Friday, February 12, 2010

On My Heart…

This is going to be a long post…I can just feel it.  And totally intended for me personally, probably boring to those out there who read my blog – so that is your warning.  If you are looking for something entertaining and light then please come back another day.

I don’t know about the personal situation or the lives of the writers behind some of the blogs that I read because they are written by perfect strangers (such as Beth Moore’s LPM Blog, McMommy Chronicles, Steece’s Pieces, or The Meanest Mom).  Most of them I just happened on by clicking from a friend’s blog, then to one they are following, then to one that other person is following, and so on.  If I find one that I like I become a follower of this unknown but entertaining person and sometimes if I feel like sharing, I will add them to my sidebar.

However, the ones I most enjoy are those where I know a little more about the ladies behind the stories. 

They may be current friends like Angela, Rebecca, Emily, Rachel,  and many, many others – just check out the full list on the sidebar to the left.  Sorry girls – I read & LOVE all your bloggies, but I am tired of inserting hyperlinks now :).

They may be people that I would call “friend-of-a-friend” like Sarah or Erin.

And finally we have the high school / college / hometown friends that I have found.  These include Elizabeth, Jillian, Suzanne, one I just recently found by Kristin, and a few others.

I have been thinking about this lately.  A. Lot.

I have to say that an overwhelming list of emotions that I have been feeling include embarrassment, humility, hypocrisy, and regret. 

All of that mixed in with much thanksgiving and  a reenergizing of my convictions.  I promise that I will try to make sense of this all by the end of the post – if anyone other than myself sticks around that long…

Let me just start with my personal life experience (aka Testimony) wrapped up into as few words as possible:

1.  Raised in loving and happy Christian home with most wonderful Christian parents, grandparents, and other family members ever!

2.  Saved during VBS at First Baptist Church in Tyler, TX in elementary school.  Baptized in middle school when my sister was saved (not sure what the hold-up was other than the fact that I was extremely self-conscious and had a difficult time doing anything by myself).

3.  Had a tough time with previously mentioned self-consciousness, need for acceptance, and depression starting in about 7th grade and was always trying to “fit in” with the popular crowd.

4.  Never went totally crazy (depending on how you define crazy), but most definitely did not live for the Lord during high school or college.  From the outside may have appeared to be totally happy, and I think that I was mostly happy (wonderful memories/experiences from college), but always felt in the back of my mind/heart that something just wasn’t “right”.

5.  Felt like I needed a change when I graduated college (didn’t know why I felt that way at the time, but now I recognize that it was the Lord telling me that I was wasting my life and leading me to the place where I would be able to realize that and grow closer to Him)

6.  Moved over 1,000 miles from all my friends, family, and everything I had ever known to a place where I knew absolutely no one & could get he fresh start that I needed.

7.  After my mom literally threatening me that she was going to call the singles pastor to come visit me, I finally started going to First Baptist Church of Jacksonville.

8.  Met the most amazing Christian man ever and fell in love.

9.  Stopped running from the Lord, rededicated my life to Him, and started living for Him.  Still struggle, and never claim to be perfect, but HE has transformed my life and I am renewed through Him!  Now I know that regardless of circumstances and situations that life throws my way (which can make me happy or unhappy) I have the deep JOY that comes from the Lord and cannot be taken away :)

10.  Was blessed to be able to marry that amazing Christian man, blessed with the most awesome, accepting, and loving Christian friends anyone could ever have, and finally blessed truly beyond measure with my precious son Collin.  God is so good!!

And that just about brings us to the present – Whew!  You should try condensing your entire life into 10 statements…not easy!

Anyways, let’s get back on track!

This brings me to the current stark contrast between the people who knew me up through item #4 (and have very little to no knowledge of items #5 - #10) and the people who didn’t meet me until item #7 (and have very little to no knowledge of items #1 - #6).

Up until a few years ago these two worlds happily existed totally separate and apart from one another, with only family and hubby really fully aware of all 10 steps…Wow, my life can now be described as a 10-Step program - LOL!

Bring facebook & blogspot into the picture and that totally changes everything.  Now I cannot live in these two totally segmented lives & I have to come face to face with my past, present, and future meeting.

**Note: This is starting to feel a little overly dramatic, so please excuse that - I’m just writing this because it’s how I feel & it’s been on my heart for a while now.

