Brighten your corner

blogimg_8942-2As I write this, it’s the second week of January. In a brand new year. One I haven’t yet become accustomed to as I still automatically write 2016, not 2017.

Just yesterday it seems we were all up in arms and worried about the year passing from one century into another one – you know, a new millennial, Y2K– the year 2000. Fear and apprehension over that coming year ran rampant. The result? The year 2000 chimed in with barely a blip on that worry radar.

In the year 2000, our oldest graduated from high school and we sent her off to college that fall with excitement and trepidation. Even though our other two were still in high school and middle school, that was the beginning of what would eventually become this empty nest of mine.

In the year 2000, Papa, employed as a sales rep for a national company, endured a lot of overnight travel with his job while I held down the fort and kept the home fires burning.

In the year 2000, my father was still alive and at age 80 keeping himself busy after my mom’s passing the year before by learning a new skill. He bought himself a computer and was figuring out how to use it and amazing us at his new found hobby.

In the year 2000, our family moved into our brand new house built right here on this farmer’s field putting down roots like we never had before since previously the longest we ever lived in any of our homes was six years.

In the year 2000, this Mama ventured back into the work field initiating and developing a program for a non-profit local ministry where I devoted my time and passion and energy for 13 years. 

So here we are seventeen years later. 2017!

Seventeen years into a century I couldn’t even imagine when I was just a kid because it seemed so distant into the future. And there are new concerns and alarms spreading out there in the big, bad world worse than Y2K, but I refuse to listen to or embrace them.

As a person born in the 1950’s, my generation has had our fair share of worrisome events and downright fear promoted in this world and hanging over our heads.

From the Cold War, Cuban Missile Crisis, and air raid drills in school to the assassinations of public figures including President John F. Kennedy to worrying about family members serving in the Vietnam War to race riots to the Kent State protest shootings in the turbulent 1960’s, we experienced fright.

From blackouts and gasoline shortages to the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island to hostages held in Iran in the 1970’s, we experienced panics.

From Mount Saint Helens volcanic eruption to the space shuttle Challenger explosion to a myriad of natural disasters like earthquakes, tornados, and hurricanes to the Iraq war and threats of others in the 1980’s, we experienced trepidation.

From the Oklahoma City bombing to mass shootings to economic crises to numerous plane crashes in the 1990’s, we experienced qualms.

And to the most horrific day of them all, September 11, 2001, we’ve experienced terror of the highest magnitude at the hands of terrorists.

All of these frightening events have crossed my fear awareness screen and are permanently etched in my memory.  

And it’s safe to say, there will be more to come. But I cannot worry about what may happen in the future because as we take the good that happens (and there have been just as many amazing events that have occurred in my lifetime too), we must also take the bad. 

I can’t join in with all of those who say our world is going to ‘hell in a hand basket” because really, hasn’t it always been so? Since the beginning of time? If you don’t think so, open up a factual history book and take a gander.

Or better yet, open up God’s Word – the Bible – and see that mankind has been heading that way ever since Adam and Eve fell into sin in the Garden of Eden.

Terrible events will always happen. It’s a given. It’s life. But how we respond to those events is what matters most.

In just three short years, we will reach the year 2020. What will the world be like at this milestone? Will we humans be any wiser? Any safer? Any more peaceful? Or will we still allow fear, misery, and anxiety to rule over us?

Just as this brand new year lies ahead of each one of us, so does a choice we each must make. We either choose to focus on the negative aspects of living or we take the higher road.

We can dwell on the ills of this world and allow them to frighten us into inaction or wring our hands as we hibernate from the world or we can choose to be bold enough to speak out against evil and make a difference by striving to be a light of peace, joy, kindness, and helpfulness even amidst the darkness – right there in your own little corner of the world.

“Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do,
Do not wait to shed your light afar,
To the many duties ever near you now be true,
Brighten the corner where you are.” ~ Ina D. Ogden



Rockets red glare over our house

blogIMG_2871It’s the evening of the 4th of July.  After a busy weekend, I’m resting in my overstuffed easy chair in our family room with my feet propped up on the ottoman.  The French door leading out to our backyard deck is flung wide open letting in a nice cool summer evening breeze.

Hubby is watching something about the Revolutionary War (he’s a real history buff) on the History Channel on TV and I’ve been catching up with my blog reading and Facebook friends’ news.   A couple of hours ago, we stood on the deck waving goodbye to our son and his girlfriend who were here for the weekend.  They’re headed back to the other side of our state where she lives and the state next door where he lives.

