Healing from Kneeling

For months I pretended not to notice, but last week there was no denying it.

As I vacuumed the den, the late afternoon sun poured through the windows, highlighting the scratches in our pine floors.

Our floors had been through hard times.

Life had beaten them up.

The next day at Home Depot, I found special markers called Rejuvenate. They came in different shades of brown, and the package said they repaired wood furniture and floors.

Why not give it a try?

Rejuvenate did a fine job covering the scratches, but something even more remarkable happened.

My soul was rejuvenated. 

I knelt down and began covering marks in the floor and thought about the scratches in my heart.

My life.

My journey.

My choices.

My history.

My mistakes.

The times I’d allowed fear to consume me.

Times I’d tried to please people rather than please God.

Times I’d run from Him.

All the time I’d wasting by comparing myself to others.

I wondered if there was a parallel between restoring my floors and restoring my heart.

Kneeling over my bedroom floor, I thought~

Lord, You’re only a breath away.

Nothing is hidden from You.

Everything is laid bare.

You know me.

You know my heart.

My story.

My past.

My future.

My weaknesses.

My strengths.

As I covered each mark in the floor, I considered the marks in my life and imagined Jesus kneeling with me. Side by side. 

He didn’t say, “Julie, pay attention! You missed a spot. Why didn’t you take care of your floors to start with? Are you ever going to learn? When are you going to get it right?” 

I felt no condemnation.

None.

Only Love.

He loves us. Oh, how He loves us. 

As I restored my worn floors, God restored the worn places in my heart. (click to tweet)

Lord, You are intimately acquainted with all my ways, and still, You love me. From Ps. 139:3 (click to tweet)

There’s something powerful about kneeling when we pray.

Have you experienced healing when kneeling?

What scratches has God restored in your life?

So much 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

What Does it Really Mean to Dance?

Before I opened my eyes Thursday morning, my husband said, “Happy anniversary.”

Five-thirty a.m., and I started laughing. A terrible time to laugh.

It wasn’t the kind of laughter you can stop. 

You know better. 

You tell yourself to behave and act like an adult. But you’ve lost control. 

“Happy anniversary,” I said, when I finally caught my breath.

“What’s so funny?”

“We’ve had a perfect marriage, haven’t we? Thirty-eight years of sheer bliss.”

(Leaving for our honeymoon, 12.9.78)

“Are you drunk?”

“Just think. We’ve never had an argument. No problems with our children. Always plenty of money in the bank. No sickness. No sadness. No family issues.”

“Yeah, right.”

All of the sudden, it wasn’t funny anymore.

We didn’t say anything for a minute. Probably both thinking the same thing.

During our 38 years together, we’d been up close and personal with mental illness, addiction, divorce, arrests, jail, prison, cancer, infertility, anorexia, homelessness…

Maybe you have a similar list.

I started the coffee. Fixed us a cup.

We went outside to the front porchand I thought about my word for 2016, DANCE.

Deep down, I hoped in 2016 I’d be dancing and celebrating certain things. Most of them haven’t happened. Not yet, anyway. 

I leaned back in my rocking chair. Sipped my coffee. “When you get married, you start out with all these wonderful plans–the way you think everything’s supposed to go.”

“Doesn’t work that way. We’re not in control.”

(We’re dancing at our daughter Katie’s first marriage in 2006.)

But something was nagging at me.

I couldn’t figure out how to fit the word DANCE into the puzzle of 2016, and the year was coming to a close.

“Do you think life is like a dance?” I said, thinking maybe I was getting a little closer.

He looked out into the morning, which was just beginning to wake up. “Yep. Life’s hard. Marriage is hard. Raising children is hard. You celebrate when you can.”

Then the magic happened. I connected the dots.

Truth came together in my heart.

I found what I was looking for–a way to tie our messy lives into dancing.

“You know what? Over the years, it’s the slow-dancing you remember,” I said. “The hard times. The times when you don’t know what to do. That’s what bonds people together. It’s not the fun, loud, happy times.”

“You’re right.”

“That’s the secret. That’s what brings us close to God. Hard times. Times when there’s no possible way you can make it without Him.”

He nodded. “Yep. You nailed it.”

When things gets tough, slow dance. Hang on to God with all your might. Lean into Him. Click to tweet. 

Keep your eyes on Him. 

Stay inside the shelter of His embrace. 

He won’t let you go. 

* When you can’t hear the music, remember, God wrote the song. Click to tweet

Three questions:

1. If you chose a word for 2016, how’s it going?

2. Are you slow dancing with God right now?

3. I’m curious. Do you have a list like mine?

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

Problems and Praying and Ironing

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

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

“Me too. Definitely by 40.”

