Spiritual Growth

Lessons on Living a Quiet Life

I’ve been a bit quiet for several months now. I haven’t wanted to say much publicly. Privately though .. well, that’s a different story. Back in April, I told myself I’d commit to at least posting once a week but then “life happened” and I’ve been spending more time reading, reflecting, and recharging.

The verse of 2018 for me has been the one about living a quiet life. And then my Pastor posted the verse again a few days ago and it got me thinking how much of my life in 2018 has been quiet. Behind the scenes, this year has been a year of emotional and physical growth for me.

For several years now, this space has been a sounding board for my pain. Whether it was dealing with a hurtful breakup, rejection, or insecurity, this has been my outlet to bleed. It was a good one until it wasn’t. Some things are better dealt with in private between me, God, and a few trusted friends. Instead of getting on here and bleeding out before you, I’ve been spending more time in deep prayer, deepening the relationships in my life, and in deep reflection of what the last year has taught me.

Ultimately, what this time away has taught me is we all process our hurt in different ways and for a long time this space allowed me to air it all out without filter. Now though, I’m a lot more careful with stuff I share. I decide what and how I tell you. In almost every past post, I played the role of victim well. Times when I felt  betrayed, rejected, insecure, and afraid, you heard about it.

But, I’m not a victim anymore.

Those close to me will tell you I’ve grown. I have come a long way. Things have changed, faces have changed and things I once considered setbacks were only stepping stones to God’s perfect plan. I’m learning He can’t move us forward if we aren’t willing to get uncomfortable and let ourselves grow.

If someone would have told me a year ago, I’d be presenting at a conference in October, I would have looked at them funny. But after praying consistently for a year and a half for God to get me out of my comfort zone and waiting for His opportunity, it happened. I saw the preparation early on but dismissed it. When I was asked to present in April then again in July, I knew this was God’s answered prayer unfolding before me. When I presented in July, those words weren’t my words. I’ve been told I’m a natural speaker.  I never thought I had a gift for speaking, I kind of preferred hanging out in the background, behind the scenes. But God apparently has other plans for me and I’m both excited and nervous for what this will lead to in the future. And if it doesn’t lead anywhere, I’m fine with that too. 

Life for me isn’t about the things I do or accomplish but more of my ability to show up when God says it’s time to act.

For the first time in my life, I feel beautiful, healthy, and strong. I decided a few months ago it was time for me to take care of myself- all of me, not just parts of me. I’m not sure how much weight I’ve lost, but being able to wear a pair of jeans I couldn’t slide on past my thighs for the past few years is a testament hard work does pay off. I used to think the reason I’m still single is because no man wants a woman who is fat or out of shape. I felt this way for a really long time.  This isn’t true for me anymore. With God’s truth of His unconditional love, acceptance, and protection carrying me, I don’t need anyone in my life to make me feel I’m enough.

I’m enough as I already am. I was enough before losing weight. I’ve always been enough.

Relationships for me are treated very differently now. Used to, I’d want relationships for the attention. For me now, relationships are less about attention but about acceptance.I used to think I was a hard person to love and immalleable. Time though has taught me differently. Love for me isn’t about romance and butterflies, it’s knowing this person genuinely likes and accepts me. You can love people but not like them.

Relationships as a whole for me don’t get mentioned publicly. There’s no mention of it on Facebook, on Twitter, or Instagram. I do share personal things, but in moderation. This is why most of my emotional life is now kept private. To be frank, it’s no one’s business. I don’t have an appetite for attention or sympathy and while it’s good for me to express my hurts, I know God is the only perfect person who can carry and ultimately heal them. I share what I feel should be shared, but I use discernment with everything else. Everything we do in life is motivated by something and I want my motives to be pure and honest.

I will share this though: I’m still single. I have reasons, but those reasons will remain private.

The Bible and Save the Cowboy have both been a huge source of wisdom in my life. I wouldn’t have been able to bounce back from a few things this year without their truth guiding my thought life and ultimately, helping me guard my heart.

I have gained more this year than I’ve lost, but the losses I’ve experienced have been big. There is always a break in the familiar when God needs to do something big in our life. God has a weird sense of humor and things happening this year that used to set me back for days, months, and even years only reminded me with the help of a close friend, those moments are reference points and are no longer part of His larger story for me. 

I’m learning other people’s decisions have nothing to do with me. This truth has carried me through some pretty difficult situations and realizations this year. I no longer lament over those situations, I thank God for them.

