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A Warm Shoulder

Posted in Faith, julianne
on March 7, 2017
The new fashion trend of the “cold shoulder” top makes me giggle every time. Not because I don’t think it’s cute. Because its name is a “cold shoulder” top. What an unappealing name! I work with a lot of high school girls, and they love this trend. And it gets me. Every. Single. Time.
What I love about working with students is that their faith is often unbridled and their filter nonexistent. Working with them during a season of clinical depression has been so eye-opening. I love when I get to experience the “why” of a difficult season first hand. I feel like this is one of those seasons. While this season isn’t the most fun, God has opened doors, windows and even random air vents for me to have relationships with girls that are experiencing similar circumstances in order for His Truth to be revealed to both of us. They help me understand what I’m going through with their free words and emotions. They’ve helped me learn to cope by forcing me to be the voice of logic and access the Voice of Truth for their good.
The fact of the matter is that depression is becoming more widespread. Why? I have no idea. But it’s a factor of living in our broken, sinful world, and as women of faith, we need to learn to deal.

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Handle with Care

Posted in Faith, julianne
on March 3, 2017

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

Please know that what I’m about to share isn’t intended to ruffle feathers or upset anyone. It isn’t meant to shame or dismiss the efforts of friends who have tried to encourage me. For those who have genuinely reached out to me, please understand that I am so grateful to you. I’m thankful for your hearts, even when some things may get a little lost in translation. I understand trying to comfort someone in the thick of depression can be such a difficult terrain to navigate. Finding the right words to say may not seem so simple, and it’s because depression isn’t simple. That’s why I’m sharing my heart in its rawest state — to shed some light on what I’ve experienced in this darkness. These words are only meant to bring an honest perspective to an often misunderstood struggle in hopes that those affected with depression, whether first-hand or as a loved one of someone with depression, can be encouraged.

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
My choice to elope for my wedding day wasn’t a popular decision. I grew up the girliest of girls. I was a bride for Halloween when I was three and wanted to meet my new baby brother in the hospital with the veil that accompanied my costume. I didn’t wear pants to school until I was in the fifth grade. Even then, it was a jumpsuit with my monogram on the front.
I am also no stranger to event planning. Between the ages of 22 and 26, I planned 21 weddings and was in nine. Nuts, I know. So, when my husband and I told our parents we were going to fly to Colorado by ourselves and get married, jaws dropped. The truth is, I know myself. I know I love that stuff. I know I can get caught up in the hustle and bustle of bouquets, dresses and decor. Something inside of me (a.k.a. the Holy Spirit’s conviction), kept telling me I needed to keep the main thing the main thing. So, late September of 2014, only seven weeks after getting engaged, we boarded a plane, just the two of us. I married the cutest of cuties with only the freshly yellowed aspen trees as our guests.

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

Retrospect is a beautiful thing. Reflecting on the past is often the Lord’s gift, reminding us of His faithfulness and careful consideration of provision. I was diagnosed with clinical depression just nine months after saying, “I do”. That was more shocking than me eloping. (You can read more about my struggle here.) Our elopement was a glimpse at what was to come. The provision of my husband during a season of life that is by far the hardest is evidence of the loving hand of God. Sometimes, it has felt like it’s just Jordan and me. We daily have to figure out how to handle this illness and continue to make life joyful. Clinical depression is hardest for the people closest to you. I can honestly say, I would rather go through this than watch my husband go through it. Whether it’s a friend, a daughter, a spouse or yourself, it’s gut wrenching to experience. One of the greatest lessons Jordan and I have learned through this is how to handle people with care. It’s make us more sympathetic to people with stories we don’t understand or can’t comprehend. This experience has also helped me express feelings in a way I never thought I could.
So many people have approached me saying they are experiencing something similar to my journey. Others seek advice from me about how to approach someone they know who is struggling. I’m no medical or psychological doctor, but here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Try to fix me. I already want to fix me. And I can’t. I can’t even get out of bed in the morning some days. And you trying to fix me makes me feel worse. Prideful, I know, and part of my pruning process of understanding my need community. But let the goal for community be love, not to pull me out of the hole. It’s not their job, anyway. It’s the Lord’s job to catch me at the bottom and carry me out. I just need someone to be the voice yelling words of encouragement and love to me during the freefall, reassuring me that there are strong arms waiting to grab me at the bottom.

