A Readied Heart

Ahhh dear friends, it feels good to be writing again.  It’s been a little while, but life has been so busy. And I’ve come to this place where I only want to write if I feel completely and entirely inspired. I’d say tonight feels right.

There’s a gentle rain outside, Lady is curled up at my feet, and I’m feeling all sorts of cozy.  Just thought I’d set the scene for ya.

Christmas time is fast approaching.  It’s hard to believe that my favorite time of year is breezing by so quickly. Since December is almost here, I wanted to share an important project with you all.

Last December, I did something that made my Christmas season so very special.  On December 1st, I started a Christmas Bible reading plan.  I read about the true reason for the season straight from God’s Word at the start of each day, all month long. It was truly amazing because my heart was ready from the very start.

It’s so easy to get all caught up in the shopping and the decorating. The hustle.  Events. Dinners. Constant happenings. And these are all so fun and beautiful and special.  Yet, it can be so easy to make Jesus an afterthought.  A Christmas Eve service. A quick reading of Luke 2 on Christmas morning. Check and Check. Okay, now back to food and presents.

So, by starting each and every day of December reading about what Christmas is all about, your heart is fixed on the eternal.  Meditating on the reason Christ was born.  It brings about a readied heart. 

Last December I made a new tradition that I plan on continuing for the rest of my life–reading from God’s Word about Christmas every day in December.

So I thought I’d give you the opportunity to join me! Below are some links to various Bible reading plans that I’ll be using this December. You can choose one or do a combo. The Bible App has a huge selection. You’re more than welcome to join me, as we ready our hearts for this divine season.  I assure you—You will be blessed.  Time spent with the Lord is never wasted.

Journey To The Manger With Charles Stanley

Joy! to Your World! A Countdown to Christmas

The Bible Project | Advent

Each of these plans contains a short devotion and then scripture that coincides with it.  Note: The third plan I listed has really neat videos to watch each morning and is only 4 days long.

Join me as we embrace this joyous season with a heart of worship.  An intentional admiration.  Take moments to be still and let the Lord quiet you with His Love.  That is ever important in such a busy time of year.  Let’s gather and have a readied heart.

Oh, and always feel free to message me.  It’d be fun to share thoughts on what God teaches us throughout the month of December.

img_2493-12

Obvious Christians

When we Christians behave badly, or fail to behave well, we are making Christianity unbelievable to the outside world. – C. S. Lewis

Let me start by saying I didn’t want to write this post. Convicting posts are scary. What if people call me a “Pharisee”? Judge-y”? But what started as a bedtime conversation with my husband, ended with him urging me to write about this topic. Because fear isn’t a good enough reason to keep quiet.

Christians’ behavior isn’t talked about in a very detailed way because churches fear sounding “legalistic.” Judgmental. Preachy. Etc. But the fear of sounding legalistic has gotten us to a place where anything goes and nobody speaks up about it. So now we’ve got a bunch of believers indistinguishable from the rest of the world. Now that is something to fear.

Why are we here? To bring glory to God! To go and make disciples. To share the good news of the Gospel. But let me tell you–this is not a part time job. It is 24/7. And that can be really hard. It takes a lot of sacrifice. A lot of saying “no.” A lot more of God, and a lot less of us and what our flesh wants.

I want to clarify one thing right away–I do not have this down. I am writing to myself just as much as to you. I write from a place of my own conviction. This is a daily battle in the life of a Christian.

Moving on. So here’s a question:

Would someone know you are a Christian if you never said you were? Simply by your actions (by your fruit), would it be evident that your life is different?

Could someone tell by your Instagram? By the movies you watch? By the way you spend your Friday night? By the places you go? By the words you say?

There are Christians living double lives. We make bad habits. Then we get used to these habits. Desensitized. Numb. Then we make excuses.

Here’s one I hear a lot:

“Oh everyone has different opinions on that.”

And my response–does it bring glory to God? Is it honorable?

I’m going to get super real with y’all for the sake of showing you I’m right there with you.

