Sacred Moments

I’d planned to share my word for 2018 today, but a very close friend passed away on Friday afternoon, December 29th. Denise and her husband Glenn were in our small group. She was three years younger than I am. She had colon cancer. Of course, we weren’t ready to say goodbye. 

Friday night, my friend Karen and I took down Christmas decorations before Glenn came home from the hospital–without Denise.

I texted Robin, my best friend of 40 years, and asked her to pray.

“Julie, you’re living in sacred moments. Be aware that when you’re at the house, Heaven opens up when someone goes Home, and for a brief time, we get a glimpse.”

Holy goosebumps covered me. I knew Robin was right.

We moved quietly while we worked, surrounded in Holy awe–the supernatural kind that only comes when we rely on His Strength. 

As we boxed up Christmas ornaments, three memories of Denise tiptoed through my mind.


Soon after Glenn and Denise joined our small group, she offered to send out emails and organize our meals. I’d planned to tackle everything by myself–the way I usually did life–without asking for help.

I wanted to take charge and prove I could do it on my own.

Ever-so-gently, Denise assumed the roles I don’t enjoy. Organization and administration. She even made it look easy, and freed me up to do what I love best–cooking and listening to people.  

When I relaxed and let go, others did too, and our small group functioned as the Body of Christ–each one of us uniquely gifted, following His lead.


Shortly after she was diagnosed, we invited Denise and Glenn for a Saturday morning breakfast at our house. Just the four of us.

After we ate, we sat on the front porch, drinking coffee and rocking and talking.

Not about cancer.

Gentle conversation–about love and what matters most.

Even though Denise was going through chemo, she celebrated the moment with us.

After they left our house, she’d be heading to Emory Hospital for more treatment, but she didn’t let that stop her from having fun.

She was so much fun. Always. 

That day on our front porch, she kicked back in her rocking chair and laughed.

She told us when they went camping, Glenn did all the cooking–and what a good cook he was–and how much she loved spending time outside with her family and friends.

Her happiness wasn’t tied to money or things.

Joy meant praising Jesus with open hands.

KOA camping for a weekend.

Being with people.

She was all about relationships with God and others.

I’ll never forget Glenn sitting on our porch under the cross, smiling at his wife–nothing but pure love shining in his eyes.

We waved as they drove away, and a sweetness lingered in our home long after they were gone. 

I want to be more like Denise, I thought.

More like Jesus. 

I want to live in the moment with my heart wide open.

Fearlessly. Unhurried. Unworried. 


In October, a few ladies gathered at Karen’s house to eat dinner and pray for healing. We knelt in her den floor around the ottoman, our makeshift altar, and ohhh, how we prayed.

Before we went home Denise shared a childhood memory.

“I must’ve been nine or ten,” she said, picking up her Bible. “We were at church one Sunday, and toward the end of the service, the pastor waved his Bible in the air. ‘This ain’t no play-pretty,’ he said hoarsely. ‘It’s living and active. It’s sharper than any two-edged sword. Don’t ever forget it.'” (Heb 4:12)

Denise never did. 

Because of her faith, I won’t either.

I put a sticky note on my Bible as a reminder, and I’m never taking it off.

Denise demonstrated how Grace is greater than all our fear, and that Love triumphs over everything.

Even cancer and death.

And Love always wins. 

Denise experienced The Ultimate Healing. 

And something else.

Robin was right.

The moments Karen and I spent in Denise’s home after she went to Heaven were sacred. 

But Denise brought the Truth one step closer.

She taught me that all our moments are sacred.

Especially this one. 

Her funeral is today at 2 p.m. Say a prayer for her family. You’d have loved her.

P.S. My word for 2017 was Love. Denise “loved the Lord her God with all her heart, all her soul, all her mind, and all her strength.” Luke 10:27.

I chose my word for 2018 because of her.

Next Wednesday, we’ll talk about the New Year, what matters most, and our words. 

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments–whatever comes to your heart.

Much love,
















  1. Anna Haney says:

    Oh, Julie. I’m so sorry for your loss. It seems that there are so many people suffering losses right now. So sad. Hard too know what to do or say. Praying for you and this lady’s sweet family.

