let me tell you…

It is the characteristic excellence of the strong man that he can bring
momentous issues to the fore and make a decision about them.
The weak are always forced to decide between alternatives they have not chosen themselves.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer


(our son and his daughter, the Mayor / Julie Cook / 2019)

Let me tell you a little bit about our son…

He turns 31 later this year and would absolutely die if he knew his mother was
sharing anything about him on her blog.

Oh well.

I’ve written about him before, several times…it’s just that I don’t tell him that I do.

I’ve written about him not because he’s simply my son nor because he’s famous, infamous
or terminally ill…thank the Lord he’s none of those things but just our son.

I write rather because his growing up was not an easy journey…

It was a journey that seems oh so long ago and yet the memories of the difficulties
remain.

Despite that long and often difficult journey, we, his parents, are so exceedingly
proud of the man, husband, and father he’s grown into.

And that is what I want to write about.

But I also want to write, not so much about our son,
but rather about the very surreal time in history in which we are now
finding ourselves living in.

We are living in a dystopian culture that is playing fast and loose with
something so straightforward and simple as the obvious fact of biology and gender…
that being the exacting fact of male and female.

It is a culture that is trying its best to demasculate any and all males.
A culture that is shaming boys, young men, and adult men…for being just that, male.
A culture that allows children to “choose” a gender, with gender being
a fluid notion.

I, for one, believe in and very much want strong men.

I want strong men in my life.
I want strong male role models who know what it means to be a man…
I want men who know what it means to be a Godly man.
Mature men.
Men who understand God’s intention for them as husbands, leaders,
role models, fathers…

And these desires of mine do not equate me with being weak, dominated,
overrun, demure, belittled or abused.

Just shy of 40 years ago, my late godfather, an Episcopal priest,
sat me down right before I got married in order to share a few important
thoughts with me.
As my priest, but more importantly, as my Godpoppa, he felt compelled to tell me that
marriage was not going to be easy.

I think we all know that an engaged bride-to-be lives in a bit of an unrealistic fairytale
of fantasy.
There is a whirlwind of activities, details, and parties to attend to;
reality is not often found in the fanfare.

My Godpoppa told me that I was marrying a good man but a man who had been abused
both physically and emotionally as a child by a hardcore alcoholic father.
He told me that my husband-to-be had not had a positive role model of
what it meant to be a loving husband and father.

He wanted me to keep this all in mind as we prepared to embark on
a life together.
He knew all too well that there would be difficult times.

He already knew, up close and personal, of my own issues with adoption and
dysfunction within my adopted family— but in his wisdom, he knew that
two broken people were about to be joined as one…
as in two becoming one big broken person.

Not only did I have to learn how to be a loving, supportive, forgiving wife and later
a mother–of whom was also working and tending to the house…
but my husband had to learn how to be a good husband, provider,
and an eventual positive father—
the type of father he desperately wanted to be for our son.


(our son and my husband many moons ago / Julie Cook / 1995ish)

And my Godfather was right—marriage was and is hard—add work, bills,
life and parenthood to that and things can become dangerously complicated fast!

I read the following quote this morning from the author Tom Hoops:
People think of “the family that prays together stays together” as a quaint old saying.
But it was a favorite saying of Saint John Paul II and Saint Teresa of Calcutta,
and the daily practice of Pope Benedict XVI’s family, according to his brother’s biographer.

I had to learn the hard way the importance of seeking God first and foremost when
it comes to one’s most intimate relationships.
It is imperative that He be in the middle of all we do because if He is not and
we substitute ourselves in the center, then we have a toxic equation for
stress and disaster.

It is Satan’s desire that the family fails.
If the family fails, Satan gains a greater foothold in our world…as all binding institutions
begin to crumble.

But I suppose I’ve deviated a tad from my original intention with this post…

Yet we need to understand that parenthood, like marriage, is often a learn
as you go experience.

And so it was with us—especially when our 5-year-old son was diagnosed
with a rather severe learning disability and a year later with ADD.

Life suddenly took a difficult turn.

