I love red poppies! They are scattered strategically around my house in various arrangements. In my office and entry way, etched into a glass plate and painted on a porcelain jug. A beautiful watercolor featuring the paper-thin red poppies adorns the wall in my dining room. These blood-red beauties are my all-time favorite flowers. Like life itself, they are fragile. Don’t even consider picking one—the bloom will bow its precious head and die within minutes of being plucked. Continue reading →
Our feathered friends are still singing!
Today, their melodious songs are unmistakably loud—and persistently cheerful, just like any other day. Two of our resident squirrels pause for a moment to tease the nesting mockingbirds but quickly return to stealing nuts and seeds from the swinging feeders. We strategically placed the feeders out of reach of the squirrels, but the furry rascals manage to find a way in! Annoying the birds has become the playful critters’ daily ritual in and around the magnolia and crepe myrtle trees. As I glance up at the majestic magnolia, I note dozens of bulging buds, announcing their readiness to burst into flower. Of course! It’s almost May—the month the magnolias bloom every year.
Meanwhile, bees are buzzing around garlands of fragrant white flowers all along the hedge on the western border. Unlike the greedy squirrels who delight in chasing the birds away, the bees are more than happy to share juicy nectar with a multitude of butterflies, just like they always do in April. From my shady vantage point, I’m captivated by hundreds of creepy crawlers and flying insects, all bustling hither and thither as they pursue their normal activities—content in their familiar little world.
In the garden, it’s life as usual.
Amid this ever-changing confusion of the Covid-19 pandemic, I find comfort in the garden. All God’s creatures are busy doing what their Creator intended—oblivious to the plight of humanity. Life remains unchanged for them. Each species compelled to fulfill its destiny as it has since the beginning of time. Guided by instinct, all creatures know precisely what to do and when to do it. Constancy is beautiful—and reassuring.
I wonder what you’re thinking and feeling today. How are you dealing with life during Covid-19? How are you handling the lengthy stay-at-home restrictions and the myriad of repercussions to you and your family? Are you grieving for the tragic loss of life in the world? Are you anxious about having enough income to support your family? Do you struggle with a lack of physical touch? Are your emotions up and down and all around? Do you yearn to hug your loved ones? Are you fearful about the future? Do you wonder when all this will end?
I think most of us have similar questions and concerns as we project into the future and ponder what life will look like as country by country the world struggles to return to “normal.” There’s no question humanity will get through this pandemic, but what will each of us take away from this experience to apply to our life in the future? How about you? Do you want life to be the same as it was before the pandemic, or have you discovered your priorities are shifting? Will you reassess and make changes?
Like everyone else, I’ve had plenty of time to think and to search my soul. My thoughts strayed back to December 2018, when I wrote a post entitled Reflecting and Projecting, in which I express the importance of resilience in an ever-changing world.
You see, experience teaches me that we can plan to the last little detail, but in this life, there are no guarantees that what we anticipate will materialize. Unforeseen circumstances often interrupt the best of intentions. If we are mentally unprepared, or unwilling to accept the unexpected darts, arrows, and diversions thrown our way, life can knock us to our knees. Sooner or later, we learn that although we have free will to choose and decide, we do not have complete control.
Whenever I feel confused or bewildered about things I cannot control, I sit in my garden, or I immerse myself in God’s earthly garden in nearby nature. It’s there amid His magnificent creations that I feel His love and assurance. Circumstances may be out of my control, but the Creator of the universe is in control of all things. I may not understand His plan, but He does, and that’s what matters. I may feel confused at the chaos in the world right now, but I am comforted that a God who cares for His beloved humanity has everything under control. Beautiful things will emerge from our current circumstances. I am so grateful—I feel so blessed.
As I look at my surroundings, I see three squirrels frolicking under the magnolia tree. The bees and butterflies are swarming all over the hedge, flowers are blooming, and the grass lawns are a lush green. The birds are still singing joyful songs to their Creator. All is as it should be.
In the garden, there is a sense of order and wonder. All will be well.
Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.
—Jeremiah 32:17 (ESV)
How are you using this stay-at-home time to think about your future?
Will you make changes going forward? What will they be?
I’ve been knocked to my knees or had the stuffing knocked out of me many times, humbling me and causing me to rethink my priorities, my lifestyle and where I was headed. I’ve had to change direction. These are valuable tipping points. It’s happening again! And this will not be the last time, for undoubtedly there will be more times. It is ever so in this life. Are you feeling it too?
How you respond to this time matters. Are you learning some things? Are you realigning? Getting stronger? Clearer about the way you want your life to be at the end of this difficult time in the world?
This I know from past experience. Each time I was knocked down I came out stronger, and a better person. My faith in God increased. I grew more convicted about who I am, whose I am, what I’m called to do and the direction God wants me to go.
It can happen for you too. This can be your tipping point where good things will emerge. Take this time to savor the stillness. To search your soul and get clear on your priorities for the rest of your life.
What is most important and meaningful in your life?
Greetings! In this post you will find one of the stories in Life’s Lessons, Chapter Five of the book I published last year entitled My Soul Sings for You—Spiritual Peace in the Life and Times of Now. The story below is on page 151 in the paperback version and, while I read excerpts from it in my video book reading, it is written here in entirety as was published in 2019.