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

“If so, I don’t want to meet them.”

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

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

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

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

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

Mother loved Jimmie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A recovery rock.

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

An unmistakable softness filled me. 

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

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

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

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

Thoughts on trusting God? 

Love,

Julie

 

My 2016 Word–The Flip Side of Surrender

A couple of weeks ago, one word from a Scripture verse danced off the page, begging for my attention. Can you guess what it was?

“And David danced before the Lord with all his might…” 2 Samuel 6:14 (KJV)

As a child, I loved to dance.

I started taking ballet lessons when I was three. I came alive in the ballet studio–a wide open room with shiny wooden floors and mirrored walls.

But eight years later when I got my first pair of toe shoes, a fearful thought took root.

You’re never going to learn how to dance in these pointy shoes. 

So I quit dancing.

My mother spray-painted my toe shoes red. They hung in my bedroom for years.

Untouched but never forgotten.  

Yesterday while I thought about 2016 word possibilities, my husband dragged the Christmas tree outside and moved my pie safe back into place.

After days of rain the sun came out, and my wedding dishes sparkled. So pretty. Closing the doors to protect my china, I noticed my oldest child’s handprint.

She’s 34 now.

My hands used to be this small–

When I was a tiny ballerina–

Who stopped dancing because of fear.

Can I actually choose a fun word for 2016? Like  Dance

I always pick stoic words like Enough, Simple, Follow, and Surrender

What if the flip side of Surrender is Dance? 

Maybe when we let go of control, we’re free to dance. 

I bet when David danced before the Lord he didn’t say, “Don’t watch me. I’m a terrible dancer.” He probably danced with his heart and soul–with everything inside him. 

That’s when my word came to me with absolute assurance. 

My 2016 word for the year is DANCE.  

I danced to the pie safe, flung open the doors, and grabbed some dishes. 

Breaking all sorts of decorating rules, I mixed wedding china with my grandmother’s depression glass and set up a coffee station.

I filled an antique container with Sour Patch Kids. I love Sour Patch Kids! 🙂

I even lit a pink candle in the middle of the day.

In 2016, I’m going to:

* Use my wedding china.

* Light more candles.

* Bathe with decorative soap.

* Love people with my whole heart. 

* Most of all, I’m going to dance–not just with my feet, but with everything I do. 

When we surrender and live fearlessly, others are set free! Click to Tweet

Do you have a 2016 word? Do tell! 

Are you gonna dance next year?

For the full experience, watch this video below. If you can’t see it, click here.  She’s even redheaded!

** Let’s remember to pray for those in Texas and the Midwest who’ve been affected by the storms. My heart is with them right now.

P.S. Ballet pics from Pixaby. 

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

 

Guarding My Thoughts–Frogs, Marbles, and Jewels

I’m a visual learner. Whenever I’m asked to speak or teach, I bring a giant bag of props. One of them is my Thought Box. I know this sounds goofy, but hang with me for a minute.

For most of my life, I chased almost every negative notion and fear that popped into my mind.

Unhealthy thinking. 

Guess what? There’s another way to live! Here’s what I’m talking about. 

My Thought Box represents my mind. 

It contains three things–

Shiny marbles, pretty jewels, and plastic frogs. 

I keep it on my desk. 

With God’s help, I choose which thoughts to dwell on and which ones to toss. I don’t like frogs, so they symbolize destructive thinking. Condemning froggy-thoughts are lies. And they leap from one bad thought to the next.

To the next.

To the next. 

I don’t have to listen to them anymore. 

Froggy-thoughts:

1. You’ll never measure up. 🙁

2. You’re not smart enough. 🙁

3. Depression took you under. How embarrassing! You should be so ashamed of yourself! (This could be ANYTHING you struggle with or ANYTHING in your past–not just depression.)

4. Uh-oh!!! You were supposed to follow Plan A, but you chose Plan B. You blew it! It’s too late to change! 🙁

5. You’ll never get it right! You’ll never be free. 🙁

6. God’s probably forgotten about you. 🙁

Okay, here’s the amazing part~~

God-shaped thoughts are like precious jewels and rock-solid marbles.

We can trust them.

They’re true. 

1. God is for me. He loves me. 

2. I don’t ever have to be afraid. 

3. God says I’m precious in His sight. 

4. God forgives me. 

5. I’ve been set free! 

6. I don’t have to be perfect! Jesus did that for me. Click to Tweet. 

Guard your thoughts. They have the power to build us up or tear us down.