Living a quiet life isn’t for shiny folks … people who need the spotlight to thrive. Those who don’t take the necessary time to be sharpened. Most of my growth this year has happened behind closed doors with close friends and with my head in my Bible and voice in prayer.

I’m sharper than I used to be.

I do experience moments of set back. I do fail and fall. I do sometimes think in the flesh. I’m not perfect by any stretch, but I’m more gentle and patient with myself. Not only with myself but with people who have hurt me this year and in my past.

Mistakes will change you for the better if you let them.

In closing, I apologize for being away so long. My goal with this space moving forward is to write more but what I write about will vary.

Thank you to my loyal readers and for those who have stood by my side and believed in me. Your love and support mean the absolute world to me.

In Jesus and with love,

Julie

The Lesson of Making Friends Slowly

I was watching an episode of The Rifleman. Yeah, I’m that chick who watches old black and white westerns. Don’t judge me.  Anyways, there was an episode where McCain tells his son Mark,

“You act in haste son, you repent in leisure. It’s best to make friends slowly.”

I’ve learned recently the importance of allowing the friendships in my life to happen slowly. This is actually true for all of my relationships, romantic too.  If we do things in a hurry or act impulsively without thinking of the consequences, we’ll regret it.

One of the fruits of the Spirit is patience. God wants this fruit cultivated in us, not only in our character but in our relationships. 

In my own life, I’ve been so appreciative of the people who have been patient with me. The ones who have stuck by me when I wasn’t so loving. They’ve taken the time to get to know me and have helped me out of several pits I’ve found myself in this past year. Whether it was a phone call, a chocolate cake delivered to my front door, a card telling me how awesome I am, a card just letting me know they were thinking of me or something simple like a hug, I’m reminded occasionally I am so loved. There’s something special about these friendships that sets them apart.

These friendships have taken months and years of intentional face to face time and weren’t deepened hastily.

Recently, I’ve had to have hard conversations with the people in my life. The uncomfortable but needed kind.  Had these conversations happened without us deepening our relationship with each other over several years, the conversation would have gone differently. There were tears. Not from hurt, but from knowing deep down it was truth spoken in love. I also have friends in my life who we haven’t quite gotten to this point in our friendship, so it’s going to take more time. I tried but quickly learned it wasn’t the right time. Our hearts have to be prepared first.

God is never in a hurry with anything. Amazing how often we hurry through life making decisions or saying things without going to Him first. Allowing Him to work in our hearts and deepen the roots of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in us. 

Things done in haste often lead to unnecessary hurt. Which isn’t really worth it in the end. I have a hard time trusting people who do things without thinking of the consequences first. I know I was this person for most of my life until God did some hard work (He still is) in my heart. It’s none of my business though what people do with their life, dealing with myself is hard enough. But there are people in my life who I love and care about deeply, the ones who I’m willing to die for and you know what?  They deserve my patience. Patience with my words, my actions, my everything.

The important things in our life take time. Let those things happen slowly without haste. Your life will be better for it, mine definitely is.

In Jesus and with love,

Julie

 

 

Laying Your Life Down for Your Friends

About a month ago, our office had to evacuate because the motor in the staff elevator burned and almost caught on fire. Thankfully, no one was hurt and everyone evacuated safely until the smoke cleared. When the fire alarm went off, the only thing I thought about was to grab my friend and get out of the building. I left all my stuff (cell phone, purse, etc) behind.

This got me thinking about the value in friendship and how important the people are to me in my life. So important, I was willing to risk my own life to save theirs.

I’m not saying all this for a pat on the back. I don’t need that kind of validation. I’m not even saying this to brag. In that moment, it really put in perspective for me how important people are to me more than possessions.

When we are willing to give up all we have for others, there is no greater love than this. 

We can spend a great deal of time chasing things that don’t really matter in the long-run or slowing down enough to focus on things that do. What this really means is putting God and others first before ourselves. Now, don’t get this twisted and think self-care at times isn’t important. It so is. Taking care of ourselves is important, but always looking out for number one will eventually leave us lonely.

Real love means doing hard things but as I’m growing in the knowledge and understanding of God’s love for me, loving other people gets easier.

Laying our life down for each other is the most selfless thing we can ever do.

Will you lay your life down too?

