until you assist, you will not know

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable,
to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


(image as seen on a blog)

Last week I wrote a post regarding Bill 481, Georgia’s Heartbeat Bill.

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2019/03/30/beating-still-the-heartbeat-bill-or-the-day-the-sky-was-falling-in-georgia/

Since writing that post, I have read a myriad of other blogs and articles regarding the bill
as well as a promo for the movie Unplanned—a coincidental overlapping of happenings.

But we already know that I don’t believe in coincidence but rather in the workings of the Holy Spirit.

I have not seen the movie Unplanned, but I certainly hope to.
That is if my heart is strong enough.

I found it ironic that on the opening weekend, the Hollywood powerhouse movies
paled in the opening numbers versus the unorthodox Unplanned.

It is a movie based on Abby Johnson, a young director of Planned Parenthood who found herself
having to assist in an abortion—
It was the very option Abby, as well as her organization, had ardently been promoting and providing
for women–and yet it was during that very option of a women’s right that rocked Abby’s world forever.

It was during her assistance in a procedure, a procedure that Abby had ardently supported for
women as a woman’s right to choose…that changed her life forever.

Abby Johnson had been a Planned Parenthood director but had never seen images of
the baby during an abortion.
Today, she was pitching in to help the surgeon perform the procedure by manning the ultrasound.

What she saw made her cry.
The baby wriggled and tried to escape the vacuum.

“They always do,” the doctor deadpanned.
(from the movie Unplanned)

The day prior to reading the promo for the movie, I saw the image I’ve posted above.

A political cartoon of sorts…considered impractical by many …
yet not so far fetched as the hardened heart would imagine.

The doctor’s remark to Abby during the abortion procedure was correct—
a baby who is being aborted, fights for life.
They do not simply succumb to a suction, a burning painful saline solution or
a shredding scalpel.

The baby will fight to “get away”.

The baby wants to remain and wants to live.

It is not a logical thought process but more of a natural reactionary process.
When threatened with termination, a fetus will squirm, wiggle and move away from the ‘threat’
in order to survive.

And so it is with this in mind that I find myself more and more incensed by the likes
of an Alyssa Milano—the very vocal actress who is leading the charge for Hollywood to
boycott Georgia for allowing such a bill to become a law.

I read an article which reported how Milano had presented a petition to Georgia’s lawmakers
with 40 signatures threatening to boycott Georgia should Bill 481 become law.

Well, since the bill has passed both sides of Georgia’s governing body and has been
sent to the Governor’s desk for his signature, signing it into law,
Milano quickly made her way to the State Capital
where she presented a lawmaker with her concern.

The lawmaker calmly asked her in which district was she living and casting her votes.
Milano replied that she does not live in Georgia but was merely in the state to shoot scenes
for her latest television series…
the lawmaker turned and walked away.

The fact that an actress who calls California home comes to Georgia, insisting that Georgia
amends its laws to suit her political agenda, is in a word, assinine.

I have a great deal to say soon about abortion, adoption, life, and death…but the time
is not right as I am still walking a journey that is not yet complete but I do have
one thing to say to those women who clamor that abortion is a woman’s right.
That abortion is not to be an issue determined by male lawmakers as they are not women…

Milano and her ilk clamor that it is not “right” for male lawmakers to make
decisions for women and their bodies.

Last I checked female lawmakers were voting as well—

I don’t give a damn about a male lawmaker voting for, passing and signing a bill into law
that is insidiously cloaked as some sort of sacred women’s issue when in actuality
it is an issue of a man and women making a baby, a baby that is a by-product,
more often than not, of lust and sex….
plain and simple.

An innocent by-product, mind you, of poor decisions and selfish decisions…

And no we’re not talking about the smaller percentage of rape and other issues but
the majority of abortions as by-products of poor decision making and mere mistakes.

Who may I ask is standing up and voting for the vulnerable by-products?

