What We Must Do as the World Gets Darker

The solar eclipse of 2017 was stunning, even from our home that experienced only 99.8% of totality. Instead of joining the throngs in Nashville, Murfreesboro, or other surrounding areas, my son, John, his wife, Julie, and their four month old, Arthur, opted to photograph with me our landscape as we experienced the wonder of night in the middle of the day. None of us really knew what to expect, but armed with sandwiches, chips, cool drinks, and excitement, we waited. Keeping our cameras on the same settings and taking pictures in roughly twenty-minute increments—up until the end I was so excited I just couldn’t help but take pictures every other minute—we watched as the moon’s shadow blocked out the sun.

To the human eye, it didn’t get completely dark, even in the zone of totality, (as reported to me by my daughter who lives in that path). Here, as one sliver of the sun almost completely disappeared, another one immediately took its place. Outside of totality, there was no corona or diamond burst of light but only what looked to be a shadowy grey brown murkiness mixed with a little orange. The lamppost in the front yard turned on as did our white lights that line our porch’s bannister. As we looked out, the normally beautiful vista, which to the human eye appeared now to be somewhat out of focus, took on an eery distasteful feel. But later, looking at the photos we took, especially the ones when the sun was 99.8% blocked, we saw something quite different. Except for the almost imperceptible twinkle of lights, everything else was black. (I posted duplicates of those last two shots taken at 1:27PM and 1:28PM. One, to show the photo as is, which appears to show just darkness. The second is overexposed so you can see what was actually in the shot—closer to what our eyes saw—but is not visible without editing).

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Did the lens of the camera lie? Or did it just not pick up on the nuances that our eyes, constantly adjusting, allow us to see? I would say it is somewhere in between. But I couldn’t help but feel that the same trick our eyes played on us in the eclipse in making it seem not quite night, is analogous to what’s happening in our world today. The overshadowing of what is right with what is wrong, what is light and dark, accepting, even winking at what was unacceptable—what was considered uncouth, as my mama used to call it—is now more the norm than not. The lines drawn in the sand of what is allowed have seemed to fade, almost disappear, as the tide of popular opinion washes it beyond recognition. Continue reading

Finding Peace in the Midst of Heartache

My brother-in-law, David, is one of the the funniest people I know. Not because he tries to be witty or is constantly cracking jokes, but as my husband, Jerry, likes to say, “He’s funny even though he doesn’t mean to be.” In David’s southern Virginian, gentleman drawl, he can turn an ordinary occurrence of his day into an entertaining story that anyone listening can’t help but start laughing. One of my favorites is when he tells about his dogs, or rather how he says it, his “dawgs.”

David and Marlene

David and Marlene

David loves to hunt. It really doesn’t matter what season it is, deer, dove, or turkey—and there might be others I’m not aware of—he just thrives on being out in the woods with his passel of hounds he has affectionately named “The Convicts.” Those beagles who live outside in a pen—more like a castle to hear my sister, Marlene, describe it—have over the years mastered the art and technique of breaking out to roam the countryside. When those mischief-makers are finally spotted by a caring neighbor or reappear conveniently on their own just in time for dinner, David will, with a great deal of respect, speculate incredulously, “How-did-those-dogs manage their escapes?” It always makes me laugh to hear him recount their antics, so-much-so when I talk with my sister on the phone I always tell her to give my love, not only to David, but also to his friends, The Convicts. You can hardly have one without the other.

The Convicts

The Convicts

Right now, though, David is not able to be out and about with his pups. Life as he and my sister knew it has changed leading them on a journey they otherwise would not have chosen. Cancer has come into their home bringing questions of why, heartache of the unknown, and suffering that does not easily go away. Continue reading

How Pride, Prejudice, and Judgements Easily Sneak Into Our Hearts

The first birthday party I ever went to was for a little black girl in my kindergarten class. Too young and tender to know there was a difference—that I was not black or that she was not white—we were friends. It was not until my dad retired from the Air Force three years later and we went to live in the South that I had my first taste otherwise. For it was there I saw bathrooms and water fountains for whites only, and it was there, four years later I saw a cross burning in the front yard of my very dear friend, Alonso Berry. To this day I don’t understand why those things were. I remember being sad, for none of this made, or for that matter makes, any sense to me. Continue reading

