'Cadillac' photo (c) 2011, Tony Donnelly - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/If money were no object, if I didn’t have bills to pay and if I could just do whatever I wanted to do, these are some things I would own within the next 48 hours:

1.  A Cadillac SRX fully loaded.  Why?  Have you ever ridden in a Cadillac?

2.  I would buy a house in Nashville, TN.  Why Nashville?  I’ve always said that if I ever had to live in a city, Nashville would be the place.  But if I have a home here and a home there, I can come and go whenever I please.  And, of course, if money is no object, a silly thing like work wouldn’t get in the way of me coming and going as I please.

3.  A condo in Denver.  I fell in love with Denver when I visited there several years back.  I almost took a job out in Denver before I took a job back here in town.  That would be a nice little getaway.

4.  I currently live on 40 acres that I don’t own.  I would immediately buy that up with an offer my landlord couldn’t refuse.

5.  Once I bought the land, I’d go about building my dream home.  You know, the one I wrote about a few weeks back.  Check it out here.

6.  Some sort of really awesome convertible.  Because I can.

7.  Lasik surgery so I could wear sunglasses in my new convertible.  I have super dry eyes so contacts are very uncomfortable.

8.  I would go to a grocery store in town and open a line of credit.  Everyone that came through that week would get free groceries.

9.  I would bring a Trader Joe’s to Fairfield.

10.  I would probably buy season tickets to all the sports teams in St. Louis.  Not because I’m a fan, but because it’s fun and close.

You?

'Candy Crush Fan App8' photo (c) 2013, Themeplus - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/It’s a game I have a love/hate relationship with.  I’m sure you do, too.  You just won’t admit it.  Here are a few things I hate about it.  If you don’t play, you’re not going to have any idea what I’m talking about.  So I think you should start playing so you can learn…and so you can give me extra lives.

1.  I hate that I’m virtually addicted to it.  Every time there is a new life available for me, I want to be playing.  I play it in my car while I’m SITTING and waiting on clients.  I play it at lunch.  I play it in bed if I can’t sleep.  It’s bad news.

2.  I hate that you have only get new lives every 30 minutes.  Seriously.  This is ridiculous.

3.  Chocolate.  This is probably the only time in your life you’ll hear me say that I hate chocolate, but I do.  I didn’t mind it so bad when it started there and went away once you cleared it all.  But this regenerating chocolate is just plain ridiculous.

4.  Jelly.  When you only had to make a match in the jelly one time to clear it, it was a fairly simple process.  Now that you have to make a match in the squares twice to clear the jelly, it makes me want to throw my phone across the room.

5.  I hate it that when I don’t need extra lives, like when I’m at work and stuff, that’s when I have plenty, but when I’m sitting down and ready to play some Candy Crush, that’s when I can’t seem to get enough lives to keep me satisfied.

6.  I hate that you have to get three people to give you tickets just so you can go on to the next “episodes.”  What if I want to move on now and they don’t see my ticket request for a few more hours?  It’s maddening, I tell you.

7.  At first I wanted to play every level over again if I didn’t get three stars or if I wasn’t the top score.  Screw that.  I’m at level 231 as of right now, and I’m just happy to pass a level every now and then.

8.  I took a few months off from playing.  It was good for me.  I had more free time.  I’m back now and with a vengeance.  And those people who I was ahead of on levels?  They’re ahead of me now and I’m playing catch-up.  I hate being behind.

9.  When I stopped playing a couple of months ago, I had like 100 extra lives stored up.  When I logged back into Facebook, I lost them all.  This made me set my phone down angrily and say a few choice words.  I just had to walk away.

10.  I have to play all my lives on my phone before I can go to sleep in the evening.  If I’m really tired or just laying there wide awake, it doesn’t matter.  They have to be all played.

Are you a candy crusher?  What things do you hate about the game?

'Jerusalem Walls at Night' photo (c) 2007, Carol Cantrell - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/Every time I’m faced with an opportunity my internal dialogue goes something like this:

Don’t screw this up, Julie.  This may be the only chance you’ll get.  Seriously, if you screw this up, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.  How cool is this?  Only cool unless you fail.  Then it’s not cool.  Then you’re a failure and you’re never going to get past that.  This is what all this waiting has been for.

