The Collection

a collaboration of notes, inspiration + places worth remembering.

28 things.

I should really add, “keeping up on your blog” to my list. But really, I need write more than I do. Thoughts come and go. And then they go. Far, far, away as a faint star in the night. I’ve been reflecting on my last 27 years of life. Things I have accomplished. And things I have yet to experience. Truly what a journey it has been. And the greatest part, it’s not over just yet. All the places I’ve lived, the people I have met along the way. Whether that be on an airplane or in a laundromat. I’m forever grateful for every day of it. Sometimes I find myself wishing the days away. To be done with work, to finish the run, to complete the project. That I completely miss it. I miss life. Or the people I’m with. Rather. I would call myself a dreamer. Hopeful. Thinking of what’s ahead. Dreaming of what, I’m not 100% sure. Maybe tomorrow it will be more clear. And if it’s not. That’s okay too. As long as I’m trying. And moving forward. That is what counts. To me, at least. Sometimes it’s good to stop. And reflect.

So, my birthday is coming up next month. I remember people saying birthdays get less fun as you get older. I’m believing to think they were on to something. But trying to be optimistic here. I’m still young at heart. I have been reflecting on life and what I’ve gained so far. I decided to come up with a list of 28 things. (I’m a list person, naturally.) Things that brought me to where I am today. Things that I’ve learned along the way. Most of them are simple. But true realities that I’ve either learned the hard way or have gained from trying. 28 things. At 28. (Almost).

1. Listen to the birds. Turn off the music every once in a while and tune in with nature.
2. Forgive others. It hurts you more than you think. Let it go.
3. Extend grace to yourself. You’re not perfect. And you never will be.
4. Realize it’s a journey. Not a destination.
5. Practice yoga. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how good you feel afterwards.
6. Save your pennies. Even the ones you find on the ground. Pick those up.
7. Travel often. The world really is your oyster.
8. Smile at a stranger. They might just turn into your best friend.
9. Laugh out loud. Everyday. It’s therapeutic.
10. Try something new. Even if you try it once. At least you tried.
11. Read books. Lots of them. Different genres. Keep learning.
12. Take baths.
13. Do a detox twice a year. Reset the mind, body, and soul. Your skin will love you.
14. Help others. Especially when it interferes with your schedule. It’s not always about us.
15. Put a stamp on it. Write long distance friends via snail mail. Who doesn’t love getting a note in the mail from someone they love.
16. Call your parents back. Even if it’s days later just for a minute. They will be glad that you did.
17. Take naps on Sunday. You’ll need that extra rest come Monday.
18. Read the newspaper. If anything, you’ll know the weather for the next week.
19. Add more veggies to your plate. You will thank yourself later.
20. Be thankful. We have so much. Yet. Find ourselves complaining a lot more than we should.
21. Read the Bible. Cover to cover. It’s truly full of great stories.
22. Sleep with the window open. Whenever you can. Fresh air is good for the soul.
23. Send yourself a postcard from far off destinations as a reminder of the beautiful memories you made.
24. Give the people you are with your undivided attention. Put the cellphone away for a few minutes. Don’t worry. Facebook, Instagram, and twitter will still be there later.
25. Get to know people not your age. They have insight and wisdom that you may not see. Whether they are 5 or 87.
26. Grow a garden. And support your local farmers. Herbs are an easy way to start.
27. Wear sunscreen. Even if you think you’re just getting a tan. And then you burn. Oops.
28. Remember what’s important in life. And never forget it.

I hope this inspires you to create your own list. And most of all, to remember what makes up the hours, minutes, and seconds of your life. And don’t forget to enjoy the journey.

With love,
Jules

Selah.

Stop. Quiet. Listen. Still. Rest. Worship. Silence. Reflect. Selah.

Psalm 23.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside quiet waters.

He restores my soul;

He guides me in paths of righteousness

For his name’s sake.

Selah.

This language is so. Counter cultural. To stop. Are you kidding me? The world around us tells us to go. Go, go, go. Even on the one day that we are to be most thankful, we can go to Target at 9m to get 20% off everything we could ever want or need. Go.

Do you ever wonder where all those green pastures are that we can rest in are? I do. And those quiet streams. Yes, please.