2017: A Year in Review

To say 2017 was a year for the books would be an understatement. I’ve been wanting to write this post for the past few months, but it seemed fitting to close out the year and write it now instead. It’s been a very busy few months and it feels good to sit down and finally catch my breath.

Three words have defined and redefined 2017 for me: Re-routed, Renewed, and Reconciled.

Re-routed:

A few posts back I wrote about how being in a car accident made me reevaluate some things in my life. Mostly, that it was time to slow down and rest. About two months later, I was in another car accident two weeks after my birthday (Neither accident were my fault by the way, in case you were wondering). Needless to say, God got my attention and things changed immediately afterward. I’m not sure why those two accidents happened, but something told me it was time to take a different route. I don’t drive the same way to work any more and for the past two months I’ve been getting up earlier to spend more dedicated time with God, like 4 AM early and getting to work earlier, like 15-20 minutes earlier to avoid most traffic. Something I should have been doing before my accidents, but I think this is the kind of thing God does in our life to get our focus and affections back where they belong.  Now, the road I travel every morning is narrow. Doesn’t scripture say the narrow ways leads to life? Then again those accidents could have happened completely out of random without God’s involvement, but I know better. Everything that happens in our life has already passed through His hands with His permission. When we go down a path in life that’s familiar and safe, God will sometimes intervene to show us a different way. He reroutes us. As I sit here two months later, I can see the reason behind being rerouted. I’ve had a change in heart about things I had been wrestling with and I pay more attention. Because life is so uncertain and every day could be our last, let God do what He needs to with you. Let Him reroute you, He may be protecting you from the unseen.

Renewed:

Some of the greatest lessons I learned this year came from defining moments and a renewed mind. Earlier in the year, our family experienced a loss that set the bar for how the rest of the year would play itself out. My family took a few hits this year, but we’re stronger and better towards each other because of it. And I’m grateful. Which brings me to my point. Having a renewed mindset about unforseen circumstances is the only way to deal with them in a Christ-like manner. There’s a difference between being a Christian and being Christ-like. One is a label, the other is a way of life.  The only way we can be Christ-like moment to moment is with a renewed mind. Only when the Holy Spirit renews and changes our mind are we truly transformed. A lot of things happened this year that tested my faith and were an important part to my journey of healing. In late July, I got really depressed and experienced an anxiety attack. Thankfully, it didn’t last long and I’ve been okay since. There are days when I get bummed out, but not depressed.This is victory for me. There is victory on the other side of a renewed mind and life.  We can’t live life based on how we feel, this is very dangerous. Our thoughts our powerful and when they’re not controlled they can destroy us.  Pay attention to what you think about. The best way to live with a renewed mind is to ask, “What is truth?” and “What does God’s Word say about this?When our minds are really renewed it will be proved by our outward actions which are directed by the wisdom of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit. Last year, I made a decision that changed my life forever. Though a large part of that decision was based on how I felt, it was also confirmed in scripture three times. I was relieved, set free. The choices we make have consequences, but when those decisions are guided by the Holy Spirit, they don’t need an explanation and we don’t need to feel guilty.  We may know what God’s will is, but we can’t prove it in our life apart from the transforming work of the Holy Spirit and with a renewed mind. Test everything to scripture and surround yourself with wise counselors who have the gift of discernment. When our minds are exposed to godly advice and wisdom, God will begin to break areas of pride in us; the areas in us that won’t accept wisdom because it’s not what we want to hear. A truly renewed person stays humble.

Reconciled:

2017 was definitely the year of relationships and reconciliation. Earlier in the year, a friend and I had a brief falling out. Neither one of us knew how to navigate our offenses towards each other so we avoided each other. We both realized the relationship was worth saving and we reconciled. We’re closer than we’ve ever been before. This relationship is cultivated with Jesus as the foundation. If you want proof of a healthy relationship, pay attention to how the other person reacts when they’re offended or are being challenged. Most people don’t like to be challenged or sharpened. However, both are equally important to our spiritual growth. If you’re in friendships or relationships with people who never challenge you, maybe it’s time to rethink the relationship. Being with people who agree with or go along with everything you do and never question you are probably in a relationship with you for the wrong reason. God chooses our friends for us, it’s our responsibility though to cultivate and deepen those friendships through a deep relationship with Jesus first. Relationships are very important to me and I’m thankful for the times they have sharpened and challenged me to be a better follower of Jesus. This is what our relationships with other people ultimately teach us. Real relationships help us to stand firm in our convictions and speak truth in love. There is great strength in real relationships. Towards the end of this month, I reconciled with someone from my past who I haven’t talked to in 12 years. We were friends throughout my childhood to high school and we recently reconnected. I’m not sure the direction this relationship will go, but we’re both doing our part to stay in touch. If there are relationships in your life that can be restored, restore them. Rebuild burned bridges from your past.  Leave a legacy that matters, not one filled with regret. 

