the true test–examine

“Always be impartial and just in your deeds.
Put yourself into your neighbor’s place, and him in yours,
and then you will judge fairly..
Frequently, therefore, examine your heart,
whether it is so disposed towards your neighbor,
as you would have his disposed towards you, were you to change places;
for this is the true test.”

St. Francis de Sales, p. 226
An Excerpt From
Introduction to the Devout Life


(a wee hidden fungi in the woods / Julie Cook / 2021)

Ok, I think we can all admit we don’t like tests.
Be it the studying.
The nerves.
The wondering.
The sweating.
The fear of not measuring up…

The list is pretty endless.

And I suppose there is probably a slight percentage of folks out
there who don’t bat an eye at a test.
More power to you…all two of you! HA!

I was never a good test taker.
I never felt that the typical classroom test captured if I really knew
my material or not.
Math, well, that’s a whole different ball of wax…you either know it or you
don’t and I never did…

But we digress…

Today’s post was actually going to focus in on our disenfranchised police
departments and the woeful and shameful way in which they are being treated…
be it our Border Patrol, various State Patrol, city police or rural sheriffs…
their situations are all abysmal and we should be ashamed.

But I’m going to have to hold off on that thought today as several different
things came racing at me that I felt might need attention.
and if I think about it, it will also tie into how we are
treating our law enforcement as they are just another branch of the tree
of the trouble.

Today, especially today, I have kept reading, seeing and watching
something very troubling taking place between Americans…
and I bet we can all guess as to what that thing might just because
I know you’ve seen it too.

There is a growing and gapping hole in our hearts.

It is a widening gap in our lack of and ability to offer empathy.

Empathy, the dictionary tells us is:
‘the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.’

And what we are witnessing play out in real time right here and now
is how very little in the way of empathy we have—
especially in the way of offering any of it to our fellow human beings-

In particular to those who we do not see eye to eye.

Loathing enters in.
Despise and resentment each set a hard rock in the midst of the heart.

We no longer want to hear the side, thoughts or feelings of those
who we disagree with because we have already rendered them null and void.
They might as well just disappear into thin smoke,
banished away from our presence, our lives, our world…
all because we don’t like their color,
their politics,
their religion or lack thereof…
their views…
or their lack of vaccinations…

So instead we look at them sideways and glare…
we find ourselves wishing them ill or harm.
Some of us have even verbalized such to their faces.

“you need to die”
“you need to rot in hell”
“I hope you are raped”

It’s all actually quite anti-human, de-humanizing.

I see, with my own eyes, that there is a tremendous lack of care, patience
and or regard for our fellow man.

Be it the nurse or doctor who curses the patient who is deathly sick with
Covid, or something else, when they reveal that they had not been vaccinated.
Suddenly contempt and resentment quickly flows freely toward that sick,
and in many cases, dying individual.
Or that contempt is simply heaped upon the grieving surviving family.
Or upon anyone who has opted not to get vaccinated.
It is indeed the clean and unclean..
We are told to trust and follow the science but that science just
happens to be fluid because we are learning on the fly.

“they were foolish”
“they were selfish”
“they got what they deserved”
“they have caused great harm and wasted precious time and money”
“had they not been overweight, smoked, drank or…”
fill in the blank with any other poor habit that might have
contributed to them being sick and dying.

Then there are those who have lost loved ones and now publicly denounce all others
who are unvaccinated for, in their minds, they are the ones who caused
the death of this said loved one.

And maybe all that is true.

Maybe that pro-life person out there should be raped so they can
see first hand how decisions now must be made.

Maybe that person who choses not to be vaccinated should simply
get sick and die.

Maybe the young mother to 6 kids, all with different fathers
should be forced to live on the streets.

Maybe all white people want blacks to be slaves again–
so says Maxine Waters.

The list lengthens daily.

And so our society wrestles with its response.
We wrestle as individuals.

Overlook everything or we simply cherry pick the issues we find most egregious.

I know that I don’t agree with a lot of folks out there right now
about very much.

I can find many ills and reasons as to why I disagree or even get angry with
others and or their views.
Just as others do with me and my way of thinking or seeing.

Yet I still know that all of this is really all wrong, it’s flat out bad.

Maybe I can’t change your views or feelings and maybe you can’t change mine…
but I would not wish ill upon you or those you love.
I wasn’t wired that way and I don’t think you were either.

So that’s why I felt St. Francis de Sales quote, the one I offered at the
start of this post, was so moving and so on point.

