Love Is…

When I write about my husband, I ask him to read it before I hit publish. This time I didn’t.

I’m surprising him with a public love letter.

Dear Ricky, (I call him Ricky, but most people call him Rick)

Sunday night, after we picked out our Christmas tree and brought it home, I headed to my loft office to write while you wrested that prickly, sap-filled Frazier fir into place.

With my fingers on my laptop, I sensed a tapping on my heart and glanced through the banisters to watch you work. You were doing the same thing you’ve done for 39 years.

It sounds like a small thing, but this sight moved me.

So much love came over me, I wanted to get closer.

I tiptoed downstairs and sat in the red chair behind you.

I didn’t say anything. I sat there, watching and thinking. Praying a little bit.

I’d never thought much about Christmas tree lights until that flickering moment.

I remembered our first Christmas, 1978.

We came home with a tree that wouldn’t fit in out den–remember?

Then we drove back to the tree lot and exchanged it for a smaller one. I was afraid we’d lost our money, but you knew they’d do the right thing.

What about all those years when Jamie, Katie, and Thomas helped us decorate?

It never occurred to me that Christmases would change, and one day it would just be you and me.

Every year, you untangle the lights from last Christmas because I’m always in such a hurry to take down the decorations.

And every year you fix my mess.

I don’t know why this touched me so deeply…

Maybe because my word for 2017 is Love.

I didn’t know this as young wife and mother.

And I didn’t put the definition together until three days ago.

This is what Love means:

Love means doing whatever it takes to get the job done. 

Love is content to go unnoticed.

Love is kind–even when the Christmas lights are knotted up. (click to tweet)

Thank you, Ricky.

Happy 39th on December 9th.

I love you.

Julie

To my readers–

What does love mean to you?

Has your definition of love changed over the years? Share it with us!

 

 

The Heart of Christmas

This year, the heart of Christmas tiptoed in unexpectedly. Does that ever happen to you? You’re hurrying through your day, checking things off your list, and something soft and gentle happens. And you remember.

Three weeks ago, my mother called and made an announcement.

“I’m not putting up a tree this year. I hung my red wreath on the front door and tied a bow on the mailbox. And I’m perfectly content.”

She’s said this before and changed her mind.

“Oh, come on. I’ll help you. We can decorate it together. It’ll be fun.”

“That’s real sweet, but no thanks. I remember when my mother stopped putting up a tree. There comes a time when you–”

She kept talking, and I couldn’t decide how I feltMy thoughts scrambled back and forth from the past to the present.

Bittersweet. 

I remembered Mother’s beautiful Christmas tree. Gold decorations and angels. So many angels.

But I could hear it in her voice.

She wasn’t changing her mind. So I probably needed to let it go, too.

A few days later, I ran to Home Depot for a string of lights. A certain tree caught my attention. Tiny. Pre-decorated. A simple tree.

Definitely not my mother’s style but it was portable. Light-weight.

I brought it home with me.

It looked even smaller in my kitchen. 

I’d bought my mother a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

No glitter. No sparkle. No gold.

What was I thinking? How could she possibly like it? 

It’s so…plain. 

No turning back now.

I called her. “Hi. I’m bringing you a little something.”

Please don’t ask what it is. 

When she saw me coming in her back door, she took a deep breath to say something.

Then she paused.

“I know it’s small, but it’s not heavy. You can lift it. We’ll put it on the front porch if you want to. We can hang some of your gold–”

“Oh, Julie.” She touched one of the pine cones. “I absolutely love it. Let’s put it in the den by my chair.”

“Wish you could’ve seen your expression when you came in with it,” she said. “You looked like you were five years old bringing me your hand-print from kindergarten.”

Fifty years flies by in an instant. 

She called me this morning. “My tree grows sweeter every day. I can’t imagine Christmas without it.”

I’m so glad I decided to get it. 

When you’re not sure what to do, you can’t go wrong with kindness. Click to tweet.

Kindness is at the heart of Christmas. Pastor Kevin Myers. Click to tweet.

Is God whispering someone’s name to you?

Has an unexpected act of kindness ever melted your heart?

Love,

Julie

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Worshipping at Walmart

Glancing at my last-minute Christmas brunch grocery list, I hurry across the wet Walmart parking lot. It’s damp and cold. I wish I’d worn my coat. Making my way through the crowd of grim-faced shoppers, my thoughts scatter like marbles. I check my list again.

* Find red tablecloth

* Eggs, orange juice, chocolate milk, bacon

*Send Katie mini-cheese blintz recipe 

Taking a short-cut through pajamas aisle, I hear Christmas music.

Is it piped in through the speakers?

People move toward the center of the store as though following The Star of David.

I forget my list and follow them.

Workers stop to listen.

This music.

This beautiful music. 

It’s a little rough, but in a good way. It’s raw.

Full of passion.

And powerful.

So very powerful. 

A form of praise that can’t be contained.

Warmth spreads through me as I pass a small nativity.

Spotting the giant circle of carolers, I’m filled with unspeakable peace.

This kind of worship isn’t planned.

It’s spontaneous combustion.

Not of this world.

So much bigger than me. 

Some drop to their knees.

Wipe their eyes.

A few raise their hands.

I remember yesterday when I heard, “Christmas Cannon,” by Trans-Siberian Orchestra. This same wonder and awe came over me.

(Click here if you can’t see the video.)

