… softened… by tears

Pulling weeds in early morning is never a chore after a night’s rain; in fact, it’s quite enjoyable. The ground is soft and those plants in unwanted places slip from the soil quickly with little effort.  I was weeding one morning this past week with tears washing my face, and realized weeding is much like forgiveness.

You see, I lost a younger sweet brother last week. He is gone… this brother who called me weekly, sometimes daily… with a joke or a trivia question, checking  in to make sure we were doing okay. This caring, happy human is gone. And I cried.

(Kenneth with our daughter, Sherree about 4 years ago.)

As night rains gift us with a reward of easy weed pulling, so tears soften past hurts, enabling us to even forget them completely. Tears wash negatives away in the same way rain cleanses yellow pollen from everything it has colored. Yes, I cried for the loss, but I cried in joy, knowing there are no regrets, no what ifs, no could ofs or should haves.

Over the years, there have been breaks in our relationship.  Kenneth would be the first to tell you he wasn’t perfect; and you know I’m not. But he was a good brother for me… kind, loving, caring.  Do you think I remember any words or the reasons for the time lapses in our relationship?  Or justify my reactions with any issue?  I had forgiven him; he had forgiven me.

Tears clear memory.

Tears are necessary; they work constantly, involuntarily… protecting our eyes, cleaning out irritants like onions, lubricating and nourishing them with over 1,500 proteins.  They bathe us every minute.

A third type of tear, in addition to the basal and the reflex ones mentioned above is the emotional tear. These are as necessary as they are healthy, letting us know we are uniquely human.  This is the kind of tear we shed over a sad movie, a sad book ending, a broken heart.  It is estimated an individual may cry 15 to 30 gallons of tears a year. How many tears does it take to fill a gallon?  I am positive I exceed that limit… every year!

It was Aristotle who suggested tears… tears of sadness and trauma could be a release for emotional pain, followed by a sense of balance. I am convinced tears, heavy tears are a necessity in the forgiving of ourselves and others. Tears aid in the release, a letting go of the pain, letting go of hurtful words and actions of others. Tears bring moisture to dry pockets of remorse, regrets and cause a gentle release of the unwanted “weed.”

I’m wondering if we can forgive, really forgive,  without an abundance of tears. The deep letting go, a release of bad memories, hurt and pain without a flood of tears may be impossible. Some research in the area of emotional tears indicate these tears contain additional proteins and hormones not found in the other types. It is suggested these tears may have pain relieving effects that aid in regulating the body and bringing balance.

This week’s gallon of tears bring reflection on the good… only good. I need these tears of loss to remind me to live intentionally, constantly loving and forgiving others on this journey to Now.

My brother and I had reconciled in every area that could have separated us; it has been a beautiful journey these past years. But what if we had not? Today, I would be crying with regret. I encourage you, dear reader, to “weed” with tears of forgiveness for those in your sphere of life.

Kenneth’s last week…

“You, as dearly loved by God, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another (your brother, your sister, a former friend) my italics… Forgive as the Lord has forgiven you. And over all these virtues, put on love which binds them all in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:13).

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you (on me) live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).

… forgiving, forgiving… forgiving.

… with tears… by Barb Suiter

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… finding the Answer…

I have six chances to find the right answer… only six.

Maybe you are one of the millions playing this daily word game on your phone or computer; if so, you, too, have only six chances to get the correct word for the day.

Wordle, introduced by Josh Wardle in June 2021, as a simple, independent puzzle game between friends, suddenly has three million followers… worldwide.

If you are not familiar with this game, the object is to discover the pre selected five letter  word of the day. One word a day… six chances.

A correct answer in two or three attempts is the goal for the real enthusiast. There are suggestions for the starting word, one with the most vowels, etc. You choose the word you  begin with.  This first word sets the stage for the correct one! Should you have a letter in the right place, it will show green. If you have used a letter that is included in the correct answer, but it is not in the correct place, that letter will appear yellow. Then you begin to think, plan your strategy, check all options to find the answer. Yesterday’s  worlde answer… with five attempts.

