One Tiny Moment at a Time

Sometimes a conversation has the power to change your life. That’s what happened Saturday, the day after my son’s wedding. Robin, my BFF of 40 years, came to the wedding, and then spent the night with me.

The two of us are deep-thinkers. 

If we’re not careful, we can get stuck in the melancholy parts of life–the things that weigh your heart down.

We’re prone to worry, but we’re working on changing, one tiny moment at a time. 

We were talking and she made a profound statement. When she did, I remembered so many magical moments about the wedding~~

The first rays of sunlight Friday morning–how they landed softly on the stairs of our cabin. 

Walking into the rehearsal dinner and seeing my sister Jennifer’s smile~~ 

The same expression as when we were little girls~~

Like she had a secret to tell me.

Weeks ago when I chose the restaurant, Jennifer offered to decorate for me. She has an eye for color and style and fashion, and she knows all about flowers and candles and creating ambiance.

I remembered the moment I glanced at Jamie, my daughter, and watched her laughing with Jennifer.

~~Pure joy~~

And Chris, Katie’s husband~~

I remembered the way Katie’s eyes lit up three years ago when she told me about him right after they met.

And my mother at the rehearsal dinner~~

I remembered how she’d taught me everything I needed to know~~

To love Jesus,

To love people,

And to love words. 

Oh, and Rilynn~~

I remembered Chris bringing Rilynn into our lives, our only grandchild, an answer to prayer.

There were two magical wedding moments with Rilynn~~

The way she gazed into the mirror after Brittany’s aunt curled her hair like the big girls.

And how she quietly slipped into the chair beside me at the wedding.

There were magical moments at the reception too~~

I forgot to bring my reading glasses and took pictures wearing my prescription sunglasses. Katie said, “Mom, please take off your sunglasses. You look silly.” 

But I didn’t care how silly I looked. 

I wanted to remember the moments. 

And then seeing Thomas and Brittany leaving for their honeymoon~~

That tiny moment when time stood still and love exploded inside my heart.

But my life-changing conversation with Robin happened after all of this–after all the excitement died down.

Saturday morning, we had a porch party. Just the two of us.

We rocked and drank coffee and laughed about getting older.

Then we went to the square in my little town, Monroe, Georgia, and visited my favorite shop, a children’s bookstore called The Story Shop.

This place is all the best moments of childhood made over~~

 

Surrounded by so much creativity, I knew exactly what Robin was  feeling because I felt it too~~

The magic of the moment. 

Later that day, we dove deep into conversation and talked about the things you share with your closest friends~~

But we didn’t dwell there, in Worry Land. Not this time.

Maybe because we didn’t want to spoil the magic of the moment. 

“Wow, I said, “We let go of our concerns in a hurry, didn’t we?”

“Yep. Record time, for us.” She paused. “Maybe the secret to life is celebrating each tiny moment with all your heart–which doesn’t leave room for worry.”

“And all we have is one tiny moment at a time,” I said.

Then Robin handed me the secret~~

“Maybe this is how God intends for us to live. One tiny moment at a time.” Click to tweet

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.” Matthew 6:34 MSG

What tiny moments are you celebrating today? 

P.S. Robin has an amazing blog, All Things Heart and Home. You’ll love it! I promise!

Love,

Julie

 

My Grandmother’s Secret

For the past few weeks, my heart’s been all over the place.

Thomas, our youngest child, is getting married on May 19th. He’s 25. I love Brittany, his bride-to-be. He’s ready to get married. They both are.

But I was afraid of how I’d feel at their wedding.

Afraid of all the love bumping around in my heart. 

Love and letting go were tightly intertwined. 

How could I handle both emotions at the same time?

How do you love and let go?  

A few days ago, I picked up my dress for the wedding and stopped by Mother’s house to show it to her. She ran her hands lightly over the pastel chiffon.

Stepping into the dress, I slipped it over my shoulders. The dress magnified what I was feeling.

The flurry of time.

Seasons changing.

“This brings back the memories, doesn’t it?” Mother said. “Your prom dresses. Your wedding dress.”

I wasn’t a teenager. Or a bride. I was a mother-of-the groom. And I had to prepare my heart for the wedding. But how? 