Despite some mostly bad moments, there were so many more good moments of 2017. I saw places I’ve never been to. That’s something I’m planning to carry with me into the new year. I made a list of the places I wanted to see and went there. I’m thankful to have shared those experiences with one of my closest friends and look forward to going on more adventures together in 2018.

To be honest, I’m thankful to be alive. Coming out of two car accidents without a scratch is a miracle.Those two accidents redefined my year. Though they happened towards the end of 2017, they’ve drastically changed my life for the better. Odd number years haven’t been favorites of mine, so I’m looking forward to 2018.

I’ve been a little adamant about writing the past several months, not because I don’t have a desire to write, it’s because I have more of a desire to live a quiet life.  Social media is becoming a huge distraction for me and has for the past several months. If we’re not careful, it can for most of us. I don’t think our entire life needs to be aired out for the world. Most people we’re connected to are spectators anyway. People who genuinely are a part of our life don’t need to keep up with it on Facebook. If Facebook is the foundation of any of our relationships, we’re doing relationships wrong.

 My only goal for 2018 is to be so close to God that I’m able to discern the difference between a divine encounter and a distraction. Both are similar, but only one is from God.

I’m not really sure what God is going to do tomorrow, next year, or even in the next few minutes, only He knows. But what I do know is I want to live a life that’s pleasing to Him. I know I can’t do any of that apart from Him. There still some work He has to do in me, stuff I still need to take to Him in prayer. Stuff from my past I still struggle with despite a better mindset and holding every thought captive. The difference between who I was last year to this year is I don’t carry unnecessary baggage anymore. Thankfully, I have people in my life who have helped me unpack most of it.

I don’t know what 2017 has looked like for you and don’t know what you’re going through now, but there’s hope.  There’s hope on the other side of a heart break. With the encouragement, conviction, and wisdom of scripture and healthy relationships, I’ve seen the hand of God in everything that’s happened this year.

It’s my hope you will too.

In Jesus and with love,

Julie

Social Media & Sabbath Rest

Recently, I made the decision to stop using my cell phone past 7pm. This also includes checking or posting to social media. I’ve been thinking about the reality of social media and how negatively being always connected affects us. At least how it’s affected me. After being depressed about a month ago, I knew it was time to change. Something had to change in my daily routine and this was definitely one thing that needed to be addressed. For now, it’s a break but I’m hoping it will turn into a habit.

Three years ago, I wrote about this. Most of it still resonates with me today but a lot in my life has changed. When I think about social media and what it’s used for nowadays, it was time for a break.

The reality of social media is sometimes it leads to false sense of reality. There’s a difference between sharing memorable moments and keeping memorable moments sacred. We want connection, but consider the cost. Screens shouldn’t replace our relationships. 

Most of my interactions nowadays are face to face and this is preferred. It’s more intimate. When I text, I try to keep it short. If I know it’s going to be super long, I call the person later or carve out moments in my day to confront them. So much can be misconstrued through texting.

Hard boundaries need to be in place with how we utilize technology.

About two weeks ago, the word “Sabbath” was repeated a lot in my reading.  After discernment, I knew I needed one day out of the week where I designated solely to rest. Saturday is my Sabbath. Self-care is so important, I can’t stress this enough. I’m thankful God really worked in my heart about the importance of rest.

Sabbath is a day of stopping. It’s one full day where we cease our activities.  God rested after His work and we are to do so too.

Between taking a break from social media in the evenings and having Saturday as a Sabbath, I feel better. Being still has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long while. Life needs space and God prepares us in our stillness.

Examine how often you’re connected and moving. Learn to be still and intentional with Sabbath rest too.

In Jesus and with love,

Julie

The Most Dangerous Narcissist

Narcissism is a word that’s been thrown around a lot in my circle this year. Whether it’s close friends with their own experiences with narcissists or my own, I’ve given this a lot of thought.  Narcissists are abusive, manipulative, and deceptive. There’s nothing worse then a person who is all three and claims to be a Christian.

