A Great Start to a New Year

January 2, 2016

As I look back and review 2015, at the top of my grateful list, surprisingly, sits a man named Paul. I remember the day Paul first appeared in my life. He conspicuously sat in the front pew (the one that is normally empty) of my small country church. Throughout the service, his booming ‘Amen’ and ‘Alleluia’ seemed disruptive. I admit to hoping the front pew would soon go back to empty. Thankfully, it never did.


Paul is special. He wears his faith like most people wear a shirt. It’s so much a part of him, it’s one of the first things you notice. He’s not much of a talker, but in the few words he does say, he always seems to find a way to praise God.

To the question– “Hi Paul. How are you?”

I’ve come to love his response– “Wonderful.”

This one word, ‘wonderful’, sticks with me and boosts my faith more than any powerful sermon.



Because his answer could easily be so very different.

In his early 20s, Paul suffered a traumatic head injury. Now at the age of 48, he has difficulty walking; he has difficulty expressing himself; he has difficulty remembering; he can not work, or drive, or even button his coat. Fortunately he can read, but unfortunately only very large print; even the print in a ‘large print’ book is too small for him to see. When his mother died a few years back, his life changed dramatically. He was forced to move to an adult foster care home. Despite all this, Paul says the injury was the best thing that ever happened to him.

How can this be?

His answer is simple, yet achingly beautiful, ‘because it brought me closer to the Lord,’ he says, with great genuineness.


When his mother died, I heard a familiar little voice behind my ear urging me to reach out to him, but I never did. I was scared. What would we talk about? I am terrible at small talk, and he barely talks– definitely not a recipe for success.

Many months went by. Sometimes after church I sat next to him and ate cookies, but it never seemed enough. ‘Reach out to him’ persisted that little voice. Then one day in Sunday school each member of the class was given a book to read. Paul didn’t take a book because the print was too small for him to see. Putting my fears aside, I offered to visit and read to him– one chapter a week for six weeks. At the end of six weeks, I offered to continue my visits and read books of his choice.


Yesterday at the end of a chapter, in his chosen book, I came to a special prayer entitled: Prayer for the Prayer Warrior. I read the title. Suddenly Paul fell out of his chair to the floor. I thought he had lost his balance, or fallen asleep, until I noticed him kneeling with his hands clasped fervently together in prayer.

And that is how I started my New Year– reading to a mighty prayer warrior and very dear friend. At first, I thought my visits were for him, but now I am wiser, I visit for me.
















Latest Comments

  1. Becky says:

    Really beautiful story!


  2. oakcoveresort says:

    Heartwarming story on a cold morning. Love the writing with your photos. Thank you, Julie.


  3. Martha York says:

    Julie- this is so moving…and so are YOU. I love you! Thank you for being that profound, sacred, and simple Presence in SO MANY lives. I’m touched by how it changed you, as well as undoubtedly changed him. Truly a holy encounter. (Did you tell the story with puppets, too?:)


  4. AmyRose🌹 says:

    Oh, Julie, I have tears in my eyes and am covered in goosebumps. What a story!!! And your pictures are so full of Love that my breath became still as I just drank deeply. What a Blessing Paul has become. See what happens when we overcome our human fear and follow that small Voice within? I’ve done so many times and I am never misled!!! God bless you, my dear friend!!! Love, Amy ❤


  5. Barb says:

    This so profoundly warmed my heart. I, too, would be very sad to see that front pew empty! Hugs and blessings!


  6. Eliza Waters says:

    Poignant tale – giving blesses the giver. Loved your hoarfrost photo and the muscular goose – no wonder they can fly for hours!


    • Julie says:

      I love watching the family of geese that inhabit our pond out my window. They are full of personality. With all of the drama that goes on with nest building, it’s my Spring soap opera. Thanks for introducing me to a new word– hoarfrost. I had not heard it before and had to look it up. I love the sound of it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Eliza Waters says:

        Glad to oblige! Hoarfrost requires certain conditions involving moist air and sudden freezing temps with still air. It is rare here, but so beautiful when it does happen.


  7. Nurse Kelly says:

    Brought tears, Julie! Just beautiful. Wishing you continued blessings in the new year 🙂


  8. countrygirllifeonthefarm says:

    How precious and what an asset to both of your lives!! Happy New Year, Julie!


  9. Marla aka Crazy Mom says:

    Thank you for sharing this uplifting story!


  10. Lorraine DeBaptiste says:

    This brought tears to my eyes. Your words are so kind and gentle. We are all blessed to know this man.


  11. D. Wallace Peach says:

    This story brought tears to my eyes, Julie. Gifts often come from unexpected people and places. I think when we open our hearts, it’s we who are filled. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Judy @ NewEnglandGardenAndThread says:

    Humbling post. We all could do more but something holds us back, and this is a testament to why we should take the plunge. 🙂


  13. FlowerAlley says:

    I’ve read this three times now. You have a gift my friend.


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