2. Only reach out on social media. I am overwhelmed by the incredible community I have around me. And some people only have contact with me through social media. In those cases, okay. But in cases where people know me, claim to love me, and have access to me in person, it hurts to only read on social media that they’re thinking about me or praying for me. That feels more like a self-righteous promotion of faux love. Harsh? Maybe. But, I gotta be honest, that’s how it feels.

3. Talk to other people about my situation when I’m not there. I know this one seems pretty high school. But you’d be surprised as a 27-year-old woman how many times this has happened to me during this season. I won’t get on my soapbox too high on this one, but this is for all communication between believers. Confronting sin, approaching about accountability, and even expressing concern, all need to begin with a one-on-one conversation. Doing anything otherwise will create dissension and rivalry. Scripture tells us about this on multiple different occasions. (Matthew 18:15-16, Philippians 2:3-4, Hebrews 12:1) We have become a culture that has accepted “glorified gossip”, or speaking about each other in the name of prayer instead of speaking with the concerning party out of genuine care and love. As someone who has experienced this first hand during this season, I can tell you exactly how it feels — it feels like people don’t actually care about me, my heart, or my joyfulness. It feels like they care about making sure other people think they’re concerned, and that only makes me hurt worse.

1. Love me. Seems simple, huh? But when the rubber meets the road and someone unknowingly and suddenly becomes the Debbie Downer, it can get harder. I know. Because that’s me. I know I’m not the life of the party anymore, but I still want and need to be loved. Just go read the famous Love Chapter in 1 Corinthians 13. This ain’t about you and your fun. But, “never give up, never lose faith, (be) always hopeful, and endure every circumstance. (v. 7, NLT)

2. Remember who I once was. My love language is words of affirmation. So this one may be more for me than anyone, but I need the people around me to remember the old Julianne. Not to express that they wish I was more like that again, but to know and believe it’s still in me, even when I don’t believe it’s left in me. I need others to affirm when they see those glimmers of the pre-illness self.

3. Understand you won’t understand. This one is by far the hardest. I fought to explain myself and my sadness for so long at the beginning. I wanted someone to know I wasn’t crazy. I wanted someone to just get it. Jordan wanted to just get it. He wanted to understand why I just cried, for no reason. My response was always so empty: “I don’t know.” It’s okay for loved ones to not understand completely. The more people fish for an explanation, the more the person affected by the illness will feel crazy. Sometimes for me, there wasn’t an explanation. Those struggling with depression should be encouraged to seek professional help in order to get to the root of the problem, but friends, parents or spouses need to understand that they just might not understand. And that’s okay. All we ask is for someone to just love us through it.

Above all, bring love — no matter if you’re the one struggling with depression or the one walking alongside someone who is. Reiterate to yourself the properties of love outlined in 1 Corinthians 13. That’s what I need from my community. That’s what my heart needs to feel cared for. I don’t want to be fragile, but I do need to be handled with authentic, genuine care.

I don’t know who the person is that needs you most during this time, but my prayer is that you shower them with patience, kindness, and selflessness. Above all, shower them with the greatest of all, love.

The Hardest Pill

Posted in Faith, julianne
on February 21, 2017

My feet were dangling over the side of the doctor’s office pleather bed as I sat uncomfortably shifting from side to side. I could tell I was nervous because the noise from the piece of sanitary paper roll I was sitting on was constant. I don’t normally fidget, but my heart was racing. This was my one millionth visit to that doctor’s office in an unreasonably short amount of time. I had an inkling what was wrong, but it would be, quite literally, the hardest pill I’ve ever had to swallow.

When I was in high school, my youth group would give “awards” to every person at the end of our trips. It was a funny way to involve everyone and tell too many inside jokes. My senior year, I had to specifically ask to NOT receive an award that had to do with smiling, laughing, or being a Disney Princess. That was me; that was my identity. My whole life I have been the positive, cool as a cucumber one. If the glass wasn’t half full, was there even a glass? Everything was awesome and every idea was possible. Stress was something I heard about, but wondered if I’d ever feel it. Oddly, sometimes I would try to worry about something or force some faux anxiety, but that was entirely too much work for me. I just wanted to know what it felt like. I knew people admired my ability to let nothing phase me, but I thought I was missing out on something. In retrospect, that was a really dumb thing to wish for.

I don’t say all this to brag. I say it because those that know me, know what I’m about to say is tough. And for those of you that don’t, I need you to understand my background in order to understand where I am now. 