The most dangerous narcissist is a Christian one.

Before I begin, I want to clarify this post isn’t directed at any one person but a culmination of my own or other’s experiences. However, if you’re reading this and think it may be written about you, then reexamine your life and behavior. And if you feel brave enough, contact me and we’ll talk about it.

These five characteristics are all things I witness daily by people who attend Church regularly.

  1. Christian narcissists twist the Bible. Instead of using the Bible as a weapon against spiritual warfare, they use it to call out other people.  Churches, religious groups, pastors, even their own family. No one is safe. They claim they’re speaking truth, but really they’re airing their own opinions and puffing themselves up. There’s no way of understanding in their hearts, only a need to be right.  Proverbs 18:2, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” Honestly, I don’t know everything about the Bible. I haven’t read scripture cover to cover but I know the Word of God should never be manipulated by man. We all interpret it in our own way but we should always ask God to give us His wisdom to understand before we go out and try to preach it. Our actions speak louder than quoting scripture ever will.
  2.  The silent treatment is a Christian narcissist’s “love” language. This is the preferred weapon of a narcissist. Pretty much, you’re invisible to this person. The silent treatment is emotional abuse and control. We deserve healthy relationships where both persons involved deal with their issues maturely. Narcissists don’t deal with their issues or any issues at all.
  3. There is no forgiveness in a Christian narcissist’s heart. They can quote scripture about grace and forgiveness but don’t extend either.
  4.  They have a history and pattern of broken relationships. Red flag, enough said.
  5.  They avoid confrontation. Accountability is healthy but Christian narcissists hardly ever allow themselves to be held accountable. And God help you if you try to confront and correct them in an area of their life where they’re not being Christ-like or hurtful. Ultimately, we’re all accountable to God, but Christian narcissists never take responsibility or own up to their own part of the conflict. They’re always justified in their own eyes.

It’s taken me about six months to examine my own life and actions. Earlier in the year, I was probably all five of the above at different times in a month’s span. Thankfully, God has done some hard work in me and my heart.  We’re all narcissistic in some way, but recognizing it and changing are two different things.

So, how do we protect ourselves against Christian Narcissists? I’ve given the below some thought and both have been confirmed. When God shows you something repeatedly, it’s not a coincidence and needs to be addressed.

The most important thing to protect yourself against Christian Narcissists is to create boundaries. Without boundaries we give the narcissists in our life permission to treat us how they want to. What isn’t told to stop will continue.

God wants us in relationships with safe people. Safe people are people we can connect with on a deeper level. In their presence, there’s no fear of rejection. We can speak truth in love to each other, confronting each other when needed. These are the keys to safe relationships and only work when guided by the work of the Holy Spirit.

Setting boundaries and having a safe support system isn’t self-centered, it’s our responsibility.

In your own life, pay attention to the people in it. Examine whether they have deep, meaningful relationships with other people. Gut level relationships, not shallow ones. The people in our life at gut level should know our personal history. If there are parts of our life that are left out, it’s not a deep relationship but a shallow one. There is no side life, everything is out in the open. This is a level of intimacy narcissists are incapable of.

In closing, I’m learning to navigate the relationships (work and personal) in my life carefully. Even with my safe group, there are still boundaries in place. This is healthy. We can’t avoid narcissists completely, but we can educate ourselves.

There are a ton of resources out there about narcissism, but as a Christian, the Bible is always a good place to start. Seek God and His wisdom regarding the relationships in your life. Ask Him to show you any error in you. It’s easy to point the finger, more difficult to focus on the faults in ourselves.

Through God and His grace alone, He will heal and change you.

In Jesus and with love,

Julie

Slow Down

Yesterday, I was in a car accident. Got rear ended on the way to work. Thankfully, I walked away without a scratch and with minimal to no damage to my car. The impact of the hit felt far worse than it actually was. I’m thanking God for His hand of protection over me that day. It’s definitely undeserved.

Of course now, I’m in reflection mode because “Oh my Lord, I could have died!” has played in my head but for whatever reason, my life was spared and I still have purpose here. (Wow, can you be any more melodramatic, Julie?) It has me thinking about why God allowed it to happen along with other things that have happened in the past several months. As I look back, there’s been a pattern and it’s always involved my car. Then it hit me.

My car is an idol. 

I depend on my car to get me around. It’s my way of escape when things at home are almost unbearable. My Mom always tells me when things are rough at home and I can’t stand being here to go out. So, I’ve been following her advice for about a year now. Recently though, I’ve felt this pull inside me to slow down.

