The Really Dead Church or Reflections by 4 Year Old Austen

Written by our son-in-law, Pastor Dwayne Piper, father of 4 adorable children:

Driving on our way to the polls early this morning, our family was enjoying the beauty of a moderate frost that had turned everything under ankle height a shimmering silver. The chilly morning air seemed to simply whisper of peace and solitude, serenity and purpose.

The small county roads seemed to be more or less still slumbering, blissfully heedless of the myriad of automobiles that would soon roll over their endless surfaces. Even trees and shrubs lining the highway seemed somehow all poised to endure the new seasonal morning chill. The van was warm inside, after running the heater on “afterburner” for a bit; and everyone seemed warm and quietly thoughtful.

It was not long before we rode past a small country church along the way. The main sanctuary was a white structure with stained glass windows, and the auxiliary buildings were brick with white trim. I, driving, kept glancing over towards it, giving it more attention than I normally do, since the magic of the morning made the little building seem extraordinarily picturesque. It must have attracted the attention of most of us in the van, as I soon realized.

However, I never even thought twice about how that, next door to the little church, as is common with many churches, was a significantly sized graveyard. Such is a normal specter for an adult, but nothing is average to the eyes and mind of a child. We had barely driven past the church and my mind barely begun to drift onto my next mental topic…, whatever it was.

Suddenly I had my attention riveted back to that little church and its graveyard, though now well out of sight, by our second-born son, 4 year old, Austen. From the far back seat of the van exploded a tiny but noticeably concerned voice: “Did awl dose people in dat chuwch DIE?!”

A few hanging seconds of silence passed, as Kristen and I at first wondered if we had heard correctly. We glanced at each other, with looks that said, “Did he just say what we thought he said?” Upon an equally knowing look of confirmation to each other, we both burst into abundant parental laughter*–I mean, really hearty laughter!

I was still quite preoccupied with laughter when my wife, still laughing also but with a keener sense of hearing to her credit, heard our oldest son Bryant protest, “I don’t think it’s funny!” Out of respect for his feelings, we both did our best to suppress our joviality over our second-born’s sincere and cute yet hilarious question. Aww, here is our first-born actually taking up for and feeling sympathy for his younger brother–a quality we were tickled to see arise!

Speaking of tickled however, we couldn’t suppress it forever; and both of us burst into a quieter but just as heartfelt laughter once again. I tossed my head halfway back over my shoulder, still keeping my eyes on the road but trying to project my voice over the seats and other children between me and my eldest: “Bryant, I know you don’t understand now perhaps why it’s funny; but one day, when you are a parent, you will!” We did express pleasure to Bryant for his sympathy, however. I suppose we should have taken a moment of silence for that entire church, too…. Oh, sorry! Just couldn’t help it! 🙂

*-“Parental Laughter” [puh-ren-tl laf-ter] – Noun:
Often involuntary laughter at things usually cute but not even always necessarily funny, sometimes thought to be attributed to a slight case of non-medical insanity. Though impossible to prevent and highly challenging to treat, it is sometimes far too easy to diagnose. Symptoms can include excessive or even illogical laughter at things one would have never laughed at before becoming a parent. Causes could include, most notably, late night feeding schedules, incessantly open mouths, jelly-covered fingers, dirty diapers, mud-covered feet, sweet in-motion leg hugs that shatter adult balance, toy-covered floors in the dark of night–and plenty of sweet adoring love (which probably accounts for the laughter as opposed to other forms of expression). Those most afflicted by this incurable yet contented condition are usually parents of small children, but can also spread to others nearby on occasion–provided a decent amount of actual humor exists in the situation, outside of just the parent’s perspective.

Why my Family Needs Me to Be Faithful

“Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.”  Proverbs 25:19

On her 8th birthday, a little girl received a gift from her parents. She was thrilled, thinking it was the most beautiful bike in the world. The bike had gold lettering on the side: “The Pink Princess”.  After a big rain on a steamy summer day, the little girl begged and begged her mom to ride the Pink Princess.

Her mom said, “No, you will slip on the wet road and break your tooth.”  The little girl looked out the window and seeing her friends riding their bikes, she begged and begged, “Everyone else is doing it”.

Her mom, frustrated and worn down, gave into her little girl’s wishes.  Can you guess what happened next? The little girl started racing down the street with her Pink Princess in the lead.  The Pink Princess slipped and the little girl’s face crashed onto the wet concrete, and she broke her tooth.

My poor Mom was so upset, crying and saying, “I told you so”. Yes, the little girl was me! There are some things in life we don’t forget, and this was one of them. My children know this story by heart, because I used it on them when they begged me to do something I thought would not be a good thing.

