Masthead header


Dear Emma:

The other day I was going through some papers and came across one that I will always treasure and just had to put into a frame. Apparently, you had been in Vacation Bible School and had been asked the question, “What is an example of something that really scared you, but you chose to be brave and overcame that fear?” You listed the following: getting bucked off of a horse, going down a big zip line, and getting baptized. Oh, how I vividly remember all of the above. In fact, my stomach still gets a little nervous thinking about them.

It’s a good thing, lovey, that I wasn’t there when you got bucked off that horse or you might not have been allowed back on that crazy thing! However, after your daddy recovered from seeing you flying through the air and knew you were fine, he helped you get back on the horse because he knew how much horses meant to you. So, with a determined look in your eye, you climbed back on that horse and have been riding ever since. Way to go! By choosing to face your fear, you have been able to continue to do what you absolutely love to do the most. So proud of you, sweet girl!

Now, the zip line, that’s another story…that ended up being more like you helping me face my fear! I’ll never forget how excited you and daddy were to take the plunge off of the platform that loomed 40 ft. off the ground! I, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with it. Being far from a thrill-seeker and, as you know, one that struggles with motion-sickness, going on a zip line was definitely not in my plans for that day (or any day), but I was very happy to watch you…happy until I heard these words:

“I will only go down the zip line if mommy goes with me.”

My heart sank because I knew in that moment there was no way out because how could I help you conquer your fear so that you could enjoy a phenomenal experience that I knew you would love, if I wasn’t willing to conquer my own? I remember you being so torn with wanting to go so badly but being completely scared to do so. I knew in my heart this was a defining moment: would we turn away in fear or step out into it?

After thinking through the whole situation,  I very reluctantly agreed to do the zip line with you and began to put the harness on…all the while wondering what in the world was I thinking. These kinds of things truly terrify me, make me sick, and present a very real possibility of looking like a complete spectacle with arms and legs flailing wildly out of control the whole way down. Yet, I knew that despite all of the above, this was a life lesson for both of us, so I took a very deep breath and continued on.

Seconds before stepping off the wooden platform, I began to second guess the whole thing and even said, “I really don’t think I can do this!” But as I looked over at you standing next to me on your platform and saw the way you were beaming with excitement to do the zip line side-by-side with me, I knew I couldn’t back down.

So, before I could change my mind, I closed my eyes, took another deep breath, and stepped off the platform into the air. My stomach and heart both felt like they had risen into my throat, I never moved a muscle throughout the whole ordeal (pretty sure I was in shock), and to add to my terror I ended up going backwards the whole way down! Yes, backwards! Do you remember that? Nothing like not knowing when or how you are going to land on your very first trip down! You, on the other hand, squealed with delight and LOVED every moment of it as you gracefully glided through the air with your arms outstretched like a princess. You went on to do it several more times and even got choked up when we had to leave. 

Beyond just being happy that I survived the whole ordeal, I walked away knowing that we had both experienced an important life lesson that when we face our fears we can conquer them. Life has so many things in store for both of us and what a great reminder to not let fear hold us back.

The last example you gave was probably one of your greatest fears: getting baptized. You accepted Jesus into your heart when you were three years old and you were not afraid to tell everyone about it. You have always been bold like that. However, getting up in front of the whole church was a different story, so we knew you needed to wait until you were ready. When our neighbor’s daughter (whom you greatly admire) got baptized, we thought you would be inspired to follow her example and do the same. But much to our surprise, we left that service and you emphatically proclaimed, “I am NEVER doing that!”  Thus, we decided that we would not push at all and let you work through your fear no matter how long it took. Again, much to our surprise, you decided out of the blue after a church service that you wanted to get baptized the very next Sunday which also happened to be Mother’s Day. You didn’t want us to tell anyone ahead of time or make a big deal out of it. (Who me??? I don’t make a big deal out of anything! I can’t imagine what you were talking about! LOL!) I’ll never forget how nervous you were, but your mind was made up and you followed through with your decision to follow Jesus in Believer’s Baptism. Your dad and I were so proud of you and our hearts were just bursting with excitement as we watched you so bravely plunge into the waters and rise out of them with such a huge smile on your face! Yet one more example of rising above your fear and for sure the best Mother’s Day gift ever!

