Book Blog - Eyes on Heaven Feet on Earth

Eyes on Heaven Feet on Earth – Chapter 12 – Perfect Love Drives Out Fear

Chapter 12 Copyright 2023 – Carla J. Wood

Fear is not my future
You are You are
Sickness is not my story
You are You are
Heartbreak’s not my home
You are You are
Death is not the end
You are You are

Let Him turn it in your favor
Watch Him work it for your good
He’s not done with what He’s started
He’s not done until it’s good

Fear is Not My Future

By Brandon Lake | Hannah Shackelford | Jonathan Jay | Kirk Franklin | Nicole Hannel

We moved ahead of Gary getting a job, praying he would soon be transferred. I wanted our children to experience activities we could have homeschooling in town.  I felt deep in my heart Gary would get a transfer soon. Caring for two homes proved to be very difficult and, even more challenging, was being separated from Gary for half of each week. Fortunately, six months after we bought our townhouse, Gary did get a transfer to his dream job. Twelve years in power plants was longer than he anticipated, but we saw how God wanted us to have the privilege of living in the wilderness with amazing people and the blessings it gave us, especially growing close as a family. 

Gary was to start his job in December with our final move of all our belongings at the end of November. In the spring, we learned my Grandma Bernice had breast cancer that had metastasized to her bones. She was ridden with cancer but, even at 90 years of age, still had a deep desire to live and chose to have surgery and radiation. We put Shawn and Taylor in a small Christian school to help during this complicated transition time of combining two houses and visiting my grandmother. Gary’s family helped support us by getting our older boys to school and caring for them when he was working and I was gone. I took Bethany and Drew to Seattle with me and spent a week in September in the hospital with my grandma for her radiation treatments while my mom took care of the younger two children in Seattle.

Grandma still didn’t know what to do with God and seemed to live in fear of death because of that. I read the Psalms to her from the Gideon’s Bible in her room and prayed constantly for Jesus to give her peace. She was in so much pain and I ached like a mother for her. Despite the pain, we had amazing talks about her past and hopes and dreams for us. I saw a part of her introverted heart she had never opened to me. She loved her grandkids like her own. I loved her like a mother. God had used her in so many ways to teach me about hospitality, hard work, cooking, sewing and mostly kindness and I marveled at how he worked through her even though she did not fully trust him. Her nurturing heart was what God used to build likewise in my heart.

My week with her came and went like a soft sad warm breeze and I left concerned for my grandma’s spirit. I hated going back to Idaho in her state but my children and husband needed me. Just prior to her hospitalization, my dad and step-mom had moved her into an apartment below theirs. She went home from the hospital after I left and continued to get worse. The cancer was winning the battle but it did not win the war.

Hospice came and a wonderful nurse, Millie, sat by her bed often through October and into November always assuring her of God’s love and directing her to the Comforter. In early November, Millie called and said Grandma wanted me to know she had surrendered her life to Jesus. She handed the phone to my sick Grandma and with tears of joy, I heard her whisper how much she loved Jesus and loved me. She said she was really at peace with whatever Jesus wanted to do with her broken body. (I wrote about this in detail in another blog – Grandma’s Last Legacy: Perfect Love Banishes Fear)

Getting off the phone, I ran into the bathroom so no one could hear me. Tears from a deep emotion in the pit of my spirit came out. I had never before felt such sorrow realizing I would not see my grandma again on earth and also at the same time experience an immense joy knowing I would see her in Heaven. I couldn’t reconcile the two emotions together. I so ached to hold her and as the days wore on, I longed to be with her in the unity of the Spirit of Christ. I wanted to see the new Grandma but my responsibilities at home tugged at my heart. Millie called me a few days later and said she wasn’t going to make it much longer and she shared a great miracle that happened. Since Grandma had accepted Jesus, she had needed no morphine and was pain free, unheard of with bone cancer.

