An Old Purse–A New Me!

My sister Jennifer has the gift of organization. She can simplify and beautify anything. Not me. Take our purses, for example. Last week, we went to lunch. I was driving.

“Will you hand me my sunglasses? They’re in my purse.” I cringed.

So much junk, it wouldn’t close. Ahhhhhhh!

“Where are they?” she said.

“They’re there somewhere. Just keep looking.”

My purse was totally out of control. I hated digging through it for my  YMCA pass, my lipstick, a pen–ANYTHING! 

Jennifer dumped out my bulging makeup bag, an empty pack of chewing gum, and a handful of wadded receipts. Her gray leather envelope of a purse lay neatly at her feet.

“How do you get by with such a small purse?”

“Simple. I only carry what I need.”

This idea intrigued me – freeing myself up to only carry what I needed. My shoulders wouldn’t get tired. I wouldn’t get annoyed trying to find my wallet. 

And the word SIMPLE. 

My word for the year. 

Jen said “simple.” 

Perhaps this went deeper than my purse. 

Sometimes I carry thoughts that clutter my peace. I can be too sensitive. Someone says something that hurts my feelings and I hang on to it. 

But could I possibly change? I’d had a messy purse forever. Could I toss unnecessary stuff? And thoughts too?

Maybe a small purse would help me remember to keep life simple.

 I  found a tiny one in the back of my closet.

And said goodbye to my old heavy, burdensome bag.

I got rid of all manner of clutter–cuticle oil, Band-aids, a broken nail file,

And decided to keep only useful things, 

And useful thoughts.

I even found a nifty spot for my YMCA pass. :)

The new me! :)

With God’s help, daily, I’m being made new!

This song sums it up beautifully, especially the “lay down your burdens” part. If you can’t see the video below, click here.

Do you have a neat purse? I bet so!

Are there any heavy thoughts dragging you down? Lay down your burdens! Let’s get freed up together! 

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

The Day Love Exploded Inside My Heart

Even though my three children are grown, sometimes they still need a little TLC.

Don’t we all?

This past Friday, my daughter Jamie and I planned to meet at Chick-fil-A . Just the two of us. Even though she’s 33, I wanted to spend some time with her–let her know how much I love her.

Words are my love language, but I decided to take her a small gift.

I’m not the best shopper. Usually, I walk in circles and don’t know what to buy. I found three of my favorite baby pictures of Jamie, and headed to Target for frames.

Jamie’s first Easter.

Jamie and her daddy.

I pulled into the Target parking lot.

This should be easy. Three frames. No hard shopping decisions. 

But Target didn’t have any frames to fit my pictures.

Now what?

Almost time to meet at Chick-fil-A.

Help me, Lord.

Jamie’s favorite color is pink.

Think pink. 

I found two soft pink t-shirts and pink azaleas in the floral section.

But the baby pictures–I couldn’t forget about them. And no time to go to another store. 

Circling the frame aisle one more time, I spotted a dark wooden coat rack. Lo and behold, it had a place for three pictures!

Back at home, I put her gifts on the counter and hurriedly slipped the pictures into the frames.

They fit perfectly! Hallelujah! 

When Jamie drove up at Chick-fil-A, I planned to calmly give her a hug, but when I handed her the pictures, something exploded inside my heart. 

God’s love gushed through me. 

Full force. 

I hugged her to me tightly. Her hair smelled sweet–so sweet, I couldn’t get enough of her scent.

Her beauty.

I cried sloppy tears and choked out, “I love you.

“Love you too, Mom.”

Sometimes God nudges you to do something.

And you have no idea how to do it.  Or why. 

Just move forward.

Step by step.

And He does it through you. 

Can anyone relate?

Love,

Julie

SIMPLE–How My Tiny Word for the Year Rescues Me

One day last week the simplest thing caught my attention–a single tiny flower poking her head out from under a log. She was the only violet in the woods near our house.

How peculiar. 

Maybe since my word for the year is SIMPLE, she caught my attention.

God seemed to whisper,“Pay attention, Julie. There’s a message here for you.” 

A few days later, something happened between loved ones. Years of buried pain came out in strong emotions and words. Now there’s distance between them. It bothered me.

I woke up at 3:15 Easter morning, my mind exploding with ways to fix it.

