… home…

There is a lot of building activity going on these days– in our yard. Bird couples are busy, busy constructing  new homes for their little ones. I watch a winged pair check out a possible new site for their home on the patio, the front porch, or in a bush.  And then others return to the same home as last season. All are determined to build, prepare and secure the perfect spot for “home”.

This photo shows a “home” for a dove couple; it is the same dwelling they created last year on our daughter’s patio.(Sheryl in the Nashville, Tennessee area.) They birthed five… that’s 5 sets of baby doves in one spring/summer. Now, they’re back for another fruitful time!

Wonder what’s so special about this place between the ceiling and the fan blades on this patio? Whatever it is, this couple has found “home”.

The basic need of any living creature is shelter; we call it “home”. Our homeland birds are building shelters, providing safety and security… a place of commitment and love in their winged way.

The basic need of a marriage is shelter; we call it “home”, providing similar features of a well designed bird nest. I would add acceptance and intimacy are needed in our human homes, though I suspect it must get quite intimate in this cozy nest , erected this week in a cardboard box of trash bags. This is my favorite kind of “home”… look closely and you can feel the softness, the warmth, the kindness, the care gone into the building of this “home”.

What does “home” mean? One meaning is the intangible feeling you get in a location, a sense of peace, joy from loved ones in an environment where everyone feels welcomed. “Home is not easy to define, but you know when you’re there.”

Fifty nine years ago today, this very day in 1964, Tom and I picked up tools to build our home. Would you believe we have changed building sites 25 times in 59 years! (The average life address change for Americans is 11.4; we are way above average in this statistic!) But we are still using the same building materials!

We opened a box, labeled Secrets to a Long Marriage, March 14, 1964, furnished with the necessary tools for the building of a home after the wedding.  Just imagine having at your fingertips all the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control one needs to live in a marriage relationship. (Galatians 5:22)

Everyone knows there is no possible way to build a perfect human dwelling, but kindness, along with forgiveness, are truly most important tools, even when walls can crumble.  We are often asked if we are newly married, even after these many years; this makes us laugh!  “You are so very kind to one another,” they add.

I remember the first time I read Deuteronomy 24:5: “If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year, he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.” I thought, if this is so important that  it takes a year to begin constructing a home, what should one do every day on this entire journey of marriage?

We have spent these 59 years building a marriage. Yes, the address changes and at times, it changed  often, but the need for building commitment, trust and acceptance never changes. There is always something new to build. to redo or to tear down.

Early on I just believed  Tom was perfect. No doubts. I was young and immature, right? I had come from a broken home, and entered marriage, believing we would live happily ever after. By the time I understood more of life, a truth dawned. Of course, he wasn’t perfect. Yet, by not focusing on his imperfections, those things he wasn’t, I continue to discover  all the good things he is. And if I could have changed anything, even one tiny flaw, he would not have been the same Tom. This tool of acceptance is an important one in any marriage.

Tom’s first funeral in his pastorate was for a young husband and father of two boys; he had been mowing his yard, went in to rest, and died of a heart attack. Tom has had hundreds of funerals since that day, but that first one set a tone for our beginning years: I will live and love you today, this NOW. We may not have tomorrow.Picture at Sheryl’s this week.

A few days ago, Tom noticed a brown thrasher with a twig in its mouth circling an area where this couple has built their nest for the last five years.  But, there was a problem. Tom had destroyed the home site six weeks earlier, pulled the bush up by its roots; it is no more!  He said, as he watched the confused bird fly around, “He (or she) is looking for home. I guess birds are like people… we’re all looking for home.”

And so we are.

“I long to dwell in Your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of Your wings” (Psalm 61:4). We long for two homes, an earthly home and a heavenly one.

Gratitude floods over these keys as I give praise for the “home” Tom and I continue to build, even after 59 years.  It is a fun place to live!

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… thirsty…

(I accidentally posted this draft earlier today, and now I do not know how to undo it. It is clearly unfinished; I wasn’t even going to post it.  But in my carelessness,  I have learned I can add to this post, but I cannot “de-post” it. What a massive life lesson, though— we can add to something we have mistakenly done in life, but we can never delete an action or a word!)

I noticed my potted trees in the den this morning.  How dry they were.  I realized they must be living on reserves.  These once flourishing outdoor plants are not high on my maintenance list.  Indoors for the winter months,  I tend to forget to water  them regularly.