During these unsettling times of battling the ramifications of this virus Covid-19 on human health and the world economy, millions of people across the globe are feeling stressed, confused and troubled. I understand. The unknown is always scary, but I want to encourage you to take heart. Have hope. Turn fear into faith. Our country is strong. We’re uniting and pulling together. Look for something positive in your current situation. Make a gratitude list! Believe that you and your loved ones will come through this. I pray you feel a sense of peace amid the chaos. A living, loving and powerful God is working it all out. Good things will emerge from all this.
Here is an optimistic thought for you. With so many countries in lock down and people staying home in an effort to slow the spread of this virus, many find for the first time in years, the noise and clatter of busyness has given way to quiet moments to think. They have extra time to be with their family—time to be still. Time to read and space in their life to search the soul, which is always helpful. I hope you enjoy this story and that you will come back often to read other entries in my blog. If you enjoy what I write please share antheatripp.com with your friends.
The Life and Times of Now
We live in an era of rapid economic, cultural, and social change, and we also live in a world constantly evolving and revolving at what feels like breakneck speed. Many people tell me their lives have become so demanding, fast-paced, and fragmented that they feel as though they’re spinning out of control. They feel like they’re on a merry-go-round that flies off its axis and hurtles into space. Do you sometimes feel giddy from life’s twists and turns and the pace at which we live? Our schedules are so full that we never have enough time in the day. Our days pass like hours, weeks like days, and months like weeks. Time appears to accelerate exponentially. It’s almost as if it’s gaining on itself, causing us to wonder if God has increased the speed of time.
Welcome to modern life.
The world of today requires us to stretch ourselves in many directions, including thinking above and beyond the norm. To survive and thrive in the shifting state of our current age and to defend ourselves from the social, cultural, and spiritual attacks hurled at us like sharp arrows with ever-increasing frequency and intensity, it behooves us to be intentional about the way we think, who we’re becoming, what we’re doing, and where we’re going. How will we manage all that life deals us?
Independent thinking is a must!
Transition is sweeping this great nation and other countries around the globe. If you glance at any newspaper or tune in to any form of media, you are bombarded with newsworthy information on a variety of topics from world news to health to politics and what my dad always referred to as the three Ds—death, disaster, and destruction. You’ll hear it all in a matter of minutes, reported from every corner of the globe accompanied by graphic images within seconds of the occurrence. More information is fed to you than you ever desired to know or could ever digest.
Thanks to technology, we can now track unfolding world events firsthand from the comfort of our living rooms. We’re all interconnected and affected by these events, good or evil, over which we seem to have little or no say. At times we feel powerless as individuals to make our voices heard over all the noise from the many devices at our disposal. Media sources bombard us with widespread problems, social and cultural challenges, and political ideology. Everyone has a strong opinion on every single topic. Often their views differ from our own. Everything seems to be topsy-turvy. Right is wrong, and wrong is right. It’s as if our world has flipped upside down. It feels illogical and confusing, and that’s troubling.
To survive in the life and times of now, it takes discernment and independent thinking! With that in mind, please understand that I do not intend to force-feed you what to think, feel, and believe, although I have strong opinions on worldly and spiritual matters. Instead I hope to inspire you to think independently. Don’t just go along with the flow of rhetoric you see and hear on TV, radio talk shows, and newspaper articles. If we’re fed the same information or misinformation long enough, we tend to accept it, and whatever we accept, we begin to believe as truth. Please don’t be misled.
Here’s the big challenge! Many of us don’t think at all. And some people don’t care what’s going on so long as they’re not personally affected, so it doesn’t warrant their time to think about. Others are overloaded and so preoccupied with the overwhelming stresses of daily life that they have no time to contemplate and appraise the state of the world in which they live, how it’s affecting them personally, what’s behind it all, and ultimately, where it will lead them, their country, and humanity!
Heaven forbid that anyone invests time to examine their spirituality or ponder the existence of unseen forces in the spiritual world where an ongoing battle is raging and where evil is working diligently to present lies as truths. We’re in a world where the devil is intent on capturing unsuspecting individuals and only too happy to profess wrong as right and right as wrong, all the while employing distractions that are hidden in seductive wrappings to lull and lure vulnerable souls into complacency and deception, all leading to a path of destruction.
I am blown away at the widespread naiveté regarding the existence of evil forces. Satan is alive and plotting destruction. He hates God. He hates anything that reminds him of God, especially those created in the likeness of God. Yes, my friends, that means you and me! The evil one is prowling the earth, devouring souls, and using any tactic available to him and his fallen cohorts. Be aware that we all have an enemy bent on destroying us, deceiving us, hiding from us, and attempting to convince us he’s not even there. He’s a master at cunning and deception.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion,
walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.
—1 Peter 5:8 (KJV)
I am convinced that we must learn to be discerning, independent thinkers.
I’m not speaking of a passing thought here and there about something you see or hear on social media, TV, or the news. I’m not suggesting a cursory glance at the newspaper. The thinking I refer to is deep, soul-searching, independent thoughtfulness and consideration as to where you are going, where you are leading your family, and the direction in which our country and the world are heading.
The present times require that you examine where you stand in today’s world. Ask yourself these questions and others. Think seriously about your answers. Activate independent thinking. Be deliberate. Be purposeful in your thought process.
- What thoughts dominate your life?
- How easily are you influenced?
- Can you discern truth from lies?
- Do you believe everything you see and hear in the media?
- Do you believe there are good and evil forces at work (and at war) in the world?
- Do you think an evil force can fool, seduce, convince, deceive, and influence even those who are intelligent and well-educated people with good intentions?
- Are you able to define the set of values to which you ascribe?
