Building a Relationship…With Love

Sometimes, even after 36 years of marriage, I forget that my husband and I express love differently. I show it verbally. Rick creates things with his hands.

In February, our daughter Katie married and became a stepmom to a beautiful little girl named Rilynn who turned four this month. In April, Rick offered to build her a dollhouse for her birthday.

Katie and Rilynn picked this one from Hobby Lobby’s website.

After putting it together, Rick stained the shingles and glued them in place one a time. 

He painted the toothpick-sized banisters the same way–one by one. 

“Can’t you dump just everything into a bucket and paint it all at once?” I said, late one night.

“Nope.”

“Aren’t you tired?”

“Nope. I like doing this.”

For days he deliberated about what color to paint the steps. Finally, he decided on pink and purple and made another trip to Home Depot for an itty-bitty can of pink paint.

He even installed hardwoods.

I couldn’t identify with his steady determination, but I was fascinated. 

This past Saturday, we had a small birthday party for Rilynn.

She loves Frozen and anything princess related.

And purple. 🙂

Saturday morning, Rick added the finishing touches and covered the dollhouse with a sheet.

Later, after cake and ice cream,

Long drum roll ..……………

He slowly unveiled his gift.

Ta-da!

Rilynn twirled around and clapped her hands. Bending close to miniature front porch, she carefully touched the window panes.

“Let her have fun with it,” Rick said. “If she breaks anything, I’ll fix it.”

Smiling, she ran her finger along the railing.

(Her daddy and my mom are on the left.)

Then I had quite a moment.

Rilynn walked her little fingers up the steps and started setting up her new home.

Just like me. 

Almost 12 years ago, Rick led me up the stairs of the log house that he’d built for us. Pausing on the top step, he said, “Open your eyes.”

He made me a writing loft.

With his own hands.

Thank You, Father. What love!

“Your hands have made me and fashioned me” Psalm 119:73  ESV.

How do you express love?

(For more about Katie’s story, click here.)

Love,

Julie

 

 

Bless This Mess

“Come here. You gotta see this,” my husband said Saturday morning. I turned on the coffee maker and followed him outside. “A bird’s built her nest in this wreath.”

I laughed. ” It’s not a real nest. Your mother made that wreath a few years ago.”

“There’s a real nest behind the fake one.”

Way down inside the dark hole, I spotted a pile of something fuzzy and gray. Feathers maybe? “Looks like baby birds might have been here. Hope they didn’t die.”

“Keep watching.”

“Ohhhhhh, you’re right! They’re opening their little mouths, waiting on their  mama to feed them!”

My husband carried on with his Saturday morning routine, but I couldn’t forget the two nests.

Real birds were living right behind a fake mama bird and her plastic eggs. 

So peculiar.

And spectacular.

Of course, I had a feeling there was a message here for me. 🙂

I touched  the  stiff mama bird.

Nothing was out of place in her perfect world. She even had matching, perfectly formed eggs. A spotless nest.

Years ago, I tried to be the perfect mom and raise perfect children. But living that way wasn’t really living at all.

Then I studied the other nest where real life was going on. Two baby birds chirped loudly. And there was probably poop in the nest.

Nevertheless, the birds were safely tucked inside a downy-soft home created with love.

And they were eagerly anticipating their mama returning.

Something dawned on me.

It’s better to be real,

To be someone who  listens and laughs,

Someone with faults who goofs up,

Than to be perfect, but cold and plastic. 

I left the baby birds so their mama would return to her wonderfully messy life. 

And I could return to mine. 

What do you think about the mama bird building her nest so close to the fake one?

Ever tried to be perfect? Exhausting, isnt it?!

I wrote more about breaking free from the trap of perfection here and here.

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

 

Three Perks to Choosing Peace over Perfection

Have you ever walked into someone’s home and immediately felt welcomed? There’s nothing like that kind of peace, is there? When we moved into our log house ten years ago, I wanted our home to be a comfy cozy place that welcomed people.

A home that offered peace and healing.

But I have a confession.

At times, I’ve focused on the negatives in myself, my surroundings, and in others.

The chip in the dinner plate. Scuff marks on the kitchen cabinets. My insecurities about writing.

When I seek perfection, poof, my peace vanishes.

How can I offer peace when I’ve lost mine?

But something inside me began to shift in 2012 when I chose the word SURRENDER.

When I made a choice to let go and let God do His will in me.

It’s a process, for sure, and sometimes I struggle to let go, but not last Saturday. 🙂

We had a birthday party for our son Thomas and my father-in-law Richard. During the party I kept thinking …

This is amazing! I can’t wait to tell my bloggy friends!

Pulling the potato casserole from the oven, I glanced at everyone gathered in our home.

I spotted my father-in-law looking at his son, my husband, who was grilling hamburgers, people laughing, having a good time.

So was I!

Thomas’s girlfriend Brittany took pictures.

 

Looking at Brittany’s pictures something occurred to me.

When I stop demanding perfection, awesome things happen.

1. I slow down long enough to see beauty.

2. My gratitude soars.

3. I smile a lot more.

A surrendered heart brings peace and welcomes the gift of hospitality.

“…live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11 NIV

What makes you feel welcomed in someone’s home? Has striving for perfection ever stolen your peace?

 

Love,

Julie

 

My Leaf…My Life

Walking down our driveway last week, I spotted the most beautiful leaf. She stood out from the rest. Red. Star-shaped. I decided to make leaf place cards for my Thanksgiving table. I’d choose a leaf for every family member and paint each person’s name on their own special leaf.

This red leaf would be mine.

Heading up the front porch steps, I grabbed a fake orange leaf from the wreath on the door.

Comparing the two leaves, the red one wasn’t so perfect-looking. Little holes dotted her. Parts of her body were torn off.

She’d been through some hard times.

What was I thinking? She’d make a pitiful place card.

I flipped her over. The other side was worse.

Then I examined the artificial leaf. She was perfect. No dark spots. No rips. Shiny.

I decided to use artificial leaves. One at every place setting.

Then a gentle thought came.

Put the real leaf in front of the candle, God seemed to say. Look closer.

The candlelight shines through the holes. Makes her color even brighter

Difficult times in my life came to mind. Burying our baby boy. Daddy dying with brain cancer. My year of depression. Hard things family members are dealing with right now…

I see all your broken and tender places. Torn edges. Scars.

These are the VERY SPOTS where My Light shines brightest.

We’ll have real leaves on our Thanksgiving table this year–one at each place setting.

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 NIV

My dear readers, what does your leaf (your life) look like? I’m praying for you.

Love,

Julie