on being a sibling









Anna got in trouble.

I was visiting the grands and Anna had one of those one-more-time-and-it’s-a-spanking situations. And it happened one more time.

She had been having trouble with her two younger siblings. Being bossy and demanding, then hurty feelings when they didn’t want to play with her. When it came time for the spanking I asked if I could be the one to administer the spanking (while quietly telling her mother that I really wasn’t going to spank her at all; I had something to tell her about siblings). Mom and Dad agreed.

Anna and I share the same role in family order. Oldest daughter (Anna, me), younger sister, youngest brother. The crowd of three.

We went to her room, Anna crying. I shut the door and hugged her, turned her around, patted her bottom three times and said, “That’s your spanking. But I want to tell you something. Let’s sit on your bed.”

Her bed, the bottom bunk, is wrapped in blankets hanging from the upper bunk’s slats. It creates a kind of tent and behind all the hanging blankets is the perfect hiding spot. And so we crawled in and there we were behind hanging blankets and at least a hundred stuffed animals and pillows, in a quiet safe place, talking.

Here’s how it went down:

me: Anna, did you know that you and I are the exact same in our families. I was the oldest sister, then had a younger sister, then a younger brother, just exactly like you.

A: No, I didn’t know that.

me: Well, it’s true and I think I can tell you why you are having so much trouble with your siblings.

A: Okay.

me: It’s because you are being

A: Mean.

me: No. Bossy. They don’t want to play with you because you are bossy. You want to play your game, in your way, at your time. And they don’t want to be bossed around so they quit the game and go to play together and it hurts your feelings.

A: How did you know that?

me: Because I was the bossy oldest sister in my family and I remember my sister and brother never wanting to play with me, and it hurt my feelings.

A: What did you do?

me: Well it took a lot of time, but I learned to play what they wanted to play. You see, all I ever wanted to play was horse show with our bicycles. I liked to pretend my bicycle was a horse. I had a little course, used crushed cardboard  boxes as jumps to ride my bike over, even petted the handlebars and said ‘good girl’ to my bike-horse after completing the show. It was my favorite game. They never wanted to play horse show. They wanted to play tricycles and policeman. So, what did I have to do? I had to give in and play tricycles and policeman.

A: Did they ever play horse show?

me: Not very often. But it’s the only way to not be so bossy. Get into their game, how they want to play. I think you will be much happier, because you and I both know, it’s no fun being bossy.

A: Zannie, I think you just helped me.


Sitting behind those blankets, I could feel Jesus. He was there leading and guiding the conversation. I wasn’t planning on telling her about horse show, or the hurt feelings – things I haven’t thought of for years. But when I started talking it all came back and she listened. The kind of listening when it gets really quiet and still, and you are listening as almost a stranger to your own words coming from your own mouth. It was a moment. A moment that I could have missed, but caught.

Today I am thinking about being labeled the bossy one, and still it kinda stings. But I am also thinking that grown up siblings are not so far removed from the little children siblings we used to be. I am still the oldest sibling, and at 63, I believe the happier sibling me is when I give in to the game I want to play, and learn how to play what life game they find important at the moment.

Anna, I think you just helped me.









top photo: l to r: Case, Caroline, Annabottom photo: l to r: Caroline, Case, Anna

the year of John






I had to miss the very last day of studying John. Something hit me like a steam engine; I can’t remember the last time I was that sick. On the couch I have been thinking and pondering all the things I’ve learned this year through this wonderful man and his writings.


John is a poet. His writing is exquisite. I’ve come to know that there is no sentence or even one word in the book of John that is not meaningful. Every single word has its purpose.

Was John in his youth called the Son of Thunder? I can hardly believe it. Such a transformation inspires prayer for my own two  in-their-thirties sons of thunder, and hope in watching them become transformed men of faith.

Oh, this year I’ve learned how to slow down and ponder, in an attempt to be a little more like John. I’m sitting with passages, even taking one verse or one word and mulling them over.

I’ve found that I deeply want to be a woman of truth, through and through. The most odd verse, one I’d never noticed before has become mine. John 7: 18, He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.

I don’t think I have begun to learn, but want to, how to be humble. John never mentioned his own name, he called himself “the disciple Jesus loved”. I’m wondering how you feel so secure in Jesus’ love like that, and if that security manifests itself as humility?

I’ve learned how to sit in a group of women and feel true connection. Their stories, their vulnerability, their prayers, make me grateful to sit there near them and be blessed every single Wednesday.

