One Tiny Moment at a Time

Sometimes a conversation has the power to change your life. That’s what happened Saturday, the day after my son’s wedding. Robin, my BFF of 40 years, came to the wedding, and then spent the night with me.

The two of us are deep-thinkers. 

If we’re not careful, we can get stuck in the melancholy parts of life–the things that weigh your heart down.

We’re prone to worry, but we’re working on changing, one tiny moment at a time. 

We were talking and she made a profound statement. When she did, I remembered so many magical moments about the wedding~~

The first rays of sunlight Friday morning–how they landed softly on the stairs of our cabin. 

Walking into the rehearsal dinner and seeing my sister Jennifer’s smile~~ 

The same expression as when we were little girls~~

Like she had a secret to tell me.

Weeks ago when I chose the restaurant, Jennifer offered to decorate for me. She has an eye for color and style and fashion, and she knows all about flowers and candles and creating ambiance.

I remembered the moment I glanced at Jamie, my daughter, and watched her laughing with Jennifer.

~~Pure joy~~

And Chris, Katie’s husband~~

I remembered the way Katie’s eyes lit up three years ago when she told me about him right after they met.

And my mother at the rehearsal dinner~~

I remembered how she’d taught me everything I needed to know~~

To love Jesus,

To love people,

And to love words. 

Oh, and Rilynn~~

I remembered Chris bringing Rilynn into our lives, our only grandchild, an answer to prayer.

There were two magical wedding moments with Rilynn~~

The way she gazed into the mirror after Brittany’s aunt curled her hair like the big girls.

And how she quietly slipped into the chair beside me at the wedding.

There were magical moments at the reception too~~

I forgot to bring my reading glasses and took pictures wearing my prescription sunglasses. Katie said, “Mom, please take off your sunglasses. You look silly.” 

But I didn’t care how silly I looked. 

I wanted to remember the moments. 

And then seeing Thomas and Brittany leaving for their honeymoon~~

That tiny moment when time stood still and love exploded inside my heart.

But my life-changing conversation with Robin happened after all of this–after all the excitement died down.

Saturday morning, we had a porch party. Just the two of us.

We rocked and drank coffee and laughed about getting older.

Then we went to the square in my little town, Monroe, Georgia, and visited my favorite shop, a children’s bookstore called The Story Shop.

This place is all the best moments of childhood made over~~

 

Surrounded by so much creativity, I knew exactly what Robin was  feeling because I felt it too~~

The magic of the moment. 

Later that day, we dove deep into conversation and talked about the things you share with your closest friends~~

But we didn’t dwell there, in Worry Land. Not this time.

Maybe because we didn’t want to spoil the magic of the moment. 

“Wow, I said, “We let go of our concerns in a hurry, didn’t we?”

“Yep. Record time, for us.” She paused. “Maybe the secret to life is celebrating each tiny moment with all your heart–which doesn’t leave room for worry.”

“And all we have is one tiny moment at a time,” I said.

Then Robin handed me the secret~~

“Maybe this is how God intends for us to live. One tiny moment at a time.” Click to tweet

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.” Matthew 6:34 MSG

What tiny moments are you celebrating today? 

P.S. Robin has an amazing blog, All Things Heart and Home. You’ll love it! I promise!

Love,

Julie

 

My Grandmother’s Secret

For the past few weeks, my heart’s been all over the place.

Thomas, our youngest child, is getting married on May 19th. He’s 25. I love Brittany, his bride-to-be. He’s ready to get married. They both are.

But I was afraid of how I’d feel at their wedding.

Afraid of all the love bumping around in my heart. 

Love and letting go were tightly intertwined. 

How could I handle both emotions at the same time?

How do you love and let go?  

A few days ago, I picked up my dress for the wedding and stopped by Mother’s house to show it to her. She ran her hands lightly over the pastel chiffon.

Stepping into the dress, I slipped it over my shoulders. The dress magnified what I was feeling.

The flurry of time.

