Friendship…Served With Love on a Paper Plate

A couple of years ago, my husband was all gung-ho about joining a small group at church. Not me. You can’t just throw people together and say, “Wa-lah! Make friends. Form bonds. Trust each other.”

Friendship takes time. 

And it’s risky. 

Being vulnerable enough to experience community brings the possibility of getting hurt.

Yes, of course, I’ve been hurt. I bet you have too.

And I’m embarrassed to tell you, but I wondered if I’d reached a stage in life when you don’t make many more new friends.

But my word Surrender wouldn’t leave me alone.

After days of running scared, I let go of control (again!), and we joined a small group. We knew Rick and Kim, our leaders, and one other person, but the rest of them were strangers.

That first night, my heart went thumpety-thump as we introduced ourselves.

Over time, we shared our struggles, our prayer requests, our joys. Something spread between us like warm caramel.

We were no longer strangers.

We became friends.

Since we ate together, I told them about having Celiac disease, an autoimmune illness, meaning I have to eat gluten-free.

After eighteen months, my husband and I became small group leaders.

Guess what else?

Rick and Kim invited us to their small group party last week!


YES! 🙂

She made two gorgeous orange pineapple cakes–one regular and one gluten-free. For me. 

I nearly cried!

It had been almost eight years since I’d had a layered cake. I didn’t even know it was possible! And my cake looked exactly like the regular one.

Kim reached out with love and helped me feel like a regular person!

The next morning, I had two pieces for breakfast. 🙂

When we relinquish control, sometimes God brings the sweetest surprises. And friendships! 

(Kim used Pamela’s GF vanilla cake mix for mine.)

Thoughts on friendships? 

Share a time when someone’s kindness blew you away. 







  1. Kim says:

    Oh Julie!!! You had me laughing so hard. I pretty much said those same words when my husband wanted us to join our church dinner groups. They consist of 5-6 couples who meet once a month until each has taken a turn hosting. Then we re-pool names and draw out new groups. The first 2 groups, I pretty much got to know everyone else, because people like to talk and I am good at listening, but no one go to know me, because I hardly spoke. 🙂 This was before my year of Sharing. The 3rd group was a different story. It was in the midst of my Sharing life journey and the beginning of 2 very special friendships.

    I will say though, that without the experience of those first 2 groups and being in the midst of community, absorbing what I did, the 3rd group would not have offered what I needed, when I needed it. My first experiences aided me and readied me for when I had to reach out and trust, be vulnerable.

    This was also funny because just this morning when I said, “Yeah, maybe I will do this after all,” hubby reminded me, “Your first answer is always no.”

    • Cathy Mayfield says:

      Hi, Kim. Your comment about “my Sharing life journey” intrigued me. If you are open to “sharing” what that was, I’d like to know!

      Be blessed!

      • Kim says:

        Well Cathy, that is a loaded question! I do not mind sharing, but it will be a challenge to keep short. Basically, I am a life long runner. Yes, I do run real miles, but… I am long practiced in running from anything difficult or that has even the remotest tidbit of emotion involved. (Major fear and trust issues.) I had an active “social life” but it was very one sided. I never shared my thoughts, ideas, feelings… I just asked questions of others and listened.

        About the time God gave me my first Word for the Year, Share, (Little did I know what was in store!) life began to overwhelm me, (Dec. 2013) to the point I thought I would lose it. I finally reached out to a friend and said, “I need to talk. I literally feel like I am going to physically explode.” I later found out that was the physical feeling of stress and anxiety that had built up to such a degree that it was difficult to breath, think, sleep, live. This friend became a sort of therapist for me. We met almost weekly for many months. I acknowledged situations and felt the emotions to the many things through my entire life that I had set aside to “deal with later.” Only I never went back and did that. Ever!

        Through this process, I learned to slowly open up and share with others some of what I was going through, figuring out. (Those 2 relationships from the dinner group grew from this and are precious to me.) Situations would be presented to me that fell right along the lines of my most recent discoveries. Conversations took place that meandered their way into some of what I had just ironed out. I gradually became more comfortable with my feelings and was able to share them with others.

        Though I view the end of my healing journey as Nov. 2014., it is truly a continued process. It is so easy to fall back on old habits. But, as long and difficult as that Sharing life journey was, I would not trade it for anything. It was so worth going through. I would not be who I am today without every. single. thing. in my past, my history.

