City of Love: A Guest Post by Julia

Julia, age 11
Julia, age 11

Julia is the “baby” in our home, but at 11 years old she really isn’t much of a baby anymore. Julia is the life of every party, always full of giggles sure to enchant and ever ready for the next fun activity. Out of all five of my children, this young lady has the most friends and busiest social calendar. She loves swimming, drawing, reading and helping out in the kitchen.

Julia wrote this non-fiction piece about part of her trip last summer when she went to Europe to visit her father who was stationed there with his Army unit. This is the second time this month that one of my children has been the guest blogger for me. All five will be featured here on my blog at some point during the month of April.

Please enjoy Julia’s essay on Paris entitled, City of Love.



Ah, Paris! Some call it the City of Love. But even before I knew about its nickname, I wanted to go see this famous French city for myself

To my delight, last summer my Parisian dreams came true. My father, who is a U.S. Army captain, was stationed in Germany. I spent part of the summer visiting him, and as a treat he took us on a weekend get-away to Paris!

Just getting to Paris was an adventure. We traveled there by train, which was something I had never done before. As our train pulled up at the station, I got my first look at Paris. Already, the views were breathtaking!

Our first stop was to find something for lunch. In Paris, it is not hard to locate a place to eat! Everywhere you turn is another small street-side café. As I ate my pizza, I could hardly keep my eyes off the people who crowded along the sidewalk as they rushed past us. Everyone was dressed so neatly, and I was fascinated to listen to the conversations around me, even though I couldn’t understand anything anyone said.

It seemed that most people in Paris walked. The sidewalks were huge! I felt like I was always watching my step out of fear of bumping into someone. That first day we must have walked all over Paris, even though I know we only explored a very small area of the city. I fell in love with Paris. Everything was stunning. Around every corner was something even more wonderful. My eyes couldn’t take in all the sights!

The next day was our big touring day. My dad had planned it all out. Our first stop after breakfast was the Louvre. I was very excited to see the Mona Lisa, but when we arrived and I saw the huge line I felt so discouraged! Fortunately, my dad saw another entrance, so we were able to get in quicker than if we had gone through the main entrance.


The Mona Lisa was so amazing. I could see the details of the brush strokes made Leonardo de Vinci over 500 years ago! As much as I enjoyed seeing the Mona Lisa up close and personal, it wasn’t my favorite painting in the Louvre. My favorite painting was a painting depicting a room full of other famous paintings. It was so cool!


As we left the Louvre, my father said that we were going to walk to the Eiffel Tower. The walk there was very long, so for part of the way we rode on a boat along the Seine River. I really don’t understand how someone can feel seasick when riding on a boat. I love how it feels to have the wind blowing in my hair and the feeling of water rushing past. I didn’t ever want to get off the boat!


We also passed by one of the many Love Lock Bridges in Paris. It’s a tradition for couples in love to engrave their initials on a padlock, which they then lock to the bridge and throw away the key. Supposedly this represents their love, which can never be unlocked. Some people in Paris want the Love Lock Bridges removed and made illegal. Not me! I think it is a sweet tradition, and part of the reason that makes Paris the City of Love.


Before long, we arrived at the Eiffel Tower. All around there were people, playing music and juggling and doing other amazing acts. I didn’t really stop to watch them though, because I was in awe of the huge tower. I never imagined it would be so big or so beautiful. We couldn’t go to the top, like I hoped, because the elevator was broken. But I was happy just for the chance to pose for some pictures and buy a small souvenir from one of the shops underneath the Eiffel Tower.


On our walk back, we stopped by another famous Parisian landmark, the Arc de Triomphe. This time my family and I climbed all the way to the top, which took us a long time because there were so many stairs! But the view from up there was worth it. You could see all of Paris! I could have stayed there forever, taking in the beautiful scenery.

Unfortunately, my trip to Paris came to an end all too soon. One weekend is hardly enough time to see and do it all. I hope someday to return. Perhaps after I am married, I will go there for my honeymoon. After all, Paris is the City of Love.



This post is part of the 2015 A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. If you are visiting due to that, thanks so much for popping in to read today’s post. I hope you will leave me a comment so that I can return the visit to your blog. I love to connect with other bloggers and readers. If you are a regular reader, I hope you’ll stick with me during April when I blog about the stories of my faith.

Here I Go …

April 2014. I took my first blogging challenge.

