Tidbit Tuesday #1- Such A Time As This

As many of you know there is a lot going on at my work right now. As I’ve been praying for God’s hand to be on this place, and for our hearts to be changed, I’ve also been praying for God to show me ways to encourage others and help in this crazy time. And God has faithfully been answering these prayers. The last few Sunday’s at church there have been sermons, or sunday school lessons that just fit the circumstances out here so well that I can’t help but share. So while I know it’s perfect for here, I can’t help but think someone else might need to hear these encouragements too. So I figured I would post the email’s I send here so others can be encouraged too! Obviously you’ll have to change the circumstances in the last paragraph to fit where you are in life but it still fits!

“For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

As I sat in Sunday school this week and listened to the lesson I couldn’t help but think it was another fitting message for this season here. So I thought I would share with y’all again.

The lesson was out of Esther 4. The backstory is that Esther is a Jew who was chosen by the king to be queen without her heritage being known. One of the king’s officials, Haman, made a law that everyone in the kingdom needed to bow down to himself. He got the king to sign off on it and he went around getting people to bow down to him. However when he came to Mordecai, who is Esther’s uncle who raised her, and a Jew, he refused. This made Haman upset so he went to the king and said hey these Jews won’t bow down to me and won’t follow your laws so I’ll pay to have them all killed if you just say ok. Of course the king said ok. And that brings us to the beginning of chapter 4 where Mordecai finds out about this plot to kill all the Jews, and he immediately goes into mourning. Esther hears of his mourning and sends word to see if he’s ok. He sends message back that all the Jews were going to be killed, and that she needed to go before the King to plead for their lives. Esther sends a word back that she can’t do that or she will die. Mordecai sends a word back explaining that she is basically dead either way and then says the verse that’s quoted above. Esther agrees but instructs Mordecai to gather all the Jews to fast and pray on her behalf.

The thing that struck me the most while listening was the fact that Mordecai brings attention to the fact that maybe Esther was the queen for such a time as this. That God knew this was going to happen and He wanted to use Esther to help save His people. She only had to be willing to step out and trust in him.

As I thought of that I was reminded that God has each one of us here for a reason. We all bring different things to the table, we all minister to the kids in a different way. When staff comes and goes things change, they shift. Or when kids come and go things shift and change. It’s easy to get caught up in the unfairness or in the fact that it’s hard.  But I know that God isn’t surprised by any of it. And I can’t help but wonder every time if these changes are for our own, or the kids own “such a time as this.” That maybe God has a reason, a plan, something he is doing with it. So as we move forward let’s remember and trust the God knows what he’s doing and He wants to use us in these kids’ lives, we only have to let Him.

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When you miss your best friend…

I’m a bit behind on blogging about trips I’ve taken lately… In order to catch up I gotta take y’all back to September of last year.

You see I was missing Lydia big time. So I started looking at plane tickets to Washington. Found some good flights for October and was texting Lydia about it. It didn’t end up working out for October. But when October hit I knew I needed to get up there.. So I booked some tickets for November. Yes that meant I would go to Washington and then shortly after head to Cali for thanksgiving but I didn’t care. I needed to go!

We didn’t do much while I was there… It was cold, so I spent most of my time under a heated blanket turned on high with Daphne in my lap. But it was nice. So here are some pictures from the trip.

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The 40 days before Easter

I have been participating in Lent since I was in junior high, maybe even before that. But in the last few years it’s taken on a new meaning for me. I’ve put more thought into what I wanted to give up or add-on. I really wanted whatever it was to remind me of Christ death on the cross, to draw me closer to him, to make it about him and not about what I could do. You can read here and here about the things I gave up the last two years and how they drew me closer to the Lord.

This year as I was talking about what to give up or add-on with my friend Jamie. She mentioned that we needed to think outside the box. And I agreed. I wasn’t feeling led to give up any food, and after becoming gluten intolerant after giving up bread last year I wasn’t keen on doing anything food related anyway. I wasn’t feeling led to give up anything really.

