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

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Eyes on Heaven Feet on Earth Part 1 – Chapter 8 – Beginning to Surrender Our Child

Chapter 8 Copyright 2023 – Carla J. Wood

“It is wonderful what miracles God works in wills that are utterly surrendered to Him.”

~ Hannah Whitall Smith ~

On a warm September, in 1989, Tuesday evening, my water broke, and we prepared Shawn to go to the neighbors. Explaining to him that his little brother or sister would be coming out of my large tummy put a blank stare on his face. Gary and I locked eyes realizing that his life would be forever changed. Gary prayed for Shawn, me, and the baby. During his prayer an emotion of intense grief along with joy grew in my heart and I began to weep. Logic told me that Shawn’s transition with a new brother shouldn’t cause such an emotion in my spirit, and I briefly wondered if something was going to be wrong with my baby. Trusting my little ones to God, we left for the hospital expecting the best.

At 9:50 AM, September 27, 1989, Taylor Royce Wood graced the world with a loud entrance. He came out screaming with legs and arms flailing letting the world know he was ready for an adventure. Despite his rambunctious arrival, it was obvious that he needed love and cuddling as much as freedom to move while he eagerly snuggled up to me very hungry. He was born healthy, active, cuddly and with a voracious appetite.

Getting ready to take our son home to introduce him to his big brother and start our new “happily ever after,” my doctor came in to check on me to release me from the hospital and shared some concern that I might have a blood clot in my leg. Not wanting to delay going home, I brushed it off as a nothing. He examined me and reluctantly sent me home with strict instructions to call him immediately if anything changed.

Shawn met Taylor with a smile and curiosity. He was glad to have a little brother but wished he could start playing. Shawn was helpful and adored his little brother doing anything to help him stop crying which began to be a regular problem. Taylor seemed frustrated most of the time. It seemed he was only happy eating or in my baby front pack with me moving around. Many of his early naps were spent inside that pack with me vacuuming just to get a break from the crying.

When we had been home for a week, I stood up one morning after very little sleep to feel that deep pain the doctor had warned about. I had a full-blown superficial blood clot in my leg. A visit to the doctor and a Doppler scan sent me home with blood thinners and even stricter instructions to keep my leg elevated above my head. Tell that to a young mother with a two-year-old and a cranky infant. Gary was able to come into the house frequently to help and my neighbors, Judy, and Kathy, were sweet servants making sure I was doing well throughout the day.

I sensed something was wrong with Taylor after the second week with near constant crying. He never seemed to be able to be comforted, so, by the third week so I took him to the pediatrician. His doctor couldn’t find anything wrong and wrote it off as colic. My lack of sleep and discomfort from my blood clot started a slow growing depression for me. I was a youth pastor at the time and felt I should be back to work with my teens. Generally, the push-through-anything girl, I began to feel like a failure as a Christian, mom, wife, and youth pastor from not having enough faith to see the silver lining like I usually did in tough circumstances.

Things were slowly getting worse for Taylor, but we still had intermittent happy moments without crying so I just decided he had colic. Despite my exhaustion, the end of October, we packed up the boys for our church harvest party, not wanting to miss a fun yearly celebration for Shawn. Taylor had cried most of that day and not having his usual daily dirty diaper for over 48 hours, I was starting to become concerned. Arriving at the church soon after feeding him, he started a screaming spell in stiff pain that had me in tears. Gary ran Shawn through all the harvest centers at the party and played a quick game with him before taking us home. It ended up being too long of a night for colic and I was determined to take our baby to the ER the next morning, a Saturday.

Getting him ready early in the morning, I decided to change his clean diaper even though he had not done anything to make me want to change it. Upon opening his diaper, what I saw shocked me. It was obvious Taylor had a hernia and the bulging intestine in his groin may burst at any moment. I asked Gary to get the car warmed up telling him I was leaving immediately for the hospital. Gary came back in after starting the car and I handed him the baby telling him our doctor was on call that night before and I wanted to catch him at the ER on the phone and make sure he stayed there.

I told the doctor Taylor had a strangulated hernia and I would see him in fifteen minutes. Doubting my non-medically educated wisdom, he asked what made me so sure that’s what it was. Leaving my normally professionally polite responses for another time, my mama bear heart blurted, “Well, when he was born, he had two testicles and now he has three and it’s larger than the two he was born with!” He was silent for a moment then said he would wait. I drove as fast as I could then I handed him to the doctor who confirmed he did indeed have a badly strangulated hernia. The surgeon was immediately called in to meet us just as Gary arrived after dropping Shawn off at our pastor’s house.

During most of this I was extremely calm and shed no tears, knowing I had a big God and could trust him no matter the outcome. The surgeon explained the surgery, and the risks involved, normal risks for any four-week-old infant. He thought they had caught it in time, but Taylor was at risk of his intestine rupturing. We watched them wheel our tiny helpless baby through the flapping surgery doors trusting Taylor into God’s and the doctor’s hands.

Our pastor and his wife, Karon and Weldon, were keeping Shawn and had called the church prayer chain and our surrogate parents, Paul and Neva, to go to the hospital to be with us. They arrived soon after Taylor went into surgery, prayed with us, and kept us company for the hour plus surgery. We felt at peace but were counting the minutes before the doctor returned to tell us the outcome. The kind surgeon came out stating that he had caught it in time and Taylor was doing very well for a little guy and said it would be a little while before we could see him. After he answered a few questions for us, he commented that he had never seen such a calm young mother of sick baby. I smiled and told him that I had a big God. He walked out the door as relief hit me and I burst into tears. Gary, Paul, and Neva laughed at the young tearful mom with the big God.