Mama’s Empty Nest is quiet once more after a weekend of young people coming and going.  We hosted a picnic for some of son’s college friends, now married and immersed in their careers in the city near us.

The sound of young adults laughing and enjoying conversations and games made Papa and Mama happy.  But now, everyone is gone, the sun is setting, and all I hear are birds singing.  Sounds so peaceful, doesn’t it?

All of a sudden, this strange VERY LOUD metallic sounding noise pierces the silence.   Startled, I ask hubby, “What in the world is THAT?”

He listens, shrugs his shoulders as the noise escalates and we realize it is coming from the sky above our house!   Our first thought, because we are in its flight pattern, is it’s the Med-Evac helicopter which life flights serious emergency patients from our local hospital to city trauma centers.

But no, the sound becomes absolutely deafening like a jet – a very low flying jet – getting closer and closer and louder and louder until it seems like it’s going to crash into our house!

Hubby runs out onto the deck and I think, “Should we head for the basement instead??”  The noise overwhelms us so much, it panics our cat and she darts wildly into the house.

My instinct is to run and hide somewhere, but instead I follow hubby outside with my heart pounding so forcefully I truly thought it was going to jump out of my chest!  I’m literally terrified and expecting to experience impact when an airplane falls from the sky and lands on my house or my home is obliterated from a falling bomb!  (Yes, that thought really did run through my mind!) Suddenly we see what looks like a fighter jet whoosh by in the sky.

So much for a quiet evening at home.  The jet zooms off towards the city, and we still don’t know why it was flying up here in our rural neck of the woods.  All I know is it took a while for my heart to resume a normal beat, I really was that frightened.

No need for fireworks at our house on the 4th of July!   We had our own experience of “rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air.”

The experience made me thankful though (after I calmed down!) because I realized how very blessed and fortunate I am.  My family and most likely yours too has never, ever had to live in a war-torn country where the ear-splitting sound of a jet plane flying over to drop explosives on your home is as common as daily life.

It also reminded me how horrifying that day in 2001 on a September morning was and how unbelievably petrifying it must have been to experience that shocking event first-hand.

And I’m realizing today in the 6th chapter of my book called Opportunity on Page 5 that I take my blissful home for granted.   I take peace for granted.  I take life for granted.  And it all could vanish in an instant.

So I’m thankful to God my Father for the unbelievable blessings He’s bestowed on our country for so long and I pray for His continued favor and protection for all of us.


Finding faith from a fawn

blogIMG_0813I spotted another harbinger of spring recently, reminding me this is the season of rebirth, but also of something more profound.

White-tail deer inundate the area near our country home.    We’ve had our fair share of run-ins with these cute creatures turned dangerous when they slam into cars driving down our highways.

Road kill’s a natural occurrence here and it’s almost unusual not to see dead deer lying on the side of the road.  The damage they inflict on our vehicles is unbelievable.  So when I spot deer nearby while I’m driving,  I’ve learned to slow down considerably.  Sometimes I lay on the horn repeatedly to frighten the critters away so they don’t ram into my car.

The other day, while driving home from work, I decided to travel a two-lane bi-way instead of the four-lane highway.  As I was rounding a bend notorious for deer crossing, a doe scurried across the road in front of my car.

I immediately braked and quickly glanced in the direction she had come expecting to see another doe or maybe even a buck following her because once I saw the largest buck I’ve ever seen in my entire life at this exact spot.  Instead, I spied a tiny, trembling spotted fawn standing at the top of an embankment, reminding me that deer give birth to their babies in the spring.

That adorable little baby deer appeared so startled by what was transpiring that he just buckled his stick-like legs under his polka-dotted  body and lay down on the bank by the side of the road.   He looked exactly like the picture accompanying this post.

Why don’t I carry my camera with me at all times?  He would have made an adorable picture.  Seeing that fragile fawn warmed my heart but also made me fear for his safety.  I hope he stayed on the bank until his mommy came back for him and didn’t wander out onto the road.

All of this reminded me that sometimes, especially when we’re fearful about what lies ahead of us, we just hunker down like that little fawn.  We wait to see what will happen or we become paralyzed with fear, hoping to be rescued much like I imagine that spotted baby deer expected from his mother.

And that’s not always a bad thing.  Sometimes, we just need to wait…..and wait…..and wait until God shows us what He wants us to do.

I must admit that often I feel like that scared fawn on the side of the road.  I feel fragile and wobbly when I can’t figure out what’s going on in my life and what I’m supposed to do.   But that’s when my rescuer lets me sense His presence.

