Love Lessons from an Artist–Part Three

I hoped my friend Yvette might teach me a little something about art. I never expected her to teach me how to love people. Or anything about marriage. I’ve been married almost 37 years. I thought I had it all figured out. 

(Parts one and two are here and here.)

This sentence over Yvette’s bedroom door stumped me.

How can my ordinary life become a fairytale? 

Parts of it are messy and broken.  

Yvette showed me the rest of her bedroom, but I kept thinking about the fairytale sentence.

“On my wedding day, my sister’s mother-in-love gave me a hankie.” 

“She’d embroidered our names and the date on it. My mother started doing the same thing for brides. She made one for my daughter and my daughter-in-love. She even made one for me on their wedding days.”

“Gifts from the heart.”

Yvette’s wedding dress is on display right beside her bed.

“What a wonderful idea!” 

Especially since I threw mine away a few years after we married. 🙁

There was an old Bingo card lying on a chipped Formica table.

“This is one of my favorite things. I found pictures of us when we were five and pieced them together.”

“It’s precious. Have y’all been together since kindergarten?”

She smiled.

“No, but we’ve loved each other for a long, long time.”

In their bathroom, a small shelf held a cross, a white card, and some Scrabble letters.

“We leave love notes for each other here. I used Scrabble letters. He wrote, ‘I love you’ on the card.” 

Something stirred in my heart.

Once again, I couldn’t talk.

Before we left the bathroom, I noticed pictures near the mirrors.

Below them, I spotted a small sign.

Tiny letters.

This is how Yvette loves others–especially her husband.

Maybe it’s how–

 “Love gives us a fairytale right in the middle of our ordinary lives.” 

What do you think? Is it possible to experience a fairytale even though our lives are ordinary and messy and broken?

You can find Yvette here:

The Charm House  on Facebook.

The Charm House on Pinterest.

The Charm House in Instagram.

The Charm House website.

The Charm House on Twitter.

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

Cruisin’ the Coast and Cruisin’ Through Marriage

“You can still change your mind and come with us,” my husband Rick said. It was our final Porch Party before he left town. He and his uncle were driving from Atlanta, Georgia to Biloxi, Mississippi. They were taking a 1988 Chevy truck Rick restored for Uncle David to a car show called Cruisin’ the Coast.

Before restoration:

After restoration: 

They’d be tooling the town looking at 10,000 cars.

I squirmed in my rocking chair. “Thanks, but y’all go on. I’m going to be cruisin’ thousands of words at home.”

I was looking forward to a week by myself, but I felt a twinge of guilt.

Aren’t married people supposed to love the same things? 

But after 36 years of marriage, I probably wasn’t going to develop a sudden passion for cars. And Rick probably wasn’t going to enjoy cruising bookstores.

By the middle of the week, I was getting sorta lonely. Thursday night he called. “Do you miss me yet?”

“Yes. Especially in the mornings when I’m porch partying by myself. Do you miss me?”

“Yep.”

He wasn’t coming home until Sunday, so thinking about marriage and love and porch parties–the things we have in common–I got an idea.

I bought two new mugs and made pumpkin bread.

Before baking.

With yummy topping.

All done minus one piece. 🙂  

We’d have a Welcome Home Porch Party Sunday night!

Here’s a marriage hint that took me forever to learn:

Marriage isn’t about becoming clones of one another.  

It’s about encouraging each other to become the incredibly unique person God created us to be. 

*Click here for Pamela’s Gluten-Free Pumpkin Loaf Recipe. (Just use self-rising flour if you aren’t eating GF.)

*If you’re into cars, here’s an article from The Sun Herald about the record-breaking numbers who attended Cruisin’ the Coast.

Love,

Julie

P.S. Did you marry your exact opposite too?

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Much More Than Talking to Peacocks

“Come here,” my husband Rick said. “You gotta see this.” I followed him out to the chicken pen. “See it? Sitting on top of the pen.”

“Is it a buzzard?”

“No, it’s a peacock.”

“You sure?”

“I’m positive. There’s another one on the ground. Both females. Probably wandered to our yard from somebody’s flock.”

Later that day…

“If you talk to them, they’ll follow you,” he said.

