Bone Broth for Blessings

For the past few weeks, I’ve taken dinner to my mother and stepfather on Wednesday afternoons. It’s not a big deal for me. They only live twenty minutes away. I love to cook and my mother doesn’t. She’s happy with smearing peanut butter on a banana and eating a bowl of ice cream.

But my stepfather Gene likes to eat–real food

To be honest, I used food as an excuse to talk to him. Nourishment for my soul.

As a retired minister and sociology professor, Gene knows people. And he’s lived long enough to know what’s important in life. He’s 85.

I trust him.

He’s never given me advice unless I’ve asked for it. This time, I had a lot of questions. 

I walked into their kitchen with a crock pot full of bone broth soup, warm cornbread, fresh fruit, and a plate of spice cake. And, of course, Hershey bars for Mother.

(Here’s a recipe for how to make bone broth from Wellness Mama.)

Mother hopped up on the counter and popped a grape into her mouth.

“So, Gene,” I said, trying to sound casual. “What’s life all about? I mean, what matters most? What’s my real purpose? Why am I here?”

He smiled, even though I’d asked a long line of heavy questions that he couldn’t be possibly answer in an afternoon visit.

“What you’re feeling is perfectly normal,” he said. “I wrote a little bit about it.” Opening a drawer, he pulled out a thick stack of papers. “It’s my doctrinal dissertation from June of 1967.”

My gaze landed on the word MEANING in the title. Which is what I’d been searching for. Meaning and purpose. What matters most.

“This is amazing,” I said.

Everything I wanted to know, I could find in Gene’s study.

“Do you mind if I borrow it? I’ll take good care of it. I promise.”


Before he left to run errands, we talked some more, and I followed him outside.

What happened next was one of those sparkly moments–the kind you know you’ll never forget. 

Standing by his truck, I flipped through his research, hoping to make sense of all his facts and figures.

“You really want to know what’s important in life?” he said.

I moved inside his open door. “More than anything.”

He looked up toward heaven. “Love well.”

“Love well? That’s it? Two words. How can life be that simple?”

“That’s it.”

His hazel eyes met mine, and I remembered how he’d been there for me over the years. Always compassionate. Never judging.

~~How he prayed with me during my two bouts of clinical depression in 1994 and 2012.

~~How he read Scripture at our infant son Robbie’s graveside and at our daughter Katie’s first wedding.

Gene was right.

The answer settled my soul. 

Love well.

Love God and love others. What else matters? Click to tweet. 

“He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Luke 10:27 NIV

What does LOVE WELL mean to you?

Do you have someone a little older and wiser to talk to?




  1. Julie…the “tag-line” for my blog and my life is: “finding inspiration for what matters most…”
    You’ve just given me so much inspiration dear friend …to you and Gene…thank you xo

    • Oh, yes! That’s right, Robin.

      You’ve taught me so much about life and love~~

      I’ll pass your sweet words along to Gene.

  2. Beautiful story and makes me miss those important people in life…my grandparents and parents and those who have spoken truth into my life over the years. A mentor of mine recently passed away and I miss her sage counsel. Enjoy your grandpa and love him well.

    • And surely this Wisdom I’m talking about doesn’t come early in life. Not usually, I’m thinking.

      Thank you so much, Bea. I’m so sorry about your mentor.

      Sage–it’s a wonderful word.

      Guess what I’m drinking right now? Hot peppermint tea with honey and lemon. I thought about you when I made it! I’m trying to learn to love tea.


  3. Kim says:

    This is a very special exchange. Thank you so much or sharing it. I bet that paper was a fascinating read.

    I am headed out of town for the next 4 days. I am attending level 3 of the healing prayer training. Its foundational message is: Listen, Love, Pray.

    • Ohhhhhhhhhh, Kim. I’m so happy for you.

      Your message is talking to me: Listen, Love, Pray.

      Gene’s dissertation? I couldn’t make sense of most of it. Way over my head. :/ I got a lot more from his two words.