Maybe if I think hard enough, I’ll figure out how to…

Soon I moved into dangerous territory and wandered down the path of WORST CASE SCENARIO thinking. I knew better but tried to rationalize worrying.

“Lord, surely You see this broken relationship. Surely it bothers You too. What if I try to–”

He pressed something into my heart. Something I wasn’t expecting.

It had nothing to do with the others. 

It was about my relationship with Him. 

Never mind them.

He seemed to say: “Julie, don’t let troubles in life separate us. I am God. Keep your eyes on Me.”

I wanted to explain how I felt–how if only I could say the right thing and encourage reconciliation, I could fix the problem.

Then I remembered the violet.

Surrounded by busy-body squirrels, hoot owls, and squawking blue jays she captured my attention.

Peaceful. Serene. Illuminated by sunlight. 

I’m supposed to live that way. Like the violet.

With SIMPLE faith.

Peaceful.

Focused on the Son. Not on problems. 

Thank You, Lord, for one tiny violet. 

Is there an area in life that trips you? It helps so much to acknowledge it.

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Day Easter Became Real To Me

Every spring right before Easter, my grandmother (my father’s mother) used to say, “This is too pretty.” She’d close her eyes, refusing to look at yellow bells.

And dogwoods.

I’d beg her to please peek at the colors.

She wouldn’t do it. Maybe she had her own version of spring and wanted to keep it that way.

I’ve done the same thing about Easter–not with my eyes but with my heart. I get this uncomfortable feeling. Easter’s so deep and wide, it’s hard to think about.

Because Easter means a lot more than pretty pastels. 

Easter means The Cross.

What Jesus did for me. 

And I can’t pay Him back. Or even the score. 

My attempts to be good are like filthy rags. 

I can’t save myself.

Only by His death am I saved. 

He died for me. 

I’m tearing up right now remembering the day Easter became real to me. When the first person in my family died in 1983, I was afraid to look inside the casket. When I finally did, I saw my father’s 48-year-old freckled fingers, his bald head from radiation and chemo, and one emotion came over me.

I wasn’t expecting it.

Peace. 

This is not who my father is.  

This is an empty shell. An earthsuit. 

Daddy’s not here.

That July night, I stood in my back yard behind the house where I grew up.

I saw the most glorious sight I’d ever seen, as if God created new colors just for me. With my eyes wide open, I experienced a glimpse of His Power.

Because Jesus had been raised from the dead,

So had Daddy. 

Because He overcame death and sin,

We are free.

That’s what Easter means. 

This song expresses it beautifully. If you can’t see the video below, click here It’s so worth listening to!

Have you experienced Easter moments when heaven came to earth?

Love,

Julie

sunset *from Christian Photos. Net 

 

 

 

The Gift of Improv–in Life and Love

Last week, I called our grown daughters. “Guess what? Your dad and I are going out Saturday night with our new friends Debbie and Todd!”

“Umm, that’s not really a big deal, Mom,” they said. “People go out all the time.”

But to me it was HUGE.

We were going to an improv comedy show, something we’d never done, with new friends, at the Aurora Theater in Lawrenceville, GA a place I’d never been.

Sometimes I’m a little slow to make friends. And when a new friendship forms, I let the other person initiate the first invitation. And Debbie had invited us! I was so excited!

I even looked up “improv” to make sure I understood.

Wikipedia:

“Improvisation or improv–a form of theater where most or all of what is performed is created at the moment it is performed.”

The actors can’t practice ahead of time. Holy cow.

Before the show started, the empty stage gave me goosebumps.

Nothing but three boxes and a couple of chairs.

Talk about faith–

To walk out on stage and not know your lines! 

Even getting coffee and M&Ms was exciting–the list of shows, the atmosphere. And $10 for our tickets, $4 for snacks.

After the theater company introduced themselves, they asked the audience to toss out clues.

The cast had to totally wing it.

Zero control.

Free falling. 

They nailed it, too! The show was hilarious, and clean :) .

Laughing with new friends–such fun.

Sorry for the photo quality–improv phone pictures.

Todd and Debbie.

And us.

We talked on the way home.

“I had such a good time tonight,” I said. “I think I’m supposed to live more improv.”

“How so?” Rick said.

“Have more fun. Take more chances. Roll with whatever comes my way, even if I haven’t memorized my lines.”

