spam

“Suffering, gracefully accepted, refines the human heart,
and the experience of darkness sharpens the vision of the spirit.”

Paul Glynn, A Song for Nagasaki:
The Story of Takashi Nagai:
Scientist, Convert, and Survivor of the Atomic Bomb

According to Wikipedia Spam is (stylized SPAM) is a brand of canned cooked meat made
by Hormel Foods Corporation.
It was first introduced in 1937 and gained popularity worldwide after its use during World War II.
By 2003, Spam was sold in 41 countries on six continents and trademarked in over 100 countries
(not including the Middle East and North Africa).

According to its label, Spam’s basic ingredients are pork, with ham meat added, salt,
water, modified potato starch as a binder, sugar, and sodium nitrite as a preservative.
Natural gelatin is formed during cooking in its tins on the production line.
Many have raised concerns over Spam’s nutritional attributes,
in large part due to its high content of fat, sodium, and preservatives.

I also understand it’s the “national” food of Hawaii as “Hawaiians sometimes call it
“Portagee Steak” oddly my money was always on the pineapple.

And also according to Wikipedia Spam or rather Spamming is:
Electronic spamming is the use of electronic messaging systems to send an
unsolicited message (spam), especially advertising, as well as sending messages repeatedly
on the same site. While the most widely recognized form of spam is email spam,
the term is applied to similar abuses in other media:
instant messaging spam, Usenet newsgroup spam,
Web search engine spam, spam in blogs, wiki spam, online classified ads spam,
mobile phone messaging spam, Internet forum spam, junk fax transmissions,
social spam, spam mobile apps, television advertising and file sharing spam.
It is named after Spam, a luncheon meat, by way of a Monty Python sketch about a
restaurant that has Spam in every dish and where patrons annoyingly chant “Spam!”
over and over again.

I must confess that I have never tried Spam.

I never cared for bologna so I kind of figured I wouldn’t care for Spam.
I’ll just stick to ham.

However that other kind of Spam…
well let’s just say I’ve had my fair share of that unappetizing mess.

We all get the e-mails, the phising (not fishing), the viruses (electronic and not physical),
the phone scams etc…
and yet we must admit it happens here in blogland as well.

Ever so often I’ll go into the comment section on my admin page in order to see if anyone
has been earmarked as spam.

I know that some of my blogland friends will make comments on posts and I will receive
an email notification along with the regular WP notification.
Yet every once in a while a friend’s comment is deemed spam by good ol AT&T.

WP is also prone to throwing friends into the black abyss of either ‘awaiting moderation’
or simply delightfully chunking them to spam. I too have been the victim of being chunked.

So yesterday I went into my site in order to check the spam allotment while
trashing what was indeed a bunch of junk as I sought to rescue anyone who had been
sorely misplaced.

Yet I stopped long enough to skim over one offering in particular that was about as vulgar
as it gets…and to think they were targeting poor ol Taylor Swift.
Not being one who stays up with the music scene…I don’t know why Ms. Swift should be so
grossly vilified, but gross it was.

My knee-jerk reaction, before pushing delete, was to simply bemoan the level of sickness
and vileness that runs rampant across our senses.

But then my thoughts shifted to the evil that is actually at work…
Evil found in something such as mind-numbing as the prevalent swarth of spam
on a simple little blog…

And so I was struck by the contrast of such thoughts of spam..thoughts for its reasons,
its uselessness and its dark and evil agendas countered by the thoughts of one who
lived to survive chaos and evil and came to know both peace and worth…
hope and salvation…

All of us will have to render an account of our lives when we die.
God will not be interested in who or what we were.
No, only in this: how did we live?
That will be the sole matter for judgment.
A company director won’t be able to pull rank on a waiter,
and a fisherman’s wife will be on a par with a millionaire’s wife.
Ships’ officers will receive no preference over ships’ cooks.
All will be judged by exactly the same measure:
did we use our talents well and for his glory?

