Flowers and Their Legacy

Cynthia L. Eppley, MA

Flowers and Their Legacy

“The earth laughs in flowers.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Mom I come by my gardening skills honestly: my mother was a gardener. She tended faithfully to her gardens and I must have inherited her love of beauty and the wonder of it all. Although she is gone now, I brought many of her iris and peonies with me before the house was sold. My favorite iris is a yellow one that is as big as my fist. It must be staked up as it becomes top heavy. I thinned it out yesterday and left some up on the corner. A lady stopped by: “Can I have these? Really? I got some last year and it flowered this spring! It is just beautiful! Thank you so much!” The bright pink and white peonies are in their glory right now. Their fragrance is intoxicating. But they are losing their petals, and soon the earth below will be sprinkled with a carpet of vibrant color. It reminds me of the hymn:

“Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea; Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Who was, and is, and evermore shall be.”

It is as if they lifted their arms in praise of their Creator, and then spent, cast their petals down at their feet.

Debbi So many of my friends have been gardeners as well! Debbi Wellman, in Syracuse NY, was an avid gardener. She gave me catmint, Solomon’s Seal and Batchelor Button. Debbi is gone now, but I look at the plumes of purple catmint and think of her.

Keith and Audrey My brother, Keith and wife Audrey gave us one huge hosta. That one hosta grows quickly and has been divided so many times. When I thin it out, about every other year, I dig deep into the ground, and place the crowns up at the corner. People know that I do this, and every year, they stop by to grab a few. “These are free? Really?” Last year I had someone stop: “I grabbed some of these a few years ago and planted them in my back patio. They come up every year and are just beautiful!” I like to think that hosta is throughout Ambler in a living legacy of my brother.

Glenda My friend, Glenda, used to live in Wisconsin. Apparently, hosta reigns supreme there. I brought back several different types, as well as rhubarb.Rhubarb takes awhile to mature, but once it does, it is wonderful. Added to sweet strawberries, it gets folded into a buttery pie crust or a crisp. When I post it on Facebook, it is generally the favorite post of the year. I’m surprised I don’t have people camped out on my back porch waiting for a piece. Glenda also gave me my favorite perennial: my Bottle Tree! Hardy, resisting even the coldest winters. Needs no watering, and reflects the light of the setting sun in magical ways.

Paula My neighbor, Paula, is also an avid gardener. We exchange plants and frequent Rice’s Market together for hanging baskets. It seems that we can’t remember the “proper” name for plants. No matter. Beginning to talk about a particular item: “You know, the one that has the speckled leaves and the pink flower that’s about 4 inches high? That one!” We laugh at ourselves and share gardening delight. Snakes are a joint dread, especially in her compost pile. After a hard day of work, you may find us under her towering oak tree drinking a tall ice tea. That tree was planted by her husband, Joseph over 30 years ago, so that she would have shade. He is gone, but his legacy continues on.

Mearl Horner My brother-in-law, Mearl Horner, died this past April. He had a spiky purple plant that reached for the heavens: Liatris. He loved sharing his plants with me; I look forward to the blooms that will come in June.

The Green Cathedral We have created the entire backyard into a walking garden. I like to think of it as my “Green Cathedral”. A flagstone path welcomes visitors, and the tall swaying spruce trees shield it from the sun. It is a cool place of rest even on hot summer days. My Junior Choir sang “Green Cathedral” in church when I was a Pre-teen. I still remember the haunting melody and poignant lyrics so many years later:

I know a green cathedral, a shadowed forest shrine,
Where leaves in love join hands above and arch your prayer and mine; Within its cool depths sacred, the priestly cedar sighs,
And the fir and pine lift arms divine unto the pure blue skies

In my dear green cathedral there is a flowered seat,
And choir loft in branched croft, where songs of bird hymns sweet; And I like to dream at evening, when the stars its arches light,
That my Lord and God treads its hallowed sod,
In the cool calm peace of night.

So Why do I Love my Flowers?

I love community and people. And if I am out in my garden, people often stop by and tell me how they love the gardens. Bob graciously gives me most of the credit.
It is a way to connect with people, meet them, and begin friendships. Cheryl walked down my path last Spring, and we have been fast friends ever since.

The garden is a place of sacred remembrances.The flowers bridge the beauty of today with the precious lives that have gone before. Just today someone reminisced: “I remember as a young girl marching in the Memorial Day parade. I carried pink and white peonies and the purple catmint.”

And I delight in their praise. But is the praise for me? No the praise is for the glory of these miracles. As I look over the plethora of colors and textures? I see the glory of God displayed.

Luke 12:27
“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

I remember the gifts from friends that have gone on before and are with Jesus. The legacy they have left behind brings me such pleasure and hope.

Isaiah 40:8
The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.

Isaiah 61:10
I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God.

Words of praise and beauty spring from within me. “You are just gorgeous today! Keep growing! And look at you! I didn’t know you were there!” I reach out to hold the bloom in my hand, wet with morning dew, sparkling in the new morning misty light. Stretching toward the sun, the bloom reaches for the Giver of life. Even creation points to the Creator, and the giver of all good gifts.

“God’s in His heaven, alls right with the world’, whispered Anne softly.” ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Social Distancing

Cynthia L. Eppley, MA

Social Distancing

Many people are tired of COVID and social distancing. Social distancing may be the new word for 2020, but everyone knows what it means. The implications of separation are taking a toll on us.Take a quick look on Instagram or Facebook and you’ll see people doing crazy things to pass the time. Half of the time we don’t know what day it is. Or whether or not we washed our face or brushed our teeth.

What is Happening?

I’m noticing people losing it. At 30 days of isolation, people were reacting strongly. I’m not even sure what day we’re up to now: 60? 70?
Why is this so hard?