    • Thank you, Anna. It made me so happy to see your name pop up yesterday in my inbox. Means soooooooooooooooooooooooo much just knowing people care.

      All my love,

  2. I love the mind picture of all you gals around that ottoman praying. Miss you, Julie. (and let this serve as a reminder that you are a fabulous writer…goodness, your blog posts always pierce my heart and help me to reflect on Jesus…what a sweet gift!)

    • Hey My Friend Kellie~~~~

      Thank you so much. That ottoman–we were in a square, holding hands, praising and praying–even doing some crying.

      I’m not sure what it is about me and writing–why the blogging style just feels good right now.

      I love you, always and forever! And I’m sooooooooooo very proud of you!

  3. Joan Johnson says:

    Julie, I feel your pain. I too have lost a dear sister in Christ who taught me so much about faith. She was also a victim to cancer. But she used that horrible disease as a witness to so many. She used it to show what real faith in God and His timing is all about. This woman literally preached her own funeral, recording it ahead of her going. I have never sat through such a powerful sermon as the one she gave to her family and friends. This amazing friend was so gifted and flamboyant!. My heart misses her each day. We would call and discuss our Bible study over the phone. I know as the days pass and your friend ministers to your heart through her spirit that God will use you to continue her witness. I’m praying for you and her family today.

    • Ohhhhhh, Joan~~~~

      I’ve never heard of this–preaching your own funeral, but I’m so moved. I have tears. What a lady she must’ve been. What a heart for God and others. I bet you miss her every day.

      Thank you for understanding and for caring. Means so much right now.

      So much love,

  4. sandy Coffey says:

    First, I am so sorry for the loss of a dear friend. She Had what others are looking for in life. Take time to see what is in your heart and follow it. I am still trying to see what word I want to use this coming year. I will have it for sure by your next post. So many words to choose from but you must mean it and do what the word says. You are a blessing Julie and you give me strength through what you believe every week when I read your story. I, my self do not care about money or material things in life that is not the answer. I still get messages from God on who to send cards to each week. Sent two yesterday as it came to me. Take care.

    • Sandy, do you realize how powerful that is for you to listen to Him and send cards???? Wow–I’m sure you’re blessing people and left and right. And spreading a little love is always a good thing.

      I really struggled with my word this year. I’m saying a prayer that night that your word will come to you.

      Thank you for reading this post and for caring. It means so much to know people care.

      Much love,

  5. Vicky says:

    Such a beautiful tribute to a very special woman. I love that she chose to live fully in her moments, despite cancer. And you’ve celebrated her so well. So many tidbits of grace and wisdom in your words. I’m going to pray now, for her family, and for your group. I’m so sorry for your loss. ❤️

    • Hey Vicky,

      Thank you. I feel so incredibly close to you, Vicky. Probably because you live with your heart wide open (and you’re an incredible writer!)

      Means so much that you read this and commented. And that you care.

      I love you,
      Julie…. and thank you for your prayers. They need them xo

  6. So sorry for your loss, Julie. What a wonderful friend to have and to be! Happy New Year as we absorb the sacred moments!

    • Hey Margie,

      Thank you so much. I’m giving you a hug right now.

      Sacred Moments. Yes. All are sacred moments. Lord, help us absorb them.

      Much love,

  7. Marci says:

    Julie what a beautiful tribute to Denise. I will be praying for her family today.

  8. Vicki Hales says:

    Julie this is the most beautiful tribute. Thank yo so much for sharing what a wonderful soul Denise truly is. I know she loved her small group so much. She told me all the time.
    My life won’t be the same without her.
    I’m glad I got to meet you but I’m sorry for the circumstances.
    Thank you again

    • Hey sweet Vicki,

      Thank you so much for reading this and for your kind words. I’m hugging you from here–hope you can feel it when you read this.

      So much love to you and yours.


  9. Barbara Hail says:

    Julie, this has touched my heart deeply. What a precious lady. Thank you for this beautifully written post.

    • Thank you, Barbara. It touches my heart to know this post moved you. Thank you for taking time to read this and for caring.

