The secret things belong to the Lord our God… (Deuteronomy 29:29 NIV).

The oddly-fashioned wheel bug is a type of assassin bug. An assassin bug preys upon and attacks a wide variety of insects and other arthropods in a rather gruesome manner, using its front legs and proboscis. The bug injects the critter-turned-lunch with enzymes that not only paralyze it but also dissolve the life-giving organs. The wheel bug then slurps up the liquefied insides. Yum, right? Uh, not hardly! Kinda icky, actually! Yet, the true bug is considered beneficial because it preys on pest insects.

The wheel bug gets its name from the crest on top of the thorax, shaped like a wheel. Interestingly, though, biologists don’t seem to know just exactly why the cog-shape is part of the bug’s anatomy. The wheel bug is the only insect in the United States with such a crest, but no consensus on the crest’s purpose exists.

That aspect of the wheel bug makes me smile and appreciate God’s creativity even more. Did God give it a wheel just to make us ponder? Does it have a purpose that God’s kept secret all this time? Did He like the idea of pointed, teeth-like knobs protruding from the top of the bug?

I love the lessons God teaches me through His creations, but I’m also okay with not knowing things. I think there’s much He wants us to know, but I believe there are some things we won’t know this side of heaven.

And maybe a wheel-shaped crest on top of a bug happens to be one of those unknowns!

Julie Lavender used to be afraid of most insects and creepy-crawly things until she fell for that cute high-school boy who loved all of God’s creations, the one who eventually became an entomologist for the US Navy. Most bugs and critters still terrify her, but now she appreciates their beauty and purposes in the natural world and is quite fascinated by them! She is the author of the newly-released 365 Ways To Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments Into Lasting Memories.

 

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I’m fascinated with names. Maybe all of us writers are.

I like creative names and creative spellings. I’m intrigued with old-fashioned names that come back in style, and I like unique names I’ve never heard of.

I’ve chuckled at names, like one of my college friends, whose first name was “Holly” and she married a gentleman with the surname “Wood.” She said she had trouble cashing checks with the signature “Holly Wood,” so she eventually stuck her maiden-name initial between the two words.

My brother had a friend named William Williams, but at least he went by the name “Bill.”

A convenient store in my hometown was owned by Billy Joe Deal who married a woman named Billie Jo.

When I became pregnant with our first child, David and I decided we liked the name “Jeremy.” I told my husband I thought it would be fun to give him a “J” name for me and a “D” name for him, so child number one became “Jeremy David.”

We stuck with the plan for child number two, and she became “Jenifer DeeAnn.” Yes, only one “n,” because my husband likes creative spellings, too.

Child number three answers to the name “Jeb Daniel.”

And then when God said there would be four, my husband and I pondered briefly abandoning our nomenclature method for fear of giggles from our new west coast friends.

“Julie, we’re not in Georgia anymore,” fretted my Navy officer husband, who was serving a billet in California.

“Well, everyone out here thinks we’re tacky rednecks, so let’s do it anyway,” I joked. And our dear, California friends welcomed “Jessica Danae” to the mix, shortened to “Jessi” on occasion.

What my husband and I hadn’t thought about was that all of our kids would have the exact same initials, so their water bottles or snacks or other belongings were often labeled J1, J2, J3, and J4. We feared they’d grow up to tell a therapist: “We were just a number in my house.”

My favorite thoughts about a given name, however, come from Acts 4:12 (ESV) and says, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

I am so thankful for that Name.

Lavender FieldOh, and I did forget to mention – my parents named me Julie Anita Bland when I was born. So, when I married, my name changed from Julie Bland to Julie Lavender. My husband loves it when I say, “I went from dull to colorful when I got married.”

 

365 Ways to Love

BIO: Julie’s favorite color as a child was purple, so she loved adding “Lavender” to her name when she married. Julie Lavender’s newest book, 365Ways To Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments Into Lasting Memories (Revell), releases this month. It’s on sale right now, 40% discount, at Baker Book House with no shipping cost and is also offered as a giveaway at Goodreads.com.

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The second annual 5K benefit to aid the building of a local homeless shelter had ended successfully with a whopping $25,000 raised.

Two walkers remained steadfast on the course. One had no original intention of walking; the other had every intention of completing the journey, no matter how long it took. That journey would take two hours.

With the assistance of crutches, college-student Erin began the race. Runners whizzed past and walkers trekked toward the goal. The distance widened between Erin and other participants. Born with cerebral palsy, Erin displayed the fortitude of one who is not used to giving up.