- Which freedoms would you defend with your life?
These are important things to think about for the future of you and your family. But there’s even more at stake. There’s your community, your country, and the world. Today we need empowered people who can discern the truth, people who can think for themselves and influence others to do likewise.
As you read this, you may wonder where you can find enough time to sit and think. I urge you to make room. Creating space requires you to stop the busyness of your life for longer than five minutes. Schedule a time. Make it a priority. I believe there is an urgency facing the world today. There’s something more significant at stake than what we each see in our separate lives.
What is independent thinking?
- It’s a process learned over time.
- It’s learning to make sense of the world around you by employing your observations and experiences instead of relying on words and opinions of others.
- It’s taking action, not just reacting.
- It’s the ability to trust your judgment, even if that judgment disagrees with what others say or believe.
- Independent thinking means acting by what you believe.
- It’s detecting flaws in arguments and questioning unsubstantiated claims.
- It’s diligently discerning the truth supported by relevant evidence.
- It’s seeking to be informed. It’s researching based on proven facts.
- It’s evaluating, looking at things from different angles and perspectives.
- It’s drilling down behind the words, delving into the legitimacy of inferences.
As a race, we humans have become complacent and lazy where reasoning is concerned. It takes time, effort, and rationalization to cultivate independent thinking, but it’s worth developing. It’s a desirable skill for you and a gift to the world. People who know their values and have strong beliefs will always stand for something, and they know the reason they stand for it. Those who stand for nothing will fall for anything. They may also fall prey to those who would lead them into destructive ideologies and behaviors.
Think about it! Your time is here to step up. If you’re an independent thinker, you will transcend the economic, political, and cultural shifts, and you will lead and influence others. You will own the ability to reason, to solve problems, and make sound judgments. Lies will not deceive you. You will recognize and expose those who would lead you astray.
Employing these critical thinking skills will ensure you’re grounded in your values. A reliable belief system guides you and equips you to withstand challenges, whether they are economic, cultural, social, or spiritual.
The life and times of now are here. Are you prepared for the challenge?
Beware the barrenness of a busy life.
Are you superstitious? Personally I’m not, but some people are and they tremble at the very thought of anything that relates to the number thirteen—hotel room numbers, floors in a building, street addresses, dates on the calendar, and even the military time of 1300 hours! I’m sure you can conjure up your very own connotation of the number thirteen.
Today is Friday Thirteenth, and as if that isn’t enough to unsettle those of you who are overly superstitious, there’s a new bully on the block terrorizing mankind. Covid-19 is on the move, swirling its evil tentacles around the globe, wreaking havoc with human health, creating turmoil wherever it goes, striking fear into the hearts and minds of millions the world over, and infecting thousands with its virulent virus. It’s all part and parcel of The Life and Times of Now!
Yes, the unknown is scary and none of us know what the future holds.
For us, it’s one day at a time. So much is out of our control as new developments emerge daily. We have no clue what April 13th will bring—that’s the day we’re scheduled to leave for our prepaid 3-week trip to Scotland. Will it happen? It remains to be seen. Will the UK close borders? Will flights cancel? Will we be quarantined in our house, or our movements restricted to Austin? We simply don’t know. What we do know is that while much is beyond our control, we must be prepared for anything. We may have to make some hard decisions, and that means being brave, resilient, discerning, and flexible, and we must remain hopeful. Expect the best, but not bury our heads in the sand.
We must all be fearless in the face of this insidious virus. No panic allowed—panicking clouds judgement and induces stress. We don’t need to exacerbate any existing stress, do we?
So, let’s not dwell on the fact that it’s Friday 13th and Covid-19 is loose and on the prowl for victims. Instead, let’s welcome Fearless Friday! Let’s stay calm and overcome doubts and fears. I understand it’s not easy to do when we’re threatened with a highly infectious, fast-moving virus with no known cure; one that leaves a trail of devastation in its wake. This pandemic is a serious situation and deserves our full attention but we must not let it consume our every waking moment.
Yes, I know both the known and unknown are scary, nevertheless I urge you to not panic or overly obsess, causing unnecessary stress that won’t help matters and will deplete your precious immune system. Stay vigilant and make wise decisions.
I encourage you to employ all the protective measures—by now, you can probably recite the list of precautions until you’re blue in the face! It’s always unsettling when we don’t know much about our enemy, but we must arm ourselves with knowledge, courage and faith.
Be fearless! When you’ve done all you can do—that’s all you can do.
I believe there’s usually something good wrapped up in the darkness to provide hope and light. I’m sure we’ll see some good things in the coming days. Those of you who know me, understand I make it a practice to look for the positive in challenging situations. I want to share a few good things I observed today on Fearless Friday.
- The country’s uniting to battle the threat of Covid-19 – new streamlined health systems will emerge
- Bold new rules are in place for the protection of our citizens.
- The stock market rallied today, the best day since Oct 2008, despite recorded losses this week.
- Millions are implementing diligent health habits (disinfecting, hand washing, no touching face)
- There’s a pleasing heightened awareness on taking steps to build natural immunity.
- An increased understanding of inexpensive, environmentally safe products that kill viruses (Basic G)
- Families are taking control of their health—choosing natural supplements to boost immunity.
- Many people are learning to transform worry and fear into faith in God, who IS still in control even though are questions aren’t answered.
I challenge you to remain cool, calm and collected. Be that person in the family who brings peace and assurance. Contact your family and friends and see how they are, especially those who are elderly or alone, or both. Alleviate any troublesome fears. Reassure them you’re there for them through the coming weeks.
