On Becoming a Grandmother and Priorities

I’ve come to my office so many times to write this post, then stopped myself.

My heart feels like pictures I made in kindergarten–the ones with crayons melted by a hot iron inside wax paper–so many colors swirled together.

Becoming a grandmother has changed me.

It took a while to gather the courage to share my thoughts. I’ve missed you. I’ve prayed for you. You’ve become some of my dearest friends. And what kind of friend am I if I’m not honest with you?

I had the honor of being in the labor room with my daughter, Katie, and her husband for two days while they waited to meet their baby boy.

There’s something sacred about birth. Especially when it’s a grandchild.

I‘ll never forget my desperate prayer at the 3/4 mark of her labor.

3:30 p.m. on July the 11th.

She’s so tiny, Lord, and it looks like nothing’s happening. Would You help her? Surely Mary was small when she gave birth, and You were there in the manger…

Caleb James was born at 5:10 p.m. the same day. No c-section necessary!

He weighed 6.3. 19 1/2 inches long.

I’ll never stop thanking You, Lord. Ten years of prayer.¬†

When I held my grandson for the first time, Awe and Gratitude came together.

Evidence of God’s faithfulness in my arms.

I wanted to slow dance around the room with him. I may have. I’m not sure. ūüôā

Oh, the Power and Wisdom of Your timing.¬†You don’t always say yes. And rarely do You answer according to our plans. But look at this beautiful boy…

Peering into Caleb’s blue-gray eyes, I thought about life.

I’m 58. Pushing 60.

Maybe the 3/4 mark.

The final lap.

Like the turning point in Katie’s labor.¬†

Caleb’s four weeks old today, and I’m in a new, quiet place.

My priorities are softening and shifting. I’ve never felt this way before.

It’s a Holy Hush.

Social media and platform building (as we writers are encouraged to do) doesn’t seem nearly as urgent. Sharing my opinions doesn’t seem nearly as important. More than anything (even publishing), I want to become someone who loves well.

To love well, I must love God first. 

I wrote Him a long apology letter this morning. 

For years, I put becoming “successful” at the tip-top of my list.¬†

I chased becoming Somebody instead of chasing Him. 

I’m reading Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot for the second time. I skimmed it years ago.¬†

As I keep a quiet heart, God’s teaching me how to love others, one person at a time, the same way He loves me.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength…Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no greater commandment than these. Mark 12:30-31 NIV

P.S. Katie and her family are doing just fine. Rilynn (Katie’s stepdaughter–who holds a huge chunk of my heart) is on Cloud Ten. ūüôā So is Grandpa Rick. If you want to find out more about Katie’s journey with infertility, read this and this.


Thoughts? Comments? Have you ever had the Lord rearrange your priorities?

Love and gratitude,

Grandma Jewels

 

 

 

It Ain’t Over Yet!

If the woman at Home Depot hadn’t been wearing Birkenstock sandals, I probably wouldn’t have bought¬† strawberry plants.

In March of 2017, my daughter Katie, who’d been struggling with infertility for ten years, was awaiting pregnancy test results (again). I wanted to do something brave–something I’d never done before.

I wanted to plant something new.

In the gardening section of Home Depot, I decided herbs might be easy to grow, so I picked out rosemary and basil.

Then I noticed a woman in the strawberry section wearing Birkenstocks. She had a long, braided ponytail, and looked like she knew what she was doing.

I asked if strawberries were hard to grow. She assured me I could do it. 

I wanted to you say, if I can grow strawberries, do you think can Katie have a baby? 

Back at home, I put the herbs and three strawberry plants on my grandmother’s old ironing board outside. I knew the herbs would be okay there.

But if the strawberries were going to survive, they needed to be planted.

And I was afraid to plant them.

I didn’t want to be disappointed again.

A couple of days later, I moved the strawberry plants to the railing, so they’d be a little closer to the sun.

As long as I don’t plant them, they can’t die.

Then Katie found out she wasn’t pregnant.

Again.

She didn’t talk much about it this time.

She just got quiet.

I did too.

On an unusually hot Thursday afternoon in April of 2017, I planted the strawberries in the rock-hard Georgia clay, where we normally had a garden. We didn’t plant a garden last year.

I felt empty on the inside. Frustrated and faithless. 

