To Be Brave


(Photograph by the lovely Yazi Davis Photography.)

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a heart rambling blog post. These typically go unplanned, and I wait til God leaves one on my heart. And He has. So here it goes.

The other day I was ill at work, and it was decided that a trip to the ER would be best, just to make sure I was okay. It wasn’t anything crazy, and why I was there is besides the point of this post. (But don’t worry, I am okay ☺️)

I will tell you that going to the doctor is one of my least favorite things in the world. Being in that ER waiting room (for 3 hours) sent my anxiety through the roof. Thankfully, Billy distracted me by pulling out his phone and putting on Netflix for me. Nothing better than a Gilmore Girls episode to lift my spirits.

I was eventually brought to a room where they were going to run some tests. The room was divided by a curtain, with another patient on the other side. I couldn’t see her, but I could hear her yelling at the nurses, telling them they weren’t doing their jobs, among other unkind things.

I was already nervous about what sorts of tests were going to be done to me. The tension in the room increased as I heard her yell at any nurse or doctor who entered.

Whenever a nurse left the room, she started talking to Billy and I from behind the curtain. Telling her life story practically. And it was heart breaking, honestly.

A nurse entered. She’d yell at them.

Nurse left. She started talking to us again. She’d crack jokes, start crying, and then change the subject again.

“Crying helps, you know,” she said.

My heart sank. There was a moment. A moment where I felt like I should say something. Something about Jesus, and how He can mend every broken heart. That He saves us. My heart pounded.

Let me warn you, this is a sad story.

It’s actually embarrassing.

But it was an eye opening experience, so I feel led to share…

I didn’t say anything. I got scared.

“But I can’t even see her,” I thought.

“She might yell at me the way she yelled at the nurses,” I reasoned.

A nervous wreck from the events that had transpired through out the day, and honestly a little afraid of her, I said nothing. I let my fear take hold of me. I allowed my discomfort with the situation to dictate what God was telling me to do. I was a coward.

When I arrived at home after 6 hours at the hospital, I immediately broke down in tears. Overwhelmed with guilt by the missed opportunity to share Christ with someone who needed him so desperately.

Thankfully, I follow a God who loves. Who forgives. Who listens. He laid on my heart a valuable lesson: I need to be ready. Sharing the Gospel can be uncomfortable. It can be offensive. It can be inconvenient. But, I need to be ready at a moment’s notice to follow God’s call. His still small voice. I need to be brave.

Since that day, I’ve prayed. For her. And for courage. That each time I step out my front door, I’ll be ready to speak the truth of God’s gift of Salvation. That He sent His Son to die on the cross for each and every one of us. That He took on all our sin. That death could not hold Him, so He rose from the dead 3 days later. All so He could save us. All so we could spend forever with Him in heaven. And all we have to do is receive. Receive His free gift.

Sharing the truth of God’s love and grace may be inconvenient. It may be scary. It may be uncomfortable. But it will be good.

 

Bringing Back Print…With Artifact Uprising


Photographs. Real, tangible photographs. The kind that can send you straight back to another time, another place, another era…with just one touch.

I remember going over to my Nonna and Nonno’s house as a child and spending hours looking through boxes of photos. My tiny fingers perused the photos with admiration. Their adventures in Italy made me dream. Their stories of moving to the United States fascinated me. Pictures of my mom and aunt growing up warmed my heart. (And made me laugh.)

It’s amazing how a simple photo can freeze a moment.

We live in the era of smartphones. We are taking pictures constantly, and with ease. Which is awesome. And yet, we are seldom printing these photos. They are at the mercy of our camera rolls. Lost in infinite scrolling.

This is honestly heartbreaking. There is a rather large chunk of my life that I have little to no tangible photos. If I had continued down this path, I would have very little to show for my kids one day.

Unfortunately, there’s something so utterly unappealing about drug store prints. The quality is rubbish and this takes away from the art of the photo. And I think this is why people don’t bother printing their photos anymore. Because the quality is so low. I was taking beautiful photos, yet I had no beautiful way of bringing them to life.