Be a beacon of light to those who cannot see beyond the darkness. I’m so proud of you for shining your light. Love one another. Always believe something wonderful is about to happen.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose ~ Romans 8:28
I’m thrilled to announce that Kirkus has reviewed my book and you can read their assessment below. I feel the review is an accurate description of the message I dreamed of portraying through the stories in my book. This link will take you directly to the review as published in their site.
A calming and gently thought-provoking reminder that the simplest wisdom is often the truest.
Stay calm and carry on was an encouraging announcement on a poster from back in 1939. It was created by the British government to raise public morale when mass air attacks on its cities were widely predicted during World War II.
Staying calm was good advice then, and it’s just as relevant today. In times of trouble and turmoil, we need to keep our wits about us. All of them. We must think reasonably, rationally and creatively when the storms of life hit. We humans don’t behave at our best when we’re panicked.
Whether we’re threatened by wars, worldwide pandemics or anything else with the potential to disrupt and threaten our lives, let us remember that mass panic and hysteria never served any useful purpose because it doesn’t influence external factors beyond our control. However mass panic can spread fear, increase heightened emotions, impair judgement, prompt panic-buying, raise prices and impact the economy, as in sharp downturns in stock markets.
I’m referring to the Covid-19 virus and the resulting responses from news stations, radio talk show hosts, social media posts and the general public. The amount of price-gouging, fear mongering and finger-pointing is rampant. The blame-game is in full play but does that really serve any helpful purpose?
I’m seeing opportunist companies and individuals pitching their products and services with self-profit in mind, using fear-mongering ads and announcements while their normal pricing structure doubled or tripled.
Hey people, stay calm. Panic helps nothing.
Should we be concerned about the potential threat of Covid-19? Of course! We’d be foolish not to have concern about the unknown consequences but let’s not toss integrity to the curb for the sake of greed. And let’s not lose civility to others by placing blame where there is no proof. And, let’s not spread to mass fear.
Instead, let us use our energy wisely in preparation to protect ourselves and our families in the best way we know how. There are specific precautions within our control. I’m not here to issue a complete list of those recommendations because the CDC, and others, have widely circulated actions you can take, so you can do your own research.
At this moment int time, we have no idea as to the impact of Covid-19 on the world at large, or on us as individuals. It’s all in the future. We don’t know if you will get the virus, or if I will get it, or how serious it might be for any of us. It’s unknown if our travel plans will all be disrupted or if we’ll find ourselves in an unexpected quarantine. It’s all an unknown entity, and the unknown and unexpected can cause anxiety.
With that said, let’s all decide ahead of time to build our immune systems, to wash our hands frequently, and disinfect our homes with reliable products known to kill bacteria and viruses. Then, get plenty of sleep and take other precautions within our control.
When we have done all we can and said our prayers, the rest is out of our control. Remember, when any storm of life erupts, there are heightened emotions, waves of panic and disagreeable voices around you.
Make sure you are the voice of reason.
Stay calm and carry on. And always pray. Every day.
Maybe it was the faint click as they closed the front door. Perhaps it was my heightened intuition or merely an uncanny coincidence. I can’t say for sure what caused me to wake up with a start. I could see the landing light shining onto my feather eiderdown through a crack in the door, which was always left ajar at my request. The shaft of light was immediately reassuring, so I pulled back the bed covers, slipped my feet into the cozy slippers beside the bed, and headed for the bathroom just in case that was the reason I’d woken up. I wondered what time it was. It felt as though I’d barely got into bed, but perhaps I’d slept longer than it seemed.
On my way to the bathroom, I called down the stairs softly in a sing-song rhythm, “just going to the bathroom!” It was customary for me to announce an intention to my parents whenever I wandered about upstairs after bedtime, so they’d know what I was doing, and I avoided the chastising order to get back to bed! I peered down the flight of stairs and saw light coming from the living room, but no one answered. Since an acknowledgment was not forthcoming, I proceeded to the toilet, but on my way back to bed, I again called down the stairs. This time I declared I was going back to bed, and I raised my voice to just below a shout. Nothing! No response. This was most unusual—one or another parent would always answer. Then it occurred to me that they were already in bed and had forgotten to switch off the living room lights.
From my vantage point on the small landing area, it was easy for me to glance through their open bedroom door to determine if they were in bed asleep. Alas, the room was dark, but I could see my parents’ twin beds, neatly made and pushed together. They were unoccupied. No Mum and no Dad. I felt anxious as I raised my voice a decibel and yelled down the stairs more demandingly, “Where are you?”
Still, there was no response. What could have happened? Fear seized me, and I quickly ran into my bedroom, turned on the overhead light, and fumbled for my clothes. I don’t know where I thought I was going, I definitely was not about to venture outside into the dark of night to look for my parents, but in my eight-year-old mind, I wasn’t thinking reasonably—I only knew I needed to find my parents because I was afraid of the dark at the best of times, and apparently I was now alone in the house. My two biggest fears—the darkness of night and being alone—struck a somber chord inside my young being. Had they abandoned me? I was bewildered and confused as a situation such as this was something I’d never experienced. My parents were always there.
Had they come to some harm? Where could they be, and why had they left me alone?
