girl growing

and a space for her to play in

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


'are you tired? 
worn out?
burned out on religion?
come to me.
get away with me and you'll recover your life.
i'll show you how to take a real rest.
walk with me and work with me-
watch how i do it.
learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
i won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly.'

i have been so tired from trying.
so worn out on how to figure things out.
burned out on school, on books, on learning about God.
i am so thankful to be on this trip.
so grateful to wake up at 3am and see lightning storms over mountains...
to sit at tables for hours just talking about life...
to work with people that are trying to combine community, faith, work, & art all together...
and allow me to work alongside and learn from them.
i am thankful that i have time to create a new rhythm for my life.
the old one is fading away and it's loss comes over my frozen, exhausted soul like waves of warm water...
and i am being washed clean again.
thank you. thank you. thank you.

best possible place.

'People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants.
But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, 
the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.
A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, 
because they tear down your walls and smack you awake.
But to live with a soul mate forever?  
Nah. Too painful.
Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, 
and then they leave.  
And thank God for it.  
Your problem is, you just can’t let this one go.  It’s over.  
David’s purpose was to shake you up, 
drive you out of that marriage that you needed to leave, 
tear apart your ego a little bit, 
show you your obstacles and addictions, 
break your heart open so new light could get in, 
make you so desperate and out of control you had to transform your life...

Someday you’re gonna look back on this moment of your life as such a sweet time of grieving.  
You’ll see that you were in mourning and your heart was broken, 
but your life was changing and you were in the best possible place in the world for it-in a beautiful place of worship, surrounded by grace.  
Take this time, every minute of it.  
Let things work themselves out here...' 
-eat, pray, love

Monday, July 28, 2008

13, 14, 15

this weekend was incredible.
friday we started off with a barbecue...
i even tried ostrich meat!
we watched the sun go down over the cornfields and it was lovely.
on saturday, sam, (the great french women of this house), took me into lausanne and we did some sight-seeing. 
i saw cathedrals, ate food from the market and did some window shopping. 
(sam has great style)
later than afternoon i watched a great, windy storm roll in over the alps and it was beautiful and electric.
that night a group of us went to a little spanish restaurant (they only have a couple other mexican places, but it seems this is the only spanish one)
which is owned by friends of sam & bryce's so we got special treatment :)
they told me that toward the end of the night women come out and begin flamenco dancing...
now, i love to dance, but flamenco?
we were served 15 different tapas and i was mesmerized by how much food these skinny people can eat.
finally, people did dance, but they were american so it was more entertaining to watch than anything.
eventually sam's friend isabella (well named, this woman is one of the most beautiful spanish women i have ever seen) came over and pulled me on to the dance floor.
soon sam and eventually the boys followed.
we danced well until 1am. 
it was fun, being there totally anonymous and able to just dance my little heart out.
of course people were watching from their tables and probably thought, just as i did,
'silly american thinks she can dance',
but dance i did.
finally we got home and despite being sweaty and exhausted we all stayed up to watch a movie.
on sunday we slept in, until noon, and were woken up by my friend justin's amazing piano playing.
i will only be here a few more days, and i'm trying to be as present as i can without missing it already. 
i love it here, and i love the people more than i ever thought i would...
and i'm pretty sure they love me too.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

my bones

"On first glance, this seems a nearly impossible task.  
Control your thoughts?  Instead of the other way around?  
But imagine if you could.  This is not about repression or denial.  
Repression and denial set up elaborate games to pretend that negative thoughts and feelings are not occurring.  
What Richard is talking about is instead admitting to the existence of negative thoughts, 
understanding where they come from and why they arrived, 
and then-with great forgiveness and fortitude-dismissing them.  
This is a practice that fits hand-in-glove with any psychological work you do during therapy.  
You can use the shrink’s office to understand why you have these destructive thoughts in the first place; 
you can use spiritual exercises to help overcome them.  
It’s a sacrifice to let them go, of course.  
It’s a loss of old habits, comforting old grudges and familiar vignettes.  
Of course this all takes practice and effort.  
It’s not a teaching that you can hear once and then expect to master immediately. 
It’s constant vigilance and I want to do it.  
I need to do it, for my strength.  
Devo farmi le ossa is how they say it in Italian: 
‘I need to make my bones’".
-eat, pray, love