I was a newlywed. I was buying my first home. I was working at a church I loved. Everything should’ve been hunky dory. But that day at the doctor’s office would change my life forever. That very identity I had rested in was about crumble. My doctor looked me in the eye and told me I was clinically depressed. The amount of questions that flooded into my head with that announcement was enormous. I couldn’t have imagined it. In fact, over a year later, I’m still processing it.

That wasn’t “me”. I was the happy one. With one prescription of antidepressants, he wrote off everything I knew as myself. My mind immediately skipped to how I could fix this, how I could hide this. I didn’t want people to know this new me. I liked the old one. Other people liked the old one. Who was this girl, and what had she done with me?!

As I got in the car to pick up my phone to call my husband, I burst into tears which was normal those days. My husband had married the happy girl. My husband dated the “nothing bothers me” girl for five years. Now, he was getting a frantic, drowning in tears, “panicked because of a pill” girl. I know he loves me no matter what, but I couldn’t help but feel sad for making his life harder, too. The last year had been all about me: my health, my happiness, my feelings. What was going on in my head had quickly made me the most selfish person in our little family, and he was at the brunt of it. He quickly calmed me down, and reminded me that what was happening was an illness. The doctor had told me that serotonin had somehow drained from my body. I was sick. Jordan (my husband) said, “When you got the flu, didn’t you take medicine?” Well, yeah, but this was different. Everyone got the flu. By society’s standards, you got sympathy with the flu. With depression, you get pity. I had spent my whole life proving I was strong enough to need no one’s pity.

I drove back to work, sat at my desk determined to will myself out of this mess. I wasn’t going to tell a soul. Sure, I’d share with them I had some weird, unknown illness that was draining hormones from my body. But I was avoiding the big “D” word no matter what. That wasn’t me.

After picking up the prescription that I got only because Jordan wanted me to, I stared at the box for a long time. I don’t remember what I was thinking. I just remember I felt lost. I was lost for answers, lost for happiness, lost for any inkling of an identity. I read the directions at least three times as if a loophole would jump off the page. I didn’t take a pill that night like instructed. I waited until the next day. I had to build up the courage to swallow my pride and that pill.

Depression was an abstract idea to me. Sure, I knew about it. But even if I’d been around it, I saw the good in it. That’s how hyper-positive I was before. There was so easily a lesson seen when it was in someone else’s head. But when it was my own, I felt trapped. No matter how much a scratched, clawed, or cried my way to logical thinking, the ceiling of my happiness seemed to crumble with just a simple poke.

They don’t tell you how all-consuming depression is. It’s not something you can compartmentalize or escape for periods at a time. It’s like a gnat that you can constantly see and hear buzzing while still seeing the world around you. You just now see it through aggravation and annoyance. Everything becomes difficult. My social butterfly had its wings clipped with this illness. I felt like if I could avoid people, I could avoid them seeing the darkness in my eyes. I’ve always loved sleep, but my bed became not a place of rest, but my safe haven. I could cocoon myself away from people seeing the new me. Maybe I wished I was going to wake up from a bad dream.

I remember one night, I laid on the bathroom floor almost convulsing in tears, gasping for every breath all because of insecurity. My attempts to mask my new being put me in a place to pit myself against every other girl that crossed my path. I’m surrounded by some incredible women, on purpose. But that very thing I thought I was using to insulate myself from harm with these women loving me and encouraging me, became the enemy’s easiest target to pull me down. All of the sudden, the rules of the comparison game I had taught high school girls to avoid for so many years were actually meant for me.

Jordan would hug me and love me through these dark moments. He would try to talk me down from hysteria and logic me out of crazy thinking. He would often ask, “Where did this come from?” My response was always so empty. “I don’t know.” Not only had I lost the identity of “me”, but I had lost control of “me”. I didn’t even know how to pull myself up. All I felt was a freefall. I read book after book of encouragement. I sought wise counsel. I did everything I knew how, but would find myself back in bed, craving to just be left alone. I became weary of fighting. My body starting to take on other physical manifestations of sadness. I started losing my memory. I started having panic attacks that would come out of nowhere. I started passing out. The more I fought, the harder I would fall. I would constantly remind myself I had no reason to be sad. My life was “perfect”. Then, I would tumble into a snowball effect thinking that I didn’t have a reason to be sad… Why am I such a sad sap? Why can’t I just buck up?!