What froggy-thoughts (lies!) pester you? 

What jewel-thoughts (truths) encourage you? 

“For you are God’s masterpiece. He has created you anew in Christ Jesus, so you can do the good things He planned for you long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 

“Don’t be afraid or discouraged for the Lord your God is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” 1 Chronicles 28:20 

“…We are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Death was Arrested–So was My Doubt

This past Friday night our church had a Night of Worship. Part of me didn’t feel like worshiping. I had a lot on my mind. I decided to just stay home.

I’d taken Mother to the rheumatologist on Monday. Something was desperately wrong–a physical, emotional, and spiritual weakness. It had been coming on for weeks.

She has three autoimmune illnesses. She couldn’t eat. Didn’t care to talk.

Our family had been praying.

The doctor mentioned clinical depression. I’ve been there. Twice. I knew the symptoms and the dangers. 

He ordered blood work and discussed a medication change. As I drove her home, gloom and doom filled the car. By Thursday, she was worse. She said if she didn’t get better, she was ready for a nursing home.

Friday afternoon I called my husband. “Let’s skip worship tonight. Traffic will be terrible, and you’ll have to leave straight from work and meet me there.”

But he wanted to go. 

Inside the sanctuary, rustic decorations and small white candles covered the communion tables. I sank into my seat and breathed.

Just breathed. 

Kneeling mats were everywhere–simple brown pieces of cardboard.

Oh, y’all–

That’s when the change began.

When I knelt.

I opened my fingers. Turned my palms upward. 

I love You. I need You. I’m sorry. I trust You. Whatever happens. 

The worship team sang a new song called “Death was Arrested.”

Oh, this song! This song!

It arrested my doubt. My concerns. I didn’t hold back. I couldn’t hold back!

I worshiped wide-open–with my whole my heart. 

Something supernatural happens when we praise God. 

Worship welcomes us into His Presence.

I thought I might float out of the building–all the way to heaven.

Mother called the next morning.

SHE WAS LAUGHING. Laughing!

“Julie, you won’t believe it, but last night the depression lifted. I can’t explain it, but it’s gone! I’m myself again.”

Lord, I don’t understand how or why, but thank You. 

Sunday morning, the praise team sang my song at our church campus.

I took a 50-second video of the end of the song. If you can’t see it, click here.

Northpoint Church Worship Team wrote “Death was Arrested.” They sing the entire song below. The video quality is much better than mine. 🙂

If you can’t see it, click here. 

Worship Him–even when you don’t feel like it. Beautiful things happen. 

Have you ever praised God when you didn’t feel like? Awesome, isn’t it.  

Love,

Julie

( First 4 pictures from 12Stone Church Facebook.)

Oh, Y’all–My Prayer Chair–The War Room

On Saturday, Labor Day weekend, September 5, 2015 I woke up with one desire. To get a new prayer chair. Maybe that sounds like a spiritual thing. It wasn’t.

I wanted a new prayer chair, but mostly I wanted it be green and soft and pretty. 

For years, I prayed in an Adirondack chair in my bedroom.

Then an antique rocking chair.

I’d filled years of prayer journals–faithful prayers. But they were dutiful, sometimes boring, and always busy-work kind of prayers.

Because that’s what you’re supposed to do, right?

You’re supposed to pray.

So, Saturday morning, I headed to Peters and Foster in Monroe, Georgia. Talked to a nice salesman. I knew my prayer chair the minute I saw it.

Just my size. My favorite color. It was even on sale.

For seven days, I used my new prayer chair like my old prayer chairs. 

I read the same books, wrote in my journal, and prayed.

I even took a nap in my new chair.

Then on Sunday afternoon, September 13, at 4:30 p.m. at Carmike Gateway Theater in Bethlehem, GA, my whole world changed.

My husband and I saw the movie, War Room.

Oh. Y’all.

This movie. 

I’m warning you right here and now–

It’ll mess with you. 

It’ll shake you up. 

The first thing it does is this. It reveals your own weaknesses. 

Mine are fear, doubt, pride, control, self-sufficiency, people-pleasing, judging others, selfishness, jealousy, coveting, trying to play God….

Then the miracle happens. During the movie, something changes inside you–it’s the way you feel about people. In the Spirit World, you’ll clearly see the VERY CHAINS that bind those you love. But you won’t waste another second condemning anyone.

Instead,

You’ll be filled with such a love that You’ll see people through Grace. Through God’s eyes. Through His heart. His compassion. And you’ll pray like never before.

Something else, too.