Seasons changing.

“This brings back the memories, doesn’t it?” Mother said. “Your prom dresses. Your wedding dress.”

I wasn’t a teenager. Or a bride. I was a mother-of-the groom. And I had to prepare my heart for the wedding. But how? 

Mother zipped my dress. “This reminds me of my mother tying the sash of my nurse uniform,” she said.

“It was just an apron, but we called it a nurse’s uniform. When I was six, I got pneumonia and had to go to the hospital to take shots of penicillin. Goge (my grandmother) worked and couldn’t stay with me. I wasn’t really a patient, but the nurses watched me all day long until my mother returned.”

(Mother and Goge, my grandmother, 1940.)

So sad. Goge had to leave my mother for nurses to watch while she worked.

Mother’s daddy died when she was two.

Love can be a scary thing. Like life. You can’t control it.

“Didn’t you hate spending the day at the hospital?”

“Oh, no. I loved it. It was a tiny hospital. It had been someone’s home, and the doctor was our good friend. I got to sit on a white, metal stool in the lab and talk to the nurses. Actually, it felt like going to a birthday party.”

This was a good memory for Mother. God was with her at the hospital.

More than that.

Years before Goge went to heaven, she discovered the secret of letting go. 

She let go through the power of love.

Maybe that’s the only way we can do it. 

A tingly feeling came over me–as if my grandmother had a message for me. 

That’s when the miracle happens, Julie. Don’t be afraid of your love for Thomas. Use it to help you let go. God will give him everything he needs. And He’ll take care of your mama-heart too. 

At last, the Thomas-shaped place in my mama-heart stood up and cheered.

I didn’t have to separate my feelings.

The two worked together as a team, love and letting go.

I’d let go just like Goge did–through the power of love. 

When we let go with love, something miraculous happens. God shows up. (click to tweet)

Are you letting go of someone or something right now? If so, I pray this post helps.

P.S. Remember what my word for the year is? :) LOVE.

With so much love,

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

When Dreams Come True

The air in the greenhouse was damp and sweet, heavy with the promise of springtime.

I’d stopped by Everett’s Florist in Monroe, GA to buy ferns for the front porch.

I picked out eight of my favorites.

Carrying them two at a time, I walked through the the floral shop and sensed a deep awareness in my soul as if God said,

Listen with your heart, Julie. There’s a message here. 

I’d been coming to Everett’s every April for years. There was a new woman behind the counter, and the shop looked different.

There was something tender in the atmosphere~

Like finding newborn kittens in a barn~

The promise of sweet things to come~

Something that went beyond trinkets~

As if the place had been transformed from a house to a home.

“You’ve rearranged things. I love the wide, open space.”

“Thank you,” she said. “My name’s Laurel. I just bought the business from my parents.”

There was beauty all around me.

I loved the restored door.

The wooden ladder.

The hydrangeas.

“I have a pie safe just like this,” I said.

Oh, and the chalkboard.

I had one when I was a little girl–at my grandmother’s house.

“There’s so much love in this room. It feels like a sanctuary.”

“Thank you. My parents started the business thirty-something years ago and were ready to retire.”

“Wow, and it’s yours now.”

“Yes. My father still brings plants for the greenhouse, but ever since I was a little girl, it’s been my dream to turn the floral shop into a gift shop. My eight-year-old daughter is making custom floral arrangements.”

“Three generations of creativity. That’s amazing.”

Laurel waited a long time for her dream to come true. 

“I’m just wondering…is faith a part of this?” I said. “I sense God’s Presence here.”

Because I have a dream. 

My friends do too. 

Some of us have spent years praying and waiting and wondering

“Oh, yes,” she said. “Absolutely. Faith is a huge part. So much prayer went into this. And if my dream didn’t honor God, I wouldn’t want it to come true.”

Laurel gave me what I was searching for~

Something to share with you~

A precious seed of faith. 

