Love Lessons from an Artist–Part One

My friend Yvette opened the front door of her home. For a moment, I was so moved by God’s Presence and the open Bible, I couldn’t speak. I did the only thing I could. I took off my shoes.

“Yvette…I’m standing on Holy Ground.”

She just smiled.

Backstory: A few weeks ago, I had lunch with a group of high school friends I hadn’t seen in 40 years. As everyone chatted, I mentioned that I’m writing a novel with a character who’s an artist. I told them I didn’t know much about art. Yvette invited me to see her studio. 

Barefoot in her entryway, I started taking pictures. 

“Meet Vivian. My husband and I found her at a flea market. We couldn’t leave her behind.”

“Well, of course not.”

“Some days, Vivian keeps me company.”

Little more backstory:

You’d never know it by Yvette’s countenance, but she has arthritis and Sjogren’s (the same autoimmune issue as me). Sometimes she slows down, stays home, and takes care of herself. Despite painful joints, Yvette never stops creating beauty.

“I believe we should surround ourselves with things that remind us of good experiences. My bike reminds me of good days I spent at St. George Island.”

Who is free enough to put a bicycle in her den? 

I want to be an artist! 

“This is a shoe nobody wanted. Plain.  All black. Overlooked.”

“You brought her home and loved on her,” I said.

“Um-hmm. She’s my Sunday-Go-To-Meeting Shoe. And these vases are for a sweet couple’s wedding. I already had a few vases, so I went to The Fish (a local Christian thrift store) and found some more and decorated them. Julie, I spent a total of four dollars.”

“So, art isn’t about how much money you spend?”

“It has nothing to do with money. Art begins when you open up your heart and discover the secret. Absolutely nothing and no one is trash. Everything and every person can be restored.” 

The love lessons Yvette gave me are worth more than diamonds and pearls. I found out there’s an artist buried inside of me. 🙂 

Stay tuned. I’ll be sharing more from Yvette’s creativity and wisdom with you. 

Check out her art and heart here:

The Charm House  on Facebook.

The Charm House on Pinterest.

The Charm House in Instagram.

The Charm House website.

How does your creativity show? How do you love on people? Do you see trash in treasures too? 

Love,

Julie

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

Building a Relationship…With Love

Sometimes, even after 36 years of marriage, I forget that my husband and I express love differently. I show it verbally. Rick creates things with his hands.

In February, our daughter Katie married and became a stepmom to a beautiful little girl named Rilynn who turned four this month. In April, Rick offered to build her a dollhouse for her birthday.

Katie and Rilynn picked this one from Hobby Lobby’s website.

After putting it together, Rick stained the shingles and glued them in place one a time. 

He painted the toothpick-sized banisters the same way–one by one. 

“Can’t you dump just everything into a bucket and paint it all at once?” I said, late one night.

“Nope.”

“Aren’t you tired?”

“Nope. I like doing this.”

For days he deliberated about what color to paint the steps. Finally, he decided on pink and purple and made another trip to Home Depot for an itty-bitty can of pink paint.

He even installed hardwoods.

I couldn’t identify with his steady determination, but I was fascinated. 

This past Saturday, we had a small birthday party for Rilynn.

She loves Frozen and anything princess related.

And purple. 🙂

Saturday morning, Rick added the finishing touches and covered the dollhouse with a sheet.

Later, after cake and ice cream,

Long drum roll ..……………

He slowly unveiled his gift.

Ta-da!

Rilynn twirled around and clapped her hands. Bending close to miniature front porch, she carefully touched the window panes.

“Let her have fun with it,” Rick said. “If she breaks anything, I’ll fix it.”

Smiling, she ran her finger along the railing.

(Her daddy and my mom are on the left.)

Then I had quite a moment.

Rilynn walked her little fingers up the steps and started setting up her new home.

Just like me. 

Almost 12 years ago, Rick led me up the stairs of the log house that he’d built for us. Pausing on the top step, he said, “Open your eyes.”

He made me a writing loft.

With his own hands.

Thank You, Father. What love!

“Your hands have made me and fashioned me” Psalm 119:73  ESV.

How do you express love?

(For more about Katie’s story, click here.)

