Thursday, October 24, 2013

That's Life, Take 2

So, I'm pulling details together and getting back on track when it comes to fresh & lively "That's Life!" w/Julie vblogs and (soon, and very soon) dedicated podcasting. Yay! Podcasts. As I get those details in-line, please enjoy archive postings. #ThatsLifewJulie

Friday, September 27, 2013

I Don't Do Devotions

Paging All Morning Devotions Rebels and/or Slackers!! 

Don't know about you but I've always been a Morning Devotions rebel--actually, I shudder at the term "devotions." Why? Too, too, too! prescriptive and scripted for my learning & teaching style liking. Especially when said devos fall into a fill-in-the-blank booklet or, "What is God telling you to do, think, say, RIGHT NOW! pressure. Uh, "Put this devotion down while my blows up?" :)

Not.gonna.happen. (Just ask some of my college roommates.)
Hence the Slacker state of my mornings.

I've found my focus groove over the years and know I learn, consider, and INHALE the teaching of Scripture and the application thereof, most effectively by the process of listening--note taking--and mulling thoughts that are magnificently deeper, broader, and challenging than the sad little manufactured response I feel pressured to scribble down on that blasted "fill-in-the-blank" line. :) 

As such, I invite you to join me and Dr. Ravi Zacharias for ANYTHING BUT mundane, pedestrian, or dull. Plus, the compelling cadence and inflection of Dr. Z's voice is such that he could say, 

     "I love bologna sandwiches,"

And you'd be all, "Oooooh, that's deep."  

Devo Option That Won't Make Your Head Explode - Let My People Think w/Dr. Ravi Zacharias

Friday, August 9, 2013

Dear Parent of a Teenager or Adult Child who has “Gone off the Rails”

In all likelihood, over the course of weeks, months, and years, you've alternately felt, believed, and/or wondered one or more of the following:

·         I'm the crappiest parent on the face of the Universe.
·         It's my fault because I _____(fill in the blank).
·         It's my fault because I didn't _____(fill in the blank).
·         How could this happen? I (we), loved her; taught him from his earliest days to respect and honor others; saw her choose to believe in Jesus Christ; corrected & disciplined him when needed; lived out an authentic faith before her; prayed for him; prayed for her; etc., infinity. 
·         (And, if you are a Christian), Where is God?

If you're there; here's some truth from a “been there” parent (um, that’s me)…

·         You're not the crappiest parent on the face of the Universe. I mean, seriously, who among us has done it all right, all the time? The answer is: no one. NO one. So how ‘bout we all agree to stop nominating ourselves for said award? And while we’re at it, stop nominating others as well.

·         It's my fault because I... Oh. My. Word. Can we just give this a rest? Can YOU just give this a rest? See, you didn't do it all right (see, also, 'crappiest parent'); you did--I did--we ALL did wrong stuff--"less-than-what-was-best" stuff. Dumb stuff. Embarrassing stuff. I get it. Now, let’s move on.

·         I/You/We...yelled, lost our temper; shut-down emotionally; worked too many hours; missed Scholastic Bowl; failed at homeschooling; cussed; lost faith; bribed a toddler; fell asleep before their curfew; etc., and infinity.

·         I/You/We didn't...make our marriage work; earn enough income to send him/her to special camps or private school; read to them as little children; always, without fail, think before we spoke; make them go to youth group; always know what to do--what to say--how to best handle a difficult situation; etc., and infinity.

·         I/You/We nostalgically review a nefarious checklist which we somehow came to believe promised non-freak-out inducing teenager and/or adult children. Nefarious enough on its own but when coupled with ever-powerful "Christian" checklist details (i.e. praying for child before they're ever conceived; church; scripture teaching; faith; 'Christian' discipline; determining proper movie/television viewing; etc.) and a Child Going Off The Rails...well, it most often leads to the alternately agonizing, desperate, and (if we're being truly honest) "This seems like a  rip-off" parental query: Where is God?

