life’s blood

“It is not sin as we see it that was laid on Christ but sin as God sees it,
not sin as our conscience feebly reveals it to us but sin as God beholds it in all its unmitigated
malignity and unconcealed loathsomeness.
Sin, in its exceeding sinfulness, Jesus has put away.
But when we perceive sin, then we are to trust the blood.”

Charles Spurgeon


(detail from Matthias Grünewald, Isenheim altarpiece, 1512-1516, Musée Unterlinden, Colmar)

Every 3 months or so, I have to go in for blood work.
I go in primarily for the checking of my thyroid levels.
I have a roller coaster for a thyroid.
Up and down…never just one or the other.

They call that not hypo or hyperthyroidism but rather Hashimoto’s Disease…meaning my thyroid levels
fluctuate both up and or down with no specific rhyme or reason.

A thyroid is a gland in the neck, near the larynx, that regulates the body’s metabolic rate…
It helps to regulate the heart, the digestive system, muscle control, bone growth, and even one’s moods.
It’s a small gland but hugely important.

So I must take a synthetic thyroid hormone to help keep mine working as it should.
The bloodwork lets the doctors know if they need to change the strength either up or down.

Since I go in to see my doctor next week, I needed to go in for the bloodwork today, a week prior.

I’m not afraid of needles nor am I afraid of seeing blood–that being the blood of others
not so much keen on seeing my own—

As an Art teacher, my kids were accidentally yet constantly, as in all the time,
cutting their hands with either razor blades or the gouges we used in printmaking—
in turn, leading them to freak out.
And so my girl scout and first-aid training would kick into action–
direct pressure and hold above the heart, call the school nurse.

So whereas I don’t enjoy being stuck and drained as if a vampire had gotten a hold of me,
being stuck doesn’t really bother me.

So there I was sitting with my sleeve rolled up, tourniquet tied tight, fist clenched
while my head turned elsewhere looking away lest I might possibly faint…
other’s blood, no problem— my blood, small problem.

But I mindlessly chattered with the phlebotomist, praying she’ll take off that blasted tourniquet that
was squeezing the life from my arm, and before I knew it, we were done.

She gathered her needed vials—

Three vials of blood.

Vials that will tell my doctor where my current thyroid levels rest.
They will tell her that my cholesterol is most likely up.
They will tell her whether there are any vitamin deficiencies in my body.
They will tell her if there is any sort of infection in my body– as in high white blood cells.
They will tell her if my liver enzymes are still too high as in fatty.
They will tell her if the Hemochromatosis is out of sorts.
They will tell her if my hormones are awry.
They will tell her if there is inflammation.
They can tell her if there might be a cancer.
They can tell her if I have celiac disease or any other number of diseases.
And if I were a much younger woman, they could tell her whether or not I was pregnant.

All of that and more from three small vials of blood pulled directly from a vein.

Amazing really.

And whereas some of the results may not be necessarily pleasing, the results can, in turn,
be life-saving.

My thoughts quickly shifted from the notion of medical information to that of
the essential necessity of life’s sustaining blood.

The doctor can tell so much from just a couple of vials of blood–life or death things…
but the one thing she can’t tell is whether the blood in my veins is merely mine or that
of the blood of the lamb…

The Bible is rife with tales of the importance of blood.

The African Research Review offers this insight:
“From the earliest times, God had insisted on blood sacrifice as the ground upon which He was to be approached.
As God’s revelatory act and the corresponding relationship developed,
the Levitical sacrifices had to be systematized and made an integral part of the Hebrew religion.
Blood-related sacrifice to the Jew, therefore, was an ultimate demand from God resulting in a unique relationship.”

The significance of Blood sacrifice in the Old Testament could, therefore,
be seen in its union with God, from whom man distanced himself due to disobedience to set norms.
This union eventually culminates in substitution, for the fact that punishment for sin cannot be averted.
The concept of substitution has to do with taking the place of the actual culprit.
In citing Moraldi, Gabriel Abe (2004:26) said that the offerer is substituting his life with the victim
in order to undertake his deserved punishment as a result of his sins or wrong doing committed with Israel…
the blood sacrifice was obligatory in cleansing.
Blood is life (Lev. 17:11, 14) and to shed blood, a victim must be killed in place of the sacrificer.

