Declare Conference 2017

This will by my first year attending the Declare conference. Or a conference period.  Besides being excited/mostly freaked out, I love that I get to come back to Texas, spend some time with a dear friend, and do something I hope will fill my soul to the brim. These questions are part of declare’s blog link up for this year. 🙂

1. When did you feel called to be a digital evangelist, what’s your main medium (podcast / blogging / books / speaking / social media / etc.), and how long have you been doing it?

I started writing when I was about maybe 14. A friend introduced me to the site, Deviantart. I learned a lot about community and how to encourage others, let them encourage me and made friends along the way through collaborations on pieces. I wrote many, many poems to a boy I had fallen in love with. And other people I wanted love from. When the relationship with the boy ended, I went to college and began a blog not really understanding why other than I needed to get out pain that was crushing my soul. I’ve always known I think, even when I’m writing a poem to someone or about them, I’m writing to Jesus. I don’t consider myself a digital evangelist, but a girl who is still trying to grasp his love for her in letters to him. If anyone who reads my blog meets him there, it’s a bonus. I’ve been blogging for almost 4 years. 

2. What is your life scripture?

I started reading the bible this year, and so far one of my favorite scriptures is: “For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.””

Zephaniah‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭NLT‬
This verse has my word for the year: delight. This has been hard to do this year, other than finding it in his word, but I’d like delight to permeate my life. Not just with delighting in God, but seeing how he delights in me. 

3. What are your passions?

Writing poems, getting into God’s word, music that helps me focus on scripture, encouraging other writers (especially moms lately).  Encouraging friends. Not in that order. 

4. What is your favorite candy and / or food?

Candy bars: Hershey’s cookies and cream/special dark candy bars. 

5. Where is your happy place and what’s it like?

This is a really hard question for me for some reason. I’ve been going over this in my head, repeating the question. My happy place lately  is in God’s Word of listening to Ellie Holcomb/Beckah Shae, orwhen I’m with a friend who really encourages me and where I can give my presence. Listening. Praying for them. Sometimes it’s online and sometimes it’s face to face, like this:

This is a recent picture from this year with my friend, Megan (I am on the right.) from this year at the Cheesecake Factory. This is the only picture I have from this year of myself. Selfies make me feel weird. It’s much better with another person. 

I’m most happy when I can give my attention to someone one on one. Especially when there’s food (like chocolate), laughter, music and good conversation. But most definitely laughter. And books. I feel like I experience God in my midst. Whether it’s the overflow with music or laughter with someone. It’s always overwhelming. 

6. Are you working on any exciting projects that you can share about? If so, please share!

  • I’m slowly, and I mean slowly thinking about working on a book of prayers after a friend suggested it. I think I’ve already started, but still unsure. 
  • Waiting to hear back from Just Between Us magazine about an article. 

7. How can we pray for you as you prepare for this year’s conference?

Please pray that allow God to meet me here. I would love if he would evaporate every fear as I walk into the door. This is the first conference I’ve been to and I’m unsure of why I’ve had the desire to come ever since I heard the podcast. I’m afraid of leaving the same as I’m coming – unsure why I still write. Why my voice matters. Why I matter. Please pray he would flood my heart with his love for me. 

I’m excited, nervous (mostly that) and can’t wait to see how God shows himself to me there. 

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You are still worthy 

God, here we are 

again. The sun is 

shining out the kitchen 

window. The cat lays in 

front of my space so I cannot

physically write. It is not the same cat, 

but still shows me

You are faithful. Yahweh, you

are my provider, you are doing

everything for your own good pleasure–

some might say delight. God, it takes 

work 

to remember right now in this 

moment You are still good even 

I lose control, have to wait, things seem 

to be being taken 

away 

fmf: work

Right now, this song is playing. I love that it fits in with the prompt. 😂 I think God may have done that with a purpose. Every time I hear this, I’m always somehow telling God: 🙋 yes, no more drama to mess up my flow! I want to go on a holiday! Let’s go! 

But then I think if I went on a holiday, I would like it a little too much. Maybe. My brain needs a holiday from the thoughts that seek get me in a feedback loop of: did I really do, say that? Ugh, Lord, I don’t deserve your love. Can I just stay right here and not move? I don’t know why I’m doing this anymore. Why am I going again? I don’t understand this, Jesus! I need to be still and relax. I need to be still, not so pushy. How about we just talk forever. Jesus. 