        Thanks for asking!

        • marci says:

          Kim, Thank you for sharing your journey with this. It has been helpful to me to read it. I struggle with that, and it was so good to hear about your stuggle. It can be hard to open up- but I am trying. Guess we never know when part of our story will help someone else. Yours has for me. I know about putting things on that back burner. And being reluctant to share. Did you ever feel like if you really let it all out, it would be like a dam breaking? I am glad you had an end in your healing journey, and how right, about fighting old habits, and it being a process.

          • Kim says:

            Marci’a, I so appreciate your response. I am touched that my story/message helps you. My reservations to feel emotion stemmed from the fear of suffering from depression. My mother and both my grandmothers suffered from depression. One grandmother attempted suicide and died as a result 2 months later. I was so afraid of crying, because I thought I might not be able to stop. I was continually trying not to fall into that pit. So, I simply turned feelings off. While I did not suffer from depression, I came very close to having panic attacks. Anxiety actually falls under the same umbrella as depression. This is just one piece of my journey. Fears and trust were major obstacles to try and overcome. They still are too. I am aware of those issues, so I am better than I was. I take less time to process, turn things around mentally and step out. Prayers for you to move forward, with God’s guidance, on the path he leads you down.

        • Cathy Mayfield says:

          Thank you, Kim. And Marci’a. I’d like to respond to this, but I don’t think now is the time. My hurts, grief, fears, and times of desperation are gotten through only by God’s mercy. For years, I’ve longed for someone to come aside and help me. I’ve begged the phone to ring; I’ve asked for counseling; I’ve written notes and prayers. So far, I still get thru each episode w/myself and my Jesus. But they don’t stay away forever. It’s strange how God hasn’t allowed human help, even when I’ve asked for it. He must want my trust more, and I’m not good at trusting anyone, so it’s taking a long time to get there.

          I will pray for you as you come to mind, which will be often, since it seems the people who comment on this site feel like prayer partners, in a strange way. God bless you both – and a special blessing on our Julie, the angel God’s used to touch our spirits each week.

          • Kim says:

            Cathy, my heart hurts for you, but I know and believe prayers work. I will be praying for you as well. That God will provide an avenue for your growth and healing, a person or place for you to safely start trusting. This is hard to admit, but yes, I too had to learn to trust, even God.

            While those 3 friendships were an integral part of my process, I had a few other resources that were vital too. I can not recommend the book Daring Greatly by Brene Brown enough. She is a researcher whose focus is vulnerability and shame. When I first read her book, it was freaky scary. I felt like she had gotten inside my brain and knew my feelings, how I responded to life. I promptly read it a 2nd time, with a pencil, underlining, writing comments in the margins. I then handed it to my husband and told him he Had to read it because it would help him understand me, how I think, how I operate… Below are 2 Ted talks that are great. They give you a glimpse of what the book delves more deeply into.


          • Cathy Mayfield says:

            Kim, thank you for the links and the book to read. I’ll certainly look into it.

    • Hey everyone, catching up kinda late tonight.

      Wow–look what’s happening here, how we’re sharing and connecting to God and each other. And it sounds like trust can be a biggie.

      Cathy, you have such a tender heart. You immediately picked up on Kim’s word, “Sharing.” And somehow you knew there was more below the surface. And when you asked, Kim opened up and responded. That’s so precious–what happens in friendships, even between bloggy friends. I’m just honored to be a part of such a caring group. And I see Marci’a related too.

      Cathy, right now, I’m sending up a prayer for you…..thank you for your kindness and gentle spirit. Praying for those deep places in your heart…

      And Kim, your honesty–wow, what’s happening in your family. Sounds like you’re experiencing some healing. I’m praying for you.

      • Julie says:

        And Kim, I’ve listened to Brene Brown’s TED speeches! She’s amazing. Haven’t yet read her book. Sounds like it’s amazing!

        • Kim says:

          Yes, Julie, Brene Brown is amazing! I have listened to those talks several times each. And I have since used the book as a reference tool. I can flip to where I have starred and made notes to find reminders and encouragement. A great source.

          Thank you for stepping out in faith here each week. What you begin, God takes so much further. This blog community is a special group.

          • Okay, Kim. I gotta get this book. I even sent the link to one of her talks to my mom (of course through her phone–she has no computer!).


