Operation

“To convert somebody,
go and take them by the hand and guide them.”

St. Thomas Aquinas


(one of my favorite games as a kid in the early 1960’s was Operation by Milton Bradely)

Yesterday my post centered on ailing…
ailing as in being sick and in turn needing a doctor…
I found today’s quote, offered below by Fr Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure,
most timely.

The ailment I was speaking of is actually the condition afflicting most of us as spiritual beings.
And as I noted, we are in desperate need of a doctor…with that doctor
being the Great Physician.

And we must know that this Great Physician has offered each of us the cure…

A cure found in the form of Salvation through the blood of His son Jesus Christ.
And yet oddly, or sadly depending on who you ask, many who are sick care not nor want or
even understand that they are in need of the Physician let alone a cure…

And even if we were aware, many have simply chosen to rewrite the prescription in order for
it to be more applicable to the desires of living life our own kind of way.

When a person who is sick is offered a prescription of medicine, and if taken correctly,
the medicine will offer a cure…why then would that sick person play fast and loose
with the dosage or even opt not to take the medicine at all…???
as it appears that they are assuming that they know more than the doctor knows.

When I was a kid, I loved the game Operation.

I loved it because I could play it with a friend or even better, I could play it alone…
while practicing my “skills”—that way I could mess up as much as it took to finally
get good enough to remove the parts without any repercussion.

I could play it for hours as I’d work on removing those things
the patient would need removing…
The winning of the game went to the person who could remove all the necessary parts, using the
special tweezers, without touching the metal sides of the opening, causing a buzzing sound.

I’d hear that buzz and think “uh oh, I’ve just let my patient perish on my operating table.”

After all my practicing, I imagined my skills to be so good that when I grew up,
I could indeed be a surgeon.

Little did my young mind comprehend that being a doctor and a surgeon would require
a great deal more than using a pair of electrified tweezers to remove a tiny plastic
piece of bread or the equally tiny little-broken heart…
the one piece that really would test my skills.

And so when I read the quote offered today by the good father, I found it rather timely
with my thoughts from yesterday.

The good father reminds us that when we are diagnosed with something rather serious
and are offered a procedure that promises to make us better… or say that it’s not even a promise
but a hope that it might make us better…we put life and limb
on the line by trusting the doctor and allowing him or her to cut us open.

And yet we are not willing to allow the Great Physician to bring us healing.

And the thing is… His healing is a guarantee.

We trust ourselves to a doctor because we suppose he knows his business.
He orders an operation which involves cutting away part of our body and we accept it.
We are grateful to him and pay him a large fee because we judge he would not act as he
does unless the remedy were necessary, and we must rely on his skill.
Yet we are unwilling to treat God in the same way!
It looks as if we do not trust His wisdom and are afraid He cannot do His job properly.
We allow ourselves to be operated on by a man who may easily make a mistake—-
a mistake which may cost us our life—-
and protest when God sets to work on us.
If we could see all He sees we would unhesitatingly wish all He wishes.”

Fr. Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure,
An Excerpt From
Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence
p. 90

the other side

“Nothing which implies contradiction falls under the omnipotence of God.”
Thomas Aquinas,
Summa Theologica,
5 Vols

O Lord, I cry to you for help; in the morning my prayer comes before you.
Psalm 88:14


(a lone lily finds its way though to the “other side” of a worn fence /
Mackinac Island, MI / Julie Cook / 2017)

Turn to me and have pity on me, for I am left alone and in misery.
The sorrows of my heart have increased; bring me out of my troubles.
Look upon my adversity and misery and forgive me all my sin.

Psalm 25:88:1416-17

Anyone ever having had some sort of procedure or surgery has undoubtedly
heard that old wives tale, based either on conjecture or fact,
that the third day is always the hardest, the worst
or the day that frustratingly sees one falling backwards in the process
mending and healing….