When God-inspired dreams come true, we know Who gets the glory. (click to tweet)

Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus… Colossians 3:17  

Lord, help us trust You with our dreams. Your will. Your way. Your timing. (click to tweet). 

P.S. You can follow Everett’s Florist on Facebook: Facebook.com/everett’s florist and on Instagram: Everett’s_Florist

Love,

Julie

 

 

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

An Unexpected Easter Conversation

Last week, a friend and I discussed life and death and heaven. I didn’t handle it very well.

“I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately,” she said. “I’m not sure if I believe in life after death.”

“You mean, you don’t believe in heaven?”

“It’s just not logical.”

She’d memorized a lot of Scripture as a child. She knew about the cross and the Easter story. 

“What about the miracle of birth?” I said. “Is that hard for you to believe?”

“And what about creation?” I said. “Nature? Animals? God created ‘the birds of the air and the fish of the sea’?”

“Yeah, all of that makes sense to me.”

“You mean, scientifically?” I said. “Under a microscope?”

“Yes. We can prove it. But we don’t have any proof of heaven.”

“What about this thought? Life has to start somewhere, right? Do you believe God is our Creator?”

“Yes. But think about it. We die. We’re buried. That has to be the end. How can we come back to life again? There’s no logic to that.”

We talked a while longer–until I got an uncomfortable feeling in my chest.

I’m pushing too hard. 

It’s not my job to change her mind.

After our Easter conversation, a gentle thought came.

She’s right. 

It’s not logical.

It doesn’t make sense.

I should’ve agreed with her.

Death DOES look like the end. It looked like the end–even to Mary and the disciples. 

Almost nothing Jesus did made sense. 

He fed 5,000+ with a little boy’s lunch.

He walked on water and turned water into wine.

He washed His disciples’ feet.

I’d tried to convince my friend–

But faith goes beyond logic.

It can’t be explained.

*The same Power that raised Jesus from the dead comes alive in hearts. That’s faith! (click to tweet)

*Because He arose, death was arrested. We will rise again! (click to tweet)

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live…” John 11:25  (click to tweet)

Turn your speakers on high and listen to this song. It’s what Easter is all about.

If you can’t see the video, click here.

Thoughts? Questions? Want to comment and start a conversation?

Love,

Julie

 

Three Secrets to Finding the Gift of Peace

If you’re a long-time blog reader, you know that my husband and I sit on our front porch together every morning. We read  Jesus Calling by Sarah Young and a few verses of Scripture. We talk little bit, and then we pray.

Nothing complicated, but oh, so powerful.

One Saturday in February, he had an early meeting, so I porch partied alone. Normally, being on the porch is such a peaceful experience.

But in less than 60 seconds, I broke one of our porch party rules. We aren’t supposed to say anything negative.

I didn’t actually SPEAK any negative words, but I let a few negative thoughts creep in.

A pale gray sky.

No sun this morning. 

Probably going to rain.

Can’t stay out here long.

Better hurry.

I have a ton of work to do. 

I wasn’t dwelling on problems, but I wasn’t porch partying. I wasn’t worshiping. I had a busy day ahead and zipped right past God.

Then Thelma and Ellie joined me.

Thelma hopped up on the banister and twirled a few Easter eggs. She pawed the bird’s nest and chewed on a twig. She knocked out a plastic egg and watched it spin.

Ellie couldn’t wait for her to jump down so they could play.

Then it hit me.

Thelma and Ellie weren’t hurrying to do to the next important thing. 

This was the important thing.

Celebrating the morning together.

Just like when we spend time with God. 

Right then, I started my porch party all over again. 

1. I remembered God’s faithfulness. 

2. I remembered how much He loves me.

3. I thanked Him, and then I thanked Him some more. 

Before I went inside, the most glorious thing happened. The sun came out. 

When I praised God, the Son broke through and peace replaced every speck of gray. (Click to tweet.)

If you have a minute, porch party with me. If you can’t see the video below click here.

Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, Isaiah 26:3. 

Have you discovered that praise brings peace? 