I’ll admit it: Before I ever started, I thought I wasn’t going to succeed.

But I did. Somehow I blogged my way through the alphabet, from A to Z, in the month of April. Twenty-six posts in thirty days! At the end, my fingers were sore, but the pain was worth it.

I learned that not only do I enjoy writing for me, but I enjoy writing for others as well. And to my delight, I discovered an amazing community of bloggers I never realized existed … bloggers who encourage me both in my Christian faith and as a developing writer.

So … I’ve decided to do it again. I’m taking on the A-to-Z Challenge and once again will spend most of my spare time in April typing away.


A2Z-BADGE-000 [2015]


A lot of bloggers who take the A-to-Z Challenge will have a theme. Perhaps a gardener will blog through the alphabet about different varieties of flowers, or a cook might share different recipes throughout the challenge.

Last year I tried to come up with a theme, but never did. Literally, God gave my my writing topic each day, one post at a time.  (You can read all about that here, which is my “A” post from last year when I admitted my aspirations to blog through the alphabet in April.)

Truthfully, blogging without a theme and waiting on God to give me an inspiration for each day’s post was something of an exercise in faith. Literally, there were days when I had absolutely no idea of what I would write about until I sat down in front of my laptop and prepared to blog.

So I asked God to allow me to have a theme for this year. Actually, I didn’t so much ask as I pleaded with HIm. And this is what He gave me:

A Baptist Girl’s Confessions: Tales from My Ever-Growing Faith

 Hmmm … not exactly what I had in mind as there still isn’t a firm idea of what I will be blogging about each day. It seems like once again I will be doing what I do best, writing about the insights God gives me in my own little mundane life.

I expect during April I will write about motherhood, grief (as I am still very much processing the deaths of my father and grandfather), foster parenting, raising teens and tweens, marriage, homeschooling, personal memories and who knows what else. There might even be a day or two when I write about the laundry.

I can’t promise you  what sorts of posts you’ll find here each day, but I can promise you this:

I’ll do my best to share my faith

as I write from my heart

on whatever topic God gives me.

Most of all, I hope you will join me in April.  Please feel free to connect with me by commenting, either here or on Facebook. I love getting feedback and forming new friendships from my readers as well as with other bloggers from around the world.

Be sure to stop back in tomorrow for my first A-to-Z post for 2015, in which I will share all about:


A to Z Blog Challenge … Reflections Upon Completion

A-to-Z Reflection [2014]


I honestly didn’t think I could do it. The challenge seemed insurmountable. How would I ever manage blogging twenty-six times in one month when I hadn’t managed even twenty posts in the entire previous year?  I had a feeling that my one moment of impulsivity was going to drive me absolutely crazy.

And yet, it didn’t.

In fact, writing practically every day in April turned out to be rather enjoyable.

Going into this challenge, I had no idea what to expect. I imagined hours of sitting around, beating my head against the computer screen, while my five kids ran rampant around the house. I envisioned dishes stacked up, laundry piled up, and school projects left unfinished. I figured before it was done, I’d give up, unsuccessful and unfulfilled as a writer.

Thankfully, my ideas and concerns are not God’s. And what He had in mind for me during April was something I never would have imagined. Through daily writing, I learned more about God, His truths, myself and the process of writing.

So what are my A-to-Z take-aways? There are many, but here are the 3 most important ones, along with a new writing/blogging goal I derived from each.

1. If God called me to write, then I definitely need to write … daily.  As a mother to five children, all of whom are homeschooled, I have a busy life. It’s not an excuse for me to neglect to do what God has asked me to do. Generally, I feel like I don’t have what it takes to take care of my family and write, but in April God reminded me that if He has asked me to do something for His purpose and glory, then He will provide everything I need to get the job done. This does not mean I will post daily to m blog.

As a result, my new goal is to write half an hour each day, and post to my blog 3 times a week.

2. Good writers employ many writing aids, including prompts. In the past, I’ve been hesitant to write to a prompt, simply because I felt as if it couldn’t be a spirit-led sort of writing. I would wait until an idea hit me and then I would write, but considering that I wasn’t practicing daily writing combined with a hectic life, writing ideas happened infrequently. The result was sporadic blogging and random writing. It wasn’t so much because God was speaking to me, but rather because I wasn’t attuned to listening or taking advantage of opportunities to write with the help of prompts. What I discovered about a prompt (even one so general as a letter) is my thoughts were pointed in a direction, enabling me to find inspiration I wasn’t otherwise aware of and a place to start.

