Failure

Do you remember in the movie City Slickers when the character, Ed, said his best and worst day were the same day? I relate to that in this way; that the things in my life that could have potentially destroyed me, have been the very things that have given me grit and determination to change.  Those times have been the catalyst to eventually propel me into my best self and my best potential.

I have found that the humility I have learned in failure has been fertile ground for authenticity and given me a more meaningful way to relate to others.

I am sitting here this morning in my quiet place. The corner space in my room, next to a window that has been designated for prayer and meditation. I am reading Psalm 91, H.C.G Moule and Beth Moore. As I feel a cool, gentle breeze touching my shoulder after a humid, sticky night, I find that I am in very good company.  The words  that I am reading were written by people  who have a deep understanding of failure. The constant theme is; what is impossible with man, is possible with God.

It is not only that God loves,  knows and relates to us, in real time, through Jesus Christ…which is pretty mind blowing.   It is that He can still prove inexhaustible and victorious in our mortal flesh today! It is also that, He and He alone, can set us free from the slavery of sin. And it is further, that because He has set His love upon us He will deliver us. 

I am sitting here right now, drinking in His love and mercy. His absolute encouragement  and inspiration toward me to lift my eyes up to the mountains from where my help comes from. The awesome overwhelmedness that He is a master at taking ashes and creating beautiful things out them.  He really wants to do that for me and for you today and every day!

Thank you God that the things that the devil meant to destroy me have been turned for good in your hand. Thank you God for your Holy Spirit that leads me in to all truth and uses my life to help other’s with their’s. I am overwhelmed as I sit in your presence. I thank you for the other’s who have gone before me and have transparently encouraged me by their trials, struggles and failures. As difficult as the road has been, I thank you that you did not allow me to become hardened. You kept my heart soft and vulnerable, so that you could continue to teach me and I could continue to encourage others with the comfort I have received.  And I thank you that you, and you alone, can grow the most beautiful creations out of seemingly impossible conditions. 

 

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I am walking this path of wholeness with you and I would love to hear from you today.

The Waiting Hours

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I have two friends who, right now, are going through tremendous times of pain. It is excruciating for me to watch, there is nothing….well very little, I can do for them.

My one friend has lost her closest brother to suicide. He was a highly decorated Marine in our United States Marine Corps. He went on from there to become a highly distinguished Navy Seal. He literally gave his life for our country and it’s people. For all of his post trauma, he could not re enter life when he got home. My heart breaks and my eyes swell even as I write. What do you do with this kind of pain?

My other friend has just given birth to a child with severe Spina Bifida. The baby’s back never closed while she was growing safe and snug in her mama’s womb. The amniotic fluid that serves as safety to typical babies became a daily threat to her nerves and muscles that were exposed to it every minute of every day. Before she even had a chance to suck at her mother’s breast, all six pounds of her was taken into life threatening surgery. The details of how you manage three other children and recover from your own, less than perfect, surgery while trying to care for this new life, is more than any one can communicate- but this is my friend’s life right now.

I know something of pain myself. I have had a lot of it in fact. Maybe that is why I can so deeply feel other’s pain when they experience it, which is a silver lining in living through a lot of distress. It is a silver lining because I can relate, be understanding and unselfish in terms of what I get out of that particular relationship. Many times people tend to want you to “snap to it” and “be yourself”, grieve quickly and move on. I am not a grieve quickly kind of person, but the flip side is that I can love in a deeper and more gratifying way too.

This was my prayer to my friend this morning who did not sleep because the baby had become swollen and was draining liquid from her brain and the doctors did not know why.

The brokenness is over whelming we can scarcely stand it, we want to jump out of our skin and flee! Give strength in the pain God and be the rock of salvation, the cornerstone, the hiding place of peace in the storm. Be the light in the darkness and the hope. You are our all in all. You are life. Give, be and have life through us, through the baby. Be somehow glorified and magnified in this and every situation. Amen.

F.B. Meyer ( Author and English Evangelist, working in Inner Cities around the turn of the century) said;

Go to God with your question; get direction from the light of His smile or the cloud of His refusal If only you will get alone, where the disturbance of self will does not intrude, where human opinions failed to reach- and if you will dare to wait there silent and expectant, through all around you insist on immediate decision or action- the will of God will be made clear: and you will have a new name in addition, a new conception of God, a deeper insight into the His nature and heart of love, which shall be for yourself alone- a rapturous experience, to abide as your precious possession forever, the rich reward for those long waiting hours.

