Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Living on Which Side the Tracks

(photo source)

Just. Wow.

So I want people who stop by the blog to be encouraged and inspired and to share a laugh and a smile.

And I want to be real and forthright.

And sometimes, encouraged and inspired and smiling get blasted by real and forthright.

It's been a season, I tell ya.

My precious father-in-law was diagnosed with end stage pancreatic cancer just at the end of February.

And by April 4th, he was gone.

His passing comes in the midst of several other heartbreaking situations within the scope of my ministry world in our church family and non-profit work. It's been a crazy teeter-totter of tending our own broken hearts while caring for the broken hearts of others.

And smack in the middle of all this, there has been all kinds of amazing progress and joy. The final production and marketing decisions for the book have been an exciting distraction for me with the Harper Collins/Zondervan team. An exceptional experience producing the Good Friday Service in Austin with Michael W. Smith. My husband's development of some exciting content coming together on personal productivity. Our oldest daughter Madison accepting a fantastic promotion within her company and moving to Chicago. The 2dance2dream program celebrating its inclusion at a national dance competition, in which the team brought home a major award. An adored friend with a featured role on Nashville, for whom I couldn't be more thrilled and proud.

Joy and heartache.

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(Good Friday at the Erwin Center, Austin, Texas. Photo credit Shannon Lafayette.)


Accomplishment and loss.

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Gratitude and unsettling questions.

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Birthday parties and funerals.

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Happy reunions but at the occasion of memorial services.

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My pastor, Randy Phillips, was recently talking about an interview he had seen with Rick and Kay Warren about the two tracks in life that seem to run concurrently, a track of triumph and heights and a track of challenge and disappointment. These words were penned in Kay's devotional, Choose Joy, Because Happiness Isn't Enough:

We tend to think that life comes in hills and valleys. In reality, it’s much more like train tracks. Every day of your life, wonderful, good things happen that bring pleasure and contentment and beauty to you. At the exact same time, painful things happen to you or those you love that disappoint you, hurt you, and fill you with sorrow. These two tracks — both joy and sorrow — run parallel to each other every single moment of your life.
That’s why, when you’re in the midst of an amazing experience, you have a nagging realization that it’s not perfect. And while you’re experiencing something painful, there’s the glorious realization that there is still beauty and loveliness to be found. They’re inseparable.
Right now, it's enough to give me whiplash, cutting my head from side to side, trying to figure out where my heart is being broken and mended, numbed and expanded, as I hurtle down the tracks of life at what seems like breakneck speed.

And that's real. And forthright.

And I'm not sure all that encouraging.

Except.

We're still on track. Even when it feels like the wrong side of the tracks. Even when we only want to travel the track upon which the sunshine seems to beam. It's life. It's what it encompasses, the beautiful and the brutal, the merry and the melancholic, the content and the confusing.

If you're there too, living in a dual track of sunshine and rain, it's okay. Sometimes it just runs like that. It's not all good and it's not all bad. Perhaps that's exactly the point.

So for now, in this season, I'm embracing both. We're going to mourn hard. We're going to celebrate hard. We're going to cry often. We're going to laugh with abandon.

We're not going to live on one side of the tracks or the other, with either of their perceived reputation.

We're just going to take it right down the middle. And pay attention to what we learn.

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

All Mom Does


Over the past year or so, I've been a blogging contributor for the Christa Media group. It started out contributing to Spirit 105.9's website and in January grew to include writing for All Mom Does, a fantastic site with encouragement and equipping for women in business, parenting, marriage, and different seasons. I'd love for you to pop over and check out some of my recent articles, including the one that published today on school pride. Click on each pic to access the post at All Mom Does. And let me know questions, thoughts, and input you have on your journey. I'd love to think on and address topics that are important to you and what's going on in your life. You can comment on this post or email me at info@julielylescarr.com.













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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Communication, Conflict Resolution, and Redecorating the Bedroom



For a number of years now, I've had the honor of teaching alongside Dr. Jimmy Myers on a weekly basis at LifeUniversity. We've tackled all kinds of relationship issues, marriage challenges, parenting topics, communication styles and personalities...the list goes on. Through the years, as we've been teaching, we've also been learning. A lot. We've conducted surveys and questionnaires. We've had many conversations. And we're finding that, while some challenges remain the same, our modern times and technologies create some new hiccups and hurdles when it comes to our contemporary covenant relationships. We recently tacked a few of those topics~take a look.


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Monday, January 4, 2016

The Focus Formula

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Happy New Year! 2016 is here!

If you're already a subscriber to my newsletter, you're already in the know when it comes to some great freebies, online Bible studies, and more. And to celebrate the beginning of the new year, you've got a fresh, new idea coming to your inbox from me for creating big change in your life this year with some small time commitments.

If you're not a subscriber yet, jump on in! The water's fine! Seriously, I've got a great gift for you to kick off the year. You'll receive a video and free printable to help you think through what progress, changes, and areas you'd like to focus as the days of 2016 begin their dance. Simply click here to subscribe and check your inbox~let's get this year started!


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Monday, December 28, 2015

Decked Halls

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It's always been my favorite time of the year. And I've always loved decking out the house in all manner of Christmas decor. Over the years, I've scaled down the level of decorating delirium I've put myself through in the past; it seems like the more people we added to the family tribe, the less room there was to slosh Yuletide all over the place.

But still.

That's our 12 foot tree up there. She's a beaut. (Ignore the pile of laundry on the stairs needing to be carried up. Pretend it's on purpose. Pretend that's where you're supposed to keep laundry...)

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For several years, in one of our homes, I had a formal living room that we called The Pretty Room. It was done in creams and whites and I put up a tree in there every year that boasted magnolias and pearls and angels and birds.

And then more people happened. And we moved into new homes with no formal Pretty Rooms. And all my decor tended more and more to anything the color of dirt and spaghetti sauce, since those were stain themes already in use around all the house. And so went the trend of all the Christmas decor as well.

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Our old brown sectional is truly on its last legs. It's amazing what the body weight of ten people and the wrestling mania occurrences of a house with teenage boys can do to the structural integrity of a piece of furniture. But we're squeezing all the use out of this fatigued foam that we can and I try to cozy it up during the holidays with Grinch Green throws and pillows and red accents.

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Love these stockings. Love 'em. Red for the girls, green for the boys, cream for Michael and I.

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I also have several pictures and Christmas-themed frames that I only pull out this time of year. Those two cuties on Santa's lap? That's Justus and Maesyn, now age 19 and 17. Sheesh. Give me a moment...

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I'm the first to admit...I have a candle problem.

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And a gift wrap issue.

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Okay, maybe something a bit bigger than an 'issue'.

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I purchase ornaments each year for each of us that have meaning about the year's events. It's sort of a 'journaling by ornament' kind of a thing.

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I found that big ol' red star for the top of the tree at my favorite boutique...Target. Love that place.

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You'll notice I didn't post any pictures of the dining room. Or kitchen. Or foyer. Or front porch. It's not that those areas aren't decorated. They are. But they're a hot mess. And I just didn't have the gumption to straighten up for company. Blog company, that is.

And I know you'll understand. Just roll over the image below. And I know you'll understand.






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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Meanwhile, Over at Ye Ol' Spirit Blog...


Catch my ideas for not catching our traditional post-Christmas coughing/sneezing/aching redux at the Spirit 105.9 blog! Click here for all the deets!
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