We are to have empathy by walking in another’s shoes.
Yet, sadly, our culture is long past that notion.

I won’t walk in your shoes, let alone walk with you period…
that is our society’s current mindset.

Yet I know that empathy does not equate to buying in or giving into the sinful
or the evil—we are not to give such a free pass.
Accountability for our actions remains paramount.

Yet self examination must remain ever present.
Self examination…not hubris and pride, but real deep introspection…
It is most difficult to do because it begins to expose the cracks
in our own facade.
Yet it is what God requires of all men…
The being….to see, to look, to feel, to offer grace, to hold accountable…
but to do so by His rule of play and not our own.
He calls that Grace and He has given it freely…
I think we are to do so as well…

Would you pass the test?

I need to go study…

“I remember Christian teachers telling me long ago that
I must hate a bad man’s actions but not hate the bad man:
or, as they would say, hate the sin but not the sinner….
I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction:
how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man?
But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom
I had been doing this all my life — namely myself.
However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed,
I went on loving myself.
There had never been the slightest difficulty about it.
In fact the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man.
Just because I loved myself,
I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

today’s view and forecast…questionable with a heavy dose of ominous

“The goodness of God is the highest object of prayer,
and it reaches down to our lowest need.
It quickens our soul and gives it life, and makes it grow in grace and virtue.”

St. Julian of Norwich


(my initial view this morning /Julie Cook / 2020)

So recently I have spent time running from ologist to ologist,
with a few MDs thrown in for good measure.

About a year or so ago you might remember that I was thought to be a carrier
for hemochromatosis.
A genetic disposition for the body to store up iron.
Iron is not eliminated by the body…it usually gets what it needs to function
from food, or if necessary, from supplements.

I had no idea that the body can’t process out extra iron…extra iron gets
stored up in organs, much like a grain silo—
organs don’t do well with a growing surplus of iron that is not used up.

It was eventually determined that I did not have full-blown hemochromatosis but I do,
however, possess one variant gene.
One normal gene and one not so normal gene.
So what that means is that I am a carrier who is having storage issues.
All because that blasted one rouge gene has got my body acting like
a freaking storage silo.

Soooo, the solution???…drain off the blood.

My current numbers are at 336…normal is 150.

So last week I had to see a slew of doctors.

I saw the gastroenterologist, a hematologist, my regular Internal med doctor
along with a radiologist while both my gynecologist and rheumatologist loudly weighed
in on all the bloodwork.

Seems this blood of mine is a quandary that’s gotten my medical folks in a dither.

One marker read that I was at high risk for blood clots.
That sent three of the 6 into a tizzy…each screaming, in his or her own way,
that I needed to start a baby aspirin a day or even blood thinners while immediately
coming back off the estrogen.

WHOA—HOLD ON!” I yelled!
“I just got back on the estrogen after two months of misery and zero sleep!!!”

There were a few other pesky issues as well so it was off to the hospital
for an abdominal CT scan along with, you guessed it, more bloodwork.

The good news is that the CT scan was all good except for my back…
but I already knew that.
The other good news was that the clotting markers were now perfectly normal…
HA! The estrogen can stay…thank the Lord!

But the iron…aka ferritin, well, it was over twice what it needs to be.
That meant a visit to the vampire transfusion center.


(ugh)

The last time I gave blood of any real significance, as in a pound bag’s worth,
was back in 1977.
I was a junior in high school and gave at our school’s blood drive.

After I was finished, I sat up on the table only to fall back down.
I repeated the up and down business several more times until I was told
to finally stay down.

After an hour or so and a few cookies later, I was released back to class…
and it was now time for lunch.

I can vividly remember getting my salad and walking back to the lunch table.
I looked at my salad and that’s all I remembered…until I woke
up, flat on my back, on the floor with salad scattered all around me while
folks hovered over me.

So no, I don’t give blood.

Tubes and viles, yes– bags full, no.

This morning when I ventured to the transfusion center, I explained all of this
to the nurse who was going to be siphoning me off.
She assured me that once I was done, she’d replace the lost blood with
a bag of fluid.

I was in an area that had 4 sections, all with divider curtains,
where other folks were propped up in order to receive cancer treatments and the like.

In fact, the whole floor was divided into sections of fours where patients
all sat tethered to various bags or machines.
Each reclining chair had a TV if one was so inclined to watch.
I just attempted to catch up in blogland and with the news on my phone
using my one unencumbered hand—that being my left and
opposite of the one I am comfortable using–so it was more like fumbling
with a phone.