Mother zipped my dress. “This reminds me of my mother tying the sash of my nurse uniform,” she said.

“It was just an apron, but we called it a nurse’s uniform. When I was six, I got pneumonia and had to go to the hospital to take shots of penicillin. Goge (my grandmother) worked and couldn’t stay with me. I wasn’t really a patient, but the nurses watched me all day long until my mother returned.”

(Mother and Goge, my grandmother, 1940.)

So sad. Goge had to leave my mother for nurses to watch while she worked.

Mother’s daddy died when she was two.

Love can be a scary thing. Like life. You can’t control it.

“Didn’t you hate spending the day at the hospital?”

“Oh, no. I loved it. It was a tiny hospital. It had been someone’s home, and the doctor was our good friend. I got to sit on a white, metal stool in the lab and talk to the nurses. Actually, it felt like going to a birthday party.”

This was a good memory for Mother. God was with her at the hospital.

More than that.

Years before Goge went to heaven, she discovered the secret of letting go. 

She let go through the power of love.

Maybe that’s the only way we can do it. 

A tingly feeling came over me–as if my grandmother had a message for me. 

That’s when the miracle happens, Julie. Don’t be afraid of your love for Thomas. Use it to help you let go. God will give him everything he needs. And He’ll take care of your mama-heart too. 

At last, the Thomas-shaped place in my mama-heart stood up and cheered.

I didn’t have to separate my feelings.

The two worked together as a team, love and letting go.

I’d let go just like Goge did–through the power of love. 

When we let go with love, something miraculous happens. God shows up. (click to tweet)

Are you letting go of someone or something right now? If so, I pray this post helps.

P.S. Remember what my word for the year is? 🙂 LOVE.

With so much love,

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

The Dancing Queen Has an Aha Moment

Have you ever found the answer to a problem in a bizarre way? That happened to me this weekend. Saturday morning, I was stumped.

My problem just so happened to be about writing, but it could’ve been about anything.

Thinking too hard and drinking way too much coffee, I sat in my office staring at dozens of sticky notes. I couldn’t figure out how to fix the plot in my novel.

By 10 a.m., my brain already felt like this.

A knotted-up mess. 

Ever so gently, my word for 2016 came to me.

DANCE. Why don’t you dance?

Now? 

I can’t dance. 

I have to fix this problem.

Take a break. Dance. Let it go. 

I can’t. 

Work comes before play.

Always.

Those are the rules. 

Then four words came to me. Four one-syllable words.

Do you trust Me? 

Yes, of course but…

Then dance–the gentle thought brushed against my heart.

Don’t laugh, y’all, but I did.

I got out my chair, twirled around in my office (no one was home but me), and I boogied my way downstairs–

Like I was the room monitor, slacking off on my duty.

Then I did something really wild and crazy. I hopped into the car. Drove to the YMCA.

For 30 minutes, I played solitaire on the treadmill as though I had absolutely nothing better to do. 

I acted like a kid during recess and danced–mentally and physically. 

Guess what?

The best thing happened–

When I forgot about my problem, the answer came. I knew what to do! How crazy is that?

Back at home, I moved a few sticky notes around on my whiteboard and fixed my plotting issue. 

Sometimes trusting God means we let go, take a break, and dance. Click to Tweet

Is this an aha moment for you too? Or have you always known about the dancing secret? I bet you have! 🙂

P.S. If you have a minute, watch this video from 1978. “Dancing Queen” used to be my fave song back in the day.

If you can’t see the video, click here. It’s impossible to watch it without dancing!

Love,

Julie–the Dancing Queen 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Thanksgiving Miracle–Inside My Heart and Fridge!

Even though I’m a recovering perfectionist, this past Sunday, everything had to go according to schedule. I’m talking, split-second timing.

Our daughter Katie invited us for Thanksgiving. She married in February. Sunday would be a time of celebration! New marriage. New house. New family.

Early in the week, I posted my list on the fridge.

I even bought a thermal container for my strawberry Jell-o salad–

The yummy kind with a crust made of pretzels.

Sunday Morning Agenda:

1. Go to early church.

2. Son Thomas (24) puts dressing in oven while we’re gone.

3. Hurry home.

4. Pack food.

5. Leave!

Before heading to church, I took the dressing out of the fridge and stuck a note on it for Thomas.