In addition to writing daily, I am going to utilize prompts for days when I do not have another writing idea.

3. Writing is communal. Typically, I think of writing as a solitary activity. It’s not. Writers, like all humans, need community. Writing is done best when I am connected to other writers. Perhaps the biggest blessing of the A to Z Challenge was discovering new blogs and connecting with other writers, especially those who blog about their faith. Connecting with other writers is beneficial to help me apply writing skills to my own writing as well as gives me to opportunity to encourage other writers.

It makes me happy to introduce to you a few of my favorite new blogs I found as a result of the A to Z Challenge:

1. The Artistic Christian

2. True Beloved Blog

3. Praise, Prayers and Observations

4. Everyday Moments of Worship

5. Whims and Wanderings

I hope you’ll take the time to check out these blogs.  Leave a nice comment, too! They are great writers … and they have been a blessing to me, so I hope you will join me in encouraging them as well.

In order to hone the craft of writing, I am committed to being actively involved in encouraging writing communities, both online and face-to-face, as well as participating in writing challenges or classes.

April might be over, but I think the A to Z Challenge will stick with me for a long time yet to come. I’m already planning to participate in next year’s challenge. Meanwhile, I’m going to put into practice some of the lessons I’ve learned and see where God takes me on the writing journey to which He called me.

Z is for …


I did it! Oh, yeah, I did it! I completed the A to Z Challenge!




There’s a party going on right here  … a celebration

Cel  – e – brate good times! Come on!

Now, I bet, I’ve got you singing.  Great! Because the fact is, I am celebrating today and I’d like you to celebrate with me .  But, you should know, I’m not celebrating me and my accomplishments. No, I am celebrating what God did for me in the month of April.

You see, I’m 99.9% positive I could never have completed the A to Z Challenge on my own.  A quick look at my blogging statistics prior to April 2014 will show some pathetic results.  Relatively infrequent posts. Low readership. No goals. Truthfully, I felt as unsuccessful as the statistics already proved.

Whenever I thought about writing, I typically whined,

“Lord, why did you call me to write for You when it is obvious I cannot do it successfully!”

Despite my feelings about my “writing career,”  I  was eager, enthusiastic and excited when the Holy Spirit prompted me to take the A to Z Challenge.  But as the time passed and the beginning of the challenge grew closer, I begin to have second thoughts,  doubts replacing my zeal for the task ahead.

How on earth could I post 26 times in one month when I hadn’t posted 26 times total in the previous year? I had five kids to homeschool, meals to cook, errands to run, and laundry to wash. Lots and lots of laundry. Where would I fit in all the writing time? How would I come up with topics for all those letters? What about Q and X?

Then in the quietness of my soul there was a whisper.

I’ve got this. All you have to do is give it to Me.

So I did. Day by day. Post by post.

Several times, I thought I wouldn’t have a thing in the world to write. Every single time, God came through. In the beginning, I believed I didn’t have a chance in the world of seeing this challenge through to the end. Truthfully, I didn’t.

I had something better.

I had the zeal of the Lord of Hosts to help me accomplish what God had called me to do for His glory.



Zeal means great energy, enthusiastic diligence, or passion in pursuit of a cause or object. Many places in the Bible talk about the zeal of the Lord, almost always in references to the zeal of the Lord of Hosts performing a particular feat.

I almost always start off a new project with a lot of energy and enthusiasm, but I often lack the fervor and passion to see it through to completion. In the past, I’ve been scared to step out and do things I know God has called me to do because I fear I cannot accomplish the work.

How wonderful is this thought: I don’t have to! It’s not me. On my own strength and power, I will certainly fall short of success. Rather, it is the zeal of the Lord of Host (God working in me) that will accomplish whatever task He has asked me to do. All I have to do, is be willing to let God work through me.

Z is for Zeal …

God’s zeal, not mine, to do wonderful things through me to bring glory to His great name!

So what is it that God is asking you to do?

Are you willing to let His zeal carry you through in completing your mission impossible?

Y is for …

photo courtesy "The Salvaged Sparrow" etsy shop
photo courtesy “The Salvaged Sparrow” etsy shop


I love being a Southern girl. The list of reasons why I love the south is quite lengthy:

Big porch swings. Flip-flops all year long. Talking to strangers next to me in line at the grocery store.  Long growing season for vegetable gardens. Sweet tea.

