Twins

I am beyond blessed that I “get to” meet up with my older daughter and husband for lunch on occasion during the work week.  It is especially easy since Katie has been doing an internship at David’s work. 

But on this particular day, Katie happened to be off, so David and I planned to meet for lunch- just the two of us. As soon as I was headed to pick up David, Katie texted me to tell me she was at in town running errands. I picked David up, and asked if we should invite Katie to join us. NO- we never get to meet up for lunch alone anymore!

Wouldn’t you know that as I merged onto the main road in front of the restaurant we were headed to, there was none other than Katie RIGHT BEHIND US! We could not escape her.  She called and sheepishly asked where we were headed.  And of course, we told her she could join us.  I mean, what are the chances that she would literally be behind us at that exact moment driving through town?!

Then, as soon as she got out of the car, I realized we were dressed exactly the same! TWINS! How crazy was that?!

TWINS!!

David and I say all the time how blessed we are that our girls actually WANT to eat with us… that they enjoy talking to us and being together. 

And I remind myself daily to be thankful for every moment… because you never know what tomorrow will bring!

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes- James 4:14

On Your Side

Next week my hubby and I will celebrate our “date-a-versary”. That’s what we call the anniversary of our first date. On August 19th, it will be 28 years. How can I be that old?!?

What a blessing it is for me to go from high school years, to college years, and then to be able to build a family with one man by my side. Aside from my relationship with the Lord, my relationship with my hubby is one of the things I am most proud of. I ain’t gonna lie- marriage is hard– but it is worth it! We disagree, we argue at times, but we have both learned that above all else, at the end of the day we love and CHOOSE to love each other unconditionally.

I had something funny happen last night. I got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom (like I always do), and when I got back in bed, I felt his arm SMACK me across the top of my head. He had simply turned over and threw his arm out in his sleep.

“Ummm…. that is MY SIDE of the bed!” I said to him in an annoyed manner. I then pretended to karate-chop his arm with my hand at the end of “his side” and the beginning of “mine”.

And then he said the sweetest thing in his sleep-

“I’m always on your side”.

Sigh.

Isn’t that was love is all about?

Home

Yesterday was a special anniversary for us-18 years ago on July 10th, we moved to Charlottesville.

If you had asked me even a month before we made the decision to move, I would have told you there was NO WAY we would EVER leave our hometown. Our entire family was there- and so was everyone and everything we had ever known…but my husband was looking for a job and there were literally no companies that were hiring at that time. I remember him saying we might need to move somewhere for me to find a job. And my first thoughts are always selfish ones. NO WAY am I moving.

And the Lord brought back a memory I had of my grandfather picking up our family one Saturday morning. Granddaddy was notorious for taking spur-of-the-moment road trips. He drove us to Carter’s Mountain Orchard. I remember ooh’ing and ahh’ing with my parents over the mountains in the distance, and as we finally began the climb up to Carter’s Mountain Orchard, it seemed as if our car was going to fall off the side of the mountain! It was a happy memory- so happy that I could see us moving there. So one day I told David it would be ok for him to look for a job in Charlottesville.

Two CPA firms were hiring. He send off his resumes on a Thursday, had two interviews set up on the following Monday, and we spent the weekend driving around looking for a potential house. It was scary to think of moving away from my family. My oldest daughter was only a year old. We knew no one there, but it seemed like the Lord was lighting up the path for us to GO. David received a job offer, we listed our home for sale by owner, and we had a contract for over our asking price within just a couple of days. It was a complete whirlwind.

So much has happened in 18 years, but it all began with being willing to go wherever He would lead. And that road led me straight to Him! About 5 years later, I felt the Lord calling me into ministry and these have been the BEST years of my life. I have had the joy of serving the Lord in my church through leading worship every Sunday, and even leading small groups, teaching, and preaching… all wonderful.

And then this past January I took a full time position working for a non-profit ministry that I love. I still minister at church and serve as the worship pastor in my free time, so I now have the best of both worlds.

My “babies” aren’t little anymore- 19 and *almost* 17! I am so grateful for His many blessings. I often feel like King David when he says this verse from 2 Samuel 7:18- “Who am I, Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?

I am grateful and thankful that He has brought my family here-

and I can whole heartedly say that this is “home” 🙂

bloom

I have had lots of personal changes over the last few months. One of those changes was that I stopped teaching music lessons.

On my last day of lessons, I had the joy of teaching one of my favorite girls. I tell them they are all my favorites- but this was my youngest student and she stole my heart. Every lesson, she taught me something about myself- and for that I am grateful.

