Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Entity

Define Entity-
Something that exists as a distinct, independent, or self contained unit.


Lately it seems I have to be constantly reminding myself that I make up my own entities... The Government, The State, The Law, Big Banks, The Church. Even giving some of them a face-


Yes these are titles but often I forget that they are made up of a group of people. Most who started out wanting to make a difference for man kind.

They are humans. They eat breakfast. Most have families, and I guarantee they wipe their butts like I do.

We are fighting a battle. A Spiritual war is ongoing. Oh how the enemy relishes when we fight each other.

Ephesians 6:12
For we wrestle not against flesh & blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Last week I spent way to much time defending my Christmas tree. A few days later it was the Americanized church.

2 Timothy 2:23-24 Don't have anything to do with foolish & stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.

I am sinner, Jesus says all have sinned. Most people wake up in the morning, and the first thought isn't how they can make someone's life a mess. Pastors fail. Family members fall short. Politicians give into temptation. One thing remains the same, shame looks the same on everyone.

We are lost..


broken..



continuing to fail..


.
The more hate I see spewed on the internet, the more my heart aches for life. Republicans, Democrats, Liberals, Conservatives, Atheists, Christians = H.U.M.A.N.S.

I stand strong in what I think is best. I point fingers at who is doing it wrong. Am I more concerned with making MY point?  When I feel my anger & pride rising I wish I would remember I am not perfect, nor will I ever be. Is being right on my issue what is truly "important"?

Mark 12:31 The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these. 

Holding my tongue when I disagree is tough. When I see a catchy Face Book post that makes a great point, but slams someone with different views I need to refrain from sharing it for the world to see.

Proverbs 18:19- A brother offended is more unyielding then a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle.

If I want to be a true disciple for Jesus, then I need to check my self righteous intentions at the door. This is my struggle...


Friday, August 16, 2013

Embracing My Daughter




I write this blog selfishly, as only to make a mark of this moment in my time. I enjoy looking back over my writing, remembering the special times in my life.

After a long day of baking, cooking, & cleaning I just wanted some quiet down time. After some emails, texts, & phone calls I made my way to a relaxing bath all alone. By 11:30 p.m. I figured the house was asleep, but moments later my 7yr old daughter entered with tears on her checks. "My stomach hurts bad.. I think I might throw up!" Calmly I told her she could take a bath with me.

My first response was to be irritated .."Why can't I get 20 minutes alone" but my Mommy instincts said let go. As she climbed in the tub I felt like "ok" whatever. As we started to enjoy the running hot water I felt myself start to relax.

Moments later she asked me a interesting question. " What are you afraid of?" Hesitating before I answered, not sure what to say as I didn't want my fears to become her fears I replied crocodiles. She crinkled her nose & laughed at my response, which was an honest one at that. Alligators have given me nightmares for years. We continued talking of our life struggles, and she shared how she didn't want to die young, before she had a chance to live life....

Damn, she is only 7.

I could beat myself for being honest about death & disease. It probably stems from being involved in many people around us who are suffering, and a bit of my own fears spilling over onto her.

Anyways... back to my point. We finished talking, got out, and spoke while I tucked her back into bed. She replied, "We should talk like this more often." Wow, she is wise beyond her years.

I found myself crying afterwards at the tenderness of this moment we had shared together. Something only seen by God. He alone will witness these special happenings made in life.

My closing thought is I love my daughter, my family, & I am so blessed to experience this. I only hope I appreciate it as much as I should as the daily grind distracts me. This is my struggle.

~Julia



image from www.footage.shuttersstock.com

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Questions


As the days flow by I find myself emerged in Summer. The beach, the pool, & sun block fill our time. I am thankful for these moments with my children. I laugh as my detail orientated daughter who needs the "plan" at 9 am every morning.

As our usually home school schedule is set aside for a few months, we are enjoying our daily adventures. I find myself looking around thanking God for His beautiful creation. Each intricate detail was made for me to enjoy. 

I couldn't imagine a world of black & white, or life without our animal friends. As I pet my kitty I am reminded He made her for me to enjoy. God loves me so much He spent His time creating a wonderland to explore

As grand as this all sounds I think back to a recent conversation with a good friend. She asked, "How could God let little babies die of AIDS." Explaining that "sin" is the problem is not easy.

Tears sting my eyes as I want her to understand...

I know there was a time in my life when I had the same questions stirring in my mind. Conveying to a non-believer an answer that comes with getting to know God's word is tough. I feel my mortal words do not do God justice in explaining His heavenly plan. The bible clearly states that sins today will affect the generations to come, just as our ancestor's sin affects us in the present.

We are not robots God gave us "ALL" free will. That includes the mom who adopts 13 kids, the man who helps out his senior neighbors, the guy who shoots up the movie theater, the teenager who brings a gun to school... they get to C.H.O.O.S.E.

God wants us to turn to Him, to know His ways, to have eternal life. He is our "Father". He loves us! His love is so great He sacrificed His innocent son, to be crucified unjustly by us sinners....

I pray today for those searching for answers. I know only God has the power to open their eyes to see the light. This is my struggle.



Image from www.squaw.com

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Greatest Vacation


I write tonight with a heavy heart. Thinking of those who are watching someone they deeply love suffer in pain...

It seems the older I get the more trips I  plan. I think it's my way of giving myself something to look forward to. Like running a race with my prize in sight at the finish line. Maybe by planning out these adventures I make the road ahead more desirable...

My most recent endeavor is Hawaii. We will be making our journey in Spring 2014. As I scheme & plot out our course I am excited at the prospect of the delight we will experience. Hawaii is a magnificent place, some would even claim parts of it come close to the Garden of Eden.

As a Christian, I have grown up being taught that Heaven will be paradise.

Luke 23:
-And Jesus replied, "I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise."

The verse listed above, quotes the words of Jesus right before He died. He spoke them to a man hanging next to him on another cross.

How important this is to all of us who are saved. God has planned out our "ultimate vacation". It is F-R-E-E for us, as God paid our way with His only son. No amount of money or good deeds will get you there.