I have a pretty clean vocabulary. But if I stub my pink toe on the corner of a coffee table, all of the sudden words start flying that I simply can’t type. Instead of just being okay with that, I’ve been praying about it. Asking God for forgiveness. Asking God to help me choose pure speech even when someone cuts me off in traffic. Would it be easy to grow numb to that? Yup. And I have in times in the past. But I’m really trying to make sure my words line up with who I am and what I believe. Even when no one is watching. Because being a Christian isn’t just a show. It’s every hour of the day. In the work place and in the quiet of your home.

The Christian life isn’t easy. No one said it would be. But it’s worth it. For the sake of the Gospel, Oh is it worth it!!

We need to be more OBVIOUS.

We need to start standing out!

Because the way some Christians are living, Christianity looks like a joke. It looks like how C. S. Lewis described it–“Unbelievable.”

Doesn’t that just break your heart? Our actions can make our faith look unbelievable? But isn’t that why we’re here? To be proof of God’s love? So why are we just blending in?

This can’t go on.

As Christians, we’re going to have to say no sometimes. No to posting that bikini picture. No to seeing that movie. No to going to that club. No to saying those words. No to certain music.

Because our testimony is a huge tool in sharing the Gospel.

If someone weighed 2,000 pounds and was trying to sell you diet pills claiming they work, would you buy them? Of course not. There’s no evidence in their life that those diet pills did a thing.

If we are going to call ourselves Christians, we need to live above reproach. Our life needs to be evidence that the Holy Spirit dwells within us. Because the Gospel is worth that!!

So how do we do it? How do we live more obviously for the Lord? Friends, turn your eyes towards Jesus and don’t take your eyes off of Him. If we try to clean up our lives on our own, we will fail. Every time. But when we let Jesus clean up our life, He gives us the power to do it. Through Him.

Pray. Read His Word daily. Fellowship with other believers.

We will fail. But it’s the act of getting up and trying again. Fixing our eyes back on the Lord.

Meekness is not Weakness

“You’re too sensitive.”

Words I’ve heard my whole life and believed. Words I’ve let steer my view of sensitivity as a flaw. A disadvantage.

Yet, God has been teaching me—not only is it not a flaw to be sensitive, it is a gift. It is not a weakness, it is an opportunity.

For the sensitive person, words are very impactful.  Either refreshingly encouraging or devestatingly hurtful.  I used to think the power of words over me was a negative trait.  Recently, however, God has revealed just the opposite to me.  I read the book of James a couple times in the past month.  One of the overarching themes is…words. Yup. Taming the tongue (See James 3).  The Bible has a lot to say about it. Words are a big deal to God. And so, it’s okay if words are a big deal to me.  Because what we say is so important.

Proverbs 15:4“Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”

Woah! Words are LIFE-GIVING.

Proverbs 16:24 “Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”

Words are a big deal. When I look on sensitivity and meekness as a flaw, I am demeaning the power of words.  But the Bible repeatedly tells us words can satisfy and refresh, or words can wound and destroy.

Being sensitive allows one to feel and to feel deeply. Showing emotions is a sign of strength and courage. Sensitivity allows the simple things to be enjoyed and appreciated.

Really, sensitivity goes hand in hand with empathy, gentleness, and meekness.

For years, I’ve apologized for being sensitive.

Not anymore!

God has shown me how I can use my sensitivity to give people the encouragement that I thrive on. To care deeply for others’ trials and feelings. To channel that into the need to pray. To understand how people feel. To rejoice with them. To mourn with them. To appreciate all the details around me.

God has also revealed to me that since words are so impactful to me, that I should be all the more careful with what I say to others.  Sensitivity is something we can use to be sensitive to others.

Billy Graham once said in a devotional of mine, “Meekness is not weakness.”

A biblical definition of meekness is “strength under control.”

In other words, God’s strength imparted to us to feel, be kind and humble, loyal and honorable.

If you are meek and sensitive, stop apologizing for this beautiful gift God has given to you!

Sensitivity and meekness do not mean you let people run you down. It is exhibiting strength under control. Kindly and honorably standing up for yourself and what is right.