It is not a matter of rights or timing or practicality or convenience.

To abort a baby is an act of murder.

And what I have to say to Alyssa Milano and her small army of militant feminists…
Go work in the “procedure” room—watch the ultrasounds, listen to the heartbeat.
You, Ms. Milao, have two children if I’m not mistaken…
would you happily give them over to death today?
I don’t think so.
So would you have given them over to death before they were born?

Until you perform an abortion, sit in that room, look at what is removed…
until you have that blood on your hands, you then tell me that you wholeheartedly
support murder.

Being adopted has always been a keen reason as to my intense aversion to abortion…
but I think having become a grandmother has only heightened that aversion.

This past year, I have marveled over, first, watching this tiny life emerge, then grow,
and change while learning…learning to smile, roll, hold, sit, stand, hurt, cry, laugh,
…I hold her and I wonder how anyone could have merely cast a death sentence over her.

Until you personally kill, then you let me know how you wish to tell
others how to vote.

“Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death.
Leviticus 24:17

where lies your dependency?

Lord, what are human beings that you care for them,
mere mortals that you think of them?
They are like a breath;
their days are like a fleeting shadow.

Psalm 144:3-4


(Atlanta’s interstate fire and collapse courtesy CBS46 Atlanta)

There were so many titles for today’s post….
“Atlanta is burning…again”
“The domino effect”
“Catastrophe under, or is it of, the road”
“S’mores anyone
as the camera would then pan to a sea of stopped cars stranded for hours as
they waited to be literally turned around and rerouted from one of the nation’s busiest
interstates.

If you haven’t yet heard, Atlanta was on fire, again, Thursday.

I say again because if your history lessons have failed you,
you may recall that a certain General T. Sherman burnt Atlanta to the ground
as a Christmas gift for President Lincoln during the Civil War.
And that is now the reason as to why the mythical creature the Phoenix is Georgia’s
sacred state bird…that is, besides the brown thrasher.
For the Phoenix is a symbol of how a smoldering Southern city rose up from the ashes
to become a major US metropolitan megatropolis…
along with the world’s busiest airport,
and a horrific gridlock of interstates….
but I digress….

Our son called late yesterday afternoon asking if we knew Atlanta was on fire.
He had seen this during his commute home from work.
We flipped on the television, and sure enough, Atlanta was on fire…
or more exactly a large swarth of area underneath a section of I-85 near Piedmont Rd,
what is known to locals as the Mid town area….
If you’ve ever driven north or south through Atlanta, you’ve driven over this stretch
of road.

This was a Thursday evening, at rush hour.
The interstate in both the south and north bound lanes were shut down as the fire
raged.
The heat so intense, a large section of the interstate buckled under the strain and collapsed–
which may have been a good thing as it helped to snuff out much of the inferno.

And miraculously, no one was hurt.

Still not certain as to the actual cause….
But what is certain, a major US artery is now shut down for travel for who knows how long.

Listening to the various news stations and the reporters who,
as everyone watched in real time, first the fire then the collapse,
gasped in obvious overwhelmed amazement.

What would happen with all those cars now stuck?
What would happen in the days to come?
Where would all the traffic be rerouted?
What about Atlanta’s notorious Rush hours?
How much longer would it now take to get to and from work?
What about all the soon to be Spring Break travelers headed south to Florida?

On and on the mounting panic became palpable as a million questions flooded
the thoughts of everyone….

I had to drive over to Dad’s today to meet with the funeral home in order to gather up
some needed papers and documents.
It was not a pretty picture as traffic was rerouted over to my usual route….
bypassing around the city.

There had also been an early morning crash just this side of the Georgia / Alabama state lines
shutting down all of I-20 east bound. That swarth of interstate closed until late afternoon.
Meaning more rerouting, with all that traffic, with an endless line of tractor trailer trucks,
being rerouted again, to my particular route of travel….
and I have to go back today….
sigh….