Then one day, I was introduced to Artifact Uprising.


Beautiful, thick prints. Matte finish. With an eggshell texture. A classic white border. Rich color. Timeless and quality. From the moment I held an Artifact Uprising photo in my hands, I was hooked. And a new habit was formed: ordering prints.

I think all it really takes is seeing these photos in person for yourself. My husband has a few prints on display on his desk at work. His coworkers were instantly intrigued, and one of them even ordered some for himself. That’s the power of displaying the everyday.

Bringing back print is something I am quite passionate about. Getting a box of Artifact Uprising prints in the mail is a little like Christmas. They come housed in a lovely box that allows you to label the collection. I am now in the regular habit of getting my pictures off of my camera roll and into my home.


My heart beats so greatly for the #bringbackprint movement, that I’d like for you to experience these divine keepsakes for yourself. Now through October 9, 2017, you can use my code JULIA10 to receive 10 free everyday prints, any size, excluding shipping. Everyone is a winner with this one! Get started HERE.

If you choose to order your ten free prints, please reach out to me and tell me how you love them! It would certainly make my day!

Remember the soccer game. The anniversary trip. The late night icecream run. The selfie you took by that funny looking statue. Get it all off your phone and IRL. ✌🏼

I hope I’ve inspired you to bring your Instagram feed to life. To display the everyday. To #bringbackprint

*This post is in collaboration with Artifact Uprising.


Fall Decor Ideas


What a fun occasion it is to unearth your fall decor items from the closet, and warm up your home with autumnal delight. Fall decorating is all about bringing the outside in. I like to incorporate as many natural, real elements as possible. To mention a few: acorns, pine cones, cinnamon sticks, apples, and if you live up north: real leaves. 

Here are a few of my very favorite ways to spice up my home for the fall season!

1. Mini Pumpkins


While they serve little culinary purpose, mini pumpkins are my favorite fall decorative piece. Each one is uniquely cute. Once the season is over, you can toss them out, so you needn’t store them. An apartment must. 

2. Leaf Garland 

A classic. It does wonders to brighten a room. An added bonus: intertwine them with some twinkle lights! 

3. Wreath


I made this lovely wreath a few years ago, and it’s still going strong! Wreaths look lovely over your bed, hung from your mantle, or of course on your front door. Smaller faux florals look more real. Try to find ones that look “wild” and “freshly picked.” 

4. Faux Leaf Arrangements


These were the leftovers from my wreath. The bottle used to contain some sort of lemonade or green tea. I love repurposed glass jars/bottles. Free decor, y’all. 

5. Eucalyptus 


Eucalyptus. Give it to me all year round. Smells good. Looks good. And it’s real. Want it to last longer? Don’t put it in water and let it dry. It won’t get moldy this way. Also, how cute is this eucalyptus/apple arrangement I created for my sister’s bridal shower last fall?! 😍

6. Dried Babysbreath

While babysbreath is in season in the spring, it can look very appropriate for fall if you let it dry. Leave it out of water, and it will turn a light brown. Looks very earthy and whimsical. Cost effective and also another real decor item.

Wishing you a very happy fall! May your home be cozy and your coffee be pumpkin-y. Stay tuned for more Fall content on The Youthful. 🌻

Walking in Hope

| Shop shoes here, similar shorts (same brand) here, and similar top (same brand) here. |

(About the Outfit:: Comfy shorts are my new favorite thing. Paired with this flouncy crop top, this outfit has a relaxed, airy look. The sandals, courtesy of  Oka-B, are my new favorites! They’re flexible, have amazing arch support, and are rainy day friendly!)

I’m currently perched on my sofa with a cup of tea, my favorite quilt, and a bowl of oatmeal. The funny thing is–It’s actually 10 p.m. What can I say? I love me some oatmeal, not just for breakfast. Healthy dessert, y’all. Try it. 😉

I contemplated what to write this evening for a great while. Just about every idea ran through my head: recipes, the online shopping trend, which Disney princess I relate to the most (just kidding! But that would actually be really fun. 😏), and the list goes on. But the funny thing is, I can plan posts. And I do. (You should see the list of content I have planned for the fall!!!) However, the best blog posts are the unplanned. The messy spontaneous-can’t type fast enough-posts.

