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


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.

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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


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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.