  2. So sweet, Julie. We’ve moved so many times, that I’ve always resigned friendships over to God. The first time we moved, I tried too hard (very young). The next time we moved, I surrendered (almost determined NOT to make a friend … didn’t need it, I said). And God brought that one special friend …. This last year, we had a lady come speak at our small mission group. She said that she didn’t have time for one more friend. That amused me. Maybe she looked at me as one more person vying for her friendship because she is well known. I chuckle. Because I’ve learned that friendships aren’t really in our control … when you love, you just love. Even if you fight it initially! 🙂 xoxo

    • Oh, Shelli. This is so beautiful. I love how you said, it. “Friendships aren’t really in our control.” SO TRUE. and “When you love, you just love.”

      See how that control thing went right back to my Surrender word?!?!

      It didn’t hit me until I wrote this post–that it all tied into MORE letting go. More Surrender. Always, always more, isn’t there!

      BTW, I loved your 7 sentences from page 7. I’m working on my first chapter of my new WIP. I’ve just finished detailed character sketches…still obsessing over those first few pages.

      • Cathy Mayfield says:

        Okay, so that intrigues me, too! “7 sentences from page 7.” Sounds like a writing tip! Is it?

        • Julie says:

          Cathy, Shelli challenged me (along with a few other writers) to share 7 lines from page 7 of our current WIPs. She bravely put hers out there–great writing! I haven’t yet… I’ve just started writing a new novel and am tearing apart my first chap and reconstructing it.

          • Cathy Mayfield says:

            Thanks, Julie. Was that through a blog or a group?

        • Cathy, it was a FB post I was tagged in.

  3. Becky Boyd says:

    Julie, how funny. I was thinking of looking up a good orange cake recipe. Thanks for the story and the recipe. Even though I don’t have Celiac disease, this cake looks marvelous.

    • No way, Becky!! If you make it, of course, just use the recipe as written. I’m telling you–the cake was amazing, and the recipe looks pretty easy.

      Thanks for reading and for letting me know you’re reading!


  4. Patricia Martin says:

    Cake looks so good! I am also slow about making new friends because life is busy for me right now.(); I remember how wonderful and blown away I felt when a certain ( pretty redhead) friend shared GF recipes on her Wednesday blog and told me how she has thrived on her GF diet! How’s that novel? Is there a place where I can buy it?

    • Patricia Martin says:

      P.S. Please pray for me that I am blessed with someone wonderful like Rick and that I keep going GF strong? How are your mom and Gene doing? How’s your family?

      • Julie says:

        Patricia, my mother just rescued another cat, and Gene’s not too happy about it. They have 2 cats and a dog and my brother climbed up a tree and brought a tiny kitten home to my mom. She says “Sunshine” is WILD.

        Yes of course, I’ll pray for your “Rick.” And for you to keep on keeping on eating GF. It’s helped me to meet others with Celiac, and I think I told you, Thomas’s finace (and her sis) and my BFF have it. Praying for you to meet some new GF friends. 🙂

    • Patricia, you are just so kind, my friend. I couldn’t WAIT for you to see this post. You’ve got to make the cake–I promise, you’re gonna love it.

      The novel. Still waiting…..and praying.

      Thank you, for all you do. You encourage me, big time. xo

  5. Brenda E. Greene says:

    Morning Sweet Julie!

    Your words this morning reminded me of our small congregation church. Several years ago we began a “Women Warriors” group with about ten-twelve ladies. We did some amazing Bible studies and “storming Heaven’s door” with prayers for specific requests. Over the years we have dwindled down to a faithful four.

    We decided recently we wanted to do something for others and researched the Prayer Shawl Ministry. We loved the concept and began to teach ourselves to knit, laughing our way thru that process! Mind you the youngest of us is 62, oldest 75! Last night we spread the first completed shawl on the table, all laid hands on it, and offered up prayer for the specific person we had in mind to present it to. We were touched by the power of God’s Presence that fell on us during that time.

    Our recipient? A greeter at the local Walmart,who is going thru chemo/radiation therapy for cancer and has buried her adult son and husband in the past year. She has a beautiful smile and gentle spirit. Even though we have no idea what her spiritual life is like, we are humbled to share our first shawl with her…so she can wrap up in God’s Amazing Love, Mercy, and Grace!

    Friendships…old or brand new are truly a gift from God. Thank you Sweet Friend for that reminder! And the cake recipe…think I’ll try it.