This week has been hard. Tiring. Vulnerability is tiring. Wanting to pray for everyone is tiring/good (maybe not always necessary when you are tired and God knows your heart. Wanting to see and savor the good is hard when you’d rather push it away and ignore it, doesn’t mean God doesn’t still say, hey, I’m over here. 

It doesn’t mean I can’t still ask and wonder why, how can this be? Are you sure I can keep asking for things, but mostly to see you more and that’s okay?

I can keep reading your word and question it. Like the guy at the banquet table who isn’t wearing wedding clothes and is asked to leave or put where there is suffering. And the King says, many are called but few are chosen. 

Was the guy chosen? Provided wedding clothes? Are you not allowed to come to the King as you are? Is it specially selected clothing that sets these selected guesses apart? Why did the previous guests say no? I say no a lot.. But I mean, it’s a BANQUET. The food has to be top notch for a king. There’s probably pie..and cake..and bread..and garlic mashed potatoes because they are my favorite. And bosco sticks because cheese in bread sometimes is okay. And really it isn’t so much about the food and God looking at me and saying, hey girl, I love you. Won’t you enjoy this feast with me and stop worrying. I love you. Still. 

God, your eyes are so sparkly and twinkly.     I don’t want to look away. Even though it scares me. This intimacy. This love you have for me. Every day. Every hour. Every minute. Every second. Every breath. Every heartbeat. It is I love you, Julia. Not less because of the thoughts you had five minutes ago that I’m taking away from you. Not what you say or do. I love you because I do. You can fight and push me away, stare at me and ask me why why why? I don’t deserve this. Look at how pushy and vulnerable I am, how I long to be with you at a table and read, sing, talk to you all day long when I should want to do something. But I want to be, held, loved. Something that is so deep i don’t even get it. Lord. 

You know it all, and yet you love me still. 

my smile

In the valley,

it is hard to love 

your neighbor-those

that are your immediate 

family, much less yourself. 

How can I love them or any

one outside of this house if 

I can not love them or myself 

well, God. It starts slow, when I

take a pause from what I’m reading to 

listen to a laugh 

from my sister about a balloon

hat my mom made, a flower, my sister 

turns into a hat and we sit there and 

laugh. And then when I turn on a kids 

movie about singing and dad, her and I 

watch it and then dad and I watch 

another show about books, the librarians. 

And at the end of one episode there is 

rainbow. I think of you and what you may 

be trying to tell me again. That you are 

faithful, you love me and you will not 

stop making me and all things, your 

children, new. Keep my heart steadfast, 

Lord, because your beauty is captivating. 

Your love 

makes me hunger for more 

And more of 

you. I want to be still & know, you are God 

& you will be exalted over all the earth. Be 

my rock I run to now to declare now: you 

are beautiful, my neighbor, my friend, my 

father, the One who has wonderfully 

made with his breath 
fmf: neighbor

Really I saw this prompt and thought: won’t you be my neighbor? Mr. Rogers anyone? 😂 I totally went over the 5 mind with the poem. I have the timwe ser to stop when music stops playing for 5 mins. But it went to a commercial and then quit. Then when music played again, I forgot I had stopped the timer too, but was already on a roll in the words. I stopped midway and was like, oh..went over. But it’s okay. This was good to write, a sweet reminder God is working. May not be what I’d like all the time (anger can get on you after a while), but God really does promise to make all things new and beautiful in his time. His time. Not mine. 

Loving myself well looks a lot like digging into his word and praying. And this. Writing. It makes me feel really good to get everything out. Speaking I’m a mess but here I can think and breathe and ponder. Next month..it’s going to be another step of loving myself by going to a conference and spending time with Trisha and her family at the beginning of the month. Cannot wait. I mean I can wait because the fear has been creeping in like, what are you going to this for? What if nothing comes from it? You sure you’re not going to be a burden to this friend? I mean you can’t even talk to her well on the phone.. But then pure joy that I know is Jesus inside is all, it will be fine I hear all your prayers. You can’t wait. I know you want a hug. I know. You saw her before and it was fine. I was there and I’ll be there again. I know the peace you feel over there. I’m going to surprise you. 