According to Biblesprout.com

The blood of humans and animals is a high complex fluid which contains cells,
various forms of nourishment for tissues, oxygen, disease antibodies, hormones and other
substances which, when in balance, maintain health and well being.
Thus, the life of the flesh (i.e., the whole body) is indeed “in the blood.”
(THE OLD TESTAMENT COMMENTARIES — LEVITICUS, p. 181).

Blood is known to be a vital principle of the physical body.
The discovery of the circulation of the blood was revolutionary in the study of anatomy.
In more recent years it has been demonstrated that the health of the body depends on the
rapidity of the blood flow; and blood transfusions are an accepted means of prolonging life.
(THE BOOK OF LEVITICUS, C. R. Erdman, p. 81).

The Bible does say for the life of the flesh is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11);
for it is the life of all flesh (Leviticus 17:14);…
for the blood is the life (Deuteronomy 12:23).

The blood represents life, and so sacred is life before God that the blood of animals was used
in all offerings for sin as man’s vicarious substitute (atonement)
under the Mosaic (Old Testament) law.

And almost all things are by the law purged with blood;
and without shedding of blood there is no remission. Hebrews 9:22

Only as atonement is linked with death, the shedding of blood, and not life set free,
would it appear to become efficacious in the covering of human sin.

Enter the need for a substitute…
no amount of sacrifice or the letting of animal or human blood can expunge the sin of mankind.

Enter the Lamb.

“The regulations concerning the sacredness of blood are full of spiritual meaning for the Christian.
In addition to justification and forgiveness through the blood of Christ (see Romans 5:9; Ephesians 1:7),
the Christian gains access to God in faith (Hebrews 10:22),
experiences victory over evil (Revelation 12:11), and obtains eternal glory (Revelation 7:19).
The death of Christ has brought new life into being for mankind by atoning for us in a manner completely
beyond our own human abilities to perform.
(TYNDALE OLD TESTAMENT COMMENTARIES– LEVITICUS, pp. 182,183).

(Dr. Elmer Towns)

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses,
according to the riches of his grace,

Ephesians1:7

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

Hurdles

The boy who is going to make a great man must not make up his mind merely to overcome a thousand obstacles, but to win in spite of a thousand repulses and defeats.
Theodore Roosevelt

DSCN0422
(St Kevin’s Tower / St Kevin’s Monastery, Gleandalough, Co Wicklow, Ireland/ Julie Cook / 2015)

At some point or other during the course of living,
difficulties and trying times will engulf each one of us.

No one is exempt from the various hurdles Life places in our paths.
We will be faced with two options…

Either we just keep running and jumping
or
we stop.

We can stop before each hurdle, pondering the height and possibility of clearing each safely,
opting to drop out of the race all together…
or
we can decide to simply keep going.

Some days the prospect of continuing the race, with all of the hurdles needing to be cleared, seems more than we can bear.
We may actually even trip over the hurdles, temporally losing our balance…stumbling wildly while trying to recover…
Or
We may actually fall, crashing down onto the track scraping up knees, elbows and even damaging muscles and bones.

Then the choice will be…

Do we just lay there bleeding while grimacing in pain, bemoaning that the hurdles are simply too high and have just beaten us
or
Do we pick ourselves up, bruised and bleeding, and continue on with the race?

As I ccurretnly find myself laying on the track grimacing in the pain and bleeding, having stumbled over Life’s most recent hurdle… I received some very wise counsel…

“God always hears [sees] you.
You are just seeing things from the perspective of this moment,
while He is looking from the perspective of resolution of all these issues.
He is busy getting you to that point, too.”

So as my perspective,
while having tripped over life’s latest hurdle with me now being down for the count on a track that has just torn me to pieces, is limited.
I’m holding on to bruised, bleeding and broken limbs while staring upward at something that seems nearly impossible to clear…
through clenched teeth I pray…albeit it frustratingly.
Yet what I can’t see from my perspective on the ground,
is that God is already seeing the finish line…
He knows the outcome…
I just need to get back up to finish the race….

