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

 

 

 

 

 

Our Creative Best–What if?

When our son Thomas was fifteen, he stopped showing me things that impressed him. He’s twenty-three now, and a couple of years ago, he said, “Mom, come here. You gotta see this.”

I hightailed it up the steps.

He was in my office watching a video. “This guy’s incredible. Look.”

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

Bending over Thomas’s shoulder, I studied the guitarist. He was young. Amazing. Played from his heart.

I remembered Thomas and his first guitar.

Tiny tears came.

Happy tears.

Around the time we watched the video, Thomas started playing the guitar again.

Wonder why when I see someone doing his or her creative best, it lights a fire in me?

My husband Rick’s passion is cars. The other night, he was watching TV. I was reading.

“Wow,” Rick said. “Look at this.”

(If you can’t see the video below, click here. It’s less than a minute long.)

Watching Chip Foose draw, I spotted the fascinating tools in his office. Markers, brushes, pencils.

Did he draw as a child? 

I thought about my own office, my clothesline full of characters. Sometimes I talk to them.

I ask about their lives. What brings them hope? What inspires them?

And I absolutely love notebooks and colored pens. If I don’t have any paper, a chewing gum wrapper will do.

My attraction to words started when I was young.

I’m eight, reading a Redbook magazine.

I’ve been thinking.

Surely God inspired passion in each of us when we were children.

Maybe it was to knit.

Grow gardens.

Organize stacks of chaos.

Do math problems with ease.

Bake cakes.

Perform science experiments.

Be kind to outsiders.

Sometimes the joys of childhood get buried. We forget what we once loved. 

What if He’s calling us to play from our hearts again?

 “…take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” Galatians 6:5 The MSG

Love,

Julie

Beneath the Surface

The other day my 22-year-old son Thomas said something he hadn’t said in years. Our grown daughters say this sort of thing all the time, but somewhere around age 15, Thomas stopped saying …

“Mom, come look. You gotta see this.”

So when he said those words, I left my computer and followed him outside to our little koi pond. I couldn’t wait to see what he had to show me.

Just like when he was a little boy.

Is it a frog? A snake? A shiny rock?

We have two koi ponds. The big one has koi in it, but the only thing in the small pond is murky-looking water.

Or so I thought.

(I blogged about the little pond here–“Sometimes You Wade Through Sludge Together.” I wrote about my husband building our koi ponds here for Guideposts.)

When Thomas and I crouched by the water, Kitty Thelma hurried over to check out the situation.

“Look what my new camera does,” Thomas said.

I didn’t even know he had a new camera, something called a GoPro.

He showed me what he’d filmed beneath the surface.

I saw splendor in something I assumed was useless.

As sunlight lit the darkness I spotted lily pads yet to bloom,

Green plants I couldn’t name,

Rocks and hills and valleys formed a magical underwater world.

Even fish darted by.

Maybe the pond holds a life lesson for me.

I thought about people and situations I’d judged–opinions I’d hurriedly formed–times I hadn’t bothered to ask God to help me see beneath the surface.

But God …

He sees the unseen. Past. Present. Future.

He knows no limits.

He creates beauty from ashes–life from dry bones.

And He understands every heart.

Thank You, Lord. You see beneath the surface.

“…even darkness isn’t dark to You.” Psalm 139:12 NIV

Can anyone relate?

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Courageous Call

I don’t want to make prayer seem formulaic–123–I prayed, I got. That’s not how it works–at least not for me. I’ve prayed for decades about certain situations and nothing’s changed.

But almost 25 years ago, God surprised me. Big time.

One morning, my mother-in-law Carolyn called. “Julie,” she said softly. “It’s hard to explain, but I was reading the Bible and ….” She hesitated. “This time next year, you’re going to have a baby.”

For half a second, I felt a tingly glow.

What if she’s right?

Carolyn’s not the kind of person who goes around saying, “God said to tell you…”

And then a flash of terror.

I wanted to slam the phone down. Hide. Throw up. Run away.

Our daughters were six and eight, and a few months earlier, we lost our son, Robbie, who was born with anencephaly.

“And it’s going to be a boy,” Carolyn proclaimed.

Why would she say something like this?

I couldn’t breathe. Felt my heart rip open.

We wanted risk-free lives. Safe. Confined.

“Thanks, but we’ve decided. No more children.”

I was still grieving. The color baby blue, the Pamper aisle, and little boys wearing overalls brought tears.

Several weeks after the phone call, something happened.

