1. I really like historical fiction – even if the history is made up. George R.R. Martin is amazing.

2. If I eat healthy and count my calories in a food log I lose weight and I feel amazing.
2.a I can eat healthy and lose weight while traveling. This is a truly amazing discovery. Bonus – the food you eat tastes better when you are eating healthy – it has more flavor.
2.b If you look up the restaurant you are going to before you get there and pick out a meal within your calorie count it’s easier than trying to figure it out after you get there.
2.c Applebees has an under 550 calorie menu and Subway has 4-5 combo’s under 500 calories.

3. A treat is something that makes you feel good for days. An indulgence only makes you feel good while it is happening.

4. Watching your daughter dance, after dreaming of it for 20 years, is beautiful.

5. My son’s laugh is my favorite ringtone.

6. Writing a blog is scary. It’s exposing. (It’s less scary when your mom and three other people are the only ones reading it.)

7. I can’t wait to start sewing! I know how to thread my machine or whatever you call it.

8. Knowing that I can have a piece of dark chocolate at the end of every day gives me super-Julie willpower the rest of the day.

9. Being appreciated is so important.

10. It’s nearly impossible to take a picture every day. That sounded so easy.

So that is it for January. Not bad for my 40th year. Still able to learn new things. I so love that life is just a series of experiences that can surprise us and delight us and challenge us. This is the first year that I’ve ever set New Years resolutions and actually stuck with them.

One thing that has helped is I haven’t thought of my new eating as a diet – just a healthier way of eating. It also helps that my mom and two friends are all making these changes together. We are able to ‘friend’ each other on LoseIt.com and check in every day as we log our food and occasional for some, frequent for others – exercise. (hint, I’m occasional and everyone else is frequent) Your welcome to join us! (This is a trick to find out who is reading this blog.)

It’s been nice to make the right kind of changes in my life. One of the drawbacks of finding and starting my family later in life is the horrible knowledge that I am likely to have less time with them than someone who started earlier. That’s a good motivator to be as healthy as I can and make good choices. I want to know at 80 that what I did at 40 made for a strong life.

The sewing is something new – I took up crocheting two years ago. Last year I really focused on my photography. This year I will learn to sew. I even found an online home ec course with projects that will give you a bunch of different skills. So I’m going to start there in February and see how much I can get done. My big goal was to make curtains but then I went on Pinterest and searched sewing and now I may never stop sewing once I figure it out.

So what are you challenging yourself with this year? Any new skills or goals you are pursuing?

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How much of who I think you are is actually just a projection of my interpretation of who I hope you are? How can I ever know?

Have you ever had someone attribute a characteristic to you and suddenly you realize they do not know you at all, they have projected a set of traits on you that are not just inaccurate but completely wrong?

Is there any more basic need than the need to be known? Known fully and loved both because of and in spite of the knowing.

I’ve only really ‘heard’ God speak to me two times and the first was about this knowing. I was driving from Ohio to Missouri and I had just learned my precious Aunt was battling stomach cancer. I was so so worried for her and I decided to use my 8 hour drive to just pray. So I did, I prayed and I prayed and I prayed and after awhile I realized that I was no longer praying about my Aunt. Somehow my mind had drifted and I had begun to pray about someone else that needed a lot of help at that point in my life – me. When I realized that I had abandoned my original intent to pray for my Aunt I was so angry with myself. I started telling God what a horrible and selfish person I was in great detail. I only stopped the indictment when in the midst of my tirade I was interrupted and I was alone.

“I know you.” In the midst of me telling Him who I was He lovingly said, “I know you.” And I felt it, completely and totally. A resonating…knowing. Deep in my soul – He showed me who I was. He showed me what He saw and He showed me who I really am. The real, redeemed me. He sees me beyond my limitations. He sees past my shortcomings. He sees the potential – both met and strived for. He knows me more fully than I know myself.

Just knowing God sees the me He created, even though I see the me bound up here in my foibles and muck is enough. There really is a woman who is beyond even the woman I aspire to be and someday I will be restored to her.