Goodness gracious, the sweet tea alone is reason enough to love the South!

Oh … and I love a southern drawl. Truthfully, I speak with more of a southern twang, but oh how I wish I had a Paula Deen southern belle drawl.


Probably the best known Southern word is Y’all. Only true Southerners know how to use this word correctly.  If you have been around on Facebook or Pinterest, you might have seen this piece of clipart.



It’s a relatively simple word to use, but, Lord have mercy, I find it rather comical whenever someone who is not blessed to be from the South tries to use this word. I suppose it doesn’t translate very well.

However, did you know that the word y’all actually works well in helping to translate and better understand the Bible? It’s the gospel truth! There is a relatively new Bible app which will translate the Bible by incorporating the word y’all.

At first, I wasn’t sure about it. While it might be cute and funny, what was the purpose and how would it making Bible reading more edifying to me as a Christian? But then I read further. According to the creator of the app, the singular and plural forms of the word you don’t translate differently in English.  This makes it hard to distinguish if a single person or a group of people is being addressed in the Scriptures. Using the southern word y’all helps to clarify.

Oh, my stars! How cool is that?

You can read more about this fun and useful Bible app here.

In case you don’t speak correct Southern, please don’t go throw a hissy fit. There are other versions for those out there.  Options include using you guys, yinz, and you lot to help clarify the Bible. There is even an Old English option out there which makes use of the word Ye and Yeselves.

But for heaven’s sake, whether you get the app or not, please don’t neglect to read God’s word! It’s the one book with the power to change your life forever.


Y is for Y’all … and for the fun Bible app I discovered,

which reminded me  God’s word has power like no other book on earth.

X is for …



“Mom! Megan hurt her arm!”

Nathan’s voice had a concerned edge to it, making my heart race a little faster than normal. Sure enough, as soon as I saw Megan, pale-face and cradling her arm,  I could tell she was in pain.

“I’m fine, GiGi.  It’s nothing,” Megan said, though I could see tears still welled up in the corners of her eyes. She wiggled her fingers. “See,” she said with a wry grin,  “it’s definitely not broken.”

“It may not be broken, but I’d still like to check out your arm. Show me where it hurts.”

Megan pulled her arm instinctively closer. “Oh, really … it’s fine.”

I could see the purple tint of a bruise already beginning to show on the side of her right forearm. “Sweetie, what happened? I can see where you’ve bruised yourself. It must really hurt.”

Megan looked first at Nathan and then at me.  “GiGi, it doesn’t hurt me much at all. I just bumped up against the corner where the wall sticks out. I’ll be okay.”

Something about her answer made me feel suspicious as to what really happened, but I could tell Megan wasn’t going to open up yet. I gave her a couple of ibuprofens and suggested she find a quiet activity to rest her arm for the remainder of the morning.

An hour or so later, I saw Megan in the kitchen getting water. A huge knot stuck out, and the bruise was dark in color. I noticed my right-handed daughter using her left hand to get a drink. But after a second round of questioning, she continued to insist her arm was quite alright.

At lunch, Megan winced through the meal, picking up utensils gingerly as if even the slightest movement cause her pain. However, she never uttered a complaint.

By early afternoon, it was obvious to everyone that despite Megan’s bravado, the pain was intense. The arm might not be broken, but I wondered if it was fractured. I also was curious as to why Megan was so closed-mouthed about how the injury occurred.

I called her pediatrician, who said we should bring her in to check for fractures. On the car ride to the office, I said, “Megan, I need to know exactly what happened to hurt your arm. The doctor will need to know how it happened. Bumping up against the corner of a wall shouldn’t cause this kind of pain. So, be honest with me and tell the truth about what happened.”

With eyes cast down, Megan sighed deeply. “I know you will be mad at me. I hurt my arm because I was doing something I shouldn’t have been doing.”

“Megan, it’s okay. Just tell me and then maybe I can help.”

“Well … Nathan and I went into dad’s office. I know we aren’t suppose to go play in there, but we did. First I had a turn sitting in dad’s chair while Nathan spun me around. Then I let Nathan sit in the chair. But while I was spinning him, I somehow flung my arms and my right one crashed into the wall, right on the corner where it sticks out near dad’s desk. I didn’t want to tell you because I knew we would get into trouble.”