Giving Taylor to God officially at his dedication two weeks later meant more to us than it would have had we not been through the surgery with him. We started to realize that we had to intentionally trust God with our children at each stage of their lives. Taylor still did not sleep well, and it began to take its toll on my emotional health. Not wanting to be a “bad Christian” I kept most of my postpartum depression to myself. I had to quit my youth pastor job because of my health and felt like a failure with no one else to watch over the teens.

Making time to walk in our beautiful park at the power plant, while listening to worship music, curbed my depression. When Taylor was eight months old, two things changed. He began to crawl, and it was as if the whole world opened up for him. He was finally happy and able to keep up with Shawn. Shawn was happier too as his brother could play with him and throw a ball. The other thing that changed was Taylor’s playing hard led him to sleep more. One night he fell asleep in our bed with me and slept all night for the first time. It was a major prayer answered. I finally started feeling like a happy human again. The only trade off was he wanted to sleep every night with us. This would continue to be a regular pattern in Taylor’s life to play hard, love hard, rest hard. I was thankful for his loving and resting well part and with sleep came the emotional balance I needed.

Book Blog - Eyes on Heaven Feet on Earth

Eyes on Heaven Feet on Earth Part 1 – Chapter 7 – Building our Family

Chapter 7 Copyright 2023 – Carla J. Wood

Building our Family

But the love I have for

my children is the only

love that split my soul

with each birth, and still

miraculously multiplies

with each year I am

their mother

~ Alfa~

I finally decided to go to a school a lot of my friends attended, Northwest Nazarene College. Leaving my family was very difficult, but I was convinced that nothing I could do would heal my mom and their marriage. So, in September 1980, with most of my belongings packed into the car, I tearfully kissed everyone goodbye, and Dad drove me to Nampa, Idaho. The ten-hour trip was the longest time I had been alone with my dad in many years. Much of the time was spent listening to the radio or in a companionable if slightly awkward silence. I could tell he wanted the time alone with me to reconnect, but neither of us knew how.

We arrived late in the day and after moving my things into a dorm room I’d be sharing with a high school friend, Julie, Dad retreated to a hotel for the night before returning the next morning to have breakfast with me at the college cafeteria. Despite my desire to break out on my own, I had a renewed sense of a loving connection with my dad and felt sadness at a lost opportunity to deepen the bond. I was gently reminded of the moment he had rescued me from drowning as a little girl. Dad hugged me, then handed me a present to be opened when he left. Kissing him on the cheek, I watched him get into the car and drive away, then carried the gift to my room to open it. Carefully wrapped was a book, Letters to Karen: A Father’s Advice on Keeping Love in Marriage, by Charlie W. Shedd. Inside was a sweet message sharing Dad’s heart and how the things he had not had time to teach me were in this book. He added how much he loved me and would pray for me daily, which he has continued to this day. I treasured his heart reaching out to me in this wise book with his loving words so carefully penned. One more source of help towards a godly family, coming from my dad meant the world to me.

Spring of 1981 came upon me so quickly and my parents separated, spiraling me into a depression. There were many things going on in my mind. Loneliness hit, some broken relationships had occurred and now having an unknown unstable home waiting for me was a huge hit to my spirit. I cried out to God and at the same time told my roommate I was not going to date one more guy until graduation. Julie’s response to my declaration was humorously blunt.

“I thought you were going skiing with five guys and four other girls tomorrow. You might marry one of the guys.”

“No way!”

“Well, lets see who you are going with?”

Knowing all the guys in the group, Julie analyzed that the only guy I could possibly marry was the “Gary guy” who neither of us knew.

That night I had a dream that I married the “Gary guy” and he looked like Robin Williams as “Mork” with soft wavy medium length brown hair. Intrigued, I looked forward to seeing the “Gary guy”.

Upon waking, I got a call from one of the girls saying none of them would be joining us on the ski slopes. Hesitating to go alone with five guys I still decided to go since I had new skis that had never been used and it was the last ski day of the season. Plus, I was curious about this Gary.

The guys arrived outside my dorm. I only knew three of them so was unsure who Gary might be but the driver stepped out of the car looking like “Mork” dressed in ski pants and rainbow suspenders with buttons on them just like Robin Williams! It took a half an hour to confirm he was indeed Gary Wood. He stole my heart that day with his patient ski instruction as I was a fairly beginning skier. A perfect gentleman who treated me like a princess.

It took him two weeks to get the guts to ask me out and the rest is history. The next two years were trying for me in so many ways, but I was stretched and challenged to really put God first in my life. I would end up running for Miss Boise, winning and being in the biggest tug-of-war with God pulling me upward and the “nameless enemy” pulling me down.

God won! Gary was faithfully forgiving, and we both drew a line in the sand for our love for each other and our commitment to Jesus when we married in 1983.


            My greatest desire in my life work was to be a stay-at-home wife and mother, but our finances would not allow for this. Gary’s dream job with the power company would require he work in power plants for a few years. When a job finally came open to work in Hell’s Canyon on the Snake River, Gary got it. This job was the answer to my lifelong prayer to be able to stay home with our children.