Here is an impactful quote by A. W. Tozer:

The meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority.  Rather he may be in his moral life as bold as a lion and as strong as Samson; but he has stopped being fooled about himself.  He has accepted God’s estimate of his own life.  He knows he is as weak and helpless as God declared him to be, but paradoxically, he knows at the same time that he is in the sight of God of more importance than angels.  In himself, nothing; in God, everything.  That is his motto.

So friends, meekness is not weakness. Sensitivity is not a flaw. God is our strength and these are our gifts. Thankful the Lord has given me new perspective and invigorating encouragement!

img_2493-12

Friendship, Forgiveness, + Faith

I’m sitting out on my balcony this very moment, admiring God’s creation. The tranquil water. Trees laced with morning dew. White flowers blooming atop the lily pads. Birds delighting in the sunshine. (I’m just going to ignore the wasp that is uncomfortably close. Haha.) I see all this goodness God has created. A divine reminder that He is powerful, in control, and sovereign. Nature is my favorite form of worship.

Life has been full of lessons lately. The process of learning has been painful, but the wealth of perspective I have taken with me is valuable. It makes the hard roads traversed so very worth it.

I always enjoy hearing what people are learning in their journey, so I figured I’d share my latest life lessons, in hopes of inspiring you all.

Here’s what I’ve been learning about friendship.

  • A true friend uplifts and encourages.
  • A true friend is honest and convicting.
  • A true friend shows kindness and love.
  • A true friend respects and admires your differences.
  • A true friend is a joy.
  • A true friendship is edifying.
  • A true friendship is built on mutual love and respect.

Here’s the thing–no one is perfect. We will all fail at the above list at times. (And that’s where grace comes in.) But our heart should strive to be these things for our friends. When we do fail, it is the perfect opportunity to humble ourselves and make it right. In fact, it is these situations of failing and humbling ourselves that makes friendships grow stronger. Deeper.

Love and respect is a vital ingredient in a fruitful friendship. We often hear of respecting our elders or our parents, but little is talked about in regards to respecting our equals. A friendship built on love and respect will be able to weather difficult times.

Conflict will happen. Perhaps you will be confronted by a friend when they are hurt. Our first instinct is to be defensive. That is natural. But it is all about, how do we let it play out after that? Take James 1:19 for example:

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,

How can we respond in a peace-loving way? How can we empathize with our friends? How can we love them through their love language?

Sometimes, people lack concern for how they’ve hurt you. Sometimes, despite your efforts to bring understanding, they simply don’t want to. That is out of your control. You can’t make people respond kindly. And in such cases, you can’t allow yourself to be mistreated.

Here’s what you can do: forgive.

A couple weeks ago, our pastor was preaching from Matthew 18. One of his statements really stood out to me. He said,

Reconciliation and forgiveness are two different things.

Woah. Never thought of it that way. But so true. Here are reconciliation and forgiveness defined:

Reconciliation: the restoration of friendly relations

Forgiveness: canceling a debt; to let go of anger or resentment

Forgiveness is freeing. It untangles you from the bondage of hurt. It is a deliberate choice. Sometimes we have to simply let go. We should always try to reconcile, but if it is not wanted mutually, all you can do is forgive and move forward. Take the situation as a bounty of lessons and perspective.

Then, move forward in faith. Pray. Be in the Word. Something I’ve been astounded by lately is how personally God shows His love to us. He keeps showing up in my life in big ways lately. God-hug after God-hug. Gentle reminders He is there. That He cares for my weary heart. Comfort in every hour.

In summary, let’s strive to be women who encourage other women. Let’s be peacemakers. Let’s forgive and bask in the freedom and joy that comes from the Lord. Let’s look to Jesus as the ultimate friend. Let’s build all our relationships on love and respect. Let’s ooze warmth and kindness. Let’s radiate light to everyone we encounter. Let’s be contagiously joyful! Let’s be obvious for Jesus! Let’s keep trying, even when we fail. Praise the Lord we serve a God who never will!