My sister, Carolyn flew to be with Grandma her last night on earth. Early on the morning of November 14th, soon after my sister arrived to say goodbye, Grandma went peacefully to be with Jesus. Answering my phone early that morning I  heard only sobs from my sweet sister’s broken heart. I got off the phone, crying, but this time with a peace that God gave me knowing without a doubt I would see her again. This whole experience God would use to remind me that the sharp shearing pain of loss would be comforted.


After the funeral we settled back into unpacking boxes to finish our move and try to help our boys adapt to their school, when we realized all the uprising in our lives had been too much for Taylor. He had moved and lost his best friends, his great grandma, and was being torn from our family each day on a forty-five-minute bus trip to a school filled with strangers. He cried in the morning, cried at school, and cried when he got home. Over Christmas break Gary and I decided to let Shawn finish the school year there and bring Taylor home. At home, he began to thrive and once again we began to see the happy energetic boy we had known in Oxbow. As we look back on it now, we see God put this need in Taylor so we could have more time with him.

Taylor’s second grade year and Shawn’s fifth grade year we decided to homeschool all the boys again. Our family needed each other. Drew was starting Kindergarten and, from watching his brothers learn to read, already knew how to read when I put a book in front of him. He was so funny when I tried to sound out the words. “Mommy, I already know what this says.” He read the whole book to me!

Moving to the city didn’t remove my fears. There were more “stranger dangers” to deal with. Snakes and rivers seemed more under God’s control to a paranoid mom than the people in the world. Our townhouse was on a creek, and I had to deal with more water fears. I was trying to protect my kids from everything from germs to the kidnappers and becoming a nervous wreck. Time studying fear was obviously what I needed.

Digging deeper into the Bible, I read 1 John 14:8 “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” In other words, if I truly believed God loved our family and I truly loved God, I needed to trust him and his perfect love to care for our family. I recognized I wasn’t making his love perfect in my heart. At this same time, we were seeing Taylor’s passion to explore and make life happen and happen fast. I could see that my attempts to protect him were going to cause him to be a terribly frustrated young man and I had to start picking my battles to keep from breaking his spirit.

Some of our favorite memories made in that home were on the creek and it became a tool God used help me trust him for my children’s safety. I had the kids bring drawing paper and Ziploc bags on our daily late morning walks. They were instructed to draw, write about, or collect something that God made. Their collections of drawings, pressed flowers, and short sentences were kept in three-ring binders that I still have to this day. Shawn was ten, Taylor seven, Drew five and Bethany three when we had one of our greatest homeschooling years. I had begun to let fear go, even to the point of allowing Shawn and Taylor go to the creek alone quite often. The reward was in seeing my children flourishing in trust and freedom.

My new drive to homeschool them was not out of fear but out of the joy of seeing them learn and being with them. It brought a bond to our family that I would one day realize was a very special gift from God for us to have to remember always.

Book Blog - Eyes on Heaven Feet on Earth

Eyes on Heaven Feet on Earth Part 1 – Chapter 11 – God’s Amazing Preparation for our Loss

Truth is, You know what tomorrow brings
There’s not a day ahead You have not seen
So, in all things be my life and breath
I want what You want Lord and nothing less

Trust in You

By Lauren Daigle | Michael Farren | Paul Mabury

Our drive into Hell’s Canyon was a beautiful and winding trip through the wilderness and hilly areas of Southwestern Idaho. We knew we were close to home as we drove into the beautiful wide expanse of the Brownlee Reservoir. Reaching the bridge below Brownlee Dam, we knew home was just twelve miles away after driving the narrow road along the Snake River. Blessed by all the wildlife, we would search across the river to see our community Bald Eagles perched or fishing near the power company park across the way. Along the hillsides there were usually big horned sheep or deer wandering. We had even spotted a small brown bear and some elk at one time or another. With the blessing also came the fear of boulders coming down the mountain side or animals running out in the road, especially at dusk as they would go to the river to drink at sunset.