Takashi Nagi
from A Song for Nagasaki
(Takashi Nagai, a survivor of the atomic bomb and convert to the Catholic faith
who lived a life of heroic virtue in the face of great tragedy)

The words of Takashi Nagai pointedly reminds us that we must consciously choose how it is we
wish to use our ‘talents’…those abilities bestowed upon us long before our birth…
gifts, abilities, and talents endowed upon, and found within, each of us—
given to us all by grace form the Father and the Creator to His created and children.

Will we opt to use them for the betterment of others and to God’s glory or will we use them
for the detriment of others and of self?…
Detriments much like the annoying spam folks are wasting their precious time over by creating and
sending to tiny little blogs like mine?

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another,
as good stewards of God’s varied grace:

1 Peter 4:10

trepidation be darned—Autumn update

I wanted to offer a brief update on our ailing little girl…

Here we were on Tuesday when we went for our two month old check up…
All smiles and unaware what the next 36 hours would hold…


(Julie Cook / 2018)

On Thursday, Autumn began to show signs of malaise.
She was fussy and clingy and not wanting a bottle with the same sort of usual vigor.

By Thursday evening she was really warm.

We took her temp and it registered almost 101.
We wondered could it be a reaction to the vaccinations given on the two-month doctor’s visit.
There was diarrhea, there was blood.

The fever kept increasing so we headed to the local ER here in Carrollton.

She was put through the ringer of tests…
X-rays, urinalysis and the agony of trying to find a tiny vein willing to give enough blood
for an adequate test.
The nurses tried and tried as best they could, however, they just couldn’t find a vein willing to
cooperate—
all the while we had a shrieking 2-month-old who was in grave pain.

Finally, the lab techs came in and they hit the mark first stick.

The fever increased so they administered Tylenol.
First via suppository then an oral dose…

The poking and prodding violations were almost more than this wee one could bear.

Yet all tests came back clear…
however, the jury was still out on the blood work…

Our Pediatrician told the ER for us to be at her office bright and early the following morning.

We got home at 1:30 AM…the fever fluctuated, and the blood continued…

We drove to Atlanta in a blurr.
When the pediatrician saw us and took a new temperature reading, she sent us immediately to
Scottish Rite Children’s Hosptial.


(Scottish Rite / 2018)

The fever was right at 103, the blood more prevalent.

More X-rays, more tests…

As this tiny girl was hooked up to all sorts of machines.

So after an all-day vigil, the test results slowly started trickling in…

Positive for Rotavirus from Tuesday’s vaccines.
Positive for Salmonella…which most likely came as cross contamination from her mom who
was a victim of the food born illness after eating at a rather nice restaurant,
three weeks ago.

The doctors then worried that it might have spread to the bloodstream and eventually the brain…
resulting in a concern for meningitis… so a spinal tap was ordered.

With breaths held for about 20 nerve-wracking minutes…the doctor came in to report
that the fluids were as clear as could be…of which left him feeling very good.

They gave her an injection of antibiotics and told us to plan on seeing the pediatrician
the following morning for another injection.

Cultures are still growing and we are still waiting for a final word for the course of treatment.
Perhaps more trips to Atlanta for injections or hopefully an oral med…

Fussy, wailing, hurting and tired…all of us in a nutshell…

Your prayers have sustained us…
and for that, I give great thanks!!!

And this little Wonder Woman—well, she is bound to kick this mess…
This picture was taken earlier when she was feeling better…
we’ve gone downhill ever since…
As you can imagine—a wee little bum feels like hell after it has been way overworked!!!!!

I started this post earlier today, but it has taken hours to complete as I’ve been
quite preoccupied with the needy one….
We give thanks for all of you—for your love and support —our prayer warriors…

Thank you!!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and
supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Philippians 4:6

the cure

“Goodbye to Rosie the queen of Corona
See you, me and Julio
Down by the schoolyard”

lyrics by Paul Simon

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(they say it help / Julie Cook / 2015)

Probably not the image you’d expect seeing on a Sunday morning.
And no, this is not an advertisement for Corona or beer or anything along those lines…
and the truth be told, I don’t even much care for beer.
I’ve always been a bit more hard core but this is not about that….

This is actually the image of a suggestion…
or rather the recommendation of a curative…

And if the truth be told, there has been more than one well meaning
family member and friend who has wholeheartedly and
even joyously made this recommendation.

