Monday, August 25, 2008

Remember, Be Careful!

How often do mothers and fathers cry out with these words to their children and wives to their husbands? “Remember, Be Careful!”

Yet even while being careful, things like this still happen.

This is the second day, when it looks much better. I’ve started soaking it in vinegar today, to help reduce the swelling. It looked rather bad when I pulled my hand from my work glove.

It was the end of a long hard week, with many challenges and long laborious hours. But Saturday night was the end of a good week. Overall it had been quite productive and all the challenges had been met successfully and without dangerous incident. Saturday had been a long day. One tree had been felled, other trees and their canopies raised and their deadwood and internal growth cleaned. The limbs have been cut up and chipped. The logs and stump had been cut and all but the last load of the largest logs had been loaded and hauled. It was after eight o’clock and darkness was encroaching and as I was swinging one of the logs into the pickup, I did not swing quite highly enough, and the log slammed my finger against the edge of the tailgate. The finger and log rolled over the edge of the tailgate into the truck. I rolled the log off my finger and cried out, “Ow! Shoot! Oh that hurts! Ahhh!” (Yes, those are the actual words.)

Then I looked at my glove to see whether I’d torn it. I had not, but I observed the flow of red oozing into the fabric over my knuckle. Extreme pain and red are signs that things are not well. The man who had taken some of the logs and was helping me load the ones he did not want asked me if I had broken my finger. Thankfully, no. I removed the glove and found that I peeled back the skin from over my knuckle. It was bleeding but not badly. So I asked the customer for a bandage, and a few minutes later, having found one in the house, he applied it to my finger. By then I was feeling dizzy, nauseous, and even faint. I knelt down on the ground, and then lay in the grass for a couple of minutes. Then I finished loading the truck, drove home, unloaded the truck, and went in to tell Stephanie, who helped me clean it and apply peroxide and a new bandage.

Now this is what I must present to the world as I try to keep my finger straight so as not to reopen the wound. I hope that others understand.

Such occasions as this are truly observances of the goodness of the Lord. Certainly the injury could have been much worse, which He prevented. But even beyond that, it is an occasion to observe the marvelous design that He created in the functioning of our bodies. That such an injury can occur, and yet the skin can pull together and mend again, that the bruised bone also will heal, the trauma to the flesh will be repaired, and all without any work on my part. Such is the goodness of the Lord. Such is His good and gracious will. Such is His providence.

Therefore, though I am frustrated with myself for becoming too tired to work carefully and for my misjudgment that caused me this injury, nevertheless I find myself thankful to God for His great mercy and continual protection and never ending display of His love.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Stupid Driver?

Yesterday, as I was driving, a driver pulled out in front of me, entering the roadway from a highschool driveway. There was ample distance for safety, but the car accelerated very slowly causing me to reduce my speed considerably. The driver never accelerated to the posted speed limit but remained ten miles per hour below the speed limit. After the next intersection the same thing occurred, very slowly accelerating to forty-five miles per hour in a fifty-five mile per hour zone.

Frustration arose within me very quickly. I began to think, ”Come on! What are you doing? What’s wrong with you? Can’t you find the accelerator pedal? Can’t you push it down?”

Then my heart was turned so that I began thinking of the other person. Suddenly I began to think that there could be a reason for the person driving like this. My frustration evaporated.

I began to think, “Hmm. I wonder. Could this be a young teenage driver just learning to drive? Could this person be exercising caution? The car did exit from a highschool.”

At the next intersection the car turned left and I could see in the driver’s side mirror a very young and tender face, the face of a very young girl. Her face was brimming with a smile that melted my heart and I knew that indeed this was a young driver whom Dad or Mom was letting drive the car to get the experience needed to become a safe driver.

I was happy for this young driver and I was happy to realize that she was being careful. I was glad that the Holy Spirit took hold of my selfish heart and turned it away from my anxious and frustrated thoughts toward what could be the needs of the other person. I marveled that God’s power could work so quickly in me to change my thoughts.

Stupid driver? More and more as I drive, with the many crazy things that people do on the roads, I find myself thinking “Stupid Driver!” But then the Holy Spirit takes hold of my heart and mind and I realize that I am the stupid driver when I let these things rule over my heart and mind and to steal God’s peace from me.

When the Holy Spirit works this miracle and brings me again to His repentance, all that remains for me to do is to give thanks and to rejoice in God’s goodness. Then peace again rules my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. Truly the Lord is good and His mercy endures forever. Amen.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Toxic Chemicals Found in Common Household Products

This article is from a Health Alert e-mail that I received today. To the health savvy person this should not come as a big surprise. However, the fact that it is being publicized is news. Moreover, it is worthy of note.

Toxic Chemicals Found in Common Household Products

A University of Washington study of top-selling laundry products and air fresheners found the products emitted dozens of different chemicals. All six products tested gave off at least one chemical regulated as toxic or hazardous under federal laws, but none of those chemicals was listed on the product labels.

"I first got interested in this topic because people were telling me that the air fresheners in public restrooms and the scent from laundry products vented outdoors were making them sick," said Anne Steinemann, a UW professor of civil and environmental engineering and of public affairs. "And I wanted to know, 'What's in these products that is causing these effects?'"

She analyzed the products to discover the chemicals' identity.

"I was surprised by both the number and the potential toxicity of the chemicals that were found," Steinemann said. Chemicals included acetone, the active ingredient in paint thinner and nail-polish remover; limonene, a molecule with a citrus scent; and acetaldehyde, chloromethane and 1, 4-dioxane.