It will be nothing like my mortal mind can imagine, a most awesome experience!

I need to fix my eyes on "that" finish line. I pray those around me do the same. This world is filled with so much pain & suffering. But in the end we will not only S.E.E paradise, but we will  LIVE in it completely!

If you are suffering  I pray you find hope in this wonderful salvation, in this excellent promise.

I know I get distracted as I lose my sight in this crazy place called W.O.R.L.D. I end up finding myself fixing my eyes on futile problems or possessions that don't truly matter. This is my struggle.



Image from www.hawaii-retina.com

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Pain



I see these cute little quotes plastered all over spacebook "The Past is the past, today is the present...blah,blah,blah... some one hurts you, you are better off without them.. blah, blah, blah"

Don't get me wrong I'm a professional "like" clicker, and do my part sharing the latest post...but if I truly pick apart these inspirational sayings, that might make me feel good in the moment, what I am really saying is "Great I will take my "present" to a desert island & live all alone. Yeah! I mean I am the victim here! I am so perfect! Everyone else is the problem."    >>insert LOL here<<

Really? Anyone living on planet earth has been hurt by someone, AND anyone living on this planet has hurt SOMEONE. Lets say it together.. just in case "I am Sorry."

When I am hurt will I wallow in my sorrow, stay a victim? What will truly help my pain?

Realizing I can learn from it, that I can "DO" something about it, & finding hope I-N making a  positive difference in those around me.

 (Yes, that was kind of like one of those quotes from the the web, my apologies. Here comes another one.)

Hurt people, hurt people, say it again.... H-U-R-T people HURT people

I want to be a loving mate, better parent, more attentive friend...

I am not trying to be better then everyone else, just the best possible me. As a veteran from the war of pain, my new mantra is- Treat others how I want to be treated, and if you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all.

 I will not be able to accomplish this on my own. I am seeking the Lord, asking Him to show me my blind spots. Help me forgive those who wound me, and help me to set healthy boundaries in my co-dependent world. This requires opening up His word. Not only that but I have to be willing to accept His grace when I don't meet these expectations I am placing on myself. This is my struggle.





Images from   www.favim.com  &   www.workthedream.wordpress,com

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Eating Chocolate on the Tread Mill


The days draw on as I continue to stop by my blog. I stare at the screen wondering if I will ever update it? I am still writing on a regular basis, but my energy has been directed towards my book. I have a solid outline, 21 chapters under my belt, with 7 more to go. I will then spend months reviewing & revising until my head hurts. The best description for my book is a "B" rated Christian fiction Narnia meets Princess bride, set in Medieval Time, filled with love, heart break, and redemption.

Eating chocolate on the tread mill? Yes, that about sums up how I feel lately. I find my days becoming counter productive. How to get ahead? I plan it out well before hand, but as the day draws on I am only completing half my tasks. Part of me thinks with the end of the school year approaching I have Summer fever. Well, I don't like it one bit. Maybe I need a vacation? Is that the answer?

I think I need more God and less me. I will not settle for half done days.

Knowing the way to exercise is not going to help me lose weight if I eat on the tread mill!

I am thankful God puts up with me as I wander in the desert... again.

I compare it to understanding who God is, what he has done for me, but lacking in the ever important relationship. Now I know we all go through seasons. Over the years me & God have become closer, but lately I find myself running to the phone instead of getting on my knees. Or Turning on Netflix when really I should open my bible. As I eat my chocolate, the relief it gives me is only temporary. Really, it is doing more damage then good. This is my struggle.





Image from the movie "The Switch"

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Where am I weak

I was feeling uneasy this morning. Fear of failure plagued me. My first year of being a full-time home school Mom was coming to a close. Part of me wanted to jump online and spend hours looking over the California 1st grade standards for reassurance. I thought "don't panic, you can have a last minute cram session?!?" Just as I was starting to hyperventilate the Spirit stepped in and covered me with a sense of comfort. Thoughts of the past year started to spring up in my mind....



House Fire Controlled in Santee

God comforted

It was September 2012. Just a few months prior our home was devastated by fire. No longer having a place to live, we moved into an RV on the side of my Sister's house. The school year was only a few weeks away when I voiced my concerns."Honey, in the midst of the Summer heat, attempting to buy a house, & replacing practically everything we own, I'm thinking home school might not be our best option."  He disagreed. As hard as it was to move forward, I was sure God had placed Dave as the leader for a reason. 

I trusted them

Our first few weeks of school took place in that RV. Having not enrolled on time, we had yet to receive our workbooks. Improvising, I hopped on the web to print out work sheets. We studied Hawaii. Cut out flowers. Painted pictures. Skip counted. Overall, we had a great time learning, and those beginning days will always have a special place in my heart. 

God provided

We our currently in our own home. Pictures are hung on the wall. The closets are over flowing with clothes. We adopted a precious kitten we named Roxy, and Emily impresses us daily with her ever improving reading skills.

God fills in the gaps

God hollered "Give yourself grace Julia. Your family has been down a rough road this year. The kids are doing better then you think. Don't be your worst critic. Satan would love for you to buy into those lies."

God offers grace



As I was speaking with a friend the other day, she quoted a line from a book she once read, "No matter what type of schooling you choose, your children will end up missing out on something."

I can only do so much, I am not Jesus. This is my struggle.

Joel 2:25
And I will restore to you the years the swarming locusts have eaten... 



Image from www.nbcsandiego.com & www.blondeepisodes.com

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Choplin


Love.Me.Some.Piano. Enjoying my husband playing it now. Soothing. Day of distractions, but not in a bad way. Just not what I had planned. I worked at the Pregnancy Care Clinic for the first time yesterday. I felt surprisingly calm. I thought "Well God, if you want me here you will help me figure out the details." Exhale

That being said, I can slightly still feel the weight on my shoulders. I am after all answering the phone with a potentially client on the other line. You think "hey I am just the receptionist", but truly I might be the first encounter someone is having with the clinic. As cool of a thought as that is, I am going to have to rely on the Spirit to guide me. I thankfully am equipped with the gift of sensitivity. I can usually gauge pretty well how someone is feeling.