For some, this is more of an excuse hidden within a recommendation…
For me it’s a last ditch effort of relief from misery.

Part of this is most likely my own fault as I have always been more camel than human.

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(image courtesy of ABC)

I’ve never been one to consume those 8 glasses of 8 ounces of water a day.
64 ounces is a lot of liquid to have sloshing around in ones stomach.
I don’t usually drink anything while I’m eating,
waiting I suppose to wash it all down,
after the fact, with a swallow of whatever has been offered.

I’m bad to nurse a bottle of water on and off for most of the day.
Sometimes I finish it, sometimes I don’t.
I probably run on more dehydration than I do on hydration.

Yet I do know the importance of keeping hydrated—
it flushes out the kidneys, ridding the body of toxins…
it keeps the blood flowing smoothly, the skin nice and plump
and it keeps the brain running smoothly—

So think plum verses prune.

They told me in the ER to drink, drink, drink…

So far today I’ve already finished all of these…

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2,480 ounces thus far, add to that one 12 oz beer and I hope I’m drowning any and all kidney stones
stuck in this body of mine, causing me all this tremendous pain and suffering.

Is it bad that I’m drinking a beer while sitting propped up on a heating pad?

I am however currently watching my beloved Bulldogs playing against UNC, so I suppose
it’s in keeping with the spirit of the game…..

I’m however still putting my money on the disc causing most of my woe…

Yet with all this talk of cure alls, curatives and snake oil treatments….
this business of drinking lots of beer in order to flush out the stones…
It’s all gotten me thinking…

So often in our lives, the cures are often worse than our ailments—ask any cancer fighter who has endured chemo, radiation and radical surgeries all in order to either cure or prolong life…
Chances are that they will tell you first hand that if it doesn’t kill you, those potential cures and helps…those things indeed to help….may or may not help you in the end, but it, whatever it is, will make you stronger…
if you survive it….

We fight hard when told our very lives, health and wellbeing depend on it,
we find ourselves willing to do and endure almost anything for the sake of living…
Despite our not having always tended to those very things we should have early on…
which, more often than not, could have prevented or avoided a bit longer the
precarious health predicament we may be currently finding ourselves in….

Yet what of our spiritual lives and our spiritual health?

More often times than not we live our lives with very little thought to our
spiritual health and well being–
that is until we find ourselves facing a crisis of unsurmountable proportions…
For despite what the critics will say,
we are spiritual beings—
spending the majority of our lives, most often unconsciously, searching for that reunion with our Creator…

It is only, for the majority of us, that when we find ourselves scared or in a tight fix,
that is when we turn our thoughts to God, Jesus and our very salvation…

When we feel backed into a corner, helpless, defenseless and hopeless…
never mind that the majority of time when life was foot loose and fancy free,
that our thoughts were on living life and far from anything “other than”…
We had no need, no urgency to keep our spiritual health in check because we were…
busy…
living…
life…

And isn’t that what life is all about…. living?
Leaving any and all thoughts of spirituality and that of a spiritual need to those in need..
those who are sick or dying…..

And there was Peter, full of Peter, living in the moment of desperately wanting to come met Jesus out on the water—despite the raging storm—
and yet it was that very raging storm that diverted Peter’s attention as he took his eyes,
his faith and his trust off of Jesus…
turning instead to face a fierce and consuming storm…
At which time, he began to sink, crying out for “salvation”

It is exactly when we are happy, healthy and full of life that we need
to tend to our full being—
both the physical as well as the spiritual.

We take our cars in for regular maintenance, check-ups and oil changes because they
are a huge investment and we know that maintaining them prolongs their “life” and performance…

Yet the question begs…
why don’t we do the same for ourselves…?

Here’s to another bottle of water….

But I will restore you to health
and heal your wounds,’
declares the Lord,
‘because you are called an outcast,
Zion for whom no one cares.’

Jeremiah 30:17

the diversion of a feeding frenzy

“If our condition were truly happy,
we would not seek diversion from it in order to make ourselves happy”

Blaise Pascal

“The news media is in a feeding frenzy”
George Bush

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(the butterfly bushes are rife with those feeding / Julie Cook / 2016)

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Ok, so you thought you were going to see some images of ravenous sharks, wildly thrashing about,
tearing apart some poor fish…

Sorry, it’s not shark week.

