My Main Squeeze

It’s been a long time since I’ve sat and talked about my walk with the Lord over the past two years.

Since moving to Florida we’ve been on an amazing journey.  My darkest times were during our first year here.  We were renting a house, homeschooling in a far smaller space than we had done before and living in a gated community for the first time.  Yikes.  We’d moved from rural SC where peeing in the back yard was a sport in and of itself.  Now, we received nasty grams about the very way I’d potty trained three boys.  I cried.  I longed for our former home.  The kids missed their friends.  I missed my friends.  I wanted our yard, our woods, our life for the last 10 years.

I longed for the lifechanging Bible Study I attended.  I think I took one year off in my 6 years of having 4 children.  Those women there were my lifeline.  I grew, I cried, I loved and I was loved. Some of my best friends are still in my life because of our vulnerability shared during Bible Study.

There were nights of sitting on the porch crying with a friend from home because I’d had a child diagnosed with ADHD but had no answers, one wasn’t reading and I didn’t know how to help and one was dying to get out of the house and go to school.  My life was falling apart.  I felt like a failure as a mom.

The first year was dark, yet I knew Florida was where God wanted us.  Why?  He was certainly the only one who knew!!

As the first year morphed into the second light began to shine.  We discovered LearningRx through a friend in our homeschool group.  It was there I began to find answers to help my kids.  The folks there were kind and seemed truly interested in my children.  They offered hope.

Fast forward to today as I sit reading The Purpose Directed Business by Ken Gibson.

For those of you who’ve read The Purpose Driven Life you know what an impact that book can have on your life.

“It’s now about you.”

And it isn’t.  Those words offer so much freedom.  Freedom to be messed up, sad, happy, uncontrolled, hopeless, hopeful and most of all totally dependent.

Today, I sit and read feeling excited.  I’m excited that the man who founded the company God has used in my life is a Christian.  I’m excited to be a partnering parent with LearningRx.  I’m excited that none of this is really about me or about cognitive thinking skills (although high on my list), it’s about God.  It’s about what He wants to do through me, in me and for me.

He’s my Main Squeeze.  And I say that with the upmost respect.

To the one who knows me like no other…..“Thank you dad!  Thank you for stirring in me a desire that comes through you to reach other moms and children for your glory!  Open the eyes of my heart to see and love those you put in my path.  Expand my territory.  Be huge.  Be God!!”

Football and Other Things

The three point stance!  Our lives described in four little words and all they encompass.

September and October are traditionally my family’s favorite months.  College football (Go Auburn!), cooler temperatures, camp fires and looking forward to the holidays all role into one  pumpkin of a good time.  My youngest son turns 9 in October, we traditionally watch Saturday football around the backyard camp fire and friends come to enjoy the fellowship and belly laughing that surrounds us like smoke.

But this year with a first grader at hand I’m struggling through teaching her to read.  I truly dread that part of school.  I really do.  I’m not good at it.  Someone please come help!  I want to run away!

And we’re still looking for a permanent home, separating from the one we had and grieving a home church struggling through growing pains.  I’m thankful for our heavenly coach.

Lots of things are up in the air with our family, but football keeps us grounded at times.  It’s consistent in an earthly sense.  Like my Jesus, it’s a part of our lives.  It’s what we do.

God has done some incredible things to release us from our former home where we felt nice and comfortable, as if wrapped in a warm fuzzy blanket.  We’ve missed it, that favorite pair of jeans feeling, but He’s leading us into the lives He has planned for us now.  Not all of the experiences have been pleasant.  Life has been a white knuckled struggle, emotions running high at times, energy running low, patience is lacking and a sense of home is desperately needed.  God is teaching us to rest in today and today only.  Like a sweet smelling flower we breath in the essence of today, of the here and now.

Sometimes I feel as if I need the pads my son wears….the helmet too.  Spiritual warfare is tough work, even when resting in Him who fights for us.