I know that the Bible says “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12

So I know that my past is forgiven and my slate has been wiped clean before God, but I also know that even though we are forgiven and made clean before the Lord that we still must live with the consequences and results of past decisions (good or bad).

But another thing that I also know & cling to is the fact that God’s grace and mercy has absolutely nothing to do with who I am and whether or not I “deserve” the blessings that are in my life.

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace.  This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time” 2 Timothy 1:9

Dr. Brunson (pastor at FBC Jax) once described God’s Mercy & Grace this way:

God’s Mercy is when he withholds what we deserve, and God’s Grace is when he not only withholds what we deserve, but gives us things that we do not deserve

I tell you what, I have been showered with God’s Mercy & Grace for sure!!

I guess with all of this all I am trying to say is that sometimes when I write a Facebook status update, or a Blog Post, I sometimes hesitate briefly before I hit the send button…

Thinking…about the people who may or may not read what I just wrote…how my HS and College friends must think I am so hypocritical, or how they may think “that’s not the real Julie I knew”.

Thinking…how saddened it makes me that I might be a stumbling block to someone out there searching…that they may look at me and think “well if that’s what a Christian is, I knew her, and her life wasn’t any different than mine.”

Thinking…no one probably even reads my status updates or blog posts, or stops to even think about them, except for the few people who comment (which, btw, I LOVE comments!!) so why am I so concerned with it?

Thinking…that this blog post may seem like I think that everyone out there is concerned with me and who I was or who I am and that I may seem self-involved?

Well, all I know is that God has done an amazing thing in my life…I am the happiest, most joyful, most content, and closest to Him that I have ever been in my life.  And I just wanted to get this out, and this is my blog, so here it is…my heart.

Wow!  I feel better already!  I have literally been working on this post & saving it in drafts for about a week, but it’s Friday & I am finally brave enough to hit “Publish Post”.

If you are still reading this then I am impressed…you must have a really boring day at work or home :)

I hope that everyone has an awesome Valentine’s Day & I cannot wait for DATE NIGHT with my amazing hubby TOMORROW!!  Thanks to Dustin & Angela for bringing Dallas over to play with Collin tomorrow so that we can have our 2nd date since Collin was born!  We are going to Marker32 – one of our favorite pre-baby date spots (kind of a fancy place where a loud baby throwing toys around and screaming would be generally frowned upon).  Yea!!


Angela said...

Julie, I cannot imagine you as anything other than the sweet girl that I know today. I am so proud of you for being brave enough to publish this post!

Also, we can't wait for our playdate with Collin!

Rachel said...

Julie, such a sweet and heartfelt post! I hope you have a wonderful time on your date night and please post pictures of lil' punkin' soon :-)

Southern Belle Mama said...

This was such an honest post and a true testimony to how God works in our lives. Though I've always thought of myself as a Christian I always shyed away from living my faith out loud when I was in HS and college.

I have only recently found the strength in myself (with His help) to be more open about my faith and my relationship with God. I still pause sometimes when writing such posts (just like you said!) but that hesitation is less every day.

I'm so happy for you...thank you for sharing!

Mitchell and Jennifer said...

Hey Julie! I want you to know that you're not the only one who wonders if they are a stumbling block or if ppl think she's a hypocrite. I pulled up your blog today to tell you thank you for the sweet compliment you gave me the other day on mine, and after reading this (yes the whole thing) am reminded again of what a sweet girl, and friend you are! I hope you guys have a great weekend and I'll see you soon! :) *Hugs* lol

Jonathan and Sarah said...

I think that is most of our lives- segmented between our past & present of those that knew us at once time or another... I have actually ignored some FB friend requests, only because I didn't want to see them on my home feed & be reminded of the past. I know that God forgives, but Satan will always try to bring it back to light & we just can't give him the chance. Don't worry about those that don't know you now because if they were to run into you today they'd see a gal that has been changed through God, and nobody can deny when that has happened.


Becca said...

Ummm we are pretty much twins. It is weird how much we are alike! That must be why we didn't use to get along :) Love you pretty, pretty sister!

the abernathy's said...

julie! u are and always have been a very sweet girl! for what it's worth that is what i see in you now AND THEN. and like i told you a few days ago, christ's presence in your life is evident in all that you are. i for one probably did go "crazy" (probably by all definitions of the word)but i know i am redeemed and forgiven. i live my life grateful for His grace and patience with me.

2 Corinthians 5:17
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"