Every morning, typically after my quiet time, I have these (what I think to be) brilliant ideas for blogs, things I think God has given me to inspire, heal, and build others in one way or another.
It seems like then when my husband gets up, we do devotions and prayer together, I get more ideas or add onto the one(s) I envisioned at 3-4am. However, after I fix breakfast for him and our guest(s), we have our devotions and prayer with them, then we begin the chores of the ranch … 7 hours later than when I awoke, I feel like I don’t have the time to sit down and blog OR I am already in the mode of thought of dealing with so many other things that I feel like I’ve lost inspiration.
Reality is though, that what I struggle with is motivation to do it because I’ve chosen to focus on so many other things that I think I can’t do it now. As the day goes by, the motivation and inspiration seem to become somewhat less important.
It’s not that I don’t want to write, inspire, encourage, and build a community where we can inspire one another, share our triumphs and burdens, and cheer one another on, because I really do. It’s something I believe I’ve received from God and He wants me to give it to you, but truth be told … I’d prefer to not position myself to be vulnerable to the internet. The bullying seen everywhere online is something I don’t think anyone would want, but especially since I’ve spent the past 16 years rebuilding my life, surrounding myself with a healthy support system, embracing the journey of healing, passionately serving the hurt, rejected and often abandoned, learning about and establishing boundaries and intentionally distancing myself from personal toxic relationships.
Why in the world would I want to take down a boundary and put myself out there to be potentially hurt by becoming vulnerable in a blog?
Because it’s what God wants me to do.
Consider that part in the greatest love story of all, the Bible, in particular, the New Testament, where Jesus goes into a garden and is so stressed at the thought of what He knew God wanted Him to do that he sweat blood! After asking God is there was any possibility He could get out of what God wanted … needed Him to do (my paraphrasing), He said the famous lines, “Not my will, but Yours be done”.
Those words, “Your will be done, not mine” is for the greater good in God’s plans. It’s a place of safety also, even though Christ was facing being unfairly judged, beaten, sentenced to death, and cruxifixction on a cross, He knew His obedience would result in our FREEdom™. Our reunion with Father God. Eternity secured in heaven with Him. The price of sin paid. All of our sin.
Why? Because He loves us.
How do we, as believers, disciples in Christ, become obedient to the Word of God? It comes when we fall in love with Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Father God. When we’re in love, we’ll do anything for the person we love, good, bad or indifferent. If we truly love that person, we won’t want to do anything that will cause them grief. And, if we fully love them, we will lay down our lives for them. As Christ did for us.
Here’s the deal. When I recommitted my life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ 16 years ago (October 4, 2002) I told Him I’d go anywhere, say anything and do anything He wanted me to do. I had spent years trying to be a Christian and attend church. I even lived with staff from a church I was attending in West Palm Beach, Florida, BUT I refused to trust God by sharing about my past. I knew people would judge me and I just wanted them to see me as an older woman from Indiana that had just graduated from Indiana University .
I did not want them to know anything about the prior 6 years of my life.
I was also carrying around an enormous amount of pain from repeated trauma I had experienced, not only in those 6 years, but prior to that going all the way back to my childhood. Pain and experiences, I did not want anyone to know about. I thought that if I simply read my Bible, prayed, declared enough of the truth of God’s Words over myself and my situations, attended church every opportunity the doors were open, even served as much as I could, that the pain I had coped with for nearly 30 years would somehow eventually go away.
Truth is that I was in rebellion to God because in the past 6 years I knew He told me repeatedly, even when I was deep into a sinful and destructive lifestyle that He was going to use it to help others. My selfishness to protect myself, my heart, me … me … me resulted in only a matter of time until I fell back into a sinful lifestyle with the guy I’d been engaged to and in a roller coaster relationship with on and off those 6 years. The end of the relationship again resulted in me becoming homeless and put me on a 9 month journey across the United States of America to large metropolitan cities following sporting events in order for me capitalize on the volume of men that would flood into the cities.
I kept reading a Bible that a former employer had encouraged me to read so that I could find out about the God who loved me, created me and who I was through His Son, Jesus Christ in me.
