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Monday, July 29, 2013

...And Then I Cried


I've never been one to hide my light my tears under a bushel. I was always the little girl who start crying when it was time to say goodbye to my cousins or my grandma or the several times we had to move when I was younger. No one else cried. No one was sad to see me go. But I sure was sad to leave.  Back then it created a problem for me that was nothing short of embarrassing. The lump in my throat forming. The blinking several hundred times to try and hold back the tears. The attempt to dodge the hugs goodbye and crawl in the car quickly so no one would see me cry, while my parents dragged me back out with a adamant "Julie, aren't you going to say goodbye to Granny?" Uh, well, ooops, I guess I forgot.
Now I embrace my tears. 
I share them with the world...apparently.

I wasn't really shocked to cry my first time speaking in front of people. I knew  because of what I was talking about, it surely would rise some sort of emotion in me. In fact, right before we began, my sister pulled me into the other room to pray with me quickly and as we left the room, I grabbed a box of kleenex and said "I better grab this, because I will probably cry." Her response was "Well, you are my sister."  She said this because she is well known for her tears when she is speaking. Jenny is a preacher.
 So, she's been doing it for a long time. And crying isn't a one time thing for her. Whenever she reflects on the goodness of God or a hurt she had been dealing with, naturally, here come the waterworks. 
And everyone knows it.
We embrace our tears...apparently.

She introduced me, I walked up, not feeling the least bit nervous surprisingly. I was a little unsure of how I'd do, but I felt confident. A little scattered, but confident. The group was small enough that if I messed up, I felt like they'd be understanding. And it was big enough that I didn't feel like a complete loser that no one would want to hear. Plus it involved several friends of mine and women that had known me since I was a little girl, not to mention a few newer ladies at our church. It was a nice size group for me. I felt comfotable.

And then I get up. Introduce myself. "For those of you that don't know me, I'm Julie. I'm Pastor Ted's oldest daughter. I've been married 17 years. I have 3 kids. And before I get into my what God put on my heart, I want to share with you a little bit of where I come from and my story and why I want to talk to you about this."
And then it starts. I just start bawling. I hear the "awwwws," the sighs, gasps. And I start laughing.
You know, the kind of ugly laugh that you laugh, when you are also crying, so it makes your cry even uglier. Yep, that kind.  I went into a few details of my recent history of the past five years, the depression, the obsession, the mental anxiety that led me to feeling suicidal. And although, because I have three little kids who I knew needed me, I don't think I would have ever did anything to myself.  I prayed and hoped that I would die some other way. And the sooner the better.
This whole time of my life I have talked about occasionally on my blog, but never spoke about publicly, other than to a few close friends, so needless to say, I cried.

But it led to my desperation for help. True help. And not just little fixes of meds or therapy or alcohol or exercise or more sleep. Those all can give you temporary relief, highs and adrenaline rushes.  I tried doing lots of things on my own. Trust me.
But I needed something deeper.... permanent help.
What I needed was Jesus. I needed peace in my mind. His peace.

And from there I went into a lot more, completely tearless. And mildly fearless. It was just those first few minutes,that it brought out that deep emotion in me. The rest of the time I spoke, I made them laugh and 
I got lots of nods and "Amens." The picture I am holding is actually one my little sister gave to me last Christmas. I brought it as a humorous example of what my life is like without the peace of God. It's chaos.  Everyone seemed to get a kick out of it.  It was evident to me that it wasn't me, it wasn't by my strength, words, or anything else. It was all him.
But with my personality. Which He gave me. So it was still him.

 John 15:5 "I am the vine, and you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me."

Thank you all for your cheers and notes of comfort. I think it went just as well as could be expected.
I can't say that I wouldn't ever do it again. It was fun! But, I'm glad the "first time" is over with... 

(Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures until people were leaving.. Oooops. And my sister only did with her phone, so I did the only natural thing and stole these off her instagram.)

I did record, both video and audio...as soon as I get around to it, I will upload it.



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Titanium



I read a quote that really inspired me the other day and I wanted to share it for a very specific reason.
Obviously it resonated with me.

The more you fight a feeling, the more it controls you. Don't resist it. Replace it.
~Rick Warren

I am the queen of this. Hiding. Building a wall and covering my ears and blindfolding my eyes, so
that I don't have to see or hear whatever it is that might hurt me or tempt me. I've said before how very
sensitive I am to what other people think of me. This is the reason I decided this past spring to take a long 
break from blogging. Everything I did was to gain the acceptance of others in some form or another.
Even when it came in the form of encouragement. It was sort of subconscious, though.

And I knew that I wanted my reasons for writing to go beyond me.