    • Cathy Mayfield says:

      Ok, I guess I reply to too many of these! But I just wondered how you made the prayer shawl together? Or did I misread that?

      • Julie says:

        Cathy, I’m thinking maybe they knit shawls together and laid hands on one particular shawl to pray over it? It’s such a love-gift!

      • Brenda E. Greene says:

        LOL Cathy, “blog overload”, ya think?!! 😉 Actually Julie is correct, it was my completed shawl that we prayed over. However the Prayer Shawl Ministry website recommends passing shawls around the circle with everyone adding a row or two of knitting, praying as we do. Once we all get to a level we’re comfortable with, we plan to do just that.

    • Julie says:

      Brenda, Brenda…I’m tearing up now at your precious words. Such love. Such service. Ohhh, wowww, what a story.

      Your tender heart is so full of love. Thank you for sharing. This HAS to be good for your (our) souls!

  6. Cathy Mayfield says:

    Julie, thanks for your vulnerability in sharing this post. As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up with my mom as my best friend. I never visited or stayed over at friends’ houses like our daughters have! The one time I tried visiting someone, their German shepherd attacked me before I even got inside. (That’s a story for another time.) As an adult, my daughters still remain my closest friends. I know tons of people through homeschooling, theatre, scouts, etc. I think part of it may hinge on the saying I told my girls and how I must not fill my part: “To have a friend, be a friend.”

    However, I do have a story to share. In 1971, relatives on vacation hooked me up with a pen-pal from Zeeland, MI. We began writing, sharing hopes and dreams through the next eight years. When planning my wedding, I wrote and said, “Wouldn’t it be great if you could come to my wedding?” Of course, I wasn’t serious. She responded by a postcard: “I’ll see what I can do.” I didn’t put much hope in that.

    As you’ve probably figured out, Stacy came to my wedding. She arrived the night before and stayed till after the ceremony. Several years later, my husband and I went to MI to attend her wedding. We’ve only met in person one other time, when my oldest girls were four and six. We took a long trip and ended up staying with her in a travel trailer they owned. That time we got to spend several days together, attending the Holland, MI, Tulip Festival, seeing the sand dunes near Lake Michigan, and enjoying her pea soup (no one else did, but I loved it!).

    When we left for home, my husband commented that we could have been sisters, so alike were we. In fact, she’s the one who got me hooked on Guideposts Magazine. We’ve kept in touch through the years, still sharing hopes and dreams, my long-distance best friend!

    • Julie says:

      Cathy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a story!!!!!!!!! She’s your long-distance BFF/Sister! Just look what God provided. I love when He seems to sneak in the back door and surprise us–and the weddings! Sounds like a great movie (or novel!) to me. 🙂 🙂 🙂 :)…when something almost too good to be true happens.

      Love this!

      • Cathy Mayfield says:

        I’ll get right on writing that…umm, after the other dozen I’ve started and the rest of the American Girl series I’m writing for Faith and the devotional booklet I’ve started for Christmas and…hmm… 🙂 Think I better focus on today’s actual project – working on my blog strategy and a few more posts – since I’m meeting with my designer tomorrow! Can’t wait!!

  7. Kindness blows me away. The kindness of family, friends, coworkers. But the ones that REALLY blow me away are the kindness of strangers. Those are super cool.

    • Julie says:

      You’re absolutely right, B.J. Like what Brenda and her friends did for the Walmart greeter.

      The unexpected kindness of strangers….

      Hugs right back!

  8. marci says:

    Friendships, .Gifts from God– were would I start? God has blessed me, and I think of each friend as the jewels in my life. I, like you, am not one to quickly join a group. I am more of a one with one person.. so to be in a new group would take me out of my comfort zone for sure. I understand your feelings there. So much here I can relate to.

    Shelli L. wrote about moving a lot.. We moved a lot when I was a child, I understood her thoughts. When she wrote, ” I’ve learned that friendships aren’t really in our control … when you love, you just love. “.. that jumped off the page! How true. And what an insight. There are people who just wrap themselves around our hearts. Thank you Shelli!

    When Brenda G, wrote about their beginning a Prayer Shawl Ministry, that got my full attention, as you might guess. I so love the Prayer Shawl Ministry, and I wanted to do as they had done, start a little group to meet at the church, but that did not work out, so I stepped out in faith myself. God always provided for me in that. And it was, as the quote goes, When I started to crochet the shawls God provided the yarn. Thank you Brenda G, for sharing. I am always glad to see where someone else is in the Prayer Shawl Ministry, and read about their experiences.

