Julia speaks to us today about the power of words, what her season of loneliness taught her, the person in scripture who shows us you have a purpose regardless of what is in your past, and how God answered an “impossible” prayer.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: Galatians 1:3 has been on my heart SO much lately! It says, “Grace and peace to you from God our father and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
It’s so cool to me because Galatians is one of Paul’s greatest rebukes to the church in Galatia. In this letter, he rebukes them for following false prophets and accepting false gospels as the truth, when the only true gospel is Jesus’. But what astonishes me is that he doesn’t start his letter pointing fingers, or rubbing in their face their faults and sins. No! Paul begins with a blessing; he showers them with love and mercy. How would our lives change if we began our conversations thinking Galatians 1:3? What would our relationships look like if we put aside our pride and feelings of superiority and looked at people through Jesus’ eyes?
How would the world change if we choose to use our words to inspire instead of tear down? I guess what God has been showing me lately is that it never hurts to be kind. It won’t kill me to speak life instead of destruction. Our words have the power of life and death— use them wisely!
“It won’t kill me to speak life instead of destruction.”
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: Vulnerability moment: I’ve always struggled with praying in front of others. I love praying. I love talking to Jesus as if He is sitting across from me and just venting all of life’s frustrations and asking for wisdom. But for some reason, if someone asks me to pray in a group, I panic. I freeze up and this terrible anxiety just shoots through me. I realized that this is huge flaw of mine, because God calls us to pray for each other. (James 5:13, 16, 1 Timothy 2:1, Romans 1:9, and so much more!!) So, lately I have been praying that God helps me to have confidence to pray in public. It’s definitely not easy, and I’m pretty sure so far I have failed more than I have succeeded.
But, you know what’s so great? “…And this is the confidence we have, that if we ask anything according to His will, He will hear us,” (1 John 5:14) and He will answer. I continuing asking God for this confidence knowing that I have already received it (1 John 5:15), that I already have the victory. God is good, friends.
Profession: Currently a Junior at the University of Central Florida. I’m double-majoring in Hospitality Management and Restaurant & Foodservice Management! I’m also interning at a Marriott Hotel to gain some experience in the industry.
A one sentence bio of yourself: Just an ordinary, Disney-obssessed, Jesus-loving girl stepping out her comfort zone for His kingdom and glory.
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? Oh, this is a funny story! When I was four-years-old I asked my dad about Hell. He took out his Bible and started reading descriptions of Hell; what it would be like, the eternal pain and suffering, the separation from all things good and beautiful, how stinky it was going to be…and so of course four-year-old me freaked out. My dad told me that I didn’t have to worry though because there was this guy and His name was Jesus. My dad said it was like being in the middle of the ocean during a hurricane; your whole life is falling apart, your head is underwater, and you don’t know when you’re going to take your last breathe, but then Jesus… Jesus comes on this boat, and He throws you a life-saver and brings you to safety. Jesus wanted to be my friend. He wanted to walk with me through the hardest seasons in my life. So, that evening, in my dad’s office, I encountered God and from then on my life was never the same.
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? I’m kind of in between seasons right now, but in the last season, the answer would definitely be solitude. Last summer, in the span of 4 short months, my whole life was turned upside. My dad got a new job in Orlando, my whole family packed everything up and moved, including myself, and I felt absolutely and completely alone in a brand new city. I settled into a new routine almost immediately with school and work and trying to find a new church where I fit in, but inside I was so lonely. I was craving community, but everywhere I looked I ended up realizing I was alone. Until I realized that I wasn’t alone. This whole time Jesus was with me. It was in the solitude that I found my Best Friend. I found my worth. I found my Satisfaction, my Fulfillment, my Everything. Sometimes, God sends you through a season of loneliness so you can realize that the only person you truly need in life is Him.
“Sometimes, God sends you through a season of loneliness so you can realize that the only person you truly need in life is Him.”
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): So, I just finished reading this book in Portuguese (any other multicultural sisters out there?) called “Feito para Durar” by Ricardo Agreste. I’m not one to enjoy reading relationship advice books, but this is one that I definitely wish was in English, so I could recommend it to all my friends. It’s all about cultivating long-lasting relationships in a disposable culture.
The biggest lesson I took away from the book (although if you take a look at the pages I’m pretty sure every single page is highlighted at least three times in multiple different colors) is that it is impossible to take two completely different people—who were raised differently, who live differently, who see the world differently—and put them together to make one life. It’s humanly impossible; there are just too many obstacles, too many challenges to get through. But with God all things are possible, and it’s only with and through Him that you can create a long-lasting relationship.
Top three essentials: Boba Tea, Disney, and lots and lots of cute notebooks and colorful pens.