Sometimes a word, a strange one for me, is used, and I miss it altogether. For example, “snafu” was an unknown word to me used recently!  Tom and I were in the car together, and he happened to know of snafu;  I was able to make it with his help!

The game Wordle is simply a challenge for me. Or perhaps I wordle for these brief moments to be in charge of something, anything, just to know there is an answer, and I may find the right one!  For a few minutes, I have fun as I search for the right word quickly.

Whether you play this daily game or not, you  live in a Wordle world, desperately seeking answers for life issues, trying to determine the right way through the tangled maze.  We all are searching for the right answers. We have our plan of action, our patterns to see what may work… we try and try.

This puzzle game has become quite competitive in the world. Can you believe intense programs have been developed to discover just who wordles best. Canberra, Australia, is the top global city with the highest average of answers with the fewest tries. Sweden is the top country with the correct answer and lowest number of tries. The state of North Dakota in America is the top U.S. state. Though this game uses English words, the top ten places with the best averages for correct answers in few tries include Israel, Paris, South Africa, Geneva, and Manila, Philippines.  The U.S. ranks 18th!

But finding the answers in life is not a game. Answers to the questions, the contradictions, the puzzles of life are indeed much more challenging. Which direction do I go? I want to understand the whys of broken relationships. Why this disease, why this death? I can’t plan a strategy; I can’t guess at the answers  when I am confused.
My beginning word helped me this day!

Sometimes there is no answer… all is quiet, very quiet. The maze grows more tangled, the puzzle pieces are colored with darker black. We just can’t “find the right  word”.  When we’ve used our six tries, over and over, and over. What then?  There may never be an answer.

We live in a snafu world, and we can wordle to find the daily word. But we need another Word. Another five letter word.

When we don’t know the answers, or even the questions, is it possible to know the Answer!  Is there  one word, a five letter word  for every day. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life… ” (John 14:6).

We can find the Answer!  J e s u s .

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

I/you will never know the answers to some of our questions, the whys of life, but the Answer to life and of life… this Creator of life, the right Word for each day… promises answers for the  existence of life, for my purpose. For your purpose.

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth” (Psalm 119: 103).

“Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path” (Psalm 119: 105).

Seeking… finding. The right Word.

(a note… Wordle will end in October 2027 as words  will run out. The Answer is eternal!)









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… accepting darkness…

Today is my father’s birthday. He would be 99 if he were still celebrating birthdays. He lived three quarters of a century, dying two months before his 75th birthday. He is not someone I think of everyday. Or even often. You will understand why, if you have read my book, A Journey from Scared and Scarred to Sacred. You can see it here.

But I have been thinking of him these last few days. I think of the lack of life he lived, especially in his later years. For years after the abuse in our family was known, he lived in darkness… running away, hiding, joyless… consuming pills and drink. Perhaps to find a ray of light in his darkness.

My father never learned the truth that it was possible to “come to light through the darkness”. (Brennan Manning’s words, Reflections of a Ragamuffin). He continued living in the darkness.

(I wrote the following memory years ago. Now I realize this was an evidence of his shuffle into darkness.)

I remember the smoke. 

It wrapped everything in the crowded room with gnarled fingers of gray. The thick haze reached its tentacles into every corner of that Indiana truck stop. Around tables, through the booths, circling faces.

This was the usual meal break for my father, either coming or going, day or night, between our home in Illinois and our grandparents in middle Tennessee. The rest of us usually ate peanut butter and banana sandwiches, followed by a gulp of water from the same quart jar. Five children or seven or nine… depending on what year it was, waited in the car with our mother. 

But this time my older sister and I had been allowed to go in while our father ate a ham sandwich (can you imagine I can remember what kind of sandwich!) and drank coffee. I must have been about nine years old, and while, at first, I’m sure we thought it would be a fun time, now, I wish I had stayed in the car.

I remember the music.

The dusty jute box moaned sad, bitter music. I am convinced it is that moment, that music… that has evoked a lasting distaste for country music within me. 

“Born to lose, I’ve lived my life in vain,”  melancholy notes, sung by Hank Snow, shot darts straight to my father’s already sad, insecure heart and soul. He puffed soft, thin  circles of smoke in front of  his face that lazily rose and joined the heavy gray atmosphere. Those ringlets of smoke always intrigued me as a little girl.