And with all this burning, collapsing and rerouting nightmare…it’s all gotten me thinking.
Thinking of our dependance upon our own limited abilities and vision…

Our world, the world in which we, man, has created is so tenuous and superficial.
Yet we assume and even take for granted that it is invincible.
Our massive buildings, our sprawling shopping meccas, our spaghetti maze of roadways,
our expanding bridges, even our modes of travel…
all seemingly built to last…
That is…until there is a bizarre or freakish event of catastrophic proportions…
which in turn sends us, much like ants, scurrying in an endless state of pandemonium.

There are no guarantees.

I can vividly recall watching the aftermath of the 1989 earthquake out in San Francisco…
the quake which collapsed and sandwiched the 880 interstate,
crushing and trapping both cars and people.

It was a horrific reminder of our fragility.
Just as each catastrophic earthquake has been in recent months in central Italy.
Centuries old buildings reduced to instant rubble in the blink of an eye.

It matters not the disaster…
It matters not if the victim be historic, modern, structurally sound or state of the art..
Nothing that we put our hands to, which we arrogantly assume is built to stand the test time,
will in turn do just that…last to kingdom come…
All will eventually give way to ruin…

For all of our ingenuity, our hutzpah, our try, try again mentality and and our plain
ol good intentions..
none of it will last….
for it will all pass away, just as we shall pass away to the very dust
from which we were formed in the hands of the Creator…

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils
the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Genesis 2:7

not just my nerves

But what if I fail of my purpose here? It is but to keep the nerves at strain,
to dry one’s eyes and laugh at a fall, and baffled, get up and begin again.

Robert Browning

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(the remains of fallen acorns / Julie Cook / 2016)

As I continue dealing with this nerve pain business from these ruptured discs of mine…
waiting for the nerve block to do something…
as they said it could be up to a week…
that being today…as I am not exactly holding my breath…
I can’t help but think about the whole business of nerves…
of which is the craziest thing…

The pain is like a searing burning rawness.
With just the slightest touch from clothes or whatever causing severe pain…
It’s as if the skin has been flayed open and something or someone is sadisticaly rubbing
or sawing into the raw vulnerable flesh.
But when I look, thinking surely the skin will be red, angry and swollen,
with signs of grave irritation…
I am met with perfectly intact and non inflamed skin.

It’s crazy that things can look so very normal yet the slightest touch of mere cloth
can send excruciating waves of irritation…

Those who have limbs amputated report that there is often lingering ghost pain associated
with the now missing limb—that the brain and the now cut off nerves still register
that the limb remains…

These bodies of ours are indeed resilient yet fragile all at the same time…

And all of this nerve business takes me back to something I read quite sometime ago
regarding the Crucifixion.
In particular the crowning of the thorns.

Paul Badde is a German journalist who wrote for the paper Der Spiegel.
I actually became acquainted with his work after reading a book he’d written,
The Face of God.
Badde is an ardent believer in the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin as well as the
burial face cloth of Jesus, known as the Veil of Manoppello or the Veil of Veronica.

Now it matters not whether you agree or you don’t with the idea of these cloths being
the actual burial cloths of Jesus…
That is not the issue here at hand…
No debate as to is it or isn’t it–
although I do tend to lean toward the line of the plausible…
that is not our issue.

Nerves are the issue and it is to nerves that took my mind back to reading
Mr. Badde’s books…

Mr Badde describes in detail how the blood accumulated on the cloths and why the patterns
are as they are…
From the crown of the head all the way down to the heels of the feet.
All with a very in-depth and forensic type of explanation.
Beginning with the effects that the cap of thrones would have had on a person who was
unfortunate enough to have had such jammed upon their head.

At the time that I read Mr. Badde’s as well as other explanations for the bodily
damage administered first by flagellation, beatings, whippings, hittings, punctures, nails
and then ultimately a crucifixion…
I have had to actually stop reading, putting down the particular book or article
as the description was so graphic and stomach turning.