Thursday, July 24, 2008


i need words
as wide as sky.
i need language large as
the longing inside.
and i need a voice
bigger than mine.
and i need a song to sing you
that i've yet to find.
i need you.
i need you.
i need you.
i need you.
to be here now.
to be here now.
to hear me now.
to hear me now.
-david crowder

who i am

it's weird, being in a new place where no one knows who i am.
i'm able to be the juli i want to be.
i am not covered by anxiety, by pain, by shame.
i am just me and i reveal my story piece by piece,
but mostly i just be.
it is surreal...
sometimes it's as if i'm outside of my body looking in.
i see this happy girl that is carefree, without worry, honest, and spontaneous.
i didn't know this juli existed.
kinda makes me sad that i didn't know she could exist,
and it's hard not to wonder what my life will be like if i choose to go back home to the states.
i'm already forgetting the faces of people back home...
their voices, their smells, their touch.
i wonder if they remember me clearly still,
if they think about me from time to time,
and i wonder if they will recognize me when i get home.
somehow i'm not even sure that i'll recognize myself.

their story

there are special moments in life when you know why you are exactly where you are.
i just had lunch with sam & bryce and heard part of their story...
on their 3 month honeymoon to the carribean some 10+ years ago they had the 'where do we want to be when we're older' conversation.
they decided they wanted to be right there...right in the carribean.
at one point they went by an island and they both just 'knew' that would be their island one day.
for the next 10 years they joked about the island and went back to visit every couple of years.
on one visit they heard that the land was being sold and that the islanders were getting worried.
their ears perked up and they began having discussions with friends on the island.
finally they heard the story of the island, the land, and its history:
back in the 1800's there was a wealthy white family who still kept slavery going 
(it was the last island to give it up)
one day a black, educated preacher arrived and began preaching on the island.
one of the rich, white daughters decided she wanted to hear this man and hid and listened...
eventually they fell in love and disclosed the affair to the family.
they were excommunicated from the strict catholic church and from the family for their intermarriage.
this well-educated black man and his wife eventually bought back some of the land from her siblings and is left it to her 6 children: 3 of which are christians and 3 who are not.
one of them, 'auntie annie', is losing her mind and her ruthless siblings are stealing her land from her for small sums of money.
the island is worth millions, if not more.
finally her only daughter stepped in and took over power of attorney to stop this from happening.
this daughter is shrewd, impatient, and leery of people wanting the land.
ironically, her name is grace.
on one visit bryce said that several times he and grace sat and tried to explain to auntie annie that he wanted to buy some of her land so that missionaries could come and vacation on the island.
finally she got up and went to the window with bryce in tow...
she showed him the family gravesite and said,
'this, this is my land. you go ahead and have that other land'.
they later found out that auntie annie's house was used as a harbor for missionaries as well.
funny how history has a way of repeating itself.
6 months later grace called bryce and sam and told them that her mother didn't want them to buy the land...
she wanted to give it to them.
11 acres of land...worth millions...just given.
and so, that's where they are.
they are working on signing papers and figuring out the rest.
it is an amazing story and the history makes it all the richer.
hearing it, i got chills.
and at one point i looked at both of them and got choked up.
i knew...i knew right then, 
this is why i'm here.
i came to hear this story.
and the best part is...
i've only been across the pond 12 days.
there are still so many stories to hear.

