Category Archives: Family

Kerry Johnson – A Perfect Gift

via A Perfect Gift

I loved this post so much that I had to share. I encourage you to visit Kerry’s site here on WordPress! Her writing always moves me.

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Angels Who Bring Tears to Our Eyes

Who knew that a music school recital could bring tears to your eyes?

Not me, for sure. Until December 2 of 2017, that is.

So many beautiful children in their Christmas finery took their turn onstage to sing, play piano, or beat the drums. Some were slightly nervous, some were exceptionally confident, and some just couldn’t wait to be done with the whole deal.

The Plant City Academy of Music teachers, Anne Mawhinney and Sandra Waldron for piano, Angie Woodside for voice, and Jake Simms for drums were so attentive while their little protégés performed.

And the adoring family-and-friends filled audience couldn’t applaud loud enough for every musical child who braved the crowd.

The winter semester’s recital was a perfect beginning to the Christmas season. From their instructor’s suggestions, most students performed popular or spiritual carols. No matter the skill level, the effort was a delight to hear and watch.

Like recitals I’d attended in the past to support our church family’s children, I felt pride for the young performers and their relatives. I admired their courage and developing talent. As an adult trying to learn piano, I was fully aware of the practice required to accomplish a piece. Each student obviously wanted to please their teacher. And indeed, as evidenced by the smiles and nods of approval, they did.

But this recital was different for me in one way.

I cried.

First, came nine-year-old Titus Suits, who played drum accompaniment with focused intensity to “Jingle Bell Rock.” Then, when his siblings Chloe, 10, and Jesse, 8, stepped up to sing “Angels We Have Heard on High,” I knew I was in trouble. It never occurred to me I’d need a box of tissues.

Hauntingly beautiful family harmonies can literally take your breath away. As these two moved into the Gloria, in excelsis Deo” refrain, tears spilled down my cheeks. Truly, I imagined a little angel band in heaven.

This French carol written circa 1862 is not an easy one to sing, and especially not the trilling “Glor-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-or-ia in excelsis Deo” between each of the four verses. But on that day, all of Chloe and Jesse’s hours of practice paid off. This dynamic duo nailed it!

And honestly, I will never hear this hymn again without remembering the recital on December 2, and our church’s “Near the Nativity” illustrated sermon on December 24, 2017, when the worshippers in the sanctuary sat in silent awe.

That morning, I’m pretty certain mine weren’t the only water-welled eyes.


Angels We Have Heard on High

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plains,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains.

Gloria, in excelsis Deo
Gloria, in excelsis Deo

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heav’nly song?


Come to Bethlehem and see
Him Whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.


See Him in a manger laid,
Whom the choirs of angels praise;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
While our hearts in love we raise.

Gloria, in excelsis Deo
Gloria, in excelsis Deo


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Source: Finally…

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Why We Write

Meet my writing friend, Kerry Johnson, who has a way with words and who loves THE Word. I love this post and had to share!

Kerry Johnson


Tonight I’m writing about stories, instead of writing a story.

Well, kind of.

I was asked by my younger son’s teacher to share a lesson on creative writing. For a class of friendly 4th graders I’ve watched sprout up like spring flowers from kindergarten.

I simplified the idea of story and creative writing for the younger set and prepared a fun writing activity, keeping in mind they’re nine and ten.

Why do we Write Stories?

  1. To tell others about something that happened
  2. To create something new with words, using the imagination God gave us
  3. To entertain others
  4. To bring glory to God with words

What’s in a Story?

  1. Characters–who the story is about
  2. Setting–where the story takes place
  3. Action–what happens in the story

Use the five senses in your story:

  1. Touch—Cold, hot, slimy
  2. Taste—bitter, sweet, scalding
  3. Sight—bright, dark, shining,
  4. Smell—stinky, delicious, musty
  5. Hearing—loud, quiet, squeaky

Even writing about writing, the pull toward words and what they…

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Blogging U 101 – Assignment #1 – Personal Introduction

Hello Readers (and fellow Blogging U 101 writers):

Thanks for stopping in to my writing lab. Here (at least to this point) you’ll find brief stories from my everyday life with family and friends. While I write regularly for Focus Magazine, I am new to blogging. It all began when one of the Brandon Christian Writers group members challenged us all to set up a blog, just for practice.

I did and here you see the results. I’m hoping to learn about widgets and appearance, etc. through this class.

As for me, I’m a retired English and Journalism teacher (after also a 28-year career in sales with a home manufacturer). I’m not very good at retirement yet, because writing community good news articles and serving as Christian Education Director at my church keep me busier than my husband likes me to be. All suggestions are welcome!