Love,

Julie

 

 

From a Mother’s Heart

Jamie, my 33-year-old daughter, and I talk almost every day. But last week, she told me something about herself she’d never revealed before. I knew I’d be pondering her words for a while. Maybe forever.

“Mom, I love the solar system,” she said. “It makes sense to me.”

“Really? I pretend it doesn’t exist. Maybe because I don’t understand it.”

“Remember that science fair project I did with Styrofoam planets?”

“Um-hmm. Fourth grade.”

“Some day, I’m going to get a telescope.”

“Have you always loved looking at the sky?”

“Always.”

How could I’ve been her mother this long and not known?

She told me all about the upcoming blue moon and texted me a recent picture she’d taken.

“It’s Venus and Jupiter,” she said. “You can only see them at certain times.”

“Amazing! How do you know this stuff?”

“I study the solar system.”

She talked a little bit about blood moons and end of time prophecy–something we’d never discussed.

After we hung up, I dug through a box of old pictures, not really sure what I was looking for. Clues maybe?

Did she love the night sky as a child? 

September 21, 1981. Jamie was born the next day.

 

Three years old.

She found a pair of scissors and chopped off her pony-tail. I remember thinking, I should’ve been watching her. How’d I let this happen? 

Teaching her to ride a bike, I’m wondering,

When is it safe to let go?

 

I searched through her elementary school pictures.

Nothing about the solar system.

A couple of nights ago, I went outside and sat in the damp grass. The blue-black sky was glorious–diamond-like stars taking up every inch of it.

I looked up until my neck hurt. 

Lord, there are so many things I don’t understand about creation. And children. 

How did You fling the stars into space?

Why don’t we fall off the spinning earth?

Can You connect with Jamie and her musings? 

It was as if He whispered like a good friend–right into my ear.

Just relax.

Enjoy the view.

I’ve got this, Julie. 

What puzzles you about creation? Children?

Do you understand the solar system?

Love,

Julie

 

There’s Something about a Tenderhearted Man

I guess you’d say my husband Rick is a man’s man. He drives a truck, works with his hands, and has always had big dogs–Labradors–dogs that serve a purpose–never a little frou-frou dog.

Katie, our 31-year-old daughter, went through some life changes this year. She remarried, became a stepmom, and their house is on the market.

A few weeks ago her husband, a police officer, began training a new dog for the K-9 department–a German Shepherd who just so happens to be an alpha dog.

And Katie has an itty bitty Morkie named Ellie. 

(Morkie = Yorkie plus Maltese)

Ellie’s scrappy and determined, and she’s also smart. Every time the new dog came near her, Ellie trembled and hid behind the furniture.

We’ve kept Ellie a few times over the years. Each time Katie picked her up, Rick said, “If Smelly ever needs a new home, I want her. I love those little black eyes”

I thought he was kidding until two weeks ago when Katie made a really hard decision–

To let Ellie come live with us.

For now, she’s ours.

Or rather, she’s Rick’s.

Katie’s house, homecoming day.

“Here. I”ll hold her,” I said on the way home.

“She’s fine. I’ve got her.”

I fell in love all over again. 

Laid-back Clyde said, “Come in, Ellie. Everyone’s welcomed here.”

Ellie found her spot at  porch parties.

According to the Great Dogs website, “Morkies are lapdogs to the core and try to please their owners.”

But Ellie doesn’t have to work to please Rick.

He fell in love the first time he saw her.

Keep your heart open. 

Sometimes love strikes unexpectedly like a summer storm.

A 30-second video. Ellie’s checking out her new home. You’ll hear one of our roosters welcoming her. 🙂

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

Have you ever fallen in love in an instant?

What is it about a tenderhearted man? 

Big dogs or little dogs? 

Love,

Julie (and Rick) 🙂  

Bless This Mess

“Come here. You gotta see this,” my husband said Saturday morning. I turned on the coffee maker and followed him outside. “A bird’s built her nest in this wreath.”

I laughed. ” It’s not a real nest. Your mother made that wreath a few years ago.”

“There’s a real nest behind the fake one.”

Way down inside the dark hole, I spotted a pile of something fuzzy and gray. Feathers maybe? “Looks like baby birds might have been here. Hope they didn’t die.”