There are times in life when we simply have to wait and while we wait, we have to endure and press forward in the moment. We all experience pain and the degree we measure our pain cannot be against the pain of another human being. We can run… I have done that. We can mask…I have been there as well. Or we can run and hide into wholeness.  Into The One who takes the pain in real time and brings shalom in the waiting hours.

I am right here walking this path of wholeness with you and I would love to hear from you today.

Think On These Things…

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It is SO easy for all of us to look at what is wrong in any situation…being grumpy and complaining takes little effort. It is so easy to complain about the weather, the government, or another human being.

I have a son who is autistic. His brain apparently does not have a lot of serotonin or dopamine, because he struggles to look at the bright side of anything. We are attempting to teach him every day to recount the good things of the day, or happy memories he has experienced in the last 24 hours and let me tell you, it is grueling work! We all get very frustrated with him but do you know what? I find I can be the exact same way many times! I have this written in my dining room from Phil. 4:8; I challenge you to insert truth to all of these meditations, especially the situations you are experiencing right now that are clouded by doubt and frustration.
WHATEVER THINGS ARE TRUE-  (Insert yours here) I wrote; I am loved, forgiven, accepted and pleasing to God.
WHAT EVER THINGS ARE NOBLE- Despite our struggles and set backs, my husband and I are attempting to build a holy union called marriage.
WHAT EVER THINGS ARE JUST- Our children are growing up into the gifts and talents that God purposes for their lives and we experience that as a family.
WHAT EVER THINGS ARE PURE- God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit give us access to themselves daily.
WHAT EVER THINGS ARE LOVELY- Children that I wasn’t supposed to have, green grass, hemlocks, flowers on my porch and in my hand.
WHAT EVER THINGS ARE OF GOOD REPORT- I made it through this day loving those around me!
WHAT EVER THINGS ARE VIRTUOUS- Trusting that God has plan and future for me that is good even when my circumstances can make me doubt. I don’t give up!
WHAT EVER IS PRAISEWORTHY- I have life, I have food,  I have water, I have clothing and shelter.
So it says we are to MEDITATE ON THESE THINGS. It takes effort, energy and a changing of our minds- many times from what we see, to faith in what we don’t see. I love the HOPE that is in that!

God has given us the capacity to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. When we look at people who completely frustrate us, we must look at who they really are…who they were created to be, just as we want them to do for us. The renewing power we have been given is a super natural gift, the ability to look at something we see and yet have faith in something that we do not see is not of this world! We have access to this power and we must apprehend it with faith and a grateful heart.

I hope you take a few moments to do this exercise, just writing it out has been transforming to me! I am right here walking this path of wholeness with you and I would love to hear from you today!

Creating Margin…

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I have known for a long time that I need a lot of space for myself to be quiet, read, and pray  to be the person I was created to be. God rested on the 7th day and Jesus often retreated to a quiet place, why do we think we can just keep motoring through hour after hour, day after day?! This morning, I was reading a John Maxwell devotional and John takes 20% of his time- roughly 3 hours a day, to schedule nothing. Doing the math, that adds up to 6 days a month and 72 days a year!! He calls this Essential Time Off.  It allows his mind to be quiet and re focus on the things that are in front of him or be present for his family. He says that he is much more efficient with this un- scheduled time, scheduled in, than he would be with out it.

I have come to find this true again and again. No one is going to provide this margin to you or I. Others will keep taking our time if we let them and this concept of creating space takes great intentionality. Our world and our lives are so complex, we need scheduled times of peace. I just enjoyed 3 days off and it was great to put demands on hold while I spent precious time with my family. When I get back into my schedule, I will continue to have a few hours off every morning to focus on who I really am and what purposes I am here for.

In seasons when I have been really over committed, I find that just one more thing, even if it is seemingly insignificant or mundane, can make me implode if I am not having sufficient quiet time.  This time ultimately allows me to release creativity and stop to think about, and address, the details of my life- something that simply cannot be done on the run. This time also re aligns me with who I really am not just the roles I fill for others. If Jesus needed time to rest and listen to His Father,  I am sure there is abundant wisdom to realize that we need it even more!

I am right here walking this path of wholeness with you and I would love to hear from you today!

 

Feeling Stuck

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The other day I was feeling really stuck in an incident that had occurred. Relentlessly my mind started to obsess over the situation in which I had no power to control.

