Winning…because of You!

Thinking this morning about winning, maybe because I just heard an inspiring message about people who choose to help others win by sharing their gifts and talents.

This led me to think about a sweet lady that I don’t know very well, who spoke these words to me recently, “God placed you in Oregon to teach you how to love and brought you here so that you could share that”

When I win with my gifts and talents that God has blessed me with I know that it is not without the many people who invested in me by sharing their gifts with me.

Thank you, thank you to those who are the “spiritual giants” in my life. Thank you to the friends and family who have invested. Thank you to the musician’s and writers who have inspired me. Thank you to the people who have learned to love well and have taught me some of the secrets to that. Thank you for the LOVE poured out!

When you win, share it with others and help them be winners!

XO, Julie V.

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Pursuing Love…it must be a choice

Today,  I began writing some things to myself in my journal titled “Things I learned in 2016” One page down in my journal and I feel completely compelled to share something and be totally be transparent.

I am currently in a space where I am finding the need to pursue my love for God. Not that He has gone anywhere or changed in any way. I am continuing to grow in my knowledge about Him. I have just been, for some time in a place of just appreciating Him and all that He does for me, including pursuing me!  I am lucky to walk along side some younger women that have been placed in my life during this season and I am following paths to speaking and leading more, but in my contentment I have found that some of the “feelings” seem to subside and I find myself having to search my heart for them. It may be harder too, because faith sometimes is harder when we can’t physically see what we have faith in, kind of like air, we know it’s there but visually we don’t see it. But I want and need to feel those feelings again.

I know that I  have to talk to Him about it and I do. I have to ask him to hold me closer and believe it or not, I ask for Him to protect me from myself! I have to remind Him that I love Him (not that He forgets) and the reasons why I do and that causes me to remember all of the good that my relationship with Him produces. I think of all that we walked through together and the person that I am today is partially because I did my part but I know that it’s mostly because He loved me enough first to not leave me where He found me. I would never want to go back or imagine doing any of it without Him in my life.

In the paradigm of marriage or any other human relationship, I think the pursuit of love is similar. I know that relationships should model Christ’s love for the church on an intellectual level but to put it into practice, well that takes work. It takes commitment. It takes work. It takes choosing and more work. But the work is worth it!

Let’s be honest, we live in a world where it is all too easy to start over when problems get bigger than we can stand. Can we not teach ourselves to contain the problems before we get to the point where we want out because of the pressure? I didn’t. I haven’t. I have learned. I know that there are a myriad of reasons that we don’t mature the way that we should but as we become adults we should continue to learn from others and we can only do that in relationship with others. By finding others who lift you up, who listen to you when you need to talk, and being willing to open yourself up to someone who holds you accountable and who is not afraid to gently call you on your junk…find people who are doing life like you want to do it. This is what helps us to grow.

Lay aside the thoughts of what you think you have to “look” like to others. Just be you! We are all in process. We are more alike than we are not. Learn to look at others who don’t look like you, and enjoy who God created them to be.

On the contrary, if you want to stay where you are and you have it all figured out, blessings to you my friend! You will probably stay where you are. But if we haven’t learned the art of being a good person in a relationship, there’s still hope! If you are teachable. Not perfect, just willing to learn and change the things that you can. I have been around amazing people who navigate the murky waters of relationship with grace, forgiveness and mercy.

I know that there are some relationships that we should never have never entered into and if we are teachable we don’t have to recreate our past mistaken choices. Then there are some relationships where we must establish healthy boundaries and love from a safe distance. We must become wise in this.

Marriage is a chosen commitment and frankly, I don’t know how anyone could possibly do it with any joy and not have a relationship with God. I don’t want to muddle through life and live miserably so I am going to try to choose relationships wisely. I am not oblivious to the fact that there are deep-rooted issues and dysfunctions that I am not addressing here and there are some scenarios where a relationship is just not healthy but this writing is for those of us who can make the choice to pursue and honor a good relationship.

My relationship with God is also a chosen one. He doesn’t make me love him, he doesn’t demand that I have faith in him or make me do anything else for him. I just get to choose Him back!