      So much love,

  10. Julie, thank you for sharing your heart. Denise and her husband sound like such precious friends. No matter the circumstances, I always hurt when someone close passes. I’m praying for you as you move through this tender time. Thank you for sharing your heart about Denise. What a living testimony to God’s love.

    • Your word nailed it, Lisa. “Tender” time. That’s exactly how it feels. Thank you for caring and for reaching out with your comment.

      Means so very much.

      I love you.

  11. Cathy Mayfield says:

    As I’m praying for your pain and the family at this time, memories of my aunt’s death a year ago in December fills me with the same pangs of grief. It’s been hard this year, but as I write this, I’m sitting beside our almost two-year-old grandson, knowing his brother will arrive sometime in February, bringing even more joy to my heart. Yes, I miss my aunt…and my dad…both lost to cancer, but they would both have loved this little boy and laughed at his antics. And that’s where I will focus my heart’s cries – to be someone who people will remember as having loved the little ones and the rest of her family…and her Jesus…with all she had!

    Blessings of peace and comfort, dear Julie!

    • This made me smile, Cathy. Your grandson is adorable, and I’m reminding of the circle of life. I sense Peace in this comment.

      Thank you so much!

      Sending a hug from cold, cold Georgia tonight!

      • Cathy Mayfield says:

        Not as cold as PA! Possibility of -10 to -20 wind chills tomorrow, with overnight lows of -2! The whole US is having a mini Ice Age!

        • Wow!!!! I can’t believe it!!

          I got in the car yesterday to run errands and the thermometer said 9 degrees. i thought something was wrong with the thermometer! 🙂

  12. Casey says:

    Praying for all of Denise’s family and friends. Thank you for sharing about this beautiful sister in Christ. Hugs to you, Julie, as I know it’s hard to lose someone so special.

    • Casey, thank you. I can literally feel your kind heart as I read this. It means SO MUCH to know people care.

      Hugging you right back!


  13. Carm Russell says:

    “Alive, Alive
    Look what Mercy’s overcome
    Death has lost and Love has won”

    I used 3 songs for the slide show at my husband’s service…
    Son of a Preacher Man because he was…, If by David Gates also our wedding song.
    The words above from the Natalie Grant song, Alive, were touching my heart at the beginning of 2014. So when my husband passed in February of that same year I knew the song had to be part of the service. They still resonate with me today.

    Prayers for your friend & her family.


    • They did the same thing for me just now when I read them!!! That’s the conclusion I landed on–with all of my emotions. LOVE WON.

      I can feel the love you poured into your song choices. Beautiful, Carm. Just beautiful. Thank you for caring. I’m hugging you from here.


      • Carm Russell says:

        Thanks Julie! You are so thoughtful to each and everyone one of us who read your blog. Sending hugs to you as well and continued prayers for Denise’s family.

        • Carm, you all took time to read this post and care–no way would I dare not respond to everyone! It’s an honor to me that you’d read and comment.

  14. Elaine says:

    I realized I misquoted the man, not pity party, but this ain’t no play pretty. I was typing through tears of finding something to hang onto.

  15. Elaine says:

    I had a year of surgeries and way too many hospital visits. I was getting down on myself when my husband said Elaine, you could be looking up at earth. I hadn’t realized how much I had been down on myself and how it affected him. I too have a husband like Denise’s, my husband is there for me at all turns of the events. Writing play pretty on my Guideposts Journal and my Bible and posting it on board.
    Thank you for being right on the mark.
    Praying for you and your group for their loss and of course for Denise’s family.

    • Means so much that you posted this comment. Thank you. Can’t believe you’re actually jotting this on your journal, Bible, and board. Wow…..

      Thank you for your prayers, my friend.

      I hope you’re feeling much better and pray 2018 brings peace and better health. xoxoxoxo

  16. Patti Wiersma says:

    Oh Julie. I am so sorry for your loss. Please know that I am praying for Denise, her family,, you, and her friends.

  17. Dorinda says:

    I am so very sorry for your loss

    • Thank you, Dorina, for taking time to read this post, comment–and for caring.

