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.

Our First House!

I remember when I was younger, I used to wonder, “How will I know what God’s will is for me?” I have since discovered that God shows His will for me through His peace.  I always try to pray that He will steer my heart towards what He wants for me. And He has done just that, time and time again. With His peace.

I had peace when I met Billy. Peace when we got married. Peace when we found our first apartment. And our second. Peace when we went to our new church. And now peace as we found our first home!

We didn’t put an age or a year on it.  We knew we wanted a home one day, but we weren’t in a rush. We weren’t trying to keep up with anyone.  Rather, we knew God would give us His peace when it was time. And He did.

A few months ago, we started the whole mortgage process.  Not the fun part. haha. We looked at so many home listings. Went to an open house here and there, but nothing gave us that peace, ya know?

When I saw the listing for our now home, I was intrigued.  What’s funny is, the pictures were awful. You couldn’t really tell what the house even looked like. The lighting was bad. Paint colors were gross. Usually, I would keep on looking when I saw such a listing.  But for some reason, I could see potential.  I could see that the yard was large, the ceilings were high, a pool, a beautiful neighborhood, and great location–close to Billy’s job and close to my sister and brother in law.

I kept the listing at the top of my mental list. Then, when the list price dropped, I was like, “Woah! We gotta see it.” Billy was on board, and we viewed the house that weekend.

So. Beautiful. We could see past the popcorn ceilings and stained carpet. The house was in good condition, with so much potential.  It was so bright and airy.  WE FELT THE PEACE. haha. We both knew without saying a word to each other.

That weekend, we put in an offer, and it was accepted. And now, we are officially homeowners.

The day before our closing, we were at church and our pastor was talking about how the only thing we have is what God has given us.  It’s all His.  All for His glory.  Billy and I looked at each other and he squeezed my hand. What a beautiful reminder right before our house closing.

So yes, we legally are homeowners. But more literally, we’re just using what God has blessed us with.  We are really praying that God will show us practical ways to use our home for Him.

We can’t take an ounce of credit for this new chapter. God truly is in all the details.


Before we move in, we are doing some DIY renovations.

  1. Remove popcorn ceiling.
  2. Retexture ceilings
  3. Remove tile and carpet.
  4. Paint all the walls.
  5. Put down waterproof luxury vinyl plank flooring.

It’s been such an exciting process.  In just two weeks, the popcorn ceilings are gone and have been retextured.  The tile is gone and Billy has ripped up all the carpet. We are so thankful to family and friends for helping us tackle this project!

We’ve taken lots of before pictures, process pictures, and soon–after pictures. Can’t wait to take ya’ll along for this ride. Lots of blog content is in the works!

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Have Faith in Yourself?

Jupiter Beach

I was scrolling mindlessly through Instagram (is there any other way?), when I saw a quote that caught my eye:

“Have faith in yourself.”

This way of thinking has been thrown in my face since my Disney Channel-watching days. “Believe in yourself.” Such a humanistic, prideful approach to life.

It’s really quite simple: Anything I have accomplished, is because God did it through me. The air in our lungs, our legs to walk, our hands to touch, our voice to speak, our brains to think: it’s all because of Him. Everything is by His Grace.

Have faith in myself? You mean, me? This sinner? This weak, emotional wreck? I’m so glad I don’t have to have faith in my fickle little self. I have a God who already has my future all written out. I have a God that loves me more than any human could, and who wants the absolute best for me. I have a God who created the entire universe!

So when you’re facing a challenge of any kind–think of it this way:

I can be strong, because God is strengthening me.

I can be brave, because God is with me and will help me.

I can do this, because God is for me.

I will get through this, because God is in control.

Refocus. Less me, more God. It’s such a freeing feeling knowing, I don’t have to have it all planned out. Because, God already does.

I AM NOT IN CONTROL. God is. And “it is well with my soul.”

Things going awesome? That’s because of God, not you. He empowered you to accomplish what you’ve done. All blessings flow from Him.

Things rough right now? That’s because God is refining you, drawing Him closer to you, and strengthening your faith in Him. These trials prevent us from “believing in ourselves” when things go awesome again.