I have a great book written by Beth Moore called, Praying God’s Word. She takes scriptures, divides them into various topics, and personalizes them so the reader can pray God’s Word over their situation. The above verse  is one that  I found in her book that was so pertinent to what I was struggling with at the moment. I wrote it out on a card to read and meditate on through the day, and it renewed my mind. Whether your past occurred in the last five minutes or something that happened five years ago, this scripture is such a powerful application. The Bible text reads this way;

Whoever invokes a blessing in the land
    will do so by the one true God;
whoever takes an oath in the land
    will swear by the one true God.
For the past troubles will be forgotten
    and hidden from my eyes. Isaiah 65:16

There is a God of Truth and He always desires to Bless us and Release us! He has things for us to do here and we cannot do them if we are stuck. Sometimes it is hard for ourselves or others to forget our past troubles, but it is not hard for God when we ask Him. Not only is it not hard for Him but he forgets it and dwells on the plans He has for our future!

I have been teaching myself over the last few years to not stay stuck in my negative or anxious thoughts about a situation, but to face it, release it, and pray for God’s perspective in it. God doesn’t look at me through a murky lens of failure and missed opportunities. He looks at me through a clean, clear glass  and sees me as loved, accepted, forgiven and pleasing to Him  That keeps me motivated to keep walking  forward on my path of wholeness. I am right here walking it with you and would love to hear from you today!

 

Don’t give up! You’re on The Edge of a Precipice

20180618_133059I have a message burning deep in my heart that I want to share. When darkness closes in all around you and it feels like you are going to suffocate from lack of hope, don’t give up—you are on the edge of a precipice!

The definition of precipice is this:

Precipice

[presuh-pis]
noun
  1. a cliff with a vertical, nearly vertical, or overhanging face.
  2. a situation of great peril: on the precipice of war.
I have been on this precipice many times in my life. Sometimes I found myself there from choices I made, but many times I found myself looking off a cliff from situations that simply presented themselves.There are a few choices we can make when we find ourselves here:
  1. Go back the way we came and deny it.
  2. Find other routes to escape it.
  3. Face and accept the seemingly impossible challenge.

I have tried all three! I can say, without a doubt, facing and accepting our challenges is the only choice we have to growing healthy and moving forward.

I have had situations all my life in which I had to choose not to give up. I was born to overcome; nothing in my life has been easy for me. I was the youngest of five, born into a turbulent time. My mother had given up and over to alcoholism, and my dad was an oft-absent traveling salesman. I got a lot of attention early on for being the “baby”, but that soon lost its luster, and I usually felt like I was just in the way, the third (or fifth) wheel, and definitely not preferred over anyone else in the family. Although I now see everyone was trying to do the best they could, the attachments at home were not secure for me.  I was abused in different ways, which further lead me to finding my own ways to detach and protect myself.

Elaine Aron, in her book The Highly Sensitive Person, says:

All childhoods are not equal. Some are truly horrible. And they can differ within the same family. Statistical analyses of the influence of family environment on different children in the same family show no overlap. Your brothers or sisters lived a totally different childhood. You had different positions in the family, different early experiences, even in a sense different parents, given how adults change with circumstances and age.

When I was in middle school and high school, I had the potential and some outside encouragement to really excel in music or writing, but I think the lack of concern at home made me lose motivation to exert any effort. I regret, yet accept not having the wherewithal to take advantage of those opportunities better. I felt unnoticed by my family whether I did something really well or not, so I took the path of ease. There was no support or excitement about what I might become; I only felt the annoyance of others if I asked for help. I have in recent years recognized when those feelings resurface as an adult, and have seen the same scenario play out in my marriage at times.

It has required a lot of dependence on God, prayer, and therapy to work through these deep wounds that have affected my person, marriage, and my own family. First and foremost, I have to believe that I am loved, accepted, pleasing, and forgiven by God. This is where all of my significance lies. I have found Robert McGee’s book Search for Significance to be authoritative on this subject and extremely healing to me.

When you find yourself stuck in life or turning to things you never thought you would engage in to get relief, you owe it to yourself and others to take the time to find out why. We deceive ourselves when we think we can leave one bad situation and move into another one that will magically be healthy without any work. It is a process and a journey that is lived one healing minute and hour at a time.

When you find yourself with your back against the wall, suffocating in the hopelessness, what are you going to do? Remember the three choices from the beginning: we can go back the way we came or stay in the same old ruts and familiarity, but I challenge you that is not the way of healing. We can find other routes and escapes. Again, this is where dependence or addiction to drugs and alcohol, and idolatry of every kind comes in. We can choose it, but it will take us in to a greater bondage than the momentary relief it brings. I have made this choice in a variety of ways, I have been destitute, shed many tears and almost completely lost hope for choosing this way.

