The dress

I am unapologetically nostalgic and sentimental. Actual “stuff” isn’t that important to me- but the memories that certain things bring to my heart are priceless.

There are a few items that are special to me- one of which is my great-grandmother’s piano. It was passed down to my grandmother, and I can remember visiting her home during the holidays and I couldn’t wait to play it! When I got married, my grandmother gave me the piano as my wedding gift. I have used this piano to teach many, many children and adults how to play piano through the years.

My grandmother’s piano

Another special item is a lamp from my granny’s house. When I was a child, I remember this lamp in the room that my sister and I would stay in. It was a lamp on the top, and there was another light on the bottom that filtered through a base of tiny stars. When just the bottom portion of the light was on, it was like a night light- shining stars all over the room. It was magical– and I am happy to have this.

The magical “star” lamp

My beloved mother in “love”, Iris, passed away this past June. We are so grateful that my in-laws decided to move to Charlottesville last year. They left their home of over 33 years, and left much of its contents behind, too. I really admired them for make this move- to leave behind all the “stuff” to be near family. We will be forever grateful for that last year with our Mom. For the first time in our marriage (of over 25 years), we got to go to church nearly every Sunday with my in-laws. I will never forget leading worship during that year and seeing my precious mother in love raise her hands and sing praises. We spent many Sundays going out to lunch and spending time together- and that was a priceless gift!

My father-in-law had been asking me and my daughters to go through Moms clothing to make sure there wasn’t anything we wanted. Well, I knew we didn’t wear the same sizes, and didn’t think there was any clothing that we would use- after all, they left most things behind when they moved here.

Recently, my father-in-law told me a friend was going to pick up her clothing to take it to a local clothing closet. I was thankful that the friend was helping him! And then the following week, the friend called me to let me know the mission had been accomplished. He had delivered the clothing to a clothing closet, and then he said he took the wedding dress to a consignment shop. I immediately felt a lump in my throat- her wedding dress?! I had just assumed that her wedding dress wouldn’t be given away…

I thanked him for helping my father in law, and as soon as I got off the phone, I prayed. Lord, is this something I’m gonna regret not keeping? Lord knows, I don’t need another piece of clothing in my closet, lol! But something inside of me said I had to find it.

I called my father in law and asked for him to describe the bag it was in, and had him text me a picture of Mom in the dress. I called the shop, and the owner was very kind. “I think I remember this coming in. You’re welcome to come by to see if we still have it.”

As I drove to the shop, I remembered all the times Mom talked about that special day- how beautiful she felt in that dress and how overjoyed she was to get married to her sweetheart! They were happily married for over 50 years! Her wedding dress was one of the few things Mom actually wanted to bring here with her to Charlottesville- and I just couldn’t let it go!

I entered the shop and explained what I was looking for. She took me to the dress section, and there were several wedding dresses- but none resembling my Mom’s dress. I described the bag to her and she said she’d go check in their processing room to see if it was still there.

“I think we have it!” I followed her into the back room, and there it was- still hanging in the original bag, with the original receipt stapled to it. “Merry Christmas,” they said as they handed me the bag. I had tears in my eyes as I shared with them about my precious mother-in-“love” and what she meant to me- and what a treasure it is to have this dress in my family.

When I got home that day, I carried the white dress bag in with me. It was like bringing a “treasure” home! I hope that one day I can pass this beautiful heirloom down to my daughters and tell them the story of how special this dress was to Grandma.

My beloved mother-in-love

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. -Philippians 1:3

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Laundry DJ

On this Thanksgiving morning, I am giving thanks for so many things. One of the things I am most grateful for is my relationship with my daughters.

My “baby” is now in the middle of her senior year in high school, and my oldest in her second year of college- and I couldn’t be more proud of them. Not for the things they do- but for who they are! I love laughing with them and remembering funny things that have happened through the years.

Just the other day we were cracking up about our old washing machine. We have absolutely the WORST luck in buying appliances. In the 18 years we have lived here, we have had multiple refrigerators, multiple dishwashers, washing machines, numerous vacuum cleaners, and we just finally replaced our broken over-the-oven microwave. We “nurse” these half broken appliances for what seems like years until they completely die- and only then do we look for the latest and greatest deal to replace them.

Well, our washing machine had been replaced and wasn’t really that old- but of course, it stopped working.

Now, to be fair- each of us do our own laundry. Some of us put more items in the washing machine than others, so each of us had a different experience when we washed our clothing.

I began hearing each family members groan when they went to switch the clothes into the dryer- because the clothes would still be sopping wet. The drum stopped spinning. It would wash the clothing fine, but every now and then, the spin cycle wouldn’t work. I would work fine for me- but not for my hubby or the girls…

Somehow, they realized that if they opened the top before the spin cycle, you could use your hands to spin the inside of the drum to get it going, and then it would pick up speed and wring the water out of the clothes. This began a season of us waiting for that point in the cycle… and then we would hear someone taking out a few sopping wet items to lessen the load, and then you’d hear the hands slowly spinning the drum. The funny thing is that this became normal.

I remember one day it didn’t spin the clothes for me. I was trying to spin the drum with my hands to get it going- just like I had watched my girls and hubby do- and I was really frustrated that I couldn’t get it spinning. Hearing what I was trying to do, my husband called out to me- “You’re not doing it right!” He then came in and showed me his skilled hand spinning technic. Sure enough- he got it going!

