A Morning with Mother in the 21st Century

I was thrilled. Mother was finally getting a new cell phone and she’d acted a tiny bit interested in a computer. Maybe even an iPad. But there was one problem.

I’d be teaching her.

A few weeks ago…

“I’m not sure if you need wireless–”

“Wallace? I don’t know anyone named Wallace,” she said.

Wire-less, Mother. You may need a router.”

“What kind of rider?”

I took a long, deep breath.

Yesterday I made a house call.

“This is how I write. See my thesaurus?”

(We write for Daily Guideposts and edit each other’s devotionals.)

I moved her Easter centerpiece and set up my workspace. Neat. Tidy. Efficient.

“Doesn’t this look simpler?”

She didn’t respond.

She handed me one of her marked-up devotionals to read.

I felt tired just looking at it.

I typed a few sentences on my laptop. “If you got a computer, look, no more Whiteout. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?”

“I love the smell of Whiteout. This is how I edit.”

I tried my best to keep a straight face.

To keep her on task.

I was there for a purpose.

To give iPhone lessons.

She’d already mastered phone calls.  I took a selfie and showed her how to send a picture.

Next we sent a practice text.

“This sure is a lot of work. Why not just call someone?”

“Texting saves times. Write short texts. Like shorthand.”

“I don’t see the benefits.”

I felt like I was shoving a load of bricks, but she was smiling, so proud of her red cell phone. “At least I’ve gotten started,” she said.

“True. I think that’s enough work for today.”

She fixed us a Pepsi. Laughing with her, an old truth came to me.

You can’t change someone.

And you can wear yourself out trying.

I hugged her and replaced her Easter centerpiece.

Can you relate?

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

Early Morning Gratitude

Saturday morning my husband was out of town, so I porch partied alone. I woke up early, around 4 a.m., made coffee, and took my flashlight and Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling outside.

The air felt different that morning. Soft and cool on my face. Almost lavender.

Like Easter morning.

Maybe the air felt this way when Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before He went to the cross.

I paused.

Almost thought about the cross, but I wasn’t ready.

Not yet.

Instead I pondered gentle things.

Pastel images.

The dogwoods had just bloomed.

I could barely see the branches in the darkness, but I remembered their splendor.

The Easter tree my mother-in-law made.

She gave it to us when the children were little.

I let my mind dwell on bright green Easter grass. Filling baskets. Egg hunts.

I thought about our oldest child’s first Easter.

While I sat rocking and thinking, I knew I’d return to the cross.

I remembered ten years ago, when I saw The Passion of the Christ.

And that one scene.

How it undid me.

It still does.

When He suffered the beating, the scourging, the whips on His back, when His hands and feet were nailed to the cross…

My heart pounded with the heaviness of the Truth.

A weight fell on me,

So intense I couldn’t breathe.

For the first time I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt

What He did for me was Enough.

Now I wonder

Could it have been…

That moment was the first time I worshipped my Jesus of the Cross?

I couldn’t help but say it over and over again.

Thank You.

Thank You.

Thank You.

There was nothing more You could have done.

You did it all. 

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Wives Wish Husbands Knew

Some things about marriage take years to discover.

Our porch party conversation Saturday morning:

“I know this probably sounds silly,” I said. “But I need a place to spread out the scenes of my novel. In color. I scotch-taped sticky notes to the wall, but they fell off.”

My husband kept rocking. Didn’t say anything.

How do I speak his language?

“When you were a little boy, didn’t you play in tree forts?”

He nodded.

“I bet you wanted all your G.I. Joes in the same spot, right? I need a place to play with all my words.”

“You need a whiteboard.”

“Yes! That’s it! A whiteboard with colored markers. That would work.”

Our next porch party…

“I checked prices. Whiteboards are expensive,” I said. “Big ones are about $300.”

“I can build you one.”

“Really? Would you?”

This is going to happen. Today. Wo-hoo!

He bought a whiteboard and trim from Home Depot. “Don’t worry about staining the trim. It’s fine the way it is,” I said.

