Showing posts with label influence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label influence. Show all posts

Sunday, December 4, 2016

For The Ones That Show Up

I got suckered in. I was at a jewelry party one afternoon about six years ago and I got suckered right on in. Not just into buying a $79 dollar necklace. That's one thing. Deciding I was going to sell it was another. But I did. I became a Lia Sophia home sales consultant that day. And for about 8 months or so, I sold jewelry. It wasn't the worst thing in the world. I loved having something I could do on my own and be proud of. Something besides be "Mom." (I wear the Mom title humbly and appreciative now, but that's a whole other story.) However. I'm not a real assertive, pushy sell what I'm selling to you kind of person. I actually really hate trying to convince people of anything, unless it's the word of God. But that just comes easily, because, well it's truth. And it's life.

But I remember trying to convince and tug at people's heartstrings that year, to puh-lease host a party for my new business. And I must have made a profound impact with all my begging because my cousin agreed to have a party and went on to  invite a slew of co-workers, friends and family members to her home and she had quite a few of them that reluctantly agreed to show up. But closer and closer to the party, they started cancelling and bombing out on her. I remember her email so clearly because I could relate. She said "This feeling sucks. I'm never doing this again. I don't know how you can do this over and over." As a sales rep it didn't bother me so much.
I wasn't really all that interested in making millions. But as a human, I knew the feeling. The feeling of anticipation followed by a feeling of let down and finally rejection or abandonment.

It's a feeling most of us are somewhat accustomed to. But particularly if you have ever led or planned or put significant time, thought or passion into anything. Ever plan a birthday party for your kids and only three kids show up? Ever put your heart and soul into a message for your bible study or home group and only 5 show up, when last month it was 20? Ever watch your blog or band or ministry peak and then little by little people start trailing off to find something flashier?

This is a little awkward for me to write because I've grown up in the church (in the ministry) and people that know me might read this. I never want it to sound like I'm whining, because it couldn't be further from the truth. It's the exact opposite. I'm refreshed. Because I've experienced healing and thankfully some wisdom in this area. And it's been on my heart to write this to you for awhile. I want you to know that if you have become familiar with this sort of disappointment and it became a game changer for you, I hope that what I'm writing will open your weary eyes just a little to see a new perspective.

Whether you are a parent or a preacher, an actor or a small group leader, a business owner or a school teacher, a musician or a probably know this feeling. If you've pursued any sort of passion or served in any capacity, this is for you. This is for all the people that are walking this particular path today, because I've been there. I know that feeling of disillusion when it seems like people aren't with you and I know it's intimidating. I've planned parties and youth services and women's events. I know what it is like to feel like people don't care about all the hard work you put in. I know what it is like to watch crowds of hundreds trickle down to crowds of tens over the years. I know what it's like to promote or advocate something you are so incredibly passionate about and people just don't get it. I know what it's like to feel like a cast away. A has been. I've seen it all.

I remember going to a small home make-up party a friend was having a few years back. She planned and prepped and of course, had all her carefully planned snacks set out. And shortly before her party, my mom called me up and said "Do you want to go to her party?" I said, "Sure." And off we went. I'm glad we did, because when we got there, we realized that we were the only ones that showed up.
As I write this, I can think of a dozen examples either from my own life or peering from the sidelines and watching other people as they abandon their passion, something they truly loved doing or even what God had told them to do because this very thing has happened to them.
People stopped showing up.

Not everyone is empathetic, but I think that is why I am such a cheerleader for other people. I hate to see people feel unsupported or let down. I hate it. So as much as I can with four kids. I try to show up. And I don't just want to make an appearance. If I go, I want to really be there. Ya know?

A few years ago, I was talking to the Lord about this. I don't remember the exact details, but I had probably planned an event of some kind with a probable small turn out and I distinctly remember hearing these words, Do it for the ones that show up . That pretty much rocked my world. From that day on, I have been able to plan and prep and write and speak with little disappointment to who wouldn't be there, but more prayer, thought and time spent into who would be there.
Do it for the ones that show up.

We can spend all year long feeling let down, wondering why people don't care or aren't there, listening to rumors, or feeling forgotten. But this was never even supposed to have been about us anyways, right? Why are we so worried about the people that are not there any longer? Or maybe were never really there to begin with? Why do we question and muse and plan our lives around the people that don't show up?

What about the people that do still show up?
What about the people that do still need us?
What about the people that do still believe in us?
Do those people matter?
Not that we can't genuinely love people that aren't around, because I believe we can. We needn't cop an attitude with the no-showers and naysayers. And there is certainly an aspect of reaching outside the box or beyond the four walls. That's a whole other post. But the point is, there are still people showing up. What about them?