Today I’m talkin’ hope. 

There’s different phases of everyone’s journey. I’m in the particular season where change is foreseeable. Timing not so much. Details? Don’t have those either. It’s so tempting to try to figure it all out for myself. To plan. But you can’t plan what you don’t know.

And that’s where hope comes in. I learned a long time ago to stop making plans. It’s good to have goals and pencil in some plans, but bearing in mind that these are not set in stone. That I am not the author here. And thank goodness for that! The hope for the unknown is in God’s hands, and there’s no safer place I’d rather be.

The other day I was amidst a minor trial. It was short lived. Popped up unexpectedly. But a trial, nonetheless. Amidst the crazy, one of our cars needed repairs, so Billy had to drive me to work. He put the Christian radio station on. I never listen to the radio while I drive, so it was fun to start the morning with some encouragement by a pastor. I was sleepy, sipping my breakfast shake, and gazing out the window. When all the sudden the pastor’s sermon hit me right where I needed it. He was talkin’ about hope. I can’t remember his exact words, but they were something like this…

If your put your hope in your abilities, those can go away. If you put your hope in your education, that can one day mean nothing. If you put your hope in your income, that can dissolve. If you put your hope in relationships, they can fail you. The only thing that is certain is: we can put our hope in the Lord! He never changes!

A little lump formed in my throat, as I tried not to completely break down. I had peace that day, and it didn’t even make sense. That’s when you know it’s from the Lord. 😉 So thankful I can have hope in Him!

So today, I encourage you to stop worrying. Stop trying to orchestrate everything. Just start walking in hope. It’s an enjoyable walk, with a peaceful destination. 😉


Forgiveness 


Forgiveness is one of those things that we are going to have to do time and time again as humans.

I was driving home the other day. It was cloudy. A few raindrops were scattered across my windshield. The scene seemed to really manifest itself for gloomy inner thoughts. I found myself dwelling on my hurt feelings.

I was just like, “woah.” I need to get a grip here. I am a sensitive person and that’s okay. But my sensitivity is no excuse to not forgive. 

I prayed right then and there. I asked the Lord to help me forgive. “70 x 7” as the Bible says. I’m really trying to work on this. On softening my heart towards people who continuously hurt my feelings. On not holding a grudge. Unforgiveness ultimately hurts me.


Unforgiveness is kinda sneaky. You don’t realize it sometimes. I remember one day thinking about the concept of forgiveness. I tried to think of a list of people that I struggled with forgiving. No one came to mind. So I was like, “okay, cool.” And went along my merry way. Then, that person says something rude, and ALL the hurtful things they’ve done rush back, and the bitterness makes its entry. I realized I struggled with forgiveness more than I realize. In fact, there are a few people that I’m really trying to forgive. God is working on that with me.

People are going to hurt our feelings. People will be mean. Cold. Harsh. Selfish. If we let people’s actions create bitterness and grudges, we are going to be miserable people. 

To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you. – C. S. Lewis

I think the above quote kind of says it all. The greater the offense, the harder it is to forgive. But if God can forgive us, surely we can forgive each other.

I urge you to bring your unforgiveness straight to the Lord. He will really help you. He’ll help reveal unforgiveness you might not even realize you have. He’s helping me and I’m already feeling lighter and more joyful! I want to be a person who is oozing with love and kindness and forgiveness. And God is helping me become that person.


Seasons


I live a humble little life in a 675 square foot apartment. And I love it. 

I love it’s creaky wood floors, it’s old charm, and all of its little quirks. 

Sure, I look forward to owning a home one day. But dreaming of my future home doesn’t stir up discontentment of where I am right now. I love where God has me.