Since it was so early, I’d really not eaten breakfast.
I was told that that was bad and that I needed to eat the pack
of crackers they were shoving at me.

When she started draining me off, my arm was uncomfortable but I thought
no big deal, I can do this.

As I neared the end of filling the bag, I noticed that I was not feeling well.
In fact, I was feeling really really bad.
I think the nurse must have noticed this too…probably
because I was now drained of all color and I had jerked off
my face mask…as I kept mumbling something about thinking I was
going to throw up.

Immediately she flipped my chair back so far that I was practically on my head
as she quickly hooked up the blood pressure machine.
80 over 40.

Immediately she began administering the fluids.

Halfway through the bag, she brought my chair back up to a normal position.
When the bag was empty the BP reading was now 91 over 56…better
but not where she wanted it.
I had started at 124 over 64.

Another bag and 30 minutes later I was up to 110 over 56—
a number it seemed we both could live with…literally.

And off I went…with an appointment to return in December.

As I looked around me in that large room with lots of folks
hooked up to things for various treatments…I pondered things
larger than my little bag of blood.

Some of the folks looked basically like me, healthy on the outside.
Some were elderly.
Some moaned and winced in pain.

And so I thought about this countdown week if you will.

A week like no other that any of us has ever known.

A week of ominous anticipation.

Many are scared.
Many are fearful
Many grow both anxious and angry.
All the while falsehoods, vehemence, and accusations whirl through the very
air we breathe.

Yet what of all the folks all over this nation of ours, all in rooms similar
to where I sat today…folks hooked up to machines, being fed medicines
in hopes of offering them some glimmer of a future…a chance to continue
life as they once knew it before a disease.

Some will not survive their treatments.
Some will not survive their diseases.

Some will.

Yet contrary to popular belief…we, meaning you and me,
will survive this election.
No matter who you vote for, the world as you know it will not cease nor
implode on Tuesday.
So quit acting like the sky is falling.

Satan feeds us fear…so don’t take it.

Oh, it might feel that life will end.
And it might get ugly before it gets better.
But you and I are not hooked up to a machine that is treating us
for a terminal illness…this election will not kill us—
despite what many of us are thinking.

A few weeks back, I read two different yet telling posts by our dear friend Oneta.

Oneta is a wise woman who is rooted in the Word of God.

I listen when she speaks…or make that, I take notice when she writes.

These particular posts of hers gave me much to chew on and a sense
of calm.

Please take the time to read what she has written.
They are not long posts.

NO, I DON’T THINK DJT IS THE MESSIAH BUT…

MORE CYRUS/TRUMP

Remember God is always stronger than evil!

“Many things happen that God does not will.
But he still permits them, in his wisdom, and they remain a stumbling block
or scandal to our minds.
God asks us to do all we can to eliminate evil.
But despite our efforts, there is always a whole set of circumstances which we can do nothing about,
which are not necessarily willed by God but nevertheless are permitted by him,
and which God invites us to consent to trustingly and peacefully,
even if they make us suffer and cause us problems.
We are not being asked to consent to evil, but to consent to the mysterious wisdom of God
who permits evil.
Our consent is not a compromise with evil but the expression of our trust
that God is stronger than evil.
This is a form of obedience that is painful but very fruitful.”

Fr. Jacques Philippe, p. 33
An Excerpt From
In the School of the Holy Spirit

Off with their heads!

“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the cat.
“We’re all mad here.”

The Cheshire Cat, Alice in Wonderland


(a toppled statue of St Francis / Julie Cook / 2020)

No, my little St. Francis statue is not the victim of our current hate-fueled madness but
rather it was the victim of a severe thunderstorm.
He toppled over onto the sidewalk and literally lost his head.

Yet, to be honest, seeing poor ol St. Francis having lost his head,
stung my senses a bit.

And so if an old worn garden statue I’ve had for years can prick my emotions, imagine how
I feel watching American monument after monument being defaced or destroyed?

Imagine my dismay over our suddenly removing the names of those more famous among us,
those who are now long gone, being removed from buildings or airports all because their only crime
was having lived generations ago.

What of those now screaming that all white European images of Christ be removed,
or better yet, destroyed?

What of those in the LGBTQ communities exclaiming they don’t wish to co-exist with Christians
but would rather prefer seeing Christianity as nonexistent.

But more about that nonsense later…

Have you ever found yourself pondering the notion of your existence?
As in a ‘why am I here’ sort of pondering?