I would have small victories along the way, but to other people they were normalities. I would get advice such as “just start doing things again like you used to.” All along, that’s exactly what I had been trying to do. But to everyone else, that was normal. Little did they know, I was using every ounce of energy I had just to sit in a room and have coffee with someone.

I wanted, and still want, to blame something. Jordan and I just started seeing a new doctor to make sure it couldn’t be anything else. The doctors had told me their theory on the cause. But I think I have to rest not in a cause, but in a reason. Everyday I wake up hoping to have an “ah-ha” moment of why the Lord put me through this. Everyday, I learn a lesson that is washed away with high tides of insecurity, darkness, and sadness. The Lord has been faithful by keeping me safe. He’s been faithful in still opening doors for me in ministry to love on girls He’s placed around me. He’s been faithful that this season of my life happened while I have Jordan. No matter how dark I feel, I know my hand is being held even when I can’t see it, by a Hand so firm that even my doubts can’t rip Its grip.

The enemy loves that I haven’t shared this with many people. He probably has a big, nasty smirk that I bought into a lie that the stigma attached to depression should stick with it. He doesn’t get that power over me or the Lord’s faithfulness anymore. The dutch door of my life has been only half open for too long. I’ve sat in the dark with the blinds closed hoping for a miracle for too long. I want to pull the strings to let the Light in and realize that the “me” I was before wasn’t my doing, but His.

Not only did I start to avoid people, but I started to avoid and doubt the Lord. I questioned His existence, I doubted His character, and I pushed His Word as far away as I could. I don’t know why, but it just felt easier that way. I guess I thought dead branches felt better than pruning. Before this season, I had no idea how many lies of this world I believed. But it’s far more that I ever care to admit.

But despite the lies I’ve learned, I saw more promises kept. I would like to say, “That was then…” at the end of this post, but I’m still in it. I used past tense up to this point for storytelling’s sake, but I’m still here. I’m still grasping at straws for lessons. I’m still trying to keep my head above water. I’m still trying to rebuild the spiritual disciplines mental illness destroyed. I’m still praying daily, hourly for my redemption story to come now. I’m still madly, deeply in love with a Savior that continues to save me. I’m still learning that this saving is not just once; it’s daily. I’m still learning that the character, personality and identity He gave me before wasn’t because of me. But I’m still here; so I know He’s not finished with me.

Right-side Up

Posted in Faith, julianne
on October 27, 2016

“Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:11-18
As a former dancer and soccer player, broken toes aren’t foreign to me. When I was in the fifth grade, I did a handstand in between church pews. Not really my brightest moment, but it happened. I was never really good at handstands. Therefore, I’m not positive what prompted me to attempt one in a confined space. I proceeded to fall, hitting my toes on the base of the pew. I’m not medically positive I broke any toes, but I’m mentally positive I broke two.

I hobbled around Paris, Tenn. for two days, but as a fifth grader, I was adamant that I get the handstand down. So, I practiced….against walls. I would try to keep myself up that way as long as possible to condition myself for the stand without the wall. It was uncomfortable. It was annoying. It honestly hurt. My abs, my hands, my arms, my head. Everything would feel numb, and my head would feel near explosion when I was upside down. 

The more I read scripture, the more I realize that this life is like living in the upside down. This world apart from God hurts. The more we try on our own, the more numb we feel. It’s a distorted view. 

Second Peter 3:11-18 outlines that exact thing. Peter is explaining to those who have accepted Christ how the world perverts what God has made. He explains that one day, we will have a new heaven and a new earth. Over and over again we’re told throughout scripture that He makes all things new, and man, this earth needs to be made new. The hurt, the hangups, and the harm that all place such a large part in our daily lives will be dissolved on the new earth. Can I get a “PTL!”? 

We must prepare our hearts and our hands in service to a loving God that humbly allows us to firmly kick our feet off the wall, plant them on the ground, and stand in the right-side up. Peter urges us to be diligent in finding our peace in Christ alone. When we walk in righteousness, there is a peace that is undeniable. When Christ gave His life on the cross for me and for you, He allowed us to put our faith in Him, and find rest and comfort in His arms. Our labors should not be to look better or higher, but to know the One who is higher better. We protect ourselves from this damaged and disintegrating earth with a relationship with a Father that is the One who provides the new earth. 