I also started writing a book yesterday. I am excited to see where it is going to go. I know it is going to be an insane amount of time & energy, but I am still going to move forward. My husband's initial response was you are going to need a catchy author name, for marketing of course. Ultimately he believes in me, and that is what matters most. Pray for me as I enter this new endeavor. I don't want to neglect other areas of my life as I take on more. I know there are still areas I could give up more time, i.e. TV & FB. This is my struggle.



Image from www.flickr.com

Monday, April 1, 2013

Empower


Over the past few weeks I have found myself being more critical then usual. I was reading an article on drama when I felt convicted. As part of the body of Christ I need to focus more on strengths. I dislike the word critical, and hope when others think of me that will never be the word that comes to mind. I know first hand being criticized in my endeavors made me more discouraged then empowered.

The Bible has quite a bit to say on our conversation with those around us. Our words start with our thoughts. If I spend time thinking things such as "that was <negative thought>" or "I didn't <negative adjective> that." Then I am setting myself up to be critical. Instead, I need to make a conscious choice to think on the positives I see. Grace, mercy, grace.

 I teach my children if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. Yet looking back I can recall conversations that I did just the opposite. I excuse myself with "well they need to know the truth " or better yet "what I think."

Moving forward I'm starting to read a book called Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tim Rath. I am praying that on a regular basis, I will start using my words to empower those around me. This is my struggle.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Dash " - "

Today I had my interview at the Pregnancy Care Clinic. Everyone I met with was amazing. To be a volunteer in a setting surrounded by fellow Christians is going to be awesome. Not only is it a great cause, but hearing her say it is a God lead program was so encouraging. I am starting out as a receptionist a few hours a week, and I am so excited.

On another note, our family is getting together to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ this Sunday. Last year about this time my Mom was staying with us as she was under going a series of surgeries on her face to remove a large tumor. I wish her battle with cancer was over, but it is not.

Life. Death. This adventure we are on.

We-Are-All-Dying. What will my dash be? You know that little dash " - " between the years. The one etched on many tomb stones "born on" - "died on" What will I be remembered for when I die?

My friend and I were talking the other day, and something she said made me stop & think. She was speaking of a passed loved one, and commented "you know he wasn't bitter, his wife had left but he forgave her." You could tell that was something special she treasures about him.

When my life is recalled by those I leave behind what words will they conjure... Humble? Proud? Bitter? Loving? Hypocrite? Christian?


Honestly, I know in my life I will not always get it right. Until I die, I will not be sinless, but over time I will sin less. I will keep moving forward. I have given my life to Christ. I am not earning my way to heaven. Christ already paid my entry fee. I'm attempting to follow His lead, because I'm forever grateful for the sacrifice he paid for me. Loving God. Loving People. This is my struggle.




Monday, March 25, 2013

Spontaneity



Spring is in full force as my husband works away on the new green house. All the while, I lounge in a chair reading my favorite blog. All of the sudden he looks up, and says " What time is it?" Unbeknownst to me, a window sales man will be arriving at 4 pm. I try to reason with him by stating that if we stay in the back yard, we won't hear the bell, and we can reschedule. The idea of high pressure sales on this beautiful day was unappealing.

Being the honest man my husband is we go inside, and sit through the 1 hour+ presentation. After saying no in 14 different ways, and 10 foreign languages he packs up his windows & leaves. 

Now it was 5:30 pm, and we were both starving. With both kids gone for the evening we opted to eat out. We choose to go to Oggi's, which is our favorite five star pizza joint. They have plenty of patio seating to enjoy the beautiful weather. Our conversation was upbeat with the top funny stories from our week.

After dinner we walked to the local pet store. With a growing algae problem in our pond we decided to pick up some snails. While the girl was bagging up our pets, I was busy trying to convince Dave to push me in the cart. This wasn't the first time, but I have never had any luck convincing him to participate.

After we packed up the groceries in our car, we realized we had to return the cart a ways back to the store. Surprise, Surprise he let me climb in, and he ran it all the way across the parking lot. I felt like a kid again! Over all we had a great day.

I tell this story to share a few things I learned that day. I went along with my husband's plan for the day. I didn't spend a great deal of time making him feel bad for his decision to make the window appointment.

Now being the planner that I am, doing this does not come naturally. It started with a resolve to change my thinking patterns. I know God ultimately wants me to lean on Him, and trust my husband while not solely relying on my own understanding of things. This is my struggle.



Image from www.thephotographerslife.com

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Skeletons In the Closet



As my teenage son answered the phone I cringed. We were about to walk out the door, and I knew it was more than likely a sales call.  After I realized who it was, a sense of nervous excitement came over me.  The woman on the other end of the phone used the word interview and this Thursday in the same sentence...

 Funny how God has been helping me work on my selfishness. This coming week is spring break, and in my mind I see PJ's, movies, and the beach on the agenda. Well, it seems God has other plans for me. You see, a few weeks back I turned in my application to volunteer at the East County Pregnancy Care Clinic.

Now secretly, I am praying for a position filling paper work & answering phone calls, but my past is filled with teen pregnancy, drug use, and even a regretted abortion.

As scary as it is talking about my jaded past, I don't want it to be "wasted". Sharing my stories,  listening , & compassion may be what God is calling me to step out & provide. For those who don't know me well, doing anything like this is not my natural tendency. Lounging on the couch with a mystery novel is more my style, but God has called me do more with my life.

I know I can't do this on my own, and I am going to need God's help every step of the way.

 I am excited to see how He is going to use me. Please pray that I don't let my fears & failures get in the way, and I get my butt to that interview this coming week. This is my struggle.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Siblings


Sisters, so thankful they are part of my life. Four of us to be precise. I happen to be the baby. Now, I will never know what being the oldest kin entails. Like, how frustrating it is when a younger sibling steals a favorite shirt, or uses all your expensive  make-up. That being said, I have experienced going to bed first, wearing hand me downs, and been the last to receive a privilege based on age. Regardless, I love my place in life all the same.

