Mother-Daughter Discoveries

When I was a young mother of three, I thought I had life all figured out. Katie, our middle child, loved baby dolls. I imagined she’d grow up, get married, and one day become a mama.

After she married, life brought some surprises.

It always does, doesn’t it? 

You think you know exactly how things are going to turn out, and then everything changes. 

Katie experienced infertility and divorced after almost eight years of marriage.

Tough times.

Unexpected twists and turns in the road.

She remarried this past February.

A couple of weeks ago, the two of us met at PF Chang’s for my birthday.  She gave me a beautiful scarf and bracelet. “They came from Altar’d State,” she said. “It’s a new store at the mall. After lunch, I’ll show you.”

Nothing on the outside looked much different from other stores.

Inside Altar’d State, scenes from Katie’s childhood came to me. I remembered her playing babies–the white picket fence desires of her heart.

“Isn’t this cute, Mom?”

“Yep. Looks like something you wore when you were little.”

“Did you know I got my second wedding dress at this store?” she said. 

Second wedding dress.

My heart skipped a beat, and we both smiled.

I never thought life would go this way. 

Then I spotted gifts that bring hope–crosses and candles and bracelets.

This sign below says: “You are loved for the little girl you were, for the special woman you are, and for the precious daughter you always will be.”

“Leave it at the cross.”


When there are unexpected curves in the road, God is still around the bend, offering Grace. Click to Tweet
P.S. Katie’s now a stepmom to a precious three-year-old girl!
Has your life ever taken an unexpected turn? What happened?


  1. Sweet and beautiful post, Julie –Just like you and your daughter!

    That store looks terrific–am going to google to see where the closest one to me is!

    • Marie, I can’t say enough things about the store. Such an amazing atmosphere! They knew I was taking pics for a blog. I need to call them and find out how to send them a link.

      I’m telling you–there’s the Sweetest Spirit in the store.

      Thank you!

  2. Cathy Mayfield says:

    Oh, Julie, you will never know how much I needed this today. In fact, I’m positive the Holy Spirit prompted you to write it just for me. Thank you.

    How can I share the heartache of the past couple years? I can’t. Let me just say being the parent of adult children is 200 times harder than when they were young. All three of my daughters have gone through so much, and after the easy time (believe it or not) of raising them and homeschooling from K-graduation, I guess I’m in shock.

    Two are doing okay, just have had the ground shook under them a couple times; but they’ve come through stronger and closer to Jesus. It’s the other one, the one who had it all – a close walk with God, the voice of an angel that she shared in ministry over and over, a love for people that traversed continents and cultures through many missions trips, the respect of ministries around the world, and the constant awe of a mother who just kept saying, “Yes, I know, but it’s all God.”

    But the one thing she wanted most, God wasn’t bringing – a husband and children of her own. Today, she is living in rebellion. She gave herself to the desires of this world. Yes, she attends church, but she’s not the woman of God that she was. Her life has fallen apart – jumping from job to job, needing to find a home, singing in bars, and loving a man whom this mama is having trouble seeing God’s plan in it.

    But tears pour down my face today because of you, Julie. This man has a beautiful two-year-old daughter whom Holly loves dearly. I can’t help but wonder if she will be my first grandchild. But in the proper way? How does a mother keep going through watching her firstborn go through such struggles and fearing she may not work them out in God’s way? Praying…crying…praying more.

    But that little saying on the wall…how absolutely, irrevocably, heart-stoppingly true. And that’s all I can say. I love her – fiercely – and always will.

    • Julie says:

      Hey Sweet Cathy,

      I think your last line–your last beautiful line, says it all.

      In this store, I was so overcome with how much God loves His daughters, and how sometimes we run from Him, and still, He keeps His arms open wide, and says, “I love you. You’re my daughter.”

      What a heartfelt comment, my friend–straight from a mama’s heart.

    • Julie says:

      And Cathy, I’m praying…I felt your heart as I read your words.

  3. Nancy Griggs says:

    Wonderful post today, Julie. I keep thinking how it ministered to Cathy Mayfield. I’m sure there are others who need to hear this today. I have had a disappointing relationship with an adopted daughter that I grieve over. Knowing that we all can leave things like this at the cross certainly helps. Thank you for a timely message.

