Mean Girl Memory

I was ten years old the day I acted like a Mean Girl. I’m ashamed to tell you what I did.

A group of us girls stood in our driveway laughing and talking. We were going to the movies. At the last minute, one more little girl showed up.

I didn’t know she’d been invited.

I wanted it to be just US older, mature girls, and she was only seven or eight. I still cringe at what I said.

We were all wearing shorts and T-shirts except for her. She wore a dress and Sunday shoes.

“Why are you so dressed up? We aren’t going to church. We’re just going to the movies.”

She ran home crying. We stopped by her house to pick her up, but she wouldn’t come to the door.

It felt so dark inside my heart.

I’d excluded her from the group.

Something happened last week and I remembered being a Mean Girl, and the shame in her eyes. While my husband was feeding his parakeets, one flew away. A white female.

For days she darted near the atrium where she used to live, but we couldn’t catch her. 

Sometimes, I’d see her in the treetops all by herself. An outsider looking in.

Nearly broke my heart…

Rick hung a bird-cage on the atrium, and fixed the tiny door so if she flew in, it would close. She never did.

And the worst part–at night, she clung on the screen of her old house calling out to her friends. Of course, they couldn’t help her. 

Hungry, thirsty, and lonely, if she survived the summer, she’d never make it through the winter outside the heated atrium.

One morning, Rick sprinkled bird seeds on the walkway near the atrium. She was no where in sight, but just in case…

A few minutes later, our cat Thelma crouched in an attack position, focused on the white parakeet who’d landed to eat.

Please, Lord, don’t let the bird die on the outside looking in. Don’t let Thelma…

Quickly and quietly, Rick shooed Thelma away. 

The parakeet stood still. 

He scooped her up, opened the door, and put her inside. Her friends welcomed her home and threw a grand celebration!

But the best part…

A week later, our long-lost white parakeet laid three white eggs.

Oh, the sweetness of belonging–of hearing, “Welcome. We’re so glad you’re here.” Click to tweet

Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:7 (ESV) Click to tweet 

Have you ever been on the outside looking in?  

Have you ever been a Mean Girl? Or am I the only one?

Love,

Julie

 

Life-Changing Truth from Mrs. Betty’s Tea Parties

I’ve always been drawn to quiet, gentle people–the ones content to serve others without recognition.

In May, I spoke to the ladies of Galilee Christian Church in Jefferson, GA  at their annual tea party and wrote about it here. 

But there’s more to the story. 

Once a month, a small group of ladies from Galilee Christian invite women who are new to their church to a tea party. In May, I received an invitation.

The minute I arrived, I felt loved. They welcomed me. Served me. Treated me like I belonged. 

Their kindness inspired me. My sister and I are having a little tea party for Mother on her 80th birthday in July. 🙂

And the ladies invited my mother and me to their June tea party–

So yesterday we headed up Janice’s walkway.

“You’re gonna love it,” I said.

“I already do. Look at her gorgeous hydrangeas. Reminds me of childhood summers.”

“Just wait.”

“How sweet. Two chairs under the tree,” she said.

“One would’ve looked sorta lonely, wouldn’t it?”

Everyone welcomed us. The tables had been set with TLC.

Our table below…

When we sat down, our plates had been prepared, along with handmade place cards.

Mother couldn’t decide what to taste first.

The centerpiece came from flowers in Janice’s yard.

So much laughter…

They made a gluten-free plate just for me…

And my very own gluten-free chocolate chip scone! 🙂

The food was amazing, but the best part came after we ate.

We read Scripture verses inside our place cards.

Simple.

Powerful.

Then Betty Williams (90) told us how she began having tea parties twenty years ago. She wanted ladies to feel loved and accepted.

When she joined Galilee Christian Church eight years ago, she began a Tea Party Ministry.

Mrs. Betty’s below, on the left. Janice is on the right.