Today I learned my words had been causing my sister pain. Something she had been holding in for a time. Whether I intended to inflict discomfort or not, I hurt her. Instead of standing my ground, and justifying my actions I moved ahead to "I'm Sorry." Many times I find myself completely skipping that part, and jumping straight to the "buts". Apologizing, and truly meaning it, is the first step to healing.

Yet, I tend to forget this even when I have the picture painted for me clearly in the Bible. Part of my own restoration as a Christians is repentance. This is a crucial step. I fall short, & I need forgiveness on a regular basis. If I lack in making the word S-O-R-R-Y part of my vocabulary I miss out on grace from those around me.

 Oh how I wish  I had known the benefits of apologizing to my children earlier on. It not only teaches them how to work through conflict, but it validates them in a way that making excuses for my actions does not. I can free myself & someone else from distress by saying these words. Remembering this wisdom, in the heat of the moment, is my struggle.



Image from www.three-sisters-vneyard.co.uk

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Power of Prayer


Bed Time! Today was intense. I spent most of my day disciplining my children, as they both continually tested their limits. I think they can smell spring break. It may be because I asked a few girlfriends to pray I wouldn't let my anger get the best of me. I clearly didn't mean I wanted to practice biting my tongue all day long (lol).  As grueling as it was,  it went smoother then usual. Practice, practice, practice.

We ended our day at karate where my daughter received her orange belt. During the ceremony her Sensei commented that Emily may  be small, but not to underestimate her strength. I felt joy as she "earned" her next rank. As a parent it is encouraging to see my children grow & accomplish their goals.

Training my children in the art of God's way of life is hard work. Thankfully, I have access through prayer, and the Bible to the Master Sensei. How easily I forget the impact prayer has on my life! I think for today at least I have earned my yellow belt in holding my tongue. Pray for me as I continue to struggle.


James 1:19 ... you must be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.




Image from www.Facebook.com

Monday, March 18, 2013

My Busy Life


Busy life. Have to say I am enjoying filling my time with activities that are growing me mentally, physically, & spiritually as well. Volley ball has been a great way to connect with friends. A bi-product I hadn't expected was bonding with my husband. Originally it was going to be women only, but while the team is growing the husbands have filled the holes. Finding a common interest that we both enjoy is an answer to my prayer. To top it off he is pretty good!

 Small group has been awesome lately also. Our group set out to feed the home less last Sunday. It was awesome to see the men in our group step out & love the socially deemed unlovable. Watching my husband confidently approach people he not only didn't know, but some would consider dangerous is indescribable. Just about 5 years back my husband was in the atheist category. Seeing God work in his life, and watching it spill out into those around us is inspiring.

We didn't arrive in this place over night, or by chance. Speaking for myself I feel I am on a constant up-hill battle. My selfishness attempts to grab hold of me daily. Telling me lies about why I can't or won't succeed at my goals. Playing on my weaknesses, skewing my vision, & telling me I am not good enough are my enemies tactics. Thankfully I do have a weapon, my sword.

Two verses today I am holding onto today are:
- Philippians 1:6 - I am certain that God, who began the good work in you, will continue His work until it s finally finished on the day when Jesus Christ returns.

When I read this I hear- that when I fall short, & let my anger get the best of me, I can be confident & remember God is not finished working on me. I am aware anger is one of my weaknesses. He will not give up on me. I am his project. Humbling as it was as we drove out of the church parking lot yesterday I was laying into my son. "That pissed me off!" were my exact words,  not a proud Mommy moment to say the least. Being tired & hungry got the best of me. Now I need to forgive myself, & not continue to best myself up.

- 2 Corinthians 12:9 - "Each time He said "My grace is all you need. My power works best in your weaknesses." So now I (Julia) am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that power of Christ can work through me.

His grace is what I need, & I have an abundance of it. His power is working in my weaknesses.. I am struggling, but today I know through my struggles His power will be made know!



Image from waltbrite.wordpress.com

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Learning to Stand




As I write this I am attempting to get to the bottom of my nerves. You see tonight I met with some wonderful ladies at our local coffee house (Yes, I seem to be at a coffee shop often, I luv me some java)... Anyways, while there we spent our time brain storming on ministry, and how we could possible help grow our church family. I enjoyed hearing every one's ideas & input. All in the same breath, I was struggling with nerves! I am trying to figure out why?? No one else seemed nervous. It is frustrating to say the least. My conclusion as I write this is I am dependent on the buddy system. When my sister, husband, or a long time friend is by my side I find it easier to articulate myself. I know when they are listening to me speak they will jump in for me if I am not making my self clear.

As my husband & I were discussing this tonight I thought back to a story in the bible. It was about Moses also not feeling comfortable speaking. In Exodus  4:10-15 Moses expresses the same concerns to God on the topic of speaking that I have. God encourages Moses to ultimately trust Him, but in the end He gives Him Aaron to lean on. I know with God on my side eventually standing on my own 2 feet will get easier, but for now this is my struggle.

Writing is so much easier!




Image from Oprah.com




Friday, March 8, 2013

In the Key of "C"



As the rain poured down around us, we slowly drove down the gravel drive way.  I wondered if we were at the right house since no address was present. I think we both had butterflies in our stomach. As we approached the house we could hear the piano music coming from the door, slightly easing our nerves. We waited on the porch since we were early, not wanting to interrupt. As we stood under the of eve, I asked Emily what song she wanted to sing? "I am not going to sing a song, I don't know her." ... This should be interesting considering this is her first voice lesson. Once inside the friendly teacher asked Emily to sing her favorite song. Unfortunately, instead of singing she burst into tears. While the instructor changed tactics I did my best to console her. By the end of the session she was participating, but my usually not so shy daughter was still unsure of it all.

On the wet drive home, I started realizing we and so many others are afraid of new endeavors. In my own life, there are things I wish had done, but I let fear stop me. I am going to research creative ways to work with myself, and my family in hopes to help us grow in this area. I am going to spend time talking to God, knowing He can give me deeper insight on what makes us more willing to step out & try something new. This is my struggle.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Tragedy or Testimony



This past weekend I attended a woman's retreat up in the mountains. The weather was spectacular. The temp. was 75, clear skies, cool breeze. No cooking, no cleaning, no demands. I went on a self-guided  prayer walk that lead me to the foot of a wooden cross surrounded by nature. It was a  genuinely moving experience, and I did my share of shedding tears.