Life has its seasons. There are seasons of trial. Seasons of waiting. Seasons of nothing. Seasons of opportunity. Seasons of hope. Seasons of bliss. Seasons of grief. Seasons of simplicity.

It is so easy for us to constantly be looking for the next season. But if we live like that, we will never be happy or content. God has you right where He wants you. Look for the joy in the season you are in. 

I’ve gotten pretty good at this concept. Honestly, I am very content right now. But every now and then, someone will try to bring me down. You know…those subtle comments. They may not even be aware that they’re doing it.  It may not be intentional. But, you start comparing and feeling inadequate. (Social media, I’m talkin’ ’bout you, ya little contentment-killer!)

Take a step back and revel in the fact that you are incredibly blessed. 

So decorate your 675 square foot season. Make it beautiful.  Have joy in it.  Joy is not found in a nicer car, or a bigger house, or whatever else you’re looking for next.  Joy is found in the Lord!

Nonna’s Dress


Little Julia, perhaps 9 or 10 years old, had a huge imagination.

In her closet was a large plastic bin. A bin of possibilities. What some may call a bin of dress up clothes.

There was a Pocahontas costume. A shawl (that also doubled as a “net to catch fish”). A little house on the prairie outfit. A gypsy costume. Among other things.

There was one dress that was particularly beautiful. It was white and blush pink with a flowing cape. It was little Julia’s favorite. While it was much too big on her, she loved wearing it around the house, pretending she was a princess.

That dress was her Nonna’s.

…………..

Now I’m all grown up. Well, at least on the outside. On the inside, I’m still the same little Julia, with the wild imagination.

And now Nonna’s dress fits me. Nonna is in heaven now with the Lord. (And my Nonno ❤️)

When Billy and I decided to do a photoshoot for our 2 year anniversary, I knew exactly what I wanted to wear. Nonna’s dress. The usual “what should I wear?” dilemma never occurred. I knew it would be a lovely way to honor her.

You see, the beautiful dress in the pictures is more than just a beautiful dress. It is Nonna’s dress. The dress that little Julia couldn’t wait to grow into. The dress that reminds me of the beautiful person that my Nonna was, on the inside and the outside.

Wearing her dress made the photoshoot that much more special.


The above photo shows me holding a picture of my Nonna wearing the dress. 💗

I often wish Billy could’ve met my Nonna. She passed away before I ever knew Billy. But, sometimes I wonder if maybe in heaven she and my Nonno can see what’s going on down here. Perhaps one day they’ll say, “Billy! It’s nice to finally meet you in person.” Probably followed by, “Try this, it’s yummy.” Because that’s the Italian way. 😉


* All photographs in this post were taken by Stephanie Gamble.

2 Things We’ve Learned in 2 Years of Marriage


I am very excited about this blog post for a couple of reasons. For starters, this post is in honor of my two year anniversary with my husband! That’s right! As of March 15, we’ve been husband and wife for two years! I love that. I can finally say years. haha. Secondly, throughout this post I am sharing a selection of our anniversary photoshoot pictures! They were taken by our lovely wedding photographer, Stephanie Gamble. She has become a dear friend of ours, and is truly a remarkable person. So much love for her. Lastly, my husband Billy will be a guest writer in this post, as we both share 2 things we’ve learned in 2 years of marriage! This is sure to be a treat!


~2 Things I’ve Learned~

Obviously, in marriage every day offers some sort of lesson to be learned. I’ve learned many things in the past couple of years. However, I decided to narrow it down to two.

1. Be joy to each other.

I say this time and time again. Life is too stinkin’ hard to be another source of pain to your spouse. Stuff happens in life. Hard stuff. Stress. Jobs. Finances. Kids. Sickness. Grief. Depression. You name it. The last thing we all need is to top off all that stress with being bitter, rude, mean, insensitive, or even just absent in your spouse’s life. No one’s perfect, but honestly if you try to make this a goal in your marriage, it will have a beautiful effect.

