Tag Archives: faith

Flashback: The Bloodmobile

I’m taking a little break today. Ed has been home from work for two days with a bad cold. I’m spending my time taking care of him and enjoying that last wisps of my oldest daughter’s summer vacation. I’m reposting this hysterical post that Ed wrote about his experience giving blood. (The correlation between him being sick today and the Red Cross made sense in my brain. 😉 )

Enjoy! We’ll be back on Friday!

The Bloodmobile - Eddie Nicholson - Beauty Observed

Click the media player below to hear Ed read his story.


I haven’t always had the best of success with medical procedures. There was the time I went in for a root canal. Memorable. After the dentist had ruined his special drill bit – he seemed really proud of that particular bit – he told me that my tooth was unusually hard and I was going to need to go to an endodontist to finish the job.

“What happens if I don’t go to a end-ditto-donatist?” I asked.

“We’ll,” he said, looking wistfully at his mangled bit, “then you’ll have a sort of ticking time bomb in that tooth that could explode into horrible pain at any moment.”

I was already in horrible pain, so I figured I’d leave that sleeping dog lie. That was ten years ago. Maybe my luck isn’t so bad after all.

Except the time I gave blood at the Bloodmobile.

I used to attend a weekly prayer breakfast hosted by a local chapter of the Christian Businessmen’s Committee. Already, the story seems odd to my memory since I am neither a businessman nor the type of guy that gets up for an early breakfast. The only prayer I usually offer up before noon is, “Even so Jesus, come quickly.” The rapture would make it less likely that I’d need to get up and start any given day. Nevertheless, there I was at The Mill Restaurant with a bunch of chipper morning people to eat pancakes and talk about God. I felt grown up and Christian-y, albeit groggy.

The Bloodmobile Beauty Observed

After breakfast and prayers for this and that, I left the meeting and walked out into the beautiful sunshine of an Ohio fall day. And there it was. The Bloodmobile. Was it a premonition or just a random synapse firing that made me think of the old commercials for the Roach Motel? “Blood donors go in, but they don’t come out.” Haha. Funny.

I knew exactly what a Christian-y grown up does on a day like this when presented with an opportunity to serve humanity. He raps on the door and says, “Hey! Let me in! I want to save a life by donating some blood! Oh, lucky day!” It seemed like such a good idea.

The driver, a large, considerably less excited man than I, opened the door and waved me in. Inside, besides him and me, there were a couple of nurses and a few patients at various stages of the bloodletting process. They all seemed to be doing fine. I was ushered down the narrow aisle to a cramped station at the back of the bus where they test a tiny bit of your blood for iron before they hook you up to the five gallon bag they use to collect your fluids. They pricked my finger and put a drop of blood into a solution. I don’t remember if the droplet sank or floated, but whatever it did, it showed the nurse that my blood was good to go. Yep. We got a live one here, girls. Hook him up!

The Desperate Plea - Beauty Observed

Next thing I knew, I was reclining comfortably in one of the gurneys that were mounted to the inside walls of the bus. I was feeling fine at this point, but the next several steps lead me down a dark path of horror to what I now can only call, “The Desperate Plea.”

Step One: When the nurse prepped my arm and inserted the needle, it hurt. I mean it REALLY hurt! I had given blood before, but I never experienced anything like this awful burning sensation. Something was wrong with the way that needle went in and my arm was immediately on fire. Now, when a pretty nurse asks a man if everything is ok – especially if there are three or four other people on the bus that seem to be having no trouble at all – then the man replies, “Yes. I’m fine” as he turns to wipe away a tear. I was not fine. After two or three minutes, I could bear it no more, so I flagged down the nurse and said I thought the needle might not be in properly. She inspected it by wiggling it around and told me that sometimes it hurts for a minute or two, but that the pain usually goes away. The pain was making the minutes seem like hours, but I took her word for it and said, “Oh, OK. I’ll just wait it out then.” Ow.