    Yes, dear Julie, friendships can surprise us, and for sure bless us, and how right- when someone reaches out to us, and blesses us in ways we would not have even imagined. Friendships we never would have imagined, What great gifts they are! Oh, my, how could I list even part of the times when someone’s kindness blew me away? God has made me very rich when it comes to friends. I thank Him for that.

    Thank you dearest Julie for this post. And reminding me just how rich I am with the friends God blessed me with.

    God Bless,

    • Brenda Greene says:

      Awww Marci’s…sure wish you were close enough to join our little knitting group! I was literally blown away by God’s Presence around (and upon) that shawl last night. Even tho our plans were to present to people from our church, it seems God is leading us to reach out into the community. As a new knitter, I’m struggling to get my second one started! The first couple of rows have “tripped us up” many, many times. In fact last night we were talking about what we’re learning in this process. Things like perseverance, do it right the first time…or take it out (stop and fix a mistake when it happens), never never ever give up, and patience. We even wondered if the recipients of our shawls would recognize that a “never give up” attitude wrapped around them also. The list is endless but we are SO blessed by what we’re discovering along the way. So glad you didn’t give up either Marci’a …there’s a hurting soul out there that needs your next one! God bless!

      • marci says:

        Thank you Brenda, and yes, how I would love to do that. Since I am 67, I would fit right into your little group. I will settle with being with all of you “in Spirit” as you come together and knit the shawls. Yes, you are right about things we learn while knitting/ well, for me crocheting. I learned to knit as a teen, but it was so slow, that I gave it up. I didn’t have the perseverance at age 13. In my 30s a friend showed me how to crochet and I took to that like a duck to water.
        Prayer Shawls: I started making them in 2011. And it is so awesome the power in Prayer Shawls. It can be felt. Sometimes I will start a shawl and not know who it is for, or think it is for one person and it turn out to be for someone else. So I know what you mean there.
        God Bless you and your little group of knitters.
        I will be keeping you and your work in my prayers.
        Marci’ a

      • Julie says:

        Love your life thoughts about knitting, Marci’a. I messaged a friend in another state (an amazing knitter) to ask her a question. I’d gotten to the end of a row and was stumped. Like I’d lost my bearings. Even sent her pics. She helped me! All the way from NY!

        God is with you–with each stitch. I just love this. It’s such a sweetly personal event between you and Your Father, and it touches so many others. Even us right now reading!

    • Julie says:

      Marci’a, it’s a tiny bit cool this morning in GA–cool and cloudy. And guess what? My lovely green shawl you made for me is right here with me. Feels so nice.

      I hope everyone’s reading your thoughts–your heart, really. There’s something so powerful when God whispers, “Here’s something I want you to do. Go ahead, in faith. I’ll provide the way.” I’m experiencing this very same thing right now…with writing this blog and something else. He’s definitely working in our little group. Now, we just need one big ball of yard! 🙂

      • marci says:

        Thank you for your very kind words. So glad- and humble, that you are being blessed by the shawl. Yes, sometimes that is what God asks of us, to step on on faith, with just Him. Yes, putting my heart out there. Sometimes I do that then I hold my breath, and I know you understand that. This is such a wonderful support group to be able to do that. Yes, God is at work here in this little group. I feel it each week. And I so like your last words here– Now we just need a big ball of yarn! I can go for that! 🙂

        — It was so nice that your friend in NY was able to help you figure something out in your knitting.

        Also, I hope it wont be long before your book is available.
        God Bless!

        • I know, Marci’a. And my friend said the best thing. “It’s just sticks and yarn. No need to panic.”

  9. How precious, Julie! Makes me wonder what special gifts I’ve missed because of my own fears. Thank you for your transparency. And I love cake for breakfast! 🙂

    • Julie says:

      Thanks for jumping in, Vonda. Always love to see your smiling face and kind words. You’re a treasure, my friend. Wish I could deliver a pineapple orange cake to your house!


  10. Jenni M says:

    Julie, that cake does sound really good! And the recipe itself sounds like a very easy one to follow. I still feel kind of new to the kitchen, especially with baking, so this might be a nice easy one that I could do on my own. It sounds so refreshing, with the oranges. Thank you for sharing it!