Not only was the company of fellow Christian women awesome, but the Presenter was speaking directly to me. Which seems to happen to me on a regular basis lately. The words that stood out to me were..."He wastes nothing. Fire has purpose." God can use any event to further His cause. All to often I pray "Lord , please change my circumstances." A better prayer would be "Lord, let me find *you* in my circumstances. Do I trust Him!?!"

I realized I can either present my life as a tragedy to others, or I can let God turn my trials into a testimony. I have seen God work in unique ways in the midst of my storms. Providing friends at just the right moment. Prompting people to help me when life is at it's worst. Using His words in the Bible to comfort my heart. Now I want to tell my stories with confidence to those around me. This is my struggle.

Testimony- a first-hand written or spoken statement, evidence or proof provided by the existence or appearance of something.


Image from www.mylifeisatestimony.com

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Amazing Race



During some down time my daughter & I were snuggled up on the couch, watching The Amazing Race (my new favorite show). This show is part of the reality TV phenomenon.  Pairs of people team up & race around the world for about a month. As they travel they go by plane, train, or on foot with little sleep & not much time to eat. As you can imagine this is a recipe for stress, ultimately pushing some folks to act like crazy fools. The contestants range from siblings, bachelors, friends, lovers, & even grand parents.  This particular episode spent a great deal of time focusing on the married couple who were having a rough time communicating. There was quite a bit of naming calling & yelling going on. At the peak of the argument my 7 yr old says, "Mommy I don't want you to watch this. You should just forget about it."

As I processed what she said this passage of scripture came to  mind...

Genesis 30:37-39
Then Jacob took some fresh branches from poplar, almond, and plane trees & peeled off strips of bark, making white streaks on them. Then he placed these peeled branches in front of the watering troughs where the sheep came to drink, for that was where they mated. And when they mated in front of the white-streaked branches, they gave birth to young that were streaked, speckled, & spotted. Jacob separated those lambs from Laban's flock.

What  if  God is trying to show  me that what I am  putting  in front of my eyes,  is what I will be            P R O D U C I N G. I am part of God's flock, Jesus is my Shepherd. I am striving to go the way the Lord knows is best for me. There are areas of my life where I am not producing spiritual fruit, and at times I wonder why? I am going to have to seriously evaluate what I am watching, reading , & listening to. This is my struggle.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Inside Beauty


Acne at 32, oh joy.. On the way to my daughter's in school day, we stopped at the drive-thru Lean Bean coffee stop. While idling in line, I popped down my visor to peak at my face. Ugh! Let's connect the dots... As I was trying to clean house on my face, my 7 year old was very intrigued in what I was doing. I said "well these zits aren't to pretty so I'm trying to take care of them." She responds "Mom I think your beautiful." Oh, how my heart melted. I was interested at what else she would say so I  asked her, "What makes you think I am beautiful?" She says "Love. The way you love me." So precious, I have to give Dad the credit for this one. He often reminds her beauty is from the inside.

Growing up without a Father in the home didn't help my self-esteem, and I started seeking extra attention from the opposite sex at a very young age. I was 6 when my Dad left, & remember clear as day falling head over heels in love with Skylar Fisk that year. By 15, I was hanging with the wrong crowd on a regular basis. I was raped at age 16 by someone in that great group of friends. No surprise at 17 I was pregnant with my most awesome son. Moving forward to the present. I still cry when I watch a movie with a Dad & daughter moment in it, but over time I have let go. I have since forgiven my Dad, for we all fall short, and we are continually working on our relationship. I am however thankfully for my constant Heavenly Father. Life is messy, tell someone in your life that they are beautiful.

If you need encouragement from your Father up above read the bible passage below. Insert your name in the blank. It works best when you read it slowly :-)

_________-
I made her... She is different. She's unique. With love I formed her in her Mother's womb. I fashioned her with great joy. I remember with great pleasure, the day I created  her. (Psalm 139:13-16) I love her smile. I love her ways. I love to hear her laugh, and the silly things she says & does. She brings me great pleasure. This is how I made her. (Psalm 139:17) 

I made her pretty & not beautiful, because I knew her heart, & I knew she would be vain... I wanted her to search out her heart, & to learn that it would be me in her that would make her beautiful... And it would be me in her that would draw friends to her. (1 Peter 3:3-5) I made her in such a way, that she would need me. I made her a little more lonesome than she would like to be... Only because I want her to lean & depend on me... I know her heart. I know if I had not made her like this she would go her chosen way & forget me... her Creator. (Psalm 62:5-8) I have given her many good & happy things because I love her. (Psalm 84:11, Romans 8:23) Because I love her, I have seen her broken heart, and the tears she cried alone. I have cried with her & had a broken heart too. (Psalm 56:8) Many times she has stumbled & fallen alone only because she would not hold my hand. So many lessons she's learned the hard way, because she would not listen to my voice...(Isaiah 53:6) So many times I have set back & sadly watched her return sad & broken. ( Isaiah 63:2) Now she is mine again.  I made her, & then I bought her because I love her. (Romans 5:8) I have to reshape & remold her... To renew her to what I had planned for her. It has not been easy for her or me. (Jeremiah 29:11) I want her to be to conformed to my image... This high goal I have set for her, because I love her. ( 2 Cor. 2:14) 


Image from www.tracyscamp.com

Monday, February 25, 2013

Road Rage Mommy




On the way to drop of my son for his field trip today, I realized I was almost out of gas. Without a moment to spare I turned in to fill up. As we were pulling back into traffic a car came flying around the corner. "Whoa! You don't need to take that corner so fast!" I say with  noticeable irritation in my voice. My sweet daughter, with her best grown up voice replies, "Mommy remember my sentence today? If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." Oh... yeah... how could I forget, sorry. Not that this surprised me, because on a regular basis she reminds me the other drivers can't hear me from inside our car.