The third choice, however, is facing and accepting that our situation is hard and taking that challenge. This is difficult, but healthy, because it is walked out in truth. Of course, I am not suggesting that you should remain in a state of hopelessness or receive any kind of abuse. God came to set the captive free and loose the chains of bondage. We are not living healthy lives if we are enabling others to abuse us and perpetuate the cycle. God calls us out of darkness and into His light, and sometimes it is a bloody battle to get there.

I am saying that when we find ourselves in desperate situations, that is usually an alarm that there is something to address. This alarm contains the perfect opportunity for healthy change. The thing about precipices is that there is something vast waiting on the other side, a lively and healthy adventure that you will never know unless you decide within yourself that this is the way of peace, even if it is difficult.

Whether you are in a circumstance of your own making or have done nothing to deserve your position, do not give up! Take courage! Forgive yourself, love yourself, realize that you are accepted and pleasing to God and that that is more than enough, even if others are rejecting you.

I bought a plaque to hang on my wall. I bought it after I had caused a great disturbance in the lives of many because of some of my behaviors. It says: Let your courage set you free! I still look at it and am strengthened by it. I am weak, but Jesus says, “When you are weak, I am strong in you.” That gives me courage. I do not have to muster something that I do not own, but I can let Him do it through me as I am a container pouring out. He can supernaturally change situations if we are open to Him and have faith in Him to change us and change the situation.

You have to believe that you were created for something greater than you can imagine. Maybe you have been climbing up a sheer cliff for many years;  you haven’t reached a plateau or a resting spot in what seems like forever. I understand! My husband and I have gone from one hard or devastating circumstance to the next. Even if I chose to escape for a while, I eventually had to return to the place that I needed to accept the situation and see how I could change or grow while going through it.

It’s like being in labor with a baby; at the point that you think you cannot go on in labor, the baby is just ready to emerge. Every single time I was reaching a precipice, it felt excruciating, like I didn’t have the energy to go on. But every single time, there was freedom and a higher understanding on the other side. Just over the crest is where new life begins; there is no turning back when you keep that perspective.

So, the message that burns within me is this: You are not alone! Do not give up! You are only on the edge of a precipice.

 

How My Business Started at A Festival On A Summer Day

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I am sitting here in the sun of my bedroom window, listening to the melody  of the birds and taking in the cool, cleansing air of the morning.

I have a lot to do today. I will be going downstairs to my lab to blend oils for an order that was placed by a local store that I would like to ship today. I will also be creating and organizing all of the products I will be taking to my first festival of the season!

When I received my certification in Aromatherapy three years ago, my daughter suggested that we launch out in business by offering my knowledge at one of my favorite Herb Festivals. I blended a bunch of products that I felt were successful through the case studies that I was responsible to conduct while in school, and she went to work on branding my business! I was hoping I would sell something, and was hoping I could engage someone with my interest and passion in holistic health, I was not prepared for what followed!

 

To date, The Herb Festival in Cook Forest, PA, is one of my most successful festivals! That first festival three years ago showed me that I had something people were interested in investing in, but there is a whole other perspective. I was not just an Aromatherapist, or business owner, I became a fellow vendor! It is an exciting and, at times, exhilarating position. I could not have considered what amazing networking would take place and the friendships that would blossom through this experience. This experience has been a whole new facet and extension of what makes Julia, Julia!

…And the Attendees! I have met so many people, heard so many stories, and connected in ways that have built a caring customer base and vehicle to teach the chemistry of Aromatherapy. I would not be able to sell things that I didn’t believe in, just for the sake of selling. I care about people and I want to help them in ways that I can, and that is the heart behind Honest Aromas.

This particular venue is my favorite. I love the woods, I get grounded in the forest, there is a part of me that awakens and becomes alive! I love the smell of moss and earth, the fragrance of silty creeks and rivers, and the utter calm walking under hemlocks.  And many of the people who attend the festivals that I participate in are just my kind of people! They are, by and large, interested in health, natural entrepreneurs and creative souls…my tribe!

 

So, this morning I have an anxious excitement! I have a lot to prepare for and a transition to make from school mode into festival mode. This season has less accountability and more flexibility, but I need to kick up my self government to get necessary things done! I thank you all for your support and patronage, thank you for contributing to my personal and business growth, and  I look forward to seeing and meeting you this summer at the Honest Aromas tent!