Birdsong Hollow Bridge

Birdsong Hollow Bridge

By Lisa Huddleston

After hearing good things about biking on the Natchez Trace, Chuck and I decided to give it a try. We headed out on Saturday morning with coffee and donuts and drove the hour-long route to the beginning of the park with anticipation. It was a beautiful day, and we were looking forward to a great ride.

Happily we weren’t disappointed. We quickly found the parking lot his brother had told us about and unloaded our bikes. There were cars with bike racks all around us with other riders coming and going frequently.

As soon as we hit the Trace, a pack of bikers came roaring by us on the other side of the road. They were flying and the noise of their bikes was unexpectedly loud. I was a little intimidated and, yeah, embarrassed as I pedaled slowly uphill. But I was glad to be there and humbly kept climbing.

Speaking of hills, the Natchez Trace has some loooooong ones–I measured a particularly tough one at over a mile long. I was really thankful for the many speeds on my modest, blue Trek, and I liberally used the lower ones on this route. All in all, we were doing great (Chuck kindly trying to keep his speed down to my pace.)

Then we saw it. Birdsong Hollow Bridge. Wow. Have you seen it? One thousand five hundred and seventy feet of graceful, white ribbon stretched across a 155 foot drop between green hillsides. Beautiful … and terrifying.

Chuck has never liked heights, and although I don’t have a specific fear of it, crossing the bridge caused my stomach to tightened in a knot. Riding over it was really pretty easy. Infrequent traffic, shoulders that were pretty clean. But the railing’s top sat below our hips. And the terrible sucking pull of the drop wouldn’t let me relax. Know what I mean? The same siren song that tugs at you at the top of the Grand Canyon was there. I hummed and tried to ignore it, but it was there all the same. I knew, and it knew it I knew.

On the way out I noticed the sign at the beginning of the bridge telling travelers that there was hope and giving a number to call “day or night” should they want to talk, but I didn’t give it a lot of thought. I hadn’t yet crossed the bridge. On the way back I read the same sign on the other side, and it hit me with deeper meaning. People jumped from this bridge. My imagination took my body flying right over the rail as I considered the overwhelming fear of falling 155 feet very quickly to a very broken death. I tingled all over at the thought and pedaled carefully and quickly across, safely making it to the other side, back to the parking lot, and eventually home.

Bikers heading across the bridge.

Bikers heading across the bridge.

But I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. What would make so many people willingly step or leap off that terrible ledge? In June 2011 when a group added the suicide prevention signs, the number was up to 14. Incredible! Did they change their minds as soon as their bodies left the safety of the concrete? Did they too late grab at the air for a hand-hold on life? Ugh. I can’t stop thinking about it and grieving for those lives lost.

And those thoughts cause me to savor our ride more than usual. Our journey that day was very good. I was humbled in many ways and also happily affirmed in others. We were in a community of travelers who cared enough to ask how we were when we stopped to get water. I had a husband who adjusted his speed to keep pace with me. And I had been provided with the needed equipment to climb the long hills. And, yes, these facts have wonderful parallels in the other arenas of my life.

Humility, community, love, and provision. For these and other blessings, O Lord, make me truly grateful. Amen.


Plan C or D or ... ?

Plan C or D or … ?

By Lisa Huddleston

I’m sitting here dressed and ready to go, but I just got the call that my literacy student can’t make it today. So now what? Don’t you hate it when you’re all psyched up for something and then your plans are wrecked? Sometimes I do, but, in this case, NO! Right now I feel free to enjoy this rainy, cozy day. Hallelujah!

Why such relief? Because no matter how many times I teach, I still get nervous about it. Someone is looking to me for answers that I should have (I do have the teacher’s manual after all), but that I’m always worried I won’t. And that’s a lot of pressure for a person who really cares about getting it right.

It’s hard for someone like me to admit that she doesn’t know the answer, and the older I get, the fewer answers I seem to have. It’s unsettling. Years ago, I foolishly believed that as I matured I would grow wise and know more not less. Well … surprise! The reverse seems to be more accurate.

As I ponder this surprising situation, I am glad to recall others who paved my way. A couple of older ladies at a LifeWay conference who made me cry by telling their audience that it only got harder as they aged (“it” being life). Several professors as I studied for my Master of Christian Studies at Union University who frequently reminded us that there were only a few non-negotiable truths to hang on to and that many of the other ideas we called “truth” were negotiable. Writers galore.

And now I find myself in agreement with them. My fifties appear to be the decade for “letting go.” I have let go of my children, and I have been blessed to see all three head out on their own good paths. I have let go of some goals that no longer matter to the older me. I have let go of some relationships as our directions have diverged. And I have let go of some “truths” I once fiercely believed.

I could spend the next few paragraphs listing these discarded beliefs, but that would be silly–who knows when I may drift their way again? I’d rather state a few of those truths that have remained and that I trust I will still believe tomorrow (or this afternoon).

1. GOD IS GOOD. Despite the evil that appears to grow daily in the world, this is a truth I cannot shake. It is embedded in my core–I guess the Holy Spirit put it there–and I am thankful everyday for its foundation.

2. JESUS AS GOD/MAN PAID THE PRICE FOR MY SINS. Grace is real, and for that grace I would give my all (but it’s free!)

3. RELATIONSHIPS MATTER. How I treat other people matters–it matters to them, it matters to me, and it matters to God.

I know there are more, but I have just gained some unexpected free time, and I think I’ll use it to read. There are still so many books and so little time! I’m currently reading Bad Religion by Ross Douthat, and I’m discovering that I’m a perfect example of my baby boomer demographic. What a relief–I’m not alone, and God is still in control of this day, of this girl, and of this world.