Backing up my day a bit, an hour earlier we were going over the manner of the week. The best part is this morning I was proudly patting myself on the back, &  thought "Wow I am being so consistent teaching these to my children." I must make God laugh sometimes. 

Even though I am a teacher, God is still teaching me. I took some time this afternoon, & asked myself - Do I use kind words when referring to the people in my life? How do I communicate with those around ? What about my tone, and my attitude? Looks like my mommy has some work to do. This is my struggle.





Image from www.thethethirdcross.files.wordpress.com
 www.streetsblog.net

Sunday, February 24, 2013

What's on The Inside?



It's crunch time. The public high school orientation is tomorrow night. My heart is searching. We are on the fence. Home schooling my son who is already very unmotivated to do his school work sounds like an impossible task. I have been praying & investigating what is the next step for our 14 year old son.  This is huge, thankfully God is bigger.

 I have recently started following busy home school mom blog , and one of the quotes that struck a cord with me is,"Character before curriculum..". As a mom my focus through the years has been get you work done, learn the material. This thinking stems from me becoming a mom at seventeen, & having everyone tell me I can't do it. I also let curriculum be number one, not wanting to be the mom who "couldn't do it". My focus would have been better spent honing in on his character, and what's going on the inside. I would just chalk it up to, " it is just normal rebellion", "oh, that will come when he matures," or "he will figure it out some day." Having only come back to the church 6 years ago, I learned the important concept of heart issues later then I would have liked.

Ultimately, I am letting my husband make the decision. We know both paths will have their share of challenges, and that there is not an easy button. Just trying to find the path God wants for us. This is our struggle.

Any input is appreciated.  Please pray for guidance for our family.


Image from www.funwirks.com

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Cookie & The Scone


 Today we were celebrating my sister's birthday, so my children & I  stopped to pick-up a mocha to surprise her. It was just starting to rain as we entered the busy coffee shop. While waiting in line I was imagining myself curled up in the corner, pounding out the next great Christian mystery novel on my lap-top. Back in reality my two children were discussing what kind of scone  to get. As we approached the front of the line I remembered that we were having cookies at my Sister's.  I then informed my 7 yr old that her & her brother were going to share. As you can imagine she was not thrilled at this idea. While they were making my coffee we sat down, & I split the scone in half. At this point my daughter was  in full pout mode. As she was chomping away on her scone she openly, displayed her unhappiness for all to see. I did my best to encourage her to just enjoy what she had. In that moment, I found myself relating to God, one parent to another.

 A year & a half ago I had a very painful miscarriage. We have been trying to expand our family for over three years. It has been a rough road, but the Lord has given me peace. Just as I know what is best for Emily, God knows what is best for me. Occasionally I am tempted to start dwelling on what I don't have, but thankfully God shows me pictures like this to re-direct my thoughts. Today I refuse to scornfully eat my scone, as not to waste the precious time with my  children. God has cookies for me later.





Images from www.visualpictures.com & www.cookiedough.com

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Addiction



M & M's, chips, cinnamon rolls, & gummy bears are calling my name! I struggle with addiction. In the past it was cigarettes, but lately it has been food. As I walk past the fridge, I question if there might be something sweet hidden in the back. I mean I have only checked 2x's, so maybe this go around I will find something to satisfy my craving. I find it easy to eat less when I'm out in public, but on my own I fall short. I'm fully aware of the health issues that can arise if I leave my addictions unchecked. This does not make it any easier for me.

Little by little I am starting to get the big picture. Christian life is so much more then doing the do's, & not doing the don'ts. Changing my environment without dealing with the source of the problem is only a temporary fix. I need to dig deeper to the heart issues. I need to spend time reflecting with the "why" I eat when I am not hungry. I need to get on my knees the minute the desire to drive to the store for a pack of smokes pops up. I know flat out that these actions are not only bad for my physical health, but my spiritual health also. I find myself praying to God more, because I have learned I can not do it on my own. Please pray for me as I struggle through my addictions.


Image from   www.sacbee.com

Monday, February 18, 2013

Look Out!



While walking through a local parking lot today, 2 cars were backing out 15 feet in front of me. Both with a woman on a mission at the wheel. I could see the car's bumpers approaching each other in what looked like an inevitable fender-bender. The only thing I could do was honk my imaginary horn as the helpless bystander. Surprisingly, inches before impact one of the drivers noticed the other, slammed on her brakes, & hit the horn.

This caused me to think back on what I have been dealing with today. I am living life "on" purpose. This is a great way to live, but it doesn't mean I will never crash into someone else. Now just as a driver carries car insurance, as a Christian I have access to grace. Unfortunately that doesn't mean there will be no damage done, and that the repair will happen over night.

Instead of getting in my car, and racing off I tried something new. I was slow to re-act, and sought out wise counsel. I do believe I averted a collusion that was in my path. I want to give God the glory for showing me His way of doing life, because this is not the usual for me.

The wisdom I received when dealing with conflict is, "You can't regret anything you don't say." All to often when a problem arises I am quick to speak without much thought into the repercussions. This not only affects my witness, but it can hinder others from opening up to me. God has been hollering, "Be quite & listen my daughter." This is my struggle.



Sunday, February 17, 2013

Reflection



Tonight as I reflect on my day I can't help but smile. It was the launch of our first  volley ball meet-up. May sound minor to some, but this is a big accomplishment for me. For years I have thought about playing, but I never took steps to make it happen. All to often I let the thought of an idea not panning out stop me from attempting it.

The old Julia was  typically a follower, and was afraid of experiencing life outside the bubble. The mere thought of praying out loud, leading small group, or spending time with unfamiliar faces plagued me with anxious thoughts & sweaty hands. Thankfully God is transforming me. He has encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone, and pursue new endeavors. Not only is it fulfilling to do this, but the excitement of seeing these plans come to life is awesome. Now I'm praising God for his work in me!


Image from Wikipedia.com

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Lost



Last night I hung out with a group of friends I have known for about 13+ years. If asked about Jesus rising from the dead, I think they would conclude it as a far fetched fairy tell. Unfortunately when the words church, God, or after life come out of my mouth I can practically see the wall go up. Even though it feels as if I am wondering through a dead end maze, I still try to find cracks in their walls.