Why We Should Be Thankful New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work

Why We Should Be Thankful New Year's Resolutions Don't Work

Why do we do it? Seriously, why do we heap boulders of expectation—because that’s truly what they are—on ourselves every January 1? Maybe it’s the lights, decorations, and happiness that goes hand-in-hand with Christmas. Our spirits rise and we think, “This is it. This is the year.” Hurrah! With gusto, we jump on the bandwagon of starting afresh and being improved. New gym memberships soar. The larder is emptied of food that is not healthy and is re-stocked with the latest and best-for-you ingredients. And with a Teddy Roosevelt “Huzzah!” we go charging into the sunset with the grandiose ideals of being a better person with a better body and a mindset filled with kinder and more gentle thoughts. Continue reading

When What Really Matters Comes Into Focus

My Aunt Ernestine passed away this New Year’s Eve. Leaving this earth in the same bed she was born in 83 years ago, this beautiful person left behind a legacy of kindness, of encouraging others, and one of the sweetest smiles I’ve ever seen.

Aunt Ernestine

Having walked this road more than once and becoming what I coined in my heart and head as one of the “walking wounded,”—someone who had lost that special person(s) whose passing flips anyone’s world upside down, changing its color from a warm fuzzy to the reality that life is ever-changing—I knew the transformation was already taking place. The heartache of her illness that her husband, my Uncle Roy, and her daughter, my cousin Mary and her family, husband Rick, and children Meredith and Matthew, were already experiencing will be one that will always remain. Continue reading

Why Unanswered Prayer Can Be Such a Blessing

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When I was ten years old I was diagnosed with idiopathic scoliosis, a curvature of the spine with no known cause. No reason. No rhyme. It just is. In my case, and for most, it is genetic in nature, the methods of dealing with it, either surgery or a brace. And because spinal fusion is rather drastic, the first choice of treatment to keep the curve in check is usually the brace.

milwaukee-braceNot far removed from medieval times, the Milwaukee Brace that I wore in the 1960s and ‘70s looked horrendous. Attached to a leather girdle that was buckled around your hips and also to a neck piece that like handcuffs snapped in place around your neck, were three adjustable metal bars, the two in the back that with each modification made, created that beautiful hunchback look, one that all teenage girls were dying to wear.

Not long after becoming a Christian at the age of 15, and after learning that Jesus brought/brings to us healing, one afternoon, kneeling beside my bed, I prayed asking Him to straighten my spine. Grabbing my handheld mirror to inspect His work, and hoping that He had said yes to my request, I found my back looked much the same as before. Continue reading

The Second Sunday of Advent: Confession

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This coming Sunday marks the Second Sunday of Advent.

Together, let us focus next week on confession. Confession is a beautiful gift from the Lord. Without it, we would needlessly carry rucksacks overflowing with sin and brokenness that we cannot possibly bear, fix, or even hope to be rid of.

Please take a moment to listen to this beautiful song by Greg Wilbur to help prepare our hearts as we come before the Lord. The lyrics are written in the image above.


*Wilbur, Greg. Hear My Prayer. 2016.
*Sung by Sara Nixon

Download a free devotional for the Second Sunday of Advent and the remainder of the Advent season, when you subscribe to my blog here.

First Day of Advent: Adoration

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Have you ever walked outside after a really difficult day and looked up when the first evening star is peeking its head out in the twilight? And all that was so hard, the trials and tribulations, that held you so tight seemed to melt away? Have you had those times when you felt like you’ve been holding your breath all day, and the moment when you gaze up at the night sky, you finally let go and breathe?

When John, my oldest, was a toddler, sometimes after a trying day, I’d scoop him up in my arms and run outside just as the sun was setting. Looking for that first star, we would wait. And without fail, when it appeared, such peace would always find us.

Isn’t that the way it is? The majesty of God’s creation captures us reminding us of who He is—our Creator, our Savior, and as the angels proclaimed so long ago, Our Wonderful Counselor, our Mighty God….

Continue reading today’s Advent and download a free Advent Calendar for the remainder of the Christmas season, when you subscribe to my blog here.