We Take so much for Granted

Perhaps we take for granted the simple run to WaWa or Starbucks. Or stopping for the paper. Many are working from home and so they miss the camaraderie of work. Or after work, we may go out for dinner and drinks with friends.
This casual social easiness is not available to us now.

Our “connectedness” with others has been truncated.
Easter dinner? Forget it.
Mother’s Day? Not happening.
But the fact is that some people are still getting together. They may very well be 6 ft. apart. While others decide to stay home altogether.

I talked to one neighbor who noticed this discrepancy and it weighed on her heavily:

“I’m just having a bad day. I really wanted to be with my family. They are all together, but we can’t be. Our county has too many cases.”

It was a bitter pill to swallow.

We just passed Memorial Day and I could hear families celebrating together. While I was happy for them, I was a bit wistful. Were they wearing masks? Were they 6 ft. apart? Were hugs allowed? Hearing the laughter of children intensified my own longing to see family.Memorial Day 2020

And it is all taking a toll on our mental health.
Our loss in this Pandemic can lead into sorrow, despair, isolation, loneliness and depression. Loss in a Pandemic,Grief 101,Grief 102, How do we Get Through Quarantine?

Mental Health

Being out and in a regular schedule is part of good mental health. But with these systems cut out from under us, we become insecure. And trying to recognize it and identify it? Equally hard.
Several friends of mine are therapists and their schedules are maxed out with clients. And this is all through teleconferencing.

Students miss the companionship of their peers, and the Seniors? There will be another blog about their predicament.Senior Class 2020
If we can connect though media—why are we all losing it?

All of us are vulnerable to the solitude.

Check in Reality

I had a melt down on May 1. It was just a hard day, and so I reached out to my Facebook community to see how others were faring. This is not a scientific study, but it may show us a slice of humanity:

From a nurse: “I had an awful week last week. I was at work, dressed in my PPE and a mother accused me of contaminating her son. That was horrible for me. It took me several days to process that and let it go.”

This was so very sad for my friend. She is a dedicated nurse, and to have her motives and actions questioned were almost too much. (I must note: several of my friends on Facebook came to her defense thanking her for her work. They do not know each other; but they knew she needed support and encouragement.)

“Just over all kind of a not so great week. Very little motivation. Feel lazy and tired. I go through ups and downs throughout the week. The weather does make a difference. I’ve found myself talking to God out loud, here at home, when my mind starts to take me down a negative path. He has been helpful. Crying has also been a good release.”

“Today was good/bad. good – weather was nice and I went on a bike ride and confirmed kayak adventure tomorrow or Sunday. Bad in that even though our shut down is supposed to end near the end of May, most annual events in July have already been cancelled as well as many other local annual events that people look forward to. Now I am second guessing our road trip the end of May.”

“I had had about enough today and cancelled my appts for the day. I knew I wasn’t going to be helpful to anyone if I didn’t do so.”

“I feel like this week has been the hardest for me mentally. Cannot really pinpoint anything in particular…just really struggled.”

“Feeling better today. Taking it one day at a time. Not great, feeling depressed, irritated and unmotivated.”

“I’ve done okay so far. But today I noticed a malaise, a discontent, an uneasiness. And I don’t know how to shake it.”

And this note from Harvest USA nails it:
“Let’s consider the challenge of loneliness. Many people feel lonely whether or not they are physically distanced from others. For a lot of us, the challenge of this time is not so much being away from many people but being forced to relate more intensely to just a few people in our own households! Nevertheless, many are aware of a deep and enduring loneliness, a dull heartache arising from a sense of isolation, of not being affirmed, not being valued, not being desired, or not being known by anyone.”

When someone reaches out and says, “Im not OK. I need help.”
Don’t try to fix them, or tell them they’re overreacting.
Don’t insinuate they’ve lost their faith, or judge the rawness of their emotions.
And for the love, don’t run off to tell everyone else, even under the guise of asking for prayers. When someone reaches out for help the only thing you should say is, I’m listening. (

Can we hear ourselves reflected in these posts? Can we hear the uneasiness, the longing to hug our children or grandchildren? The isolation and the loneliness?

Consider the song Blessings by Laura Story:

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights Are your mercies in disguise  (

Perhaps, all of the sorrow, loss, disappointment, and longing really is proof that there is something more, and Heaven is our home.

The fact that our hearts yearn for something earth can’t supply is proof that heaven must be our home. C.S.Lewis

Our hearts are restless. We long for, and yearn for that deeper connection. And this Pandemic has brought this to the surface.

Perhaps we can look to God and His creation to see the very foundation.

Genesis 1:26: Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.”
From the beginning of Scripture we see God in relationship with Himself. And then we observe:

Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Could our very loneliness and solitude be a reflection of this Heavenly reality? God is in relationship with Himself. We are a reflection of Him. We are created in His image. And at the very foundation of who we are, we long for relationship. We long for Him.

God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing. C.S.Lewis

Memorial Day 2020

Cynthia L. Eppley, MA 05/28/2022

Memorial Day 2020

This weekend is Memorial Day. It is considered the start of summer, and if you live anywhere near the Jersey Shore, or Delaware Shore, for that matter, it is a big event.
This is the opening start on the economy for small business owners.
Considering the decimation of COVID from an economic standpoint, this is no small concern.

This is not a political statement for “Opening up” the economy, or a plea for Distancing. It is an observation.

“Average town USA”

I grew up in Salem, NJ. This town was a beautiful, charming place to grow up. Tree lined streets, neighbors who knew you and looked out for you. We stayed out all day to play, and came home when the street lights came on. We roamed the neighborhoods freely with our friends.