What are you praising Him for today? 

Love,

Julie

Putting the Brakes on Worry

There’s a part of my husband’s personality that I don’t understand. And there’s something about me he can’t relate to.

He’s never tempted to worry. Ever. About anything. I don’t think he knows how.

I’ve never been tempted to drive fast. I’ve never gotten a speeding ticket. I’m content to poke along in the slow lane, and I don’t mind if people pass me.

The other day our worlds came together in a beautiful way–his temptation to push the speed limit and mine to race from peace to worry.  

It all started when he asked if I wanted to ride with him to test-drive the 1976 Laguna he’s restoring.

If you can’t see the video below, click here.

He cranked the old, red Laguna, and the vroom-vroom-vroom reminded me of the first time I rode in his 1965 GTO. We were 15 and 16. He’d shifted gears back then too. I remembered the power. The speed. My hair swirling in the wind.

He’s always loved fast cars and loud engines.

Here we are in his 1972 Roadrunner before prom.

He’s been pulled over for speeding dozens of times. When he was sixteen, he got stopped four times–in one day. It’s been years since he got a ticket, but if there were no speed limits…

After we rode in the Laguna, we ran errands in my Dodge Journey. 

Over 40 years later. The same man. Same love of speed.

But he did something totally out of character.

It was as if he became a new person. 

He drove slower than normal, content to let cars zoom ahead of him.

“What are you doing?” I said.

“Usually we get 20 miles per gallon, but I’m up to 26.4 miles.” He pointed to the white arrow between 15 and 30. “If we keep the red line on the right side of the arrow, gas mileage improves.”

In all our years together, he’d never acted concerned about gas mileage. 

“That’s neat. What’s your secret?”

“Feathering the gas pedal and coasting. Every now and then, I glance at the white arrow.”

He was driving slowly. Like me. With no sense of urgency. 

Understanding came in the flicker of a moment, and the Red Sea parted in my mind.  

Change is possible for anyone–even me! If my husband, who loves speed, can choose to a drive differently, surely I can do the same thing with my thoughts.

I can put the brakes on worry.

I can refuse to go from zero to a hundred in a matter of seconds.

I can focus on God the same way Rick checks the white arrow. 

I have a choice.

I don’t have to race full-speed ahead into worry. Instead, I can choose to coast and pray. Click to tweet

Are you struggling with something? Do you drive too fast? Does worry tempt you? Is it something else? Please share! 

Love,

Julie

Me and the Tractor and Trust

“Come here for a minute,” my husband said. “I need your help. But be careful. I could get killed doing this.”

“What kind of man says this to his wife?”

“I need you to push a lever on the tractor.”

On the way to his workshop, I remembered the day he said we needed a tractor.

Fourteen years ago. 

Right before we moved into our log cabin.

I thought a tractor was just an expensive toy. 

We argued about it. 

He won.

“Okay,” he said. “Listen. Here’s what I want you to do.”

I leaned in so I could hear over the sound of the tractor. “This scares me. You know that, don’t you?”

“We need to move this engine. It’s heavy.”

“I can’t help you. I don’t do things like that.”

“The tractor’s going to do the hard work.”

“I can’t drive a tractor.”

“All you have to do is move this black lever. And listen to me.”

I stared at the yellow “caution” sign and wondered if I should run get the neighbor next door, but I didn’t have time. 

Rick moved like a surgeon spreading out his instruments–only I was still wide awake. 

If I mess up, how will you die?  

What if the lever gets stuck? 

How hard do I have to push? 

Will you tell me when to stop–or am I just supposed to know when you’re finished?

If you can’t see the video below, click here. 

I climbed on.

“Now,” he said. “Push.”

Gripping the black lever, I pressed it down. The engine slowly dropped.

“Okay. Let off.”

I did.

“Good job.”

“Thanks,” I said, feeling very proud of myself. “Any time.” I hopped off like I knew what I was doing.

Walking toward the house, I watched my husband of 38 years.

