Finding Faith and Fall with a Five-Year-Old Child

It never occurred to me that five-year-old Rilynn would give me a greater gift than I could ever give her.

Our daughter Katie remarried in 2014 and became a stepmom. Katie and her husband decided Rick and I would be called “Grand Pa Rick and Grand Ma Jewels.” It’s an honor to become anyone’s grandmother, but it’s especially sweet when God brings a child into your life in such a surprising way.

A few weeks ago, Katie asked if we could keep Rilynn for the weekend. I told her, yes, yes, yes a million yeses. It was the first time she’d spent the night with us.

My first assignment as being a grandmother. 

I wanted her to feel comfortable with us.

I wanted to do everything right.

It’d been so many years since a child had stayed in our home. Our youngest is 25. And he’s a boy.

Think, think, think. What do five-year-old little girls like to do? 

I ran to the store and bought Play-Doh and paints and coloring books.

Whew. She loves to paint. 🙂

Grand Pa Rick taught her how to make a turkey. Y’all know I’m not craftsy. This was all him!

(He also built her a dollhouse for her fourth birthday.)

They gathered eggs. There was only one, but it was the perfect number for her little hands to carry.

She wanted to see Grand Pa Rick’s garden–even though there was nothing growing but weeds. To her, they were beautiful.

Everything was.

Later that day, I showed her pretend leaves on the porch. She wanted to see real ones.

I grabbed a brown paper sack and we headed to the woods behind our house. Of course, Clyde and Ellie came too.

Because Rilynn was with me, the woods became an enchanted forest. 

“The leaves change colors every October,” I said. “Why don’t we pick out our favorite ones? You can take them home with you.”

“Really? I can keep them?”

“Sure, as many as you want.”

“Look! Grand Ma Jewels, two yellow ones!”

“What’s that?” she said.

“It’s an old tree stump. God lets animals live in it when it’s cold.”

She peered inside. “That’s nice of Him.”


We walked a few feet down the path. “What’s this?”

“It’s a tiny pine tree. One day, it’ll be all grown up.”

You will too. Life goes so fast. I used to be five.

“What kind of leaf is this?”

To me, the leaf wasn’t pretty at all. It was huge and brown and ugly–so dry, its edges curled. “I think it’s from this big oak tree.”

“I like it.” She put it in her sack. “What’s this, Grand Ma Jewels?” She handed me an acorn.

I hadn’t thought about acorns in years–even though our driveway was covered in them.  

I’d stomped on them.

Crushed them with my feet. 

Driven over them.

Saw them as a nuisance. 

“Sweetie, it’s an acorn. God made it. And somehow, He makes acorns grow into giant oak trees.”

She nodded as if the miracle made perfect sense. Gathering a dozen or so, she stuffed them into her sack. 

Then I picked one up and examined the impossibly small thing.

How’d you do it, Lord? You packed the miracle of life inside this hard brown shell.  Rilynn believed quickly–with all her heart. She never doubted.

If I could have a tiny portion of this child’s perfect faith…

Following her down the path toward home, I put the acorn in my pocket, a seed of rugged faith growing inside me.

 With God–and only with God–all things are possible. Borrowed from Matthew 19:26 click to tweet

Have you ever been blown away by God’s enormous size, and yet He’s involved in the intricate details of our lives?














  1. Anna Haney says:

    Loved this. I can smell the leaves and feel the autumn sunshine.
    I love finding God in small, unexpected places. Like the acorn, those are typically the ways in which He reveals Himself the most.
    Love you

    • You’re absolutely right, Anna. We usually find God in the small things. And to think, I’d been ignoring acorns!!

      Love how your new ‘do is growing out, BTW. xoxoxoxo

  2. Julie Gilleand says:

    It is a blessing from God when have the chance to see the world through a child’s eyes. We lose that as we get older I think, either becoming jaded by harsh life experiences or just because things can quickly become common to us and we forget their wonder. I remember when my first and as yet only son was growing out of the baby stage and into the toddler stage. His every new discovery and experience was reverting me to my own childhood and reminding me of things I’d long forgotten. The wonder of things I no longer saw as wonderful or exciting. I specifically remember sitting down on our living room floor and coloring in a coloring book with him for the first time in years! I had forgotten what that felt like. Other such things happened that took me back and reminded me of things from there on out — Christmas mornings through the eyes of a child, Halloween costumes, school plays, pinning school art projects to the fridge, and on an on. That was many, many years ago. Now I have 5 grandchildren, and it starts again! I think kids keep us young — even if we sometimes blame them for our gray hairs, lol.

