Sunday, October 30, 2016

From Struggle to Surrender



Every aspect of Unify Phx, was intentional to draw women to a place of surrender.  Kristin Pattison, incredibly passionate, spoke about the race we run and how we often get on the circular track that leads no where.  "The track is great...until it isn't".  However, there is a path that has been paved just for us by God.  We need to be on that path and then she said words I needed to hear, "Live Carefree".  I'd fallen back into a familiar pattern; don't make a mistake, don't be embarrassing, don't be so emotional.  When Kristin spoke those words, clarity and conviction washed over me. I know what walking in Freedom looks and feels like, how did I fall back into caring so much about what others might think or say of me? Walking in freedom is like being in a recovery program, you gotta work the steps or you'll relapse. And I had relapsed.

Later we were afforded an opportunity to write something we wanted to surrender.  I wrote "My pride.  So I can I walk in absolute Freedom."  I stepped forward and hung that on the cross with a fresh resolve to walk in Freedom.   Getting back on the path paved for me.

The next morning as I dressed and prepared for the conference. I wore a tie die shirt with leopard print shoes telling myself ' I am not going to care that this does not match. These shoes are comfortable and these are the shoes I want to wear today.'  At the conference, I sang out every song during the worship set, not caring if my voice was off pitch.  I was back on the path of freedom paved just for me.

 

That morning, Cherie Wagner, a truly gifted teacher nailed home points about divisions in the body of the church.  She shared how important and critical unity is among this body of people.  Her message resonated deeply and stirred a fire in me to break down barriers, to be united, to stand as one with others.  I was inspired to be part of bringing people together in Unity. 

As the conference came to a close, we once again sang a beautiful song, Unify, by worship leader and songwriter Dianne Michelle who crafted this amazing song for this conference.  As we sang the first verse, I was inspired to move towards the front row of women and grab the ladies hands on each side of the aisle and stand together, united as one.  But Pride taunted "What will they think?  What if no one follows you?  It'll be awkward.  Don't do it."  I stayed where I was, glued to the ground as we began to sing the chorus.


The next verse came and I wanted to break down barriers,  be united, stand as one with the women around me but the pride of fear stopped me.  I looked behind me, quickly scanning for a familiar face. Maybe if we made eye contact, they would follow my cue.  No one I knew was behind me.  We started the last chorus and a gentle whisper came, "Pride was hung on the cross Friday night."  I was quietly reminded of my actions on Friday night.  I was standing in a tie die shirt with leopard print shoes and singing about unity in a roomful of women spiritually united but physically divided.

I abruptly grabbed the ladies hand on my left, she was surprised but I didn't let that stop me. Like a train I pulled her with me to the other side of the aisle and grabbed the hand of another surprised lady and I stood in the middle of the aisle.  No barriers, united, standing as one, we raised our hands and I sang that last chorus like I meant it.  If anyone had looked closely they would have seen my legs trembling.  When the song ended, I hugged both those ladies for standing with me but I could tell, they felt the unity too, just like I did and they hugged me back.  The lady from across the aisle whispered in my ear "Thank you." 


Days later,  I saw this picture and I cried over it.  I had no idea the row behind me joined hands and stood together too.  I thought I was alone in that aisle standing for unity but I wasn't.  That's what makes me cry whenever I see this picture. Poignantly captured in this picture is a moment that represents the absence of pride and the presence of Freedom through Unity.  So when the next Unify Phx takes place, let's go together, as One.

From Struggle to Surrender,
Julia

Saturday, October 29, 2016

From Fear to Faith



"There's a women's conference in October, would you pray about being a part of it?"

When God puts an opportunity or challenge in front of me, I am like a deer staring into bright headlights.  I freeze and wait because I'm quietly afraid of what is going to happen next.

I am not a Joshua charging for battle.
I am a Gideon, hiding and threshing wheat, in a winepress.
God, I'm from a weak family and I'm to weak a person to do this task.  Can you confirm that you really want me,  show me a sign maybe?
Phone rings. "We thought you would be a good fit to facilitate the panel at Unify Phx but we'd like you to actually be a part of the panel."
God, I'm not a public speaker.  I shake, I get nervous, I get emotional.  Then I'm embarrassed.  I wish I could erase those embarrassing moments.  Are you sure God?
Phone rings.  Hello daughter, it's your Dad.  Unbeknownst to either of us, we are gonna to have a conversation where I am going to reverse the message of shame I planted in you so many years ago.  I'm going to tell you that your soft heart is a good thing and don't ever change it.  You'll hang up the phone sobbing and then marvel that this call occurred exactly THREE days before you sit on stage at the conference.
God, I barely know any of the people running this conference, who am I to stand among them?
Email received.  Can you come to a meeting for the lead team?  You'll meet everyone running this conference.  You'll  find you are among women who are like-minded and as sensitive as you.  You won't feel like a stranger in a strange land.  
Okay God.  Messages received.  Help me to do what I'm afraid of doing.
On Saturday at Unify Phx, Christina Lang said "When God knows you are ready, he entrusts you with the next part of the story."

I didn't feel ready but everything that happened Friday at the conference prepared me not to just sit as part of the panel but to also stand in Unity as One.