With your help I can advance against a troop;
with my God I can scale a wall.

Psalm 18:29

Doing the right thing is never easy, but must be done. . .

“It is always darkest just before the day dawneth”
Thomas Fuller

“There are stars who’s light only reaches the earth long after they have fallen appart. There are people who’s remembrance gives light in this world, long after they have passed away. This light shines in our darkest nights on the road we must follow.”
The Talmud

The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.
Dante Alighieri

DSC02640
(a tiger swallowtail visits the sedum / Julie Cook / 2015)

Ever since we were young, we were always told to “do the right thing”. . .
It seemed to be so much easier when we were younger. . .

As we aged, growing older and it doesn’t appear much wiser, the right thing seemed to become a bit blurry, out of focus and at times, difficult to discern.
We became pressed with increasing dilemmas.
The “right thing” could at times be hurtful to ourselves or worse, to others. . .
It became too much and overwhelming, it turned out to be more than we could bear.
It often seemed as if our very lives could fall into jeopardy over this whole doing the right thing business.
What were we to do?
What were our choices?
Doing the right thing became harder as doing not the right thing became easier.
“What’s a little fudging here and there” we’d rationalize.
We found ourselves justifying what they don’t know won’t hurt them, or rather, we meant us, as in ourselves.
A blind eye, became key.
Turning the proverbial blind eye to the those trivial details known as facts became common place.
Got the ol head stuck down in the sand, looking the other way and ignoring it all, hoping it would all just go away, leaving us and everyone else alone.

Complacency became our safe and happy place, our easy way out.

Yet the stakes, while we were busy not watching, have snuck in under the wire, growing bigger and higher.

To ignore it would be criminal.
To wish it all away, impossible.
To pretend it doesn’t exist, damning.

The children are dying and the world is bleeding and we can no longer afford not doing the right thing. . .

Part-PAR-Par8261894-1-1-0

“A paramilitary police officer carries the lifeless body of an unidentified migrant child, lifting it from the sea shore, near the Turkish resort of Bodrum, Turkey, early Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. A number of migrants are known to have died and some are still reported missing, after boats carrying them to the Greek island of Kos capsized.
(both images courtesy AP)

Full story:
http://news.yahoo.com/distraught-father-of-drowned-syrian-boy-recounts-ill-fated-journey-191139707.html

For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in you
Deuteronomy 15:11

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
1 John 3:17

Monday, all day

Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace;
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go;
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for its living;
But the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

Mother Goose

RSCN8396
(Two doves who look to know that today is indeed a Monday / Julie Cook / 2014)

Why do I think Mother Goose got it all wrong??
Today is Monday or by the time you’re reading this, it will most likely be, thankfully, Tuesday or hopefully some other day–any other day than Monday!
Monday marks the dreaded beginning of the work week.
It is the day most folks wish would quietly come and go as quickly and as painlessly as possible.

Maybe Monday’s child should be full of dread, difficultly, foreboding–no offense to any of you born on a Monday— but fair of face?? Really?? I beg to differ.
You never hear of folks clamoring for a Monday to hurry up and get here like they do for a Friday.
You don’t hear of people getting ready to kick off Mondays by starting the party on Sunday evenings.
I suppose that’s why they invented Monday Night Football—trying to bring the weekend down easy. . .

I suppose I should have seen it coming.
I suppose I should have realized it this weekend when “they” decided it was time (get it) to switch up the times on me. This whole time thing, dark in the morning / light in the evening, light in the morning / dark in the evening. . . is an entire post of its own waiting to happen—
but I’ll just stick with Monday for now thank you very much—I can only handle one bad thing at a time!

So as I was saying. . .I should have been a little more cautious this morning when first light forced my brain awake at 6:15, which was really 5:15 or maybe 7:15 or was that really 8:15–all I know is that two days ago it was an entirely different time—-see what I mean—why do “they” enjoy tormenting me this way???
Digressing.