    As for being amazed at seeing God caring about the little things in our lives, as big a God as He is and with so many bigger and more important things as He has to deal with, I’ve seen this many times, but the one that always springs to mind is the time I needed to hear a certain song on the radio which spoke to how I was feeling at that time in my life. I prayed for the song to come on the radio and then apologized to God for having asked such a trivial thing of Him, as if He were my personal DJ! But you know what? Before I ended that prayer, that very song came on the radio! It brought tears to my eyes, just knowing that God had cared about such a little thing as that and if He cared about that — how much more the big stuff too?

    I love that you have a great big woods by your house and that you got to share it with Rilynn and see the wonder all around you through her! It really brings a warmth having a little child in your home again, doesn’t it? You are blessed!

    Take care other Julie G 🙂

    —- Leafy

    • Leafy, ME TOO!! With the radio, and even songs at church!!! Can’t believe anyone else does this.

      And that He cares about something that “little” but really, it’s huge. Thank for for sharing about your music prayers.

      You have five grandchildren? How did I not know that?! I can’t EVEN imagine. Sounds like heaven to me, but I’m so, so, so grateful that God brought Rilynn into our lives, and any way He chooses to bring more grandchildren (if He does), I’ll have plenty of room in my heart.

      Thank you, my friend. One day, we’ll walk through the woods together and pick out our favorite leaves.

      • Julie Gilleand says:

        I would love to do that someday Julie! And yes, 5 grandkids. Michael turns 13 this month, Megan is 8, Elijah is 5, Ava is 4 and Liam is 17 months today! The four oldest live 80 miles away and the youngest is 300 miles away! One of my prayers is to one day have a big enough house to have them come more often and spend the night. Right now we are in a tiny apartment that isn’t big enough for the 3 of us — my husband and me and our son. Someday!

  3. Brenda Greene says:

    Don’t you just love seeing the world thru the eyes of a child, Grandma Jewels?!! When we moved into this enchanted forest sixteen years ago our Grands were 4 and 7 months. Soon came three more and each of them remember our walks in the woods discovering God’s Amazing Handiwork…at 20, 16, 14, 12, and 10 they often “remember when” when we come together.

    So…have I ever been blown away by God’s size and yet His involvement in the intricate details of my life? Every. Single. Day. and I try to capture at least three of them to post in my gratitude journal each and every night. Keeps me humble.

    Thanks for this joy filled blog this beautiful Fall day! Love you Julie Girl and so excited you get to enjoy being a Grandma. Precious isn’t it?!

    • Brenda, when I read your comment and “heard” you call me “Grand Ma Jewels” my heart jumped with joy. I’ll never get tired of hearing my new name. I just feel so blessed.

      And you did the same thing with your Enchanted Forrest! Amazing Handiwork for sure. I can tell, y’all are wonderful grandparents.

      Thank you for your thoughts and sharing your heart. XO

  4. Oh, Julie … beautiful. Child-like faith. You gave me my *sigh* moment of the day. And I posted an acorn picture on Insta today … I wish I had said such sweet words over it now … what God can do from something so small. But it’s not too late to think on it. 🙂 Thank you! xoxo

    • Gotta go check out your acorn, Shelli! I’ve heard there’s all kinds of neat craftsy things to do with them….not that I know how. Not yet anyway.

      I’ll never look at an acorn the same way again.

      Thank you, my friend, for your thoughts. And your heart.

  5. I have to find me an acorn. It’s so…appropriate! The little tiny nugget grows into a sturdy, tall oak tree. Like us. Like our faith. Like our belief. Like our hope. Like little Rilynn. ; o ) Like 5-year-old Julie. ; o )

    • Dumb, question, B.J., but are there acorns all over the country? All the on the other side where you are?

