“MOTHMAN ATTACKS!” and 2 More Disturbing And Horrifying True Stories! #WeirdDarkness
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Listen to “(Non-Christmas Episode!) “MOTHMAN ATTACKS!” and 2 More Disturbing And Horrifying True Stories! #WeirdDarkness” on Spreaker.
IN THIS EPISODE: As far as we know, it was the very first sighting of what we’ve come to know as The Mothman – and it was seen not by a single person or even a single couple – but by four people. Actually, “sighting” probably isn’t the right word for it… as it ended up in a high-speed chase between the four people in one car, and Mothman giving chase. (Mothman Attacks!) *** What if your child were to tell you they were seeing dead people, like in the “Sixth Sense?” One woman in the UK is pondering that question with not one, but two children who are adamant they are seeing those who have already passed on. (My Children See Dead People) *** Steven Stayner was only seven years old when he was kidnapped and held for over seven years, being sexually molested by the man who grabbed him. But when another boy was brought in as the man’s next victim, Steven turned from victim, to rescuer. (I Know My First Name is Steven)
SOURCES AND REFERENCES FROM THE EPISODE…
“My Children See Dead People” by Kate Jackson for The Sun: https://tinyurl.com/y6jztp3w
“I Know My First Name is Steven” from The Scare Chamber: https://tinyurl.com/y6gg3kjk
“Mothman Attacks” by Troy Taylor: https://tinyurl.com/y6rzfjhu
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Paranormality Magazine: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/paranormalitymag
Micro Terrors: Scary Stories for Kids: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/microterrors
Retro Radio – Old Time Radio In The Dark: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/retroradio
Church of the Undead: https://weirddarkness.tiny.us/churchoftheundead
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(Over time links seen above may become invalid, disappear, or have different content. I always make sure to give authors credit for the material I use whenever possible. If I somehow overlooked doing so for a story, or if a credit is incorrect, please let me know and I will rectify it in these show notes immediately. Some links included above may benefit me financially through qualifying purchases.)
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“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” — John 12:46
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Stories and content in Weird Darkness can be disturbing for some listeners and intended for mature audiences only. Parental discretion is strongly advised.
Welcome, Weirdos – (I’m Darren Marlar and) this is Weird Darkness. Here you’ll find stories of the paranormal, supernatural, legends, lore, the strange and bizarre, crime, conspiracy, mysterious, macabre, unsolved and unexplained.
Coming up in this episode…
“I see dead people.” Today it’s a meme seen in every corner of the internet. It began, however, as an incredible idea for a film – “The Sixth Sense” – and the reason the meme is so prevalent today, is because the film blew our minds with the unexpected twist ending forcing us to watch the film again. But what if your child were to truly tell you they were seeing dead people. Not imaginary friends, and not even the occasional monster in the closet… but actually seeing dead people. One woman in the UK is pondering that question with not one, but two children who are adamant they are seeing those who have already passed on. (My Children See Dead People)
Steven Stayner was only seven years old when he was kidnapped and held for over seven years, being sexually molested by the man who grabbed him. But when another boy was brought in as the man’s next victim, Steven turned from victim, to rescuer. (I Know My First Name is Steven)
As far as we know, it was the very first sighting of what we’ve come to know as The Mothman – and it was seen not by a single person or even a single couple – but by four people. Actually, “sighting” probably isn’t the right word for it… as it ended up in a high-speed chase between the four people in one car, and Mothman giving chase. (Mothman Attacks)
If you’re new here, welcome to the show! While you’re listening, be sure to check out WeirdDarkness.com for merchandise, to visit sponsors you hear about during the show, sign up for my newsletter, enter contests, connect with me on social media, plus, you can visit the Hope in the Darkness page if you’re struggling with depression or dark thoughts. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
Now.. bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the Weird Darkness!
STORY: MOTHMAN ATTACKS==========
On the night of November 15, 1966, two young married couples had a very strange encounter as they drove past an abandoned TNT plant near Point Pleasant, West Virginia. The couples spotted two large eyes that were attached to something that was “shaped like a man, but bigger, maybe six or seven feet tall. And it had big wings folded against its back.”
