Blog Archive

Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas Reflections

Christmas!  What a wonderful time of the year.  This year is especially wonderful as I reflect on all the wonderful things goin on in our lives.  I had another colonoscopy and the doctor's visit last Friday was very affirming.  Dr. B said, "I'm writing this into your medical file.  You are special."  I was happy to tell the doctor that the Lord has kept His word given to me in a dream last year, "I'm healing you."  This is cause for great rejoicing.  Wild.  Crazy.  Exuberant praise!  What a wonderful Christmas gift.  I asked Frances, "Why?"  I know it is not because I am any different than anyone else.  God knows how weak and frail and insignificant I am.  I did not fast a long fast, or give extra money to the church or have a special preacher lay hands on me.  I did have many friends praying for me, I know...but all I can say is that God, in his sovereignty CHOSE to heal me.  I'm grateful.

Family.  This year for the first time in many years I find all of my brothers and sisters and our mother living in the same town.  This is most unusual for our bunch.  I've lived in South America and in Africa for 24 years.  One brother lived in Corpus Christi, TX and one in Louisiana for many of those years.  Mom and Dad lived in different states over those years, pastoring churches.  But now - this Christmas, we were all together for things like caroling, church attendance, parties, gift exchanges and giving thanks for each other and how the Lord has directed our lives.

Our Fred Brannen family - Frances and I and our three girls and their children and their children's children all live in America.  Actually we are most proud to have a daughter married to a pastor...and they are serving the Lord way up north in Watertown, NY.  We were able to talk with them in the past few days via Skype.  How wonderful to see the beautiful faces of our two grand-daughters who are still at home there.  Our other two girls and their children were all able to be with us.  I managed to be there for a Christmas play in which a son-in-law and a granddaughter participated.  What a treat.  Our children make us very proud as they serve the Lord.

Our church - We joined the Victory Drive Church of God here in Cleveland this year.  We both enjoy the fellowship of all the members.  I teach Sunday School part time and have filled in for the pastor when called on.  Music is a special part of our church life and I've been privileged to sing with two wonderful families who are professionals.  The Ray Branham Family and The Vaughan Cunningham Family are really talented musicians.  We are blessed in this spiritual haven.

One of our angels

Daughter Ruthie

Mom with a fruit basket

Brother-in-law, Michael

Our friend, Rob D. that we met in Kenya

Music at our church

Chirch Christmas Party

Our Pastor
My computer friends - You - maybe you don't know what a lift some of you give to my spirit when I read your blogs.  I pray for you and yours to have a blessed and prosperous New Year!

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Yes, it's a happy one for me.  One year ago, today, November 22, 2011, I arrived before daylight and checked into the hospital in nearby Chattanooga for surgery to remove three cancerous tumors from my colon.  At my last check-up (Nov 5) the Oncologist gave me a clean bill of health and stated that he wanted to set up a date now for the removal of the "surgical port" from my chest as he could not see any further need for it.  The LORD has kept HIS WORD to me:  "I'm healing you!"

Two days after my Oncologists visit, I visited my Optometrist - and she said sshe was surprised that she did not see more damage to my eyes.  "In fact," she said, "Your eyes look better today than they did a year ago!"  Isn't God good?

I was up at 3:30a.m. last Saturday, drove an hour and a half with my 4 wheeler on the trailer behinc me and hunted for deer all day.  Came home in the evening and then went to church the next morning and night and sung in both services.  Came home and fell asleep with no trouble.  On Monday morning I got up, collected my Mom and we went out to sing at the Senior Citizen's Center.  Tuesday I drove an hour north of here to Madisonville to collect 55 lbs of deer meat given to me by my friend who owns the property where I hunt.  How blessed can a man be?  Too much?  I don't think I'll get to the place that I think it was by my own strength, nor because I am any better than anyone else.  I know it is all because of what the Lord has done.

To HIM be all glory, honor, and praise!


I just finished off two bowls of deer-chili and am preparing to go out to my sister's for our annual Brannen Family tradition (which we call Thanks-mas!). 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Appalachian Trail - Only 2180.7 More Miles To Go!

In Africa I learned that I can eat an elephant - if I eat it one bite at a time!  The Appalachian Trail is like an elephant.  It is 2,184 miles of footpath, leading from Georgia to Maine.  I began this most exciting and chilling, awesome and aweful, wonderful and full of wonder walk on Wednesday, September 5, 2012.  The section we walked was the "100 mile wilderness" section.  There were 4 of us who entered the trailhead at 1:00pm that day with intentions to walk to the Hurd Shelter where we were camping for the first night of ten anticipated nights on this trail.