    • Julie says:

      Nancy, I’m tell you (and everyone reading it) when I saw that, “Leave it at the cross,” I got holy goosebumps thinking we ALL need to see this sign. All of us.

      Relationships–nothing easy about them.

      Thank you. Your comment means so much.

      I’m praying for each comment-er and her family as I’m responding.

      • marci says:

        Julie, the “Leave it at the cross.” jumped right out at me, and I thought, Yes! I need to have that posted somewhere in my house– by one of the crosses, to see ofen as a reminder. I just keep getting little God whispers from your Wednesday writing. I know the need to leave “it” at the cross but there are still times I could use the reminder.

  4. I experienced infertility, too. I now have two beautiful daughters through adoption. I have no doubt it was God’s plan all along. 🙂

    • Julie says:

      That makes me smile, Shelli!! Thanks for letting me (us!) know. 🙂

  5. Mary says:

    First, a shout out to Cathy – I can tell how deeply your love your family, and how you’re trying to understand God’s plan in this. Hang in there. I’m adding you to my prayer list!

    Next, oh gosh. This blog certainly hits home with me… I often have expectations of myself and of others, and when things don’t go as planned… well, it’s just HARD. And sometimes it’s sad and very very scary. I tell myself, “There’s a reason here, and I don’t see it now, but I will see it in time.” But it is tough to let go of the expectations and fear and leap out in faith. It’s like being a trapeze artist, and just having to swing out into that blue sky. I heard a phrase yesterday that applies well: “God’s got this.” He’s already there, He’s already working it, and He has a plan. I just have to keep reminding myself that His plan is better than my plan, LOL!

    • Julie says:

      Mary, when I read your words, I saw myself flying through the air. I love that–the way you said it! So true, and we have to let go into the sky, don’t we?

      And that not having control thing–you nailed it beautifully. It can be sad and very very scary, but “God’s got this.”

      You and me both–reminding ourselves daily of His better plan.

      Thank you.

    • Cathy Mayfield says:

      Thank you, Mary. The prayers of faithful women of God mean much to this mama’s heart. As an intercessor and a mercy, I know firsthand how prayer should come first…and second…and… Thanks again.

  6. Karen says:

    What a sweet store. My life has taken many turns in the last several years. Some wonderful. Some very painful. I actually came upon a notebook that says the same as the sign you photographed. I made one change to it, though. I scratched out she and write He for God. It now says, “She believed He could, so she did.” I write in it special things that God does for me to serve as evidence when times get rough and I don’t understand what God’s up to.

    • Julie says:

      Oh, Karen, that’s beautiful!

      I love it! What a way to open up a new way to pray!!! Thank you–you know I LOVE words, and this is just beautiful.

      Thank you! And God’s almost up to something, isn’t He?

  7. Julie Gilleand says:

    Hey there, Leafy Julie,

    Curves in the road? Boy are there tons! You already know the story of my own divorce and then remarriage to the same man 10 years later. And of course there have been many curves in that road too, that keep me reeling! But I want to tell you about my youngest son David. His first marriage ended in divorce, but before it did, little Ava was born. My fourth grandchild and the sweetest little girl who has my heart! Because Ava’s mother was unfit to raise her and my son didn’t feel able to raise her on his own, she is now being raised by my oldest son Tim and his wife and all is well. When she was born, though, my heart broke for David. He and his wife had already been separated for several months and she had acquired a new boyfriend. Both my son — the husband, and the new boyfriend were in the birthing room together. I felt so awful for David and told him “This is not the way it is supposed to be”. He wore a brave face, though, and made the best of it, though I knew he felt shattered inside. Today, though, Ava is happy and healthy with her adopted family, we get to see her often, and David is now engaged to a wonderful girl — Hilary — and happy again. And I am happy for them both. Yes, God is around the bend. Always. It is good for me to remember that. Thank you for reminding me 🙂

    Other Leafy Julie 🙂

    • Julie says:

      Oh, Julie, Leafy,

      What a story of Hope–how it came full circle. And sometimes it seems that bend in the road takes forever, doesn’t it?