God knows us fully but we only see a part, the part that is bound up in this challenging life. Learning this, I have decided to try and accept the good I see in other people as accurate but to discount the things I don’t understand. I think that leaves room for someone to be more than what I see on any given day.

Isn’t that what we all need – room to be more than we are when we fall short?

I try to be cognizant of what I know vs what I think I know. It’s difficult to check your projections at the door but great fun to try. When I meet new people I try to identify what it is I’ve truly learned vs what I’ve added in. It’s amazing how we fill out the picture of people we meet. We take very few facts and viola – we can tell you all about someone.

Because I know how many kids you have, your marital status, where you go to church or don’t go to church, and where you work does not mean I know you. To know you I would have to know what makes you cry, what makes you laugh – and why? What do you regret and what are you proud of? When you are all alone – what do you think about, how do you spend your time? What do you not want anyone to know and why does it cause you such shame and why can’t you set it down? What do you need from me to truly consider me a friend? What dreams have you given up and what dreams will you still pursue?

And even then….we all have lived our own reality with our own paradigms. Even two siblings can have vastly different versions of their shared childhood. We have no choice but to project our framework onto one another. I may never really know you, but an earnest endeavor to try is my pledge.

Here’s to knowing you…

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I am truly amazed at how comforting doubt can be. The older I get, the less I am confidant about, and the more comforted I am by that lack of confidence. The bravado of youth is exhausting, constantly challenged, and inevitably found to be lacking. It was exhausting to think I had everything figured out and find time and again that I did not. The result – years of doubt and a constant readjustment on the footholds on life. I would learn a big lesson and think, “There, I’ve figured it out, that was the missing piece.” Only to learn another BIG lesson a week later, or a month later, or whenever. I readjusted my life around this new learning and confidently took off on my journey thinking that’s it – now I’m rolling!

As I enthusiastically approach 40 I am excited, not because I have everything figured out but because I know I do not and I will not. Ever. More importantly I am ok with it. I rest easy in doubt and appreciate the mystery of life. Ah, yes, I rest easy in my doubt. I have readjusted my beliefs in the last twenty minutes – let alone what I’ve made of myself in the last year. I am a constant work in progress. I’m no further and no closer to the Great Truth than I was the day I was born. How liberating to realize that no one has everything figured out. If you think you do…well, I fear it is an illusion.

I was once terrified to admit to anyone that I had doubts – especially about my faith. Even now, writing this, I think of people I know that may be shocked or even offended by doubt. I’m not scared of it anymore – I have doubts. There are inconsistencies in this world that I find horrifying, simply and completely horrifying. I’ve experienced nothing compared to so many – my losses are trivial and insignificant. But you know what – even my small losses in this life are horrifying to me. Unfair. Wrong. Horrifying. So to not have doubt, for me, is to be dishonest. It is minimizing and dismissive.

To embrace doubt in the midst of profound faith is a beautiful thing. I’ve never felt closer to God than when I come to him passionate and angry and frustrated. He is never so big to me as He is when I come to Him broken by this world. My why’s are never answered, my passion is only resolved by fatigue and resignation. There are times when I simply break and give up. There are times that I walk away, too confused to stay, too sad. That is beautiful to me.

What my doubt has taught me, by embracing it, is that I can walk away as far as I need to, want to, or accidentally find myself. But when I turn around I’m no further than when I first ran in with my questions. There are no answers – no certainty for almost everything. There are no easy answers for almost everything. There are no answers. For almost everything.

Love one another and love Me. One answer, for almost everything. There comes a point in your life that you have to decide to be ok with one answer, for almost everything. I don’t know why, but I love you. I don’t know why, but what can I do for you right now? I don’t know why, but I was sent here, right now, to love you, to serve you. I don’t know why, but I know I’m supposed to be a part of the answer. I love you. Tell me how to show you love, right now, in the midst of this.

There comes a point in your life when you realize how big of an answer that one answer is.