            For eighteen months our life was living an extended honeymoon in the wilderness. We learned to experience the Idaho and Oregon outdoors with camping and reservoir swimming adventures. Living out in the middle of nowhere, Gary and I grew closer in our marriage as we were away from our parents and families.

After sixteen months of adventures, another job came up. I was eagerly expecting our first child in six months, so the move to a town that had a hospital closer than 75 miles sounded very appealing. Friends of ours attended a church that needed a choir director which sparked my passion and sounded like a nice diversion to my lonely days at home. So, we moved to Kimberly, Idaho. The village power plant families were amazing, and the church welcomed us warmly. It was my 25th move in my 24 years and I soon realized this time I really felt I had moved to the next best thing to Heaven.

In 1987, God brought Shawn into our hearts and home. In a new community of friends and with Gary’s family now only two hours away, we couldn’t be happier. My experience in helping with my little brother, Matthew, made the transition to motherhood so smooth and fulfilling. Shawn was such an easy baby. I learned having a child was a bond deeper than I had ever imagined. Someone at church told me to take moments each day and look into my baby’s eyes and just enjoy his presence. I took her seriously and, starting with Shawn, spent many moments just absorbing my children into my heart, something I am now so thankful I did. Shawn was so happy and a fast learner. He seemed extremely smart and satisfied. His laid-back way of life made me want to continue to have children. I thought if they could all be like him, I’d for sure have six babies.

Our roots continued to grow in Kimberly. I did work part time work, substituting, piano teaching, and in the music and youth ministry at church. Two years into my parenting role, God blessed us with another pregnancy.

This second child let us know from five months into the pregnancy he would be the opposite of his brother. From the very beginning I knew he had the personality of Tigger from Winnie the Pooh combined with the drummer “Animal” from the Muppets. Where Shawn’s womb movements were strong, slow and assured, like his personality, this second child’s were bouncy, rocking and punchy. I announced early on that, girl, or boy, this one would be a drummer. 

Many of our friends were allowing God to plan their families and not use birth control. Gary and I had only talked about having two kids until we experienced parenthood further. While I still liked the idea of having six children, I had also learned that I wanted God to clearly tell me what to do and not just follow the local status quo. I knew that not everyone was called to have a whole passel of children.

Seven months into this pregnancy, I received a call, that a little boy from one of the other power plants had been killed in a car accident. Kurt and Jonie and their three blond boys, Derek, Caleb, and Bryce had been introduced to me once while living in Brownlee while they visited a neighbor of ours. Their middle and second son, Caleb, three years old, was killed on their way to a family wedding. A hopeful day of joy suddenly turned tragically sorrowful. As I contemplated this sadness, Taylor, not knowing he would be a boy yet, strongly quickened in my womb. It was like Elizabeth experienced as her soon to be born son, John the Baptist, quickened as she greeted Mary who was carrying Jesus. Remembering the observations, I’d made throughout my life of families who lost children, I immediately thought, “We must have more children than this. If I lost this child, I wouldn’t want Shawn to be alone.” It was a done deal; I knew that no matter what we would have more than two children. My thoughts left to God’s will, I went on praying daily for Kurt and Jonie’s loss, some days imagining walking through that journey myself. We ended up moving back to Hell’s Canyon where Jonie became one of my good friends that would later prove to be a faithful empathizing prayer warrior for me.

Book Blog - Eyes on Heaven Feet on Earth

Eyes on Heaven Feet on Earth Part 1 – Chapter 6 – First Glimpse of My Humanity

Chapter 6 – Copyright 2023 – Carla J. Wood

First Glimpse of My Humanity

I used to think my weakness
Was something I should hide
I used to see my value
Through other people’s eyes
I used to think my failures
Were how I’d be defined
It took some time to break through
The lies that I believed
But You showed me my savior was never really me
You’ve always gone before me
And You are with me now
You’ve never let me down

I used to think salvation
Was based upon my works
I thought that my acceptance
Was something I had to earn
But now I have assurance
No I am not afraid
You already made a way

Yeah, the hero of my story has always been You

Always Been You

By Bryan Fowler and Ryan Stevenson

The lessons from this song I only began to learn in my teen years. As those years unfolded, I trusted God more than the average adolescent, but that didn’t mean there weren’t struggles. My mom’s traumatic childhood, with an angry abusive alcoholic stepfather, led her to find Jesus in junior high but she lived a lot of her life with fear and a desperate faith. I believe this caused her to parent me as a teen frightened that the same terrible things which happened to her would happen to me. So, everything I did was overly scrutinized and criticized. Trying to maintain great faith and be a “good girl” was my constant exercise. Between my mom’s judgement and anxiety and my own realization that I wasn’t perfect, times of extreme highs and extreme lows became my routine.

For the first time, I began to learn that having faith didn’t always remove the disappointments in life and keep me from making mistakes. That bothered me at times, thinking I wasn’t a “good Christian”.

At the end of sixth grade, we moved again, a very difficult move for me to leave precious friends of three years. Then at the beginning of eighth grade, I had just started to feel at home at another new school when we moved again. This time, my parents decided to take us to the new town first for a visit to a small farming community about three hours away. Dad and Mom thoughtfully let us have a part in the moving decision. Strangely, after visiting the church and schools for a couple days, Carolyn and I fell in love with the tiny community. We were so warmly welcomed and sensed it was a beautiful place full of love.