Crushing the cigarette, rising with slumped shoulders, “That’s my theme song,” he muttered—“born to lose.” 

Many of us have lived in darkness, caused by the actions of others or simply because we live in a dark world. My father’s actions initiated a darkness in my young life, but one that set me on a journey to find real life and love. As I accepted the darkness, I realized this same blackness, this ugliness… defined my life but set me free. Bo Rinehart, Christian recording artist and a victim of child sexual abuse affirms this same truth:

How beautiful, how illuminating to walk out of the darkness and to know the Light!

This is the amazing, life changing lesson of Easter!  The darkness, the hatred, causing the death of Jesus on the Cross brought about the Light on Easter morning! We could not have the Light without the darkness!

And so, we each have opportunity to know the Light… as we come through our own darkness. “Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will  never walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12).

But first we must accept the darkness.

I wonder why my father never could or would… he never realized the truth of Isaiah 43:2  “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will  not be burned, the flames will not set you ablaze.”

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… up… rooted.

And I am mourning over blueberries!

Tiny, tiny berries, sturdy new growth all frozen because of last week’s frigid temperatures. I will not pick fresh berries this early summer… and I’m sad.

Tom and I were walking in the state park near us Sunday afternoon. We were shocked to see hundreds of uprooted trees lying helpless on the forest floor, now without purpose or position, due to much rain and the many wind storms that have ravaged this area these last few weeks. These once strong trees now lie where they fell. And I’m sad.

How does one hold on when life topples as quickly as these trees fell?

I am sitting snug and warm this morning, wrapped with blankets of books and family pictures; I look around and… wonder. What if everything were suddenly gone… as the blueberries are? Would I still trust God? I hear Tom making coffee, beginning breakfast, and I smile at the thousands of mornings we have awakened together.

But what if…

… when my comfort place is gone, when treasures are missing, will I voice strong love for my Lord?

I think of the homeless Ukrainian believers; I focus on the faces of the Turkish and Syrian people. I see pictures of the devastation they are walking through today.

What do you grasp when there seems to be nothing on which to hold? When everything is gone? When the room is empty… when the house has collapsed.

An estimated 12.8 million Ukrainians have been displaced, including those to other countries and those relocated within the country. The Ukraine war and other conflicts have pushed the number of people forced to flee conflict, violence and persecution way over the staggering number of 100 million for the first time on record, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

The recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria added massive numbers to this already astounding figure of the homeless. Thousands and thousands and thousands of homes collapsed in these two countries, leaving multiple peoples uprooted.

Key developments in the aftermath of the Turkey, Syria quake - ABC News

The Associated Press, February 19,2023

I understand God’s word speaks of the hope in life a believer has and the truth of “holding on” and enduring. But what about the millions who do not have this hope?  I read the words of a Turkish man who had lost everything in the earthquake… everything. “I have nothing but God.” I pray he is holding to the one God who gives hope and comfort when all of life is up… rooted.

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in God my Savior” (Habakkuk 3:17,18).  These words were written to a people who had been displaced for 70 years; they were returning home. What would they find, and how would they respond?

When the money is gone, and the grocery shelves are bare, when there is no work and no government assistance… when I am alone. Will I still rejoice in the Lord?

Yes, yes, I know… I am to be at home in my heart, rooted and grounded in God’s sacrificial love…. because of the faith I have in that love. I must believe it will hold me when I am up… rooted.

The apostle Paul prayed, “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power…” to understand and know just how much God loves us… italics mine. (Ephesians 3:16,17).

To be at home… when my physical home is up… rooted, collapses. When life implodes around me, my inner world is to be at home with Him, secure and rooted.

Forgive me, Lord for not caring, for not even paying attention to the eyes of those up… rooted in the world. I look at every face… I look into these eyes, and I am ashamed that I have fretted…

… over blueberries.

Displaced children in Roe, a temporary site for internally displaced people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo province of Ituri.    UN / Eskinder Debebe

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… 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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