When God Gives You a Dream…


My husband Rick had a vision. A goal. This past weekend, when his dream finally came true, I had an “aha” moment.

Because I have a vision too.

I want to become a novelist. I’ve had the dream for years.

Right now, I’m working on my fifth novel. Writing the first three taught me little bit about the craft, but my stories weren’t ready for publication. My agent is shopping my fourth one. At times–especially when I’m tired–I wonder if my dream will ever become a reality.

Two months ago during our porch party, Rick told me about his vision.

“I’ve ordered 40 baby chicks,” he said. “They’re coming next week.”

We already have 15 chickens in our backyard.

I stopped rocking and looked at him.”Why? We don’t have room for 40 more chickens.”

“Half of them are for a friend. And I’m expanding my chicken house.”

Although his dream didn’t make sense to me, I knew he’d work hard to make it happen. I could see it in his eyes.

He didn’t care how foolish he looked.

He didn’t care that most of our friends don’t raise chickens. He didn’t do it to please people. 

The passion came from his heart.

But why?

His pen before the renovation–

First, he had a buddy of his cut down a dozen trees.

The trees became mulch to cover the ground near the pen.

Now he had room to work.

When his baby chicks arrived, some lived lived in a cage outdoors. Some lived in an aquarium in our basement.

If you’re thinking our home took on a new aroma, you’re exactly right. 🙂

The construction took several weeks.

I brought him bottles of Gatorade.

What motivates him to work this hard in the hundred degree weather?

To have his fingers torn up by chicken wire?

Did he ever feel like giving up–like I sometimes did?

Saturday afternoon, he came inside the house and opened the kitchen pantry. “I dug up a yellow jacket’s nest and got popped. Where’s the Benadryl?”

I looked into his dark brown eyes. “Why are you doing this?”

He led me to his work-in-progress. “This is my Rhode Island Red.


“He’s the granddaddy of a lot of my chickens. He’s a fine bird. He needs more room.”

“This is a Silver Leghorn. He didn’t have any hens.”

When I watched him feed his chickens, the answer settled in my heart.

“You’re doing this because you love them, and you want to make their lives better, right?”

He closed the gate to the new pen. “Yeah, something like that.” 

My husband’s love for chickens–and my love for you, dear reader–

Keep our dreams alive. 

When God gives you a dream, let love be your motivation. Click to tweet

Sometimes, when I don’t understand someone’s behavior, there’s a message in it for me. Click to tweet

Do you have a vision? A goal? Does this post help you in any way? I hope so.

For more blogs about our chickens, click here and here. If you’d like to read another one on dreams, click here.

Love,

Julie (and Rick and our chickens too) 🙂

 

 

 

 

Building a Fence…and a Son

Early Saturday morning during our porch party my husband said, “I’m building a fence today.”

“Sounds like a huge project. Bet it takes you lots of Saturdays.”

“No it won’t. Thomas is helping me.” (Thomas is our 24-year-old son.)

Look at that pile of boards.

No way. 

Later that morning, I brought them some ice-water and saw Thomas digging holes.

Like a man.

Wearing big work boots.

With post-hole diggers and everything.

Sudden sweetness came.

When did my little boy become a man? 

When did he learn to build fences and dig holes and drive nails?

Where was I?

 How did I miss it?

They’d been working about an hour when I left to get groceries. Still, I doubted they’d finish their job in one day.

By the time I got home, they were at the halfway point.

Okay, maybe…

Just maybe...

After lunch…

“Wow! Y’all, it looks incredible! We have a real fence now!”

Watching them work, I remembered something that happened years ago. 

Thomas must’ve been ten.

He was pitching in a Little League baseball game. They were losing.

No matter what kind of pitch he threw, they hit it. He started holding his arm and said it hurt. He wanted to sit out the rest of the game.

His daddy felt his right arm. His pitching arm. Then he patted him on the head and left him at the plate.

What? What are you doing?!

Take him out! Let him rest! He’s hurt! 

Get him something cool to drink. He can sit in my lap. 

We argued about it the night it happened. “I can’t believe you made him play!”

“Julie, there was nothing wrong with his arm. He was scared.  They were losing. I saw it in his eyes.”

“There’s no way you–”

“You don’t quit when life gets tough. You dig deep and keep going.” Click to Tweet

Maybe my boy became a man years ago–the day his daddy wouldn’t let him quit.