Right before we left, one of my new friends gave me a precious gift–tiny spoons, knives, napkins, and a teacup from her own collection–

To help me with Mother’s birthday tea party.

I came home with a car full of goodies and life-changing Truth.

Nothing–absolutely nothing–outshines kindness when it comes from the heart. Click to tweet

Mother Teresa was right. “Do small things with great love.” Click to tweet

…serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5:13 NIV Click to tweet

Do you see other Truths from the tea party? 

Does this give you any ideas for new ways to love others? 

Love,

Julie

 

The Big Blue Blob–Ruining My Friend’s Carpet

Have you ever done something really stupid? After your mistake, you wanted to crawl in a hole and hide.

Last Wednesday night at small group, Karen, our leader, welcomed me into her lovely home and asked me to put on a name tag.

It was our first meeting. Fourteen ladies. Some of us had never met.

I popped the cap off the blue PERMANENT Sharpie and dropped the marker onto her spotless, cream-colored carpet. The stain bloomed, deepening in color.

Panicky heat rose up my neck. “Oh, Karen, I’m so sorry. I can’t believe I did that. I’ve ruined your carpet.”

This is how the stain looked (and felt!) to me.

 

“Julie, don’t you worry about a thing,” she said. “I have grandchildren. My house isn’t perfect. We’ll clean it up later.”

What else could she say? I’d ruined her Berber carpet! 

“Let’s work on it now before it sets,” I said.

Because if it doesn’t come up, I’ll never forgive myself. 

“We’ll do it later, after the meeting.” She hugged me.

But the one blue eye stared at me.

I couldn’t leave it alone. “Do you have any carpet cleaner?”

“Let me go check, sweetie. The carpet’s going to be fine and you are too. I promise.”

But it’s a permanent marker. 

She found a bottle of rug cleaner, but it didn’t help. She gave me a quick wink as the doorbell rang.

More faces. Multiple explanations. Gentle laughter.

The spot and I had become the center of attention.

Everyone offered suggestions on how to get THE PERMANENT BLUE STAIN JULIE MADE out of Karen’s carpet.

“Try hairspray or rubbing alcohol,” someone said.

Karen didn’t have either one.

Another lady offered to put her foot over it.

Such a big to-do about my accident.

A friend texted her husband and asked him to bring cleaning supplies. He showed up while Karen was teaching.

So… I … had … to … keep… waiting. I couldn’t absorb any of the teaching for stealing sneaks at the big, blue, blob.

Then Karen closed in prayer. When she finally said “amen” I dropped to my knees. With my right hand on the hairspray, I held up my left hand. “Please, Lord. Help me.”

Everybody watched expectantly.

Slowly, with alcohol and hairspray, the ugly thing lost its battle.

Glorious relief!

None of my new friends condemned me with words or looks.

Not one.

Two hugged me.

Have you ever known the sweetness of instant forgiveness? Click to Tweet. Please share what happened!

When others graciously forgive us, we’re able to forgive ourselves. Click to Tweet. 

Thoughts? Feelings? Comments?

Love,

Julie

 

 

Real Women Talk

I’d been toying with the idea that perhaps–just perhaps–my phone had gotten too important to me. Then–BOOM! Something happened Saturday night and there was no denying it.

I had a problem.

My husband Rick and I were invited to a friend’s birthday party. We knew two of the six couples. Most of them had been in a small group together, led by the birthday boy Todd and his wife Debbie.

From left to right: Fay, Dana, Leslie, me, Nikki, Debbie, and Denise.

When the ladies started talking, wouldn’t you know?

The conversation went straight to phones.

How, when we were children, people talked. 

Face to Face.

We had real relationships.

I wanted to hide under the table.

Every time Rick and I get in the car, the first thing I do is grab my phone to check Facebook and catch up on emails.

Honestly, I’m not with him. I’m in another world.

The phone-world always seems so URGENT.

Up until Saturday night, I pretended I didn’t know any better.