My mind raced, and my imagination ran amok as I exchanged my pajamas for my school uniform—the clothes neatly laid out at the foot of my bed—the ones I was to wear to school the next day. As I hurriedly dressed, I listened intently for tell-tale sounds—my parents’ familiar footsteps climbing the stairs, or voices announcing their presence. But all was eerily quiet. My eyes welled up with hot tears that spilled over and rolled down my cheeks. Fully dressed, I sat on the edge of the bed frantically trying to focus on what action to take. It suddenly came to me. I would overcome this fear in a logical, sensible manner that would make my parents proud. Thus, were the ramblings of this timid eight-year-old girl, alone and afraid—and illogically concluding that if my actions solicited their approval, Mum and Dad would magically appear.
Parental teaching by example and instruction reminded me to tackle situations with careful thought, followed by decisive action. So, what else was I to do? I felt the fear, shed some tears, neither of which had helped my plight, so I jumped into action. I would face the fear factor first—head on! I opened the drawer in the small nightstand by my bed and pulled out a penknife! It was a gift from my Dad intended to accompany my fishing tackle paraphernalia for when we’d take excursions to the river. The knife was about two inches long with an inlaid mother of pearl handle. A single two-inch blade extended the length of the knife to about four inches. I did take it on our fishing trips, but more often, I used it to sharpen pencils to a fine point. I kept it in the nightstand drawer for several reasons, one of which was for convenience—easy access. It was also comforting to know the little knife was near me at night if a monster emerged from the dark shadows, imaginary or otherwise.
I gripped the penknife and slowly extracted the shiny blade being careful not to cut myself. The edge was very sharp but would not pose a threat to anything larger than a mouse, let alone a monster, but then I was only thinking about my plan so I was undeterred by the insignificance of my weapon. I was proud of myself for taking matters into my own hands and making use of what few resources came to mind. I imagined how creative my parents would think I was, and that offered further encouragement.
Resourcefulness was upheld and applauded in our household and worn as a badge of honor. I took a deep breath, puffed out my chest, and figuratively pinned on that badge as I set about securing the house of any potential threat. In doing so, perhaps my fears would subside. Why in the world did I think a tiny knife could protect me? But I wasn’t thinking rationally; I was a scared child reacting and holding myself together as best I could.
Methodically, I investigated all the concealed areas upstairs. I started by looking under my bed and in the wardrobe moving the clothes to make sure nothing was hiding among them, then I did the same in my parents’ room. I peered behind the bathroom door—all was clear. Timidly, I ventured downstairs and found everything quiet and in order. In the living/dining room area, hot embers in the fireplace glowed behind the fireguard and threw out some welcome warmth, but the chairs and sofa were empty. I investigated the kitchen and opened the pantry door. It was too small to conceal anything much, but I checked anyway. No sign of anyone. The area under the stairs hid nothing to worry about, so I passed it by with a cursory glance and scurried back up the stairs to my room, thoroughly dejected. My heart was pounding. My parents were nowhere in sight.
My foray with the knife assured me nothing bad was hidden or lurking in the shadows, and while that concern had lessened, the dread of being alone in the house was increasing by the second. I folded up the penknife and laid it on the nightstand. I began to cry—no, I sobbed uncontrollably! I was cold, alone, filled with anxiety—and I had lots of unanswered questions.
Where did they go, and why did they leave me? What will I do if they don’t come back?
In search of warmth and to escape the cold night air upstairs, I retreated to the safety of my bed, curled my small body into a tight ball with my clothes still on, and pulled the covers over my head. I continued to cry as I pressed my face into the bed and closed my eyes in the hopes of surrendering to sleep. Perhaps when I woke up, Mum and Dad would be home, and then all would be well. It would be like it never happened. Those were hopeful thoughts, but in no way did they ease my fear and sadness or give me the peace for which I longed. I hated feeling so alone.
I’ve learned when we are most alone, we discover that we are not alone at all! Suddenly, while sinking into the depths of despair, a thought popped into my young mind.
“He lives inside you, Anthea,” my grandfather had said, “You have only to call His name, and He is there! He will answer you and protect you! He will give you strength and comfort you.”
So, I stopped crying and cried out to Jesus. I hummed one of my favorite hymns, “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” and I asked Jesus to bring back my mother and father. I recalled that Grandad had read me stories about Jesus and His love for little children. A calm peace came over me as I focused on thoughts about Jesus.
After a while I dared to peek out from beneath the covers. I turned to face the bedroom door, straining my ears towards the stairs while listening intently. What was that? Did I hear something? Was it a key in the door? Soft voices? Quiet footsteps? Dare I get out of bed?
I hurried, still fully clothed and full of hope to the top of the stairs. Oh, joy! There they were—coming up to bed—both of them! Thank you, Jesus!
Imagine their astonishment to find me, dressed for school, and greeting them on the landing. I admonished them with a “Where did you go?” and the most disapproving look I could muster. My tear-stained face was a dead giveaway as they patiently listened to my sad tale of discovering I was alone, getting dressed, and my swing around the house with penknife in hand. They could see how disturbed I was. Suffice it to say; they had just slipped out to the neighbors next door for a short visit. I imagine they might have had a chuckle later, but at that moment, they hugged me, professed their love, and assured me they’d never leave me.
At the time, I was just relieved to have them home—it was a happy ending. Life continued as it always had. The years passed. While I never forgot that incident, the trauma hadn’t caused any permanent scars. On the contrary, I was profoundly impacted by the experience—perhaps more beneficially as I grew older and wiser.
