All posts in Family Life

A Girls Trip to Paris

So finally, I had a chance to write about my mystery trip to Paris. I hope you enjoy!–two-daughters-take-on-the-city-of-love/20257061/

New Growth

Miriam and I straddled white plastic planting beds, poking holes and popping seeds in as fast as our tired arms could muster. Clay-like, rocky soil lay just beneath the thin surface. After we finished one packet of seeds, we tromped to the old farmhouse and checked our diagram.

“What did we just plant?”

“Not sure. Was it the yellow crook, or the marigolds?”

“Let’s check the wall,” Miriam suggested.

“The Wall” is our backwards, upside-down diagram of the field. Instead of above and below, it is beside. Instead of back to front, it’s front to back. Needless to say, the wall was my invention–more confusing than helpful. Still, it was something.

I picked up a cucumber packet. “How should we grow these?” We went to YouTube.

We tromped back out to the field.

I practiced side-ways lunges as I plunked cucumber seeds into the holes.

“Really, Miriam, I can’t imagine anything would grow in this soil. In fact, it would be a miracle!”

God still does miracles. Our seeds sprouted. In spite of our ineptness and in spite of five million gallons of rain in five days.

Yesterday, Tom sauntered our to the field to check the irrigation lines in-between rain showers.

“Pauline, come quick! It’s growing! We’re farmers!”

We high-fived each other as we took in the sight. Tiny, green shoots sprouted out of clay-like, rocky soil.

It kind of reminded me of the time Tom and I sat in an auditorium of over 5000 as young people marched across a simple stage.

“Sarah Ray Hylton,” they called. “You are awarded a master’s degree in nutrition.”

Once, she and Micah were little seeds in our Hylton house. Our family soil was filled with rocks, and we had no experience. Yet God granted the growth–in spite of us.

Isn’t that just like Him? Taking our inadequacies and producing growth for His glory.

I’m glad.

And just like we had to keep Sarah and Micah alive, we need to keep those little seeds alive.





A Big Family

Seated at round tables in a school cafeteria, Tom and I viewed our new church family. A father, mother and four children claimed the table by the wall. Several older couples shared tables. A few singles here and there were spattered throughout. Among them I noticed several young men. Maybe 70 people in all.

Music streamed from Pastor David Brady’s iPhone and bellowed out through speakers. Some hymns I knew while others were new to me. All exalted the same God.

But it’s not like the church my kids grew up in. The church that prayed for my husband for fourteen years until one day my pastor and friend Steve Kreloff announced that Tom Hylton was born-again.

Everybody clapped.

I couldn’t stop smiling. Neither could Tom. Neither could his children.

In Florida, we sit on cushioned pews. A congregation of 500 are spread between two services. A praise team and often a choir lead in worship. People I’ve known for several years and a few I’ve just met sing, pray, read Scripture and listen as Steve serves up a good portion of God’s Word verse by verse.

In Mt Airy, North Carolina (AKA Mayberry)David teaches about “One Anothering.” How as a church family, we are to love, encourage, admonish, and care for each other. A loaf of bread rests before him at the round cafeteria table. Familiar words from God’s Word are spoken confidently, giving glory and praise to our Savior.

The bread is broken and served by leaders. A young red-haired man holds the silver plate filled with tiny pieces of bread. He looks me in the eyes–a stranger to his world–smiles and says, “This bread is a symbol of His body broken for you.”

And we share something. A love for Jesus. Fellowship.

I take the bread and as I do images and words are justaposed  in my brain. I hear those words in Spanish, Vietnamese, French, Moroccan, and Creole as believers of different nations celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord.

A big family.

I’m leaving my family of 30 years and 500 people to be with my other family of 70. They just happen to have a southern accent.

But make no mistake, we are one family.

The body of Christ.

And all God’s people said,



Memories of My Daddy

You ever have one of those days–a memory of a loved one slaps you upside the head? Today, during my quiet time I remembered my father, Major Ramon L. Wert.

The reason? I read a song from the Salvation Army songbook written by Charlotte G. Homer, #339:

“In loving kindness Jesus came,
My soul in mercy to reclaim.
And from the depths of sin and shame
Through grace he lifted me.

“From sinking sand he lifted me;
With tender hand he lifted me;
From shades of night to plains of light,
O praise his name, he lifted me!”

I remember my daddy. He’d sing the song with such feeling that he threw his head back in his wheelchair. He couldn’t remember all the words so he sang, “From sinking sand he lifted me,” over and over again.

Some memories are hard but good.

I hope you have good memories this Easter.

If you don’t, if you are follower of Christ, you have the hope Easter represents .

New life in Christ–not the Easter bunny.

Here are the rest of the words of the song:

“He called me long before I heard,
Before my sinful heart was stirred;
But when I took him at his word,
Forgiven, he lifted me. (Hallelujah!)

“His brow was pierced by many a thorn,
His hands by cruel nails were torn.
When from my guilt and grief, forlorn,
In love he lifted me.

“Now on a higher plane I dwell,
And with my soul I know ’tis well;
Yet how or why I cannot tell,
He should have lifted me.

“From sinking sand he lifted me;
With tender hand he lifted me;
From shades of night to plains of light,
O praise his name, he lifted me!”