    Julie, do you have any other GF recipes that you are especially partial to when you’re cooking or baking in your kitchen? I”ve strayed away from experimenting in the kitchen over the last several or more months but would like to find my way back again. 🙂

    I also was hoping to say a big thank you to Kim, too. Kim, I’m really interested in learning about the book Daring Greatly by Brene Brown that you mentioned in an earlier post – the keywords that got me hooked were “vulnerability” and “shame.” I feel I’ve had too little of the former and too much of the latter in how I look at and interact with the world around me.

    Hugs and blessings!

    • Kim says:

      Oh Jenni, tears! I am humbled to know my sharing is helping others. I had no idea when I answered Cathy that it would lead to so much more. Daring Greatly is a life changing book. I am adding you to my prayer list too!

      • Jenni M says:

        Thank you, Kim, thank you. Your prayers would mean the world to me. I think for too long I’ve allowed myself to be overwhelmed by fear of this world and shame of myself rather than taking the narrow but life-giving path of joy in my surroundings and peace in myself. Sounds crazy, when I see myself write it! Why wouldn’t I want joy? And yet, my mind has all too often fallen into the bad trap. For me that all boils down to simply not fully trusting, not fully surrendering my life, to Jesus. It breaks my heart to write this, but deep down inside I have to confess that that’s the truth.

        Is there anything I can pray for you, Kim? I find that in the past I haven’t really taken advantage of the privilege to pray. But what a humbling privilege it is – to talk to our God in our weakness, to talk to him about anything and everything, and he won’t judge us. He’ll listen, and he’ll take care of us.

        Looking forward to reading the book! Thank you again so much for sharing!


        Jenni 🙂

        • Just gotta say, I LOVE what’s happening here! I googled the book. I want to buy it in paper form, not on Kindle, so I can write all over it.

          So kind of you all to offer to pray for one another.

          Jenni, I responded to someone who wrote me privately about fear earlier today. I think most of us have one “something” that tries to tear us down, keep us small, and full of shame. For me, it’s been FEAR. I was over 50 before I began putting this together in my heart and mind. I think it started with my Surrender year. And I love how you said “privilege to pray.” You’re absolutely right!

          Hugs to our group!! Our fearless group!

        • Kim says:

          Jenni, What you wrote, I completely understand! Halfway through my journey, my priest prayed Love, Joy, Peace, Grace… over me. My response? To shake my head, “No!” I did not know what to do with those kinds of good things. I told him that I knew they were in my life but that I sort of took them and set them aside on a shelf. I did not accept them in my heart. I was living mechanically, emotionally shut off. He is who first sent me those TED talk links and mentioned the Brene Brown book. I learned that you can not shut off the negative without also doing so with the positive. Trusting and surrendering are not easy, even Jesus, because we are human. It takes practice, doing it over and over.

          Thank you for asking what prayers I need. I think I stumble most often with fears. I don’t think I am qualified to do what Jesus is asking me to, leading me to. So, yes, trust is probably a part it. But, I have to do in order to learn. 🙂

          Prayers! Kim

          • Wishing we were all sitting on my front porch together. Kim, what you just wrote is so powerful. “I don’t think I’m qualified to do what Jesus is asking me to, leading me to.”

            I think you just nailed it! That’s exactly how I feel. Maybe that’s when the Scripture comes in…when we are weak, He is strong.

            So cool that your priest told you about BB’s books.


          • Kim says:

            Julie, A giant porch party with this blog group would be awesome! I do have hopes that one of these days you and I will meet. We live too close not to. And with my oldest heading to UGA in the fall, I will be up your way more often. Can you believe it is supposed to feel like 100 degrees today? (at least here in McDonough) Should make for a very sweaty bike ride.

            Anyway, one quote I have hanging in my kitchen is “God does not call the qualified, he qualifies the called.” The other is “Gratitude is an ascending reflection, of a descending Grace.” Need these reminders daily.

            Here is a short blog post written by our priest. Go down to the one titled “A Victory Over Shame”. I work on the church website, proofread the blog and the newsletter… I about croaked when I read my name. So tempted to change it to “a friend”. Haha! 🙂


          • Kim, I’m going to the blog post right now! Thanks. Feels like we’re close to 100 today. Whew! And I’m too far from UGA.

