"The Story:-"

"Small, insignificant and mediocre in comparison to other birds of song is the sparrow. Its ability to fly outdone by the swallows, its simple chirps out-sung by the skylark it seems to have nothing to offer. Yet when winter takes up reign in the countries of the far north, skies become void of the cheerful swallows and the fields fall silent without the skylark's song. What remains is the sparrow. Huddled in a small ball of feathers, relying on its resourcefulness and the ability to adapt, it braves cruel winter nights, the bitter cold of many months to come and the nagging hunger in its belly. And every morning its little chirps welcome the new day that brings it closer to the life giving spring."1


"Though often unrecognised, surviving times of hardship and strife equals heroism. Although often unacknowledged there is a hero in everyone."1

My Personal Reflection:-


  1. How does the sparrow survive the long winter?
  2. What strengths does he need?
  3. How can he still sing every morning?


1.   a.   For the sparrow to survive the long cold winter it first needs to put on weight so that it has fat or extra to live on or that it can dispense with.

For a person to survive hardship and strife it is desirable to have extra things that can be dispensed with. Simple pleasures like magazines, going out for meals and coffee, or friends and family who understand that you cannot contact them and know you cannot talk freely. You still need the very basics for survival which are food, water, shelter, and clothing. You also need an inner-strength whether it is faith, religion, God, or self-belief to get you through the toughest of times.

I started out having my own car, a job which meant I had my own money, friends, and family. I enjoyed the odd social drink, a magazine here and there, a bought lunch and a take-away dinner once a week, and hired a couple of videos each fortnight for entertainment. I lost all of this for a time, except family but that was very restricted and all lived a long distance away. The one thing he could never take away from me was God. It did not matter what happened, what he did, or how he treated me I could always turn to God for comfort even more so after my step-father died in 2004. On many occasions since then I have felt the loving arms of my heavenly Father around me, as a father lovingly cuddles a child on his lap.

       b.   The sparrow has to be resourceful taking advantage of every opportunity, as well as hard working to find enough food, shelter and any warmth it can.

When I left work we moved onto our block of land 65 km via road from Darwin. I insisted that I had a car, power and phone all arranged before moving down there. The car lasted about six months before breaking down and never being repaired. The power was on from the start, but the phone took a couple of months to get hooked up. We were going to get a loan to dig a bore and build a house, but this never happened. We lived in a 23 foot caravan with a metal annex that went out one side and the front about three metres. Most days were about 38o with nearly 100% humidity - stifling in such living conditions. We carted water in 44 gallon drums on a trailer often running out, and only had a flushable toilet the last six months of our approximately 8 years there and only because I dug the hole for the septic tank (through ground nearly as tough as concrete). At least once sometimes three times a week for much of this time, I received a boot load of fruit and vegetables that had been thrown out for animal food from the local supermarket. I had to sort out the good for us, and the rest went to the animals which he continually brought home no matter how much I protested and without any regard as to how we were going to care for or feed them properly. During this time I bore my two lovely children.

I learnt:-

  • to be resourceful by saving every penny I could. Nothing was ever wasted - well not by the children or me or all hell would break loose. Nearly all our clothing and household goods came from the local K-Mart - the dump. After moving down to south-east Queensland and buying our house we had $5000 left and lived on what I could get from Centrelink which was $250 a fortnight for our family of 4 for about 18 months. By the end of this time the $5000 was gone and I applied to Centrelink for money for him which he cursed and abused for me doing. My payment from Centrelink also went up.

  • not to complain for he would whinge and complain back twice as bad. Also Christ never opened His mouth during His suffering on the cross so why should I.

  • never to ask for help as all I got was abuse, and was left alone with the children for even longer.

  • to take care of our (children's and my) health as getting to doctors was very difficult. I learnt a basic knowledge in vitamins, minerals, essential oils, massage, hydrotherapy, etc. After years of doing this friends would phone me up asking what to do for such n such. I would look up all my books and tell them what they said.