So I started thinking about what I could add-on. Jamie and I talked some more and we decided we would memorize some scripture together. And here is what I learned:

  1. When you repeat scripture over and over out-loud to yourself you can have “aha” moments. You know moments where a piece of scripture comes together and you really understand it. Had I not been repeating the verse over and over I wouldn’t fully understand those sections.
  2. You can’t memorize scripture on your own strength. There were a few times where I would read the verse and my brain would say “nope, no more, I’m done.” or “Nope, I’m tired, not doing it.” These moments were really good reminders that my flesh is weak, but God’s strength is immeasurable.
  3. The more time you spend in the scripture the more you see correlations between books of the Bible, the more you understand certain topics, and the more you learn. This doesn’t have to come from memorization, certainly just studying the Bible helps you do this. But because I was memorizing certain verses, those were on my mind and when I would hear a sermon, a song, or have a conversation about the Lord with someone, it would relate somehow or it would expound upon a verse or something.
  4. I’ve wasted a lot of time in the last year and a half… Say what? Well I did most of my memorizing while I was walking my dog in the mornings. I walk her forty-five minutes to an hour most mornings. And while I’ve tried to use that time for the Lord before, I’ve always been distracted or not disciplined, and it hasn’t worked out. But I see now that I can focus and be disciplined with that time. So here’s not wasting that precious time but to start using it for God’s glory!

 

When God loves you enough

A year ago tomorrow I went on a date. A date I didn’t admit to being a date till after it was over. A date that led to a kind of relationship. A relationship that, as I look back on now, God used to “wreck my ship,” to use the words of my friend Bryce. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

In November and December of 2014 I started wanting to go on dates. I didn’t want anything serious and was still content being single, so I thought. I just wanted to go on out and have fun. At first it was just passing thoughts. But the more passing thoughts I had the more it grew into a desire. It didn’t change the fact that I still thought I was content with being single.

And of course while the thought of wanting to go on a date was becoming a desire I met a guy I thought I might be interested in going on dates with. We start talking every time we saw each other, and then eventually we started texting between the times we saw each other a bit. Then came the aforementioned date; the aforementioned kind of relationship.

Did it last? No. Did it end well? No. Did I ignore red flags? Yes. Did it cause unnecessary pain and heartache? Yes. Despite all this did I try it all again with him? Yes.

What I failed to see during it all was that I had become discontent with being single. Discontent in my relationship with the Lord. I had started to seek fulfillment from others instead of Him. I lied to myself about it all. I thought I could just date to date. Tried to convince myself that I could do that. And of course, it failed.

After the second time when it ended before it began the Lord opened my eyes to my sin. He opened my eyes to see that I was seeking fulfillment from others instead of Him. That I had stopped believing He was enough. He knew I was fooled into believing lies and He wanted my eyes open to the truth.

God loved me enough to give me what I thought I wanted. A date. Even though He knew it was Himself that I really wanted. And through the date and the wreckage that followed, He patiently drew me back to himself and saved me from my sin yet again.

 

The Hard Moments

If you follow me on Instagram you see a lot of the fun moments, the crazy moments, the silly moments of my job. But you don’t see a lot of the hard moments. And believe me there are lots of hard moments. I’m not saying this to complain, but as a reminder to mostly myself that while it’s my job, its real life for my kids.

Parenting is a blessing. Parenting is hard. Parenting is fun. Parenting is exhilarating. Parenting is exhausting. It’s joyous, heart breaking. Every emotion can be used to describe parenting. And this last month I’ve felt every single one. There have been times of great fun, like Canadian Thanksgiving, playing outside, bedtime stories, etc. But there have also been moments where I felt like I was putting a band-aid on a bullet hole knowing more needed to be done but it was all I could do.

So what is there to do in those moments? In the nitty-gritty hard moments where there is no magic answer. When you see your kid beating themselves up because they keep making the same mistake, when your kid is aching for a love they don’t even know how to accept. When the disrespect is at an all time high and it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with their real families drama. What do you do?

It’s easy for me in these moments to lose hope a bit. Easy for me to start doubting my ability to do this job. Easy for me to give in to the lies of the devil. But God is bigger. Yes I have no idea what I’m doing in these moments most of the time. But I know that I have a God who does. I have a God who cares about these kids and knows every part of them. I have a God that I can go to in prayer and petition for these kids. I have a God who is going to use these hard moments for His glory and for His good!

Please join me in prayer for my kids, as the holidays are coming and emotions are running high. It’s a hard time for them and they are already feeling it.

 

Adults Throw Temper Tantrums Too

I’ve heard it said that the Lord uses your kids to teach you about Himself. I’ve always believed it just because people I’ve been close to have said it. But now I can believe it because it happened to me the other night.

I’ve kind of been in a funk with my relationship with the Lord lately and not been spending much time with him. As a result I’ve been down in the dumps, discontent, and really negative. A few days ago I reached bottom I guess you can say. I knew the Lord was patiently pursuing me, and waiting for me to repent, surrender and turn back to Him. And I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t turning back to Him. So of course I asked the Lord for help. To show me where my sin was, so I could turn away from it. And like always, He did, but He used one of my kids to do it.