Looking back now, I realize it was a pivotal episode in my life—a real game changer—one of those encounters that strengthened me and prepared me for the future. The lessons I failed to fully understand back then were embedded in the experience and emerged many years later—lessons I could use myself and instill in others.
Perhaps you can relate to what I’ve written. Maybe you’ve enjoyed hearing this story and were interested in how I handled things in my childish way. I wonder if you’ve ever felt alone and afraid, or if you, as a parent, ever left your sleeping children by themselves for a short time, thinking they’d stay sound asleep and safe, but quite unexpectedly they woke up and when you returned you found them crying and calling out for you. Sadly, I’m guilty of doing that on one occasion. Considering my experience as a child, you’d think I’d know better, wouldn’t you?
I hope you won’t miss the main message in this post or overlook some important lessons from the events as they occurred. As a child, I certainly didn’t catch them all—not even close. But what was important is that I did learn something very meaningful. When I felt most alone and abandoned, I was not alone at all—as a believer in Christ, His Holy Spirit was planted in me to be my guide and comforter. Even as an eight-year-old, although I didn’t fully understand it, I felt the power within me, and the peace I received. I knew it was not of my human strength but grace freely given from God. That much stayed with me, and while I may not always have implemented what I learned that night, I have done so more often than not.
As time went by, and sporadic memories of that night flashed before me as an adult, I recognized a few valuable lessons to share. One that comes to mind right away is how fortunate I was in having a family member who taught me I can count on Jesus to be with me always, in the good times, the downturns, and yes, even in the darkest of days.
I also learned that we may not always have our loved ones with us, to lean on, to protect us and comfort us. There are no guarantees, and bad things can happen to good people. I discovered that self-sufficiency is not always enough to calm fears and bring peace in the midst of a storm, but God can.
Do you believe that we are allowed difficult circumstances to not only strengthen us but to be encouraging to others we meet in life? I believe that with all my heart. Many years later, I was able to instill that concept in a frightened 5-year old boy—by assuring him that Jesus is with us always. Since His spirit lives within us, He is there—wherever we go. I like to think planting that little seed of faith in his heart made a difference in his life.
I am a resourceful, independently minded, and self-sufficient woman, so it’s never been easy for me to admit weakness, and I often try to go it alone. I put my best foot forward as we Brits often say. You can see how I played that out as a child taking matters into my own hands with the penknife scenario, which was not a bad thing given the circumstances but didn’t alleviate the fear. You will also notice even though I had proven that there was no physical presence in the house to harm me, the fear persisted. I was scared to be alone, and peace of mind was not forthcoming.
It wasn’t until I called out to Jesus, beseeched Him for help, and tapped into His strength that I received peace. Isn’t it comforting to know that the Lord of the universe is a whisper away? He loves us, knows us intimately, and He hears our prayers. He is for us, not against us.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)
By a stroke of good fortune, I survived to tell this tale, but last week I nearly died at the hand of a well-meaning human. It was a kill-with-kindness situation which resulted in an unfortunate outcome, reminding me that good intentions can have far-reaching consequences! The human’s generosity toward me, Mitten the hamster, quickly turned into a living nightmare for me and for her too! Of course, I must confess I wasn’t altogether blameless in the fiasco. Desire and greed contributed to my demise.
I’ll share the experience later but first a little history. A few months ago, I was a very unhappy little hamster with no family. I found myself in what the humans call a pet store. I was sad, homeless, and hungry. Although the store humans scattered food around the cavernous cage, it wasn’t like my mother’s cooking. There was a mechanical contraption that dispensed water, but it tasted bitter—not at all like the cold, sweet water I was accustomed to sipping from the woodland streams. The conditions in that store-place were appalling for a well-bred hamster. It was not like my warm, cozy nest under the sheltered tree roots in the wood—the only home I’d known before I was snatched away from my parents and nine siblings.
Home was never like this! This place was an overcrowded, stinky prison where I was forced to endure many indignities, like sharing a small space with others of my species—many were common types who stole food from each other and threatened me harm if I got too close, so I spent most days curled up in a tight ball, trembling in a secluded corner of the cage, hiding as best I could under a few bits of scratchy straw. I tried to sleep and stay out of the way of the other not-so-nice hamsters. Sometimes, a human who worked in the store would open the cage door and remove one of the more boisterous ones. I can’t say for sure what became of them, but chatter from the other hamster inmates suggested that a human bought them. What? Is it legal to steal animals from their families and sell them to humans? Isn’t that animal trafficking? I shuddered at the thought.
One by one, the hamsters disappeared but were soon replaced by others. It was all very puzzling and terrifying. I stressed over what would become of me. Just when I hit an all-time low and arrived at a point where I was depressed and didn’t even care what happened to me, a human boy with a happy, freckled face and a big toothy smile appeared at the cage, right where I was hiding. As I peeked through my fluffed-up fur and a crack in the straw barrier, the boy smiled at me and tried to stroke me through the holes in the wire cage. He had a gentle touch, and I heard him say, “Mom, this is the one I want! He’s so cute! Please, can I have him?”
It was that fast! I was suddenly picked up, whisked away to a backroom, and placed in a cardboard box with a few holes in it. It’ll take me a while to chew my way out, I thought. It was dark in the small container, and I couldn’t see outside as the holes were too small, so I’m not sure exactly what happened, but I think I got a ride in what people call a car. I was petrified but happy to be out of that nasty store. I kept hearing voices saying kind things about me. That at least was reassuring. Apparently, they meant me no harm. The boy called Stephen was doing his best to hold me steady in the box, which was bouncing up and down on his lap, causing me to spin around. Twice he apologized for the rough ride. There was nothing for my feet to grab to stabilize my body, let alone anything I could bite to brace myself. I was dizzy. I was about to throw up my disgusting store breakfast when the jiggling up and down stopped, and we entered a place they said was their home—and now mine—since the boy with the big smile opened the lid, peered in and said, “We’re home little friend! I’m going to call you, Mitten!”