Lately I’ve wondered what is wrong with me that I’m not rushing to and fro? I have been learning to slow it down and enjoy the moments but wonder at the same time if I should be more busy. Would God really be more pleased with me if my day planner was full of more meetings, errands, appointments? Probably not. But I wonder. I used to think that rest equaled weakness. That it was merely a suggestion. I didn’t realize that it was a command from The Lord. And even if I did, I didn’t think that I needed to abide by it since I was doing His work after all. If I’m honest. That’s what I believed for a greater portion of my life. Always striving for the next best thing. Thinking that I could actually control my life. Wanting to be needed. I have found so much validation in the things that I did(and still do) rather than from the one who created it all. I need Him. More than ever. I had this overwhelming fear of not succeeding by taking a day, an hour, a minute, to stop. To be still. In order to know that he is God. That He is in control. What do we miss when our focus is on ourselves? Or on earthly things? We miss Jesus. Even if that focus includes ministry. We may know his word. And in most cases. All the right words, prayers, and responses like the back of our hand. Yet, in the midst of it all. We can completely miss Jesus.

Today, I hope that you know.

You are not what you do.
Or produce.
Or make.

You are not superhuman.
And never will be.
Thankfully.

And with that.
There is hope.
There is peace.
There is joy.
There is love.
There is advent.

As we enter into this season of advent.
We are expectant.
With joyful anticipation.
Waiting.
Preparing.
And waiting.
That should be our posture.

Expectant for the coming of the Messiah.
Alert for His Second Coming.

I’m not very good at waiting. I don’t think most people are. And for good reason. It’s not easy. We hate waiting in long lines. Traffic. For someone to sweep us off our feet. For the bonus. For the next vacation. Waiting.

The good news is that while we wait. We are still His. His wonderful, beautiful children. That need to be reminded of His great love for us.

What would it look like to intentionally practice this thing called Sabbath? To actually plan for it and around it. To restore our souls. To be rooted in creation. To just be. The idea of being unproductive is a scary thought if any of you are like me. I believe this is what God is asking us to do when he says come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). Bringing our heavy hearts before him. To fix our eyes on Him and be filled. With the presence of God. The maker of ALL things.

Be still. In order to fully know that He is God. And that you are His beloved child.

He loves you.
Delights in you.
Cares for you.
Rest in that today.

With love,
Jules

today

today.

“Your life, right now, today, is exploding with energy and power and detail and dimension, better than the best movie you have ever seen. you and your family and your friends and your house and your dinner table and your garage have all the makings of a life of epic proportions, a story for the ages. Because they all are. Every life is.

You have stories worth telling, memories worth remembering, dreams worth working toward, a body worth feeding, a soul worth tending, and beyond that, the God of the universe dwells within you, the true culmination of super and natural.

you are more than dust and bones.

you are spirit and power and image of God.

and, you have been given today. ”

– shauna niequist, cold tangerines. a friend recently recommended this book. now, i’m doing the same.

today is a gift. every little bit of it. whether you are in the pits, struggling with some insecurity. Or, you are on the mountain top and really wonder if life can get any better. remember that moment. for it will bring you through the times to come.

as i reflect on this last year. it hasn’t been my favorite. to be honest. i have found myself constantly searching for something. something to make me feel settled. the perfect job, that special community of friends, the brilliant idea, a place to call home. in the midst of that, always being ready to pick up and leave at the drop of a hat when “god opens the door”. i sit here in my kitchen in an old 1920’s house that has become my “home” that i absolutely adore. it’s a little strange to actually have my own bed and set of kitchen knives. i was nearly living out of my car in San Francisco 12 months ago. (probably looked something like a hippy, just maybe) the definition of home for me is a loose term. i’ve somehow become this gypsy woman traveling from city to city. i just about break out in tears every time someone asks where i’m from. and a map. and then I continue to draw a lot of arrows back and forth. theodore roosevelt once said, “comparison is the thief of joy.”  i most whole heartedly agree. i am quick to compare my life with the norm. and wonder why i don’t have a life like theirs. then, i remember. this is exactly what i prayed for. i wanted an adventure. i wanted to experience all that there is to life. to whatever extent that would be. from hanging out with gypsies in the middle of who knows where Ukraine, swimming with hundreds of dolphins in the wild ocean on a typical weekend in Hawaii and wondering if this is real life, to riding my bike every morning down palm-tree-lined streets to work at TOMS, passing by men waiting for someone to pick them up for day labor. those moments. those days. are worth remembering. they remind me that it’s okay that i don’t have it figured out just yet. i might never figure it out, actually. my dad always told me, you are not a tree. basically saying. you don’t have to stay where you are. you can move and don’t have to stay there forever. (i would probably refer to myself more like a boat; exploring the vast sea of infinite possibilities) if you don’t like something about your life, change it. whether that be your health, finances, relationships, and the list goes on. i think sometimes we don’t want to put in the effort to make those changes. we think it’s too big, or too hard. that it’s just easier to stay where and how we are. then actually change. that’s why it’s called discipline i suppose. all of that to say, in the midst of all the searching, i’m beginning to see some distant ray of light, of hope, ahead. surprisingly, i think it’s been there all along.

