Decorating with Love

When I found out Robin, my BFF of 40 years, was spending the night, I was blown away with excitement. But I was also a tiny bit scared.

Robin is ROBIN from All Things Heart and HomeEvery inch of her home blooms with beauty and creativity. 

She’d be staying in our spare bedroom–the room I’d been ignoring it for years. It was full of wrapping paper and boxes, with my ironing board sitting in the middle of the floor.

No color theme. No inspiration. Total blah.

I wanted Robin to feel loved and welcomed, but decorating isn’t easy for me. 

The bedroom makeover began with a prayer and a pillow.

Lord, will You please help me? Will You show me what to do–step-by-step?

Later that day, I searched through the decorative pillows at Walmart. Nothing thrilled me~~

Until I spotted this one with a bicycle on it.

Something sweet stirred in my heart as if the Lord whispered,

Get the pillow, Julie. It belongs in Robin’s room. 

Okay. I have a pillow. What next? A bedspread? I want her to feel covered with Your Love. 

One aisle over, I found a white duvet–fluffy and carefree like clouds.

At Target, I fell in love with a five-dollar pink pillow.

Five dollars? 

Decorating isn’t about price tags. 

Back at home, I put the pillow in my grandmother’s rocking chair.

I noticed the long, dark area in front of the dormer window.

How can we bring love into this spot, Lord?

(This is the “after” picture below.)

I brought a table inside from the front porch and added a few of my favorite things.

This corner next to the bookshelf needs something. 

I added my cross lamp.

Light and Love~~

Maybe a rug would feel cozy. 

I found a pink, shag rug at Target and texted my sister a picture. She gave it a thumbs’ up and suggested I try it under the bottom of the bed.

Who knew?!

Then I texted Robin’s husband to see if he had any ideas.

“Peonies are her favorite flowers,” he said, “but they’re really hard to find.”

Lord, will You help me find peonies? 

I called my friend Laurel from Everett’s Florist in Monroe, GA. Peonies had just arrived! She arranged them in my grandmother’s antique vase.

I put the flowers on the bedside table and had a tiny spot for one more thing, but what? 

I thought about our 40 years of friendship~~

All the memories~~

Phone calls about raising toddlers, potty training, and then teenage drama~~

So much love~~

I found a picture of us at her fall party and had it printed in black and white. 

Guess what?

Robin fell in love with her room!

The morning after she spent the night, she brought her peonies to the breakfast table. 🙂 The flowers I’d prayed for (and even doubted I’d find) became our centerpiece. 

And then the sweetest thing happened~~

After our time together, Robin texted me this picture from her heart and home.

No words. Just the picture. 

Tears blurred my vision.

Everything was so beautiful. God helped me do the impossible. 

Together, we turned a junk room into a room full of love.

I didn’t even know where to start and He showed me how.

He led me every step of the way.

 I went upstairs to take another peek. 

Robin had made up the bed and raised the blinds.  With golden Light streaming in the window, a new truth settled in my soul. 

Live this way, Julie, God seemed to say–in My Love–always, with everything you do. 

Wow. Just wow.

When you don’t know what to do next, ask God to lead you with His Love. (click to tweet)

Do everything in Love, even decorating! (click to tweet) 

Do everything in love. 1st Corinthians 16:14 NIV (click t0 tweet)

Do you know the secret of decorating with love?

Is God helping you do something step-by-step? Please share! 

P.S. I have a prayer request.  My goal is to finish my novel rewrite during the month of June. It’s sort of like decorating the bedroom-I can’t do it without His help. Will you pray for me? 

I’m going to be putting my heart and soul into the novel, so I’m not going to blog again until Wednesday, July the 5th. 

I’m going to miss you, big time!

Thank you for praying. 

One more tidbit of info–I’m spending more time on Instagram than Facebook. I’m posting a pic every day in June about Love, my word for 2017. 🙂 Please join me~~

So much love,

Julie

 

 

What Does Love Have to do with a Fence?

