Life-changing Love

Every now and then, someone comes along and rearranges my thinking. It happened again this weekend.

I’ve been following Vicky Westra’s blog, The Westra World, for a couple of years. Although we’ve never met, each time I read her words, they squeeze my heart–that soft place inside where God lives.

Vicky writes about  faith and fear. And courage.

She considers each day a miracle.

Vicky says, “I’m just a girl living the dream of being married to my superman, raising two active boys, and discovering more of who I am every day I am here. I’m currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer and learning how to expand my time, instead of worrying about extending it. So I am living my moments daily and blogging the whole crazy adventure.”

Recently, a few of Vicky’s friends did a fundraiser in her honor. They crafted door-prizes and selected five winners.

When I made my small contribution, I never expected to win. I was randomly chosen. I couldn’t believe it.

Me! A winner!

For sure, I never expected to win a life-changing gift.  

Saturday morning, my prize basket arrived.

From someone I’d never met.

In honor of Vicky in Minnesota.

A state I’d never visited.

In Fall colors!

I spread everything on the floor around me. Books! Coffee! Music! My favorite things!

Immediately, I was drawn into Bob Goff’s book, Love Does.

Good grief. This book.

The kind of reading where you forget to breathe.

It’s all about love without limits.

The same way Vicky writes and lives her life–the same kind of love her friends have. 

A quote from page 9:

“…the kind of love that God created and demonstrated is a costly one because it involves sacrifice and presence. It’s a love that operates more like a sign language than being spoken outright.”

The first song on the Selah CD,  “You Amaze Us,” shares the same love message.

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

Of course, it’s not about the gift I gave.

It’s about the unexpected, unforgettable, life-changing love I received in return.

Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put in your lap, “ Luke 6:38 ESV.

Have you ever had life-changing love rearrange your thinking?




  1. how beautiful…Vicky is a wonder and God is so sweet to have you win the gift basket that is absolutely PERFECT for you! I must get Bob Goff’s book! ox

  2. Julie- this was so heartwarming and humbling. Thank you! I know when Linda gets a chance to see, she will be thrilled. Peggy and Linda both hoped the items they put together would be well received by people and I think this expresses this beautifully.

    You picked a great book to start! I also had to underline so many of his sentences!

    Thank you, Julie, for this beautiful post that touches me so!

    • Aww, Vicky. You’re the one. Thank you. Your writing touches my heart–always. What dear friends you have. Their LOVE DOES attitude blessed me. Big time!

  3. Brenda E. Greene says:

    Have I ever had life-changing love rearrange my thinking? Oh my yes, Sweet Julie…almost every Wednesday as I read your latest blog. Love flows through your words and the memories they open in my heart are SO precious!

    I saw yesterday (Dec. 2) had been designated as “A Day of Giving” in the United Methodist faith so I sat down with my checkbook and zapped off three donations to charities I feel strongly about which left me feeling pretty humbled (prideful?….ugh). Shortly thereafter I got a call from my long-time Dear Friend who had “volunteered” our services to make eight Christmas vests to be worn by ESP kids in their upcoming dance recital Sunday; so off I went to begin the project. Six hours later we had them cut out. With a variety of different sizes it required much “math”(!!) As they are fully lined, we’re actually making 16! We completed two! Driving home I contemplated how easy it had been to write those checks compared to the last six hours of hands-on labor and had to chuckle….God does loves a cheerful giver, right?! As I envisioned those eight young people in a variety of sizes and “special needs” whirling and twirling in their red sparkley Christmas vests, my heart was warmed.

    So excited that you received that special gift in your “colors” and I also will have to check out Bob Goff’s book…always looking for new inspiration! Thanks again Julie Girl for continued Wednesday love from your loft to mine!!

    • Brenda. I had no idea you could sew!!! I’ll never forget–when I was a little girl, I wanted to learn. I talked my sister into lying down on an old sheet and traced around her for a “pattern.” I wanted to make her sheet pajamas. It hurt her feelings. 🙁

      But look what someone like you can do with your hands? I just love that about you. And you got right down to business. You started sewing and also listened to your heart and said yes–and gave a love offering.

      Thank you–your sweet words always bless me. Hugging you from my little loft office in the woods. 🙂

  4. Anna Haney says:

    Beautiful! Thank you so much for this post.

  5. Eileen says:

    When I checked the blog to see who won and saw that you won, Julie, I got a big smile on my face! I knew that you would be inspired by this gift. Vicky has blessed me in many ways with her words and the way she lives her life. And you, dear friend, have too. xxxooo

    • Eileen, I just kept staring at my name, like, is that really me? When my husband came home from work, that’s the first thing I told him. I never win anything. I couldn’t believe it!

      You’re such a blessing, Dear Eileen. Think about all your pictures (I think I could develop photo-envy) 🙂 You’re such a good photographer. Which flows from your kind heart.


  6. Life-changing love can come in many forms, all at the same time or in snippets of love moments from a husband, a wife, a child, a friend, a gift basket, a dog, a cat, and of course, God. I have to keep my eyes open to see them, they often happen when I am unaware. A gift basket is a tangible life-changing love, but I must say, Julie, that your friendship is right up there as life-changing for me!

    • Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, B.J. You have me tearing up. You usually do that with your love. I almost always laugh/cry at the same time when we talk!