And I beat myself down and put so much pressure on myself that anything less than perfection is a failure.

I don’t think I used to be like this.  Maybe I have, but it seems to have grown exponentially in the last 5-10 years.  Julie, you’re finally starting to get your life back on track.  Don’t screw up now.

I think this is one of the areas that I’m really learning a lot from Nehemiah.  I mentioned that I’ve been reading it from the perspective of where faith meets ability.  Originally I thought I’d see a few places here in there throughout the story.  What I’m running into, though, is that it was Nehemiah’s faith to trust that God would carry out his plan through him.  It was his faith that broke his heart for his people.  And it was his faith to take the first step so God could give him the ability to see it through.

It’s everywhere.  We have no ability without faith.  Plain and simple.

It’s God who creates us and gives us talents and ability to do some pretty incredible things.  We just have to have the faith to take the first step.  And then another.  And then another.

And let’s face it.  We’re going to screw up.  I make mistakes all the time.  Perfection will never, every be attained by me here on this earth.  So why do I freak out and put so much pressure on myself?  Is it that I don’t trust that God will give me the abilities to carry out the tasks before me?

Maybe.

I hate to say it, but maybe so.   I know the extent of what I can feasibly do…at least most of the time.  Something going to the gym has taught me is that a person is usually stronger than they realize.  And while there is a lot of hard work involved in everything we do there, there is also something to be said for God-given ability.  And I think it’s at that moment, the moment we tap into that ability that God has given us that our faith and ability create magic.  It is in that moment where we find what we’re created to do.

Let’s face it, Nehemiah’s whole life purpose probably wasn’t to be the cup bearer to the King.  But I think he had the faith to make the big ask.  Hey, I know that I can rebuild this wall, and all these people are just sitting there in danger.  Why isn’t anyone doing anything?  Oh, wait?  Me?  You think it’s me that is supposed to go do this?  I know I can rebuild it, but there are all these ridiculous obstacles in the way.  I’m never even going to make it there without being killed first.

Without faith, Nehemiah never would have asked for the opportunity.  Without faith his ability would have never had an opportunity to be showcased in the manner it was.  Without faith he never would have been able to lead and guide the people of Jerusalem to build a wall.  By hand.  In an incredibly short amount of time.

 

'Blur' photo (c) 2009, Lena - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/My head has been all over the place lately, but I’m okay with that, I think.  What makes it weird is that as all-over-the-place as it’s been, they’re all good places.  Does that make sense?  No?  Oh, well.

1.  I bought The Civil Wars new album this week.  They’re no longer traveling and/or singing together, but holy cow, this album is good.  I love Dust to Dust, Same Old Same Old and Devil’s Backbone best right now.  That may change tomorrow, but today, those are my favorites.  And because they’re my favorites, I think you should at least listen to them.  Got it?  Good.

2.  I think I broke my big toe.  And by think, I mean other than having it x-rayed and the doctor telling me it’s broken, I know it’s broken.  I can’t put weight on it.  And, of course, you can’t do anything for a broken toe except wear close-toed shoes to keep your toes secured, etc.  I’m staying at my aunt’s house this week and didn’t pack any tennis shoes.  So Nike flip-flops it is.

3.  I’ve been trying to think of what I’m going to be able to do at the gym because of the broken toe.  I can barely walk, so running is out of the question.  I guess it will just depend on the workout this morning.  (I’m writing this Thursday.  You’re reading it Friday.  By the time you read this, I will have already decided, but for now I’m still wondering.)  My assumption is that I’ll just go in and row a few thousand meters, but not sure.

4.  I’m going to give a shout-out to my friend B on here.  She told me about a song called Wake Me Up by Avicii.  This is one you don’t even need to listen to first before you download it.  Just go do it now.  I’ll wait.

5.  Jimmy Fallon’s version of Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke is fantastic.  It made me like a song that I didn’t really like before.  And because I like it so much I’m posting it here for you to see.  Enjoy!