Step Two: For reasons I can’t explain, I got to thinking about the whole process of giving blood. I thought about the way some people get freaked out by it. I thought to myself that I am not bothered by it and that I could probably even stare right at the needle and watch the blood going out of my body through the little tube and into the bag. So… still in pain from the awkward needle, I decided to look right at my arm where the gig was going down. Big mistake. You see, I have a bit of an anxiety disorder that sometimes makes me feel panicky. I have advice for you if you have any sort of anxiety disorder. Do NOT, under any circumstances, attempt to test your bravery by staring directly at the large knitting needle sticking out of your body while in a bus with strangers! I immediately felt a wave of panic flow over me. My heart began racing and I got sweaty. And even though I was reclining, I felt like I might pass out. I quickly looked out the bus window and tried in vain to go to some happy place in my mind.

Step Three: Once the bag of blood was shiny tight with pressure (my heart really was pounding) the nurse came back and removed the needle. What sweet relief! I must have looked kind of pale though, because she asked me again if I was doing alright. “Yes. I’m fine” I lied again. I sat up on the edge of the gurney and tried to collect myself a bit and I did begin to calm down. Whew. I made it. They ushered me to the front of the bus near the driver who was reading a newspaper. There was a bench up there and they had me sit down to eat some cookies and have a bit of orange juice. I drank the juice and ate a couple of cookies, but then I started to feel faint again, and this time, I knew I was about to pass out. I did the worst thing I could have done – I stood up. I called out to the nurse and said, “I don’t feel very…”

Gravity Was Winning - Beauty Observed

The next thing I knew, I was being held up in the narrow aisle way of the bus by the nurse. She was strong, but I am fat. Gravity was winning. We were doing a sort of dance with me reeling to and fro and her calling for the bus driver to help her. Now, the driver and the nurse were wrestling with me. I was completely out of my mind because I was upright, half passed out, with a loss of blood from the donation. My mind went into some crazy dark place and I was suddenly convinced that these people were trying to kill me. I don’t mean that figuratively. I actually believed that these strange people were going to kill me, so I cried out at the top of my lungs,


I will never forget the look on the nurse’s face at that moment. It was a mix of compassion and amusement. She said, “Oh, sweetie! It’s OK” as they finally got me back down onto the gurney. The blood returned to my brain and I slowly came back into my right mind. They put a wet washcloth on my forehead and left me to recover my health and my pride. My health returned 100% and my pride came back to about 2%. How embarrassing!

I said to the nurse, “I guess it’s not very good for business if people outside the bus hear people inside screaming out to their God for help.” She laughed and assured me that she’d seen many people pass out before. She didn’t say that people had called out to Jesus before, but maybe that was implied.

All of this reminds of the story when Jesus fell asleep in the boat. You know that one, right? It’s in Matthew, Mark and Luke. Luke 8:22-25 records it like this:

One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”

Have you ever wondered why Jesus asked them, “Where is your faith”? I mean, seriously, these guys knew what a storm on that lake could do to a boat like theirs. They were certainly in more real danger than I was when I was just giving blood. Or were they? They were with Jesus. The disciples were not going to perish at that time simply because it was not time for Jesus to perish. I believe Jesus was able to be at peace and sleep because He knew that God was in charge of the time of His death. No one has more trust in God’s providence than Jesus, God’s Son.

So here we all are a couple of thousand years later, in a boat, so to speak, with Jesus. If we are walking with God and trying to do His will, we can have the same sort of trust that Christ had which allowed Him to rest. If we are with Jesus, then WE WILL NOT PERISH until it is God’s appointed time for us to do so. We can focus on the work He has for us. We can even find rest and peace enough to catch a nap during a storm.

This is easier said than done, but we can get better at it. One way to strengthen our trust in God is to meditate on that mental image of Christ asleep in the boat. Take a moment to think of it. See Him there resting as the boat rocked on the waves. We can do it, too.

God is in control.

He always has been.

He always will be.