This as we yearn to simply get to the other side—

To the other side of feeling better…
to the other side of upward
to the other side of recovered energy…
to that other side of both a positive sense and assured knowledge
that it’s all going to be okay.

I feel the same holds true for the healing of the heart.

Those sweeping emotions resulting from traumatic loss, which wash over
our best efforts of moving forward, which always seem harder and worse
on the third day.

The brave busy front begins to crack as the dam to the heart
no longer is able to hold back the deluge of sorrow.

All usually at about day 3

It is this cycle of our lives that is sometimes joyous
and sometimes sorrowful…
It is merely a byproduct to this thing we call life.

Yet no matter the cycle…God knows…
He knows the joy and the sorrow.
The pain and the suffering.
The triumph and the frustration.

Ever present,
ever near…
Be it in our joy of gladness or most
especially in our loneliness of sorrow…
He is near.

For it is in the darkness of our heaviness that
He draws even ever closer…
offering the single thread of hope…

For despite our feelings or those doubtful voices which scream to us
of the ‘otherwise’…
voices telling us that He is actually the furtherest away while we are
reeling in misery.

Or even worse…

that He is simply non-existent…

We know to the contrary…
that He is not only near—
He is actually exceedingly close…

His breath becoming our own.

A palpable sense of so much more and of that which is so much greater…

Coming from Himself to be by our side…
…as one

In that moment with each of us, carrying us from
sorrow and pain, to the other side of Healing and Grace…

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance:
that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
that he was buried,
that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.

1 Corinthians 15:3-5

aunt maaathaaa

“The way you help heal the world is you
start with your own family.”

Mother Teresa


(look at that young Atlanta girl)

Spelled M – a – r – t – h – a
but it’s pronounced Maaaathaaa..
And yes, it’s a southern thing.

So I don’t think she’d mind my mentioning this….
but I think we might need to ramp up the prayers….again
As in calling on all you prayer warriors out there….

You may remember, my aunt.
My mother’s only, younger, sister and my only remaining link on that side of my family.
We have been family, partners in crime and grand adventurers since I could walk.
You may also remember that three years ago, out of the blue, Martha was diagnosed
with kidney cancer.

No problem said the doctors…just pop out that kidney and you’ll be good to go.

And so it was…the one kidney remaining was to step up to the plate,
becoming super kidney.
She barely missed a beat as major kidney surgery is now about as quick and easy
as a tooth extraction.
We were off to Ireland in less than a year.
Life was good.

That was until late last summer when a routine check revealed new spots on the
remaining super kidney, the pancreas and the liver.

No problem said the doctors…
you’ll take a pill everyday for the rest of your life and it’ll
keep the spots at bay.

So it was the first of January when she started the pill regime.

But the side effects seem to be more then what she was lead to understand.

Her energy level is now that of a weak newborn kitten.
Her appetite has been absolutely zero which is probably ok because her mouth
and tongue have become so utterly sensitive that she can’t tolerate anything going
in the mouth…so she’s now down 35 pounds—35 pounds she didn’t have to lose…

And now the last PET scan showed new spots—the type of spots she wasn’t suppose to get
because she’s taking the pills….

But not a problem says the doctors…
We’ll change up the pills….

But the mouth is still gravely unhappy, there is absolutely no desire to eat,
her hair is now white as snow, her energy level is non existent and
she is at a low low…

So I think its time we call on the prayer warriors…

And this is the confidence which we have in him,
that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask,
we know that we have obtained the requests made of him.

1 John 5:14-15

hanging in there…

Flee from the crowd and dwell with truthfulness;
Suffice thee with thy goods, tho’ they be small:
To hoard brings hate, to climb brings giddiness;
The crowd has envy, and success blinds all;
Desire no more than to thy lot may fall;
Work well thyself to counsel others clear,
And Truth shall make thee free,
there is no fear!