I know that there have been those amongst us who have felt a keen sense
of purpose for their lives early on…a sense of destiny.
It is a sense of knowing, even as a child, that they were destined for something
so much bigger and so much greater than simply being themselves.

Karol Wojtyla, later the first Polish Pope and Saint, John Paul II felt such.
George Patton, later 4-star general, also felt such.
Winston Churchill, later the UK Prime Minister during WWII, again, felt the same.

As a young boy, Churchill is noted for telling a young schoolmate that he knew
that greatness was in his future.
This coming from a precocious young boy who struggled in his schooling.
A boy who was shipped off to boarding school and was often an embarrassment to his
famously prestigious father.
Greatness was not the initial thought that came to the mind of those who knew
the boy before there was to be the man.

There have been countless others who have also felt the very same sense of purpose.

A feeling that their life was a calling.
A calling to something greater than.

Such callings are often referred to as vocations.
With vocations being vastly different from mere jobs.

A vocation requires a deep sense of dedication—up to and not limited
to one’s very existence.

Those who become members of religious orders and even those who are lead to become teachers,
doctors, policemen, firefighters, nurses…they are but a few of those who we consider as
being called to vocations rather than 9 to 5 jobs.

Those who seek vocations rather than the average job have often felt such calls
early on in life.
An invisible pulling to something so much more than…

If you were ever a kid who attended any sort of Sunday School,
chances are you heard stories and tales about ‘the saints’ —
those brave men and women who dedicated their entire beings to serving God
and proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Those who were willing to face the dire consequences of doing so.

Gruesome tortures with eventual death being the inevitable.

Some of these men and women had been average folks but many had been roughnecks,
criminals and most often the worst amongst us…
yet God had tapped them early on for something so much greater.

And once the scales had fallen from their eyes and their hearts broken,
their true mission began.

And so, we know…
there is indeed a calling.
And there will be no denying this calling.

Some of us already know this very keenly.
Others of us come to this knowledge reluctantly…but come we do.
And when we do so, we do so resolutely.

So tell me, have you heard it?

Have you heard or felt the calling?

I have.

And so now I know…

This thought will be continued…tomorrow.

Call to me and I will answer you,
and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.

Jeremiah 33:3

Whoever is of God hears the words of God.
The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

John 8:47

melted pats of butter…

“I am old, Gandalf. I don’t look it, but I am beginning to feel it in my heart of hearts.
Well-preserved indeed! Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched,
if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread.
That can’t be right. I need a change, or something.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings


(clipart image of a melting pat of butter)

I’ve been heard, as of late, to lament that I feel as if I am a melting pat of butter.

Meaning….
I am tired.

Simply melting away.

But really, who isn’t tired these days?

Nurses.
Doctors.
EMS.
Police.
Firefighters.
First Responders.
Teachers.
Educational Admins.
Parents.
Grandparents.
Work from home folks.
Students.
Kids.

We are all so, so tired.

Physically.
Emotionally.
Mentally.
Spiritually.

Remember, you can go to Walmart or the liquor store…but you can’t go to Chruch.

We are tired of mixed messages.
We are tired of lockdowns.
We are tired of politicians.
We are tired of not being able to work.
We are tired of not being able to move.
We are tired of not being able to pay our bills.
We are tired.

We are tired of being told what to do.
We are tired of being told what not to do.

We don’t know who to believe.

Our leaders are a mixed bag of nuts.
As in many are truly nuts.

And we are tired of nuts.

And so I cling to the One constant…

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30

speed bumps, potholes, obstacles

“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are.
I don’t believe in circumstances.
The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look
for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.”

George Bernard Shaw


(ok, this is a speed hump, but you get the idea)

In a galaxy lifetime long ago and far away,
I was once a prolific writter.

Imagine that.

I use to actually write…

Not like I do here pecking away in blogville, but I actually used a pen and paper
and I wrote letters, cards, notes, journals…

A good many of those cards and letters were addressed to my godfather–
who in turn, wrote and sent letters and cards right back.

Over the years I saved every one of those pieces of correspondence.

They were the tangibles to our relationship.
I think we were each a tad freer when writing as expression and thoughts
flowed freely.

Those saved letters, notes and cards may be found in overstuffed bibles,
books, drawers, and any number of boxes from that past life of mine…

I recently found one of those letters.

At the time it was written, my godfather was probably just a little older than I am now.

In the letter, he made mention of some health issues he’d been dealing with-
adding that such was an ode to the aged.