He peered over his glasses at me and opened the stain.

I wasn’t in awe because he knew how to build something. Or even because he was doing it the right way.

My appreciation went deeper.

He hung his masterpiece.

And attached the trim.

He even put up a basket for my eraser and markers.

I ran my fingers over the smooth white surface.

“Feels like I’m a little girl again playing school–when anything was possible. It’s perfect. Thank you.”

“Glad you like it.”

After 35 years of marriage, I fell in love all over again because…

He listened.

He cared.

He put me first.  

I couldn’t wait to do the same things for him.

“…serve one another in love.” Gal 5:13 NLT

Praying this post will inspire creativity.

P.S. If you’d like a whiteboard of your very own, I found a great tutorial.


Love,

Julie

 

 

Help! My Phone’s Been Stolen…And My Peace Too!

The other day, I did something stupid. I was grocery shopping. I checked my list which I keep on my phone. Putting my phone back in my purse, I thought, zip your purse.

But I didn’t.

I left my purse in the buggy (that’s Southern for grocery cart) while I looked for chocolate chips.

Seconds later, I reached for my phone.

It wasn’t there. Was it stolen? Did I lose it?

Nooooooooooooo! I need my phone! I love my phone!

My rational self left. Crazy took over.

I squatted on the floor, dumped everything out of my purse, and searched through my groceries like a madwoman.

Calm down. Stop being such a panic button.

I ran to customer service.

“No, ma’am. No one’s turned in a phone.”

Of course not. It was stolen.

I left my groceries, hurried to our service provider, and called the police–the whole time, my word for 2014 softly tapped my heart.

ENOUGH. 

Almost every morning this year, I’d written “God, You’re more than enough for me” in my prayer journal.

What about when someone steals your phone? Or when anything and everything goes wrong?

Is God enough then?

Every few minutes I stopped fretting long enough to pray.

Lord, whether or not I find my phone, You’re more than enough for me.

Each time I prayed my peace returned.

Five hours later after driving to another city for a replacement phone, I received a call.

My phone was turned in at customer service twenty minutes after being stolen. Some kind soul found it in the grocery store parking lot. When I erased my data, the thief probably tossed my phone.

I’d wasted a lot of time hurrying and worrying. But maybe it wasn’t a total waste.

Maybe it was worth the drama to grasp this truth.

No matter what happens, no one can steal our peace.

“You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You…” Isaiah 26:3 NKJV

Can you relate? If you chose a word this year, how’s it going?

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

Having Faith and Dreaming Dreams

I got brave and asked my husband a bold question at our porch party Monday morning. “What hopes and dreams has God answered in your life?”

He didn’t hesitate. “Marrying you.”

My throat got all warm. We rocked for a few minutes without talking. Love is bigger than words, you know.

Two years ago, I was ready to give up on a dream. I was inches from quitting, so close I asked Rick to promise not to let me give up.

He promised.

Thinking and rocking Monday morning, I spotted my old watering cans. I’d almost thrown them away. Sort of like my dream.

Then I saw my friend’s Robin’s post.  (Robin from All Things Heart and Home.)

Inspired by her creativity, I bought some potting soil and a few little plants.

It’s amazing what inspiration and faith can do.

“See those old watering cans?” I said. “They had ferns in them, but they died during the winter. I almost threw them away.”

Like that dream of mine.

When I almost quit writing.

When I was at the bottom.

So low I couldn’t imagine coming up with…

One

More

Word

“Remember when you wouldn’t let me quit?”

He nodded.

“Thanks for encouraging me. You were my springtime that year.”

And then he did the most wonderful thing. He stopped rocking. Bowed his head.

“Lord, keep Julie’s dream alive.”

If you’re wrestling with a dream, I understand. Sometimes all you need is fresh inspiration and prayer.

Want me to pray?

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have You Ever Hated Your Can Opener?

Hint: This post is about more than a broken can opener so hang  in here with me.