  4. Ellen says:

    So thankful for this today. I’ve been lost in the SAD funk that starts this time of year. Looking for answers and hearing WAY to much shouting from the political scene. I have those mentors in my life too who would and do echo your words. What a great reminder that Father God gave us our purpose in scripture and Jesus echoed those words to our hearts. For me today I will hold on to “with all your mind” as mine tends to run all over the place and desperately needs a tether to cling to. I thank God for your inspiration Julie. Love to you sister in Christ!

    • Yes, yes, yes!! Love what you said, Eileen~~ I didn’t know you felt this way in the fall.

      Quietness is so important for quieter people like us.

      Thank you, my friend. Your words mean so much!

  5. Anna Haney says:

    Dear Sweet Julie,
    Finding meaning has been running through my mind a great deal of the time this year. What did it mean that I had breast cancer? What’s it mean that I had triple negative. All kinds of questions.
    Now that I am getting back into the groove at work I find myself daily with students who are seeking meaning. They want to know why a course is particularly difficult. Why they have to work two jobs while they are are in school. Why they are butting heads with their professors.
    There are days when I am not as patient with them as I should be, More often than not, I have had to stop myself from saying “suck it up, buttercup.”
    And then there’s this elephant (or donkey) in the room known as the presidential election. What does this mean? Why did we end up with the two that we have? What will my vote mean if I give it to one candidate over another, especially if the electoral college has the final say so.
    Gene is so right. LOVE WELL. That’s what Jesus would do. LOVE WELL. When I was questioning my cancer, I remembered that He sent it to me for a reason. All my students are also all His children. And He has already written the outcome of this election and has it under control. As the old hymn says, “we’ll understand it all by and by.”
    This post made me cry. Good tears though. Tears that had meaning. That were from a dear friend who loves well.
    Have a great day.

    • Ohhhh, Anna,

      Thank you. And you love so well too. It’s so obvious–with your students, your parents, your friends, and your sweet Don.

      I always smile when I discover you teared up reading a blog post. 🙂 If writing doesn’t bring feeling, why write? That’s how I see it, anyway. 🙂

      Your election thoughts/prayers, I totally agree. No other way for me to see it.

      Oh, that old hymn, yes, I’d forgotten how much I love it.

      Hope your Thursday is absolutely amazing. I love you dearly~~~~~

  6. Darlene says:

    What a blessing Gene is. I remember your Mom writing about how he came into her life and helped to heal her heart and your family after your great loss.

    Imagine if Gene’s words became a movement, a meme on social media and on tee shirts and bumper stickers. Imagine us no longer rehashing every political sound bite and every news story that seems to prove our opinion is the correct one.

    Just LOVE WELL.

    Everything else will fall into place.

    • I know, Darlene. I’ve been thinking the same thing….

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

      Such power in what you said–especially your last sentence. Wow.

  7. Lovely, Julie. What a wonderful way to sum up life! Hope you’re well. Missed you at Autumn in the Mountains.

    • I know, Margie. I missed seeing you too. I know it must have been amazing.

      Thank you, my friend–for being you.


  8. Patricia Martin says:

    Julie, that was so kind of you to bring Gene and Marion those tasty treats! You see, you started loving well already before you even knew what Gene said to you.(: Have you been dancing through fall? How is Katie and her family? We all are well here and still busy-never too busy to dance though.((:xoxox

    • Hey, Patricia!

      Yes, yes, dancing this fall. I’m still starting every day in my prayer journal this way, “Dance!”

      We got to keep Rilynn this weekend–first time she’d ever spent the night at our house. Had soooooooooooo much fun!! Rick let her ride the tractor with him. 🙂 So sweet.

      Gene’s been so good to our family. I’ll always, always be grateful he came into our lives.


  9. Cathy Mayfield says:

    Ah, Julie, the memories swirl…

    All the mentors and pastors over the years, grandparents – mine and my husband’s, and many more. Even our daughters have blessed me over and over with their insight and wisdom of God and His Word.