pretty places

some say it better.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

day nine and ten

yesterday i began my work in the mercy ships office.
i'm scanning all their old files from the past 10 years so that they can have some copies in the event of a fire or something.
it's terribly boring work, but i'm able to read and play online while i do it so it's fine.
the picture above is of the couple and their band mate that i'm staying with. 
last night one of the other guys that lives here, patrick, took me to the local grocery store and fixed dinner for all of us. he also bought me several things of chocolate and today i tasted the best dark chocolate i have ever had in my entire life! 
ahhh, i love switzerland.
my feet are still healing up and this weekend we should be going into the 'city' (it's still very small) and to the lake that is at the bottom of the mountains.
i'm enjoying the slower pace here in lausanne.
much like the author of 'eat, pray, love', i'm trying to pick a word for each of the places i visit.
so far london is: 
and lausanne is: 
in london people were constantly moving and buzzing around, even more so than what i think i experience in houston. 
(maybe houston would be TRAFFIC, ha).
here in lausanne people really try to have a balance of work and play.
even in politics they try to see both sides and really remain neutral yet involved.
there are so many more examples, but those are the easiest and best i think.
i am loving it here. 
i love the rest and the quiet 
(except for the cowbells and mooing outside in the fields).
i love the people who are so kind and generous.
i love the cool 65 degree weather.
it's just lovely...and i get another eight days of it! hooray!

AND i just had honey straight from a honey comb from the south of france.
yes, i love this place.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

lausanne, switzerland

day eight

so this is what i woke up to this morning.
you totally should be.
(you can click on the pictures to make them bigger too)
i think this might just be one of the most beautiful places on the planet.
the house is owned by mercyships and is one of their main headquarters i think,
and they have about 12 people living here.
the weather is cool since the mountains trap the cold air in and it also causes some really great thunderstorms which i'm really excited about.
i'm glad i've got plenty to look out the window and see too, since my feet are in pretty bad shape from all the walking i did in london.
(i actually took off a bandage today to find that my blisters have been worn off and it's creating some pretty deep wounds-no worries, they're taking care of me)
so i'm glad to just sit and reflect...and look at the pretty alps of course.
the couple i'm staying with are amazing.
they do some really interesting music: electro-pop, and they go into clubs and bars and 'bring the presence of God so people can taste it'.
they don't want to be categorized as Christian, but really do just want to stimulate conversation and...i dunno...perhaps i need to process it more, but something inside me tells me that what they're doing is amazing, even if i can't get my head wrapped around it.
the couple is made of up bryce who is from california and sam from from the south of france.
bryce has a shaved head and a looooong goatee plus an earring up in his cartilage. (he totally reminds me of my friend rodney from cali as well...maybe they're related)
sam is one of the most beautiful parisian women i've ever seen. 
she is thin and fit (with amazingly great arms-deanna, you would be so jealous) and short, fun dark black hair.
they are an interesting and complimentary duo and they are lovely.

in addition to all this, i've been reading this book 'eat, pray, love' by elizabeth gilbert that my friend deanna recommended, and it is changing my life.
the author begins by going through her divorce from her husband.
she actually comes to that revelation on the floor of her bathroom 
(a place i know well).
then she decides to do some traveling-coincidentally, all to places that begin with 'i':
italy, india, and indonesia.
as i traveled to and through london i read through italy:
she gained like 20+ pounds just eating, drinking, and enjoying learning italian.
she had a beautiful experience there...
and her story through her divorce/break up with her new boyfriend really resemble what i've been going through as well.
(there are way too many quotes to tell you, everyone should go read it)
after italy she goes to india to learn how to meditate, pray, find God.
i also find this similar now that i am out here in the quiet and in the mountains.
i met some really great people in the city and saw some beautiful things...
i realized a lot about myself and shared a great deal,
but i think it's harder to 'hear' God in the city...
and hearing God is something i desperately want to do right now.
i want to hear a 'still, small voice' and i'm hoping that doing some meditation of my own my make that a bit easier.
we'll see.
regardless, i've found that on this trip my soul is sighing.
the weight of a lot of the stuff i was carrying around before my trip has begun to be released and i am...relaxing into myself.
maybe it is hard to explain...i just know that something is different,
and i like it.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

day seven

the days are all starting to run together now...
(and i've only been here a week!)
i forget the date and what day of the week it is.
not to mention that i don't really have a clock other than my computer.
i've still got 'tomball time' as my listed time on the macbook,
but i've got another little clock on here that i change along with where i'm located.
right now it is 2:30am in lausanne, switzerland and it's 7:30pm in tomball...
we are worlds apart.

