Sacred Moments

I’d planned to share my word for 2018 today, but a very close friend passed away on Friday afternoon, December 29th. Denise and her husband Glenn were in our small group. She was three years younger than I am. She had colon cancer. Of course, we weren’t ready to say goodbye. 

Friday night, my friend Karen and I took down Christmas decorations before Glenn came home from the hospital–without Denise.

I texted Robin, my best friend of 40 years, and asked her to pray.

“Julie, you’re living in sacred moments. Be aware that when you’re at the house, Heaven opens up when someone goes Home, and for a brief time, we get a glimpse.”

Holy goosebumps covered me. I knew Robin was right.

We moved quietly while we worked, surrounded in Holy awe–the supernatural kind that only comes when we rely on His Strength. 

As we boxed up Christmas ornaments, three memories of Denise tiptoed through my mind.

~~~~

Soon after Glenn and Denise joined our small group, she offered to send out emails and organize our meals. I’d planned to tackle everything by myself–the way I usually did life–without asking for help.

I wanted to take charge and prove I could do it on my own.

Ever-so-gently, Denise assumed the roles I don’t enjoy. Organization and administration. She even made it look easy, and freed me up to do what I love best–cooking and listening to people.  

When I relaxed and let go, others did too, and our small group functioned as the Body of Christ–each one of us uniquely gifted, following His lead.

~~~~

Shortly after she was diagnosed, we invited Denise and Glenn for a Saturday morning breakfast at our house. Just the four of us.

After we ate, we sat on the front porch, drinking coffee and rocking and talking.

Not about cancer.

Gentle conversation–about love and what matters most.

Even though Denise was going through chemo, she celebrated the moment with us.

After they left our house, she’d be heading to Emory Hospital for more treatment, but she didn’t let that stop her from having fun.

She was so much fun. Always. 

That day on our front porch, she kicked back in her rocking chair and laughed.

She told us when they went camping, Glenn did all the cooking–and what a good cook he was–and how much she loved spending time outside with her family and friends.

Her happiness wasn’t tied to money or things.

Joy meant praising Jesus with open hands.

KOA camping for a weekend.

Being with people.

She was all about relationships with God and others.

I’ll never forget Glenn sitting on our porch under the cross, smiling at his wife–nothing but pure love shining in his eyes.

We waved as they drove away, and a sweetness lingered in our home long after they were gone. 

I want to be more like Denise, I thought.

More like Jesus. 

I want to live in the moment with my heart wide open.

