about abba's heart
What Inspired Me...
On a recent rummage through my grandfather’s basement, I stumbled across an old chest filled with childhood relics; Cabbage Patch Kids, Barbies, an ancient stack of grade school diaries…
A fourth-grade book report on ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ had left its impression and inspired me to keep yearly journals. I did so until the age of sixteen.
Hovering in a crawl space, I take a deep breath, crack one open and instantly transport back in time…
Today I had a math test. I hate math. I was nervous but I did alright. I hope summer comes soon. Maybe Pop will finally take us on that trip to Disney. This winter feels longer than last. Well, talk to you tomorrow! Bye!”
Desperately, I scoured for encrypted bread crumbs of a child prodigy but these monotonous scribbles held a single revelation: My uneventful inner life was good for shredding purposes only. I had nothing significant to say! (If the suspense is killing you…my family never embarked on that wishful summer vacation; or any vacation for that matter…)
Fast forward to 2015…
A couple of years after my husband and I moved to San Diego, I was invited to join the Lifestreams Organization (A Christian Women’s Leadership Collective). I’ve never felt a ‘part’ of…anything and being included in this private group of amazing leaders was the kind of prayer I’d long given up on.
You see, before surrendering my life to Christ, I’d accomplished much…but it was always me, working very hard…on my own. For years, I delved into the toxic professions of swimwear and bikini modeling. I posed for Playboy, Hawaiian Tropic, Venus Swimwear, Maxim and other countless fitness publications. These jobs satisfied my need for attention, flash and excitement, but the pay was far from Hollywood. For extra income, I embarked on another profession rife with illusion and fantasy. Armed with a pair of eight-inch heels and an unlimited spray tan membership, I dove into bikini modeling’s underbelly; the dicey, soul-sucking world of exotic dancing.
Despite the wads of cash rolling in, the work was far from fulfilling. The hardest part was connecting with and finding good girlfriends. Most female colleges saw me as competition to crush which made fostering deep and loyal friendships neigh impossible. I convinced myself settling for scraps of something was better than living with nothing.
After enduring various backstabbings over the years, I began to question my value as a person. I truly should’ve questioned my choice of friends but my social circle offered a limited, low-grade selection. Deep fears of isolation had me clinging to the noose of fake friends. Figuring I was destined for a life of unbalanced, one-dimentional relationships, I stopped hoping for more or searching for better. I settled.
When I gave my heart and life to Jesus, those ‘friends’ lost any interest in me. Callously twisting dull blades of betrayal, the retreat wasn’t a surprise but it still left my heart battered. The worst part was facing the fact that my great nightmare had morphed into HD reality; despite all the effort, people pleasing and compromising, I was still alone. This left me more hopeless than ever.
On my own, I worked to untangle the mess of my past without claiming it, praying one day God would send wise, supportive friendships---not to carry my burdens but to demonstrate a better way to hoist them. I needed wisdom, strategy and discernment but most of all—my weary heart needed love, appreciation and acceptance.
For a while Lifestreams stirred fears of rejection (on much higher level). I was older and had expectations of being much wiser. But without proper mentorship, it was difficult to trust my own instincts and this stifled me from really moving forward.
Lifestreams flaunted a plethora of amazing, talented women. Ladies exuding the kind of confidence I read about in the Bible but rarely saw in person. At least, not in church atmospheres…
I desperately wanted to know how these women did it and hoped a few would share their discovery of who they were and most of all, God’s plan for their life.
Then I encountered Lauren Hasson. With her warm smile and enthusiastic spirit, she championed the way, sharing secrets to her personal growth. This gorgeous, powerful leader started her days bowed in humility. With a coffee and Bible in hand, Lauren prayed to hear God’s voice. Then, she readied her pen to scribe the impressions God left on her heart, basing her belief on this scripture:
“My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27
With a face lit in excitement, Lauren encouraged us to listen; to patiently wait…and to hear what God was speaking to us, personally. Scanning the shelves of her library, my eyes searched for extra clues to her triumphant joy. Quickly, I noticed a whole shelf dedicated to private journals; priceless snapshots of quality time spent with her Heavenly Father.
Instantly, I was reminded of my rickety wooden chest stuffed with childish, cringy babblings lacking depth, purpose or insight. I couldn’t help but wonder…
How much heartache could have been spared if all those years…I’d journaled God’s impressions?
I had the pleasure of sitting under another Lifestreamer’s teaching which also brought some incredible understanding. Amy Stoher shared how she enjoyed God’s full authority, joy and abundance in the midst of trial. Amy also encouraged us to tap into intimacy with Abba, reminding us no matter how things appeared, Believers are seated in two realms; the world we see and our place in Christ (which is a heavenly place).
With lives marked with joyful passion and favor, it wasn’t hard to recognize both women enjoyed incredible, ongoing encounters with The Almighty. It reminded me of the things I read about in the book of Acts. This rocked my world because that old Baptist church preached encounters like these were reserved for the characters in the Bible; not three-dimensional people seen in everyday life…right here, right now!
Deep down, I knew Lauren and Amy were onto something…their beaming, joyful faces reflected excitement, sincerity and confidence. They held the missing keys religious doctrines left me desperately hungry for. Both women kept encouraging me. “Julia, God has the same inheritance for you!”
“For there is no partiality with God.” Romans 2:11
I’m so thankful I took a leap of faith and believed them! After pressing into God, I, too have experienced great intimacy, wisdom and revelation.
These devotionals are snapshots of my time with dear Abba. I’m so happy and honored to share them with you. Let me encourage you that if you press into Him, you too can experience the goodness of God reserved for those who love and honor Him.