He didn’t learn to read until he was entering the 3rd grade.
We spent the previous summer driving back and forth every day to a
specialized private school in Atlanta that focused on teaching kids with
dyslexia how to read.

We spent our afternoons fighting over homework and driving from tutor to tutor.

It all sounds so matter of fact now…but at the time it was anything but.

There was a father who was gone working 16 hour days, 6 days a week, a wife who
was teaching and commuting 30 minutes to and from work to home while shuttling a
child from school to tutoring to home, to homework, to Scouts, then back home again…

Throw in making supper, tending to the house, washing, cleaning, preparing
lessons for the next day…and life just seemed to get more and more difficult.

There was enough exhaustion, frustration, resentment, tears, fears and worry
circulating in our young lives to last a lifetime.
And there were many times I angrily raised a fist and questioned God.

Yet our son wanted nothing more than to be “normal” and of course we
wanted that for him.

But what was normal?

For him to be “normal” meant that there was going to have to be a great deal of
commitment, time invested, assistance, sacrifice and lots and lots of work.

But of course, you can read about all of that in the following linked posts written years back…
because today is not a day to dwell on what was but rather today is a day to look at what is:

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2014/09/28/the-journey/
https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2016/08/01/a-large-collective-sigh/

I actually had colleagues who openly voiced their skepticism over our son ever
going to college let alone being successful.

It wasn’t easy.
There were hurdles.
There were setbacks.
There were mistakes.
There were injustices.
And there was simply dumb rotten luck.

Then there came a girl.
And then came love.
And then came marriage.
And eventually, there came a degree.

Some very tough jobs followed—they came complete with low pay, poor hours,
dangerous conditions, a lack of appreciation, pounded pavement,
all the way to a shuttered company, a lost job, and then news of a baby.

When things were looking their lowest, a ray of light shone through.

Out of the blue came a new job.
New promises from a prominent company.
A new start.
Along with that new baby.

Yet hours remained frustratingly poor, pay remained minimal and frustration remained high
as the promises kept being pushed aside.

However in all of that remained something more important, something more instrumental,
something more exacting…that being…perseverance.

It was a desire and a will ‘to do’, not only for himself but more importantly the
desire to do, to be and to provide for his young family.

He wanted to be that man he saw in his father.

A man who made years of sacrifices of self for the betterment of his wife and child.
A man who was just that, a man who possessed both determination and a respect
for responsibility.

There was work, there was a growing family as baby number two appeared…
added to all of that was more college work for an additional degree add-on.
A balance of living life while looking ahead.

And just when life was looking overwhelming and growth was looking stymied and stagnant…
along came an opportunity for something different, something new and something that
seemed improbable, unattainable and most unlikely…and yet it came none the less.

After gaining a toehold in the door and with nearly two months of
interviews and scrutiny, the new job offer came last week.

I know I’ll be writing more about all of this change in the coming weeks…
but first, there are the necessary two weeks of finishing up one job before
starting another.

There will be the training, learning the adjusting…for not only our son
but for his entire small family.

Change is good, but it is also hard.

Yet the one thing in all of this that I know to be true is that our son did this on his own.
He earned the opportunity and sold himself as the best asset he could be…

There is God’s hand and timing in all of this.
And I can say this as I’m now looking back.

On the front end, things can look overwhelming and impossible…

Yet my husband toiled to become that man, that father, he so yearned to be…
and now his son is following suit…

Living the life as the man God intended for him to be.

A strong focused man who loves his family.
A man who works to lead his family and honor his wife.
A strong role model for both his young son and daughter.
A man who continues to make us, his mom and dad, so very proud.

Correct your son, and he will give you comfort;
He will also delight your soul.

Proverbs 29:17

heading out to sea, or to a cave, or even to the moon…

“Detachment and involvement:
the artist must have both.
The link between them is compassion.”

Madeleine L’Engle


(the willet shorebird / Rosemary Beach, Fl / Julie Cook

There’s a lot to be said for disconnecting.

There’s a lot to be said for getting off the proverbial grid.

There’s a lot to be said for living in and staying in a cave.
(yes, Wally you are correct!)

