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Sunday, April 27, 2014

'Solace' Captiva, FL - October 12th-17th, 2014


'Solace' Captiva Island guests will gather in this delightful rainbow respite of bright colors. Tropical flowers, ferns, palms, figs and fruit trees adorn the grounds, thriving in Captiva's fantastic weather. The front garden has pathways leading to a small patio and seating area - enjoy company, read a book, or simply contemplate everything or nothing-at-all in the lovely garden.

This four bedroom house (Julie & Assistant room not shown) enjoys its own private heated pool (water temperature fixed at 85 degrees F). The large, screened pool patio is furnished with lounge chairs, an outdoor dining table, and a gas grill. A Guest Bath with double-size shower (serving Guest Room Twin) is accessible to Pool Patio as well.

A recent remodel provides luxurious amenities in the ultra-modern kitchen, bathrooms, and bedrooms. The house gives a sense of spaciousness inside and out, with the dense landscape plantings affording maximum privacy. The open kitchen has plenty of cabinets and work surface space, and room for congregating. We do love our congregating at Solace!

The wide, white beach of the Gulf of Mexico is just steps down the private, sandy, lane. Yet from this quiet location you have convenient proximity to the Captiva Village Center with outstanding restaurants (Mucky Duck anyone?!), unique shops, and fun activities.

Golf carts for island use are available for rent and allow guests to seek shopping or puttering Solace as they desire. Multiple boating excursions on the Island provide Guests opportunities for dolphin cruises; a trip to the island which is said to have inspired "Margaritaville"; Gulf water fishing; sunset sail boating, and more!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Has The Cheese Fallen Off Your Cracker?

Are you looking for Solace? If so, be encouraged as I'm pulling together a late-Summer, early-Fall getaway which is looking more and more likely to happen. Varying locale options: gorgeous non-Gulf front home only short drive to beaches--enclosed pool and hot tub; townhouse only steps from Sanibel shore; and possible spot along the AL Gulf Shore should we choose to spread our shells and try.
Solace, A Respite for Women Whose Cheese Has Fallen Off Their Cracker 

Okay, you just have to know this is my Sweet Spot and the prospect of meeting those of you who are desperate for Solace, well, I'm sitting here in my still-cold-at-the-end-of-March living room writing and alternately smiling like a goofball; having heart palpitations; and getting a bit weepy. 

Initial Details (in progress):

  • 4, to (no more than) 8 women; possibly 3-days, most likely 5-days.
  •  Low-key "Stay and Savor" ambiance which allow you to exhale--perhaps for the first time in months, if not years.
  • Giving yourself over to the unforced rhythm of Restorative Respite via shelling, spiritual direction, laughter, good food, more laughter, more shelling and telling your story. 

  •  Solace pricing will include lodging; meals; one breakfast at 'The Heavenly Biscuit'; and ticket for Captiva Cruise shelling trip to Cayo Costa State Park
  • Solace pricing will NOT include airfare or rental car expense. (It's possible, given the intimate number of women attending that airport pick-ups may be a possibility. It'll depend on airport location and having a body other than my own [Julie] available to drive.) Depending on accommodation and parking availability there could be an add'l parking charge for said rental cars. All such details will be nailed down prior to event date. Airports include: Punta Gorda, FL; Tampa, FL; and Fort Meyers, FL.
  • Bike rentals as well as scooters and Segways are available for individual use on the Island.
  • Plenty of free time for you to discover the Island--again, "unforced"

Embrace the Unforced Rhythm of Restoration 
is the key word so understand I [Julie] will not have a day-to-day calender loaded with must-do's. (Other than the Captiva Cruise which is optional--but cost covered if one decides to explore this uninhabited shelling bonanza.)

  • Some meals and a run to Pinnocchio's ice cream may be eaten out and those will be the responsibility of each individual.


God the Father, God the Son, & God the Holy Spirit is at work in, with, and for, you. Always. 

Some sites to whet your appetite: (LOVE Associate Pastor Barb Nave!) (who doesn't want to see dolphins jumping alongside a fast moving vessel?!)
— feeling Like This Is What I'm Made To Do.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Malaysian Airlines Flight 370: A Prayer

 "God, despite our greatest efforts, as finite humans, only You are able to bring to light the truth and discovery of Flight #370. I ask that You would allow just that to come to pass quickly--the why's and how's are nothing compared to the agonizing grief of unknowing and loss (without *proof* of loss) of the families. And, given the possibility of continued life of each of those passengers and until it is proven otherwise, I continue to pray for life and rescue. Show mercy, oh, God, to all those involved...we confess we are helpless."

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

"Sexy Jesus" Makes Me Cringe: Thoughts on Familiarity & Contempt

The familiarity by which our culture & at times, Church universal (all those who identify themselves as a follower of Jesus Christ), speaks of, regards, and portrays the Son of God leaves me at turns nauseous, profoundly sad, and more than a bit apprehensive. Why my apprehension? I can't shake the insightful observation of the Apostle Mark (Mark 6:1-6) who noted the contemptuous familiarity by which the citizens of Nazareth regarded their hometown son, Jesus. 

At first, they were impressed by His teaching. Perhaps they discussed his initial notoriety and felt a measured sense of community pride. It was all well and fine until He spoke with authority. Until He stepped out of His "place." Until He started teaching "teaching" with an authority that belied his station in life. After all, who did this upstart think he was? everyone knew he was just the son of a carpenter. And it went downhill from there; more accurately, it went to the edge of the cliff from there. (Luke 4:29-30)

Because of their disregard, disdain, and scorn/scoffing, Jesus limited His teaching with them. Because of their lack of belief ("The Son of God?! Phfft!"),  and anger and offense taken by His words, He was unable to do any miracles among them. They didn't take too kindly to any of this and when all was said and done attempted to throw him off that aforementioned cliff.