      This makes my heart so happy! Thank you for telling us about it.

      And who (certainly not me!) knows how life’s supposed to go. Whew! That was a giant lesson I had to learn–and keep learning.

      Hugs from GA

      • Julie says:

        And Ava is a beautiful name! I can tell–she has your heart. 🙂

    • Cathy Mayfield says:

      OLJ, how God must shout His joy when family comes together and fills needs of other members! Such a beautiful reminder of how it will be in heaven!

  8. Patricia Martin says:

    Julie, you and Katie look beautiful! (: I love how simple and elegant your gowns are. I am glad that Katie is in a happy situation and hope she gets a happily ever after as she is one of God’s princesses. Also, still hope that loads of grand babies will be coming your way.(); Then, you can write a book on grand parenting (though you could get away with calling them late in life kids). Hope that you had a great Memorial Day!

    • Julie says:

      Patricia, you always say the sweetest things. Your heart–well, I believe it is made of pure gold. 🙂

      “One of God’s Princesses…” Such beautiful words. I’m going to make sure she reads all these comments.

      Loads of grand babies. Oh, how I’d love that! Keep praying, my friend.

  9. Patricia Martin says:

    Oh! Thank you for your prayers for Maddy as she had a back appointment that went very well. Please keep praying!

  10. marci says:

    What a wonderful post. It touches a cord with those of us who have daughters. Having a daughter, it touches me. Those moments with Katie must be very special. We think of when they were little, and how special that time was, but how nice when we realize that even now- with them grown, and after they have been through heart aches themselves that there are even more moments in time for us to treasure with them. Praises that Katie is now at a happy place in her life.
    Your posts always bring back memories for me – and this one, memories with my own daughter.
    It was after 11 yrs, that I finally had a child. I thanked God every day for her. That is not to say there have not been problems, and watching her as she went through heartbreaks were really hard.
    But then there are the moments, when things are good, and Joy comes,.. How wonderful when a mother and daughter can not only be mother and daughter, but also blessed with being friends.

    Thank you for sharing your Mother-Daughter Discoveries, and it leads me to seeing my own discoveries. You have some wonderful stories both from the side of being mother to your daughters and also of being a daughter to your mother.
    God Bless you dear Julie!

    • Julie says:

      Marci’a—I wish you were here so I could hug your neck. 11 years! And look! Wow! This is something I didn’t have to deal with–waiting a long time to have children. I just love hearing these stories.

      Maybe those tough times make the sweet ones even sweeter.

      P.S. Found a note in my prayer journal today where I’d thanked Him for the prayer shawl. xoxoxoxo

      • marci says:

        Thank you, dear Julie! I am smiling and feeling a hug from you as I read your words.
        The funny thing- when I was first expecting, I didn’t know it– but my Mother in law did, and she was spreading the word! Guess after having 11 children, including 2 sets of twins, she knew expecting when she saw it!
        How sweet of you, to put a note in your prayer journal thanking Him for the prayer shawl. That makes me feel so good that you would do that.

        You do find (or are lead to) the most interesting stores! Now I have one more to put on my ‘hope to go to one day’ list.

        There are so many good comments! Wish I could say something about each of them, since I need to go, I will just say a prayer to bless each one in the group, and you always!
        God Bless.

        • Oh, wow, Marci’a! She knew!!! And my MIL called me after we lost our third child (a full term son) to tell me I was going to have another baby. A boy. I wanted to throw the phone down and run out the door screaming….but she was right.

          And you know what? I pray for “my bloggy friends” daily.

          P.S the thing about stores–other people tell me about them! They’re the smart ones. 🙂 I just go where I’m lead.

  11. I received the most beautiful letter, and at the end she relayed that she found me through you. You touch so many of us, in ways you may never know.

    My life feels like curve after curve these days- and I just have to keep believing, He is ahead of me, leaning and bending through the curves long before I even get there.

    What a wonderful store- an experience more than just a place to shop. I love walking away feeling uplifted and rejuvenated in some way. Your daughter is beautiful and I have no doubt the beautiful childhood you helped her have, helped shape her into the lovely person she is today. Hugs to you friend!