I reached to pull off some dead branches and was struck immediately with the harshness of the plant. It seemed to actually “bite” me, and left my skin itching for an hour.

Though not as green as in  summer, the large plants looked fairly normal.  I felt the soil, touched the dry branches and knew immediately, they were starving for nourishment.  I wondered just how long they might live in this neglected state.

Why, oh why, do I ignore the deep yearnings in the difficult seasons of life and fail to focus on His plan and place for me? It is so easy to “appear” normal-whatever normal is. I want to live above the ordinary, the commonplace –even in the dark places.

“As the deer pants and longs for the water brooks, so I  pant and long for you, O God.  My inner self thirsts for God, for the living God.  When shall I come and behold the face of God? Psalm 42: 1-2 (Amplified)

My plants look strong, but they are fragile, dependent on my hand to give them water.  I am just as fragile, desperately needing daily food from my Father’s caring hand.

Thirsting. . .

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… ready or not… part 2

The number of deaths in Turkey and Syria has now surpassed 47,000. Can you even begin to feel the pain those left behind are experiencing. Many have buried entire families; the loss is staggering.

I walk quietly these days, praying. What else can I do? I want to get on a plane. Do something. One thing for sure, I do not want to forget this tragic unexpected happening.

Scenes on social media and words of passionate reporters continue to jar my safe environment. I heard one man, “I have lost everything. Everything,” he moaned. “We only have God now”.

Disaster strikes and often we are not prepared.(see blog the earthquake here)

Then good things, sweet news, come, and our hearts can smile again. Our family has known and has been expecting new babies, twins, for almost nine months now.  Early this morning, we received word they had arrived late last night in a way and time, totally unexpected.  Evidently they were ready. Little Zoe, weighing 5 lb, 5 oz came within five minutes of her announcement that she was ready!… at home with no medical help from the outside world; little Daniel, at 6 lbs, 5 oz was a few moments later with an EMT nearby. Our granddaughter, Hailey with our grandtwins … Zoe and Daniel

Daniel is having a bit of breathing trouble these hours and has been taken to another hospital with a NICU unit. Another unexpected happening.

“Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22,23).

My thoughts turn to the story of the little girl born under the rubble in Syria. After found still connected to her mother, she was separated from her maternal life support and bundled away. She is the only survivor of her immediate family.

I cannot begin to understand these tragic moments, but they come… to all of us, in some form or another… within our own small worlds. But then… ready or not… little miracles appear.

While we simply cannot fathom the pains of life, we can rejoice in the gifts that come. And they come… usually unexpected.

Yes, I cry with news of darkness and death in the rubble, but I smile with hope for new life.

(Our little twins came on my mother’s birthday. She would have been 99. I am too sad for the displaced, the sorrowing, the confused in the middle East to write coherently, and too excited to wonder at the plans for these new lives… so this blog is short. You will be glad!)

… ready or not… life comes.



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… ready… or not…

Life is not quite so happy these past hours. I can’t seem to find freedom of thought as I move in my safe world (for the now), watching those caught in the rubble. The tall buildings keep tumbling to the ground…

No one was prepared for this, the news of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria… for the devastation, for the screams. For the loss of life. Is anyone ever prepared for sudden, surprising destruction? I watch the screen in unbelief, crying as I focus on the faces.

We have learned how to prepare for the forecast of possible snow accumulation, racing to join our neighbors in the long waiting lines at the grocery stores, shoving to make sure we get enough milk and bread. We prepare as best we can for power outages, and pray we won’t be without light and heat very long.

The TV screen suddenly went black this Christmas Eve; the room was darkened somewhat. It took a moment for me to realize the power had, indeed, vanished, as candles were still burning, and soft light permeated the room. How could that be? The nearby lamp held a battery powered bulb that would continue to give light for hours, even without electricity.

We were prepared for that event.

According to BBC news, the epicenter and surrounding areas where the earthquake struck were not accustomed to these tremors: “This was a region where there had not been a major earthquake for more than 200 years or any warning signs, so the level of preparedness would be less than for a region which was more used to dealing with tremors.”

Can one prepare for circumstances that can suddenly change life forever?  Can we even begin to understand any possible course of preparedness caused by ongoing motion and movements of the tectonic plates?

I think not.

Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Im (father holding the hand of his dead daughter)

Mesut Hancer holds the hand of his 15-year-old daughter Irmak, who died in the earthquake in Kahramanmaras, close to the quake's epicentre (AFP via Getty Images)

“Be prepared” has been circling in my thoughts for two weeks now; I have no idea where it came from and if there is a preparatory warning here for me. I have not posted a blog, as I just couldn’t understand the quiet admonition.  I Googled the 1908 Boy Scout motto to discover it means: “You are always in a state of readiness in mind and body to do your duty.”

Be prepared…

I choose to believe there is one way to prepare for the future… to be ready for life. Only one. I trust that God loved me enough to have sent His Son, Jesus, into the world to die and pay the price for my wrongdoings that I might always be prepared for life… and death (John 3:16).

He loves you, too, that much. Jesus says, “I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

“He chose me… He chose you, actually picked us out for Himself as His own, in Christ before the foundation of the world…  that we would be His… ” (Ephesians 1:4).

We lost a sweet friend in death last week… she was prepared. I have a younger brother battling a terminal illness; he is prepared. A very classy elderly gentleman in Austria is preparing for his last days.

We can carry umbrellas; we can order home generators; our pantry can be stocked; we can keep a source of fuel available for our automobiles, but does that assure we will be prepared… always?

Thankfully, the entire world is racing to intercede with blankets, food and water… helping to prepare the thousands of victims for the next days and months.

Oh, I sincerely hope you are prepared…

“For what good is it for a man (or woman) to gain the whole world (to survive the floods, the fires, the tragedies) and lose his own soul (life) Mark 8:36 italics mine.


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… fighting to be… free

Would you believe I asked Google this morning… are birds happy? I was watching a male red cardinal out my window; he looked so bright and cheerful. I thought surely birds are happy.

Would you believe Google answered “yes, birds have feelings and emotions.” If you have watched these winged creations at your feeders, then you have seen them fight and make known the pecking order of their particular species… you know they show emotions.

But it is their happiness, a contentment, I wondered about. It appears they display these feelings, too, as they flit and fly, enjoying the oiled sunflower seeds always provided for them.

I wondered about birds basking in the sun and enjoying breakfast as I had spent time earlier contemplating Psalm 119:32… “I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” I love the imagery seen in this verse… I am free to run, to love, to fully live. Surely all birds are free to fly, to soar as their Creator gave them wings.

Later this same morning, I heard frantic fluttering and discovered a small brown bird stuck on a glue board hidden in the garage to catch “bad spiders”. Oh no, I moaned as I called the man who always rescues the victims I am afraid to touch!

I wondered if birds are able to fly again if they have been traumatized and abused. (Click on photo to see the anguish and despair.)

Tom carefully picked up the sticky cardboard, holding the bird gently while pulling his skinny little legs from the glue paper. Holding my breath, I squealed as the bird flew to a nearby bush. “He will gradually wear the glue off, and he should be fine,” Tom assured me.

Jesus said these words. “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow nor reap or store away (seeds) in barns, and yet, your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6: 26)

As I watched the freed wren hop around the pine straw under the forsythia bush, my thoughts flew to the victims of childhood sexual abuse. (That’s where many of my thoughts have been these past two years.)

Will they fly? Will they be set free to run to the One who loves them so? My book, A Journey from Scared and Scarred to Sacred… sharing hope with victims of child sexual abuse… will be available on Amazon, Monday, January 16th  or, perhaps by this weekend. Also, it can be ordered through any book store, I understand. This 150 page book unashamedly shares that complete hope for victims can be found in knowing and receiving God’s love. (My personal story is included, along with bits of Tom’s and my love story!)

A paragraph from the Foreword reads: The devastation caused by this evil likely will never be fully measured or understood. It crushes the innocent; leaving them wounded, broken and scarred. As noted in the pages that follow, the number of known victims is astounding. But the number of those who suffer in silence likely goes beyond our comprehension. How do we grapple with the fact that we are encountering these wounded people every day and never know it?

Readers, my dear readers, this is a very real issue in our very big world, but also in our own small worlds. May I use this blog post today to invite you to share with me in the belief we can intentionally offer hope and healing for millions of men and women living today, scared and scarred in their worlds. May I ask you to order a book, or books, for those you know who need to discover this hope. If many books are ordered this weekend and Monday, we can make a statement… that we care and we want to give hope.