Well, I kind of get that now.

I am now keenly aware of the obstacles, speed bumps, and potholes…
all of which are part of the distracting messes that get in our way,
while we attempt to move forward on that proverbial road of life.

As we age, the space between those bumps, potholes, and obstacles feels as if
it grows ever closer, more precarious and much more difficult to avoid let alone maneuver past.

There seems to be less road but only more things that force us to detour from our straight pathway.

I feel as if I’ve been riding those speed bumps, as of late, much like some sort of
downhill freestyle mogul skier.

There’s been a rising crescendo of health mysteries colliding into one another like
rouge asteroids out in space…bouncing me around violently like a ball in a pinball machine.

So last week, in between my running from test and test, doctor and doctor, I
actually had a long-standing scheduled routine mammogram.

No big deal right?
Well, right, it shouldn’t be ..but surprisingly it was .

The problem was, it became a big deal fast.

I went Wednesday morning for my scheduled appointment and by Thursday evening I received an email
that there was an ‘abnormality’—an abnormality that required a lengthy revisit with
some more intense testing.

Abnormality is never a good word.

Normally, alarm bells would be sounding.
The C-word would be swirling in a mind now on overload.
Imagined scenarios would be playing out in a now panicked mind like a
melodramatic soap-opera.

I read the note to my husband who suddenly looked stricken.

My response was atypical.

I laughed.

I laughed because it was an ‘are you freaking kidding me?!’ moment.

I suppose I could cry over the one more erratic pin suddenly being jabbed into the voodoo
doll with my name on it…or…I could laugh.

And so yes I opted to laugh.

It was about 18 years ago that I had had a scare following a routine mammogram.
Back then, the questioned concern was found within my left side.
I was told I would need to have lumpectomy…
And blessedly, pathology proved the scare to be benign.

All these years later, it was the same side…again.

And so I went today for my marathon re-do.
Plan on 2.5 hours they told me.
But they assured me that I would have all the results before leaving.

Was I nervous?

Somewhat because the unknown can always be scary.
I told my husband I wanted to go to the appointment by myself…
to be lost in my thoughts I suppose.

Our new fancy-schmancy medical complex is a sleek modern sterile facility.
Gone is the once warm and fuzzy homey feel to the Women’s Center…
Today’s further testing seemed rather void and cold leaving me feeling
detached…of which might have been a good thing.

I had two intense procedures in the course of my time today at the center.
And the final word was there were only cysts showing within the normal range.

Whew!
Speed bump cleared.

So now it’s time to gear up for the next obstacle…stutter-stepping in order
to clear the next hurdle life throws up my way.
And how do we gear up for such you ask???

We take the hand of the One who has long asked to travel this journey with us.

He even offers to carry us when we really grow weary…

So I think I’ll take Him up on His offer…

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

love always you must…

“Truly wonderful the mind of a child is.”
Yoda


(a screen shot from my son’s televison / Julie Cook / 2020)

You might be wondering where I’ve been…or not.

It was supposed to just be a weekend visit.
Up to visit the grandkids.

I got to the daycare just following “something” having happened.
The owner was on the phone with a mom and she seemed very nervous
while trying to explain this “something” to the mom.
She looks up and tells me she’s talking to my daughter-in-law.

That sickening feeling hits my stomach.

What something??

Autumn fell.

She fell back, having pulled away from one of the assistants and fell onto her elbow.
Now her arm wasn’t “working”.
It was hanging limp at her side.

And I knew immediately that something was indeed wrong when they brought her out to me—
she just stood there staring at me…
not her typical jumping, running and squealing when she sees me.

Once I got them loaded up in the car, I called my daughter-in-law telling
her that I did think she should be seen.

We drove down to the pediatrician’s office meeting my daughter-n-law.

The doctor tried “manipulating” the arm, thinking it was dislocated—
which immediately sent Autumn wailing with pain.

But the doctor didn’t feel that the arm was “popping” back into place.
She sent us to the ER for x-rays.

No breaks showed up thankfully but the doctor wanted
us back in the office Saturday morning.

Autumn’s arm hung limply by her side for the remainder of the evening as she readily
made quick use of her left arm seemingly unphased.
But each time we tried bending the arm when taking off her shirt and putting
on her pajamas, she would cry.

Saturday morning, we were at the doctor’s office bright and early.
She tried popping the arm back into place but was unsuccessful.
She attempted putting the arm in a sling—that went over like a lead balloon.
A 23-month-old and a sling are not friends meant to be.
We were next scheduled to meet with a pediatric orthopedic Monday morning.