No Child Left Behind

Encouraging words from Stacy Edwards. Thanks, friend. “God has not dropped you!”

Stacy J. Edwards

Pain can be very isolating. Shame gets all tangled up in the suffering and, before you know it, you’re hiding from the world.

Maybe that is why Peter, in the midst of his letter on suffering, says this:

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. – 1 Peter 3:12 ESV

baby shoesI know that I have been on a soapbox recently about honesty and community. It’s just something God has placed heavily on my heart – this desire that you would know that you’re not alone.  No matter how alone you feel, you have the eyes and ears of God. He hears your whispered prayers in the dark of night and he sees your tears in the shower. 

You are not alone. You are not forgotten. You are a child of the Almighty and he will not leave any…

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Yeah ... this is me. (Next post will be about my obsession with lying.)

Yeah … this is me. (Next post will be about my obsession with lying.)

By Lisa Huddleston

Balance.  Uh huh.  That again.  Okay, even if one does manage to gain some balance in one’s life, why is it so difficult to maintain?  And can we ever take a rest from all the exercise?

It is pretty obvious to compare what I’m talking about (the whole package kind of balance) with the physical work it takes to reach and hold a yoga pose.  And sadly, no, one can never stop exercising if she hopes to maintain balance.  You know what I mean?  I mean, I don’t want to go to the gym or mow the grass or even find a quick and easy menu to prepare for dinner tonight.  I want to lie in the hammock and sleep.  I don’t even want to read–really.  I want to do N O T H I N G.  But nothing will get me nowhere PDQ!

Before my enlightened friends chime in to tell me that doing nothing can be a part of my balancing act.  I know!  But, nothing is all I want to do.  All.  And that just won’t cut it if I want a thin body, a clean house, and a freshly mowed lawn.  Balance requires work or one will quickly find her dainty little butt flat on the ground.

So I will finish mowing the yard that yesterday’s storm prevented (just a bit left).  I will do some kind of physical exercise (may not be at the gym but it will count).  I will take time to relax (this shouldn’t be hard, but it often is).  And I will feed us something edible for dinner (lofty goals here).

Keeping it real.  Keeping it simple.  Namaste.


By Lisa Huddleston

I just left the rocker on my front porch where I was reading (and sitting and rocking) through the last few pages of When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple, an anthology edited and compiled by Sandra Martz and published by Papier-Marche Press in 1987.  It was delicious, and this is my resounding recommendation to all you 50-something women readers to give it a try.  Younger or older ladies (or men) may love it, too; but for those of us on the cusp of old age, it is a perfect read.  Letting go is hard to do!

As I reached the final pieces, which are the most somber of the book, I jotted my poetic response inside the back cover:

Sitting is what

Old folks have in common


Sitting and rocking

Sitting and rocking and trying not to dream

Then I left my rocker alone on the muggy porch and headed to my computer–where I almost lost all urge to write due to my damned, country-slow Internet connection!

Hope you can find a copy of Old Woman and that you will enjoy it as much as I did.  (Sheesh!)


By Lisa Huddleston


In prison by 18,

In the gang section,

In the hole when he got in trouble.

In the hole a lot, I think.

“Couldn’t work on my GED.

Too busy just trying to stay alive.”

Sad and wearied eyes rest on big hands.


Now he has a 10-year-old, a daughter,

And he wants to learn to read.

So we begin,

“This is a bird with a long tail and a round body.

‘B’ looks like a bird with a long tail and a round body.”

And it looks like hope.


At the end of one hour and three lessons,

We shake hands,

Mine swamped in his,

And look forward to next week.


By Lisa Huddleston

It’s “Hump Day” on the week after our family vacation to the beach.  Long enough to get back in the routine of life.  And although the beach was fabulous and I loved having the whole family around me, the routine ain’t so bad.

Monday was great!  I had a perfectly balanced day:  brain food, body food, soul food, and real food .  I studied for my literacy tutoring, I went to the gym, I mowed the grass, and I cooked a delicious dinner (pork chops with jammy tomatoes).

Tuesday the anxiety returned a little: I was supposed to teach my first adult literacy lesson, but my student called in sick (maybe he was just as nervous as I was).  But, I still fed myself well with a girls’ lunch at Sammy B’s and tilapia with caper-parsley sauce for dinner at home.  Two days into the week, and I was cooking along really well.

And this is Wednesday.  I awoke without a plan and have spent the vast majority of the day emptying junk out of my bathroom.  Old cosmetics.  Old deodorant sticks.  Old toothbrushes, and lotions, and hair products.  The room looks awesome.  Fresh and new.  But my feng shui is off.  I’ve gotten enough done, but I’m feeling hungry.  No brain food.  Just a bite of soul food.  No exercise (yet) and no need to cook (leftover pork chops tonight).

But the day is still young.  The treadmill or the bike?  A good book?  A chat with a friend?  If I can season my day with these tasty tidbits, my balance may return and with it my happiness at being home.  Variety is the spice of life, even when the vacation is over.  Bon appetit!

How do you balance your needs?  Do you feed all of your “stomachs” everyday?  What can you add to today to restore its flavor?