Love Lessons from an Artist–Part Three

I hoped my friend Yvette might teach me a little something about art. I never expected her to teach me how to love people. Or anything about marriage. I’ve been married almost 37 years. I thought I had it all figured out. 

(Parts one and two are here and here.)

This sentence over Yvette’s bedroom door stumped me.

How can my ordinary life become a fairytale? 

Parts of it are messy and broken.  

Yvette showed me the rest of her bedroom, but I kept thinking about the fairytale sentence.

“On my wedding day, my sister’s mother-in-love gave me a hankie.” 

“She’d embroidered our names and the date on it. My mother started doing the same thing for brides. She made one for my daughter and my daughter-in-love. She even made one for me on their wedding days.”

“Gifts from the heart.”

Yvette’s wedding dress is on display right beside her bed.

“What a wonderful idea!” 

Especially since I threw mine away a few years after we married. :(

There was an old Bingo card lying on a chipped Formica table.

“This is one of my favorite things. I found pictures of us when we were five and pieced them together.”

“It’s precious. Have y’all been together since kindergarten?”

She smiled.

“No, but we’ve loved each other for a long, long time.”

In their bathroom, a small shelf held a cross, a white card, and some Scrabble letters.

“We leave love notes for each other here. I used Scrabble letters. He wrote, ‘I love you’ on the card.” 

Something stirred in my heart.

Once again, I couldn’t talk.

Before we left the bathroom, I noticed pictures near the mirrors.

Below them, I spotted a small sign.

Tiny letters.

This is how Yvette loves others–especially her husband.

Maybe it’s how–

 ”Love gives us a fairytale right in the middle of our ordinary lives.” Click to tweet. 

What do you think? Is it possible to experience a fairytale even though our lives are ordinary and messy and broken?

You can find Yvette here:

The Charm House  on Facebook.

The Charm House on Pinterest.

The Charm House in Instagram.

The Charm House website.

The Charm House on Twitter.








Love Lessons from an Artist–Part Two

“Real creativity means listening to your heart,” my friend Yvette said. (I began sharing her story last week here.)

“Tell me more.” We entered her kitchen.

“This rug, for instance. I found it at a flea market. It was six dollars.”

“Did you know for sure it would match?”

“I didn’t care if it matched. I loved it.”


“Creativity isn’t about matching or being perfect.”

Incredible! Yvette’s teaching me the same things God’s been showing me. 

“This was my grandfather’s pipe. And my grandmother’s snuff.” :)

We laughed.

“I love it! You keep your grandmother’s snuff on the kitchen counter. You’re breaking so many rules.”

“That’s what art’s all about. Being free. Being yourself.”

Maybe that’s what good writing’s about, too.

“How long have you known this secret?”

“It started when I was a little girl. I discovered treasures under my grandmother’s house–all sorts of bottles and tiny trinkets. I decorate with them because I loved my grandmother.” 

Wow! Sounds so SIMPLE–my word for the year. 

“Oh, look. Christmas candles and it’s not even December!”

Which takes a lot courage. To be different. Christmas candles in September.

We walked into her den.

“When I was nine,” she said, “I found my uncle’s miniature bronze horse–small enough to fit inside my palm. Love at first sight. I took it home with me.  A few years ago, I felt a nudge to give the horse to my cousin. It should’ve been hers all along. I didn’t want to, but I knew I was supposed to. Does that make sense?”

I nodded.

“A few days after I gave it to her, I found this horse at a flea market. Can you believe it?”

“Julie, it’s an exact replica of the horse I gave away. Only a lot bigger.”

“It’s a miracle.”

“I know. In all my  years of flea-marketing, I’ve never seen another horse like the one I gave away. Except for this one.”

Yvette had just given me another love lesson:

If God asks you to give something away, obey Him. Quickly. Blessings follow obedience. 

Has God ever asked you to give away something you dearly loved? Click to Tweet. 

Have you discovered art and decorating have nothing to do with being perfect? Click to Tweet. 

You can find Yvette here:

The Charm House  on Facebook.

The Charm House on Pinterest.

The Charm House in Instagram.