However…
rest assured…
A feeding frenzy is indeed under way…
With both you and me front and center on the main menu.

For it is now open season on the average citizen.

We are currently under assault, you and me, by all the news media outlets, as well as all things political.
I hate to say it, but the season is open and in full swing until November.
And unfortunately it looks as if it won’t truly be over until most likely sometime after the
first of the new year…or so.
And depending on the results, it may never be over…

The thing is….
we are all currently dealing with our individual lives….

We don’t have time to spare for things other than our manic lives….
It is simply to the everyday nitty gritty of living that has us consummed.
Time is not ours to give away to those who are now chomping at the bit for pieces of it.

For me…it’s dad who has developed a gravely concerning malady…
that is proving troublesome to pinpoint, let alone resolve…
as a few grim scenarios are waiting in the wings.

I’m driving back and forth to this doctor and that, to this test and that, all the while reassuring Dad that he is a okay…despite the alarming physical symptoms.

Do I have the time or energy to be bothered every time I just want some quiet down time…???
Flipping on the telly, seeking some mindless light diversion, yearning for a little football,
yet instead I am met by the likes of every TV personality and new anchor bashing Trump, touting Hillary, telling me only one kind of life matters, yada yada yada…????!!!!

Do I want to see ad after ad about why I should vote this way or that—???
Ads both dark and ominous of what will happen if I vote this way or that????
Do I want to see ads filled with a whole lot of malarky and bull crap????
All the while finding myself sadly yearning for the days of those cheeky little toilet paper ads…

And it seems that I am not the only one needing a diversion from the feeding frenzy of this season.

The odd phenomena of the Pokemon craze has become a global obsession.
Even as poor dad frets and waits to see the latest doctor in a string of doctors,
look what my son spies sitting by his grandfather…sigh…

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And whereas I am actually gravely concerned over this current trend and need
by this ailing world of ours…
This ravenous desire of seeking such an obsessive diversion…
Wondering why we don’t or can’t actually see what our true need actually is…
What it is that we yearn for…
What it is that we ache for…

That being satiated by the balm of the Resurrected Christ…

Yet reluctantly I can understand the need of escape from all this misery,
mayhem and feeding frenzy that is currently besieging us…

For it is in this desperation that the masses now seek the diversion of a virtual game…
sigh….

So…
With that being said…
and that being that,
it’s time to put down the remote,
close the laptop,
turn off the freaking phone…
and head outside for a real life diversion…

One that is actually Heaven sent….

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Though rulers sit together and slander me,
your servant will meditate on your decrees.
Your statutes are my delight;
they are my counselors.

Psalm 119:23-24

Achilles heel

“Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

I like the fact that in ancient Chinese art the great painters always included a deliberate flaw in their work: human creation is never perfect.
Madeleine L’Engle

DSC01203
(our resident mockingbird / Julie Cook / 2015)

Achilles had his heel.
Hercules was tripped up by a lack of common sense.
Samson was lost without his hair.
David faltered over lust.

Many a great hero, real or imagined, throughout history have each possessed one foible, one glaring flaw, one true weakness or ailment that. . . more often than not. . .proves to be, if not the ultimate downfall, a true precursor to an often catastrophic stumble or hinderance.

And even if these said flaws of either body or character do not topple said hero, they can certainly allow others, those mere mortals, to see that even the greatest among us, on occasion, stumble and fall or at the very least struggle. Yet it is the mark of a truly great individual who can get back up, admit a frailty, battle on often publicly, all the while moving forward.

My achilles heel has always been my “gut”. . .
At 10 the doctors told my mom I had a “nervous” stomach.
Spending many an outing that should have been full of adventure and fun,
I sought the refuge of a bathroom while “dying” from sheer stomach cramps and the ensuring
disaster which usually followed suit.

Later it was called a spastic colon—a true medical term if ever I heard one, wink, wink.