I even want it to go beyond you. I want it to penetrate peoples hearts with the trueness of Jesus.
Not religion, but Jesus.  And how could I do that if I'm always getting hurt and building walls and
letting it be about me?

The problem was I've closed my facebook and innumerable amount of times, I've stepped away 
from responsibilites because of fear & frustration. And mostly, I wanted to prove to myself  that I was stronger than these "feelings". The very smallest thing, such a texted "k" instead of an "ok" would
have tears brimming in my eyeballs.

I thought avoiding everything and everyone that could possibly hurt me or tempt me or disrupt my peace
was the answer. I thought I could be titanium...just like the song.

It doesn't work. I know for a fact. I've tried too many times.
On my own...that's the problem.

 I don't really  want a cold heart towards others. I don't really  want a heart of steel.
I just wanted my heart to be broken for the right reasons. His reasons. Not mine.

Proverbs 4:23 says Above all else, guard your heart, because everything you do flows from it.

We aren't able to give life to others, if we are empty, or worse... full of fear or hurt or sin or or shame.
And I want HIS life to flow from me, because I'm so full of it. 
SO yes, I must guard it,
but also, isn't part of guarding it becoming strong? And isn't becoming strong  on our
own to no avail? It certainly has been that way in my life.
When we are weak, THEN he is strong through us. We replace those weaknesses with something better.
His strength.

This is where Rick Warren's quote comes in.  
 "The more you fight a feeling, the more it controls you. Don't resist it. Replace it."

We want to build our walls so we don't hurt. 
Resist those temptations so we don't sin. 
Shut ourselves down so we don't feel ashamed.
But what do we fill that empty space with then?
That space where sin and hurt and shame use to lie?

It needs to be replaced with the presence of Jesus. If we don't, in just a short time, we will be right back where we started. Been there, done that. Over and over. (oh, and over and over and over.)
Galatians 5:16 says "Walk by the spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh."
Well, that's a nice obvious hint.

What does your flesh desire? To feel bitter, to feel self pity, to gossip, to be envious, to lust, to greed, to fear, to doubt, to worry? We all have something we battle.
 Fall before him, learn of his trueness, his intense passion for you...and that is where we rest.
We REST. It's simple. We don't build walls on our own. We don't avoid and resist on our own.
We simply rest in the fullness of him.

This is where I have been these past few months. Learning to let him fill me up in 
those spaces I feel empty and broken and ashamed.  Not putting up a wall to block or avoid it, 
but replacing it with Jesus. 
There is nothing on earth like it.







Tuesday, July 16, 2013

That Girl?


Hey guys!
In my last summer/break update I mentioned there was a possibility of me speaking at a women's event over the summer. I can hardly believe I said yes. I committed to it. It was posted on our church website and facebook before I had the chance to back out. I have known for awhile (for close to a year) that God was leading me pushing me in this direction, but I certainly wasn't rushing it. Because I knew if setting any kind of example publicly (outside of my blog) were to ever happen, it would HAVE to be by the grace and strength of God. This has never been my thing.  In the words of my 4 year old, "REALLY? Me?"
Or Maybe you are thinking "Really? That Girl?" I know, right?
Because if you know me, I mean if you really know me, you know that I like to hide behind the scenes.

Despite that, I am stoked. I am beyond amazed at the things God has been teaching me this year and I'm excited to take it a step beyond typing and push myself to new territory. I love a good challenge. 
I'm trying not to over think what I am going to say, and just speak from my heart. I'm continually asking God for his wisdom to be revealed to me and that when I speak, it would be his words, not mine. In fact, this is something I have been praying daily in my personal life as well. That as I deal with my kids, as I love them, discipline them, guide them...or as I talk to my husband... or any other person or situation I come across during my day, that my words and my decisions would be guided with His wisdom.
Lately, I've been wanting more than anything to be completely in love with Jesus. I told him that. I told him I don't know if I'm always there, but I want to be. I want him to follow me around, hang out with me, everywhere I go...just like you would, when you start getting those tummy butterflies and wanting to be with the new love of your life every second of every day. I want to feel that with him. Sounds funny to type out, but it's the only way I can describe it. I want to fall in love. I wake up every day and say "Jesus, hang out with me. I want to know you are there. I want to feel your peace and your presence with me all day long, today, and every day." 
It's really something indescribable...when I know he is here with me. It's something new for me.

Anyways, just asking for your prayers as I take this small step in a big direction for my life. If you are in the Milwaukee area, by all means, come out and say hi! It's on Saturday, July 27th and it's a women's breakfast!  Shoot me a message or email if you need any info! I will touch base and let you all know how it went!
 Love you guys!


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