Fudge for Breakfast

Growing up the oldest of four, hard work came before fun. Always. There were little brothers to chase, dishes to do, and I edited my mother’s writing.

Lots of rules to follow. 

Having fun sometimes seemed like a no-no. 

Last week I went to Mother’s house so we could edit each other’s devotionals for Daily Guideposts. She surprised me with homemade fudge. She and my sister Jennifer made The Best Fudge. (Here’s their recipe. It’s GF.)

I put a piece of sweetness in my mouth. Let it melt on my tongue. “Your fudge is…”

“Pretty wonderful, isn’t it?”

Our work forgotten, we just sat and talked.

“I’ve started wearing aprons again,” she said.

“Here’s my kitty-cat one.”

“Jennifer gave me this one.”

I loved what was happening.

We’d never played before work.

It felt amazing!

Like we were actresses on a movie set!

“Women wore this kind in the fifties,” she said.

Who could see this and not laugh?

“Oh, we need to run to the post office,” she said. “And let’s eat lunch out.”

“Now? Before we work?”

“Sure, why not?”

When we got to the post office, she insisted we take a selfie.

Our first mother/daughter selfie. 

“You know, people are staring,” I said.

“Who cares?”

Later, in her office, we laughed while we worked, making our task a joy. 

The next morning, I wanted to keep the memory alive, so I broke the rules (again!) and had fudge for breakfast!

Something I’d never done.

Mother called.

“Yesterday was so much fun,” I said.

“Yeah, sometimes we think fun has to be a trip to Disney World.”

“I know. We even broke the ‘work before play’ rule, didn’t we?”

“We sure did.”

“Mother, what’s your definition of fun?”

“Fun means doing simple things in life with someone you love.”

Ta-da! 

SIMPLE. 🙂

My word for 2015. 

What simple ways do you have fun? How’re you doing on your word for the year?

Love,

Julie

Thanksgiving Bumps and Bruises

I saw one of those sweet Publix Thanksgiving commercials the other day, and the family-shaped place in my heart ached. Watching their warm, endearing expressions toward each other, I wondered if everything was really this perfect in their world.

Or were some family members missing from the table?

Were any estranged from each other?

Had some gone to Heaven?

Did they have any problems?

Or were they a little more like our family?

With a few bumps and scrapes and bruises.

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

Watching this TV family, I longed for health and healing–in every way–for all of us in my family.

No barriers.

No illnesses.

Peace and joy.

I guess I wanted the impossible.

Heaven on Earth. 

The next morning I sat in my bedroom talking to God about life, and Clyde laid down beside me as always.

I spotted a handmade bookmark on my bedside table from a Daily Guideposts reader. I’d probably skimmed it a dozen times and had never noticed how the words were spaced on separate lines.

This time I read each phrase slowly.

Be still and know that I am God.

Be still and know that I am.

Be still and know.

Be still.

Be. 

Just be still like Clyde. Still and trusting. At peace.

One day, all the bumps and scrapes and bruises in our families will be healed.

Be.

Be still.

Be still and know.

“Be still and know that He is God,” Psalms 46:10.

I’ll be giving thanks tomorrow and praying for you and yours.

Love,

Julie

 

Surrender…It’s So Very Daily

I’ve been blessed to contribute devotionals to Daily Guideposts since 2003. The 2015 edition contains a Surrender Series I wrote about my word from 2012. A few days ago, Guideposts featured one of my devotionals from the series on their website.

In this devotional, I mention Al-AnonAl-Anon is a 12-Step program for people like me who have a friend or family member who is an alcoholic.

So many times I return to Step One.

“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol–that our lives had become unmanageable.”

Surrender, for me, means admitting I’m powerless. Step One affects every part of my life.

I’m not only powerless over alcohol, I’m powerless over everything and everyone except my choices and my responses.

I’m powerless over people I love.

I’m powerless over others’ opinions of me.

I’m even powerless over whether or not the sun shines. 🙂

Moment-by-moment, I’m reminded that I’m not in control–even on my daily walks.

Last week Clyde (our Lab) and I walked the loop through the woods behind our house. We always circle the loop ten times. I noticed Kitty Thelma watching us.

“Kitty, kitty, come on. Walk with us.”

She swished her tail like she had better things to do.

Each time we passed her, the same thing happened. I begged her to come. She refused.

On loop number eight, she sharpened her claws.

Oh, good! Maybe she’s thinking about it.

I waited on her.

Nope. She stayed put.

Which brought me back to Surrender.

I’ve spent a lot of energy trying to change people.  

Just like I’d done with Thelma–I was even trying to control my cat!

On my last loop, I smiled at her, but I didn’t try to change her mind.

Leaving the woods, I saw the sun peeking through the fall leaves.