Just a month before (on August 2) I had a CT-Scan showing that there were no more signs of colon cancer.  Jesus had kept his promise which he spoke to me last fall before my surgery.  In that dream He said, "I'm healing you."   My great friend Jack L. Darnell and his dear wife Sherry invited me at some point to go with him for a hike of the "100 mile wilderness" section of the trail beginning at the base of Katahdin and walking south to Manson; something I have always wanted to do.

My grandparents on my Mother's side were an outdoors family.  They hunted in central Florida out of Yankeetown - mostly in a place called Gulf Hammock.  I always loved the time I spent with them: mostly Christmas and Spring, just at the time when school was out.  Sometimes I was also allowed to stay the whole summer with them until it was time for school to begin in the fall.  I have always been healthy and never was in the hospital except for a bout with malaria, sufferred after a mission trip to the Pomeroon district of Guyana, South America.  That was 1985.  I recovered quickly and went on to serve in Africa for 20 years without ever suffering with malaria symptons again.

For over 20 years I had been a pastor in the Southern USA.  My first church was at Tellico Plains, Tennessee.  There I learned many things about hunting and fishing in a mountain environment.  I was a scoutmaster for the Tellico Plains Kiwanis club.  I've hiked short distances in Alaska, carrying skis on my shoulder, never having skiied before.  It was "breath-taking" adventure to say the least.  That is all to say that I have had some experience in the outdoors before0 the beginning of this venture.   (Reflection:  I was younger then - and I had not had cancer surgery nor had my body been bombarded with chemical cocktails for a solid 6 months.  Haha.)

However - after all of my experiences with the few pieces of the trail I've been on, I had no way to anticipate the difficulties I encountered on this trail.  It was absolutely "R&R" as my good friend Jack Darnell said.  "Roots and Rocks"!  That's o.k.  Cause I'll be back, friends. 

So today I went out and bought a map of Springer Mountain to Bly Gap (the southernmost leg of the AT) and started my plans for another big adventure on the trail!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

On The 100 Mile Wilderness In Maine

Your's Truly - Enjoying The Trail
But Can You See The Tiredness In My Eyes?
It's because I had to fight with my ENO Hammock Most of the night.  (Well, that plus the five hour hike I had into here to the shelter).  Man - was I tired?  I had stretched out the hammock and slept in it a couple of hours at home - but without the sleeping bag.  Now I had a wonderful sleeping bag that was toasty warm to my back - but it insisted on staying bunched up in the middle.  It was a "Mummy Style" bag, which requires putting one's feet into before zipping up from the bottom.  It was dark and this bag was so warm - but I could not pull enough of it up around my body to stay warm.  I pulled at the legs first - then I pulled at the edges of the bag behind my shoulders.  While doing this I could not, no matter how hard I tried, pull the bag out froim under my back.  I would lift my hips high and try to jump-pull and push at the same instant - all to no avail.  The more I worked the hotter I got.  Then I felt warm.  Warm, that is, until the sweat I had worked up began to turn to ice-water!  Ha.  So - I'll roll over, I thought.  When I did - OUT - onto the roots and rocks.  When my knee hit that root I called out, "OH!"  "Are you all righ down there, Fred?"  Mark called out.  "NO!"  I replied.  So at One o'clock A.M., Mark came down to help this old man get back into the hammock.  What a WONDERFUL NIGHT!
Sherry D And Her Two Sons, Mark and Jack, Jr.

Missionary Friend, Gordon B., President Of The Bible College
In Kenya For Fourteen Years

Everyone Needed To Rest On This Trail

Hurd Shelter
By the time I reached here my vision was blurred.  ☺

Inside The Shelter Where The Others Slept

The Trail of Roots And Rocks
Goes Right By The Base Of That Tree
Jack and Sherry D.



Inside The Shelter of My ENO
I fought all night with my Sleeping Bag
Which I could not get to cover my shoulders!