6. I’ve been reading Nehemiah again and Visioneering by Andy Stanley, a book based on the vision and execution of Nehemiah in rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem.  My friend, Tracee, challenged me to reread both of them and look for the instances where faith meets ability.  This is putting everything around me into a whole new perspective.  I’m going to challenge you to do the same thing.  Even if you don’t have the book Visioneering, just read through Nehemiah and look for those instances.

7.  Speaking of Tracee, I think you need to read her blog.  It’s fantastic.  That is all.  Go now.  I’ll wait.

8.  The CrossFit games were a couple of weeks ago.  I wasn’t as invested in them this year as I have been in the past.  But I still watched as much as I could.  As usually, they were incredibly inspiring.  I think what is most inspiring is to watch people push past their limits.

9.  Speaking of limits, we put unfair limits on ourselves and other people.  half the time we don’t even try if we think it’s something we can’t do.  I’m tired of it.  I’m going to stop saying no because I think I may not be able to handle the strenuousness of the activity, etc.   I still probably won’t go skydiving, though.

10.  I finally feel like writing regularly again.  It’s a good feeling.  I feel like it’s time to start something.  I’m not sure what I’m fixin’ to start, but I’m ready to go.  Wanna join me?  😉

What have you been up to lately?

 

'Chained' photo (c) 2012, Daniel Kramer - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/I gave you a slight warning that I was going to be talking about Nehemiah quite a bit in the coming weeks.  And in all honesty, I had planned in writing about what I was learning and relearning today.  But then I had this idea I wanted to run by you.

All around the blogsphere, if you read many blogs, you’ve probably read about living a better story, making the most of the minutes you have on this earth.  I’ve talked about it on here, as well.  And I think it’s a great way to live your life.  But I think one of the dangers of this way of thinking is that we tend to get caught up within our own stories that we forget to look and see what is going on around us.

And I think maybe, just maybe that our stories aren’t the most important thing.  What if your story, the things that are happening in your life are for someone else?  What if the things that are happening in my life are for you?  What I mean is, what if my walking through some hard times isn’t in order for me to become stronger, which could be a good bonus, but what if it’s for you to gain strength or a new perspective?  What if your redemption is in order for me to learn how to live with grace?

What if my life isn’t for me?

What if the whole point of your story is to find the people who care enough about you and your story that they will help you live and love well?

I was listening to a podcast this past week, and the gentleman said that one of the most powerful forces on the planet is the power of connection.  It’s so incredibly powerful to know that someone has been where you are now.  It’s an instant bonding experience.

It’s the moment you feel like you’re not alone.

I think for a lot of people it’s that moment that can change the course of their lives.  All because someone had the guts to say to them, Hey, I’ve been there, too.  Let’s walk through this together.  I’m here for you.

I think maybe that’s why Jesus came to us.  We can connect with him.  He could look people in the eye and say, Hey, I’ve been there, too.  Let’s walk through this together.  I’m here for you.

And I think that’s the point.  Maybe our stories aren’t about us.  Maybe we’re here for someone else.  Jesus was here to point us towards the Father.  To connect us to Him.

Your story can change the world.  Not because of the changes you make, but maybe because of the connections you make.

We’re all linked together.  And my story just may not be about me.

10 Things

0

'| 10 |' photo (c) 2006, Emi Yañez - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/I have no idea what to really write about this week since it’s been so long since I’ve done a 10 things post, so I thought I’d just write about 10 things that came into my head as I was sitting here.  So here we go.

1.  I’ve got praise team practice tonight.  We used to only practice on Sunday mornings, but I’m glad we started earlier in the week.  I feel a little more prepared.

2.  It takes so long to download a movie on my iPad from iTunes.  I even bring it into the office for the super fast download speeds, and it’s still slow.  Probably an hour for one movie.  Surely it’s faster in other parts of the world?

3.  So far I have put up 4 dozen ears of sweet corn all by myself, so I’ve got a few bags in the freezer for later in the year.  At this moment I’ve got a dozen and a half more ears right beside me on my desk.  I don’t think I’ll put them up this weekend.  I think I’ll eat these over the weekend and then wait until next week to get some more frozen.

4.  The movie I’m downloading is Definitely Maybe with Ryan Reynolds.  One movie I could watch over and over and over again.