So no more of this, “have faith in yo-self” crapola. Shift your thinking to God. All because of Him. All Glory to Him. Make Him the center of each step you take. Don’t let Him be an after thought, just when you need help getting out of your mess.

“Have faith in God.”

Youthful Confidence

Recently, my heart has been stirred towards the topic of confidence.  I feel it is a topic of vital importance this day and age.  So let’s get this conversation started, shall we?

Youthful Confidence


Our society tells us, there’s one way to look. One body type. One type of nose. One height. One beautiful. Then society tells us–“It’s okay if you don’t fit that one mold! There’s a surgery for that.” Basically–you’re not normal if you don’t look a certain way, but you can “fix” these things.

Um, no.

I’m so thankful I have the Lord in my life.  God is a Master Artist. The Creator. And He LOVES His creation. Through His strength and love, I can have confidence. Youthful confidence. A kick off your shoes, run around a field, kind of confidence. A joyful confidence that radiates from the inside, out! He made me and He loves me.

I asked 3 darling women, “How do you embrace confidence?”I know it to be so encouraging hearing Godly insight and wisdom, taken from people’s lives and stories. So here are their answers.


Priska 

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I didn’t steal this from Pinterest, but it may sound like it at first:

The way I embrace confidence is by embracing God.

Something I feel God has been downloading on me lately is that godly confidence is so much greater than self-confidence.  The struggle of “Am I pretty enough?” and “Am I worthy enough?” and “Are my body dimensions ‘right’?” are all cultural questions because culture believes self reigns supreme.

But from a godly perspective, God reigns supreme, so the place we put our confidence should be in Him.

There’s a verse that has been so present in my life lately.  Here’s the summary:

In my weakness, He is strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

So rather than “I’m confident that I’m good enough to enjoy life, be blessed, be a blessing”, instead I want to say, “I’m confident that GOD is good enough for me to enjoy life, be blessed, and be a blessing.”  I’m confident in His power at work through me that even in my weakness, He is strong.  Even on days I don’t like what I see in the mirror, He is good.  Even on days I look in the mirror and think, “I’m allllll that!”, He is good.  Just as good as days I don’t like my image.  THAT, to me, is a stable confidence.  It isn’t swayed by emotions or body dysmorphia or my own performance.  It’s a strong and steady confidence.

Personally, my waist line has grown and shrunk…several times over.  A few years ago, I was obsessed with working out – I spent 8 hours each week at the gym.  I was the skinniest, fittest, strongest I’d ever been.  But when I looked in the mirror, I was the least confident I’d ever been.  I was obsessed with my physicality because I was so ill confident that I was worthy of love.  Nowadays, I work out a healthy amount, and I’m also heavier than I was back then.  But when I look in the mirror, I see someone that God gave His Son to die for.  I see someone worthy of love.  I see someone who should be confident that my worth will never fade with time, age, wrinkles or cellulite.  I’m confident I’m worthy, because God called me worthy.


Sophie

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Well in my opinion, I don’t feel confident when I rely or depend on myself. The way I feel confident is when I rely on the Lord and know that what I am and who I am is a child of God and that’s where my beauty comes from.

When I look at my outward appearance, I don’t feel confident or beautiful most of the times. But when I am reminded about how I am fearfully and wonderfully made by the one who created the entire Universe, that’s when I feel confident.

I embrace confidence by embracing myself for who I am and how God created me. The times when I feel the least confident is when I try to be something I’m not.  When I try too hard to fit in or try too hard to look “beautiful” to cater to or impress a guy I like, I don’t end up feeling confident.  But when I embrace who I am (which is an awkward, quirky person who loves Jesus) that’s when I feel the most confident.

There are many prettier pictures of me posing for a camera in good lighting to make me look beautiful, but I chose this picture because this picture was taken when I decided to fully be myself and make a pine tree crown and pose next to a Christmas tree because I love nature and I love Christmas.  It’s a picture that shows off me as who I am and it shows my personality instead of just showing off another posed “pretty” picture.


Meaghan

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Embracing confidence to me is only possible when I truly embrace my identity in Jesus Christ.  It’s who He says that I am – forgiven, worthy, redeemed, wanted, and lovely – that gives me the confidence to face each day with a healthy balance of self-love and humility.  Why both? Because embracing your confidence is not screaming “I AM BEAUTIFUL” at the world; instead, it’s a gentle whisper in the ear of those you encounter saying, “I’m lovely, and so are you.” ❤

 

 

 

 


Thankful for the beautiful wisdom these women have shared, and I pray you are blessed and encouraged!

