Parody of the Pickles…and Perseverance (re-posted)

If you’re receiving this post late or twice, I’m so sorry. There was an issue with my website service on Wednesday. Some of you found my blog through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. There are comments on the original post from Wednesday if you’d like to join the conversation, or feel free to comment on this one. :)

Just drop down to the next post on my website and you’ll see the first post about pickles.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program…

“Julie,” my mother said. “We aren’t those kind of people.”

“What kind of people?”

“Pickle-making people.”

My husband Rick had just brought in a mountain of cucumbers from his garden and we planned to make pickles.

Cinnamon Red Hot Pickles.

Starting the tedious process I thought, What in the heck are we doing? Mother’s right. 

Our ingredients included strange things like ALUM and PICKLING LIME.

Here’s the recipe.  I’m warning you. It’s intimidating. The recipe says it takes three days, but we started at night. It took four.

Washing, peeling, and removing the seeds from 5,000 cucumbers was quite an ordeal.

Next we cut them into a million pieces.

It.

Took.

Forever. 

We cheated and used the dishwasher to sterilize the jars.

With each step, my doubt grew.

We’re wasting our time.

Mother’s right. 

We aren’t pickle-making people. 

It was messy. Sticky. Exhausting.

One night after eleven o’clock, I was so sick of making pickles that I went to bed and left Rick stirring.

Somehow, we made a monumental mistake and bought the wrong kind of Red Hots. :( Ours turned into clear rubbery balls that wouldn’t dissolve.

Nevertheless, Rick charged on, hoping they’d miraculously melt.

They didn’t.

By day three, red sticky syrup covered the counter. Cucumber seeds clung to the cabinets, the floor, and the refrigerator door.

The final morning before Rick left for work he asked me to do the next step.

“You’re kidding,” I said. “We’ve wasted enough time. Let’s just quit.”

“Nope. We’re not giving up.”

Feeling foolish and frustrated, I took the stupid cucs out of the fridge.

To my horror, they were pale green and pink. 

Not candy-apple red.

Then my mother called. “I tried to tell you,” she said.

Throwing the mess away, I decided NO MORE PICKLES. 

This is it. 

I’m done. 

But Rick wouldn’t give up.

He went to four stores in search of the right kind of Red Hots.

He found them.

This time, he called his aunt for her recipe.

We started all over again.

But guess what?

It worked!

We did it! 

We made absolutely incredible Cinnamon Red Hot Pickles! 

Mother still can’t believe we’re pickle-making people. :)

I saved her a jar. 

If you’re working on something that seems impossible:

1. Tune out all negative thoughts. And comments. :)

2. Don’t be afraid to change your approach. (Aunt Jane’s recipe.)

3. Hang in there. Sometimes God’s favor comes when you least expect it.

Can you identify?

P.S. They’re gluten-free!

Love,

Julie and Rick

 

Parody of the Pickles…and Perseverance

If you’re receiving this post late, I’m so sorry. There was an issue with my website service.

“Julie,” my mother said. “We aren’t those kind of people.”

“What kind of people?”

“Pickle-making people.”

My husband Rick had just brought in a mountain of cucumbers from his garden and we planned to make pickles.

Cinnamon Red Hot Pickles.

Starting the tedious process I thought, What in the heck are we doing? Mother’s right. 

Our ingredients included strange things like ALUM and PICKLING LIME.

Here’s the recipe I’m warning you. It’s intimidating. The recipe says it takes three days, but we started at night. It took four.

Washing, peeling, and removing the seeds from 5,000 cucumbers was quite an ordeal.

Next we cut them into a million pieces.

It.

Took.

Forever. 

We cheated and used the dishwasher to sterilize the jars.

With each step, my doubt grew.

We’re wasting our time.

Mother’s right. 

We aren’t pickle-making people. 

It was messy. Sticky. Exhausting.

One night after eleven o’clock, I was so sick of making pickles that I went to bed and left Rick stirring.

Somehow, we made a monumental mistake and bought the wrong kind of Red Hots. :( Ours turned into clear rubbery balls that wouldn’t dissolve.

Nevertheless, Rick charged on, hoping they’d miraculously melt.

They didn’t.

By day three, red sticky syrup covered the counter. Cucumber seeds clung to the cabinets, the floor, and the refrigerator door.

The final morning before Rick left for work he asked me to do the next step.

“You’re kidding,” I said. “We’ve wasted enough time. Let’s just quit.”

“Nope. We’re not giving up.”

Feeling foolish and frustrated, I took the stupid cucs out of the fridge.

To my horror, they were pale green and pink. 

Not candy-apple red.

Then my mother called. “I tried to tell you,” she said.

Throwing the mess away, I decided NO MORE PICKLES. 

This is it. 

I’m done. 

But Rick wouldn’t give up. 

He went to four stores in search of the right kind of Red Hots.

He found them.

This time, he called his aunt for her recipe.

We started all over again.

But guess what?

It worked!

We did it! 

We made absolutely incredible Cinnamon Red Hot Pickles! 