(The puny Mayor in her short lived sling with “ma” / Julie Cook / 2020)

Little by little over the weekend, we noticed Autumnn started using her arm a bit more
sparingly and gingerly.

The ortho doc said that the elbow could be fractured as the x-rays did not
focus on the elbow but rather the bones in the arm…the humerus, radius, and ulna
but he did not see a dislocation and doubted it was fractured.

He said it was a classic Nursemaid arm and that each day we should see improvement
as the arm probably did most likely “pop” back and was simply sore.

I headed home late Monday evening.

As a grandmother, I know that this will be the first of many calls…
calls about slips, spills, and falls.
Some will be scary, some will be minor and some will stop our hearts…

Oddly, during all of this, the Sherrif however never seemed phased by his sister’s mishap.


(the sheriff just happy as a clam / Julie Cook / 2020)

All I know is that there is no better place I’d rather be than in a big chair watching
cartoons with the two little people who I adore….dislocated or not.

Love always we must!

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
1 John 4:8

Eating the most expensive scrambled eggs while pondering cheap grace.

This is NOT the picture of scrambled eggs that sat in a styrofoam bowl along with
a plastic fork and napkin that awaited me in the nuclear medicine lab this morning…
complete with a dixie cup of water–
but I just wasn’t thinking fast enough to snap a picture before downing
my radioactive breakfast.

I had gotten up with the chickens this morning in order to arrive at the hospital
bright and early for a gastric swallowing test.

It was to be a 90-minute procedure that I really felt was not at the heart of my
issues and not what I really needed but I am currently playing human guinea pig.

I was supposed to have an MRI Monday of my liver, with and without contrast…
of which would also take a look-see at my gallbladder and pancreas.
The scan had been scheduled for two months…but last week the gal in scheduling called
to tell me that the insurance company had told the hospital that I had just had a CT scan
so why would they now need an MRI?!

Don’t you just love insurance companies and hospitals!?

“Well yes,” I explained to the gal at scheduling “I did just have a CT scan 4 weeks ago.”
“But that was a CT scan in the office of a Urologist that was to check my kidneys and bladder
for any abnormalities or kidney stones since there has been blood in my urine and lower
abdominal pain along with bloodwork that was all over the place indicating
low kidney functions.”

“The MRI is for the gastroenterologist and was to be performed at the hospital as he wants
an image of the liver before he does a biopsy…
The same blood work that showed poor kidney function also showed high liver levels with even
the fatty liver enzymes increasing…along with the recurrent bouts of either
gallstones or pancreatitis.”

She told me I could go ahead with the test on Monday but that I would have to sign a
waiver stating that I would be responsible for the full amount until the insurance company
decided to approve it…or not. Something like $6000 bucks…
I politely declined and so we rescheduled for the beginning of February as by then I
trust the insurance company will have things sorted out in the understanding department.

So as I sat down in the lab full of whizzing machines and fans,
I raised a fork full of eggs to my mouth and I asked the nuclear med tech if he was going to
poke an IV in my arm for the nuclear meds.
He replied nonchalantly, “nope, it’s all in the eggs.”
“In fact, he quipped, “that’s probably the most expensive little serving of eggs you’ll ever eat.”

Suddenly I felt like some former 007 MI6 / Russian spy who had been discovered
with Putin himself ordering that my eggs be poisoned with undetectable radioisotopes.

But luckily these ‘isotopes’ emit photons which would be detected by the gamma camera
that was to hover over me while I laid perfectly still for 90 minutes.
The machine would follow the path of eggs from esophagus to stomach on out to the small intestine.

Amazing really when you think about it all.
How amazing is it that God crafted every tiny little detail and how amazing is that man is
trying to figure out how to get up close and personal to watch the Master at work!

So let’s back up.

When I arrived at the hospital, the scheduling gal told me to arrive at one entrance vs another.
So once my husband dropped me off at the front door, I hurried in from the cold and walked up to the
receptionist’s desk.
The nice lady told me I was actually to have arrived downstairs at the other entrance.
I had asked the girl on the phone twice and she told me this entrance.
Sometimes I think hospitals are too big for their own good.

So the nice lady at the wrong desk got me scheduled and actually walked me to the elevator and
through the maze of corridors all the way to the Nuclear lab.
Where I proceeded to wait until my name was called.

The gal working this particular desk was actually a former student who began catching
me up on the last 20 years of her life—marriage, kids, careers, divorce and now remade woman.