The Charm House website.

The Charm House on Twitter.



Love Lessons from an Artist–Part One

My friend Yvette opened the front door of her home. For a moment, I was so moved by God’s Presence and the open Bible, I couldn’t speak. I did the only thing I could. I took off my shoes.

“Yvette…I’m standing on Holy Ground.”

She just smiled.

Backstory: A few weeks ago, I had lunch with a group of high school friends I hadn’t seen in 40 years. As everyone chatted, I mentioned that I’m writing a novel with a character who’s an artist. I told them I didn’t know much about art. Yvette invited me to see her studio. 

Barefoot in her entryway, I started taking pictures. 

“Meet Vivian. My husband and I found her at a flea market. We couldn’t leave her behind.”

“Well, of course not.”

“Some days, Vivian keeps me company.”

Little more backstory:

You’d never know it by Yvette’s countenance, but she has arthritis and Sjogren’s (the same autoimmune issue as me). Sometimes she slows down, stays home, and takes care of herself. Despite painful joints, Yvette never stops creating beauty.

“I believe we should surround ourselves with things that remind us of good experiences. My bike reminds me of good days I spent at St. George Island.”

Who is free enough to put a bicycle in her den? 

I want to be an artist! 

“This is a shoe nobody wanted. Plain.  All black. Overlooked.”

“You brought her home and loved on her,” I said.

“Um-hmm. She’s my Sunday-Go-To-Meeting Shoe. And these vases are for a sweet couple’s wedding. I already had a few vases, so I went to The Fish (a local Christian thrift store) and found some more and decorated them. Julie, I spent a total of four dollars.”

“So, art isn’t about how much money you spend?”

“It has nothing to do with money. Art begins when you open up your heart and discover the secret. Absolutely nothing and no one is trash. Everything and every person can be restored.“ 

The love lessons Yvette gave me are worth more than diamonds and pearls. I found out there’s an artist buried inside of me. :)  

Stay tuned. I’ll be sharing more from Yvette’s creativity and wisdom with you. 

Check out her art and heart here:

The Charm House  on Facebook.

The Charm House on Pinterest.

The Charm House in Instagram.

The Charm House website.

How does your creativity show? How do you love on people? Do you see trash in treasures too? 



Oh, Y’all–My Prayer Chair–The War Room

On Saturday, Labor Day weekend, September 5, 2015 I woke up with one desire. To get a new prayer chair. Maybe that sounds like a spiritual thing. It wasn’t.

I wanted a new prayer chair, but mostly I wanted it be green and soft and pretty. 

For years, I prayed in an Adirondack chair in my bedroom.

Then an antique rocking chair.

I’d filled years of prayer journals–faithful prayers. But they were dutiful, sometimes boring, and always busy-work kind of prayers.

Because that’s what you’re supposed to do, right?

You’re supposed to pray.

So, Saturday morning, I headed to Peters and Foster in Monroe, Georgia. Talked to a nice salesman. I knew my prayer chair the minute I saw it.

Just my size. My favorite color. It was even on sale.

For seven days, I used my new prayer chair like my old prayer chairs. 

I read the same books, wrote in my journal, and prayed.

I even took a nap in my new chair.

Then on Sunday afternoon, September 13, at 4:30 p.m. at Carmike Gateway Theater in Bethlehem, GA, my whole world changed.

My husband and I saw the movie, War Room.

Oh. Y’all.

This movie. 

I’m warning you right here and now–

It’ll mess with you. 

It’ll shake you up. 

The first thing it does is this. It reveals your own weaknesses. 

Mine are fear, doubt, pride, control, self-sufficiency, people-pleasing, judging others, selfishness, jealousy, coveting, trying to play God….

Then the miracle happens. During the movie, something changes inside you–it’s the way you feel about people. In the Spirit World, you’ll clearly see the VERY CHAINS that bind those you love. But you won’t waste another second condemning anyone.


You’ll be filled with such a love that You’ll see people through Grace. Through God’s eyes. Through His heart. His compassion. And you’ll pray like never before.

Something else, too.