On Saturday while one of my kids was in the midst of a fit they screamed “You guys don’t love me because you don’t let me do what I want, I never get to do what I want, You let all the others do whatever they want but I always get no answers!” My first thought was “I hate the devil.” I was thinking that because this kid, like so many in this generation, has a distorted view of love. They think that love is getting whatever they want regardless of their behavior. The devil just keeps on spinning that lie.

As I was thinking about that the Lord just knocked me to my knees. He brought me to the realization that I was acting toward Him just like my kid was acting toward me. I was mad at the Him because He wasn’t giving me the yes answer I wanted. And I threw a fit just like my kid. I stopped spending time with Him and started trying to fill the place in my heart that only He can fill with human things. I was exchanging the creator for the creation. Which only led to heartache and pain, which caused more anger at the Lord, just like the consequences my kid earned made her more mad at me.

What is there to do in that moment other than to repent, and praise Him answering prayers even when we don’t deserve it?

 

 

 

5 years ago

Five years ago I graduated college.

Five years ago I was deciding where to go to grad school

Five years ago I wanted to be a counselor.

Five years ago I thought I knew how to love.

Five years ago I decided to move to Texas for grad school to be a counselor.

Five years ago I found a room in a family’s house to rent on Craigslist.

Five years ago I started dating a guy, I thought I was going to marry, 2 days before moving to Texas.

Five years ago I moved to Texas.

Five years ago I met Lydia in that family’s house.

Five years ago I met some people at a church.

Five years ago I thought I had life figured out…

As my five-year anniversary of living in Texas just passed. I thought it would be cool to think back to five years ago and remember my thoughts and my feelings. To remember what I thought I had planned out so well. To look back and see how much has changed since then… Because my oh my things have changed.

I’ll be back soon with a “today”!

Wanderlust

The other day I was browsing the tattoo section on pinterest, not because I want one but just to waste time. But I saw a tattoo on someone of the word “Wanderlust.” And I realized it describes me pretty dang well. I’m always down to go somewhere new, or to road trip. I get the itch to travel a lot, especially when I haven’t had time to go anywhere.

You can go back through my blog and see lots of road trip recaps. When Lydia lived in Texas we would go lots of places. But then I started working at my new job and shortly after that she moved back to Washington. So our road tripping and my traveling became pretty non-existent in the first year and few months of working at my job.

But the last six months have made up for that. I have been on a traveling frenzy. In March I went to California for Normy’s bridal shower. IMG_2437

In May I went back to California for Normy’s wedding.IMG_3390 IMG_3396

In June I went to Washington for Lydia’s wedding.IMG_3914 IMG_3933

In July I went to San Antonio with one of my cottages for cottage vacation.IMG_4203 IMG_4245 IMG_4247

Also in July I went around our town with my other cottage for cottage vacation. We were gone all day every day for a week.IMG_4423

In the beginning of August I went to Orlando for 3 and a half days. IMG_4577 IMG_4593 IMG_4605

I came back to work for 4 days and then went to Panama City Beach Florida for 3 and a half days.IMG_4732 11889978_10156072394330713_8055658398018784734_o FullSizeRender

It’s been a crazy six months as far as vacations go. So much so that I longed to just be home for a while… But do you know how long that lasted? Not very long. Because a few hours after I got off the plane from Panama City Beach I was already starting to plan a trip for September.

My name is Juliann and I have wanderlust!

The story of tattoo #2

Since yesterday was the 6 year anniversary of getting my first tattoo I decided it was finally time to share the story of tattoo number 2. I have multiple blog drafts saved about this topic and haven’t been able to finish any of them… Why you ask? Well because the story of this tattoo involves a lot of hurt, and I just haven’t been able to share that hurt honestly and in a way that is edifying. But I think I can do it now… So here goes
11102625_10100562751508571_5011736061697326537_nThis tattoo is about five years in the making. I knew I wanted a tattoo on my left wrist but I couldn’t ever find a design that fit. I searched and searched, then would let go of the idea of getting one. Only to start searching again a few months later. I wanted it to encompass the two ways I try to live my life for the Lord. Love Deeply and Take Big Risks. Last November I finally found a picture of a tattoo I could get on board with. I sent it to Lydia and asked if she could draw it out with the changes I wanted. She did! So then started my waiting period. I always wait a few months after finding a design to see if I really want it. And this one stuck through those few months. So in March while I was in California for Normy’s bridal shower I got it.