If you're there; here's truth and “been there” parent (um, that’s me, remember?) hope to keep you going:

·         God hasn't gone AWOL on you or your child. He can’t. His character won’t allow it. God's love is perpetual, unending, and eternal. (Which, by the way, annoys the heck out of all ‘Going Off The Rails’ types.)

·         None of this surprises God. Not one arrest. Not one seemingly failed rehab. Not one hellacious verbal or physical altercation. Not one lie, nor the hundreds after it.

·         All of this moves the heart of God—even as you worry yours has been hardened past the point of ever again softening toward the child you have loved and warred for & with so desperately.

     All the words you spoke into his/her life. All the truth you instilled into his/her life. All the day-by-day teaching you taught (and weren’t even aware of)…it’s all there.

There in his heart.
Her memory.
His spirit.

Don’t despair, my friend, for I promise you this—as I’ve seen its truth again and again in the lives of my own three children: God, who hasn’t gone AWOL; who isn’t surprised; and whose heart moves always, always, and “thank-you, sweet Lord!” A.L.W.A.Y.S. toward your child, even now is at work compelling your Rail Jumper back to her senses and reminding him of his true identity apart from all the garbage and mess through the power of His spirit and YOUR spoken words and teachings.

It’s all there! A venerable “How to Live Life” treasure trove of parental direction, commands, prayers, and love which can and will make a difference in their life.

"My [child], keep your father's commandment, and forsake not your mother's teaching. Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you."

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Being There

Thinking about periods of suffering, disconnect, and/or infirmities which most, if not all, of us face. Infirmities, you ask? Yes, infirmities with its succinct definition alluding to the frailty of our human condition. Be it physical, sexual, mental, or spiritual, we all come to an end of ourselves at some time or another as the result of our story or that of someone we love. 

Today, I give thanks for the few who have walked beside me during seasons of my own infirmity--my own weakness. Some of which I brought on myself as a result of foolish sinful choices; still others simply because I loved another. I give thanks for those who have known my story; seen the ugly side of my human condition; and often times simply sat silently with me in the pain & unknowing. You know who you are and I give thanks to God for you.

Perhaps you're in such a place today. Weak. Frail. Undone. Who is sitting with you in the pain? (Please note: rhetorical question, do not feel compelled to post for all to see in BloggerLand.)

Perhaps you're able to live, walk, and sit alongside somewhere out of a such a place of experience today. If so, DO SO. Don't weary yourself researching trying to come up with the perfect scripture; best quote; or, "maybe God is allowing this because..." summation. Please. Don't. Just be there. Love with your presence and out of the experience of your own weakness rather than strength.

Thinking of and praying for YOU today, my friends.

"And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him [David]; and he became captain over them..."

Thursday, June 13, 2013

On Toddlers and Tiaras: A Strong Opinion Post

SOA (Strong Opinion Alert): Toddlers and Tiaras should be pulled/banned. Parents of toddlers vying for tiaras should have their heads smacked--hard.

The overt sexualization of these innocents is mind-boggling, nauseating, and just plain messed up (i.e. wrong). I've wondered time and time again how it--the entire pageantry toddler scene and sub-culture--isn't called out and shamed, yes, shamed, in such a manner as to bring it to an end. I'll go one opinionated step's abusive; subjecting a toddler/young child to inappropriate, excessive, and improper treatment.

I know some comments are made with tongue in cheek; yet, that's part of what troubles me the most regarding the broad conversation of parading toddlers in pageants. Somewhere along the RealityTV Roadway seemingly normal adults lost their minds--and conscience. Somewhere along the RealityTV Roadway toddler sensuality lost its vileness. God help us. It became "entertainment." 

Also, it'll be painful to watch (as it's nigh impossible to avoid due to all-things media) the world of hurt which is sure to land on the doorstep of the Thompson family and Alana. Did you know that was her name? Not Honey Boo-Boo, but Alana. And with each month she grows, with each month she 'ages' (ages!! for pete's sake!), with each month and year she takes on the natural and normal physicality of a grade-schooler, she (Alana) will lose the spotlight further and it will turn meanier and more callous than it already is. 