The truth is, lovey, we all have fears. The Bible is full of examples of people who could have been paralyzed by fear. Think of how Moses and the Israelites must have felt when the Egyptians were chasing them down to kill them. As they passed through the waters of the Red Sea that had been parted, I’m sure they felt a little panicky and wondered if the waters were going to stay parted for them or if the Egyptians were going to catch up to them. And how about Daniel who was thrown into the lion’s den with no way out? How terrifying was that? Or what about Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego who were thrown into the fiery furnace? Just seeing the flames and smelling the smoke would have done me in! None of these people knew if they would even make it out alive, yet they chose to rise above their fear and to place their complete trust in God.

I don’t have to tell you that life is hard sometimes. Unfortunately, you’ve heard a lot of words lately that I wish you never had to hear. Words like Pneumonia, Cancer, Chemotherapy, Alzheimer’s and Hospitals. You and I have been praying every night in bed for all of these things, and you’ve watched me do my best to be brave when, if I’m honest, my heart has been heavy and scared. But my prayer is that through it all, you have seen the way God has carried our family through. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us and to give us strength and courage when we cry out to Him. I hope you never forget that, sweet girl. No matter what happens, God, the Maker of heaven and earth, is always with you! He is your strength, your help, and your everything (Psalm 124:8).

A famous quote by John Wayne that I know you’ll love is: Fear is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.

So, you keep saddling up, sweet girl, and know that God is with you and your daddy and I are here cheering you on and ready at any point to help you face your fear…even if we have to jump 40 feet to conquer it!

Love you forever, Mom



Dear Emma:

A few years ago, I was out of town singing and you went with our neighbor Miss Julie and her daughter Kayla to an event at their school. While riding in the backseat of their car, Kayla mentioned that she had to write some thank you notes when she got home. You were only about 7 or 8 years old and your response was, “Oh, that’s your life too?” When Miss Julie told me the story, we both chuckled, but actually the more I thought about it, I couldn’t have been more proud of you as your mom because in that moment I knew that you got it! You truly understood that showing gratefulness is not a one-time thing, but rather it is what we do for a lifetime.

Lovey, we live in a world where gratefulness is sometimes hard to find. People don’t always see the importance of recognizing when others give of their time, money, and heart, and it can even come across like it’s expected rather than appreciated. Unfortunately, this is nothing new. Ungratefulness has always been around. Even the Bible shares a story of blatant ungratefulness in Luke 17. As Jesus entered a village, he was met by 10 men with a serious skin disease. In fact, their disease was so bad that these men had to live separated from their families and society. Talk about a lonely and miserable life! These desperate men stood afar off from Jesus and lifted up their voices begging Jesus to have mercy and heal them. Jesus told them to go to the priest and show themselves, and as they went they were healed. After the fact, when they each saw that they were healed, only one returned to thank Jesus and give Him the glory. Wow. I can’t imagine being healed from such a miserable disease and not thanking the One who healed me. Yet, when we get too busy and do not choose to show our thankfulness to God and to those around us, we are just as the other nine lepers whose hearts were self-absorbed rather than grateful.

Gratefulness is a choice of the heart, a choice to recognize and give thanks for acts of kindness and deeds of love by those around us. 

I want you to know that I love the way you so willingly show your gratefulness by making beautiful cards for your teachers, writing thank you notes for all your birthday and Christmas gifts (pretty sure your record is 25 thank you notes that you wrote for your Nancy Drew Birthday Party last year) and for the way you always say thank you with big hugs to those who do nice things for you. Don’t ever change that, sweet girl, for not only does it bless other people but it also creates within you a grateful heart. And I truly believe that there’s nothing sweeter or more beautiful than when we are grateful for all the good things in our lives and for all the people who have shown us kindness and love.

Love you forever, Mom


My girl has always loved butterflies…so much so that we have often affectionately called her the Butterfly Whisperer. Without hardly even trying, she not only can catch the most beautiful butterflies, but she can convince them to stay perched on her finger and even her nose for the longest time. I’m convinced the second they lay eyes on her they know they are loved forever.