Snippets of our table conversation from the ladies:

“My kids invite their friends over and text rather than talk.”

“We went to a party and were instructed to leave our phones by the door.”

“My kids got panicky in the car on vacation when their batteries died.”

“We should make new rules. No phones during mealtimes or on Sundays.”

I’m thinking, no——–please, please, please don’t take my phone! 

I can’t live without it! 

Uh-oh. 

I have a problem.

My phone is WAY too important to me.

The thing is–

At the party, I forgot about my phone. I was having so much fun getting to know people. 

Through expressions.

Through honesty.

Through humor.

Which doesn’t happen from typing words into a screen.

One of my new friends suggested we sneak up on the men to see if they were on their phones.

Four of the six were.

Then something life-changing happened.

Leslie broke out in a birthday song to Todd!

LAUGHTER. 

COMMUNITY.

FRIENDSHIP.

Things I’d have missed if I’d been trapped in the phone-world.

Because real women talk. Sometimes they even sing. 🙂

You gotta watch this! If you can’t see the video below, click here

From now on, I’m living life instead of letting my phone control me.

Can you relate?

Has anything ever gotten too important to you? 

Love,

Julie

Friendship…Served With Love on a Paper Plate

A couple of years ago, my husband was all gung-ho about joining a small group at church. Not me. You can’t just throw people together and say, “Wa-lah! Make friends. Form bonds. Trust each other.”

Friendship takes time. 

And it’s risky. 

Being vulnerable enough to experience community brings the possibility of getting hurt.

Yes, of course, I’ve been hurt. I bet you have too.

And I’m embarrassed to tell you, but I wondered if I’d reached a stage in life when you don’t make many more new friends.

But my word Surrender wouldn’t leave me alone.

After days of running scared, I let go of control (again!), and we joined a small group. We knew Rick and Kim, our leaders, and one other person, but the rest of them were strangers.

That first night, my heart went thumpety-thump as we introduced ourselves.

Over time, we shared our struggles, our prayer requests, our joys. Something spread between us like warm caramel.

We were no longer strangers.

We became friends.

Since we ate together, I told them about having Celiac disease, an autoimmune illness, meaning I have to eat gluten-free.

After eighteen months, my husband and I became small group leaders.

Guess what else?

Rick and Kim invited us to their small group party last week!

Kim texted me: CAN YOU HAVE JELLO INSTANT PUDDING?

YES! 🙂

She made two gorgeous orange pineapple cakes–one regular and one gluten-free. For me. 

I nearly cried!

It had been almost eight years since I’d had a layered cake. I didn’t even know it was possible! And my cake looked exactly like the regular one.

Kim reached out with love and helped me feel like a regular person!

The next morning, I had two pieces for breakfast. 🙂

When we relinquish control, sometimes God brings the sweetest surprises. And friendships! 

(Kim used Pamela’s GF vanilla cake mix for mine.)

Thoughts on friendships? 

Share a time when someone’s kindness blew you away. 

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

Three Sweet Blessings from Friendships with Women

Rick and I’ve been married for 36 years. We have no secrets. He’s my best friend, but sometimes it’s fun to spend time with lady-friends. When we get together, the conversation shifts from deep talk to silliness. In a heartbeat.

Saturday, a girlfriend invited another friend and me to go shopping. I’m attending a Guideposts writers’ workshop in two weeks and wanted something spiffy to wear.

“There’s an antique shop down the street,” she said. “Let’s go there.”

Clothes in an antique store? 

She took us to a place I’d never noticed in my very own small town of Monroe, GA.

Good friends are like that–always teaching us new stuff.

When we arrived, I didn’t care if they had clothes or not.

I felt like a little girl again!

Hodge Podge held the same splendor I remembered from childhood when I went antiquing with my mother and sister. There’s a certain thrill in rounding the corner of a shop and discovering dusty surprises.

The front door was wide open and welcomed us like a warm smile.  I took a step inside and childhood memories came alive.

