Three Secrets to Finding the Gift of Peace

If you’re a long-time blog reader, you know that my husband and I sit on our front porch together every morning. We read  Jesus Calling by Sarah Young and a few verses of Scripture. We talk little bit, and then we pray.

Nothing complicated, but oh, so powerful.

One Saturday in February, he had an early meeting, so I porch partied alone. Normally, being on the porch is such a peaceful experience.

But in less than 60 seconds, I broke one of our porch party rules. We aren’t supposed to say anything negative.

I didn’t actually SPEAK any negative words, but I let a few negative thoughts creep in.

A pale gray sky.

No sun this morning. 

Probably going to rain.

Can’t stay out here long.

Better hurry.

I have a ton of work to do. 

I wasn’t dwelling on problems, but I wasn’t porch partying. I wasn’t worshiping. I had a busy day ahead and zipped right past God.

Then Thelma and Ellie joined me.

Thelma hopped up on the banister and twirled a few Easter eggs. She pawed the bird’s nest and chewed on a twig. She knocked out a plastic egg and watched it spin.

Ellie couldn’t wait for her to jump down so they could play.

Then it hit me.

Thelma and Ellie weren’t hurrying to do to the next important thing. 

This was the important thing.

Celebrating the morning together.

Just like when we spend time with God. 

Right then, I started my porch party all over again. 

1. I remembered God’s faithfulness. 

2. I remembered how much He loves me.

3. I thanked Him, and then I thanked Him some more. 

Before I went inside, the most glorious thing happened. The sun came out. 

When I praised God, the Son broke through and peace replaced every speck of gray. (Click to tweet.)

If you have a minute, porch party with me. If you can’t see the video below click here.

Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, Isaiah 26:3. 

Have you discovered that praise brings peace? 

What are you praising Him for today? 

Love,

Julie

Another Day to Live and Love

Saturday morning, my husband Rick and I were having our porch party, and I sensed God’s gentle voice inside my heart.

Slow down. Look around you. Praise Me.

But I didn’t do it.

I ignored a dogwood tree in full bloom.

The next night, the strangest thing happened.

When it did, I had a feeling everything around me was about to change, and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

Rick took a shower and came into our bedroom. His hair was wet, and he had a towel wrapped around his waist. “Did I just take a shower?”

“Of course. Why’re you asking me?”

“I’m not sure. I can’t remember.”

“Are you okay?”

“I had a weird dream. Did I just take a nap?”

Had he fallen and hit his head?

I checked the bathroom. No blood.

He paced from the kitchen to the den like he was lost. Something was terribly wrong.

I felt numb–scared–refused to believe what might be happening.

I asked him to sit down. “Do you feel okay? You look confused. Can you tell me today’s date?”

He paused.

I stopped breathing.

“I don’t know.”

“Who’s the president?”

“Jimmy Carter.”

Maybe he’s playing an April Fool’s joke.

“Isn’t it Carter? George Bush?”

I felt everything inside me sink.

Oh, Dear Lord… 

I grabbed the flashlight to check his pupils, but my hands were shaking. I couldn’t find the off/on switch. “Can you turn this on?”

If you can’t, I’m calling 911.

He did and handed it back to me.

His pupils responded to light. Blood pressure, 132/94. A little high but not stroke level.

Not yet.

“We’re going to the hospital,” I said. “Get dressed.”

“I’m fine.”

I  called our 24-year-old son who was at his fiance’s house. “Thomas, come home. We’re taking your dad to the hospital.”

At the ER, the nurse got us back quickly.

“Mr. Garmon, what year is it?” the doctor said.

“I’m not sure.”

Help, God. 

“Take a guess,” the doctor said.

“Is it 2016?”

I shouldn’t be relieved that my husband knows what year it is. 

“What month is this?” the doctor said.

“I don’t know.”

“Take a guess.”

“September? October?”

“We’re running an MRI and CT scan, check your carotid arteries, do an echo…”

Is this for real? Am I dreaming?

