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

Book Blog - Eyes on Heaven Feet on Earth

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.

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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.

Carla's Blogs

God’s Diversions Bring Surprising Blessings: Moments Part 1

Ever had one of those really frustrating weeks where everything is going wrong? I know, stupid question. It happens to all of us. Well, I had a royal frustrating 10 days that ended up with God intervening with a beautiful kiss of blessing and patience… 

 My computer quit working, I got the wrong part, then our swimming pool chemistry developed into a royal green mess while we were on vacation. I had to reschedule swim play dates for my granddaughter.  After spending a ton of time, money and canceling the rescheduled play dates, I messed up the pool protocol the first time I did it. I was at my rope’s end having to go back to the swimming supply store and send a computer part back through the UPS store.  

On top of it all, I was wrestling with God about some serious prayer requests that He didn’t seem to be answering. Added to that was feelings of guilt for being ungrateful in the whole mess. I really was acting like a child with my reactions to all these distractions in my life.  

So, last Thursday, I drove to the UPS store and pool supply store later than planned and took longer than expected buying more pool chemicals, so instead of going into another parking lot to buy milk at my usual Fred Meyer, I decided to save time and walk next door to Albertsons for milk before heading home.  

Walking through the door, I glanced at the first checker to my left and stared in disbelief. There stood a missionary and former special student of mine, Breanna, who had been suffering and close to dying with a bizarre infection in Asia for the past two months. I knew she was doing better and had just arrived back in Boise, but never expected to see her out and about walking with her usual beautiful smile. You can imagine my emotions exploding to actually see, in physical form, the answer to my prayers and those of so many others around the world. Of all the places and timing, for me to see her, this truly was a gift from my merciful patient God.  


I ran to her, we hugged, cried, and laughed, making quite a scene, while hearing her Boise doctor had given her a good report that day. The checker, a lady about my age, stood with an amazed questioning look. I explained that Breanna was an answer to my prayers after being so sick in Asia. Then Breanna adding to the story, left the woman almost speechless and in awe with her eyes wide hearing the brief powerful story of God’s healing.  

As I walked to the car, Jesus whispered in my heart, “I wanted you to touch this answer to prayer for Breanna so that you remember My power when you are bringing me all your requests and doubting my plans.” 

My swimming pool and computer messes were not just another bad set of circumstances for me to deal with; they were allowed by God to defer me onto a path that led to a great blessing for Breanna, me, and a stranger in Albertsons. It will be a continued reminder to me when I feel God is taking too long to answer my other prayers… 

Humbly Hopeful, 


Psalm 36:5-9 NIV 
Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, 
    your faithfulness to the skies. 
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, 
    your justice like the great deep. 
    You, Lord, preserve both people and animals. 
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! 
    People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. 

They feast on the abundance of your house; 
    you give them drink from your river of delights. 
For with you is the fountain of life; 
In your light we see light. 

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Rainbow Promises

Hebrews 2:8-9a

In putting everything under Him, God left nothing that is not subject to Him.  Yet at present we do not see everything subject to Him.  But we do see Jesus…


This verse was sent to me, yesterday, by a dear friend’s son who was praying for me. He didn’t realize the complete set of reasons Jesus wanted him to send me these words of promise. Like most people, there are always a plethora (I love that word) of reasons for me to trust that everything is under God’s control – reasons to keep me on my knees placing my children, our marriage, our jobs, our health, etc. on the altar of His grace and mercy, trusting in His promises.

It reminded me of a time, about four years ago, when the Lord kept putting rainbows in my life.

About six years ago, my 12 year old daughter and I flew to Seattle. We were praying extra time for the Lord to put his arms around our plane as we were descending through a storm in a double cloud cover, with the Space Needle just waiting to jump out in my imagination.

I closed my eyes to pray, opened them and found myself adjusting my glasses to make sure I wasn’t seeing something weird through my lenses. My daughter, with her glasses, was doing the same thing. She said, “Do you see that?!” “Yes, do you?”

