girl growing

and a space for her to play in

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


i am afraid of heights.
there...i admitted it.
i'm a scaredy cat.
once while i was in destin, fl i decided to bungee jump.
i know, completely ridiculous and impulsive move,
but it was great.
(definitely not as gutsy as my dear friend karen's skydiving experience, i'm sure!)
and so i climbed up the rattly stairs, forcing a grin of courage all the way to the top.
when i got whole body was shaking.
i had never been so scared in my life.
directly ahead of me were the white sands of florida's beaches...
and the crystal blue waters of the ocean...
and a very menacing storm rolling in.
i was the last one they would allow to jump because of the ominous clouds,
and that in itself made my stomach flip a little.
so when it came my turn i simply got harnessed in and
didn't take a second look back.
i didn't want to hesitate,
because i knew for sure that i would chicken out.
so i jumped...
and i screamed...
and i hung by my feet suspended in mid-air...
and i can barely remember any of it...
except that it was sheer release.
i'm going to a convent for my spring break.
i'll be spending 4 days in complete silence and solitude...
except for brief conversations with my 'spiritual guide' for the week.
there, the rooms-the walls, the linens, the bathrooms-are all bright white.
there are fountains and statues and amazing gardens.
posted above is an artist's rendition of the place...
i've been there at night, and it's enchanting.
like ken told me when i called him today to relate my news,
'you like to drink from the fire hydrant, don't you?'
i suppose it's true.
perhaps it's my youth...or impatience...or sheer guts,
i'm not sure,
but i've decided that i need a break...
and luckily i've got a spring break coming up that could be put to good use.
somewhere without the internet, or a cell phone, t.v., or even people i love.
just me...and perhaps God if he chooses.
i think somewhere amidst my anxiety around the future, baby greek (which really does keep you up, crying, late into the night) and normal young adult responsibilities,
i saw a glimpse of what an irritable, overly-emotional, dramatic girl i can be, and i decided i need to take a breath.
and so here i am,
standing on the ledge,
not wanting to glance back.
i am scared to death of what could happen while i'm there,
and even more terrified of what might not happen.
i suppose i just don't know what else to do.
i'm hoping to kind of build up to the 4 days by spending growing amount of time in solitude so that i'm not shocked when i'm actually there.
i'll have my camera, journals, and plenty of books...
along with ken's guidance and an outline for my thoughts.
so while my friends are in tahoe, destin, and in front of the t.v.,
i'll be wading through the dark night of my soul,
and hoping that i somehow find peace...
and sheer release.

Monday, January 29, 2007

pretty things

i am in love with james turrell.
he loves working with light and space...
especially 'enclosing the viewers in order to control their perception of light'.
he's a quaker, and actually helped to design the live oaks friends meeting house that one of my friends from HBU attends.
...that's the picture above of a hole in the ceiling.
he also was commissioned to do a light installation here in one of houston's underground tunnels that connects the caroline wiess law building with the new audrey jones beck building.
...the pics of the hallways.
i haven't been there, but i've heard it's pretty trippy experience.
like him, i'm leery of adding the title 'spiritual' to all senses of art,
but i think some of his work deserves the title.
he's drawing upon our body's weakness at both dawn and dusk,
the times that we are the most vulnerable to the light-
to colors like blue, purple, orange, and red.
we are forced to focus our eyes and our minds on what we're seeing
and in doing so, we become so very calm.
i dig it and recommend him as an artist to check out.


this week we looked at what it means to be born again.
this stirred up all kinds of things in me and i think the rest of the community as well.
we're all from different backgrounds-some baptist: remembering times of revival and 'walking the aisle'. some pentecostal: awaiting the gift of the spirit to descend in tongues. some calvinists that wonder if perhaps we have to be drawn and chosen by God first. some, like me, from an episcopal background where there wasn't much talk of a need for emotional response when being 'born again'.
this was a hard topic and i know none of us have the answers, but we're hoping to stop pointing fingers...and to allow God the space and time to do his thing.
'and everyone who looks up to him, trusting and expectant, will gain a real life, eternal life...for God so loved the world...'
perhaps that's all it takes.

be thou blessed
while you remain within the womb
struggling to have your brain formed
and have understanding in your mind.
fingers tingling as feeling becomes real...
pushing and pulling
tossing and turning
waiting for a day of release.

be thou blessed
while your eyes are blinded by the brightness
as your senses are overloaded
as you begin the path of growth.

be thou blessed
as you struggle with whether you are
or aren't
whether you should
or shouldn't
questioning desperately whether your foothold is firm
trying to decide what to believe
who to trust
and what to do

be thou blessed
pleading to be 'whosoever'
wanting not to 'perish'
but trusting
and expecting
and lasting.
be thou blessed.