    One of the main reasons I love to volunteer at senior facilities is the stories. Looking into the glassy eyes of a veteran while he shares his same story over and over, sharing a cookie with a 102-year-old as she relates the troubles she had with one boy in her teaching years, holding an arthritic, palsied hand as the owner tries to put glue on a leaf during craft time and hearing how she did many crafty projects with her elementary classes… I couldn’t be happier and more in tune with the past, present and future.

    But one of the best pieces of advice I keep in mind came from an interview with John Schneider (of The Dukes of Hazard fame). He said, speaking of planning the day ahead, (may not be exact wording), “Every day, I think, ‘There’s something important I’m supposed to do for God today. And that changes everything.'”

    So, Julie, “Love well” is a very important thing we are ALL to do for God today! Let it change everything! Blessings!

    • marci says:

      Thank you Cathy for sharing that quote from John S. I had to copy that one down. Such a good thought to start the day. 🙂 Bless you!

      • makes me so happy when we can talk with each other this way, Marcia’!

      • Cathy Mayfield says:

        marci, you are quite welcome. I’ve used it with the writing classes I teach to teens, encouraging them to see writing as a means to serve their God. If you get a chance sometime, look up the interview and listen to it. I so enjoy many of his movies, etc., including my favorite movie of all time – Come Dance at My Wedding. <3 Blessings!

    • Cathy, your words are just beautiful. I could see the scene in my mind–you loving others. Surely God is in this kind of love.

      Wow–John Schneider’s quote. Incredible.

      Thank you, my friend. Your comment means so much.

      Saying a prayer for you and yours right now, as you love well today.

  10. Such sage advice from Gene. But I’m not surprised. What a grand opportunity to be able to read his dissertation, but I think you bringing them food is already an example of how well you are loving. Thanks for sharing. Love you.

    • I love you too, Beverly. Mom says you and I are a lot alike. 🙂 Huge compliment.

      Thank you for reading and for being you.

  11. “What does LOVE WELL mean to you?”

    I don’t know. I’m gonna have to think about it. lol

    Seriously, I do have to think about it. Because what you say the Lord tells us is true…but what does it MEAN to me personally. I think, off the cuff, that I need to love more deeply. That I need to love with respect to the feelings of others. That I need to take myself into account and love myself too. And that I need to love with abandon and not worry about what others might think about me. Does all that make sense?

    One thing I do know…I love you. Our friendship goes beyond any words I could say right here. Warm hugs to you! ((( )))

    • Ohhhhhhhhhhh, yes, what you said makes perfect sense. I couldn’t wait to read your thoughts on this one, B.J.

      I knew I’d love them. And I do.

      We need to catch up on your teaching workshop. I want to hear the details.

      I love you too.

  12. Mary says:

    Isn’t it interesting how we can get ourselves all tied up in knots and confusion, when love is the answer, all along? It’s all about paring down to the basics, isn’t it? You know Julie, you inspired me to have a Desk Party every AM, did you know that? I come to the office early and read the Jesus Calling for the day and just think quietly about how to carry it through the day. Often I try to pick one word from it, to carry with me. Simple…. Uncomplicated… And when I look at those words, many of them are some aspect of LOVE.

    Thanks for reminding me of that!


    PS. You have been in my heart lately a lot! Not sure why, but I am sending warm prayers your way!!

    • MARY! Wow!!!!!!! My heart is jumping up and down! You’re having desk parties???!!!! This. Makes. Me. Sooooooooooooooooooooooooo happy!!

      And it gives me ideas about how to help other people. Porch parties can’t be limited to just 6 a.m. on front porches between husbands and wives. Maybe the best ones happen just between God and us. Anywhere. Anytime. Thank you, thank you, thank you for letting us know!!

      Thank you for your prayers. I have a feeling God is turning my heart, working something deep. Just not sure what yet. But He has my attention, for sure.