Such was the case this past weekend as Emma and her daddy went down to the meadow on a mission to catch the first butterfly of the season. It didn’t take long at all and she gleefully raced home with the most beautiful yellow swallowtail that I have ever seen. For Emma, it truly was love at first sight and all she wanted to do was hold this little creature and gaze at its beauty. However, her joy was short lived and foreshadowed by the fact that she knew she was going to have to eventually let this little creature that had stolen her heart go free.


She quickly busied herself by making a temporary home for what was in her mind the newest member of our family. After doing research online, she learned that butterflies eat flowers, overripe fruit and drink water. So off she went to find all of the above to equip the butterflies’ new sanctuary with everything it would need. However, that night just before bed and after having a little talk with daddy, it was decided that it was time to let the butterfly go. So Emma went out on the deck and took the little creature out of her butterfly holder, choked out a goodbye, and raised her finger to release it only to have the craziest thing happen – the butterfly would not leave her finger. Instead, it stayed there contentedly perched for the next 20 minutes. As if we needed this drama to drag out anymore than it already had! Emma was elated that the butterfly didn’t have any intention of leaving, so she lovingly put it back in its cage and decided it would be fun to watch TV together before bed.  Hence, there they sat in the living room all snuggled up together. It was at that point that I began to realize we had a problem. With every passing moment, Emma was getting more and more attached which I knew was going to make the inevitable goodbye even more difficult.

At bedtime, Emma said goodnight to her butterfly and got it all settled into its cozy little cage. As we went upstairs to her room, Emma chattered endlessly about butterflies and realized that we needed to pick out a name. I fumbled around and was at a complete loss because all I could think about was how sad she was going to be letting a newly named and thoroughly loved butterfly go. It didn’t take her long to choose one, however, and she quickly told me that she was going to name her April because that is when she met and fell in love with this sweet butterfly. She cheerfully kissed me good night and laid her head down on her pillow. As we laid there in the dark, I found myself actually wondering if it was even possible to have a pet butterfly. I envisioned us now having to find someone to watch our dog and our butterfly whenever we left town. Just when I thought my girl was starting to drift off, she broke the silence and startled me out of my thoughts by asking me if butterflies pee. Wow, laughingly, I told her that I would have to get back to her on that. (All I can say is thank the Lord for Google.)  Moments later, I kissed her head again and said good night and left her room, but it wasn’t even five minutes later when she came into my room with crocodile tears clouding her big blue eyes.

My heart sunk. I knew exactly why she was there.”Mommy, I love April and don’t want to let her go.” I gave her a big hug and assured her that everything was going to be okay. I told her not to worry about it and that we would figure out something in the morning. I got her all settled back in bed and then went to crawl into my own bed. It wasn’t long before those same crocodile tears filled my eyes. Oh, how I knew all about not wanting to let go. Why, in just a few short weeks my girl will have another birthday and will be in the double digits which only emphasizes how fast time is flying by despite my wish to keep her by my side forever. Okay, I knew I had to pull myself together before my husband came to bed and found me a complete mess over this silly little butterfly that had taken over our hearts. So with a sigh, I took a deep breath and said a little prayer for my sweet little girl in the next room over asking God to hold her precious little heart.

Morning came and Emma marched out of her room with a new resolve and a change of heart. After thinking about it, she realized that it would not be best for April if we kept her. April needed to be free to live her life in her own habitat. So Emma picked up April’s cage and took her in the living room to spend a little time together and then she bravely took her to our driveway as we all gathered around and watched her go. April flew around us as if saying goodbye and then happily flew off. We stood and smiled as we watched her go knowing that everything would be alright and that we would never forget this beautiful little creature that had touched our hearts.









Once I saw that Emma was okay and watched her skip away, I had my own little moment because I know someday I will be standing in the same driveway doing the very same thing with my little girl. And although I may have tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat, I will smile and know that it’s going to be okay as she happily flies towards her dreams. So until then I will savor every moment, every butterfly, every colored picture, and every memory that we share together. And when that day comes, I will bravely turn to her and say:

You fly, sweet girl, just like your little butterfly and always know that I am here smiling and cheering you on because no matter where you go you will forever be close to my heart.


Oh, one more thing, as I was finishing up writing this blog yesterday, I got a phone call from Emma on her way home from school. She was so excited to talk with me she couldn’t wait until she got home to ask, “Mom, my classmate has a turtle that needs a home. Can we have him?” I will only let you guess my response to that question!!!