    • Julie says:


      Again, every time I try to respond to you, for some reason, the words get caught in my throat.

      I love you–I think that’s the best thing I can say.

      I love you.

    • Vicky,
      What a great reply to Julie! She is a marvelous mother, a fabulous friend, and a good daughter to God. She touches me in many ways as well. Thanks for sharing those thoughts about our beautiful friend Julie.

      • So kind of you, B.J. I have a feeling you and I’ll be catching up prettttttty soon!!!

        Love you dearly.

  12. Curves in the road??? I could write a book. It has been a LOOOONG, curvy, bumpy road but all those obstacles have made me who I am. Both of my parents were alcoholics and my Dad died when I was 4 of a drug overdose. Both of my kids have struggled with addictions but, thank God are both fine now. I cared for my Mom the last 5 years of her life, in our home. My son is a BEAUTIFUL, Godly man with HIV. But, my daughter abd SIL adopted our gorgeous, gift from Gid, granddaughter last year and she FILLS my heart with joy. So, it is all good. It is all VERY good. I thank God everyday for the life I have. God bless you and your sweet daughter.

    • Pinky, Pinky, Pinky……

      I’m jumping up and down inside myself. This is so beautiful. So smack-dab full of love, I can hardly stand it.

      You’re absolutely right. Not only is it all good. It’s all VERY good. And your gratitude shines even through your typing. I can feel it.

      Thank you.

  13. whoops, just saw a few tyos and can’t get to them to fix them:)

    • Pinky, I didn’t even see them. Not one. I promise! Hmmmmm, maybe another blog topic???? How good friends don’t even notice when the other one makes a mistake. 🙂


  14. Unexpected turns? Yup, it seems it’s every day! But those turns often lead to discoveries that I wouldn’t have known were there. Scary sometimes? Yes. Engaging? Yes. Life altering? Yes. And it all leads to the cross. Love that sign!!!

    • That’s what I came to understand while writing this post, B.J. All of us have scary times and curvy roads. I guess, when I was younger, maybe I didn’t realize it.

      But it’s true.

      And you’re so right once more. These hard times LEAD us to the cross! Yes! I think that was the last sign I saw in the store.

  15. Jenni M says:

    Hi, Julie!

    You probably don’t remember me – we had communicated over e-mail some months ago about writing and living gluten-free. 🙂

    I feel really bad – I had just finished writing a long comment on your blog post, and when I tried posting it, the action didn’t go through and erased EVERYTHING that I wrote! 🙁 Thus this comment is probably going to be a lot smaller than the first one, but I hope it can still convey the sincere gratitude that I have to you for sharing this experience and message. I can’t imagine all of the difficulties that your daughter must have experienced, but based on what I read in your blog, it seems like she is in such a good, solid place with her new family and new life. She looks very healthy, too! The painful storms that God allowed to pass through her life only led to a new day, a glorious sun – a new life with Him, too.

    It’s a great reminder for me, as even in my twenties I find myself in place that when I was little or even a few years ago I never imagined I would be in. I think back to those sentimental questions that my parents or other adults asked me when I was little – “What do you want to be when you grow up?” – and find myself answering something now that is much different than my answers back then (back then: author, artist, teacher, ballerina…). There are external and internal challenges going on, and yet – God is there, and he is guiding all of it for his glory, and because of that – for our well-being.

    Talk about God putting experiences in our lives at just the right moments! A day or two after reading your post, I read this selection of verses in Proverbs: “To a man belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue. All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord. Commit to the Lord, whatever you do, and your plans will succeed…In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” (vs. 1-3, 9)

    Thanks again for your encouragement, Julie! It’s a reminder that I need daily, hourly. Give everything to the Lord, problems and all – not myself. Oh, I wish it wasn’t so hard for my sinful, egocentric self to do that!

    • Oh, Jenni….your beautiful response. I can tell, you have the kindest heart.

      How’s it going eating GF? I try to be so careful, and still sometimes mess up. It’s a lifelong process, I guess, just like everything else!

      You write with such honesty. I love how God stirred something in your heart after reading this post–Thank You, Lord.