Faith began as one tiny glimmer shining in my heart.  It spread to my husband.

On August 6, 1991, our son Thomas was born.

This past Monday, I called Carolyn to ask her about that phone call 25 years ago.

How? Why? What?

“It was raining,” she said. “Dark. Dreary. Even inside the house. I was in the den. I picked up my Bible. When I read Genesis 18:10, the words fell into my spirit. That’s the only way I can explain it. I knew they were for you. From God. ”

“I don’t think I ever thanked you. If you hadn’t made that courageous call, Thomas wouldn’t be here.”

Dear readers, I can’t explain why God worked this way. We could’ve had our hearts ripped out again.

I only know the miracle began with the phone call.

And a tiny dot of faith.

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” Romans 11:33

Have you ever been surprised by God’s goodness? Please share!

Love,

Julie

 

Stop Washing Dishes–You Don’t Want to Miss This

Have you ever been so busy you almost missed something special? Last week, our son Thomas (22) came home while I was doing the supper dishes. “Mom, Sammy’s gonna eat, then we’re gonna play guitars.”

“Hey, Sammy,” I said. “Come on in.”

Sammy’s been teaching Thomas how to “pick” songs on their acoustic guitars. After supper, I figured they’d go down in the basement to practice, like usual.

But they didn’t.

After they ate tacos, Sammy sat in the den strumming his guitar, and I started doing the dishes again. Thomas stood beside me. “Mom,” he whispered. “Sammy’s going to play.”

“Okay. I can hear him from here.”

“You don’t want to miss this,” he said. “Come in the den with us.”

This wasn’t like Thomas. He’s not the kind of son who says, “Mom, come look.” And he’d never invited me to listen to them play.

Until that night.

I glanced at dirty dishes.

I almost reached for an empty Coke can to toss it. Almost rinsed out the sink. Almost scraped one last plate.

You don’t want to miss this. Stop washing dishes.

(Thomas is on the left. Sammy’s on the right.)

I sat down in the red recliner and Sammy looked at Thomas. “What do you want me to play?”

“Play ‘The Old Rugged Cross,” Thomas said.

Oh, me. I had no idea…I almost missed this. Me and my busy self. Doing the dishes.

As Sammy played, God filled the empty space in my busy heart.

He slowed me down.

Reminded me of Who He is.

What if my dirty dishes had been too important? What if winding up the day and getting out of the kitchen had held me?

What if I’d hesitated?

I would’ve missed the Majesty of the moment.

Lord, bless Sammy and Thomas. They still have no idea how they blessed me.

And maybe they blessed you too.

Love,

Julie

 

 

My One Word for 2013…(Gulp!)

I didn’t have the warm fuzzies for my 2013 word like last year’s word… SURRENDER. Sunday afternoon, trying to run from my word, I asked our son Thomas to teach me to use free weights at the YMCA. He demonstrated the first exercise by lying on a bench while lifting a weight over his head. “Your turn.”

He handed me the tiniest weight possible–opposite of the ones below. “Easy-breezy,” I said.

He taught me how to pull these ropes while holding my elbows close to my body. It took several tries to get it right, but Thomas was patient with me.

Then he called his girlfriend Brittany for suggestions. Yikes! She’s a personal trainer. They work out together.

Brittany suggested I lunge across the room while holding a five-pound weight. I did it without too much effort.

“Grab me a heavier one,” I said feeling smug. Kinda show-off-y.

Thomas handed me a bigger weight. Halfway across the floor, I thought I might throw up or pass out.

“You okay, Mom?”

I sat down. Caught my breath. Nodded.

“Here’s our next one,” he said. “Watch me first.”

Oh, dear.

Thomas hung upside down by one foot…and did sit-ups…while holding a weight. “Now, you try.”

“You’re crazy! I can’t do that.”

“Sure you can.”

It took me forever to master hanging like a possum.

Then Thomas moved near my feet so I could see his face.

Very slowly, I did one single sit-up holding a weight–the most difficult exercise I’ve ever done.

But wow! When I made it to the top and saw Thomas’s grin and heard him say, “Good job, Mom,” that’s the moment I embraced my new word. 🙂 🙂

Lesson Learned: You can do more than you think you can.

My word for 2013 is FOLLOW.

I pray I’ll follow God without arguing.

I pray I’ll follow without running ahead thinking I know best.

I pray I’ll follow and not lag behind, letting fear keep me from trying.

Do you have a 2013 word?

Love,

Julie