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 spreads a little love our way, we’re stirred to do the same thing–

And love others. 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Staying in Love–A Valentine Porch Party

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I decided to interview my husband of 37 years. I wanted to find out how he felt about one of my favorite days of the year.

The Day of Love. 

What better time to talk than during a porch partyEvery morning we get up with the roosters, drink coffee, read Jesus Calling, and pray.

Friday afternoon, I set the stage.

I spruced up the table with ivy, fluffed our red blankets, and put out a new candle.

I made a cake and bought  heart-shaped candy.

I chose a valentine card for him covered in conversation hearts. 

Saturday morning.

7:15. 

I sipped my coffee and carefully posed my question.

“When you were a little boy, didn’t you just love Valentine’s Day?”

He didn’t say a word.

Maybe he didn’t understand the question. 

“After school, I hurried home and dumped out the cards in my Valentine box on my bed.”

No comment.

“I analyzed each one very carefully. I could tell if the sender really liked me by the words on the card. And I loved choosing just the right card for my friends. Didn’t you do that?”

“No. I threw away all the cards that said ‘Be mine’ or ‘I love you’.”

“You never tried to figure out which girls liked you by their cards?”

“No. Never.”

You are the strangest person I’ve ever met.

“Okay. Forget the cards. How did you feel about Valentine’s Day?”

“I hated it. All the pink and white lacy stuff.”

I can’t believe it. 

My husband hates Valentine’s Day. 

Poor Charlie Brown. I could identify with him. If you can’t see the video, click here.

I had one more question, but I was afraid I knew the answer.

“Do you still hate it…now that you’re grown?”

He looked at me and sorta smiled. “Nah. It’s not too bad anymore. I have fun picking out those big, tacky cards for you.” Reaching into the pink dish, he chose a chocolate covered heart.

Then he opened it and handed it to me. 

It was just as good as if he’d said–

BE MINE.

I’M YOURS.

ALWAYS.

Staying in love means you give your heart away–over and over. Click to Tweet.

How do you feel about Valentine’s Day?

Did you look forward to it as a child? Did you analyze your cards like I did?

Any memories or thoughts you want to share?

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons From My Cat Thelma

Have you ever had someone spot beauty you’d overlooked, and it was right there beside you? My husband rescued Kitty Thelma several years ago. She was a few weeks old when he found her hiding underneath a car. This past weekend before the ice and snow, our son’s girlfriend Brittany took  pictures of her.

She captured Thelma’s everyday moments, but there’s nothing everyday about Brittany’s pictures

They are Divine.

Brittany showed them to me Sunday night.

It was as though I’d never really seen my cat until I saw these photos.

Every picture held a message for me.

Talk about having a moment.

I sensed God tapping my heart.

Pay attention, He seemed to say.

“Look at her,” I said. “She’s so happy on our front porch.”

“Rescued animals are always grateful,” Brittany said. “Thelma’s secure. And confident. And fearless.”

“Oh, look. When she’s tired, she rests.”

“This expression,” I said.  “She’s doing exactly what God created her to do. Watch birds.”

“She’s not posing. She’s just being herself,” Brittany said.

“Her beautiful self. I bet she didn’t stress about the photo-shoot.”

“No way. Thelma’s not a people pleaser,” Brittany said.

“You mean, she wasn’t trying to impress you?”

Brittany laughed. “She’s too smart for that.”

“This one’s priceless. She never gets tired of the little things.”

“She’s sitting in my wicker chair–content wherever she lands.”

Then Brittany showed me the last one.

My very favorite.

“How did you get this picture? The sun streaming over her shoulder…”

Brittany just smiled.

“Pure contentment. Like she’s in heaven. Right on her own front porch.”

Lord, I don’t want to miss the Splendor of any moment. Just like Thelma.

Which one of Brittany’s pictures is your favorite and why?

* If you’d like to contact her about a photo-shoot for your pet, you can find her on Facebook, Brittany Lynn Brooks.

Love,

Julie

 

My One Word for 2013…(Gulp!)

I didn’t have the warm fuzzies for my 2013 word like last year’s word… SURRENDER. Sunday afternoon, trying to run from my word, I asked our son Thomas to teach me to use free weights at the YMCA. He demonstrated the first exercise by lying on a bench while lifting a weight over his head. “Your turn.”

He handed me the tiniest weight possible–opposite of the ones below. “Easy-breezy,” I said.