“Yep.”

“Totally trust God.”

Have you been to an improv show? Live theater?

What about friendships? Do you trust easily?

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

 

Chipped Rooster Dishes and Rules for Fine Dining

We’re rooster people–we have them all over our house. It’s who we are. My husband raises chickens in the backyard. I’ve written about it here. I even have a set of rooster dishes.

But last week before our Small Group meeting, I decided to use my wedding china.

Because some of my rooster dishes are chipped.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with using wedding china, but I wanted to impress people.

And chipped rooster dishes aren’t very impressive.

At the grocery store, I thought about buying long-stem pink roses as a centerpiece for my wedding china. This tiny voice inside said,

Be who you are. Use your chipped rooster dishes.

I pictured all the roosters in my house. It’d be hard to hide them. They’re everywhere.

My Small Group would be greeted by one on the front porch–

One on the old church pew–

The wind chimes by the back door–

All over the kitchen–

At the entry from the den to the kitchen–

In the guest bathroom–

Along the floors–

In the upstairs bedroom–

By the front window–

Then I remembered my favorite picture. We’ve had it for years.

It still stirs my heart.

In the painting, the morning sun is streaming through the window. The woman is gathering eggs. Maybe she’s praying about the day ahead.

She looks so content.

I put the long-stem pink roses down.

Decided to use my rooster dishes.

It felt like the right thing to do.

What about a centerpiece?  

What goes with chipped rooster dishes?

Be who you are. 

I remembered a tin rooster cock-a-doodle-dooing on the kitchen counter.

Back at home, I set the table.

Right before everyone arrived, I lit the red candles.

I stood there looking, surprised by joy.

Oh, the contentment of using our chipped dishes–

And letting God use us–

Just as we are. 

Thoughts?

Do you have something imperfect you love dearly?

Are you a rooster person too?

What do you collect?

Love,

Julie

 

 

Suddenly Spring?

“Time changes tomorrow,” my husband said at our porch party Saturday morning. “I need to take down the white Christmas lights.”

Sometimes I resist change.

Hearing his announcement about daylight savings time, I felt a little unsettled. Out of sorts. It seemed I was late for something important and needed to hurry and catch up.

Weird, I know. And irrational.

Maybe it’s because we’re racing toward spring, and I’m not ready to say goodbye to winter.

And the lights were so beautiful.

I remembered how they looked when it snowed a few days earlier.

Almost magical.

I felt caught between winter and spring–like having children at home and then adapting to an empty next. “Why don’t we just leave them up all year?”

“Because time’s changing. More daylight hours. And if we never took them down, pretty soon, we wouldn’t even notice them.”

Later that day, I walked around the porch and spotted signs of spring.

The wreath tied with pink ribbon.

My rain boots.

The dwindling stack of firewood.

The rabbit under my grandmother’s old table.

Something occurred to me–

A few days ago, I’d noticed a thin layer of ice in the bird bath. The same day, daffodils on the side of the road waved.

Ice and daffodils. 

Like a van Gogh painting, the last hint of gray winter softly blended with the pastels of spring.

Maybe this transition helps us surrender the past and anticipate the future. 

And maybe God, in His mercy, often eases us into the next season of life.

Have you ever felt this way about time changing? Life changes? Family changes?

What season are you in right now?

Love,

Julie

 

 

Fudge for Breakfast

Growing up the oldest of four, hard work came before fun. Always. There were little brothers to chase, dishes to do, and I edited my mother’s writing.

Lots of rules to follow. 

Having fun sometimes seemed like a no-no. 

Last week I went to Mother’s house so we could edit each other’s devotionals for Daily Guideposts. She surprised me with homemade fudge. She and my sister Jennifer made The Best Fudge. (Here’s their recipe. It’s GF.)

I put a piece of sweetness in my mouth. Let it melt on my tongue. “Your fudge is…”

“Pretty wonderful, isn’t it?”

Our work forgotten, we just sat and talked.

“I’ve started wearing aprons again,” she said.

“Here’s my kitty-cat one.”

“Jennifer gave me this one.”

I loved what was happening.

We’d never played before work.

It felt amazing!

Like we were actresses on a movie set!

“Women wore this kind in the fifties,” she said.

Who could see this and not laugh?

“Oh, we need to run to the post office,” she said. “And let’s eat lunch out.”