Geoffrey Chaucer / Ballade of the Good Counsel

ppp-chaucer
(Good ol Geoffrey Chaucer holding a set of prayer beads like the ones I had with me today)

After an exceedingly long day…
My son and I finally got Dad home at almost 9PM.
Surgery was a bit over 2 hours and went well.
Recovery, however, was a different matter.

The tumor was / is large, so the surgeon took what he could,
leaving the rest…as it has become a part of the bladder.
It is fast growing and deep but he hopes that by trimming it,
he has curtailed the bleeding.

Dad woke straight away, ready to immediately depart for home…
that not being his eternal home, but rather his home with his chair and TV…

The problem however was his oxygen levels…they simply would not regulate.
He was admitted to extended recovery where we waited…and waited,
much to Dad’s displeasure.
I believe if I had suggested that we unplug him from all life sustaining devices
and hightail it out of there, he and that walker of his would have beaten me
to the elevators…

He came home with a cath…which the nurses gave me a crash course on
plugging, unplugging and replugging,
all with way too much dad TMI…
But hopefully that will be removed Tuesday at the post op appointment.
Pathology should be back by Tuesday as well…but I think the doctor is
pretty certain as to which direction that may sadly be headed…

However, taking the lead from a fellow southern belle, that often defiant Scarlett O’Hara…
“I’ll think about that tomorrow…”

Your prayers and well wishes sustained us throughout the day,
as some in the medical field doubted Dad coming through today’s ordeal in one piece…
Yet Dad is like that energizer bunny…mixed with a little of that old Timex watch ad…
all rolled in to one…
He takes a lickin, but keeps on tickin…
on and on and on….
thank the Lord!

It is now very late, or rather very early…so on that weary note…..
Good night,
good night!
Parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night
till it be morrow

Sailors delight eh….

“He replied,
“When evening comes, you say,
‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning,
‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’
You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky,
but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.”

Matthew 16:2-3

DSCN4194
(a view from the driveway on a sultry August Georgia evening / Julie Cook / 2016)

Red sky at night,
sailors delight….

Getting out of the car, at sunset, after a very, very long day
ferrying dad between this doctor and that doctor,
this lab facility and that medical center….
then spending almost 3 hours in traffic fighting to get home….
I look back, over my shoulder, toward the western sky.

The air is thick and heavy with the humidity of August.
Exactly how I’m feeling…weighted down and heavy ladened.

I sigh…

The evening is quiet.
A far cry from where I had just come.

Our son and daughter-n-law will be moving soon..
moving to the city I never seem to miss when I leave it.
But I can’t think about helping with packing and moving…
not yet…

I often think it not wise to write when life is so heavy
or…maybe that’s exactly when one should…write…
pouring out thoughts and feelings…
searching to match the right words with the right feelings…
sorting and making sense of the senseless…

A body that is tired and hurting
joining thoughts with feelings that now are swirling…
I look toward the red western sky…
as if seeking some sort of reassurance…

Surgery on Friday for dad…
the tumor too large to remove…
but trying to shore things up while buying some time…
Time…
another heavy thought…open-ended
full of uncertainty…

A red sky.

Signals a sailor’s delight…

In other words,
smooth sailing…

Hummm….

Again, a sigh…before heading inside…

Signs of the time…

As I am reminded, while looking at the sky…
in the midst of all the madness and heaviness,
That the Master of the sky…
and of the clouds,
and of the stars,
and of the land
and of the sea…
remains….

forever…

DSCN4193

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope
Jeremiah 29:11

Red sky at night, sailors delight.
When we see a red sky at night, this means that the setting sun is sending its light through a high concentration of dust particles. This usually indicates high pressure and stable air coming in from the west. Basically good weather will follow.

Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning.
A red sunrise can mean that a high pressure system (good weather) has already passed, thus indicating that a storm system (low pressure) may be moving to the east. A morning sky that is a deep, fiery red can indicate that there is high water content in the atmosphere. So, rain could be on its way.