It’s one thing to hear that ‘Jesus was crucified,’
it’s something else entirely when you read a forensic detail of what
actually takes place in and to the body of the one being crucified.

The following is a short explanation of the crowning of thorns as offered by
Dr. Frederick T. Zugibe
Dr. Zugibe is an expert in forensic pathology and was the Chief Medical Officer of
Rockwood County, New York, from 1969 to 2003.
He is an Adjunct Associate Professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
For the past twenty years,
he has been the President of the Association of Scientists and Scholars International
for the Shroud of Turin.

“The nerve supply for pain perception to the head region is distributed by branches of two major nerves: the trigeminal nerve, which essentially supplies the front half of the head, and the greater occipital branch, which supplies the back half of the head.” 6 These two nerves enervate all areas of the head and face.
The trigeminal nerve, also known as the fifth cranial nerve, runs through the face, eyes,
nose, mouth, and jaws. Irritation of this nerve by the crown of thorns would have
caused a condition called trigeminal neuralgia or tic douloureux.
This condition causes severe facial pain that may be triggered by light touch,
swallowing, eating, talking, temperature changes, and exposure to wind.
Stabbing pain radiates around the eyes, over the forehead, the upper lip, nose,
cheek, the side of the tongue and the lower lip. Spasmodic episodes of stabbing,
lancinating, and explosive pain are often more agonizing during times of fatigue or tension.
It is said to be the worst pain that anyone can experience.

As the soldiers struck Jesus on His head with reeds,
He would have felt excruciating pains across His face and deep into His ears,
much like sensations from a hot poker or electric shock.
These pains would have been felt all the way to Calvary and while on the Cross.
As He walked and fell, as He was pushed and shoved, as He moved any part of His face,
and as the slightest breeze touched His face, new waves of intense pain would have been triggered.
The pain would have intensified His state of traumatic shock.
The thorns would have cut into the large supply of blood vessels in the head area.
Jesus would have bled profusely, contributing to increasing hypovolemic shock.
He would have been growing increasingly weak and light-headed.
As well, He would have bouts of vomiting, shortness of breath,
and unsteadiness as hypovolemic and traumatic shock intensified.

So now, through a very small window, I can slightly to begin to wrap my brain around
some semblance of understanding of that initial nerve pain Jesus endured as a cap comprised of
5cm long thorns was shoved down upon his head…
puncturing the scalp, the forehead and temple while penetrating deeply into those
precious precarious nerves…

Just as those who battle diabetic nerve pain…
or any other sort of nerve condition or trauma…can begin to grasp a portion of the magnitude
of pain…endured by one for all

Doesn’t make things any better, any more tolerable nor even comforting…
but in the slightest sense, there is a deeper knowledge when reading… Jesus suffered…

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial,
for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life,
which God has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12

this little light of mine…

What is to give light must endure burning.
Viktor Frankl

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(pathway lights, Watercolor Resort / Santa Rosa, Fl / Julie Cook / 2016)

There’s a little flame inside us all
Some shine bright, some shine small
The rains will come and the waters rise
But don’t you ever lose your light
In this life you will know
Love and pain, joy and sorrow
So when it hurts, when times get hard
Don’t forget whose child you are

This little light of mine
I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine
I’m gonna let it shine, gonna let it shine


This Little Light of Mine Lyrics
Lyrics by Avis Burgeson Christiansen
tune by Harry Dixon Loss

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When we are born, we come into this world bearing a tiny light…
burning brightly, yet hidden deep within.
It is a light offering hope, offering warmth, offering direction…
And it is a light which we are always to offer to others…
Helping to keep the lights around us burning brightly.

Yet as we live and grow, we are met with all sorts of things that try to extinguish our light.
Sorrow, frustration, illness, loss, failure, heartache…

Whereas our light itself remains…
its flame,
its illumination,
its ability to shine…
can grow weak and dangerously faint.

