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Saturday, August 5, 2017

Inside and Right Side Out

Everything changed when I set myself down on a cold hard floor in the darkness and refused to come out. Convinced of insidious, wormy lies that were crawling up my back and snaking their way into any brokenness they could find.

It's not the darkness that changed me.
It was Jesus, who knelt down beside me, made Himself comfortable, and stayed.

Like a friend?

Yeah....like your very best friend.

I can sing about it with fervor, read the words in fancy print and even make marker posters to announce it.
What a Friend We Have in Jesus....

But until He came for me with those snaking lies crawling all over me and sat down in the grotesque mess I was in, they were only just empty words.

But the empty cross handed me one loyal, loving Savior.
And that Savior moved in beside me on the floor and rescued me.

Does Jesus sit on dirty bathroom floors?

Yeah.....He really does.

And because He sat there, I was changed inside and right side out.

I am not alone. Ever.

You know what that kind of truth does to the heart of the little girl inside me?
It brings her up off the floor, reaching with every bit of tallness she can muster to a kind of friend she never believed was FOR her.
She grasps the sides of His shoulders, buries her face in His mane and all at once falls in love and falls asleep.


And the way that truth gripped me from one end to the other, the truth that I am never alone and Jesus stays, it makes even the colors in this world look different. Brighter.
The rustling wind from the woods smells sweeter.

That truth is locked and loaded now.
Because of trauma I've had to learn new ways to replace my survival tricks and tactics.
It took an EXPERIENCE to rattle the lies off and cement the hand print of my heart into the truth that I will not ever sit alone in the dark or dance across the kitchen floor without Someone delighting in me.
Never Alone.
He Stays.
I am Held.

Julie


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Let Him Stay

Sometimes.... there is a darker story lurking and churning behind what others can see from the outside.
This has been true of me.

I was born into a home brimming with love, security and endless laughter.
I've been a follower of Christ ever since I was even remotely able to understand what a follower of Christ was. He had my heart.
I was gloriously voted in as class clown in eighth grade. A high honor for someone who loves to make people laugh.
I went to college and majored in Christian Education and Missions.
I've been a pastor's wife for twenty-five years in a church that has been nothing but generous and good to me.
I co-founded a non-profit that rescues and empowers children and their families from the grip of extreme poverty and hopelessness in Uganda, Africa and have traveled there to love on those kids and be equally loved by them, six times.
I am surrounded by exceptional family and friends who invite me into joy and crazy kinds of fun, who will stop to listen to my heart and who are never as far away as a text or a phone call, lunch or a movie.
I've been in counseling for at least seven years with some of the best Christian therapists in the field and have experienced deep and lasting healing from childhood trauma.

Hear me say this.
My life is GOOD.
My faith is STRONG.
My family is BEAUTIFUL.
But on June 28th at six o'clock in the morning, I tried to shut down my one beating heart by cutting off my air supply with the ties and material of two hospital gowns.

I'm not looking for pity. And I'm not wallowing in shame or regret.
Instead, I am asking for awareness and understanding.
And at the same time, I'm offering Hope.

I was in great anguish and despair on that early morning in June because I somehow believed I was all alone. Alone in the sense that Jesus had given up on me and walked away. And if I wasn't fit for my beloved relationship with Him, then there was no reason that made any sense to keep me tethered to this life.

How did I get to this place?

A few people have shamed me and turned away in disgust because I fell for and believed a lie. Because I chose to be utterly selfish in trying to end my life and leave everyone I love, hurting and broken.
But I'm joining the ranks of believers who don't carelessly judge someone who attempts or commits suicide. The ones who have been there or understand the reality and torment of mental illness.
One can have a beautiful life and have their medications cease doing their job. Add to that chronic pain with no relief, a serious and prolonged sleep deficit, added financial strain because you cant work your regular job, stressors that are beyond your control and anxiety that pulls you into the need to hide which ultimately keeps you from the very people who you need to reach out to for help. That tormented feeling like you are permanently alone and then circumstances that utterly convince you that your God has also abandoned you for good.

That last one broke me. It broke my heart and it broke my mind.

"I found out that Jesus didn't want to be alone, either. In a garden in Gethsemane, He asked, "Is there any other way?"
Jesus could have chosen to pray by himself and hide this inner struggle. Jesus often prayed alone. Yet on the worst night of his life, Jesus tells us he needed someone to hold on to the hard moment with him.
Jesus needed someone to stay.
And you know what? The hardness of the journey doesn't mean you are on the wrong path." ~Bonnie Gray ~ Whispers of Rest.

Jesus knelt quietly beside me as I pulled those ties tighter and tighter around my desperately pulsating neck, tying knots as I went.
 And He whispered, "I'm here with you. And I'm going to stay. Do not fear, for I have redeemed you. I call you by name. You are mine."
The Holy Spirit seemed to engulf me and loosen my grip.
He came in three, swirling colors that I recognized as the Trinity.
And I gave in to Love.