From Fear to Faith,
Julia

Friday, October 28, 2016

From a Shirt to a Stage.

This weekend I participated in Unify Phx; a conference that brought together women from over 40 different churches across Phoenix. The theme of the conference was to reflect Unity among the people of Christ; the Church. This conference was not for a religious organization or a set denomination or a certain culture or any of those types of variables. It was for 2 groups of people; those who follow Christ and those who don't and both were present.

My friend Christin, called me out of the azure-blue and asked if I would be willing to participate. Christin and I met through Mending the Soul and she suggested my name to the lead team for this conference. A different gal, Erica, supported the idea because she was also in one of my Mending the Soul classes. That's how I got involved; 2 nearly new friends, from 2 different churches connected through 2 different MTS classes. Different people, different backgrounds, coming together to share what we have in common. Pretty much the premise of the conference.


Shirt By: Radiance on Fire


The conference began on a Friday night and as I moved about the building, helping to set up before the doors opened, I kept passing a vendor table that had this shirt on display. I walked by this table at least 20 times. Each time I passed that shirt and read the message, my eyes filled with tears and I would almost lose it. Somehow, I kept myself in check but literally every single time I'd walk by, my eyes were drawn to that shirt and message.

Worthless. For so many years, Worthless is exactly who I was. It was my name and my label. I was Worthless to my family, worthless in school, worthless in every job and worthless in every relationship. I was worthless in every interaction, every encounter, every meeting. Worthless permeated my every thought, every emotion, every action. I couldn't get away from being Worthless.

Then Jesus happened. Jesus drew a line through Worthless and wrote Priceless. Over time, I began to understand He changed my name and my label long before I was ever aware of it. He convinced me Worthless was never who I was to begin with. My testimony was on a shirt and I could barely handle it.

The following day, I sat on the stage, with nerves like spaghetti. I wished I had the shirt I had just walked by again. I would have worn it on stage, pointed to the message and said "This is it, this is my story. Love you, mean it, peace out." Drop the mic.



Brene Brown wrote in Daring Greatly, "Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up." I didn't feel brave, I felt shaky and sweaty but I showed up alongside 4 other women and together, we owned our stories. Together, we allowed ourselves to be seen and known. Together, we showed courage through vulnerability. Together we stood as One. I don't think I could have done it any other way. One thing for certain, the deep bond the 5 of us experienced will be remembered for a lifetime.



There's this myth that life becomes stagnant and stifling when you commit to Christ. I have found nothing to be further from the truth. What I did last weekend was the equivalent to riding white water rapids down a roaring river. It was crazy and scary and intense. It was also fulfilling and satisfying to allow God to take my ashes and use them for a good purpose.

That said, I'm ready for a paddle board and maybe a lazy river, ya know? There is another story to tell from this conference but I'll share another day.

From a shirt to a stage,
Julia

Friday, October 21, 2016

For Middle Aged Women Like Me


My heroes are often everyday people who do something extraordinary, in my humble opinion.  Extraordinary by definition means very unusual or remarkable.  Such is the case with Annick Rbsn from Canada.  I do love the Canadians and I am so glad we are neighbors. : )
If you are a middle aged women like me, I will be 45 in February, then you will very likely love Annick response to a salesperson selling some products guaranteed to make her look 'younger'.

Read and enjoy her Facebook post regarding this encounter:



So. I was kind of a brat yesterday. And I don't regret it one bit.
I was in the hallway at the airport, headed to my gate, when a man from a spa suckered me into a conversation by handing me a free bar of natural soap. NOTHING IS FREE PEOPLE! At least, not in airports, am I right?
This is basically how the conversation went, although I admit, this is not verbatim.
Man: "your skin is so natural looking, you aren't wearing any make-up, right?"
Me: "Um, nooooo?"
Man: "Let me guess your age..." Proceeds to pull out a number 12 years younger than I am.
Me: "I look my age and that's ok actually."
Man: unsure how to handle that.. "let me show you our face serum, because if you aren't careful to maintain your skin now, these wrinkles on your face will get much deeper, by 45, creams won't help anymore."
Me: "what's wrong with a woman looking 40?"
Man: "Well let's talk about the bags under your eyes, and smile lines, my eye cream could improve those in 15-minutes."
Me: "What's wrong with my eyes? I have a miracle baby at home and haven't slept in 2 years, so if I have bags I am grateful to have them, and my husband and I laugh a lot. Those are his fault. He loves how I look... I don't think I need your cream."
Man: (nervously) "They may be manageable now, but by 50, it's too late to correct sagging skin and deep wrinkles, unless you act now, only surgery can correct those."
Me: "what's wrong again with a woman aging? You know, my husband and I can't wait to grow old together, we talk about it all the time, how we'll be this funny wrinkled old couple. My husband is going to age too, we all are. It's kind of how life works."
Man: glancing nervously at other customers in the store who are listening in... "Wait, if it's the price that's an issue, I can offer you our special this week, all three creams for $199 - that's cheaper than Botox!"
Me: "I look fine now, and when I'm 45 I will look fine, and when I'm 50 I will look fine, because there is nothing wrong with a woman aging. Old age is a privilege denied to many, and I don't appreciate you marketing youth instead of your products, and denigrating aging women as a sales tactic. Thank you, but I don't want or need your cream."
I was so horrified by the normalcy of his sales pitch, and the sales ringing up at his cash register, that I took a picture of that wrinkled baggy face he was selling to, right on the spot.
This is the face my children and my husband love. I think I'll keep it.

