“I’m Just Listening For My Name”

In an old Cosby TV show, Clair Huxtable is sporadically speaking Spanish to a colleague, while Cliff Huxtable stands off to the side, staring at them, because he doesn’t understand what’s being said. The two banter back and forth while Cliff’s face contorts into half a dozen classic Bill Cosby expressions. When the Spanish speaking pair looks back at Cliff he responds, “I’m just listening for my name!” That’s the one thing he understands and can respond to in a paragraph of fast flying foreign words.

This past month has been like a blur of fast flying foreign words. It’s been a series of packing and unpacking suitcases, preparing and speaking sessions, and eating lunch when I can. Between a Kenyan ladies conference, a Hutto Bible ladies retreat and my cousin’s wedding, I have spoken in a microphone more in the pat 45 days than in my entire life!

So many times after we return from Kenya, my heart is on fire with passionate future dreams. I usually hit the ground running in a flurry of activity, praying for clarity and trying to attain to the vision, before I wear a hole in the carpet.

Except all that changed about two years ago when God told us to “go home” from Kenya. We weren’t sure if we’d ever go back – not because anything bad happened but because it felt like the same cherubim and flaming sword God placed to guard the Garden of Eden from being re-entered was also guarding us against returning west.

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Made Just For…What?

For weeks my daughter has been on the hunt to find a costume that represents Queen Isabella from Castile for our Classical Conversations end-of-the-year party. Back in the 1400s, Queen Isabella signed off on Christopher Columbus’s quest to find the New World.

After searching unsuccessfully online for cheap costumes we decided to try Goodwill. Walking up and down the isles, Mackenzie sized up each dress, long skirt and hideous shirt, looking for something we could pass off for fifteenth century royalty. Finally she made her decision. With a couple of scarves to add some color and drape over her shoulders, and some stick on fingernails that were four for a dollar, the outfit was set.

When the cashier rang up our treasures she noticed the seams on the inside of the dress and said, “Hmmm, this dress looks like it was made just for someone.” She looked further and found a tag nestled inside with a name inscribed with black sharpie on it. Kim Peterson, UT Austin.

I smiled at purchasing something homemade, for I can appreciate all the work involved. I said to the cashier, “I bet the owner would be proud to know her custom made dress is now in the hands of a young lady dressing up as Queen Isabella.”

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Just a Runway for Words

A few nights ago, I had this crazy dream…

It began on a Sunday morning at church, the final worship song had escorted the crowd of people out of the sanctuary. Like everyone else, I made my way into the lobby to go pick up my kids and chat with friends. I remember I stopping in the lobby, lost in my own world, thinking about my struggles and how to apply the sermon I just heard. But finally I looked up and saw a couple next to me staring off into space. Their shoulders were stooped almost like they were looking for a lost ring on the ground, except they weren’t searching the floor. They were just staring blankly at the ground, not saying a word.

I turned to them and said, “Excuse me. May I ask what’s on your mind?” And the man stumbled out in reply, “I don’t know…I feel like what was spoken in there just now was good, but it held no power…I’m struggling and bound up with many sins and the speaker’s words didn’t share with me anything liberating. I’m still bound. I feel like the setting was just a runway for their words, as a way to show off their beauty and talent. But it held no power to set me free from what binds me.”

And they both hung their head even lower and walked out of the building.

Then I woke up.

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Writings While I Wait

It was a beautiful, warm, summer day. A pile of dirty dishes stared back at me from the kitchen sink. A melody played on the radio nearby. I turned it off. I was tired of songs, yet tired of silence too. Tired of thinking…and praying, honestly, for my prayers were not being answered the way I wanted.

Instead of spiraling in my emotions, I called a friend. My closest one. The one I can not talk to for 6 months, then pick up the phone and pick right back up where we left off. Thankfully, she picked up. Fighting back tears, I shared my story with her. I shared the struggle going on inside of me. She said, “Ya know, it’s funny, this conversation reminds me of the book I’m reading this summer called Anything .”

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When God Said GO…Home

It finally all came out last night. The rushing wave of emotions I’d been silently dealing with alone.