Mother still can’t believe we’re pickle-making people. :)

I saved her a jar. 

If you’re working on something that seems impossible:

1. Tune out all negative thoughts. And comments. :)

2. Don’t be afraid to change your approach. (Aunt Jane’s recipe.)

3. Hang in there. Sometimes God’s favor comes when you least expect it.

Can you identify?

P.S. They’re gluten-free!

Love,

Julie and Rick

 

 

I Can’t Possibly Do This!

I was in full-blown panic mode. My husband and I volunteered at our church’s Fourth of July fireworks celebration and were assigned to serve on the parking team.

Me.

On the parking team.

Including cars I’ve hit in my own driveway and the mailbox I took out, I’ve had a total of nine wrecks.

I can’t parallel park and I’m terrible at directions.

When I told my mother and daughters the news, Katie laughed until she cried. Mother said, “Julie. No. It’s too dangerous.” Jamie only said one word. “MOMMMMMMMMMMMM!”

When Rick and I arrived for duty, we were given official Walkie-Talkies, neon-green vests and lanyards, and flashlights.

I’m not doing this. I can’t. I don’t know how.

During our training session, my heart pounded so hard that I couldn’t speak.

After we prayed, I raised my hand.”Um. This is way out of my comfort zone. Please fire me. I’ll do anything else but–”

“We aren’t firing anybody.” The man in charge smiled. “I’ll find just the right spot for you.”

Trapped, I hopped on his golf cart, and we zipped to a driveway blocked by cones.

“All you have to do is keep cars from turning in here.” He gave me his umbrella and a couple of bottled waters. Then my father-in-law brought me a chair.

About an hour later, an elderly gentleman asked for help. He had a bad leg and couldn’t keep walking.

I felt God’s fearless love explode inside me.

I knew exactly what to do.

I gave the man my chair, a bottle of cold water, and radioed for a golf cart. 

Then something even better happened.

During the fireworks, Katie texted me this picture below and these words:

“Our first Fourth of July together.” 

Blinking back happy tears, it hit me.

ONLY when you step out of your comfort zone do you get front row seats.

And God’s standing right there with you.

That’s where the magic happens. 

(Katie’s holding her stepdaughter. For more of their story, click here. )

(blog idea came during this sermon, “Fearless, by Miles Welch. 

Can you relate?

Some of you’ve recently stepped out of your comfort zone. How’s it going?

Are you thinking about doing something a little scary?

Love,

Julie

 

Peanuts, Peaches, and People

The other day, I broke our porch party rules and brought up the subject of so-and-so’s behavior. The longer my husband and I talked, the more  judgmental I became–at least in my heart.

For a while that day, I thought I knew everything. 

We headed to  Thompson Family Farms to buy fresh peaches, my mind still analyzing someone else’s business.

“I love this place,” I said when we got out of the car. “I know all about Georgia produce.”

Finally! A place where my expertise can shine!

“I grew up shelling butter beans.”  I grabbed some frozen field peas. “Daddy had a garden every summer. ”

“We even canned tomatoes when I was little,” I said.

Of course, I knew everything there was to know about sweet Vidalia onions. I’d lived my whole life in Georgia.

“Oh, look! They have yellow meat watermelons.”

That’s what you call a yellow watermelon down South–yellow meat.

Feeling sorta smug, I sniffed the cantaloupes until I found a perfect one.

Then something unexpected happened. 

I spotted a bucket of peanuts.

Strange, because they weren’t boiled peanuts, like you find in Georgia.

They were shelled and put into baggies.

“What are these?” I said to the cashier.

“Fried peanuts.”

“Never heard of them. “

“They’re delicious. Try some.”

I bought a bag and told her I was making homemade peach ice cream the next day.

“If you want your peaches to ripen in a hurry, put them outside. Spread them out on a table, so they aren’t touching each other.”

“Huh. Never knew that.”

Back at home, I tasted fried peanuts for the first time.

Amaaaaaazing.

I put the peaches outside in the heat. A few hours later, they were soft.

Just like she said.

A thought hit me.

I bet there’s something I don’t know about the person and the situation I’d been so quick to judge.

Forgive me, Lord. Help me keep it simple. 

I don’t know everything about peanuts, peaches, and especially people.

Can you relate?

Have you been humbled lately?

Or learned something new?

If you chose a word this year, how’s it going? It’s already July!

Love,

Julie

For my homemade peach ice cream recipe in Guideposts magazine, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

Bless This Mess

“Come here. You gotta see this,” my husband said Saturday morning. I turned on the coffee maker and followed him outside. “A bird’s built her nest in this wreath.”

I laughed. ” It’s not a real nest. Your mother made that wreath a few years ago.”

“There’s a real nest behind the fake one.”

Way down inside the dark hole, I spotted a pile of something fuzzy and gray. Feathers maybe? “Looks like baby birds might have been here. Hope they didn’t die.”

“Keep watching.”

“Ohhhhhh, you’re right! They’re opening their little mouths, waiting on their  mama to feed them!”