"Nearly 100 volatile organic compounds were emitted from these six products, and none were listed on any product label. Plus, five of the six products emitted one or more carcinogenic 'hazardous air pollutants,' which are considered by the Environmental Protection Agency to have no safe exposure level," Steinemann said.

Steinemann chose not to disclose the brand names of the six products she tested. In a larger study of 25 cleaners, personal care products, air fresheners and laundry products, now submitted for publication, she found that many other brands contained similar chemicals.

Because manufacturers of consumer products are not required to disclose the ingredients, Steinemann analyzed the products to discover their contents. She studied three common air fresheners (a solid deodorizer disk, a liquid spray and a plug-in oil) and three laundry products (a dryer sheet, fabric softener and a detergent), selecting a top seller in each category. She bought household items at a grocery store and asked companies for samples of industrial products.

In the laboratory, each product was placed in an isolated space at room temperature and the surrounding air was analyzed for volatile organic compounds, small molecules that evaporate from the product's surface into the air.

Results showed 58 different volatile organic compounds above a concentration of 300 micrograms per cubic meter, many of which were present in more than one of the six products. For instance, a plug-in air freshener contained more than 20 different volatile organic compounds. Of these, seven are regulated as toxic or hazardous under federal laws. The product label lists no ingredients, and information on the Material Safety Data Sheet, required for workplace handling of chemicals, lists the contents as "mixture of perfume oils."

Manufacturers are not required to list the ingredients used in laundry products and air fresheners. Personal-care products and cleaners often contain similar fragrance chemicals, Steinemann said. And although cosmetics are required by the Food and Drug Administration to list ingredients, no law requires products of any kind to list chemicals used in fragrances.

"Be careful if you buy products with fragrance, because you really don't know what's in them," she added. "I'd like to see better labeling. In the meantime, I'd recommend that instead of air fresheners people use ventilation, and with laundry products, choose fragrance-free versions."

This article seems to indicate that there is a more recent study being submitted for publication, although it is not clearly stated. The 2004 study is available at Human exposure, health hazards, and
environmental regulations
as a PDF file. It is worth the time to examine.

Steinemann’s comment should be taken seriously, but with a slight modification. Those who are concerned about what things affect their physical and mental health should truly be careful about everything that they buy. Our government is allowing many harmful ingredients to be used in the everyday products that most people trust and use. Especially such things as fragrances should not only be treated with caution on account of not knowing what may be in them, but especially because honest labels will not hide behind such labels as “fragrance” but will actually include the full listing of ingredients. If a product’s label does not give full disclosure, the assumption should be made that something is being hidden, for indeed it is. And if it is being hidden, why is it being hidden? A person can be certain that non-disclosure of ingredients is for nefarious reasons.

By the way, many natural products are available that accomplish the same results as the toxic substances, and often even more effectively. However, natural products do sometimes cost more and may have a shorter shelf life. But isn’t good health worth a bit of investment in both effort and money?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Ooohhh! Poor Thing!

This morning I was awakened by a sound that cut through my drowsiness and caused me to jump from bed to peer out the window leerily.

It was a squeaking, the kind of terrified squeaking that a small creature makes in the face of pain and death.

Outside the window was that old gray cat with a baby by the neck. I could not tell for certain whether it was mouse or a bunny. It held the little thing and kept biting the neck till it stopped moving and squeaking. Then it dropped it and bounded a few feet back, pausing for a few moments and then bounded into the flower bed from whence a brand new squeaking immediately ensued.

I felt sick. I hate death. I hate suffering.

I went out a bit later to confirm what I had observed. Indeed it was a baby bunny.

I felt especially badly, knowing that cats often kill just for the “fun-of-it,” leaving the “toy” after it stops functioning. Even though the silly bunnies eat our garden vegetables and cause other little problems, I still felt badly, especially thinking that it had been wasted rather than consumed by the mean old cat.

A while later I checked through the window and could not find the little carcass. I went out and checked and found that indeed the little snack bunny had not been wasted after all, but had been carried off with its sibling to be food for little baby kitties (presumably anyway).

While I was somewhat relieved to know that the food value of the bunny was not wasted after all, I nevertheless was reminded of the painful reality of the curse upon the creation and upon the ground for Mankind’s sake.

And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.
(Genesis 3:17-20)

Yes! A painful reminder of how the choices of Mankind have brought such terrible things into the world. Because Adam listened to his wife rather than to the Lord, sin was introduced to the world, and with sin, the separation from Life, Life which exists only in communion with God. Sin, death, and the power of the devil now would rule over mankind.

But this would not do. The Lord already had established the plan of salvation. He was ready for this tragedy.

“Cursed is the ground for thy sake!”

Mankind chose the way of accursedness. But the Lord overruled Man’s choice and cursed the ground for Man’s sake. The ground or the earth became cursed so that Man would be set free. The earth became cursed so that Man would be called to repentance and faith and receive the redemption that was promised through the Seed of Woman. Now mankind would live in hope again, as Adam immediately declared, giving a new name to his wife. Now her name was Eve, or Life. This is what the Gospel does for those who openly hear what is declared by the curse that is placed upon the earth for Man’s sake. The Gospel turns the heart away from the way of accursedness and away from the way of death, so that Life is restored through the renewal of God’s holy communion in Christ with the one in whom repentance and faith has been worked.

So little bunny, so old gray cat, thank you for the reminder. While the seasons of Lent and Easter have already come and gone in the Church Year, nevertheless, the cursed earth continually cries out so that we may hear the blessed Gospel and rejoice in God’s goodness.

Thank you little bunny. Thank you hungry kitty.

Thank you God!

Sunday, August 03, 2008