You’ll discover it’s not about having just the right chair or room. Or even a prayer closet, because when this kind of prayer falls on you, you might as well be flat on your face behind a prison wall.

It. Doesn’t. Matter.

When God rises up and pours His Love through you, you learn to fight from your knees. From a Place of Power and Love. 

Finally, oh, finally, you understand what it really means to pray.

And that’s when you become a Prayer Warrior. 

Movie Trailer below

If you can’t see the video above, click here.   

The heart of the movie below.

If you can’t see the video above, click here .

Have you seen WAR ROOM?



A Bad Case of Chiggers–Stubborn Me–God’s Grace

Last Monday, I did something stupid. I’m a fair-skinned redhead who’s allergic to poison ivy. And bugs love me. Heading behind our house to walk the dogs, I noticed the bug spray.

A gentle thought came.

Better be safe. Use bug spray. 

Nah. I’ll be fine. 

For the first time this year, I entered the woods unprotected.

Like a hardheaded know-it-all. 

Two hours later, I noticed a small bite on my ankle. By the next morning, I was covered in chigger bites. Four days later, I went to the doctor.

In a bad mood. Scratching. 

Annoyed at my stubbornness. My stupidity. 

In the car, I flipped on the radio to my favorite station, 104.7 The Fish. 

(If you can’t see the video, click here. If you have time, it’s SO worth listening to. :) )

As Kristian Stanfill from Passion sang, “My Heart is Yours” I heard the word Surrender, but I didn’t want to surrender.

I felt far away from God.

He seemed to say, “If you’ll give me this situation, I’ll work good out of it. “

Now? Chiggers?  

I brought this on myself. I don’t deserve Your help.

Especially now. You are my Child. Don’t run from Me.

Doubting that I’d heard from God, I signed in at the doctor’s office.

They were playing the same radio station. 

That’s nice, but it doesn’t mean anything.

A medical assistant called my name. “Hi, there,” she said. “How are you?” She mentioned her faith and added, “I always invite God into the exam room and pray for my patients in my heart.” 

I swallowed hard.

Okay, Lord. I’m listening…

After she left the room, I felt a gentle nudge to look closely at the pictures on the wall.

What if I get caught walking around the room in my robe? I’ll look like an idiot. 

But I got off the table.

Studied the pictures.

Each one had a small Scripture verse in the bottom right-hand corner.

Meant for me.

Romans 8:28

“…all things work together for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Psalms 46:10 

“Be still and know that I am God…”

I went home with healing medicine for my body and my soul.

Thank You, Lord. Even when we mess up, You pursue us with Grace. 

Can you relate?

Has God ever chased after you with unfailing Grace? Click to tweet.




Three Hallmarks of Divine Friendship

I think sometimes God arranges friendships in heaven. That’s what happened with my friend DiAnn Mills and me. Our paths would never have crossed if it weren’t for His Divine Intervention.

Years ago, I taught writing at a conference in Texas. It was the first time I’d flown out-of-town to teach.

I felt like a poser. A wannabe. Full of insecurity. 

The night I arrived, the entire faculty circled to pray.

Do I really belong here? 

Me? Faculty? 

After the prayer, a gorgeous redhead approached me. ”Hi, I’m DiAnn. You look a little shy. Do you need a friend?”

Ohhhhh, if she only knew…

That was the beginning of our Divine Friendship.

Last week, I flew to Houston to visit her.

We went antiquing. Entering this enchanted shop, I felt like a little girl again,

In a land where all things are possible.  

Check out the name of this store.  :)

Since DiAnn and I are writers, we chose outfits for our characters.

Such fun–to dream!

And the signs–oh, the signs!

Surrounded by creativity, each message seemed to come from God.



Then on to clothes.

“DiAnn, what about this? I love the material, but the color…”

She answered truthfully. “We can do better.”

And we did.

She found this beautiful  shirt.

And I got this one.

It’s So …. Me!

She surprised me with a homemade gluten-free peach and blueberry cobbler. (I have Celiac.)

Friday afternoon, we noticed the primrose blooming near her pool.

Wide open.

Bright yellow. 