How did God speak to you recently? I used to hate this question when I was younger. I would have friends come to me and be like “Oh, God said this to me” and “God spoke clearly to me,” and I would never understand how people knew without a shadow of doubt that it was God. I guess you could say I’m a woman of little faith. (“I believe, now help me in my unbelief.” Mark 9:24) But this past year, I have learned how to hear God’s voice. The most recent event I can think of where God spoke to me so clearly that I knew I had to move (quite literally) was last summer when my dad lost his job and the possibility of moving from Miami, the only life I had ever known, to Orlando came up. I had everything planned out. I knew what university I was going to, I had been able to stack multiple scholarships so I was basically going to school for free, it was perfect. And then I had to scramble to try and get accepted into a school in Orlando because I wasn’t about to stay alone in Miami. I got accepted to UCF, but there was one problem. I had missed all the scholarship deadlines, so I had nothing to help out with the cost. So, I got on my knees and said to God, “God, I will only move to Orlando if you get me a full-ride there.” (I said this because even though I didn’t want to be alone in Miami, I didn’t want to move even more. Since I knew it was impossible to get a full-ride at this point, I thought I had solved my own problem, but boy was I wrong).
Looking back, God probably laughed at my prayer. And when I say laughed, I mean in a you-have-no-idea-what-I’m-about-to-do kind of way. A month later I see an article in the news that Florida’s governor had just signed a bill making the Florida Bright Futures (a state merit-based scholarship I qualified for) cover 100% of a student’s tuition in any state school. When I read that, I literally cried. I knew it was impossible to scrounge up all that money less than two months before school started, but with God nothing is impossible. He made a way where there was no way, and I just knew that He had a purpose and a calling for me in Orlando, so I just had to move. Every time I think of this story, I get goosebumps because it just reminds me that God is so real and that He is listening—we just need to cry out.
“I knew it was impossible to scrounge up all that money less than two months before school started, but with God nothing is impossible.”
Hobby: Bible journaling! I will admit I used to do this more often before school started getting harder (don’t due dates just seem to approach faster the harder classes get?!), but I still try to always find time to doodle a little something in the margin of my Bible whenever I read. I love seeing God’s Word come to life with washi tape, paint, and GLITTER !!
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong: First, talk to Jesus like He is your best friend. You get excited about something? Tell Him. You’re upset? Tell Him. You need to vent? Go to Him. You don’t need to be formal. You don’t have to know all the right words, and sometimes, you don’t have to talk at all. Imagine that He is sitting across from you, and just talk. Tell him your feelings, your doubts, your dreams. Laugh with Him, cry with Him, and let Him be there for you. Reach as quickly and as frequently to Jesus as you do for your phone.
Second, find your tribe. I know that sounds so cliche, but it is the core of Christianity. We are not meant to live this life alone. We are meant to share each others burdens and victories. We are meant to love one another. We are meant to help and serve each other. We are meant to build each other up, and rebuke when necessary. Find a group of friends, or even just one friend who you can count on to keep you accountable, to encourage you, to be firm with you when you need them to. And then be that person for them. Always point each other to Jesus. Keep your eyes fixed on Him together.
Finally, look for Jesus in everything, and then thank Him. The sky is the most beautiful harmony of bright yellows, deep purples, and bold reds? Thank Him for taking the time to paint that spectacular canvas. You’re rushing through your busy day but end up being at the right place at the right time to see Him move? Thank Him for guiding you there despite being so focused on getting through your day. Stop and smell the roses… and the daises… and the sunflowers. Cultivate the habit of being grateful and seeing the beauty in routine. Whether your cup is half-full or half-empty, be grateful that you have a cup. (This is definitely a lesson I’m still working on, and I am FAR from perfecting it, but when I look at the world through God-colored glasses, I start to see miracles around me. And what better way to keep you spiritually strong and focused on God than witnessing little blessings every day?)
“Find your tribe.”
Favorite person in scripture? Oh! Definitely Ruth. I’m a hopeless romantic, and Ruth is always my go-to book when I’m wanting a little ‘fairytale’ to make my heart happy. God’s fingerprints are all over Ruth’s story. There is no doubt that He was at work, the entire time. I admire Ruth so much, because she is a woman who has experienced great loss and pain—yet has remained faithful no matter what. She found her strength in God.
She didn’t let her past hold her back. She was a Moabite, so she had a bit of a reputation. She lost her husband. Just so much heartache and things that could hold her back, but she believed that there was life still to be lived and she moved forward in confidence. (You have a purpose regardless of what lies behind you). She was so full of faith. Faith that there is a purpose ahead. Faith to believe that God is who He said He is. Faith to believe that God will provide. Just faith, faith, faith. She valued great character. (Character is who you are when no one is watching). She went above and beyond what was expected of her. She left her home to go with her mother-in-law. Then she worked hard and honestly. She had integrity. She believed that redemption was possible.
