Will The Real Julie Please Stand Up?

It was the first time in my life I had ever experienced anything like it.  I used to be embarrassed to tell anyone that my birthday was coming.  I didn’t want to make them uncomfortable.  I didn’t want anyone to feel like they had to do something for me.  Most of the time I said nothing.

This year was different.  I was telling everyone about my upcoming birthday.  For the first time in my life I was celebrating ME.  I realized the great healing God had done. For not too long ago I was ashamed of who I was.  I believed I was a curse to the earth and to those who had to be in my family.

The most prominent words in my head for most of my life were “you are a problem who creates problems.”  I hated that.  I wanted it desperately to not be true.  I didn’t know who I was.  I knew what life had told me.  Will the real Julie please stand up?

As a child I loved watching the TV show, “To Tell The Truth”.  Three people sat before the panel.  Two were impostors, one was the real deal.  The panel would ask questions trying to guess which one was authentic. Sometimes they were able to fool the panel, other times they were not.  At the end of the questioning, the votes were tallied.  The announcer would then say, “Would the real Bill Smith please stand up?”  After a few minutes of deliberation as the impostors acted as if they were getting up, the real Bill would stand. The imitators were then exposed for who they were.

I lived my life trying to pretend I was something I was not… until one day…..

I heard the pastor’s invitation. “Take a journey into your soul”.  “Walk back into the archives and look for the true person dwelling inside.”  He spoke of the effects of life, of how there were two stories written on our lives.  One was the story satan had written.  The other was the story of God.  Which one were we living under?  One would take us away from our true identity, the other would take us into it.  Would we take the journey back?  He asked God to take those willing to go back into the original story of life as it had been planned.  He prayed that we would have dreams, visions and revelations.

It was the beginning of the end for me.

That next week I had a dream.  I was in a car with a young girl.  I was headed to New York with a stop in Washington DC.  I realized I was headed the wrong way so I turned back and headed south.  I took my checkbook but I had no money.  I knew the dream was significant.  I sat with God to ask Him what it all meant.

Washington, DC represents history.  New York represents new beginnings.  The checkbook revealed that I was willing to pay the cost to find my true life even though it felt like a risk.  Having no money was a revelation that I was empty of my own resources.  I could not pay my own way.  The child was me.  His words washed over me.  “Beauty restored.” “What was lost the destroyer tried to take.”  “But I am restoring you.”

It has been His way in me these last seven years.

The end of my resources was the beginning of life.  I could no longer strive.  It placed me on a road of new beginnings.  Without striving I became open to receive all that He would give.  The journey took me back into the archives of my history, allowing God to replace what I had believed with the truth of what He knew.  He revealed me as I was meant to be.

I saw that He was no longer the God of rules and regulations.  He was now the God of rescue and love.  He had known who I was all along.  My world opened as He became real to me in ways I had not known.

This past Tuesday, I was excited to tell of the day I was born.  I knew His delight of me.   Together we celebrated ME.

Beauty is rising out of the ashes of my life as God continues to make all things new.  This once broken-hearted woman is finding her true soul.  It is the story of God.  It is the story of me.  It is the story of us.  Will the really Julie please stand up?  She is.

©copyrighted: 2012, julie l. todd
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Relentlessly He Runs©

It has been several years now yet the memory still lingers in the back of my mind as if it were yesterday.  I can see his face, feel the shock, the frantic search, the reunion which placed his hand back in mine.

We were at the beach with our extended family.  We had finished dinner out and decided we would walk around the quaint town.  We were quite the crowd; children paired up with cousins, siblings interspersed throughout the assembly of adults.  I began to look around to do my usual child check.  Which of mine were with which adult?  One by one they were accounted for, that is until I called out his name.  No one had Samuel.

Panic doesn’t describe the moment of my discovery.  As the thoughts inundated my mind the world around me came crashing down.  Could someone have stolen my son? Where could he be?  He was only a small child.  What had happened to him, how was he not with us?  We all walked out of the restaurant together.  How could this have happened?

I don’t know that I have ever run as fast as I did that day.  I tried to remain calm as the fears crashed into my world.  I prayed that somehow, someway he was safe.  I hoped that in this little town no one could steal him.  I’m not sure I will ever forget that day.  I haven’t yet.

As we reached the parking lot we saw him.  He was standing beside our car, waiting to get in.  How does one relate the feelings of euphoria of finding one who was lost but is now found?  I’m not sure there are words in the vocabulary that do them justice.