Now, that's some serious contempt.

I read this 2,000+ year historical eyewitness account and then turn my eyes and ears to the culture which surrounds me; the culture in which I am engaged; the culture which is, byte by byte, image by image, defining Jesus and I honestly quake within my spirit. It's a fear thing. A holy fear thing as I see our "here and now" version of contemptuous familiarity.

Look what we've done to Jesus.
Look what we've done with Jesus.

We've GQ'd him.
We text, tweet, and post casual--Lord, forgive us (me)--quips referencing Jesus the BFF; Jesus the Homeboy; Jesus the hottie. (Okay, I cringed just writing that.)
We banter about and invoke the name of the only Son of God with a casualness more befit a tweet regarding Pharrel's hat.

God forgive us. God forgive me.

(Please note: this is not a screed calling for the demise of Jesus films or the denigration of those who write/produce such genre of communication. 
This latest go-around of cultural news discussions regarding the casting type of such simply stirred within me once again a familiar conviction regarding the deeper and more troubling aspect of how I, and the culture around me, chooses to esteem the person of Jesus Christ.) 

(Note a note: I'm working out multiple ponderings via writing during this hiatus and will continue to post portions as they come. We can ponder together!) 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Julie's Advice for "I Booked My First Gig!!" Speakers

1. The audience is for you. Unless it's a crowd of 7th graders, then? well, it can get kinda ugly.

2. Only YOU know what you did or did not say, did or did not prepare. This is no time for confession. Leave that to your Priest or time with a girlfriend afterwards.

3. It's 45-60 minutes, not 72 hours. You don't have to say everything, even if everything is stupendous.

4. Do what you need to do to prepare. Me? I have to be alone prior to speaking; I can sit at a meal or table but much prefer not doing such when at all possible. I'm an extrovert par excellence but to nail it speaking wise I have to quiet my thoughts. I don't even like The Husband or my kids (good lord, NOT the kids) being around me. No talking is my preference and then.....*BOOM* I unleash it on the audience. 

5. Wear NORMAL clothes. Don't go get all JLo, or Sister Mary Katherine, or The Woman Who Knocked Off CATO. Unless you're normally JLo, Sister Mary Katherine, or a CATO knock-off.

6. Wear comfortable shoes. If they're not, take them off prior to speaking. Or during, as has been the case a time or two in my life. If your feet hurt, well, your face is probably going to show it.

7. DO NOT use vocabulary words with which you're unfamiliar. Stick to your usual street talk.

8. DO NOT listen to recordings of "The Speaker Who Most Intimidates Me In The Entire Freakin' World!!!!!!!" It's hard to be authentically you when you're mentally judging yourself mid-point, "Geesh! Ann Voskamp would have NEVER settled for a 2 syllable word there!"

9. Don't do Power Point unless you're really, really, good with PP.

10. On second thought: don't do PP.

10. Just say, "Thank you," when a woman approaches you and say, "I enjoyed what you had to so much." Don't apologize for not being "The Speaker Who Most Intimidates Me In The Entire Freakin' World!" Don't feel like you have to say, "To God be the Glory." I mean you can, because it's true but sometimes it's just a passive-aggressive Bible-ly way to say the aforementioned apology.

11. DO NOT listen to a recording of yourself. Other speakers will disagree but seriously, it's your first gig. I say presume you did well unless the entire audience gets up and walks out. And even then, well, it could be "The Speaker Who Most Intimidates Me In The Entire Freakin' World" has set up a table selling his/her books across the street and just sent a tweet inviting everyone over for a signed *FREE* copy. 

* If the final tip doesn't make sense private msg and I'll help you out.
#Advice4Speakers #AnnVoskamp #MarkDriscoll #TriedAndTrueWisdom

Monday, January 6, 2014

On A Not So Minor Midlife Crisis

I think I had a not-so-minor midlife crisis. (Had, past tense). 

My agent says it's been seven-years of me figuring out who I am including the five since I had a book published. (And she's still my agent, can you believe that? I do love my Esther.) 

My husband would hazard a guess of 4.5 years of my being in a funk. (Of which, about this time last year, he advised, "Get out of it." The man tries, he truly tries.)  :)

And me? Well, all I know for sure is there's been some pretty "meh" months and years as (cliche alert!) dreams were shattered over and over again. Decidedly "in a funk" mentality of heart, mind, and spirit, as I grieved over said shattering and wrestled a mother of a parenting bear with The Teenager. Hard days, weeks, and months. Even more difficult nights wondering if any of it would turn out not awful.

I resettled into our current home; took time to decorate--to be a Homemaker and did my best to create a safe haven for all of us to land in-between those COPS-cringe worthy scenes between parent/child; child/child.

I had time to not write; time to not be "on deadline"; time to not chase airport concourses & gates; time to veg...oh, let me be not-so-minor crisis honest...time to be inert. Lazy. A toad.

And it's been what I needed whether I knew I needed it or not.

But I'm ready for something other.
No, something familiar, yet new.
I'm ready to re-embrace the living proof details of My Former Professional Life; details which make it cackle with life and purpose.

I'm ready to be (again) who I've always been in the totality of life: An Entertainer.

So here's to writing funny.
Here's to speaking funny.
Here's to developing "sets" and venturing into straight-up comedy.
Here's to making women laugh so hard they snort.

Here's to being me, again. #MidLifeCrisis #FunnyAgain