And now it appears that there is a lot to be said for not even going to
the store, the mall, the post office, work, school, church, temple or mosque…
And now it seems that it’s not even safe to go to the US.

The US has several travel warnings issued against it.

Hence, staying in the cave.

However, I’m about to the point where I want to grab our Nation up by the collective collar and
give it a good shake and say, “Hey, what in the world are you thinking?!”
Because I believe the majority of this Nation has fallen off the track of civility and
sanity.

I actually read today that an NBC News contributor and former FBI assistant had actually
gone on air stating that the President’s desire to order our flags to be lowered at half-mast
was a secret signal to all the White Supremacists out there and a little nod to Hitler.

Thankfully I had already swallowed my first-morning sip of coffee, otherwise,
I’d still be cleaning off my computer screen.

The President has asked that flags be lowered at half-mast as a sign of respect to the lives
lost in the most recent mass shootings.

Presidents do that.

So if it’s not the Russians, it’s now White Supremacists and of course, there’s
always that awkward nod to Hitler.

Despite the fact that we have folks all over the airways
making all kinds of crazy accusations…that all of our troubles rest
is an obsession with guns, extremism and the president…
we readily forget that the root cause of this hyper-focus on guns,
extremism, Russians and anything else hiding under the bed,
rests in one word…evil.

But before we talk about that…while seemingly to prefer to talk about extremism,
which is the only thing our news outlets want to focus on,
we as a people really need to see the elephant sitting on our laps.

But first, I must say that I have never liked any sort of extremist group or gang or
terror organization past or present.
They make no sense.
And they serve no purpose…

The purpose only… to fill the void of loss, lacking, isolation,
emptiness, selfishness, and yes, sinfulness.

Because extremists and terrorists are just that—extreme and terrifying remnants of
our own sinfulness.

Over the top, zealots, too much, excessive, drastic, absurd, out of control, violent
and seething with distrust, hate, and loathing.

They represent simply hate, head butting more hate…

Be it…
the Klan,
the Black Panthers,
Antifa,
MS13,
Hezbollah,
ISIS,
the Taliban,
the Crips,
the Bloods,
Neo-Nazis,
Skin Heads,
Hells Angels…
on and on goes the list— complete with a plethora of global spin-offs and hybrids.

Vigilante justice, terror organizations and drug lords doing what they do…
causing havoc, murder, mayhem and feeding the ego of Satan

Evil is as evil is.

those with…
Evil intentions.
Evil desires.
Evil actions.

And isn’t that the real key here?
Evil?

Mass shootings are an evil of our times.
Sex trafficking is an evil of our times.
Drug cartels are an evil of our times.
Addiction is an evil of our times.
The Mob is an evil of our times.
MS13 and all gangs are an evil of our times.

And yet no one really wants to say, hey, let’s stop the evil…
preferring rather to say “hey, stop the guns, stop the republicans, stop
the president, stop the conservatives, stop the Christians, stop the white males
stop all males, stop the traditional family, stop plastic straws, etc…”

Rather they claim the mere fanning of the flames of hate.

And so the people cry out to the government to save them…to save us.
And that very government has only turned on itself, devouring
itself alive.

So we are left to rant, to recant, to mourn, to wonder, to pray…to??

While the families of those killed and wounded—from the past week, all the way back to Columbine…
even before.. as well as after…mourn their losses and wither in their suffering.

Hear us oh Lord…

“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
Luke 19:40

revealing God

“We are placed in our different ranks and stations,
not to get what we can out of them for ourselves, but to labor in them for Him.
As Christ has worked, we too have but to labor in them for Him.
As Christ has His work, we too have ours; as He rejoiced to do his work,
we must rejoice in ours also.”

St. John Neumann


(black-eyed susans / Julie Cook / 2019)

God always gives himself in a concrete sign, in an image.
The whole of creation is an image of God; he speaks in it.
The image that definitively reveals God is Christ.

Christoph Cardinal Schönborn
from God Sent His Son

one word…


(The Mayor driving herself these days trying to save on staff expenses /Julie Cook/ 2019)

EXHAUSTED!!!!

Just got home from working all week in the Atlanta Woobooville office.
The Mayor did not slow down all week as she pressed forward with all agendas—
adding to the list as she went.