Now you may be thinking man there isn’t any hurt in that story, minus the pain of getting the tattoo… And I would say you are right… But the story of this tattoo doesn’t end there. Where the hurt comes in is when I got back to Texas and the months that followed….

Many of you know I work at a Christian group home for kids from families in crisis. I am one of many teaching parents. We all love Jesus, but have different convictions, traditions, and things like that. Totally fine, the Holy Spirit guides us in our own. But we are to remain one as a body as it says in most of Paul’s Epistles. That idea is where the issue arose.

The night before I got my tattoo one of the married couple teaching parents that I worked closely with sent me a text stating their conviction against tattoos. I did not have a problem with receiving that text or the conversation we had following it about our different convictions. It was good dialog and stayed edifying for the most part. Having that conversation didn’t change my mind about getting the tattoo. I figured we would be able to stay unified as a body in Christ through our different convictions.

When I got back to Texas with my tattoo, there was major tension between this couple and I. And I wasn’t sure how to fix it. They did not approve of the decision I had made and it caused a rift in our team. I wanted to stay unified, but I wasn’t sure what that looked like, or how to do it on my part.

I had gotten called into managements office to discuss my tattoo, which was not against policy, but that had caused a rift in our team. They wanted to find a way to keep our team together for the kids in the cottages sake. And while this is what I wanted, I felt like I was the one being made to do everything to get rid of the rift. Granted I was the one who got the tattoo, but short of getting it removed I wasn’t sure how I could change the feelings of other people. So why was I the only one being asked to change anything?

I began to feel very hurt, and very bitter at the entire situation. I started to question whether I should have gotten the tattoo when I did. Maybe I should have waited. I found it hard to love my tattoo when it caused all this drama. I let bitterness have a foothold in my heart, and it took over. Especially when I realized I wasn’t going to be able to stay in the cottage. I threw a major fit in my heart. I didn’t want to leave that cottage, and I was mad at not getting my way. And I sat in this for way longer than I’d like to admit.

In the midst of my inner tantrum I chose to change cottages. Because despite what I felt I knew the Lord was working and leading. He was closing the door to being in the cottage whether I liked it or not and opening the door to work in the other cottage. I followed His leading, even though I was kicking and screaming the whole way.

Since switching cottages I’ve been trying to work on my attitude, on letting go of bitterness, on forgiving, and on trusting in the Lord’s plan. You see I am 100% sure that even if I hadn’t of gotten my tattoo I still wouldn’t be working in that cottage anymore. There were other issues within our team that would have torn it apart.

More importantly I know the Lord was leading me to this other cottage. I have seen traces of this throughout the summer working in there. None more clear than through the text I got two days ago stating that the couple who works in there is leaving. This cottage has been through so much change in staff in the past year that it breaks my heart. But I am so humbled that the Lord led me to that cottage to walk with these kids through yet another abandonment and to love them through it.

 

 

Lent 2015

As Ash Wednesday was approaching this year I was unsure what I was going to give up. Last year I gave up naps and it drew me closer to the Lord more than anything I had ever given up before. I knew this year I wanted something that would do the same thing. I wanted to do social media, but it wasn’t something that I was feeling led to do, I just knew I was wasting a lot of time on it for no reason and wanted to break my habit.

As I was praying about it and thinking on it a lot I realized I didn’t really feel “led” to give anything up. I thought it was strange. So I decided to give up social media. Then in a conversation with a co-worker about what we were giving up we decided to give up bread.

Today after celebrating Jesus’ resurrection at church I was hanging with the girls in the cottage and reflecting on what I learned through the season of Lent, and how giving up bread and social media drew me closer to the Lord. To be honest… They didn’t really… dun dun dun…. But here’s the thing… Through the last two months the Lord has been teaching me, growing me, and opening up so many good conversations with friends about Him.

Yes giving up social media made it easier to use my time during the days wisely, yes when I went through bread withdrawals I needed to rely on Him for strength, but that wasn’t what drew me closer to him. What drew me closer was the choice to spend time with him daily and to be in His word, and to read good books that fed me spiritually.

So as I look back I realize why I didn’t feel led to give anything up. Turns out it wasn’t strange. It was just that the Lord was using other ways to draw me to Himself. He was using other ways to grow me, challenge me, and allow me to fall deeper in love with Him.

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