“I’ll race you!” She would say as soon as I met her at her mom’s car. This precocious blond girl would then run with all her might to beat me to the lesson room. Every lesson was the same routine. I would pretend to run super slow and she would beat me. Then she would hide her piano books behind the piano and when I entered the room, she would say she couldn’t find them. I’d pretend to look around everywhere for them, and low and behold- they would be right behind the piano- exactly where she would put them every week!

This girl made teaching fun. She was an absolute joy. And it absolutely broke my heart the last day I taught her. Her eyes were teary, her face sullen- she moped into the music room, barely looking up from the floor. No racing, no hiding her books. She looked up and handed me something peculiar-it was something I’d never seen before- a bright red waxy bulb with a little green shoot sticking out of the top.

“This is soo sweet of you! I will put it on my piano at home, and I’ll think about you every day that I see it!”

I confess- part of me was a little bit worried. Because if you haven’t read a few of my blogs about gardening…. well you’re right- there aren’t any! Because did I ever tell you I have the black thumb of death? I literally kill every plant I have ever had. Even when I try my hardest to take care of it! So when my precious student gave me a plant, I was worried that my black thumb would somehow kill this thing- even though you aren’t supposed to have to water it or do anything to make it grow.

I brought it home and read the instructions. You gotta be kidding me. I literally didn’t have to do a thing! Just set it in front of a window and rotate it every day or so… and it was going to bloom? This was crazy.

And on Christmas, I had a gorgeous pink bloom. Then a few more.

I thought I would be throwing this red waxy bulb away, but the shoots kept coming. Each time I cut away a dead stalk, then grew another.

And another bloom, and another.

Here we are at the end of March, and once again- I see new leaves shooting up from the wax bulb.

The blooms keep coming.

I wish I could tell that sweet girl how much joy this amaryllis bulb is bringing me. I feel like it’s such a great metaphor for where I’m at right now. So much change, some of it hard, and yet I already see so many shoots coming up out of the ground of my life. And once again, my student continues to teach me. I can, in fact, keep a plant alive 🙂

Isaiah 11:1- A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

driving in my car

One of my favorite things to do with my husband is to drive around and watch the sunset. Maybe it’s because driving is how we fell in love all those years ago…

When I found myself without a car to get to and from work as a teen, my boss asked a co-workers to pick me up and take me home every shift that I was scheduled to work. My co-worker became my boyfriend in a few short months, and about 18 months later we were married. We are approaching our 25th wedding anniversary this March.

It was on those drives to and from work as a teen that we fell in love. The conversation easily flowed, and we talked about nothing and everything all at the same time.

And in these days where life is busy and our teen girls are more like adults than “girls”, it is one of my favorite things do to- jump into the car with my husband and just drive around. We are instantly transported to the care-free days of long ago, when all we had was each other and a pocket full of dreams.

This is a song I wrote about our drives together. It’s usually me driving- because long ago we made a rule- whomever drives gets to choose the music!

“Driving in my car”

Driving in my car with you

There’s nothing else I’d rather do 

Than spend my days siting next to you 

Driving in my car with you 

And we’ve got no where to go 

But I know where we’re going 

We’ve got miles and miles 

Of roads to drive 

As we chase the twilight sky 

Driving in my car with you 

As we reminisce of days gone by 

The setting sun shining in our eyes

But the time with you is my true prize 

Driving in my car with you 

We fix our gaze on He  who knew 

We’d  sit side by side, 

Hand in Hand 

With the Son in view 

Life is grand

Create

Genesis 1:1- In the beginning, God created…

As a pre-teen, I used to sit on my old piano bench and play away my thoughts on the keys. It was therapeutic to let melancholy chords ring while melodies ran through my head. Creating music made me feel alive!

I remember the first time I shared a piano piece I wrote with my piano teacher. I was nervous, but proud of the song I had created. 

I played with hesitation- desperately wanting my teacher’s approval. When I finished, the first thing he said was that I should try this chord instead of that chord …and surely it would sound better if I did it this way instead. Lots of criticism followed. 

I was crushed. I remember thinking surely if I had wanted it that way, I would have already written it that way!

That one moment had a huge impact on me.For many years, I felt like what I created didn’t have value, wasn’t good enough. 

But here’s the thing-we all have a song to sing. How boring it would be if all songs had the same chords and melodies. How bland music would be if we all had the same voice. 

Let Him create something NEW in you- and then pour it out as an offering for His glory! 

manifest

manifest= clear or obvious to the mind

My hubby and I began watching a series on Netflix recently called Manifest. We were hooked from the beginning, as the storyline is very intriguing and the series offers lots of twists and turns.

