How to Stay on Vacation All Year Long

This summer, my husband and I had a stay-cation. We slept late, had long porch parties, and slowed down. I loved stay-cation so much, I didn’t want our simple way of living to end. 

On Friday, we drove to Blue Ridge, Georgia to Mercier Orchards.

I’d brought a stack of books and my journal. “Do you have room for your feet?” Rick said.

“I’m fine.”

Reading was a big part of my stay-cation, and who knows? I might be inspired to write in the car.

Two hours later, we entered Blue Ridge.

“It’s so pretty up here. Wish we could make today last longer.” I decided to jot down every detail so I wouldn’t forget the beauty. I opened my journal. Grabbed a pen.

Instead, an unexpected prayer rose. I began writing. Didn’t stop to edit.

Father,

Thank You for stay-cation.

For being in the car with a man I’ve loved for 40 years!

40 years!

Thank You for plenty of books at my feet. 

I glanced at Rick’s left hand.

His hands–how hard he works–for all the wrenches he’s turned so I can write. 

We stopped at Cheeseburger Bobby’s.

Incredible cheeseburgers, but their fries aren’t gluten-free, and I have Celiac.

Rick ran next door to Chick-fil-A. They have GF fries. 🙂

Thank You for Chick-fil-A fries.

For a husband who’ll get them for me.

Then on to Mercier’s.

When we got there, we sat in the car for a minute, in awe of the mountains and deep valleys.

Thank You for mountains and valleys.

Family problems entered my thoughts.

I paused.

Stopped writing.

A new kind of prayer came.

Thank You for the problems.

For things I can’t change. 

For me having Celiac

Mercier’s is an apple orchard, but they didn’t have many apples.

It was July.

Not October.

Disappointment tried to worm its way in.

Then we spotted summer fruit. 🙂

Thank You for peaches and blackberries and blueberries! 

And fudge.

And kettle corn!

And cider!

 And jelly!

We filled our cart.

And I filled my heart.

Maybe the secret to staying on vacation all year long is to keep saying, “Thank-You, Lord.” For everything.  

Don’t you love vacation relaxation?

What are your va-cay plans?

P.S. Apple pie wasn’t GF, but the fudge was! 🙂

To find out why Rick wears a nine-dollar wedding ring, click here.

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

9 Secrets about Friends of the Heart

The older I get, the easier I cry, especially when I’m with my friends. It’s the sweet kind of happy tears. Last week, my birthday week, I got teary-eyed a bunch of times.

I had lunch with my mom, sis, niece, and daughters at La Madeleine. We didn’t talk about anything too important. We just laughed a lot. And I teared-up twice, naturally. 🙂

My daughters and me.

My mom and niece.

My sissy and me. I learned you’re actually supposed to look at the camera, not the person taking pictures. 🙂

My writing group, The Seedwriters, had a surprise party for me at Chick-fil-A. I cried some more happy tears over this card from Ane Mulligan.

See how she named each one of us? We women LOVE to do that, don’t we?

Here we are in real life below (minus Barbara Davidson, who couldn’t make it). There’s Ane Mulligan with Novel Rocket, me, Anita Mellott, Jim Hall, Barbara King, Patty Hall Smith, and Nora St. Laurent with Book Club.

I thought about why a heart-friend is so special….

1. When you talk to her, she starts nodding her head almost immediately. (My husband is my very best friend–no one takes his place, but he doesn’t nod while I’m talking. It’s a woman-thing, I guess.)

2. You can go a decade without seeing her, and when you finally get together, you both start talking in the middle of a sentence, and that’s fine. You understand each other.

3. You laugh at the same things without saying a word.

4. If you say, “Remember when….” she remembers. Always.

5. If the worst possible thing in life happens, you know if you can just tell her about it, you’ll feel 50 to 60 percent better.

6. She keeps your secrets.

7. You don’t ever have to actually meet face-to-face . 🙂 I’ve become heart-friends with lots of my blog readers!

8. Some friendships end abruptly, and the only thing you can do is let her go…with love. You’ll never forget her. Ever.

9. There’s always room in my heart (and maybe yours too?) for one more friend. And lots more happy tears.

Tell me about your heart-friends. What makes them special?

Love,

Julie

(*Birthday card used with permission from Sunrise Greetings, photography from Underwood Photo Achives/Superstock Inc.)

 

Ever Feel Like Giving Up?

I have.

For me, it’s been about writing, but it could be about anything near and dear to your heart. Anything you struggle with. Relationships, a career, maybe a dream.

Giving up starts with a single negative thought. I entertain a flicker of doubt.

Who am I to think I can write?

Thoughts gather. Circle like buzzards.

Why in the heck would anyone want to read this?

It’s an awful lotta work. With no guarantees.

Discouragement settles over me like a summer cold.

What if it’s all for nothing?

What if I missed God?

I should probably quit.

Before I make a fool of myself.

Before I fail.

So…..

Saturday morning, Rick and I watched our son Thomas, his girlfriend Brittany, and her brother Shooter run a Chick-fil-A 5K. Brittany and Shooter’s mama watched too. 🙂

It was Thomas’s and Shooter’s first race.

We cheered them on at the starting line and were waiting at the finish line. One by one, as they came into view to run the final yards, we clapped, whistled, screamed, “You can do it! Come on! Almost there!”

Holy chills ran down my neck as I witnessed what happened next–the kind where God seems to say, Pay attention.

Rounding the corner toward the homestretch, each one of them did the very same thing.

They kicked it into high gear.

Turned it on big time.

Gave it all they had.

(Thomas above, Shooter below)

 

(Brittany above)

As I saw their determination– jaws set, legs pumping harder, faster, eyes fixed on the goal, I felt the glorious fire ignite inside my heart again.

I can’t quit.

Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. Isaiah 50:7 NIV

Stay the course, my friends! Keep running!

If you feel like giving up, let me know. I’ll pray.

Love,

Julie