Miniature tea sets.

Sparkling chandeliers.

Handmade lavender soap.

Oh me, oh my —

My heart went pitter-patter at the crocheted shirt.

My sweet friends.

They insisted I try it on in all three colors–aqua, black, and oatmeal.

“Definitely, the oatmeal-colored one,” they said in unison.

After we shopped, we stopped for coffee at The Cotton Cafe.  Sitting at a small table, we laughed and shared secrets the way little girls do.

At home, I hung up my new crocheted top in my closet and smiled.

Good friends are one of God’s greatest blessings. They:

1. Help us not to take life (and ourselves!) so seriously.

2. Always want the best for us.

3. Encourage us to sparkle and shine. 

“A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.” Proverbs 27:9 The MSG

Have you had fun lately with your friends? What’d you do?

What sweet blessings have you found in friendship?

Love,

Julie

 

 

The Gift of Improv–in Life and Love

Last week, I called our grown daughters. “Guess what? Your dad and I are going out Saturday night with our new friends Debbie and Todd!”

“Umm, that’s not really a big deal, Mom,” they said. “People go out all the time.”

But to me it was HUGE.

We were going to an improv comedy show, something we’d never done, with new friends, at the Aurora Theater in Lawrenceville, GA a place I’d never been.

Sometimes I’m a little slow to make friends. And when a new friendship forms, I let the other person initiate the first invitation. And Debbie had invited us! I was so excited!

I even looked up “improv” to make sure I understood.

Wikipedia:

“Improvisation or improv–a form of theater where most or all of what is performed is created at the moment it is performed.”

The actors can’t practice ahead of time. Holy cow.

Before the show started, the empty stage gave me goosebumps.

Nothing but three boxes and a couple of chairs.

Talk about faith–

To walk out on stage and not know your lines! 

Even getting coffee and M&Ms was exciting–the list of shows, the atmosphere. And $10 for our tickets, $4 for snacks.

After the theater company introduced themselves, they asked the audience to toss out clues.

The cast had to totally wing it.

Zero control.

Free falling. 

They nailed it, too! The show was hilarious, and clean :).

Laughing with new friends–such fun.

Sorry for the photo quality–improv phone pictures.

Todd and Debbie.

And us.

We talked on the way home.

“I had such a good time tonight,” I said. “I think I’m supposed to live more improv.”

“How so?” Rick said.

“Have more fun. Take more chances. Roll with whatever comes my way, even if I haven’t memorized my lines.”

“Yep.”

“Totally trust God.”

Have you been to an improv show? Live theater?

What about friendships? Do you trust easily?

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

 

On Friendship … When You’re an Introvert

“Strangers are just friends waiting to happen.” Rod McKuen Looking for a Friend

I try to cover it, but I’m an introvert. I have friends–really, I do–I promise, but I love days of solitude, writing in my cabin in the woods–so much that sometimes I overdo it.

A few weeks ago Robin called. We’ve been best friends for forty years.

Oddly, or maybe miraculously, we have the same autoimmune illnesses, Sjogren’s and Celiac disease.

“I’ve never met Heather,” Robin said, “but she reads my blog. She was diagnosed with Celiac a year ago and is inviting a few friends over for coffee. Everyone who’s coming has Celiac.”

Hmmm. “And you’ve never met her?”

“No, but she’s so sweet. You’ll love her. She wants us share our experiences.”

I felt the familiar tug to do what comes naturally, but for some reason, I didn’t.

I said yes.

Walking into Heather’s home, I never expected to feel so welcomed.

So instantly connected.

See what I mean?

A Celiac celebration.

Everything was gluten-free, and she had coffee and hot tea–lots of flavors.

Sometimes when you have Celiac (or anything about you that’s a little different) there’s that awkward moment when you have to explain.

But that didn’t happen at Heather’s. 🙂

We laughed about it.

Because we all understood.