Ready for action we sometimes crouch to pounce upon any earthly opponent, then remembering we fight not against any earthly object but an opponent ancient as the days themselves, we relax.  There are days the peace is overwhelming and other days it’s as fleeting as a shooting star.

Today we worked on school until 4:30.

I didn’t choose to homeschool to work that long.  As the boys get ready for football practice I am so thankful I made two pot roasts last night instead of one.  That and some organic mac and cheese and off we go again.

When ever does life slow down?


Well, here we all are PLUS our very first babysitter we had when we moved to SC.  She was awesome.  The kids loved her.  I loved her.  We had her for years before she graduated, got married and moved away from us.  I remember her wedding in Charleston SC.  It was just beautiful and baby girl was really a baby back then.  Six years later we are privileged to find that her sister lives about 45 minutes from us in Florida so we get to see her now when she visits.  Yippee!!  Now she has a little one of her own who is walking and talking and going a mile a minute.  Somehow I hope chasing after my four has helped her in parenthood.

It’s so nice to have friends visit.  We’ve had several since we moved.  I love having friends just walk in the door and say hello.  We don’t have that here yet but the anticipation of friends from far away coming to see us is just as wonderful!!

“a comma is a punctuation mark used to…”

I’ve revised (just a little) a letter I wrote to a dear friend of mine today.  She attends the same bible study I attended in SC…..

Dear Sister(s) in Christ ,
I thought I would write to you, for you have been on my heart for weeks and I need your prayers.
I miss you all so much.  Just thinking of Bible Study beginning again makes my heart long for each of you.
This transition to Florida has been very difficult on me.  It’s amazing how I worried about my kids and it’s me God has put to the grinding wheel.
I have spent months looking back and grieving but purposed several days ago to look forward.  Grief will rise it’s head again and again but hopefully I will look at it with a different focus next time.  A God focus.

We are still renting and have our house on the market in Liberty.  We lost one sale.  It’s a slow, slow market.
I think God is using it to keep us renting and not buying here.  I always think of His “no” as His protection over me.

Although I would love to be “settled” in a house, to know where I’m going to live, to paint and to nest I’m having to learn (and it’s hard GIRLS!!!) to be content in this place of God’s protection.
For pete’s sake I have mauve walls, brown carpet and purple carpet.  How do you decorate that????
Oh how I say I trust Him and my heart denies that very thing.
There is a Paul living deep within me.

My husband ordered me home while he took the kids to Cocoa Beach last night and today.  This morning has really been my first quiet time with the Lord since moving.
I feel as if I’m always behind the 8-ball, grasping at peace as if it were a forbidden piece of fruit.
This morning my house is quiet and my heart is following.  My niece asked me to read Psalm 23 this week and I got the chance to do so this morning.
There before me were all my Beth Moore notes, making my heart long for you all even more.

A few things smacked me in the face.
1.  David WALKS through the valley of the shadow of death.  He doesn’t go around it but purposes step by step to walk through it with steady, slow and deliberate determination.
2.  Shadows are bigger than real life.  There can be no shadow without light.  Which one am I looking for?
3.  Valleys cause my personal relationship with God to grow.  I think to my life verse Isaiah 30:15.  “In repentance and rest is my salvation.  In quietness and trust is my strength.”  and then I read in Psalm 23….”He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, HE RESTORES MY SOUL.”   I think my life verse and Psalm 23 collided this morning.

Please pray for me as I feel so like a fish out of water.  I miss my protected and safe bubble I lived in when I was with you all, surrounded by people who loved me, communing with His people.
Marian, Monique, Pinky…..all the names make my heart cry out.

Jacksonville is very different than my home in SC.  Larger.  Meaner.
I feel more like an extremely vulnerable dry sponge here.  My heart soaks in the meanness of the world it feels overwhelming.
I have learned to appreciate kindness in a way I have never appreciated it before now.
I took it for granted, even expected it, but I don’t anymore.