I spent the night at the hospital. Neither one of us slept. All during the night, he caught me watching him.

“You okay?”

“Fine.”

Just before the sun came up, I crawled into bed with him.

In less than twenty-four hours, his test results came back.

Everything was normal.

The doctors think he experienced something called Transient Global Amnesia. It’s very peculiar. You’ll have to read about it.

Basically, it means he lost several hours of his life. He’ll never remember what happened.

He’s supposed to slow down. Reduce stress. Prioritize his life.

Sounded like a wake-up call for him.

For me too–to pay attention to what matters most.

At our next porch party, I picked up Jesus Calling to read the devotional. “What’s today’s date? I’ve lost track…” I looked at him.

A tiny wave of fear came over me.

He smiled. “April the fifth.” 

I thanked God for another day to be with the man I love. 

The gift of another morning. 

Another porch party.

I thought about my people. Family. Friends. 

The dogwood tree beside our porch.

I broke off a branch and brought it inside.

Lord, another day to live and love. Thank You. I love You.

Have you ever been reminded of what matters most? It’s not usually a painless process, is it?  Click to tweet. 

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

Staying in Love–A Valentine Porch Party

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I decided to interview my husband of 37 years. I wanted to find out how he felt about one of my favorite days of the year.

The Day of Love. 

What better time to talk than during a porch partyEvery morning we get up with the roosters, drink coffee, read Jesus Calling, and pray.

Friday afternoon, I set the stage.

I spruced up the table with ivy, fluffed our red blankets, and put out a new candle.

I made a cake and bought  heart-shaped candy.

I chose a valentine card for him covered in conversation hearts. 

Saturday morning.

7:15. 

I sipped my coffee and carefully posed my question.

“When you were a little boy, didn’t you just love Valentine’s Day?”

He didn’t say a word.

Maybe he didn’t understand the question. 

“After school, I hurried home and dumped out the cards in my Valentine box on my bed.”

No comment.

“I analyzed each one very carefully. I could tell if the sender really liked me by the words on the card. And I loved choosing just the right card for my friends. Didn’t you do that?”

“No. I threw away all the cards that said ‘Be mine’ or ‘I love you’.”

“You never tried to figure out which girls liked you by their cards?”

“No. Never.”

You are the strangest person I’ve ever met.

“Okay. Forget the cards. How did you feel about Valentine’s Day?”

“I hated it. All the pink and white lacy stuff.”

I can’t believe it. 

My husband hates Valentine’s Day. 

Poor Charlie Brown. I could identify with him. If you can’t see the video, click here.

I had one more question, but I was afraid I knew the answer.

“Do you still hate it…now that you’re grown?”

He looked at me and sorta smiled. “Nah. It’s not too bad anymore. I have fun picking out those big, tacky cards for you.” Reaching into the pink dish, he chose a chocolate covered heart.

Then he opened it and handed it to me. 

It was just as good as if he’d said–

BE MINE.

I’M YOURS.

ALWAYS.

Staying in love means you give your heart away–over and over. Click to Tweet.

How do you feel about Valentine’s Day?

Did you look forward to it as a child? Did you analyze your cards like I did?

Any memories or thoughts you want to share?

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

The Day the Woods Came Alive

Last Wednesday, November 5th, a certain sentence from Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young planted itself in my heart.

“Put more energy into trusting Me and enjoying My Presence.”

What does that mean, Lord–enjoying Your Presence? Show me Your Presence. 

Later that morning, I headed into the woods behind our house to walk. Not sure what His Presence might look like, my senses were on high alert.

A few minutes later, I heard something rustling in the leaves. Too big and loud to be a squirrel.

Suddenly, a huge owl landed in this tree right in front of me.

I’d never seen a real owl before.

Neither of us moved.

He glared at me. A fearless, determined expression.

I thought about Alfred Hitchcock’s horror movie, The BirdsMy mind went wild!

Owls are predators. Did he view me as his prey? Could he carry me away?