350 x 30 minutes!

When we got home at 11:15, I didn’t smell that wonderful scent of dressing baking in the oven.

A bit of the Old Panic Button Julie rose up.

That terrible uh-oh feeling. 

Wool scarf-tightness around my throat. 

But Thomas’s standing in the kitchen. The oven’s set for 350.

“You put the dressing in at 10:30, right?”

He nodded.

I pulled this out of the oven.

“Thomas, what is it…lasagna? No! It’s the Jell-o salad!”

“It was sitting on the counter with a note on it.”

“You’re right! My fault. Ahhhhh!”

I crammed the Jell-o mess back in the fridge. Kicked the oven up to 400. Threw in the dressing. Made a spinach salad.

“Quick! Pack the cooler!”

The dressing didn’t have time to finish cooking. Mush-mush on one side.

“Hurry! We gotta go!”  

We arrived 25 minutes late. Green bean juice had sloshed all over my new carrier. I opened the cooler.

“Where’s the ice?”

“Ice?” my husband said. “I thought you needed the cooler for storage.” 

“Who takes a cooler for storage?”

Right then, something wild and free broke loose inside of me and I started laughing.

About everything. 

Hysterical laughter! 🙂

Turns out, the pumpkin pie and spinach salad didn’t need ice. We ate around the gooey parts in the dressing.

Back at home that night, I peeked at the Jell-o salad.

Something miraculous happened while we were gone. You’ll never believe it! 

The Jell-o did its thing again. The pretzels bloomed into delicious salty-tasting gummy worms. 🙂  

Life becomes a celebration when you learn to laugh at yourself.  

God helps us fix our mess-ups. 

Sunday reminded me of Surrender, Simple, and Enough.

What are your Thanksgiving plans?

Have you ever tried to make a day go according to schedule and everything fell apart? Did you learn anything? 🙂

P.S. I’ll be glad to share my baked Jell-o dessert recipe. 🙂

Love,

Julie

Love Lessons from an Artist–Part Two

“Real creativity means listening to your heart,” my friend Yvette said. (I began sharing her story last week here.)

“Tell me more.” We entered her kitchen.

“This rug, for instance. I found it at a flea market. It was six dollars.”

“Did you know for sure it would match?”

“I didn’t care if it matched. I loved it.”

Oh.

“Creativity isn’t about matching or being perfect.”

Incredible! Yvette’s teaching me the same things God’s been showing me. 

“This was my grandfather’s pipe. And my grandmother’s snuff.” 🙂

We laughed.

“I love it! You keep your grandmother’s snuff on the kitchen counter. You’re breaking so many rules.”

“That’s what art’s all about. Being free. Being yourself.”

Maybe that’s what good writing’s about, too.

“How long have you known this secret?”

“It started when I was a little girl. I discovered treasures under my grandmother’s house–all sorts of bottles and tiny trinkets. I decorate with them because I loved my grandmother.” 

Wow! Sounds so SIMPLE–my word for the year. 

“Oh, look. Christmas candles and it’s not even December!”

Which takes a lot courage. To be different. Christmas candles in September.

We walked into her den.

“When I was nine,” she said, “I found my uncle’s miniature bronze horse–small enough to fit inside my palm. Love at first sight. I took it home with me.  A few years ago, I felt a nudge to give the horse to my cousin. It should’ve been hers all along. I didn’t want to, but I knew I was supposed to. Does that make sense?”

I nodded.

“A few days after I gave it to her, I found this horse at a flea market. Can you believe it?”

“Julie, it’s an exact replica of the horse I gave away. Only a lot bigger.”

“It’s a miracle.”

“I know. In all my  years of flea-marketing, I’ve never seen another horse like the one I gave away. Except for this one.”

Yvette had just given me another love lesson:

If God asks you to give something away, obey Him. Quickly. Blessings follow obedience. 

Has God ever asked you to give away something you dearly loved? 

Have you discovered art and decorating have nothing to do with being perfect? 

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

An Old Purse–A New Me!

My sister Jennifer has the gift of organization. She can simplify and beautify anything. Not me. Take our purses, for example. Last week, we went to lunch. I was driving.

“Will you hand me my sunglasses? They’re in my purse.” I cringed.