      Thank you, my friend, for your love and your thoughts.

      Always and forever~~~

      • Only where there are oak trees and we have lots of those up in the mountains and away from the coastal areas. Palm trees are the norm near the beaches and in the desert. No acorns there!

  6. Thank you for sharing this adventure with us today, Julie.

    Seeing once again what God has made through Rilynn’s exploration ignites renewed appreciation for God’s provisions. My daily devotions unearths treasures I’ve seen so often, yet, didn’t pause to appreciate. This post is a mighty reminder to walk beside a child in the woods or a new born Christian to see once again the wonders of God.

    Share on!

    • Love how said it, “a mighty reminder” sort of like the mighty oak tree, Carolyn.

      Yes!! A newborn Christian! I hadn’t thought of it from that angle. Such a beautiful point, my friend. Thank you for reading, and letting me know you understand.


  7. Grandma Jewels! I love it! I’ve experienced that same joy of discovery with my grandson. Last year we went to North Georgia to see the color in the mountains that we don’t experience here. Even though it was rainy the entire trip, we hiked trails and collected pretty wet leaves. I didn’t take a bag with me, so we stuffed our coat pockets with them. Thank you for reminding me of that special time.
    Love, Mar

    • Mar, you get it!!! Yes, this is what I’m talking about, and you can really enjoy the fall in N. GA. So glad y’all got to go–wet leaves and all. Who cares!?

      Your grandson is absolutely precious. I love seeing his pics.

      Thank you, my friend. Hugging you from here.

  8. marci says:

    This was such a refreshing view, and lesson. I think of when Jesus said about small children, and how he welcomed them. I have learned so much through children. And still learning. I don’t have grandchildren, but there are small ones in the family that we enjoy being part of their lives and listening to them.
    I am so happy for you- blessed with Rilynn. You are right, enjoy them however they come to you, by birth, marriage, or whatever. I hope there will be more visits and time when you can have her over for sleepovers, and enjoy time with her.

    It was so nice to get to follow along (for the ride) with you and Rick as you spent time with your grand daughter.

    God Bless,


    • You’re so right, Marci’a. Jesus DID welcome the small children. Thank you so much for being you, and for your kind words. You always say the sweetest things!

      So much love~~~~~~

  9. Love this post, Julie, and the photos, too! We can learn so much from our little ones.

    • Thank you so much, Dear Barbara! All I had to do was be quiet and listen. Rilynn taught me plenty.


  10. Oh, Julie, you’re such a good grandma! This is just the beginning of your new education. As a hands-on grandma, you’ll learn more than you can imagine. For instance, did you know that Yellowstone Park has 3,000 geezers a day???? Hahahahaha!

    • Love it, Vonda!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 Geezers!!

      Thank you for being excited with me on becoming a grandma.


  11. Cathy Mayfield says:

    This evening, I sit writing this at my aunt’s house. This aunt, dealing with the final weeks inside her cancer-riddled body, asked me to come stay a few days with her, just to be together, not really tend to her. With only nine years between us, she and I have been aunt and niece, but also friends. Our relationship tended towards a mentoring one.

    Years ago, she earned the teaching degree I longed to have, yet she worked a state job until she retired. A few years before our first daughter came, her only daughter came. And only a few years before our grandson finally made me a grandma (!!), she became a grandmother. Now, life ebbs away as she winds down. And I wondered what happened to the girl who planned to be a teacher someday.

    Today, we watched a movie together, one I had chosen and hoped she would enjoy. She did…immensely. She asked me to go back and find one particular phrase one of the main characters said. She wanted to share something with me. The line had to do with finding the particular talent you have inside you and connecting with the Divine in using it to help others along their way to finding theirs. I knew she probably wanted to point out the reference in light of my talent for writing.

    She turned to me and said, “You did that. You still do that. Your teaching does that, and I’m so proud of you. Yes, you can write, but teaching is who you are deep inside.” She reached over and squeezed my hand, and as her hand shook from her illness and tears spilled from her emotion, I knew she was right in a big way.