God took a poor, hurting outcast and healed her, provided for her, and brought her a great love with Boaz. If redemption was possible for Ruth, redemption is possible for you. God has a plan that far surpasses where you’ve come from and what you have been through.
There is no limit to what God can do through you. Ruth always teaches me that no matter what your season may be, remember that God is at work in your life. He is weaving a beautiful tapestry! It is not finished, but it is in progress. God works for the good of His people, always!! (*hopeless romantic alert* Can we talk about Boaz?! He appreciated the journey and pain that Ruth had overcome. He was capable of handling her heart gently and patiently. He did whatever he could to not cause more tears than what she’s cried from her past. Like, goals.)
“God has a plan that far surpasses where you’ve come from and what you have been through.”
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? I want people to look at me and learn about God’s never-failing, all-consuming, sin-forgiving, and eternal love. I want to live my life in such a way that I am reflection of Him and all that He is. (“God is love.” 1 John 4:8)
Favorite season? So… Florida doesn’t really have seasons… It’s always hot and humid, except for two days in December where it reaches 70 degrees and all us Floridians pull out our winter wardrobe (which consists of one, maybe two, long-sleeve shirts, jeans, and tennis shoes. Though we feel like we need gloves, hats, and scarves to endure the brutal 70s). But, if I close my eyes and imagine that I live in a different state that has actual seasons, I think I would really enjoy fall. It just sounds so magical. Watching green leaves turn into reds, yellows, and browns. Seeing them float off tress to the ground, and then crunching on them as you walk down your driveway. The weather also sounds pretty nice, not too cold and not too hot.
On the other hand, Florida is pretty great with it’s year-long summer and the opportunity to go to the beach, well, always!
Favorite holiday? “It’s the most wonderful tiiiime of the year.” Definitely Christmas! I would keep the house decorated all year long if my mom let me. The smells, the songs, the Hallmark movies, everything abut the Christmas season is just better. People are friendlier and helping each other out. So. Many. Yummy. Desserts. It’s Jesus’ birthday. It’s just so magical!
A dream you have? If you ask anyone in my family you would here that I have a new dream almost every month, or sometimes every week! (I’m just a little indecisive). My latest dream was to open a YouTube channel to encourage others. So, I did it! My goal is to use this channel to encourage people; to help you and random strangers who stumble across my page to find peace, joy, and full contentment in Jesus Christ. I want to be real, and I want people to find freedom to be real as well. I want to encourage others to change the world for His kingdom and glory. (If you want to check my channel out it’s Jewels from Jules. Or follow my Instagram page to get updates on new videos and see encouraging posts: @jewelsfrom_jules)
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: Ever since my brother and I could talk, my family started this ‘tradition’ where anytime someone in the family cooked a meal for us we would thank them. So, basically the phrase goes like this: “Thank you *insert name of who cooked* for this delicious food,” and we all say it at the same time. We still say it until this day, and it’s just really fun and cute and really taught us how to be grateful for those who work hard to prepare meals for us. (We occasionally say it at other people’s houses too, and it’s so cool to watch our friend’s faces light up with surprise!)
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? “Jesus, can we go look at Earth from outer space? Please?” I know, I know. You’re standing before the One that has all of life’s answers, and all I want to ask is to go to outer space. But it has been a dream of mine, since I was little, and I think it would be so cool to be floating through space with Jesus and He’s calling all the stars by name and telling me about the day He shaped the planets in His hands. It just sounds so cool!
Thing you want to raise awareness about: I definitely want to raise awareness on mental health and the freedom you can find from your anxiety and depression through Jesus Christ. I struggled with severe anxiety and panic disorders for most of my life, and I always felt like that was just how life was—that there was no escaping the monsters inside my head. Until someone told me to open up to Jesus, and to ask Him to help me. The freedom you feel when you open up your heart to God is probably the best feeling in the world. You can hear your chains breaking. You can see the burdens on your shoulder melt into the hands of your Creator. I felt that peace. I felt that liberation. And I want others to feel it too. “Cast your cares (anxieties, worries, troubles) on Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
What do you usually do before 9 a.m.? It usually depends on the day of the week. If I have to be at school or work before 9 a.m., I just get up, get ready for the day, grab a cup of coffee and I’m off. But on days that I don’t have to be on campus or at work, I wake up, drink some coffee, read the verse of the day on the Bible app, scroll through Instagram (gotta be honest, am I right?), and then go back to the verse of the day and read the whole chapter to see if anything else stands out.
What is on your nightstand? My alarm clock, whatever book I’m reading at the moment (currently “O Discípolo” by Juan Carlos Ortiz), a pen and a highlighter, and a hair-tie.
Define Christianity in a sentence: Come as you are, and leave as you have never been before.
For more Julia:
YouTube: Jewels from Jules
Until next time, keep witnessing!