Many stories circulated about people, some drunk, some not, driving off into the river avoiding a boulder or animal. I don’t recall anyone actually drowning, but it was always a concern for us. Being the protective parents we were, Gary and I had a plan for the worst possible scenario for our drives. Always strategically seated, I would get Bethany and Taylor out on my side, pass them over the top of our car, and Gary would take Shawn and Drew from his side to the bank if our car ever crashed. Playing this safety plan over and over in my mind, it was not strange that I would dream about it.

One night, when Taylor was almost 5, I woke suddenly sobbing. Gary asked me what was wrong. I told him I dreamed that Taylor had drowned. He looked at me soberly and asked for details. I described how our car crashed into the river. We started our routine, and I got Bethany out and tried to get Taylor but couldn’t, so I passed Bethany off to Gary and went back for Taylor. His seatbelt was stuck. I tugged and tugged in a crazy panic for what seemed like ten minutes with the car slowly filling with water. Taylor watched me calmly, not scared at all while I was eventually underwater in a green murkiness screaming inside my head, praying, and begging God to help me. Suddenly a huge wave hit us and took the car downriver popping me up to the surface, helpless and grieving as I watched our car and our son get carried away. I then woke up in my weeping state.

Gary just stared at me and then started crying and holding me. I was confused at his deep emotional response to my dream. When he composed himself, he explained he had been having multiple dreams about Taylor drowning and the night before he had dreamed the exact dream I had! We were dumbfounded. What did this mean? What were we supposed to do with this experience? Is God preparing us for this loss? We prayed, held each other, and tried to go to sleep.

At first, we spent time scared and became extremely overprotective, even more than we had been before. Prior to this we were paranoid about anything in our culture that would harm our children’s minds and hearts and I have to admit we took some things to the extreme. Now we were frightened about anything having to do with the river. I avoided swimming picnics with our friends from church. We took Taylor to our mountain getaway in McCall and had summer swimming lessons for him and Shawn, making sure they were strong swimmers. Taylor passionately loved to fish but we avoided and ignored his requests to go to the river, making excuses and finding other things to do instead. Fortunately, Taylor loved to snow ski and do other activities, so we were able to keep him active away from the water and not make it look like we were completely neurotic parents.

The river did hold a special place in our hearts as Shawn and Taylor decided to be baptized in the Snake River the September Taylor turned five, shortly after my dream. It was very cold. Shawn went first with Gary and our pastor, after a few others publicly committed their lives to Jesus. It was funny watching our normally brave Taylor go into the cold water shaking, but I was grateful for his caution, thinking he wouldn’t want to rush back and swim on his own in the icy water. He wasn’t sure he could get completely wet in the chilly September flow. Looking at his big brother’s encouraging smile, his courage grew, and he let Gary take him out. A peace flooded my heart as I watched my sons commit their lives to Jesus before our church family and God. It was there God started working on my heart and asked me to not live in fear for my son.


My fears did not dissipate right away, but our time at Oxbow carried more wonderful memories of time with loving and amazing people with outdoor experiences and family memories that I will forever hold dear. It was a beautiful simple life, yet I still struggled in fear of rattlesnakes, the dams breaking, and our kids drowning.

One incredibly scary day is forever in our minds and showed me and Taylor how important and real God’s protection was in our lives. We couldn’t find Bethany when she was two. I was almost hysterical. The boys and I looked in every nook and cranny in our house with no success. I panicked and sent Drew down to the neighbors on our row and Shawn up to the houses above our home. Taylor, I sent to the post office below our house. The post office was one of her favorite places to visit as our mail man would kindly stamp the kids’ hands with one of the many stamps he used to mark special mail.

I called a couple friends to come help us look for Bethany then ran outside to see how the boys were doing. After about five minutes, I could hear Bethany screaming and found Taylor literally dragging his resistant sister towards our home up the steel stairs next to the post office, with her bare legs scraping along the metal steps. 

            “Taylor! Where did you find her?”

            “She was walking on the highway by the church at the river! Mama, she almost got hit by a truck going forty-five miles an hour and he didn’t even see her!!”