So much junk, it wouldn’t close. Ahhhhhhh!

“Where are they?” she said.

“They’re there somewhere. Just keep looking.”

My purse was totally out of control. I hated digging through it for my  YMCA pass, my lipstick, a pen–ANYTHING! 

Jennifer dumped out my bulging makeup bag, an empty pack of chewing gum, and a handful of wadded receipts. Her gray leather envelope of a purse lay neatly at her feet.

“How do you get by with such a small purse?”

“Simple. I only carry what I need.”

This idea intrigued me — freeing myself up to only carry what I needed. My shoulders wouldn’t get tired. I wouldn’t get annoyed trying to find my wallet. 

And the word SIMPLE. 

My word for the year. 

Jen said “simple.” 

Perhaps this went deeper than my purse. 

Sometimes I carry thoughts that clutter my peace. I can be too sensitive. Someone says something that hurts my feelings and I hang on to it. 

But could I possibly change? I’d had a messy purse forever. Could I toss unnecessary stuff? And thoughts too?

Maybe a small purse would help me remember to keep life simple.

 I  found a tiny one in the back of my closet.

And said goodbye to my old heavy, burdensome bag.

I got rid of all manner of clutter–cuticle oil, Band-aids, a broken nail file,

And decided to keep only useful things, 

And useful thoughts.

I even found a nifty spot for my YMCA pass. 🙂

The new me! 🙂

With God’s help, daily, I’m being made new!

This song sums it up beautifully, especially the “lay down your burdens” part. If you can’t see the video below, click here.

Do you have a neat purse? I bet so!

Are there any heavy thoughts dragging you down? Lay down your burdens! Let’s get freed up together! 

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

SIMPLE–How My Tiny Word for the Year Rescues Me

One day last week the simplest thing caught my attention–a single tiny flower poking her head out from under a log. She was the only violet in the woods near our house.

How peculiar. 

Maybe since my word for the year is SIMPLE, she caught my attention.

God seemed to whisper,“Pay attention, Julie. There’s a message here for you.” 

A few days later, something happened between loved ones. Years of buried pain came out in strong emotions and words. Now there’s distance between them. It bothered me.

I woke up at 3:15 Easter morning, my mind exploding with ways to fix it.

Maybe if I think hard enough, I’ll figure out how to…

Soon I moved into dangerous territory and wandered down the path of WORST CASE SCENARIO thinking. I knew better but tried to rationalize worrying.

“Lord, surely You see this broken relationship. Surely it bothers You too. What if I try to–”

He pressed something into my heart. Something I wasn’t expecting.

It had nothing to do with the others. 

It was about my relationship with Him. 

Never mind them.

He seemed to say: “Julie, don’t let troubles in life separate us. I am God. Keep your eyes on Me.”

I wanted to explain how I felt–how if only I could say the right thing and encourage reconciliation, I could fix the problem.

Then I remembered the violet.

Surrounded by busy-body squirrels, hoot owls, and squawking blue jays she captured my attention.

Peaceful. Serene. Illuminated by sunlight. 

I’m supposed to live that way. Like the violet.

With SIMPLE faith.

Peaceful.

Focused on the Son. Not on problems. 

Thank You, Lord, for one tiny violet. 

Is there an area in life that trips you? It helps so much to acknowledge it.

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gift of Improv–in Life and Love

Last week, I called our grown daughters. “Guess what? Your dad and I are going out Saturday night with our new friends Debbie and Todd!”

“Umm, that’s not really a big deal, Mom,” they said. “People go out all the time.”

But to me it was HUGE.

We were going to an improv comedy show, something we’d never done, with new friends, at the Aurora Theater in Lawrenceville, GA a place I’d never been.

Sometimes I’m a little slow to make friends. And when a new friendship forms, I let the other person initiate the first invitation. And Debbie had invited us! I was so excited!

I even looked up “improv” to make sure I understood.

Wikipedia:

“Improvisation or improv–a form of theater where most or all of what is performed is created at the moment it is performed.”

The actors can’t practice ahead of time. Holy cow.

Before the show started, the empty stage gave me goosebumps.

Nothing but three boxes and a couple of chairs.

Talk about faith–

To walk out on stage and not know your lines! 