Friday, January 26, 2007

one day...

me and all my friends
we're all misunderstood
they say we stand for nothing
there's no way we ever could
now we see everything is going wrong
with the world and those who lead it
we just feel like we don't have the means
to rise above and beat it

so we keep waiting
waiting on the world to change
we keep on waiting
waiting on the world to change

its hard to be persistant
when we're standing at a distance
wo we keep waiting
waiting on the world to change
well if we had the power
to bring our neighbors home from war
they would've never missed a Christmas
no more ribbons on the door
when you trust your television
what you get is what you got
'cause when when they own the information
oh, they can bend it all they want

so while we're waiting
waiting on the world to change
we keep on waiting
waiting on the world to change
it's not that we don't care
we just know that the fight ain't fair
so we keep waiting
waiting on the world to change
one day our generation
is gonna rule the population
so we keep on waiting...
-john mayer

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


i'm starting to get a little concerned...
concerned about the choices i'm making,
about the roads i'm taking,
and more importantly all the things i'm not doing.
i suppose that i'm like most people...
when tough choices stare me in the face it is much easier to sit idle and wait for someone else to make a decision for me.
as the name explicitly states...
i am a girl growing.
i am 22 years old and have big things ahead of me...
i need to decide whether to actually finish this masters in theology or to give up on it...
(like i mentioned after hearing claiborne-i wonder if knowing greek helps widows and orphans)
i need to decide what i want to do after graduation next winter...
when i turn 23 in august i'll be dropped off my parents health insurance and that thought is giving my father heart burn...
i need to decide whether it's going to be hillary or obama in '08...
and dammit, i need to decide what dress to wear to ryan's fraternity formal!
(okay, so i guess that last one is slightly 'dramastical')
i'm still learning how to rely on others for help and guidance,
how to make myself accessible to others,
how to question and trust,
how to grow up and still be 22,
how to love,
and i'm definitely still learning how to seek.
then somewhere in the midst of all this i look around and realize that there are those around me that have much harder decisions to make.
it's a balance...
learning how to be honest about your own stuff and how to step away from it when you get too caught up.
i think that the reason i'm feeling a lot of anxiety right now is due to that fact that i've spent a lot of the past week in the doctor's office.
now, this isn't 'girl whining', so please don't mistake all my concerns,
but i've had...something...wrong with me the past 5 years of my life,
and i'm hoping that this time we figure it out.
this issue was another one of those things that i sat by and watched...
waiting for something else to fix it,
and nothing ever did.
so i'm growing up...learning how to get over the fear of bad news and making decisions to correct time lost.
2 years ago i had a bunch of tests run and no answer was found for what was wrong with me.
i think i'm afraid that i'll go through all this again and we'll have the same result.
it's not life or death...
probably nothing serious...
certainly not as hard as some things my friends have gone through...
but definitely things that will change my future,
and i don't like my future being out of my control.
ohhh...if there is a God, which i'm bankin' on,
then he certainly works in strange ways.
and he's certainly doing a number on me.
i suppose it's time to start growing up,
facing the tough decisions and the future,
and hopefully see what i'm really made of.

Monday, January 22, 2007


our discussion this week was prompted by many questions on the idea of eternal life.
ken checked it out and found that perhaps we're thinking about 'heaven' or the 'eternal' the wrong way.
perhaps it's not about a quantity of time, but a quality of life.
perhaps eternal life has something more to do with a vitality and character of life that mirrors God.
the focus of our study was on the story of the rich young man that was told to sell everything and follow jesus.
blessings... as you search to enter
a new place
a new realm
a new life.
as you reach,
fingers straining and outstretched
hoping to grasp
a greater understanding.
blessings... as you earnestly try
to live a life of constant reflection
seeking connection-
to things both seen and unseen
tangible and intangible
searching nonetheless.
blessings... as you struggle with
the here and now
and all with all of the tomorrows.
choosing to wrestle rather than resolve
choosing to attempt rather than settle.