Love, light, and joy to you all,

Three Years

View More: http://sgamblephoto.pass.us/billyandjulia

:: Written for Bill-Bill ::

I remember our wedding day so vividly. Weeks. No, months in advance I was so worried it would rain. (Our wedding was completely outdoors.) I literally looked up the weather probably two months in advance, and kept doing so til our day arrived. lol. God blessed us with the most beautiful spring day I’d ever seen. The sun sparkled over the bay, there was a gorgeous breeze, and I had never felt to peaceful and excited my entire life.

I remember excitedly peeking out of the window of my dressing room, watching the staff decorate the tables. I remember walking down the aisle to the theme from Anne of Green Gables.  I remember his face, filled with tears, as I walked towards him. I remember our friends and family laying hands on us.

I remember the happiest moment we both realized–we’re married.

The dance floor was full the entire night, and it was on our wedding day Billy realized his mad dance skills. lol.

It’s been three years since that day.  The crazy thing is– I love him even more now. I’m so thankful to the Lord. The best part is– I know I’ll only keep loving him more.

Here is our beautiful wedding video.  Pull up a chair and welcome to our wedding day.

I love you, Bill-Bill. Thank you for the three best years of my life. Here’s to forever more.

Love,

Jules

View More: http://sgamblephoto.pass.us/billyandjulia

img_2493-12

How You Know You Met “The One”

Perched on my couch, I write to you with tea in hand and a smile upon my face. This post is written in honor of Billy and I’s upcoming 3 year wedding anniversary. Mmmm God is so good. He’s blessed me so beyond what I deserve. I will forever thank the Lord for the man that He has given me.


Talking about love and marriage always inspires me to share the wisdom I have gained through the years.  Finding the one looks different for everyone.  Everyone traverses a different path. A different distance. A unique journey. But God is near and He wants you to trust Him.

I believe we all desire love.  Many people desire a forever love. A spouse. I believe God put that desire in us. It’s a good desire.  It is from Him. Trust Him, follow Him, serve Him, and KNOW that He will provide.

Finding the one seems like a mystery. Until you meet the one. haha. I know it’s cliche, but the saying is true–When ya know, ya know. But, hindsight is 20/20. So here’s my insight on how you know you met the one.

  1. You can be yourself.

I remember when I first met Billy. One of the things I kept saying to myself was, “Wow, I can be my complete self around him.” It was astounding. Like nothing I had ever experienced before. I didn’t have to tame my silly side. He liked me. For me. My goofy, happy, loud-laughed, music-loving self. We were able to really embrace who we were.  There were no fronts. No performances. Just us. And that is SO important.

2. You have the same values.

I remember when Billy first told me he liked me, we were sitting on the beach at John’s Pass.  We realized our time together was headed towards relationship.  Billy asked, “Can I pray for us?” That’s when I knew, this was different.  This was something beautiful.

I can’t stress this one enough. You can have different hobbies. You can have the same hobbies. That really doesn’t matter, as long as you support each other.  What matters is that your values and beliefs, are the same.  Billy and I are both Christians.  We believe that we are sinners (duh, we’ve all done crap), that the payment for sin is death, that Jesus paid that price for us on the cross, and conquered death 3 days later so we can go to heaven when we die. Billy and I have a relationship with each other, but first we have a relationship with GOD. If your values are not the same, the relationship is not worth pursuing.

3. There is so much peace.

I am a firm believer that God reveals His will for us through His peace.  I had never experienced such peace in my entire life.  There was no turmoil.  No constant battle.  Just peace.  It felt right.  It felt good.

4. Everything is simple.

Now, life isn’t always simple, but we humans tend to overcomplicate things.  A right relationship shouldn’t feel like constant tug of war.  This goes back to there being peace.

When Billy and I were dating, we typically drank tea and watched movies when he would come over. One day he told me the moment he knew we were going to get married. “We were drinking tea, and it was the happiest, yet simplest moment of my life. I knew I wanted to drink tea with you forever.”

Being with the one isn’t about some over-planned, highly orchestrated moment. It’s about simple, real, life moments.


I hope you enjoyed my little nuggets of wisdom.  Most importantly, remember the One who loves you more than any human ever could. So much so, that He died for you.

Psalm 143:8: “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.”

img_2493-12

My God

The feeling of belonging is peaceful. The feeling of having is comforting. Don’t you agree? It’s a sweet feeling, one that we long for. One that we desire to nestle in and get comfortable with.