    She may not have used that teaching degree hanging on the wall in her den, but she taught me a truth to the identity I struggle with over and over: “I am a teacher, now and forevermore. And if I am to use my talent in writing for God, He will use it to teach – teach others about Him and about His creation and about His salvation. And this is ‘who (I am) deep inside.'”

    And my aunt is proud of me… <3

    • CATHY.

      Holy goosebumps are all over me.

      This is so huge. Wow. How she blessed you and used her teaching degree, and how you used your gift of writing. And it all came together at just the right time–for the two of you–and for me–to bless all of us reading your heart right now.

      Exquisite, my friend.

      Deep gratitude.

  12. Lynne Gentry says:

    Melt your heart goodness. If more of us took time to see the world through a child’s eye, the world would be a much better place. Hugs, Grandma Jewels!!!!

    • Hugs right back my friend Lynne.

      I just had no idea. Whew. It took spending a couple of days with her and forgetting to be a grown-up.

      Love you dearly~~

  13. Sitting my 4-year old niece is fun but could get tiring too.

    • I know, Lux. It really takes all our focus and concentration, doesn’t it?

      It was WAY different than being a mother, when I’d have just said, “Run along and play. Find something to do b/c I have to….”

      This kind of relationship with little ones requires tons of heart and energy!


  14. Carm Russell says:

    Next to hearing about your granddaughter I love this sentence the best…
    “How’d you do it, Lord? You packed the miracle of life inside this hard brown shell.”
    It perfectly speaks to why I love God and science!


    • Jane Ensminger says:

      Thanks for allowing me to see with the eyes of this child, when my view of the world had become a little dark.

      grace and peace to you.

      • Carm Russell says:

        Your welcome …

      • Sending a hug this afternoon, Jane. I know what you mean–when we feel things around us/life growing dark.

        Praying you’re feeling more Light today.


    • I know, Carm. Just blows my mind. Whew……

  15. Patricia Martin says:

    Julie, Rilynn is do adorable! She looks like an angel sent from above. You know, she looks a little like Katie when Katie was the same age.(: God has certainly blessed your family! I have relatives who have been married a while, but, thus far, no indication of storks coming in. How is Katie? How is Jaime? Today’s verse is my all time favorite because It reminds me that God can anything! Thankful for you my sweet friend.(:

    • Thank you, Thank you, Patricia!! I know–Rilynn is so precious~~~and such a surprise. I didn’t even know to pray her into our lives. 🙂

      K and J are doing fine. We’re going to Katie’s house this Saturday for an early T’giving, and then I’ll have Thanksgiving at our house on the 24th, like usual. Can’t wait! I need to make GF dressing and pies to take to Katie’s

      I know–this verse says it all.

      And I’m so thankful for you. You have the kindest, gentlest heart.

  16. I longggg for grandchildren- its the biggest thing on my bucket list- hehe. But I’ve also learned at church, or at community events, there are always friends with little ones who I can at least briefly engage and garner some of that connection I so desire, right now, instead of waiting. I’m so happy this beautiful gift of a grand has come your way! She seems delightful and I see the beginning of a new chapter in your life unfolding just beautifully. Thank you for sharing such keen insight with us again. Much love to you!

    • Hey Vicky,

      What you said is so beautiful–about loving on the little ones around you–right where you are. And there are always people for us to love.

      I’m right there with you with the grandchildren bucket list–however/whenever the Lord brings them our way, we’ll love them.

      So much love my precious friend~~~

  17. Jan Olson says:

    Keep an eye on that acorn! I remember picking up some hickory nuts and forgetting them in an old purse–and there were little white grubs there the next time I looked. Yuck! Should have planted those nuts or cracked them and used them! Don’t know if acorns are subject to anything like that or not : )

    • Oh, yuck, Jan! I had no idea….thanks for the heads’ up. 🙂

      Thanks for reading–and for the warning.

      Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  18. AHH!!!! if we all could see God’s handi-work through the eyes of a sweet child, you are an excellent teacher and grandmother! Cherish these wonderful memory making days!
    Wishing you and your dear family a most blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Julie says:

      Thank you so much, Dear Sue!

      Hope you have a beautiful Thanksgiving–and thanks for letting me know you’re reading. 🙂


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