“Aw, Meg … I’m sorry you got hurt. I wish you had told me sooner. You and Nathan did disobey a direct rule. But hiding the truth never makes a situation better. You’ve been in physical pain from your arm all day, but your heart has been heavy too. And it didn’t have to be that way.”

Meg smiled shyly. “I know. It was silly not to tell you. I already feel better because the truth is out, and I don’t have to hide it anymore. GiGi, will you forgive me for playing in dad’s office and for hiding the truth about my arm?”

I grinned back. “You bet I will! I’d say your hurt arm is a natural consequence for your disobedience, so all is forgiven. Now, let’s go get this arm checked out.


Megan did need to have her arm x-rayed that afternoon. As we left the pediatrician’s office and headed toward the medical center,  I called to the house to let the rest of my kids know it might be another hour or so before we got back home.

Immediately, four voices in the background began to clamor for me to return home so they might come with us for the x-ray. But there was no reason for me to drive ten minutes out of my way to pick them up. “Why on earth would you want to come anyway?” I asked.

“I’m concerned about Megan,” said Julia, a little too enthusiastically.

“Yeah! We want to make sure she is doing okay,” echoed Maddie.

“Well, personally, I just want a free coke and a couple of cookies,” said Joel.

“Yep! I’m with Joel!” said Nathan, his voice gleeful and giddy.

“Aha!” I said. “There’s the truth! I forgot how they have cookies and soft drinks and lots of bowls of candy in the waiting room over there. You people aren’t concerned about Megan. You are concerned about your stomachs!”

“Well, it’s not exactly fair that Megan will get to enjoy the free food when she was the one being disobedient in the first place,” pouted Julia.

“Fair or not, it’s just the way it is. I’m not coming to get you, but I will return home soon.” With that, I hung up my cell phone.


Fortunately, Megan’s arm was not broken or fractured. She just had a deep, severe bruise which took several days to heal.

Afterward, I began to think about Megan’s situation. She tried to hide the truth because she was afraid of being punished because she was disobedient. And then, somehow, despite her failure to obey and in spite of her lie, she was still blessed beyond measure with a free soft drink and cookies as she got her arm x-rayed.

Isn’t God like that with us?

We sin against Him all the time, and then lie to Him about our actions. And yet, He blesses us in so many ways. His love is deeper than all of our wrong doings. His love is greater than our inability to be truthful with ourselves. His love disciplines and yet blesses at the same time.

X is for X-Ray, 

and for the reminder that God sees right into our sinful hearts, but loves and blesses His children in spite of it.

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. ~1 Peter 4:8

V is for …

copyright Kathryn Finter
image copyright Kathryn Finter


The first time I ever played the piano in public was during the offertory at a Sunday night church service.  I am completely convinced the church pianist must have greased those keys with butter just before I took the bench.  My fingers slipped up one way and slid down the other. Despite all the weeks of practice, I am not sure if I correctly played a single note of my solo.  To this day, I wonder if anyone in that sanctuary recognized I was playing the old spiritual Brethren We Have Met To Worship.

Believe it or not, my parents paid for a decade’s worth of piano lessons.  The result? I can play most of the songs out of the Baptist Hymnal, but only as the notes are written and without any embellishments whatsoever. Though I am not a talented musician, I can play the piano decently.

Correction: I can play well just as long as no one but the Lord is listening.


The summer I was in the 7th grade, our church got a new youth pastor. I think he must have volunteered to take the youth to the local nursing home to lead a worship service. To this day, I am not sure how he knew I played the piano, but he asked me if I would play the piano for the service. Ever the people pleaser, I was unable to say no.

There were three hymns for me to play:  Victory in Jesus, Onward Christian Soldiers, and Just As I Am. I don’t remember particularly enjoying being a part of the service, or feeling as if I had done anything to share God with those lonely, hurting people in the nursing home. I do remember being somewhat astonished people could sing to the music coming out of the piano as I played the hymns. And I remember the deep sigh of relief that came out of my mouth as the last note was played.

Not long after that, Mrs. Ellen, a lady from our church, approached me about playing piano on a regular basis for her Tuesday afternoon nursing home devotional.  Still a profound people pleaser, I found myself agreeing to join her even though it was the last thing on earth that I wanted to do.