Our six-year-old son, with God’s help, had saved our little girl. When I asked her why she went down there, she replied that she wanted to see her best friend, Abby at church. Bethany didn’t understand that Abby lived 30 minutes away in Halfway and not at our church. I immediately got my kids in the car and took her to Halfway commenting all the way to my daughter on how far it was and how she could only see Abby if I took her in the car!


Our kids continued to grow to love our home of almost five years. It was terribly hot in Hell’s Canyon in the summer, thus the name. However, it was also a prime snow dumping place for God to bless our children in the winters. With their growing love for the outdoors and all our wonderful friends, it was hard on them when we decided to buy a house in Nampa with the hopes that Gary would eventually get a job in Boise. Shawn was in the third grade and Taylor in Kindergarten, and I wasn’t sure how long I would homeschool our children. Sadly, a huge reason for my desire to leave was from fear. I was afraid of rattlesnakes, the dam breaking and the constant dread that Taylor, our adventurer, would eventually decide to be his independent self and go swimming in the river by himself.

I kept a journal for all my children throughout their lives. As I’ve read through Taylor’s journal, this particular move was extremely hard on him. He didn’t want to leave the only home he had known, and he didn’t want to leave his outdoors but mostly he didn’t want to leave three friends, his best friend in particular, Josh. He felt loved by them and his outdoor play land. Remembering how hard it was to be taken from my many friends, I look back now and ache for the pain it caused him. Like I did from my many moves, Taylor fought to hold onto his past friends and began to take each new friendship very seriously which would bring more miracles in his death.

Book Blog - Eyes on Heaven Feet on Earth

Eyes on Heaven Feet on Earth Part 1 – Chapter 10 – Full House of Hope

Chapter 10 – Copyright 2023 – Carla J. Wood

Children are a gift from the Lord;
they are a reward from him.
Psalm 127:3

Gary’s new job was not close to our house, but a twenty-three-mile drive into the canyon. With shift work that took more family time away from us, I had a hard time getting used to the new routine. We finally did adjust, and I began to focus on our family and made plans to homeschool Shawn. The nearest school was fifteen miles away and on Pacific Time with us living on Mountain Time, so I became serious about teaching him at home. Shawn was four at this time and eager to learn to read. So, we started a year early with light Kindergarten phonics. That was the start of nine years of homeschooling that would prove to be a huge God-planned blessing in our lives giving us extended family time we would treasure someday.

The boys loved our larger home and the front door wilderness with the Snake River just a few hundred yards below our home. Our boys were blessed with many places to play inside and outside our home, so we were eager to ask God to fill up our large home with more children. Thinking I might be pregnant before we moved, I had bought a pregnancy test and finally decided to try it one day in June. One night when Gary was on swing shift arriving home at 11:30 PM, I left a little positive test result on his pillow with a note saying, “Happy Early Father’s Day.” Pretending I was asleep, it was fun to peak and see the shocked expression on his face followed with joy in his eyes as he reached down and kissed my forehead.

At that point, I loved raising boys and, because of my difficult relationship with my mom, was scared to have girls, so I seriously hoped for three sons, with one of my old favorite TV shows being My Three Sons. Taylor, still rambunctious and active, motivated me to pray for a quiet and happy baby. Some days I felt I’d over-prayed for a peaceful baby since the new bundle was so prone to moving only about once an hour. This solitude was a great answer to prayer, and it gave me more than enough sleep but sometimes I was worried the baby wasn’t alive.

At five months into the pregnancy, I slipped going down the steep basement stairs bouncing to the bottom. With the closest and small hospital 75 miles away, we were going to have this baby in Boise, a three-hour drive. I called the hospital after a half hour waiting to see if the baby moved – it didn’t. They told me to get ready and come to town and if he moved while I was getting ready to call back. No positive results, Gary and I drove to Boise. They did a non-stress test, and the baby was fine. During the ultrasound, the technician asked if I wanted to know what gender this baby was. We hadn’t thought about finding out since Shawn and Taylor were surprises, but when I looked over at the ultrasound screen, it was obvious, we would have our three sons. We were very happy to have another boy!