Thank You, Lord. It’s not my job to change anyone. (Not even Thelma. :))

I’m just supposed to work on myself.

Have you ever tried to change someone? Pointless, isn’t it.

Love,

Julie

The Fear/Faith Principle

I’ll never forget what my mother did when I was twelve years old. She volunteered me to teach a ladies Sunday school class. She thought it would be fun. She was in the class. 🙁

It was youth Sunday, but still …

I was furious. And scared to death.

On the way to  church I felt like throwing up. My hands shook as I clutched the fear/faith poster I’d made. The poster was half black and half yellow. The yellow part represented faith. The black part meant fear.

At the bottom I wrote:

“Faith means walking to the edge of all the light you can see and taking one more step.”

That day in 1972 when I taught the semi-circle of ladies, a miracle happened.

My poster worked!

I didn’t pass out. My heart slowed down. My words flowed.

I saw a softening around their eyes, a tenderness, a look of understanding.

We experienced the awe and humility of God’s Presence.

This weekend, I’m flying to Massachusetts to lead a ladies retreat on Surrender.

I’m packing my carry-on now. The goofy shoes and hat are part of a skit.

I’m bringing the Daily Guideposts 2015 . It contains a Surrender Series I wrote.

On the inside, I’m still the same little girl. Forty-two years later, right before I speak, my heart does that same skippity thing, and my hands turn clammy.

But the fear/faith principle still works.

When you take one tiny step out of all the light you can see, and your foot is coming down into darkness, you don’t realize it, but you’re landing in faith.

Are you stepping out into faith about something?

My church lady shoes for the skit–my mother wore them 27 years ago at her second wedding.

Please say a prayer for us this weekend.

Here’s my blog about the Ladies Surrender Retreat in South Carolina.

“Fear not, for I am with you.” Isaiah 41:10 NKJV

So much love,

Julie

 

A Morning with Mother in the 21st Century

I was thrilled. Mother was finally getting a new cell phone and she’d acted a tiny bit interested in a computer. Maybe even an iPad. But there was one problem.

I’d be teaching her.

A few weeks ago…

“I’m not sure if you need wireless–”

“Wallace? I don’t know anyone named Wallace,” she said.

Wire-less, Mother. You may need a router.”

“What kind of rider?”

I took a long, deep breath.

Yesterday I made a house call.

“This is how I write. See my thesaurus?”

(We write for Daily Guideposts and edit each other’s devotionals.)

I moved her Easter centerpiece and set up my workspace. Neat. Tidy. Efficient.

“Doesn’t this look simpler?”

She didn’t respond.

She handed me one of her marked-up devotionals to read.

I felt tired just looking at it.

I typed a few sentences on my laptop. “If you got a computer, look, no more Whiteout. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?”

“I love the smell of Whiteout. This is how I edit.”

I tried my best to keep a straight face.

To keep her on task.

I was there for a purpose.

To give iPhone lessons.

She’d already mastered phone calls.  I took a selfie and showed her how to send a picture.

Next we sent a practice text.

“This sure is a lot of work. Why not just call someone?”

“Texting saves times. Write short texts. Like shorthand.”

“I don’t see the benefits.”

I felt like I was shoving a load of bricks, but she was smiling, so proud of her red cell phone. “At least I’ve gotten started,” she said.

“True. I think that’s enough work for today.”

She fixed us a Pepsi. Laughing with her, an old truth came to me.

You can’t change someone.

And you can wear yourself out trying.

I hugged her and replaced her Easter centerpiece.

Can you relate?

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

Peace on the Porch

Our porch party setting

Last week one of my daughters said, “Mom, why don’t you blog about your porch parties. Tell us how it works.”

Almost every morning for the past two years, my husband and I take our coffee on the front porch and begin our day together. Negative comments and discussing problems aren’t allowed at porch parties. When pesky thoughts try to worm their way in, I tell them to scram. For me, porch parties are creating a new way of thinking–a discipline, for sure.

No two mornings are like. Each one has a unique personality and feels like meeting a new best friend. This morning with the cooler weather, we didn’t hear the summertime crickets, but the sweet scent of gardenia bushes greeted us. We needed our red fleece blankets. A flock of geese honked overhead. Our only light was the cool lavender sun peeking through the trees.

I don’t know why it works, but it does. Maybe it’s about anticipation, choosing to focus on the good in life, and looking forward to simple things.

Rain.

Stringing Christmas lights.

Grandchildren some day.

A second cup of coffee on the weekends.

For a few minutes each morning we pretend all is well. Perhaps it is.

“…for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning…” Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV

P.S. In the Daily Guideposts 2012, you’ll find more devotionals about our porch parties.

Love,

Julie