And now for you my dear sister.  I miss you so much.  I feel so like you right now.  I was a rock or thought I was.  Now I realize I’m not.  I need others.  I need people.  I need God in my pain and my grief.  I have seen your heart change while caring for your husband and in the aftermath of his death.  My, how God has tendered you.  As he is now doing to me.  No longer the strong Julie, but the weak, wondering in the wilderness of this new life Julie.  It’s hard, very hard.  I realize my bravado was a front, a shield of protection when God should have been my protection.  I don’t like the vulnerable place.  But it’s where I am, laid open for the world to see.  Ah, but much more likely just for me to see.  For I know my maker and he’s all about me knowing the truth about me.

And because I know you to be the stickler English grammar woman you are I ask you to forgive all my misplaced commas.  I love them.
I’m feeling like a comma myself right now……waiting for the rest of the story to be completed.
What comes after the comma?

Pray for me dear sisters.
I miss you all so much.

After writing this after my quiet time I got a chance to talk to my birth mom today.  She lives in WI where I’m imagining snowflakes and winter coats.  We talked a lot about punctuation today.  I told her I’ve always felt like a question mark or an exclamation mark, but never a comma.  She said, “Well you could be a dash!”  To which I quickly exclaimed a dash was way better than a comma.  Why?  I don’t know it just sounds stronger.  Comma’s just hang there waiting on what comes next.  But after reading her email this afternoon I think I really feel loved today.  By my Maker, by my husband who gave me a day of rest and by my family.

This is what she wrote:

By the way, the dictionary states a comma is a punctuation mark used to “indicate a separation of ideas or elements within the structure of a sentence” and “a pause or division” – the third definition is some kind of butterfly.
This makes so much sense – of course when God’s growing you and molding you there is going to be a separation of the old into the new and there will be a pause as He molds you to His will – you don’t plop a seed into the ground and see the flower immediately – there has to be the time of preparation for it to blossom and grow into the beautiful lovely flower (or butterfly).
I will pray for you often.  Take care of yourself and allow the growth to happen.

Feeling alone

My best friend and I haven’t talked in a while.

We’re both in very hard life places.  But I realized today as we emailed that I tend to close myself off when I don’t have anything good to say.  When did I decide everyone only gets to see happy Julie?

The fact is we’ve moved.  It’s hard.  I miss all my friends.  I’m not ready to make new ones yet.  I’m grieving.  It’s hard on my husband, on my kids and on me.  I can’t move myself out of this place.  It’s where I have to be until I’m done.  That’s all there is to it.  When we last moved my 11 and 10 year old were 2 and 1 and I was pregnant with #3.  I remember it taking a year to get out of the place I was in.  I missed my church, my friends, and most of all my support group of family who I’ve depended on so much since getting married.  They are the people God puts in my life to share it with.  We were in KY for 3 years.  The move to SC took almost a year of grief.  We just moved to Fla from SC after 10 years.  I’m not liking the math that’s running through my head at the moment.

Another fact is I struggle just to get through the day.  Yea, I know all the “go out and meet people”, “stay busy”, stuff but it doesn’t do any good.  Everything feels hard right now.  We’re renting.  I have mauve walls, no energy to paint.  I have brown carpet, purple carpet.  I don’t have my bed, or my friends, or my CVS guy, or the post lady, or my bible study group.

You know, nothing makes sense when you are grieving.  Nothing anyone says.  Nothing anyone can say.

Grief is just grief.  It looks different for everyone.  For me, it’s climbing into my shell.  Wanting to disappear from the world and lick my wounds.  That’s hard to do with four demanding children.   I know they know mom is not ok.  I know they feel my sadness.  I hate the way it comes across at times.

I’m not really good being the weak one.  I do much better in the support role.  God has given me much strength there.  But in the hard place where nothing feels right and nothing makes sense.  That is where I stink at being honest with myself and others.  God feels far away even though he shows me he’s here with me.  Grief just feels so strange, so foreign, so hard.