In late February 1992, Andrew, affectionately called Drew, came into the world with hardly a peep. He was a happy baby right from the start. We took him home when he was three days old. One of Shawn’s little friends, came to visit, and started singing Pop Goes the Weasel! Every time he got to the “Pop!” part, Drew would laugh! We couldn’t believe it, so we had our little friend wait awhile then try it again. “Pop! Goes the weasel!” Drew laughed again. It was amazing. Praying for a happy and quiet baby, God had answered my prayers in unique way. He had kissed us with another special child.

Our three sons were so fun, and their individual sweet personalities blessed our hearts. Taylor was the most energetic with Shawn being the natural leader and so fatherly and kind to Drew who made us smile all the time. Like all siblings, they fought, but living in a remote area they were each other’s best playmates. They had friends at our church which was below our home near the river. God had given us another family with our little Oxbow church and wonderful neighbors with many young ones to play with. As a family, we went on camping trips often, drove into the forest to get our Christmas trees, swam in the river, and took hikes through the many amazing places in Hell’s Canyon.

Soon God blessed us again with another healthy pregnancy. This baby moved in graceful sweeps, but it was a much different pregnancy, and I was extremely sick and emotional. For no reason at all, tears would just start flowing from my eyes. Midway through this pregnancy I watched Gary and the boys wrestle with lots of yelling for about a half hour. I burst into tears and Gary asked what was wrong. “This baby HAS to be a girl! I DO need a girl!”, I sobbed. Gary was pretty sure with my emotions it would be a girl.

With ultrasounds common by 1993, I had one at 20 weeks explaining my strange emotional state. It was a girl! We walked out of the doctor’s office and a man was selling long stemmed roses. Gary sweetly walked over and bought me a pink rose. I was ready for a little girl and ready to start buying pink! We decided to give her the name Bethany.


On the worst snow day of the year, in February 1994 Bethany joined our family. I finally felt our family was complete. Our boys loved their little sister. She was the icing on the cake and her brothers adored her. Life moved on and we seemed to have the perfect life. Once again, I thought life couldn’t get any better. She would soon prove to be a little princess girl who could hold her own boxing with her brothers in her pink tutu.


Shawn and Taylor both asked Jesus to be their best friend at Oxbow, both around the age of four. Like most kids, Shawn, wanted to avoid hell and get his ticket to Heaven. He was a really well-behaved little guy and didn’t seem to see a need for Jesus to help him be good, but he understood he wasn’t perfect, Jesus loved him, and he wanted to be with him in Heaven and be his best friend on Earth. Taylor was another story. Around the time Bethany was born, he was going through the worst of his stubborn streaks. At prayer time one night, he asked why Shawn didn’t get into as much trouble as he did. I told him that we are all different, but Shawn had asked Jesus to be his Savior and the Holy Spirit was in his heart helping him to make wise choices. Taylor thought for a minute and said, “I think I’d betta get Jesus in my hawt!” I told Taylor that God gave him a strong spirit and since he was letting Jesus be Lord of his life, he and Jesus would do great things and have great adventures together.

After this decision, Taylor truly became much easier to live with and was kinder to his siblings. He still maintained his adventurous spirit and began to see life as a quest with Jesus but was still a normal boy and got into trouble like all kids, but there was a distinct change, and we all were relieved. He loved Steven Curtis Chapman’s song, The Great Adventure, or as Taylor called it, “Saddle up Yo Hoeses!” Every morning after Bible time, he would grab his wooden stick horse and get the others to do the same. We would play Steven’s song and run around the living room claiming our great adventure in Jesus. This song would prove to be the anthem of Taylor’s life.

Taylor wanted other children to know Jesus and sometimes let his honesty first policy in his evangelism go to the extreme. One summer afternoon, I was playing with Bethany and talking with my friend and her visiting nieces in my house. All the other children were playing out in our back yard. Suddenly, Shawn came running into the house yelling.