In the summer of 1964 TV news anchor David Brinkley decided to profile an average American small city, one that adhered almost identically to the national averages in every way. Out popped Salem, N.J. So Brinkley and his pollsters descended on our county seat to spotlight the tiny town during election time.

I did not know the background to elections; I was 10.

Memorial Day Past

The holiday used to be heralded with parades of bands, fire engines and veterans proudly marching. I remember my heart swelling with pride as they tromped by. In my younger days it was a mystery and little understood. Respect was a kernel that was growing in my young heart. And last but not least, bicycles. Kids would decorate their bikes with streamers and join the parade.

The fire engines were graced with large flower memorials of past veterans. My mother continued to place flowers there in memory of my Dad, Sergeant Joseph G. Lippincott, Sr. Later, the flowers were taken to the center of town to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park Bandshell. The many arrangements were a testimony to the sacrifices of the men and women of Salem County. It was a place of silence, reflection and respect.

My Dad and Mom would take us to the cemetery to plant geraniums by the graves of our forefathers. They were always red, and always from the same greenhouse. We carefully dug up previous plantings, and loosened the ground for the newcomer. Tamping the ground down gently and giving it a generous watering. Standing up, observing the gravestone dates and remembering those who had gone before us. Perhaps with a short story or warm memory. Always with a wistful spirit. There were those taken as children, and those gone far too soon. We were taught to not walk on the ground in front of the headstone as that is where the coffin was laid. It was a matter of respect.

Veterans had a bronze plaque placed in front of their gravesite. There, a small American flag would be posted. As we stood to look across at the fields, and a bit away, the marsh, we could see them fluttering in the breeze. I remember this as being sunny, warm, and not sad. Later, there would be a ceremony at Salem County Veterans Cemetery.

In the afternoon, we made a dash for our Summer home, Sand Burr Lodge, or “The Cottage.” Grilling would waft the aroma of hot dogs and hamburgers into the breeze. Mom always made a boatload of potato salad. What picnic would be complete without it? It had plenty of celery seed. My brother, Gill, would affectionately tease her and say, “Do you have enough floor sweepings in there, Mom?” Friends would join us, and there would be laughter and warm fellowship. It felt like a safe place. If the weather was warm, and even if it wasn’t, we would beg our parents to let us jump into the Delaware River. It would still be chilly in the Spring. But for kids? I don’t remember the cold; I remember the thrill of the first summer swim. And family and friends.

Memorial Day Present

This year will be so very different. 56 years has changed Salem, NJ: Averagetown, USA.
So much has changed in all of our towns. So much has changed in our own country and counties. So much has changed in each of our lives; in me. Safe places of the past may not feel so safe now.

One thing remains the same: the respect and gratitude that was instilled in me in an early age has grown and matured. The service of our Doctors and nurses, our health care workers, our food service people, our delivery services? Maintenance crews, disinfectant services in hospitals, nursing home staff, Service men and women. Our respect and honor for those who have served is now broadened.

There will be no parades this year. Instead, there will be Social Distancing. The news has been full of speculation of beaches opening, and with what precautions. If you go to the Jersey shore, make sure you have 6 ft. between you and your neighbor. Strong opinions abound: to open the shore means economic salvation for small businesses. To open means increased risk for vulnerable populations.

And honestly, even if it is not a shore issue? Wherever you live, even internationally, these questions arise:

How do we keep safe? How do we diminish the risk? How do we move forward from COVID?


There are no easy answers to these pressing concerns. I will leave that to political pundits, doctors, and lawyers to debate. It is beyond the scope of this blog to address it all.
But I do know that these questions reside in the heart of every man, woman, and child. The questions remain, and the answers remain the same.

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

“O God, our Help in Ages Past, Our Hope for years to Come. Our shelter from the stormy blast And our eternal home. Under the shadow of Thy throne Thy saints have dwelt secure; Sufficient is Thine arm alone, And our defense is sure.”

Senior Class 2020

Cynthia L. Eppley, MA

Senior Class 2020

Spring 2020

What a season it has been for our students.
My niece and nephew have braces that were to come off, after years of anticipation. Only to have that time extended because of COVID-19. To them it seems like an eternity.

Another nephew was to take his driver’s test. Who hasn’t looked forward to that momentous day? His test has been postponed due to COVID-19. The wait is excruciating.

And another niece in college came home at Spring break: only to stay home. Classes began online. Her summer work plans have changed. And she doesn’t know if her classes will resume on campus in the Fall.


This is the time that the Seniors look for—the culmination of their schooling and hard work.

For many, there will be Awards ceremonies with accolades from their coaches and team mates. Some have achieved records at their schools or made a lifetime record. Others have reached honors in Debate Team, Orchestra, or Drama. Some have worked hard on travel teams starting in elementary school. They were looking to cap it off with a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. But then came COVID-19.
Few Seniors of 2020 will have the Prom they expected, the Yearbook signings, or hugs during the last home room. They’ve watched upper classmates go through this process and they were poised at the edge of their future, grasping for the diploma.
How are they to bring finality and closure to such a moment in their lives?
Many schools are working together for parades, complete with police escorts and fire engines. Some have lined the school entrance with pictures of each Senior. Balloons flutter by their front doors.


Disappointment is there. But we can help them by listening well, and recognizing the loss. There are so many losses in this time. Certainly illness and death surrounds us in this time. And some may downplay what is happening to the Senior class of 2020. Theirs may not be a medical loss, but it still deserves our empathy and understanding.

In talking with a few Seniors, I’ve come to appreciate their thoughts on the topic.


First, a young man who was not able to play out his Senior year in Baseball.
When I spoke with him, I asked him what was his greatest loss? Without skipping a beat he responded:

“My last year of baseball.”