It must be God. 

I’m not going to say I’m perfect in this area, because I’m not. But I’m starting to scale back on a few things that were taking up my time and money. One of which became an idol too. I was blowing money on stuff and things and the only person benefiting from it was me. I love my freedom financially. I’m thankful God has always looked out for us and we’ve never gone without. Sometimes though we take His provision for granted and fail to remember everything on earth belongs to Him.

I love my car, but I love God more.

I know I’ve not acted like it for a while now, but I’m making the change to be different and do differently moving forward. With a lot of things, not just with money and my car, but with my relationship with God and other people. These are the keys to a richer life.

After my accident, the amount of love and support I received from friends close and far were appreciated and felt. You never really know how much you mean to people until something unexpected happens to you. It’s humbling and makes the bad days not feel so bad.

Sometimes the only way to get through the bad stuff is to confront them head on and to stop running. This is what we do though. We fill our lives with people and things instead of dealing with the hard work of figuring out who we really are. Why every relationship in our life is broken. Why we keep running into the same toxic people. Why we stay in the same broken cycle. Why we never really change, and the list goes on. These are all things I’ve had to confront in the past several months. Sometimes though it’s too much and getting in my car with the music loud is a lot easier than dealing with the junk.

My encouragement to you and myself is to slow down and be still. If you’re a believer, make God number one priority over everything else. Yes, even that.  You know what I’m talking about. Without Him, your plans will fail because apart from Him you can do nothing. That verse has carried me through a lot of decision making in my life and this time is no different.

The idols in our life don’t feel like idols at first. In our mind, we’re going about our life and business doing things that come naturally while claiming to give all the glory and praise to Him. And while God wants us to enjoy our life and live it to the fullest, everything always has to point back to Him. If there’s ever a moment when He’s put on the back burner, something has to change. We need to change.

We can’t do the things we love doing wholeheartedly without loving God first. Really loving Him. Not with our lips, but with our hearts. He is the source and strength of whatever we accomplish here. Change doesn’t happen in the hustle, it happens when we be still (slow down) and know.

In Jesus and with love,

Julie

Patient Endurance

I’ve been depressed the past week and have only confessed it to a few people. Outside I look fine, but inside tells a different story. This is the first time in a very long time when my emotions have gotten the best of me and I feel absolutely deflated.

Normally, I can bounce back no problem. Lately though, things are different. I remind myself of scripture, I remind myself of God’s faithfulness, and that it’s okay to not be okay all the time. I feel more human than I have in a while, yet still feel that my faith isn’t strong enough to endure.

And then, God gently reminds me like He always does that patient endurance isn’t for the faint-hearted and can only be developed  through hardship. Not by filling the emptiness and voids with people and things, but more of Him. 

People and things are temporary, He is forever.  

Emotions are only temporary, He is forever.

This too shall pass.

There are no absolutes or guarantees in this life and it can really suck the life right out of you. But I’m learning to get to a place where I welcome the very problems I dread. God wants us to bring every problem into His presence with gratitude. He wants us to thank Him for our trials. In the past few months, I’ve been reminded continuously of His sense of humor even in the face of hardship. In other words, if God allows it, there’s a purpose for it. Usually, a lesson or an area of our character we need to confront. For me, it’s always the latter.

We can’t shrink back in hardship, we must stand firm. Every hardship God allows in our life have already passed through His hands and He wants us to persevere ’til the end.

I’m still not okay but it’s getting easier to face each day with a new attitude and renewed mind. When I feel myself slipping into those dark places, I step into His presence instead. I remind myself of His Word and it illuminates everything.

If you’re in a similar place, turn to someone when you’re in pain. I’ve had to admit to a few of my closest friends that I’m depressed. The one who is the strong one, the one who spends a majority of her life carrying others’ burdens. Admitting I was the one struggling with depression shocked those close to me because I’m always so together. But everyone has their breaking point and I’ve reached mine.

God reminded me the other day He weaves bright, golden strands of His glory into the most heart-wrenching situations. It may take a long time before the pattern or purpose emerges but this waiting builds patience. He wants us to rejoice in the pain. 

Blessed are all those who wait for Him and the one who endures to the end will be saved.

In Jesus and with love,

Julie

Hello, it’s me.

