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? 




  1. Anna Haney says:

    I loved this. When I was much younger, I spend far more time writing than I do now. Life, I suppose, got in my way. But in many ways, I still write and I still find ways to be creative. When I was in high school and college, if someone had predicted I’d spend my professional life as an educator, I’d have laughed at the notion. Not me. Visions of me on the set of Good Morning America promoting my latest screenplay were in my mind. Interestingly, several of my dear friends, like you, write and blog. Yet I find my creativity, strange as it may sound, in my encouragement of them and their writing. I get as much joy from helping a student see his/her potential as I did teaching a little one to read and in finishing a short story. So I suppose that I love on people by offering encouragement. Perhaps 20 years ago, I would have been bothered by the fact that I wasn’t published. It does not bother me so much anymore. I get joy from seeing your blog each Wednesday, seeing your work in Guideposts, seeing Michelle, Leslie, and Tina’s blogs, and in helping a student to realize that she will be able to make those grades.
    Thanks for this post, sweet friend!
    Love you

    • Anna, your response is precious. It’s so real and tender.

      First, being published has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO with being a writer. It’s something God puts deep down in your soul. And you have the soul of a writer. One time, my mother said, “Julie, if you never write another word, you’re still a writer. It’s in your heart.”

      I do believe she was right. 🙂

      Do you have any idea how much your encouragement means to me????? I don’t think that’s one bit strange. So many times, I’ve pressed “publish” full of fear and trembling, doubting that my words would touch hearts. And then I see your sweet thoughts.

      That’s why I write.

      Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    • Cathy Mayfield says:

      Anna!! I didn’t realize you are a fellow teacher who finds more delight in helping students write than in her own writing! Oh, the joy I received this past Monday, when one of the boys in my class turned his face to me, and I saw his happiness at simply being accepted into the “circle of potential writers.” He came to the first class last Monday with a wary attitude, not sure of how he’d fit in this class of peers, especially with his sister who stole my heart from the first time she’d handed in a paper years ago, with a story so completely opposite of her personality! (These are homeschool senior high students, so we only have small numbers and four grade levels.) He seemed unsure of himself and the class, yet his peers’ response and mine to the in-class writing piece he shared with downswept eyes brought a smile and an “I-CAN-do-this” attitude. I wanted to hug him right then…but I held it back! Praise God for more writing teachers who see the potential these kids have of reaching their peers and growing to serve Him with their words! Thank you, Anna!

      • Lookey, lookey, lookey!!! Cathy and Anna are connecting again! I love when this happens. They both have a teacher/writer/encourager’s heart!

        LOVE THIS!!!

  2. Patricia Martin says:

    I wish I had friends as artistic as Yvette! Even her name sounds artsy and very French. I am so glad to hear about your novel and even more excited now that I know the character is an artist! I used to love riding my bike and I am a big fan of the dollar store.(: I am glad that you are creative- it makes life interesting and beautiful. I hope you have a beautiful first of fall day!(((:

    • Patricia!!!! Guess what? Katie and her new hubby took her new stepdaughter to Disney this week. I went to the Dollar Store and bought her surprises! I love The Dollar Store. I spent five dollars and she was thrilled. 🙂

      Me too. I had a yellow bike. I loved that thing!

      Hugs from GA on this fall day. I’m beginning to see a few leaves changing!

  3. Julie Gilleand says:

    “No one is trash and everyone can be restored”. Wow. Just wow. It’s not a new thought to me, but maybe just one that is really good to hear right now. I love Vivian! And the bicycle too! The idea of surrounding yourself with things that remind you of good times or good memories. I love that! I’ve always believed we should surround or fill ourselves with things we love. Julie Andrews singing “These are a few of my favorite things….” comes to mind! Not as if life is all about us and indulging in every comfort or pleasure, but because I think it makes or allows us to be more fully who we really are and I think that makes us more of a vessel for God to use the way He intended. After all, Who created us to love the things we do and gave us the talents or strengths we have? Sometimes when I have a really tough weekend, (and Julie I think you may know what I’m referring to) instead of succumbing to shutting down, crying, letting despair paralyze me, I try to fight back with stuffing good things into my day. Taking a walk, listening to my favorite music, journaling, crocheting, going to a movie, visiting someone special, taking a drive down country roads or to the lakeshore. It helps keep me level when something is trying to tip me over. And those things in turn inspire me as well as being healing. I also think surrounding ourselves with beauty and creativity lifts us from darkness and gloom. I’m no artist, but I am really appreciating the artwork of others, admiring the beauty and sometimes the message I see in it. Thank you Julie for sharing your friend’s artistry and for the links also. So cool you are finding inspiration for your story and character this way! Oh btw, happy first day of fall, Leafy!!!!