The other day I turned the twirl-y thing on my can opener around a can of green beans 42,000 times, but nothing happened.

So I bought a new can opener. Real modern-looking. I figured it would last longer. That afternoon, I tried to open the green beans again. I held the can opener every possible way, but I couldn’t get the stupid thing to work.

Wouldn’t even poke a hole in the can.

When my husband came home from work, I handed him the can opener. He’s a mechanical genius.

It took him about thirty minutes to open the green beans. “Yeah, it works. You just have to hold the can opener at a forty-five degree angle.”

“That’s crazy. I should just use my teeth.”

I’d already tossed the receipt. I was stuck with it.

Every time I saw the new can opener peeking at me from the drawer it annoyed me.

You’re not getting the best of me, Mr. Can Opener! I’ll show you who’s boss!

For the next few days, I cooked without any canned goods.

Then God slipped a truth into my heart. He’s so good at that. Especially when I’m being ridiculous.

Sometimes you do this with people. You shut them out and hold onto bitterness.

True.

That takes a lot of energy.

True.

I’d been pouting with people and can openers.

The next day, I picked out another can opener. The new one has a simple design, but it works beautifully.

I celebrated by making a big pot chili with lots of canned tomatoes.

I’m tossing the other can opener–along with my bad attitude.

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice…” Eph 4:31 ESV

Love,

Julie

 

 

Confessions From the Oldest Child of the Scared Family

One of my brothers used to say were the Scared Family. He had a dry sense of humor, and mostly, he was talking about my mother and me. Anything and everything was reason to be afraid. Very afraid.

Easter morning, forty years ago…

Mother’s hair was a little scary looking, don’t you think? And what about her tie?

Seriously, my brother was right.

Most of the things I’ve been afraid of never happened, but I lived through them just the same.

Hospital waiting rooms were particularly scary. But after fifty years, the Scared Family is changing.

Remember when my mother had her  biopsy? My sister made fudge and we had a party. We didn’t do this years ago–combine biopsies with fudge and sunglasses and silliness.

The other day, my sweet step-father Gene fell taking out the trash and broke his hip. After being rushed to the hospital by ambulance, he had surgery. He’s in a rehab facility recuperating.

And look! Mother’s smiling in the waiting room during surgery. FYI, this is not the woman who raised me. :)

I’m sure I’ll have more scary times, but this much I know is true:

Fear doesn’t change the outcome. It’s exhausting, addictive, and leaves no room for good thoughts.

So what’s bringing change to the Scared Family?

1. We’re laughing more.

If there’s anything you can laugh about, laugh.

After surgery, Gene was confused coming out of anesthesia. “Why are we in the hospital?”

“We’re having a baby,” Mother said.

“Oh. Then why am I in the bed?”

“This time you’re doing the work.”

2. Take a break. Do normal things like fold the laundry, go to the grocery  store, or even paint your toenails.

3. Pretend you’re not afraid. It works. Courage becomes real in your heart.

We’re told 365 times in the Bible not to be afraid.

So do not fear, for I am with you…” Isaiah 41:10 NIV.

Have you battled fear too?

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

To Love Again

Since our daughter Jamie’s been a little girl, she’s been a cat person. But for the past few months, she’s been thinking about getting a dog. Maybe a German shepherd or a Siberian husky, she said.

Peel back a layer of Jamie’s heart and soul…

She’s been hurt. She’s afraid to love again.

Maybe you’ve been there too.

Jamie and I don’t talk about it a lot. It’s one of those things a mother ponders in her heart.

Back to the story.

Last week, Jamie went to an animal shelter with Brittany, our son’s girlfriend. Remember, Brittany took those amazing pictures of Kitty Thelma?

When Jamie saw Jax sitting in his cage, something happened. An electric shock zapped her heart.

Powerful.

Unexpected.

Jamie fell in love.

 

She called me from the shelter. “Mom, there’s something about this dog. I can’t forget his eyes.”