As I had by now opened my eyes, there was no going back, there was no other alternative but to get up.
It wasn’t so bad. I hadn’t slept anyway and seriously, what woman my age does sleep? (Digressing)
6:15 or 7:15 beat my mornings when I was teaching as I would have to get up at 5 AM, which would have been 4 AM or maybe it would have been 6 AM–AAAGGGGHHHH—see what I mean. . .again digressing.

Any whooooo. . .

As I get busy going about my morning routine and rituals, my husband readies for work.
I feed the cats, fix my coffee, post my post, clean the cat box (joy of joys), let one cat outside, the other cat out on the deck (he’s an indoor cat who’s outside is the deck), kiss my husband good-bye, let the cats back in and out respectively at least 10 more times, move some things out of the garage, come back in, read my devotional and say my prayers. . .next it’s off to strip the bed as this is “wash day”, let the cats back in and out respectively at least 10 more times–yada, yada, yada. Plus I knew I needed to get a move on if I was going to exercise before heading out to the grocery store and the Monday ritual of errand running.

Down to the basement I trot, checking on all the plants I’ve had to move in due to the freezing temperatures suffered all weekend. My workout area is now crammed full of giant potted plants and two fruit trees loaded with green fruit, who are taking their own sweet time to ripen.
30 minutes of weights then 30 minutes on the nemesis, aka Elliptical.

Huffing and puffing with just about a minute of time remaining to the run, I begin to hear an odd bit of thumping. Note to self–remind husband to check all the nuts and bolts, making certain things are good and tight—when suddenly there’s a snapping sound and a thud, as I am propelled forward falling precariously to the right while at the same time trying to stop the 5 mph speed of motion of the arm swings before real damage occurs to both me and machine.
“What the. . .??!!”
IT BROKE!!!! AAAGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!

DSCN8398

DSCN8399

DSCN8400

DSCN8401

Are you freaking kidding me???!!!
Lifting the broken leg bar, which must have some sort of resistance or tension against it, as it immediately snaps back down, out of my hand, slicing open my wrist. You know, the side of the wrist those wishing to end things go for—it’s deep, it’s bleeding— so now, not only am I mad, I’m going to bleed to death.
Great.

Sweating like a pig and out of breath, remember I was just finishing the workout when the blasted thing snapped, plus now bleeding to death on top of being mad, I grab the information booklet and head upstair to the phone in order to call these Sole Elliptical folks on their 1 800 number.

Greeted with automation I push the number button I’m directed to push in order to speak with a representative.
The phone disconnects.
What??!!
I dial again.
More automation.
Pushing more numbers.
Still bleeding to death with paper towels wrapped around wrist.

The automated voice tells me I am caller number 2 in line or in the imaginary “que”.
I head up stairs, with phone to ear and pressure on sliced open wrist, in order to rummage through file folders for the receipt.
Always keep the receipt!!!
A person finally answers.
I’m still bleeding.
Still sweating.

“Mam, do you have the 16 digit serial number?”
“Where would that be located?”
“On the machine”
I run back down stairs, a double flight back to the basement, while holding the phone to my ear and pressure on my wrist.
“There is no number on the machine”
“Yes mam, there is, it should be on the fly wheel”
“There is no number on the fly wheel”
“You need to pop off the covering over the fly wheel, it’s located inside the housing”
“WHAT?”— now he tells me
Jerking and pulling, I can’t get the plastic covering to ‘pop off’
“Yes mam, it should just pop off”
“It isn’t popping off, did I tell you how the thing sliced my wrist wide open??”
“Mam, we’re here until 7PM CST if you’d like to wait for your husband to come home to help you.”
“WHAT???”
Still pulling and pushing I ask if he’s certain this thing isn’t screwed shut.
“Mam, you may want to get a flathead screwdriver.
Oh ho buddy, I’m one up on you, I’ve already got the screwdriver!!
By this point, thinking I’m going to break the damn thing with Marcel (the name of the representative) wanting to hang up on me. . .
I pry open the panel just enough the see the blasted serial number.
“Oh wait, I can just see the sticker, let me read you the numbers”
“Mam what’s your address? Full Name? Phone number?”
“Am I going to have to ship this whole thing back to you all??!!”
“No mam, we should be able to send you a part”
“Can you take a picture so I can see what exactly broke”
“I can do that”
He gives me his e-mail address and we hang up.
With me still bleeding and Marcel nonplused over my ordeal–probably needed to act unconcerned thinking I was sue happy.