Celebrate your new life in Christ, this Easter.

Blessings, friend.


The Fish Whisperer

“My friend asked me who was the better cook in our house, you or Dad,” my college-aged daughter shared while home for break from FSU.

My attention was momentarily drawn away from boiling eggs on the stove for salads, chopping cilantro for fresh salsa and trimming mold from stems of worn-out grapes. I was also discarding questionable brown ones in order for them to make a suitable debut for that evening’s fresh fruit plate. I smiled sweetly at her, confident of my culinary skills.

“What did you say, honey?” I asked knowingly.

“I told her that you make several things at once and I usually like one of them, while Dad makes one thing at a time, using the best ingredients, and it’s always delicious!”

My smile faded as the eggs boiled over, I cut myself while chopping cilantro at the same time trying to stop the 17 perfect green grapes from rolling off of the cutting board. I threw the knife down on the counter, angrily grabbing a paper towel to wrap around my now bleeding finger.

“Oh really,” I said irritably as thoughts like, What does she know, she’s only a kid, and Why aren’t we charging her rent, raced through my throbbing head.

After the bleeding subsided, I had to admit she had a point. My husband Tom is a thoughtful, creative cook who has a knack for the culinary arts. HIs specialty is fish. This isn’t surprising since not only does he grill, sauté, fry and blacken exquisite fish dishes but he also catches them

You see, he’s a professional fisherman. In fact he’s not just a professional, he’s a great professional fisherman! Just ask anyone at the dock. I heard one of the captains at our marina once say, “I want to grow up and be like Tommy Hylton.  So, I’ve dubbed Tom “The Fish Whisperer.”

He catches the fish. He cleans the fish. He unpacks the fish. He seasons the fish. We eat the fish. If we were idol worshipers, we would then bow down and chant something like, “You are the fish god.” But we aren’t, so we don’t.

Sometimes he isn’t home when I need to fix the fish. I call him and he tells me what he uses. Then, I fix the fish. We eat. Instead of the fish worshiping, there is the fish pushing. Pushing it from one side of the plate to the other, then pushing it into the garbage. It’s not particularly terrible, it’s just not particularly good.

One evening, I decide to stalk him while he cooks to see if he’s holding out on me. I watch as he takes three simple spices from our pantry. This night, he has decided to do something different, so he cuts up 3 scallions, discarding any part of the plant that is less than perfect. He slices all three, but only adds 3/4 it to the fish. He feels a sauce is in order so he rummages through the refrigerator, looking for exactly what he thinks he’ll need to make the dish its best.

He then drives to Publix and comes home 18 minutes later with $23 worth of spices, uses 2 teaspoons of one of them, and puts the rest away. He disappears outside and ten minutes later, viola, he’s created a masterpiece!

The next night, it’s my turn. I look in the pantry for the three simple spices, find only one and substitute the other two. The phone rings. It’s a fishing customer and I cradle the phone, pull out the charter fishing appointment book, writing with one hand and shaking substitute spices with the other. I look for scallions in the fridge, find red peppers with several bad spots, and think that the spots make the fish appear artsy. Plus, I reason, no one has ever died from my cooking,… yet.

Next, it’s time to grill. I didn’t have time to warm it up so I turn it on high and add the fish. It’s then that I remember that I have laundry from this morning. After a trip to the laundry room, I notice that no one fed or watered the dog. I do this and remember that he hasn’t had his heart worm medicine yet. I look for it, but can’t find it, so I go online to see where I can save $2 and not have to drive to the vet. While I’m thinking of the vet, I think about how much schooling it takes to be a vet and realize that my son hasn’t registered for his classes, so I text him. He responds, “lol, too busy now, b home latr tlk then lol. Texting reminds me that no one writes real notes anymore and I remember that I was supposed to write a thank you note to my sister-in-law. I look in my desk and can’t remember where I stashed my them. All I can find are sympathy cards.

My mom then calls me into her room to tell me that the dog wants outside. I open the sliding glass door to let the dog out and realize the grill is on fire. I rush out to put out the flames and save what is left of the fish. I plate it on a beautiful serving platter, covering it generously with cheese and bounteous shakes of paprika to camouflage any remaining traces of ash.

That is when we’re back to the fish pushing exercise mentioned previously. I think I need the sympathy card. At least I know where that is.

Recently, I’ve asked 4 young women to my home once a week to go through a Bible study and teach them how to cook. Yesterday, I cubed chicken and vegetables and placed them in an olive oil-lemon marinade for chicken kebabs. I pulled out a watermelon and had my son, Micah go to the store to purchase fresh corn on the cob. He and I set the table with gold silverware and colorful napkins. The ladies arrived and I assigned them various jobs. After the meat was skewered, I asked Tom to grill the kebabs.

We sat down to a feast of fellowship and fine food.

“Did you cook the chicken mom?”

“Yes, why?”

“It’s so good and it’s not over-cooked like you usually do.

“Actually, your father cooked the chicken.” I responded while grinding my teeth.

I looked at  Tom. “That’s because I don’t do 10 things at once,” he said, smiling at me

Let me whisper something to you, Tom “Fish Whisperer.”


“I love you.”