“Just wait ’til tomorrow morning,” she said. “You won’t believe the difference.”

Sure enough, the next morning they’d all but shriveled up and died. “Watch. They’ll open when the sun shines.”

That’s when I started thinking about our friendship.

During our final porch party, three things occurred to me about Divine Friendships:

1. They help us bloom. (They’re like the sun shining on the primrose.) 

2. They “speak the truth in love” Ephesians 4:15. (The orange shirt.) 

3. They accept us just as we are. (The GF cobbler.)  

What qualities have you noticed about Divine Friendships? Click to Tweet. 

P.S. This happened last year at DiAnn’s.



Finding Faith in a Tiny Bathroom

The other day I was cleaning our teeny-tiny master bathroom and praying about a relationship problem. Doubt took over and my faith shrank.

Spiritually and physically, I felt claustrophobic.

My prayer changed to worry.

Lord, I don’t see how You can possibly work in this situation. It’s like our tiny bathroom. There are no options. 

There’s only enough room for a single sink, my claw-foot bathtub, and my grandmother’s antique table.

The dark-stained log walls make the bathroom feel even smaller.

More closed in.

Especially on rainy days.

And it was raining.

No extra space.

No room for God to work. 

A few days later my husband and I watched the DIY Network show, Fixer Upper, and talked about how some day, maybe we’d remodel our bathroom. Just daydreaming, really.

The next Saturday, he found twin mirrors in Kirkland’s.

Barn wood. Rustic. Our style.

“These would make our bathroom seem a lot bigger.”

I didn’t believe him. How could mirrors make a difference?

But they were on sale. Only $24 each. “Guess it wouldn’t hurt to try.”

“Pick out a shelf. That’ll give you more room.”

When we got home, he hung everything. “Well, what do you think?”

Peeking inside the doorway, I couldn’t believe it.

It was as if Chip and Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper had totally transformed it(Here’s a great article about them in Country Living magazine.)

I entered our brand new bathroom and stretched my arms out wide and marveled like Alice in Wonderland.  

For less than a hundred dollars, we’d enlarged our tiny bathroom!

But God wanted more.

He wanted to enlarge my faith.

Doesn’t He always? :)

While I decorated my new shelf, He worked on my heart. 

“Lord,  when the bathroom miraculously grew, so did my faith. Nothing–absolutely NOTHING is impossible with You.(from Luke 1:37)

Is there a tiny, cramped area in your life–a certain situation that seems impossible? Click to tweet

Tell me. I’d love to pray.














Building a Relationship…With Love

Sometimes, even after 36 years of marriage, I forget that my husband and I express love differently. I show it verbally. Rick creates things with his hands.

In February, our daughter Katie married and became a stepmom to a beautiful little girl named Rilynn who turned four this month. In April, Rick offered to build her a dollhouse for her birthday.

Katie and Rilynn picked this one from Hobby Lobby’s website.

After putting it together, Rick stained the shingles and glued them in place one a time. 

He painted the toothpick-sized banisters the same way–one by one. 

“Can’t you dump just everything into a bucket and paint it all at once?” I said, late one night.


“Aren’t you tired?”

“Nope. I like doing this.”

For days he deliberated about what color to paint the steps. Finally, he decided on pink and purple and made another trip to Home Depot for an itty-bitty can of pink paint.

He even installed hardwoods.

I couldn’t identify with his steady determination, but I was fascinated. 

This past Saturday, we had a small birthday party for Rilynn.

She loves Frozen and anything princess related.

And purple. :)

Saturday morning, Rick added the finishing touches and covered the dollhouse with a sheet.

Later, after cake and ice cream,

Long drum roll ..……………

He slowly unveiled his gift.


Rilynn twirled around and clapped her hands. Bending close to miniature front porch, she carefully touched the window panes.

“Let her have fun with it,” Rick said. “If she breaks anything, I’ll fix it.”

Smiling, she ran her finger along the railing.

(Her daddy and my mom are on the left.)

Then I had quite a moment.

Rilynn walked her little fingers up the steps and started setting up her new home.

Just like me. 