“Talk to peacocks?”

“Sure.”

“What do you say?”

“Pretend you’re a peacock.”

Just to prove my husband wrong, I squatted in the grass, waddling along behind them. “They don’t like me. They ran the other way.”

“Give them some chicken feed. And talk to them.”

“This is silly. They’re not coming back.”

“Have a little faith.”

“They won’t even look at me.”

“You have to talk to them. I’m serious.” He laughed.

“You don’t sound too serious. I think you’re setting me up to look stupid.”

“Be patient.”

I started clucking my tongue.  No response. “Here pretty little peacocks, come here. Come see me.”

“Keep talking,” he said. “They’ll come.”

“Hey, pretty peacocks. Come here.”

This time they turned toward me. I couldn’t believe it! “Look! They’re coming!”

“Yep.”

 

 This is about  much more than talking to peacocks.

It’s about not giving up.

Even if you’re tired.

Even if you look foolish.

 

“I’m hand-feeding peacocks in my own back yard. I can’t believe it!”

When your best efforts are producing nothing…

When you want to throw your hands up and walk away…

Don’t.

We never know what surprises God has in store for us.

Love,

Julie

 

 

Marriage is like Shifting Gears…Together

I never learned to drive a stick shift but my husband sure can. He used to pick me up for school in his white 1965 GTO.  We were high school sweethearts, and I loved watching him drive that car. He knew the exact second to push the clutch and shift gears.

Last week, we were headed to the YMCA in his old truck. While he drove, I watched him shift gears, still fascinated. “Will you show me how again?” He’d tried to teach me when we were teenagers.

I put my hand on his.

“Okay, listen for the engine to whine. Hear it? Now go to second.”

“I forgot. Where’s second?”

“Remember the H?” He took his hand off the shifter. “You can do it.”

“Ahh! No I can’t. I don’t know which–”

“Sure you can.” He grinned at me.

He thinks I can. Maybe I can.

My heart kicked into high gear when I found second. “I did it!” And then I shifted into neutral by mistake.

“No big deal.” He put his hand on mine and slipped it into third. “You got it.”

“Thank you,” I said staring at his right hand, remembering.

 My husband knows cars, but he knows me even better.

“You’re too quiet,” he said. “What are you thinking?”

“Just…well, just that I’m grateful.”

“For what?”

Filled with emotion, I didn’t dare look at him. “You’ve turned a lot of wrenches so I can write. Thank you.”

He nodded.

I’ve almost finished the novel I’ve been writing. “You never doubted I could do it, did you?”

“Of course not.”

I squeezed his hand one, two, three times.

He squeezed back four times. I love you too.

 

Love,

Julie

A Lesson from a Pile of Sticks

Remember our porch parties? The number one porch party rule is: “Don’t say anything negative. Just sip coffee and talk about good things.” Last week I blew it.

A pile of sticks became like Ray and Debra’s suitcase.

Clyde, our Lab, has a new hobby. He chews sticks at porch parties and spits the wood into a pile like a beaver building a dam.

Right in front of Rick’s chair.

For the last two weeks, Clyde had quite a pile going.  (Below is from this morning–a rather small pile.)

For days I thought, How big will the pile get if I don’t sweep it? You know, the whole Little Red Hen thing. 🙂

But the broom was closer to Rick. I looked at him. Don’t the sticks bother you?

Apparently not.

The next day I broke Rule Number One. “The sticks are getting pretty messy. I guess ‘we’ should sweep.”

“We need to,” he said.

Only one person can sweep. 

I decided I wasn’t sweeping–no matter how big the pile got.

And then a couple of days later, Rick swept the sticks into a neat pile.

But he left the pile on the porch.

So instead of focusing on this…

Or this…

I only saw a pile of sticks.

Friday night, I peeked out the window as my husband gathered the last of the tomatoes from the garden. My heart melted. It’s so hot. Probably 102. He has to be tired.

My word for the year came to me.

SURRENDER.

Over a pile of sticks? Really?

REALLY.

I swept the sticks into the dustpan and threw them away.

I can’t tell you how good it felt! 🙂

Has anyone ever let something silly get waaaaaay too important to you?

Love,

Julie