5.  I like to build things.  I like to see something created out of pieces.  I think that’s why I love putting together furniture and things of that nature.  It’s cool to watch something come together and end up as something useful and essential.

6.  Is it weird that I watched Tangled, a Disney animated movie all by myself last night with no children present?  I don’t think so either.

7.  I think I’m going to give The Mindy Project a chance this year.  I’ve only caught a few episodes, but I think if I knew the storyline, I’d enjoy it.  Anyone have the seasons on DVD I can borrow?

8.  I definitely need to drink more water.  That’s my goal starting today.  I haven’t even been getting my 64 ounces a day.  Time to change that!

9.  I have a Mophie case for my iPhone.  I charge the case and the phone at the same time.  If the phone is running low on battery, I turn the case on, and it charges the phone for me.  Basically I start out with a full charge and then when it gets low, I turn on the case and it charges it fully, as well.  I love technology.

10.  I’ve been eating sweet corn grown by my dad and brother.  It’s so stinking delicious.  Not at all paleo or primal, but so, so good.

You guys been up to anything exciting?

Trust Me

0

'Trust' photo (c) 2009, vagawi  - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/I took a week off last week.  I’ve been unmotivated.  Blocked.  Busy.  Tired.  Creativity in the form of writing, or any other form for that matter, have been at the back of any line of things for me to do lately.  And that in itself is tiring.  I didn’t go to the gym.  I didn’t write.  I essentially took all of my outlets or releases for any sort of stress away for a week and just sat in the ugliness and goodness of it all.

It wasn’t a bad week.  It started out bad but had redeemed itself by the time the week ended.  So far I haven’t noticed any grey hairs.  Not that I’m looking.  I don’t think I’ll be the person that starts looking for them anyway.  I’ll see them when they show up, I guess.  But I went to work, I came home, I cooked and I slept.  That was my week.  Just existing.

One of the days, and I’m not sure which one, I just got to the point on my drive that I just started talking to God.  God, I trust you.  No matter what the situation.  I trust you.  Whatever the outcome, You know best.  It’s yours.

There’s a powerful thing that happens when you speak something out loud.  You can write all the blog posts you want.  But I think the moment you say something out loud is the moment that it really becomes real.  When I started writing my blog to train for the half marathon last year, writing about it was fun.  But it didn’t start to get real until I asked Bridget to help me train.  I was committed.

I think I’ve got an issue with trust.  Trusting God.  Trusting people.  I’m pretty self-sufficient.  I grew up on a farm where you had to work for what you got.  I went to college  and worked my tail off.  I’ve been essentially self-employed for most of my adult life.  I’m not afraid of work.  I’m not afraid of making things happen.  What I am afraid of is what if God’s plans aren’t exactly what I was thinking.  What if it doesn’t turn out the way I think it should?  What if I get blindsided?

You guys know I love the story of Nehemiah.  I was talking to a friend this week, and she encouraged me to reread over the book before I talk with her again.  She said, I want to you look for the places in the story where faith meets ability.  Look for the risks.

Why?

I think those are the places we’re going to find God.  The places I know where my ability and God’s provision have to meet in order to make a dream a reality.  Those risky places aren’t always the most fun places.  They’re born a lot of times out of desperation and pain, but they’re there.  And so is God.

So be ready for tales of Nehemiah for the next couple weeks.  And in the blogging world, I think Julie may be getting her groove back.

'Crowe Lake Cottage_7091' photo (c) 2012, Robert Taylor - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/I’ve got four nephews and two nieces.  Christmastime is crazy.  It’s awesome.  I’ve compiled a list of 10 things I’d like to do with them if I could.

1.  Take them each on a vacation.  I’d take Trevor to Ground Zero.  I’d take Caroline somewhere where she could be a diva for a day.  Grant I’d take to the All-Star Game or something awesome.  With the twins and Maddy, I’m not too sure yet.  They’re not really old enough to have what they like figured out yet.

2.  I’d love to rent a cottage on a lake somewhere when they’re all old enough and just sit on the beach and ride Jet-Skis and go tubing and have a blast.