When the creature moved toward the plant door, the couples panicked and sped away. Moments later, they saw the same creature on a hillside near the road. It spread its wings and rose into the air, following along with their car, which by now was traveling at over 100 miles per hour. “That bird kept right up with us,” said one of the members of the group.
They told Deputy Sheriff Millard Halstead that it followed them down Highway 62 and right to the Point Pleasant city limits. And they would not be the only ones to report the creature that night. Another group of four witnesses claimed to see the “bird” three different times.
Another sighting had more bizarre results. At about 10:30 p.m. on that same evening, Newell Partridge, a local building contractor who lived in Salem (about 90 miles from Point Pleasant), was watching television when the screen suddenly went dark. He stated that a weird pattern filled the screen, and then he heard a loud, whining sound from outside. Partridge’s dog, Bandit, began to howl out on the front porch, and Newell went out to see what was going on.
When he walked outside, he saw Bandit facing the hay barn, about 150 yards from the house. Puzzled, Partridge turned a flashlight in that direction and spotted two red circles that looked like eyes or “bicycle reflectors.” Bandit, an experienced hunting dog and protective of his territory shot off across the yard in pursuit of the glowing eyes. Partridge called for him to stop, but the animal paid no attention. His owner turned and went back into the house for his gun, but then was too scared to go back outside again. He slept that night with his gun propped up next to the bed. The next morning, he realized that Bandit had disappeared. The dog had still not shown up two days later when Partridge read in the newspaper about the sightings in Point Pleasant that same night.
One statement that he read in the newspaper chilled him to the bone. Roger Scarberry, one member of the group who spotted the strange “bird” at the TNT plant, said that as they entered the city limits of Point Pleasant, they saw the body of a large dog lying on the side of the road. A few minutes later, on the way back out of town, the dog was gone. They even stopped to look for the body, knowing they had passed it just a few minutes before. Newell Partridge immediately thought of Bandit, who was never seen again.
On November 16, a press conference was held in the county courthouse, and the couples from the TNT plant sighting repeated their story. Deputy Halstead, who had known the couples all their lives, took them very seriously. “They’ve never been in any trouble,” he told investigators and had no reason to doubt their stories. Many of the reporters who were present for the weird recounting felt the same way.
The news of the strange sightings spread around the world. The press dubbed the odd flying creature “Mothman,” after a character from the popular Batman television series of the day.
The remote and abandoned TNT plant became the lair of the Mothman in the months ahead, and it could not have picked a better place to hide in. The area was made up of several hundred acres of woods and large concrete domes where high explosives were stored during World War II. A network of tunnels honeycombed the area and made it possible for the creature to apparently move about without being seen. In addition to the manmade labyrinth, the area was also comprised of the McClintic Wildlife Station, a heavily forested animal preserve filled with woods, artificial ponds, and steep ridges and hills. Much of the property was almost inaccessible, and without a doubt, Mothman could have hidden for weeks or months and remained totally unseen. The only people who ever wandered there were hunters and fishermen and the local teenagers, who used the rutted dirt roads of the preserve as “lover’s lanes.”
Very few homes could be found in the region, but one dwelling belonged to the Ralph Thomas family. On November 16, they spotted a “funny red light” in the sky that moved and hovered above the TNT plant. “It wasn’t an airplane,” Mrs. Marcella Bennett (a friend of the Thomas family) said, “but we couldn’t figure out what it was.” Mrs. Bennett drove to the Thomas house a few minutes later and got out of the car with her baby. Suddenly, a figure stirred near the automobile. “It seemed as though it had been lying down,” she later recalled. “It rose up slowly from the ground… a big gray thing… bigger than a man with terrible glowing eyes.”
Mrs. Bennett was so horrified that she dropped her little girl. She quickly recovered, picked up her child, and ran to the house. The family locked everyone inside, but hysteria gripped them as the creature shuffled onto the porch and peered into the windows. The police were summoned, but the Mothman had vanished by the time the authorities had arrived.
Mrs. Bennett would not recover from the incident for months and was, in fact, so distraught that she sought medical attention to deal with her anxieties. She was tormented by frightening dreams and later told investigators that she believed the creature had visited her own home too. She said that she often heard a keening sound — like a woman screaming– near her isolated home on the edge of Point Pleasant.