I'm a mom of four. My kids are 13, 11, almost 8 and 2. The summers are loud and slightly chaotic. During the school year, however, it gets quieter during the day. My two girls who are my middle children, go off to private school all day. My teenage son comes home around 11 in the morning from 'brick and mortar' public school and finishes off his school day with home school. Either way, it's much quieter in my house. And either way my kids are getting older.
During my days, not nearly as many people need me for things. Even with the teenager home doing his home school, there is still an awkward hush in my home. But that doesn't mean I get to sleep in. Unfortunately, I can't sit on my butt all day. I just can't stop
"Mom-ing' because most of my kids are either off at school or being quiet upstairs. You know why? Because I still have a toddler at home.
I think any mom with a single kid at home can tell you they are very needy. Almost more so, than if there were two or more children keeping each other busy. Alone, he may not be as loud and rambunctious as having the four kids here. But he still needs me to be Mom all the live long day --and sometimes well into the night. My crowd may have out grown specific needs from me. It may just be one on one during the day. But guess what? That one single tiny cute child still shows up every single day. He points to the door and says "Side" (Outside) or to the window and say "Cai" (Car) or to the kichen and says "Mmmmm Mmmmm Ahh Ahh Eat" (I think you can figure that one out.)
It's just me and you kid, and because it's just me and you, I HAVE to show up. 
I'm there. Showing up. Just for you.
He still needs me just as much, if not more during the days, in particular while the multitudes are gone away and not entertaining him.

Do you see my point? That one tiny child all by himself still needs me to show up and do what I am here to do. It may be lest hustle and bustle and more slow and steady, but I still have to do it. And guess what? Slow and steady wins the race.

If I could tell any one person on this planet that is doing anything in the way of passion, talent, calling, serving or obedience to the Lord-- I want to say this. Please hear me. What you are doing matters. It sounds corny or cliche'. You may have no idea the impact you are making on that one hyperactive child in your kids church or the disgruntled teenager in your youth group that never seems to pay attention, And you most likely have no idea how much you are helping out those parents. You may wonder about that small quiet lady in your bible study that keeps to herself but is always sitting there in the back of the room. You may look around to your audience and see 10 where you used to see 50 or see 100 when you used to see 500.  You may even wonder if  anyone other than that one girl even reads your blog anymore. But for that one kid or teenager, or for those parents who cried themselves to sleep, for that one quiet lady that shows up faithfully at your bible study every time, or for the noticeably smaller congregation or readership or crowd...for the ones that are still there. Do it for them.
Do it for the ones that show up. And take it seriously.

You may never verbally hear how amazing you are for doing what you do.
You have to be okay with that .
Just do it for the ones that show up.

I wish I could tell all my kids teachers and coaches and leaders over the years all the details of our lives. I wish I could share the struggles and hardships and tears and meltdowns. I wish I could always every day tell them how much they are needed to help guide and instruct and mold our kids. Of course the major responsibility lies in the home. But, it actually brings tears to my eyes when I think of how important my kids are to me and how quickly attached they become to the adults in their lives.
I've seen their confused sad faces when it's time to move on for one reason or another. They depend on people to care about them. They think the adults in their lives are committed to them and I hope they are, but it hasn't always been the case. And my heart is invested in my kids. And whether you realize it know it or not, their heart is invested in you. I see it every day.
Do it for the ones that show up.

What I'm saying is, every single response you make to influence the life of a single person, big or matters. So do what you do, not half-heartedly because of the ones that are no-shows. But do what you do, for the ones that have always been there and will probably be there for awhile longer.

Because they still need you.
They need your help.
They need to know you care.
They depend on you.
They learn from you.
They look up to you.
They believe in you.

And maybe sometimes they talk about you. Or forget to thank you. Or misunderstand you.

But they are people. And people make mistakes. And trust me. It's okay to not worry about what everyone else does or says or doesn't do. It's okay to show up anyways. It's our job to be obedient to what we are instructed to do in this life. And trust me, as I started applying this to my own life, the Holy Spirit has given me such an incredible peace and comfort in place of fear or disappointment. His presence has rested on me and in our home in midst of the chaos, sadness and very temporary feelings of abandonment. I don't look to my left or right any longer when I do what I am supposed to do. At least not for any significant amount of time. I don't look to see who is not there, but I look to see who is. And I see exceptional people. And it's possible that if even one of them gains any encouragement from my being there, I am there for them.

Do it for the ones that show up.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Loving Them Well

I started writing this around Thanksgiving and seemingly got busy and sidetracked and never quite finished. Fortunately, I can say with some certainty that it wasn't too much of the 'holiday rush' that consumed me, but just having a family. And that's a good thing. It's a good thing to have people to love. It's even a better thing to love them well.

All year long, most of us pour our lives into our people... our families our friends. And this is unquestionably a season where we intentionally set aside time, funds and thought to others outside of our circle. During the holidays, we make an effort to extend that extra hand in particular those that are in need. It's what we are called to do at all times, to love. But as we celebrate the gift of Christ each Christmas, we are reminded to love and give to those around us. We go above and beyond. However, going above and beyond for many of us may just mean to start at learning to love the people in our lives better.

We live in this era when there is something to be said for just being there in that moment without having to document it for the world to see. There is something to be said for loving our people well...for no other reason than just because. Not for a photo op, not even to make ourselves feel better, but just because those are the people that have stuck by us, will stick by us and they deserve our best and our better most days.