3.  I’d love to have each of them for a weekend where we can just do whatever they want to do.

4.  I’d love to be able to buy them all their first cars.  Or maybe their second.

5.  I’d love to be able to pay for all of their college tuition.

6.  I want to be able to throw them a huge bash for their weddings.  Or at least splurge on one thing for them that they really want to have but that’s completely ridiculous.

7.  I’d love to be able to have a business that would support them so they could work for me when it came time for them to be turning into “real” people.

8.  I’d love to FaceTime with all of them every night.  If only my Internet connection weren’t so slow…

9.  I want to introduce them to some really cool music and take them to concerts.

10.  I want to buy them all matching T-shirts that say just how incredibly awesome I am and make them wear it every time they see me.

Do I sound like a cool Aunt or what?  What about you?  Any suggestions?

Baby Steps

0

'No U Turn' photo (c) 2013, slgckgc - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/There are very few things that make me click refresh on my computer screen more than my gym’s website.  The workout we’re doing the next day is posted anywhere between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. before we head into the gym.  I really try hard not to look at it before I head to the gym, but I tell myself that I need to be mentally prepared for what is ahead of me that day.  But quite honestly, sometimes it makes me want to turn of all my alarms and just stay in bed.

For real.

But in the almost two years that I’ve been doing CrossFit, there may be only one or two days that I have gone into the workout without knowing what it was beforehand.  I’m just going to stick with the fact that I like to be prepared for what’s ahead of me the next morning.  Let’s avoid words like neurotic and ridiculous.  Okay?

I think the thing about it is is that if I know the workout and I know it’s going to be horrible, I can stay in bed and get a couple extra hours of sleep.  I can avoid the hard work for an hour and just avoid the pain that I’ll more than likely be in for the next couple days.  But if I don’t know what the workout is, and I walk into the gym still not knowing, there is no way I could walk away from it.  I’m already there.  I’m already committed.

There is no turning back.

I probably compare my life to my work at the gym too often, but I feel like a lot of things in life can be attacked the same way as working towards a goal at the gym.  You want to increase your max weight on a lift?  Work in baby steps.  Go up a little bit at a time.  It’s a long process, but in the end, you will have most likely improved upon your weight.  Or your form.  Or something has gotten better.  You want to get more proficient at a skill?  Keep doing it over and over again.  You’re going to miss a lot in the beginning, but little by little you get better.

It’s all in the baby steps.

As long as you keep moving forward, there isn’t much that can stop you.  Life is lived as a relentless journey.  Some paths are harder than others.  Some are quite frankly a little dangerous.  Some are easier.  But it’s what we do while we’re on the path that makes us who we are at the finish.

So in the middle of your path today I just want you to remember a couple of things:

Keep breathing

Keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I think by the time you get to the end of whatever journey you’re on, those will be two of the most important lessons.

'So Far Away...' photo (c) 2011, I_Believe_ - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/This year has been a little bit crazy, I believe.  Yeah.  Crazy is the right word.  Crazy good.  Crazy not so good.  Here are a few of the things that have been going on.

1.  I went to Florida to visit with my family down there.  Had an awesome visit and can’t wait to go back again.

2.  I got back from that trip and one of my best friends went into the hospital with early contractions and other complications.  This ended up being a six-week stay in a neonatal unit in St. Louis.

3.  I did get to go over and visit just about every weekend.  And at the end there was a beautiful baby girl to celebrate over.

4.  The same week my grandma was hospitalized for chest pains.  She ended up having double bypass surgery.  This week, just two months later, she has been released to drive and use her arms to push and pull, lift lighter things.  Seriously folks, modern medicine is ridiculously awesome.

5.  I went most of the first 5-6 months without selling a house.  I’m a real estate agent.

6.  The last two months have been crazy busy.  I feel so very blessed.

7.  The week of my birthday one of my twin nephews was hospitalized for some sort of infection.  It ended up being a staph infection.  He had two large lumps on each side of his neck just filled with infection.  He spent the week in St. Louis at Cardinal Glennon hospital.

8.  I turned 33.

9.  We started a small group bible study in my home.  I now have to keep my home clean at all times.  I guess this is a good thing.

10.  We hosted another 5k on my other blog and raised just under $4,000 for a little girl’s therapy expenses.  All because of you guys!

How has your year been so far?