Spiderwebs and Sticky Thoughts

One Saturday last fall, my husband Rick and I took a walk through the woods behind our house. The leaves were just beginning to change, and the sky, unbelievably blue. As soon as we got into the woods, Rick found a big stick. He waved it around in front of us like a sword, as though fighting an imaginary enemy.

“What are you doing?” 

“Knocking down spiderwebs.”

“I don’t see any.”

He smiled.

“Oh.”

This past Saturday, Clyde, our Lab, and I walked through the same woods.

I remembered that day last fall.

The stick.

The spiderweb discussion.

The imaginary enemy. 

Are there really spiderwebs back here? 

Just in case, I grabbed a stick and twirled it in front of me.

Pretty soon, I decided I really didn’t need the stick.

It was a lot of work.

And I looked silly.

Rick was probably teasing me. If I see any spiderwebs, I’ll knock them down. 

I dropped my stick and kept walking.

It wasn’t long before I felt a sticky spiderweb all over my face–yuck!–and a black spider in my hair.

I never saw it coming.

I walked smack-dab in the middle of it.

Finding another stick, I had an aha moment.

All spiderwebs begin the same way–

With a barely visible thread.

Then the spider spins her web and sets the trap.

Soon her unsuspecting prey is gobbled up.

The same way one tiny thought can spin a web of destruction in my life.

Fear.

Envy.

Lust.

Doubt.

Bitterness. 

Wrong-thinking has taken me down too many times.

Waving my stick is like guarding my mind. 

“Carefully guard your thoughts because they are the source of true life.” Proverbs 4:23 CEV

Do you carry a big stick and guard your thoughts too?

Love,

Julie

Comments

  1. I would have been just as concerned about snakes. Does waving a big stick scare them off too?

    • Ha! Lynne. You’re exactly right! I should be thinking about snakes too!!!!!! I’ll have to inform my husband of this concern and see how we’re going to handle it. Thanks!

  2. Rick is a smart man…there are a lot of traps out there and God gives us the tools to break through, no matter how silly it looks:) Blessings

    • Exactly, Tom. We have the tools. And sometimes, I’m so foolish. Just lay my “sticks” down and keep walking my own way.

      Thank you!

  3. Kim says:

    Well, I am glad I made myself finish reading this post. I knew exactly what Rick was doing with that stick. I do not like snakes but I would rather come across a snake than a spider… Any day! Just reading about the web on your face and the spider in your hair made me shudder. And the close up spider pic? Ick! Thank goodness I read this in the morning and not at night before going to bed.

    But, what a great message! This reminds me of our instructions to put on the whole armor of God. To be ready for battle with Truth, Righteousness, the Gospel, Faith, Salvation, and God’s Word. Thank you, Julie!

    • Kim, as weird as it sounds, I think I feel the same way. I’ve never really been afraid of snakes–or thought about them that much.

      I wasn’t sure about posting the close-up of the spider…hope I didn’t scare you. My son (23) saw me trying to get this spider’s picture. He took it for me, so I decided to use it.

      Yes, yes, yes, the armor of God. Great point! Yep, sort of what I’m saying. Love how you listed out all the pieces of armor. And stubborn old me just tossed down my stick b/c I got tired!

  4. Julie, this is precious. And so very true. Thank you for the reminder. Love this. (We have a yellow Lab pup. It’s hard to imagine he’ll be as big as Clyde) Hugs!

    • Ohhhhhhhhhh, you do, Shawnelle!! Wonderful. Clyde is HUGE. He’s 100 pounds but he’s not fat. I think he’s getting taller and longer. Can’t wait to see puppy pictures. Bet you’ll love your new Lab. They’re incredible dogs.

      XOXO Love you.

  5. Debbie Ewing says:

    Love this post Julie! So true, the enemy is always lurking, unseen to snag unsuspecting people. We have to guard our hearts!

    • And stubborn me, Debbie. I just tossed my stick. Decided there was no enemy.