“Keep watching.”

“Ohhhhhh, you’re right! They’re opening their little mouths, waiting on their  mama to feed them!”

My husband carried on with his Saturday morning routine, but I couldn’t forget the two nests.

Real birds were living right behind a fake mama bird and her plastic eggs. 

So peculiar.

And spectacular.

Of course, I had a feeling there was a message here for me. 🙂

I touched  the  stiff mama bird.

Nothing was out of place in her perfect world. She even had matching, perfectly formed eggs. A spotless nest.

Years ago, I tried to be the perfect mom and raise perfect children. But living that way wasn’t really living at all.

Then I studied the other nest where real life was going on. Two baby birds chirped loudly. And there was probably poop in the nest.

Nevertheless, the birds were safely tucked inside a downy-soft home created with love.

And they were eagerly anticipating their mama returning.

Something dawned on me.

It’s better to be real,

To be someone who  listens and laughs,

Someone with faults who goofs up,

Than to be perfect, but cold and plastic. 

I left the baby birds so their mama would return to her wonderfully messy life. 

And I could return to mine. 

What do you think about the mama bird building her nest so close to the fake one?

Ever tried to be perfect? Exhausting, isnt it?!

I wrote more about breaking free from the trap of perfection here and here.

Love,

Julie


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mother-Daughter Discoveries

When I was a young mother of three, I thought I had life all figured out. Katie, our middle child, loved baby dolls. I imagined she’d grow up, get married, and one day become a mama.

After she married, life brought some surprises.

It always does, doesn’t it? 

You think you know exactly how things are going to turn out, and then everything changes. 

Katie experienced infertility and divorced after almost eight years of marriage.

Tough times.

Unexpected twists and turns in the road.

She remarried this past February.

A couple of weeks ago, the two of us met at PF Chang’s for my birthday.  She gave me a beautiful scarf and bracelet. “They came from Altar’d State,” she said. “It’s a new store at the mall. After lunch, I’ll show you.”

Nothing on the outside looked much different from other stores.

Inside Altar’d State, scenes from Katie’s childhood came to me. I remembered her playing babies–the white picket fence desires of her heart.

“Isn’t this cute, Mom?”

“Yep. Looks like something you wore when you were little.”

“Did you know I got my second wedding dress at this store?” she said. 

Second wedding dress.

My heart skipped a beat, and we both smiled.

I never thought life would go this way. 

Then I spotted gifts that bring hope–crosses and candles and bracelets.

This sign below says: “You are loved for the little girl you were, for the special woman you are, and for the precious daughter you always will be.”

“Leave it at the cross.”

 

When there are unexpected curves in the road, God is still around the bend, offering Grace. Click to Tweet
P.S. Katie’s now a stepmom to a precious three-year-old girl!
Has your life ever taken an unexpected turn? What happened?
Love,
Julie

Comfort, a Clothesline, and a Dog Named Clyde

In honor of Mother’s Day, I’m sharing a little secret about my mother. She’s sort of like The Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan. She knows what animals are thinking.

Here she is with her husband the day they adopted Thor, their rescue dog.

Last week, I called her to see if she could psychoanalyze Clyde, our Lab. He does the strangest thing when I hang out the sheets.

“Mother, you know how Clyde wants to be with us all the time?”

“Of course. He’s a sweetheart.”

“Yes, but he’s a scaredy-cat. He never wants to be alone. He looks worried after Thomas (our 23-year-old son) leaves every morning.”

“That’s not so strange.”

“That’s not my question. I’m just explaining what kind of dog he is. He stays right beside us during our porch parties.”

(Every morning my husband and I sit on the porch together.)

“He even shares chairs with us.”

“He’s just a good dog, Julie. That’s all.”

“I know he’s good. Here’s what doesn’t make sense. The only time he’s not clingy is when I hang out the sheets. He sits by the clothesline and watches me, and then–”

“That’s not weird.”

“I haven’t gotten to the weird part yet.”

“He doesn’t follow me back in the house. He stays near the sheets.”

“The only time Clyde’s brave is when the sheets are on the line.”

“He even falls asleep out there.”

“So, what is it about the sheets?”