Earlier this year, I really felt God tugging on my heart to step out of my comfort zone to love my people better. I'm a home body. I'm perfectly comfortable pretty much never leaving the house. I adore my friends and I love my family, but getting up and out takes work and energy.  Mustering up the words via email or a text or vox to let someone know I have their back when I wont actually leave the house to have their back seemed pointless. So I knew God was calling me to stretch a little and make sure the people who have laughed with me and cried with me knew that I loved them truly.

As the body of Christ we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus to this world, but I  have always had a problem with the person that can be kind to the stranger or will give more time and thought to the passerby in their life, yet fail to treat those who have always been in their life with respect, honor and kindness. I don't want to be one of those people.
I happen to believe most of my family and true close friends are God given. Those are the people who have defended us, who will repeatedly forgive us and who will go on trusting us over and over again when others wont. Those who will try and talk us out of the bad decisions or even tattle on us when we make them are the people who love us. And first and foremost, if we are to practice love, we need to learn to honor them with our time, our integrity, and our sincerity... I truly believe if we can learn to love our circle of people well, that love will spill over naturally to the world outside of our circle.

This past February, we very unexpectedly found out my dad had to have open heart surgery. I don't want to say I was scared, but I was prepared. At least as I could be.. And I made sure I was there every moment possible of his 10 day stay in the hospital. With four kids, school, my husband being out of town for 5 of those days, it wasn't easy and I was exhausted. But I knew how important it was for me to be there. It was important to me that I was there for him, and I needed my dad and mom to know how much I loved them. The previous year, my mom went to the ER and was told she was a week away from a heart attack. Those are hard and scary moments. I'm a faith girl and I believe in the promises of God, but those moments are just hard and I am thanking God for his peace through every moment.

Since then, I've thought a lot about whether I've shown my love and support for family  and friends the way I needed to over the years. And until this year, I don't think I have. At least not as well as I could have. And over the course of this year, it's something I'm still working on. I've been selfish. I've been negligent. I've been busy. But I've come to this place in my life where I realize a lot of the 'issues' we have with our people simply aren't worth the inner fuss and they definitively aren't worth the fight. Our goal in life is simple. To love. And to love well. To be there first for those God has placed  in your life and that are there just for you... and let that ministry of loving well, then, seep over to others... on the outside as well.

I'm really good at saying I love people, because in my heart, I do. I am empathetic. I am sympathetic. In my heart, I rejoice with those when it's time to rejoice. I mourn with those when it's time to mourn. But love isn't an empathetic feeling or a smile or a tear alone. Love moves you. And I want it to move me to be present in the lives of the people that mean the most to me.
In between the week of starting this post and today...One of my aunts who I am closest to had a stroke.... My heart aches. I see her almost weekly... at church, on visits, we spent Thanksgiving laughing and cracking as we all played Heads Up and Catch Phrase, we spend every Christmas Eve with her and her family, and she always has such a giving heart and is such an example of faith to me. And as I've witnessed and experienced these hard moments with people I love these past 2 years, somewhere in between shock and heartbreak, I am reminded how much I really love them, but even more, how much more I could be loving them. And this isn't my goal for 2016, but it's something God has been laying more and more on my heart. Love them well. From now on and forever, love them well.

The question we need to ask ourselves is, who are those people?  Who are the people that have been there for us? Who are the people that we spend our holidays with? Who watched us get married or came to a funeral of someone we love to support us? Who cared enough to tell us like it is when we messed up?  Who cried with us when we lost someone or something? Who texted us to ask if we were okay? Who laughed with us over and over at the same dumb joke? Who visited the hospital when we were sick or having a baby? Who taught us to be more like Christ? Whose words of wisdom have stuck with us? Who hand held ours? Whose arms hugged our neck? Whose shirt was wet from our tears? Who forgave us over and over? Who trusted us again after we hurt them? Who trusts us enough to tell their frustrations? Who looks up to us to care for them? Who do we laugh so hard with we need our inhaler to breather (ahem...)?

Chances are there are several people, friends, family members, leaders, pastors, classmates, co-workers, etc that fit several of these categories... Chances are these are your people. People that are in your life, right here right now, that need your time, your patience, your generosity, your forever support... These are the people you need to love well.
My husband always teases me when I drive through Starbucks or am on the phone with a customer service rep. Apparently, I  talk "pleasant." He's messing around me with me because my voice gets extra high and perky and I suddenly pull out the ultra nice card. I get a good laugh out of him joking with me. But the truth is, it convicts me of how I treat and talk to him or my kids or the people I truly truly cherish. Why do they not get this 'pleasant' side of me? Am I more kind to a stranger than I am to my own people? Do I put more thought into how I treat someone I don't know than how I treat those I love?

It's certainly something to think about...

I pray as we embark upon another year, our hearts aren't broken or afraid or tattered before we learn to love and cherish our people. I pray today, right here and now, before difficulty comes, we stop and make the decision to really love.
To realize and remember those that really impact our lives and we all learn to love, love them really really well...

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

I Am Not Broken.

I've been noticing this trend in our culture.
This trend where we dare to break free from fear of what people might think and we do our best to live authentically. It happens in all circles. Political, religious, personal. We are 'authentic.' No more being afraid of what people think. No more secrets.