I told him he was the Laundry dj- spinning the drum to get the laundry going. We laughed so hard at the absurdity that we were “laundry dj-ing” for so long!

It was only a month or two later that the washer completely stopped working. And yes, we found a great deal on a new one.

So today I am thankful for funny memories with my daughters and hubby.

And that today, we can wash our clothes by simply pressing the button 🙂

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.- Proverbs 31:25

Do it!!!!

I did a “thing”.

Do people even say that anymore? lol

For YEARS I have longed to sing again in a choir, but between work, family stuff, and ministry commitments, just couldn’t find the time.

But two weeks ago, I kept seeing an add for the Virginia Consort Chorus pop up. Coincidence?

Nothing is a coincidence for people that follow Jesus! Each time I saw the ad pop up, I head that still, small voice say “do it!” Each time I saw the ad, the voice got louder and louder… until after seeing the ad about 10 times, I finally said out loud “Okaaaaaaaay! I’ll do it!”

I auditioned and it felt so good to do something like that after all these years!

We had our first practice this past Monday. It was heavenly to sing again with so many amazingly talented musicians. I am super excited and thankful that it has worked out for me to sing again!

And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.- Colossians 3:17

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

I Got a Robe

I got a robe for Christmas.

If you watch SNL, you will laugh at that. They did a parody video a few years back about how everyone else in the family gets all these awesome gifts, and the mom gets a robe. Why? Because most of the time moms are the one that do the majority of the shopping and cooking and planning for the holidays!

But the funny thing was that I actually DID ask for a robe. My husband bought me a robe for Christmas the first year we were dating. It was a super plush, red, terrycloth robe from Victorias Secret. That thing was indestructible! Can you believe that I have worn this robe for… drum roll….. 27 years?! That is just insane. Mainly because I can’t possibly be that old.

But anyway, I figured after 27 years, it was time to retire the robe for a new one.

But really, the best gift was not under the tree. (and I know, I know… the best gift is Jesus)

But the OTHER best gift (besides Jesus) was spending time with my family. We got to see *almost* our entire family this year and it was great! And then after Christmas, my hubby and the girls and I always go out to have brunch and then the girls and I go shopping. I never knew how much joy it would bring me to spend time having fun with my girls as they have gotten older. As they have gotten older, we are able to enjoy each other’s company, laugh together, shop together, and our shopping excursions would not be complete without a Starbucks coffee run!

The greatest gift for me isn’t the presents. It’s ALL about being in the presence of the people I love.

I am thankful.

In your presence there is fullness of joy- Psalm 16:11

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

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

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!

If only I’d known

As we sat down to dinner at the dining room table, I couldn’t wait to eat. Any meal I don’t have to cook is a good one, and I had picked up Chinese take out for all of us. I got one of my favorite meals- chicken with cashew nuts. Honestly, the only thing I love about it is the cashews- I LOVE roasted cashews! That is absolutely the best part of the meal.

As I ate, I dug around and picked out each cashew. It’s kind of like saving dessert for last- who’s got time for that?! I wanted to eat the good stuff first! And then the saddest moment happened. I searched and searched… and low and behold- I had already eaten the last cashew.

Well, if I had known it was my last one, I would have enjoyed it even more!

All day I’ve been thinking about those little things that “…if only I’d know were the last..” , I would have appreciated it so much more.

-Like the last time I ran a bath for the girls and helped them wash their hair. Oh, the splashing and giggling I would hear!

-or the last time I nursed them as babies

-Or the last time I read my girls a bedtime story and tucked them in

-or tied their shoes

-or kissed them on the cheek

-walked them to the bus stop

-held their hand

If I had known back then that those moments would be the last time I would “get to” do all those little things-

I certainly would have taken the time to remember and enjoy!

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My house


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It’s hard to believe it’s been 16 years since my husband and I packed up and moved to Charlottesville with our 1 year old daughter. I never imagined we would move away from our hometown, but literally everything fell into place and it just felt like that was where God wanted us to be.

I had been thinking about that date for a while- July 10th. For the last few months, I have noticed how not only have my girls have grown up, but so has everything around my house! The trees in front of our dining room window tower over the house now. I sat on our front porch steps recently and saw all the little markings in the wood- remembering the days when the girls were little and I would sit outside with a watchful eye on them.

And it all seems to have happened overnight.

The funny thing was- that date came and went and I completely forgot! But the next day, the four of us were driving into town to get Chick-fil-A, and one of my daughters remembered and mentioned it.

“Hey- wasn’t yesterday the day y’all moved here? It’s been the best 16 years of your life, hasn’t it?” one of my daughters said to me with a cheshire grin.

Yes it has.

Want to know why?

I could go on and on about how wonderful my daughters are and how super proud I am of them for so many things. Or I could say it’s because of my husband and what a great dad he is and how thankful I am for all he does for us. Or all my sweet fur-babies… two dogs and two bunnies (which belong to my oldest daughter)…

But of all the wonderful things I have to be thankful for, there is only one that is worthy of all my praise and that is Jesus.

These have absolutely been the best years of my life and it’s all because I surrendered all of my desires and plans to His. He has been so faithful and I have seen Him work not only in my life, but in the lives of so many others, including my family.

Do you know how awesome it is that my 17 and 15 year old daughters WANT to come to church early with me on Sundays?

I am blessed.

But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15