This week at bible study we were reviewing the book of Acts, Ch. 7 to be exact. We learned how Stephen is preaching the truth, but rather then understanding his words they start throwing rocks in attempt to kill him. As this horrific event unfolds the unthinkable happens. Instead of damning his attackers, Stephen cries out to God in their defense, " Lord do not hold this sin against them."

My first take as a bystander is those people should get what they deserve. I want to grab a rock, & throw it at them. Thankfully, with my new eyes I see how disheartening it must have been not having the human words to save their lost souls. Last night my persecution wasn't rocks. Instead, it was music mocking Christianity, & jokes about heaven & hell. Before when I thought of persecution I pictured only pain & misery. Now the scene I see is one of sadness filled with utter frustration. As a mere mortal pursuing the lost I ultimately know God has a master plan, but this is still my struggle.


Image from frontpagemag.com

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Gift of Respect




Off my beaten path. My loving husband informed me the other night I focus on my struggles to much. I quote "your blog is all about your struggles." The next morning he added, "I guess I should read it before I pass judgement." Moving along, as I don't want to stick my foot in my mouth... The day of love is here so, I will do my best to push the focus onto love.

Now don't get me wrong I enjoy a nice dinner out, or a sparkly necklace, but I can show affection without opening my wallet. I recently learned that my husband's mother language is "Respect". My mother language is "Love". Now my initial re-action is "Yeah, I respect my husband." , but after looking over Love & Respect author  Dr. Emerson's list I have some work to do. So, join me this week in looking for ways to respect my husband, and make Valentine's Day special. Sssshhhh... this is my struggle
               
             
  • Be his cheerleader- brag about him in front of others. Call a friend & brag about him, in front of him
  • Put a post note around the house with words of encouragement
  • Ask him about his dreams & don't shoot them down
  • Tell him he is strong, say you look hot in those jeans
  • Thank him for going to work
  • Honor his authority in front of the kids, differ in private
  • Thank him for his advice & knowledge
  • Watch him do something he enjoys, & don't TALK, men love quiet shoulder to shoulder time
  • Do something he enjoys
  • Smile at him often
  • Greet him at the door & tell him you are glad he is home


We want to be with Mr. right, but how much time are we spending trying to be Mrs. Right?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wife S.O.S.




Theses ladies rock! I have seen them speak at my church before, & I was impressed. I have absorbed so many cool ideas from these ladies. This is a free webinar. I am a webinar newbie. I must say that sitting on my couch & eating some hummus (more like cookies) while watching these ladies speak will be a nice change. Lately, I have been watching a whole lot of "Amazing Race" on Hulu. If you wanna join us here is the link -http://www.marnie.com/WifeSOS_2013.php It is tomorrow!!!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Responsibility



 SLAM! As I approach my  teary eyed daughter, I am aware she has been arguing with her friends. She tells me she is yelling, because she is angry.  She wanted  them to play the game her way, and they said no. I did my best to explain that regardless of what someone does to you, the only thing you are responsible for is the way you respond.

I am feeling convicted about the "because I am angry" part. I know where she has heard that before. We both need to check ourselves when are emotions are bubbling over. Taking responsibility for my actions may be an easy concept to understand, but is quite difficult to master. It is even tougher to teach to your children.

I grew up playing the victim. A few of my favorite responses for my short comings in life are "My dad left me at age 5. I had my son at 17. That is just the way I am." Well folks when I arrive in heaven I will only be giving an account for "MY" actions. Not my husband's, my children, or the guy who cut me off on the freeway. God clearly states in the Bible how I am to respond to the people around me. This is my struggle...


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Face Painting Dilemma



 As my husband walked through the door today my super-excited daughter said, "Daddy look at my face! Guess how much it cost? Eighteen dollars!" I was in the kitchen quietly trying to figure out a way to hide in the refrigerator. Why is it usually the first thing out of my child's mouth when I do something my husband is more then likely going to frown on?!?    

Now my husband is quite frugal, you can imagine how thrilled he was about this purchase. I had seen a $10 sign by the stand when I had first said yes to my little one. Ice cream or face painting had been my mental decision maker. When she sat down in the chair the sweet artist handed me the price sheet. $18, Ouch! I had already told her yes, and felt I couldn't turn back now. I caved knowing my hubby would not think it was worth the money.

At dinner he made a few comments. The old me would have instantly defended my purchase, and argued right then in front of the children about it. Surprisingly I kept quiet (God gets the credit here). We finally agreed it was a great face painting, but not $18 great. I admitted I made a mistake, and we moved on to the monitor lizard Clyde we enjoyed petting.

 My prayer today is to be more intentional. That way I will make less unwise choices. Before we go some where, especially if Dad isn't attending, I need to set guide lines down for the children. Including, how much money we have to spend, if we will buy anything, where we will go/not go, & any other boundaries we will have while there. This is my struggle!


Image from www.sheknows.com 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What a Story!


Two women worked across from each other in separate cubicles . One was straight, the other was gay. Lets  say the lesbian's name is Kim & the heterosexual's name is Jennifer.

 At work Jennifer was known for being a devout Christian, and Kim was openly gay. While working together Jennifer would go out of her way to be nice to Kim. She would bring her coffee, smile, & find ways to help her. Kim could not understand why. Kim on the other hand could not stand Jennifer & her smug Christian style. She knew it would only be a matter of time before Jennifer would show her true colors. 

No one would have blamed Jennifer if she had turned away from Kim. In fact they might have cheered her on if she had taken revenge on Kim. Jennifer's friends thought Kim was asking for it by the way she treated her. Fortunately, Jennifer did just the opposite. Over time Kim understood Christ's love, converted to Christianity, & is currently living a heterosexual life style. This is now her testimony.
(This is a true story)

This challenges me. Who could I be showing Christ like love to. His love is given when it is least expected, & when it is not deserved. It is the most amazing, life changing kind of love. If I would let Him, God could use me to show someone this mind blowing love. I need to love the unlovable. This is my struggle.