Throughout the day, Billy and I send each other sweet, encouraging texts. Sometimes it’s something simple like, “You’re so fun! You make me smile.” Or sometimes we will send each other a typed out prayer.  We always try to uplift each other throughout the day. In our actions and our speech.

We also love just being goofy together. Disney songs are belted out quite frequently in our home. Dance parties can break out at any moment. Laughter is such a gift, and we indulge in it often.

People grow as they go through life. We are choosing to grow together and in the Lord. Sometimes we ask each other silly questions like, “What’s your favorite song right now?” Because sometimes you just need to stop, and get to know your spouse some more that day.

Don’t be a nag. Don’t be snippy. BE JOY.

2.  Communication is ALWAYS the right decision.

I always say, “When in doubt, talk it out.” Don’t hold anything in. Don’t bottle things up or tuck it away.  If something is bothering you, communicate that. Right then and there. Communication will never be the wrong choice. This is something that couples can always work on, but something we’ve gotten a lot better about, especially in our second year of marriage.

Communication isn’t always about conflict. Sometimes we think something positive, but don’t bother expressing it out loud. Your spouse did the dishes. Thank them. You liked how they stood up for you. Tell them. They look nice in that new outfit. Compliment them.

Communicate if you’re stressed about something, even if it has nothing to do with your spouse. Because, honestly, if you’re stressed, and your spouse doesn’t know you are, they won’t be able to help you, encourage you, and pray for you/with you.

Most importantly, communication is most effective when done with love and respect. Kindness and patience. Openness and good intent.


~ 2 Things Billy’s Learned~

Hey guys, Billy here! So this is what it feels like to write for a blog, ay? I have to be honest, I’m experiencing a little bit of stage fright, being this is my first time writing on here. Is that a thing?-“Writer’s stage fright”? Because, you know, I’m not exactly standing on a stage. I’m probably just getting worked up for nothing…

Is it hot in here?

Anyways, Julia asked if I would contribute some thoughts to this post. And after a few “Yeah, maybe tomorrow” replies, and a couple “But, babe, I don’t know how to write” excuses, here I am.

1. Be the ultimate team.

Julia and I do virtually everything together.

*Deep inhale.*

We shop together. Do chores together. Brush our teeth together. Go to appointments together. Eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner together. Read together. Travel together. Sit silently together. Dream together. And when Julia needs some more makeup, you better believe we’re walking through Sephora together.

Julia and I have been living this way since the beginning of our marriage. I’m not trying to brag about it, but we somehow kept it up for so long that it became habitual. I’ve found that, instead of tiring us out from each other, this has really helped draw us closer to each other. Investing this time in my wife has brought about so many fun moments and conversations that would not have occurred otherwise.

I’m not implying that couples need to spend every waking hour with each other for everything they do. But couples should certainly invest plenty of time in each other.

Be a team.

Tackle the daily chores together. Budget your monthly expenses together. Pray together. Work together. Enjoy accomplishing as many things in life together as you can.

No earthly relationship you have in this world will ever be as strong, driven, intimate, and meaningful as the relationship you have with your spouse. You are literally one living body.

Gen. 2:24; “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”

How can you find a better teammate than that?

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2. Be the ultimate teammate.

As our spouse’s teammate we should be doing everything we can to encourage, support, inspire, and uplift our spouse in everything they do.

Sometimes that’s easier said than done. Especially when you don’t agree with what your spouse is doing. Those situations will require prayer and seeking God’s direction. But for the day-to-day things, there’s no reason why we cannot lend our support.

For me, I love bringing joy to my wife. And I love seeing her happy.

When Julia first had the idea to really tackle this blogging thing, I stood right beside her and cheered her on. I still do. I want to see her pursue a meaningful hobby that brings joy to her and others, and brings glory to God. Honestly, it was hard not to support her.

Of course, I have my shortcomings. I’m not perfect. But I’ve learned to seek out these opportunities where I can encourage, support, inspire, and uplift my wife.

This has had a big impact in how I approach my role as the spiritual leader of our household. That sounds so epic doesn’t it?