Recently, I’ve allowed myself to feel exactly like a frightened fawn trembling beside a busy highway of life.  One morning at a very early hour,  I awakened abruptly  because I heard someone loudly calling my name.  I was certain my husband had already arisen and for some reason had called out to me.

My eyes opened in a flash, my heart pounded,  and I expected to see hubby standing near me.  He wasn’t.  I looked around our bedroom and then realized he was still sound asleep next to me.

Who called my name?  I pondered.   I waited and listened.  Nothing.  Puzzled, I drifted back to sleep.  The strange experience stayed in the forefront of my mind that day, and I related it to my co-workers.

My boss smiled and shared that she once had the same experience after a particularly stressful day.  She added that she liked to think it was God calling her name, just to let her know that He saw her and knew what she needed.

I love that idea.  It actually gives me great comfort because I do believe the God of the universe, all-knowing, all-powerful, and ever-present,  knows my name.   He’s always known my name.

He knows my troubles and He knows my afflictions just like He knows my joys and my elation.   He knows what I need, when I need Him the most, and when I need Him to guide me.

He has always carried me through trials and tough times, even when my doctor stated the dreaded ‘C word’ (cancer) six years ago.  I’ve never felt abandoned or forgotten because I know my God sees me and hears my prayers (even when He doesn’t answer them the way that I would like!).

And sometimes, He just wants me to wait and know that He is God and He is in control and that He knows my name.  I don’t have to fear that God will forsake me because He never will.  I can count on Him to take care of me on this 11th page of Chapter 5 in my book called Opportunity and every day…and so can you.


Got an angel on your shoulder?


The words of a lullaby resonate through my mind this morning as I open my book of Opportunity to Chapter 2, Page 1. (February 1)

I doubt if they remember it, but I used to croon this lullaby over my children when they were babies:

“All night, all day; Angels watching over me, my Lord.  All night, all day;  Angels watching over me. Now I lay me down to sleep, Angels watching over me, my Lord. I pray the Lord my soul to keep, Angels watching over me.  Sun’s a-setting in the West; Angels watching over me, my Lord.  Sleep my child, take your rest; Angels watching over me.”

This morning, I heard about a fellow who survived an amazing 1,000 foot fall from the summit of a 3,600-foot mountain in Scotland.  While hiking, he slipped and literally bounced down a near vertical cliff.  When a rescuing helicopter arrived, responders found him standing at the bottom of the mountain reading a map trying to figure out where he was.

“It was quite incredible. He must have literally glanced off the outcrops as he fell, almost flying,” Lieutenant Tim Barker said, according to reports of the rescue. The 35-year-old man sustained only cuts and bruises and hopes to be able to climb Mount Everest in about a month. Now that’s what I call tenacity!  Get back on a mountain after it throws you off!

One newscaster called the man “lucky” while another said he must have had a “guardian angel.”  I imagine that gentleman may believe angels did watch over him protecting him from harm and death!  Thoughts of how God’s hand does protect us so often when we are in danger erupted in my mind while I listened to this tale.

Some people think angels literally come from heaven to our aid.  Others think angels walk among us, looking out for us.  I do believe angels exist.  I believe God sends them as His messengers, to do spiritual battle, and to protect us, although I’m not sure about the whole guardian angel thing.  But I do recall most vividly one time in my life, where I did think an angel came to my rescue.  Whether he was just a human being or an angel in human form, I have no clue.  But for me, he was a life-saver.

Picture a mother with two very young children driving her beloved, elderly in-laws to the airport.  Her husband is currently out of town on business as he is so often.  His parents just enjoyed an extended visit to the Midwest to spend time with their far-away family.  Grandparents doted on grand-daughters with a little bit of sight-seeing squeezed in here and there.

The day proves to be already hot and steamy with temperatures nearing 100 degrees.  The airport, located north of the city, is a 40-minute drive from this young mom’s home, but a very deserted stretch of highway lies between it and her house.

Because she has her two little girls in tow, one still a baby strapped in her car seat and the other a 4-year-old, the in-laws tell her to just drop them and their luggage off at the departure gate, so she doesn’t have to park and drag the children along.  She agrees and after many quick hugs and kisses, drives off on her way home.

Even with the air conditioner blasting cool air, she feels sticky and can’t wait to arrive safely back home so she can prepare some lunch and put baby down for her nap.  She’s driving along that deserted stretch and she notices that there is not one house or building to be seen in this area.

And that’s when it happens.  Her car, a fairly new model, seems to choke, shudder and then dies.  She coasts off the highway and the car comes to a complete stop on the berm.