He taught me how to pull these ropes while holding my elbows close to my body. It took several tries to get it right, but Thomas was patient with me.

Then he called his girlfriend Brittany for suggestions. Yikes! She’s a personal trainer. They work out together.

Brittany suggested I lunge across the room while holding a five-pound weight. I did it without too much effort.

“Grab me a heavier one,” I said feeling smug. Kinda show-off-y.

Thomas handed me a bigger weight. Halfway across the floor, I thought I might throw up or pass out.

“You okay, Mom?”

I sat down. Caught my breath. Nodded.

“Here’s our next one,” he said. “Watch me first.”

Oh, dear.

Thomas hung upside down by one foot…and did sit-ups…while holding a weight. “Now, you try.”

“You’re crazy! I can’t do that.”

“Sure you can.”

It took me forever to master hanging like a possum.

Then Thomas moved near my feet so I could see his face.

Very slowly, I did one single sit-up holding a weight–the most difficult exercise I’ve ever done.

But wow! When I made it to the top and saw Thomas’s grin and heard him say, “Good job, Mom,” that’s the moment I embraced my new word. 🙂 🙂

Lesson Learned: You can do more than you think you can.

My word for 2013 is FOLLOW.

I pray I’ll follow God without arguing.

I pray I’ll follow without running ahead thinking I know best.

I pray I’ll follow and not lag behind, letting fear keep me from trying.

Do you have a 2013 word?

Love,

Julie

Creating a Perfectly Imperfect Thanksgiving

 

Our front door

I have a confession. It’s not pretty. Sometimes when I entertain I drive myself (and my husband) nuts.

There are leaves on the porch! What if my pecan pies aren’t done in the middle?

We’re having eighteen people for Thanksgiving. Last week I stopped by Mother’s to borrow her yellow tablecloth.

“It’s full of wrinkles,” she said. “Better take it to the cleaners. You can try putting it in the dryer with a damp towel, but just don’t use it looking like this.”

She was only trying to help.

As soon as I got home, I spread the tablecloth across my kitchen table. Mother was right. It was wrinkled.

I tried the dryer trick three times. No better.

I called my BFF. “Do you iron tablecloths?”

She laughed. “No way. I decorate over the wrinkles.”

Ignoring her simple solution, I ironed the tablecloth on top of my table. Better, but not perfect. Then I ironed it on the ironing board slowly, carefully, one section at a time. Still not quite perfect.

You don’t have to do this. Relax. This isn’t what Thanksgiving is about.

I called the cleaners. If I could get it there STAT, they could have it back by Tuesday afternoon.  I raced it to them.

Nothing else mattered but having a wrinkle-free tablecloth.

At our porch party this morning, I studied the trees and had a feeling God had a message for me.  The trees were gorgeous but some leaves had fallen too soon.

Ahhh! What am I doing critiquing the trees?

My problem wasn’t the wrinkled tablecloth. Or the trees. My problem was pride.

 

Lord, forgive me.  I’d forgotten what’s important. Make our home a place of peace, healing, and beautiful imperfection.

P.S. I’m using paper plates tomorrow. Aren’t the best parties the kind where the hostess has fun? And she cares about her guests more than her tablecloth?

But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! Luke 10:41 (NLT)

Love,

Julie

Delight at the Dairy Queen–More on Marriage

It took me about thirty years to discover two things:
1. Getting along is much more fun than nitpicking.
2. Little things matter. A lot.
Good things happen when you stop nagging–like going to the Dairy Queen. After supper once or twice a week one of us says, “Want to go to the DQ?”
A DQ date night costs about $5, but it’s worth gold. For a few minutes, we’re teenagers again. We jump in the truck and head past the square to the DQ drive-through. I order a small chocolate shake or a hot fudge sundae with peanuts. Rick gets a mini Reece’s blizzard. We sit in the parking lot and eat and watch the cars go by. Sometimes we hold hands.

The other night, the sun set as we were waiting in line at the drive-through window–the most beautiful combination of popsicle purple and orange–colors that take your breath.

Heaven came down.

Glory filled the sky.

And the truck.

from http://www.allthingsheartandhome.com/T

The girl handed us our ice cream and smiled. “Have a blessed night.”

It is a blessed night. So very, very blessed.

From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the Lord is to be praised. Ps. 113:3 NAS

Love,

Julie