In his Junior Year, Mudcat threw a No Hitter. He hit a home run to take the lead in the first round of playoffs. Tri-County conference: Pitcher and Hitter of the week.
All South Jersey and All Tri-County teams.

“We maybe got in 5 practices. I was hoping to achieve more records for the team. That won’t happen now. There will be no awards ceremony.
There will be no prom. Or graduation.
It’s really different without my friends. Before it was every day in school. Now, we can do FaceTime, but it is not the same. I miss my friends.”

“I do see one positive. School has opened up online classes. I have more control over my time. I’m not in a rush. Now, I’m open to online classes even in college. It was a good year except for Coronovirus.”

This young man’s nickname is Mudcat: given to him from Coach Lee Ware. And his coach has had a legacy: he coached his father in 1988. How many coaches can say they’ve trained generations in a family?

But there is more to the story. This year Coach Lee Ware is retiring. It is his 46th year. I talked to him about Mudcat and here were his thoughts:
“This just breaks my heart. These Seniors don’t get to finish. Mudcat? He was my best pitcher in 46 years. He pitched 2 No Hitters. He is a Bull Dog on the Mound. And he is a phenomenal young man.”

And why the nicknames? “I like to give each one a nickname, like an extra identity. I remember every one. His Dad who played in 1988? His name was Dirt.”

32 years later, and the pride this coach feels? For Dirt and Mudcat? This family? It is almost palpable.

We can only imagine where Senior Year would have taken him.

There is disappointment. But there is the bittersweet realization that his records were solid and notable. And he remains positive. And looks forward to online classes.
He will play baseball next year in college.


In these reflections, a young woman gives an “address” to her classmates:

Dear Seniors,
My heart is overflowing for you.
I know this is hard for you. As a fellow senior I’m right there with you.

Maybe you’ve watched siblings & friends walk during their graduation & dreamed of the day when that would be you. Maybe school was an uphill climb & graduation was your ending goal, your trophy. Maybe you dreamed of prom since you were little. Maybe you had plays, dance competitions, championship games, recitals. Maybe you just wanted the last few moments with your high school friends and now all of that is gone. But here’s my message to you today:

It’s OK to be sad. It’s ok to cry and grieve for what is lost. I’ve heard many people say that they shouldn’t be complaining because there are people that have it worse and while this is true, everyone has their struggles. Everyone has their mountains to climb. The fact that someone else has it worse does NOT make your tears less legit! God never tells us not to cry. He doesn’t tell us not to be sad. On the contrary, he says that he comes close to the brokenhearted. So let Him hold you close & give you peace. I’ll tell you one thing God does say, though. God commands us not to fear— a total of 365 times!! This can seem crazy in these times of uncertainty. But this what I want you to hear:

It’s ok to be sad. It’s ok to cry, but then look around you. Look at your families. Look at your texts from your friends. Observe the flowers & the sky and listen to the birds singing. Don’t despair & don’t fear but trust the Lord, for He has this in His hands. Lean into him.
Much love,


A Hope and a Future

Both of these graduating Seniors have faced the loss, but now look to the future. They are looking forward to what lies ahead. They understand that there was much lost, but so much more gained.

Oh, but now old friends they’re acting strange And they shake their heads, they say I’ve changed Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day. Joni Mitchell, Both Sides Now (

“What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.”
Henry David Thoreau

“We have no idea what lies ahead or how God will open doors of potentiality when we consciously choose to get out of the ruts we’re in and start moving down new paths about which we can be excited—even passionate.”
Luci Swindoll

“There are far, far better things ahead than those we leave behind.” C.S.Lewis

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29: 11

I think Mudcat and N are going to be fine. They are both on their way to a fabulous hope and a future.

A Pandemic of Baking

Cynthia L. Eppley, MA

A Pandemic of Baking

It was the worst of times, it was the best of times: a time to bake. As I’ve watched the Corona 19 Pandemic unfold before me, I have noticed several themes emerge. Loneliness, amazing humor, irreverence, and baking.
Baking you say? Isn’t that a normal activity?

Certainly it is at Christmas. People love to share their creations of Instagram or Facebook. The variety and splendor of food is amazing. There is something to please every palate. From the very simple to the ornate, there is an appeal to food. This is such a dynamic that there became a shortage of flour, baking yeast, paprika, baking powder and pumpkin.

If I didn’t think I wanted to bake before, I do now!

But why is there an appeal? Is it the fragrance of baked goods spreading its promise through the home? Or the yeasty aroma of bread as it bakes in the oven? Or the crunchy edge of a cookie as I bite into it? Perhaps it is the appeal of color and texture in decorated cookies; one even drawn as a face mask with an impish grin peeking above the mask.

And if you want to bake, get to the store early. Flour is sold out, as is baking yeast. Friends I know have tried several stores in the area. And this dynamic is played out nationally, from Maine to Florida and over into Washington State. And you thought toilet paper was hard to get. People who bake continue to bake. People who rarely bake have the sudden urge to fire up the oven.

So I’ve asked people. What is going on? I did an informal survey through Facebook. And these are some of the answers I’ve gotten:

“It seems as though the minute someone can’t find something and posts it on FB, everyone gets nervous and makes a run for the market. It’s crazy.”

“I went to Weavers Way today. He told me they sold out of a huge box of yeast in 2 days!”

“I have yeast, but I did buy 20# of flour. I can make a ton of stuff and usually do.”

“I think it’s a creative outlet for some people, also.”
”People may not want store made bread since it could be contaminated.”

“I’m making bread in my bread machine so I don’t have to but from the store; because homemade bread is so much yummier!!!”

