Last night I shed blood.  Yep.  I was strapped up, bandaged and felt faint from the loss.  As others around me cracked jokes of what 'pretty colored blood' looked like and if I'd get a treat when I had recovered, I simply stared up at the rectangle ceiling tiles, and flickering lights above me.......

I  Now squeeze.  1.....2......3.....4.......5.   Now squeeze. And on it went, counting to five, tightening my hand, my I felt myself losing my life's blood.

Ok, I'll stop the dramatics.  I donated a pint of blood to Heartland Blood Center last night.  Other than the satisfying 'did my good deed' feeling, they were handing out gift certificates for Oberweis Ice cream.  I'm a fool for ice cream.  I even shed my blood for it.

It's not the first time I've donated blood, but it has been a while.  Last time I went, I was denied, as they test your iron levels prior to donating, and my levels were too low.  I was still recovering from the Swine Flu.  Well, I walked away disappointed, but not because I wouldn't get their freebie gift, more so that, I had intended to be somewhat 'sacrificial'.  I had intended to do my good deed, and was denied.

That got me to thinking.  Sometimes, we want to give of ourselves, sacrifice something important to us, and it isn't received just as we think it should be.  Sometimes, our generosity gets flat out denied.  And I want to scream....."DON'T YOU KNOW, I GAVE UP PUTTING MY KIDS TO BED FOR THIS?  AND WATCHING AMERICAN IDOL FOR THIS?  AND CUDDLES ON THE COUCH WITH HUBBIE FOR THIS?  FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE, JUST TAKE WHAT I'M GIVING AND BE GLAD FOR IT!"

Last night was different.  Yes, I wanted the ice cream.  But since having been denied before, I left with a much different perspective.  I left feeling grateful for the opportunity to give something....anything that might help another.  I left thankful.  I was able to give.  On my way to Oberweis to claim my prize, I said a quick prayer, to bless those who will benefit from my simple gift.  Their struggle, their pain, their suffering is nothing like mine.  To need blood, to depend on another's generosity, to accept someone's gift for survival be in a position to need blood, whatever that condition is - is much harder than giving up one evening with my family.

And then, God gently reminds me.....of His ultimate shedding of blood for the sake of others, others who will not only reject Him, but scorn Him, hate Him, ridicule Him and abandon Him.  Knowing all of this, He still wasn't deterred to show us what real Love looked like - what real charity is.

Giving of oneself isn't always as easy as donating a pint of blood.  Sometimes, what's needed is a quart or a gallon or your whole self to save another.  You may be rejected.  You may be accepted.  Either way, God knows your heart and knows your gift of self.   Even a small gift will never go unnoticed by the One who will bless you for it.

Now all together....1....2.....3....4......5.  Now squeeze.

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