You know my heart, Lord. I’m going to plant these stupid strawberries, but I don’t even have faith to water them. I’m not wasting my time.¬†

One Saturday this spring, my husband came in the house. “Come here,” he said. “You gotta see this.”

We live in the middle of the woods. Maybe he’d found a snake. A possum. Couldn’t be veggies. We didn’t plant anything this year either.

He led me through the yard, past the weeds in our abandoned garden–

And opened the garden gate.

“Come, look,” he said.

Along the edge of the fence–right where I planted the strawberries–I saw lush, green leaves.

The strawberries.

I’d forgotten all about them.

“I can’t believe it. They didn’t die.”

“Keep looking,” Rick said.

I got closer.

Then I spotted the fat, red berries.

“It’s a miracle! We have real strawberries in our yard!” Just like the woman at Home Depot. “Did you take care of them?”

“I haven’t touched them.”

My dear readers,¬†I haven’t had the freedom to tell you this until now.

Not only do we have strawberries,

KATIE’S PREGNANT!

She’s due July 20!¬†

She waited until I few weeks ago to announce her news.

There’s a phrase in this song that says it all:

“It ain’t over yet!”¬†

Lord, it ain’t over yet! You can do anything. Even create faith in a faithless heart. You inspired me through a woman wearing Birkenstock sandals and three strawberry plants.¬†

If you’re close to giving up, listen to this song.¬†

If you can’t see the image above, click this link –

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ou-p_RDUbB4  

 


How can we pray for you?

Love,

Julie

What Does it Really Mean to Dance?

Before I opened my eyes Thursday morning, my husband said, “Happy anniversary.”

Five-thirty a.m., and I started laughing. A terrible time to laugh.

It wasn’t the kind of laughter you can stop.¬†

You know better. 

You tell yourself to behave and act like an adult.¬†But you’ve lost control.¬†

“Happy anniversary,” I said, when I finally caught my breath.

“What’s so funny?”

“We’ve had a perfect marriage, haven’t we? Thirty-eight years of sheer bliss.”

(Leaving for our honeymoon, 12.9.78)

“Are you drunk?”

“Just think. We’ve never had an argument. No problems with our children. Always plenty of money in the bank. No sickness. No sadness. No family issues.”

“Yeah, right.”

All of the sudden, it wasn’t funny anymore.

We didn’t say anything for a minute. Probably both thinking the same thing.

During our 38 years together, we’d been up close and personal with mental illness, addiction, divorce, arrests, jail, prison, cancer, infertility, anorexia, homelessness…

Maybe you have a similar list.

I started the coffee. Fixed us a cup.

We went outside to the front porch, and I thought about my word for 2016, DANCE.

Deep down, I¬†hoped in 2016 I’d be dancing and celebrating certain things.¬†Most of them haven’t happened.¬†Not yet, anyway.¬†

I leaned back in my rocking chair. Sipped my coffee. “When you get married, you start out with all these wonderful plans–the way you think everything’s supposed to go.”

“Doesn’t work that way. We’re not in control.”

(We’re dancing at our daughter Katie’s first marriage in 2006.)

But something was nagging at me.

I couldn’t figure out how to fit the word DANCE into the puzzle of 2016, and the year was coming to a close.

“Do you think life is like a dance?” I said, thinking maybe I was getting a little closer.

He looked out into the morning, which was just beginning to wake up. “Yep. Life’s hard. Marriage is hard. Raising children is hard. You celebrate when you can.”

Then the magic happened. I connected the dots.

Truth came together in my heart.

I found what I was looking for–a way to tie our messy lives into dancing.

“You know what? Over the years, it’s the slow-dancing you remember,” I said. “The hard times. The times when you don’t know what to do.¬†That’s what bonds people together. It’s not the fun, loud, happy times.”

“You’re right.”

“That’s the secret. That’s what brings us close to God. Hard times. Times when there’s no possible way you can make it without Him.”

He nodded. “Yep. You nailed it.”

* When things gets tough, slow dance. Hang on to God with all your might. Lean into Him. Click to tweet. 

Keep your eyes on Him. 

Stay inside the shelter of His embrace. 

He won’t let you go.¬†

* When you can’t hear the music, remember, God wrote the song. Click to tweet.¬†

Three questions:

1. If you chose a word for 2016, how’s it going?

2. Are you slow dancing with God right now?

3. I’m curious. Do you have a list like mine?

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

A Rose Isn’t Always A Rose–Sometimes it’s a Promise

Our daughter Katie’s dealing with infertility. Some days, faith comes easier for her. Some days, she struggles.