The mom reached in to pick me up, but my nerves were still on edge. Instinct prevailed over good manners. Regrettably, from sheer panic, I sunk my two front teeth into her finger and drew blood, at which time she dropped me back into the box. Within minutes, I calmed down, so I allowed the boy to hold me. He stroked my fur and cuddled me to his chest. Gosh, I hope he doesn’t squeeze me too tight, or I won’t be able to breathe, I said under my breath. Then, as I peered cautiously around, four more friendly faces came into view. The taller humans were the parents, but the other two were children and looked very much like Stephen. I later learned they were siblings, his older brother David, and his little sister Chandra.
Sadness gripped me for a moment as I recalled my own family. I so missed Mom and Dad and my brothers and sisters back home in the wood, but all this attention and love from my new family was comforting, and I felt special. They were treating me like a celebrity hamster. Maybe it’ll be nice to live here, I mused, as my positive attitude resurfaced, and fear began to subside. It seems I was a gift for the boy’s birthday! He chose me. He wanted me over all the other hamsters at the pet store and he saved me from sinking into a pit of hopeless depression. It was almost like home. I felt loved.
I soon settled into my new dwelling place in the Tripp household. Inside my private enclosure, the environment was safe and cozy, and while I could see and hear all that was going on around me, the outside walls protected me from anything harmful. I was part of the family but safe inside my hamster house. I sometimes hid in the tunnel and made funny faces at the other furry, four-legged family pet—the dog! He would often sit and stare at me. That’s rude, I thought. Then he would drool and lick his chops loudly, exposing huge teeth that were as big as my whole leg. My mom would say that’s bad manners. It was fun to tease him! I would stick out my tongue, wiggle my fluffy tail at him, laugh, and then run and hide. I knew I was quite safe in my house. It was hard to know what he had in mind, but I think he just wanted to play because once, while I was running around the living room for playtime, he cornered me and licked me with his tongue, saturating my back with his saliva. Yuck—it was sticky like glue! That was disgusting! It took me a long time to wash all that matted fur.
I enjoyed life with my new family. It was Stephen’s job to serve my food, and there was always plenty to eat. He also filled my drinking dispenser with fresh water every day. Sometimes though, the boy who chose me was bored with his chores, and so the Mom asked David or Chandra to do it. Now and then, even their mother fed me if the children forgot, or were running late for school. I especially looked forward to my veggie treats and often overindulged, stuffing my pouch with way too much food, which meant extra time running in my exercise wheel. I didn’t mind a bit—hamsters love to exercise, especially at night. Occasionally, I would stand up on my hind legs letting my family know I was eager to run loose in the living room. That was so much fun! Indeed, I was one spoiled hamster—and I knew it. I was home, and I was loved. Life was good.
The day when I was almost killed with kindness was not fun, nor was it funny. It was terrifying, and I will never forget it although in retrospect I can see why the humans all had a chuckle after the event. I am just happy that the one who caused the near-death incident also saved my life, so ironically, you might say we’re even-steven! No, it wasn’t the boy Stephen, it was his mother who dealt the deed. Here’s how it came down.
The day of my demise dawned like any other. I arose to find the sun shining brightly on me as I yawned, stretched, and prepared for my morning run in the wheel. The dad had already left for work, and the little humans were scurrying about as they dressed for school. I wondered if I could sneak out with them to see exactly what they did there all day, but before I explored that thought, something else seized my attention.
The most beautiful smell wafted through my whiskers. My face began to twitch involuntarily, as I commanded my nose muscles to engage and follow the scented trail. My strong sense of smell confirmed that it ended in the kitchen. That’s when I spotted the mom assembling sandwiches for the kids’ lunchboxes. She was preoccupied with the task at hand, so she didn’t see my longing look, nor did she hear me smacking my lips impolitely. I guess it requires focus to spoon a sizeable amount of peanut butter from a huge jar, add a dollop of jam, and slap two pieces of bread together to make a sandwich. No, it wasn’t the first time I’d sniffed pulverized peanuts, but this time the scent was very titillating, so much so that I drooled down my chin. Come on, Mitten, I thought, now you’re acting like the bad-mannered dog! So be it! That peanut butter smelled heavenly, and I wanted some in the worst way.
Meanwhile, the three children grabbed their lunch boxes and left for school. I noticed the mom hadn’t screwed the lid back on the peanut butter jar, so the delicious aroma was stronger than ever. It was driving me nuts—no pun intended! The house was quiet, the mom was ready to tidy the kitchen, and I thought it’s now or never. I must get her attention, or I’ll be too late! I must convey my desire for that peanut butter before she hides it away.
I seized my moment. I reared up on my hind legs and clawed vigorously at the door into my dwelling, creating a horrible racket that was most offensive to a hamster’s ear, but she paid no attention! I threw myself on the floor and rolled around in noisy circles. I leaped into the spinning wheel and ran my tail off, until the mechanism squealed for mercy. Surely, she must hear that! Is she ever going to take the hint? I wondered.