It is actually in and during those most trying times that the light which appears almost to be exhausted, is actually kindled.
Kindled by the light of the One who offers the brightest light of all…

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(Immaculate Heart of Jesus)

In the same way, let your light shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:16

Burn, Burning, Burned. . .out!

I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”
Jack London

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(one of the culprits on the strands of light / Julie Cook / 2014)

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(the burned out strands in the trash / Julie Cook / 2014)

The presents are wrapped, finally, and the stockings are hung—meaning— what you see is it. . .as in the decorations you see are as far as it goes–So just tell me it looks nice and lets move on. . .
The store is still busy as both time and people seem to keep coming as I’m running on fumes.
So imagine my chagrin when I came home one evening from working the holiday madness, aka retail, plugged in the tree and. . . nothing.
As in no lights.
As in a dark tree.

WHAT?

Too tired to scream, I could be heard mumbling to myself, “it figures”
Yet the girl scout in me knew there had to be some sort of remedy I could rig.
Grabbing two extension cords I began digging ever so gently through a well decorated 10 foot tree in search of the ends of the light cords I had pushed back in the branches to hide their unsightliness during the decoration ritual.
Finding the ends I began unplugging and replugging in an effort to see which cord would light and which would not.

As miracles would have it, I didn’t have to climb around all over the tree, discovering which cord was the culprit with very little wasted time or effort. . . ahhhh.
All I needed to do was to thread one extension cord up through the tree in order to plug in the good cords and run the other extension cords up to the other working cords.

Voila, a mostly lit tree with a dark mid-section—but at this point, I’ll take what I can get.

Getting home late again Thursday evening I scrambled out of the car to a darkened front porch in order to plug the lights in. . .the very ones I labored putting up around the front of the house on that blasted day known as “black friday”. As it was dark and cold, I was hurrying to get the show on the road so I could hurry up and make supper, I plugged in all the extension cords when I suddenly noticed an entire chunk of lights had burned out on the right side of the porch railing.
UGH!!!!
Great.
Now the house looks lopsided.
Clamoring around in the dark, I could be heard telling the dark of night, the lights that worked, the dead lights and anything else that was perhaps wandering around in the dark that “by God, I decorate this freaking house once a year, and I am bound and determined, as God is my witness, to light things up, and light I shall. . .”
Very Scarlet O’Hara you know—It’s a southern thing.

Fast forward to this morning.
As my oh so tired and exhausted husband headed out the door, making his way to the store to put in another solid day of making holiday cheer, aka our work in retail, I made my way to Home Depot. I had told him that I was going to go pick up some more lights before heading to the store to help (sell, wrap, greet, smile, and make merry, and curse my aching feet).
“Why in the world would you go buy new lights with only a few days left in Christmas?” he mumbled heading out the door.
“Because by gosh, as God is my witness, I decorated this house and I won’t have it half lit up as in half a&$. . .
He could be seen rolling his eyes as he got in his truck because at this point, he is so over Christmas. Plus I think he finds my Scarlet O’Hara impersonation a bit melodramatic.

Arriving at Home Depot, the place that saw my credit information stollen in the data breach they suffered earlier this year. . .as my bank account was accosted by some thieves in south Georgia, Illinois and Indiana that was luckily caught early enough before any real damage occured, I was ready to do business again, risking my bank account and identity all in the name of holiday lights.

Do you know how sad the shelves holding the holiday decor look right about now at a massive home improvement center? Kind of like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. . .empty and sparse with a few remaining boxes which look as if they’d been opened, pilfered through, stuffed back shut and left for any poor sucker who happened to come by at the 11th hour in need—such as myself.

There were twinkling warm mini lights, snowflakes, giant icicles, round colored balls, and the very retro looking giant colored lights. . .those monstrosity lights of my childhood—-the ones I hated—so tacky and garish.