That’s how I came to be the nursing home pianist.

The “congregation” was about ten or twelve patients, most of whom were suffering from some sort of dementia or Alzheimer’s, though a blind man who played trumpet often came to the services and joined me in making music for others as they sang along. It was a rather odd sound, I’m sure. I continued to fumble my way around the keyboard on that old, out-of-tune piano. No one had a very good singing voice. And the motley crew of worshipers had about 5 songs on the regular playlist … the favorite of which was Victory in Jesus.

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For four years, my entire high school career, I faithfully showed up at the nursing home every Tuesday afternoon at 3:30 pm. I never once wanted to go. I would have quit in a heartbeat if I could have found the courage to just tell someone I wasn’t coming. But I didn’t. Instead, I continued to come and play. I didn’t feel called to the job or talented enough to be the one sitting before the piano bringing forth music. But, you know, I did feel wanted, and somehow I felt needed because I was doing something no one else was willing to do.

To this day, I can play Victory In Jesus without the hymnal to guide my fingers. Every time I hear those notes, I think back to the old nursing home in my tiny hometown and to the Tuesday afternoons I spent there playing the piano. My attitude wasn’t great. My piano skills weren’t any better than my attitude. And yet, God took that experience and blessed me for it.

I believe God loves it when His children voluntarily serve others. There are plenty of scriptures to back this point, beginning with “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Matthew) and “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). But there are so many other places in the Bible with words encouraging the followers of Christ to be first in service to others.


This saying is trustworthy. I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed God might be careful to devote themselves to good works. These are good and profitable for everyone.   ~Titus 3:8

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.  ~Galations 5:13

 Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.  ~1 John 3:18

V is for Victory in Jesus …

which reminds me to volunteer in service to others, even if I don’t feel talented, called, or have a desire to do the job which needs to be done.

U is for …

“You know what I think is over-rated? Bacon. Bacon is really over-rated.”

Nathan stared at his older brother. “Joel!  Are you serious? Dude, bacon is not over-rated.”

Joel shook his head vigorously. “No,” he said emphatically. “Go buy a hamburger at any restaurant and they will charge you an extra $2 to put on one little piece of rubbery bacon and it doesn’t improve the taste at all. That’s why bacon is over-rated. It’s good, but definitely not everything people make it out to be.”

“I don’t think you understand the meaning of over-rated, Joel. Now cupcakes … that’s something that is over-rated. People act like cupcakes are a really big deal. It’s just a little cake! Nobody would make such a big of a deal over a piece of cake, and it’s essentially the same thing as a cupcake. Completely over-rated!”

Megan broke into the conversation. “What are you talking about?”

“Cake and cupcakes. Cake is an under-rated food. Cupcakes are over-rated.” Nathan seemed slightly annoyed at her question.

“CUPCAKES? Are we having cupcakes?!” Julia suddenly came to life over her bowl of cereal.

“No!” Joel and Nathan at practically the same time.

“Oh.”  Julia was obviously disappointed.

“I still don’t get it,” said Megan, who was obviously confused.

“You wouldn’t.” Joel stated calmly. “You’re a girl.”


My boys love to rate things. Movies. Books. Sports mascots. Foods.

When they rate foods, it drives me insane. In fact, I have a rule that anyone rating food actually being served with anything less than a “delicious” rating will have to eat that food (and only that food) for the next three days.  So far, it’s worked. My cooking is rated as only delicious. I’m happy with that.


Daily Drop Cap project by Jessica Hische
Daily Drop Cap project by Jessica Hische

If there is one thing in this life I believe is under-rated, it is the realities of heaven and hell. No one can give us first-hand information about it. There are no photographs or pictures. We have no way to visit until our own death.  One place no one wants to go; the other most think they will get a back row seat based on their efforts at living a moral life.

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.”  ~1 Corinthians 2:9

No doubt about it, heaven is for real. It’s not just real; it is unfathomable. Many descriptions of heaven can be found in the Bible, including the following:

~ a city wall made of jasper, a entire city of gold adorned with every sort of precious stone (sapphires, emeralds, and amethyst), gates of pearls, streets of gold, a river sparkling like crystal  (Revelation 21-22)

~ no night, no death, no mourning or crying or pain of any sort (Revelation 21)

~ no hunger or thirst, no scorching heat, we will drink from springs of living water (Revelation 7)

~ there will be a wedding feast (Revelation 19)

But the Bible also tells us not everyone can enter heaven.