  7. marci says:

    I am so happy for you, dear Julie! What joy that you were blessed with winning, and what a nice treat- that basket of goodies. And now, I want to find that book and read it. It sounds so inspiring.
    I love all the shares, and I do agree with Brenda G., about your Wednesday blogs. It is a spirit lifter.
    One verse that I keep thinking about lately- ‘Surely the Lord is in this Place’… and your blog is one of those places. I have been so blessed. Blessed with love. I must also check out the blog that Vicky writes.
    Life changing Love. Learning to expand time.. that gave me something to think about. … So much has been going on in my family, and I realize – because of your blog, that so much of the emotions surrounding me, is because of love.
    Thank you for blessing us!

    • Marci, y’all just can’t imagine how much it encourages me to see your comments. Keeps me writing, for sure!!

      AM swallowing the lump in my throat with how you just used Scripture………

      Yes, and your church sure has been through some life-changing love lately.

      Thank you. For being you!

  8. Julie, thank you for introducing me to Vicky and her beautiful blog. And congratulations on your win–what a bonanza of blessings!

    As far as life-changing love, I think God has opened the door to such a love just this week. Amazing.

  9. Oh sweet Julie,
    What a blessing it is to have made that basket and have it go to you. You who gives so much to others with your words and lessons that come from our Heavenly Father. I am so, so delighted that this basket, made
    to support Vicky, brought JOY to you. Tears flowed as I saw your photograph and the items spread out. I could hear the surprise and delight in your voice.

    And we all connect by knowing Vicky. Isn’t she just a miracle in our lives? She is life-changing love in action. Both Peggy and I felt led to do something to help her…and after lots of prayer the something became clear…a fundraiser. Thank you for opening your heart and donating to it.

    I can’t wait to read the entries in your blog as I get to know you better. 🙂
    God Bless, Julie. May He nourish your soul and refresh your spirit.
    Love, Linda

    • Linda, just reading your comment, I feel as if I’ve always known you. What a thrill to be introduced to one of Vicky’s dearest friends. You were obedient and acted in such great love.

      And I think this basket is going to play a big part in shifting my focus.

      It’s helping me say “yes” to Him…

  10. Patricia Martin says:

    Wow, Julie!!! I am so excited and happy for you!! They are such beautiful gifts and perfectly match their lovely owner! My family and I are over the moon with happiness today because a couple we had been praying for, Grace and Matthew Huang, who were in prison in Qatar were finally released today to go home to their two children! God often shows His wonderful love by giving us miracles and their release is certainly a miracle! I hope y’all are enjoying this great December/Pre-Christmas weather.(((:
    xoxoxo Patricia

    • PATRICIA!!! Hallelujah! I can just feel JOY pouring through your comment. I’m sooooooooooooo happy!!

      That’s incredible!!!!!!!!!!

      Thanks for sharing your good news.

  11. K. Richardson says:

    Thank you for sharing. I’m a Minnesotan too. Vicky is so brave. Bless her and her family and you for showing this blog.

    • Hey K. I’ve always been fascinated with people who survive cold, cold winters. I have this image of sitting around the fire sipping hot chocolate in your kind of world. 🙂 🙂 🙂

      I can’t even imagine! I bet you wear long underwear all winter long. Sounds pretty neat to me.

      Yes, Vicky is brave and giving and also an amazing writer and photographer.


  12. Beautiful, Julie. And I adore that verse! I’m looking forward to visiting Vicki’s blog, too.

    • I think you’ll absolutely love her blog, Shawnelle. She has two boys. 🙂 I bet she’d love your writing too!

      Vicky, if you’re reading this, Shawnelle has five boys and writes for Guideposts magazine as well as blogs for them. You can find her amazing love-filled blog on their website at

  13. Julie, beautiful. Love Does. I hope I see, feel, and live it through this season especially. I remember some 13 years ago … going through Bible study … I remember asking God to keep me on my knees because it’s such a sweet place with Him. It wasn’t long after that our daughter was diagnosed with a Wilm’s tumor …

    Oh, those hard places are good places. With God.

    And I think I have my next speaking engagement … another women’s retreat … next October! 🙂 Seems like a long time away!

    • Shelli, I love how you describe that time–a sweet place with Him. And being on your knees. Yes, yes, I’ve had those times too. I was talking to one of my daughters this afternoon about the “sweet” times, and how they make our hearts softer. She agreed.

      Wonderful about your speaking engagement! So much fun to know ahead of time so you can start praying. I’d love to hear you!!!


  14. Mary says:

    I am slow in replying… but this was such a good post that I couldn’t NOT reply. Life-changing love… oh yeah! How about standing at the altar, saying “I do” to my husband, after thinking that I’d never find the right guy? Or how about hearing the doctor say, “Look up, your baby is being born!” after hour and hours of labor? Or how about the tiny gifts that I’m given every day — the steam rising off the inlet on a cold autumn day? Or the call of a chick-a-dee after I’ve filled the feeder? Or the joy of a revived friendship? Gifts all around us — some change us greatly, but I think all of them expand our hearts just a bit if we let them.

    • Oh, Mary. What a beautiful response. And it means so much that you came back after reading and wrote to me.

      I understand (and deeply feel) all the same things you love.

      Blessings to you and yours~~~~

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