P.S. Our fence was done around two o’clock. 🙂

Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Don’t tremble with fear. I am your God. I will make you strong. Isaiah 41:10 CEV Click to Tweet

Was there a moment when you almost quit but didn’t?

Who encouraged you to dig deep?  

Do you need prayer today? Do you feel like giving up? 

Love,

Julie

 

 

A Message from Callie the Caladium

Sometimes I’m drawn to the most insignificant things. I’ll see something and feel a quickening in my spirit. It happened a few weeks ago–all because of a Caladium–a pink and green plant I bought this spring.

First time I’d ever had a Caladium. I named her Callie.

In August, Callie’s leaves started drooping.

That’s when the PAY ATTENTION feeling came. 

Maybe  because Callie reminded me of things I’d been praying about for a long time and nothing had changed.

A situation with one of my children.

Something about writing.

A few family members. 

Based on how long I’ve been praying, I should probably give up.

But I didn’t want to give up on Callie. 

I googled how to grow Caladiums. I watered and fertilized her. Brought her inside during the heat of the day.

Nothing helped. 

In September, I noticed a gorgeous Caladium outside a store in a giant clay pot so I gave Callie a bigger home.

Which didn’t help.

I called my brother Jeremy, who knows about plants.

“Caladiums are like Elephant ears,” he said.

I walked out to the porch. “Our Elephant Ears are doing fine.”

“They’re hardier than Caladiums.”

“What if I plant it?”

“It’s too late. You should’ve done it earlier in the season.”

“Is it hopeless?”

“You can try cutting off the dead leaves. Probably won’t help.”

Performing surgery on Callie, I spotted one tender sprout near the black soil.

Only one.

She was small, but she was alive and well. 

I did what Jeremy said–I cut off everything that was dead.

And focused on all that was living. 

Guess what?

Yesterday, after a heavy rain, Callie stood a little taller and raised her face toward the sun.

That’s when the message came.

 “… if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]. Phil 4:8 AMP 

If you’ve been praying about something for a long, long time, I understand. And I care. Don’t give up. 

Thoughts?

Love,

Julie

 

Parody of the Pickles…and Perseverance (re-posted)

If you’re receiving this post late or twice, I’m so sorry. There was an issue with my website service on Wednesday. Some of you found my blog through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram. There are comments on the original post from Wednesday if you’d like to join the conversation, or feel free to comment on this one. 🙂

Just drop down to the next post on my website and you’ll see the first post about pickles.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program…

“Julie,” my mother said. “We aren’t those kind of people.”

“What kind of people?”

“Pickle-making people.”

My husband Rick had just brought in a mountain of cucumbers from his garden and we planned to make pickles.

Cinnamon Red Hot Pickles.

Starting the tedious process I thought, What in the heck are we doing? Mother’s right. 

Our ingredients included strange things like ALUM and PICKLING LIME.

Here’s the recipe.  I’m warning you. It’s intimidating. The recipe says it takes three days, but we started at night. It took four.

Washing, peeling, and removing the seeds from 5,000 cucumbers was quite an ordeal.

Next we cut them into a million pieces.

It.

Took.

Forever. 

We cheated and used the dishwasher to sterilize the jars.

With each step, my doubt grew.

We’re wasting our time.

Mother’s right. 

We aren’t pickle-making people. 

It was messy. Sticky. Exhausting.

One night after eleven o’clock, I was so sick of making pickles that I went to bed and left Rick stirring.

Somehow, we made a monumental mistake and bought the wrong kind of Red Hots. 🙁 Ours turned into clear rubbery balls that wouldn’t dissolve.

Nevertheless, Rick charged on, hoping they’d miraculously melt.

They didn’t.

By day three, red sticky syrup covered the counter. Cucumber seeds clung to the cabinets, the floor, and the refrigerator door.

The final morning before Rick left for work he asked me to do the next step.

“You’re kidding,” I said. “We’ve wasted enough time. Let’s just quit.”

“Nope. We’re not giving up.”

Feeling foolish and frustrated, I took the stupid cucs out of the fridge.

To my horror, they were pale green and pink. 

Not candy-apple red.

Then my mother called. “I tried to tell you,” she said.