“Now? Before we work?”

“Sure, why not?”

When we got to the post office, she insisted we take a selfie.

Our first mother/daughter selfie. 

“You know, people are staring,” I said.

“Who cares?”

Later, in her office, we laughed while we worked, making our task a joy. 

The next morning, I wanted to keep the memory alive, so I broke the rules (again!) and had fudge for breakfast!

Something I’d never done.

Mother called.

“Yesterday was so much fun,” I said.

“Yeah, sometimes we think fun has to be a trip to Disney World.”

“I know. We even broke the ‘work before play’ rule, didn’t we?”

“We sure did.”

“Mother, what’s your definition of fun?”

“Fun means doing simple things in life with someone you love.”

Ta-da! 

SIMPLE. :)

My word for 2015. 

What simple ways do you have fun? How’re you doing on your word for the year?

Love,

Julie

Real Love and a Nine Dollar Wedding Ring

It probably shouldn’t have been a big deal to me. But it was. After our honeymoon, my husband stopped wearing his wedding ring.

He’s a mechanic and has explained so many times.

“If I held a wrench and touched a battery post, I could lose my finger.”

It wasn’t that I didn’t believe him. It just sorta made me sad. I’d worn my wedding band every day since we married.

A couple of months ago, our daughter told me about a silicone ring for people who work with their hands.

“Think your dad would wear one?”

“They’re only $9. Can’t hurt to try.”

After 36 years of marriage, I ordered my husband a new wedding ring from Saferingz.com.

Was I being silly to care so much? 

Would he wear a black, rubber-looking ring?

A few days later, his ring arrived.

The big moment…

After supper, he sat in his recliner. I hid the ring inside my clammy palm. My heart fluttered like we were teenagers. “I bought you a little surprise.”

Does he love me enough to wear a nine dollar ring? That’s the real question.

I gave it to him.

He put it on his finger.

“Will you wear it?”

“Sure, why not.”

“Really? Wow!”

I could’ve talked all night , but I could tell–he didn’t have anything else to say about it.

This past Sunday at our porch party

“I just love your new ring. How do you feel about it?”

He looked at me like I was speaking Pig Latin.

“How do I feel about it?”

“Yeah, I mean–”

“It’s like brushing my teeth and putting on my underwear. I don’t have feelings about it.”

Well, I do.

We both laughed.

You love me enough to wear a nine dollar ring. Because it matters to me.

That’s the stuff real love is made of.

And it only took me 36 years to figure it out. :)

What have you learned about real love? It’s not exactly what we thought, is it? 

Love,

Julie

 

 

Our Creative Best–What if?

When our son Thomas was fifteen, he stopped showing me things that impressed him. He’s twenty-three now, and a couple of years ago, he said, “Mom, come here. You gotta see this.”

I hightailed it up the steps.

He was in my office watching a video. “This guy’s incredible. Look.”

(If you can’t see the video below, click here.)

Bending over Thomas’s shoulder, I studied the guitarist. He was young. Amazing. Played from his heart.

I remembered Thomas and his first guitar.

Tiny tears came.

Happy tears.

Around the time we watched the video, Thomas started playing the guitar again.

Wonder why when I see someone doing his or her creative best, it lights a fire in me?

My husband Rick’s passion is cars. The other night, he was watching TV. I was reading.

“Wow,” Rick said. “Look at this.”

(If you can’t see the video below, click here. It’s less than a minute long.)

Watching Chip Foose draw, I spotted the fascinating tools in his office. Markers, brushes, pencils.

Did he draw as a child? 

I thought about my own office, my clothesline full of characters. Sometimes I talk to them.

I ask about their lives. What brings them hope? What inspires them?

And I absolutely love notebooks and colored pens. If I don’t have any paper, a chewing gum wrapper will do.

My attraction to words started when I was young.

I’m eight, reading a Redbook magazine.

I’ve been thinking.

Surely God inspired passion in each of us when we were children.

Maybe it was to knit.

Grow gardens.

Organize stacks of chaos.

Do math problems with ease.

Bake cakes.

Perform science experiments.

Be kind to outsiders.

Sometimes the joys of childhood get buried. We forget what we once loved. 

What if He’s calling us to play from our hearts again?

 “…take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” Galatians 6:5 The MSG

Love,

Julie