And then my grandpa is looking to come and I haven’t seen him since last year. Maybe a movie and popcorn will be in order. 

And if God couldn’t get any funnier, one of my favorite singers is coming here toward the end of October. And VIP tickets are really cheap. And the thought of seeing her and being like, your music, JESUS MEETS ME THERE EVERY TIME! And I write too many poems to your song titles, like they are in the poem. And here I wrote you one.. Can we sit and talk for a few hours? Could we make a music video to Fighting Words, please? Also, would it be possible if we could write a song together?  I’ve written one, but have no idea how to put music to it. Yeah, I know lots of questions. I’d feel super crazy but it’s a burning inside just to ask. Her music has carried me through this valley. For years. So it’d take some bravery on my part. Just seeing her sing in person would probably make me cry. But I’m curious to see if God will add some extra special delight to next month. Especially to go with Megan, who knows if you put Ellie on I go in a zone of, “I’m just going to sit and sing now.” 😂 seriously, writing all that out feels like a fire just burning me up inside.

Jesus, you are good. You understand all these crazy dreams I have inside. Crazy ones that don’t make any sense to me. Ones that I’d like to just dismiss and forget because they scare me. And seem quite impossible without you. Make a way Jesus. Lead me by your song. And let me stay in this dream space and fill up on you so I can love my neighbor well. I’ve gone a bit into the crazy zone but it’s okay. You love me still. Don’t stop showing me. Please. Amen. 

to lift me out. 

God,

I am tired 

and yet the sun

Still comes through

The window, a light

that doesn’t compare

to the one I long to guide

me to dreams I’ve let die 

for the momentum has run

dry. Would you come find me

anew, or maybe an embrace from an old 

friend would do. Light from the eyes 

would capture me in the darkness 

my mind can’t seem to shake fully. My 

God, I need you to smile again and again

fmf: guide

Today, I saw this was the prompt and then read in Bonnie Gray’s book Whispers of Rest for part of a prayer, guide me to create new rhythms. Since this a devotional book, it was the section on dreams with the day’s word, Shelter. I’m on a second read through but lately when I pick it up and open to a random page, it’s as if God meets me right there. 

I need shelter from doubt that my writing matters at all. And that maybe, maybe..God would like me to write a book, but it freaks me the heck out. And makes me weary. But it’s been rolling around since my dad mentioned it a week or so ago after I told him about how well Bonnie’s book did and I how I’m reading it again. 

All I can seem to do is read other books right now. And I’d rather help others than write my own book. But I can sit with the idea a loong time. 

In other news, I’m hopefully going to be starting the New Testament Sunday! 🎉 I really can’t believe how much I’ve gotten in God’s word since the beginning. From coloring to note taking/conversations with God. The hardest thing that has been hitting me is how much I want to call my grandma and go: THERES SO MUCH IN HERE! HE IS HUGE ON MERCY! I THINK MY HEAD IS GOING TO EXPLODE! A well of grief will rise to the surface because I can’t. I know God understands it and I like to think maybe she’s rejoicing, is most likely. It doesn’t take away the ache or the fact I wish I would’ve asked who God was to her. How much did you pray for me? Why do you feel so much like a memory? Why is this such a big deal to me now? Am I even going to remember what I’ve read? Why are all the kings in chronicles mostly really young- seriously 7 years old?! Why. They can make a decree for candy and really late bed times. 😂 will my heart change? To believe his love for me? Is it?

And then there’s this and this

The first song, I love this lyric:

When I know You love me

Is when I find that I’m free

Love the way You love me

Love the way You love

(Goes along with this post from a dear friend, Trisha who wrote about how to be effective this week. 🙋)

And the second song, I love the beginning  with the piano and these lyrics 

I will cry out to You, Lord

Of Your goodness I am sure

‘Cause it never failed before

I will praise You. 

Her music this week has been lifting up my soul and making me get to the point I want to weep, but it won’t come out. Not that I’ve not cried this week but it’s like a well inside. 

Jesus, I love the way You woo me. Please don’t shop wooing me. It’s so delightful. Help me be still in it. Amen. 

(r) I want far away from me. 