            When my dream/hopes/prayers come true and my debut novel is published, I’d LOVE to have a giant Porch Party and invite every single blog reader. Wouldn’t that be fun!!


          • Just read the post, Kim! Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy! I love it!!! So stinkin’ proud of you!!

            Giant hug!!!

          • Jenni M says:

            It’s amazing how God works through even our worst times to bring out the spiritual best in not only ourselves, but also in others. Kim, thank you for sharing parts of your story with me. When I go through my “moments” :-), I close up and think that no one else is feeling like I am, and thus I’m a hopeless case. But reading about your challenges, and how God has been so loving and patient in continuing to bring you up and teach you as a member of his family, is so inspiring and hopeful to me. You will be in my prayers – that fear will NOT win out.

            The Fearless Porch Party – Julie, that sounds like so much fun! I hope your novel work is making good progress! Do you have any favorite and/or not-so-favorite moments from working on your book thus far?

        • Jenni, about novel writing… The entire process (years!) has whipped my tail, brought me to my knees over and over, and turned me inside out. The best part has been getting to know my characters. I have pages of interviews–I ask them so many questions about themselves, and while I’m writing, I look at their pictures.

          The worst part? Might be writing myself into corners. I don’t plot in details. I know where I’m going but sometimes my characters surprise me and take me to places I didn’t eve know existed. Then I have to “help” them out of their corners. Which can be scary, but the best part is discovering God’s with me even in those tight writing corners, and deep down inside, when I’m still and quiet, the answers come. Thank you so much for asking.

    • Jenni, I think the most amazing thing I’ve discovered about eating GF, is everything (I think everything) I used to eat, I’ve learned how to make it GF. I get Pamela’s Pancake and Baking Flour. I can make biscuits, cookies, and gravy with this. I buy it off Amazon–much cheaper. When I make spaghetti/lasagna I buy quinoa noodles. They’re delish! I buy Udi’s sandwich bread, and hotdog and hamburger buns in the freezer section at the grocery store.

      I’ve made incredible pizzas and now I’m buying the frozen ones–Freshetta (sp?) has a great one and so does Ancient Grains.

      I just heard we can make pound cakes! This person makes them from Cup4Cup flour, but I bet it would work with Pamela’s. You can probably google the recipe.

      I make dressing at Thanksgiving–just use GF bread and cornbread. Also GF chicken stock.

      I’ve made the best cobblers! I just use Pamela’s flour and my old faithful recipe.

      Let me know if you have any specific questions. Oh, yes! Almost forget. I make garlic biscuits too! I just use the recipe on the back of the Pamela’s flour bag and before I bake the biscuits, I brush on some garlic butter. 🙂 🙂

      • Jenni M says:

        Mmmm, cobblers and garlic biscuits! (Well, I should probably eat those separately, but oh do they sound good!) 🙂 I’d be interested in trying the quinoa noodles, too.

        Thank you for your input, Julie, and most definitely I’ll let you know about any specific questions I have. I do find myself trying to watch how many starches I eat during a given day, based on my health history, but I have also come to love making a homemade pizza or indulging in a GF dessert once in a while! My mom and I went to Door County in northern Wisconsin by Green Bay this spring and made a GF cherry pie (using Namaste GF flour) and pizza (using Chebe GF pizza flour). It was SO good! It was fun to “spice up” this pizza, too, with how I put the veggies and seasoning on it and presented it on the plate. It’s fun to get creative in the kitchen! 🙂 That has been a blessing of going GF – getting to know my way around the kitchen a little bit more!

        • Ohhh, Jenni–your pizza sounds amaaaazing! It sounds like you’re so dedicated to eating this way. i was diagnosed about 7 1/2 years ago and I’m still learning new things.

          I got to the point of feeling exactly how you said it–“it’s fun to get creative in the kitchen.” I completely agree. I decided to see it as fun–yes, it took me a while to get there.

          And almost every night I have popcorn–the real kind I used to make when I was a little girl–with oil and a pan. I use white kernel Orville Reddenbacher (sp?).

          • Jenni M says:

            Mmmm – your description of how you make popcorn reminds me of a chapter from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book Farmer Boy, when Almanzo Wilder’s family gathers around the fire after a long day of work and makes their own popcorn and eats apples for snacks!