today shannon took me to get my first real english breakfast.
since i'm not a big meat eater, i had it veggie style:
beans, toast, sausage (kind of), a poached egg, tomato...
not your normal english muffin.
it was different, but i am proud to say i had it.
after that we ventured into greenwich village where i got to stand at the apex of the universe and see just where time came from.
i've asked the people i've met to 'show me the part of your city most tourists don't get to see', 
and that's exactly what we've done.
not only did i go to a real dive this morning for breakfast, but instead of seeing 'big ben', i got to see real time in greenwich.
very cool.
then i spent the rest of the day packing and taking buses, trains, planes all to arrive here in lausanne, switzerland.
i have got to say that this whole traveling thing is stirring me up quite a bit.
i have found out that i am terribly afraid of traveling alone-
i hate it. i go into a mini-panic.
as i finally made it to the last train, i found myself fighting back tears...
tears of missing home, tears wanting to be shed in sheer exhaustion,
but i didn't. 
i refused to cry until i knew i was safe with my new friends.
(and even then the desire to cry had pretty much passed)
i just knew that sometimes you just have to survive.
sometimes you don't get to be a little girl that needs taking care of.
today i was a big girl, and i did big things.
when i arrived in lausanne it was long past dark so i couldn't see anything outside as i traveled on the train, but as i looked out...
i knew that somewhere out there were the alps,
and when i woke up they would be there in the distance to greet me,
and would let me know they're glad i came to visit,
and glad i decided to be a big girl and take this trip.

Friday, July 18, 2008

day six

i've had trouble sleeping the last couple of nights.
mostly because we keep the windows open to let the cool breeze in, 
but london seems to never sleep, 
and so i'm awoken by the sound of honking cars and racing motorbikes.
today shannon and i ventured into the city to do some more work on sweet notions-
we're designing a work book for young girls and women.
she's a slave driver, that shannon hopkins.
we also went and saw the tate museum which is full of great modern art.
then we walked across the millennium bridge over to st. paul's cathedral.
we went to evensong and i found myself following perfectly along with the service-
(yay for being raised episcopalian)
shannon made a really good point as we strolled from the tate to st. pauls'...
the tate is free and accepts donations,
and yet st. paul's costs $16 to visit.
it was still a beautiful church and i'm thankful to have traversed the new to the old.
in addition, it was a drizzly day and i kept thinking, 
'yes, this is the london i've heard of'.
tomorrow night is when i jump on another plane and head to lausanne, switzerland.
i'm excited to wake up to the mountains.
i've loved london, but perhaps it's time to meet some new faces and hear some new stories.
and share a little more of myself.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

day two

day two:
shannon told me to get lost...
so i did. 
i didn't take a map at all, and that was totally okay.
i walked...
by the end, my feet were totally bloody and blistered,
and some of the parts of the city i saw really weren't that beautiful,
but the point was taken-i was shocked-all the anxiety i thought would be there around traveling london alone wasn't there.
i jammed to kevin's mix of 'david crowder' stuff and it was the first time that i've listened to jesus-music on my own. 
it was pretty neat having that as a background to all that i saw, and all the pretty pictures i took.
then we went and met with some other twenty something girls in the area that are doing 'the artist way' which is also a book that i'm doing that i think most people should do :) 
the girls were great and it was neat meeting with people closer to my age that are doing really neat things in the city.
plus, i really shared myself.
put it all out there on the table, and i think it was a really great moment for me.