It’s only for a moment you are mine to hold
The plans that heaven has for you
Will all too soon unfold
So many different prayers I’ll pray
For all that you might do
But most of all I’ll want to know
You’re walking in the truth
And If I never told you
I want you to know
As I watch you grow

I pray that God would fill your heart with dreams
And that faith gives you the courage
To dare to do great things
I’m here for you whatever this life brings
So let my love give you roots
And help you find your wings

May passion be the wind
That leads you through your days
And may conviction keep you strong
Guide you on your way
May there be many moments
That make your life so sweet
Oh, but more than memories

I pray that God would fill your heart with dreams
And that faith gives you the courage
To dare to do great things
I’m here for you whatever this life brings
So let my love give you roots
And help you find your wings

It’s not living if you don’t reach for the sky
I’ll have tears as you take off
But I’ll cheer as you fly

I pray that God would fill your heart with dreams
And that faith gives you the courage
To dare to do great things
I’m here for you whatever this life brings
So let my love give you roots
And help you find your wings

Written by Mark R. Harris, Tony W. Wood • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group


  • Linda Blass - You have so beautifully captured what everyone must do as we mature. First we are the one who must be confident enough of ourselves to say goodbye. If needed, we need that strong base a little while longer, it will still be there. Then, we must be strong enough to give our children that base.

    As a Christian, like the butterfly we find new life in Christ. We must leave behind some of our habits and more base nature in order to become what God intends us to be.ReplyCancel

  • Leanne Perkins - Paula,

    It’s such a blessing God gives us to be able to translate these events into our personal lives, struggles and victories. My baby will be 16 this year and all the talk around our house now is drivers licenses and college tours…and moving far away from the nest that has nurtured and protected her. Sometimes when I look at my Emma I still see that blonde ringletted little girl old who professed to never want to leave home or me. That image is always broken by the emerging young woman before me and my heart both breaks and soars in that moment. I’m both apprehensive imagining her off on her own away from my watchful eye and excited for her independence and future. I only get through each day, each fear, each wistful longing to be able to start over by the grace of God. Thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel


If you ever need help, I’m your girl. I can make meals, clean, listen, pray, and I will pretty much do whatever I can do to help someone in need. But when it comes to receiving help…well, that’s a whole different story. I tell myself I simply cannot ask for help because I do not like putting people on the spot by asking them to take on one more thing to add to their already heavy load. However, if I’m honest with myself, another reason is that pride gets in the way, because when I ask for help I am admitting that I can’t do it all. I think if we are all honest, there would be a little of that in all of us.

One thing I am learning, however, is that we all need each other. No matter how strong, independent, hard-working, or determined we are, there comes a point when we realize that we are not Super Man or Wonder Woman and we need help. I am so thankful that God in His infinite grace and mercy brings people into our lives to help, intercede, and to stand in the gap for us right when we need it the most.

Recently, I was reading in Exodus 17 the story of the Israelites’ victory over the Amalekites. I have to say that I’ve read this story many times before, but the message has never hit so close to home as it does at this time in my life. The story starts with Moses telling Joshua to choose some men and head out to fight with the Amalekites. Moses assures Joshua that throughout the entire battle, he, Moses, will be there standing on a hill with a rod pointing to the sky, demonstrating their reliance on God for the victory. So Joshua immediately follows Moses’ instruction and heads out to battle. The passage tells us that as long as Moses held up his hands Israel prevailed, but as soon as he became weary and lowered his hands the Amalekites began to overtake them. And here’s the part that I love the most about this story: When Aaron and Hur saw that Moses’ hands had become heavy, they surrounded Moses and supported him on either side and held his arms up keeping him steady until the going down of the sun.

Wow! Can you relate to Moses and imagine how he must have felt? I sure can! We all have times in life when we feel tired, weary, and unsure of how to carry on with the enormous burdens that we face. But what if we were never meant to carry them alone? What if all along God had people alongside of us ready to help us in our times of need just as He did with Moses and Joshua? I have a feeling our burdens would seem lighter, days would be easier, and perhaps we would emerge confident and victorious if we would allow people to stand in the gap and help us through our challenging times.