Samuel had been lost from me.  Yet I had found him untouched, safe and sound.

I should have known that’s where he would be.  After all he was the child who went to the car without being told when it was time to go.  It wasn’t uncommon to find him sitting in his car seat, buckled in, ready.  It would have been the same this time had the car not been locked.  He had waited patiently for the rest of us to show up and unlock the doors. Somehow he had missed the crowd walking towards the middle of town.  He didn’t know he was lost. He thought he was in the right place at the right time.

I knew he wasn’t, so I ran.

My life resembles this in so many ways.  Sometimes I don’t know that I’m not in the right place, yet God knows. He sees what I am believing.  He runs to get to me, grabs my hand and pulls me back into that place where I have always belonged, to the truth of who I am.

He exposes the religious expectations for what they are.  He shines His light into the crevices of my mind exposing the lies of what I have been told and believed about myself. He tells me who He is and who He knows me to be.  When I am not where I was made to be, He comes to rescue me.

Samuel did nothing to be rescued that day.  He stood by waiting.  I came to bring him back.  I ran to him.  He took my hand and followed me.  We walked the path together.

I used to think it is I who ran to God, but the truth is I am beginning to see it is He who runs to me.  After all I love because He loved me first.

God runs to get to me every time I am not where I was made to be.  I am the Beloved of the Lord.  Until I grasp that, He will not relent.  It’s not just for salvation.  It’s more than that.  He constantly runs to me inviting me to live in the new identity that Jesus bestowed on me. I’m still learning what that looks like as He and I walk this together life.

His right hand extends to grab hold of mine..  In those moments I am made aware.  My God runs to me, relentlessly He runs.

©copyrighted 2011, Julie L. Todd

 

 

The whispers of God©

There are moments when everyone is sleeping here. Silence permeates the walls that hold up this house.  Normal, previously unnoticed sounds become prominent in my ears. Their magnification in the quiet makes me aware of their existence.  How often do I tune them out, I wonder?

I often look for God to come in the fanfare of life, yet most often His voice becomes most prominent in the quiet moments.  It’s easy to lose sight of that especially with the activities that abound around me.  Until it all becomes too much driving me to run for my life to a solitary place where He is found waiting.

Elijah understood that.  Life had brought him to desperate places.  Seems Jezebel had gotten wind of his activities and was not at all pleased.  She vowed to kill him within 24 hours.  He ran for his life ending up next to a broom’s bush in the wilderness asking God to just go ahead and let him die.  He had had enough.

An angel visited him bringing food for him to eat.  He ate, drank and went back to sleep. The angel brought food a second time, this time telling him to eat for the journey had been long and hard.   Elijah ate and was strengthened to embark upon a path that would take him forty days to Horeb, the mountain of God.  Desperate and feeling very alone, depressed to the point of wanting life to end, Elijah entered a cave on the mountain.  In the quiet of the cave, the word of the God came to him.  “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

A great and powerful wind tore through the mountain but God was not in the wind.  After the wind came an earthquake but God was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire but God was not in the fire.  After the fire came a gentle whisper, it was then the voice magnified in Elijah’s ears.  In that moment he regained new strength to carry on.

The desperate, empty places awaken my desperate need for Him to come for me.  It’s why I found myself sitting in the early hours of the morning.

Life’s been pretty intense here.  I guess that’s to be expected when you enter the work force after 24 years.  Especially in a doctor’s office where the wrong decision can cost a patient.  I found myself wondering what this life was all about, anyways.

Like Elijah I let it rip.

“God, I am surprised at where I am and what I am doing.  I would never in a million years have thought I would be where I am.  For this time, this season I am appointed at that office.  I don’t know what you are up to and how it will all work out.  We have needs that must be met.  I have no clue how that will happen, yet I trust you.  It’s what keeps me going.”

“I sit here in the quiet listening.  I want your glory to pass before me.  I want to hear you in the gentle breeze.”

“In some ways it feels like the days before Christmas.  There’s an anticipation of the gifts that will be opened, shared and received.  I feel that expectancy here, God.  We are ripe to accept what you have to give.  It gives me comfort to know I cannot figure it all out.  It’s up to you.  There’s something in that realization that brings a sense of relief. It’s up to you, now.  I feel the winds of change coming. Where will they take us, I wonder?”

In the quiet His whispers met my heart.