Yeah, I just threw up a little.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Lord Have Mercy. Christ Have Mercy.

Stalwartly perched across the side street adjacent to Prenger's IGA and St. John's Lutheran Church in my childhood home of Brunswick, MO, stands St. Boniface Catholic Church, a red bricked edifice testifying to the strong 1840 German stock of both community and  Church membership.

St. Boniface intrigued me as a younger girl; especially on Saturday evenings. Church on Saturdays? It was an all-together unconventional consideration given my Methodist/Baptist denominational background. And yet I wanted nothing more than to go, to make my way into the Saturday mystery of St. Boniface.

My dad and mom, however, thought otherwise with their early junior-high aged daughter (i.e. "No mystery for you, Julie Ann, we're Protestant.")

And thus, I'd settle for an occasional Saturday evening grocery trip in which I'd wait outside my mother's car and gaze across the parking lot to the church. There I'd see well dressed school mates and parents milling about before Mass. I could spy with my junior-high eye school classmates (and twins) Mike and Mark Reichert decked out in dress slacks and button down shirts talking with my next door neighbor, our fellow classmate, and their first cousin, Lesa Reichert and her parents, Raymond and Mary Jane. Not far from them I'd see the all four Johnson girls--one being my best-friend forever, Cindy--and their sweet, kind, mother, Joan. Who were, by the way, directly related to Mike, Mark, and Lesa.

I'd while away the minutes watching interactions of countless other friends, classmates, parents, teachers, and community leaders and count down the time until I could enter through those tall white doors and discover for myself the Saturday evening mystery.

And so obliged the Missouri Department of Motor Vehicles a few short years later as Cindy rode with me to that same IGA parking lot and then escorted me through those same doors. It's been far too long ago for me to accurately recall my initial responses, but this I remember, everything: the sounds, the feel, the process seemed entirely foreign and other until a portion of the liturgy when priest and worshippers engaged in the thoughtful response.

Priest: "Lord have mercy."
Members: "Christ have mercy."

Six words. Yet, something resonated deep within my 16-year old soul. Something drew me to the holiness of God--the presence of God--the mercy and kindness of God.

Six words. The same six words I've found my 47-year old soul repeating time and time and time again at the end of this an all-together unmerciful week.

International Terrorism Comes to America
Lord have Mercy.

AP: Surviving Boston bomb suspect identified as Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, of Cambridge, Mass
Christ have Mercy. 

Texas Rocked By Fertilizer Plant Explosion
Lord have Mercy.

Gosnell Witness: 'I Heard Ten Babies Breathe'
Christ have Mercy. 

North Korea Missile Launch: Day 14
Lord have Mercy.

Galesburg teen dies after rollover crash
Christ have Mercy. 

"The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." 
~Psalm 34:18


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What a Girl Wants. What A Girl Needs.

If the Lord asked you, "What is it that you most want from Me so that you can serve Me the way you most want to serve Me," how would you respond?

This question, as posed by Pastor Ed Underwood in his book, When God Breaks Your Heart, brought me up short last night and I've yet to shake it.

"What is that you most want from Me...?"

When I awoke, I was thinking about it.

As I ambled through a local candle shop with a friend, I mulled it over.

While preparing Italian beef sandwiches smothered in Provolone cheese for The Husband the question begged to be answered.

Again and again throughout the day--and now into late evening, I've considered, unpacked, and pondered where I've been (or not been as has been the case more and more frequently) when it comes to serving Him and following Him in the totality of my life the past few years. Given said considerations, these wants--these desperate wants--seem most paramount in getting back to a place a serving.   

* ENERGY* (i.e. physically, mentally, spiritually, relational, creatively): However you choose to define it, be it "the doldrums," "finding oneself in a funk," or some hormonal "Oh! My Ovaries!" menopausal weariness, the truth is I've been one whooped estrogen puppy these past 3.5 years.