It’s often easier said than done, right? So how exactly do we do this? How do we stand in the gap for others? And better still—how do we allow others to stand in the gap for us? Here are 3 practical ways that are found in the story that God has used recently in my own life:

  • Encouragement.  As I think about this story and imagine Aaron and Hur standing beside Moses holding his arms up, I have to believe that they did not stand there all day in silence. In fact, I am quite sure it was the opposite and that they spent their time that day cheering each other on and encouraging one another to be strong and not give up. Can you imagine if we all did the same and took the time to lift up one another? Think of the difference it could make in our families, our friendships, our neighborhoods, our churches, and even our country. My mother-in-law is a wonderful and constant example of this. Whether it is with her children, grandchildren, ladies from her Bible Study, friends, neighbors, and really whoever the Lord brings into her path, no matter how busy she is, she always takes the time to listen and to encourage others and God is using her in a tremendous way.
  • Presence. How many times do we find ourselves saying, “Please let me know if I can ever do anything to help out,” when in all reality, we know in our hearts that the other person will more than likely never ask us for help. What I have learned is that sometimes we just have to show up and make ourselves available.  And that’s exactly what Aaron and Hur did. They didn’t wait to be asked. They saw the need and jumped in to help Moses. Once again, I can be the worst at asking for help, but there have been several times in the last few months where people showed up to help me and it meant the world to me. After my brother died so unexpectedly 6 months ago, the cards, texts, calls, flowers, and meals meant more than I can even express. Just knowing how much people cared helped carry me through that difficult time. And also as I help my parents walk through their heartbreaking journey with Alzheimer’s, there have been friends who have come alongside of me to help me as I help them. I can’t even begin to tell you how that has ministered to my heart and soul. And having been on both sides of giving and receiving, I have to say there’s no way to lose. Everyone wins and everyone is blessed when we take the time to be there for others in their time of need.
  • Prayer. There’s truly nothing greater that we can do for someone than to lift them up to the ONE who can meet their deepest needs and do the miraculous in their lives. There’s power in prayer. So why is it sometimes so hard to ask for prayer? I think once again we don’t want to burden others with our needs. But one thing God recently showed me is that sometimes by asking for prayer it actually opens the door for God to use someone to answer that need. I saw this firsthand last week in a situation that came up with my mom’s Alzheimer’s. It was very heartbreaking and I was very concerned, so I asked a couple of my friends nearby to pray. I remember being reluctant to contact anyone because it was during the evening, and I didn’t want to be an interruption or a burden. But as it turned out, one of my friends contacted a member of the community and was able to arrange a meeting the next day for us to get a much needed resource that would help bring support and peace of my mind to my parents during this difficult time. This was such a huge reminder to me that God has people around us that will stand in the gap and help us if we will allow ourselves to be vulnerable and share our hurts and needs.

Two are better than one, for they can help each other succeed,

if one person falls the other can reach out and help.

Ecclesiastes 4:9,10

I have to admit that I wrote this blog probably more for me than for anyone else, so that I won’t forget the importance of not only helping others but also allowing others to be a help and encouragement to me. The truth is we are all on this journey together and whether we want to admit it or not—we need one another, for life is sweeter and so much easier when we encourage, show up, and stand in the gap for others AND allow others to do the same for us. I want to leave you with the words to an old song by Babbie Mason that has always meant a lot to me. No matter what we go through in life, we can rise above it with God’s help and through the love and support of those who are willing to stand in the gap for us and see us through.

Standing In The Gap by Babbie Mason

I heard that you were hurting that you were suffering pain
But I didn’t dare just turn my head and look the other way

For when your heart is aching
My heart is aching too
Let me help you bear your burdens that’s the least I can do

I’ll be standing in the gap for you
Just remember someone somewhere is praying for you
Calling out your name
Praying for your strength
I’ll be standing in the gap for you

Right now you may be troubled
But everything will work out right
For the spirit knows before you speak what is on your heart and mind

So I’ll be interceeding
Till you’re standing strong again peace that passes understanding
Is gonna be yours,
But until then…

I’ll be standing in the gap for you
Just remember someone somewhere is praying for you
Calling out your name
Praying for your strength
I’ll be standing in the gap for you

So hang on my friend

It won’t be long

until you’ll have the strength to carry on

For when two or three are walking together
It will be a much lighter load
For isn’t that what a brother and sister are for?