The other day, the most elementary principle really struck me fresh. It wasn’t new or revolutionary, but it was something that I had never given more than a passing thought. So here it is.

The Lord is mine.

Yep. Just as much as I am His, He is mine. Like, wow.

We were singing “Amazing Grace” at church, and one of the last stanzas we sang said,

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,

The sun forbear to shine;

But God, who called me here below,

Will be forever mine.

Tears filled my eyes at the very thought of it. “God will be forever mine.”

My fellow believers, just let that sink in for a moment.

The Creator of this beautiful universe. God is ours just as much as we are His.

When you put your trust in the Lord and what He did on the cross, you become a child of God. There is the belonging. He becomes your Heavenly Father. There is the having.

Our humanity wants to belong. Wants to have. Wants relationship. And isn’t it beautiful that with God we belong, we have, and we commune? If you let Him, He can fill all those little cracks of loneliness and lack of purpose in your life.

We are His, and He is ours.

It is a beautiful, mutual relationship.

Oh, MY God, you are so good.

Starting Your Day

They say that the first 10 minutes of your day sets the tone for the rest of your day.

I really started exploring this concept, trying it out for myself. For me, this way of beginning your day has little to do with checklists and tasks, and more to do with positivity and setting the scene.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of ways to start your day, with the hope of a fruitful, joyful, productive day.

1. In the Word

This is of utmost importance. I’ve always remembered my pastor saying, “We need God and we need Him early.” If you are struggling to find joy each day, but aren’t starting it with Jesus, you are setting yourself up for a dreary day. Spending time with the Lord in the morning is like coffee for the soul. The perfect way to awake and refresh. Nourish and uplift. It doesn’t have to take long. Just dedicate a few quiet moments to set your heart on things above.

2. Make Your Bed

A simple task yet so powerful. This minuscule decision sets your scene. Tidying your space helps give you that extra little boost in the morning. You’re awake. You’re up. Your bed is made. It’s go time.

3. Stretch

Perhaps a full blown workout just isn’t in the cards. That’s okay! Simply moving and stretching can alleviate tension and help put an extra pep in your step.

4. Get something done.

Even just one tiny task. Just do one productive thing in the morning, and you will be surprised how much you will accomplish throughout the day. Put away the dishes from last night. Flip the couch cushions. Fold that load of laundry. Small tasks have big effects.

Discipline will be needed in order to have a fruitful morning. Sometimes we need to help motivate ourselves. For example, I made a rule for myself a few months ago: The tv can’t be turned on until I’ve spent my quiet time with the Lord. That simple rule has been monumental in my morning routine. And in my walk with the Lord.

How are you setting yourself up for success each morning?

Happy Youthful Year

I felt a new year’s post was in order. There is something absolutely wonderful about the start of a new year. Fresh and hopeful. Clean and crisp.

This year my goal is to truly encompass the “Youthful Philosophy”, as I like to call it. This philosophy is not a free pass to conduct myself with immaturity. Rather, it is maturely choosing to embrace the best traits of my childhood.

And what does that look like?

1. Childlike Faith

My faith was unwavering as a child. Steady and natural. As this year is sure to present some changes, my goal is to strive towards absolute surrender to the Lord. He has always come through, so why should I doubt Him?

2. Quick Forgiveness

I struggle with this. I’m so sensitive and when someone hurts my feelings or seems to care so little, it becomes so easy for me to dwell, and harp, and re-hash. However, as a child, this wasn’t such a struggle. I am praying that the Lord will help me with this. That I will simply pray for those who act unkindly.

3. Contagious Joy

I have always possessed what I like to call my “Julia Joy.” Yet, life can quickly zap that right out of me if I let it. My goal is to be irresistibly joyful. So much so that it bubbles over and creates ripples.

4. Life Lived Unplugged

Technology wasn’t as commonplace in my childhood. While technology can be truly amazing and useful, it’s important to be able to entertain oneself without it. I want to read more books and create more things and just be in the moment. Not living with a screen plastered to my face.