Fearlessly. Unhurried. Unworried. 

~~~~

In October, a few ladies gathered at Karen’s house to eat dinner and pray for healing. We knelt in her den floor around the ottoman, our makeshift altar, and ohhh, how we prayed.

Before we went home Denise shared a childhood memory.

“I must’ve been nine or ten,” she said, picking up her Bible. “We were at church one Sunday, and toward the end of the service, the pastor waved his Bible in the air. ‘This ain’t no play-pretty,’ he said hoarsely. ‘It’s living and active. It’s sharper than any two-edged sword. Don’t ever forget it.'” (Heb 4:12)

Denise never did. 

Because of her faith, I won’t either.

I put a sticky note on my Bible as a reminder, and I’m never taking it off.

Denise demonstrated how Grace is greater than all our fear, and that Love triumphs over everything.

Even cancer and death.

And Love always wins. 

Denise experienced The Ultimate Healing. 

And something else.

Robin was right.

The moments Karen and I spent in Denise’s home after she went to Heaven were sacred. 

But Denise brought the Truth one step closer.

She taught me that all our moments are sacred.

Especially this one. 

Her funeral is today at 2 p.m. Say a prayer for her family. You’d have loved her.

P.S. My word for 2017 was Love. Denise “loved the Lord her God with all her heart, all her soul, all her mind, and all her strength.” Luke 10:27.

I chose my word for 2018 because of her.

Next Wednesday, we’ll talk about the New Year, what matters most, and our words. 

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments–whatever comes to your heart.

Much love,

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No More Secrets–Defeating Depression

Last week, my post was light and airy and funny. Today’s different. It’s about clinical depression. If you’re struggling with it now, or if you know someone who is, I’m writing to you straight from my heart.

Because I care.

Because I’ve been there. 

Because there’s hope. And help. And healing. 

Clinical depression feels like the emotional flu.

You wonder if you’ve been dropped off in a strange, unfamiliar world–a place without color, or taste, or seasons. Without joy or anticipation. And you only experience one emotion. FEAR. 

The worst part–you think maybe God’s forgotten you.

Sort of like a certain tree in our yard. This morning, I noticed her dangling leaves, her thin, fragile arms.

I could relate. I used to be like this tree.

The first time depression hit, I was 34. I wrote about it here. After stumbling my way out, I thought, Whew. Glad that’s over. Maybe it’ll never happen again. 

But it did. In 2012. Almost twenty years later.

Both times, I prayed to get better quickly and quietly. On my own. Without help. So no one would find out. I was afraid I’d lost myself-the real me–and that I’d never find my way back home.

Remember the little tree in our yard?

With her on my mind, I drove through our neighborhood and noticed all sorts of trees. This one is small, but to me, her leaves are sparkling rubies. 

It’s how you feel when you begin to recover from depression. You’re small but hallelujah! You have leaves again. 🙂

You begin sleeping and eating and sometimes even laughing. You’re still afraid to glance over your shoulder at the minefield where you’ve been, but that’s okay. Baby steps. You’re learning to be gentle with yourself. To love yourself.

Then one day, the miracle tiptoes in–

In all its Glory!

You look in the mirror and there you are! Strong and tall. A tree full of leaves!

With God’s help, and medication, and prayer, and caring friends and family, I’ve been restored twice. 

I’m so grateful. How could I keep this secret to myself? 

My second depression story will appear in December Guideposts, “A Sliver of Light.” If you read it, here’s a P.S. I didn’t stop writing in 2012. I took a break, finished the novel, and signed with a literary agent. 🙂 I share a little more of what happened in this video below. If you can’t see it, click here.

If this post hits home, don’t keep it a secret. Get help. Today. If you know someone who’s struggling with depression, please forward my blog link. 

Thoughts? Questions? 

Love,

Julie

A Bad Case of Chiggers–Stubborn Me–God’s Grace

Last Monday, I did something stupid. I’m a fair-skinned redhead who’s allergic to poison ivy. And bugs love me. Heading behind our house to walk the dogs, I noticed the bug spray.

A gentle thought came.

Better be safe. Use bug spray. 

Nah. I’ll be fine. 

For the first time this year, I entered the woods unprotected.

Like a hardheaded know-it-all. 

Two hours later, I noticed a small bite on my ankle. By the next morning, I was covered in chigger bites. Four days later, I went to the doctor.

In a bad mood. Scratching. 

Annoyed at my stubbornness. My stupidity. 

In the car, I flipped on the radio to my favorite station, 104.7 The Fish. 

(If you can’t see the video, click here. If you have time, it’s SO worth listening to. :))

As Kristian Stanfill from Passion sang, “My Heart is Yours” I heard the word Surrender, but I didn’t want to surrender.

I felt far away from God.

He seemed to say, “If you’ll give me this situation, I’ll work good out of it. “

Now? Chiggers?  

I brought this on myself. I don’t deserve Your help.

Especially now. You are my Child. Don’t run from Me.

Doubting that I’d heard from God, I signed in at the doctor’s office.

