"I have a lot of work to do."

When I was a little girl, I remember asking my granddad amidst a geography lesson, “How can someone live in this world and not live in America?” My young mind couldn’t comprehend anything beyond the confines of this country.

I smile thinking about my four or five year-old self (see photo below) as I sit here in a rental car with my South African fiancé. I just turned 28 years old and have stepped foot in 25 countries in my lifetime. (I hope I’ll have the opportunity to visit many more.) My southern American perspective has been challenged and my narrow mind expanded. But even after traveling the world as both a tourist and a missionary, the refining process has by no means come to an end. If anything, it’s only getting more intense.

Tony and I hopped in the car at 4:00 am this morning and began our almost 10-hour trek from Nashville to Baton Rouge. We recently talked about our need to intentionally prepare our hearts for marriage, so we spent the morning listening to a sermon on Ephesians 5 called “Marriage and the Covenant of God.” Then we discussed what we took away from it.

For Tony:

  • Are you willing to be second place for the rest of your life?
  • Are you willing to leave your family and cleave to your spouse?
  • Everything you do in marriage can glorify the Lord, even the way you deal with conflict.

For me: I have a lot of work to do.

My friend Chelsey sent me a text yesterday that said, “How are you doing? Specifically, how are you doing emotionally with preparing to leave the country for an indefinite amount of time?” I replied, “Good question. And honestly, probably not as well as I should be. My schedule is completely hectic.”

There’s redemption in being caged in a car for hours on end. With nothing else to do, I’ve been forced to reflect on my current situation, and I’ve realized that there are three pieces to my current problem.

  1. I overcommit.
  2. I under “sit” with myself, my junk and the Lord.
  3. I justify a wrong (an unprepared heart) with a wrong (an overcommitted schedule).

Preparing our hearts for a new season takes time, energy, focus and ownership. From Birmingham to Baton Rouge, I’ll be thinking about how I’m going to spend my last two weeks in the states, and I encourage you to do some reflecting too.

  • Are you prepared for where you are?
  • Are you prepared for where you are going?
  • If not, what are you going to do about it? (e.g. journal, introspection, worship, prayer, study, retreat, counseling, etc.)

A wise woman once told me, “How you finish one season is how you’ll start the next.” Let’s be people of discipline and intentionality, people who finish and start well. Amen?

Oh and Tony and I are looking forward to seeing many of you at our engagement party on the 4th. It’s going to be a lovely day!

Love,
Julie

Granddaddy, me and Leslie sitting in my grandparents' sunroom chatting about life and listening to conch shells.