What we saw was a “Glory” – a perfect rainbow in circle with the shadow of our plane in the center of the perfect promise. This wasn’t just one of those summer moon-dog marvels, but a real perfect rainbow in full color. Our Creator allowed it to remain there about 5 minutes for us to marvel.

I looked up this phenomenon and found that it is called a “Glory”. Different sites explained that when the first people found a perfect circle rainbow in higher elevations, they called it a glory because no one had seen it before and no one had seen “God’s Glory”.

As I meditated on this precious vision from my Creator, I realized the rainbows we see in the lowlands, are only half the promise that is revealed in the heights. We don’t realize what He is doing behind the scenes in our lives or lives of our children in the heights and where our eyes cannot see, but we can watch Jesus in His Truth and the Spirit working around us preparing us for His glory of the full promise in Heaven one day.

Other Rainbow Moments

Shortly after our Seattle trip, I had a bad morning before arriving to lead chapel for our school. The front door of the church would not accept my key, so running late and frustrated, I stomped all the way around the building to the back door. When I turned the corner, there was a rainbow over the school; God humbling and calming my spirit J.

The next week, as I arrived at school, I felt prompted to call a dear friend going through marriage problems. We prayed asking God to give her a sign that He cared. After our goodbye, opening the car door, a rainbow graced our sky over our school, in exactly the same place as the week before, except that it was a double rainbow. I called my friend back and sent a phone picture, telling her the Lord had given us a double promise in answer to our prayers to show His Faithfulness and love.

With tears of joy, we wondered why we were fretting.

No matter what we are going through, He has put everything subject to Him and given us His Spirit and Jesus, The Truth to guide us as we trust Him.

We can’t see all the great things He has planned for us, but we can watch with anticipation for His Glory at every turn and that final Glory when we are all with Him forever in the heights.




Remembering My Child-Like Faith

I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.
John 10:10 (The Message)

God is our refuge and strength. Our very present help in trouble.
Therefore, we will not fear.
Psalm 46:1-2 (NIV)

When I was only five years old and attending Vacation Bible School, our pastor told me about being a Jesus follower. Truths about having peace and no fear, and going to Heaven rather than Hell, made an impression. I remember thinking about it, then going home and thinking about it some more. At bedtime, I told my mom I wanted to ask Jesus into my heart. From that day on, I was determined to love Jesus and make Him my best friend forever.

In the third grade, a broken leg landed me in the hospital. In 1971, kids with fractures spent at least one or two nights in the hospital. Because of work, my parents were unable to visit me, so other than my two Sunday school teachers, I was alone for a couple of days, and tempted to be frightened.

With determination to remember Jesus was with me, I decided the situation was like my Bible story from the Sunday before – Paul and Silas in prison. A bit dramatic for the much more mundane truth of my hospital stay, but I still decided to praise Jesus in the midst of my trial and pray for the girls in my room.

During crutch lessons with the physical therapist, I noticed other children up and down the hall who were very sick. I asked the nurse if I could go up and down the hall in a wheelchair praying for the sick kids. She granted permission, so off I went in my prayer machine on wheels.

One family, in particular, touched my heart. Their baby girl had pneumonia, and the doctors were not hopeful. I asked the parents if I could pray for her, and they eagerly agreed, wheeling my chair into her room. I prayed a simple little girl’s prayer for this baby asking for healing, and for her parents to not be afraid.

The next morning, I awoke to her mom and dad standing over my bed, tears in their eyes, holding a rosebud for me. Thinking the worst because of their tears, I asked what was wrong. But they quickly assured me that not only was their baby girl all right – despite not being expected to live – but the doctors were actually sending her home. The doctors, they said, were amazed that the baby was better. They thanked me for my prayers, and told me that Jesus had used me to bring healing to their little girl.

At that moment, I realized that being a Christian was not just a free ticket to Heaven. It is also a free ticket to join Jesus on the adventure of life, looking for opportunities to partner with Him in bringing abundant life to others.

As the years have passed, there have been many times that discouragement and doubt try to settle in. But each time I take those fears to Jesus, He reminds me of that little girl who knew no fear and His promise to be my lifelong partner in the best adventure of all.