  13. marci says:

    I was so looking forward to your blog today, and a ray of sunshine! I don’t have a lot of time but had to get on here long enough to see it, and comment. Sometimes the answers to life really are simple aren’t they?
    You certainly were Loving Well, as you took a meal to your Mom and Gene. First I read your blog then checking in, saw the Celtic Christian Tradition quote for today. “People grow when they are Loved Well. If you want to help others heal, love them without an agenda” Notice a theme here? When I get the same message from several places, ..
    Thank you for your prayers for my husband last week. It was a comfort, and they were answered today.
    Things are well. And in that way you were loving us well. God Bless you dear Julie,
    Until I can write more.
    Much Love, .. I will make the effort to Love Well.

    • Marci’a.

      Oh. Wow. You know, God works the same way in my life–I’ll get the same kind of message from totally different sources. And just look what you found in the Celtic Christian Tradition–(something I’d never heard of but it sounds so interesting)…and pointing to Love Well.

      Hmmmmmmmmmmmm….I feel God stirring something here.

      So glad to see the news about your hubby.

      Hugs this morning from Georgia~~

      • marci says:

        Thank you for loving me and mind well. In caring about us and your prayers. Celtic Christian Tradition is on FB. It popped up at some point and I clicked on the “Like”, and so it has been coming to my FB news feed. I still hope to send an e-mail your way soon. God Bless! And big hug! Marci’a

  14. You’re lucky to have him in your life.
    Love is the answer. Love is always the answer. Thanks for the reminder, Julie!

    • You knew this all along, didn’t you Lux? 🙂

      P.S. Am loving your Instagram pics! Wish we could meet one day. You have such a kind, gentle spirit.


  15. Karen says:

    What treasure! I remember when I was a young woman, there seemed to be so many older and wiser believers I would run to. The older I get, the fewer there are. How wonderful to have someone who has a life well-lived and wisdom to offer.

    • I agree, Karen. I guess as we get older, maybe more older/wiser people are in Heaven.

      Thank you for reading and for your precious comment.

      So much love~~

  16. Elaine says:

    I truly enjoyed your time with Gene. It made me remember to love well and love all. My husband Bob does so many things for me and our neighbors. I don’t even think he realizes how he loves life and helping. It is his natural state. He has Parkinson’s but is really doing well on the pills. He is 76 years old now but stays very busy and active. I pray and thank God for every good and wonderful day he has and we have together. I have had several surgeries and illnesses and Bobs help and love have brought me thru. I have learned a lot from his love and good nature.

    • Elaine,

      You know what? When I read your words (your heart, really) all I could think of was God’s love–how it just pours out….through Bob’s kindness and through the way you share your thoughts about him.

      I believe, my friend, you’ve landed on the secret of life. And you’re living it daily.

      Thank you so much for reading and for sharing your heart with us.

  17. Shelley Elaine says:

    BEAUTIFUL!!! BEAUTIFUL!!! BEAUTIFUL!!! Tears in my eyes. Thank you for sharing Julie.

    • Hugging you in my heart, Shelley!

      Thank you! Thank you! So glad this Bone Broth Blessing post made sense to you!!!

      Big hugs~~~~ and happy tears b/c you have them!

  18. Julie Garmon. xoxoxo I had no idea you’d lost a baby … a funeral. Oh, Julie. I didn’t know. I’m so sorry. I had a tubal pregnancy … my only pregnancy. Broke my heart. Thought I might lose my Katelyn to cancer. I only have a glimpse of what you’ve been through. “Funeral” changes everything. Everything. I love you, beautiful thing, you. And “sparkly moments” … I love that.

    Love well … what does that mean to me? It’s hard to put in words, you know? My grandmother loved me so well … my wrongs never lessened her love for me, she was my greatest fan, she sought after me. So her wrongs never lessened my love for her, I am her greatest fan till the day I die, and I always sought after her while she was living on this earth. And … if it works my way, this way–she’ll be the first one I seek out in heaven after my Savior. I hope I see her face immediately. xoxo

    • Shelli, I know what you mean about your grandmother. I feel the same way about mine! Totally!