I snap the pictures, upload them, compose the e-mail and off it goes—into cyber-land.
Have I heard back?
No
Shouldn’t some sort of a reply of confirmation come back letting me know that Marcel got the e-mail????
One can only hope. . .
Great.

My wrist is still bleeding.
I head to the bathroom in order to preform some sort of triage.
I pour betadine over my wrist, now turning everything yellow,
Still bleeding.
Next, cotton balls soaked in alcohol
AAAGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!
Still bleeding but at least things should now be sterile.
I probably need a stitch, maybe two, but who has time to sit in an ER for 4 hours??
And of all things, here I am, not trying to commit suicide, and I’m going to be the person who bleeds out.
Great.

I shower.
I let the cats back in, for the umpteenth time.
I dry may hair
I bandage my wrist.
I let the cats back out
I dress (don’t worry about the order—it all gets done, clothes, no clothes, comsi comsa)

But now I’m afraid to leave the house.
Wonder what’s waiting for me out there if all this happened in here?!
Hummmm. . .
Oh, I’m just probably delusional from the loss of blood.

Fast forward to my arrival back home, thankfully in one piece.
Still bleeding through the bandaging, I proceed to bring in the groceries.
I notice the mailman at the neighbor’s box so I make my way up the driveway to meet the carrier at my box.
I know they see me coming because it’s a clear shot of our driveway from the neighbor’s mailbox.
Just as I reach to open the gates (yes we have a gate, because we have a fence, because of those blasted rodeo bulls, the ones living across the street in the bootleg fenced-in pasture, which are constantly breaking out of their bootleg fence, so we put up a decent fence to keep them out. You’d think their owners would get the whole good fence / bootleg fence concept—digressing)
–the mail carrier pops the mail in the box and takes off.
“Well nice to see you too” I think to myself as I open the box in order to retrieve the mail.

Sitting on top of the mail is one of those “sorry we missed you” cards stating I have a registered parcel which they couldn’t deliver because I was not home.
WHAT???
Are you freaking kidding me?!
Heeellloooooo, here I was and here I am!!!!!
I was at the gate, just about to open it to met the carrier!!
They never pulled into the driveway, just popped it all in the box and quickly took off!!
They had to see me coming up the driveway—I was in broad day light and a clear visible shot!!
Great.

I hurry back to the house, picking up the phone, I call the post office.
My wrist is still bleeding.
The number is busy for about 5 attempts, finally I get a person.
A very unfriendly person.
I explain what happened and that I was just about to meet the carrier, when they took off.
“Could you radio them to come back letting them know that I am here and was trying to met them?”
“Name. Address. OK”
“OK? OK as in you’re going to radio them or OK, what. . .?!”
“Yes” click
What is it with the postal folks??

I proceed to actually go outside in order to sit, in plain view–remember the trees are now gone—you can’t miss me, nobody misses me!
I proceed to wait, and wait and wait.
Finally the mail truck pulls down the driveway.
“I thought you saw me on my way to meet you”
“You always keep those gates closed?”
Oh great, a new carrier.
“Well not always, but we do prefer to keep those bulls out of our yard”
“You need to sign the card”
“uh, do you have a pen I could use?”

Reluctantly handing me a pen, I sign the card, hand it back to her as the happy carrier (note my sarcasm) hands me my parcel.
“Thank you” I mutter as she drives off into the sunset. . .

Sunset?
Yes, sunset- – -remember they changed the freaking time on me.
The sun is starting it’s decent, as in it’s now later, or is it earlier???
No matter, all I know is that this Monday is soon setting and I couldn’t be happier!!
And yes, I’m still bleeding.

Here’s to Tuesday, and Wednesday, and Thursday and, well you get the point!

As seen on the web:

Dear Monday,
I want to break up.
I’m seeing Tuesday and
Dreaming about Friday.
Sincerely, it’s not me, it’s you.