“A dog’s sense of smell is thousands of times stronger than humans. He’s picking the smell of you and home and safety from the sheets.”

“Huh. That makes sense. Okay, so what’s he thinking?”

“He’s thinking, It’s so nice and warm today. And I can smell my people close by, so I know I’m safe. I’m just going to relax a while in the sunshine. Everything’s fine.”

“I bet you’re right.” I paused. “You know, I think God has a message here for us.”

“Me too.” Mother said. “Whenever we’re afraid, we need to stay close to the Comforter.”

As a mother comforts her child, so I’ll comfort you. Isaiah 66:13 MSG

There are a couple of situations in my life that are a tad bit scary. What about you? Let’s cuddle up beside the Comforter.

P.S. Are you like my mother? Do you know what animals are thinking?

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

The Day Love Exploded Inside My Heart

Even though my three children are grown, sometimes they still need a little TLC.

Don’t we all?

This past Friday, my daughter Jamie and I planned to meet at Chick-fil-A . Just the two of us. Even though she’s 33, I wanted to spend some time with her–let her know how much I love her.

Words are my love language, but I decided to take her a small gift.

I’m not the best shopper. Usually, I walk in circles and don’t know what to buy. I found three of my favorite baby pictures of Jamie, and headed to Target for frames.

Jamie’s first Easter.

Jamie and her daddy.

I pulled into the Target parking lot.

This should be easy. Three frames. No hard shopping decisions. 

But Target didn’t have any frames to fit my pictures.

Now what?

Almost time to meet at Chick-fil-A.

Help me, Lord.

Jamie’s favorite color is pink.

Think pink. 

I found two soft pink t-shirts and pink azaleas in the floral section.

But the baby pictures–I couldn’t forget about them. And no time to go to another store. 

Circling the frame aisle one more time, I spotted a dark wooden coat rack. Lo and behold, it had a place for three pictures!

Back at home, I put her gifts on the counter and hurriedly slipped the pictures into the frames.

They fit perfectly! Hallelujah! 

When Jamie drove up at Chick-fil-A, I planned to calmly give her a hug, but when I handed her the pictures, something exploded inside my heart. 

God’s love gushed through me. 

Full force. 

I hugged her to me tightly. Her hair smelled sweet–so sweet, I couldn’t get enough of her scent.

Her beauty.

I cried sloppy tears and choked out, “I love you.

“Love you too, Mom.”

Sometimes God nudges you to do something.

And you have no idea how to do it.  Or why. 

Just move forward.

Step by step.

And He does it through you. 

Can anyone relate?

Love,

Julie

Our Creative Best–What if?

When our son Thomas was fifteen, he stopped showing me things that impressed him. He’s twenty-three now, and a couple of years ago, he said, “Mom, come here. You gotta see this.”

I hightailed it up the steps.

He was in my office watching a video. “This guy’s incredible. Look.”

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

Bending over Thomas’s shoulder, I studied the guitarist. He was young. Amazing. Played from his heart.

I remembered Thomas and his first guitar.

Tiny tears came.

Happy tears.

Around the time we watched the video, Thomas started playing the guitar again.

Wonder why when I see someone doing his or her creative best, it lights a fire in me?

My husband Rick’s passion is cars. The other night, he was watching TV. I was reading.

“Wow,” Rick said. “Look at this.”

(If you can’t see the video below, click here. It’s less than a minute long.)

Watching Chip Foose draw, I spotted the fascinating tools in his office. Markers, brushes, pencils.

Did he draw as a child? 

I thought about my own office, my clothesline full of characters. Sometimes I talk to them.

I ask about their lives. What brings them hope? What inspires them?

And I absolutely love notebooks and colored pens. If I don’t have any paper, a chewing gum wrapper will do.

My attraction to words started when I was young.

I’m eight, reading a Redbook magazine.

I’ve been thinking.

Surely God inspired passion in each of us when we were children.

Maybe it was to knit.

Grow gardens.

Organize stacks of chaos.

Do math problems with ease.

Bake cakes.

Perform science experiments.

Be kind to outsiders.

Sometimes the joys of childhood get buried. We forget what we once loved. 

What if He’s calling us to play from our hearts again?

 “…take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” Galatians 6:5 The MSG

Love,

Julie