I already hated the work I was doing, but I felt trapped, like I couldn’t get out of it. The cash I was making nightly, although it would range from $50-$1000+, the average was probably around $200-300 a night in the time I spent in the industry. The Bachelor’s degree I acquired was of no use to me, for at that point I was so burnt out that I had no motivation to take the time to go to local galleries to try to acquire representation. My life consisted of working as briefly as possible, paying in advance for the basics of life; the hotel room I was staying in, food from the closest Walmart, tanning, nails, and spending enormous amounts of time in my room reading the Word of God. When I ran out of money, I’d return to work. Before the sporting event was over, I had located online the next city I would travel to. I was stuck in a cycle and as much as I cried out to God to rescue me, I couldn’t seem to get out.
I would have dreams and visions of myself speaking to thousands of people and telling them about what I was doing and God being proud of me. It did not matter though, because when push came to shove, I was stuck and in my mind I had resolved that there was no way I was going to tell people about THAT part of my life.
The Bible says that faith comes from hearing, meaning that your faith increases when you read, study, meditate on, and listen to the Word of God. When we feed our spirit man and choose to starve our flesh, our spirit man gets stronger and inevitably, we fall in love with our Creator. That was the KEY that led to my getting down on my knees on October 4th, 2002, asking God to forgive me of my sin … for living life my way and refusing to do what He’d revealed to me He wanted me to do … to tell people my story for His glory. Little did I know that night that I’d be relocating across the United States in 30 days from Indianapolis, IN to Fort Myers, FL. Nor, that He was going to reconcile the relationship I had with my biological father, who left when I was 3 years old.
I had no idea that 3 months later, I’d meet my now husband of 15 years (our anniversary is this month), that I’d be on full time staff at a church on Sanibel Island less than a month later, nor that nearly 16 years later, I’d be sitting in a beautiful art studio in our gorgeous, breathtaking home on a 5 acre ranch in the Tampa Bay Area with 7 horses, 2 cows, 11 chickens and 2 bunnies outside. Or that we’d have 3 dogs, a cat and a bunny living in our home! Little did I realize that my dream of having a bed and breakfast would be fulfilled every week and often daily as I have the pleasure of entertaining guests or that I’d be mentoring teen girls like I when I was a Varsity Track and Swimming Coach over 30 years ago. To top all that off, if you would have told me we’d have our dream come true, over the top, sunset on the water wedding, completely paid for, at the estate of the former drummer for AC/DC, not to mention planned in one week (not by me) or that graduate school would have been paid for in full, there is no way I’d believe you.
However, if you or anyone else that was with me in the privacy of my home, that night that I recommitted my life to Christ, stated that I’d be providing services and resources to women and children who had been sexually abused, exploited and/or trafficked, I wouldn’t have known what trafficking was and likely would have had a difficult time mentally connecting it to exploitation and with where my heart was that night … other than not wanting to grieve the only being that Had never left or forsaken me, Who had loved me unconditionally.
Why? Because on that night, I asked God for one thing … that if it was His perfect will, that He enable me to provide resources and help to the women I’d worked with for 7 years in the adult entertainment industry. That’s exactly what He did and continues to do in and through my life. Now though, it’s more than those in the sex industry that I serve passionately, because I know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. With studies telling us that before a person turns 18, 1/3 will be sexually abused, we know that if there isn’t an effective intervention, that it increases the possibility of her being 1) sexually abused again, 2) being sexually exploited and 3) being sex trafficked, because of the vulnerability the abuse causes.
And that with healthy support systems:
- Children, youth or anyone can be potentially protected from such abuse and,
- It’s been proven that with a healthy support system, nearly all people can recover from ANYTHING.
Recovering from an enormous amount of ugly, painful and destructive things is what, by the grace of God, the Word of God, and a healthy support system, He has accomplished in my life.
And by His grace, over the past 16 years, I’ve been honored to share how He did this in my life by telling my #beautyfromashes testimony to thousands of persons via live audiences, radio, and television.
When I surrendered ALL, He gave me the request I had that night and took it even farther by positioning and empowering me to develop effective prevention, intervention, and restoration models and programs that have been multiplied across the nation and around the world. The outcome has resulted in countless women, men, and children being impacted and provided with resources to recover from the injustices done to them.