It was here I was given wings to fly in music and confidence with good friends. God touched me in many ways during this season, but I really thought I would be more perfect by the time I was in high school. The struggle began with “not being enough” started to grow.

I attended three different churches of different evangelical denominations, not because I felt I had to but because I had friends at each church and loved being at each place. This experience of immersing myself in several different congregations would end up being helpful later in life, especially as a teacher and worship leader in a Christian school with many denominations represented.

Beautiful encounters began to happen with God on an even more personal level than I had before. The Jesus movement of the late 1970’s was inspiring people who were mentors to me. They had a huge impact on my spiritual life introducing me to a deeper personal relationship I could have throughout my day with the Holy Spirit. I realized time with God was not just reading the Bible and trying to live by it, but it was sitting quietly thinking about what I’d read in the Bible and telling God how amazing he is, sometimes through worship music. I would then listen for his quiet voice whispering into my mind and spirit wisdom and his love for me. When I practiced this and gave space for those quiet moments with God, his love and wisdom began to help me stop and think before I made decisions and gave me peace in not being “perfect”.

Finishing my sophomore year, I had a closer relationship with God, a great job at the golf course pro-shop, three very close friends plus many others, and three great churches where I felt loved unconditionally. Life outside our home felt almost perfect. Then another whammy hit me after my junior year as we had to move again back to the Seattle area. This time re-framing my disappointment was more difficult and the thoughts of ways to stay in my happy precious community life began to form in my mind. My parents would not even begin to consider me living with friends with our family moving away. So, tapping into my desire for musical success, they offered to move us to a town south of Seattle that had one of the best high school music programs in the world.

In, this, my last move back to Seattle, my junior year, transitioning from a secondary school with 500 students to a high school with 2,000, was difficult. Rather than get depressed, I began to devote more time to my new church, studies, and music. Although great friendships were made through my new community, I struggled with attaching myself to another group of people knowing I would graduate in another eighteen months, only to go to college and be painfully pulled away from one more community. The resolve in my heart to make sure my children would have one place to remain rooted in their teen years was established that year.

As I wrestled with the pain of the most recent move, my parents’ marriage became even more estranged. An eagerness to learn as much as I could about growing a healthy marriage and family began to develop. Praying for my spouse-to-be began when I was twelve but during my senior year of high school, my prayers were upped a level. The tug-of-war between what God wanted for my future and what I wanted began in earnest at that moment. Sometimes I got so frustrated with myself, knowing what I should do but letting my wants pull me in the opposite direction. Throughout the remainder of high school, I longed to be loved.

So, you see how it is: my new life tells me to do right, but the old nature that is still inside me loves to sin. Oh, what a terrible predicament I’m in! Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly lower nature? Thank God! It has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord. He has set me free.

Romans 7: 25b TLB

I could write a whole novel on my struggle for identity and love in the new high school, but suffice it to say, I wasn’t perfect and had a rollercoaster relationship with God where he always reminded me he was faithfully close to forgive and strengthen me.

Home was not a peaceful place so filling my life with any activity I could find outside of home continued. School, church, and work were my safest places. Glimpses of God’s deep love from my sporadic quiet time did keep me from getting totally off track but I always felt like I was treading water with God. I continued to see myself in my weaknesses as being “not good enough”.

Of course, God never treads water; he saw my desire to be his child and put good people and teachers in my life. As my senior year was ending, our church began a spring Sunday night film series that re-focused my life. It was James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, which clearly defined God’s perfect plan for family and marriage. From these enlightening videos a determination to be a loving seeker of truth – and raise a godly family was established in my heart.

My plan was formed: Go to a Christian college, find a Christian man, have the perfect family environment that would produce perfect children – basically, expecting the idealistic Christian Cinderella story. Every book I could find on marriage and family was added to my books on Heaven. I dove into the Bible deeper than I ever had before, expecting that if I did everything God asked me to do, my life on Earth – especially family life – would be perfect. My ideas about this idyllic outcome didn’t allow room for disobedience and sin in family life. Time would soon reveal that he doesn’t call us to a perfect life, he calls us to him. We humans and our world are hopelessly fallen without Christ our Overcomer. Nevertheless, God was so good to provide me, as a very young woman, with solid wisdom and insight that birthed in my heart the beginning of a great foundation for a healthy family.

Book Blog - Eyes on Heaven Feet on Earth

Eyes on Heaven Feet on Earth Part 1 – Chapter 5 – The Desires of My Heart

Chapter 5 – Copyright 2023 – Carla J. Wood

The Desires of My Heart

If you remain in Me and My words remain in you (that is, if we are vitally united and My message lives in your heart), ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
John 15:7 AMP

I don’t know if I consciously applied this verse in my next year of life, but I did know that every perfect gift came from God. I believed if I wanted something to happen in my life and it was what God wanted to do for me, it was very likely that God would love to have me ask for it to grow my faith as I received his desired gift.

God answered multiple prayers in the next year, sometimes with “no”, many times with “yes” and “in time”. He started with a prayer for my friends in my Campfire Girls group. I wasn’t sure where my friends were regarding faith, but I was acutely aware that everybody needed to hear the good news of Jesus. At church we had a visiting evangelist who was an illusionist – he would perform “magic” tricks that were object lessons about Jesus, and he shared the story of God using these and flannelgraphs with black lights. So, praying for Jesus to touch their hearts, I invited my friends to go with me to the nightly services that were held for a week.