I think of others who have lost children, loved ones, and I feel guilty for feeling so sad.

Like I said, “Nothing much makes sense right now.”


Image borrowed from


I’ve not a lot to say about the state of Florida yet.

I’m having a very difficult time with the transition.  I miss my friends, my community, the guy at CVS, the manager at Ingles, the lady at the Post Office.  It’s nuts.  My poor kids and husband don’t know what to do with me.  I don’t know what to do with myself.

The last move took about a year to adjust.  I remember being pregnant and feeling depressed for about a year.

I hope it doesn’t take as long this time.



The way He talks….

I am always amazed (and always want to be) by the way God speaks to me.

Some believe in an audible voice and I’m sure that happens to some.  For me, it’s the voice in my heart where the Holy Spirit lives.  It’s audible to me but it comes from inside me, not a booming voice from the clouds.

Friday is trash day in the neighborhood in which we live.  Most folks put their trash out on Thursday night.  As I was walking Sparky that evening I walked by a perfectly good white shelving unit a few houses down from mine.  No damage, just dirty.  I looked at it for a few minutes and then decided to knock on the door to see if the home-owner minded me taking it.  What a perfect excuse to meet my neighbors, right??  The funny part was the man who owned the house I had already met and he was watching me from his window checking out his trash.  I can only imagine what he was thinking.

As I went to the door a face appeared in the glass beside the door.  He opened the door, laughing, and said, “Caught ‘cha!”

I admitted to him, “Yes you did.  Can I steal your trash???”

“Sure! Take whatever you want.”

So off I go with Sparky in one hand and wheeling the shelving down the street with the other, honestly hoping not a soul was going to see me.  Yep, call me Fred Sanford.  My youngest son was riding his bike up the street looking for me and offered, “Where did you get that mom?”

“From the trash.”

“For free?”



Putting the white shelving in the garage and planning to clean it later I continued my walk in the other direction down the street with my son riding his bike.  There we found a filing cabinet, two chair floats for the pool, a hose box (one of those things you role your hose into) and a small piece of hose that fit perfectly from our faucet to the pool so I can add water when needed.

Yea, I sniffed through there trash as if I’d found gold.  Another chance to meet a neighbor, right?

Knock, Knock.

“Hi, I’m your new neighbor, Julie, from down the street.  Can I steal your trash?”

(I just have to laugh at myself recounting my antics.)

“Sure, take whatever you want.”

Meanwhile, the neighbor across the street is checking me out checking out my neighbor’s trash.  He walks over and offers me his wheel barrow to tote the load down to my house telling me I can take whatever I want from the neighbor’s trash pile.  “He won’t mind.”

The wheel barrow man was a very interesting man who worked for Home Land Security until 2 months ago.  He’s a retired Navy officer.  Funny as can be with a German wife and a 45 year old son who just returned home after a divorce.  His nickname for me now is Fred, as in Fred Sanford from Sanford and Sons.  Remember the show?  He ran a junk yard?

That’s him on the right.  Ok, so maybe some of you are a little young to remember that but it was a great show from my childhood.

To continue with my trash story……

As I was putting all my “finds” in the garage God quietly spoke to my heart telling me, “See how I take care of you? It’s never like you think I will.”  He’s WAY too creative for that.  He likes blowing my mind.  It lets me know He is God and I am not.  And it lets me see His creativity at work, first hand.  Makes me wish I had been around when he made the rhino and the giraffe.

The same day my new friend and neighbor brings me about 8 squares of carpet samples from her husband’s store.  He runs a flooring business and always has old carpet samples.  Now I have rugs to wipe your feet on when coming in from the pool or in the front door.  Most were a very short piling but one of the ones she brought me reminds me of my favorite rug at home.  It’s green shag.  It’s a little darker than the one in SC but it feels SO good on my feet.  Odd that I placed that one in the bathroom on the tile in front of the toilet.  Now, each time I, well, you know, I’m reminded of her and of God’s provision for me.  Odd thinking of people and The Creator in the bathroom but He talks to me a lot there.  So, hey, whatever works!!