What a pain that broken tooth was.  I also had a foot out of joint, and that was a pain too as I hobbled around. An unfaithful person is like that broken tooth and sprained ankle: A pain.  A broken tooth and foot out of joint is discouraging. God can’t use the unfaithful person like He wants to use them; just like I could no longer use that broken tooth and my foot caused me to limp.

Do our children see us as faithful to the things of God? I don’t want to ever cripple my family by my unfaithfulness. Faithfulness is consistence in the things that matter to God.

1.  Do I have a quiet time each day reading the Bible and praying?

2.  Do I daily practice what I preach to my children?

3.  Do I go to church every Sunday?

4.  Am I loyal to my husband?

5.  Do I consistently witness to others?

Why does my family need me to be faithful? Unfaithfulness is a discouragement to others. Unfaithfulness is a stumbling block to others. Children put their confidence in their parents at such an early age.  I don’t want my children to ever lose confidence in me because of unfaithfulness. I want to encourage my family to do what is pleasing to the Lord. I don’t want to be a stumbling block by being unfaithful. “Lord God, may I be faithful to the end!”


Fall Vacation to LA and GA to Visit Family

I have been reposting some oldie but goodie posts, because Barry and I took a  vacation this past week to see family in Louisiana.

My Dad is 82 and Barry’s Mom is also 82.  I have three sisters plus many nieces and nephews.  Jodi and Brandon, our son and their three toddler sons joined us. Fun!!!

Picture of my Dad and Barry







This week, Barry and I are in Georgia visiting Melinda, our daughter and her husband, Jeremy. They just celebrated 3 years of marriage.

Those who have been following, may remember how Jeremy and Melinda had all sorts of apartment problems with the neighbors.  On weekends, their apartment neighbors below would have wild and noisy parties past midnight.

One day their apartment neighbors left at Melinda and Jeremy’s door a goody bag filled with candy and earplugs. Attached was a note saying that they were having a party that night. Melinda wondered whether she was supposed to say “Thank you.” 🙂

They also had wild neighbors above them in their apartment who sounded like they were dropping bowling balls. Have you ever had a bad apartment experience? I remember when we were first married and the thin apartment walls.

Jeremy and Melinda finally bought their first home.  Yay! They are so appreciative of their home and having bad apartment experiences intensified their gratefulness. This week we are helping them paint and put in flooring, so that is why I am re-posting oldie but goodie posts this week too.  Hope you don’t mind 🙂



Melinda and Jeremy called in the professionals…lol!

Melinda and I painted… I rolled the paint on, and she did the trim.




Barry and Jeremy started putting down the laminate flooring.


Jeremy painted a romantic mural with Melinda’s initial inside a heart. Aww! He thought it would be covered when painted, but you can still see his romantic art work under the fresh coat of paint. Aww!






Melinda, wearing her fume protective wear.

Don’t Be Surprised: There is A King in That Kid

“And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep… ” Samuel16:11

Picture the scene:  We are just told by God that people will make decisions by looking on the outer appearance of others, but God looks on the heart.  God had already chosen a King, but the parent failed to see the king in his kid. The parent was actually going to leave out one of his children, thinking it impossible for that child to be chosen. Maybe, the parent thought his son was way too young. Maybe the parent saw his youngest boy as just a little kid who had the lowly job of keeping sheep.  When the parent was asked if he had more sons, the parent said “behold”, which means to “look with surprise”.  Can’t you just picture this parent pointing in the distance to his son and thinking in a surprised way, “What? Could there be a king in that kid?”

What valuable lessons can we apply to our lives from this true Bible story?

1.  God loves to take the “seemingly nobody’s” and use them for His glory!

2.  There are God-given potential and God-given talents hidden in every child.

3.  The child does not know he has “king potential” in him.

4.  The parent should be the one to help each child reach their God-given potential.

5.  Pray daily: “Lord, I don’t see my child as You do. Work in and through me to draw out each child’s God-given potential and talents to be used for Your glory.”

6. Model humbleness.  Only the humble will reach king potential. David was in a lowly position of keeping lowly sheep.  There is no room for “big heads”! It is the little things, little places, little people that God can use for His glory.

What do we want for our children? Popularity or Fortune? Please say, “No”.

Let us choose what is most important to God for our children! There is king potential in every child. Let us choose to praise our children for good character, integrity and godliness! Children will desire to live up to the praise we give them!

Daily let each child know they are special.  Let us ask the Lord for spiritual eyes to see the king potential in each of our children and let us take the needed action to draw that potential out!

And don’t be surprised when you find out “There is a king in my kid”! 🙂

(The photo is of our grandson, Bryant getting excited about receiving a Bible for his 7th Birthday on July 1, 2012. Priceless expression! I see king potential!)