      Oh, my friend….I didn’t know your only pregnancy ended this way. I’m so, so sorry. And then what you went through with Katelyn.

      I think we mamas have these special pockets in our hearts–these tender places–it’s the way life touches us so deeply.

      Thank you for your precious words.

  19. Dear Julie, we must meet some day, as I feel you are my friend. Love this post. I recently met a good Christian man and I’m either in lust or love … time will tell. 🙂 All I can say is I’m living in technicolor and everything looks more beautiful to me.

    • Linda!!!! 🙂 🙂 I’m jumping up and down in my heart for you!!


      Yes, we have to meet! We ARE friends!

  20. Finding meaning and purpose, loving well – these are the things to keep us positive and upbeat during these anxious times. Thanks for your blog posts Julie, they bring light and joy!

    • Julie Garmon says:

      Wow, Anne, this is so kind of you. Loved reading your note. Thank you, thank you! I didn’t realize you’d been reading.

      Hope your Monday is off to a beautiful start.

      Your friend,

  21. Colleen Capes Jackson says:

    Julie, Isn’t it wonderful how God sends us to encourage someone we love, and they encourage us ten-fold?
    God gave me an acronym for SAGE: Seek and get encouragement. I am learning that seek is the key word to finding treasure.

    • Julie Garmon says:

      SAGE. I love it, Colleen! For one thing, sage green has always been my favorite color. And what’s better than sage counsel.

      You are so precious to me. Thank you for letting me know this post touched your heart.


  22. Julie Gilleand says:

    This is very late, but thought while I was reading your blog today that maybe I’d have a chance to respond to both. At least I don’t THINK I responded to this one yet — life has been a whirlwind but things at work have slowed down a bit thankfully. I kept thinking about what “loving well” meant to me, both from the giving and receiving end. My grandma always made everything so nice for our family. Always showing such grace and hospitality, always doing little extra things to make people feel loved. I remember the set of books she brought me to read when I had the mumps as a child. The chicken-brocolli-cheese casserole she brought when I was very sick with an ulcer as an adult. What I loved most was how she doted on my kids. They did not have a father present in their lives when they were little, so it blessed my heart and their souls too when we’d stop by and she would be so happy to see us. She treated them like they were so wonderful and important to her and I loved that they had someone like that in their lives to treat them with such love. I thought it helped make up for what was lacking in their lives. Grandma took care of her mom and dad at the end of their lives and her husband, at the end of his. She took care of my oldest brother when Mom wasn’t up to it. She taught me to cook, clean and crochet, when my mother wasn’t able. She loved us well.

    On the giving end I was coming up short on thoughts, but one day last week as I was on my way to to pick up Mon to take her grocery shopping, I prayed as I often do before our time together, for many things, but I also found myself asking God to help me “love her well”. I had a flashback in that moment to this blog. It wasn’t the first time I’d prayed for that but it struck in that moment that this was my challenge (one of them) to learn to love well. She is not easy to love. Her mental issues have caused her to be very toxic to our family and has done much damage. But I do love her and have always wanted her life to be beautiful, instead of so racked with brokenness and illness. I can’t control that and I can’t fix it. All I can do is show her love. I don’t know that I’ve done that very well at all, but I pray God will help me to from here on out. I think her days are few yet in this life, but I hope to be able, by God’s grace, to love her well in those days.

    Thanks Julie for planting this seed. It mixed with my own prayer at just the right time to give me a knowing that God was speaking to me about my mom.

    God bless!

    — Leafy

    • Leafy, I want to become a woman just like your grandmother! Ohhhh, how I love these stories. She. Loved. Well. No doubt about it, and look–years later you still remember the books she brought you.

      You prayed to love your mother well. Leafy. You can’t imagine how that blesses me–to know that in our struggling (mine and yours both) that God would inspire Gene to say those words…then for them to be such a profound challenge to me that I’d blog about them–then to discover they’ve impacted this most precious relationship.

      My heart is full. I pray God teaches us to Love Well.


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