(*photo credit Dave Wendelken, Flickr,The Great Horned Owl in Virginia) https://flic.kr/p/pk7YZm 

After a few seconds of us looking at each other, I discovered Mr. Owl wasn’t my enemy.

He seemed just as fascinated with me as I was with him.

He’s watching me–me!–with bright yellow eyes.

He’s gorgeous. 

And powerful.

Mystified by his splendor, my fear melted into awe.

I ran to get my camera, but when I returned, he’d flown away.

I’ll never forget his expression–those eyes–the way he studied me–a reminder of God’s Presence.

He is with us. Always. 

 For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His” 2 Chronicles 16:9 NAS.

Another reminder of God’s Presence in the video below. I can’t watch it without dancing!

How is God reassuring you of His Presence?

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What our Front Porch Really Looks Like

Lately, if I’m not careful, I can lose my porch party peace in a hurry. Every morning, my husband and I start the day by having a porch party. We sit in rocking chairs, drink coffee, light a candle, talk a little bit, read Jesus Calling, and pray.

If you were to come over, at first, this is what you’d see.

Then you’d walk up our front porch steps and discover a huge mess. Everywhere you looked, things would be out of place.

The trouble started this spring when squirrels chewed holes in our porch ceiling.

Which meant plywood had to be replaced all the way around the house.

Which meant my husband had plenty of measuring and figuring to do.

Which means ceiling fans are now resting in our hammock.

Hoping to deter the squirrels, he used corrugated metal instead of wood.

The corners are the toughest, he says.

Even with our son helping, it’s a slow process.

After they get the new ceiling up, they have to stain a bunch of boards for molding.

You have to watch your step, or you could trip and fall.

Sometimes I get impatient.

The other day Mother and I were talking about struggles. Difficulties. Mess.

“For as long as I can remember,” she said, “we’ve had problems. Sometimes I think, as soon as this gets worked out, everything will finally be okay.”

“But that’s not how life goes, is it?”

Later, on the porch, I sensed God nudging my heart.

Somewhere, there’s truth buried in this chaos.

I spotted Kitty Thelma. Napping. Smack dab in the middle of the disarray.

And Jesus Calling.

 

Maybe that’s it.

Maybe there’s always a place of Peace and Rest in His Presence.

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world”. John 16:13 NLT

I know some of you are in a season of chaos. I’m praying.

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Word for 2014…Enough is Enough

Deciding on my one word for the year always goes this way. A word comes to me in November. I run from it. Same thing happened in 2013. Here’s a snippet from my journal about my 2014 word:

“Lord, what kind of word is Enough? Enough doesn’t sound very spiritual, and I have no idea how to apply it. E.N.O.U.G.H. Enough what?”

Enough.

It was December 27 and I was getting fidgety–way past time to have picked my word. I sat in my prayer chair and read from Sarah Young’s JESUS CALLING hoping for clarity.

 

Page 378:

“Take time to be still in My Presence so that I can strengthen you.”

Further down the page…

How much better is it to walk close to Me, depending on My strength and trusting Me in every situation.”

Oswald Chambers, MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST, December 27:

“The most dangerous and unsure thing is to try to live without God.”

“You know, God, I’ve done this plenty of times. Lived life my way, by fear rather than faith.”

I got down on my knees. “Sounds like You’re telling me You’re Enough. Are You sure you can handle me? Sometimes I get….complicated.”

Then I hushed long enough to listen. Here’s what I believe He said:

I am Christ in You, the Hope of Glory.

I am the Prince of Peace.

I AM the Great I AM.

Nothing slips by Me.

I AM the First and the Last. The Alpha and the Omega. The Beginning and the End.

You can rest in Me.

You’ll never need more than I can provide.

I AM ENOUGH.

Happy tears came.

Enough. What a wonderful , beautiful, perfect word.

Deep and full and wide.

Such a strong word.

Eeee–nough.

No matter what 2014 brings, God, You’re enough. You’re more than Enough.

What’s your word for 2014? Do tell!

Love,

Julie