Many would come to believe that the sightings of Mothman, as well as UFO sightings and encounters with “men in black” in the area, which occurred over the course of the months that followed, were all related. For over a year, strange happenings continued in the area. Researchers, investigators, and “monster hunters” descended on the area, and it was said that at least 100 people personally witnessed the creature between November 1966 and November 1967.
According to their reports, the creature stood between five and seven feet tall, was wider than a man, and shuffled on human-like legs. Its eyes were set near the top of the shoulders and had bat-like wings that glided, rather than flapped when it flew. Strangely, though, it was able to ascend straight up “like a helicopter.” Witnesses also described its murky skin as being either gray or brown, and it emitted a humming sound when it flew. The Mothman was apparently incapable of speech and gave off a screeching sound. Mrs. Bennett stated that it sounded like a “woman screaming.”
The Mothman was probably last seen in late November 1967, but the story of weird happenings in Point Pleasant had not yet ended. At around 5:00 p.m. on December 15, 1967, the 700-foot Silver Bridge linking Point Pleasant to Ohio suddenly collapsed while filled with rush hour traffic. Dozens of vehicles plunged into the dark waters of the Ohio River, and 46 people were killed.
The collapse of the Silver Bridge made headlines all over the country. The local citizens were stunned with horror and disbelief, and for many, the tragedy is still being felt today. There were many people – perhaps most people in the area – who believed that the Mothman sightings, the bizarre events, and the reports of strange lights were somehow connected to the collapse of the bridge. Some saw the earlier events as a warning or premonition of the deadly accident to come. Others believed that the Mothman was directly responsible for the horror. A few even insist that the creature was seen near the bridge just minutes before the collapse occurred.
So, who – or what – was the Mothman, and what was behind the strange events in Point Pleasant?
Whatever the creature may have been, it seems clear that Mothman was no hoax. There were simply too many credible witnesses who saw “something.” But what he was – and why the region was and still is, plagued by strange anomalies – remains a mystery.
When Weird Darkness returns…
A UK mother is concerned about her children – as they insist they keep seeing people who have already passed away. (My Children See Dead People)
But first, Steven Stayner was only seven years old when he was kidnapped and held for over seven years, being sexually molested by the man who grabbed him. But when another boy was brought in as the man’s next victim, Steven turned from victim, to rescuer. That story is up next.
STORY: I KNOW MY FIRST NAME IS STEVEN==========
Today, the idea of a 7-year old walking home from school alone is almost unheard of. The world is a crazy place, full of unknown dangers. Parents today are very protective of their children, and for good reason. When 800,000 children disappear every year worldwide – 460,000 of these from the United States alone, you tend to keep your children close. But, in 1974, things were much different.
Steven Stayner was a typical 7-year old boy. Third of five children, he had an older brother and three sisters. He was described as a quiet kid, he enjoyed hanging out with his friends, going to the park, riding his skateboard, or even his bike. On December 4, 1972, he was walking home from school when he was spotted by Kenneth Parnell and his friend Ervin Murphy. They stopped the car and Murphy got out. He told Steven he was a minister, and asked if his mother would like to make a donation to the church. Steven told him she would probably want to, and the men offered him a ride home. Despite his refusals, since he was just a few blocks from home, Steven finally gave in and accepted the ride.
Parnell approached with the car, and they left. They passed the street Steven’s house was on, and when he told them, the men just said that they’d call his parents, see if he could stay the night.
When he didn’t return home from school that day his parents went to the police. Investigator Pat Lunney said, “Merced was the lead police department, and so they really mounted a large effort to search. And they searched. And there was just nothing there.” Little did they know, Steven was being held at a cabin in nearby Catheys Valley. A cabin that sat several hundred feet away from his grandfather’s house.
That first night, Parnell molested young Steven.
The next night, Parnell told Steven he had called his parents again, and just as the previous night, they said he could stay over. The next day, Steven was told that his parents had given him up, that they couldn’t afford so many children (Steven was one of five children), and they didn’t want him anymore. He now belonged to Parnell.
Within a week, Steven was calling him dad. Thirteen days in, Steven was being raped.