“What the heck?” she thinks as she turns the ignition key off.  She waits a few seconds and tries to start the car again.  Nothing.  Won’t turn over.  Deader than a door-nail.  She thinks she will do the sensible thing and turns on her flashers.  Trying to start the car again to no avail, a little panic wells up in her.

She surveys the scene – absolutely no buildings within sight!  How far will she have to walk in the stifling heat and humidity with two little ones before she might find help?  In the days before cell phones, she has no other choice.  When she does find a phone, who will she call?  Hubby is very far from home and unavailable until he checks into a hotel that night.  She doesn’t know anyone who lives in this area.

A few cars and trucks whizz past her, shaking her vehicle as they fly by.  But no one stops. Should she stay put and pray for a police car to happen upon her?  The interior of her vehicle is already heating up without the air conditioner running.  She realizes she has no food, no water.  Nothing.  (Note to my kids:  This is why your Mom always takes water in the car!)

She starts to cry from frustration and fear and of course, her oldest child wants to know what’s wrong.  Suddenly, a large delivery truck pulls over in front of her.  A man jumps down from the truck cab and approaches her car.  Does she wind the window down and talk to him?  Is it safe?  Uttering a quick cry to the Lord for safety, she opens her window.

The truck driver asks her what happened and then looks under the hood of her car.  He shakes his head, tells her he has no idea what could be wrong as he’s not used to these foreign models.  He says he’s sorry, but he has a delivery to make and must get back on the road.

After thanking him, she forlornly watches him climb back into his truck and start to pull out onto the highway.  “God,” she cries, “who will help us?”

Immediately, the truck pulls back over on the berm and the truck driver jumps back out of his cab. “Ma’am,” he begins. “I just can’t in good conscience leave you and these two little babies stranded out here in this heat.  I know you don’t know me, and I understand you might not trust me.  But I have a delivery to make in the city and I must be there by 1 p.m.  If you want to ride with me, I promise you I will take you to the first gas station or place with a phone we find on the way.”

What to do?  Foolishly trust a complete stranger?  Stay in the suffocating heat of the car?  Try to walk for many miles with two little children?

Even today, I shudder a little when I remember that I put complete trust in a stranger.  Yes, that man lifted my little 4-year-old daughter up into the cab of his huge truck, held my baby daughter while I climbed up and handed her to me.  He was a man of his word.  At the very first exit on the highway we came to, he spied a gas station and dropped us off at a pay phone.

As I thanked him and offered him cash, he strongly refused.  “No, no.  I just hope you have someone to call to come get you.  Will you be alright?” he asked, “Because I must get my delivery made.”

He left us there in a strange place in a part of the city I had never been.  And as he drove away, I realized I didn’t even know his name.  I remembered some of the older ladies gathered at our church in the city for fellowship on that particular day.  I hopefully dialed the church, relief flooding over me as the church secretary, a friend of mine, answered the phone.  She came to our rescue in no time.

She drove us back to the church, where all those dear ladies fussed over us, fed us lunch and a much-needed cool drink of water, and even offered me money for a tow truck.  Afterwards, my friend drove us back to where my car sat abandoned, waited for the tow truck to arrive and then took us to our suburban home.

I don’t know if God sent me a real angel that day to help me, but I do know that there were some angelic humans who came to my rescue.  One was a stranger – a good Samaritan – and I have often prayed that God blessed that man for what he did that day.  The others were my fellow sisters in Christ.

Angels watching over me.  To me, that’s what the body of Christ should be and that’s what I must take the opportunity to be – like an angel who ministers to someone in need.


Breaking out of fear prison

blogDSCN7151Fear snaked its way through my mind, wrapped itself around my subconscious and then seized my dreams like a boa constrictor squeezing the life out of its prey.

If that sounds ugly, it was.   Last night, in the middle of the night, I awakened from nightmares that gripped me with such fear that I found myself sweat-drenched and panic-stricken, my heart pounding wildly.

Three times I rose from my bed and tried to calm my overly stimulated and anxiety-stricken mind, but each time I tried to lie back down again and go back to sleep, panic would overwhelm me.  Only fervent prayer proved to eradicate the foreboding feeling that gripped me.

The late President Franklin D. Roosevelt said it all when he said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Fear can be such an overwhelming emotion, one that paralyzes you and imprisons you as surely as being placed behind steel bars.

When I was a child, I was frightened of the dark, especially if I had to walk somewhere alone in it, but I eventually overcame that fear.  As an adult, I can recall a few times when trepidation seized me with such sharpness, it physically hurt.