He looked kinda cute on the loud, green machine I thought we didn’t need. 

Back then, I had no idea that every few days, he’d have to smooth out the gravel driveway with the tractor blade. Especially after a hard rain.

Or that every spring, the tractor would help plow the garden. 

I didn’t know tractors were like elephants that lifted heavy equipment with their trunks.

Then something beautiful occurred to me.

Although I knew nothing about tractors, my husband did.

Sort of like our Heavenly Father.  

God peers up the road and sees what’s ahead. Then He prepares the way. Click to tweet. 

 I will go before you and make rough places smooth, Isaiah 45:2.

Thoughts? Ideas? Concerns?

I’m praying the tractor will remind us to trust God. He sees. He understands.

For more about our tractor, read Young Love and  a John Deere Tractor.

Love,

Julie

Spread a Little Love–After Valentine’s Day

There’s something special about the friendships that have developed here on the blog. Most of us have never met each other.

Over the past few days, I got valentines from four of you! I felt like a little girl hurrying home after school to dump out my valentine box.

So much LOVE spilled out of each one.

This kind of LOVE is contagious.

When someone  unexpectedly spreads a little love, it stirs our hearts to love others. 

I don’t know why.  

It just does.

Thinking about friendship, I wondered, what is the secret of the bond we share?

Later that day, I started making brownies for small group and put the ingredients on the counter. 

Is there a secret ingredient to friendship? Something to be blended together with love? 

Spreading chocolate frosting over the pan of warm brownies, I remembered a relationship tip my husband and I discovered. 

We were training to be small group leaders, and the pastor said something that went straight to my heart.

It’s just one sentence and one word, but I think it applies to all our relationships. 

“If you have a few extra minutes before small group,” the pastor said, “don’t waste time studying your notes. Pray.”

PRAY.

PRAY.

PRAY. 

That struck me as so profound.

You’d think he might have said, “Prepare your notes carefully. Study them diligently. Present your teaching plans well. Memorize your points.”

But he didn’t.

He instructed us to do what matters most in building strong relationships.

And that is to pray–

PRAYER is the secret ingredient to our friendships here on the blog. 

We pray for each other. 

When we pray for people, something miraculous happens inside our hearts. Love grows. Click to tweet. 

P.S. If I ever host a small group for my blog-friends, I’ll make tons of brownies! You can taste the love! I’m serious. Keep reading. The recipe is below. :)

Let’s talk about prayer. Have you discovered how prayer is necessary in your relationships

The brownie recipe is from my dear friend DiAnn Mills.

2 eggs

1/2 cup butter

1 1/2 sq bitter chocolate *or use 1/3 cup dry cocoa and 1 Tbsp. more butter

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup flour (I use Pamela’s Baking and Pancake Mix. It’s gluten-free.)

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup chopped nuts

Beat eggs very light; set aside. Melt butter and chocolate. Add sugar and beat well. Add to beaten eggs. Fold in flour, salt vanilla, and nuts. Place mixture in 8 x 8 x 2 inch pan. Bake slowly, 40 minutes at 325.

Frosting

1 cup powdered sugar

3 Tbsp cocoa

Mix well. Add enough boiling water to mix (2 1/2 Tbsp). Pour over warm cake.

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

Three Tips for a Healthy Thought-life

I think most of us have weaknesses when it comes to our thought-lives. Certain kinds of thoughts get us in trouble. For me, it happens when I allow myself to worry.

It always starts with one small worry, and it doesn’t even have to be rational. 

I knew better than to entertain this particular thought, but when it hit, I chose to hang on to it. Looking back, it’s almost funny.

A few days ago, I got choked on a piece of kale. No big deal, right? But a couple of hours later, I began running a low-grade fever.

The “what if” hit.

Uh-oh.

What if I have aspiration pneumonia? I bet that’s what’s wrong! 

I have no idea where the thought came from.

Only that it tempted me.