They volunteers said Jax didn’t bark nonstop like the other dogs. He was quiet. Gentle. Submissive.

Maybe he’d given up hope.

Jax didn’t have many days left…

He wasn’t a purebred.

Others had overlooked him.

But Jamie knew Jax was her dog.

Friday morning, Jamie and Brittany got him out of jail and took him to Petsmart. Bought him a leash and collar–everything a fine dog needs.

Guess what else? Brittany trains dogs. She kept him over the weekend and worked with him. Saturday night, my husband and I met our granddog.

Brittany, Jax, and me…

I have a feeling Jax wasn’t the only one rescued.

When God nudges you to take the risk and love again, two hearts are set free.

Jamie and Jax.

Love,

Julie

 

Changing Seasons…and Hearts

Thursday morning, we woke up to several inches of snow. This kind of thing doesn’t happen too often in Georgia, so I went camera crazy.

I left my husband PORCH PARTYING by himself while I took pictures.

If you’re from the snow country, never mind, but if you’re from the deep South, you might enjoy the miracle we witnessed.

But you know me. This post is about more than the weather. :)

You can barely see the walkway to our house.

Our driveway was completely covered.

Icicles clung to the bird feeder.

Tree limbs crystalized.

As a child, I didn’t think too much about seasons changing. Maybe that comes with age and experiencing the seasons of life.

Speaking of life’s seasons, what about raising teenagers? We thought that season would last forever.

And the season of grief. We’ve buried a child, my father, our grandparents, others we love.

The season of sickness. Waiting on doctors to call. Test results. Biopsies.

I’ve been smothered by depression, so far down I didn’t think I’d rise again.

Taking snow pictures, I thought,

When you’re going through a difficult season, change seems impossible.

You’re positive life will l always be this way.

But what about the snow? Such a remarkable difference from last week.

And spring has never failed to come.

Not too many weeks from now our driveway will look like this.

Buds will burst through.

Pretty soon, it’ll be time to put out ferns.

One day, all our bare spots will be filled in, and the things we don’t understand will be made clear.

If you’re going through a difficult season right now, I’d love to pray for you. Maybe I’ve been there too.

Love,

Julie

Lessons From My Cat Thelma

Have you ever had someone spot beauty you’d overlooked, and it was right there beside you? My husband rescued Kitty Thelma several years ago. She was a few weeks old when he found her hiding underneath a car. This past weekend before the ice and snow, our son’s girlfriend Brittany took  pictures of her.

She captured Thelma’s everyday moments, but there’s nothing everyday about Brittany’s pictures

They are Divine.

Brittany showed them to me Sunday night.

It was as though I’d never really seen my cat until I saw these photos.

Every picture held a message for me.

Talk about having a moment.

I sensed God tapping my heart.

Pay attention, He seemed to say.

“Look at her,” I said. “She’s so happy on our front porch.”

“Rescued animals are always grateful,” Brittany said. “Thelma’s secure. And confident. And fearless.”

“Oh, look. When she’s tired, she rests.”

“This expression,” I said.  ”She’s doing exactly what God created her to do. Watch birds.”

“She’s not posing. She’s just being herself,” Brittany said.

“Her beautiful self. I bet she didn’t stress about the photo-shoot.”

“No way. Thelma’s not a people pleaser,” Brittany said.

“You mean, she wasn’t trying to impress you?”

Brittany laughed. “She’s too smart for that.”

“This one’s priceless. She never gets tired of the little things.”

“She’s sitting in my wicker chair–content wherever she lands.”

Then Brittany showed me the last one.

My very favorite.

“How did you get this picture? The sun streaming over her shoulder…”

Brittany just smiled.

“Pure contentment. Like she’s in heaven. Right on her own front porch.”

Lord, I don’t want to miss the Splendor of any moment. Just like Thelma.

Which one of Brittany’s pictures is your favorite and why?

* If you’d like to contact her about a photo-shoot for your pet, you can find her on Facebook, Brittany Lynn Brooks.

Love,

Julie