Even getting coffee and M&Ms was exciting–the list of shows, the atmosphere. And $10 for our tickets, $4 for snacks.

After the theater company introduced themselves, they asked the audience to toss out clues.

The cast had to totally wing it.

Zero control.

Free falling. 

They nailed it, too! The show was hilarious, and clean :).

Laughing with new friends–such fun.

Sorry for the photo quality–improv phone pictures.

Todd and Debbie.

And us.

We talked on the way home.

“I had such a good time tonight,” I said. “I think I’m supposed to live more improv.”

“How so?” Rick said.

“Have more fun. Take more chances. Roll with whatever comes my way, even if I haven’t memorized my lines.”

“Yep.”

“Totally trust God.”

Have you been to an improv show? Live theater?

What about friendships? Do you trust easily?

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

 

Suddenly Spring?

“Time changes tomorrow,” my husband said at our porch party Saturday morning. “I need to take down the white Christmas lights.”

Sometimes I resist change.

Hearing his announcement about daylight savings time, I felt a little unsettled. Out of sorts. It seemed I was late for something important and needed to hurry and catch up.

Weird, I know. And irrational.

Maybe it’s because we’re racing toward spring, and I’m not ready to say goodbye to winter.

And the lights were so beautiful.

I remembered how they looked when it snowed a few days earlier.

Almost magical.

I felt caught between winter and spring–like having children at home and then adapting to an empty next. “Why don’t we just leave them up all year?”

“Because time’s changing. More daylight hours. And if we never took them down, pretty soon, we wouldn’t even notice them.”

Later that day, I walked around the porch and spotted signs of spring.

The wreath tied with pink ribbon.

My rain boots.

The dwindling stack of firewood.

The rabbit under my grandmother’s old table.

Something occurred to me–

A few days ago, I’d noticed a thin layer of ice in the bird bath. The same day, daffodils on the side of the road waved.

Ice and daffodils. 

Like a van Gogh painting, the last hint of gray winter softly blended with the pastels of spring.

Maybe this transition helps us surrender the past and anticipate the future. 

And maybe God, in His mercy, often eases us into the next season of life.

Have you ever felt this way about time changing? Life changes? Family changes?

What season are you in right now?

Love,

Julie

 

 

Thinking Ahead–My Mother, Myself

My mother is the Queen of Preparedness. She’s always giving me detailed instructions about the future, how-to articles, and insightful books to read. You’ll never believe what she’s preparing me for now.

Friday she sent me the strangest text from her new iPhone.

I can’t find our obits. Didn’t I give you copies? Where are they?

What kind of message is this?

She’d met with the man who makes granite headstones in her hometown two weeks ago. And now this.

I couldn’t take any more. And I didn’t want to think about any of that right now.

I texted her back: You gave me some papers. Didn’t read them. Put them in the lockbox. 

The next day in her kitchen:

“Your brother must’ve accidentally thrown the obits away when he cleaned,” she said. “By the way, there’s a sack of stuff you might want on the kitchen table. I have one for Jennifer too.” (Jennifer’s my sister.)

My heart gonged.

I knew what she meant by “sack of stuff.”

Pictures from a long time ago. Love-notes from my children. Things too sentimental to throw away.

I didn’t want to dig through memories with her looking over my shoulder. I could get trapped in another world like Alice in Wonderland.

Too many emotions.

But I could see my parents’ wedding picture from 1958,

My grandmother, my niece, Mother, and me, 1992.

Enough.

I looked away from the sack. “Do we have to talk about obituaries right now, Mother? You’re only 78.” 

She pretended to straighten some papers.”I just wanted to make things easier for you.”

Oh. I swallowed the softball-sized lump in my throat.

Quickly changing the subject, she smiled and handed me an article from the sack.  “This is wonderful. It’s helpful for writing dialog. It’s called, ‘Speaking Southern.'”

“Mother!”  I pointed to her note on page one. “You even gave me instructions on how to read it!”

For Julie: take your time and read this S-L-O-W-L-Y.

We laughed until the tears rolled, and for a few minutes, nothing else mattered.

Lord, if families can laugh, surely we can get through anything. 

Has laughter helped you through a tough time or an awkward situation?

Have you had this conversation with someone you love? It’s tough, isn’t it?

Love,

Julie