I grabbed a couple of remaining boxes that had obviously been opened and hoped for the best.
Kind of the same mindset I felt when I handed the cashier my debit card–thinking here goes nothing, again, or maybe here goes everything I own again, sort of feeling.

Back home, I open up the boxes, yanking out a waded up tangled mess of lights. Just as I figured—someone either returned these puppies or either pulled them out taking a gander before stuffing them back in the box deciding they weren’t for them. Smoothing and pulling as best I could, I stretched the cord along the railing. I proceeded with 3 more boxes. As they all seemed to work, I felt a sense of relief—until the one strand filling in the area of my original area of contention began blinking.

WHAT?

The strand was also white, my other strands are green.
AGGGGHHHH!!!
Making the sound Homer Simpson makes, I see that I have all constant green wire shining lights except for a lone white wire strand that now “twinkles”—-
“REALLY?!” I am now heard shouting to all birds and any passing cars.
“Well, too bad!!!” I’m heard to exclaim to the squirrels.
I have lights, who but the raccoons and possums will notice the twinkling—any passing cars will be driving too fast but to merely briefly “ooooo” at the sight of lights as they move like a bat out of hell down the road past the house as no one drives up and down our road paying any attention to posted speed limits, yellow lines or much else for that matter, so who cares if one batch is now twinkling??!!

“By God”, I exclaim, I have lights and lights I shall!!
Makes no never mind anyway as the lights will just be coming down in less than a week.
“This is Christmas by George and we will make merry!!!”

The moral of the story you ask. . .besides being wary of using debit cards now a days anywhere or buying obviously previously opened boxes. . .
We need to be mindful that everyone gets a bit burned out this time of year, even the kids–from the constant going here, there and yon, to the constant shopping, cooking, cleaning, traveling, working, caroling– to the high expectations, the hopes, the dreams, the let downs and disappointments. . .

At first it’s just the burned out holiday lights, then the next thing you know you’re shooting the neighbors giant inflatable Frosty the snowman with a BB gun. . .
It won’t do any of us, or those around us, any good letting ourselves get all worked up in a tizzy. . .it’s best to simply let go and go on— moving forward and making “Merry” the best way we know how. . .

Now where in the h*!l is that pitcher of eggnog—you know the one. . .was that one cup of rum and one cup of bourbon per one quart of eggnog or was it two quarts of nog. . .I think I like the odds with one quart and equal ratios!!

Merry Christmas!!!

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Consuming flame

“There may be a great fire in our soul, yet no one ever comes to warm himself at it, and the passers-by see only a wisp of smoke.”
― Vincent van Gogh

You never go away from us, yet we have difficulty in returning to You. Come, Lord, stir us up and call us back. Kindle and seize us. Be our fire and our sweetness. Let us love. Let us run.”
― Augustine of Hippo

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(December sunset / Julie Cook / 2014)

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(moon rising behind the trees / Julie Cook / 2014 )

A fire rages within my soul, burning sweetly Love’s tender reeds.
What of this earth can quench the inferno I long to quell?
A deep gnawing burns and aches in the center of my heart causing me to thrash about as if in grave pain.
I cry out to you yet my longing only grows more intense.

Where can I go to find relief?
If I climb to the highest peak or cross the widest desert, there is no end to the painful longing.
As a child who cries out in the dark to a parent to come offer comfort, I cry out unto you.
The never-ending emptiness in my heart grows daily as my tears and desire mingle as one.

I am consumed by the endless thirst and need I have for you, which is for you and you alone.
I long for your embrace,
your touch,
your voice calling out my name.
Do you hear me?
Do you see me?
I long to know.

I am consumed by the burning flame of your heart which thankfully yet painfully burns deeply into my own.
What is it that separates us?
What is it that keeps me from you?
I need to be joined to you.
Break down the barriers oh Lord and knit me to you as I long to tie myself to you and quench
this burning desire of my soul.