Angela wanted to support the event and registered as a volunteer. Posted near the first stretch of the race, she directed participants and waved encouragingly to those she knew.

Angela said, “When I saw Erin, I admired her determination and didn’t want her to walk alone.”

Leaving her post, Angela asked Erin if she could join her and, with water bottle in hand, one friend joined another on the journey.

“Her spirit was joyful the entire time,” Angela said of her friend. “She never complained. She was determined. It was inspirational for me.”

When the organizer of the event heard two walkers were still on the path, she returned to the location and waited at the finish line. Dee later said she was reminded of the verse in Acts 20:24. “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me.”

Where are you today on your writing journey? Struggling to complete the task? Crossing the finish line with zeal? Supporting another writer on the trek?

Finish the race, with God’s help, and inspire others along the way.

Julie Lavender

Julie Lavender

365 Ways to Love Your Child by Julie Lavender

365 Ways to Love Your Child by Julie Lavender

Julie Lavender is a journalist, author, and former homeschooling mom of twenty-five years who holds a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education. She is married to her-high school and college sweetheart, David, a wildlife biologist, who’s spent the last thirty-seven years encouraging her to love and appreciate all of God’s creations. Julie’s parenting book, 365 Ways to Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments into Lasting Memories, releases in October.

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The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing (Zephaniah 3:17 ESV).

I love walking with God anywhere, but I especially like the quiet, serene walks where I’m surrounded by God’s creations. Recently, I walked and talked to God in the silence of a north-Georgia mountain path, enjoying the beauty around me. The quite enveloped me much as the foliage on the path did.

But then I paused long enough to realize that it was anything but noiseless.

Crickets chirped in the distance.

A mockingbird sang from a branch overhead.

Two squirrels chattered and scolded, undoubtedly responding to the hawk that just screeched his presence.

Frogs croaked near the edge of the babbling stream off to the left of my path.

Wind whispered through the pines, rustling the needles ever-so-gently.

A brown thrasher flitting about on top of dry leaves, shuffling them out of the way to look for worms.

And that one noise – oh, my, was it loud! Cicadas.

A quiet walk? Not so much!

The sounds of God’s creations serenaded me, bringing to mind the verse in Zephaniah, “… he will exult over you with loud singing.” His masterpieces tickled my ears with songs from their Creator.

Thank you, God, for your constant presence. Thank you for a glimpse of your love and gladness and for songs of exultation. Please help me never miss the serenade.

365 Ways to Love

Julie Lavender is a journalist, author, and former homeschooling mom of twenty-five years who holds a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education. She is married to her-high school and college sweetheart, David, a wildlife biologist, who’s spent the last thirty-seven years encouraging her to love and appreciate all of God’s creations. Julie’s parenting book, 365 Ways to Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments into Lasting Memories, releases in October.

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Not only did I forget my cell phone the morning I had a newspaper stringer interview at Chik Fil A, I also failed to write down the gentleman’s name that I was supposed to interview. I knew the focus of my article – interview an 80-year-old community member who served as a chaplain for a large car dealership in the area.

Eighty-years-old and he meets participating employees every morning at 7:00 AM to share a devotion and prayertime, and I get so frazzled explaining schoolwork to my homeschooled teenagers that I dart out of the house without a phone and interview details.

I walked into the fast-food restaurant across the street from the mall shortly before nine and glanced around.

Oh, thank you, God, there’s only one customer here. That’s got to be him.

Already mentally rattled, I didn’t think through my first question. I approached his table and asked, “Are you here to meet someone?”  

The senior gentleman looked up at me, raised his eyebrows, pushed back from the table, put both hands up in the air in surrender-posture and exclaimed, “I’m not here to meet anyone!”

It was at that very moment that a gray-haired man stood up on the opposite side of the restaurant, from behind the partition that had previously blocked my view of him, and waved to me.

Sheepishly, I apologized for the confusion and walked over to meet Mr. Lingle.

And I have NEVER forgotten an interview subject’s name again.

 

365 Ways to Love

Journalist and author Julie Lavender is fascinated with others’ stories and has written about them in over 900 newspaper articles and a number of Guideposts Magazine articles, too. She is excited that her parenting book, 365 Ways to Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments into Lasting Memories, published by Revell, releases in October. Connect with Julie on social media, and she promises to remember your name!

 

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