Climbing into the ENO Hammock
Thru The Bug-Net


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Taste Of The Trail

Our Trail-Master and good friend, Jack D of Shipslog
Attempting to get a signal on his cell-phone

Mark, Jackie and Sherry the morning we began our hike


Jack, Gordon, Me, Mark at the beginning of our trek
The sign says
It's only 3.3 miles to the shelter where we will camp
the first night


Gordon getting settled into the shelter
 On Tuesday of last week my missionary friend (Gordon) and I boarded a plane and flew to Bangor, ME to begin our trek on the Appalachian Trail.  We were two kids again!  School was out.  And we were both excited about the adventure that lay before us.  Jack (of Shipslog) had invited us to join him and one of his sons for the "100 mile wilderness" section of the trail that begins at Abol bridge at the base of Mt. Katahdin and travels southwards to Manson. 

To sum it up, it took me 5 hours to lead the group in to the first shelter where we camped for the night.  I had begun to run out of steam by the time we got through the bog; the first hurdle along the trail, which took about an hour of walking.  Did I say walking?  It was more like slowly creeping as I tentatively sought for a solid place to plant my hiking stick without it sinking into the marsh from six inches up to two feet!  I would say hahaha - but it wasn't funny at that time.  Plenty funny now that I'm safely home anmd sitting in the comfort of my office. 

After reaching what I think was about the half-way point I became over-heated, so much so that my glasses had gone from fogging over to being wet and streaked completely with sweat.  When I stopped and took a drink from my canteen I decided to pour some water on my head and face.  Steam flew into the air like you had poured ice onto a hot Model A Ford engine. (Well, that's what it seemed like to me.)  I was nauseous.  I felt I would surely lose my lunch.  My  pack felt like it weighed 450 lbs instead of the 48.5 lbs that the airport scale had showed. 

At that point, my good friend Jack insisted that we swap packs.  I believe his pack weighed 30 lbs or less.  He carried my pack and I carried his for a couple of hours.  Then Jack's son, Mark sped on ahead to the shelter and hung his pack in a tree before returning to take the pack I was carrying on the rest of the journey.  I knew at that point that I was not ready yet to hike the entire trail on this trip so decided that if we could possibly get a cell-phone signal that I would do the smart thing and go back out in the morning. 

Sure - I struggled with my male ego before making this decision.  The "man" in me wanted to "do it or die" but I thought - I don't have to die from my an attack of over-grown ego.  Ha.  Common sense told me to let the others go on and for me to turn back.  I was to learn from Jackie (Jack's first-born son) that this was not "common sense" but rather "uncommon sense".  Just like his Dad!  Always trying to make others feel better about themselves. 

More to follow.  However, I can't wait to show you the Tee Shirt that Frances bought for me and presented to me when I reached home! 

I had seen this shirt in Gatlinburg, TN and remarked to
Frances over the phone that I wished I had bought it.
So appropriate for a beginning of an
Addicted Trail Hiker!
Don't you think?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Preparing To Hike

My Brother Wil and his Wife join me on the Greenway
I'm so happy to report that I'm finished the Chemo and am now preparing to hike the "Hundred Mile Wilderness" with good friend and fellow blogger, Jack Darnell.  My brother and a missionary friend, Gordon B. are also going with us.  We anticipate a great time of solitude and evening stories around the campfire!
I have been so busy this summer that it was next to impossible to do anything here at the Blog.  Missionary friends were taken up to the cabin, one of my brothers and his wife (Lowell and Janis) were taken to the cabin specifically to pick black berries.  One day Lowell and I dug sassafras roots for tea.  At other times we just went to mow the grass and check for storm damage.

It seems we have had an unusual amount of storms the last couple of years.  Our cabins were spared - but there have been numerous trees that were felled by the winds, clogging the roads.  Our neighbor lost several huge trees.  Power outages were caused by trees knocking down power lines.  But we and our families were spared.  Thank you, Lord!

It seems I have more to thank God for than anyone I know.  I had my last chemo-treatment about three weeks ago.  Then at the CT Scan two weeks ago - the doctor said he could see no more cancer...but...he referred me to another doctor for an ultrasound on my thyroid gland as he thought he saw a nodule there.  I had a call a couple of hours ago from the ultrasound doc and they said "ALL CLEAR" on that!  Ain't God Good?
Through All Kinds of Weather
Brother Wil and I have been hiking on the local hiking trail in anticipation of the AT.  We have been also preparing our backpacks, meals, shelter, etc.  This is the brother that lived in Texas for over 40 years and only recently retired and moved here to our town.  I'm enjoying having him around. 
More Ducks

Missionary Gordon Bloodworth Shows His Strength

Clearing The Trail
I MUST SAY  - Thank You, my friends who have prayed for me so often over the last six to eight months as I battled cancer.  Thanks.
Missionary Jack Morris Takes Aim

Having Difficulty Reading The Bible Through?