Now, back to the present, knowing it’s His perfect will the I share with you about how I embraced the journey then, and more importantly, #embracethejourney, daily to walk out a new life and maturity in Christ … well, I’m writing and you’re reading what I hope will encourage and inspire you that you too, or those you love who are caught up in some destructive things can be freed to experience the abundant life Jesus told us He desired for us to live here on earth.
I’m inviting you into my real world … not just fun photos on instagram or social media, but to be real, authentic and transparent because I know that as I do, He will use it to give you hope that you, too, or those you love can move from being victims and survivors to becoming overcomers and thrivers. It’s because God has given me a vision of developing a tribe and community that exists to support and encourage one another … a place where we don’t have to be what we think everyone wants us to be, but discover together, our purpose, calling and inspire one another to fulfill it.
I hope to inspire you to #embracethejourney of life and all the trials it throws at us. Perhaps it’s a lack of hope, or depression, anxiety, a lack of motivation, staying focused, too many ideas, losing weight, gaining weight, exercising more, eating healthy, going back to school, having courage to stand up for your faith or to maintain purity, the ability to forgive yourself, fear of failure, thinking you don’t matter or aren’t loved, lack of trust, discipline, respecting your spouse, financial struggles, overcoming mistakes you’ve made or others have made that impacted you, breaking cycles of destructive behavior or mindsets, understanding the Bible, being wounded over and over by people you love and feel called to serve …. I hope you’ll join me. We can heal from the effects of trauma and build life together, as a life receiving and giving community.
Please subscribe so you don’t miss a blog or newsletter. My hope is to write blogs daily, but reality is that motivating myself to do it once a week is the goal I’m starting with. As a therapist, we’re trained to set up reasonable goals for achievement. I need to practice what I preach here. Short term goal is once a week. Intermediate goal will be 2-3 times a week with the ultimate being blogging daily.
I’ve envisioned doing vlogs, LIVE facebook and instagram videos, as well as, creating a closed group on facebook for us and will keep you posted on the progress of the development these. Additionally, if you’d like to do bible study together, you can friend me on YouVersion (/Julie Shematz), where you will have exclusive access to my notes and we can interact and share in discussions there, also. Furthermore, if you’re an intercessor and would like to pray in detail for my husband and I, and the day to day operations of Beauty From Ashes™ Ministries, you’ll welcome to send an invite to join the closed group, Beauty From Ashes™ Prayer Team. Please do pray for me, in that I just do it! That I set aside the battle I have to be a perfectionist or what many of my former co-workers and employees referred to as OCD, and simply be real and take the time to communicate with YOU. 🙂
Truth is, I seriously had to force myself to sit down and just start writing today (actually, by the time this was posted, it was OVER a week since I wrote it … yeah, I’ve got more areas to work on overcoming … like we ALL do!). This blog went in a direction that wasn’t what I planned, but I’m going for it … embracing this journey, posting, and moving onto the next post! Knowing me, I’ll be updating this one for a little while … so … by ALL means, PLEASE let me know of any obvious typos or grammatical errors! Please!?
Also, please interact back with me. I want to get to know you and I can’t do that with you just reading the blog and not communicating with me. If you’re not comfortable posting a public comment, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on facebook or direct message me on any other my other social media platforms. I’ve set up the notifications and if I don’t respond immediately, I will seriously try to get back to you within 24-48 hours!
Let me know what you’d like me to cover … what do you need help with that my experience may be able to assist you with? Is there anything I’ve said you relate to? Ways, strategies, keys, life application models that you’ve learned to overcome struggles or and, though I didn’t mention this, I’m an educated fine artist … desperately struggling to produce right now.
So … I’m interested in your creativity, also! Again, I welcome you to become a part of my journey to embrace being an artist, also. I’m really excited now and glad that I forced myself to sit down and write to YOU this morning! Here’s to inspiring the artist in you and the beginning of what I hope to be a longstanding relationship.
Let’s do this, inspire one another, heal together, and build community collaboratively.
Embracing the Journey,
P.S. Join me in creating a movement by sharing your stories and using your voice on social media using the hashtags #beautyfromashes, #embracethejourney, #overcomers4FREEdom, #disciples4FREEdom, art4FREEdom, #horses4FREEdom, & #ranch4FREEdom. I look forward to seeing them and getting to know you! #newseason #newthing #GodIsGood