By the time I went to college, it was given a fancier name, IBS.
A catchall phrase used by the medical community to tag patients who suffer from the unexplained and often debilitating bouts of the gut. My southern genteel ways prevent me from offering overt descriptions which border on the periphery of TMI, but trust me, it is not pleasant and can truly, for some, be life altering—in a not so good way.

My pediatrician sent me off to college with a bottle of Paregoric, a foul tasting liquid of the opiate family which, when I was young, was the go-to treatment for colicky babies and childhood stomach viruses. A most unpalatable teaspoon of Paregoric nipped the debilitating cramps, pain and subsequent visits to the loo, rapidly in the bud.

Sadly the FDA took Paregoric off the market years ago.
Funny that. . .the one drug that seemed to provide the best relief for suffers also was a most abused drug by those not exactly needing the drug for medicinal purposes. . .
Today there are a handful of prescriptions out there but they pale in comparison and 9 times out of 10 don’t always work for sufferers as each sufferer is not the same as the next with symptoms swinging and varying in opposite directions—this is not a one size fits all ailment.

However this post is not about guts, IBS or drugs. . .rather it is an observation concerning the flaws, weaknesses and “issues” all of us face on a daily basis, while, to the best of our abilities, putting all aside, in order to trudge forward in our lives attempting to make our worlds a better place.

For some of us it is the battle of addictions. . .for others it is the daily turmoil of physical impairments and handicaps. Others of us struggle with life altering medical conditions while others fight an endless war of weight. Some of us are hampered by mood swings and temperamental demeanors, while others find leaving the safety of home almost unbearable. The list is ad infinitum.

Each of us has an Achilles heel, an ailment, a weakness, a struggle– with some of us suffering from multiple ailments, weaknesses and flaws, which simply put, is our cross to bear throughout life.
Each “cross” is every bit aggravating, debilitating, painful, life altering, socially unacceptable, destructive, draining, exhausting, never-ending, frustrating as the next. . .yet for the most part we all work to get through them, one step at a time, one day at a time- – – just to make the most of our lives as well as for those lives that have been entrusted to us.

For a fortunate few, there maybe a remission, a cure, a healing, a conquering of these “afflictions”. . .yet for the majority, it is a life long struggle of adapting, praying, dealing, suffering, accepting, fighting. . .

The task is never easy. . .
often fraught with pain, lethargy, impairment, discomfort, embarrassment. . .
but we press on, always with our sights resting just on the horizon of possibilities. Maybe it is our nature as we are hardwired to move ever forward despite any chain or weight we carry shackled to our bodies.

It is hard.
It is exhausting.
It is lonely.
Yet we mere mortals, who are all heroes hidden in disguise, press forward. . .
it’s just what heroes do. . .


But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Somewhere between the death sentence and death

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien

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(discarded broken pieces of a deer antler / Troup Co. GA / Julie Cook / 2015)

“You can’t go in yet, they’re changing the linens” the head floor nurse’s words halting the day’s visit before it had a chance to begin.
The door remianed slightly ajar, just open wide enough to see the shadows of two figures working with lightening speed to change and replace soiled linens with fresh, as the helpless patient still remained attached to the bed— wired in with all sorts of IVs, oxygen tubes and monitors.

The cries of agony and pain could not be ignored as they wafted up and down the corridor.
The mere touch sent excruciating pain through the frail shell of what was once a 53 year old vibrant “mom”
Turning to face the wall, as if that would make it all stop, seemed the only recourse for the one waiting outside.

“Enough” could be heard screaming in the recesses of a young mind which wrestled with the hows and the whys of suddenly standing alone pushing against a generic wall hoping to blend in and disappear.

Six weeks was all it was.
From start to finish, six weeks.
Just barely over a month.

It could have been six weeks, six months, six hours, or six years.
Time is really an irrelevant thing until a sentence is read or a tragedy occurs.
It’s not until the grand stopwatch of life is quickly clicked, when the hands immediately stop turning, that the shouts of
“no fair”
“that’s not enough time”
“you cheated”
are heard echoing across the ages.