(courtesy the Library of Congress, Fun Science Facts)

hectic days

I am disturbed when I see the majority of so-called Christians having such little understanding
of the real nature of the faith they profess.
Faith is a subject of such importance that we should not ignore it
because of the distractions or the hectic pace of our lives.

William Wilberforce

RSCN4105
(a snowberry clearwing moth visits the butterfly bush / Julie Cook / 2016)

Ok…
So it’s Friday and it’s back to Atlanta taking Dad to yet another doctor.
They want to do surgery next week but the question is whether or not Dad is strong enough…
So it’s off to see if he is anemic and / or dehydrated…
as well as to consider all viable options…

But until life slows down, allowing me to focus a bit more on the meat and potatoes of this little blog, I wanted to share a few photos of a most unusual visitor to the yard.

The images are of the Snowberry Clearwing Moth—also known as the hummingbird moth or the flying lobster.
I like it, the flying lobster…
sounds like some sort of crazy daredevil or fighter plane…

At first glance, I thought I was seeing some sort of unusual bee…
as it’s coloring was that of a bumble bee.
Yet with it’s long body and that even longer proboscis, I knew this bee wannabe was most certainly something other than bee or wasp.

RSCN4103
(a snowberry clearwing moth visits the butterfly bush / Julie Cook / 2016)

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13-14

what’s Preparation H got to do with it?

“There comes a time when you look into the mirror and you realize that what you see is all that you will ever be. And then you accept it. Or you kill yourself. Or you stop looking in mirrors.”
― Tennessee Williams

DSCN6449
(an expensive collection of spectacles from over the years)

Two things you may or may not know about me. . .
First, I got my first pair of glasses when I was a junior in college and secondly, I’ve got terrible sinuses.

And if you’ll just hold your horses, I’ll tie in the Preparation H in due time—trust me.
And no, we’re not going to delve into the whole hemorrhoid issue because I was raised that a proper lady does not discuss such in public. And for the record, this is not a tale about that.

My eyesight started out as a tad near sighted coupled by a astigmatism. Meaning my poor eyes did double duty just trying to focus– period. Which in turn meant, at the time, I was not a candidate for contacts—and that was certainly fine by me as I wasn’t too keen on the thought of constantly poking and dabbing in my eyeballs 24/7–or God forbid, I’d lose a contact in my eyeball as it would slip to the back of my eye and eventually into my brain. Ok, I admit I wasn’t up on the physiology of eyes.

It wasn’t until about 5 years ago when I started wearing my glasses religiously. As in now it’s troubling seeing both near and far.

You should also know that as I type this post, I am actually wearing two pairs of glasses. One on top of the other. As in I had to get new glasses last week and they had to mail in my frames to be fitted with the new lens—leaving me up the proverbial seeing creek.
I have had to get by wearing a very old pair which may be doing more harm than good. These old glasses are so weak that in order to see up close and read, I’ve had to put some dollar store readers over the old prescription pair—talk about a new fashion trend. . . as well as a headache–literally!

These substitute glasses are so bad that as I was recently reading an article about the latest, frighting and devastating stories about the Ebola virus spread in Africa it was my understanding that the article stated that the school of thought and latest theory about the spread of this deadly virus is a result of fruit bars.

Fruit bars??
“Oh dear God,”
I practically scream as I immediately think I must rid the kitchen cabinets of any and all fruit bars, when it dawns on me that fruit bars seem to be an odd item for the inception of something as sinister and deadly as Ebola.
I double up the glasses, rereading the sentence—ahhh, fruit bats!!!

Which now brings me around to my sinuses.
I never seemed bothered by sinus issues until I moved to this current town of mine almost 35 years ago. Of which was also the time I started teaching high school art. And you should know that our town is also home to a very large company which I will refrain from mentioning by name but just know that they do things with wire—-lots and lots of wire–all over the world, as in this is a big time global company. They have some smelting plants, retaining lakes, giant smoke stacks, and buildings for this and that important business scattered all over town.
I’m talking big time.