I’ll be standing in the gap for you
Just remember someone somewhere
Is praying for you
Calling out your name
I’m gonna be praying for your strength
I’ll be standing in the gap for you




There are times in all of our lives when our faith wavers, when the waves crash over us and we can barely stay afloat, let alone courageously believe. Our emotions become numb and we can find ourselves too discouraged to even think about all of the times in the past when our God saw us through. Yet it is in these fragile moments when doubt and fear grip our heart that we are forced to reconcile what we believe about God and whether or not we will fully trust Him and His Word.

But wait! This isn’t new to God. The Bible is full of examples of people who struggled with everyday situations that put their faith to the test. Often they passed the test, but sometimes they failed. Nevertheless, God continued to love them and to use them in spite of their straying hearts, and He will do the same for you and me when we find it hard to trust Him and believe.

Even when we are too weak to have any faith left

He remains faithful to us and will help us,

for He cannot disown us who are part of Himself,

and He will always carry out His promises to us.

2 Timothy 2:13 NLT

I love the assurance this verse gives that when our faith wanes and we can’t find the strength to believe, God is not offended, insulted, or even tempted to give up on us because our lack of faith will never affect the character of God. No matter what we do or don’t do, He is ALWAYS FAITHFUL and nothing will ever change that. When we know Jesus as our Savior, we belong to Him and He indwells us, He fills us, and He has promised never to leave us or forsake us.

So what do we do when in those moments when our faith is faltering and we are struggling to believe?

  • Remember that God’s faithfulness is not contingent on our faithfulness. He knows that we are human and will make mistakes, and He is full of compassion and willing to forgive us. When the Israelites forgot the One Who parted the Red Sea, Who led them through the wilderness, and Who provided mana for them each morning, Scripture tells us that “He being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and did not destroy them. Yes, many a time He turned His anger away, and did not stir up all His wrath. For He  remembered that they were but flesh…”  Psalm 78:35, 38-39. Does this mean that we can have a casual attitude towards sin in our lives? Absolutely not. But what it does mean is that when we fall, we can find forgiveness and get back on our feet and continue on in our walk with Him.
  •  Recognize that faith doesn’t come from us; it begins with God. I’m reminded of a story in Mark 9:17-24 of a desperate father who brought his son to Jesus. This son had been possessed by a spirit since childhood that made him unable to speak and caused him to convulse and foam at the mouth. The father had tried everything to help his son but to no avail. His last hope was Jesus. As the father begged Jesus to have compassion on his son, Jesus responded by saying, “Everything is possible to the one who believes.” Immediately, the father of the boy cried out, “I do believe! Help my unbelief.” In that instant, Jesus heard the desperate father’s cry and answered his prayer by rebuking the spirit out of the boy. This story is so encouraging to me, for it shows how God cares for every detail of our lives. He will intervene when there is no other way. Nothing is impossible to those who believe. And perhaps the greatest salve for my weary soul is found in “I believe. Help my unbelief.” I think God knew we would need to know that we can ask Him for the faith to believe. Perhaps that is why He even included this story in Scripture to let us know that when we can’t even muster the strength to find the faith that we need, God will come through and give us the faith to believe. So rather than giving up in those fragile moments of our faith, we can get on our knees and ask our God for the faith to see us through.
  • Renewing the heart restores a weakened faith. Oswald Chambers defines faith as the “inborn capacity to see God behind everything.” People with faith see more than the circumstances they are facing; they see God working. So when we lose sight of God’s work in our lives, our faith diminishes and can cause us to drift from what we know is true. That’s why it is so important to renew our minds each day. The Bible says in James 4:8, “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” How encouraging to know that we can come to Him with all of our faults, our imperfections, our inconsistencies, and even our failures, and we can find forgiveness and a fresh start. We don’t have to remain faithless, for we have a God who is faithful and can give us the faith we need to live a faith-filled life for Him.

Lord Jesus, forgive me of the times when I let my circumstances dictate the emotions of my heart and find my faith at the mercy of it all. I don’t want to doubt. I don’t want to fear. And I certainly don’t want anything to come between You and me. Help me to keep my eyes fixed on You and keep my heart so in tune with yours that nothing hinders me from living a faithful life for You.