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Youthful Faith

Faith came a lot easier as a child. Heights didn’t bother me as they do now. I’d gleefully perch a lizard on my shoulder. Now I can’t stand the sight of them. If I was told something, I would believe it. Without question.

I really like grapes. I always have. When I was little, I recall my dad telling me if I kept eating so many grapes, a grape vine would grow inside my belly. And I believed him.

Then, somewhere along the lines, that blissful, unwavering faith dissipated. As I grew older, I took life’s blows a little harder. Worry and doubt lurked on every corner. “Anxious” became a word I used to describe myself.

Jesus wants us to come before Him as children. With reckless abandon. Faith without hesitancy. Childlike faith. Or as I like to call it, “Youthful Faith.” When I was a teacher’s aide, I was blessed to witness this childlike faith lived out daily. It’s amazing how we adults can learn so much from God’s precious children.

As an adult, having youthful faith goes against my nature. I want to swim through my mess and try to fix things myself. Then, I find myself washed up on shore, breathless and drenched with defeat.

I love this quote by Oswald Chambers: “Faith is absolute trust in God—trust that could never imagine He would forsake us.”

And that’s just it. God will NEVER leave me nor forsake me. I can KNOW that.

My Nonno (that’s Italian for “grandpa”) was an amazing example of youthful faith. Every night he kneeled by his bed and prayed. And believed in the power of prayer. On his death bed, he had absolutely no fear. He said, “I am going to the place He has prepared for me.” And he said so with joy and confident anticipation. THAT is youthful faith!

When I first started blogging, I originally named my blog “The Young Wife”, because I was married at 21. A little while after, the name “The Youthful” came to me, and I felt the Lord telling me to change my blog’s name. It’s funny because “The Young Wife” had everything to do with age, while “The Youthful” has nothing to do with age and everything with attitude. Since renaming the blog, God has revealed new depths of its meaning: My name (Julia) means “youthful.” My goal is to live joyously and simply, seeking adventure along the way. And recently, the concept of “Youthful Faith” hit me. God is in alllllll the details, friends.

I am encouraged that I don’t have to “adult” my way through tough situations. I can cry out to my Heavenly Daddy, and KNOW that He will provide. That He will take care of me. That He will give me peace. That He will carry me through.

Whether you’re on top of a glorious mountain, or down in the depths of the valley, trust the Father. I encourage you, my spiritual siblings, to live a life of Youthful Faith.

(Walking in faith with these darling (comfortable) sandals, courtesy of Oka-B.)

Fate? or something Greater?

As I went to take a small nap one afternoon, I gazed out my window. Words starting coming to mind. Lots of them. Almost poetic in nature. I lifted my head and wrote whatever came to me. Here’s what I wrote.

Deep down humanity knows they come from something Greater. In their lame attempt to explain what only is defined by God, they created “fate” in His place. We hate what is wrong, what is immoral. But what makes something wrong? Something immoral? We all yearn so desperately for love. Yet what is love and why do we want it? In our hearts we feel things. Know things. Things that have been created in our nature by God. And yet, this world explains them away. Oh how they miss such fulfillment in life. The depth of their being could be so much more. And what a grave tragedy it is to deny God.

You credit your favor in life to chance? Fate? Coincidence? In that case, you think far too little of the good in your life. The realization that Someone, that cares so deeply for you, takes the time to orchestrate all the blessings you have acquired, makes the good fortune in your life so much more meaningful…so much more grand. We are so little, yet a big Creator gives so much.

Or do you credit your success to your hard work and talent? Where do you think you received the talent and means to perform so highly? Chance? …It all leads back to the Creator. Step down from your pedestal and stop fighting what you know deep down to be true. We were created by a God, through whom all blessings flow. Stop resisting and get to know your Maker. He is a truly remarkable, personal, loving Father.

The more intimately I converse with Him through prayer…the more I hear Him through the Bible…the more deeply I enter relations with Him…the more I see Him move.