs of its
people but a state that wants to make the final decision for man’s personal
relationship with his God.
As in there is no God…only the State.

In 1975, years before he became president, Reagan stated
“Socialists ignore the side of man that is of the spirit,”
“They can provide shelter, fill your belly with bacon and beans,
treat you when you’re ill –
all the things that are guaranteed to a prisoner or a slave.
But they don’t understand we also dream, yes, even of owning a yacht.”

It would behoove us to remember that the current folks running for the Democratic
party’s nomination are each touting the notion of the ‘big State’…
that being the big State making both your and me its wards…it’s minions.

Wards are not free but are rather dependant…as in totally dependent.

Dependance did not win us a Declaration of Independence.

Please click the following link which is a story about a prophetic warning.
A warning offered by Ronald Reagan, long before he was president…

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/paul-batura-ronald-reagan-warned-us-about-bernie-sanders-over-40-years-ago

(back to the Mayor and the Sheriff–the life lesson post must wait a bit more)

blame it on the rain

Go on and blame it on the rain…
‘Cause the rain don’t mind
And the rain don’t care
You got to blame it on something

Lyrics from the infamous Milli Vanilli


(a single raindrop /Julie Cook / 2015)

Well, last week there was a brief impromptu road trip.
It was a last-minute, throw some stuff in a bag, head out the door sort of road trip.

I simply blame it on the rain.

I gleaned some important life lessons during this little adventure of which I planned on sharing…
lessons that came about, in part, to my blaming it on the snow rather than the rain…

However, before I could properly put a suitcase of dirty clothes into the wash,
and write a reflective post, I was called into quick duty.

The poor Mayor and Sheriff were both stricken by an unrelenting stomach bug…

Let’s just say that both mouths and bottoms were working overtime, simultaneously…
It wasn’t a pretty picture.

Pedialyte popsicles were about the only means of sustenance which remained where they were supposed
to remain, inside the tummies vs outside of said tummies.


(The Sheriff enoyed a pedialyte popsicle until experiencing his first brain freeze / Julie Cook / 2020)


(The Mayor holding onto to only thing that stayed on her stomach all day / Julie Cook / 2020)

And thankfully there have been a few moments of peace and calm…


(still sleeping before I had to race soiled babies to the bath / Julie Cook / 2020)


(a new roost ruler in Woobooville/ Julie Cook / 2020)


(just before the morning’s cranberry juice reared it’s ugly head/ Julie Cook / 2020)


(the Mayor looking wise beyond her years / Julie Cook / 2020)

So barring my chances of catching this vicious bug plaguing these children,
I plan on getting back to the story at hand hopefully tomorrow…

However, for now, I’ll just blame all of this on the rain…as well as a nasty stomach bug…

“I will attempt day by day to break my will into pieces.
I want to do God’s Holy Will, not my own.”

St. Gabriel Possenti