Claiming full legal custody of Steven, Parnell changed his name, calling him Dennis Gregory Parnell, allowing him to keep his real middle name. Over the next several years, he was enrolled in various schools around California. A woman named Barbara Mathias moved in and lived with them for eighteen months. By the time Steven was nine, Mathias and Parnell had raped him on at least nine separate occasions.
Steven was beaten and allowed to drink alcohol and smoke marijuana. When Parnell’s mother gifted him a dog, he gifted it to Steven. He named the dog, a Manchester Terrier, Queenie.
Parnell bounced from one job to another, some requiring him to travel and leave Steven home alone. He was allowed to come and go virtually as he pleased, he could have fled, gotten help, but he didn’t know how.
In 1975, Parnell felt he needed another boy. He convinced Mathias to lure another young boy into his car. The boy, who was in the Santa Rosa Boys’ Club with Steven, wouldn’t be so easy. The attempt was a failure. Parnell used Steven in his next attempts to take a boy, but none were successful. Steven later admitted to sabotaging the efforts.
By 1980, when Steven was fourteen, and now a high school student, Parnell’s “need” for another boy became more prevalent. Knowing Steven wouldn’t get him someone, Parnell bribed one of Steven’s teenage friends, Randall Sean Poorman, to help with the promise of drugs and cash. On February 14, 1980, in Ukiah, California, they were successful when Poorman found 5-year old Timothy White walking home from school.
Steven, hoping to spare another child his fate, had sabotaged so many kidnappings. Despite his efforts, Parnell had another young boy. For two weeks Steven watched Timothy suffer. “He literally said, ‘I was not going to let that child go through what I had already been through. And if I didn’t take care of it now, it would just get worse,’” said Lori Duke, Steven’s girlfriend, who only knew him as Dennis.
On March 1, 1980, after two weeks, Steven had had enough. He waited until Parnell went to work, then took Timothy’s hand and ran. They hitchhiked to Ukiah. It’s late and dark when they arrive, and Timothy can’t remember where he lives, so they went to the police. Steven was able to explain what had happened to him and to Timothy. “I know my first name is Steven,” he said, ditching the name Parnell had given him. That statement later became the title of a book and movie.
Steven was declared a national hero, and within days made an appearance on “Good Morning America.” There, he told the host, David Hartman, that it felt “great” to be home, that his parents “didn’t change that much,” and regarding his brother and sisters, “they changed a lot. I never recognized either one of them.
The morning of March 2, 1980 Parnell was arrested. After performing a background check, they discovered this wasn’t his first offense – he had been convicted in 1951 for sodomy.
In 1981, Parnell was tried in two separate trials, one for each boy. Unfortunately, he was never charged with the sexual assaults on Steven, or any other boys, as they had occurred outside the jurisdiction of the Merced County prosecutor, some even outside the statute of limitations. For the sexual assaults carried out in Mendocino County, prosecutors chose not to prosecute.
Altogether, Parnell was sentenced to seven years and was paroled after serving five. His accomplices, Ervin Murphy, and Ronald Sean Poorman were also convicted, though on lesser charges, claiming they knew nothing of the sexual assaults. Barbara Mathias was never arrested.
Steven Stayner’s kidnapping prompted California lawmakers to change the state laws, allowing “consecutive prison terms in similar abduction cases.”
But the story doesn’t end there. Timothy, back home with his family, adjusted well, and things returned to normal. For Steven though, the adjustment was a little more difficult. He went back to sharing a room with his older brother Cary, and the two didn’t get along. In an interview with Good Morning America in 1983, Steven recalled, “The first year was kinda hectic. For seven years I have been supposedly an only child. Now I had to compete with a brother and three sisters.”
Steven had to learn the rules, he was used to coming and going as he pleased, drinking and smoking, and suddenly that wasn’t allowed. In an interview with Newsweek, Steven said, “I returned almost a grown man and yet my parents saw me at first as their 7-year old. After they stopped trying to teach me the fundamentals all over again, it got better. But why doesn’t my dad hug me anymore?” He went on to add, “Sometimes I blame myself. I don’t know sometimes if I should have come back home. Would I have been better off if I didn’t?”