Love one another and love Me. My doubt can fit in that answer. My doubt is, in fact, perfectly resolved. Why, why why my heart screams and so so often there is just this. Just this one answer. Love one another and love Me. And finally, finally I understand. It is more than enough. There is no answer – not for the questions I ask. I ask questions that I’m not equipped to have answered. Not yet.

But I’m equipped to love and be loved. I’m equipped for this.

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03. January 2012 · 6 comments · Categories: Faith


“Whether this tragedy is preventable or not is now irrelevant.  It is not preventable today.”   This was the response of a comedian to a singer’s untimely death but it spoke to me – it resonated and has stayed with me.

How many of us live our lives in the ‘what if’ and ‘if only’?  How many days are wasted in a stupor of longing – wishing things had been different?  It is not preventable today.   All of the longing in the world won’t change a second of our past.  Regret, wishes, reconstruction – none of it results in real change.  It is not preventable today.

How many of us are watching a tragedy unfold and are unable to act?  How many of us know that we are making choices today that will one day become an unpreventable tragedy?   We move through life as if there will always be time to mend and set right.  We act as if the pain can always be reversed.  We learn to walk with this limp and pretend we will never again long to sprint.  Do we still have time?  Can this be prevented?

The first 30 years of my life – were like watching a high drama unfold.  I lived my life like I was auditioning for a soap opera.  I lived like my choices had no long term impact – and at the lowest points I lived like I didn’t care what tragedy my choices may result in.  And then I stopped.

The last ten years I lived purposefully, full of self responsible mindedness.  I’ve made choices with a clear head and heart and my life now would never ever be made into a soap opera by even the most desperate producer.  My life is devoid of drama.  I simply stopped.  Well, did I say simply?

While it is true to say I stopped, it is also very critical to complete that sentence – I stopped running.  I stopped running from a past I didn’t want.  I stopped running from wise counsel.  I stopped running from the truth that was inside me.  I stopped running and I found God.  He had been in hot pursuit.  The hot breath I felt bearing down my neck?  God’s breath as he pursued.  That nagging feeling that if I stopped something would end my life?  God again, but the ending of what I called a life wasn’t anything to avoid.  The fear that if I stopped I would lose control?  Losing control was the one thing that could save me.  I kinda sucked at being in control.

I made choices – some part of the public record and some between me and some very nice therapists, that I will look upon with sadness and regret all of my life.  But none since I stopped running.

And even with that truth – I struggle with my faith.  I have some very smart friends who don’t believe and I will tell you honestly, cause God already knows – sometimes I’m embarrassed to say I believe in a God that lives in Heaven and created this earth.  It sounds like a fairy tale when I think about it logically.  When I apply their arguments I get a queasy feeling – I grow restless and uneasy.  I have doubts – and I mean mountainous doubts – not little tiny doubts.    It bothers me at times that Heaven belongs to those with faith like a child…

But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” (Matthew 19:14 NLT)

Before, my idea of a child was me, making stupid choices and bad decisions.  I didn’t realize all that started long after I could legitimately claim to be a child.  Come to find out it’s hard to know what it means to be childlike without really spending some time with children.  Go figure.

After I stopped running I became a parent and started raising children.   The design of our lives is a thing of beauty and unfettered wonder because as a parent, I get to see how children love.  I see how they have faith in me – an imperfect woman with more mistakes than she ever wants to reveal.  Pure and complete faith.  I get to see what it means to be childlike and I find it doesn’t mean stupid.

Childlike means:

Unburdened
Trusting
Open
Willing
Malleable
Teachable
Joyful
Honest
Hopeful

Being childlike means shirking off the weight of the world and being light.  It means being Light.

And I realize that I’m going to look stupid without that weight on me.  I’m going to look stupid if I have all of those wonderful characteristics because this world is heavy and to see someone navigating it lightly is foreign and looks kinda insane.  So I remind myself of this when those doubts crowd in.  I remind myself of the before and after pictures of my life.  I remind myself that what others believe is not relevant to what I believe.  I have my own life and my own set of circumstances to draw from.  I have my own faith.

A faith that prevented tragedy.
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