“I think that it is something to do and it is comforting. Most people know and love the smell of baking bread. I think it is a way of remembering that when things were simpler.”

“The ultimate comfort of times gone by, mom in the kitchen, the preparation, the smell of it baking, the taste – hot out of the oven, toasted, or even a few days old. It’s a way of getting through scary times.”

“I just went to get some yeast for some Easter rolls. None here either. My theory is when the bread rush was on and people hoarded it, many went to the flour and yeast as a last resort to make their own. Bread supplies replenish relatively quickly. Yeast not so fast.”

What Does it all Mean?

We start to see a deeper meaning behind the rush to bake. While there are plenty of loaves of bread on the shelves, people are becoming Martha Stewart. Or the Pioneer Woman.

We return to more simple times, to the past. There is a comfort in going back to a safer, gentler time. But a question remains: Was it ever simpler?

Our sentimental journey may land us at our mother’s feet, or our fathers lap. But they knew the struggle of providing for their family, and putting a hot meal on the table every night. In most cases we were oblivious to this. They lived through World Wars and rationing.

In all times, in all circumstances we are called to trust in something bigger than we are, something where we can find the security we long for.

Switchfoot recorded a song that alludes to this: “Meant to live” We were meant to live for so much more Have we lost ourselves?
Somewhere we live inside
Somewhere we live inside We were meant to live for so much more Have we lost ourselves?
Somewhere we live inside

We long for something so much more. We long for a bread that sustains us for this day but for the days to come. We long for the Bread of life that never fails us and never spoils. This was hinted at even in the Old Testament. There, God provided for His people in the wilderness. Exod 16:35

The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan.

He continued His lesson in Egypt.
Deut 16:3 Do not eat it with bread made with yeast, but for seven days eat unleavened bread, the bread of affliction, because you left Egypt in haste—so that all the days of your life you may remember the time of your departure from Egypt.

And finally, the fulfillment of God’s purposes are seen in Jesus Himself: John 6:35
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

As we continue through this Pandemic of 2020 it is very much like a wilderness. We are uncertain of coming days. But as we eat our bread, whether that is store bought or homemade, risen with yeast or a quick bread of banana or pumpkin?
Let us eat with rejoicing and trust in Him who holds us in the palm of His hand.

Kids and Validation during COVID

Cynthia L. Eppley, MA

The Worst of Times

We are in trying times. Many of us are trying to get through the day. And then we are faced with an angry, sullen teenager. Or a toddler that is pitching a fit.
We really do want this to be over, quickly, don’t we?
We want to shout: “Get over it! Just look at everything I have to handle right now!”

But this sends the worst message to children.
It tells them we only see a symptom and not their inner emotion.
It tells them they are a burden to us, a nuisance, a problem.
Is this the message we want to send to these dear souls that have been entrusted to us? To shut them down means we don’t care.
Instead, we need to validate them.
Matt 19:14
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”


What does this even mean?
It is a recognition and affirmation that a person’s feelings are worthwhile.
We may want to rush to stifle their tantrum and have peace in the land.
But to do that too quickly invalidates their inner world and sends the dangerous message:
 “I only want you around when you are pleasant and congenial.”

People have said, “Don’t cry” to other people for years and years, and all it has ever meant is, “Im too uncomfortable when you show your feelings. Don’t cry.” I’d rather have them say, “Go ahead and cry. I’m here to be with you.” (Mr. Fred Rogers)

In the past, a common phrase was: “Big boys don’t cry.”
But this only served to stifle the emotion that children felt. And to teach them to not feel and not trust their feelings.

Big Feelings

As a parent, one of our greatest jobs is to develop emotional intelligence for our children.

Now, more than ever, this is necessary. It is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions. And this is our challenge because kids don’t get this. Some adults don’t get it. Now, more than ever, we need to help them manage the big feelings.

First acknowledge

When our kids first begin to open up to us, it may seem easier to give them a 4 step external fix. To make it all better. Kind of like slapping on a bandage. But this only addresses the outer behavior.
First we need to accept their scary emotions. They are most likely frightened by it.

Can we hear them first? Can we accept them first?
When we don’t accept the big emotion, they end up feeling misunderstood, isolated and lonely. Jesus taught:
It is out of the fullness of the heart that the mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45)

Blessed Assurance

Verbal assurance gives the child that they are loved and accepted.
It also helps them begin to understand the heat of emotions behind the behavior.


And this verbal assurance is practical and winsome. When we step back from our own emotion and help our child with their emotion, it becomes love in action: love applied in real life.

2 Corinthians 1:3-7
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

How Great the Father’s love for us!

How Great the Father’s love for us! How vast beyond all measure! (Getty Music)
Isn’t this the very message we want to give our children? That they are loved with an everlasting love?

Phrases that help:

I’m sorry this is happening. It is crazy times! Things don’t feel right, do they?

You’re not all by yourself.
I’m here with you. I’m not leaving.

I hear you.
I hear you with my ears. I want to hear your heart. I want to understand more.

It’s okay to feel what you feel.
It may be strong, but it is very real. Sometimes our big feelings are scary. But I’m not leaving, I’m hear to listen.

You don’t have to be tough.
You are not an island. We are interconnected.

Simon and Garfunkel sang:

“I am a rock. I am an island.”
But weren’t they speaking facetiously when they sang:

“And a rock feels no pain. And an island never cries.” (Simon and Garfunkel, I am a Rock.)

Your feelings matter to me. I want to hear more. Help me understand.

Do not misunderstand. Poor behavior must be dealt with; but let us first listen and draw out the child.

Ask Good Questions; Listen Carefully

Have you ever noticed that God and Jesus engaged people through questions? Where are you? Who told you that you were naked? Where is your brother?
Who do you say that I am?
Where is your husband?