In the ESV verse 17 says to “take care” that we are not carried away by the lawlessness of this world. This reminds me of a very similar phrase in John 16:33 with Jesus saying to “take heart” because He has overcome the world. That expression takes on a new meaning after reading this passage in 2 Peter. We are to fully and carefully take our heart into our possession and offer it fully to the Father. We are to protect it from the lawlessness and take it to righteousness by choosing to delight in the Lord fully. 

How will you turn your efforts from looking better and higher to knowing the One higher better?

How will you “take heart”, protecting yourself from the hurts of this earth in anticipation for the new earth?

Home for the Holidays

Posted in Christmas, hospitality, House & Home, julianne
on December 9, 2015


My mother is the busiest woman I know. No one works harder, loves better or makes home more welcoming. She’s an all-star and my hero. Being home is one of the warmest feelings in the world. No matter how old I get, spending the night at my mom’s house just feels so cozy.
I grew up in a beautifully crazy home. We never ate dinner at the same time, there were always dirty clothes to trip over, toys were constantly sprawled everywhere, friends never knocked, and it was awesome. Needless to say, our home never looked “perfect”. My mom needed one of those Hobby Lobby signs that says, “Excuse the mess. My children are making memories.” She truly embraced hospitality that focused on people feeling at home, not a perfect home. Ever since I moved out on my own, if I spend the night at my house, my mom brings me orange cinnamon rolls and a latte in bed. That didn’t happen when I lived there, but now that I don’t, she wants me to feel at home.
As we prepare our homes for families to trample through our doors with muddy boots, wrapped gifts, and huge smiles this season, my prayer is that we focus on the people that are stepping onto our front porches and not the tidiness of our homes. As I read and study through scripture, all of the verses I come upon about welcoming and being hospitable focus on service to a person, not things, and acting out of love, not pride (1 Peter 4:9, Matthew 9:10, Hebrews 13:2, Acts 28:2, Acts 16:15, and so many more). So let’s take a page out of my mom’s book and prep our homes for the hearts that enter. Here are a few tips to get your home ready for your guests to rest, not to be impressed:

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I’m a Survivor

Posted in Christmas, julianne, Lifestyle
on November 11, 2015


I apologize now for any of you who think this post has any Beyonce reference. It doesn’t. Instead, I’m releasing my inner television nerd to you. It’s a part of that whole authenticity thing I told you we were going to explore.
I love Survivor. I like to think I could “Outwit, Outlast, and Outplay” everyone. My husband agrees that I might be able to, but I also hate seafood which seems problematic. If you don’t watch, you don’t know that this season (which is season like 45,009) is called “Second Chance”. They had the audience vote on who to bring back from previous seasons to compete against each other. The whole premise has honed in on what they are going to do differently this season based on what got them in trouble last go-around. It’s been interesting because many of them have settled into a game plan that is “care less about the game and more about building relationships”.
Some seasons of our lives feel like we’re just surviving. And the holiday season seems to take survival skills no person really has. For many of us, it’s a season of managing hectic schedules, cooking until your fingerprints burn off, organizing gifts like a boss, and navigating complicated family situations. Now, some of you are veterans and have your traditions down to a science. For those of us that still feel like we struggle to keep our heads above water, let me offer some quick tips on surviving the holidays while hosting people in your home, attending parties and spending time with family:
Just get organized. Take one hour in the next few days, and do the following:
– Start a calendar of dates and places that you have things to do.
– Build a budget for gifts, decor and meals/treats you will be cooking. Stick to it.
– Begin a Christmas list on Pinterest. You can make a secret board and pick out gifts for everyone to keep yourself organized. Once you’ve bought it, delete the pin!
– Buy a Christmas journal. Pray through this season for things other than yourself. Keep it for next season. Tape Christmas cards into it that you receive this year, and pray for each of those families.
Rest in a dwelling place like no other. First and foremost, this is supposed to be fun, y’all! Let us not forget that things can get wild, but we have the joy and privilege of celebrating the birth of our Savior in the upcoming weeks. As cheesy as it sounds, if you don’t remember the reason for the season, you ain’t gonna survive. Don’t let the ruler of this world feed you lies that perfection is the goal. You will be tempted to believe that your presents need to be better, you food has to be gourmet, your decorations matter and your party dress has to be a show-stopper. They don’t. Rest in the dwelling place that the Lord provides that is by STILL waters. Slow down at least once daily during this season with a cup of white chocolate hot cocoa, fuzzy socks and some good time with your Lord.
Journal what you love about the holidays. Before they even begin, show your appreciation and thanksgiving to the Lord for giving us a season of cuddles, family time and carols. Recognizing what you love ahead of time will help you focus on those things during this season and not get bogged down with the “have-to-dos” that will approach.
Care less about the game and more about the relationships. Take a page out of the ole Survivor book, and run with it. If you’re like me, you have about 14 sides to the family that you have to sort through schedules to find time to see during the holidays. Whether it’s a divorced family or planning around in-laws or whatever that keeps your schedule busy, remember that your relationships matter. Jesus spent the first Christmas with His family. It wasn’t just Mary, they were all there. This is a season of peace and joy and love. Focus on that. Find a way to mend relationships, have uncomfortable conversations, and combine schedules in order to fit the people you love in, no matter the circumstance. It’s not about the game. Stop making excuses for not seeing certain people, and make this the best holiday season yet.
Remember whose birthday it is. I realize we still have Thanksgiving to go. Trust me, I didn’t forget. I may have indulged in a red Starbucks cup and have Dave Barnes Christmas albums already on repeat, but I love Thanksgiving and would never forget about it. But I think that the timing of Thanksgiving is impeccable. It give us time to reflect on what we love, appreciate, and are humbly blessed by before we celebrate Jesus’s birth. As you start picking out gifts (for others and yourself), find a way to serve those around you as a gift to Him. Volunteer at a homeless shelter, buy Christmas presents? for a family in need or even ask people to give to an orphanage overseas instead of giving you gifts. Celebrate the One who gave the ultimate gift by loving that which is most precious to Him — people.
In a day and age when everyone’s edited and perfected posts fill our feeds with the thought that our lives or holidays or family don’t measure up, let us lift our eyes to see real Perfection. I know surviving for me this holiday season will also include guarding against comparison and living in the present even amidst the presents. My prayer is that my holiday identity isn’t found in surviving by the world’s standards but thriving and striving to live authentically.
I don’t want my confessions of those struggles mentioned above to be considered authenticity. Those things are sin. Authenticity doesn’t excuse sin. Authenticity points people to a greater reality that is found in the arms of Jesus. I pray 2 Corinthians 1:12 for this holiday season.
“For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.” (ESV)
May our holidays be hosted with simplicity and godly sincerity.

Something Different in the Air: Tips for Making Your Home Smell Amazing

Posted in home decor, hospitality, House & Home, julianne
on October 14, 2015

Home Smelling Amazing | The Pineapple Porch

Hospitality is one of those things that seems allusive, mysterious, and in a perfect form, impossible. We have a million and three things going on in our lives. For me, this season is filled with softball games, Tennessee football road trips, moving into a new home, working full-time during a pastoral transition, leading small groups, wanting to paint my nails and occasionally squeezing in a shower every once in a while. When I think about hosting people at our new house, I feel a rush of overwhelmed air filling my lungs and telling me to hold on for dear life.


The Proverbs 31 woman looms over my head. She’s like a one-woman army that can do everything all while donning a string of pearls. I have so many notes in my Bible from different passages that I take wisdom from, but in the margins of the scriptures illuminating that woman, the page is blank. I just marvel at her. Everyone in her home is provided for, taken care of and loved. I love hospitality, but goodness. She’s setting the bar high.


As I think back to all the ladies’ homes I’ve been to that felt the most like, well…home, I noticed a common thread. Authenticity. There was something different in the air at their homes. You know what I’m talking about. The way they cared for their families, loved on their loved ones, dressed themselves and decorated their homes all came from a place of genuine concern for each of those individuals. As we go throughout this series, peaking behind the full door into people’s homes, I dare to say that the core of hospitality is relationships. Mrs. Proverbs 31 was working and serving from the heart, not to create a perfectly curated Pinterest board. For my next few posts, we’re going to explore authenticity — what it looks like in its truest form, how we live our lives with it and how it affects our relationships and people that come into our homes. Let’s put a scent in the air of our homes that makes people feel welcome, just because of who they are and how we make them feel.


In the meantime, I wanted to leave you with some easy, time-conscious ways to make your home smell delightful for when guests come over.