One of the main themes of the series is Romans 8:28- And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. This is a verse I quote often, because it’s an encouragement that we are called to follow and seek Him in all things, and a reminder that we can trust He has a greater purpose at work than what we are able to see with our own eyes. We can completely trust that even when we are in a BAD situation, that somehow He is going to use it for His good.

In the show, the survivors of the 5 year plane disappearance hear voices, later referred to “callings”. These callings will at times bring survivors together to solve a puzzle… always leading them to help someone in need and miraculously these callings connect to each other in deeply personal ways with the characters. This is one of the best ways I have seen my walk with Jesus displayed on a screen… and probably one of the easiest ways to describe what it feels like for me to hear that “small whisper” of the Holy Spirit, and to walk with Jesus each day.

Just the other day, I went to a local senior living community to do a worship service in the middle of the week. Honestly, it’s one of the highlights of the week for me. I play and sing a few hymns with the residents, we pray, and I share a short devotional and then close with another song and prayer. It fills my heart with great joy to see the residents clapping, singing, and experiencing the blessing that is corporate worship. When I leave, I always feel like I have made a difference in their lives for Jesus.

And this past week- it was the walk to my car where I heard the “small whisper”.

There are outdoor patio areas for the residents to sit outside of their rooms on the ground floor. It happened to be raining that day as I was heading out to my car. I spotted a lady who was all done up- she looked like Elizabeth Taylor and was strikingly beautiful. She held a book in her hand and was gazing out over the parking lot watching the rain fall.

As clear as day, I felt the Lord telling me to go and speak to her.

I said hi as I approached her and she greeted me.

“Isn’t it just heavenly listening to the rain?” she said to me.

Listening to the rain is one of my favorite things to do. We chatted for just a moment, and then I invited her to join me next week for our time of worship.

“Oh, I’m a life-long atheist,” she replied.

And what struck me was her tone- she was not timid or shy about what she believed, but was confident and proud of her declaration.

I smiled and told her I loved her and would welcome her to join us.

I thought about her statement that the sound of the rain was heavenly.

I think about heaven a lot.

Even our greatest, most pleasurable moments here on earth will pale in comparison to the place He has prepared for us, and I want this special lady to see that place one day.

Romans 8:28… ALL THINGS work together for good. Who knows- maybe I will never see her again. Maybe the Lord simply used me to plant a tiny mustard seed in her heart.

But just maybe I will see her next week for worship!

Romans 8:28

Spilled Out

This year has been a challenge for everyone for so many different reasons. Covid, quarantine, masks, virtual school, changed routines... the list goes on and on… but I am super proud of our daughters and how they have not just “survived” this school year- they have THRIVED! My oldest is a senior and my youngest is a sophomore in high school. All my “senior” wanted to do this year was to go to Orlando Florida to Universal Studios to celebrate her graduation.

When we looked into packages, we realized it was way cheaper for us to go in the spring instead of the heat of summer, so we spent the last week in Florida- and it was AMAZING!

Our family, along with one of the girls’ closest friends, spent a full 7 days together. The schedule was not for the faint of heart- my senior had a list of must-do things at Universal- one of which was riding a new Harry Potter themed roller coaster- “Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Ride”. I found out that on the opening day of this ride, people actually waited in line for 10 HOURS to ride it! Did I say 10 HOURS?!?!? When I found that out, I wasn’t sure if we would actually make it on this ride or not! But all things worked out, and after only a couple of hours waiting, we were able to ride it 2 times! (and it was TOTALLY worth the wait!!!)

We walked over 8 miles a day when we were at Universal… and basically stood in line for hours every day. But something amazing happened- we actually ENJOYED being together! We were tired, but we had the best time!

One of the gift shops had this quirky “Thing 1 and Thing 2” Dr Seuss coffee cup that we fell in love with. The girls said that it was definitely a “need” for me, since I love coffee so much. It was my last purchase while we were at the park.

This morning, I pulled out that new mug and watched the Keurig fill it up with coffee to the tippy top. The funny thing is that the top is actually tilted- it looks like two coffee cups stacked on top of one another, so it’s quirky for sure! And wouldn’t you know it- as soon as I picked it up, the coffee spilled out. I guess it’s hard to hold an uneven topped coffee cup straight 🙂

I am so thankful for the amazing week with my family- and their special friend who is very much like a part of our family. There wasn’t a single moment that entire week that I wished I was home, or that I could be alone, or go off by myself to “recharge”. That week reminded me of how much I love my family, how much I enjoy their company, and how blessed I am. I didn’t know how badly I needed that week with them! Isn’t it funny how this gift to our “senior” turned out being a gift for all of us 🙂 Who would have known that to “recharge”, I needed to spend MORE time with my family?!