April was a hard month–hormones, injections, ultrasounds, and no pregnancy.

One afternoon on my way to cheer her up, I glanced at my rose bushes beside the garage.

They’ve been a big, fat disappointment.¬†Their leaves are dry and crispy.¬†Their spindly limbs look like¬†skinny arms covered in thorns. And there are only two blooms.

I was ready to give up on our roses. Year after year, I’ve watered them, trimmed them, babied them, and fed them Miracle Grow.

Here they are at the end of July.

This is as good as they get–more blooms than they had in April, but still, look at them.

Friends offered advice:

They’re diseased. Get rid of them.

You shouldn’t have planted them so close to the house.

Plant banana peels round them.

They’re climbers. They need a fence.

I was tired of fooling with them. I’d done all I could do. Still no miracle.¬†

A gentle thought came.

Take Katie the roses. 

Two roses from my ugly bushes? That’s not even a real gift. If I had a dozen, maybe.

I inspected the two blooms. One had opened, but the other was closed like a tight, angry fist. Sort of how I felt.

Why, God? A baby. She just wants a baby. 

Bring her the roses. 

But look at my bushes. 

They’re growing so tall, they’re going to clog the gutters.¬†

I got into my car saying NO. Absolutely not.

I was NOT taking her two buds because I didn’t have a promise to go with them.

I couldn’t promise she’d have a baby.¬†

But the Still Small Voice inside wouldn’t give up.

I got out of the car.

Sighed.

Cut the only two blooms I had from my wild, stubborn rose bushes.

Rummaged through the pantry for a vase.

But something happened on the way to Katie’s house.¬†I saw their beauty, their soft petals unfurling in the sun.

Finally, I got honest with God.

Lord,¬†will You take this piece of my broken heart and bless it? It’s all I have to give her.¬†

Katie opened the door and I stumbled through my explanation. “I brought you two roses from our yard.”

I wanted to say, “One’s for a mama and one’s for a baby.”

But I couldn’t promise that.

She took the vase from my hands, and I said the one thing I knew for sure–the only promise I could make.

“I don’t understand, but I know God loves you. He hasn’t forgotten you.” Click to tweet.¬†

Her eyes filled with tears.

She nodded and hugged me for a long time, His Grace filling all the empty space between us.

Sometimes the prettiest blooms come from the straggly limbs–from broken places when all you have to offer is His love.

Have you ever brought the gift of God’s love to someone? It’s powerful, isn’t it?

Are you in a season of disappointment? God loves you. He hasn’t forgotten you.

Love,

Julie

Strange Weather…When the Seasons (of Life) Seem out of Sync

Saturday morning, my husband and I had the strangest porch party.¬†January felt like April.¬†“Reminds me of that Glenn Frey song, ‘Strange Weather,'” I said. “How’s it go?”

“Something about dark clouds in the sky and wanting to cry,” Rick said.

 

¬†The¬†warm air hung damp and heavy¬†without the first hint of spring. Dead-looking tree limbs reached toward a gray¬†sky.¬†“From inside the house, you’d think it was wintertime,” I said. “But out here, it feels like spring. Like the seasons are out of sync.”

“Clyde sure is hanging close to us,” Rick said.

¬†“He’s¬†sniffing the air like he senses a storm brewing.”

 

People came to my heart that¬†we’d been praying for–some going through difficult seasons of life.

A couple dealing with infertility.

Friends with health issues…one starting chemo combined with radiation. Auto-immune illnesses. Depression.

Someone watching a loved one relapse into addiction.

Another,¬†attending her great-grandchild’s funeral.

Sitting there in the odd January/April weather, I wanted some sort of sign (even something small) that God was still in control.

“Come here, buddy,”¬†Rick said to Clyde. “Everything’s okay. Even if a storm comes, we’re not gonna leave you.”

My heart melted at his kindness. And at how Clyde seemed to listen so intently. Like he totally trusted his master.

I’m here, God seemed to say. Trust Me. Everything’s going to be okay. I won’t leave you.¬† I’m still God.

I reached for my coffee and¬†started rocking, trusting, and praising again–like¬†we do¬†at¬†porch parties.

Be encouraged, my friends. God’s with us. He loves us. No matter how¬†strange the¬†weather or seasons of life.

Love,

Julie