5. Constantly Imagining

This was a true talent of mine as a child. And still is. But it’s easy to forget to keep that imagination alive. I hope to add a little more imagination in my writing this year. You never know what that could lead to.

6. Reckless Love for the Lord

The love of Jesus in a child is so moving and raw. A true example. The greatest goal I can make this year is to love my God more. To spend more time with Him. I will say, the last few months of 2017, I read my Bible more consistently than I had ever in my entire life. And it rocked my world. In the best way possible. Therefore, I want to keep increasing this time spent with Him.

7. Wonder

Children love to wonder, don’t they? “What’s that?” “How does this work?” “Why does it rain?” Their questions go on endlessly. They stop and look at things. May my sense of wonder and awe increase this year. May I stop and gaze at the moon. May I breathe in the fresh air. May I look on God’s creation with admiration and true worship.

Happy Youthful Year, everyone! Excited to see where God takes this little blog of mine this year.

Things I’ve Learned From Being a Teacher’s Aide


I’ve worked with kids since I was 18. In my 6 years of summer camps, aftercare, and being a teacher’s aide, I’ve tucked away precious lessons and sweet memories. As this chapter closes and I move on to the next, I am thankful for the morsels of experience I can carry with me. I truly believe that there are lessons to be learned everywhere. All we must do is slow down and observe. Look a little closer. Hug a little tighter. Love a little more.

Here are the lessons I’ve learned from my past three and a half years as a teacher’s aide.

  1. Bandaids have magical healing powers. Even if you can’t see a scratch, give the kid a bandaid.
  2. Kids will do anything for a piece of candy. Even just one skittle.
  3. The power of a sugar high over a child is no joke.
  4. Kids are brutally honest. “I don’t like your hair like that.” “Oh okay, thanks.”
  5. Kids genuinely care. If I was ever out sick one day, I’d have kids asking how I was feeling for a week or so after.
  6. Four square is serious business. And if they ever hit me with the ball, I was “interference!”
  7. Childlike faith is a truly beautiful thing. They believe with such reckless abandon. Unwavering, blissful, steady faith. 
  8. Watching a child break down walls–brick by brick, begin to trust, and flourish is one of the most heartwarming things to witness.
  9. The Bible doesn’t need to be watered down for kids. In fact, the more meat they learn from it, the more of the Bible they yearn for. Seeing them get excited in Bible class is so inspiring and uplifting.
  10. Copy machines have a mind of their own and they definitely aren’t people pleasers.
  11. Working at a school is like working with family. 
  12. Teachers work so hard. Not only do they pour into a child’s education, but their inner struggles as well. It’s been an honor to work along side the very best, loving, invested teachers.
  13. Rainy days= bad days at a school. No recess = no sanity.
  14. The teacher’s lounge is a sacred refuge. With donuts. Lots of donuts.
  15. I’ve learned a lot about discipline and resolving conflicts—valuable, fruitful lessons I can apply to parenthood one day.
  16. It has been an honor to work with children of all different personalities, backgrounds, and perspectives.
  17. Kids see the world through different spectacles. They’re not afraid to get dirty, dig, and be free—a trait I need to embrace more.
  18. Sometimes you impact a child, and sometimes they impact you.
  19. When a teacher’s aide enters the room, teachers look at you like a paramedic about to save the day.
  20. In a world saturated with technology, it’s refreshing to see that reading a child a book still deeply affects them. Sitting criss-cross-applesauce, with their mouths slightly open, their gaze in awe and anticipation—they are entranced by the power of a good book.
  21. Speaking of technology, I’ve learned that it is not only unnecessary, but harmful in excess to a child’s imagination. (This is merely my opinion.) Nothing makes my heart soar more than seeing a child play house, drawing treasure maps, building things…being uniquely and creatively, them.
  22. Children aren’t afraid. They climb to the top of the play structure with ease. No looking down. No second guessing. They just climb. And that’s where I’m at right now. I needn’t look down, but rather look up.

As I tread unwandered trails, I hold fast to the fact that the Lord has always come through. He always provides. In His perfect timing. And He sprinkles the path with blessings and lessons. A truly beautiful journey indeed.