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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Perks to Choosing Peace over Perfection

Have you ever walked into someone’s home and immediately felt welcomed? There’s nothing like that kind of peace, is there? When we moved into our log house ten years ago, I wanted our home to be a comfy cozy place that welcomed people.

A home that offered peace and healing.

But I have a confession.

At times, I’ve focused on the negatives in myself, my surroundings, and in others.

The chip in the dinner plate. Scuff marks on the kitchen cabinets. My insecurities about writing.

When I seek perfection, poof, my peace vanishes.

How can I offer peace when I’ve lost mine?

But something inside me began to shift in 2012 when I chose the word SURRENDER.

When I made a choice to let go and let God do His will in me.

It’s a process, for sure, and sometimes I struggle to let go, but not last Saturday. 🙂

We had a birthday party for our son Thomas and my father-in-law Richard. During the party I kept thinking …

This is amazing! I can’t wait to tell my bloggy friends!

Pulling the potato casserole from the oven, I glanced at everyone gathered in our home.

I spotted my father-in-law looking at his son, my husband, who was grilling hamburgers, people laughing, having a good time.

So was I!

Thomas’s girlfriend Brittany took pictures.

 

Looking at Brittany’s pictures something occurred to me.

When I stop demanding perfection, awesome things happen.

1. I slow down long enough to see beauty.

2. My gratitude soars.

3. I smile a lot more.

A surrendered heart brings peace and welcomes the gift of hospitality.

“…live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11 NIV

What makes you feel welcomed in someone’s home? Has striving for perfection ever stolen your peace?

 

Love,

Julie

 

Help! My Phone’s Been Stolen…And My Peace Too!

The other day, I did something stupid. I was grocery shopping. I checked my list which I keep on my phone. Putting my phone back in my purse, I thought, zip your purse.

But I didn’t.

I left my purse in the buggy (that’s Southern for grocery cart) while I looked for chocolate chips.

Seconds later, I reached for my phone.

It wasn’t there. Was it stolen? Did I lose it?

Nooooooooooooo! I need my phone! I love my phone!

My rational self left. Crazy took over.

I squatted on the floor, dumped everything out of my purse, and searched through my groceries like a madwoman.

Calm down. Stop being such a panic button.

I ran to customer service.

“No, ma’am. No one’s turned in a phone.”

Of course not. It was stolen.

I left my groceries, hurried to our service provider, and called the police–the whole time, my word for 2014 softly tapped my heart.

ENOUGH. 

Almost every morning this year, I’d written “God, You’re more than enough for me” in my prayer journal.

What about when someone steals your phone? Or when anything and everything goes wrong?

Is God enough then?

Every few minutes I stopped fretting long enough to pray.

Lord, whether or not I find my phone, You’re more than enough for me.

Each time I prayed my peace returned.

Five hours later after driving to another city for a replacement phone, I received a call.

My phone was turned in at customer service twenty minutes after being stolen. Some kind soul found it in the grocery store parking lot. When I erased my data, the thief probably tossed my phone.

I’d wasted a lot of time hurrying and worrying. But maybe it wasn’t a total waste.

Maybe it was worth the drama to grasp this truth.

No matter what happens, no one can steal our peace.

“You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You…” Isaiah 26:3 NKJV

Can you relate? If you chose a word this year, how’s it going?

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Comfort

Christmas Eve morning, I called Mother. Remember last year, she almost didn’t put up their Christmas tree? I was so relieved when she changed her mind. Well, this year,  she said she kept thinking maybe tomorrow, and then decided not to have one.

My husband and I offered to help her, but she said no.

“Tell me how it feels in your house,” I said, praying she was really okay without a tree.

“You know how I love, love, love Christmas trees.”

“I know.” That’s what makes this so hard.

“My energy is limited and after the Newtown tragedy, it just never felt right.”

I didn’t detect any regret in her voice. More like…a deep peace. Unshakable hope.

“We rearranged the furniture and it feels cozier,” she said. “And we have a huge candle on the fireplace. All around it there’s a frozen Christmas scene with Victorian china dolls ice skating. They’re dressed in the 1800’s. A friend made it.”

“It sounds beautiful.”

“Oh, it is. We love to sit and look at it at night. And on rainy days.”

“That reminds me of this little tree we have. On sunny days, it’s not all that special.”

“But at night, and on dark, dreary days, the lights shine so much brighter.”

“That’s exactly how it feels in my house this year. Our decorations aren’t elegant  like they’ve been in the past.” She paused. “It feels more like…like a stable. When we’re sitting on the sofa looking at the candle, the rest of the room fades away.”

“Mmmm. Sounds so…comforting.”

“It is. And He, of course, is our Comforter,” she said.

Christmas Comfort to you all.

P.S. I posted this on Tuesday instead of Wednesday thinking someone might need it today.

So much love,

Julie

I Should Have Known Better

One Saturday this April I decided to take up gardening. I thought about wearing gloves, but I didn’t.

I wanted to look tough like a real gardener, you know, get my hands dirty. And when my husband saw me working, he’d think, wow, she sure knows what she’s doing.

Ha! Huge mistake.

I spent hours pulling weeds around our house and along the edge of woods.

Over the next few hours/days/weeks, I developed a horrible rash–the kind that itches all day and wakes you from a dead sleep.

It started as red bumps on my knee, forehead, and eyebrow and spread to my neck and face. Blistered and oozing.

You’ve probably figured out what I had, but I was clueless.

I argued with my dermatologist. “It can’t be poison ivy. I don’t get poison ivy.” Growing up, I felt smug when my brothers and sister had it.

“That doesn’t matter,” the doctor said. “You can develop an allergy at any time.”

Stupid me! I’d spent a day hanging out with poison ivy–practically befriending the weed.

Warning! Warning! Leaves of three, leave them be!!

Poison ivy is sneaky. It doesn’t look the least bit dangerous. 

There were spiritual truths buried among these leaves.

1. When I ignore that Still Small Voice (wear gloves), I’m going to regret it.

2. When I work to get noticed or praised, my motives are wrong. Pride is involved.

3. Sometimes what trips me up looks incredibly innocent.

Be careful, my friends~

Thoughts on life? Spiritual lessons?

Who’s had poison ivy? What worked for you?

Love,

Julie