We open the pages of our lives, for most of us it's online,  (unless we are a published author or speaker or celebrity) and we dig out the nitty gritty dirty things of our lives and we share them. We parade our humanness in order to relate to humanity. We want people to know and understand us. Sometimes we need them to know us for our sake. We need them to get that 'we are only human.' We fall, we mess up, we suffer. So please, cut us some slack. But I think more often that not, we want to empathize with people. In order for people to hear us out, we need them to know that we understand. We've been there. We are there. And we are working it out. Someway, somehow... this too shall pass.

I've dipped my toes in these waters. I've opened my pages for others to see bits and pieces of my story. The messy parts. The hard parts. And the promising parts. I don't think I've dived completely in, but I've waded, somewhat hesitantly. And I've stumbled around, finding my place of comfort, my place of discomfort and where I can be stretched... and those places where I sense the Lord is giving me the 'go ahead' to lay it all out there.

And just like you, just like us all, I have been through the wringer. Some days the wringer has wrung and wrung and wringed and wrung. Some of those days have turned into weeks, and some of the weeks into long tormented seasons.
But here's the thing. I am still standing. Here's the thing. I am a daughter of God. Have I had brokenness in my life? Yes. But I am not broken. Have I had messy days? Yes. But I am not a mess. Have I failed? Yes. But I am not a failure. Have I felt hurt, been sick, lacked provision at times? Of course, we live in a human world.

But my identity is not wrapped up in my brokenness.
My identity is wrapped up in redemption.

Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:10 "...I delight in weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
So I get it. I understand that it's when we finally realize we can't do this hard life alone, that Christ's power can work through us. But it's for that purpose that we recognize the broken, tough, icky messed up parts of us... we recognize it, so that we can then become strong. If you are a redeemed son or daughter of God, you are not broken. You are not a mess. You are not a failure. You are not weak. You are not frail. You are not empty.
YOU ARE STRONG, friend. Walk in it.

Does our need to relate to others sometimes have us glorying a little more in our weaknesses than in His strength?
Have our immensely poetic and philosophical thoughts and quotes carried us to to a place where we just float and sulk in a weighted heaviness that Jesus already bore on the cross and redeemed us from? Sometimes I almost think it's unfair to Jesus, that after everything He went through for our salvation, healing, provision, joy, peace, abundant life and redemption as a whole... that we still qualify ourselves as 'broken.' We sing melancholy tunes of our empty lives that Jesus already filled.

Our testimony to others isn't in the middle of the mess we made of our lives or in the pain that our circumstances caused us. Our testimony of God's goodness comes when we walk out of our mess into our victory with confidence and thankfulness to our Redeemer.

I understand that people, all people... relate to brokenness. People relate to hurt. People relate to screwing up and making bad choices and being let down. And that is why all people need hope. They don't just need us to empathize with our own sad stories and a tidbit about God thrown in at the end. They need more.

We all need more. We all need Jesus.

People need to know 'I am just like you. I've been depressed. I've been abused. I've been poor. I've been sick. I've failed too many times to admit. I've been a bad parent. I've neglected my spouse. I've rolled my eyes, gossiped, wallowed in self pity, been addicted, experiences loss....
But that is not who I am.
I am not broken, because I know the restorer of broken lives.
I do not fall apart daily because my God is the lifter of my head.
I may fail but I am not a failure, because I know someone who forgives and empowers me to keep going.

Life can get pretty dicey sometimes. We live in a natural world. But as sons and daughters of God, we are no longer broken, but made whole. Let's show the world how big Jesus is, what he can do with broken lives and how his redemptive work brings healing and newness.

Old things are passed away. All things are become new.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

An Influential Woman

or at least I like to think so...

 Hey guys...gals...beauties of all kind. I'm Julie. I'm saying that, assuming that I am not yet so influential that you
already know who I am, but that you want to learn who I am, because you are here thanks to the AMAZING 
Influence Network! I attended the Influence Conference last year and was blown away by the Jesus portrayed in
so many different avenues by so many creative minds and desperate hearts for Jesus.
I am forever thankful to these amazing ladies heading this network up and  they have so inspired me to be
INTENTIONAL with my blog and my life for that matter. I still write my style, my life, my thoughts...
but those moments when I want to shrink
away from blog world or from life in general, I remember, it's not always about what I want. It's not always a choice.
My life, my gifts, my words were given for a purpose. It's not mine to say what and when and why.
But it's up to the one who created them and created me.
And as far as the network goes, honestly  I have yet to make a lot of use of the resources available online, but that
word "intentional" will stick with me as long as I live. Thanks to the first ever Influence Conference!
I am not 100% I am going in 2013, but I am hoping to. There are a few circumstances and decisions in my life being
processed so we will see how it all plays out over the next 3-4 months. But I DO hope to see you there.

A few other random things about me:

I think in poetry form. Seriously. When a topic of discussion that I have had or want to have or write about is heavy on
my mind, my brain starts forming poems. Not the deep rants of a forlorn artist, but more like that childish rhyming wisdom
of a Dr.  Suess Book. I'm weird (and cool) like that.