I lead the above mentioned writers group and also belong to WordWeavers International (Tampa) and the National League of American Pen Women. I write to breathe…I cannot not write. And I always want to be improving in the craft.

If anyone is looking for another great way to improve your skill, check your local library to see if a memoir-writing class is available. The one I just finished might very well be the best 10 Friday afternoons I’ve invested in my career.

Other than writing, I love playing golf and traveling with my husband RJ. He is my biggest encourager (even though he wishes writing didn’t make me such a night owl).

Anyway, enough about me for this assignment. Hope you’re still awake after reading this post. I enjoy serious critique and have thick skin, so please feel free to comment on anything you discover here.

Write on!


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The Face of Faith

Four-year-old Hayden Emmanuel Hitchcock died in a tragic accident recently and more than one community is mourning the loss. Heartache and prayer for the Hitchcock and Parke families were the immediate responses, and then came also the questions.

Why, God? Help us to understand Your plan in this too-soon death.

Please, Lord, overwhelm this family with Your mercy and love. Help us to help them.

Tears filled my husband’s eyes as he read the newspaper report, which included a wonderful photo of the happy boy’s grinning face. The morning of the funeral, RJ told me, “I cannot get that child’s face out of my mind.”

Along with hundreds of others, I witnessed on January 8, 2014, how a close-knit and faith-filled family handles unimaginable grief with dignity, unity, and a composure that only a true trust in God can bring. And I heard a grandmother ask, “Will you ever forget that face?” Everyone in the sanctuary was challenged to contemplate their own relationship with the Jesus little Hayden knew and loved. And I doubt seriously most of us will ever again hear his favorite song, “Oceans (When My Feet Fail)” without remembering “that face” and a mighty-mite of a boy who could do one-arm pushups and cheer for LSU with all his might.


We receive some comfort in knowing our community’s littlest “Captain America” is now playing (and probably fishing) in heaven.

The steadfast faith, love and strength we watched that day will encourage those who attended forever.



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Pickle Prayers

Three-year-old Jesse Suits was not happy on one particular Sunday as he followed his pregnant mother and four siblings in through our church’s rear entrance doors. He cried, clinging to his mom’s skirt, and definitely did not want to go into his Sunday School classroom.

I had KidCheck Security duty that morning, so it was easy to offer a hand.

“Come with me, Jesse. Will you help me this morning? We need to check the other children into their classes.”

Those tear-filled eyes brightened just a little as he looked up and said, “Uh-huh, I’ll help you.”

As I lifted him onto the stool at the check-in station’s computer, I promised him a story. He wiped his cheeks and cracked a smile.

And the story began…”Once upon a time there was a huge bear in the woods who had lost his family. He’d searched and searched, but he couldn’t find them. Eventually he became very hungry, and his stomach GROWLED, so he stopped for a pathside snack of blackberries and a sip of water from the nearby stream…”

“Hey,” the little man interrupted. “Do bears like pickles?”

His question caught me off-guard, but since I was making up this story anyway, I followed Jesse’s line of questioning.

“Of course, bears like pickles. Do you like pickles?

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a child’s face light up quite the way Jesse’s did when he blurted out, “Oh, I love pickles. Do you have any pickles for me to eat now?”

And thus began our special new friendship centered on his love for pickles.

A few Wednesday nights later, when I substituted as teacher for his Sonbeams’ class, only he and four-year-old Logan were in attendance. So I thought, “Field trip time!” I asked their mothers’ permission to take them pickle shopping at the nearby Sweetbay Supermarket.

What fun we had, as the two boys selected a jar each of their favorite pickles, along with a soda and some chips. This field trip was one I’ll never forget.

Since that time, my husband RJ and I have created a “pickle stash” so Jesse will always have a jar of his favorites on hand.

Several Sundays ago, Jesse saw me in the hallway after church (Plant City Church of God). He stopped, put his hand on his hip, and grinned. “Did you bring my pickles today?”

“You bet I did, Jesse. Stay right there while I get them out of my office.”

By the time I’d returned, his family was gathered near the rear entrance. I bent down to show Jesse the new jar and asked, “Hey, will you do me a big favor? Will you say a prayer for me every time you eat a pickle?

His response and sweet smile were instant. “Pickle prayers!”

And he made my day and melted my heart as I thought, “Can you imagine how many prayers he might say for me?”

Pickle prayers from Jesse…I am counting on our listening God.

Jesse and his Suits family love pickles!

Jesse and his Suits family love pickles!


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