My prayer for anyone caught on a “glue board” fighting to be free,  is that they will find hope and healing in this personal book. And I in no way simplify or minimize the tragic and horrible result of this terrible crime, and the hurts it causes.  They are massive. I and other victims share the hope we have found.

… running free…

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… speaking Christmas…

“I was so angry,” my brother and I were having a tearful conversation three days ago. “I was mad at everyone, even you. Everyone had left me. Daddy had been gone for three years. You and Nancy were married after graduation from the boarding school. Then Cindy and David were gone to the same school. I was alone. I planned everyday how to run away.” He went on to tell me he got in a fight daily at school when others taunted him about the issues of our father leaving the family.**

“Every day, every single day of that school year I heard negative, awful comments about the fact of my father’s desertion and how poor we were, more often from the teachers. One teacher would repeatedly voice such disdain, ‘Your father was a clergyman; how could he do this?’” Or, as she was counting lunch money for the students, ‘I know you’re poor, but surely you can find money without me having to count pennies.’ This was in front of the entire class.

“Oh, I was angry…

“Then one day, I heard words that changed my life… forever.”

At 16, my brother enrolled in the same boarding school as I and other siblings had attended; he was still angry and planned on leaving the school as soon as he could figure out a way to do so. One day, soon after classes began, a teacher asked him his name.  He confessed, almost shamefully and she exclaimed… almost joyfully.

He remembers…

“You are one of the Brannons; you are the brother of Nancy, Barbara and Cindy. Wow! They are over achievers, and you are their brother. (Nancy and I had graduated earlier) You will make it.” She encouraged him further and went on her way.

She had no idea she had diverted a life crash!

Do you ever wish you could take words back? Or knew “then” what you know NOW. I  wonder if those teachers at my brother’s first high school knew their negative, demeaning words were destroying a young life. We can forgive words, but they are never forgotten. How grateful I am for the forgiveness given me for words rashly spoken.

My brother credits the words of Miss Hyder, the teacher that asked his name, as words that literally changed the very course of his life. “I was suddenly proud I was who I was, and I no longer wanted to run away.”

One kind word can change someone’s entire day… (quote, source unknown) or their life.

Our words matter…

“You look awesome,” Almost song-like, kind, happy words mingled with the bright colors of Christmas as I was putting my groceries on the counter last week at Sprouts in Franklin, Tennessee. I looked around to see who he was speaking to. “It is you… I am telling you, you look awesome.”

Now why would an outgoing, well dressed young man say words to cheer an older lady’s tired heart? At 8:00 at night, after a long day of many stops and starts, they were surely nice to hear. I’m pretty sure I didn’t look awesome, but those words heaped joy and a tiny bit of excitement for the evening.

I think he knows how to “speak Christmas.”

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).

So, I’ve been thinking these last days… words are an amazing gift we speak into the lives of strangers, friends and most of all… to our family.

While reading the Christmas story in both Luke and Matthew, I smile at the words the angels spoke. In each chapter, words replace fear with joy; kind, patient words. To Joseph, to Mary and to the shepherds. (Luke 1, Matthew 1, Luke 2). Their words spoke affirmation to Mary in Luke 1:30; words granted Joseph the confidence he needed in a most difficult situation; and the angles promised hope to the shepherds.

Oh… to speak as angels this Christmas!

“… speak words that are helpful for building others up according to their needs, that they may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4: 29).

My brother was a success in life, and now, in his later years, with an incurable health issue, he remembers with tears, “Miss Hyder’s words changed my life… forever.”

… let’s speak Christmas this year and all year…

** (coming soon… you will meet my father in January, 2023; my book, A Journey from Scared and Scarred to Sacred, will be available on Amazon).






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… thanks living…

A repost of … thanks living…

Dear Blog readers, this initial blog published without me doing one thing. I have no idea how that happened; I looked up and it said “post published!”  I think you received it without the photos and a few additions made. I am sorry for the inconvenience.

Yes, Thanksgiving, America’s celebration every fourth Thursday in November is over. I heard a newsman say the morning after the holiday,” Thanksgiving is gone; now the focus is on Christmas.”

Can days of thankfulness ever be gone? Over?