There was…

Breakfast
Napping
Dressing
Bed making
Sorting laundry
Brunch
Playing
Lunch
Napping
Snacking
Supper
Learning to call her dog by her name… Ayyyye yiiiii (Alice)
Standing
Squatting
Falling
Shopping
Picking up the dry cleaning
Dusting
Re-dressing
Diapering
Rolling
Pushing
PJs
Sleeping

Not all in that order…but close.

As Chief aide, I could barely find the stamina to keep up.

For all you grandparents, and even great-grandparents out there,
who have no choice but to raise your grand and great-grandchildren by yourselves,
without the help and assistance of extended family—You have my deepest respect!!

The little ones are extra demanding while the older ones can be an entirely different,
and even frightening, ball of wax.

Hopefully, there will be a post tomorrow offering something a bit more meaty and full of
depth provoking thought…
that is once I actually rest sleep!

I had taken the latest book we were just talking about early last week The 21
as I was hoping to sneak in a page or two at night…
However, the priority was reading a variety of status reports (aka the Children’s Bible) to the Mayor
who oddly kept a short attention span during reading time…
she is just so hands-on in her job…always finding important things that need doing.


(The Mayor is very obsessive with the sorting and resoring of laundry / Julie Cook / 2019


(The Mayor did seem interested in my latest read, albeit briefly before she thought to tear the cover)


(the Mayor meeting with a representative from the Crab association /Julie Cook / 2019)


(does anyone notice an opportunitst lurking near the Mayor–
seems as if everyone wants a part of her time or even food)


(a small new ride, a gift from the Pig association as in Pepa Pig / Julie Cook / 2019)


(sweet dreams for a busy Mayor / Julie Cook / 2019)

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap,
if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone,
and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Galatians 6:9-10

shutdowns and reactions

Human life, then, we may see as the preparing for the life of Heaven.
It means, on the one hand, complete self-conquest.
The soul must conquer the body and bring it into full obedience to God’s law;
and the soul must itself come into full submission to God.
It has, from God’s Church, the truths it needs to know about God and man and its own destiny:
from the same source, it has the law that will govern it in the right use of itself and in the
right relation of love and duty to others.
But, as has been seen, given that man is to live a life above his nature,
he needs those gifts above his nature which we call the Supernatural Life.

Frank Sheed
from A Map of Life: A Simple Study of the Catholic Faith


(The Mayor is busy / Julie Cook / 2019)

You thought this post was going to be all political, didn’t you?

You thought I was going to throw my two cents into the ring, didn’t you?

Well, I will tell you that despite a government shut down, The Mayor is not slowing down.

We traveled over to spend the weekend with the Mayor.

She wasn’t worried about any shutdowns.
See that’s the glory of kids—they don’t much care what the adults are doing just
as long as their little worlds are flowing.

The minute “the flow” stops, that’s when children become slightly unhinged.

Little children are good like that…they stay oblivious to adults acting like
sophomoric idiots while allowing the lives of countless individuals to hang in the balance.

They don’t care who’s a Democrat or who’s a Republican…
they just know that they are center stage and that’s pretty much how life flows…
anything else is minutia.

So despite big announcements, Dreamers, Walls, and shutdowns or a stubborn President and an
idiot Speaker of the House, the Mayor was busy.

Busy learning to eventually walk on her own.
Busy learning how to make sounds become words.
Busy getting really tired after being so busy that she falls asleep mid play…


(The Mayor asleep on her chief aide’s lap in Woobville / Julie Cook / 2019)

So Thursday morning I went to have a yearly mammogram.
Following that, the endodontist called me explaining they’d had a cancellation and
could fit me 4 day’s prior to my regularly scheduled possible root canal evaluation.

Perfect I thought–knock out the physical traumas all in one day.

As much as I hate having such, I’ve had my fair share of root canals and just
went the suck it up option and to go with the flow.

The tooth had reared its ugly head right around Thanksgiving.
The dentist thought maybe just a crown would help as there was more filling than tooth.

We did the crown.