recently at work i’ve been thinking a lot about children. children overseas. that don’t have all the opportunities that we have in america. i think about major life decisions that tend to consume my thoughts. jobs, new opportunities, where i’m going to stop for coffee on the way to work, what spin class i can get to that won’t be too crowded, etc. then i think about the children scattered throughout Africa. that don’t have a choice. not yet, at least. they will most likely live and die. in the same space. with no place to dream of what could be. they most likely won’t make it to university. their worries are more centered around the essentials of daily living like where their next meal is going to come from and how they’re going to survive another night. much like them are the people i’ve encountered in the lost cities and dumps of Mexico. those images have never left my mind. they still rest in the deepest parts of my soul. children playing in an old refrigerator turned into a make-shift boat in the middle of a dump after the rain. happy as clams. just a couple hours south of sunny san diego, such desperation, yet so much joy. a supernatural joy.  maybe it’s because they are too young to understand the great tragedy. maybe it’s because they can see beyond the trivial. maybe it’s because they have jesus and they know that’s all they ultimately need. at the end of the day. i want to be more like them. i want to turn my refrigerator into a pirate ship, and sail off into the wind. full of joy. not because of my circumstances or situation. but because life is just that beautiful. that God will allow joy in the midst of all of it. all of the turmoil, heartache, and sleepless nights. God has already given us joy. we just need to grab hold of it. easier said than done, right? there is joy to be found in even the littlest of things. a cup of french press coffee, the changing of the seasons, a conversation with a long distant friend. i’m beginning to realize that in these moments. God is revealing himself. and how wonderful life is when we just open our eyes and take ourselves out of the equation. because it was never about us to begin with.

when i lived in hawaii, i had about an hour commute each way to work along the coastal honopiilani highway. in the morning, i would either listen to NPR, or worship music (interesting combination, i know). on my way home, most days i could barely keep my eyes open. i would have to pull over to the side of the road and take a quick power nap on the beach. it probably looked quite funny. as i was most likely still in my work clothes. but i didn’t care. i usually would drive home in silence. after a busy day at the hotel, all i wanted to hear was the wind sweeping through my car and the crashing of the waves along the rocks. i would reflect on my day and record in my memory bank something beautiful that touched me. then each night i would write it down. the perfect maui sunset over lanai, surf sessions with adam and ellie, playing scrabble with my sister in hotel hana and eating instant oatmeal out of plastic cups, a bouquet that a bride carried down the aisle, a couple renewing their vows after 40 years, rain drops falling down just as the couple said “i do”. those beautiful memories are still with me. life seemed to be magical. everything was bright, sunny, fresh. sometimes i wonder if life will ever be like that again. magical. i’ve become to see that it can be. life is worth celebrating whether you live in hawaii or in north carolina. it truly doesn’t matter where you are, or what you’re doing. God is all around us. if we would just take the time to see it.

each passing moment. is what makes up your life. i would encourage you to write it down. make a note of it. so that one day, you can look back and remember. that all those minutes, made up a lifetime. it made your journey. yours.

what are you doing with today? not yesterday. for that has passed. not tomorrow. for that hasn’t come yet. today.

“receive today’s gift gratefully, unwrapping it tenderly and delving into its depths. as you savor this gift, you find me.” – sarah young, jesus calling

with love,

jules

the journey ahead

well, after months and months of procrastination. i have finally created a blog. i’m excited to share my adventures, finds, + inspirations with you all. this is for my family to feel more connected, distant friends who wonder where i am, and the new friends that have an affinity for hidden gems that are off the beaten path.

to keep you all up to date. i am currently at samaritan’s purse working with operation christmas child. it’s been a wonderful season thus far. i have been able to meet some amazing people and god has really opened my eyes to what is going on internationally. in addition, i am working on a few side projects that i am thrilled to release in a couple of weeks. until then. you can find me here, in a local coffee shop in charlotte, or traveling to the beach for the weekend. trying to live the simple life and explore god’s beautiful creation one day at a time. i’m truly blessed + grateful.

“there are far, far better things ahead than we leave behind.” – c.s. lewis

with love,

jules