Mortality met immortality that early September day. . .when time oddly stood still yet raced at breakneck speed toward a different dimension.
The mere brushing of the now thin and fine patchy hair sent shrieks of pain out the door.
“STOP” was ricocheting throughout the young brain and began spilling unknowingly out of a twenty five year old mouth.
“Just stop, it hurts too much, just let her be” falling out and quietly trailing away as a whisper from now trembling lips.

And then just as quickly as the agony had made itself known, there was now nothing but silence.
A haunting stillness as time stood still.
“You can go in now” came the voice of a nurse looking back over her shoulder at the frozen specter against the wall.
“Going in to what?” wondered the young aching soul.
Going in to the near lifeless shell that only comes back to life when touched or moved, while letting all know that pain was still very real and very constant? Going into a drawn-out ending which now seemed to mock the very spirit of Life which was all but willing and pushing hopefulness forward?
What really was the point anymore?
What really was the point to anything anymore?
How cruel this sick dance with death had seemed to become.
A wave a nausea washed over limp legs that were now being willed, from some other place, forward through the open door.

“It’s not about you, you know” came the words of a stronger wisdom.
“There’s something else going on here”
“This is not all about you or your loss”
“It’s not all about her pain”
“It’s not all about her suffering”
“There is more, more going on that none of us can see”
“There is business, yet finished”
“Two are now meeting. . . where, we know not, but the meeting is crucial”
“You’ve got to see, you’ve got to understand this is so much bigger than you or her”
“It’s so much bigger than any of us can ever imagine. . .”

A lifeless body hung battered and torn, dangling like a limp doll in the wind.
The once living blood now stopped flowing. The driving rain made it appear as if it was still trailing down the contours of the flesh.
Flesh that was torn away in gaping chunks.
Bruised and shredded, what remained had taken on a dull blue pallor.
The wet red trails, flowing down the wooden support, pooled in the mud, as now rivers of blood and mud cascaded down the hill.

The wickedly dark clouds overhead hung as a heavy curtain stretching outward in every direction.
Cracks of electricity streaked dangerously to the ground, sending onlookers scurrying for shelter.
The earth began to give way under foot. Several fell down the hill, sliding in the blood saturated mud.
Everyone now seemed covered in the blood of Innocence.
The peals of thunder echoed as the sounds of a death march, now deafening, caused many to cover their ears.

Chaos had taken hold in the city, skipping merrily along its sinister path.
Demons could be seen darting between the shadows.
What was now happening with this single death as to cause such pandemonium? The lone thought hung heavily in the air, which was now filled with a rotting stench and the acrid odor of sulfur.
Panic was racing through hapless minds, as the words of the prophets echoed off the stone walls.
The great divide, the massive division slicing as a knife through all of time, was about to be bridged.

The separation was to finally be made whole as the universe momentarily stood still.
Time stopped,reversed and frantically raced forward simultaneously. Daylight was covered by darkness, as mystery was hidden from all eyes.
Even the Father turned His gaze.
For that which is without sin cannot gaze upon sin as He who was sinless, became all sin.
Both angels and demons trembled with fear.

What was the price?
The cost?
The expense?
One life for all?
Really?
And yet what of the pain, the hurt, the sorrow, the misery, the lies, the ugliness and the sin?
What of the agony still felt, still experienced?
What of the broken hearts and the unfair losses?
What of the tragedies?
What of the premature deaths?
What of all violence?
What of the wars?
What of the sickness?
What of the cancer?

“It’s not so much about this life you know”
“It’s about that which we cannot see or may not yet know”
“It’s not about your pain right now”
“It’s hard”
“It’s difficult”
“It hurts”
“It is terribly unfair, unfair to our human sense of such. . .”
“Yet you’ve got to know, you’ve got to hold on, you’ve got to hold on to the one fact that all of this, all this misery, all this hurt goes beyond us, well beyond us. . .it goes beyond the here and now”
“You can’t see, not yet any way”
“You’re simply not able to see yet”
“. . .but you will”
“You’ve got to know that this, all of this, all of this hurt, this pain, is but a mere breath to a dimension that we can’t yet phantom”
“Hold on, just hold on. . . and now. . .you’ve got to do one last thing. . .you’ve got to let go, you’ve got to let her go, let her go to do what she needs to do. . .with Him. . .”

“but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
2 Timothy 1:10