My husband carried on with his Saturday morning routine, but I couldn’t forget the two nests.

Real birds were living right behind a fake mama bird and her plastic eggs. 

So peculiar.

And spectacular.

Of course, I had a feeling there was a message here for me. :)

I touched  the  stiff mama bird.

Nothing was out of place in her perfect world. She even had matching, perfectly formed eggs. A spotless nest.

Years ago, I tried to be the perfect mom and raise perfect children. But living that way wasn’t really living at all.

Then I studied the other nest where real life was going on. Two baby birds chirped loudly. And there was probably poop in the nest.

Nevertheless, the birds were safely tucked inside a downy-soft home created with love.

And they were eagerly anticipating their mama returning.

Something dawned on me.

It’s better to be real,

To be someone who  listens and laughs,

Someone with faults who goofs up,

Than to be perfect, but cold and plastic. 

I left the baby birds so their mama would return to her wonderfully messy life. 

And I could return to mine. 

What do you think about the mama bird building her nest so close to the fake one?

Ever tried to be perfect? Exhausting, isnt it?!

I wrote more about breaking free from the trap of perfection here and here.

Love,

Julie


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miracle of the Marigolds and Me

This spring, I decided to play in the dirt again. I’d avoided all things green for three years after I got a horrible case of poison ivy  by pulling weeds without wearing gloves. I wanted my husband to think I was a real gardener.

And only thing I knew for sure about summer plants was that marigolds love sun and heat.

Anyone can take care of them, right? How hard could it be?

I found my tin watering cans and bought a potted caladium and a tray of marigolds.

I didn’t waste time reading plant care directions. 

I threw potting soil in my watering cans, and in less than five minutes, I created a summer garden on our porch!

Days later, I moved the marigolds to our patio. Total sun. 

They’re tough. They can handle it. 

For almost a week I ignored a gentle prompt.

Water the marigolds.

Saturday morning, their lovely heads were bent toward their feet. Their poor leaves had shriveled up. 

I’d ignored them for so long, I’d killed them!

I gave them a long, cool drink, but I was wasting my time. They were goners.

I left the kitchen. Couldn’t bear to watch them die.

An hour later they were a tad perkier, but the damage was done.

I left them overnight, hoping and praying for a miracle.

The next morning, I peeked with one eye shut.

It’s a miracle! 

My marigolds had been restored! 

“Welcome back, girls,” I whispered. “Sorry I forgot about you.”

At times, I’ve ended up just like my wilted marigolds.

Parched. Exhausted. 

I thought I was tough enough to do life on my own. 

I forgot I needed God every hour. 

I forgot to drink from the Living Well.

The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life. John 4:14 (MSG)

If you can’t see the video, click here. It’s a beautiful reminder of how much we need Him.

 Have you ever ended up my wilted marigolds?

Love,

Julie

Fear…Get ‘Cha Gone!

This quote is why I blog: “A wonderfully nurturing atmosphere is created when people help other people by being themselves and sharing their own experiences.” Courage to Change–One Day at a time in Al-Anon II

It reminds me of my friendship with Peggy Frezon. Peggy lives in New York and I’m in Georgia, so we only get to see each other at Guideposts’ writers workshops, like this past weekend in Vero Beach

 

Peggy and I battle The Fear Monster. Sometimes she says, “Fear! Get ‘Cha Gone!”

If the two of us gave in to our fears, we’d stay home in our closets. The things that scare Peggy aren’t frightening to me. And vice-versa.

But Fear is Fear. And it doesn’t play nice. 

Peggy’s afraid to travel.

She rode to a Guideposts workshop in 2004 with a jacket over her head. Her husband was driving. She’s afraid of elevators. And flying (at least right now).

But we’re on our way to becoming fearless!

Her husband  rode the train with her from New York to Vero Beach, Florida. They rented a car for part of the trip. She sat in back seat holding Jesus Calling.

I brought Jesus Calling to Vero Beach, too. Not because I’m afraid to travel.

I’m afraid of rejection.

Of being judged. 

Of not measuring up. 

I’d submitted another story about my depression. I wrote about it here years ago. The group would be discussing my story (my second clinical depression!) at the workshop.

The root of my fear?

Pride. What’ll they think of me?

But guess what?

Nothing I was afraid of happened. 

No one judged me!

No condemnation!

After the trip, Peggy and I emailed each other:

“I think God’s calling us to dip our toes into the water,” I wrote. “To go deeper with Him.”

“Look at the pictures I just texted you!” she wrote. “I took them right before we left!”

Peggy at the ocean. 

One step closer.  

Then another.

Peggy’s so courageous–traveling  from New York to Florida. She captured the moment on video–the same kind of joy I experienced when I wrote the truth and no one rejected me. 

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

And then Sunday we sang this song at church. A certain phrase won’t let me go.

“And You call me, deeper still…”

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

Do you fight The Mean Fear Monster too?

Maybe God’s calling us to go deeper.

I pray this post helps.

Love,

Julie (and Peggy) :)

 

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 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