“Mom, Taylor just told Junior, he was going to hell because he’s a Mormon!”  Mortified, I got up whispering, “Help me, Jesus!”

My friend followed me, smartly commenting, “I’m going to watch this one!”

I found Taylor playing happily out on the swing set next to twelve-year-old Junior’s backyard where he and his parents were hoeing their garden next to the fence, hiding the need to burst into laughter. Rather than let it pass and take him inside, the Lord pushed me to openly expose Taylor and all to the truth at hand.

“Taylor what did you tell Junior?”

“I toed him he’s goin’ to hehw because he’s a Mow-man,” he nonchalantly replied.

“Taylor, people don’t go to hell because they are Mormons, they go to hell if they haven’t asked Jesus to be Lord of their life. You need to ask Junior if he has asked Jesus to be Lord of his life.”

Taylor twisted the swing around. “Junyo, do yo have Jesus in yo haht?”

Junior sweetly told Taylor he did, and I replied, “Well there you go, Taylor. You have nothing to worry about.”

Junior and his parents were humorously touched by Taylor’s concern for Junior. I was blessed to have such gracious neighbors and friends plus a son who cared for the souls of others. He and Shawn led two other boys to Jesus in our car going to t-ball practice one day as well. I was amazed at my boys’ natural desire to share God’s love. This started our family on an amazing journey with our kids showing concern for others and their place in God’s kingdom.

The Great Adventure

By Steven Curtis Chapman

Saddle up your horses
We’ve got a trail to blaze
Through the wild blue yonder of God’s amazing grace
Let’s follow our Leader into the glorious unknown
This is the life like no other, whoa oh!
This is the Great Adventure!

Book Blog - Eyes on Heaven Feet on Earth

Eyes on Heaven Feet on Earth Part 1 – Chapter 9 – Discovering Purpose in Pain

Chapter 9 Copyright 2023 – Carla J. Wood

The story of me was a story of shame
Wrong turns written on every page
So many parts that were so messed up
But I love the part where You showed up
Rewriting my past rewriting my hurt
Line by line word by word
And now my story is livin proof
There’s not a chapter that you can’t use

My story Your glory
My pain Your purpose
My mess Your message
In all things I know You’re workin
One life one mission
One reason why I’m livin
All for You not for me
My story Your glory

My Story Your Glory
by Andrew Jacob Pruis and Matthew West

Moving out of depression and my feelings of worthlessness, I gained confidence in Jesus in me and at the same time became deeply rooted in our church again. I also became involved in Christian Women’s club and Through this club, I heard about a need for speakers that sparked my interest. Christian Women’s Club was a large monthly luncheon where ladies invited friends to eat a nice meal, listen to one person speak about a craft idea, home improvement theme or civic activity and another to share their God story.

My dark struggles when Gary and I were engaged and I was Miss Boise produced a story that involved rebellion, deep regret and thoughts of suicide, which ultimately brought me closer to God and Gary and thus drawing a line in the sand for my full heart commitment to Jesus. One of my friends thought I should share this story with others in Christian Women’s Club who may be struggling. So, I signed up for their class where we wrote out God’s story in our lives. Bringing these prewritten to the class, we turned in our papers and listened to a speaker while other former speakers read our stories and corrected them in another room. About an hour later, the papers were returned to us.

Being one who always received A’s in writing class, I never expected to see red marks all over my paper with alternate words replacing what I thought to be well chosen phrases. Across the top of the paper in bold capital letters was, “Too Much Christianese!!!!” The words from my Christian Philosophy professor rapidly came back to me from my college paper with a D+ grade and the words, “You need to stop thinking only from a Christian perspective. Put your feet in the shoes of the others!” I realized I didn’t really know how to talk to people who had not known Jesus before.

After re-writing a few times, they took a chance on me and allowed me to start sharing my story of being raised in a confused Christian home setting, trusting God at a young age, but running lost and scared for a time, then at my worst point in my life, surrendering everything I had at the age of 21 to Jesus. I spoke in our local club and traveled to two others enjoying sharing my story and meeting some wonderful people.