Throwing the mess away, I decided NO MORE PICKLES. 

This is it. 

I’m done. 

But Rick wouldn’t give up.

He went to four stores in search of the right kind of Red Hots.

He found them.

This time, he called his aunt for her recipe.

We started all over again.

But guess what?

It worked!

We did it! 

We made absolutely incredible Cinnamon Red Hot Pickles! 

Mother still can’t believe we’re pickle-making people. :)

I saved her a jar. 

If you’re working on something that seems impossible:

1. Tune out all negative thoughts. And comments. :)

2. Don’t be afraid to change your approach. (Aunt Jane’s recipe.)

3. Hang in there. Sometimes God’s favor comes when you least expect it.

Can you identify?

P.S. They’re gluten-free!

Love,

Julie and Rick

 

Parody of the Pickles…and Perseverance

If you’re receiving this post late, I’m so sorry. There was an issue with my website service.

“Julie,” my mother said. “We aren’t those kind of people.”

“What kind of people?”

“Pickle-making people.”

My husband Rick had just brought in a mountain of cucumbers from his garden and we planned to make pickles.

Cinnamon Red Hot Pickles.

Starting the tedious process I thought, What in the heck are we doing? Mother’s right. 

Our ingredients included strange things like ALUM and PICKLING LIME.

Here’s the recipe I’m warning you. It’s intimidating. The recipe says it takes three days, but we started at night. It took four.

Washing, peeling, and removing the seeds from 5,000 cucumbers was quite an ordeal.

Next we cut them into a million pieces.

It.

Took.

Forever. 

We cheated and used the dishwasher to sterilize the jars.

With each step, my doubt grew.

We’re wasting our time.

Mother’s right. 

We aren’t pickle-making people. 

It was messy. Sticky. Exhausting.

One night after eleven o’clock, I was so sick of making pickles that I went to bed and left Rick stirring.

Somehow, we made a monumental mistake and bought the wrong kind of Red Hots. 🙁 Ours turned into clear rubbery balls that wouldn’t dissolve.

Nevertheless, Rick charged on, hoping they’d miraculously melt.

They didn’t.

By day three, red sticky syrup covered the counter. Cucumber seeds clung to the cabinets, the floor, and the refrigerator door.

The final morning before Rick left for work he asked me to do the next step.

“You’re kidding,” I said. “We’ve wasted enough time. Let’s just quit.”

“Nope. We’re not giving up.”

Feeling foolish and frustrated, I took the stupid cucs out of the fridge.

To my horror, they were pale green and pink. 

Not candy-apple red.

Then my mother called. “I tried to tell you,” she said.

Throwing the mess away, I decided NO MORE PICKLES. 

This is it. 

I’m done. 

But Rick wouldn’t give up. 

He went to four stores in search of the right kind of Red Hots.

He found them.

This time, he called his aunt for her recipe.

We started all over again.

But guess what?

It worked!

We did it! 

We made absolutely incredible Cinnamon Red Hot Pickles! 

Mother still can’t believe we’re pickle-making people. 🙂

I saved her a jar. 

If you’re working on something that seems impossible:

1. Tune out all negative thoughts. And comments. 🙂

2. Don’t be afraid to change your approach. (Aunt Jane’s recipe.)

3. Hang in there. Sometimes God’s favor comes when you least expect it.

Can you identify?

P.S. They’re gluten-free!

Love,

Julie and Rick

 

 

And Then Debbie Macomber Smiled

Writing, like anything else requiring faith and perseverance, can humble you and wear you out, but sometimes, it brings the sweetest rewards. This past weekend, my mother Marion Bond West and I were selected with ten other writers to attend a Guideposts refresher workshop in Vero Beach, Florida–so many gifts at once!

Spending Mother’s Day weekend with my mom and some of my dearest friends,

And on Saturday night, Debbie Macomber would join us for dinner!

On the way to the airport, Mother insisted we take a selfie.

I gave Mom her Mother’s Day gift in the car.

When we got to the beach, I had time to walk with Stephanie Thompson, Ginger Rue Stewart, and Sue Karas.

Mother stayed in the room and caught up on her reading. 🙂

After the workshop Saturday we had dinner.

