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? 



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.



Three Sweet Blessings from Friendships with Women

Rick and I’ve been married for 36 years. We have no secrets. He’s my best friend, but sometimes it’s fun to spend time with lady-friends. When we get together, the conversation shifts from deep talk to silliness. In a heartbeat.

Saturday, a girlfriend invited another friend and me to go shopping. I’m attending a Guideposts writers’ workshop in two weeks and wanted something spiffy to wear.

“There’s an antique shop down the street,” she said. “Let’s go there.”

Clothes in an antique store? 

She took us to a place I’d never noticed in my very own small town of Monroe, GA.

Good friends are like that–always teaching us new stuff.

When we arrived, I didn’t care if they had clothes or not.

I felt like a little girl again!

Hodge Podge held the same splendor I remembered from childhood when I went antiquing with my mother and sister. There’s a certain thrill in rounding the corner of a shop and discovering dusty surprises.

The front door was wide open and welcomed us like a warm smile.  I took a step inside and childhood memories came alive.

Miniature tea sets.

Sparkling chandeliers.

Handmade lavender soap.

Oh me, oh my –

My heart went pitter-patter at the crocheted shirt.

My sweet friends.

They insisted I try it on in all three colors–aqua, black, and oatmeal.

“Definitely, the oatmeal-colored one,” they said in unison.

After we shopped, we stopped for coffee at The Cotton Cafe.  Sitting at a small table, we laughed and shared secrets the way little girls do.

At home, I hung up my new crocheted top in my closet and smiled.

Good friends are one of God’s greatest blessings. They:

1. Help us not to take life (and ourselves!) so seriously.

2. Always want the best for us.

3. Encourage us to sparkle and shine. 

“A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.” Proverbs 27:9 The MSG

Have you had fun lately with your friends? What’d you do?

What sweet blessings have you found in friendship?





My Beloved Old Blue Chairs

I love seeing old things restored and I adore antiques, so I have no excuse for what happened to my ladder back chairs. After we inherited my grandmother’s antique dining room chairs, I stuck my old blue chairs outside and forgot about them.

Each year, they got a little more worn.

A little less respected.

Kitty Thelma used them for scratching posts.

I tried to ignore them. Made me sorta sad to see them.

One morning this spring, I went antiquing and spotted a pair of gorgeous ladder back chairs. Someone must’ve cared about them.

They’d been restored.

Overwhelming compassion for my old blue chairs enveloped me.

I had to do something about their pitiful plight.

I found a man working there. “Do you know anyone who restores chairs?”

“It’s almost a lost art, but there’s a shop in Maysville, Heritage Chairs. Go see ‘em. They’re good people.”

The next Saturday, my husband and I took my chairs to Maysville.

“If I re-cane them, it’s gonna cost you more than they’re worth,” the shop owner said.

I appreciated his honesty, but a fierce protective love rose up in me about my chairs.

“That is,” he said, “unless they’re worth something to you. Then they’re priceless.”

“Oh, they are. I love them.” I ran my fingers over the raggedy cane and looked at my husband.

Can we get them fixed?

“It’s up to you,” he said.

I love you.

A few weeks later, we picked up my chairs. I got all teary-eyed looking at them.

Welcoming them inside our home, I found a special spot for each chair and thought about how God restores us.

Thank You, Lord.

You love us.

Even in our broken condition.

In Your eyes, we are priceless.

P.S. My new favorite song below. It’s all about How He loves us. Listen for the word Surrender. :)

Surrender proceeds our own restoration.

Do you love the word RESTORATION too?







Come Away with Me…to The Judson House

Wait ’til you see how I spent my Saturday morning.

When I was little, two things made me feel grownup and ladylike–drinking coffee and antiquing with my mother, sister, and grandmother. I couldn’t wait to visit The Judson House Coffee House and Southern Gifts in Bethlethem, Georgia.

Stepping onto the wide front porch, I was a child again.

Husband and wife Ricky and Lindsey Brown restored a hundred-year-old white clapboard house into a gathering place for old friends to connect and new friendships to bloom.

Ricky and Lindsey Brown--The Judson House

Lindsey says it’s been a labor of love involving the whole family. Her father financed the idea and Ricky’s dad cleared the front forty. Ricky and Lindsey did ninety percent of the restoration themselves. Their moms take turns serving customers. The Browns envision a screen porch out back and will soon open the upstairs.

The Judson House is full of passion, creativity, and love. They’ve discovered gifted artists through  and everywhere you look, there’s something wonderfully unique.



In just a few weeks, The Judson House has already provided a warm atmosphere for a book club meeting, a baby, shower, and a small church get-together.

The Browns  named their shop in honor of Judson Moore–a gospel songwriter from the late 1800′s–the man who chose the name “Bethlehem” for this picturesque town in north Georgia.

They’re hosting a Christmas Celebration December 8th from 6-9 p.m. On December 17th, guests will be treated to live music from an acoustic guitarist. Talk about everybody using their talents~~

There’s a nostalgic sweetness about The Judson House–a spot in Bethlehem, Georgia, where we can “encourage one another and build each other up.”  1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ISV)