The parallel is similar when we choose a committed relationship. We are saying “I will choose you” no matter what and if we are not ready to make that type of statement we should wait. Choosing to remember the good things, to see the good that the person has brought to you and to focus more on our own problems and what we need to work on for ourselves, we will inevitably find that we have less time to focus on others issues. God is capable of handling all of us so leave the changing of others up to Him!

I am hoping and praying for each of you to make wise choices that will bless not only you but those you touch everyday. What we choose matters, a lot.

XO, Julie V.

Note: There is absolutely no implication of this to anyone in particular. I facilitate a Divorce and Separation recovery program so I see LOTS of relationships!

In Small Things

“You have saved us, You have won” sings Kari…I know this but it is impossible tonight for me not to look around at our brokenness tonight. It sort of crept up on me as I sat thinking about the goings on in the world, far away and close to home. Things that I know little about and only see a window into and some things that I can say with certain are bound for nowhere good. 

I am reminded tonight that it is with diligence that a human heart must seek to stay close to what matters. For me, it is Jesus. It is a two-way road with Him. He won’t let us wander too far away with out His hand and watch upon us, but if we really want to stay close in our spiritual relationship with Him, we have to rest in His presence. 

The rhetoric and noise of both really good things and not-so-much things that sling past all of us can be so distracting that we don’t seem to remember to just be and rest and contemplate what we are really here for, what is really important in the here and now and what we will take with us in the then and there. 

It may sound very simplistic of me to say that when we are seeing people trying to throw “terror” around like it’s no big thing, encroaching upon lives and taking them as if it were theirs for the taking. We may not be able to wipe out that kind of thing but what can we do around us to make things brighter where we are? 

I am in just a busy of a season as I have ever been and I am trying to be careful to enjoy it and see the beauty in the small things. I hope that as we all near this Easter in celebration of a risen Saviour, that we will remember to think upon the things that are lovely, pure and right and remember that it is our responsibility to share our love with those around us, especially to those we may not notice as often. 

Thinking and hoping, XO

Julie

God is Good All of the Time

God is good in the valleys, in the deserts and on the mountaintops. He is good in the blackest of the dark valleys, in the desert dry lands and when we reach those mountain highs, He is good. 

From Team Stern, who recently saw their loved one go home after a brave and courageous battle with ALS. Bo Stern writes actively about this, so I don’t think that she would mind me saying that watching from a distance, literally… they walked through the valleys for sure as ALS claimed Steve’s body over the years and God was and has been their strength in such amazing and tangible ways. 

From the people that are placed in my path to walk through separation or divorce, and to see God using all of it somehow for good, if they will allow. 

From the waiting and growing in the desert, literally…He blesses, immensely and abundantly. And then for the moments of sheer gifts just because He loves harder than He judges, to those who listen for His voice. 

I am just in awe tonight of the blessings in the good and the bad!

 If you are struggling through anything tonight, or maybe you are wondering where God is in the midst of all the things that go on around us, I promise…if you seek Him you will find Him. It is not always easy, this road less traveled. I am not going to lie, but oh boy, it is worth it. There is hope in this crazy world, friends. And I love Him enough to tell you that. 

With so much love, 

XO, Julie

With Change Comes

I find I am unable to sleep with many things on my mind. It seems to me that I am maybe going through another “growth” spurt here, in this desert land. It’s been a little over a year since moving to Southern California, and it has been a struggle…even with all of the blessings.

If I am truthful, I have not been entirely grateful, even though I can definitely see God’s hand at work in my life and I am pretty sure that I sang the words of “Ocean” in true prayer and yet now I am crying that he answered.  With that said, I think I’ve been missing Bend so much that I am missing some of blessings right in front of me! 

I don’t do it intentionally but I am bit on the stubborn side, I’m okay with it, since I am made in His image! My Aunt L. said to me that I “grew up there” (Bend) and I have thought about it and I think that she is more right than I first thought!  In hind-sight, I have always felt that maybe God had picked me up from California and put me there in the safety of the beauty in Oregon. Even though I could blame it on circumstances, I don’t think so. I needed to grow and well, God uses all things, according to His will. 