Positive Meme Monday #11

“Here are sweet-peas, on tip-toe for a flight:/ With wings of gentle flush o'er delicate white,/ And taper fingers catching at all things, / To bind them all about with tiny rings.”  John Keats pink sweet peas“Here are sweet-peas, on tip-toe for a flight:
With wings of gentle flush o’er delicate white,
And taper fingers catching at all things,
To bind them all about with tiny rings.”
John Keats

 " . . . meanwhile concern [yourself] with the Present because there, and there alone, all duty, all grace, all knowledge, and all pleasure dwell . . . ."  --C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

” . . . meanwhile concern [yourself] with the Present because there,
and there alone, all duty, all grace, all knowledge, and all pleasure dwell . . . .”

–C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

'Tis my faith that every flower Enjoys the air it breathes! ~William Wordsworth Pink Astible

‘Tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes!
~William Wordsworth

There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling. ~Mirabel Osler pink lupine

There can be no other occupation like gardening in which,
if you were to creep up behind someone at their work,
you would find them smiling.
~Mirabel Osler

The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made.  Psalm 145:13 ants on bishop's weed

The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made.  Psalm 145:13


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My Mother, A Woman of Faith

My Mother, Woman of Faith - Beauty Observed

A guest post by my husband, Ed Nicholson.

See that sensible-looking woman in the picture above? That’s my mother, Mary. I’ve known her for about as long as I can remember. Hopefully Mother’s Day isn’t too far off for a post like this. She’s been on my mind lately, and I’d like to tell you a little about her and how she helped to shape my journey of faith.

In the early days, my family was, perhaps, only marginally religious. We attended a Methodist church and we celebrated the usual holy days like Easter and Christmas and First Day of Summer. There were a lot of Catholics in our town, so we’d see the ash marks on the foreheads of the faithful in early March, but that seemed a little fanatic to our sensible faith. We ate meat every day of the week, thank you. For my family back then, church was something that stayed pretty much at church.

Then came the big change.

My mom had grown up in Virginia, and most of her family still lived there. We lived in Ohio, but we’d visit the southern half of the family often. One year, when I was about 12 years old, Mom decided to take a trip to Virginia with me and my sister. Susie is six years younger than I, so she would have been six at the time. I thought of her then, and still do, as my baby sister. I was going to be the man of the family on this trip. The Protector. I’m not sure now why the whole family didn’t go, but my dad and two older brothers stayed home in Cleveland while Mom, Susie and I loaded up the car for the 500 mile trip and headed south.

When we first arrived, I mostly did the apathetic kid thing – lying about with my Sony Walkman cassette player, listening to Led Zeppelin – but I was aware enough to know that something was up. One of Mom’s sisters had undergone a sort of major religious conversion. I overheard Mom and her talking about some new church. Aunt Darlene used Jesus’ name at least four times in each sentence, and she speaks a mile-a-minute, so that’s a lot of Jesus, let me tell ya. Maybe she had joined an ashes-on-the-forehead church? I couldn’t know for sure, but whatever it was, my Mom wanted to know more.

Over the next few days, we went to my Aunt Dolly’s new church about 30 times. OK, maybe we only went a handful of times, but it seemed like we were there a lot. They did not put ashes on people there, but from the perspective of a young Methodist, they did some really weird things. First off, they were loud people. Nice people, but loud. The music was loud. The sermons were loud. Their prayers were even loud. I had been taught that God saw and heard everything, but these people wanted to make sure He could hear them very clearly. They talked about Jesus like they knew Him personally – as if they had just run into Him at the Piggly Wiggly before church. What in the heck was going on here? I didn’t know. But God was speaking to my mother. Loudly.

And she responded.

My mom experienced the same religious awakening that her sister had experienced. She became Spirit Filled. Now, I do not want to get into doctrinal issues here about what various Christians hold to with regard to the infilling of the Holy Spirit. That is beyond the scope of this article and beyond the purpose of Beauty Observed. It is enough to say that all Christians believe that the Third Person of the Trinity is the agent of God that draws people to Himself. He is alive and well. Baptists, Methodists, Charismatics and Catholics all believe this. This basic idea is as orthodox as the Resurrection, so there is no need to quibble.