One friend, accepted Jesus that week, thrilling my heart and expanding my faith. Jesus answered that prayer with a yes! Seeds were planted in other hearts that night and eventually God got ahold of all of them as I prayed for them for years afterward, showing me that “in time” answers were precious and exciting. It was so amazing, years later, to connect and find out how God had worked in their lives. That whole experience taught me that our job is simply to be faithful in planting the seeds with love – that it is God who does the work of growing in his time. Those girls are still precious friends.


With our faith growing, my sister and I decided that maybe now, in the spring of my fourth-grade year, it was time we pray for the baby brother I had wanted for quite some time. I was old enough to know that God doesn’t just give you everything you ask for, but I felt pretty strongly about a baby, even sensing it was God’s plan that we should have a little boy to love and hold.  I knew that Carolyn and I would really enjoy helping my mom with a baby, too. So, we prayed every night that if it was God’s will, he’d send us a baby brother – a real life “living doll.” In the back of my mind, my parents’ arguing concerned me and I also thought a baby might be just the ticket to help them be happy again.

Shortly after fifth grade started that September, just five months after we started our baby prayer requests, Mom and Dad sat us down with a very serious look. We thought we had done something wrong. But instead, they told us… that in May we would have a baby brother or sister. It’s likely that the entire state of Washington heard Carolyn and I jumping and screaming, “We knew it! He answered our prayers!” We then informed our parents that it WOULD be a boy. Mom and Dad were shocked at our enthusiasm, and we told them we had been praying since April for this surprise baby – well, not a complete surprise to us!

May came quickly. One day we arrived home from school to find that we indeed had a baby brother. “Our Matthew” was the greatest blessing our family had in a long time and was far better than any baby doll. I fell completely in love and couldn’t stop looking at him. Carolyn and I both thought we had died and gone to baby heaven. My Campfire Girls group even held a surprise baby shower for me, where I got to open the gifts! I felt so grown up and so loved – so blessed to have this precious answer to prayer.


The unique spiritual/emotional part of this answer to prayer is how God used Matthew to help me grow in a huge way. I was becoming a woman rapidly – already 5’7” tall and eager to be a surrogate mother for my baby brother. I wanted to be with him all the time and make sure he was happy. Our whole family fought to hold him. He was the joy our family needed in that season of life.

Mom struggled with postpartum depression when she had to go back to work the following month. She hated leaving Matthew and already had emotional struggles on top of hormone changes. One night, Dad asked me for help that would continue each night for weeks. I slept in Matthew’s room that summer and got up for his nighttime bottle feedings. It was so special having this sweet baby I’d prayed for to cry for me. I’d change his diaper after getting the bottle started in the kitchen and help ease his cries for food. Feeding him was the most satisfying experience I’d ever had with a baby. I even loved burping him and didn’t mind him spitting up. I felt loved, needed, and grown up with a new kind of love I hadn’t experienced before.

After about a month of these long nights, I was beginning to drag. One early morning in particular, Matthew had already been up at 2:00 and his screaming had me up again at 4:00. In 1973, feeding a baby formula was a little more complicated. I poured liquid formula into the glass bottle, set it in a pan of water, and waited for that to boil, hoping I didn’t get it too hot. All this time Matthew was still screaming. At age 11 ½, without enough sleep, worried about waking my parents, I was crying, telling God, “I just can’t do this anymore!”

Moving toward the sink to get some tissues to wipe my tears, I noticed a Bible verse we had posted in the kitchen –

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

The words from that verse immediately gave me strength. I quit crying, got the bottle, and fed Matthew with renewed peace. It was a couple weeks after that when he began sleeping through the night. My first life verse was established in that kitchen. I began to believe I could truly do all things with Jesus.

Many years later when I gave birth to our first child, Shawn, I was not nervous about being a mother. Peace filled my whole maternal experience because I had learned so much about having a baby through helping raise Matthew. (You can be sure I nursed my children; I was not going to mess with any bottles!)

Matthew has continued to be a blessing to me throughout my life and grew to be a wonderful husband and father himself. His love and support have proven especially strong since losing Taylor. God knew I would need him now as a best friend, even back in 1972 when he prompted me to pray for a baby brother.

Book Blog - Eyes on Heaven Feet on Earth

Eyes on Heaven Feet on Earth Part 1 – Chapter 4 – Hope in Heaven First

Chapter 4 – Copyright 2023 – Carla J Wood

Hope in Heaven First

“The first requirement to be ‘realistic’ is to have seen the ultimate reality.”
~ Juan Stam, Apocalipsis

Not too long after my hospital stay, we moved again to a town north of Seattle, which would set the stage for a firmer fixation on God’s big picture and his power available to us in all situations in our lives. What I learned in the next two years of my life would develop further what some may call a “Pollyanna” look on life. Recent and further reflection has shown me this constant search for God in everything and seeing his power proved to be crucial in my adult life. Having great faith prepared me to be able to handle what it truly means to be human.

This next move involved living with my grandmother again for a few months while my parents found a place to live in our new town. The experience continued a pattern that would remain consistent throughout my life – lots of moving, discord in my parents’ marriage, and general upheaval. It was difficult for me in those early years to switch schools and homes so often, but it eventually would prove to be a blessing as I learned to make friends quickly and developed many precious lifelong relationships as well.