I like to believe thanks living lasts a very long time. Those of you who have my Whispers book of ABC’s or you can buy it here  know that I can make lists all day long with the simple joys of life; in fact, I can go from Apples to Zucchini in minutes or Acorns to Zebras! So often I am overwhelmed with gratefulness for small delights and for the people in my life from Abigail to Zoe!

Recently I realized I had taken for granted the ability to trust. And I was not sure I had ever been thankful, really thankful, I  lived in trust. It’s one of those things most of us think we do quite well.

“I can’t see one thing out there… can anyone see what is ahead?” I whispered to myself. The small window of the plane revealed nothing but fog. Thick, gray fog.  What can the pilot see?  Does he know where we are going? How does he know? What is  in front  of  us? As the plane jumped over bumps in the air, tossed around like a large beach ball, I  could see no further than the edge of the plane’s wing. I questioned my trust odometer.

What does one trust in… now? I mean, what can you possibly trust when you are 30,000 feet in the air, and all you see is nothingness. When the plane suddenly burst through clouds and finally landed, I breathed again.

But I did do my homework. Pilots fly with VFR rules (visual flight reference) when they can see what is ahead; they are not allowed to get close to a cloud. When they can’t see anything around them and clouds prohibit any vision, they must trust something. That’s when IFR… instrument flight rules… go into effect.

Pilots, flying with IFR instruments, cannot trust themselves; they cannot even trust the instruments totally. They are in constant contact with a controller on the ground, monitoring the flight. He is the one guiding the plane through the clouds. Hours of experience and training convince them to trust their instruments, but only with the guidance of the controller.

I had one choice… to trust… in the pilots trusting their instruments, who in turn were trusting the persons on the ground, watching their instruments.  Wow…

As a side note, when pilots first start to fly in clouds they get “the leans.” It’s a sensation that makes them think they’re flying straight and level, when in fact they may be turning and climbing or descending. This is spatial disorientation. The consequence is that the plane continues to turn and descend gradually ending in a spiral dive and crashing. Pilots, such as J.F. Kennedy, Jr. crashed in this kind of situation. (aerocorner.com/blog/what-is-ifr-in-aviation/). Instrument training involves learning to overcome these sensations and trust their instruments are giving good information. Flying, without the right instruments, when there is no visibility is practically impossible. A pilot caught in a cloud must trust 100% the instruments and the controller… no matter what.

This is such a lesson for me. Maybe for you as you wonder who you are trusting in when there are no answers.  I have made a new acronym … or new meaning of IFR in these times when clouds, heartbreaks, circumstances cause impaired vision… when we can’t see what is ahead. When we can only lean back into the airplane seat and trust the One who watches the clouds.

IFR… Invisible Faith Reigns. It’s really all we have. What else can we do, but trust in the One who controls all instruments.

“Some trust in chariots and some trust in horses, but I trust in the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7).

On this first day of December, I am full of gratitude for the ability to trust during the darkness. “Let him/her who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on God” (Isaiah 50:10).

… thankfully trusting…

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… sharing a heart issue…

I wonder, oh, I wonder where the little faces go…                                                                     … that come and smile and stay awhile and pass like flakes of snow.

This is not one of my normal blog posts; thank you for granting me this privilege to share this massive issue in our communities. Yea, even in the world.

We lost our second child a few short hours after his birth; he was a preemie and oh, so tiny. He was our only child born with an abundance of black hair; I can see him still.

One of the cards we received during those days was imprinted with the words above; I have never forgotten them. But I wasn’t quite sure why I awoke this morning with these words softly stirring my heart.

Then I remembered… my last thoughts last night, even my last words to Tom… “Can you believe 276 million of India’s children are sexually abused?” Over 69 percent of the child population in that country!  Evidently, I went to sleep with my heart shattered for the children of India. (Statistics change yearly, and though this is reported from 2016, I doubt there is much decrease in the numbers.)

India has the dubious distinction of having the world’s largest number of sexually abused children with a child below 16 years raped every 155th  minute, a child below 10 every 13th hour and one in every 10 children sexually abused at any point of time.  https://journal.rostrumlegal.com/child-sexual-abuse-in-india-a-dark-reality/

And I read an article later informing me that most of these children never— that’s never, get over what was done to them.  Does anyone?

Some of you know I have been writing, working, interviewing victims on the subject of child sexual abuse for months now, telling my story and theirs. Is it possible we can stop this global crime against our children? If the 42 to 60 million survivors in the United States(now adults) living today can begin to speak out… then maybe we can bring attention to this issue and, in turn, cause a revolution.