day three:
helped shannon get ready for a meeting between a couple really cool groups. 
i met a guy named lee behar that works for a private foundation that hands out money to people like shannon. he's in his mid-forties and really affirms people that are doing some really different things, but he's also brilliant when it comes to business.
then he took shannon and i out to get 'a curry'.
i've never had curry and was a little hesitant, but it was really good!
everyday i get home so exhausted, but then i wake up and remember...
i'm in london.

day four:
spent the whole day seeing more of the city:
saw the national museum-van gogh's sunflowers were my favorite, mostly for the reasons he actually did the painting. (it's a secret, you'll have to figure it out yourself)
then we shopped around carnaby street (and when i shopped, i mean i looked)
i saw howies!!! that was pretty exciting, i love those people.
we went to the liberty which is a building in the tudor style.
it was beautiful and the inside looked like a cross between anthropolgie and real simple.
(yes deanna, i will take you there one day)
it was a beautiful day and was finished off by watching 'pride and prejudice' favorite.

day five:
last night i stayed up late reading fenelon's collection of letters 'let go'. 
if you have never read it and want some advice on suffering, i suggest you read it.
right now i'm sitting back in gastromica coffee shop drinking that italian hot chocolate that is more like pudding. i love it.
shannon and i are working on some more of my travel plans-
i go to switzerland this weekend and then maybe the taize community in france afterward.
then comes orkney with the jones',
maybe prague, karlsruhe, 
telford, greenbelt festival, and who knows where else.
we're also working on 'sweet notions' and more creative projects for me.
everyday i am being more and more undone.
i am learning how to let go of so many things...
people i held on to, habits i had, the 'self' that i wanted more than a free life with God.
i'm praying (something new for me).
i'm writing continually,
and reading as well.
i'm creating ideas for what could be back in the states,
or even what could be here for me in the UK...
we'll just have to see.

but i miss home.
i miss my family and i miss my communities.
but i'm really trying to be fully present to all that is here,
but also giving myself the grace to walk through pain and grief...
and that i don't have to have everything packaged and understood right now.
it's wonderful,
and i am so grateful to be here.
hallelujah. hallelujah. hallelujah.

Monday, July 14, 2008

day one

last week was one of the hardest weeks of my life.

ryan made it clear that it was time that he and i part ways,

and i was devastated.

i couldn’t get off the couch for about three days-

i answered no calls and i medicated myself by watching television (the only way i could stop myself from crying).

i retraced the words that filled the last conversation he and i had,

and i grieved...

mostly from the floor of my shower.

i needed to feel clean again,

but my shame and despair were too thick to be washed away by soap and water.

i had admitted to ryan that i was unwilling to allow others to help me-

i was afraid to trust, afraid to be vulnerable, afraid to try any harder than i already had,

but suddenly, in immense pain, i found that i was suddenly more willing than i had ever been in my entire life.

i had conversations, i read, i began to listen to what was going on in my heart.

it was becoming clear...

i was in desperate need of some time alone,

some time without ryan.

he and i have exchanged some emails and have shared some of the things we’d like to work on in our own lives, some of our fears, and some of the beautiful things we know about each other.

i can only speak for myself, but in this moment i am leaving feeling complete.

within a few days i was feeling more optimistic,

and although the pain i experience with his loss is still very real,

i am realizing that i have lost myself in my relationship with him.

there are so many things i could list here that i’ve realized, that i want to work on, that have changed within a short amount of time,

but the biggest things are:

there is space.

space for me to discover just who juli is and just who she wants to be.

i have also seen some patterns of behavior within other relationships-my mother, my old roommates-all places where i was withdrawn and playing the victim.

i was unable to see some of my responsibility and i was placing blame and punishment on those around me.

there is healing already beginning and change that i think may never have come had ryan and i not ended.