When things are hard, it is hard to explain to others. So our questions need to be more engaging than ever. A good question can unlock a child’s heart.

This relates to the “Heartbeat Check” at bedtime.
As I’ve done this with my older grand daughter, she has opened her heart: What are you excited about?
What are you worried about?
What was the best part of your day?

It has become the favorite part of our day. And it is very dear to me.

Avoid the generic: How was your day?
Along with asking good questions, we need to be attentive to the answer. Often, it leads to a deeper level of emotional intimacy.
And deeper emotional intimacy builds trust and competency.


To be accepted and understood, warts and all, is a gift of love.
It grants us the ability to be authentic in our relationships, knowing that we will be heard and recognized.
In our tears, and our fears, don’t we we want to make a human connection?
Don’t we all long for somebody to love us?

Tears are running down and down and down your breast And your friends, baby they treat you like a guest
Don’t you want somebody to love
Don’t you need somebody to love Wouldn’t you love somebody to love You better find somebody to love (Jefferson Airplane, Somebody to Love)

We don’t want to be treated like a guest. Our children want to feel safe emotionally.
We want to be loved and understood and validated.
Truly, only Jesus can love us in this way.
But as parents, grandparents, caregivers, we can show them this kind of love and care.

To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” (Tim Keller)

And this is the type of love and acceptance that will speak into the hearts of our children as we continue through this Pandemic.

Children Anxiety and Corona

Cynthia L. Eppley, MA

There is so much sorrow and loss swirling around us during this Pandemic. As adults, I speak with many who are struggling. But what about the children? They haven’t developed the verbal acuity to describe what is happening within their hearts. They let us know in other ways.


Children are like sponges. They pick up on the verbal, physical and emotional cues around them. It might be the radio or nightly news that they overhear. It might be our dismay over our bank account. Or very heavy sighs over continued lockdown and social distancing. Certainly they overhear our conversations on the phone. They may see Mom and Dad working from home, or some configuration of that dynamic. Honestly—have we ever really spent that much time together? And as parents, are we handling that well? Little eyes are watching us. What do they see? What do they hear? How do they react?


If we are anxious and stressed, expect your children to reflect that back to you. “Children will pick this up and feel it too,” said Denise Daniels, a child development expert and creator of The Moodsters, who recently authored a free workbook to help children cope with COVID-19.

Lack of Routine and School

Remember the Movie: The Kids are Alright? For our children, the world is not right on so many levels.
Children are suddenly thrust into the middle of our adult worlds as we try to work. Daycare is closed. Their schools are shut down and so they lack the input of their teachers and their friends. No more play dates. Even the local playground has been closed off. What used to be normal to them? Is not normal anymore.


The mild mannered child you have known may become grumpy and moody. They’re flaring at you for seemingly minor things. But children are not able to recognize and verbalize their feelings of fear and anxiety.
Recently I had a conversation with a Grandmother who asked her tearful grand daughter what was wrong?

“I don’t know! I just don’t feel right!”

And this little girl is absolutely correct.
Things are not right. Her world has been turned upside down and she doesn’t have words to explain the inner turmoil.


You may see your independent toddler become glued to your hip. Their stress is shown in regression of behavior, and their anxiety is expressed in a physical, tangible way. A clingy child is trying to express their inner fear and turmoil, but lacks the verbal ability to share this with you. You have now become their comfort; for now, this is the security they know and need.
If they have been potty trained, you may see them move backward in maturity. Thumb-sucking may be a comfort, coping mechanism.
Or talking is now exchanged for baby talk. They intuitively understand that as a baby, they are comforted, held, and reassured.
Older children may forgo their own iPads for younger, simpler sibling toys. And older children have been known to reclaim their beloved “blankeys.”

Adjustment and Anger

These times are hard for adults to navigate. Flexibility and adjusting are difficult. How much harder it is for our children! Outward anger is typically a mask for inner, unexpressed emotion. Keep communication going and connect with your child. Connection and validating your child will be covered in another article.

Sleeping or eating patterns have Changed

Children may not be sleeping well. Their inner anxiety is getting the best of them. You may find them crawling into your bed at night. Then the entire household is awake as we try to lead them back into bed.
Perhaps this is the time to sleep in their room next to their bed. Or have them sleep next to you on the floor in your bedroom. A “slumber party” may be the reassurance they need.

Some have complained about the continual grazing their children do all day. The grocery bill is sky high. Children often eat out of boredom and frustration.

Make Connection Foremost

Rachel Macy Stafford, Hands Free Revolution has a special bedtime ritual called the “Heartbeat Check.” Why bedtime? The worries of the day are winding down, and we just may see the heart and soul of the child we love. Each one is unique. Each child has their own concerns. But for every one, checking in with their deepest emotions offers them unconditional love and connection. It offers comfort. It offers refuge.

Luke 18:15-17

People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

“At many times throughout their lives, children will feel the world has turned topsy-turvy. It’s not the ever-present smile that will help them feel secure. It’s knowing that love can hold many feelings, including sadness, and that they can count on the people they love to be with them until the world turns right side up again.” Fred Rogers

In this topsy-turvy time, let our chief goal be to connect with our children. To love them unconditionally and assure them that we are there for them.

Marriage and Corona

Cynthia L. Eppley, MA

In the Beginning

There may have been a time in your marriage when you would have liked to spend every waking moment with your beloved. In the days of fresh love, rapture enchantment and devotion marked your days. A wedding was followed by a honeymoon that you wanted to last forever. Was there ever anyone so handsome, so responsible, so rugged and strong?Was there anyone so delicate, so beautiful, so radiant, so emotive? And then the honeymoon becomes the marriage. And now we have Corona.