I currently run 7 facebook accounts. My personal one, which comes and goes as I get annoyed with people or myself.
My blog fb. Our Church fb. Our Youth Ministry fb. Our Womens Ministry fb. Our Youth Conference fb.
And I also oversee my son's facebook.

I also have SEVEN kids between the ages of two and nine come in and out of my house every week, sometimes all at the same time. 
My own three kids. Two of them are in school. My four year old stays home with me. 
We have another five yr old & eight yr old that come over before and after school on select days. And I have another four year old that comes over after school one day a week. And a two year old that I watch two full days a week. 
 During the summer, this of course multiplies as none of the school kids are IN school, but AT MY HOUSE!
So, yes there are days when I have SEVEN kids at a time. This does not include when my kids just want to have friends over just for fun.
Like they did last Sunday.
This explains why my house is never clean.
This (the SEVEN  facebooks and SEVEN kids) also explains why I haven't made much use of the Influence Network.
 Blogging in itself is about all the online time I can manage...and even that's been a little sketchy lately.

So, enough about me. What's your story?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Practical Thoughts about The Daniel Fast

In my last post, I talked about how this year, I want to be uncomfortable. I want to break out of
my comfy cozy habits and do things that may be uncomfortable but better for me & my family.
Well, this certainly fits the occasion. Last Friday I started the Daniel Fast. Only then, I didn't 
know that's what it was called. I saw on facebook that my uncle and his church were doing a
 21 day fast  and for some reason I decided this was something I also wanted to do.  I'm not even 
sure exactly why, but I know that it's a new year and I want more. And that means getting rid of 
everything that is comfortable to me, including my food. Because I have never fasted before, 
I knew that I couldn't do a foodless fast, but rather cut out certain foods & possibly television that
was becoming more of an idol than they should be. Silly that food can be an idol, but when you 
turn to food or television as your relaxation or reward, rather than to the Lord, there may be
some things that need to be adjusted to allow more of God back in your life. 
This is the case with me.

I decided on the spot that Thursday Night I would cut two specific things, any foods or drinks other than water or fruits and vegetables...and any television show that had me addicted. In this case,
I had spent the previous 2 weeks making it through 4 seasons of Desperate Housewives. So 
this is my fast. I have never cut any food from my life ever. Ever. Even when dieting. I simply cut 
portions sizes, but soda generally is a must have for me daily. And I rarely eat fruits and veggies. Horrible, I know. Not that I don't like it, I just like pizza and subs and chicken better. 
So for me, this is truly a sacrifice to forsake my flesh, and replace it with being open to
 more prayer & time with God.

I will be completely honest with you and tell you how I am doing so far. On day one, I did well. But at night I gave in and ate one cookie. Day two, I did the same thing & had ranch dip with my carrots for dinner.  By night time I actually felt like I was having withdrawals, and then Sunday night (day 3) hit and I was shaking. Not kidding. But I stuck it out, prayed for grace and went to bed with some water. Since my first two days, I looked a little more into this 21 day fast and did find out it is called a Daniel Fast based on Daniel 10:3 where Daniel let nothing pleasant touch his mouth for 3 weeks. And on Daniel 10: 8-14 where he asked  to the king who was to feed him and 3 other men lavish meals, to only be fed vegetables and water for 10 days. The authorities feared that he would weaken, but in fact after 10 days looked stronger than the rest of the men.
I have finished 5 days of the fast and am now on day 6 and my body is functioning so much better already. I feel good. I don't feel withdrawals like I did 2 days ago. And this has nothing to do with why I started doing 
this, but I lost about 4lbs already. Red potatoes have become my new best friend, and I found out I am also allowed things like plain rice cakes, homemade salsa, homemade tomato based vegetable soup, natural peanut butter, brown rice with spices, plain oatmeal with cinnamon... 
as long as it doesn't have any additives in it and is made of only things that come from seeds.
Spices & vegetable/olive oils are allowed for some taste. I think the hardest part so far for me is no soda to wash down some of the more bland foods. Tortilla chips made with just corn, salt & oil are also a "questionable" ok, because the ingredients work, but you technically are supposed to give up fried food. 
So I guess that's a personal call on an individual part...

Let me say this...
In Matthew 6:16-18 the Bible says "And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head & wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others buy by your Heavenly Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees you in secret, will reward you openly."
I feel that because the Daniel Fast is being done so corporately right now, I've seen it in the blog community and numerous church websites, I felt peace that sharing this part of my life was okay, 
because we lean on and encourage one another, not as to gain any sort of human reward, but as a 
simple way to share what is on my heart.
For those of you that have always wanted to fast, but have been nervous about it. let me reassure you,
once you get past those first 2-3 days, things seem a ton easier. I encourage you to try it, God knows
your heart and if you mess up like me, just keep on going. Any amount of cleaning things out of your life to make room for God is good...