movement is happening and ryan and i are no longer like a wind-up toy that continues to run itself into a wall. we are both spending time discovering who we are and learning how to love ourselves so we can love someone else...

and that will be the hardest part of all this-

allowing him to possibly love someone else.

i cannot see hope in all of that now, but there are people around me who are hoping for me...

not that ryan and i would be back together one day, but that we would be exactly where and what God would have us to be,

and i have to believe that is the best thing for us.

i just have to.


on friday before i left for my ‘european adventure’ i was given a gift.

it was a thin box with a bow tied tightly around it.

i began packing for my flight late in the night and i was alone in my room when i finally opened my present.

i slid the lid off and before my head knew what i was looking at...

i was sobbing.

finally my brain caught up and i saw several multi-colored envelopes.

somehow i knew what they were and who they were from:

they were from my communities.

i read each one, crying mostly, but laughing loudly as well.

the first of the cards was from dr. galvin, my beloved therapist.

in it she gave me this verse:


“she gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her:

you are the God who sees me,

for she said, ‘i have now seen the One who sees me’.

that is why the well was called God-alive-sees-me spring;

it is still there, between kadesh and bered.”


much like dr. galvin’s own experience with this story,

i found myself crying before i really knew what those words meant to me...

what those cards, that wonderful gift, meant to me.

i have found that happening more often lately-my heart is traveling before my head,

it wasn’t something i intentionally tried to do, but is a wonderful reprieve from all my controlling habits.

the verse is special because i have found two things about myself:

1) that i am not sure that there is a God out there that loves me,

2) that i am loveable.

both to these are the root of what has affected all my relationship and something i am committed to working on.

that verse from genesis makes more sense right now-i can believe in a God who sees me and maybe one day i will believe the rest...that i am beautifully and delightfully made, but for now, to be seen is just enough.

the present was special because i felt seen by my community and blessed.

thank all of you that wrote me those special notes-it means more than any of you will ever know.


in addition to all this i was feeling some high anxiety about traveling.

this is the first time i have ever been alone and i am so very afraid,

but it is beginning to subside now that i am here in london getting comfortable with my friend shannon.

what i want most is to be a big girl.

i want to do big things and enjoy these very big people with their very big lives.

they are all doing and are such amazing people and i am humbled to be in their presence.

i want to soak in their stories and i want to be giving of myself as well.

thank all of you who are reading along as i travel.

i miss home, but i’m so thankful to be here.

i am blessed with wonderful parents who have graciously given me this gift of travel,

and i truly believe that my life will forever be changed by it.

thank you mom and dad,

and thank you my communities as well.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

made it

so i made it across the pond.
i'm on sensory overload and have so many things i want to write and say already.
it will be hard to keep up with all of them AND look at all the beautiful things around.
i miss home, though. 
i'll be here in london a week and then on to switzerland...
then the orkney islands.
i'm beginning to hear the stories of the people i'll be staying with-
they are amazing and i cannot wait to actually meet them.
i'll blog some more soon :)

oh, and it's 6pm and sixty-eight degrees.
i'm sitting in an obscure little cafe drinking italian hot chocolate so thick i think it might be pudding.
i am a lucky little girl.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

maybe there's a God above,
but all i've ever learned from love
was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya...
and it's not a cry that you hear at night,
it's not somebody who's seen the light,
it's a cold and it's a broken 

Saturday, July 05, 2008


ryan and i broke up tonight.
too much damage, too much pain, too much trying.

i think i'm most scared of waking up in the morning...
that feeling when you've just woken,
you have a faint, distant feeling of something being wrong,
but you can't remember.
and then you do.
you remember.
and it doesn't go away.

i don't know how many mornings like that i will have,
but one day i'll wake up and remember that i am alive,
and that everything will be okay.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

growing up

a conversation today...

karis: i can't do it.
me: why not?
karis: i'm not strong. i'm not big.
me: oh karis, believe me...i understand.