Sunday, June 24, 2012

Standing Where You Can See Me

This week I have to go somewhere I don’t want to go. 
It is one of those places that I keep thinking if I don’t go then maybe reality will not slap me in the face like I am sure it is going to do. 

My ballet teacher, Mr. Peter, died a few weeks ago and this week I have to attend his memorial service.
I am having a hard time dealing with his death because I don’t really want to admit that he is gone. 
I am having a hard time dealing with this death because his life was so important to me. 
If you were ever part of a team or anything like that then you can understand the role this man played in my life. For years and years I saw him everyday, sometimes more than I saw my parents. And that sort of role in your life, makes an impact. Leaves a mark.
One of the unique things about Mr. Peter (and there were many) was that he was blind in one eye.  If you were not standing in the right spot then he couldn’t see you. Saying that I was always very aware of what side of him I was standing on would be an understatement.  I spent most of my adolescence trying to stand in the right spot, so that this man would see me. And see how hard I wanted to succeed.  
Sometimes I know I would get worked up trying to get his approval. 
I wanted to make him proud of me.
I wanted his praise.
“ Can you see me? Am I standing where you can see me?”- I asked him this question nonverbally day after day.
And the funny thing is that as I look back on it now, I know he was answering me. Just not in the way I thought I wanted him to.
I wasn’t standing where he could see me when I pitched a fit because I didn’t get a step down right. Or when I didn’t get the part I wanted. Or when I was frustrated. Or petty. Or just playing around.
But when my dad lost his job and we couldn’t pay for ballet lessons anymore, he let my mom sew costumes and didn’t charge me tuition.
What he was really whispering to me was:
“Julia, I can see you. You are standing where I can see you.”
And when I had to have brain surgery. And I was so weak afterwards, I thought I wouldn’t dance again. He let me come take a lower level class even thought I couldn’t get through the barre exercises.
What he was really saying to me was:
“Julia I can see you. You are standing where I can see you.” 
And when I got too frustrated to take that baby class anymore. And he let me take a older class even though I wasn’t ready.
What he was really shouting to me was:
“Julia I can see you. You are standing where I can see you.”
I hope that you have someone like that in your life. A person that  never ceases to see what your heart really needs.  A person, who even with only one good eye, is never blind to what was really important. 
Oh Mr. Peter, I will miss you! I can’t even begin to be able to understand why you had to die. But I know why you lived. And I am thankful for every minute of your life that I got to be a part of. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

So I am moving to Asheville

The Adventure Continues....
For I am About to do Something New~ Isaiah 43:19

At the beginning of February I found myself in a place of semi-desperation.  I knew God was calling me to some other challenge. To something new. But I kept encountering dead ends. Until one night I literally stumbled on to a webpage (Honestly I  was looking for something else) for a house for minor domestic sex trafficking victims in Asheville, NC called Hope House.  In the weeks that followed, after many conversations with them and after LOTS of prayer, they have asked me to come on staff as one of the Resident Directors.  I will live at the house, but unlike at Heartlight I will have mornings and weekends off.
It will also be a lot smaller, as only four girls can live at Hope House at a time.  However, the therapeutic journey will be a lot more extreme and difficult  because of the traumatic experiences these girls have been through.  If you are interested to know how you can help me or the girls at Hope House please email me at Also take a look at their website:

 The Sale of American Children
12-14 years old is the average age of entry into pornography and prostitution.
100,000 to 300,000 children in America are at risk for sex trafficking each year.  
In the U.S., the sale of child pornography is a $3 billion annual industry  
55% of the child pornography on the Internet comes from the US                                                                             There are less than 50 beds available in the U.S for victims.

I am really excited about this next chapter of my life and I am humbled about what God is doing. I will try to  continue to post periodically (maintaining a high level of confidentiality) about what  is going on in the next season. Please keep me in your prayers as I embark on this new journey. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Stand Where I've Stood

Recently, I have been wearing these shoes. They remind me where I have been.

When I was in college I went on two mission trips to Huancayo, Peru.  On the first trip I wore theses shoes. I wore them up and down mountains, in cities and through countryside, in different airports and on a large bus that I was a little afraid I might not get off of.  But the most significant place I wore them was to a orphanage.  When I walked through those orphanage gates, my shoes looked different. They did not have bright red laces. Those came later. They had black ones.