For several years now I have made it my personal goal to read my Bible through four (4) times a year.  This requires only twelve chapters per day and twenty chapters on Sunday.  To read it through once in a year only requires three chapter per day and five chapters on Sunday.  (Sorry folks - In this original article I made a mistake and said one chapter per day when it should have been three per day in order to read through once in a year!)
I was a pastor in my younger years (started at the very young age of 22 years) and I felt that it was part of my duty to read the Bible through at least once a year.  As I began, I would do fine until I came to the long lists of difficult names.  I would often come to the end of another year filled with guilt and disappointment because I had read only the Old Testament and sometimes a few chapters of the New Testament. 
It was not easy in those early years.  I had tried from my very first day as a pastor to pray one (1) hour each morning as I began my day – a habit I acquired from watching my Dad who was a pastor before me.  After prayer, I would read the first few chapters of Genesis without great difficulty – but then I would come to the genealogical sections with all those foreign names that were so difficult to pronounce and I quickly lost interest.  Here are some suggestions that I hope will help you if you are one of the few who really want to be knowledgeable of the Word of God
I.                 Know that YOU CAN do it!
a.     Even if you cannot read, you can now get an audio Bible in some form.
b.     You can now have someone read it to you as you read along silently by going to or on the Internet.
c.      You can get a CD or DVD or cassette tape  of the Bible being read aloud.
II.               Know that you should do it! 
a.     Question:  What is prayer?  Is it not conversing with God? 
b.     Question:  What is a conversation?  Is it not when two people speak to each other?  If one does all the speaking while the other only listens and never says anything, is that a conversation?  Of course not.  So I decided to let God do most of the talking.  Yes, I still pray, and at times can get "lost" in prayer, asking God to meet many of my perceived needs.
c.      Question:  How does God speak to us?  Through visions, dreams, prophets, tongues and interpretations, circumstances, and also our feelings?   Yes.  But human lips can make many mistakes.  Paul the Apostle indicates that "Prophecies shall fail and Tongues shall cease - but the Word of God abideth forever." 
d.     Question:  What is the single most reliable way to know what God wants to say to us?  It is found in the written Word of God.
e.     So I am suggesting that if you really want to hear from God – then READ HIS WORD!
III.              Get an easier translation to read than the KJV.  I highly recommend the Living Bible if you want a read that is easy to understand.  NOW - For Bible Study (especially when it comes to debatable points) I prefer the King James Version,  You know – the one used by Jesus and Paul.  (Of course, you know the KJV was not first printed until the year 1611) so that statement was completely “tongue in cheek”.
IV.             Get Started by making up your mind that you will do it.  You will not accomplish anything unless you make a start.
V.               Set a time that is convenient.
a.     Are you a night-owl?  Then make it the last hour before you sleep.
b.     Are you (like me) a morning person?  Set your clock an hour early and spend that first time of the day with your Lord.  You have as much time as the King or a Queen has.  Use it wisely. 
c.      If you work 50 to 60 hours a week, you can still find time to do whatever it is that you strongly desire to do.  It only takes an average reader 15 to 20 minutes to read three (3) chapters.  If you want to watch a movie you will.  Most Americans will watch TV or the Internet or read the newspaper for hours with very little complaint.
d.     Find a specific place that is comfortable and well lit but gives you as much privacy as possible.  Find a place where you can read for an hour without interruption.  This may require spending time with your wife and family and letting them know your plan.
e.     Don’t answer the phone.  Let the caller leave a message and then call them back after your Bible reading time.   Inform your family of what you are doing and seek their cooperation in not disturbing you. 
VI.             Just Git-er-done!
a.     Whatever sacrifices you have to make will be well worth the effort!
b.     Get started NOW.  Don’t wait until tomorrow for tomorrow never comes.
c.      If you find yourself reading and suddenly discover that you don’t understand – DO NOT GO BACK.  Simply focus at that point in your reading and keep moving forward.  Rest assured – you will never understand it all – but as you read over and over each year you will find more and more meaning as you read.
            If you have questions or comments you would like discuss in a reasonable manner, please feel free to post your comments here.  I would love to hear from you, especially if you have discovered a method or some way to make the reading of the Bible easier and more rewarding. 