The following day (yesterday) the same friend brings me a paper grocery bag full of Panera Bread.  Their church gets all the leftover bread they can’t sell.  Of course it is still perfectly good.  Their church members get some and they distribute some to the needy.


God.  The bread of life….

…a sack full, overflowing and smelling like Panera heaven.

And once again overwhelmingly free.

He’s an amazing God, providing for me in ways that blow my mind.

“I love you Lord!”


Moving to Florida – Day 3 and 4

Day 3 and 4

Yesterday was a nice day.  We got the tire fixed on the car.  We had run over a nail somewhere.  And I found the Dollar General.  Now we have nice tacky new bath mats, trash cans and such.  See all the ugly stuff was marked down.  So that’s what I bought.  There is no sense in spending a bunch of money on things I already have in SC.

The boys made a friend yesterday.  Zach.  He’s a very big 10 year old.  Nice boy.  They swam and went fishing yesterday.  I made it to bed about 7pm and slept until 7:30 am this morning.

We found this guy yesterday.  He’s really cool.

We tried a church today.  It was really nice and had a  wonderful kids program.  Then it was home for lunch and a FL thunderstorm.  Time for a nap.

Fred has had the hardest time adjusting I think.  Cruiser took it all in stride but Fred stayed here for a few days before taking over my office chair.

This evening we went to the beach.  The kids swam, I took my camera and took not a single photo.  We went with Zach’s parents.  Both very nice.

So tomorrow Rocketman leaves for work again.

Until then…..

Our Move to Florida – Day 2

Day 2

I’m ready to come home.

Not sure why exactly except this doesn’t feel like home yet.  Go figure, it’s only been two days.

Renting is really unusual since nothing here is really mine.  It’s okay, just weird.

The kids are fighting over the pool.  What’s up with that?  That thing is supposed to entertain them, not cause trouble.  Now we have pool rules.

1.  No running

2.  No pushing

3.  No jumping on mom’s expensive float.

4.  No naked swimming. (Yes, really)

5.  Towels and bathing suits must be hung after leaving the pool.  And for goodness sakes, dry yourself off before coming in the house.

I made it to the grocery store today.  My oldest son was up at 4am.  The Rent-a-Center place doesn’t REALLY put it all together.  I have no dryer hose to connect my vent to the wall.  Liability, they say.  Nice to know before you wash a load of clothes don’t you think?  And the frig?  No hook up to the house’s water.  Liability, they say.  So what do you do?  I even had to take the plastic off the mattresses.  Maybe they cut grass or something.  Maybe they need to see my kids swimming naked.  Maybe I need to shoot them.  Maybe, just maybe…….

I’m missing home.


Rocketman came home tonight and we all took off to the pond in our neighborhood for some fishing.  It was so therapeutic.  We caught 2 crappie, 2 bass and 1 brim.  We had a lot of fun and 5 fish out of 6 family members isn’t bad.  Oh, if you count the turtle we caught and the one that really did get away it was a banner evening.

I feel more relaxed, less wound up and less homesick.

Maybe I just needed my man to come home.

These two are happy again.

Change, change, change

Several things have happened recently.

We won the championship for our flag football team for the second year in a row.

Yippee!  This yummy little guy will be playing before I know it.

Isn’t he adorable???

These guys crack me up with their hand motions but “hey” it won the game!!!


This one of mine did not play this year but he sure had a knack for sucking me out of 50cents for a ring pop every game….

And this guy did play.  He takes after his mom….look at those legs stretch!!!

And I’m spending my days boxing, boxing, planning and all that jazz to move to our rental home in JAX.

I’m sad, happy, nervous, stressed and all that jazz.

“And the peace of God that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

I need that pasted on my forehead.