We spent most of that day  playing with children of all ages at the orphanage. That's what I remember anyway. I also remember this little girl who had trouble running and keeping up with the other kids. At first I couldn't understand why. She didn't seem to have a disability of any sort.

And then I noticed her shoes. In the place where her laces should have been, there were only pitiful thin pieces of twine. Barely holding her shoes together. My shoes felt snug and tight on my feet. I could run for miles, but she struggled to run a few feet without her shoes flopping around and tripping her up.

The missionaries had told us to be careful about just giving things away. That we should ask someone before we gave something away to be sure that no one took advantage of us. I didn't even think about this warning as I knelt down beside the little girl and started unlacing my shoes. She sat down next to me and caught on pretty quickly to what I was doing. She chatted excitedly to a friend near her, pointing and gesturing as I looped those shoelaces into her shoes. She didn't seem to care at all how dark and black my shoelaces were. She was just over-joyed that the key to running and climbing and keeping up with the other kids was being laced and tied into the eyelets of her worn shoes as she sat waiting.

And as all giving should, this giving left a void.  This giving was a sacrifice.  I now had no shoelaces, in a third world country where they are harder to come by then you would think. Later that afternoon, a few members of my team and I had to go tromping around downtown to try and find me some new laces (this was my one pair of tennis shoes). We went in shoe store after shoe store.
"Shoelaces?" We asked.
And storeowner after storeowner shook their heads.
Finally, in the last store on a row of stores, an older man opened a large bag and pulled out a pair of bright red shoelaces. Being a Georgia Bulldawg and a "Red" at summer camp, these did not bother me in the least. And I have not changed them since.

When I look at these shoes they remind me that giving should alway be a sacrifice, that even if you have to look for it, provision comes if you trust God, and your shoes can tell a story as well as change a life.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The One Where My Arms Fell Off.

So for about two and a half weeks, I have been doing fitness bootcamp twice a week. This paid for torture takes place at 8:30 in the morning (on my day off nonetheless) in a park.  When I started this it was a way to hurl me into getting back into shape. And it has been really good. I feel better, I am sleeping better and I really enjoy I am driving away.

The Masterminds behind boot camp definitely perfected the art of trick exercises. Trick exercises don't look that hard when the instructor is demonstrating them, but after the 515th repetition you regret all the times you sat on your couch and laughed at the people on The Biggest Loser.

This week the thing that has made boot camp difficult, actually has very little to do with boot camp itself. This difficulty is brought to you by the lovely people at Food Network Magazine and arrived in my mailbox yesterday.
The Chocolate issue?!?! Seriously? Right now? When I am in the middle of 6 weeks of torture during which my trainer yells things like "DON'T SABOTAGE ALL YOUR HARD WORK BY EATING BADLY!"

The second thing that made boot camp difficult today was the weather. So far I have had it pretty easy with the mild winter we have been having. Even though my boot camp meets pretty early it hasn't been that cold. Recently I have been able to peel off most of my layers before the end. But this morning was different. 

This is what I saw when I got in my car this morning (after I cracked the frost off the door):

And the good news was that by the time I got to the park, the temperature gauge looked like this:

And this is how I felt about the whole experience:

Oh boot camp! One day I will love you. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Older Than William Junior

My Family has had a complicated and somewhat tortured history with Christmas Cacti.

For years the Clarke's had a Christmas Cactus that had been passed down for years, we called it the "Legacy cactus". It was huge. It was beautiful. It was "older that William Junior" (My Grandfather).

See My family is different than other families. We do not take pride in purchasing a new Christmas cactus every year, watching it bloom and them moving on to other seasonal plants. Oh No! the Clarkes take pride in nurturing a plant until it is literally overflowing its pot. We offer pieces of it to our neighbors. We marvel over its beauty at family functions. We consistently remark that it is "older than William Junior".

Unfortunately, my grandmother somehow managed to kill the Legacy cactus. We are not really sure how she did this as cactus are pretty low maintenance. My mother thinks she must have left it outside during the frost. All in all the family was outraged. How could this have happened. But years have past (I'm not sure how many but it has been 17 years since my grandmother, herself passed, so it has been a while).