You’ll discover it’s not about having just the right chair or room. Or even a prayer closet, because when this kind of prayer falls on you, you might as well be flat on your face behind a prison wall.

It. Doesn’t. Matter.

When God rises up and pours His Love through you, you learn to fight from your knees. From a Place of Power and Love. 

Finally, oh, finally, you understand what it really means to pray.

And that’s when you become a Prayer Warrior. 

Movie Trailer below

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

The heart of the movie below.

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

Have you seen WAR ROOM?

Love,

Julie

Real Women Talk

I’d been toying with the idea that perhaps–just perhaps–my phone had gotten too important to me. Then–BOOM! Something happened Saturday night and there was no denying it.

I had a problem.

My husband Rick and I were invited to a friend’s birthday party. We knew two of the six couples. Most of them had been in a small group together, led by the birthday boy Todd and his wife Debbie.

From left to right: Fay, Dana, Leslie, me, Nikki, Debbie, and Denise.

When the ladies started talking, wouldn’t you know?

The conversation went straight to phones.

How, when we were children, people talked. 

Face to Face.

We had real relationships.

I wanted to hide under the table.

Every time Rick and I get in the car, the first thing I do is grab my phone to check Facebook and catch up on emails.

Honestly, I’m not with him. I’m in another world.

The phone-world always seems so URGENT.

Up until Saturday night, I pretended I didn’t know any better.

Snippets of our table conversation from the ladies:

“My kids invite their friends over and text rather than talk.”

“We went to a party and were instructed to leave our phones by the door.”

“My kids got panicky in the car on vacation when their batteries died.”

“We should make new rules. No phones during mealtimes or on Sundays.”

I’m thinking, no——–please, please, please don’t take my phone! 

I can’t live without it! 

Uh-oh. 

I have a problem.

My phone is WAY too important to me.

The thing is–

At the party, I forgot about my phone. I was having so much fun getting to know people. 

Through expressions.

Through honesty.

Through humor.

Which doesn’t happen from typing words into a screen.

One of my new friends suggested we sneak up on the men to see if they were on their phones.

Four of the six were.

Then something life-changing happened.

Leslie broke out in a birthday song to Todd!

LAUGHTER. 

COMMUNITY.

FRIENDSHIP.

Things I’d have missed if I’d been trapped in the phone-world.

Because real women talk. Sometimes they even sing. 🙂

You gotta watch this! If you can’t see the video below, click here

From now on, I’m living life instead of letting my phone control me.

Can you relate?

Has anything ever gotten too important to you? 

Love,

Julie

Peanuts, Peaches, and People

The other day, I broke our porch party rules and brought up the subject of so-and-so’s behavior. The longer my husband and I talked, the more  judgmental I became–at least in my heart.

For a while that day, I thought I knew everything. 

We headed to  Thompson Family Farms to buy fresh peaches, my mind still analyzing someone else’s business.

“I love this place,” I said when we got out of the car. “I know all about Georgia produce.”

Finally! A place where my expertise can shine!

“I grew up shelling butter beans.”  I grabbed some frozen field peas. “Daddy had a garden every summer. ”

“We even canned tomatoes when I was little,” I said.

Of course, I knew everything there was to know about sweet Vidalia onions. I’d lived my whole life in Georgia.

“Oh, look! They have yellow meat watermelons.”

That’s what you call a yellow watermelon down South–yellow meat.

Feeling sorta smug, I sniffed the cantaloupes until I found a perfect one.

Then something unexpected happened. 

I spotted a bucket of peanuts.

Strange, because they weren’t boiled peanuts, like you find in Georgia.

They were shelled and put into baggies.

“What are these?” I said to the cashier.

“Fried peanuts.”

“Never heard of them. “

“They’re delicious. Try some.”

I bought a bag and told her I was making homemade peach ice cream the next day.

“If you want your peaches to ripen in a hurry, put them outside. Spread them out on a table, so they aren’t touching each other.”

“Huh. Never knew that.”

Back at home, I tasted fried peanuts for the first time.

Amaaaaaazing.

I put the peaches outside in the heat. A few hours later, they were soft.

Just like she said.

A thought hit me.

I bet there’s something I don’t know about the person and the situation I’d been so quick to judge.

Forgive me, Lord. Help me keep it simple. 

I don’t know everything about peanuts, peaches, and especially people.

Can you relate?

Have you been humbled lately?

Or learned something new?

If you chose a word this year, how’s it going? It’s already July!

Love,

Julie

For my homemade peach ice cream recipe in Guideposts magazine, click here.