I have so much to learn and relearn about LOVEmy word for 2017.

Monday, I hurried into Target with my list, but my mind wasn’t on shopping. I wanted to figure out what Real Love means.

I wanted to tuck Love into a box. Tie a bow on it.  Move on.

I stopped at the front of the store where they put seasonal things on sale and came home with three Valentine’s Day items that weren’t on my list:

Heart-shaped lights to go over the kitchen table–

A pack of Valentines.

A notepad decorated with conversation candy.

After I hung the lights, I lit three red candles in the kitchen.

But it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t satisfied.

Love is more than Valentine’s Day. It’s more than red hearts and white, lacy doilies.

What is Real Love? 

Does Real Love always mean giving, giving, giving and saying yes? 

Maybe it would help to define what Real Love isn’t. 

I usually think better in the woods, so I took the dogs for a walk. The trees were bare, and I noticed something.

The fence. 

It runs horizontally, and you can only see it in the winter. 

But it’s always there. 

I crunched my way through the dead leaves and stood beside it.

It’s just a fence. A useless fence. 

But for some reason, I was drawn to it.

The fence doesn’t even keep the dogs in the backyard. 

It marks our property line

What difference does the property line make? 

With the dogs standing quietly at my side, I stood there praying, thinking, wondering. 

The fence matters. 

The thought came softly, but it startled me.

I remembered a book I’d studied in a ladies’ small group, Boundaries, by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John TownsendWe even did the workbook. 🙂

Back in my office, I found my copy of Boundaries. 

Chapter One–What Does a Boundary Look Like?

In small group, we talked about how fences are physical boundaries, and how physical and emotional boundaries are necessary.

I skimmed my notes:

1. Boundaries (fences) define our personal property. Our space.

2. Boundaries show where one person ends and another person begins.

3. Boundaries protect us. They keep the good in and the bad out.

4. Boundaries aren’t selfish. They’re loving and kind.

We discussed the power of the word NO–

The importance of keeping emotional and geographical distance when appropriate.

How to back up our boundaries with consequences.

Whew…

Real love includes fences. 

Real love doesn’t always mean, YES. Of course. Let me do that for you. 

Real love isn’t about red and pink hearts. Sometimes it means loving yourself enough to say, “No.” Click to tweet.

Does this side of love stir your emotions?

It does mine. I’m reading Boundaries again. 

Love,

Julie

 

 

The Day Love Exploded Inside My Heart

Even though my three children are grown, sometimes they still need a little TLC.

Don’t we all?

This past Friday, my daughter Jamie and I planned to meet at Chick-fil-A . Just the two of us. Even though she’s 33, I wanted to spend some time with her–let her know how much I love her.

Words are my love language, but I decided to take her a small gift.

I’m not the best shopper. Usually, I walk in circles and don’t know what to buy. I found three of my favorite baby pictures of Jamie, and headed to Target for frames.

Jamie’s first Easter.

Jamie and her daddy.

I pulled into the Target parking lot.

This should be easy. Three frames. No hard shopping decisions. 

But Target didn’t have any frames to fit my pictures.

Now what?

Almost time to meet at Chick-fil-A.

Help me, Lord.

Jamie’s favorite color is pink.

Think pink. 

I found two soft pink t-shirts and pink azaleas in the floral section.

But the baby pictures–I couldn’t forget about them. And no time to go to another store. 

Circling the frame aisle one more time, I spotted a dark wooden coat rack. Lo and behold, it had a place for three pictures!

Back at home, I put her gifts on the counter and hurriedly slipped the pictures into the frames.

They fit perfectly! Hallelujah! 

When Jamie drove up at Chick-fil-A, I planned to calmly give her a hug, but when I handed her the pictures, something exploded inside my heart. 

God’s love gushed through me. 

Full force. 

I hugged her to me tightly. Her hair smelled sweet–so sweet, I couldn’t get enough of her scent.

Her beauty.