And now, 

Miraculously,

In the middle of a busy Walmart on Saturday before Christmas,

We sound every bit as beautiful as the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Glory and honor and praise fill an ordinary building as a ragtag collection of us sing our hearts out.

(Click here if you can’t see the video.)

Unhindered,

Unrehearsed,

We worship Christ the newborn King.

 Have you had one of these moments this Christmas when God’s Gift fills your heart? Please share it with our group! 

Love,

Julie

Chum-Talk…The Secret to Lasting Relationships

I don’t think my husband actually hates the Hallmark Countdown to Christmas movies. I think he just enjoys poking fun at them. Or at me for loving them.

Friday night we had a fire going. We were sharing a blanket on the sofa, watching The Nine Lives of Christmas

My kind of night.

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

“These silly movies are all the same,” Rick said.

“No they’re not.”

“After the first couple of minutes, you know the ending.”

“They’re romantic. See the pretty white lights on the square?”

“Same setting. Same town. Same Christmas tree lot.”

“Small-town life. So picturesque.”

“Same characters with the same goofy expressions. Look at how they grin at each other.”

“They’re just happy. And in love.”

“Nobody has that many teeth.”

By this time I was laughing, and the drama between Zachary and Marilee came to a climax. There’d been a huge misunderstanding. Although their cats had bonded, the two of them hadn’t.

Marilee teared up, and as Zachary murmured something soft and tender, Rick made another joke. This one was funny. “What’d he say? I missed it.”

“Just chum-talk.”

“What’s chum-talk?”

“It’s what they always say right before they kiss.”

“Their one big moment, and you made me laugh.”

“Don’t worry. It’ll be on 17 more times.”

“Good. I’m watching them all.”

“Now they’re going to hug,” Rick said.

And they did.

After the movie, I pondered chum-talk. “I bet Zachary probably told Marilee how much he loved her. And he was sorry.” I said. “And Marilee told Zachary she loved him too. And she forgave him.”

“You think so?” Rick said, smiling.

“I know so.”

Chum-talk is the emotional glue to lasting relationships.

I’m sorry.

I forgive you.

I love you. 

Do you love these movies? They’re so full of heart.

If you need to have a chum-talk with someone, I’ll pray be glad to pray.

P.S. We watched The Nine Lives of Christmas again last night!

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

Just a Strand of Broken Christmas Lights

Every Christmas, we decorate the banisters of my little loft office with multi-colored lights. I like to think it makes me more creative. 🙂 Saturday, I plugged in the lights we always use. Only half of them worked. “Let’s just toss these and buy new ones.”

“I’ll fix them,” my husband said.

“We don’t have enough replacement bulbs.”

“I only need one.”

“How’s one bulb going to fix all these broken lights?”

Rick stretched out in the floor and removed the last working bulb. A blue one. Middle of the strand.

“This one works,” he said, “so when I find the broken bulb, they’ll all work.”

“Are you sure?”

He moved so quickly, I couldn’t figure out his magic trick.

“Isn’t that a lot of trouble?”

He didn’t answer me.

“Wouldn’t it be easier to run to Home Depot?”

He kept working.

I didn’t see any way his plan could possibly work.

One single bulb fix a strand of broken Christmas lights.

All of a sudden–ta-dah— they lit up. Every single one.

After he wrapped lights around the banisters, I sat downstairs in the den looking at my new office.

My transformed world.

 Maybe there’s a Christmas message buried in the strand of broken lights.

Lights I wanted to throw away.

Useless lights.

No-hope-lights.

What is it, Lord?

My Son was the One and only Light Who could save a broken world.

I sat there, still and quiet, thanking Him in my heart.

This is what Christmas is all about.

“…I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 18:12 NIV 

Have you had a sparkly Christmas moment lately? Tell me about it.

Love,

Julie

 

 

Living Christmas in the Now

Saturday night, as my husband Rick and I walked through Target for a box of ornaments, we passed the toy section. “Hang on,” he said. “Let me look for a minute.” As he studied the tiny cars, I had a feeling he was reminiscing. Our children are grown. “Remember when Jamie and Katie were little and you gave them your Matchbox collection?”

He nodded.

“Remember all the Christmas Eves you’ve spent putting toys together?”

“Um-hmm.”

“Here’s Thomas the Train,” I said. “Remember how Thomas loved this stuff?”

At home that night, I dug through boxes of pictures feeling older. Pondering the past.

Jamie and Katie, Christmas 1988.

 Baby Thomas’s first Christmas, 1991.

Now it was just the two of us. Middle-aged people.

I found Rick hanging lights on the tree and showed him the long-ago photos. He smiled and kept working.

Tying gold strings on each new ornament I thought about how fast life goes.

How much I’d missed by hurrying

“I’ll help you,” he said, after he finished the lights.

Decorating together, both of us wearing reading glasses, no little children around, I told my fingers to move very s-l-o-w-l-y.

I let my eyes linger on each ornament and really see the glimmering colors.

And then the most remarkable thing happened.

The sweetest prayers rose in my heart.

A prayer of Thanksgiving. Prayers for our children. My husband. Our whole family.

I prayed for my blog readers–some by name–for the precious requests you’ve shared.

Surrendering to the beauty of the moment, it seemed God’s Glory descended into our den.

Contentment came.

I welcomed it.

Living Christmas (and life) in the now, there’s no need to look backward or forward.

Love,

Julie