  • that the care of the children and animals - even the ones I was scared of - was totally my responsibility and when I failed I was blasted for it. Like the day our horse died and was stiff by the time my ex-husband arrived home. He assumed the horse had been dead for hours and abused me of not caring for it. Later we found out it was a snake which explained the horse's swift death and stiffness.

  • to home school our children and even when my health was failing he would neither help properly nor let me give it up.

  • to use different computers and programs so as to save us money. I also helped neighbours and friends with theirs.

  • to cook quite well as everything had to be made from basic ingredients as we could not afford to buy prepared foods. This included cakes, biscuits, slices, bread, butter, cheese, yoghurt, jams, preserves, etc.

  • to make a web page and to write studies, sermons, answer emails on his behalf which were scrutinised by him, etc.

  • that if I could not do or fix something myself not to expect it to ever get done.

  • that his dreams and what he planned to do never happened. Most people say it will get done one day. I used to say it might get done one decade - maybe.

  • not to dream for things or get my hopes up (like a properly working car, holiday, repairs to house, etc.) as they were always being dashed.

  • that my feeling did not matter, and to show them was nearly as bad as open sin.

  • that as he was my husband I was responsible for his actions - or so he and other people held me. Yet he was never responsible for anything.

  • that there was no time to sit and relax when there was work to be done. If I tried to do so more work was given me as I obviously did not have enough to do.

  • that to have any friends they had to be his friends, I could not have friends of my own.

  • that family gatherings with his family were OK at any time, yet with my family we shameful, unnecessary, and sometimes even wrong.

  • the love of my children and gave them all the love that I could.

2.   The sparrow needs also to be determined to survive - to hold onto life no matter what else happens.

As my health slowly deteriorated I first determined that I must get my children through school before giving up. Before I completed this aim, my health took a major turn for the worse and my sole aim was to get the free online Bible College written and uploaded before I died. My daily prayer was that God would allow this. I was so sick I could do but very little. When I was nearing completion I told my husband not to arrange any more projects for the internet or that involved me (which is something he always did as I neared the end of a project). I was only capable of getting three meals a day, washing the dishes and clothes, and feeding a couple of animals. My son had to do everything else.

When the college was completed I knew that if I stayed with my ex-husband for much longer I would die. Living in a house that was highly toxic to me and with a husband unwilling to talk about moving to a place better for me, I was left with the options of stay and die or leave. To stay and die would mean to commit suicide something I am totally against. Yet to leave my husband would also be wrong. So I determined to temporarily leave to regain my health.

The day before I planned to leave my daughter phoned and told me about allegations of incest and paedophilia. It gave me the Biblical and moral reason and strength to leave, which I did that day - and never went back.

3.   Yet despite all its trials and troubles every morning the sparrow can still sing songs of thanks to God for all that he does has.

If we try hard we can find something good in or coming from any situation. All things work together for good to them the love the Lord. Always look on the bright side of life. If you cannot see the bright side, polish the dull. The glass is half full, not half empty.

If we take the time to look at our lives we can see the good things or blessings in them. The clouds in the sky, wild flowers, birds that sing, insects that work hard for the common good, etc. If we take time to be thankful for these things the struggles and hardships don't look quite so bad. "May your life have enough cloud to make a beautiful sunset." Robyn Williams, Home Economics Teacher, 1981 in my autograph book.

Being a victim is demoralizing and depressing. However, to be a survivor you need strength which can come from many different places:

I developed my strengths through the trials I endured, my strong faith in God, and help from some very lovely people.

What are your strengths? Here is a list of strengths to help you discover what yours are.

We are only a victim as long as we choose to be.

Are you a victim or a survivor?

I am no longer a victim, I am a survivor!

© S. Goeldner, 2013.

1. Survivor story and reflection from Trails of Discovery Journal, © 2009 by Helena Botros, produced and printed by Phoenix House Association Incorporated, Bundaberg, Australia. Used with permission.

© S. D. Goeldner, 2013. Last updated August, 2019.

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