The Day God Moved Mountains

The day we returned home from Arkansas, the Lord moved mountains for me. The family Papa stayed with while we were gone confirmed he had digressed beyond our level of care.

There was a fairly new assisted living facility in our town that we checked on before bringing Papa to our house. At that time it was full, with a waiting list.

Now desperate, we called again. The moment my mom called the lady on the other end said, “Well actually we have a room available right now. If you want it, I’ll write your name down and hold it for you.”

Ummm, YES!

We pulled in our driveway at 4:00 p.m. on a Monday, and by 4:15, I was in the office signing the papers. I didn’t want anything to happen to that room.

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What is Going On?

Life went on pretty well with the kids in school. Papa had lived with us for 6 weeks when we realized this wasn’t going to work much longer. It was actually the weekend my adoption was finalized (if you haven’t read that story, it is a MUST! Not only is the story heart-warming but it also won a writing contest and I got to have a 1-on-1 meeting with Bethany House Publishing!) that we realized the magnitude of the situation.

It started with an argument over Papa saying his electric razor was at his house. I was helping him pack his suitcase for the weekend – he was staying with other family while we went to Arkansas for the adoption court date.

“Why would it be at your house Papa? I asked. “You don’t go over there to shave.”

“Sure I do!” he bantered back, in stubborn Smith fashion.

“Papa, you’ve never taken a shower over there before,” I reiterated, racking my brain trying to figure out where he was coming from.

“Yes I have. I did just yesterday,” he stated firmly.

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Hope in the Face of Tragedy

Yesterday I woke up to read about the tragic events in Orlando, Florida. My heart broke for the people involved.

Through out the day that sadness and compassion for the victims turned to utter frustration as the news reports put their spin on the ordeal, tweaking the facts to support their political view. Add to that some of my favorite writers turning this into a LGBT debate.

This shooting has opened Pandora’s Box on racism, sexism, gay issues and gun control.

Some say if we outlawed all guns we wouldn’t have this problem.

Some say this is the Christian’s chance to fully embrace the LGBT community and love on them in the name of Christ. They say Jesus would be on ground zero administering help anyway He could.

Some say this is why we should elect Trump or Hillary.

Everyone has an opinion on how we are supposed to react and respond to this tragedy, as if compassion needs to be politically correct.

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Emerging from the Cocoon

One year ago today, my feet stepped back onto American soil after spending one month in Kenya, I wrote in my journal. I took a deep breath, and let my head rest back on my pillow, remembering the journey and how good it felt to be home. It felt like yesterday. No, it felt like three years ago!

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It was after that trip that my life completely changed.

So much change happened all of a sudden that I don’t even want to retrace it, yet here I am writing about it.

This change rocked me to my core. It put me flat on my back and knocked the breath out of me.

First sadness set in, then grief, which turned to anxiety and finally depression.

Before last year, I’d not had a personal encounter with those words. Sadness. Grief. Anxiety. Depression. I knew what they meant and I knew people who struggled with them, but they were not feelings I lived with. Sure, I’ve had a bad day or an off week, but eventually the clouds would part in my world and the sun would shine again.

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Beyond the Page

Thread of Redemption

Thread of Redemption

Thread of Redemption

The words rung in my ears over and over again.

Is this my site?

Late one evening, I re-worded my site to look something like this:

The Thread of Redemption

I eagerly published it and was excited to share the new logo, until, as I was praying about what this new title held, I heard the whisper, this is a new thing.

A new thing.

So, I erased my work and took the months December and January to pray, listen and record the message I believe this site is to hold and share.

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What Makes You Valuable?

My Papa has been my whole world since I can remember. When I was 4 he took me down to the creek and showed me how to skip rocks. When I couldn’t exactly skip them, we resorted to just throwing them in the water under the bridge.

When I was learning how to ride a bike, he ran beside me.

When I was learning how to drive a car he took me to the steepest hill at Holly Lake, put on the parking brake and told me to let out the clutch slowly. Then he rolled his eyes when the car died.

He took me fishing down at the dock.

He took me skiing on spring break.

He played volleyball with me when it was volleyball season.

He ran with me during cross country season.

I watched him build a house for three years, then five years later sell it and move to a house two blocks down and re-model it.

There’s never been a task too hard, an order too tall or a request of mine un-granted. He was never too busy, too broke or too tired to be with me.

And I’m a better woman because of it.

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To My Generation Who Thought Following Jesus was Cool & Flashy

I grew up in the 90s.

Deena Carter’s “Did I shave my legs for this” often played on my radio.

I loved my bell-bottom jeans.

I didn’t have a cell phone till I was 16 and that was a bag phone.

My parents bought their first computer after I moved out.

I loved my youth group. I attended all the rallies and church camps complete with the campfires and cute guys.

Maybe you did too.

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Dear Meme, What I Wish I could Tell You

 Today marks two years since we lost you. I still miss you –

I miss you when I take my first bite of chicken spaghetti,

And when I smell broccoli cheese soup simmering on the stove.

I miss you at Thanksgiving when someone else is sitting next to my Papa.

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When Dreams Don’t Come True

 
 
I love the words to this song! As I sang them over and over again, I realized the words didn’t stay on the surface of my mind like a fun catchy tune, but sunk down do the deep places in my heart. God was stirring something around in there, and as I processed, this is what I discovered…

I dreamed all the time as a kid. And I’m not talking night time dreams. I’m talking big DREAMS of what I wanted to do with my life. I would practice my smile in the bathroom mirror while my shower water warmed up, or make a list of the people I’d like to thank for helping me get this far. I saw myself as the new up and coming young journalist who always asked the right questions, didn’t ask the stupid ones and elegantly, yet plainly spoke the truth of what happened. I could hear the newsroom, feel the adrenaline, see my headline story. Then after all my experiences, I’d write a NY Times Best Seller and help the next young dreamer achieve all his or her own dreams. All before I turned 30.
 
‘Cause this story of life is MINE to write, right?       
 
Well, not for me. I quit college to pursue our first business venture. Two years later all that was left was a $20 thousand credit card balance and some empty boxes. Failure #1. Then life ushered me into the role of a mother, then homeschool teacher. The main reason I ever pick up a pencil or paper is when I pick them up off the floor. We did start another small business, needing to pay past and present bills. Thankfully, the Lord provided through that, although the journey has not been without further dashed hopes, dreams and financial despair. Through it all, I have continued to journal my thoughts and feelings, marking life’s highs and lows, but left it to accumulate in the privacy of the bookshelf.
 
No journalism job. No best-selling book. My smile has faded, to which a few more lines have been added, and my list of 
names, unwritten. What happened?
 
I realized the other day that I decided not long after Business Venture Failure #1 that I quit dreaming. If I don’t dream, I won’t fail. If I don’t fail, I won’t be disappointed again. It’s like goal setting. If I don’t write it down that I hope to accomplish this great feat, then when it doesn’t happen, no one will know but me. And I can stuff that disappointment way down deep and cover it up really well with a big happy face.
 
The reality of taking that position, unfortunately, is that I also miss the blessings – that feeling of complete elation – when I do meet the goal and pursue the dream. Celebration parties complete with food, friends, music, food, lights, cameras, and more food always follow something like that!
 
But on the other side, I decide, I don’t really like parties anyway. No one would come…the cake probably wouldn’t be home made, so it’d be dry…too sweet…lights give me a headache…this generation takes too many pictures anyway…I already have so much to be thankful for…yep…it’s safer here, in my non-dreaming bubble, I conclude.
 
Plus, God says you have to “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven where moth and mold and rust won’t destroy it.” Yeah, it’d be my luck, I’d earn a reward and the kids would use the certificate as part of a mosaic. Doesn’t Jesus also say something about to be first in the kingdom, I have to be last? And I should live a peaceful and quiet life and just work with my hands, minding my own affairs. I’ll stick to those verses and life will sound something like this:
 
“Kids, I better go mop the floor. You know it is so satisfying! I love the sound of the squishy water and the seeing all that dirt swirl down the drain! Oh no, you guys go on without me, I’m completely satisfied crocheting Suzie’s little socks here. You know, we have to prepare for winter!”
 
Now, I’m not knocking those things. I enjoy crocheting! But completely satisfying? Not really! When I put on this mask, inside, I’m shriveling up inside, stitch by stitch, because God created me for something more.
 
So then I resort to prayers (cries/sobs really) like this:
 
But Lord, the last dream I had, you squashed it, flat, while almost squashing ME with it!”
 
“What are you dreaming about Julie?”
 
You know what I’m dreaming about Lord. What if I tell you and you say you won’t allow it?
 
“What if I created it?”
 
Well, then I’m scared that it would actually happen!
 
“Will you trust me?”
 
Yes. Will you help me?
 
“What do you think?”
 
So, all these words to say, I’m opening up my heart again to dream like a little kid. I’ve placed my ladder against this thing that’s bigger than me. As I climb, step by step, I see the scars from the last time I climbed a similar ladder. Those scars remind me of the lessons God has taught me through many falls that really hurt. This time, I’m asking the Lord to show me His dreams for me, instead of me stating my dreams for me and commanding Him to bless them. For He’s told me He doesn’t really like it when I talk to Him that way. I’m not asking Him for a piece of candy that I can just say please really sweet and give the puppy dog face for. 
 
I’ve confessed to Him I need Him to start the dream, show me how to follow the dream and I will need Him to complete the dream. I cannot. I am the clay. The clay doesn’t form itself. In the end, though, it is a beautiful display to the glory and honor of the Craftsman.
 
I’m not practicing my smile yet, but I am confident that He who began a good work in me will carry it out unto completion at the day of Jesus’ return. And I’ll keep you posted!
 
Putting it In Our Own Words,
~Julie 

Dry Eyes, Prickly Thorns


   


Sometimes I feel that I know how the rose feels…to have a thorn in its side. I’ve written about the thorn of the rosebush before in the context of relationships (Relational Rose Bush). We know roses have thorns and must treat them as so and not curse the way they are! Some days I believe I too, have a thorn in my side. There’s this thing that is just apart of how God made me that gets twisted up in my flesh and rears its ugly head. It’s purposes are against God’s plan and desire for me. I have prayed for deliverance of it, confessed it, sought forgiveness for it’s effects, ignored it, shoved it in a locked cabinet, fasted over it, but it’s still there, just like the rose’s thorny stem.

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