As other patients arrived and she kept talking, I made nice by excusing myself so the line wouldn’t
continue building behind me as I politely listened to life.

I found a chair in the corner and pulled out my phone to peruse my WP reader.

Now you know that if I ever see a post with the word Bonhoeffer in it, I knee-jerk click.

And I am so glad that I did.

The post is by Jarrett Dickey who is a blogger, pastor and faculty member of
several colleges where he teaches theology and humanities.

His post is titled ‘Bonhoeffer’s Cheap Grace’
a post based on Bonhoeffer’s writings from The Cost of Discipleship

I have written many a post highlighting Bonhoeffer’s writings based on cheap vs costly grace.
But it should be noted that Bonhoeffer’s works are not often easy to read…they are
deep in both a theological sense and a personal sense.

Talk about conviction–cheap grace.

Here is the post:

The opening chapter of The Cost of Discipleship features Dietrich Bonhoeffer in some
of his best form as a writer. His use of paradox, irony, hyperbole,
exaggeration, and sarcasm makes this one of the wittiest criticisms of popular Christian
theology ever written. It also can make it hard to understand and follow for
the uninitiated reader. In general, Bonhoeffer is addressing the two major
flaws of the Protestant (especially Lutheran) mindset.

The rich and complex biblical portrait of faith is reduced to simple belief in creeds,
doctrines, or statements of faith.
In trying to correct the Catholic over-emphasis on the necessity of good works for salvation,
Protestants have gone to the extreme of making good works almost entirely optional (sola fides).
As Bonhoeffer explains, Protestants have turned orthodox Christianity into Christianity
without discipleship or obedience or sacrifice. In short, this is what he calls
“cheap grace.”
In addition to addressing these two major mindsets, Bonhoeffer seems to be addressing
two other major flaws in popular Christian thought:

You can be forgiven by God without being transformed by God.
In other words, you can continue in your old lifestyle (what the Bible calls
“the flesh”) and be pleasing to God, no need to walk in the Spirit or live a holy life.
There are two levels of commitment. One is for the really devoted Christian
(i.e. monks, missionaries, pastors, etc.), and the other is for the average Christian.
In other words, a spiritual caste lives a devoted and sacrificial life while
the regular class of Christians lives a worldly and ordinary life.
Bonhoeffer’s main point in all this is that God’s grace cost the life of God’s son.
Although God’s grace is freely given to all who are willing to receive,
it still costs something from the one who receives.
What does it cost? Simply put, it costs a man his life.
In return for the free gift of God’s grace, a man offers his life in total obedience
to God’s will. This is what Paul says in Romans 12:1-2.
In light of God’s mercy, there can only be one response:
the offering of oneself completely to God.

On this basis faith is clearly more than just belief.
It involves trust, obedience, sacrifice, loyalty, and commitment.
The Latin term, fides, conveys the multiplicity of faith.
Imagine substituting the English word “fidelity” for the word “faith”
throughout the biblical text.
The reader would walk away with the sense that faith was a lifetime commitment
of enduring loyalty. With this in mind, faith and works cannot be so easily
separated into different compartments. As Paul says in Romans 1:5,
he is trying to spread “the obedience of faith.” The two are linked in a beautiful dance.

Furthermore, the biblical notion of faith implies a change and transformation.
Receiving the mercy of God does not leave a person unaffected.
Grace is the power to live a new and abundant life. Finally,
we can see that there is only one Christian life– the one of total surrender to the will of God.
This, as Bonhoeffer explains, is costly grace.

https://conciliarpost.com/theology-spirituality/bonhoeffers-cheap-grace/

be not anxious

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and position,
with thanksgiving, present your requests before God.

Philippians 4:6


(male and female urinary tract medical chart)

This is the chart that was staring at me today from the back of the door inside
the procedure room where I sat waiting.

I felt it was a waste of my time, not to mention money,
to be sitting and waiting on this final of three procedures.
The race down this particular rabbit hole was not, is not, a part of my current issues…
or so was my non-medical opinion.

Ever since July, I have been slowly riding a bit of a medical merry-go-round.

Bloodwork results resulted in more bloodwork.
More bloodwork results resulted in more specialized doctors.
Waiting on specialized results resulted in waiting to be seen by more specialists.
All kinds of specialists.

It seems this Sjögren’s business leads to soft tissue disease,
eye troubles, mouth troubles, kidney troubles, joint troubles,
even upping lymphoma possibilities.