I cried sloppy tears and choked out, “I love you.

“Love you too, Mom.”

Sometimes God nudges you to do something.

And you have no idea how to do it.  Or why. 

Just move forward.

Step by step.

And He does it through you. 

Can anyone relate?

Love,

Julie

I Blew It

Well, y’all, I blew it. In less than a week, I rebelled against my word for 2015, SIMPLE. I turned something SIMPLE into something complicated and ugly.

As it was happening, I ignored God’s gentle tap-tap-tapping on my heart.

The week started out beautifully, too.

I used my Belk Christmas gift card from Mother to buy plain, white dishes. I thought if my kitchen table looked SIMPLE, I’d remember my word.

I found a SIMPLE green wreath from Target.

But the day I bought my dishes, a phone conversation with someone I love went south.

God seemed to whisper, Don’t respond. Leave this alone. 

But I didn’t.

Anger erupted inside of me like red-hot lava.

For most of my life, my anger has turned inward. My stomach hurts. I shut down and smile. This time, I lost my temper. I let loose. I screamed back. Tried to defend my opinion. I was driving, and it felt like the car shuddered around me.

Hang up the phone now, the Soft Voice said.

I lost all sense of time and space, but worse than that.

I lost my peace. I abandoned my word. 

Even then, I sensed God’s Spirit calling out to me.

You don’t have to do this. 

I knew better. I’ve had years of Alanon.

Still holding the phone, I cried messy tears–the kind where you can’t catch your breath. “I have to go now. Bye,” I choked out.

I came home. Took a hot bath. Cried some more.

I can’t share details, but I knew better than to poke the bear. 

The next day, my SIMPLE white dishes arrived.

Feeling stupid and exhausted and a million miles away from God, I unpacked them and set the kitchen table.

Then I unpacked my heart.

I sat by my dishes and wrote hard and fast in my prayer journal.

I did the only thing I could do.

I started over on Step One in Alanon which applies to every area of my life. 

I “admitted I was powerless over alcohol and that my life had become unmanageable.

If you’re like me and you’ve somehow lost your word, its closer than you think. 

So is God.

My Simple Peace returned, bright and warm, like the candlelight shining on my plain-white dishes. 

God’s tenderness found me. Again. 

Keep it Simple, Sweetheart. There’s really no other way.

How’s your year going? Your word?

Love,

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living Christmas in the Now

Saturday night, as my husband Rick and I walked through Target for a box of ornaments, we passed the toy section. “Hang on,” he said. “Let me look for a minute.” As he studied the tiny cars, I had a feeling he was reminiscing. Our children are grown. “Remember when Jamie and Katie were little and you gave them your Matchbox collection?”

He nodded.

“Remember all the Christmas Eves you’ve spent putting toys together?”

“Um-hmm.”

“Here’s Thomas the Train,” I said. “Remember how Thomas loved this stuff?”

At home that night, I dug through boxes of pictures feeling older. Pondering the past.

Jamie and Katie, Christmas 1988.

 Baby Thomas’s first Christmas, 1991.

Now it was just the two of us. Middle-aged people.

I found Rick hanging lights on the tree and showed him the long-ago photos. He smiled and kept working.

Tying gold strings on each new ornament I thought about how fast life goes.

How much I’d missed by hurrying

“I’ll help you,” he said, after he finished the lights.

Decorating together, both of us wearing reading glasses, no little children around, I told my fingers to move very s-l-o-w-l-y.

I let my eyes linger on each ornament and really see the glimmering colors.

And then the most remarkable thing happened.

The sweetest prayers rose in my heart.

A prayer of Thanksgiving. Prayers for our children. My husband. Our whole family.

I prayed for my blog readers–some by name–for the precious requests you’ve shared.

Surrendering to the beauty of the moment, it seemed God’s Glory descended into our den.

Contentment came.

I welcomed it.

Living Christmas (and life) in the now, there’s no need to look backward or forward.

Love,

Julie