This year at Thanksgiving we were admiring my aunt's Christmas cacti as they overflowed their pots in the hallway. My mom asked if any of them came from a piece of "the Legacy cactus". "No."my aunt remarked, obviously disgruntled. "I still haven't forgiven her for killing that cactus. It was older than William Junior you know!"

So last year when I rescued this scrawny Christmas cactus from the grocery store I work at, something innate in me woke up. Maybe I had dreams of one day being able to say "That Cactus is older than Jody's oldest boy Clyde and he will be 63 this March!". But for a while it appeared that my Christmas cactus dreams would never be reached. Buds did not appear between Thanksgiving at Christmas. A customer who came through my line at the grocery store told me that you have to keep them outside for a few months during the summer for it to bloom (how in the world does it know that it is outside?!).  But as the New Year dawned my cactus has sprouted and blossomed. SO while it has been a late bloomer it has been worth the wait.

The other day my sister and I were skypeing with my other sister, our parents and her little boys. I proudly held my Christmas Cactus in front of the camera so they could see it's vibrant flowers! They praised me and my cactus and I felt tied to the generations of my family who had loved and nurtured cacti of years past.

 I like that I could be starting new family traditions. I like that I could have a legacy to pass on. I like that even though my grandmother successfully killed one of the harder plants to kill the frost could not kill this quirky aspect of my family that makes us unique. And  I like that while there is no longer a cactus that is "Older this William Junior" this story is and that makes me smile.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sweetening The Pot

Okay Friends I am willing to make a deal for those of y'all who have waited this long to get Christmas presents ( and believe me I am by no means finished with my Christmas shopping either). If you buy something from Sew Sew Lovely before December 17th and use the coupon code FREESHIPPING, you will get exactly that- free shipping! (And you will receive your item before Christmas)

So why not wrap up one of these beauties for someone you love? You can check them out here.

If bags aren't what you are looking for I have other options for you.  My sister also has an etsy shop and is running a procrastinators sale. Enter the coupon code SantaBaby and receive 25% off of anything in the store. Here is a peak at some of the items she has right now.

You can visit her shop by clicking here.
Just looking out for you this Christmas friends. Just looking out for you.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Vicious Library Cycle

The Library and I are stuck in a problematic cycle of sorts.

I LOVE going to the library. I fill my arms with tons and tons of books and I am always in awe that I just get to take them home with me. They don't need money in exchange for those literary gems, they don't need blood, or any other sort of collateral I could think of. All they have to do is swipe my card and I get to walk through those doors with all the books I can carry.

SO what is the problem? Oh I will tell you my friend!  Every few weeks I go to the library, check out way more books than I can read during the two or three weeks I am allowed to have them and I spend those weeks immersed in literary bliss. Eventually the inevitable happens. I misplace something I have checked out from the library. It doesn't make sense that this would happen, I live in a two bedroom apartment, but it does. Now the library seems docile and giving when you are checking out books but Oh how it rears its ugly head when you fail to return something!

On more than one occasion the library has threatened to refer me to a collections agency if I did not return or pay for a book or other material I had taken out. The thing about it is that while a book may cost $25 in the real world, in library land they can somehow stretch it to make it cost $50. And HEAVEN FORBID you lose a CD or DVD.  Once I lost one CD of an audio book. I took in the other 8 CDs I still had though and thankfully they only charged me for the one I lost. Otherwise I would have owed that seemingly sweet librarian behind the counter $90!!! (I am not in anyway criticizing the library system. I understand that you are borrowing the books and should be held responsible. I understand there are other costs they have to account for.).

After I finally find the lost book, or succumb to the fines or replacement costs, I become a little weary of the library. I mean if I go back will it be the same? I see the scenario in my head. I get up to the counter cheerful, with my arms filled with books. The sweet lady behind the counter smiles at me as she takes my card.  As she scans my card her expression  changes.  My account has been flagged, I am a book-loser! I cannot be trusted! Her upper lip curls back and I see a pair of buffy-the vampire-slayerish fangs shimmering at me as I back away, dropping my books and run for the door.

Obviously this never happens. At the library all sins are forgiven after you pay the fines or return the book. It astounds me every time and I fall even more into a book-induced stupor.  And yes I am trying desperately to not lose books. Hopefully, this month I will break the cycle and the library and I can once and for all end this love/hate relationship . I think we could have a great future in front of us, filled with suspenseful chapters, riveting story lines, and happy endings.