you are blessed by something that
demands much more than you can give.
assuring that you cannot do it alone
but promising to be with you always.
blessings as you try
blessings as you wait
and blessings as you hope.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


my very baptist university got together with local ecclesia church and flew down shane claiborne, author of 'irresistible revolution'.
to be honest, i was a bit nervous about having him come down.
if you've never read his book then you should...i totally recommend it.
it's challenging, and perhaps that's what made me a bit uneasy,
and i was pleasantly surprised.
he really is just a good 'ol backwoods boy, and i really enjoyed hearing him speak.
it was still really challenging...
rodney and i chatted while waiting in line for some of taft's organic free-trade coffee about what type of venue we could have if, and hopefully when, we are all given the chance to live in community together even more than we are now.
we've decided not to go coffee...i mean, c'mon....everybody does coffee!
i'm thinking definitely alcohol or maybe a thrift store...ha! we'll see what happens.
either way, rodney decided we need to 'paint our own picture' and i like that.
i'm realizing that my community and my journey do not have to look just like shane's, or ecclesia's, or even mother theresa's.
(believe me, i certainly aspire close to some of them)
but i'm okay with being juli in the suburbs and the city and i'm wondering what God has for me here in the time and place...
so it was a good chat with our new acquaintance shane.
and i'm left wondering what to do now.
wondering what my theology and theology classes have to do with serving the people jesus calls us to.
wondering what to do with my hands instead of just with my mouth.
for those of you who know me know this is a constant struggle for me.
and i know many of you are feeling this same way...
left wondering.
and yet, i feel encouraged,
and i wish all of you would too.
we're in this together...that's what community is all about.
last night shane quoted dorothy day, as he does in his book, a few times.
i really dig her, as do some of my professors.
one of my favorite quotes of hers:
'we have all known the long loneliness
and we have learned that the only solution is love
and that love comes with community.'
verily. verily. verily.


i guess i don't ever really assume that anyone other than wellspring folks will venture into my blog.
i generally don't find it to be too fantastic or inspiring,
but every once in awhile i get to feel special.
thanks to my dear friend mark berry...i've had a visitor that left a very interesting comment on my latest blog 'blessing':
'Juli, thanks for posting this. i really enjoyed the blessing you wrote. I saw it first on Mark Berry's blog. I would like to point out, though, that the question Jesus was responding to was not 'how to get to heaven.' Thanks again!' -eric
i appreciate eric's comment...i'm simply wondering if that's really what the 'expert of the law' was asking jesus in luke 10, or is it just that i've grown up in a pretty heaven-driven fundamental part of the country?
the young man asked...'what must I do to inherit eternal life?'
i tend to read that as meaning, what must i do to get into heaven....
i totally understand that jesus wasn't answering the question,
at least not the one that the 'young expert' wanted answered.
anyways, enough with semantics and theology...
eric's comment was a good one and it made me think,
so thanks for that, and thanks mark berry :)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


i'm trying to write a blessing every sunday for our closing at wellspring.
i'm going to try to post them each week.
this past sunday ken spoke on one of the nine places jesus answers the question
about how to get into heaven.
we discussed the samaritan parable and who our neighbor is.
may you be blessed
as you continue to seek out
honesty, and truth, and peace
desiring more than passing, cheap, flippant intimacy.
may you be blessed
as you travel through seas of strangers
desperately wanting to be seen
and not merely passed by
yearning for a touch, a word, a presence.
may you be blessed
as you authentically try to respond
to the God-given wrenching of your gut
making you aware that a need is near
and someone is waiting on your touch, your word, your presence.
may the blessing of a love that transcends indifference and brings reconciliation
be in your heart and in your mind and in your hands
as you travel to and fro-
constantly aware that even now you are surrounded by love.
may you seek, may you be completed, and may you be blessed.