      But there is. And I’m pretty sure he knows my weaknesses. :/

      Love you, my friend.

  6. Brenda E. Greene says:

    Priceless Julie (in my best sing-song voice)!!

    Having lived in the deep woods for the past 14 years, spiders and their webs have become common place around here. Just recently we had one exactly like your picture over our front porch steps. Fortunately we could side-step it and let her “carry on” for she needed to eat too.

    The “stick” I have been carrying most recently is a return to “centering prayer” first thing every morning (something I had gotten away from since retiring). But just yesterday did it become clear the importance of these early-morning minutes with God. Hubby called to me at my computer upstairs (innocently enough) “Whatcha doing?” “Balancing the checkbook, whatcha need me to do?” “I want to go look at trucks” was his response. My thought: now where did that come from?!! We miss not having a truck and had discussed, very briefly, getting another. Obviously my quiet, silent type had been thinking about it a lot!

    So…off we went to spend the next six hours (!) being “serenaded” by the salesman, financial fellow, sales manager, even the business owner; it seems our son-in-law is one of their insurance agents and they were determined to give us the VIP treatment! As we came down to the wire, Hubby was getting frustrated but I continued to keep quiet (not an easy feat for me!) and let him deal with it. Finally we walked away without a truck He wanted to think about it some more!! You must know that we have NEVER walked away from an auto dealership without a new vehicle on our first visit in our 47+ years of married life!!

    So… praising the Lord for Centering Prayer, quiet mouths(!), and a serendipity, the printed sheets from a devotional book on the salesman’ s desk to read as we waited, some of which I read to Hubby! Yep..don’t know about you, but I do intend to continue carrying my “stick” every day…them “spiders” and their “webs” can indeed wrap us up if we are not prepared!

    A blessed day to you my Sweet Friend!! Brenda

    • Julie says:

      Brenda, Brenda. We are SO much alike. One time we had to go look at trucks, and I left my stick at home. I was acting pouty. We got in the car to go home and Rick said, “Can’t you at least act interested?”

      :/

      You aced your truck test!

      I love the idea of using your stick as early morning prayer!!!!!!! Now that I think about it, that’s what our porch parties are. 🙂

      Thank you! Now, to go pick up my stick.

  7. Cathy Mayfield says:

    Do you think the stick would help in the house? One day, my adult daughter called out from the bathroom. Now, you must understand – she, from a child on up, wouldn’t let me kill spiders in the house. She’d catch them in her “spider-catching cup, plop her hand – yes, I said her hand – over the top, and put the spider back outside. Of course, living in the woods, she just dropped it right outside the back door, giving it free reign to crawl back inside.

    But this day, a wolf spider the size of the palm of your hand decided to take a shower with her! We’re not sure how he came to be in the tub, but she definitely wasn’t protecting this one!

    And did anyone decide that the stick works for snakes? How about IN the house? A month or so ago, I went to go down the hall to put the laundry in the dryer. However, a four-foot black snake had taken up residence in the hallway, blocking my way. After a half hour of trying to keep him from sneaking through the door into the storage room, trying to keep my golden retriever from trying to get him, trying to twirl him on a rake to take outside, and finally trying to kil..oh, I mean catch! him with my hedge clippers, he was out – way out! I tried to get him out alive – and he was, barely – but he’d decided to crawl up a door jamb and peek around to look at me, almost eye-level! That was enough.

    Of course, I may not have injured him as much as I thought, because he – or a close relative – showed up a few days later in the window in my bedroom. He must have crawled up the vines on the back of the house and through the small opening where the storm window and screen slipped. Seeing a snake curled up and taking a nap IN your window makes the stress level rise just a bit.

    All of this to say, I like snakes and spiders – but NOT IN MY HOUSE!

    • Julie says:

      Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh, Cathy!!!! I’m squirming in my seat as I read your comment!!!!!!