They were playing the same radio station. 

That’s nice, but it doesn’t mean anything.

A medical assistant called my name. “Hi, there,” she said. “How are you?” She mentioned her faith and added, “I always invite God into the exam room and pray for my patients in my heart.” 

I swallowed hard.

Okay, Lord. I’m listening…

After she left the room, I felt a gentle nudge to look closely at the pictures on the wall.

What if I get caught walking around the room in my robe? I’ll look like an idiot. 

But I got off the table.

Studied the pictures.

Each one had a small Scripture verse in the bottom right-hand corner.

Meant for me.

Romans 8:28

“…all things work together for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Psalms 46:10 

“Be still and know that I am God…”

I went home with healing medicine for my body and my soul.

Thank You, Lord. Even when we mess up, You pursue us with Grace. 

Can you relate?

Has God ever chased after you with unfailing Grace? 

Love,

Julie

 

My Friend Lisa’s Journey to Joy

I’d like to introduce you to my friend Lisa Buffaloe. Her journey to joy fascinates me.

Lisa says, “I’m not a perfect wife, perfect mother, or perfect at anything. I keep a fairly clean house, cook semi-decent meals, and love to write. I’m a real life mom with real life problems.”

Because of chronic illness, for almost eleven years, Lisa rarely left her home except to attend Bible study and church. She attended occasional writers’ conferences, but came home exhausted. Lisa wouldn’t want to relive her dark, lonely years, but she wouldn’t trade them for anything. During this difficult time, Lisa discovered day-by-day dependence of God.

In 1999, Lisa and her husband were living in Illinois and went hiking in the woods where they observed a deer. Later, Lisa found a tick. “It was so tiny,” she said. “Nothing compared to the ticks we’ve seen in Texas.”

While gardening in October of 2000, Lisa felt as though she’d been hit by a sledgehammer. Unable to see or walk, her husband rushed her to the emergency room. She was misdiagnosed with labrynthitis, meaning an inflammation of the inner ear.

“Over the years, I was poked, prodded, and diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, swollen jugular vein, autoimmune inner ear disease, kidney infections, kidney stones, and hearing problems. One doctor thought I had a brain tumor. Another considered multiple sclerosis or lupus. I’ve had constant use of steroids to try to stop the unending dizziness, tumors, cysts, numbness, headaches, bleeding problems, eye problems, nerve damage, and the list goes on and on.”

Finally in January of 2006, a neurologist made an accurate diagnosis.

Lisa tested positive for Lyme’s disease. After being referred to an infectious disease specialist, she began thirty days of IV antibiotics. She soon felt better and hoped she was well. Two months later, she met someone with Lyme’s who asked her a few health-related questions. Her new friend suggested she might still have active Lyme’s. Lisa traveled to a Lyme literate doctor and began taking antibiotics again, but this didn’t cure her illness. Soon she battled a blood infection that nearly took her life.

Lisa wouldn’t have made it without her Bible, God’s love, and her husband and son. Her family gave her a reason to get up each morning.

Lisa’s struggles extended beyond Lyme’s disease. She discovered by putting her experiences on paper, God brought light to the darkness of her past. By writing honestly, Lisa was set free from memories of sexual abuse. Wanting to help other women, in February of 2007, Lisa started a personal blog. Daily, she writes from her heart. She considers her blog a filling station where readers come, fill up, and gather strength.

Lisa Buffaloe’s story to wholeness gets even better. In August of 2011, after suffering from a three-day long horrific migraine, she prayed for healing. Deep in her soul she heard God say, “You are healed. Be healed little one.”

Instantly she felt a rush of heat go through her body. Her headache vanished and she knew, without a doubt, she’d been healed of Lyme’s disease.

Recently, Lisa experienced another surprise. A childhood desire she’d all but forgotten has come to pass. Growing up, her family moved often. Though blessed with a few friends, she was a loner. Lisa remembers going to bed at night as a child with a tiny plastic radio-shaped pillow. More than anything, she wanted to be a deejay. Following eleven years of isolation and after much healing, Lisa’s dream came true.

Lisa Buffaloe now hosts her own radio show called, “Living Joyfully Free.” Every Monday morning, she airs a new interview. Her program is about finding freedom, hope, and joy in the journey.

Lisa wondered after being quiet for so long, if she’d know how to talk to people. The Lord seemed to say, “You’re a host. You’ll be listening.” This thrills Lisa. She’s all about listening to people and loving on them.

God is faithful. Often, He brings about our hearts’ desires–even those unspoken childhood dreams.

To find out more about Lisa, visit her website and blogs, Fliterary and lisabuffaloe.blogspot.com . Be sure to visit her radio show too!

Lisa Buffaloe lives in Idaho with her husband and son. She’s an author, speaker, blogger, and radio host. Her favorite quote is, “In my deepest wound, I saw your glory and it dazzled me.” St Augustine