UPDATE *************
I am shocked that this post has been shared upward of 12k times to date. I was really excited for a couple of minutes (that was my ego talking) until I realized what that meant. It means that in 2016, refusing to accept self-loathing as a beauty standard is a radical concept. And that is just depressing on a whole other level.
I have been reading some of the comments and wanted to clarify that this wasn't a post about natural beauty over those who wear make-up, its not about being insulted by a salesman. Its not even about the salesman, who I am sure is very good at his job and following a script. Its about a billion dollar industry that depends on women hating themselves.
And its not about how pretty or not I am. According to whose standards can we decide what is beautiful anyway?
I could have been a supermodel, but I still would have been told there was something terribly wrong with my face. And odds are, I would have believed it. Its hard-wired into us from the cradle that our main value as a woman is beauty, and a standard of beauty that we can never actually attain. Even our supermodels get photo shopped.
Let's start a movement peeps, let's end predatory marketing practices that sell self-loathing to women from cradle to grave. Women have more important things to do in 2016 than spend a single other minute worried about our wrinkles or the acceptability of our thighs.
Flip the script when you hear it. Every time. Until it loses its power. The next generation needs you to change the game.
There is nothing more powerful than how you spend your money, way more powerful than FB views and shares.
Let's start a movement that says no to brands that require you to hate yourself in order to sell their products. Don't give them another one of your dollars.
*And for those of you worried I was too hard on the salesman, don't worry, tone doesn't translate well, but I'm Canadian after all. I was very, very polite. ;)
Extraordinary.  My hero.  Women, we need to flip the script.  Today, I'm starting with myself.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

DaBrickaNate YouTube Channel


Nathan has started a YouTube Channel, DaBrickaNate, reviewing Lego sets.
We have now posted 2 videos and he's already planning to review some custom builds.
He is so cute, I can't even handle it. And I'm partial to the user name he used; DaBrickaNate is a variation of DaBrickaShaw, which is what we called him before giving him the name Nathan. I love it but the challenge will be keeping up with his videos and getting them posted!



Saturday, October 1, 2016

Why VidAngel has my Support.

VidAngel | Watch Movies However The BLEEP You Want




SURVEY: Would you have watched Avengers: Age of Ultron without a filter?

RESPONSE: No.

COMMENTS: The ability to filter out profanity and sexual content is the only reason I allowed my 9 yr old son to watch Avengers: Age of Ultron. He's a Marvel fan but I haven't felt comfortable letting him watch many of the Marvel movies until now. After watching this movie with my son, VidAngel alleviated all my concerns. This is the solution we have needed. We now plan on watching all the Marvel movies and my son is ecstatic. Thank you so very much for this service, thank you for the ease & usability of customizing the filters and thank you for the affordability to make movies family-friendly. I'll be certain to share my positive experience with family, friends and across social media to make others aware of the superb service you have provided.
 

Thank you again,
Julia Hull

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Unify Phoenix Women's Conference, Oct 21-22




Tonight, I met with a group of 4 women in preparation for a women’s conference taking place in Phoenix next month. We come from 4 different churches in the area & in preparing for this panel, we shared our stories. The idea is afterwards, women will break into smaller groups and share their own stories with each other. I was incredibly moved by the personal depth that was shared by each woman. We talked about real life, real pain, real tragedies. There was no masking, no covering up, no hiding behind shiny smiles. Each person brought her darkest and worst into the light. Timidly and carefully though. These were not badges of honor or stories of valor being shared. These were stories filled with deep pain, much shame and the kind of despair that changes the course of life. Then how God has restored, redeemed and renewed our lives. That part is super easy for me to talk about.

I drove away completely humbled. Is there another word that bypasses humbled because that is how I felt. I was asked the question “How is God using your story today?” My honest answer was “I see that it serves a purpose with the Mending the Soul groups at my church but I really don’t know, I don’t have any idea, mainly because I feel totally awkward when I’m sharing my story.” Then she told me to go first and she was going to video tape it. Cue Awkward Self.

I don’t even know how I was sitting in that room sharing my story with these women. I didn’t seek this out. What I do know & what has become crystal clear to me, is that it keeps happening. Sharing my story. And every single time, I feel totally and completely awkward. Afterwards, I mentally grade myself and try to measure “was I off the chart awkward? Or was I just minimally awkward?” Greg says I have to stop doing this and just let God use whatever words come from me and leave it to God. I think Greg is right. So I think the right thing to do is to just tell everyone I know about my social-story-telling-awkwardness as a means to bringing it all out in the light. If everyone knows, then there is no secret about my Awkward Self and I can be free to be awkward.
DoTK,
Julia

Unify PHX from Neue Thing on Vimeo.