      A snake and a stick. Somehow I don’t think it would work. :/

      Sounds like you live in the woods like we do. We’ve found a HUGE black snack in our kitchen pantry. He bit my husband’s hand and didn’t want to let go.

      Your daughter sounds like such a sweetheart….won’t even hurt a spider.

      Thanks so much for letting me know you’re reading! 🙂

  8. that’s my worst nightmare – spiders! I don’t screech at snakes (I’m careful but not creeped out) but spiders are the creepiest of all crawlies!!!

    • Julie says:

      Ane, isn’t that funny how some of us are more afraid of spiders! I really don’t think, What if I see a snake? But I guess I should.

      So good to see your smilin’ face on your comment. Big ole hug from me to you!

  9. Oh goodness, does this bring memories to me. When we lived in the high dessert of Idaho, the spiders they had were called “jumping,” spiders, and oh my- did they ever jump! They were dark black, and thick, very easy to spot. But moving them was so tricky, because you knew they were going to jump- but how and where was always a mystery!

    I was just thinking of all the “touchstones” I have in my house- a well placed plaque with scripture on it, a cross nearby, a stone with a heart shape, my bible, etc., all of these serve to re-focus me and help me guard my thoughts and keep my heart pure- and I love the metaphor of the web and spiders and the stick waving- truly a great visual to keep in mind. Hugs and love to you~

    • Julie says:

      Vicky, I love the word “touchstones.” Yes, yes, yes! That word says it all, and for me, it needs to be something tangible.

      It is work, isn’t it–to keep our minds clean.

      Love you, my friend. And we have those jumping spiders too.

  10. I think my stick might be my morning readings. They help to keep my head and heart in the right place and on an even keel with God. They center me as I undertake the duties of the day.

    BTW, I’ve walked right into a spider web a time or two. I hate that. Now I wave my arms in front of me when I walk along the side of the house by the bushes across from the swing. And I’ve barreled head-first into a day without reading first and I hate that too. So now I grab my three books as soon as I wake up. Anything to “protect” us each and every day, right?

    Thanks for the reminder!

    • Julie says:

      Beautiful thoughts, B.J. — our sticks being early morning prayers. Wow–I could have just kept going with this blog. My readers have the best ideas! I could have added Tips for Using Sticks.

      So….you are just like my husband except you wave your arms. And I thought he was being so silly.

      XO

  11. Julie!! Oh, yes! I carry that stick in both walks of life. Physically, spiritually. I need constant reminders for both though. 🙂 You tickled me … because our wooded trail always has spider webs … they start in the evening, and you don’t want to walk the trail in the morning without a stick. My husband always volunteers to go first, and we girls follow behind him! It never fails that he jumps and frantically swipes at the clinging web. Thankfully, we have not ended up with spiders on us though. 🙂 Not yet. That would be awful! You might hear my scream from here.

    • Julie says:

      Shelli, I can’t believe everyone seems to know this except me! And I thought my husband was being ridiculous.

      I’m telling you–that “stick” is going to be beside me spiritually. No other way, is there?

      Thank you, my friend.

  12. Mary says:

    Somewhere, there’s a spider who’s blogging today to her fellow arachnids: “Be thoughtful about where you build your webs! There are humans out there, waving big sticks!” LOL!!! Julie, there’s probably a picture of you on that blog!!!!

    But that’s what it’s all about, right? Spiders or humans… we all need to put ourselves in the best place possible… whether it’s physically where you build your “web,” or spiritually, where you put your thoughts and your heart. When I’m unaware and drifting, I stumble into places I don’t want to be. It takes things like prayer and calm centered thinking to keep me mindful and in the moment.

    PS. I highly recommend the children’s books “Be Nice to Spiders” and “Charlotte’s Web,” both of which will make you a spider admirer. 🙂

    • Julie says:

      Ohhh, yes, I love Charlotte’s Web! I should re-read it.

      Love your point about spiders blogging about me!!! And I never saw it from their viewpoint. 🙁

      Beautiful point about putting ourselves in the best place possible–including our hearts. You worded it so beautifully.

