Greetings from Marti Pieper in Seneca, South Carolina, where I’m rediscovering the wonder and beauty of fall after spending the past twelve-plus years in Florida! I’m excited today to introduce a new CAN member who also happens to be a longtime friend. Many years ago now, Julie Lavender and I were both young homeschooling moms who shared not only a church home (my husband was her family’s pastor for several years) but many family adventures and lots of laughter (please don’t ask her about the time we nearly lost each other in downtown Los Angeles). Welcome to the CAN blog, Julie. I’m so excited for you to share your words and your wisdom with our readers!
Your most recent book releases this month. Can you tell us about it, please?
365 Ways to Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments Into Lasting Memories (Revell, 2020) offers creative suggestions for activities, gestures, and expressions of love to show a child how much they are treasured. Parents are encouraged to make memories with their children while giving them a glimpse of the heavenly Father’s love.
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 convenience 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.
Oh, 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.”
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.
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 quiteenveloped 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.
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.
Beautiful sights and scents of spring adorn my south-Georgia town. Honeysuckle and wisteria vines twist throughout the trees in the back yard, and yellow Jessamine dots the edge of the forest beyond. The dainty flowers attract nectar-seekers, especially honey bees, this time of year.
Married to an entomologist, I’m quite fascinated with God’s diminutive insects, though I prefer to enjoy them from a safe distance. The honey bee is one of my many favorites, because it often reminds me of a writer’s pursuit.
According to a trivia page on the National Honey Board website, honey bees must tap into two million flowers just to make one pound of honey! That’s a lot of nectar-seeking. On our writing journey, we may need to tap into millions – well, at least lots and lots – of resources to find those choice, sweet words to write for the Lord. Once collected, those delicacies might take the form of newspaper articles, magazine articles, devotions, books, blog posts, or more.
Apparently, a hive of bees flies over 55,000 miles to produce that one pound of honey. Writers often journey for miles, with a great deal of hills and valleys and mountaintops along the way. Writers need a “hive” of fellow scribes throughout the trek to support and encourage, too.
An average worker honey bee makes only one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime, exactly what God ordained for each honey bee. A delicious dab of sweetness!
What sweet contribution will you make as a writer? How many miles will you travel and how many flowers will you visit? God’s ordained that, too.
May the words you write BEE sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
Julie Lavender is a journalist, author, and former homeschooling mom of twenty-five years who holds a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education. Julie and her husband David (her high-school and college sweetheart) have four children and a sweet, sixteen-month-old grandson. Julie loved living in various locations across the country as the wife of a medical entomologist for the United States Navy. After her husband retired from active duty, the family moved back to their hometown, and David began work as a wildlife biologist at a nearby Army installation. Julie’s parenting book, 365 Ways to Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments into Lasting Memories, releases in October. Julie also co-authored two devotionals with Michelle Cox. She is a freelance stringer for the Statesboro Herald Newspaper, and she’s published in several magazines, including Guideposts and Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse Magazine, and several parenting and homeschooling blogs. Connect with Julie on her FaceBook page or her Facebook Group, 365 Ways to Love Your Child.