Problems and Praying and Ironing

Last week, a close friend and I had a long talk–the kind where you open your heart and share your soul. We mentioned a few things we’d been praying about for years and decided that certain problems just drag into infinity.

“I remember thinking that by the time I turned 30, I wouldn’t have any more problems,” I said. “Isn’t that crazy?”

“Me too. Definitely by 40.”

“Do you think anyone actually lives that way? Without problems?”

“If so, I don’t want to meet them.”

“Don’t you wish we could take a giant iron and smooth out all the wrinkles in life?”

“Yeah, a wrinkle-free world. That’d be great.”

Later that day, our conversation about a wrinkle-free life gave me a strong desire to iron. My ironing board is upstairs in a spare bedroom.

As I began ironing, I remembered my grandmother’s old wooden ironing board across the hall, in my office.

When my mother was growing up, a teenage girl named Jimmie kept her during the day.

Mother loved Jimmie.

She said Jimmie’s skin was the color of eggplants–so soft and smooth. Jimmie used to let Mother touch her arms while she ironed.

(Jimmie and Mother, May 1938, right after my grandfather died.)

When Mother was six, Jimmy had a baby boy. Being an only child, Mother was thrilled. My grandmother let Jimmie bring him to work. Mother pretended he was her little brother.

The two of them sat under the ironing board while Jimmie ironed.

And every time Jimmie ironed, she sang hymns–deep, rich praise songs from the bottom of her soul. It was a spiritual thing, Mother said.

Jimmie didn’t live a wrinkle-free life. She had problems like the rest of us. 

Almost seventy-five years later, my mother still remembers Jimmie’s faith.  

And then something caught my attention on my grandmother’s ironing board.

A recovery rock.

An Al-Anon friend painted it for me a few years ago.

An unmistakable softness filled me. 

Peace doesn’t mean the absence of problems. Peace means believing God’s in control. No matter what. Click to Tweet. 

“… In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV Click to Tweet. 

Have you ever wondered if other people had problem-free lives?

Is there a Jimmie in your life–someone whose faith helps keep you centered?  

Thoughts on trusting God? 





  1. Anna Haney says:

    Oh, Julie. My family has the same kind of ironing board. When we were looking at this house, the former owners had one in the front hall. Momma and I loved it.
    Change is my word for this year and I am seeing changes–some I like and welcome more than others. But amid all the changes, there is one constant: God.
    A coworker is dealing with lots of issues in her life–addiction, recovery, bankruptcy, divorce, etc. She’s in the hospital for what I suspect are emotional issues. She is not, however, a person of daith. It breaks my heart to know this and leads me to ask myself if I’ve been a strong enough witness. But I dint think she understands that with God in her life, problems will still exist, but she’ll have greater strength to handle them. He will help her iron them out.
    Love you

    • Your heart and your love is so evident. I can feel it in this comment.

      I’m saying a prayer right now for your coworker-that she’ll feel His unfailing love even with these wrinkles all around her.

      You were so brave to pick CHANGE this year. 🙂 🙂 🙂 Because it means letting go of control (at least to me).

      I might start ironing on this old ironing board again. There’s just something special about it.

      So much love to you, and I’ll keep praying. Let me know…

  2. Patricia Martin says:

    I thought that most people had trouble free lives, but then I got to know them… My family has strong faith and we all try to trust God or rather trust God to take care of the people in our lives. How are your mom and Gene? How is your family including little Rilynn?
    P. S. I am beat, but the semester is still ongoing.():

    • Hey Patricia,

      Isn’t that something–I thought the same thing–that most people didn’t have any problems. Then you find out the truth.

      Mother–I went with her to the the rheumatologist today. We both had checkups. She’s doing pretty well. Of course, he always draws blood.

      Little Rilynn–Oh, I love hearing all about her when Katie calls. She is just wonderful!!

      Let’s see, it’s already February, and you’ll be finished with this semester in just a few months. Like 3? That’s not terrible. You Can Do It!!!

  3. Mary says:

    I once heard this story: Suppose everyone in the world stood in a big circle, and tossed their problems up in the air, for someone else to catch. In the end, we would probably all rather have our OWN problem back than to deal with problems that other people have.

    It made me realize that we’re all struggling. I like what Robin Roberts’ momma used to tell her: “Everybody’s got somethin’.”

    We’re all together, rowing in the boat, and we all have blisters on our fingers and sunburn on our shoulders… but we have to trust in the One whose hand is on the rudder, steering us along. : – )

    • marci says:

      As I read your reply, I just wanted to say, “Yes!” and “Amen”. As I read Julie’s blog, I was thinking about the same thing- what Robin said, her mama always told her, ‘Everybody’s got something’. I had not heard about the circle story before and glad you shared it. That is so true. If we look closely to another person’s problems, and their sorrows, we would not want to trade places with them. I am so glad we are all here together each Wednesday, and rowing the boat together. So glad the Lord is knitting us together and the strength He gives us.

      • Me too, Marci’a! I learn SO much from each one of you–my friends.

        Lotsa love happening here!

      • Julie Gilleand says:

        Marci’a, I just had a vision of all of us in a big enough boat for everyone, everyone manning oars and singing in lots of rounds — Row, row, row your boat … gently down the stream, lol! I love this picture, but I know sometimes we are not going gently down the stream, but rather wild white water rafting where we are needing to hold on for dear life! But long as we’re in it together, it’s all good, right?!!

        • Great visual, Leafy!!!

        • marci says:

          Leafy, Yes! you do paint quite a picture with your words added to Mary’s words, A gift you have. Thanks for that visual. I agree with Julie. We are forming a chain aren’t we? or a circle. Blessings and more Blessings!

    • I love this, Mary. I’m seeing it in my mind–all the problems being tossed.

      Just so ….. I don’t know goofy, that for so long I didn’t realize that “Everybody’s got somethin’.”

      Thank you.

  4. Marcia Bargo says:

    I have decided not to wait and contemplate a response. If I do that, I will do as I have the past few posts–get cold feet and not respond. You have to understand a little background about me. I soooo identify with your mom. I am not on any social media–that is, until today. I became acquainted with you and your mom through Guideposts. I had been given the books for over 10 years and didn’t begin reading them until 3 years ago. You and your mom have become friends to me through those devotionals and we haven’t even met. I e-mailed you earlier and you so kindly responded. This is all new to me, but I feel so led to finally participate. I have found I look forward to your blog post each week.
    We all have the wrinkles of life. Some are very deep and hard to get out. Some very light and easily removed. But, the sprinkling of God’s grace in our lives, softens them and removes them. But there is always another one to be worked on. I call it growing in grace, and yes, The Lord always has sent people to give encouragement along the way.
    I will look forward to future blogs and comments and becoming part of the group. I find it interesting that we are “neighbors” of a sort. I live in Loganville, so maybe we will bump into each other at Kroger someday–I hope so.:-)

    • donna says:

      Marcia, we are all so happy you are now online. Your writing is beautiful and insightful and it reaches out to embrace. I hope you continue to share ‘growing in grace’. We need your beautiful and simple and ‘softened’ sharings to remind us of our own roads and to watch for our own possible grace. Many, many thanks.

    • Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, Marcia!!!

      Welcome, Welcome!!!! I’m hugging you from Monroe~~~

      I’m so glad to know you’re reading and connecting with us!!!! The circle can always be made wider. We learn from each other, and we love on each other. 🙂

      Love your insight on wrinkles in life. So beautiful how you worded it.

      Thank you for trusting us and joining our circle!!!

      You know that Starbucks in Loganville? That’s were I had coffee with Mary a few weeks ago. 🙂

      So much love~~~~~

      • Marcia says:

        I feel so welcomed. Thank you for the warm reception. The Starbucks at Kroger?:-) I know you probably mean the other one–would love, love, love to meet you if that would work out for you. You name the day and time and I will order my tall toffee nut extra hot!

        • Sounds good! Do you work there, Marcia? I’ll order my dark roast, sugar and half & half. Any day that works better for you?

          • Marcia says:

            No, I don’t work there, but seems when I shop there half of Walton county is there. I work in Lawrenceville, but would like to meet and have coffee. I will look forward to next week’s blog post.

        • Can’t wait, Marcia! Coffee and friendship. xo

    • Mary says:

      Hey everybody! We all need to skooch our chairs together just a wee bit closer around Julie’s virtual kitchen table to give Marcia some space at the table! LOL! Nice to meet you!

      PS. Hey, you two! Don’t go wild at Starbucks, okay?

      • Hahahahahaahah, so funny, Mary!

        Always room for one more friend at this party.

        We’ll try to keep it down at Starbucks. I guess dancing’s not allowed there. 🙂

    • marci says:

      I will also add my welcome to you! I know it can be a little scary to put a toe in the water and go with it here on line, but it can also be such a blessing. I hope we continue to see you hear and are blessed with your added insight. We are all on the same jouney, and if we can be there for each other that is such a good thing. It is nice to see another “Marcia” though you probably pronounce your name different from me. Enjoy your coffee time! We will be there with you in spirit! 🙂

      • 🙂 Marci’a–Of course, I’ll have to fill y’all in with the details. We’re emailing back and forth right now about when it’ll work out.

  5. I always thought people had more trouble-free lives than me. That is until I got older and realized we are all the same. No one can get through this life without some kind of problem affecting them. The big difference is for those of us who have a loving God to lean on. He is always there for us no matter what. And, although I tend to worry about things, it is a big comfort to me.

    My word for the year is “peace” and I was so excited to read what you wrote, Julie. “Peace doesn’t mean the absence of problems. Peace means believing God’s in control. No matter what.”. Yes! This really spoke to me this morning. I am going to jot it down in my prayer journal so I can read it when I start to worry about things.

    For another post that touched me, I thank you, Julie. Take care, my friend. xxxooo

    • Eileen,

      It means sooooo much to me to find out my posts touch hearts. That’s why I do it. And my husband and I pray during the week for God to lead me to what to write about, and we pray for my readers….my bloggy-friends.

      It’s an honor that goes straight back to The Father–writing and loving people.

      I just love how He worked out the PEACE connection. So much bigger than me.

  6. Carm Russell says:

    When I got married I was gifted with wooden ironing board from a relative in my husband’s family. I loved it!!! It got broken sometime in the middle years of our marriage. Later on in the mid 1990s my husband’s grandmother broke her hip and I stayed with her at her apt so she could recover at home. She asked me if there was anything of her’s in her storage I wanted. I found an old rocker and a wooden ironing board. I have had them ever since. To Grandma I was never David’s wife or her granddaughter in law. I was her granddaughter. Grandma’s faith was common sense and she took God at her word. When our first child passed Grandma said many things but the one I carry in my heart is this, “I expect God knows what is best!” From anyone else (people in general) might be offended by those words. Grandma offered then in the same way she took God at His word…simply, to the point, and always from the heart. Love love loved hearing your ironing board story. PS – the child I lost used to lay under that first wooden ironing board when she got so sick and my husband’s shirt needed ironing!

    • Okay, y’all just keep giving me Holy Chills, Carm.

      The ironing board… And your child. The ironing board. I’m so very sorry.

      To think that something as simple as an ironing board would have a message for us. His message.

      Would love to have met your husband’s grandmother. And this many years later, her simple approach and love for God has an affect on you.

      I’m writing down her words and putting them beside my desk. “I expect God knows what is best!”

      Thank you–words for us all to remember.

      • Carm Russell says:

        Thanks Julie. By all of us sharing our words we can help each other! I miss Grandma’s simple faith and I miss of course my daughter. She would be 29 on 2/13. Today I’m wearing red for her and my younger brother who both suffer(ed) from heart disease. All is good but February is a rough months sometimes!


        • Filled up with love for you, Carm.

          My daughters are 31 and 34…can’t even imagine. I’m so sorry. And also for your brother.

          Family is forever.

          Hugging you from here–

          Praying God sends an extra dose of Grace today, and every day this month.

          • Carm Russell says:

            Thank you. His grace is Amazing!!! Blessings from you and others keep me moving closer to God. Philippians 1:3…

        • We’re all in this together, Carm–lifting each other up.


  7. Julie, love, love, love this post! I have my grandmother’s ironing board (my grandfather made it, but I’ve never thought about using it in decor. Thanks. 🙂

    • Vonda, the ironing board really serves a purpose! It’s to the left of my desk. Now….if I’d just tidy it up a bit. 🙂


  8. Mary says:

    Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.…James 1: 2-4. This may be the TOP winner of verses I wish WEREN’T in the bible…I have even heard a translation…”welcome them as friends.” I wouldn’t say we are friends yet, but problems don’t anger me as they used to. I think what is hard on our prayer lives..are the long-term issues…family issues…health issues…the drip-drip-drip of them…the dark cloud that follows them that never seem to go away no matter how much I pray. But today I am ok. Really ok. Give us our DAILY bread. And He has so faithfully. That legacy of faithfulness can best be seen in the rear-view mirror…and best seen over time. One good reason for getting older and loving God. Love your posts, Julie! Look forward to Wednesday. I, too, have that ironing board!..Love you much, thank you, and sparkle on!

    • Such a good Scripture for our conversation, Mary.

      I’m picturing the rear-view mirror. So true!

      Do you iron with your old ironing board?

      Thank you so much for your thoughts…for your heart.


      • Mary Lester says:

        Julie, it’s Mary Lester…probably need to put my last name since we have more than one Mary around the cirlce…could be Mary Elaine?…Do I iron with that old ironing board?…no, I have repurposed it… your idea(in the picture) is much more creative…mine, strictly functional. “No one has a wrinkle-free life…” such a great take away! Will be rolling that around in my heart for a long time. xoxo Mary Elaine Lester 🙂

        • Okay–I thought that might be you, but I wasn’t absolutely sure, Mary Elaine Lester.

          So….how have you repurposed it? Do tell….


          • Mary Elaine Lester says:

            Ok…I am “do-ly” telling the repurposing of the old ironing board. I live in a craftsman house that is almost a hundred years old. I have never been much of ironer especially since I discovered Downy Wrinkle Release! 🙂 So my “twin” ironing board is leaning up against a wall standing guard in my bedroom protecting an unsecured opening to the crawlspace below the house. I had forgotten it was there until this blog. Like God’s protection. We can forget it’s there, but that doesn’t mean his angels are not on guard protecting us. XOXO, Mary

          • Love your spiritual analogy with God’s protection, Mary!

            xoxoxoxo And I can see it in my mind.

  9. Julie Gilleand says:

    Hi Julie,

    How nice to have someone like Jimmie as a spiritual mentor growing up! So glad your mom had her and has those precious memories too. First of all, I can’t remember the last time I ironed! I don’t even own an ironing board anymore. But I used to. My favorite ironing board memory has nothing to do with getting wrinkles out of clothes, but rather of taking the curls out of my hair! As a teenager, I had my mother iron my hair which back then was very long, thick and curly. I think I loved having it done more than how it looked when finished. It felt so good! I inherited that ironing board when I moved into my first apartment and used it regularly, until I didn’t anymore. I’m sure I got rid of it during one of our downsizing moves. But yes, how wonderful it would be to be able to just iron out all the wrinkles, kinks and problems from our lives as easy as if with an iron! I love your grandma’s sweet little wooden ironing board!

    I grew up in a family that loved movies and television, so I think I grew up expecting life to be like in the movies. As you know, in most movies or TV shows, all is well by the end of the story and usually only takes an hour or two! Everything irons out so nice and neatly too. Oh how I’ve pined away for a life that plays out like that! My mind knows it isn’t so, but my heart still yearns for it. I guess that’s just because I yearn for Heaven one day. There won’t be anything needing to be ironed out there. It will all have been done already!

    By the way, I think you are to blame for my needing to order Jimmy John’s for lunch today at work! Do you guys have those down there? If not they are like Subway, only they deliver. Your telling about your mom’s Jimmie got it stuck in my head! That is neither here nor there, but thought I’d let you know!

    Thanks Julie for sharing about Jimmie and ironing and your God is in Control recovery rock. I know I will think of you each time I see an ironing board — in a store or hotel room or on TV! And each time I order Jimmy Johns for lunch, I’ll think of your mom’s Jimmie and will thank God for the people he’s put in my life to help me on this faith JOURNEY (my word). People like you and so many others 🙂

    God bless!


    • Leafy~~~

      Jimmy John’s? No. I’ve never heard of them. Love their name though. 🙂

      And I’ve always wondered if people really ironed their hair. Yours must’ve been soooo long.

      You’re exactly right–life in the movies. Only when we get to heaven will our lives be perfect and smooth.

      You’re a part of my JOURNEY too. We’re all in this together–so grateful for our little group.

      Thank you for being you.

      • Anna Haney says:

        I have a vivid memory of my mom ironing while watching a Billy Graham crusade, There is a picture of me “ironing” on my toy ironing board next to the TV. Since I don’t like to iron, I just realized I need to turn on the Billy Graham crusades that air on Saturday nights (they are repeats, of course), and iron away. Iron and pray.
        Love, Anna

        • Anna, that’s so neat. You gotta share the pic!

          I have another kind of visual. My mother used to iron while she watched a soap opera–As the World Turns. Then she decided watching soaps was a sin. 🙂

          Iron and Pray your Worries Away!

    • marci says:

      Leafy, I remember the– ironing hair fad , when I was a teen, though I never had a need to do that, lots of girls did. However, I remember well using little OJ cans as curlers.
      Yes, the journey, so glad we are all traveling together. What a good word to have for the year.

      Julie, I had to smile when you wrote, …”Only when we get to heaven”. I had a conversation with a friend, and said wouldn’t it be wonderful if ..A, B…C.. she paused then said, ” That is when we get to heaven” So true.

  10. marci says:

    Julie, this is the message I needed. I had the same thought when I was younger, at somepoint things would be smooth and problems would be (dare I say?) behind us. But there is always something. A famous preacher once said, we live on railroad tracks and good things & bad things in life are side by side at the same time. At the same time something bad is going on in our life, something good may also be going on in our life.

    Yes, the wrinkles, I like the way you put that.
    I like the old ironing boad. I confess, I don’t remember the last year that I actually ironed. It jarred my memory though. The one that I have was my great-aunts, who I lived with for some years, and was so dear I called her Mama B. (That ironing boad is wll over 50 yrs old). My husband and I lived with her when we married and cared for her the first 2 yrs of our marriage, which was the last 2 yrs of her life. Seeing how God got me through that time, when she was so sick, and when at 22 I did not know how I would make it without Mama B. or any good coming from her death (breast cancer). A good thing–It showed me the kind of man my husband was, to work all day then help take care of her at night. That is a caring heart. I know the situation I am dealing with now, the Lord will also eventually iron out those wrinkles too.
    God Bless,

    • Marci’a,

      Your heart is so pure. And grateful.

      I just love it when we can look back on the tough times, and realize how God was right there with us–through people like Mama B and your husband.

      Praying God’s Presence and Peace will fill you as you keep ironing.

      So much love

      • marci says:

        Thank you Julie, always the spirit lifter! And the glue that holds us, the little spokes together, with God as the hub in the wheel. … and so the journey continues.

        I have been fed so many ways with you and everyone here with your blog. “My cup runneth over!”

        Blessings and Love!

  11. Patricia Martin says:

    Thank you, Julie!(: God and your prayers have been carrying me through this semester. ((:

  12. Shelley Elaine says:

    Julie, how BEAUTIFUL! Our precious daughter is in the middle of a health crisis and multiple dr visits and waiting on results and I have been trying so hard lately (esp this wk) to TRUST God has got all of this. And, looking back to trace ALL the ways He has prepared us for this…the details are astounding and when I stop and really look, I feel a deep peace, and can say, “You’ve really got her don’t you Lord” but then, I was telling my husband that at times the fear just wells up in me and then I read your post and see those two reminders (Jimmies ironing board and the rock) and I can take a deep sigh of relief…God IS in control. Yes, He is. Thanks for sharing such a NEEDED reminder. Blessings sweet friend!

  13. Tears of Love right now, Shelley.

    May He be your Peace and fill you with Comfort and Grace.

    Lord, thank You that nothing takes You by surprise. You are holding Shelley’s precious daughter, watching over her. She’s YOUR daughter. You love her with unfailing Love. I pray today is a good one for her, and I pray You bring healing.


  14. Kim says:

    Sweet post Julie. Many of the comments are interesting, thought provoking tid-bits. Love what Mary said! Both the circle and the boat.

    I believe we all want wrinkle free lives. So often others don’t show their struggles, therefore we think we have to pretend we have it all together, so we portray that to the world by not talking about our hurts and troubles. A vicious cycle. But, what a disservice to those who are younger. Plus, we are holding back on what God can take and glorify.

    Even though my 2016 word is Create, in all this, I’m seeing my 2014 word, Share and my 2015 word, Light. I can’t leave them behind just because the year has passed. They will forever be incorporated in my life and walk.

    Great reminder that the more we get to know one another, the more alike we all are than different.

    • So true, Kim–“What a disservice to those who are younger.” You’re absolutely right!

      And God uses our struggles, doesn’t He? They soften our hearts and teach us to care.

      I’m sitting here nodding my head. My words will always stay with me.

      Keep on creating.

      Absolutely. We’re more alike than different. We all hurt. We all struggle.

      Thank you so much~

    • marci says:

      I am so glad you said that! Even when I year is over, and we may have a new word, our older words do not leave us! What a nice insight. So true,, we don’t have to leave them behind and they continue to be “our children” — or maybe put better would be, our mentors. Thank you for that lightbulb moment.

  15. That’s a beautiful story about your mom’s childhood. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Cathy Mayfield says:

    Au contraire, Julie. I have someone in my life who has kept my faith “centered”…that is, centered around her! And Faith it is…with a capital “F”!! Our daughter Faith!!

    A few years back, before many magazines had given up the ghost, I began writing inspirational articles for one in which there was a weekly or monthly theme – sometimes a word, sometimes a phrase. This time, they had given us a question to answer: “How does your faith grow?”

    Thinking on that question, I decided a slight change in wording was necessary…a small change, only one letter…and really not even the letter, but its case. I changed it to this, the title of the piece I began writing: “How does my Faith grow?” I even toyed with the subtitle – “How many candles on my Faith’s birthday cake?” It would match the growth stages in our daughter’s life, including the bumps and bruises and the victories and celebrations along the way, with those same stages in a believer’s faith life.

    Alas, the magazine died before I had a chance to finish it, so what’s a writer to do? Well, turn it into a book, of course! And so, a book with the same title hit my mind, heart, and spirit, and has never let go. I’ve had three editors ask for a proposal, but every time I sat to write, I knew it wasn’t time. My Faith/faith still had some growing to do!

    And now? I’m glad I waited, because the new phase in Faith’s (21) chaotic life has thrown me and all those who love her in a whirl. Only four months after breaking up with her boyfriend of 2 years, she came home from visiting a friend in KY with a ring on her finger, telling us she got engaged! Wait for it…to the best friend of her former boyfriend, who just happened to be dating HER best friend a little over a year ago! Talk about hanging onto Faith…oops, I mean “faith”!!

    I think I’ll hold on that book for just a bit longer! What do you think? 🙂

    • WOW-ZERS!!! What an amazing story, Cathy!!

      Sounds like a Hallmark movie, doesn’t it? And great material for a novel. 🙂 🙂

      Good for your for waiting on God’s timing. Love this story! Sounds like the end hasn’t happened yet.


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