I've dealt with depression in years past and this hasn't been depression--it's been something entirely "other." A compilation, no doubt, of several life-change/family-change decisions which didn't necessarily work out the way I imagined they would, parenting demands & worries (yes, I worried) that knocked me on my rear, and the inability to complete a book manuscript resulting in its cancellation. 


One whooped estrogen puppy was I. 
Am I.

Jesus, I want energy--restorative energy which reaches the undone places of my body, mind, spirit, heart, relationships, and creativity. 

Creativity. Oh, Jesus! joy-robbing disappointments, weariness and loss, shriveling ovaries, aging parents and mid-speaking event phone calls from 'local authorities' have run the Creativity Ship aground but good. I'd love it if you'd do something about that--you being the Captain of my Soul and all.


It's probably not surprising given the energy matter; but boy-how-dee! where did my laser intensity run off to? (probably moored nearby that Creativity Ship.) A couple years back, a woman who knows me well asked, "Where's the Julie that used to call with book ideas and couldn't wait to teach the newest bits of scripture she had studied?" 

She gone. 

But here's the deal...
I don't think it'll stay that way.
In fact, I know it won't. 

Jesus, I want back the ability to see "The One Thing" that brings you pleasure in my writing and teaching. 

How 'bout you? What do you want most from Jesus in order to serve Him? 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Snapshots of An iMperfect Life

The Leaning Lamp of G'burg 
Leaning Lamp Leveler 

The Kitchen Threw Up, Again

Every Thing Has Its Place...On the Dresser

No Comment. 

"What Not  To Dye" or, Channeling My Inner Stacey London

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Behind the Book & Author

*Full-disclosure primer on books, ideas, success, speaking, falling flat on your face, insecurity, Christian competition (gasp!) and doing this writing/speaking thing all over again--and again. 

Given the recent 359 million dollar lottery winner announcement, I humbly submit the following:

In years past, I (and my marriage) suffered from the effects of C.F.F. (Chronic Financial Failure) and I wrote a book about it back in 2001--published in 2002: Til Debt Do Us Part

In the spirit of aforementioned disclosure, I confess it's not one of my favorite projects. In fact, I've likened it to a non-quandary moment most dads and moms won't admit to (out loud, anyway); and here it is: let's say you have to pick one of your children to go stay away at camp for 6, 8, even, 12-weeks.....(no-brainer pause)...for some of us the choice would be a snap. I'm just sayin. (And you know it's true!)

That's how I feel about 'Til Debt.' If I had to send one of my ten book titles away on sabbatical, well, tag! it'd be it. Hindsight, I wish I'd listened to The Husband who said again and again, "I'd wait on this, Julie." Hindsight, I wish I had admitted how the events of September 11th sent me into a spiritual tailspin; into depression; into a non-creative chasm for weeks and weeks. Hindsight I wish I would have said aloud what I dared only to whisper: "Why does this book matter when our entire country is a terrorist target?!"

But I didn't listen. I didn't wait. I didn't speak aloud. Instead, I rushed forward with a one-book-under-my-belt-new-author mentality; determined to land another publishing contract before editors and publishers lost interest or the world itself imploded as did those two towers.

It's not a bad book, mind you. It's simply one written "in the middle" of experience and as such there are scathingly vulnerable admissions which sorta knock me on my rear upon reading ten+ years later. When doing just that (re-reading), I'm left intermittently laughing out loud (yes, I'm a dork and I make myself laugh), gasping in response to some audacious emotional/relational reveal, and giving thanks for 'Til Debt's book spawn presence despite the job--for better or for worse--I did raising & writing it.

What about you? Are there any specific things you'd "re-do" or "not do" in light of what you know now or, given the perspective of time?  