And what a great time to start fresh...

oh...and ps... NO, I am not pregnant. I know these pictures and this shirt dress thingie give that 
illusion. I could hear the rumor mill before I even posted this ;)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Blessed: Thankful for My Parents

I am so blessed to be the oldest daughter of these two right here.
My parents have set such an example of faith, of never giving up, and of never wavering.
Like most children, I can't say that we have always seen eye to eye on everything,
but I am so grateful to have each of them in my life. Sometimes, especially lately,
I realize how quickly time is going by. Life is just flying right past us all.
It seems like just yesterday I was arguing with my dad about what time I came home last night,
or with my mom about, well everything. Because that's how I did.
But that was already half my life ago!
I am so thankful they were so balanced. It sounds strange, but they were. 
They were balanced with me in discipline, with handling the teenage years, freedoms and 
restrictions, church, my wedding...everything. And I do treasure both my freedoms,
and my rules that they set for me as I was growing up.
I respect them and am thankful that they pushed through the doubts, the hard times...
and kept following the plan of God for their life. If anyone is to be role models to their
children in certain things, in working hard, in loving Jesus, in loving one another...
 it should be your parents. And they are...just that to me.
Dad & Mom, I love you. I am so very thankful God placed me into your arms.
I really do realize how blessed I am to have been raised under your protection and
guidance and love.
Thank you for all you have done for me, Jeff and our kids.
But also, Lord, I thank you, for giving my mom and dad to me. Someone had to get 
the best parents around, right? Today, I am so so blessed.

Link up all your thankful posts with Tico and Tina and myself all week long. 
Everyone who links up will be entered in a giveaway. We are giving away a $10 Starbucks giftcard PLUS each of us are giving away a one month spot for our "In Post" Ads! 
 That's all you gotta do! Be Thankful and link up!


Thursday, November 8, 2012

I've Been Quiet

Today I am quiet
I've been quiet, as of late actually.
I know it doesn't look that way,
because I've still been posting things on my blog.
I hide it well, I guess.
But my heart has been quiet.
The few things I've put up,
were written awhile ago, months even,
or just they've been easy go-to type posts
that took little thought or connection.
My heart feels withdrawn.
I'm not entirely sure where I am,
why I am feeling this way.
I've been asking God to search my heart
lately. I mean it.
I love that time alone, just me and Him.
Where my thoughts and his thoughts are exchanged.
I want to make sure every word I speak is to His glory,
not to mine.
There is a realm of glory we receive,
even when we are hoping to direct others to God.
The comments,
remarks like "God is using you."
Of course, I want God to use me. I am His.
But I don't want it to be about my gift or ability to speak into
the lives of people.
I don't want it to be about my story,
and how I relate so well to others.
Because in reality, none of what I can do or say
is possible without Him.
I want people to look straight through me, and see
the love of Jesus.
The personality of Jesus. The mercy of Jesus.
There is such a fine line between God using my story
or my personality because it reaches people
and Me using my story and personality and people crediting me
because what I said had an emotional impact
on their soul, or it made them laugh.
It's a very very fine line.
How do I tell my story, share my thoughts to encourage
without it being about me?
Do I pray each and every time I sit a computer?
Would that make me feel better, in knowing
I gave the Holy Spirit complete control in what comes
from my fingertips as I type?
I just don't know.
All I know is I want it to be about Him.
Next week, I think I have to make a confession to make to you.
I'm pretty sure I will.
A confession about how I let the disapproval of you,
my blog world, shape me for just a day,
into forsaking my loving Jesus.
These are the thoughts that have kept me quiet, silent...
I fear any sort of self glorification will make me 
into someone I do not want to be, nor someone I would
ever respect. I want to remain humble.
I want to remain a meek and lowly heart, 
yet rise up with confidence in who God made me to be,
but again, to be only for His Glory!
Is this confusing anyone else, or just me? Haha
So instead I say little to nothing.
I want to be me, but I want it all to be about Him.
How do I do that?
Has anyone else ever felt this way?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Kicking God Out Of My Country

To everyone in my country that proclaims freedom from God,
who screams out for freedom from Biblical standards and Christian principles
Separation of Church and State you say.
I ask you this: Have you seen the heartache & bondage in other countries?
Have you seen the famine? Have you seen the poverty?
They lack the freedom to choose the life or death of themselves,
much less that of another life. This isn't an option.
Death or life  to them is determined by the food the ground produces,
or even the weather, the lack of rain, the lack of soil.
Freedoms to do how or what they please because it's their body isn't a choice.
 For they are enslaved to their governments, their lands, their poverty.
Why do you think that is? Why have other lands escaped the peace we have here?
It's absolutely heartbreaking. We want to help so many other countries.
Because they lack so much of what we have.
But so many have made Gods out of creation. Out of the work of their own hands.
They have made Gods out of people. Animals. Or Man made objects.
Instead of giving their heart to the one true and living God.
These are people that God loves. So desperately loves.
We still need to help and offer hope to those nations who lack. And never stop.
Yet they lack. Why?

