I am the Lord, and there is no other;
    apart from me there is no God.
I will strengthen you,
    though you have not acknowledged me,
 so that from the rising of the sun
    to the place of its setting
people may know there is none besides me.
    I am the Lord, and there is no other.

Isaiah 45:5-6

This past Easter, I gave my 8-year-old cousin Sophia a very special gift – my 18-year-old Picture Study Bible. On the inside front cover of the thick paperback comic-book Bible reads a hand-written note from Grandma Anne to Gina Maria. Now, on the inside back cover of the thick paperback comic-book Bible reads a hand-written note from Gina to Sophia.

Recently, while babysitting Sophia on a school night, I asked her to fetch the Bible so we could read it together. I opened it up to the Old Testament story of Joash – the 8 year-old boy king. (Yes, I know the Bible says he was 7; but Sophia is 8. So for our purposes, Joash was 8.)

We learned about Joash and his unique upbringing, raised under the tutelage of the high priest. We learned that he was taught to love the Lord his God with all his heart, soul, and mind; and we learned that for a while, he did. But we also learned that later on in life, he caved to the pressures of people’s idol worship. We learned how God then saved his people through the faith of his servant Hezekiah; God was with him. We learned that God fights our battles for us. We learned to ignore anyone who says otherwise.

When I thought we read as much as she could handle, we went out to the driveway to folly a tennis ball back and forth. As we grab the rackets from the garage, Sophia speaks softly.

“Gina…if I tell you something, will you tell my mom?”

“No, Sophia.” I thanked God for this moment and asked the Holy Spirit to speak through me. “What’s up?”

“Well, a long time ago, there was this math sheet that I was supposed to do. And…I kinda forgot about it. And now, it’s somewhere in my room. Should I finish it and bring it to school or should I just forget about it?”

I waited a second. “Finish it. It’ll be okay.”

My hand caressed her hair and stopped at her shoulder, guiding her out to the driveway. “Thank you for telling me, Sophia.”

As we wacked our rackets back and forth, sending green tennis balls into the neighbor’s lawn, I could tell she felt guilty.

I walked over to her and put my arm around her.

“Sophia, I’m so proud of you…”

Her eyes were nervous as her words fumbled, one story into the next.

“I just forget things sometimes, and I got in trouble at school and then I couldn’t use my chrome book and then Mommy came downstairs and she was SO mad because I got a 52 on my social studies test…and sometimes, I just get a feeling in my tummy where I feel like something’s wrong and I have to tell the truth.”

I bent down towards her. “Sophia, that’s the Holy Spirit. God wants us to be honest because He is honest…He can’t lie.”

She nodded her head in agreement.

“Pray that God will help you learn in school and help you to be honest. He will do it, I promise. He loves you.”


And with that, we played tennis.

And God was with us.