Sometimes you need to take a break, dust yourself off and reset. Over half of 2017 is over and what a mess this year’s been. I’ve learned a lot, grown, and paid attention. Life sure has shown me a lot.

About six months ago, I wrote a few posts after another failed friendship with the same person who’s caused a lot of pain in my waking life. At the time it seemed appropriate to write about it but as time’s passed, I realize even though it was how I felt, my feelings didn’t need a platform, they needed a Savior. When we use our platforms to call out offenses or those who’ve offended us, no one wins. All I  did was reopen the wound, over and over again. This is what offense does. It reopens wounds trying to heal. God wasn’t being glorified by calling out the person. God’s never glorified when we call out folks who’ve hurt, offended, or betrayed us. Any hurt done is between us and God. Healing is His responsibility, not the offender’s. Justice is His, not ours. I’ve learned this lesson too late and I’m making peace with my decisions. I’m not going to delete what’s been said and written, but I will do better with my feelings moving forward. Platforms are good when used for right purposes. Whether your platform is a blog, social media, or something else, ask yourself, “Who’s being glorified?” If it really is God, He will be glorified, not our offenses and opinions. The most powerful weapon against fleeting feelings is prayer not a platform.

Something I learned earlier in the year is the deeper relationship, the greater the offense. In April, a friend and I had a falling out that lasted for almost a month. Eventually, we talked, we both apologized and things are fine now. When there’s a fall out, always seek reconciliation. How’s your attitude towards people who’ve hurt you? If your mind still repeats the offense, release the person to God moment by moment because forgiveness is a permanent attitude. Forgiveness is instant, trust is earned and reconciliation is possible when we’re willing to resolve our differences. Pride keeps relationships broken and at a distance. 

The thought of having real friendships seems rare but there are people in our life so important they surpass everything else.  They’re must haves, the ones you can’t live without. About two weeks ago, I had one of the worst days in a really long time and one of my friends asked, “Need me?” Those words changed the way I view every relationship in my life. When it seems the walls are caving in and things seem to be falling a part, a real friend comes in willing to rescue you from the storm. They don’t leave you out there to drown.  At least one person should come to mind.

I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I use it mostly to share and connect. However, over recent months I’ve seen it divide more than unite. I don’t believe people should necessarily fast from Facebook but I think it’s important to do a daily inventory of where we invest our time and attention. Last week Friday, I spent some time off the grid and it was nice. Life is an adventure meant to be lived.  It’s okay to take a break sometimes from routine and responsibilities.

As messy as my relationship with God is, I’m thankful He always makes Himself known. About a week ago, for the first time in a while I went on my daily walk alone. Something told me to walk a certain stretch of campus, even though I had the slight thought to go a different route. Instead I went the way His voice told me to. This is what faith looks like. Sometimes you’ll go a different way than the one God directs and it’s okay to wander a while, but eventually, you’ll need to turn around. Faith is following His voice even when the way doesn’t feel right. I’m glad I listened to His voice that day.

Over  the past few months I’ve learned it’s okay not to be liked or accepted. No matter what we do, there will always be critics. Yeah, I come off hard sometimes and can be a “ball buster” as a friend put it, but I’ll never apologize for doing the right thing. When we do the right thing, the Christ-like thing, we don’t need to explain ourselves. Never entertain people who are critical, walk away from them and their ignorance. 

All that aside and said, I’m very thankful for this space. I’m thankful for the ups and downs and for the people who have supported me during hard times because there have been more than enough over the past few months. 2017 has been a bad year. It’s all perspective though. It hasn’t been all bad, some things could be better but I’m learning to take life as it comes.

God’s plan for our life will never happen in a straight line. There will be many twists and turns.  Just because something works, doesn’t mean it’s right in His eyes. I walked my own path and did things earlier in the year even with confirmation, but eventually those things fell apart. Never let someone use you or manipulate you to do God’s will for their life, their way. Without God anything that seems to be working won’t last.  What we do His way builds a foundation of integrity and this is far more important than doing things because they seem or feel right. Honesty and integrity are key to a life lived without regret and they don’t need to prove themselves. This is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned this year so far.

In closing, I’ve decided to write only when God leads it. Otherwise, there’s no point. It’s what we do when no one but Him sees us that truly reflects our heart and commitment to Him. Not our words, but by our actions are we truly His.

In Jesus and with love,

Julie

Knocking down the old so the new can rebuild.