    • Leafy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m so stinkin’ proud of you, I just can hardly stand it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      I can FEEL the difference, reading your words right now!!!!!!! Sounds like you’ve turned a corner and are sailing downhill on your bike, hands in the air!!

      You are such a wise, wise lady. Strong faith. And you’re honest and kind too.

      I felt the same way when Yvette told me about trash/restoration…like blinking back tears. I knew it was big. And she told me soooo many wonderful things. I just need to pray and ask God how to share them with you all.

      Have a beautiful rest of this Leafy day.

  4. Julie, this reminds me of a quote from the inspiring McNair Wilson, “Put something in the world everyday that wasn’t there before.” I try to do that, and I know you do, and it looks like your friend Yvette does, as well. Love it! Thanks for this.

    • Amen, Beverly. And you’re a True Artist–I mean with paints and colors. Yes, I’m discovering I am too–but with words.
      Love you, my friend.

  5. Melinda says:

    Yvette is a treasure and so are you. Thanks for your post. Looking forward to part 2 already.

    • Melinda, I’ll always be grateful that you invited me to lunch!!! Wow–what God did through one lunch invitation!!!!!

      Me too!~I’m looking forward to next Yvette. I’m telling you, Yvette taught me a lifetime of stuff. Such a kind, wise, generous lady.

  6. Cathy Mayfield says:

    Julie, no one would ever think you are not an artist. The photos you take and share with us show your eye for beauty and charm, as do the arrangements in your home. Your style of dress, your yearning for simple wisdom, your words that shine Jesus’ light into our lives. You, Julie, are a beautiful piece of art, filled with all the creativity God continues to pour on you.

    My creativity shows through my teaching and my writing. Each time I pull together a lesson for my students and watch them enjoy it, I delight in what God has done through me. There is nothing better on this earth than to see the joy on a child’s face as he or she discovers the creative spirit waiting inside them begin flowing out into words, pictures, and actions.

    God’s creations create! We create art, yes, but the art of a simple meal of bread and cheese gracing a worn table, the art of a note tucked in a husband’s lunch saying, “I love you!”, the art of holding a child’s hand as they watch the stick in their fingers make color show up on a piece of white paper, and the art of a hushed prayer on the lips of an upturned face with tears running down a wrinkled cheek. Art…to truly experience it, we only need to get closer, ever closer, to The Artist.

    • Cathy….

      Oh. How. Kinda. Before I reconnected with Yvette, I thought art had to be painting with oil on a canvas.

      Your precious heart. I love how you just said it. You said, “My creativity shows through my teaching and my writing.” And you see God working in you. I’m now beginning to under–I’m an artist too!!!

      Ohhhhhhhhhhhh, and the art of a simple meal of bread and cheese gracing a worn table. BE STILL MY HEART. That’s so beautiful and so true.

      The child’s paper.

      tears on a wrinkled cheek.

      You’re an amazing writer/artist/teacher/encourager.

      Yes, The Artist. Our Creator.

      Thank you.

  7. marci says:

    This is so inspiring! Makes me want to do something artsy.. I enjoy art, and making something out of things that usually get tossed. Yes, and how true,.. it isn’t about the money we spend. How I enjoyed this weeks blog, and some of the comments. How true, and a good reminder, “…nothing & no one is trash. Everything and everyone can be restored.” I also like Bev V’s quote share- ‘Put something in the world every day that wasn’t there before’ What a neat idea! This week- here,.. with your blog, and the comments. .. This has been such a treat for me, and a spirit lifter.
    “Beauty in the Chaos…”.. I like that! I was able to read this earlier, and it lifted me all day long..
    It was a busy day, so just now able to post a comment. So many good inspiring thoughts, and it gives me a lot to think about. The world is a little brighter.
    I agree with what you said about being a writer. It can be in the blood, even if a person never has anything published. And there are so many ways to create. You do such a beautiful job with words, and I agree with Cathy, about your pictures; they are so good and makes me feel like I could walk right into them. They seem to say, “Come on in! Let’s visit a while!”