God continued to encourage the habit of looking for the positive and his fingerprints in all the good and bad my life. At the same time, I began a habit of neglecting to grieve my losses in my moves and my relationship with my mom, some which eventually built up without resolve until later in life. While many people are imbalanced by falling heavy into grief in our earthly states, I did the opposite, and looked forward to Heaven and eventually thinking I could fix earth as well. He knew I would have to, one day, deal with the griefs in my life, but he also knew, as a child, I needed the foundation of an eternal heavenly perspective to be developed well before I needed to learn to deal with grief.

In March, we found a rental in north of Seattle, and I began attending my third school of third grade. I was beginning to realize that a new school could mean a new adventure and finding more people to love for Jesus. Our new church showed our family much grace and love as well, along with some exciting Bible teaching. After attending for just a couple of weeks, a family with two children around my age invited our family to dinner after church. I had no idea how large a role in my life Bud and Nan Childs would play, although I only spent a few visits with their family.

While we ate in their elegant dining room, I noticed on their wall a picture of a peacefully sleeping baby. I remember thinking it was uniquely set apart from the rest of the family pictures. My mom apparently had the same thought, because while doing dishes she asked which of the two children was in that picture. Nan explained that it was their son who had died as a toddler from a childhood disease. I was standing near the picture, listening as Nan told the sad story, all the while absorbing the hope and strength she got from Jesus as she walked through life without that precious baby.

Noticing her peace and trust in God, I distinctly remember thinking, “When”– not if – “I lose a child, I want to be like her.” Bud and Nan soon left for the mission field, yet they started a pattern that would repeat in my life as I observed how different people handled the loss of loved ones – especially children. With a peaceful attitude, I began to believe I would lose a child someday, so I was very aware of the difference between those who rested in Jesus and those who did not. Starting with Nan, each grieving smile of hope, each word of faith and trust, each vision of Heaven, every treasure, I would tuck away in my heart, soul, and spirit.

From that night on, anytime I went to a cemetery, I wandered away from our family to look for gravestones of children and pray for their families. At each grave, I’d wonder if I might have to visit the grave of my own child and thought about how it might feel to bury a child. I’d play out the story in my head of how I’d cling to Jesus to heal the incredible pain I was already beginning to feel. Even at a young age, more than anything, I wanted a large family and wanted to be a devoted mom to my kids, so I knew I’d need Jesus in a big way.


My mom struggled in so many ways, yet she always pointed me to Jesus and taught me to pray with faith. Shortly after the move North, since the previous landlords’ piano did not move with us, we began wondering if we would ever have piano lessons again. Mom told us, “If God wants us to have a piano, we will get one! I don’t know how, but he can do anything. Let’s pray!” So, we prayed – for about a week.

Then Mom got a call from an old friend, who, not knowing our prayers, asked if we would like a piano. She knew of an upright piano that was available for only $50 – gas money to move it. Stunned, Mom caught her breath and, of course, said yes. We all did a little happy dance and praised God! Our parents scraped together the $50 (which included some spare change my sister and I found in my dad’s recliner). To top it off, when our pastor’s wife heard about this miracle, she offered to give us free lessons. God was so good – and my faith grew enormously again.

So many special memories were made through that old piano. Bach and Beethoven, In the Garden, and The Entertainer sounded amazing on that tall black instrument, but my favorites were the Christmas carols. I heard Silver Bells, The Christmas Song, and Carol of the Bells for the first time on those keys.

Although eventually we would sell the upright and purchase a spinet piano, the seeds planted from those early days bloomed into a lifetime of music for my sister Carolyn and me, including my music teaching career. Every time I see an old upright piano, it reminds me of God’s loving and careful attention to our smallest desires, as well as our biggest dreams.


My sister and I spent most of our summers at Grandma’s. She always had a wading pool at the end of her slide on the swing set which was a source of great enjoyment for us and our cousins. Her beautiful half acre lot in the middle of Seattle was a little oasis with a rose garden and a camellia tree which grew into a cave-like shape that created a hollowed-out fort for us.

My grandmother didn’t talk about God, and I was never sure what she thought about Jesus, but she didn’t mind me talking about him. Bored one afternoon, I asked her if I could read some of her grown up books. Going into the fourth grade, an avid reader, I felt ready to tackle something more challenging. She said I could read anything in the basement bedroom. My dad and his brother had grown up in that large room paneled with cedar, and it was full of books – a reader’s “heaven.”

I’m not sure how many I thumbed through to begin with, but I finally was drawn to a book authored by Dale Evans Rogers. She and her husband, Roy Rogers, were in some of my favorite old movies and I knew they were Jesus followers. I remember being happy that Grandma had a book written by a Christian author and actor.

The small book, Angel Unaware, was about their little girl, Robin, who had Down’s syndrome and died at the age of two. Already intrigued with eternity, I was drawn deeply into the story as it was partially fictitiously told from Robin’s standpoint, in Heaven. I sat in that cedar-scented room reading it from cover to cover. Close to dinnertime, I finished and went up to eat. Grandma remarked that I must have found a good book and was astonished to hear I had finished it already. A gentle smile graced her face as I told her the title and she responded that she liked it too. I was so comforted knowing she had read a book about Heaven. From that little book, I was forever convinced that we didn’t need to be sad when anyone died and went to be with Jesus.

