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

 

 

 

 

 

Shy Girl Makes Friends and Learns Five Lessons

I’m an introvert who can fake being an extrovert. When I make a new friend and we click, I always learn something–you know the kind of friendship I’m talking about–

You both love coffee. You laugh at the same bizarre things. You can be together and not talk and it’s perfectly fine. 

Before the Ridgecrest Novelists Retreat last week, I wondered if the magic would happen.

Would I make new friends and reconnect with old ones? Would one of them teach me a life lesson? 

As soon as I arrived, I spotted my friend Vonda SkeltonShe’s an amazing writer, speaker, and teacher. It’s impossible to be with her and not laugh because Vonda laughs at herself. 🙂

Lesson Number 1 came quickly from Vonda:

1. Life’s more fun when you can finally learn to laugh at yourself. 

Later that day, I sat down in a class about social media and novel-writing.

Can I do this? Can I actually learn to speak new languages in social media?

Edie Melson and DiAnn Mills co-taught the class, The Author RoadmapEdie covered the social media aspect and DiAnn covered novel-writing.

Right away Edie smiled. 🙂 I smiled back.

And relaxed.

Maybe I can do this. Edie smiled at me. She thinks I can. 

Lesson number 2 from Edie:

2. For me, smiling and having a positive attitude became the first step to learning. 

Next I met Torry Martin.

Oh. Wow. Torry’s a speaker, writer, comedian, and actor. He’s also free-spirited and hilarious. Give the man a sentence and he can write an entire screenplay–in just a few hours!

Lesson number 3 from Torry.

3. Don’t doubt yourself. Be fearlessly creative. 

I met Bea Fishback, another writer, speaker, teacher. We introduced ourselves and discovered we both love coffee. 🙂 On the way to Starbucks, we laughed because we couldn’t find my car in the parking lot.

Kindred spirits.

I told her how much I loved her scarf. A few minutes later, in the conference room, she handed me a neatly folded, bright orange square.

Her scarf.

Spontaneous giving always undoes me. It’s how Jesus gives.

Lesson number 4 from Bea:

4. Give joyfully and unexpectedly.

And DiAnn.

DiAnn and I’ve been friends since the day she approached me at a writers’ conference in 2006 and said, “You look shy. Do you need a friend?”

Lesson number 5 from DiAnn.

5. Keep an open heart for new friends. They’re everywhere! 

Driving home, surrounded by the changing leaves, the scarf around my neck felt almost like an encouraging hand on my shoulder.

Thank You, Lord. The magic happened all over again. A shy girl made friends.

Does this stir your thoughts? Have you made a new friend lately? What about when Bea gave me her scarf? Whew…

Has God ever surprised you with an unexpected friend?

Love,

Julie

Three Hallmarks of Divine Friendship

I think sometimes God arranges friendships in heaven. That’s what happened with my friend DiAnn Mills and me. Our paths would never have crossed if it weren’t for His Divine Intervention.

Years ago, I taught writing at a conference in Texas. It was the first time I’d flown out-of-town to teach.

I felt like a poser. A wannabe. Full of insecurity. 

The night I arrived, the entire faculty circled to pray.

Do I really belong here? 

Me? Faculty? 

After the prayer, a gorgeous redhead approached me. “Hi, I’m DiAnn. You look a little shy. Do you need a friend?”

Ohhhhh, if she only knew…

That was the beginning of our Divine Friendship.

Last week, I flew to Houston to visit her.

We went antiquing. Entering this enchanted shop, I felt like a little girl again,

In a land where all things are possible.  

Check out the name of this store.  🙂

Since DiAnn and I are writers, we chose outfits for our characters.

Such fun–to dream!

And the signs–oh, the signs!

Surrounded by creativity, each message seemed to come from God.

 

 

Then on to clothes.

“DiAnn, what about this? I love the material, but the color…”

She answered truthfully. “We can do better.”

And we did.

She found this beautiful  shirt.

And I got this one.

It’s So …. Me!

She surprised me with a homemade gluten-free peach and blueberry cobbler. (I have Celiac.)

Friday afternoon, we noticed the primrose blooming near her pool.

Wide open.

Bright yellow. 

Thriving. 

“Just wait ’til tomorrow morning,” she said. “You won’t believe the difference.”

Sure enough, the next morning they’d all but shriveled up and died. “Watch. They’ll open when the sun shines.”

That’s when I started thinking about our friendship.

During our final porch party, three things occurred to me about Divine Friendships:

1. They help us bloom. (They’re like the sun shining on the primrose.) 

2. They “speak the truth in love” Ephesians 4:15. (The orange shirt.) 

3. They accept us just as we are. (The GF cobbler.)  

What qualities have you noticed about Divine Friendships?

P.S. This happened last year at DiAnn’s.

Love,

Julie

Pret-ty, Pret-ty, Pret-ty–A Love Song From My Father

What happened this weekend must’ve been a preview to Heaven. I visited my dear friend and best-selling author DiAnn Mills in Houston, TX.

Before we worshipped together at her church …

We sat in this cozy corner near her pool and had a porch party.