“I am the spiritual leader of my household!”

But if you’re a husband, that’s exactly who you are. God calls us to lead our wife and family by the instruction of The Word.

I would recommend giving Ephesians 5:21-33 a quick read for reference.

By seeking opportunities to support and encourage my wife, I am in turn seeking opportunities to lead her along God’s will for the dreams and pursuits that come her way.

……………….

It’s Julia again! Thank you for reading what’s been on our hearts. We’ve prayed over this blog post for quite some time. If even just one person benefits from our marriage lessons these past two years, our prayers have been answered.

 

A Weekend in St. Augustine

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I love traveling. Tasting new food. Taking in new scenery. Exploring. Experiencing history. Making memories.

Sometimes I forget that traveling doesn’t always mean going very far.

Often, there is so much to see in your very own state. Billy and I have really been trying to take advantage of that lately. So for our 2 year anniversary trip, we drove 4 hours (although it felt longer lol) to St. Augustine, Florida.


Being the oldest city in the country, St. Augustine is rich in fascinating history. You can feel the spirit of adventure in the air. With beautiful architecture and scenic views, it’s hard to believe St. Augustine exists in the U.S. It has such a Spanish flair. I fell absolutely in love with it.


We stayed in a bed and breakfast for the very first time (pictured above). It was called Bayfront Marin House, and we loved it. In fact, I wouldn’t stay anywhere else in St. Augustine. The room was gorgeous, it was right on the water, the staff was friendly, and the amenities were thoughtful. We really enjoyed the complimentary cocktail hour. And the breakfast was uhmazing. 

Staying at a bed and breakfast is an entirely different experience than staying at a hotel. I found it to be much more personal. While we loved being out and about sight seeing, we were always eager to come back to the B&B and enjoy the environment.

We ate at SO many delicious restaurants! Like seriously, oh my foodness! Here’s a list of our favorites.

1. The Floridian (great casual, farm to table style restaurant) Pictured below is their cuban sandwich.


2. The Columbia (classic Spanish food, with a beautiful environment)


3. Costa Brava (middle eastern food in the gorgeous Casa Monica Hotel) We selected a few items from their tapas menu. Absolutely delicious.


I could go on for days about the food and the beautiful sights! But in efforts of not writing a novel, I’ll show you the rest of our trip through pictures.


Whenever we travel, I typically type up a schedule of where we will go throughout the day. While this is handy, I decided to not plan so much for this trip. Other than a few restaurant reservations, we just kind of walked and saw where the day took us. It was so relaxing. We really wanted to focus on making this trip more about resting and not being on a schedule. We ate and we looked at stuff. Pretty stuff (We really enjoyed the Lightner Museum). And it was perfect. It was nice to just take some time to soak up the history of St. Augustine, and not feel rushed to get to our next stop. It made for a very special trip. A trip filled with laughter and just enjoying each other. I couldn’t have imagined a better way to celebrate 2 years of marriage.

My Travel Pack-List


My husband and I love traveling. Whether near or far, a little getaway does the soul so much good. 

As much as I love to travel, packing always puts a damper on my pre-travel buzz.

“BABE, I almost forgot to pack my phone charger. Again.” A reacurring statement in the Brown Abode.

That’s why I’ve come up with some ways to make packing easier, quicker, and less stressful. Because who wants to be stressed before a vacation?!

I started keeping a small packing list on a scrap of paper that I would pull out each time I travel. It contains an all inclusive list of everything I need. Just recently, I decided to create a printable pack-list I could print each time I venture to a new place. SO HANDY.

With all that said, I am giving you my free travel pack-list printable! This list is geared towards women, and you can add other specific items on the blank spaces provided. This allows you to personally tailor your list for what you will need in a specific destination. For example, if you’re going skiing, you may want to write in “snow boots.” This list is a general list of what you might need.

Click below to print your copy! (Or maybe a few. 😉)

Travel Pack-List Printable

Where are you traveling to next? Comment below and tell me how you like the printable!

Happy Travels,

Julia