When we lived in the Midwest, news circulated about a stalker of sorts who telephoned women when their husbands were away, telling them details of their personal life that he knew.   My husband traveled a lot for business and also at the time served in the National Guard.  One weekend he was away on Guard maneuvers and I attended a friend’s bridal shower.

My teenage babysitter called me there, fear dripping from her shaking voice, as she claimed an unidentified man had just called our home, thinking she was me and telling her he knew my husband was out-of-town.  Terrified, she observed a man walking through the wooded area directly behind our house.

I called the police and hurried home.  By then, the man was gone, but the officers took info from the babysitter and told me if he phoned again to be sure to call them.

That night felt like the longest night of my life.  My three young children knew little about what had transpired that day and I wanted to keep it that way.  After I bathed them and got them settled into bed, I was alone and that’s when terror crept its way into my thoughts.

I didn’t sleep that night, I cringed in my bed with a wooden ball bat gripped in my hands and every little creak or snap that I heard startled me and sent my heart racing.  And I prayed for God to protect my children and myself.

My cancer diagnosis five years ago caused the same kind of dread to well up within me.  Someone once said, “Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death.” I have found that statement to be true because when I devoted myself to prayer and allowed other believers in Christ to pray over me, that overwhelming fear was dispelled.  I literally experienced that feeling physically leave my body and I was able to rationally face the ordeal ahead of me.

Currently, my family is facing some uncertainties.  I’m sure that’s why my sleep was disturbed by nightmares and my concerns turned to great apprehension last night.

The 12th page of Chapter One (January 12th) in my book of Opportunity finds me refusing to allow fear and consternation cage me in a terror-filled prison.  So I will hand over my worries and concerns to God, who is big enough, powerful enough, and almighty enough to handle them for me.  Faith breaks open the prison bars that try to keep us locked in a state of panic.

“There is much in the world to make us afraid.  There is much more in our faith to make us unafraid.” ~Frederick W. Cropp


Where’s Spiderman when you need him?

blogIMG_1776 (4)We are a family not very fond of arachnids.   I still get the willies every time I think about the time,  when we lived in the Southwest, hubby and I were out driving and saw lines of tarantulas crawling in front of us – yes, on the road!

The only spider we ever got a kick out of was Spiderman in the movies. I think my kids have all of the DVDs and have watched them a zillion times.  Which makes me wonder, could Spiderman throw out some of those heavy-duty webs and catch the spiders that are infiltrating my house right now?

The thought of seeing these black hairy creatures would send my oldest daughter into orbit.  She is terrified of insects and I do mean terrified!  When she still lived here in the nest, she would scream for her dad or brother to come kill a bug in her bedroom, even if it was just the common old housefly.  I’m not sure how she manages the insects that may find their way into her apartment now, but I suspect she has a very brave roommate (she is a doctor).

The rest of us don’t hyperventilate at an insect sighting like oldest daughter does, after all, we do live out here in the country, so there is an assortment of bugs flying and crawling around.  But it does creep me out when I spot fuzzy spiders darting across my family room floor!  That’s not the kind of fuzzy that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy all over, ya know?

But that’s what happened last night.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something about the size of a quarter scurry across the floor.  In my flu-induced weakness state, I couldn’t get up fast enough to see where it went and smoosh it.  Instead I called out to hubby, “There’s a spider!”  Okay… I yelled.

He chastised me a little because by the time he came from the kitchen, we had no clue where it had gone to hide away.  Then hubby told me he has already killed four of these boogers!  Ewwww. 

Here at our house we definitely do not agree with an old American Quaker saying, “If you want to live and thrive, let the spider run alive.”  No – spiders in our house, prepare to die!

As the weather has gotten cooler and the rain has set in, these creepy crawlers have found ways to enter our house and garage.  Spiders seem to be everywhere.  They’ve even taken up residence in our mail box and you never know when you pick up the mail if you have a hitchhiker.   I’m sure anyone driving by my house when I’m standing in my driveway shaking the heck out of my mail thinks I’m nuts.  Maybe they think I’m shaking down my mail for money! Ha — finding money in the mail…that would be the day!

Today on my way home from work, I stopped to fill my car up with gas.  While I was pumping, this huge monster brown spider ran towards my car, but luckily changed its little spidey-brain and ran back from whence it came.  Thankfully!

I suspect the spiders at my house are entering around our French doors in the family room, but I don’t care where they come from, I just want them gone! And I really want the one I spotted last night to be gone.  Last time I saw him, he was headed for the computer desk.

As you may recall, I romp around my house in my bare feet.  Guess who is sitting at the computer typing her blog post and holding her feet up from the floor?  Yeah, that would be me.  Spiderman, please come save me!