Monday, February 4, 2013

Home School?





So far the most difficult decision as a parent was choosing which education program was best for our now 14 yr old son. We started out with public school while I was a single, working mom. In 4th grade we switched to half home school, half Christian. Currently He attends a half home school, public charter. My daughter is full home school with a mix of charter & Classical Conversation. Whew!

Now, all that being said every option has it's pros & cons. I don't think there is a one size fits all in schooling. I have to remind myself that each child is different, and what works for my neighbor might not be best for us. When trying to decide I usually pray, stress, and then I ask my husband what he thinks is best. God put our husband as the head of house hold for a reason. Trusting my husband's decision reduces my worry & anxiety big time. I just try to take it one year at a time, and pray, pray, pray.

 I am enjoying home schooling my daughter, and love the fact I am the one teaching her how to read. I also think the way my son goes on  & on about his cool science teacher is great too. This month we need prayer. It is time for us to choose a high school option for our son. This is my struggle.


picture from proprofs.com

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Apologized



 So, I apologized. A few posts back I said I would. No response from the other end but, I feel better after doing the right thing. I was honest . Saying sorry doesn't fix everything. Life is messy.


 God does not promise  sunshine & easy street. He states trials & tribulation. A friend once said to me, "If you are doing nothing for the Lord why would the enemy waste his time on you?" My brave husband prays for persecution. I on the other hand pray things like, "can I please die in my sleep?" The verse -He makes ALL this work together for our good keeps coming to mind. Not some things. Not a few things. Not just the good things but, ALL things. That includes my struggles, sickness, death.... He can use them to make good. I do not pray for trials but, I do pray that one day my faith will reach that level.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Social Anxiety




Is social anxiety hereditary? Does it stem from a lack of self esteem, a broken home, or a chemical imbalance?

At one time I was quite the social butterfly. I had no problem talking to new people. I think it was the social lubricant (aka alcohol). Well, after becoming a Christian the majority of the functions I attend are not centered around alcohol. I find myself having to work harder at making conversation. Making new friends hasn't been easier either. I must confess that sometimes I  find myself using the side door at church to  avoid the awkwardness. Over the past few weeks I have challenged myself to do life out of my comfort zone. At church  I have been changing the place I sit each week. Making a point to talk to new people. Even writing this blog is not something the old me would do . With each step I take the old Mt. of anxiety has become smaller. Relying on God is key. This is my struggle.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Worry




Another biopsy, another lump, more pain. Today my Mother goes for her MRI. The battle on her persistent skin cancer continues. Watching a loved one suffer is not easy. I don't have the answers. I don't know why.


Sometimes this causes me to worry. The bible states- Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to this life? I know worrying is no good. God wants me to do what is good! Watching too much news. Dwelling on fears of sickness, predators, & economic crisis is "not" what He has called me to do. Finding healthy focuses to fill my hours is a way of obeying God, and can benefit my mental health. O.K. Julia time to turn the news off & make a pact with myself to stay away from Web MD. I am struggling with this today.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Discipline



"One more chance! Please, one more chance!" my daughter begs. I had informed her that because she disobeyed, we were not going to play at the Lake. So, we marched right back to the car we had just got out of. With an audience of strangers, and a few of my friends watching as we drove away. As this scene was unfolding my feeling were a mix between embarrassment & sadness. I knew my daughter had been looking forward to playing with her friend but, I had already given her enough chances. I had to stay strong. I couldn't go back on my word. I knew how important it was to teach my daughter that in life we all need to obey authority.


God is my Father and, I am His daughter. Just as  I want my children to succeed, so does He!  God is fully aware of what is best for me. He is not trying to be a Buzz-kill, or as my son would say "your just being mean!" . God has left me a book full of teachings to apply to my life. I know I have areas were I need to be obedient. This is my struggle.



Picture from http://fasab.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/disobedient-child.jpg

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Insecure





Fighting the enemy. I'm feeling a little defeated this morning. That usually means something great is in store.  Surprise, surprise the enemy is trying to stop it. Sitting here having a pity party. Questioning myself. Can I  truly do this? Do they honestly like me, or am  I  just another ministry?


 I surrender my doubts! No, everything I have said lately isn't perfect. I might have offended or bothered someone, I am human. I don't need to know  what someone else's motives are. The only motives I am responsible for are my own. Thankful for God's grace. I need to focus on what He has called me do. Let my insecurities go & just embrace Julia.


Image from http://helpingotherstransform.com

Monday, January 28, 2013

Purpose





Do I have a purpose? Hmm.. I would like to think so. I provide for my family. I teach & train my children. I provide warm meals & a cozy house for my husband. I have a shoulder to cry on for my friends. Isn't this why I was created? To provide? Today after reading a few chapters in multiply (by Francis Chan) I started to do a life check. Hard working mom, check. Loving wife, check.Serving others, check. Serve at church, check. Read my bible & pray, check.


Francis Chan uses the Bible to challenge me to look deeper. To re-evaluate my life. To make sure I am doing all I was created to do. To do every thing motivated by love. To truly answer Jesus' call. To not just be a consumer Christian. To not stand on the side lines while my Pastor does all the work. To get out there, & get my hands dirty. No looking back, without doubt, without worry. Jesus called me to tell others His story. This is my Struggle!



Picture from http://www.sheddinglightonthepath.blogspot.com

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Children





I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord.. I am humming that now. Tonight I am thankful that my children have a heavenly Father. I blow it as a parent all too often. Unfortunately, there is not a rewind button. I use shame & guilt instead of love. I make excuses or try to justify my short comings.


God has once again shown me something new. That He can use my children to help me grow. If I am willing to learn, they can teach me patience, self control, discipline, how to slow down, & even see things from a different perspective. Next time I'm busy, & my daughter needs me I pray that I practice patience. When I am running late because of my son instead of yelling "hurry" , I pray I practice self control. When my daughter wants to eat ice cream for the 2nd time in the same day, I pray I practice discipline. I need to ask what is my Heavenly Father trying to teach me about myself through my family? This is my struggle.