Almost 12 years ago, Rick led me up the stairs of the log house that he’d built for us. Pausing on the top step, he said, “Open your eyes.”

He made me a writing loft.

With his own hands.

Thank You, Father. What love!

“Your hands have made me and fashioned me” Psalm 119:73  ESV.

How do you express love?

(For more about Katie’s story, click here.)





Real Women Talk

I’d been toying with the idea that perhaps–just perhaps–my phone had gotten too important to me. Then–BOOM! Something happened Saturday night and there was no denying it.

I had a problem.

My husband Rick and I were invited to a friend’s birthday party. We knew two of the six couples. Most of them had been in a small group together, led by the birthday boy Todd and his wife Debbie.

From left to right: Fay, Dana, Leslie, me, Nikki, Debbie, and Denise.

When the ladies started talking, wouldn’t you know?

The conversation went straight to phones.

How, when we were children, people talked. 

Face to Face.

We had real relationships.

I wanted to hide under the table.

Every time Rick and I get in the car, the first thing I do is grab my phone to check Facebook and catch up on emails.

Honestly, I’m not with him. I’m in another world.

The phone-world always seems so URGENT.

Up until Saturday night, I pretended I didn’t know any better.

Snippets of our table conversation from the ladies:

“My kids invite their friends over and text rather than talk.”

“We went to a party and were instructed to leave our phones by the door.”

“My kids got panicky in the car on vacation when their batteries died.”

“We should make new rules. No phones during mealtimes or on Sundays.”

I’m thinking, no——–please, please, please don’t take my phone! 

I can’t live without it! 


I have a problem.

My phone is WAY too important to me.

The thing is–

At the party, I forgot about my phone. I was having so much fun getting to know people. 

Through expressions.

Through honesty.

Through humor.

Which doesn’t happen from typing words into a screen.

One of my new friends suggested we sneak up on the men to see if they were on their phones.

Four of the six were.

Then something life-changing happened.

Leslie broke out in a birthday song to Todd!




Things I’d have missed if I’d been trapped in the phone-world.

Because real women talk. Sometimes they even sing. :)

You gotta watch this! If you can’t see the video below, click here

From now on, I’m living life instead of letting my phone control me.

Can you relate?

Has anything ever gotten too important to you? 



From a Mother’s Heart

Jamie, my 33-year-old daughter, and I talk almost every day. But last week, she told me something about herself she’d never revealed before. I knew I’d be pondering her words for a while. Maybe forever.

“Mom, I love the solar system,” she said. “It makes sense to me.”

“Really? I pretend it doesn’t exist. Maybe because I don’t understand it.”

“Remember that science fair project I did with Styrofoam planets?”

“Um-hmm. Fourth grade.”

“Some day, I’m going to get a telescope.”

“Have you always loved looking at the sky?”


How could I’ve been her mother this long and not known?

She told me all about the upcoming blue moon and texted me a recent picture she’d taken.

“It’s Venus and Jupiter,” she said. “You can only see them at certain times.”

“Amazing! How do you know this stuff?”

“I study the solar system.”

She talked a little bit about blood moons and end of time prophecy–something we’d never discussed.

After we hung up, I dug through a box of old pictures, not really sure what I was looking for. Clues maybe?

Did she love the night sky as a child? 

September 21, 1981. Jamie was born the next day.


Three years old.

She found a pair of scissors and chopped off her pony-tail. I remember thinking, I should’ve been watching her. How’d I let this happen? 

Teaching her to ride a bike, I’m wondering,

When is it safe to let go?


I searched through her elementary school pictures.

Nothing about the solar system.

A couple of nights ago, I went outside and sat in the damp grass. The blue-black sky was glorious–diamond-like stars taking up every inch of it.

I looked up until my neck hurt. 

Lord, there are so many things I don’t understand about creation. And children. 

How did You fling the stars into space?

Why don’t we fall off the spinning earth?

Can You connect with Jamie and her musings? 

It was as if He whispered like a good friend–right into my ear.

Just relax.

Enjoy the view.

I’ve got this, Julie. 

What puzzles you about creation? Children?

Do you understand the solar system?