Media currently present testimonies of former victims, now adults, speaking truth. Faces of hopeful Olympian gymnasts, wet with tears, recently revealed their loss of dreams as they relived the horrors of abuse at the hands of their once respected coach/doctor. We hear stories daily of childhood sexual abuse in the largest religious organizations (i.e. Roman Catholic, Southern Baptist and others) around the world. Or in the smallest offices. Cover-ups are being uncovered. Parents, family members, politicians, professionals, celebrities, scout leaders… and church leaders are realizing secrets are not secrets… any longer.

Because we are telling.

(The above paragraph is found in the introduction of this book on sexually abused children)… A Journey from Scared and Scarred to Sacred.

My heart broke over the loss of my little one’s face, yes. But it breaks over all little faces… the scared children that become scarred adults.  It is suggested 400,000 babies, male and female, born this year, 2022, and the next year, and the next year, and the next… will be abused sexually before their eighteenth birthday.

Each piece of research, each site I read… no matter the date or decade… all point to the same staggering numbers… one in three girls and one in six boys (some report it is one in five boys) have been sexually abused as children.

So today I am seeing little faces, living in fear of those they know and trust. Did you know less than 10 percent of abuse is from “stranger danger?” Children are crushed by family members and friends of family.

I wonder oh, I wonder what will happen to the thousands of  the faces of little children… abused, afraid and alone in their pain.

The book, available soon, with its facts and its stories, brings awareness to the ugliness, but most importantly offers hope to those who are living today, still carrying the shame and guilt in silence.

As I prepare my launch team, would you be willing to join? It would require a bit of time… not too much. It does require heart and passion.

“Jesus took the children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them.” Mark 10:16



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… anchored…

Today, I think I want to be a spider.

If you suffer from arachnophobia, you may have already stopped reading this blog. Though I have a healthy respect for spiders, and don’t want them in the house, I am not afraid of them.  I usually remove them to the gardens where they are most beneficial. I have learned to identify the harmful Black Widow and the brown recluse and avoid them when possible.

Of the 46,000 different species of spiders around the world, there are only 30 who are considered dangerous to us humans, causing seven deaths a year. Maybe we shouldn’t be too afraid of these invaders living peaceably among us. Without spiders in our world, our food supply would be in trouble.

I read that spiders in the house are most useful for eliminating other insects.  In a perfect world, I wonder if we would have any insects inside.  But alas, it is not a perfect world, so we need a few spiders.

A large garden orb spider… outside… is teaching me life lessons this week; I “listen” and learn from sights and sounds around. The first night I saw my new friend spinning like crazy. I discovered this one is most likely a female as large female orb spiders usually eat their spouses after mating! Whew! Tom is glad I am not a spider!

I watched as she created a masterpiece quickly… in the dark.Early the next morning, I noticed the piece of art was gone… she had devoured the protein and moisture from the web for her survival and found a place of safety. She hides from any predator looking for her, preferring to catch it in her web later.  I have watched this scenario for days. She works tirelessly in the darkness, and shelters in a curled leaf in the day time.

Every night at dark, this spider fashions a stunning piece of work; each day it is what sustains her physically while she rests secure.

I am as fascinated with the result of her night’s achievement as I am of her resolve to stay put in a crisis.  The web was flawless, constructed with purpose for her survival in the night.  Analogies do break down… I don’t want to work when I am to sleep…

But am I productive in the darkness? The darkness invading much of the culture these days surely allows me… and you… to transform our surroundings into something beautiful.  If we are anchored.

One early morning, I loosened, noI pulled most of the anchors holding her web… she never flinched from her resting place.

Various species of spiders have many differences, but they all spin silk. This silk is one of the strongest materials in the world; it can support a weight of up to 10,000 x its own weight, and has been used for everything from airplane wings to surgical sutures. There are seven kinds of silk, but I want to focus on the dragline type.

Dragline silk is used for anchors, for building the web, for forming cocoons, for flying… spider flying, that is. Yes, they have been known to cast off and propel for miles. Compared to super-glue, dragline silk has been known to stop a bullet.

Wow, their anchor line is very strong!

I really don’t want to be a spider, but what a strong lesson for me as I watched her stand fearlessly when danger approached.