Over the years, I’ve had the eyes, mouth and joint issues that I just thought
were odd individuals annoyances and not linked together.

Turns out they were linked.

Now throw in the soft tissue disease…gees.

The bloodwork results were all somewhat unsettling.
Elevated levels here, diminished levels there.
Ups and downs all over the place.

Add to that a suspected pancreatitis attack this past weekend…of which
could be gallbladder related…or not…
And thus the mystery deepens.

Now the doctors seem to keep multiplying and the merry-go-round keeps spinning.

Occult blood means that blood is detected via the labs and not seen by the naked eye.
It raises flags and eyebrows by the medical world.

It seems they found occult blood—hence my sitting and staring at a urinary tract chart.

Before her death three years ago, when my aunt was diagnosed with kidney cancer,
she had had no symptoms, no clues… but she did have occult blood.

I will admit, that despite my feelings that my third visit to this particular specialist’s
office was just a waste of time and money, a slight worry did gnaw at the back of my mind.

Thankfully, my non-medical expertise was correct…
All was indeed well…
all but a small kidney stone that has been in the same kidney in the same
spot for the past 4 years.

It is, however, the looming MRI in two weeks, the doctor’s appt on Thursday, what tests
will be added, and the other doctor appointments following the MRI—
all of which will hopefully be more telling.

Casting a bit of light into the darkness so to speak.

It’s not that I’m worried.
I just want to know, finally, what is what.
And then, how to go about dealing with the what.

That’s what doers like to do—they want to know what is what and then what to
do with that what.

However, I am a bit aggravated riding this merry-go-round of the medical world.
It is slow and it is time-consuming.
Yet I suppose many of us will all ride the merry-go-round at some point sooner or later
in our lives.

I couldn’t help but marvel in the day’s verse that came my way…
“Do not be anxious about anything…”

Those words echoed in my mind as I sat on that exam table.

Amen..be not anxious.
Prayer and thanksgiving…

Fast forward to the day’s end.
The day’s news is unfolding as I type, while missiles now fly across the skies in Iraq.
Breaking alerts keep interrupting the evening’s quiet…

My thoughts race back to that verse—
I took it as a fine-tuned spoken word for me today as I sat staring at that medical chart,
waiting for an unknown scope.

So now I cling to those same spoken words as this Nation sits wondering and waiting.

Do not be anxious—petition, pray and give thanks.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with
thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

A double take on New Years…

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

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

Let me explain.

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

Long story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It would be Reagan who would become the president.

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

Russia-Poland row over start of WW2 escalates

And so I read the story…

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

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

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

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

(from the BBC)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

norovirus yet no cruise

Tuesday morning we received a call from our son that work had sent him home due to being sick…
really, really, sick.

A high fever along with the inability to stay out of a bathroom.

He was off to see his doctor.

We got another call later that it was not the flu… but…..
The doctor told him that if he was no better by the afternoon, he needed to go to the ER.

I think when your doctor sees you and then tells you to go to the ER,
things must be getting out of hand.

Next call… he was in the ER.

So off we went to rescue the Mayor and Sheriff, or maybe we were rescuing their mom…
either way, we were the cavalry riding in for the rescue.

I did consider donning rubber gloves, a surgical mask along with a bottle of Clorox for
the drive over.

We went and rescued the children from the Big House, the Pen, the slammer…aka daycare.
Next we did the grocery store run and finally the pharmacy.

The ER called with the following day with the lab results…
The Norovirus…
the bane of anyone who likes to frequent the cruise world.

And here we were with none of us having been near a cruise ship and yet we were living
with the same associated misery…
pity…

The kind ER doctor thought to email the CDC’s Norovirus fact sheet…

Norovirus is a very contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea.
Anyone can get infected and sick with norovirus.
You can get norovirus from:
Having direct contact with an infected person
Consuming contaminated food or water
Touching contaminated surfaces then putting your unwashed hands in your mouth

Outbreaks are common
The virus spreads very easily and quickly
Norovirus spreads:
From infected people to others
Through contaminated foods and surfaces
Outbreaks can happen anytime, but they occur most often from November to April.

The culprit, in our case, was most likely from last week when the Mayor took ill
as the ER doctor said cruise ships were not the only hotbeds… daycares were also
a highly likely suspect.

We are finally back home as everyone seems to be on the mend… for now…
and I just pray we are spared!!

Meanwhile the Mayor liked her watch that her watchmaker ‘Da’ brought her
and the Sheriff continues to practice his push ups…