I put words to this incredibly personal and painful experience because we all need people who are real. And to help you understand that this does indeed happen to people of faith.
Don't look down on them. Look up to Jesus. The One who rescued me from my own destructive mind and helped me to uncurl my fingers and let go.

He's just as much for you as He is for me.
Let him stay with you.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

I Am in Love


I am a certified list-maker.
Some of my lists are practical, others are fueled by my imagination and others, like this one, are God-led.

It's a list of ten people in my life who have had a remarkable impact on this heart of mine. It was easy to do and I could have added more friends, but I kept it at the nice, even number of ten. From there, I started writing down the details on how these incredible people bring out the best in me.The deepest ways in which they reach me.
 It is the end result that I want to tell you about, so stay with me.

Melissa ~ endlessly patient with me, loves and values my words, thoughts and ideas, sees beyond and through my fears and guarded heart.

Vickie ~ not afraid of my pain. Her very presence speaks safety to me. When she is with me she's fully present and her touch is indescribably healing. I could stay with her for hours.

Karisa ~ is careful with me and hears me in the deepest ways. She is extraordinarily wise and is the rawest real with me than anyone I know. When I am with her, I am certain that I am being heard.

Elaine ~ can wrap me up in her arms and love me with a love that is as close to Jesus as I have ever found. She looks me in the eye, assures me I am ok. And she stays. When all hell breaks loose in my life, she stays and has even gone to great lengths to adopt me. Permanently.

Amy ~ has the ability to make me laugh. Really laugh.With her there is no judgement and no expectations, which leaves me room to be fully and gloriously myself. Which also means she is brave.

Margaret ~ is a powerful mediator and intercessor, She believes in me, fights for me and always tells me the truth wrapped up in unmitigated, impressive love. 

Mom ~ is genuinely interested in what I have to say. She puts me first, lets me dream big and then stands behind me as I go after making those dreams a reality. She is generous.

Beth ~ leaves her door open for me. Accepts me and loves me without a single condition. She takes me in and sets me free all at once. She does not look away.
Mary ~ sees in me what I cannot or will not see for myself.....in all the best ways. She forgives me and her friendship is permanent.

PT ~ likes to be with me, needs me to show up and delights in the attention I give her. She leads the way.

This list makes me smile. It has become my way of tapping into the very nature of Someone who I have known for years but am just now getting to know. 
I've decided to cease all apologies for being the deep person that I am. I can't deny any longer my great need for depth and connection.
The only relationship where I still find myself hiding is with the threesome; God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. And His intention behind this list that I made was about so much more than looking at the people who He has surrounded me with out of pure goodness. Because I was unexpectedly faced with remarkable insight into the very heart of my Creator.....

He is endlessly patient with me, loves and values my words, thoughts and ideas and sees beyond and through my fears and guarded heart.

Jesus is not afraid of my pain. His very presence speaks safety to me. When He is with me He's fully present and His touch is indescribably healing.

He is careful with me and hears me in the deepest ways. He is extraordinarily wise and is the rawest real with me than anyone I know.

Jesus can wrap me up in his arms and love me with a love that is as close to perfect as I have ever found. He looks me in the eye, assures me I am ok. And He stays. When all hell breaks loose in my life, He stays and has even gone to great lengths to adopt me. Permanently.

Jesus has the ability to make me laugh. Really laugh.With Him there is no judgement and no expectations, which leaves me room to fully be myself. Which also means He is brave.

He is a powerful mediator and intercessor, He believes in me, fights for me and always tells me the truth wrapped up in some pretty impressive love. 

He is genuinely interested in what I have to say. He puts me first, lets me dream big and then stands behind me as I go after making those dreams a reality. He is generous.

Jesus leaves His door open for me. Accepts me and loves me without a single condition. He takes me in and sets me free all at once. He does not look away.

He sees in me what I cannot or will not see for myself.....in all the best ways. He forgives me and His friendship is permanent.

Jesus likes to be with me, needs me to show up and delights in the attention I give Him. 
He leads the way.



I had no clue that I was being set up. That He was about to reveal Himself to me in a way that He knew would set my feet to dancing. 
This is my God. 
This is who has been in relentless pursuit of my heart for so long.
This is who sits with me when I'm so lost and unsure of my next breath. 
And this is who holds me when I think no one should ever want to hold me again.

Let me suggest that you try this. Make a list of ten people in your life who you like to be with. People who like to be with you. And who have made a deep, lasting impact on you and spent themselves for your good. Add the details of exactly how they love you or inspire you or see you.
Then....go back and rewrite your list but use your Creator's name in place of your friends.
This is how He wants you to know Him. 

As for me, I will never see Him the same way again. 
I do believe I am in love.