She had the peanut butter jar in her hand and was ready to dig the spoon deep down inside to scoop some out. What in the world is she doing? Oh no! Are you kidding me? She’s going to eat the yummy stuff herself! That’s when I panicked. Desperate means were required. I once again reared onto my hind legs, snatched the toy with the bell on its tail, and frantically shook it, beating it savagely against the cage. Finally, she looked over at me, and with the full spoon poised in midair, she came over to investigate the commotion. Whew! It worked!
“What’s the matter, little fellow?” she inquired. Huh, I thought, don’t you know? My crazy antics must have paid off, or she read my mind, because she glanced at the spoonful of peanut butter, looked back at me, and said,
“Would you like a little lick of this?” Hmmm! Would I like a little lick? I thought. How about a giant scoop?
That was the start of my disturbing demise.
Mama Tripp was a kindly soul, and she still liked me even though I bit her when I first arrived. She pushed her loaded spoon through the open door towards me. I grabbed it with my eager little hands, and I was on it! It tasted every bit as delicious as I had imagined. My tongue got a real workout as I licked and licked, sunk my teeth into the gooey mound, and sucked in as much of the creamy yumminess as possible, as fast as I could, as I intended to consume it all. I decided none must go to waste as I may never get another chance. I thought I had died and gone to heaven—for a few seconds.
Suddenly, a large lump of peanut butter stuck in my throat, and the more I gagged in a frantic attempt to dislodge it, the stickier it became. I was soon gasping for air. I fell backward onto the cage floor with my feet in the air—a most undignified position for a hamster of my good breeding. My legs were twitching, and my body was squirming around in the wood chips on the floor. I felt my eyes bulging out of their sockets. I was gulping uncontrollably, and my abdomen was convulsing as I struggled to catch a breath. My surroundings grew foggy, and through the mistiness, I saw events from my young life pass before my eyes. I was fading away. Would I wake up in hamster heaven?
Meanwhile, the children’s mom was panicking. She was white-faced and pleading with her Creator to save my life. She must be wondering how to explain to her children that I died from her negligence! Perhaps she was plotting to replace me before the children returned and pass the new hamster off as me. I felt a fleeting sense of pompous satisfaction that she was suffering too. After all, she was the mother, and she should have known that a greedy little hamster might choke on peanut butter if allowed to overeat. I had no more time to think because the end was near.
That’s when the real drama happened! Right out of the blue, she tore the water dispenser off the wall in my house, and horror of horrors, in a last-ditch effort to save me, she whisked me off the floor with her left hand (rather roughly, I might add) and with her right hand, she rammed the narrow water spout all the way down my throat. That didn’t feel so good, but it pushed the glob of peanut butter out of my throat and into my stomach. One big gasp and life-giving air entered my lungs. I could breathe again. She deposited me gently into the safety of my cage, and straight away she flopped into a nearby chair. I noticed she looked quite disheveled!
Meanwhile, I collapsed onto my carpet of wood chips in a whimpering heap, terrified and exhausted—it was the most uncharacteristic behavior for a hamster of my upbringing. Thoroughly embarrassed, I curled my trembling body into a tight ball, and once my heart stopped pounding, I slept all day.
Later that night, when the children and dad were home, I heard the mom confess her part in the incident. Fortunately for me (and for her too) the story ended happily, and they all had a chuckle at the unfortunate debacle. Mind you, I didn’t think it was funny then, and I don’t think so now, but I am forever grateful I didn’t choke to death on peanut butter, and I still love my human family. I have a happy life, and I have no desire for a lick of peanut butter. No, not even a sniff!
I wonder how almond butter tastes—just kidding! I’ll stick to apple slices and carrot snacks.
Good intentions can have far-reaching consequences!
~ Anthea Gillian Tripp
While I love people and am considered outgoing, friendly and sociable, I value time alone—time to be still and just be. In the silence of solitude is where I process deep thoughts and reflect inwardly on a wide variety of circumstances and situations that I encounter or observe in life.
As a result, a great deal of thought and expression is woven into the pages of My Souls Sings for You, and in the nine chapters in the book numerous topics are covered—ones most prevalent in the minds of so many people in the life and times of now. Some may see the book as the way I view life, or my philosophy on living.
My friends understand how passionate I am about health and wellness, and to them I offer assurance that I will never stop advocating for healthy living, nor will I ever stop championing our parent company. So much of my personal growth has been a direct result of building our business, alongside my husband for 38 years. So many of my dearest friends have come from business and client associations. And if I am honest, there would be no book without our long-established business, so I am eternally grateful for the opportunity given and the sustained success achieved over the years. What I do is a passion and is central to my life’s purpose. It was yesterday, is today and will be tomorrow. My business has also provided the time and resources for me to write My Soul Sings for You.
If you study the components of optimum health and wellness, you will know there are many elements to good health and longevity. One critical piece of the health puzzle is learning inner peace. The soul yearns for it and needs it. However, inner happiness, to be content in all circumstances, is not easy to achieve. In our crazy world of today, people often sacrifice their spiritual health as they strive to have more, do more or be more. Alas, some people even exchange inner peace in an all-out attempt to acquire something admirable, like physical health, by striving too hard and overdoing it. If some’s good more’s better? Not always.
I see a great need for people to live a more balanced life, and a simpler life—one that embraces inner peace and happiness. But how does one achieve it? I believe that the stories in my book will guide my readers down a path of self-discovery, ultimately leading them to seek out, and secure a greater sense of spiritual peace.
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification