I’m Free! Free to Love and Serve

Two weeks ago when I walked into Galilee Christian Church in Jefferson, GA, for a few seconds I forgot to breathe.

Oh, the talent~

The love~ (the men served)

The exquisite details!

I was speaking at their annual Spring Ladies’ Tea.

Each table had been decorated from someone’s heart and home. I’m sure there was a story behind every plate and cup.

Simply gorgeous~as my grandmother would say.ย 

A tiny peek of the splendor–

Place cards…

They say, “Welcome! You matter.”

Fresh daffodils–

Delicate pink roses–

Springtime dogwoods–

Hospitality and graciousness covered the room, but the love didn’t end with the decorations.

This was at my place setting.

A gluten-free meal just for me.

Oh, and the people–

Meet Betty Williams and Sarah Trippe.

Years ago, Betty Williams (on the left) began having tea parties to make ladies feel loved and accepted. She turns 92 this week.

Isn’t that a lovely idea?

Mrs. Williams taught Sarah all her secrets, including how to make scones. The tea ministry is still thriving in their church, and Mrs. Williams now serves tea to the ladies at her assisted living.

Have you ever heard of anything more precious?

Some new friends who sat with me~

Let me introduce you to B.J. Thompson, better known as the Queen Candy Lady.

She makes incredible candy. She even has her own business cards!

She’s 90. ๐Ÿ™‚

Such a joy to be with her~

And this sign–

I knew it had a message for me.

It’s as if God said, “Julie, pay attention. This is important.”ย 

Zack, the photographer, helped me figure out the meaning. While I spoke, he sat on the front row and had the most wonderful expressions.

Happy eyes. Lots of nodding.

Afterwards, we had a chance to talk.

“I wanted to get a picture of you holding up your chain,” he said. “But I wasn’t quick enough.”

I laughed. “Want to take one now?”


I’d used the chain to share how certain lies I’d believed about myself had kept me bound for years.

And when Zack took my picture, I understood the sign.

That’s it!ย That’s why I love the “I’m free” sign!

Jesus died to set us free.

To set ME free.ย 


When Jesus sets us free, we use our gifts, talents, and even our scars to serve others. Click to tweet.

“So, if the Son shall set you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36 Click to tweet.

Can you relate?

What areas of serving others makes you happy?

Do you have scars that serve a purpose?





  1. I held my breath all the way through these gorgeous photos…Julie, this is nothing short of God being glorified through the gifts He gave his children…the women who cooked and decorated- such a gift of creativity and through you…He gave you the gift of teaching – love you and love these precious women xo

    • I know, Robin. That’s exactly what hit me. They were all giving of themselves so beautifully. I love them–love you.

  2. Cathy Mayfield says:

    Oh, Julie, the memories, the nostalgia, the words… From the warm blessings I’ve received from just sitting in the presence of our beautiful seniors to the remembrance of a a special treat of a ladies’ tea I attended last year with a homeschool friend from years ago, much like the one you shared in your pictures. And on to the loving embrace from thoughts of the delicate tea cup collection I received as a legacy from my grandmother. Ending this onslaught of mind and heart vignettes is the desire I have held for quite a while to speak to women, to share my passion for their heart-stories, their lives-in-motion, their souls’ cries. Your ministry of words of faith and healing, your very spirit, entwines with theirs (and ours). Jesus… Jesus in you, Jesus in them, Jesus in us… Jesus to the world! Thank you.

    • Cathy,

      Thank you. This is what I felt.

      Your tea cup collection–I’m sure it means so much to you, and I can feel the love/passion to have to open up your heart women. Saying a prayer right now.

      And “entwines” such a beautiful word!

  3. Excellent! Looks like you had a great time.

    • Thank you, Chuck! I did. When I finally got to the place in life where I started caring more people than what they might think of me–whew. That helped free me up and break the chains.

  4. Patricia Martin says:

    Julie, those tables are breathtaking!(((: you look 40 and like you are enjoying a wonderful fellowship time. I love to cook for my family and since we have loved ones with problems, AA and Alanon has been a wonderful help for us.(: I bet the whole fellowship area smelled beautiful from the flowers. How was your Easter?

    • Patricia. Patricia. Patricia. You’re so precious to me. Thank you! And I got your postcard yesterday–will writing you back today. It was such a treat to get real mail. I’ve already loved pulling handwritten letters out of the mailbox. To me, that says….you matter. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Ohhh, Al-Anon.. Incredibly important to me. I rarely go a day w/out reading my from Al-Anon books. And right now, I’m in a ladies small group. We’re studying the book, Boundaries and doing the workbook along with it. Good stuff. Sort of like Al-Anon principles.

      You’re exactly right. The room smelled like springtime.

      Easter here, for me it was wonderful. My husband is on the set-up/tear down team at church. We’re helping a new campus of our church get started in our area. Right now, we’re meeting at a school. We were at all the services on Sunday. Hope your Easter was good. Did you cook for your family?

  5. Patricia Martin says:

    Xoxo ((: Love to you and yours. Did you see my postcard yet?

  6. Carm Russell says:

    The pastor’s wife sang the most beautiful song for Easter Sunday. I can’t remember the title but a line in the chorus goes,”Heal the wounds but leave tunes scars.” I had already started thinking about my scars both physical and emotional. And when I saw in my inbox that you had new blog post I was excited to read it. And then you ended with a question about scars. So here’s what’s been going through my mind…

    First am coming to realize that people and circumstances can be temporary but God-inspired occurrences in our lives. Temporary being a relative term of time.

    Second I spent 2009-14 raising funds for my local Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure. And I was good at it. And love meeting new pink sisters and many others as I traveled my own pink journey. Then when my husband passed I lost all desire for any of that. It just didn’t matter.

    So third in these past two years I’ve realized my own physical scars of breast cancer gave me a way to deal with the emotional scars of what I know deep inside was that I was losing my husband to his battle with cancer and other health issues. And more and more I’m okay with that. Another example was the gift of Dr. G! She came into my life just 2 short yrs before David passed. And was out of it a few months after. I thought how am I to survive. But again I thought where would I be if she hadn’t been there even for the two yrs she was my Dr. And again I was able to give thanks because she continued the healing process of my emotional scars.

    Last I’m free to move forward but still acknowledge my scars as needed. I have applied to go back to teaching. In a very different atmosphere than all my other 20 yrs; 197 students vs. 3500. I may not get the job but a year ago I swore that I never would go back!

    God has made me free indeed!


    • Carm,

      I’m tearing up. This is absolutely beautiful. So are you. You’re wide open now–healed and whole and willing to share your scars. And I know it wasn’t an easy journey. My favorite quote comes from a book a read years ago (rough time in my life). “Thank you, friend pain,” from THE INWARD JOURNEY by Gene Edwards.

      Sounds like you’re there too–where you’ve allowed God to touch your scars and use them for His Glory. Thank you so much for sharing with us. We’re blessed by your honesty. And your scars.


      • Carm Russell says:

        Thank you for saying so! It helps tremendously to hear kind words & of course the quote was perfect. Your blog affords many of us to share our stories. And in turn touch another. Dr. Paul Hewitt in describing the physics of Neeton’s 3rd Law of Motion (action/reaction) would say, “You cannot touch without being touch.” He was of course talking in the literal sense. But I cannot help wonder about how appropriately it applies in the philosophical sense.


  7. What a beautiful event! Such loving touches from ladies who knew their special guest would appreciate their efforts! You are blessed, Julie, and you are a blessing to others! Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you so much, Marilyn! The room was so full of His love–everywhere I looked, ladies serving and caring about each other.


  8. What a beautiful story through photos and kind words. What a blessing the Lord gave you, and I know they loved having you there!

    • Thank you SO much, Vonda. I loved being there. You can just feel it when you walk into a room–His welcoming Presence.

  9. Wonderful story! My “scar” is my beautiful 26 year old daughter I raised for a short time as a single mom. I have had many opportunities to share God’s unfailing love and offer of freedom through my story.

  10. Oh, Julie. I have scars. โ€œSo, if the Son shall set you free, you will be free indeed.โ€ Oh, glory! Glory to God. I do my best to allow God to use them as He sees fit. But sometimes I still feel that shackle on my foot. And sometimes it’s hard to feel totally free. My head knows it, but my heart doesn’t always feel it. You know? I love you. xoxo

    • I know exactly what you mean. What a perfect word choice–“I still feel that shackle on my foot.”