      And I’m so sorry you had trouble posting! Not sure what’s up with that.

      Thank you again, for reading, and taking the time to respond.

      So much love!

      • Jenni M says:

        Hi, Julie!

        Your love and kindness through Jesus just radiates in your words. Thank you for your beautiful reply!

        I think my first attempt at replying didn’t work because I didn’t enter my e-mail address into the corresponding box at that time. When I did do that the second or third time, the post went through. 🙂

        Eating gluten-free – to tell you the truth, Julie, I’m actually not missing the gluten part as much. (Exceptions to that, though, would probably be when I see ads for gooey Pizza Hut pizzas and smell the aroma of Subway bread.) There are other areas of my diet, though, I have to watch too. My digestive system as a whole has not been a strong one since I was little, so eating excessive amounts of starchy carbs and sugars (even natural ones) is not the best idea for someone like me. That can be hard. The starches don’t have to be gluten but can still be very bad for me. I think at this point in my health/foodie life, that is an obstacle I’m learning how to overcome.

        Is there a particular food(s), or a particular situation(s), that is especially difficult for you to avoid or endure with a gluten-free lifestyle? I think there are times when, for example, I look at menus and certain entrees look amazingly good and relaxing to eat, but the ingredients contain gluten and thus won’t work. Rats! 🙂

        Thank you again, Julie! It’s such a joy to talk with you!


        • Yay! So glad to hear you got through easily this time–especially since I’m not techno-savvy.

          Pizza Hut–they now have GF pizza! I don’t trust all pizza places (most, in fact) but we’ve eaten at Pizza Hut twice and I’ve been fine. The crust comes in a separate little tray and it’s cooked by itself. I think you can only order pepperoni, but it was delish! You might like my blog post for today–there’s an amazing GF cake recipe in it. 🙂

          Yes, there are tough situations. Like weddings, showers, most social gatherings. Sometimes I’ll eat ahead. Sometimes if there’s fruit or cheese there, I’ll eat just that. Or sometimes I’ll bring a little something.

          Sometimes I can talk my husband into eating bread at restaurants. Usually, he just leaves it sitting on the table, and I really want him to enjoy it!

          If I can help you in any way, let me know. I’d be glad to. Can’t wait to see what you think about my post this week. 🙂

          Thanks so much for letting me know you could post a comment, and for catching up! xo

  16. Sandra Walker says:

    Wish I could put in words what each blog means to me, and I read each comment too. Your readers’ comments so minister to me as well! Glad to know I’m not the only one with years full of curves and
    not- so= welcome surprises! BUT GOD!!!

    • Ohhhh, how true, Sandra.

      BUT GOD.

      And y’all have no idea what your comments mean to me. They encourage me to keep writing!

      So much love to you today!


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

  2. […] (For more about Katie’s story, click here.) […]

  3. […] daughter Katie invited us for Thanksgiving. She married in February. Sunday would be a time of celebration! New marriage. New house. New […]

  4. […] daughter Katie’s dealing with infertility. Some days, faith comes easier for her. Some days, she […]

  5. […] daughter Katie’s dealing with infertility. Some days, religion comes simpler for her. Some days, she […]

  6. […] Our daughter Katie remarried in 2014 and became a stepmom. Katie and her husband decided Rick and I would be called “Grand Pa Rick and Grand Ma Jewels.” It’s an honor to become anyone’s grandmother, but it’s especially sweet when God brings a child into your life in such a surprising way. […]

  7. […] Our daughter Katie remarried in 2014 and have become a stepmom. Katie and her husband determined Rick and I’d be referred to as “Grand Pa Rick and Grand Ma Jewels.” It’s an honor to change into anybody’s grandmother, but it surely’s particularly candy when God brings a baby into your life in such a stunning method. […]

  8. […] March of 2017, my daughter Katie, who’d been struggling with infertility for ten years, was awaiting pregnancy test results (again) I wanted to do something brave–something […]

  9. […] P.S. Katie and her family are doing just fine. Rilynn (Katie’s stepdaughter) is on Cloud Ten. So is Grandpa Rick. If you want to find out more about Katie’s journey with infertility, read this and this. […]

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