Monday, January 15, 2007

for better...or worse...

i hate break ups.
don't worry...i'm not going through one, but ryan & i have some friends that are.
watching the train wreck is nearly as painful as being a passenger.
i think the biggest thing i've noticed over the past couple of weeks is that as we travel along and really try our damnedest to be healthy, loving individuals...
there are casualties of these inner wars.
we don't want to believe that there's anything really wrong with our own selves...
or that we could be the one causing difficulties.
so the ones we supposedly love are the ones that the most pain is inflicted upon,
and sometimes we realize it...and don't even know what in the world we're doing...
we just can't make ourselves stop.
this whole past week i've been trying to convince my friend that she can't do anything any longer...
this is up to him.
he has to decide to change and to realize what's really wrong here.
and in the meantime...she has a lot of things she needs to be doing as well.
but right's getting downright ugly.
ryan & i both try to listen...
try to be accessible...
try to acknowledge the truth...
and try to be aware that perhaps none of our advice will be heeded...
because in the end we're just kids too, and what do we know anyway?
not only was this past week hard for our friends,
but it was hard on me too.
everything i was telling my friend was coming back to me.
'you can't change him'
'you can't fix him'
'this isn't about you'
and then it dawned on me...
well, perhaps not 'dawned'.
that implies that there were pretty shades of oranges, blues, and purples.
that my realization rose up and stirred me awake by warming my face.
no, my revelation was more like a brick wall,
and my face is still recovering from the impact.
i realized that everything i was telling her were things i needed to believe myself,
and more...
i saw in myself that i could not make him love me.
even now i need to let that soak in.
'i cannot make him love me'
and in fact, he may never love me.
i told ryan that i had figured out that i had been trying to make him love me...
and that i didn't want to do it anymore.
it was as if a dream had died...
and i can feel it my throat....a big, horrible lump in my throat that simply will not go away.
what girl doesn't want to dream of love and magic and marriage and happily ever after?
what girl doesn't hope for all of that one day?
and how in the world do we turn it off?
i'm hoping so badly my friends will be okay.
they're great people, and like most kids my age, simply do not want to go to all of these difficult places that take hours of conversation
constant tears
arduous work
and a promise of 'perhaps never'.
i just got home from a car trip with my father in the 35 degree weather.
on the way home, we swung by my mother's work.
he called her there to let her know we were outside...
that we had picked up dinner so she wouldn't have to...
and he was looking over her tires and car to make sure her 7 minute drive home would go safely.
gross, right?
they've been married 25 years now and i adore them.
as i've mentioned before, they've gone through hell and back
and are still trying.
i want that...for myself...desperately.
i want to believe that if i try hard enough and wait long enough and love strong enough...
that i'll have it...
but that's not how this game goes.
we never know.
ryan asked me....'to what end?'
when do i stop trying, stop waiting, stop loving...
and all i could tell him is that i have to try.
i have to give it as much as i can...
until i simply cannot take anymore.
who knows when that comes, or if it ever will,
but in this time...and in this moment...
things are good.
celebrating the little victories,
and hoping for the best.

Monday, January 08, 2007

and again...

-the act of resolving or determining upon
an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc.
-the mental state or quality of being resolved
or resolute; firmness of purpose.
'do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—
his good, pleasing and perfect will.'
romans 12:2
the end of a year and the beginning of another...
it always seems like such a pinnacle moment.
i've needed some time to think things over,
and so here we are.
maybe they're right,
maybe my mind has to change before my actions.
i wonder if the heart and the mind are equivalent.
we discussed our 'new years resolutions' last night at wellspring...
or lack thereof for some.
i think most of us are caught again wondering if we're just treating symptoms
rather than the actual disease.
'until i really believe that eating better will actually be better for my health,
i'll lose my resolution 3 weeks into it'.
maybe ken is right...perhaps our minds have to be made up first.
i'm trying to decide where to work as i finish out this last year at school.
i'd really like to do something good...
something positive for humanity.
my great biology professor said to our class the other day...
'you want to know enough to do well on the test,
i want you to know enough to change the world.'
with all our talk about global warming, about the rain forest,
about starvation....
i feel overwhelmed. always...overwhelmed.
and i'm beginning to wonder if all of these things are just symptoms.
many people already believe they are...
i'm just now beginning to see the correlation.
so how do we begin to save the depravity of humankind
so it will in turn stop killing the earth and each other?
i suppose i begin with me.
so i'm resolving to stop trying to resolve everything.
for the past year i've been waiting on God to resolve...
and i think i'd like to stop that.
no, i know i'd like to stop.
God keeps refusing to be reduced
to be separated
to be dealt with
to be easy.
and so, if God will allow me the space and the time...
...with some urgency of course...
then i will do the same for God.
my demands for God to show up have gotten me nowhere...
and neither have my twiddled thumbs.
so i'm being renewed...
beginning again...
so here i am.
a new place in the journey.
we'll see how it goes...