      It’s a daily battle, isn’t it? To keep looking to Him and trusting, and letting go of the bad thoughts. Sometimes it really feels like walking on water. When I take my eyes off of Him, I sink.

      Thank you for reading and commenting and for your precious insight.

      Your sister in Georgia who keeps kicking those shackles aside!

  11. marci says:

    Dear Julie, It amazes me how often your simple, blog, about the everyday things in life, even a tea party, can speak with lessons for that very moment in time. I know– it’s a God thing! I think, if I get to be 90, it will still amaze me! Here with your blog, and also often the reading in the DGP.. will touch me, and give me a message for that moment. You make me more aware of the lessons in the everyday and to look for them, to listen for them. ..

    Scars, I’ve realized, are good things. That means that part in our lives has healed. It’s the open wounds that are painful. Thanks for making me think about scars, and how they can be used. Scars make my heart more tender. They make me sit and listen when a friend calls and just needs to talk, even if I had a long to do list, or there was something I was hoping to do. .. And I think about the church here, with wounds and scars, as we have gone though this hard challenging time. I recently left a job at the church that I had for 36 yrs, and loved, as you know. And it was your support and prayers that helped me in that. It had became a burden, even though the job was worth while and served a purpose. I could feel some chains… and once I let go my first feeling was being free, having a burden lifted, and now I could love and serve better just in some other way. It didn’t take long to get the nudge to go to the church and pray for the church. With the fire, and all the church has been through since the fire, there are wounds. It is taking so long for the church to be completed. And though when I got the nudge, I wasn’t sure I was hearing right. “Really? Go to the church and pray? Can’t I just pray in my little prayer corner here just as well?” But, I know better than to argue, and so before the meeting at the church I prayed in the church. It is the best thing I can do now to love and serve. The healing of the church, and my own healing. I know God has a handle on all of this, and we truly are blessed. I am glad you share your story, both with groups like at the tea party, and also with us! Maybe that will make it easier for me to share parts of my life, if the Lord calls me to do that.

    Thank you for your tender and caring heart.

    • Ohhhh, how powerful, Marci’a–“Scars are good things. That means part of our lives are healed.” Soooooooo true! And they definitely make our hearts more tender.

      I’m picturing you right now in my mind, all those chains are gone and you’re lifting your hands in the air! You’re free!!

      You are one wise lady, my friend…to be called to pray and do it at the church, and then be obedient and go. Whew. You are listening to His Still Small Voice. I know, without a doubt. You have a tender heart and you lean into Him. I bet it He asks you to share parts of your life, when the time is right, you will. But the Holy Spirit isn’t pushy. He speaks so gently. And He’s patient.

      I learn so much from you.

      So much love tonight,

      • marci says:

        Thank you dear Julie, I read your reply to me and started to tear up. So true, your words, and so kind to me! Yes, it is a wonderful feeling to be free, and have the chains gone! And that makes me want to DANCE! And Dance, and Dance!
        Love you, Marci’ a

        • Julie says:

          Those chains are GONE! Now we can dance. I thought about you yesterday, Marci’a, while I was dancing in the car. Yes, I was driving and being safe, but I was dancing. ๐Ÿ™‚

          P.S. I know I owe you an email reply. So sorry! Will get back to you soon.


  12. Suzette says:

    My scar is the infidelity of my husband, him leaving us, and then dying from a bee sting just 11 days after our divorce was final. I was officially divorced, but feel more like a widow because I still loved him. Through God’s amazing grace I have been able to forgive, grow, and heal.

    My children have grown into amazing, strong Christian young men and women. They also have scars, but the fight only made us all stronger!

    • Suzette…..

      This is such a powerful story–the pain, the grief, the way life has unexpected twists and turns, and yet…

      God is good. And you and your children are stronger because of your scars.

      This is beautiful. My heart is warm now, from reading part of your story.

      THANK YOU. So grateful for your healing.

  13. Patricia Martin says:

    I love snail mail– now people all use email.)): How is your novel? Love reading your mom’s devotional pages and your devotional pages in my Daily Guideposts book! saying prayers for you both. Please pray for me as my eyes and my health are giving me problems? I was doing well, but then, spring came and pollen is now running our town and driving me nuts.(): Spring is beautiful, I would just love to skip the pollen though. When is your wedding anniversary?
    Hugs from AZ
    Patricia xo

    • The novel. I’m working on it daily. I have it plotted right here in front of me on my write board. I’ve learned something very important–at least for me. I have to kneel down at my desk and pray before I start writing. I usually light candles beside my laptop and ask His Spirit to show me Light and Truth.