Steven underwent counseling, albeit brief. In an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, his sister, Cory, said “He got on with his life. But he was pretty messed up and never got any counseling. My dad said he didn’t need any.”
Although he never disclosed the details of his sexual abuse, kids at school were heartless. He was bullied, teased, and his sexuality was always called into question. He turned to alcohol to suppress his feelings, and eventually dropped out of school. At odds with his father, Steven was eventually kicked out of the house.
Things were pretty rough for a while, bouncing from one job to another, some would say “wandering aimlessly.” Then he met Jody Edmondson, and in 1985, when he was 20 and she 17, they married. Together they had two children, and he moved to work with child abduction groups, making appearances for various groups who search for missing children. He gave lectures at local schools, and even testified before the Ways and Means Committee of the State Assembly on one bill that would increase penalties for kidnapping children, and another that would require parents to have their children fingerprinted.
He took a job at a local Pizza Hut, and on Saturday, September 16, 1989 a heavy rain fell. He rode a motorcycle to work, but his manager suggested he take the franchise’s pickup truck home so he could stay dry. Steven’s drivers license had been suspended, and didn’t want to risk an accident in the company truck, so he declined the offer.
Luck was not on his side, however, and at 4:55pm, three miles away and driving under the speed limit, he rammed a car that had pulled into the street just ahead of him. Steven was transported to Merced Community Medical Center, and at 5:35pm, was declared dead. He had sustained a fracture at the back of his skull.
The driver of the car fled the scene (and later surrendered himself in Tijuana, and was returned to California to be arraigned on felony hit-and-run manslaughter charges).
Five hundred people attended his funeral, one being Timothy White who, at the age of 14, served as a pallbearer. On his casket, there was an inscription, “Going Home.” When asked about it, his wife said “…he’s not hurting anymore. Nobody can hurt him now. He’s free.”
As for Kenneth Parnell, five years in prison wasn’t enough to reform him. In 2004, at the age of 72, he tried to bribe a nurse with $500 to get him a young boy. The nurse reported him to the local police and he was once again convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. He died four years later, on January 21, 2008.
STORY: MY CHILDREN SEE DEAD PEOPLE==========
Trembling with fear, ten-year-old Fae Jackson darted out of her bedroom and down the stairs to her mum.
She had just seen the wispy image of a person – who had hissed into her ear: “Can you hear me?”
It was the first of hundreds of ghost sightings that would plague the young girl and lead her to believe she may have psychic powers.
Incredibly, Fae’s younger brother, Ashley, has now started reporting similar eerie sightings – despite not knowing of Fae’s.
Mum Lynn has come to accept her kids have supernatural powers and that, just like the movie The Sixth Sense, her children can “see dead people”.
To Lynn, this is anything but a special gift – she sees it as a curse she would love to break.
The 39-year-old, from Waltham Cross, Herts, says: “It feels like someone is bullying my children and I can’t do anything about it.
“It would have been easier to deal with if they had an illness. At least I would know where to go for treatment.
“Fae has got used to it and now she enjoys having this ability – but Ashley hates it.”
Surveys in the UK show that one in five Brits have seen or felt the presence of a ghost – and that 53 per cent believe in psychic ability. The research coincides with Matt Damon’s new film, Hereafter, about a reluctant medium. Fae, now 13, and Ashley, eight, can relate to that.
Stay-at-home mum Lynn says: “The first sign was when Fae started primary school.
“She used to tell me one of her friends was purple or the teacher was red. So one day I told her, ‘No darling that boy isn’t purple’. She said, ‘Mummy I mean the colour around him’.”
Now they both believe Fae was recognising auras, the glow said to radiate around a person.
Ghostly sightings started when Fae turned ten, and appeared nearly every day. Once Fae reported her bed being shaken by a frustrated female ghost.
Another time she said she could feel the energy of an old woman against her back while showering. She even says that at times she can feel ghosts playing with her hair.
Lynn says: “How do you deal with something like that? She was terrified. I did start off thinking it might be attention-seeking, but you know your own children. She was shy and not a story teller.”
In her skinny jeans and patent Dr Martens, petite Fae today seems at ease with her powers but her huge blue eyes still betray her fear during one of the most terrifying incidents.