Jesus,

I don’t want to 

speak anymore unless 

it’s going to build someone

up. Or myself. There’s too

much death and division I could 

could cry a river of tears or throw a fist to 

the sky. But what 

will that solve? I don’t want to be so 

much about me but I still

long to know I’m loved, so very loved and 

I don’t know what to

offer when others are suffering 

and silence doesn’t seem the way, so I’ll 

just talk. But I’m finding maybe 

sometimes that’s best. Only you can fix 

things go better than they were before 

and only you can love me well enough to 

rid me of ange

fmf: speak

What can I say about this week? I’ve gone into a bit of hiding. No Instagram, email and barely answering texts. Why? Because I’m afraid. Afraid of every time I open my mouth I will speak death over situations I’m particularly not fond of, people, myself. So I’ve gone into God’s word and have almost filled up a notebook with prayers and verses and questions. A lot of those. It took a friend to text me maybe 3 times the other day to make me realize just how afraid I am. It’s so easy to hide. it’s so easy just to turn it to you. because you aren’t sure how to allow them time to open up and the waiting makes it a tad harder. But you want to wait. And then the suffering around you/within is a lot. And then realizing you want to give so much, really just fix it but Jesus is better. He will teach you the more you pour out to him. The more you let go even if that means going to repeatedly. Which I’m pretty sure it does. 

I didn’t realize how important prayer and praise is. I’m on the last book for the Old Testament in my Bible in a year plan ((Seriously can’t believe I made it this far.), and both David and Solomon have taught me how important prayer is. And praise. The way both of them pray to God has had me in awe. Like this:
“He prayed, “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in all of heaven and earth. You keep your covenant and show unfailing love to all who walk before you in wholehearted devotion.
“But will God really live on earth among people? Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain you. How much less this Temple I have built! Nevertheless, listen to my prayer and my plea, O Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is making to you.”

‭‭2 Chronicles‬ ‭6:14, 18-19‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I love that Solomon declares how God is higher than anything or anyone and nothing can contain him. And questions if God will really be with his people, which feels a lot like how I’ve been questioning if he’s here. (He brought over some brownies yesterday just cause he knows my love of chocolate, through a woman I met from where my dad’s boat is docked, and their golden retriever, Bear, who reminds me of bear in the big blue house 😂. He seemed a little skeptical of me last night and doesn’t like my cane, but look at this face. )


Wasn’t too fond of one of the kitties but so 😍 he’s just laying by me now. 

This ties into to the last verse about Solomon wanting to God to hear his cry and request. I continuously want to God to be open to my cry and request to see His face and love toward me. And he has this week by:

  1. Giving me so much time and space to read his word, ask a million questions. Okay not that many but a lot. Pray. Just be with him. 
  2. Letter in the mail (unopened still because I like to linger in the moment happiness and feel I gotta give something immediately back before fully receiving it. But that’s bypassing the gift all together)
  3. A book I need to start reading to help launch (also unopened but I will get to it hopefully tonight. A review will be coming.)
  4. Bear in the big yellow (our house is yellow.) house and he’s waiting for us to come and rest 😂
  5. Brownies (I need to eat one..)
  6. Slow movements of opening up with a friend. Healing. 
  7. This. I could go on about this for hours. I will say she needs to release a covers album because I just want to put it on repeat all day long. Ughhh. So good. 

Things might look bad, but I know You’re still good

You always show up like I knew that You would. –love these lyrics. So much. 

Thank you Jesus for the all the abundance in the hard places. Please help me receive. Don’t let me move from receiving until I’m full to the overflow. You give gifts, good gifts. I don’t have to be afraid they’ll disappear or I need to give before fully receiving. Help me enjoy then and praise you all the more. You are faithful. Amen. 

turn away again. 

Won’t you come

& sweep up my heart

again, Lord? Your smile

begs my attention while

the world says my name,

Julia, Julia, julia. The frustration 

grips me and I wonder what my place is 

again. I yearn to stay in this quiet place 

with you where I can be calm, maybe 

laugh again, and I won’t lie and say I 

don’t long for the company of a friend, 

where a hug can embrace my frame. But 

you’re in room and I can’t 

Fmf: place.