A gentle whisper, “You must be like this spider… have the strength to hold on, no matter the winds blowing around you and your family.” I have to intentionally listen. Yes, yes. “We have this hope, (this Jesus as the light of the world… my words in italics) as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6: 19

I stood by the tree, the wind whipping the leaf to and fro, affirmed in the gentle reminder, “I am your hiding place; I will protect you from trouble and surround you with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32:7

… snug and anchored…


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… life is in the looking… back

I’ve thought much about looking today since my last blog… read here. I am not sure we can look at all in front of us today without a looking back.

We would never get very far driving down the highway if we didn’t occasionally take a glance in the rear view mirror. Tom says, “I want to see if there’s a cop back there!” Observing what is behind us lets us know if it’s safe to change directions, when to make a change, or to proceed in the same way. Lessons are learned as we look in the past.

Some say… don’t look back; you’re not going that way. But looking back, reflecting on positive memories is a good thing. Perhaps it is helpful, to reflect on the negatives, too— if we don’t stay there long.  Remembering gives pause to consider life in the Now. We need to make time for looking back…

Sometimes “your memories” show up on today’s Face Book… a year ago ‘today’, five years. Recently one surfaced on my page from 11 years ago.  What do you do when you see a memory? Smile… cry?

I cried two weeks ago  as I read a friend’s text. She shared the latest results from her husband’s MRI; she was bringing him home for the time he had left. I love this sweet couple—Tom and I married them! The laughter, the joys, the love shared. What a beautiful gift to look back into the wonders of life.

She had posted on Face Book this September 10 a repost of that same date in 2011 with the words to all of us: A sweet reminder to never take those simple moments for granted. Her post eleven years ago on September 10 … A beautiful cool morning on the porch with a cup of coffee, a blanket, and my sweet husband. So blessed!

At his celebration of life service this week, smiling with tears, “I am so full of gratitude for our years together.” She is looking back and will always look back on sweet memories.

Looking back on this journey, even  in regret, enables us to focus in reality for the tomorrows. Pausing to reflect can strengthen trust for today as we remember how we overcame difficult experiences.  A friend shared these words with me when I was overwhelmed with sadness in leaving Vienna. “Barb, don’t cry because you’re leaving; be thankful… smile because you came.” (Proverb attributed as an Indian proverb, a Spanish one and Dr. Seuss.)

When I look back, I see faces… from every church we have loved,  from every place, from many countries… in Vienna, Austria, in Copenhagen, Denmark. And I shout… “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy…” Philippians 1:3 This map is a daily reminder of beautiful people in our lives; each dark pin represents the country of someone we love.  I pass it a hundred times a day, smiling in thankfulness.  Looking back can be healthy when we remember the wonders. “Remember the wonders He has done.”(Psalm 105:5) “Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you have planned for us no one can recount to you… there are so—o—oo many…” Psalm 40:5. I am thankful for the wonders… past ones, and those in the Now.

Forward living is the goal, but without a glance backwards every now and then, would we question which direction to take? Of course, we all have regrets, things we did, or should have done or didn’t do. Looking back allows gratitude in remembering the forgiveness we have been given for mistakes.

Looking backwards gives direction for today’s journey. Backward views of the wonders bring peace. Questions, mistakes, dreams shattered bring tears. Both are necessary to understand which direction to go.  We find contentment in looking backwards at the beautiful scenes in the rear view mirror. We gain strength as we accept the broken pieces in the mirror, stronger with each lesson.  I often struggle these days  looking too long at the broken pieces in family as I  ponder the ways and whys of looking back.

“You live life looking forward. You understand life looking backward.” – Søren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher’s comment on life.

We’ve all heard that elephants have excellent memory; this is because of their large brains… very large brains. Their highly developed hippocampus and cerebral cortex give them exceptional recall power, enabling them to survive in the wilderness. And to live long. Their episodic memory makes it possible for them to recall what happened during an event years before. Then, they are prepared for the Now. With all that amazing memory load, they have been known to remember kindnesses or mistreatment from people or other elephants for decades.

I don’t want to be like an old elephant; I only want to remember the goodness of others, the kindness and forgiveness given me.   As I glance backwards in gratitude for the wonders, I hear a whisper “… do not dwell (make your home) in the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” Isaiah 43: 18

Something beautiful, something new is discovered when… looking back.





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