That same summer, my growing desire to learn more about Heaven and to love God more became a huge source of comfort as I watched storms brewing in my parents’ marriage. I saw early on that Mom was emotionally volatile and it scared Dad so he would pull away. I felt safe reading the Bible and longed to be closer to God. If I was home my time was spent reading a book or my Bible or playing LP vinyl records and singing my heart out to Donny and Marie and John Denver. My parents loved me, I knew this, but even at that young age I could tell their marriage problems kept them from knowing how to love me the way I wanted to be loved. A deep desire to see the hand of God in every life circumstance grew in my heart. When there was evidence of God’s face I was elated as if I had experienced a miracle. When situations didn’t make sense, I searched deeper and prayed until God gave me peace. I began to listen intently at church and Sunday school and in my Bible reading for answers to help me get closer to God.

One Sunday, I heard in church that if we read the last book of the Bible, Revelation, we would be blessed. Revelation 1:3 (NIV) says, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” Carolyn and I were latch-key kids during the school year and part of the time in the summer, often with whole days to ourselves. So, on a summer day my audacity rose and I sat six-year-old Carolyn down at the kitchen table and informed her we were going to get that blessing and read aloud Revelation together! I think we did it in two days. Despite being so young and Revelation being perhaps the most difficult Bible book to understand, I remember seeing that vision of end times, Heaven and the new Earth, the Lamb, Jesus going to the throne being the only one who could open up the scroll, thinking about how sad it would be for those who did not trust Jesus, and realizing I did not want anyone I knew and loved to miss out. Heaven and the New Earth became a real place deep in my being. Even more than ever, I wanted to tell others about Jesus.

Sr. Juan Stam explains so well the effect seeing God’s fingerprints in my young life and reading Revelation had on my young heart, in his Spanish commentary of Revelation, Apocalipsis – Tomo 1 (capitulos 1 al 5), “The constant human temptation is to see our immediate reality as the final reality and to suppose or fear the grand truths of the faith are remote and small or secondary to the force of history. This we wrongly call ‘being realistic, with our feet firmly on the ground.’ But John reveals to us here that, if our eyes are not firmly fixed in the ultimate reality of the throne and its occupant, then our feet will never be ‘firmly set’ on the ground. The first requirement to be ‘realistic’ is to have seen the ultimate reality. (Juan Stam, page 198, English translation by Douglas Gamble)

God continued in my early years, with this foundation of faith and his reality, to challenge me and prove to me, even more, his power and love. There would be a day when he would help me learn what it means to be human with my feet on earth, but first he helped me fix my eyes firmly on the eternal.

Book Blog - Eyes on Heaven Feet on Earth

Eyes on Heaven Feet on Earth Part 1 – Chapter 3 – The Great Adventure Begins

Chapter 3 – Copyright 2023 – Carla J. Wood

The Great Faith Adventure Begins

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

2 Timothy 4:12

As the next school year drew to a close, a family from our church asked if we would rent their house while they went to New Mexico for a couple years. They would store most of their furniture but leave their piano so I could take lessons from our church pianist. I was so excited! I had watched Lawrence Welk every Saturday night, many times at Grandma’s, drinking root beer floats and munching popcorn, dreaming of being a singer and piano player. Now I could finally have piano lessons. The house also had a fire pit, swing set, four-person teeter totter that moved around when you went up and down, a drinking fountain and trees to climb. Could life get any better than this?

Third grade started that fall at my new school, with an evening roller skating field trip for the whole school. My parents dropped me off and were to pick me up two hours later. I have always been a dreamer. Loving anything musical, I daydreamed I would immediately be a perfect roller skater (despite having never been on skates before), that I would then be encouraged to switch to ice skating, then move right into the Olympics and win a gold medal. Sadly, before I had even circled the rink twice, I ran into someone else and fell with my left leg twisted underneath my body like a pretzel. Excruciating pain erupted – like firecrackers going off inside my leg – and my crying soon brought my teacher and the roller rink manager to my side, along with more than a few gawking fellow students. After eyeing my twisted leg, and straightening my leg, the manager advised my teacher to get me home immediately as it looked serious.

At home I encountered a “girl who cried wolf” situation. As I had been known to carry on and over-complain about various mild scrapes and bumps, Dad said they would wait until morning to take me to the doctor. That night was the longest night of my life. No matter which way I moved, it hurt.

In the morning, Mom took me to the hospital for x-rays. The doctor pulled her into the hallway to tell her the news privately. I had two fractures in my left leg needing to be set. Mom was horrified that they hadn’t believed my complaining!

The doctor told me that they were going to help me go to sleep, and that when I woke up I’d have a cast on my leg. This was exciting news, as I’d always wanted to have a cast for people to sign. So, smelling ether, I eagerly began counting backwards from 100. When I woke, my hand immediately went to my left leg, to see if the cast was indeed there. It was! But my mom was nowhere in sight. I was told she’d had to go to work, as she had just started a new job and they wouldn’t give her time off.

Feeling totally abandoned, I felt tears welling up at this unwelcome news. In those days, hospitals tended to keep children one or two nights for the type of injury I’d had, and parents generally didn’t stay overnight with them. I was sure I did not want to stay without my parents. But I did know that Jesus was with me, so I prayed, and felt myself “toughen up” a bit.

I shared the room with three other girls. Two of them had just had their tonsils out and the one next to me was going to have eye surgery to correct her crossed eyes. I took it upon myself to help call the nurses when they were crying or feeling sick. The little girl who was to have the eye surgery told me her parents were getting a divorce and she was very sad. I prayed for her, too.