I like this prompt. Though I totally thought I’d go a different way with it. Ask Jesus what my place is. Where I belong. Because it is confusing lately, this tension of wanting to where I belong with the world and where I belong with Jesus. The world is so loud and HEYY LOOK. LOOK. HELLO, did you hear me, I said look! (And books, though they can’t speak like a person, will make you look for a very long time. As in whether you should buy it. But it isn’t dire right now.) 

while Jesus is quiet, more tender. Stay with me. But Jesus, I.. I know. Stay with me. Can’t I fix it? Stay with me. I don’t understand what is happening. My insides feel like I may burn up with joy for reasons I don’t know. Stay with me. Ughh this makes me so sad and why does it feel like no cares, but you do. Stay with me. Why are all my relationships hard right now but I feel so close to you? Stay with me. Jesus. I want that intimacy. Stay with me. Stay with me. I feel like I’m losing. Stay with me.  Did you really answer my prayer? Stay with me. What about me? Stay with me. Wait and see. I love you. 

Its hard to stay in that peace when the world can so easily lure me away. And then I lose my focus and feel like it’s my duty to keep everything going, under control. But it’s not. It never will be. But I want to stay at his feet. In his word. The pull has never been stronger this year. Or maybe it’s my eagerness too. But this is where I’m finding most of my delight. Maybe all lately. And even though we’re a little more than half way through the year, I can’t wait to see what more surprises he has up his sleeve. 

Keep my eyes fixed on you, Jesus, the author and initator of my faith. 

at encouragement can be

I try, God , to digest what

others have asked

me this-my opinion

of his music and a dear

friend’s want for advice. 

In both instances, I’m stunned

into silence, what can I give? Can I be that 

honest? Really, my opinion? The joy of 

both asking marvels me-both are 

following their dreams & for a second, 

I’m brought to see wh

fmf: try.

This week has been seriously interesting. From Sunday meeting a new friend, Kelly, I met through Instagram. And the awkwardness of it that God melted away through sharing of stories and Wonder Woman. I still can’t hold back wanting to laugh remembering how the woman taking tickets asked if it was one child and one adult. I kind of just stared a minute before Kelly goes, no we’re both adults here. 😂 I don’t know if the woman was referring to me, but Kelly is a little taller than me. I wanted to be a little mad, but I find it too funny. In a way, it’s a reminder to me that I’m God’s child. 

And how can God’s child give adequate advice? On Wednesday my brother’s friend, Ruben had so much joy in telling me he released his first music video. His excitement had my attention right away. Maybe because I haven’t seen someone in a long time so excited come up to me and ask for my opinion. The whole time I’m a mess of nerves because I don’t want to say the wrong thing or crush his dreams. But he did ask for my honesty. And the first thing that comes out of my mouth is, it’s good. Because I’m afraid and don’t know how to give positive feedback while also being honest. Later on, I tell him how I love the scene with him and his mom at the table. How it’s different than a normal music video. I don’t know how to describe other than it feels like I’m watching someone’s home video. 

I don’t love all the swearing, I tell him, and once again am shocked by the fact that though my our views are different, it is okay. I guess I’m coming to see in very small ways we are all struggling, trying to reach for dreams that have placed inside us. One very small step at a time. We need life spoken into us. That is what keeps us going. Not condemnation. Which I think is where a lot of my fear  comes lately. That being honest, saying what I do and don’t like, deserves condemnation. And I think when faced with telling someone what I honestly think of their work or something else, I hesitate  because I never want to come off as rude. Ever. And I myself shrink back a little when someone says you could do more or says it’s good. Never want it to go to my head either. 

I don’t know where I’m going with this except I don’t see what an honor it is to speak into another’s life and how to receive life-giving words without being so skeptical and ask, really? or be too stunned to speak at all.

And oh Jesus, help me. Help me receive and meditate on the life giving words instead of the doubt and not question the encouragement I try to give to others. It comes from you not me. I really do like watching someone smile and be given hope while I wait here in this valley. I don’t think I’d even have the opportunity to share if I was rushing around. Not that I can but you know in my head, it’s a really good time. Being still I learn how you are patient and kind. Wanting me to give yes, but also wanting me to not brush away the good things. Please help me. Amen. 

It will forever amaze me the moments God uses to show me more of who he is and how he may have to sing this over me forever. I want to cry every single time. 

No condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Must remember this.