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

*Updated* Most Popular Speaking Topics

Christ in the Totality of Life: Home, Heart, & Humor


Julie loves pouring her years of hard fought parenting experience into the lives of parents everywhere. If you're tired of formulaic delivery; weary of cliché' Christian do and don't lists and promises for creating the perfect child (um, there is no such child!) which has left you more than a bit cynical and/or feeling like a parental failure...take heart! Julie brings a much needed dose of honesty, personal struggle and failures, and uncompromising belief that you can find lasting change & joy for your heart and home. Lives and families have been saved both literally and figuratively as a result of Julie's brazen honesty and unapologetic commitment to saying what goes unspoken. 

She's Gonna Blow! Real Help for Moms Dealing with Anger
Real help for moms, as well as foster parents, dads, and caregivers of children, dealing with the rewarding, yet challenging, task of parenting. Julie offers large doses of humor and practical strategies for coping with the big emotions of anger sometimes evoked by the small (and big!) people in your life. You'll appreciate her bold & honest style of communication as you discover lasting and joyful change in your family's life. 
* Mt. Momma 101: What's Your Volcanic Style of Erupting? * Underground Issues Factoring Into Your Frustration & Anger * The Influential Reality of Depression and Why You Needn't Be Ashamed * How to Know When You've Gone Too Far (Recognizing Verbal, Physical, & Spiritual Abuse) * Practical Strategies For A More Peaceful Life

Raising Your Child with Love & Limits
As a mom, you get a lot of advice. TV shows, magazines, friends, your mother (and mother-in-law) are all telling you the best way to raise your kids. But all this well-meaning counsel can paralyze you. Enough already! Unapologetically raucous and refreshingly relevant, Julie gives you 10-non-negotiables to help you stand firm and be the mom. With a sharp wit, she offers a dose of reality and a healthy way to step up and be the mom. 
* Who's the Boss? YOU Are* Say No Like You Mean It * Delight in Your Perfectly Ordinary Child * Humor Me A Little

Confessions of An Imperfect Mother
You can't have Oreos without a glass of cold milk and where would SpongeBob be without Patrick? Alas, some things just go together and all too often (let's say most often, shall we) motherhood is accompanied by the overwhelming, sometimes debilitating, emotion of guilt and second guessing. Julie explores guilt's multiple layers and gives audiences real help leading to grace and freedom. 
* Recognizing What You've Done Right *Distinguishing True Guilt from False Guilt * Living a Relatively Guilt-free Parenting Life

HEART: Helping Spiritually Hungry Women Know & Follow Jesus
Running After Jesus:  No Reserves. No Retreat. No Regret. 
(Best as a 2-4 session event) What would it be like to have your heart, mind, soul, and strength so intent on knowing Jesus and following Him that nothing--no circumstances, no person, no feelings, no fear--could stop you? That's how Jesus taught us to live (Matthew 22:37) and it's the starting place for Julie's challenging, inspiring call to passionate discipleship. To Christian women who hunger for more in their lives, she offers honesty, intensity, a touch of humor, and lots of solid teaching/training. According to Julie, it may be time--way past time, in fact--to get serious about following hard after Jesus. Serious about weeding out sin in our life and standing up to those who may belittle our spiritual intensity. Serious about affirming fundamental truth but being willing to try something fresh. And serious about inviting Christ into the totality of our lives. Julie urges spiritually hungry and spiritually ambitious women to actually do what they're longing to do--to throw themselves into their walk with Jesus. To quit playing games with personal holiness and begin displaying the radiance that comes from following after an irresistible Savior with no reserves, no retreat, and no regret.