I went two weeks with a temporary just to see if the sensitivity and pain would ease off.
If they did, the crown would be cemented into place.
If not, off to the endodontist I would go.

Well–things seemed to get better.
So cementing the crown it would be.

Until two days later when the tooth revved up again like nothing had ever changed.

The dentist scheduled my trip to the endodontist.

Of which I went to on Thursday, early.

The root canal was a near 2-hour event.
I was leaned back so far I could have been standing on my head.
I thought my poor neck would give way.

When he was finally finished, he scheduled my coming back for a permanent patch.

Well after 5 hours when the novocaine finally wore off, my mouth and tooth hurt but I chocked that
up to shots and trauma.

I took a pain pill.

Well, the pain and throbbing got progressively worse…
so much so that I had to call the endodontist when I was up with The Mayor–
requesting an antibiotic or a pair of pliers….whichever he felt would be best.

He went with the antibiotic.
It should have been the pliers.

As I type this…I am yawning almost uncontrollably…
and spelling everything very wrong…even for me…maybe it’s the Benadryl.

I don’t normally take Benadryl but I thought it could help with the
overtly severe rash and itching…never mind the throbbing tooth.

What?

Rash?
Itching?
Throbbing??

Seems the endodontist called in clindamycin… seems as if I’m allergic to clindamycin.

My torso, back, face, ears, neck all look as if I have visited a nudist beach and fell asleep laying out.
Things look burned that have never seen the sun.
Sandpaper like skin…red and itchy.
Not a pretty mind’s eye picture I know no matter how you look at it…
But I’ve never seen anything like this.

I may have had clindamycin once before…years ago for a sinus infection and I might recall
my arm itching–calling the doctor and having to change up meds…
Looking at my red self, that seems to be coming to my memory now.

I wish I’d quit yawing and would quit typing gibberish.

I text back the endodontist this morning explaining that I did not sleep because my tooth
has not stopped throbbing and I am now a giant walking, red as a berry, rash.
Did I mention a throbbing tooth?

Good thing Don talked me into using Grammarly on my computer…
otherwise, you might think I have been drugged. Thank you Don.

Well, I have actually.

I thought a couple of Benedryl could stop the rash.

I told the doctor if he didn’t squeeze me in tomorrow, I was getting my pliers—I’m still
debating so I’ll let you know…

Now I better go make some tea to wake me up.

At least the Mayor took her aides out to supper last night, even if I couldn’t chew.


(The Mayor at dinner out / Julie Cook / 2019)

I’ll use the pliers on my tooth while using a hammer to knock in a little sense into our
elected children adult officals.

work or rest…a star seems to be born

“When I’m good, I’m very good, but when I’m bad, I’m better. ”
Mae West


(Autumn loving her first trip to the beach)

All work with a little play…a grandmother’s work is never done…

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:7

average troubles and updates

“I am not more gifted than the average human being.
If you know anything about history, you would know that is so–
what hard times I had in studying and the fact that I do not have a memory like some other
people do…
I am just more curious than the average person and I will not give up on a problem
until I have found the proper solution.
This is one of my greatest satisfactions in life–
solving problems–and the harder they are, the more satisfaction do I get out of them.
Maybe you could consider me a bit more patient in continuing with my problem than is
the average human being.
Now, if you understand what I have just told you, you see that it is not a matter
of being more gifted but a matter of being more curious and maybe more patient
until you solve a problem.”

Albert Einstein


(Autumn is feeling better / Moppie Cook / 2018)

I’ve always thought my life was pretty much average.
I grew up average.
I lived in an average house.
I had an average family.
I went to an average school.
Average was good.
Average seemed safe…

Some folks think average equates to boring…

I rather like average.

Yet our life these days has been anything but average…

Things have been less than ideal for a couple of months now.
Less than average.

There have been high adulations and low dark shadows.

It started really last year with what I called the season of loss…
that was followed by the news of new life and hope.

But then our son had a massive job change the week before his first child was born.
Things were uncertain.

Next, this first child came into this world with tremendous concern and trepidation.
Yet joy pushed the worry aside.

Then it was a here there sort of life.