Urban legend has it that the fish living in the ponds near the plants have more than the required God given two eyes on their heads. There are also the stories of the mysterious green glow emitted in the wee hours of the middle of the night from the smokestacks of the plants. And then there are the dead pines and vegetation on the back side of the plant.

Correlation? hummmmm

For the record, I have had two sinus surgeries over the years. The first one on the right side worked like a charm—I could actually breathe and no longer battled an onslaught of infections. I awoke from surgery immediately aware of how freely I could finally, actually, joyfully breathe—it was short of miraculous!
The second surgery, which followed the first surgery by a couple of years, not so much.

There I was laying in recovery, just waking up, when the doctor, who, mind you was wearing pearls with her scrubs during surgery–of which made me feel terribly underdressed, triumphantly announced that all was now clear.
I however had to immediately counter her proclamation.
I knew without a doubt that nothing about my breathing through my nose was clear.
I was still just as “clogged” as I was prior to surgery.

A terrible waste of my money, my time plus my having to undergo a near death procedure as they made me sign all those papers about brain damage, going blind and of course– death. Not to mention a terrible waste of her having to have donned her pearls.

She never did understand that I couldn’t breathe and I never did understand the significance of donning pearls for a surgery.
Perhaps I missed the dress code–something about no make up, no jewelry, no nail polish–but nothing about pearls per se.

I have graciously volunteered for a sinusectomy, which sadly does not exist.
I’ve often wondered why we have sinuses in our heads in the first place. Air pockets inside our skulls which seem to act as ballast, keeping our heads above the proverbial deep waters of life as it were.
Wasted space if you ask me.
Pack um with cement and I’m good to go.

Which brings me back around to glasses, sinuses and Preparation H.

So between my feeling constantly clogged up, suffering from congestion, heavy watery eyes—not to mention the swollen bags under my eyes and pressure in my head, on top of the now strained vision sans my regular glasses as in I’m having to wear two pairs of glasses, I suddenly recalled a little beauty secret that surely could help elevate my latest sinus issues and swollen eyes, not to mention maybe bringing a little clarity to my vision—
enter Preparation H. . .

DSCN6451

There’s a little beauty secret in the world of runway models and photo shoots–Preparation H!
That thick white ointment used for years for the treatment of, how shall I put this delicately., hemorrhoids, or as George Washington would have known about such from his excessive time spent in the saddle.
As in hydrocortisone, as in anti-swelling.

Since the ointment is known for its “shrinking” abilities–once upon a time, some uber chic model out there, had the brilliant epiphany that she could use a little shrinking ointment to eliviate the puffiness under her eyes. Just before hitting the hay, for her much needed beauty rest, this uber model figured she could rub a little Preparation H underneath each eye in order to eliminate all traces of puffiness.

Voila, the secret to smooth, non puffy, eyes.

So last night, feeling way too congested, with lovely swollen puffy eyes and blurred vision too boot, I reasoned that if dabbing a little ointment under my eyes could relieve puffiness then obviously smearing it all over my face would surely help with congested sinuses and blurred vision.
Perfect sense.

After my evening shower, I proceeded to slather the Preparation H under my eyes, over my eyes, on my cheeks, on my forehead, over my nose–opting to leave it layered thick and heavy verses rubbing it in—heavier the better is my motto.
I now appeared a bit aboriginal dressed in complete war paint.

I top off my new beauty ritual with a nice thick layer of Vicks vapor rub smeared underneath my nose.
Nothing like the scent of camphor, menthol and eucalyptus trying to waft its way up through sealed nostrils.

Happily finished with my application of medicinal / beauty treatment, I head to bed.
Just as I crawl quietly under the covers, as not to disturb my sleeping husband— suddenly, with a jolt, my husband pops up, wide awake from a deep sleep as if he’s seen some sort of spirit or apparition.

“What in the world is that awful smell and what in the hell is that all over your face?!”

Maybe I need to work on a plan B.