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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Unexpected Easter Conversation

Last week, a friend and I discussed life and death and heaven. I didn’t handle it very well.

“I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately,” she said. “I’m not sure if I believe in life after death.”

“You mean, you don’t believe in heaven?”

“It’s just not logical.”

She’d memorized a lot of Scripture as a child. She knew about the cross and the Easter story. 

“What about the miracle of birth?” I said. “Is that hard for you to believe?”

“And what about creation?” I said. “Nature? Animals? God created ‘the birds of the air and the fish of the sea’?”

“Yeah, all of that makes sense to me.”

“You mean, scientifically?” I said. “Under a microscope?”

“Yes. We can prove it. But we don’t have any proof of heaven.”

“What about this thought? Life has to start somewhere, right? Do you believe God is our Creator?”

“Yes. But think about it. We die. We’re buried. That has to be the end. How can we come back to life again? There’s no logic to that.”

We talked a while longer–until I got an uncomfortable feeling in my chest.

I’m pushing too hard. 

It’s not my job to change her mind.

After our Easter conversation, a gentle thought came.

She’s right. 

It’s not logical.

It doesn’t make sense.

I should’ve agreed with her.

Death DOES look like the end. It looked like the end–even to Mary and the disciples. 

Almost nothing Jesus did made sense. 

He fed 5,000+ with a little boy’s lunch.

He walked on water and turned water into wine.

He washed His disciples’ feet.

I’d tried to convince my friend–

But faith goes beyond logic.

It can’t be explained.

*The same Power that raised Jesus from the dead comes alive in hearts. That’s faith! (click to tweet)

*Because He arose, death was arrested. We will rise again! (click to tweet)

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live…” John 11:25  (click to tweet)

Turn your speakers on high and listen to this song. It’s what Easter is all about.

If you can’t see the video, click here.

Thoughts? Questions? Want to comment and start a conversation?

Love,

Julie

 

A Secret Source of Creativity

I’m fascinated with creative people like my cousin Ricci. She’s a writer, a wife, a mother of four, and she has the gift of faith.

Her mom is my mother-in-love’s sister.

Thursday morning, I saw Ricci’s home office for the first time. Peeking through the gauzy, brown curtains, I felt transported back in time to childhood when anything was possible–

To a place where inspiration bloomed.  

“This room feels like heaven on earth,” I said.

“If you make a place for heaven, it’ll show up.”

Ricci’s office is inside her sun-room, right off the kitchen. She calls it her Creative Space.

“Meet Tassels,” she said.

“How did Tassels get her name?”

(I knew there was a special reason. Ricci’s just that way.) 🙂

“Remember the woman in the Bible who was healed when she touched  the tassels on Jesus’ robe?”

“Ohhhhh, Tassels is a name full of faith.”

The room had a holy glow like a sanctuary. Maybe it was the way the sun sparkled behind the wind chimes.

Ricci’s bookshelves are full of pictures of her children–ages 15, 13, 10, and 8.

So much life and love here~

The Lion of Judah was poised behind her desk, protecting her.

Clues about the novel she’s writing surround her desk. I can’t elaborate, but it’s going to be amazing! Here’s a link to her recent Guideposts story, More Time with Dad. 

Oh, and I love this–

One of her daughters painted a Scripture verse in yellow. It’s beside her desk. It says–

The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10 NAS  Click to Tweet

I looked around the room and thought,

Her office is so different from mine. I don’t have a bird named Tassels or wind chimes or…

But something occurred to me–

Creativity is a gift from God, uniquely designed for each one of us. Click to Tweet.

One more thing–

Right before I left, she added drops of myrrh to a dish of potpourri. The sweet, timeless fragrance filled the room.

“Tell me about myrrh.” I leaned forward. Couldn’t wait to hear.

“Mary Magdalene and the rest of the women who followed Jesus were called myrrh bearers. Mary Magdalene came to the tomb on Sunday to anoint His body with myrrh. It’s what the Wise Men brought baby Jesus.”

I’d never considered the significance of myrrh. 

Everything came together for me in that moment.

When we witness the divine creativity in others, we’re inspired to pursue our own. Click to Tweet

Want to boost your creativity? Spend time with creative people. Click to Tweet. 

Are you inspired by the creativity of others?

Do you have a Creative Space? 

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

Friendship…a lot like Heaven

Driving to my friend Robin’s house this past Saturday, I was having the best time sipping coffee, thrilled to be going to her Fall Family Party, when I thought uh-oh…

I’m not a part of their family.

I don’t belong.

Ahhhhhh!

Robin and I’ve been BFFs since high school. She has the gift of hospitality. Just look at her blog, ALL THINGS HEART AND HOME.

But I’m not family! I should’ve politely declined.

It was too late now.

My heart fluttered as I rang the doorbell.

Robin’s son opened the door and bear-hugged me. Her sister gave me a big hug too. Her husband stopped building a fire to greet me.

Maybe they don’t mind…

“Julie! You’re here!” Robin grabbed my hand and led me out back. She’d set up HOT SPICED CIDER — gluten-free from TRADER JOE’S. We both have CELIAC.

As I mingled with the family, she made me a cup of cider–even squeezed an orange slice in it.

Robin’s daughter Emma from YELLOW DOOR CREATIVE took pictures.

Almost 40 years of friendship…

Weddings, motherhood, births, death of loved ones, raising babies and teenagers…

 

Time for the annual family picture.

I left the circle. “I’ll take the picture. I’m not family.”

“Of course you are,” Robin said.

Emma set the camera on auto…

Tears welled up.

Surely, this is a lot like Heaven. 

We’ll be welcomed.  

Restored.

Unconditionally loved.

We’ll be family.

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:4 NLT

I’m so grateful for my FRIENDS OF THE HEART.

Tell me about your friendships. I’d love to hear.

Love,

Julie