I was staying there, they were staying here…
As the new mom struggled through a couple of infections.

And so now we all stay here…

The two of us and the two cats have grown to three more plus a black lab.
The 3 four-legged siblings are not too keen on their new “sister”

Yet that’s all about to change again come tomorrow when our son goes back to Atlanta
to a position with new company—of which he is very excited….yet the excitement
comes with a somewhat heavy heart because his wife and young daughter will continue staying
here as mom finishes out the school year.

Blessedly there will not be the hair-raising commuting, but this new small family is now separated
while these imperfect grandparents try to make things as smooth as possible for all concerned.

Throughout all of our small world ordeal, I’ve thought a great deal about our deployed troops—
who are separated from their families for months at a time.
Worlds apart from all that is important and dear.
Our temporary imperfection pales to their sacrifices…

Which reminds me that nothing in life is ideal, is it?

To add insult to injury, during all of our transitions, our daughter-n-law had her
identity stolen.

We worry that it was actually while she was in the hospital.
It’s a top-notch hospital but if you’ve ever listened to Clark Howard,
he’ll tell you the medical field is the primary culprit when it comes
to identity theft…
and her troubles didn’t start until a day after her discharge….
when 4 iPhone 10s were bought on a plan in her name using her SS number
clear across the country in Seattle, Washington.

There were several other phone purchases and phone plan purchased in the same area.
She contacted all of the credit bureaus and had to file police reports in order to
have all the credit applications and purchases taken off of her reports.

The police explained that the phones are bought then shipped and sold overseas.

It’s been a very long story of sorting but hopefully, we’ve nipped it all in the
bud in the nick of time before too much damage has been done.

Next, adding insult to injury, the Social Security office sent out our
new granddaughter’s SS card, but it never arrived.
The SS office then told us they couldn’t track where the card went.
They sent it, that’s all they could determine.

Great.

We now have a new card…but wonder where the other one went…???
And what of a two-month-old’s identity now being compromised???

Next, our daughter-n-law got salmonella right before she was to return to work
from maternity leave.
We’d gone out to a rather nice seafood restaurant in Atlanta to celebrate birth,
life and to see if a new baby could handle public life.

After a night of being deathly sick…
she spent a day in urgent care followed by a day in the ER
The CDC even called…
This while a newborn was at home with an inept grandmother.

It wasn’t lettuce and it wasn’t E-coli…it was salmonella and it was at the restaurant.
I called the manager…he was apologetic.

Three weeks later, as you know, Autumn became deathly ill.
She spent hours in one ER only to be sent to Scottish Rite’s ER in Atlanta.
She too tested posted for salmonella.

But the jury is still out as to the source.
The doctors think the window between her mom’s outbreak and her onset had
actually been too long.
They questioned two new trial formulas.

Her fever was high.
The diarrhea was more blood than not.
As this tiny precious little one was weak and pallid.

She was hooked up to machines and had been stuck in both arms…while nurses searched
for tiny veins.
A difficult thing to bear when such small wee one is suffering.

She had a spinal tap.

The fluids were thankfully clear.

She received a powerful injection in the ER then another one the following day at her
pediatrician’s office.

We were then told we’d switch to an oral antibiotic while waiting to see what
the final cultures revealed.

As of Thursday, the hospital called and told us that nothing had grown from the cultures
and that they felt confident that the salmonella had not spread to the brain.

I spoke with my own gastroenterologist this week and he explained that salmonella
is a gravely troubling illness as it can spread rapidly throughout the body affecting
much more than just the guts…it can lead to a myriad of ailments including arthritis.

Autumn is so much better but not totally 100%.
We had been diligently working on getting her on a schedule and regime of both
eating and sleeping but this latest hurdle threw a massive curveball at all
of our best efforts.

Add to all of this my husband working toward retiring…bringing a 50-year career
in a small family business to a close…
which is an entirely different post unto itself…

Topsy turvy and far from average…a roller coaster of emotions…

So…
average is sounding pretty darn nice, doesn’t it?

We thank each of you for your prayers, thoughts and good wishes…
We couldn’t do any of this without your prayerful support…

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer,
believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Mark 11:24