There is so much in my life and heart God is showing and reminding me of right now.The parts I haven’t liked or could do without are the ones I know where He loves me most.

When the old and familiar came knocking, it’s His gentle reminder to let the past go and rebuild.

Compared to how things were in December, I’m at peace now. I’m thankful for the different people in my life who make their love and presence known. They’ve had a tremendous impact on my life without words but with action.

Dragging my past into my present was a bad habit, but I knew going into 2017, God was going to do something new.  Though outwardly things haven’t changed, inside they have. We are new creations and God wants us to experience this truth daily. 

Rebuilding takes work and what sometimes feels like a lifetime. What I’m learning is having a strong support system is helpful. There are people in my life now with different personalities and gifts and I see how God is using them to help me rebuild my life.  I know I can’t change what happens but I can build new beginnings.

I won’t allow my faith to falter because of flaky people and fleeting feelings. 

My new beginning starts now.

 

 

 

 

Why We Need Godly Relationships

Every relationship in our life should be taken seriously. I’ve been slipping in areas where I shouldn’t and it’s due in part because I’m not surrounded by Godly influences. This is my fault and I take full responsibility for it.

Most of us don’t want to be challenged by others but our relationships should challenge every area of our life. While we don’t want or like other people telling us the honest truth about ourselves, we need people who will not only tell us but help us to become better spiritually.

Godly relationships will make us uncomfortable. They will force us to confront areas in our life we’re not ready to confront. 

You know that hidden sin in your life you’re not ready to deal with? Godly relationships will expose them. There have been times in my life when God told me to confront people in my life about their sinful habits. There have  been people who have confronted me about mine. It was extremely difficult at first to accept their truth, but looking back, it was truth spoken in love. We should have relationships who keep us accountable. No area in our life is hidden from God, the same should apply to our relationships with others. If the people in our life genuinely care about our life, they will ask us the hard stuff.

Godly relationships keep us accountable.

The relationships in our life should push us closer to God, not away from Him.  When our relationships are centered on Him alone, everything else in our life is better managed. We need people in our life who will read the Word with us, pray with and for us, and challenge us to be the person God created us to be.  We need people who will help, motivate, and challenge us to live out our calling.

Godly relationships follow the Lord with you.

I have a strong desire to connect with people, but for the past few months I’ve been really lax in my faith and relationships with others. The desire shifted from wanting to help others to instead focus on myself. While doing this, I’ve realized a lot of the things I need most in my life can’t happen with only me. I need other people.

 Godly relationships encourage us in our strengths and carry us through our weaknesses.

Relationships are extremely valuable but can also be very messy. This is something I’ve touched on a lot over the last few months because it’s still an area of deep struggle for me. I told someone the other night wanting a Godly relationship is truly my heart’s desire.

Hopefully, it’s yours too.

Do you have Godly relationships in your life? If you don’t, what are you doing to change it?

 

More Than Words

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about love. What it is, what it isn’t, and wondering if I’ve ever really been in love. There have been many times I thought I was in love, but recently, I’ve been asking myself if I really know how to love another person unconditionally.

What does this look like? It means laying our life down for another, willingly carrying another person’s burdens, and giving people the freedom to be themselves without trying to fix or change them. Unconditional love is rare. I’ve made several mistakes in this area with past relationships and I’m learning to give myself grace for all the times I’ve screwed up so I can move forward in peace.

I don’t say “I love you” unless I know I can intentionally and purposefully prove it.  As of now, I feel incapable of this kind of love. My past has made me pessimistic in this area. There are days when I feel I don’t deserve to be loved, that I’m too messed up for it, or that I expect too much and those expectations push other people away.

When I stand before God one day, I’m going to give an account of my life. I will be judged by how I lived my life and loved other people. Knowing this scares me.  I haven’t been the best person towards the people in my life both past and present. I’m not always kind with my words or thoughts. But at the end of the day, I know there is a God out there who loves me despite my pride and sins. There are people in my life who accept me, all of me, without fear or hesitation.  They show it in every way possible and everyday. 

Love is more than words.  It’s not only spoken but shown.

As I draw closer to 33, I’m opening myself to the idea of love again but in the right way and with God’s help. The hearts He has entrusted to us deserve to be loved with His guidance and leadership. No other love can compare to the one we leave solely in His hands.

Let His love lead yours. Your relationships will thrive and thank you for it.

If  the words, “I love you” were removed from your relationships, would they still know you do?

#heartcheck