      It’s coming slower than I’d hoped, but I know where I’m going with the story. THANK YOU. I know you’re praying for me.

      I know–the pollen! I swept our wrap-around porch yesterday and it looks like I haven’t even touched it. I have allergies too.

      Wedding anniversary–that’s not until Dec 9th. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I made another one of the incredible GF cakes with the little candies in it yesterday, and homemade cream cheese frosting. Delish!

  14. Oh Julie,

    Every detail was so exquisitely laid out- they thought of everything! The love that they showed. I’m so caught up in every little bit of it. How joy-filled and uplifting!! Sharing the making of my scars through words and pictures he helps me create, seems to resonate with others, and that humbles me so, that He makes me feel like yes, “I matter, just like we all!” Love you sweet one~

    • Love you too, Vicky.

      Thank you for sharing your life with me–with anyone who reads your precious words.

      Hugging you from here.

  15. This gave me duck bumps! I loved every word of your post and especially your picture with the man who nodded during your talk. Priceless indeed.

    • I know, B.J. That dear man. You know how when you’re speaking–you connect with certain people. Something about their eyes?

      He was one of those people. Kept me trusting God while I was talking.

      Duck bumps. ๐Ÿ™‚ I love it! Love you too.

  16. What a wonderful event to be a part of. Love those flowers and flower arrangement.

    • Thank you, Lux! XOXOXOX

      P.S. I tried to sign up for you blog posts…maybe I did something wrong. I’m not receiving them. Will try again.

  17. Jane Ensminger says:

    “What scars do you have that set you free?” Many years ago I had a supervisor who used intimidation to manipulate people, and as I later realized, to “chain” those who may have threatened her. When I realized, years later, what she had done to me, I also realized that I had used those “scars” to be a much kinder and more effective leader, as I treated people much differently and nurtured others to grow versus being threatened by their growth. Those scars from “you are not a leader” made me a much better manager/leader.

    • Julie says:

      Oh, Jane. Your comment is so powerful.

      Sometimes I wonder why it takes us years to be able to look behind us and see the Truth. Maybe God protects us until we’re ready.

      I can just feel His Presence all over your words. Ohhh, the lies we’ve believed.

      Keep us FREE. FREE indeed, Lord!

      Thank you for your precious words, Jane.

  18. Monica Morris says:

    What beautiful photos – one of my favorite things are old-fashioned place settings! And these ladies did such a tremendous job, didn’t they? I have my great-grandmother’s set of china that only comes out once in a blue moon. And you know what – those pretty dishes should come out more often. Every day can be a celebration, if we let it. And another of my favorite things are the stories you write so eloquently that always touch my heart. We are FREE indeed. Thank you, dear Julie, for the reminder. A timely one, too. God bless you always.

    • Julie says:

      You’re absolutely right, Monica. We should use our good china all the time! That’s one of the things I’m choosing to do this year with my word being Dance. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Oh, yes, these ladies did an amazing job. Blew me away….

      Thank you, my friend. Love how the Lord brought us together and we bonded so quickly.

      Your words are such an encouragement.


  19. Jo Ann Thomason says:

    Truly gorgeous decorations; beautiful pictures and remarks from you. It was a blessing to see and read this post, and the two older women were amazing!

  20. Julie says:

    Jo Ann, I can’t think about you without smiling. You are so dear to me…such a tender heart and spirit.

    Yes, these ladies were amazing. So much fun!!! You know, now that I think about it…I think their secret is this: They were free–free indeed!


  21. Using a teacup as an out reach tool has been my pleasure since middle school. Tea time is the perfect time for meaningful conversations.

    Thank you for share your pictures of the tea event, Julie. What beautiful tablescapes. The smiles shows the freeing message.

    Speak on!

    • You get it, Carolyn. You understand.

      I’ll always be grateful God lead me down the broken path to be a guest at your tea party.

      “Speak on!” I’m smiling.



  1. […] In May, I spoke to the ladies ofย Galilee Christian Church in Jefferson, GAย  at their annual tea party and wrote about it here.ย  […]

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