      My the Lord bless you~~~~~


  18. Debra-Diane McDonnell (Chaplain DD) says:

    I know your heart is heavy dear friend; you will miss the physical presence of your friend….but she has not left you…she has just completed a full move inside your heart to live. She taught you things in her own special and unique way, and you learned those lessons well. You are now the Keeper of the Sacred Moments for her. Live your life as she lived hers; that will be the greatest gift to her memory you can offer. Peace to your heart and peace to her wonderful earth family; we all mourn when we lose a presence, but oh, how Heaven rejoices! She is at home in her place so lovingly prepared for her by Jesus; and He came back and took her to it. In the midst of our pain….rejoice for her and for all the gifts she left you with.

    Much love, Julie.

    • Elaine says:

      How wonderful your words are, thank you that we all can see them.

    • Marci' a says:

      Thank you for your words. I know they were meant for Julie, yet they were also a comfort for me and I think perhaps some others here in this little group. Would it be OK if I copied your words? God Bless you!

      • Debra-Diane McDonnell says:

        Marci feel free to copy. I’m a Chaplain and if anything I say can hel someone else, that’s my purpose. May your heart also be comforted for whatever it needs.

        • Keep coming back, Chaplain DD!!!

        • Marci' a says:

          Thank you Chaplain DD. I do hope you will be back here again. I sometimes wish we had a Chaplain in the area were I live, especially when there is a loss. God bless you and all your work as you serve the Lord.

      • I know! I love what Chaplain DD said. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Chaplain DD,

      Whoa….your words–you are so very wise, my friend. Thank you. I love what you said. I just keep reading your comment over and over. It really ministered to me.

      You understand.

      Thank you–with so much love,

  19. Brenda Greene says:

    Oh Julie my heart is tender. Today’s GDP devotional and these words have reminded me of just how fragile life really is. The fast and unexpected death of my very first friend a week before this Thanksgiving left me heartbroken. Bonnie was three and I was five when her parents built next door to us. It was a charmed childhood. We had lived next door to each other even after we married. Always healthy until some nagging symptoms in June sent her to the doctor. It was October that she received the complete diagnosis of bladder cancer that had spread to her liver, lungs, and lymph nodes. She wanted so much to live to watch her only granddaughter grow up; she was four. I had buried my only sister in June and my Mother-in-law in July, yet this one took me to my knees. She had so much living to do and we laughed about sharing room in assisted care when the time came…big sigh. Even tho I’ve been sad, I’m looking forward to having her greet me when it’s my time to step over. So yes Julie Girl, I know your pain and am sending prayers for all of you that grieve. Only God…

    • Brenda Greene says:

      Oops… DGP (Daily Guideposts, 2018)

    • Brenda,

      I don’t know if I can write anything worthy to express how my heart hurts for you. I’m so very, very sorry. I can’t even imagine…..


      Just shaking my head. This kind of love and loss cuts so deeply.

      I pray you can feel my love for you right now.

      Thank you for your prayers. I DO feel them.

      Wishing I could bring you a big bowl of home chicken and rice soup I made tonight–wish a piece of cornbread.

  20. Julie, I am so sorry for your loss. I am praying for Denise’s family and asking God to comfort your heart.

  21. Esther says:

    What a beautiul way to honor your friend by dedicating this post talking about her, through your words I’ve gotten a small but powerful glimpse of someone that truly loved God wirh all of her heart, somone who fought and lost the cancer battle but has won the war. I never met her but she was my sister in Christ, because we are all part of body of Christ, in Him we are one!!!
    My condolences to her family and friends. Praying for salvation, comfort, and hope.

    • Thank you, Ester. Yep–you nailed it. That’s who she was and what happened. Thank you for taking the time to read this post, to comment, and to care. You shared a little piece of your heart with me.

      It made a difference.

      So much love,

  22. What a beautiful tribute!

    • Thank you, Sherry! Thanks for taking time to read this and to comment! Hugging you from very cold Georgia tonight.


  23. Colleen McAllister says:

    Oh, Julie, this one really touched me. We have all lost someone we care about, and only the fact that we will reunite with them one day makes it bearable. I had never realized about the glimpse of heaven each time, but that is so right. How blessed you are to have such wonderful friends, and how blessed I am to have many also. Thank you for reminding me.

    • Hey Colleen,

      Robin’s words were just priceless. Good friends are like that, aren’t they? They always say the right thing at the right time. And words can bring healing.