      And the ironic thing is, when we’re in “dark” places, sometimes we (I) don’t see how prayer can help center me. But it does.

      Thank you!

  13. marci says:

    This was very timely– yesterday I went to the parish hall to set up for the Sunday service, and — as I went through the door, there was a spider web across the opening and I got a face full, which took a while to free myself from. Thankful I did not have the spider on me also. This is a lot of good food for thought. It is a reminder of how quickly those webs can form, and it was so fine (or my aging eyes even with glasses) didn’t see it.

    The webs that catch us and we need to be watching for.. We need those sticks.
    I got an aha moment over Brenda’s writing, as we are (mostly) retired. It made me see that yes, when ever we have life changes, be it a birth, empty nest, move, retire, etc– it can knock us off center for a bit, and we just have to find that again. Another writer stated, needing morning devotional time to get me though the day- I relate to that.

    Also food for thought as Mary (above) wrote- “Somewhere there is a spider blogging….” ! Sometimes it is nice to see things from the other side.

    I do like your woods, and how peaceful it all seems. It reminds me of where my daughter lives, which I find peaceful when we visit.. She has been there long enough that she sees both sides of the coin of living in the woods. It is nice but not problem free.

    As always, thank you for ‘feeding us’ with your insights and your sharing of your experiences with us. Thank you for inspiring us, and all that it makes us think about.
    God Bless,

    • Julie says:

      Marci, you have the kindest voice and heart. It shows in your writing. So much wisdom. Love your point about life changes us knocking us off center. SO TRUE.

      And there’s always two sides to every situation.

      I’m praying for your church situation. I smiled when I read you were setting up yesterday. 🙂

      Blessings, my friend.

  14. Julie Gilleand says:

    Oh Julie, I so did not want to read this. I HATE spiders!!! Once when I had my first apartment and was 18 years old (and didn’t have my dad to kill spiders anymore), a big old awful spider got in my apartment and it was crawling around and around the fat base of my lamp. It was obviously spinning a web, but I was paralyzed with fright. I mean, I sat on my couch frozen for hours, and crying and begging God to make it go away! Around and around it went for hours. I was so tired, but I couldn’t move. I don’t remember what happened. I just remember the paralyzing fear! I’m not as bad as that anymore but still can’t stand them! I appreciate their artwork, but I don’t want them anywhere near me!

    But in the spirit of your woodsy webby story, I remember years ago, hubby came inside after being out on our patio. He sat down next to me on the couch and as we watched TV I snuggled up and put my head on his shoulder. You can tell where this is going, can’t you? Out of the corner of my eye I saw something that shouldn’t be there. Something black. I leaned my head away from him to see better and it was a big black spider on his shirt near where my head had been! All I could do was point in horror and back away from hubby slowly. He must have walked right into a web and brought the critter back inside with him! Ugh! Well, he saw it and went outside to brush it off. It landed in our kiddie pool! I expected it to die and then I could clean out the pool. But it lived! For days and days and days. Maybe even a week or two. How did it do that?!!!! I couldn’t even open my curtains because I didn’t want to see it and I couldn’t deal with it until it was dead. Of course the kids weren’t allowed to play out there either! Eventually it did die and I dealt with it. But these things I never forget! I’m braver than when I was 18, but I have not and probably will not conquer it entirely.

    I’m sorry if my story seems to promote animal cruelty, but I see it more as an attack on me I had to deal with!!! I don’t walk around with a big stick (but I’ll think of that now, next time I walk through the woods!), but am much more aware of things like that than I used to be and watch out for them. Hopefully the same is true in spiritual things 🙂

    I didn’t want to read this, but I had to. I can’t miss reading your blogs, leaf sister, even if they’re about those creepy crawly things! I won’t re-read it though, lol.

    Take care (and keep waving your stick)!

    Julie Leaf-Sissy

    • Julie says:

      Julie, I’m so sorry! My pictures must have completely traumatized you!!!