        • The popcorn, Jenni–it’s a spiritual thing for me. 🙂 When I was little, once my mother had the kitchen cleaned at night, that was it. She didn’t want it messed up. Sometimes on Sat nights, she’d let us pop popped corn. Sooooooooooooo almost every night, I get so excited about fixing my popcorn. Isn’t that silly? And it means even more now that I’ve been diagnosed with Celiac. We went to a wedding Sat night, and I could only eat collard greens, but I came home and had my big ole bowl of popcorn…even added butter. 🙂 🙂

  11. I can be such an introvert- so growing in community is always a challenge. I loved how you embraced going to group and becoming such a big part of it! The cake looks so yummy, too!!

    Shortly after my diagnosis, I had written about my love of going to the beach. An acquaintance of ours, started taking pink hockey skate laces, and made a bracelet to sell, to raise funds for our family. She not only made them, she delivered them and mailed them all across the country. She raised enough money to send our family on a little vacation at the beach! I was so touched by her clever idea, her willingness to go so far, and how much she touched our family. So kind! I still see friends wearing their bracelets, 4 years later 🙂

  12. Julie Gilleand says:

    Other Leafy Julie G —

    Friendship, wow what a tough topic, well for me anyway. I’ve never made friends easily and tend to stand aloof also from crowds and activities. But the few friends I’ve made over time have been precious. Only, some just come into your life for a time and then your paths separate again. That’s hard when it happens and hard to understand. I’ve found myself often questioning whether it’s me. If it is my fault the friendship grew distant. Maybe there’ve been times that is true, but thankfully I don’t think it is the reason all of the time! I know that each time my life has gone in some new direction, I lose friends (or I lose some closeness to them) because they don’t “get” what I’m into now or maybe just are not interested in the same way. Like when I became a Christian at age 18, my BFF at the time didn’t understand my new convictions or why I wouldn’t join in with her anymore in certain activities, such as “partying”. She also got tired of hearing that Jesus was the answer to her every problem! I may have been too pushy with that but was young and a brand new believer full of zeal! Later when I started going to a different kind of church than most of my Christian friends, where they worshipped with their hands raised, spoke in tongues and preached about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, I lost more friends who didn’t understand or want to. Still friends, but they grew distant. Or I did maybe. Still more years later and I started going to a home fellowship and even my Holy roller friends drew away from me. Heck, the whole church shunned me, afraid I was going to confuse and deceive the other congregants, even though I never tried to talk anybody into my way of thinking or into leaving their church. Further down the road, I dipped into a dark valley and spent some time a little backslid. I made new friends in the valley but once the Lord brought me into a time of new revival and restoration, I lost my valley friends who didn’t think they knew me anymore! And so it goes. All of my friendships have been precious to me. But I understand we’re all on our own personal journeys and sometimes our paths cross and we get to enjoy each other’s fellowship, but there comes a time when our roads will lead us away from each other again. I think about the apostles, namely Paul. Think how often in his letters he longed to see the people in the churches whom he missed because his road kept him travelling far away, and how thankful he was when he got the chance to see them again finally. That’s life. I do have one friend who I treasure as my closest friend — Kathleen. We grew distant some time ago due to our paths going in different directions, but there is never a time when we finally talk on the phone or even rarer — to actually see each other — that the years don’t melt away before us and we are as close as ever again. I’m thankful for that. These days though, my closest friend is Jesus. I mean, that’s how it should be and has been for a long time, but most of the time I feel He is the only One Who really understands what I am going through, who really cares more deeply than anyone else and who is in it with me. No one really ever wants to walk through the valley with you. It’s too hard. But He will. And that’s enough for me.

    Sorry to go so deep! Your blogs always get me to thinkin’! Thank you for that 🙂

    Other other leafy Julie G.

    • Hey Other Julie,

      I remember you telling me about Kathleen. Sweet Kathleen. 🙂

      And you just got me thinking too…that every single friendship has been for a reason. Maybe to grow us up. To teach us how to love. How to let go. I believe we can learn something through even those friendships that–like you said–sort of drift away.

      You making friends in the valley–powerful!!!!!! Whew! And it sounds like you’re not a people pleaser. Even though people didn’t understand your faith, you keep on loving Jesus.

      Hugs from my little office in the woods. Lots of green leaves around me now.


  13. Aw. What a sweet gesture. Life is so much better and sweeter with friends, right?


  1. […] to a friend’s birthday party. We knew two of the six couples. Most of them had been in a small group together, led by the birthday boy Todd and his wife […]

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