I’ve built my faith foundation sturdier. Or may I say that my teacher has built my foundation sturdy and strong, one layer after another, each week, faithfully building truth in me. I love the way she teaches. One day she said the disciples were “a hot mess”, and she won my heart. Oh, yes they were, and so am I. I gravitate to hot messes.

I get a lump in my throat when I think about my grandson’s leaders.

I’ve learned that no where does it say believers are asked to produce fruit; we are asked to bear fruit.

I’ve learned to fill in the blanks and pray scripture, like Lord, the one you love (her name, his name) is sick. Or is hurting, or rejected, or confused, or weary, or whatever.

I’ve seen, I think for the first time, that leading up to, and on, and beyond the cross, Jesus seemed to be at His worst. Beaten and alone, struggling, dying. But really, at His worst, He is at His best. I’ve remembered my ‘worsts’. At my worsts, I was my worst. My heart is still grieved over my ‘worsts’ and if there is any good at all, it’s that they bring me to my knees and right to the foot of the cross. I still can’t get over the cross.

I’ve come away with more questions. Things like, How am I still trying to earn God’s love? Is there anyone with whom I need reconciliation? What has God been trying to reveal to me over and over? What does God want me to bury?

And so I’ve come away. Away for summer, away for a season, away to rest, away to let it all sit and sink in. And away, so that there is a return. A joyful return. Next fall, BSF, Romans. To God be the Glory!


Reading the Bible from the Courthouse steps





National Day of Prayer – May 4

Daniel 9:19

O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people, bear your Name.

The National Day of Prayer observance in Huntsville will be Thursday, May 4 on the east side steps of the Madison County Courthouse, 12:00 noon.

As part of the National Day of Prayer celebration the entire Bible will be read out-loud from the west side of the Madison County Courthouse steps. Beginning May 4 at 1:30 pm, and continuing for 72 hours, with many readers, on the public square of our city and for all to hear, God’s full Word will go forth. 

Would you like to be a part? Would you like to include your family, friends, church or business? 30 minute slots are available. 

Here’s the sign up link.

The grand finale event will be a gathering to read the final chapter, Revelation 22 to worship the Lord of our City, Jesus Christ, and to receive communion.

Sunday, May 7, 5:00 pm

Big Spring Park, at the fountain by the rock cliff

I hope to see you there!



Holy Week






Over on the sidebar you will find the posts, written several years ago and still the most popular on the blog, regarding Jesus’ daily activities during each day of Holy Week.


Blessing to you this week!

Think on this…the one liners






I am thinking on all the one-liners I have read recently in John 18, the one sentences John made sure to include. What is written and especially what is not, is left to deeper study and my imagination. 


John 18: 1

When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side was an olive grove.

Jesus was traveling from the last supper to the Garden of Gethsemane with his disciples. John just happens to mention Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley. Why? Well, because one had to walk through the Kidron Valley to get to this familiar and favorite garden. But is there more?

John MacArthur (Grace to You) talks about the many tunnels under the temple mount, and Scripture verifies this (David, Hezekiah). There was a particular drain that led from the altar to the mountainside facing the Kidron Valley. During Passover thousands of lambs were slaughtered at the altar in the temple court. Their blood along with the water for rinsing drained to the Kidron Valley, and at this particular time of year the flow coming from the mountain would be red with blood and full of the stench of blood. Jesus would have seen and smelled the blood from the many sacrifices. The Lamb of God fully knew He was going to slaughter to become the One sacrifice.


John 18: 10

Then Simon Peter who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (the servant’s name was Malchus).

Luke 22: 51

And he (Jesus) touched the man’s ear and healed him.

We know nothing about this ear except that it belonged to Malchus, a servant of the high priest. The ear was cut off. Does cut off mean severed from his head? Was the ear on the ground? There had to have been blood everywhere. Jesus quickly calmed a situation that could have easily erupted into more bloodshed and even His own death. He averted this by healing Malchus’ ear. If he had picked the ear up off the ground and put it back on, I believe John would have said so. John mentions nothing; it is Luke, the physician, who tells us Jesus healed the ear. Did Jesus touch Malchus’ head, stop the blood flow, and create an ear? I think that is exactly what He did.


John 18: 40

“Give us Barabbas!”

The crowd cried out to Pilate to release Barabbas instead of Jesus. Barabbas means “son of the father”. Bar means “son of”, Abba means “father” (MacArthur). I saw the symbolism this week for the first time. The Son of  the Father was given up for the son of the father.


Oh, what a Savior!