Permission to Exhale: It's Time to Admit That Following Jesus Isn't Always Easy
Is there an area (or areas) of your life in which you have no peace? In which you sense no peace? Have you ever faked feeling or sensing such peace when in fact you felt nothing? Have you ever felt undone? frazzled? or perplexed as a Christian? as a woman in search of truth regarding Jesus and who He says He is?  "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Amos 3:5: It's Time to Quit Playing Games with Personal Holiness
An entire session (or weekend!) on the subject of holiness? You betcha. Julie opens up her life and experience regarding dark places of willful sin and God's relentless (and, yes, fearful) pursuit of holiness in her life. Let's consider how God is "set apart" from all other gods--cultural and religious, and examine how we should then live. As we do such, we'll enter into the world of Brave Admissions and identify specific areas in which we are currently struggling and/or refusing to set aside in order to live a life "set apart." Many of us are in fact being held hostage to unholiness--and now is our time to seek God for freedom. But we have to want said freedom. We have to choose to let go of what is killing us. And when we do just that--want and choose--it will be the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit who redeems, restores, and brings dead things to life within us. "Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God--I say this to your shame." ~1 Peter 14:16

Grandma & The Blessed Hope
Did you grow up hearing about or being taught anything regarding the Return of Jesus Christ--i.e. "The Blessed Hope"? If not, how does the subject matter and spiritual reality thereof strike you? Odd? Comforting? Silly? True? There are few prophetic matters of Scripture which Julie enjoys teaching and proclaiming more than: "waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ." Don't worry! Julie doesn't claim to know the exact date or time. Whew. But she does teach with unapologetic confidence the reality of His return on the day/night God the Father determines. Until then, Julie will cheer men and women everywhere to thoughtfully examine the Scriptures which tell us what lies ahead; to see world events through the "frequency & severity" lens of Matthew 24, Luke 21, and Old Testament books of Ezekiel, Daniel, & Isaiah; and to live every moment expecting to see Him face-to-face. "Now, when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." Luke 21:28.  "I will come back." John 14:3

Scandalous Grace
Each one needs a lavish dose of God's scandalous, chartreuse colored, grace! With tender vulnerability and uncompromising challenge, Julie joyfully initiates her listeners to the crazy, unpredictable, and scandalous--that is, the shocking, extreme, and outrageous grace of God toward women. It's for those who aren't perfect, and for those who may feel they are a grave disappointment to God and others due to their weight, lack of talent, mental acuity, sexual mishaps, tarnished past, and stubbornness. Whew! That would cover about anyone and everyone! Scandalous Grace is all about wrapping our minds around the preposterous nature of divine grace, embracing it for ourselves, and then extending it to those around us. "In Him we have redemption, and forgiveness of our sins according to the riches of His grace which He has lavished on us in Christ Jesus." Ephesians 1:7

Radical Forgiveness
With her trademark delivery of "practical girlfriend theology" (sass, liberal doses of "been there" honesty, and relentless truth) Julie challenges audience to consider and ACCEPT the atoning power of Divine rescue and absolution. During our time together we’ll consider the following: *Why Forgive? (what's the big deal anyway?) *What Forgiveness Isn't *What Forgiveness Is (as defined by the Master Forgiver) *Who Do I Forgive? *How Do I Forgive the Unforgivable? *What's In It for Me? *What Happens If I Don't? *Speaking Truth  "Just as the Lord has forgiven you, you also should forgive." Colossians 3:13

The Fragrance of LIFE 
Has a particular perfume or aromatic fragrance ever sent your heart and mind tumbling back to a specific memory or person? Your first kiss (he was wearing Calvin Klein, Eternity)? Sitting in the kitchen of your grandmother's home while scrumptious scents emanated from a crowded stove top and the gently rising confections within the oven? Ah, the sweet, compelling, effervescent, eternally awakening, power of fragrance! Julie's powerful message will change the hearts and lives of audiences as she boldly teaches and lovingly encourages women to live their lives according to the aromatic truth found in the New Testament book of 2 Corinthians, verses 14 and 15: "Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God . . ." (The Message) 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Happy Eighty-One: Honoring Dad

His height is barely an inch above mine; perhaps not even that now as he celebrates year 
eighty-one of life, but no other man stands taller than Dad in my life.

I Complain, Therefore I Am

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

God's Got This

Not convinced? Eh, I've been there too. But go ahead and repeat after me: "God's got this." 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013