She says: “I had walked out of my bedroom and there was a mirror at the other end of the hall. In my reflection I saw a person’s head on my shoulder. It was red. I was so scared. But now I understand that it is my grandad and that he is my spirit guide, who is protecting me.”
Fae matter-of-factly goes on to relate how she encounters these unexpected visitors.
She says: “It’s not like seeing something solid like a chair, it’s like a glimpse of the person.
“Mostly I can sense something or feel the energy there and the picture and details come into my head. Like their name can pop into my head or how they died.
“If I close my eyes I see their picture building up. It happens so quickly. I have all this information in a couple of seconds.
“I used to be really scared, I wouldn’t like the dark and I wouldn’t like looking in the mirror in case I saw something.”
The double blow came when Ashley began to see ghosts too.
He refuses to discuss the idea that he may be psychic. Lynn says: “We had been careful to keep everything that was going on with Fae from Ashley. I didn’t want him to be frightened. Then, about a year ago, he refused to go into our conservatory and wouldn’t go to the toilet alone.
“I asked him what the matter was and he told me, ‘There’s a head following me around’.
“My blood went cold. How do you tell a seven-year-old that some people can see dead people?”
Lynn’s husband, David, 45, is clearly concerned and supportive yet, like Ashley, prefers not to discuss the issue.
But supernatural powers may run in the family. Both David’s dad and Lynn’s gran believed they saw spirits.
Lynn says: “Fae has tried to tell Ashley it’s OK and happens to her but he doesn’t believe her.
“She’s intrigued by it now but he hates it and is terrified.”
Through talking to other mediums, Fae has learned to cope with the sightings but Ashley is very much in denial. Instead, a friend who does distant healing – called Theta Healing – has focused on Ashley, asking that he doesn’t see anything frightening. Lynn believes this has reduced the sightings but says he still has what he calls “bad thoughts”.
Fae, who has learned to channel her ability into learning Reiki healing, says: “I can close down my chakras – points in the body from the head to the feet.
“You do it by thinking of those points as lightbulbs and you shut them off so you are closed to the spirits. I can also ask them to go away and I can imagine a white light around me to protect myself.
“When it first started I was seeing spirits every day but now it isn’t as often.”
Fae adds: “I have only told one friend at school, she was fine about it and accepts it.
“But I wouldn’t tell anyone else because I think they would tease me. I would be the witch girl.”
Lynn and Fae plan to write a book together on their experiences. They have also launched Facebook group Children With Spirit.
Lynn says: “One of my issues is that there’s no real help out there for people like us.
“Talking to other psychic children has really helped Fae, so hopefully it can help others too.”
The names of the individuals in this story were changed to protect their privacy, and the Facebook group “Children With Spirit” seems to be eluding me – at least here in the United States. Perhaps if you are in the UK you can more easily find it.
Thanks for listening (and be sure to stick around for the bloopers at the end)! If you like the show, please share it with someone you know who loves the paranormal or strange stories, true crime, monsters, or unsolved mysteries like you do! You can email me anytime with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find information on any of the sponsors you heard about during the show, find all of my social media, listen to audiobooks I’ve narrated, sign up for the email newsletter, find other podcasts that I host including “Church of the Undead”, visit the store for Weird Darkness merchandise, and more. WeirdDarkness.com is also where you can find the Hope in the Darkness page if you or someone you know is struggling with depression or dark thoughts. Also on the website, if you have a true paranormal or creepy tale to tell, you can click on TELL YOUR STORY. You can find all of that and more at WeirdDarkness.com.
All stories on Weird Darkness are purported to be true unless stated otherwise, and you can find links to the stories or the authors in the show notes.
“My Children See Dead People” by Kate Jackson for The Sun
“I Know My First Name is Steven” from The Scare Chamber
“Mothman Attacks” by Troy Taylor
WeirdDarkness® is a registered trademark. Copyright, Weird Darkness.
Now that we’re coming out of the dark, I’ll leave you with a little light… “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” – Joshua 24:15
And a final thought… “Our notions about happiness entrap us. We forget they’re just ideas. Our idea of happiness can prevent us from actually being happy.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
I’m Darren Marlar. Thanks for joining me in the Weird Darkness.