As my coffee spilled out this morning, I felt joy spilling out of me.

It’s good to be home…but I will never forget the amazing week we had together.

Lord, You alone are my portion and my cup- Psalm 16:5

The best coffee cup EVER
me and my bff
Hogwarts Castle
My hubby and his favorite ride- Spiderman!
The dragon in Dragon Alley
All in the family
my “senior”
The sunset on the ride home

Available

One morning I woke up and I knew that the Lord was asking me to do something. When this happens, I am on a mission… obsessed with completing whatever the “thing” is the Lord wants me to do.

This “thing” was getting the Covid vaccine. I will admit to you that I was on the fence for a while about it. I am healthy, not high risk at all, but I knew that if the Lord wanted me to do it that I would know. And one morning my hubby called me while I was working and asked me about getting it. As soon as we finished our conversation, I knew that the Lord wanted me to do it.

So I checked numerous websites, and finally ended up waiting in an online list. I knew it might be a while, because it kept saying “wait time over one hour”. Now, this was just the site to sign up for a time for the vaccine. And so I kept waiting… and waiting… and waiting…

And nearly 5 HOURS LATER, I was sent to the home screen to sign up for a time. I entered my zip code, and it said no appointments available.

I really really wanted to throw the laptop across the room.

I had waited 5 hours…5 HOURS… only to end up right back at square one.

I knew if the Lord really did want me to do it, that He would make a way for it to happen, so I resigned myself to not thinking about it anymore this week.

And then something really cool happened.

I was supposed to teach some make-up music lessons this week, and then ended up not needing to do it. Guess how many hours these lessons equalled? Yep- 5 hours! Those hours I spent waiting for a non-existent appointment were given back to me in the form of rest.

And then another really cool thing happened.

My husband received an email this morning from a coworker asking if he wanted to receive a vaccine today, and that one of the clinics had vaccine appointments available and spouses were also welcome to receive one, too. I told him that was totally a God thing- and that we should definitely do it. We went, received our vaccines, and it could not have been easier.

I used to be fearful of stepping out of the “boat” to do the things I felt God telling me to do.

Not anymore.

These days, I fear NOT doing the thing the Lord asks me to do- because He is ALWAYS faithful. His ways and thoughts are so much higher and wiser than mine, so when I hear that still, small voice- I answer “yes” every time!

I want to always be available for Him. When I do whatever the “thing” is that God asks me to do, I am immediately filled with peace.

So my 5 hours didn’t end up in an appointment- but God made another way.

After all, He is the WAYMAKER 🙂

Julievision

I have been listening to a great online course on overthinking by Jon Acuff. In one of the sessions he talked about having empathy for others- as well as for yourself. He describes empathy as “caring about the things that the people you care about care about”.

This really resonates with me. My husband and my daughters all enjoy the Marvel Movies and like to “geek out” over the characters and story lines. I admit that this is something that I have had to work at caring about. It just wasn’t something I was exposed to or watched growing up. But because I love my family, I have learned to find joy in watching these movies with them, too.

We recently watched the Wandavision series on Disney Plus. At first, my hubby told me I wouldn’t enjoy it- so I didn’t need to watch it with him. And then I snuck downstairs one evening, sat on the couch, and was mesmerized by Wanda’s perfectly crafted sitcom world. Who doesn’t dream of having the perfect family like you see on tv?

I asked lots of questions -because although I have watched most of the Marvel movies, I can’t remember anything these days… and the more questions I asked, the more dots were connected.

Wanda had experienced so much personal loss that she created this entire fictional “bubble” for her make-believe family. She controlled every aspect of this world, down to everything that was said. Eventually she began to lose control, and by the end she realized that she couldn’t stay in that perfect bubble- and she said goodbye to her self-made life, causing her to deal with the personal grief and loss she has experienced.

But the biggest dot that was connected for me was that I am so much like Wanda-

I overthink.

I desperately want to protect myself (and my loved ones) from being hurt.

And to do this, I try to control my own environment.

Self-realization is HUGE! Just recognizing our own tendencies opens doors to change.

What’s the remedy?

Moment by moment surrender. Allowing Him full control of my life and of everything around me. Not worrying about what others do or think- but simply resting in Him and trusting in Him in ALL things.

Isn’t it so cool how God uses something like a Marvel TV series as a mirror to reveal something inside of you?

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:13-14

Happy Anniversary to us- 24 years today!