But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. ~Revelation 21:27

So what happens to those who are not found in the Lamb’s Book of Life?

They will spend eternity separated from God in a place we call hell. Just as real as heaven; just as unfathomable.

~ lake that burns with fire and sulfur (Revelation 21)

~it will be a place of eternal punishment, separated from God  (2 Thessalonians 1)

~ there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13)

~ torment goes on forever, with no rest day or night (Revelation 14)

Hell is a terrible place to wind up. It’s a place where those who have not paid the price for living a less than holy life will be sentenced to stay for eternity.

You see, heaven is the home of God. He is so holy and pure that only holy and pure people can be there with Him. Can you imagine the grandeur of heaven from the descriptions above? Now imagine it filled with people who lie, steal, and cheat regularly? Even our good moments do not begin to compare with the goodness of God. The prophet Isaiah wrote that even our most righteous deeds are like filthy rags when compared to the holiness of God. (Isaiah 64:6).

God is merciful and loving. He does not want anyone to go to hell. And yet, sin, which is the breaking of God’s laws, must be punished. As a parent, I know that in order for my children to learn to behave, I must discipline them. Even in society, we recognize that lawbreakers must pay a penalty. It’s just and right.

God is a just and right judge. He gets the authority to be the judge because He is the Creator. In our society, we would call a judge corrupt if he let a convicted felon go free on the basis of previous moral acts. If God is a perfect judge, then He certainly cannot be corrupt. He must punish sinners, and all of us are convicts. (Who among us hasn’t told even just one lie? And, according to the Bible, if you are guilty of breaking one part of the law, then you are guilty of breaking the whole law.)

God made a way for our penalty to be paid. God humbled Himself to become a man, walk this earth and not commit a single sin. Not one wrong thought. Not one white lie. Not one curse word. Nothing. And then He died a convict’s death on the cross. He took our place. He cried, “It is finished!” for He had done what needed to be done to pay for the sin’s of all mankind.

All we have to do to spend eternity in heaven is allow Him the privilege of paying our penalty and, through His power, are able submit to living our lives under His authority.

U is for Under-Rated …

We may have under-rated views of the realities of heaven and hell,

but we can be assured of our place in eternity.

T is for …

Her tiny fingers curled around my thumb. With her other hand, she fingered the edge of the blanket. With a deep sigh, she closed her eyes.  It didn’t take long for her breathing to become slow and regular.  Her dark lashes brushed against her perfect baby cheeks, her lips pursed together as if she were about to give a sweet kiss, the weight of her head heavy against the crook of my arm; baby Eloise was asleep and I was content to pause in that fleeting moment, reflecting about when my own children were very tiny.

Somedays, most days actually, I miss have tiny, little people surrounding me.  I am not saying I’d trade my own growing crew. I wouldn’t, even though parenting them seems to be harder as they grow bigger. With the youngest turning eleven before the summer’s end, these kids of mine aren’t so tiny anymore.

Well, most of them aren’t tiny …


I’m not sure exactly from where Megan gets her petite body. Her biological mother is average size; her father is rather tall. But, despite her tiny size, Megan has a powerhouse personality. She is a bundle of energy that moves in a thousand directions at one time. After Jon and I married, I learned quickly that if I didn’t keep Megan busy, she would keep me busy! She’s been known to rearrange entire rooms in half an hour, organize closets with one hand tied behind her back, and create enough art projects to empty a craft bin of all its supplies in a single afternoon.

If there is one thing Megan does not like, it is being such a tiny girl.  Her biggest disappointment this week has been that most people are surprised to learn she is turning thirteen in just three days. Truthfully, she looks more like she is about to celebrate birthday number eleven. Of course, having a younger sister who is physically bigger doesn’t help in this matter at all. At best, strangers assume Meg and Julia are twins. At worst, they believe Julia to be the older one based solely on her size.

There’s no use reminding Megan that Julia is not even her blood relative. To her, this makes no difference whatsoever. And please, whatever you do, don’t suggest she might feel differently when she is older (say 40 or so) and looks much younger than  her actual age. She firmly believes she will still feel the same way she feels now. And what Megan wants, or at least believes she wants, is to be big.