Friday, June 29, 2012


Recognize These?  Be glad if you don't!  Ha.

Keep Smiling Through It All...It takes lots less muscle to smile than to frown.

The Nurses At Work
My apologies to all of my blogger friends.  (All of you) * ld like to give you an update on what isd going on here but with the "chemically induced nejuropathy pains I'm having - it is most difficult to tyupe because of teh pain I am experience in my fingers.  It's a taski top type without hitting un-wanted keys as you can plainly sdee.  Horrible!  ☺  so I'm smiling anyway!!!!!!!!!!!!  Thank God I can do as well as I can and the doc says it will go away in time.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Last Treatment

Three of God's Angels
(Frances Durham,. Frances Brannen, Ruthie Crockett)
who worked and prayed with me from start to finish
Through the process of healing from cancer.
Thank you girls!
This crown was mine to indicate that I was "King For A Day" after completing 6 months of chemo-therapy. 
All I could think of was that if we win any crowns in life - we will cast them all at the feet of Jesus
I know that it was His healing at work in my body which enabled me to pass through this
battle with cancer successfully.

This placard is displayed on the counter in the Treatment Room

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day 2012 and Chemo-Treatment #9

Me and my siblings with most spouses were together with Mom on Saturday
The day before Mother's Day.  I think she looks good at 91 years!

Our first-born daughter, "Frankie", giving her Mom flowers for Mother's Day

Our last-born daughter, Tabitha (aka: The Pet) sent this Beautiful "in-depth" card
with a gift card inside!

Our middle daughter, Ruthie (aka: The Favrite One) had taken me to the
Oncology Department for treatment #9.  She also went by Cap'n D's and brought
a complete fish dinner to our home on Sunday so Mom did not have to cook!

Our first-born child gave me this Tee-shirt to encourage me to "Crush Cancer"

After chemo-treatment #9, Frances had boiled eleven squirrels for me!
This is highly recommended treatment for cancer! By whom?
Me - Of course!  Only 4 more treatments to go!!!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Happy Easter!

I pray that all of you had a very Happy Easter.  Ours was blessed because we were able to go to church together with our first-born daughter (Frankie) and hear the special music presentation.  Our daughter sings in that choir but had surgery on her thyroid just a couple of weeks ago and was unable to participate this year.  I'm sure that was dis-appointing for Frankie but was a blessing for us as we were able to sit with her during the service.  Afterwards we all came to our house where we had a wonderful meal which had been prepared for us by a friend of our second-born daughter, Ruthie.  It was a blessed time of fellowship.

I have now passed through chemo treatment #7, which puts me "over the hump" of the 13 treatments that have been prescribed for me.  Thank God for the strength He is giving me as I go through this process.  One of the Easter songs really resonates in my being - "Because He Lives".  The chorus says, "Because He Lives, I can face tomorrow.  Because He Lives, all fear is gone.  Because I know who holds the future, I now can face uncertain days, Because He Lives!"  Yes, just as He said to me in that un-forgettable dream, Jesus is healing me.

Be Blessed!

Iris in bloom by the carport!

Clymatis (Sp?) in bloom at the front porch

Roses starting to bloom!  It's too early?

More Roses

And More Roses

My Beautiful Frances

About Me

My photo
Cleveland, TN, United States
I am Fred Alton Brannen, the son of Louis A. Brannen (deceased) and Bonnie Jones Brannen, Louis was an Ordained Bishop with the Church of God. Bonnie is an Ordained Licensed Minister and at 89 years of age is still actively engaged in speaking and singing engagements. I am married to the former Frances Hildreth. We celebrated 53 years of marriage this past June and we are the parents of 3, grand-parents of 10, and great-grandparents of 10. I pastored in Tennessee for 24 years and served the Church in some capacity in missions for over 23 years. I retired from full-time ministry in August of 2008 but remain active, speaking and singing and teaching whenever opportunity affords itself. In January of 2010 I received a letter of commendation for having been credentialed as a minister in the Church of God for 50 years! My family is very important to me. Our get togethers are always noisy affairs and most times will include family sing-alongs. The children love their Mom's cooking so we have the privilege of seeing them regularly! WE LOVE having them over.

TheCabin on Day One

TheCabin on Day One
Fred Alton