The sermon earlier that day had been on expectations. The pastor said, “80% of our expectations are assumed and never expressed.”

I have decided I have expectations even when I say I have none.

I had unrealized expectations about this trip to Kenya and about what God was doing. I really thought I had some puzzle pieces figured out only to realize, not only do those not fit, half of the pieces I had pieced together don’t fit either!

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The Dance

“Me? You want to dance with me?”


“But I’m not a very good dancer.”

“I AM. Will you let me lead?”

“I think so. Where are we going?”

“How about Kenya?”

“Kenya!? I can’t go there!”

“Why not?”

“I don’t like to fly…I may not like the food…it may not like me…I have white skin…I have family HERE!”

“I’ll lead, you just have to follow.”


“I won’t lead you somewhere I won’t go too.”

“But sometimes my faith gets tired and my hope seems lost.”

“I know. It’s OK. It’ll be a ride you won’t forget.”

“How long will we stay there?”

“Pack everything.”

“Everything? All of it?”

“Yes. And tell your friends and family you’re following me and you don’t know exactly when you’ll be back.”


“And we dance…”

“So pack it all up? In boxes? Bags? Ship it?”

“Don’t worry, I’ll provide all that you need.”

“OK, are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure. Just quiet your heart and follow me.”

“Again, I’m not a great dancer.”

“And again, I AM. Will you trust me?


“Look at me Julie – When life spins you around and around – lock eyes with Me. When I spin you around like this and take you to the other side of the world, lock arms with me. I won’t let you go.”

“But what about _____ and ______ and ______?!”

“I love you. I ransomed you. It’s just me and you right now. I gave you joy for mourning. I chose you before the creation of the world to dance with me. I will teach you every step. I will set your feet to dance in my steps.”

“Oh, and we danced….!”

And then He told me to go back home. He provided everything I needed. I thought we might be there to stay. But my home is in His arms. He picked me up and placed me gently back down in Texas. What a dance! What a Dancer!

“It’s nice to know, I’m not alone, when I’m here in Your arms…”

Photo credit: Flickr

When We Left our Compassion Child Waiting on the Doorstep

The Lord woke me up this morning and said,

“Look at Adam beside you – WELL. I AM God.”

This Kenya trip has actually been a string of one dashed plan after another. What little expectations I had have crashed like a tower of falling dominoes.

Waking up to enjoying the sunrise turned into waking up to see who would throw themselves at the porcelain throne next.

A violent and unmerciful stomach virus made its first appearance four measly days after our arrival. Just after our bodies began to shed their jet lagged coating and embrace life 8 hours ahead of American time.

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When the Car Broke Down and I Walked the Dusty Street of Kenya

It’s not easy to be a disciple of Jesus. Sometimes I don’t understand what He’s saying to me. Sometimes I hear, but I don’t want to listen and I don’t want to follow through.

Sometimes I wish that because I’m the King’s daughter, I could have a specially stamped ticket to quickly grant me a pass around difficulties and trials.

“’Cuse me, I’m with Jesus.”

“Yes, ma’am, right this way…CLEAR OUT!”

But that’s not what my Jesus is. He’s not a good luck charm. He’s life.

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Who Turned Out the Lights?

As the hum of the fans diminishes from the sudden power outage, the volume of the Mosque call-to-prayer over the loud speaker escalates. In this moment I know, “Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

Power failure happens regularly in Kenya. We scurried around looking for the “on” switch to the back-up generator to restore temporary power to the necessities of life.

I do the same thing. Some major power source in my life fails and I seek to turn on a temporary/alternate source until the main line can be restored.

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What Happened When God Trumped My Plans

“You need to be OK with not knowing what comes next,” my husband said eye to eye with our oldest son.

Caleb loves a plan. He loves executing a good plan even more.

“And after that, we can do ____, and then come back and go _____”

There’s always ONE more thing to tie a bow to his well packaged plan.

I am no different. It’s funny how the things that bother me most about my children really mirror what bothers me about myself, if I’m honest.

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