But I digress… My mother was on fire for God, and I was terrified.

After our visit in Virginia, we were ready to head home. Mom was changed. Big time. She was a Spirit-filled, devil-stomping prayer-warrior for God. We got into our Chevy Caprice Classic and Mom promptly took off her glasses, claiming, “I am healed by Jesus’ stripes! I no longer need these.” I was in the back seat because it was the furthest spot in the car from my Mom besides the trunk. I was holding on to my role as my sister’s protector at this point. I had heard enough Bible stories in the Methodist church to remember something about God asking somebody to offer their son in sacrifice. Who knew what ideas might pop into Mom’s head?

Much of the rest of the trip is a blur of prayers said by Mom, loudly, and prayers said by me, under my breath, but I do recall a few highlights. After being horribly lost in the Blue Ridge Mountains for hours as my nearly blind Mother tried to navigate the switchback turns, a large bug slammed into the windshield. Thinking back, the thud of the impact along with the smeared guts of the thing suggested something a little bigger than just a bug. Perhaps it was a bird or a mountain lion, but my mom pointed to the red streak across the glass and declared, “It’s the Blood of the Lamb!” I turned up my Walkman just a little louder and held my sister a little tighter.

At another point, we stopped at a fast food restaurant to eat. We were sitting together at a small table with our cheeseburgers when an elderly man came up to us and handed Mom a silk flower with a small piece of paper taped to it. My mom – remember the picture of the sensible-looking woman above? – that woman in that picture stood up in the middle of Wendy’s, clapped her hands over the man’s ears and said, “Be HEALED in Jesus’ name!” She said it loudly. I looked at the piece of paper on the silk flower. It read, “Society for the Deaf. Donations Appreciated. God Bless You.” I’m not sure if God healed the man’s ears or not, but his eyes did get really big as Mom held onto his cranium. I am pretty sure though, that he didn’t hand out flowers to strangers anymore after that.

When we got home (proof of miracles) I told my dad and brothers that, “Something has happened to Mom.” I also called my aunt in Virginia and asked her how long it would take for whatever my mom had gotten to “wear off.” She laughed and assured me that it was just excessive zeal, and that Mom would be fine.

Over the months and years that followed, things did settle down a bit. Mom was fine. Whew. Her faith stayed as fervent as ever, but she mixed it more and more with knowledge and temperance and all of the other fruits of the Spirit. She never went back to the way she was before that trip, though. She was changed forever. And while I was scared at first, I eventually came around to seeing that her faith was real. Very real. She was not content to live 6 days a week without thinking about God, and then give Him a token of appreciation on Sunday. No. She was literally in love with Jesus. In one way or another, my Mom’s faith has permeated the whole family. Even my dad will casually quote Scripture to me or comment on something their pastor has said recently. All of Mom’s children are seeking to love Jesus like she does, even if they each approach it a little differently.

What my mom has taught me is that sometimes faith is awkward and stumbling. Paul the Apostle said that in this life we see through a glass dimly. My oldest brother is only recently coming back to loving Christ, and in a recent conversation about theology, he told me, “Faith is messy.” I think this is true. Watching my Mother’s journey of faith has shown the whole family that the important thing is to be open to what God wants to do in our lives. We do need balance, yes, but it’s so important that we learn the difference between when we need to sit and wait for God and when we need to stumble toward the kingdom of God, grab faith by the ears and wrestle it to the ground, claiming it as our own. Life is short, and we cannot afford the luxury of keeping God at arm’s length until we are ready. I think it was Martin Luther who said faith is an active, lively and mighty thing.

My Mother has an active and lively faith. She loves Jesus with all she has. I am positive that when she stands in Glory beside that man from Wendy’s, as they both worship God, that they will both understand and be grateful for what happened on that day when I was twelve.

I love you, Mom!

Ed Nicholson February 26, 2014

Mom Dancing with Eddie - Beauty Observed - My Mother, Woman of Faith

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