      You’re right. We’ll see each other again.

      Thank you so much for taking time to read this and especially for caring. I can feel it in my heart.


  24. Denise looks so happy in those photos. She must be even happier now by God’s side. You did a wonderful job telling us about her, about your feelings, about LOVE. Thank you.

    • You’re SO right, B.J. What a wonderful point.

      Mother said, “Julie, Denise is more alive now than she’s ever been.” I love what she said.

      And I love you. So, so, so much.

      Always and forever,

  25. Julie Gilleand says:

    Julie I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend. I pray for comfort for you and for all who loved her. I like the words you shared about sacred moments. Reminded me of what I’ve read that the Jews believe — that God bends down nearer to Earth during the passover. I don’t know why or how that belief came about but it seemed true to me. Not just because it’s a nice thought, but something just feels holier during that time, as if His presence is so near. It also makes me think of Ps. 34:18 “He is near to the brokenhearted, and close to those with a crushed spirit.” And maybe that is because Jesus is “a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief”.
    God bless, Julie.


    • Leafy, once again, you brought tears. Thank you. Yes, yes, yes. To what you said. It touched my heart.

      So much love,
      Other Julie

  26. Sherrie says:

    Simply stated but powerful- Heaven opens up when someone goes Home, and for a brief time, we get a glimpse.”

    My DJ just walked through the house and said “Mom, Dad and I can take Glenn golfing sometime when the weather warms up” brought tears to my eyes. I am thankful he is thinking of Glenn and wants to do something for him. I pray we always set the example to serve others and show the love of God through serving.

    • Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, Sherrie,


      So precious. I just feel like all of us who loved her have this special bond.

      Your DJ is one amazing guy. I can promise you this–she loved him. So much. She loved your whole family.

      Always and forever,

  27. Debi guise says:

    Sacred is the word …amen…so sorry for your loss of a great friend .

  28. Beverly says:

    This Holy season we lost so many. Some close, some young, some very old and sick. For me I just keep hearing of deaths through the Holidays. My husband I learned of 8 deaths of people close to us from Dec. 20th to Jan. 1. I pray your friends passing changes something in you for the good. That your mourning is brief and the JOY returns to your memories very soon.

    • Beverly, I’m hugging you from here. I hope you can feel it. I’m so, so sorry. And right now, I’m praying for you and your husband–for hope and healing.

      Much love,

  29. Marci' a says:

    Oh, dearest Julie, I am so sorry. We know that we are safe in Jesus’ arms, yet it doesn’t keep us from mourning the loss, and not seeing dear friends. I will be praying for you, and for her family and all those who love her and mourn for her. And for this tender time— Sacred moments. I like that, so well said. They truly are. For you, for her family, for all who loved her and saw the light of the Lord in her, may the Lord wrap you all in his comfort and may you feel His love during this time. Heart going out to you.
    Much Love, Marci’ a

    • Thank you, my friend. Yes, a “tender time.” You said it so beautifully. That’s how it feels.

      I love you. I’m so grateful for your prayers.


  30. Becky Boyd says:

    Julie, I am so sorry for the loss of your sweet friend. I too went to a beautiful memorial service this morning for my dear friends husband. I’m sure he is dancing in Heaven right now with Jesus as I’m sure your friend is doing the same. We here down on earth mourn their passing and the loss of a loved one….but they are so happy being healed and in no pain and seeing beauty that no earthly words could ever describe. Prayers for all of her family and friends to feel Jesus warmth right now as well as my friends family too. Beautiful heart felt story as always.

    • YES. To everything you said. YES. And every time we remind each other about heaven, it brings more healing to our hearts.

      Thank you my friend. Means so much.

      I’m so very sorry about your friend’s husband. Wish I could give her a hug. I’m saying a prayer for her right now.

      All my love

  31. Kim says:

    Julie, What a beautiful tribute to your precious friend. Those memories you shared point to the depths of her faith, knowing what and who really mattered. Just think of the number of extra individuals Denise has touched through this blog post. She didn’t know many of us, but her fingerprint is now on our lives too.

    I love you friend. Hugs and prayers.