However, the Bible says " Blessed is the NATION whose GOD is THE Lord."
Why do you think we have freedom, we have food, we have money?
Why have we been so blessed out of all the countries in the world?
Do you think we are just the lucky ones? Just happened to have all the good stuff here?
It's because up until recently, our country relied on God and his principals to guide
our footsteps. To make our laws. To decree our freedoms.
Little by little, as our country slips into ungodly decay, demanding in freedom 
from the one who gave it to begin with. Little by little our freedom is being taken away.
It's sad that people want to rid themselves of the giver of life and prosperity and freedom.
Can't you see it?
Our blessed nation is becoming a fearful place where we will
no longer have the choice of who governs us.
When I vote to keep God in my country, it's not because I hate you, 
it is because I love you.
I know placing our trust in God and his standards is where our protection and blessing
as a country has lied for so many years.
This is what you want to escape?
Yes, you can choose. You have rights. You have freedom.
You may choose to escape the prison that you believe Godly principals have placed you in.
Yes, Go ahead. You may choose this kind of freedom.
But it saddens me that one day, so many that thought they were choosing
freedom and separation from God, are actually choosing bondage.
You are choosing to kick God out of your country, and your life,
so it means you are choosing to be free from his hand of protection
 that surrounds us, and our freedom.
The Bible says "Where the spirit of the Lord is, THERE is freedom."
If you shove him out, you're so called freedom is soon to be completely lost.

No matter what the outcome, and who sits in the presidental seat in my country,
I know that God will reign in my life.
Therefor this day and every day, I choose him. He is on the throne.
My trust is not in man, my trust is in him,
even if the rest of my country's trust lies within themselves and their rights.
My trust will always remain in God.

Just a reminder that my next link up for 50 Shades Of Stupid will be NEXT Tuesday,
November 13th. So jot down your stupid and embarrassing stories and party with us!

Plus, Enter the Fab giveaway in the Post Below!!!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pictures of Influence!

Now for fun part!
I am not exactly crazy about the quality or the lame look on my face in most of these pictures, 
but these are people I just met, I am not going to keep asking for repeats like I normally would.
Just sayin... So these will have to do.

1. I loved meeting so many amazing women that Ive only seen pictures of the past 10 months.
2. Bloggers dress cuter than anyone. I could sit and stare at everyone all day. That sounds creepy, but I know I'm not alone. EVERYONE looked so cute. I got so many fashion ideas!
3) I smile like a doof. Someday I will feel comfortable smiling, mouth open.
4) I felt really old when everyone was "guessing how old she is." Oh man... Tears.
5) Can't wait for next year!
1:Chicago traffic 2:Amanda {Royal Daughter Designs} 3:Casey Wiegand 
4: Roomies Alli: {Life On Leroy}, Kerrie {The Williams Post}, Lisa {Mommas Me Time}

8:Ashley {5ohWifey}  9: Breakfast  10: Brittany {These Happy Times}

1: Mirror Shot  2:Selfie with Kerrie  3:Selfie with Lisa

14: Erin, L, Kerrie & Me  15: Me, Lisa, Alli & Kerrie  16: Stripes Party

17: Stripes Photobooth  18: L {All Glorious Within} 19: Selfie with Alli

20: Kara-Kae {The Mom Diggity} 21: Of course I would wear my shirt backwards in front of people I dont know  22: Stephanie {Whatever Is Lovely & Noble}
 23: Chelsea {Taste and See}, 
Annie {What She Saw}

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Big "I" Word

This morning I woke up, and of course checked my twitter (I'm going to pause right there and say 
how grateful I am that I am checking twitter instead of facebook, like I was 2 years ago).
I feel that after 10 months blogging I have officially conquered the "facebook" demon.
It's funny, a year ago as much as I loathed the time suckage that social media had presented in my
life, apparently it never sucked enough time and life away from me to quit completely.
Either that, or I was just obsessed. I am sure I was not the only one.
I am one of those "facebook quitters." Where if I feel overwhelmed in anyway, facebook is the first thing to go. Because its the last thing I need to be worrying about, the last thing I need to be checking.
Yet I will do it several hundred times a day anyways.
So I will shut 'er down. I get texts from my friends all the time asking if I'm ok. Or I seem to be a running joke that "Julie shut down her facebook again.' But I know what works for me and I intentionally become unaware of what people think or say about me or anything else, just for a few days or weeks.
 But, as I was saying, I opened my twitter feed this morning and I saw that #influenceconf was trending on instagram and on twitter and as cool as I think that is, I had been contemplating
all weekend on whether I wanted to "write" about the conference or just organize 
my thoughts and put them into action. 
Part of me wondered if people were tired of hearing about it & I hate to bum anyone out.
This is why I call it the big "I" word.
So I'm just going to briefly share a few things that had captivated my heart this past week and then later in the week, I share some more photos.
  I have been battling the past few weeks with where I want my blog to go.
I feel as though in the 10 months I have been blogging, I have tried a little of this and that, but in the end, writing is what I love and I fully intend on being intentional in my time spent on the computer. 
I realize the giveaways and fashion posts get me more comments and followers and exposure, and I am grateful for & not completely opposed to those things, because I have fun with those, but I want  to be intentional with my life, live intentionally & this includes my time spent in social media and not just to do it to suck time like I used to do with facebook. I want to develop myself as a person & pursue what I know God has put inside of me. I'm so excited about it. I can't even begin to tell you.