“You are mine and I am yours, don’t forget that.” “It matters.”  “Know that I could never leave you or forsake you.”  “For we are woven together as one.”  “We are one flesh.”  “You have all of me.”  “You are as much a part of me as I am of you.”  “We can never be separated.” “We are glued together.”  “Where you go, I go.”  “Stay alive.”  “Don’t give up hope.” “I will never abandon you.”  “You matter to me greatly.”  “Don’t forget I moved heaven and earth to come for you.”  “I will never, ever let you go.”  “Your needs are ever before me.”  “I am fully aware of each one.”  “I will meet you there.”  “Wait for me.” “Look for the gentle whispers of life.”  “I am there, always there.”

The voice of God passed before me, reviving my soul, renewing my strength.  I am my Beloved’s and He is mine.  It is enough.  I am up walking waiting to see where this path will take me, knowing fully well that I do not go alone.

©copyrighted:  Julie L. Todd, 2011

 

 

 

 

The house that crumbled ©

There was a man who built his house upon the sand.  When the rains came and the winds blew, the house came tumbling down.  Another man built his house upon the rock.  When the storms hit, his house stood strong.  I heard the story as a child. I thought it was about salvation only.  As my eyes are being opened to true grace, I am seeing through different lenses now.

The story of my life goes something like this….

I used to take care of everything.  It was easier that way.  I tried to make myself acceptable. I didn’t want to burden anyone. I worked hard to be righteous, crossing my religious t’s and dotting my i’s. I wanted to be pleasing.  I wanted to be the best dead in Christ.  Self-effort and control were my constant companions. I didn’t realize they were enemies of grace.

The storms came….. my house crumbled.  I discovered something.

The house built on the sand is a life built on religious striving, the old man dressed up. The house built on the rock is the life of Christ lived in me, the new nature put on.

I had built my life on a faulty foundation.  I was living in an accessorized, religious flesh trying to do and be better.

There’s a fine line that can be crossed in this Christian world.  Too much emphasis was put on behavior in the circles I traveled. When the winds of hard times came, things began to fall apart.  The questions found their way up.

I had embraced theologies that told me I must have done something to deserve what was happening. It must be some sin or disobedience.  I wanted to fix whatever I had done to get out of the mess.

Humans are predictable people with inconsistent lives.  It’s easy to look at what is happening and make evaluations.  I didn’t know how to look at the nature of the One who breathed the world into existence.  I assessed things wrongly.

I attributed God to the things I saw, felt and didn’t understand.  I tried to make sense of it all and couldn’t.  I struggled to trust in His nature because I was so prone to look at His behavior. I made God like me.  I thought He looked at things the way I did..

His nature has been misrepresented since the serpent approached the two in the garden. It’s why Jesus came you know….  He came to show me the true heart of the Father, to restore His name, His heart.  What He lived with the Father is my reality.

He formed the world with a word.  Nothing was left untouched or unthought of.  Everything necessary for life was given.  Beauty for my eyes to behold, foods that delight the tongue, warmth from the sunshine, melodies that awaken the ears.  Why would He go to so much trouble to prepare the earth for my existence and then abandon me in my darkest hours?

His nature has been the same since before the world began.  It will never change. Never. He whispers words of love. He paints pictures in the skies.  All creation shouts of His glory. He is the most consistent person I will ever know.  He is the same yesterday, today, forever.

Circumstances will never dictate His nature.  They expose the footing on which my house is built.  They bring to light who I depend on, who I trust, what I believe. He allows the house on the sand to crumble for it is the only way to be rescued from a foundation that will never hold tight.  He is the great lover of my soul.  He moved heaven and earth to come for me.  He comes even still, every day.

Life is full of ripening moments of rescue.  He walks out on the waters of stormy seas to get in the boat with me, speaking out to say “peace, be still”..  If He tarries it is because the perfect work is being completed.

I wouldn’t trade what He’s done in my life for anything.  The winds came, the rain fell, the house built on the sand of my religious efforts crumbled….and it was good.

A new foundation began.  This time it is His to frame.  No one builds quite like Jesus.  He was a carpenter for many years you know.

He and I are interwoven together as one.  I wait in expectancy to see what is on the horizon for me. He has walked into the storms to save me.  I place all my weight in His Sovereignty, knowing, though He is unpredictable in what He does.  He is the same today, tomorrow, and forever.

©copyrighted: 2011, Julie L. Todd

*I am attaching two-part video that have a beautiful revelation of God’s heart.