To keep myself busy, I made cards for each of the girls in my room. I was disappointed when my mom called and said she couldn’t come see me but that she would be picking me up when I was ready to go. Feeling sad, I remembered the story of Paul and Silas in prison, in Acts 16:16-40 just the Sunday before. If they could praise God while they were scared and lonely in prison, surely, I could praise him in the hospital. I didn’t understand why my parents weren’t visiting me, but I did know I could trust God to help me be brave and help me share his love with others.

“Dear Jesus, please show me how to love others for you in this place and please help me not to be so lonely and sad.”

The next morning, a tiny, cheerful lady with bright red hair came into my hospital room and introduced herself. This physical therapist said she was going to help me learn how to walk on crutches. My leg was still hurting, so I wasn’t sure that I wanted to learn about crutches then and there, but I thought I should at least try to be brave. As soon as my leg came down off the bed, it landed on the floor with a loud THUD. My involuntary scream both scared my roommates and embarrassed me!

I immediately discovered that this cast was very heavy – not surprising since it covered my entire leg. She patted my back gently and encouraged me to go slowly. As I hobbled slowly down the hallway, I became aware of several more hospital rooms inhabited by what seemed to be very sick children. I could hear the sound of crying coming from one of the rooms, and my heart hurt for the other kids.

The physical therapist realized I was exhausted and brought a wheelchair to finish the return to my room. As she lifted me into my bed, I had an idea about using that wheelchair – would I be allowed to wheel myself to those other hospital rooms and ask the parents if I could pray for their kids? I asked her, and she said she’d ask the charge nurse.

I was nervous, thinking I may have asked a weird question. But my courage came back as the nurse returned the wheelchair to my bedside. She told me she thought I might be an encouragement to the parents but cautioned me to make sure I had permission before going into their rooms.

As I ate lunch before going on my prayer adventure, I asked Jesus to help me not say anything stupid! Upon finishing my macaroni and cheese, I promptly hit my buzzer and asked to be helped into my new “prayer-mobile”.

The first room I visited was dark. A mother sat with her head bowed next to a small red-faced little girl asleep in the bed. I approached very slowly and asked the mother what was wrong with the baby. Looking unsure as to why I was there, she hesitantly explained how the girl had pulled a hot pot of water off the stove and burned herself. As she told me what happened, the mother began to cry. I asked if I could pray for her daughter, and she agreed.

“Dear Jesus, please help this little girl get better and help her mommy to not feel so bad.”

I left the mother quietly crying as I moved out and on to my next assignment, a room with a sleeping young boy, with parents sitting in different corners of the room. When I asked to come in, the dad gruffly replied, “What do you want?” I very nervously explained I wanted to pray for his little boy and asked what was wrong. The father was less patient than the parent in the first room had been and informed me it was none of my business – but that he supposed a prayer wouldn’t hurt.

Very nervously and quickly I prayed, “Dear Lord, please help the boy!”

Moving as fast as I could to the door, I wasn’t sure I should attempt the last room. But remembering that Jesus was with me and determined to finish my mission, I breathed a little prayer of my own – Jesus, please don’t let these people be grumpy.

A soft light in the corner of this room shone on a crib covered by a clear plastic tent. A sweet-looking baby inside was dressed in a pink nightgown and had tubes going into her. The parents sat close by, the mother holding the baby’s tiny fingers under the tent and resting her head on her husband’s shoulder. As I approached, he looked up and said hello to me, and as I absorbed his kind voice and the peace in the room, all my fear ebbed away. I told them my name and asked what was wrong with their baby.

The mom smiled at me and explained that her daughter had pneumonia, a terrible disease for one so young, and how it required the oxygen tent. These people were so nice to me that I was very glad to ask if I could pray for their baby, and they gratefully accepted my offer.

“Dear Jesus, please take away the sickness in this little baby’s lungs and help her to breathe. Please help her mommy and daddy not to be scared.”

Looking up to see smiles and teary eyes, I knew Jesus and I had done the right thing, although I wasn’t sure how much I had helped. But I was confident Jesus would do the rest of the work. The mom and dad both encouraged me to come back the next day to see them.

The next morning, I was gently awakened by the parents of the baby with pneumonia. The mom had tears glistening in her eyes and I was afraid her baby had died. However, handing me a vase with a pink rosebud, the dad said they wanted to thank me for praying for their baby. The doctors had expected she would be in the hospital for at least a week – but she had miraculously been healed overnight and they were able to take her home!

The parents told me that they were Christians too, and that they knew that Jesus brought me to help them pray for their little girl. They wanted me to know that God had used me and my faith to encourage them and to help heal their baby.

After they left, I stared into space, amazed that just a little prayer and a little courage with Jesus could actually make a difference. For the first time in my life, I knew that God was super real. I also realized that He had answered my prayer to be with me, take away my loneliness, and help me to be like Paul and Silas. Wow, it didn’t matter how young I was. He was great and adventures with Jesus were going to be awesome!

While I was sitting in my bed smiling at Jesus, a nurse came in and told me if I could pass my crutches test, my parents could take me home that night. The physical therapist came back and helped me maneuver the crutches and my heavy leg down the hall, and I passed. As I left, the nurses thanked me for visiting the other families and told me all the children were doing a little better. I left the hospital in wonder at the great things Jesus and I could do together! Life with Jesus was more than a free ticket to Heaven; it was an adventure.