I miss the friendliness of stangers, even though the town is small and you probably have seen most local people several times. I miss the Friday night football and kids growing up and on. I miss seeing some of God’s greatest achievements in the outdoor beauty of Oregon. I miss the familiarity of a church and christian network that was part of Bend. I miss my lovely peeps and  I miss the hugs and the direction to do the right thing….which is about Jesus and Love, in my opinion. I miss being around the sporty and healthy, which I hoped would somehow rub off on me. I miss the s-n-o-w falling like diamonds from heaven. I miss the ANIMALS that would just randomly show up and the waterfalls…I miss the safety and familiarity the most. I miss knowing who I was and being really okay with who I had become.

But for the first time since being here, knowing deep down that my path has brought me here for many reasons, maybe one of which if to be a part of what He is doing here, in this part of the world, in Southern California. I have to remember whose I am and trust in His leading. 

It’s time to be real. To step out and be intentional about seeking growth in the areas that I feel I am being called to. As I long for Him to use me as He may for other people who are seeking Him, I too will find my own new growth in Him, all things are possible. 

Now to make room to love on a friend of mine…prayers please that I am real, for Him!

XO, Julie

Loving through change…

Something that I am learning lately, or maybe being reminded of is that as we grow in our walk with God, inevitably the outward changes become apparent in our actions and personalities. Things that maybe we used to be carefree in doing or saying may no longer be a part of our lives.

As this happens, it is easy to see that the more we become “Christ-Like”, the more we risk shutting others out if we are not careful to be inclusive of them. The more we ourselves change, the more we need to be mindful of where we have come from and be careful of judging (lest we be judged, too) the things that do not line up with where we are, real or imagined. We may not be as far as we think that we are. 

I haven’t seen anywhere where Jesus said “follow me and leave others out” but He did say to love one another and pray for one another, in all things. 

Might we have an attitude of love and compassion and less of judgement? As we pray for one another, may we might also include a prayer for ourselves that we would see people with God’s eyes and not our own? And may we not just love one another? Love is what attracts and This is our calling…

XO, Julie

Sensing 

I am sensing preparation and unpacking right now, in the spiritual sense. I’m not completely sure of what is at work within but I know something. 

Thank you for not leaving us where we are but also giving enough wisdom to know to hang on even when we can’t see the path clearly yet. 

Change and “unpacking” is sometimes painful. Sort of like wounds that we carry as humans in the sense that sometimes a wound has to unpacked and redressed (I am using medical terminology here) so that the good growth of cells can come out and get the best possible healing. I feel the unpacking of something in my heart that God is saying “let me in there, too…you have to do this for something better”. 

Reading a book by an author in Bend, OR. It caught my eye since she is from the land where my heart is and that she was writing of her very real struggles with a daughter who somehow gets caught up in drug addiction and very quickly spirals out of control. This family, from the mother’s account, is a “good” family. Things like this aren’t supposed to happen to good people. 

I know that under different circumstances I have been bold enough to think that of my own children. How could it be when I have them in church three times a week? Or haven’t I suffered enough? Maybe that sounds arrogant but somehow I think that sometimes we can fool ourselves into thinking that somehow maybe we are doing enough “good” to be protected from things. 

I know that we live in a land that is suffering and there will come a time that things will be made right but because of the state of our human nature we will continue to ask “why” and wonder why some people have to suffer the unthinkable…but I also know and have seen that there is more to come and in the meantime, somehow, all that we suffer and see others suffer through can be used somehow for things that we can not yet understand. 

The thing that has struck me hard about the account of this mother who literally looks everywhere for help for her precious daughter, is that there are professionals (who only see what they see with their eyes and not with Faith) who tell her that it is very unlikely that her daughter will ever come back from this. 

NO, NO, NO!!!! this just isn’t true!!! There is a way out…there is redemption, restoration and the possibility of erasing all signs of anything so unspeakable as drug addiction. Meet me. 

Lord, continue what process in me that you may, so that I can be used of you for your Glory. Amen