Everywhere I looked I saw beauty.

Maybe God has a special message somewhere out here for me today.

“Ohhh, look at my coffee cup,” I said, thinking surely this was it.

She smiled. “That’s why we write.”

Nice words, but the quote wasn’t what I needed.

“Your flowers are gorgeous. Are you the gardener?”

“Yes. When I need inspiration, I get on my knees in the dirt. I plot and plant and pray. And pray some more.” A cool breeze blew. “Smell that sweet scent?” she said. “That’s alyssum.” (Her white flowers.)

The aroma was so lovely, for a few moments, we didn’t say anything.

We sat still and quiet, worshipping.

And then we heard the first bird of the morning.

“Did I ever tell you what my daddy said when I was a little girl?” She sipped her coffee.  “We were outside–just the two of us. He whispered, ‘Listen. Do you hear that bird? She’s saying, ‘pret-ty, pret-ty, pret-ty. She’s singing to you, DiAnn.”

I swallowed the knot in my throat.

“I didn’t think I was pretty,” she said. “But my father did.”

What a gift her daddy gave her.

The next thought came before I could stop it.

My father never told me I was pretty.

What a silly thing to remember. I’m a grown woman.

In an instant, a wooden cross caught my attention–at the center of the wind chimes.

Keeping my eyes on the cross, an unexpected healing prayer rose.

Thank You, Lord.

When earthly fathers (and others) fall short, You will … “rejoice over me with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 NIV

I’m praying this Scripture for you, my friends.

Love,

Julie

 

Two Unexpected Gifts from Gratitude

When I bought my GRATITUDE JOURNAL  a couple of years ago, I wondered if I’d ever fill it up. Would keeping a journal like this really make a difference?

 

 A few of my entries…

 

# 416. Thomas doesn’t have CELIAC. (My son Thomas and his girlfriend Brittany below.)

 

 

# 585. Katie’s perseverance. (My daughter Katie doesn’t give up.)

 

 

# 787. The way You blend the colors of the sky.

 

 

# 95. Laughing with Jamie. (My daughter Jamie isn’t afraid of anything or anyone!)

 

 

# 136. The sunrise–oh, the sunrise!

 

 

# 400. Laughing with B.J. last night.

 

# 211. Talking to Lynne and Kellie.

 

 

# 345. I’m not afraid! You’re with me wherever I go.

 

 

#1545. Lisa and me … praying for each other.

 

 

#667. Going to Lisa’s cabin today! (Friends Leigh Anne, Dayna, and another Lisa.)

 

 

# 1544. Robin. She understands.

 

# 503. Sweet talks with my sissy (Jennifer) and Mother.

 

 

# 580. DiAnn’s honesty. (She’s just as kind as she is honest.)

 

 

# 1165. Roses from Mother’s yard.

 

 

# 1190. The tiny sound of  Kitty Thelma drinking water.

 

 

# 1466. Still being in love after all these years. (35 in December!)

 

 

# 1331. My blog readers and their precious responses. This means you! Each one of you! I’ve written about you so many times, I started my second journal. 🙂

 

Writing down things I’m grateful for like Ann Voskamp does in ONE THOUSAND GIFTS changed my life in two unexpected ways: 

1. Re-reading my thoughts brought a second wave of gratitude even bigger than the first.

2. Whatever I choose to focus on–good or bad–seems to grow.

If you have a gratitude journal, share some of your entries. I’d love to hear about them.

My friend’s sites:

Robin’s ALL THINGS HEART AND HOME

KELLIE COATES GILBERT

LYNNE GENTRY

DIANN MILLS

LISA BUFFALOE

B.J. TAYLOR

Love,

Julie

From Across a Crowded Room

I knew better.

When I started writing, I pretended I’d never have to speak. In 2006, I was invited to teach at the North Texas Christian Writers Conference. It wasn’t what I had to teach that scared me. It was standing in front of people–all eyes on me–and not knowing for sure if words would actually come out of my mouth.

To be honest, I’m shy. I prefer talking one-on-one to being in a big group.

That Friday night, we had a staff meeting. Me staff? I’d rather be serving on the kitchen committee or cleaning bathrooms. There we stood, fifteen or so of us, introducing ourselves. Everyone smiled as I said, “Hi, I’m Julie Garmon.” After we closed in prayer, a pretty redheaded lady with electric-blue eyes darted across the room.

“I’m DiAnn Mills . You look a little shy. Could you use a friend?”

Have you ever heard more beautiful words?

We hit it off immediately. This past weekend, we roomed together at the ACFW conference . Here we are checking out a new feature on DiAnn’s computer.

Julie and DiAnn ACFW 2011

Once again, she’s leading the way with grace, gentleness, and confidence. Meeting DiAnn reminds me of that scripture when Jesus talks to Nathanael.

I saw you while you were still under the fig tree….” John 1:48 NIV

Has there been someone who’s noticed you right where you were? Who reached out in love? Rekindled your faith? Lifted you out of your fear?

Thank you, DiAnn. I’m forever grateful.

Love,

Julie