From top left:

Ginger Rue Stewart, Stephanie Thompson, Marion Bond West, Edward Grinnan, Julie Garmon, Shawnelle Eliasen, Monica Morris, Molly Brown, Peggy Frezon, Rick Hamlin, Sue Karas, Amy Wong, Julie Lavender, Janet Smith, and Roberta Messner.

Shawnelle and Peggy are among a group of incredible Guideposts bloggers.

But the best part of all–

New York Times, bestselling author Debbie Macomber shared her story.

When she spoke, she smiled—no, she laughed and brought bubbly joy, and the message to “keep on keeping on.”

Success didn’t happen quickly for Debbie. She experienced years of devastating rejections, lean times of living hand-to-mouth, and she dealt with dyslexia. 

And then Debbie told us what kept her going…

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

So many days when she wanted to quit, Debbie read a certain prayer from The Power of Positive Thinking, by Norman Vincent Peale that begins this way–

“I believe I am divinely guided…”

Thank you, Debbie.

This means we’re divinely guided too. 

God is with us through our struggles and nothing happens by chance.

Most of all, thank you for letting us know you’re one of us. 

You’re been we are.

You understand.

And you care.

Love,

Julie

P.S. Has anyone made a difference in your life and encouraged you to hang in there? Please share!

Having Faith and Dreaming Dreams

I got brave and asked my husband a bold question at our porch party Monday morning. “What hopes and dreams has God answered in your life?”

He didn’t hesitate. “Marrying you.”

My throat got all warm. We rocked for a few minutes without talking. Love is bigger than words, you know.

Two years ago, I was ready to give up on a dream. I was inches from quitting, so close I asked Rick to promise not to let me give up.

He promised.

Thinking and rocking Monday morning, I spotted my old watering cans. I’d almost thrown them away. Sort of like my dream.

Then I saw my friend’s Robin’s post.  (Robin from All Things Heart and Home.)

Inspired by her creativity, I bought some potting soil and a few little plants.

It’s amazing what inspiration and faith can do.

“See those old watering cans?” I said. “They had ferns in them, but they died during the winter. I almost threw them away.”

Like that dream of mine.

When I almost quit writing.

When I was at the bottom.

So low I couldn’t imagine coming up with…

One

More

Word

“Remember when you wouldn’t let me quit?”

He nodded.

“Thanks for encouraging me. You were my springtime that year.”

And then he did the most wonderful thing. He stopped rocking. Bowed his head.

“Lord, keep Julie’s dream alive.”

If you’re wrestling with a dream, I understand. Sometimes all you need is fresh inspiration and prayer.

Want me to pray?

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do it Scared

My childhood is different from most people’s. My mother is a writer. She spent her days hunched over the typewriter wearing her bathrobe. When I was ten, she appointed me her editor. I took great pleasure in using a red marker. “Boring. You can do better.”

Here we are at a GUIDEPOSTS writers workshop in 2009.

She called last week. “My writing days are over,” she said with a sigh. “I’m going to become the mother y’all always wanted. I’m going to dust the baseboards and post menus on the refrigerator. I’m even going to learn to sew.”

“You’re not going to be happy.”

“Gene’s going to love it. (Gene’s her husband.) I’m going start using cookbooks.”

“Mother, you’re a writer. You hate directions. And nobody learns to sew at 77.”

“My creativity’s dried up. I have nothing left to say.”

“You taught me to feel a story moving in my heart long before it comes to life, remember? And to love words and books and the rhythm of sentences.”

“Those days are over.”

“You’re afraid to write, aren’t you?”

A long pause formed. “Perhaps.”

“You taught us rejection is part of life. And when we fall, we don’t stay down.” I felt my throat tighten. “And to keep our eyes and God. And to never ever give up.”

“Well, I quit.”

“Who am I supposed to call when I need the perfect adjective?”

“You’ll figure it out.”

Two days she called. “Can I read you something? I’ve wanted to write it for a while, but I lacked the courage.”

“Welcome back. How’d you conquer your fear?”

“I took that first terrifying step. I typed the first sentence. And then another. And another. God was right there with me.”

“This is bigger than writing, you know.”

“Yep,” she said. “No matter what you face, say ‘Shut up fear.’ And tell your heart, ‘Full steam ahead.'”

Is there something you want to do, but you’re afraid to try? Share it in the comments. That might be your first brave step. We’ll be rooting for you! 

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