    • Kim,

      What you said is so precious–“her fingerprint is now on our lives too.”


      Thank you. Your words touched my heart so deeply. I appreciate it.

      So much love,

  32. Julie Akes says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss but even more thankful for what you have gained in your friendship with Denise and the love you shared for each other and for Jesus. Love and hugs to you and God bless you. Julie Akes

    • Yes, Yes, Yes, Julie. And so nice to meet you. Please come back and visit with us here on the blog.

      Big hug!


  33. Jacqi Barker says:

    Julie, I am so sorry for your loss. I am praying for you and her family and friends.

    It’s coming up on a year since I lost my mom (January 12th.) She had just moved in with us after being released from the hospital a week before. I was alone with her in the house, and knew she was gone before I even checked on her that morning. I just felt it. It was absolutely a sacred time… those moments I had alone there before everyone started arriving after hearing the news. I will always cherish it; the presence of God that was so intense. I hadn’t been able to put it into words until reading your post.

    • Debra-Diane McDonnell (Chaplain DD) says:

      Jacqi, I got goose bumps reading your post. I am so sorry you lost your wonderful mom last year; but what a heavenly moment you experienced; the raw Presence of God right there with her and with you. Such a blessing in a time that breaks your heart, yet puts a soothing balm on it to know that indeed, at your darkest moment ( and her brightest), He was, in fact, RIGHT THERE where He said He would be; that He would never leave us – and He proved that He didn’t. I am grateful He gave you that gift as He gathered your sweet mom unto Himself. Prayers for you as the anniversary approaches…..but somehow I know He will be there with you on that day as well.

      • Jacqi Barker says:

        Thank you so much. I believe that too. God orchestrated her passing to the last detail, it’s hard to explain. But it proved to me that God was in all the tiny details and took care of her and us in those last weeks and months leading to that day. It was amazing. God cares so much for us and doesn’t forget those who are left behind after our loved ones leave us. I need to write about it someday.

        • Debra-Diane McDonnell says:

          Yes! Please do. Not everyond gets to experience that. Hugs to you and yours.

        • Jacqi, I had no idea. When you wrote this, I felt His Spirit all over your words, coming through them–so tenderly. Thank you for sharing. So exquisite and deep and real. I’m with Chaplain DD–I hope you write about your experience.

          I love you. Your words ministered to me. To me–what you said meant, there’s no need to worry about how we’ll handle life and death–He IS with us. We CAN trust Him. He’ll never ever forsake us.

          All my love,

  34. So sorry for your loss, Julie. And I’m sorry I never got the chance to meet her. She sounds amazing. You’ve been so blessed to have a friend like her.

    Thanks for the lesson. Indeed it is a sacred moment. Those memories you have of her, I want to leave those kinds of memories and feelings to people around me when it’s my time to “go Home”.

    I’ll be praying for her and for her loved ones. May you find comfort in God’s loving arms.

  35. Patricia Martin says:

    Denise looked like an angel. ((: I think God sends us two kinds of angels: Earth Angels like Denise and heavenly ones He created. You have been an earth angel to me and others through your blog. I am sorry for your loss and am thankful that you shared Denise with us in your post.

    • Hey Sweet Patricia,

      Thank you. So good to hear your voice. You’ve prayed for me and my family since you started reading my blog…I know you have. And I’ve prayed for you. How are you?

      Sending you love and a big hug from Georgia~~~

  36. Patricia Martin says:

    Thank you, Julie, for your sweet words! (: I am tired already and school is still a few days off, but I am always uplifted and inspired by your writing in your wonderful posts. ((: Please continue your prayers for me and my family? Also, if you could please ask everyone you know to pray for my family as I know that your prayers have moved mountains for us.

    • Sweet Patricia,

      I care so deeply. You’ve been there for me and my family….even sending Rilynn note cards, Thomas and Brittany a wedding gift, and me–all those precious notes to say you’re praying for me and my writing.

      I’m on the prayer team at church. I’m going to ask them to pray.

      So much love,

  37. Julie, thank you for sharing this. Sharing your special friend inspires me in so many areas. Our sweet, faithful friends are a gift from our Creator.


  1. […] And my dear friend Denise died~~ […]

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