    Glad to hear that your daughter is doing so well, and it sounds like your little step grand daughter is being welcomed into your family with lots of love. Sounds like you and Rick are really enjoying having her as part of your family. Isn’t is wonderful to have a little girl to do things for and give little gifts to?

    Your friend, Julie “Leafy”.. I was so touched by her comment. I spent last week praying for her. I really like the things she said and how she kept herself balanced, and from sinking– when we have had a rough time of it. I really like her ideas and I can use those same ideas at times.. every one of them, .. the music, journaling, crochet, drive around the lakeshore rd.. — it is amazing how much we can have in common with each other.

    I have to say this before I go– Happy Fall!.. I hope your weather there is as beautiful as today was here. I love picnics in the fall, and this weather makes me want to get a picnic basket and head for the park.
    I am feeling so blessed.

    Bless you dear Julie,

    • Julie Gilleand says:

      Thank you for your prayers, Marci. I appreciate them, and you! We do seem to have much in common. We should email with each other, if you’d care to. I’m at No pressure, but might be fun 🙂 Leafy Julie

      • That’s the sweetest thing, you two–maybe striking up an even deeper friendship.

      • marci says:

        Thank you Leafy Julie, I will take you up on that.
        As I said to Julie,.. we are getting ready to go to a dog show, so I don’t have a lot of time right now, but will try to get a quick note off to you so you will have my e-mail address too. Yes, might be fun.
        Blessings, Marci’a

    • Marci’a. Art = your prayer shawls! The work of your hands, which is done with such love.

      I’m soooo amazed at the community we’re creating here!! How someone will say something and it will strike a cord with someone else! SO GOD.

      Thank you for “getting” how we feel about Rilynn. I’m so, so, so grateful. My first granddaughter.

      And I’m sitting here tearing up reading about you praying for Julie/Leafy…your heart. It’s so big and full and deep.

      Weather is beginning to slowly change here. Cool rainy days and just a few colored leaves, but it’s wonderful! xoxo

      Just now seeing Other Julie’s invitation to you! Wo-hooooooooo!!!

      • marci says:

        Thank you dear Julie, for seeing art in what I do with my hands, and the crochet.

        You are so right– God is so “in this place”. And working His wonders as he brings us all together.
        How wonderful that you are blessed with Rilynn. You said ‘first grand daughter’.. Do you have any grand sons?
        We have had lots of leaves falling here from the pecan trees, so it is feeling like fall.
        We are on our way to a dog show – so this will be a quick note. Puppy is going to her first Catahoula show. Yes, I do feel honored to have the invitation of the Other Julie. Blessed!
        May you soon be seeing lots of fall colors on your trees.

        God Bless,

        • Marci’a I know!!! God’s in this place–even THIS place.

          No. Rilynn is our first grandchild. Katie’s dealing with infertility, so we’re all praying….

          Hope you had fun at the dog show!

          Seeing a few colorful leaves and it’s a cool rainy day in GA.

  8. I just see and hear “freedom.” It’s taken me years to feel free … and I haven’t quite arrived, but I’m taking small steps to get there. I’m getting there! This was so encouraging. xo

    • Yes, Shellie. Yes, yes, yes, yes. And when we get free, we stop caring what people think. And we care more about other people than what they might think of us!


  9. A while ago I came to accept that I am an artist, just not in the physical create-with-your-hands kind of way. I’m an artist inside of my heart. A lover of words. A writer. It took me a while to admit that I am just as much an artist as someone who creates something you can “see”…like a painting on a wall. I put words together for readers to “see” the visions in their mind. Ahhhh…that’s the kind of artist God created us to be.

    • Yes, B.J. It took me sooooo long to begin to accept this idea–an artist inside my heart.

      Agree. 100%.

      Your Sister in Georgia.


  1. […] “Real creativity means listening to your heart,” my friend Yvette said. (I began sharing her story last week here.) […]

  2. […] (Parts one and two are here and here.) […]

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