Heather on the left and Robin on the right …

Robin and me …

My new friends … and sorry, I didn’t take my good camera that day. 🙁

Here’s the best part …

We bonded the way it happens in childhood.

And in novels.

We even prayed together.

See the Scripture on Heather’s chalkboard?

“God will meet all your needs…” Philippians 4:19.

Sometimes, God meets my needs when I’m in community —

When I break out of my routine, let go, and trust Him.

Sounds like SURRENDER, doesn’t it?

Are you somewhat of an introvert too?

Have you ever been surprised by unexpected friendships? Aren’t they just wonderful!

P.S. If you haven’t visited Robin’s blog at All Things Heart and Home, please do. You’ll love her too.

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

Porch Party in New York — a Preview and a Promise

This past Friday, 5 a.m., I felt a twinge of I’m gonna miss this as my husband and I ended our PORCH PARTY.

“You’ll only be gone a couple of days. I think you’ll be okay,” he said.

“I know.”

But still.

I was flying to Rye, NY for a GUIDEPOSTS writers refresher workshop.

At the last minute, I put JESUS CALLING by Sarah Young in my suitcase. The little jewel of a book has become part of our routine every morning.

Maybe I’ll have a few minutes to porch party alone.

Here’s the gang of workshoppers…

Early Saturday morning at the WAINWRIGHT HOUSE, I poured a cup of coffee and felt the familiar tug to sit on the porch.

The weather was glorious.

Everything appeared to be scrubbed clean from the Friday night storms. I took Jesus Calling and headed for the door.

Would God show up so far from home?

On a different porch.

In a different state.

“You gonna have a porch party this morning?” PEGGY FREZON asked.

“I sure am. Wanna join me?”

“I’d love to.”

It was early.

And unscripted.

A few more of us gathered together.

Our view…

JANET SMITH on the left, Peggy on the right…

Sheryl Smith-Rogers

Marilyn Turk on the left.

Lisa Bogart

Sharon Mangus

Stu Reinenger joined us toward the end of our porch party.

I read from JESUS CALLING,  May 17th.

“These glimpses are tiny foretastes of what you will experience eternally in heaven.”

Tiny foretastes of Heaven–whew!

Sunset that night.

Beauty that exceeds our imagination …

Heaven.

We can’t even imagine, Lord.

A Preview.

 A Promise.

You’re with us.

Always.

P.S. If you’re interested in entering the GUIDEPOSTS‘ Writers’ Contest, the deadline is June, 12, 2014.

Here’s the scoop: Tell Us Your Story.

Love,

Julie 

An Oh-So-Simple Relationship Secret

I did a little experiment and was so moved by my findings, I wanted to share them. I decided to notice everything good my husband did over the weekend.

First thing Saturday morning, he went to his parents’ house to visit his mother. She had a quadruple bypass a few days ago. When he got home, one of our daughters called. Car trouble. He diagnosed the problem over the phone and sent our son to install a new battery.

Next I found him working on our squeaky dryer.

“What’s wrong with it?”

“Needs a new pulley.”

“How’d you figure that out?”

“Took it apart.”

“Now what?”

“Parts store is closed. I got a brass bearing from Ace Hardware and cut it to size.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about but that doesn’t matter.” I smiled.

He peered at me over his glasses like woman, I’ll never understand you.

When I slowed down long enough to study my husband, I was in awe.

I couldn’t fix a dryer. Not in a million years.

I told him so.

Sunday afternoon, he took down the Christmas lights from our wrap-around porch. He has this system of unwinding the strands and wrapping them in tidy circles. This process takes hours, but he never complains.

Since we moved into our log cabin ten years ago, I’d never thanked him for handling the lights, so I did.

When I focus on the good in my husband (or friend or family member) guess what?

Something amazing happens.

Our love grows.

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other…1 Thessalonians 3:12 NIV.

Have you discovered this secret too? Tell me. I’d love to hear!

Love,

Julie