The next morning, my temperature was 101, and I was coughing. The doctor at Urgent Care ordered a chest x-ray, which was perfectly normal, and gave me an antibiotic. But right before I left the exam room, she instructed me to go to the ER if I got worse because I might need a lung specialist.

A lung specialist?  

More worry material.

Three days later my fever was gone, but my breathing sounded like Darth Vader’s. If you can’t see the video below, click here. 

What started with one worry brought an avalanche of fear.

Something’s wrong!

Nobody should sound this way! 

Six days after the kale incident, I didn’t go to the ER, but I went to see my regular doctor. She listened to my kale saga and my lungs. Then she gave me a new antibiotic and an inhaler.

“Rest. Drink plenty of fluids. You should be much better in a couple of days.”

“So…you don’t think I have aspiration pneumonia?”

“No.” She smiled. “Your fever’s gone. You have bronchitis.”

My primary care doctor was one-hundred percent correct.

By the next morning, I felt much better–so good I made a pot of homemade chicken soup–even added  fresh spinach. :)

Sitting by the fire with the dogs, I realized I’d wasted a lot of time worrying when I could’ve been praying. Or laughing. Or encouraging others. 

So, I’m sharing my kale tale to see if we can learn from it. :)

1. Healthy thoughts lead to healthy behavior. Click to tweet.

2. Guarding our minds brings joy and peace. Click to tweet

3. With God’s help we have the Power to change our thoughts. Click to tweet. 

“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8 NIV

Comments?

Do you have any Truths to add to the list?

What kinds of thoughts trip you up? It helps to identify them. 

Love,

Julie

What Does Love Have to do with a Fence?

I have so much to learn and relearn about LOVEmy word for 2017.

Monday, I hurried into Target with my list, but my mind wasn’t on shopping. I wanted to figure out what Real Love means.

I wanted to tuck Love into a box. Tie a bow on it.  Move on.

I stopped at the front of the store where they put seasonal things on sale and came home with three Valentine’s Day items that weren’t on my list:

Heart-shaped lights to go over the kitchen table–

A pack of Valentines.

A notepad decorated with conversation candy.

After I hung the lights, I lit three red candles in the kitchen.

But it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t satisfied.

Love is more than Valentine’s Day. It’s more than red hearts and white, lacy doilies.

What is Real Love? 

Does Real Love always mean giving, giving, giving and saying yes? 

Maybe it would help to define what Real Love isn’t. 

I usually think better in the woods, so I took the dogs for a walk. The trees were bare, and I noticed something.

The fence. 

It runs horizontally, and you can only see it in the winter. 

But it’s always there. 

I crunched my way through the dead leaves and stood beside it.

It’s just a fence. A useless fence. 

But for some reason, I was drawn to it.

The fence doesn’t even keep the dogs in the backyard. 

It marks our property line

What difference does the property line make? 

With the dogs standing quietly at my side, I stood there praying, thinking, wondering. 

The fence matters. 

The thought came softly, but it startled me.

I remembered a book I’d studied in a ladies’ small group, Boundaries, by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John TownsendWe even did the workbook. :)

Back in my office, I found my copy of Boundaries. 

Chapter One–What Does a Boundary Look Like?

In small group, we talked about how fences are physical boundaries, and how physical and emotional boundaries are necessary.

I skimmed my notes:

1. Boundaries (fences) define our personal property. Our space.

2. Boundaries show where one person ends and another person begins.

3. Boundaries protect us. They keep the good in and the bad out.

4. Boundaries aren’t selfish. They’re loving and kind.

We discussed the power of the word NO–

The importance of keeping emotional and geographical distance when appropriate.

How to back up our boundaries with consequences.

Whew…

Real love includes fences. 

Real love doesn’t always mean, YES. Of course. Let me do that for you. 

Real love isn’t about red and pink hearts. Sometimes it means loving yourself enough to say, “No.” Click to tweet.

Does this side of love stir your emotions?

It does mine. I’m reading Boundaries again. 

Love,

Julie