What were we expecting?

The Best of times, the Worst of times The dailyness of days brings out the best in us, but also the worst in us. It is a time to see what is within our hearts. Jesus put it succinctly: “It is out of the fullness of the heart that the mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45.

Our hearts are revealed in actions as well as speech. The luster of the honeymoon period is soon replaced by our true selves. Add responsibilities, mortgages, work, and perhaps children, and we soon see that it is what is within us…that comes out of us.

It is not a pretty sight.

The Long Haul As  this quarantine in going on over 30 days, people are becoming a bit more….shall we say, irritable? Short tempered? Grouchy? Moody?

Using a sense of humor helps. Try these on for size:

  • “Can You blink a little more quietly, please?”
  • The next time your wife gets angry, drape a towel over her shoulders, (like a cape) and exclaim: “Now you’re SUPER angry!” Maybe she’ll laugh. Maybe you’ll die.
  • I bet by now a lot of husbands are ready to build that she-shed……

Practical Advice

In this Pandemic, many couples have varying degrees of work, responsibility and child care, to name a few. But chances are:You are together more hours of the day than usual. None of us planned to be with our spouse all of the time.

Or, you may find yourself responsible for much more than before: between childcare and working from home, the work has seemed to triple.

Little annoyances may come to the fore.

We begin to keep a running total, a tally system; who does what? This would be easy to set up in our heart and in our head.

But these are harmful dynamics that need to be  nipped in the bud.

1. Our marriages are a Covenant before God. (Eph 5)

Remember that your spouse is a gift from God.

In the midst of quarantine, the Pandemic is stressful. Corona is our enemy, not our spouse.

2. My own heart is the greater problem. What is it that I want? What will I desire to have above all else?

Our heart is an idol factory. During this demanding season, it is working overtime.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?.  (Jeremiah 17:9)

This is a time for unity within our marriage. No more tallies of chores and jobs. This is the time to be more flexible.

Perhaps he has routinely done most of the childcare. Now may be the time for her to pick up this responsibility. Perhaps we both need to be more creative, more willing, and more eager to help. Would it be possible, on some days, to even do more than your spouse?

3. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse 

John Gottman did a study on marriages that addressed 4 major problems in marriage. He called them: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

  • Criticism: Verbally attacking your partners personality or character.
  • Contempt: Attacking your partner’s sense of self with the intention to insult or psychologically abuse them.
  • Defensiveness: Viewing yourself as the victim in efforts to ward off a received attack and reverse blame.
  • Stonewalling: Withdrawing from a relationship as a way to avoid conflict in efforts to convey disapproval, distance and separation.

Am I responsible for these behaviors? These are harmful dynamics. Perhaps we can look at the plank that might be in my own eye at this time.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? (Matthew 7:3)

4. Give Grace Grace has been defined as when God gives us what we don’t deserve. Are we able to hold back a blistering retort? Are we able to give support and kindness, understanding that we are all under much stress, different schedules, and a long haul?

5. Listen with your eyes, your ears, and your heart. Look for clues that your spouse is stressed. Are they short tempered, irritable, or depressed? Move towards your spouse with empathy and kindness. Assume nothing.

6. Validate A key feature of building trust in any relationship is to validate the other person. While “we are all in this together” our individual experiences may be very different. Recognize their experience and emotions and give it credibility.

7. Ask questions. Jesus most often asked questions to understand others. When we listen well, we can respond in an empathetic manner:

  • “Help me understand.”
  • “What can I do to help?”

Obviously, entire books are written on marriage dynamics. We are not able to address all of the issues here. But we need to be aware that there are specific stressors swirling around us and within us.

Ultimately—God is in control

In the midst of uncertainty, lockdowns, and pandemics  we can trust God our Father. Encourage one another!

God is our refuge and strength, Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and he mountains quake with their surging.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations,  I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Psalm 46: 1-3, 10-11.)

In the midst of all of this, the good, the bad, the ugly: God can use this to change us to be more like Him. 

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of―throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” ―C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

How do we Get Through Quarantine?

Cynthia L. Eppley, MA

How do we Get through Quarantine? We’ve examined the what of our current situation.
But what about how we are to live?
There are several key components to get through this in a healthy fashion.

1. Keep a Routine If you are not going to work, avoid the temptation of sleeping in until noon. Get up and get dressed, make breakfast, check your appointments.

2. Keep up your health: Get up and Get Out! Keep up physical exercise. Your gym may be closed, but with warmer temperatures, a walk is refreshing. Also, many gyms are offering free classes online.
Shower and maintain personal hygiene.
Eat healthy foods.

Comfort foods abound. High carbohydrates may satisfy for the moment, but may not be appropriate or best for your metabolism.
Sleep that is restful and suitable will maintain your physical and mental health. In other words— not too much sleep, and not too little sleep. Go to bed at the usual time, and get up on schedule. This is called sleep hygiene.

2. Avoid 24/7 News It is prudent to be informed. But watching the news 24/7 will increase our anxiety and fears. Know enough to make wise choices and be an informed citizen. Avoid speculation and wild theories.

3. Manage Fear and Anxiety How do we manage an onslaught of dealing with a virus? If you follow Facebook you will learn how to make disinfectant. How to clean your groceries upon your return home. How to make masks and sell them. And how to make bread, if you are able to find yeast and flour.
Why do we cater to these methods of control? Because it is a way to control those things that threaten to undo us.
Our hearts are seeking something to cling to, something to worship. Go ahead and make bread and disinfectant. But understand some of the underlying dynamics in our heads and in our hearts.