      That last picture with the actual spider, Thomas, my son, took for me. I was trying to balance myself on the back deck and couldn’t get a good shot. He took the camera, crawled up on the railing and took it….I couldn’t even watch–so afraid he’d fall.

      It was so very brave of you to read this post. I promise–no more spiders! I don’t have anything else to say about them.

      Bless you for your courage to read this.

      So much love,
      Leaf Julie–Not Spider Julie!! Ever!!

  15. Patricia Martin says:

    I love the pics of you and Clyde, Julie!(: He looks just like Old Yeller! Seeing you with that big stick makes me think what David Livingstone must have looked like when he blazed that trail through Dark Africa. I see that Fall has paid you a visit, but here in AZ, there are mainly Palm trees and so no red falling leaves for us! My sister’s birthday is tomorrow and I can hardly believe that she’ll be 13!(): I am getting old): and she has told me that when I get really old she’ll push me really fast down a hill in my wheelchair! I have had too many encounters with spiders and used to get them in my face all the time when I rode my bike!
    Sending hugs and best wishes your way.(-:
    Love,
    Patricia

    • Julie says:

      Hey, my friend Patricia! Clyde…..he’s so tall and long, he doesn’t really look much like a Lab, but he’s the sweetest dog!

      I didn’t know you have palm trees in AZ. I had no idea! I’ve never been to AZ. Ohh, yes, our trees aren’t at peak yet, but it’s coming. This morning, I’m looking out of my little loft window and I see colors.

      Happy Birthday to your sissy! 13 is such an important year.

      Let me know if you have GF questions. I’ll be glad to help you. Has your sister been tested for Celiac?

  16. Patricia Martin says:

    Hi Julie!
    My sister has not been tested for celiac, but it looks like she does not have it! (; she had a blast yesterday at her birthday and loved her presents. My GF question is if you have any recipes you think would be tasty for Thanksgiving? I am a vegetarian who does eat dairy products and this year I will be eating differently for the holidays. (): thanks for your great advice on GF living!
    Hugs from hot AZ,
    Patricia

    • Good! Hope your sis never gets it.

      Most of my usual Thanksgiving recipes I can still use–I just make a few changes. Like I can still make dressing, I use a loaf of GF bread and GF cornbread and GF chicken stock. Does that make sense? If you’re a vegetarian, I’d think you could use veggie stock?? Do they have that?

      Anything that calls for cracker crumbs, I make my own with GF bread or crackers (or you can buy them already made). I still make pecan pies every Thanksgiving. You can buy GF pie crusts. I use Karo Syrup and the recipe is on the back of the bottle. When you buy a bag of pecans, make sure to read the ingredients. I’ve found that some contain wheat! Also be careful with vanilla. McCormick is GF.

      Of course, you can do mashed potatoes, rice, any kind of vegetables. My sis always makes asparagus casserole and just leaves off the Ritz crackers and makes me a little dish.

      Are you interested in making GF dressing? It takes several ingredients, but if so, I’ll be glad to give you the recipe. 🙂 Or, if you have already have a dressing recipe, just be sure and use GF ingredients. I think it’s probably possible to make almost anything GF–if you think through your recipe and swap items for GF.

  17. Anna Haney says:

    I wonder why I didn’t post when you first posted this. The spider web is a wonderful analogy for any way satan sneaks up on us. The image of the sticky spiderweb is perfect. Once we’ve stepped into anything we shouldn’t have, there is that creepy, sticky realization.
    Sometimes the spiderweb can be eating junk food, giving in to complaining, any negative behavior.
    I am glad my Facebook memories found this.
    Love
    Anna

    • You’re exactly right, Anna!! And these thoughts are so sneaky–and seem like an itty-bitty deal. And then we realize we’re stuck.

      Thank you, my friend. Whispering a prayer for you right now. I’ve been keeping Katie’s new stepdaughter this weekend. My only grand! xoxox

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