I cannot relate to Megan’s desire to be big. Blessed with good ole’ Irish blood, I am what some people might refer to as “big boned” or others would call “large framed.”  However you put it, I’m not a petite person. When I was in elementary and jr. high school, I was always the tallest girl in my class, and often even several inches taller than the girls in the grade ahead of me. For most of my growing up years, all I dreamed of was waking up the next morning to discover I was suddenly a tiny girl. Even though I prayed for this to happen on an almost nightly basis, I never did feel tiny compared to others.

Well, except for that one time …


Shortly after my ex husband left our marriage, I returned to work as an elementary school teacher. I already felt small emotionally, weakened by the shock of all that had occurred. One morning, as I stood in the hallway talking to several teachers, school employees and a mother or two, I realized I was the shortest one there. Everyone and everything seemed so tall, as if I had suddenly become very, very tiny.  The feeling of insignificance was overwhelming in that moment. I wanted to crawl in a hole and hide there until I was able to grow more.

Honestly, I think my reaction in that moment had more to do with my emotional and mental state at the time than it did to my body size, but I’ll never forget the scripture God brought to my mind as I stood there feeling so tiny and small and insignificant:

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him?

~Psalm 8: 3-4

It’s a hard truth to fathom. Who am I, out of all people on this earth, that God should notice me?  Who am I that He would listen to my cares, bend His ear to my concerns, offer His help in my troubles? Who am I that God would desire for me to know Him as He knows me? Who am I that God would call me His beloved?

T is for knowing that I am a rather TINY part of God’s creation …

yet He desires me (and every other soul on earth) to know Him, love Him and spend eternity with Him.


I hope you enjoy this music video of the song Your Beloved by Brent Helming, and know that no matter how tiny you feel, God’s love for you is bigger than anything you could ever imagine.

S is for …

The invasion lasted a month.  It was the same scene morning after morning, glittering slug trails all over my living room, covering the furniture, the tile floor, and the glass window panes on my French doors.

Cleaning up slug slime quickly became my least favorite chore of all. Of course, all the kids would disappear as soon as I came out with the bucket of cleaning supplies. No one volunteered or stayed around long enough to be enlisted with helping wipe away the dried-up goo from my living room.

I can’t tell you the hours the kids and I spent searching diligently for the offending slug, sometimes finding it slowly moving through out living space. Other days, the slug was nowhere to be scene, but we knew it had been there because of the shiny evidence marking it’s path through the house.

I never could figure out what started the infestation. Where were the slugs coming from? What were they trying to escape? And what were they hoping to find in my house? The answers to these questions eluded me. As the problem began to drag on, I became a diligent researcher, hoping to find a method to rid my life of slugs. Truthfully, I didn’t learn anything really helpful. The invaders finally left, and I never did figure out what it was that caused them to seek out a new place to roam.

However, through my research, I did happen upon a lot of fascinating information about these gross mollusks. For example, did you know the slime was actually part of a slug’s self-protection? The thick layer of slime prevents the slug from being hurt by twigs, rocks and other sharp objects in its path. In fact, a slug can slide right over a sharp razor blade without receiving any injury whatsoever! Pretty amazing.

Slug slime also serves as a way for these creatures to find their way back home after a night of foraging for food. Other slugs can use slime trails to aid in finding sources of food. And those slicky, slimy slug bodies enable the little critters to stretch, up to twenty times the normal body length, meaning slugs can squeeze through extremely tight spaces.

All of this information helped me to see that to a slug, slime is a necessity of life. Without it, they couldn’t exist.

photo credit:
photo credit:

Even after learning so much about slime trails, I still wasn’t really a slug fan. But then God used these rather yucky garden pests to remind me of one of His truths.

I could tell exactly where the slugs had been inside my home because they left behind a glittery, shiny trail for me to see. The slime, so necessary to their way of life, is what enabled me to follow their movements in my home.

As a Christian, my life is complete through Christ. Without His presence, I would struggle to live effectively on earth and have no hope of heaven after my time on earth was complete. So the question God asked me was this:

Are you leaving an evidence trail to lead others to Me?

Thankfully, the slug invasion ended, and I no longer had to wake up to face a morning of cleaning up slimy goo. But now, each time I see a slug or notice a shiny slug trail on a sidewalk, I am reminded to ask myself if I am leaving behind an evidence trail that will lead others to Christ.

S is for slugs … and the lesson to be more like them in the way I live my life.