“Our hearts are restless until we find our rest in Thee.” (Augustine)

4. Understand the Cycle of Grief We have never faced a pandemic like this in our country. There will be changes for all of us. Give grace to others as well as yourself.
This is not the time for judgement.
Every one will be facing this Pandemic with different histories, experiences, and expectations. It has been said: “We’re all in this together.” But that’s not really true. We come from different backgrounds and the application for many has meant change of employment, loss of income, and loss of health. Let’s be gentle with one another. (Ephesians 4:32)

5. Increase community/Avoid Isolation In the time of “Social Distance” we can become isolated from the community.
This is especially pertinent for singles and the elderly.
Fortunately, we live in a time where computers and iPhones can help us bridge that gap. Call your neighbors and check in on them.

Offer to pick up groceries. Be creative in your social contacts.

Zoom with your families, committees, work colleagues, etc.

Facetime or employ Skype to connect. Text loved ones.

And don’t forget a simple old fashioned phone call.
In times of celebration, such as Easter, families have been known to drive 1/2 way to meet. Then a “social distance” dinner was enjoyed by all; desperate times may call for desperate measures.

6. Watch your Self Talk Scripture has much to say about how we “talk to ourselves.” We can consider that we are “stuck at home” or “safe at home.” Our mindset can make a big difference.

Philippians 4: 8
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Psalm 100:4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.

Psalm 23
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right path for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 27:13
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Elisabeth Elliot: “It is always possible to be thankful for what is given rather than to complain about what is not given. One or the other becomes a habit of life.”

7. Cultivate Daily Praise Related to #6, cultivate a daily praise list. There is so much for which we can be thankful. Concentrate on His many gifts and mercies to us.
I have a friend who is posting her daily praise at the end of the day. It blesses her. It blesses us.

8. Fill your Mind with God’s Word

Related to our self-talk, this is a time to consider how to renew our minds.

Phil 4: 4-7. 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Rejoice in the Lord through music and song.

9. Serve Others You may have noticed a national sewing project: masks. It seemed like everyone was creating them out of whatever material they could find. It was an outpouring of goodwill and an effort for safety for all. And isn’t this really about serving my neighbor?

Mark 12:31
The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Philippians 2:3
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.

Personally, I cannot sew. But I do cook and bake. So many meals have gone out and especially cookies. There are always cookies.

10. Focus on what You can Control We may not have the ability to manage a Pandemic swirling around us. Or the implications that flow from mandates.
But we can manage our own inner life and attitudes.
And this is all part of good mental health.

Isaiah 26:3
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

Grief 102

Cynthia L. Eppley, MA

Grief 102

In a previous post, I explored the different parts of the Grief Cycle and how we process through it. But I’m feeling pretty lousy, and I don’t know why.

Grief affects us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It is the emotional response to loss. And earlier we discussed just how much loss there is in this Pandemic.

Mourning is the process whereby we work through the loss, regaining a sense of balance and integration in our lives. Mourning is a functional necessity, not a weakness. It is a form of healing. We need to process through our losses. before we can come to acceptance.

The Impact The impact of reality hits. But is this reality? What is reality during a Pandemic? In this stage we are in denial, questioning how this can be happening. It is followed by:

Mild depression  We may have a feeling of being “let down.” We may feel the shock of disbelief. Like a death, this may affect us physically and cognitively. We may feel slight disorientation.

Acute Symptoms This is the most difficult adjustment period.  The impact of the loss hits with acute symptoms of anxiety and depression.

1. Loss of sleep and overeating. As we lay awake at night, our brains are in overdrive.

And overeating? Just consider how many loaves of bread are being made. And cookies. Food becomes our comfort.

2. Sleep changes. We may want to sleep more than usual. Or we may fall asleep and awaken during the night. We may not want to sleep at all. And this affects our ability to reason and make sound judgements.

3. Weeping. We may find ourselves unusually sensitive and weeping. 

4. Fatigue. The fatigue we feel is much more than physical. It is a “bone tired” that doesn’t resolve with sleep. When we wake up in the morning, fatigue greets us like an old friend.

5. Acute mood swings. I may approach the differences in my life with good humor and a light heartedness. But then the impact of changes may crush me down and I fear for the future. I can swing from one axis to another.

6. Decreased ability to concentrate and remember. Many of us may be forgetting what day it is. After all, one day runs into the next, doesn’t it? Without the familiar routine of school, jobs, appointments—we fall into disorganization.

Continued Symptoms As grief and mourning continue, we find ourselves with more symptoms than we’d like:

1. Irritability and complaining. We’d like the imposition on my schedule and lifestyle to stop now. I want to go back to “normal.”

I may recognize that my own situation is not as bad as my neighbor’s. Doing a side glance at how others are suffering does little to relieve my own complaining.

2. Physical and verbal actions out of anger and frustration. We would like to appeal to our better natures, but find ourselves reacting out of anger and frustration. This concern has been noted especially for families where abuse is present. 

3. Tears. We are unable to reason with our emotional state.

4. Physical complaints such as headaches, backaches, diarrhea, etc. This is a valid area. The physical aspects of grief and mourning continue into somatic complaints. 

5. Depression The loss of community brings more isolation. This is especially significant for singles or those who live alone.

This will be examined more in “How do we Get Through Quarantine?”

We may consider that our current affairs leave us with no hope.

And yet we have a Savior who was well acquainted with grief.

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”       1 Peter 2:24 NIV

He was a Man of Sorrows and He knows our frame.

Man of Sorrows, what a name For the Son of God who came Ruined sinners to reclaim! Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude, In my place condemned He stood; Sealed my pardon with His blood; Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Aimee Byrd

Inside the word. Outside the box.

The Palest Ink

The strongest memory is weaker than the palest ink. I write to remember.


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