Restless

This weekend I attended the women’s retreat with Forest Hill to Lake Junaluska. The title of the retreat was the same as the book by Jennie Allen (who was the guest speaker), “Restless.” I am still processing a lot of things, but wanted to share some takeaways!

  • You have a great responsibility to live out your calling because no one else has the threads of your life.
  • Holy means set apart, exclusively God’s
  • Every human has a threshold of threat and safety and everyone reacts high or low.
  • Say yes to the next step of you calling — it doesn’t have to be some big plan!

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Questions to ask yourself:

  • What are you made to do?
  • What keeps you from dreaming?
  • What are the 5 moments you have been most fulfilled?
  • What are the 5 darkest moments of your life?

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Solo Vacation at the Beach

This weekend, I went to Wilmington and Carolina Beach for my first vacation solo and it was wonderful. Here are some tips and things I enjoyed along the way:

Find a place to stay through airbnb or another local space. You can stay with someone local and have more of a connection with the people than staying at an hotel, plus you can get some real feedback about what to do/see/eat around town.

Go to a local coffee shop, get a drink and read the local paper. Get to know a place, find out about events/concerts and things going on while you are there.

Plan one thing you want to accomplish that day, anything else you get done is just bonus. My brother would tell us that during family vacation, and I think it is a good rule. That way you get something done, but you also can relax!

Strike up conversations on your way. Ask questions, or for recommendations, ask about how long they have been in town, etc. It’s fun and if you are traveling solo, it is the only way you will get interaction — you must create it!IMG_9911

Fill up

This fall has been the typical craziness for me. Between work, training for Thunder Road Half Marathon and volunteering, it has seemed non-stop.

First of all, Thunder Road with the Isabella Santos Foundation Dream Team was amazing. We ran miles together in preparation and by race day, we raised $33,000 for ISF. It was powerful running by Levine Children’s Hospital at mile 8 of the race and remembering our mission to #crushcancer. I am so blessed to have made friends and made an impact this way. Who knows what the next race will be for me (open to suggestions).

Operation Christmas Child is in full swing. It’s National Collection Week, so you still have time to pack a shoe box gift to impact a child’s life forever and show them the love of Christ. Make sure you go to a drop-off location near you by the 24th!

This week at church we had a women’s night featuring our pastor’s wife, Marilynn Chadwick spoke about breaking free from idols and one thing that really spoke to me was “Fill up on God, so you don’t have room for the junk.” What a gut check. Was I filling up on God first or was I filling up on other things?

The other point I loved from Women Under Construction, the speaker said her life’s mission is to help people wipe the mud from their eyes so they can see Jesus. What is your life mission? What are you working toward daily?

#crushcancer

Dear Friends and Family,
I am writing with exciting news: I’m currently training for my 4th half marathon (13.1 miles) this November! But this time…I’m doing it for more than just myself. I joined a running/training team (called the dream team) and am fundraising for the Isabella Santos Foundation (ISF). The ISF mission is to raise money and awareness for neuroblastoma research in the hopes of one day finding a cure. Isabella was 2 years old when she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma and passed away after battling the disease for 5 years in 2012. Isabella dreamed of a world with “No More Cancer” and the Foundation continues in her name, hoping another child will be saved through funds raised in her memory.

Neuroblastoma is a rare cancer of the sympathetic nervous system – a nerve network that carries messages from the brain throughout the body. It is usually found in young children and is the most common cancer among infants. Neuroblastoma has one of the lowest survival rates of all pediatric cancers and accounts for 15% of all pediatric cancer deaths.

Although I never met Isabella, I met Isabella’s mom, Erin, last year when I attended an ice-cream party for the patients of Levine Children’s Hospital hosted by the ISF. I saw Erin’s passion for fighting for a cure and knew I wanted to get involved. You can learn more about Santos family story at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzMoTCHEkJY. I am now training with Erin and community members that inspire me to run in the heat and humidity, not because it is easy, but because children like Isabella couldn’t quit things were hard.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and my goal is to raise $500 by the end of the month to turn awareness into action. You can donate online at http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/juliaesmith15/isabellaactionteam.

I will also donate all my profits from my Amway business in the month of September to the Foundation. No matter if you purchase laundry detergent or a light-up lipgloss, I will donate all the money I make to ISF. If you would like to purchase products, please visit http://www.amway.com/jsmith60.

Thank you for continually supporting me in all the opportunities I have been blessed to take part in. You are truly making a difference not only in Charlotte, but for families around the world as we fight to find a cure.

#crushcancer
Julie

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His bride

This summer has been very busy for me, I was in a wedding in July and I am in another one in September. It has been so much fun to shower my friends with love and to celebrate marriage. Although I am still living the single life, the wedding and bridal showers have allowed me to be thankful for the friendships I have and to remember the love that Christ has for us, His bride.

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How Do You Find the Time to Volunteer?

A friend and I were talking about the things we are involved with outside of work and she asked me, “how do you find the time to volunteer?” and “Why do you make time for all those things?”

I answered her sharing about my love for people and sharing Jesus, but it definitely got me thinking about why I do love serving others and being involved in several ministries in town. I found this letter I wrote 2 years ago:

Even as far back as sixth grade, I have always been into service. From Girl Scouts to church youth group, I volunteered constantly. When I eventually started college at Elon University, I automatically joined the Service Learning Community, doing projects several times a month. I also joined the service team of my Intervarsity Christian Fellowship chapter mainly because I felt qualified. As a sophomore I lead the Service Learning Community for the new freshmen, but I was not actually enjoying the service aspect.

Volunteering had always been something I’d done, so I figured it was something I should continue in college. But in continuing service almost as a default activity, I had grown bored. I realized I was missing the point of volunteering.

Thinking back to why I had originally started volunteering, all those years ago, I was able to reduce it back to its simplicity: it was out of love that I wanted to serve. It was because I could show the love of Jesus to people that did not know Him. As Mother Teresa once said, “Love cannot remain by itself—it has no meaning. Love has to be put into action, and that action is service.”

Once I had my head and heart back in focus on outreach, I began to love what I was doing again. I finally realized how my passions and my major could be used for the love of God. As a communications major, I loved to write, read and share about social issues that I’m passionate about so that others can make an impact.

Live Intentionally

This past month has been very busy – but what’s new? Life is constantly happening, bringing with it new challenges and victories. 

After experiencing the simplicity of life in Rwanda of worshiping God and then loving others as Christ loves us, I came back to my busy life in the Queen City with a sense that I need to slow down. I have always been the person who is over-committed with a jam packed schedule, but that is where I thrive. I know how to manage my time when I have very little free time…it’s when I have lots of free time that I start to become a sloth. 

Anyway, living intentionally has come up several times. I am trying to live with a purpose and make each interaction I have with people be a way that I can show Christ’s love to them. It is a hard thing to do, and I have been convicted of times that I have failed, but I like being reminded each day that I have a purpose and everything that happens, happens for a reason. 

A couple changes I have made in my schedule to help me stay focused on my goals and living intentionally:

Quiet times in the morning. Spending more time journaling, praying and reading Scripture. 

Working out in the morning. That way I have more flexibility and time in the evenings. This means though, that I am trying to get to bed earlier. 

Packing my lunch the night before. This gives me a few extra minutes for my quiet time. 

Listening to an audio daily. Stories of overcoming struggles and leadership principles (esp. Terri Savelle Foy, John Maxwell, etc) helps to keep you inspired and focused.