 Eeeesh. I can't even believe I am putting those words out there. That freaks the heck out of me. But why not? This desired jumped inside of my skin only about 2 weeks ago and I can only assume somehow, in's God. I think. Maybe? I'm not sure what, not sure how, not sure when. It's just a thought. A thought that I didn't care for a year ago. No matter how many people told me "Julie, You NEED to write a book" it simply wasn't a desire. It's funny how God placed the desire in me RIGHT before the conference, so I would come away completely inspired to be bold and intentional with my life. I would feel like what I have to say DOES have influence.

I completely connected with the hearts of these leaders and speakers. In particular..Emily Freeman, Casey Wiegand & Jessi Connely. Everything I have been wanting to say and share and be all came out in their words and their hearts this past weekend. I feel like seeing art and beauty inside of people, and being the Jesus that people need is my strongest desire. 
In all my mess and awkwardness, I want Jesus to be seen. 
And if that means to be brave and to be real and to embrace all those weird little uncomfortable, scary, questionable desires in me, that not everyone understands or is passionate about, then it does.
Because he is able to shine in SO many ways THROUGH different kinds of people TO different kinds of people. This weekend, I learned to keep being the Jesus that people need. And these women were a glimmering example the of Jesus that we all needed to go out and do the same
 in OUR sphere of Influence..
more pics to come later this week
I could go on and on and tell you about the time I cried while talking to Casey Wiegand, or how awkward I felt smiling and pretending I was a part of random conversations when I didn't know where my roomies were, how old I felt when groups of girls would "guess how old I am" or how extremely grateful I am to have meet so many of these amazing women in real life that I have gotten to know via blog and twitter and instagram this year. (That's still just so crazy to say!)
I could tell you all my thoughts and plans for my blog, my life, my family from this point on,
but for right now I just want to say Thank You to ALL the lovely women who listened to Jesus, did this big scary thing and put on this conference, but definitely touched so many hearts and connected so many of us in a much more real way to each other and to finding our purpose and passion in Jesus.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

I'm okay!

Roomies:  Lisa, Alli, Me, Kerrie

How does one go to a conference that involves social media and not tweet and update facebook to let everyone else know I am ok?
Oooops my bad. 
My dear friend, from Christina from Tico & Tina tweeted me earlier to ask me if I was okay because I have been so quiet the past few days.
I feel like pieces of my brain and heart are being torn and broken into so many directions. Between being overly tired and letting all these beautiful and overwhelming thoughts stir inside of me, I just haven't even thought about letting everyone know I am having a great time at the Influence Conference. I cannot begin to tell you the amount of times I have been close to tears in awe and moved by so many beautiful women of all denominations with a heart and passion to let God use their lives in so many different ways.
My heart is filled with compassion, my soul is filled with emotion and my brain is racking up all kinds of ideas of how to be a better Jesus to people I have influence on...whoever that may be. I value every person and am always striving and praying for more and more compassion.

More to come, I am sure. But family and friends, know that I am alive and well, eating lots, building friendships, and not getting enough sleep.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Influence Pre-Conference Meet & Greet

Um, so apparently I am out of the loop. 
I had no idea there was a Influence Meet & Greet link up thingie today and I had already put up a new post today about my NEW HAIR HERE today! 2 posts in one day? That's ok, right?
For those of you who don't know, yes I have committed myself to going to a blogging
conference rooming and driving with people I have never met.
Is blogging that big of a deal to me? Am I that passionate about it?

Anyways, I'm sorta in the middle of a bunch of work for my church,
so I am going to fly through this quick.

Get To Know Me:

1) Hi, I'm Julie. Wow. Exciting name right? Wouldn't Julianne, or Julia be better.
I always wanted a little more pizazz to my name. Nope, I'm stuck with Julie.
A name straight out of the 70's. Oh Gosh, did I just say that? The 70's!!!

2) I'm kind of a brat and sassy. But my heart is big. I am a super huge believer in encouraging
the beauty and talents and gifts in people, because if people don't believe or know how
vital and unique and important their qualities are, they might give up on them.
I don't want that. Do you? You can see what I mean HERE

3) I survive having 3 kids by writing (or typing out) down the conversations we have or they have with each other, on a regular basis. Sometimes you can breeze past some of the things that kids say,
but not me. I need to find humor it it. Need to. I mean, for my sanity. Not kidding.
Like this post HERE

Two Things I am looking forward to About the Conference:

1) Of course to meet YOU! I think everyone says this, but I had no idea so many amazing girls blogged, but more importantly I had no idea the community behind it. It's not just social media,
nor is it just about "MY" blog...but I've made so many friends who have encouraged and
lifted me up. I've met a couple in real life so far, but I am looking forward to meeting
so so so many more of you in just a few weeks! Mothers, missionaries, college students, youth pastors, wives, business owners and all around gorgeous gals whom I've grown to love.
I mean that!

2) Because blogging in itself was stepping outside of the box, I think actually doing this, going...
with a bunch of people I never met is a NEW step for me. Rooming with girls I have never met, driving down with a couple of Wisconsin girls I don't really know.  WOW, huge step!
It's an adventure. And it wasn't easy for me to swing the money for it, so I feel like it will be worthwhile in many ways...both to step outside the box out of my shy and comfort zone,
but also learning to use this huge online tool to help others! Exciting!

One thing I can't leave home without:

Um, clothes?

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