Just as I was starting this project, Gary had asked the power company if he could design a remodel for our 55-year-old home. They agreed and to do this we had to move everything out into our detached garage. They rented a motor home for us to live in during the three-month renovations. We found it pretty crowded in a narrow trailer, so Gary slept in the garage on our couch with Taylor in the playpen next to him, also next to our kitchen table and TV while Shawn and I slept in the motorhome. It was quite an adventure. We cooked in the motorhome, ate and watched tv in the garage, sleeping half in both. It was crazy and there were mice involved in Gary’s sleep time!

After two months of feeling cramped, we decided to leave our obstacle course of a temporary home and go visit my family for a week in Seattle while attending my ten-year class reunion at my second high school. Gary surprised me and took me to Nordstrom’s in Seattle to buy me the first fashionable dress I’d had in a long time to wear to the reunion. I was quite proud of this modern floral dress, so when getting ready to speak at my last scheduled Christian Women’s Club luncheon, I was proud to have a classy new dress to wear.

The day of the luncheon, I had my dress on ready to go but was wearing slippers rather than my stylish matching heels to go between the garage and motor home. Before I knew it my advisor was there to pick me up. Kissing Gary and the boys, grabbing my purse, I rushed off to the event about forty-five minutes away.

On the way, my friend told me the theme of the event was home decorating, so I was thrilled that I could relate to this in the middle of a remodel. We arrived at the restaurant/hotel and stepping out of the car, I realized I had my ugly slippers on with my classy dress! Too late to go home and change, I thought about hiding them, or maybe going shoeless, but realized I needed a good laugh at the beginning of the story and went with it, although my vanity was a little bit wounded…

We ate lunch with the audience of 50+ ladies looking and sounding like the quietest sad group of women I’d ever seen. I realized the theme speaker’s ideas would fit well into my remodeling comments and she was fun, but no emotion seemed to flow from the audience. Nervously looking at stoic faces, I stood up after my introduction and started my dress and remodel story. When I got to the part of the slippers while extending my foot up in the air to reveal them above the table with my fancy dress hiking up, the whole place erupted into loud hilarious laughter.

Whew, I guess I chose the right icebreaker…Thank you, Jesus for old slippers!

Sharing my story of sin, brokenness, healing. and hope, I noticed some tears and shed a few of my own being grateful for God’s forgiveness and healing in my life. My story finished, I invited the ladies to pray with me as I asked God to help them in any areas of their lives that needed his love and healing. I also invited them to fill out a card to leave on the table, with no pressure, sharing any prayer requests or to sign up for a Bible study if they wanted to know more about Jesus. Saying our goodbyes, I headed for home, trusting God to do the rest with any seeds I’d planted from my story.

Two days later, our district director called me to tell me some amazing news. She said that this recent group was a pretty non-emotional group and was difficult to reach. This was partially from a stuffy and prideful attitude and mostly because some had been through a lot of loss. She said my slipper and dress story broke down some walls and allowed laughter they’d not heard with this group in a long time. When I was willing to expose my pride and call it out with humor in my humanity, it was the spark needed. She then went on to tell me that three ladies from separate tables had written on their cards about their depression with two of them, considering suicide. One of them, planned to commit suicide that night but changed her mind!  They all wanted to know more about Jesus and signed up for Bible studies with women who could help them through their rough stories.

It was the first time I realized that while my past pain and rebellion was horrible to go through, my pain had purpose in helping and encouraging others. This story would be imprinted in my life for years to come wondering if I would indeed experience the pain of losing a child and after Taylor’s death it gave me confidence to share my story with others.

Our remodel was finished but very soon, we got transferred again back to the Hell’s Canyon area where we started. It was hard to leave our church, friends and neighbors who had been through so much with us, but it was a step towards Gary’s goal of getting back to Boise again someday, so with more tearful goodbyes we packed up and headed back to Hell’s Canyon.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

1 Corinthians 1:3-4