This one seems like a no brainer, but I’m always surprised how few candles actually get lit in people’s homes. They’re not just for looks, people. If someone’s at our house, there’s at least one lit in every room. My mom even lights tea candles in some rooms when people come over. The trick is remembering to blow them out later. Here are a few of my favorite candles:


Capri Blue | Volcano | Ever walked into Anthropologie and wondered what that heavenly smell was? It’s Volcano.


Tyler Candles | Any of the Tyler Candles are fantastic. I’m partial to the Mulled Cider.


Any candle on sale, but try to stick with a soy or natural wax. They burn slower, and thus give you more burns per dollar. When you’re in T.J. Maxx or Target, just make a quick run through the candle aisle…just in case.



Bake Cookies


Seems like more work than it’s worth, but I don’t know that there’s a better smell than something baking in someone’s home. A mentor of mine keeps a package of break-n-bake cookies in the fridge at all times for this very reason. When people are about to come over, right before you make your mad dash to shove things in the closet and release the hound to “vacuum” for you, pop a dozen cookies in the oven. (And set a timer…burnt cookies aren’t AS good of a smell.) That’s a smell that lasts a while.


Simmering Potpourri


I’ve got a few recipes for you that you can try on your stove that leave a lasting scent. Here’s one for each season:


Fall: In a small pot, place 5-6 cinnamon sticks, several anise stars, dried oranges and a handful of whole cloves. Fill the pot halfway with water. Heat on low on a stove until the scent fills the kitchen. Watch closely to ensure the pot is always filled with water to prevent burning.


Winter: In a small pan, add 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 2 tablespoons ground ginger, 2 tablespoons vanilla extract, and 1 sliced orange. Add about 1 cup of water. Heat over low heat on a stove until the scent fills the kitchen. Watch closely to ensure the pot is always filled with water to prevent burning.


Spring: Mix water, sliced lemon, 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary and about a teaspoon of vanilla. Simmer on the stove….this smells amazing! I used 2 lemons, 3 sprigs of rosemary and about 2 tablespoons of vanilla. It only took 5 minutes to make the whole house smell fresh!


Summer: In a small pot, place 2 fresh slices of lime and a vanilla bean. Add a few drops of lime essential oils, if desired. Heat on low on a stove until the scent fills the kitchen. Watch closely again to ensure the pot is always filled with water to prevent burning.


“Be hospitable to one another without complaint.” 1 Peter 4:9



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Behind the Dutch Door: Open & Genuine Hospitality in Heart and Home

Posted in home decor, hospitality, House & Home, julianne
on September 18, 2015
Open and Genuine Living in Heart and Home | The Pineapple Porch

The moment we walked into that house I knew it would be ours. In fact, as we crossed the threshold into the front door, my husband said to the realtor, “We’re going to buy this house. I’m telling you now.”


We were approaching our first anniversary with a laundry list of wants for our first home. In typical male-female fashion, his list included home warranties, a good interest rate and a newish air conditioner while mine was more cosmetic. Coming in at the top spot for me, however, was something very simple and unlikely, a dutch door. Every conversation we had about our future home, I would bring it up. And Jordan would sweetly remind me that doors are replaceable. We could have a dutch door in any house. We walked up the front steps of the third house we explored with our realtor. It was a little, yellow cottage near the lake here in Tennessee. It was cute, but I, obvs, needed to see inside. We crossed the threshold, and there she was. Guiding happy thoughts and cuteness from the living room to the sunroom was a dutch door. She was white with six glass panels on the top half that was propped open while the bottom was latched shut. I don’t know what started my obsession with dutch doors, but now that we own the house, it seems it’s here to stay.


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


As a true Southern girl, I have lived, unfortunately, the majority of my life by the words of Miranda Lambert: “Gotta keep it together even when you fall apart.” An occasional accountability partner might shake the true me out for a brief moment, but then I hypothetically fix my make-up and carry about my way.


I realized I am very much like my dutch door. Adorable, but only half open. My home, who I am, and what fully happens behind the door isn’t always exposed. I live with the shield and comfort of a flimsy, wooden bottom half covering me. I want people to be able to peek in, but maybe not come in.


They might see my mess. They might see who I really am. Then, what would they think?


My heart has always been for people to know Jesus, fully and beautifully. But yet, I’m not willing to let them see my own life, fully. How is someone supposed to relate to others with half the door closed?


Hospitality is one of my love languages. I love to host. When I was in elementary school, I invited a group of girls to my house weekly to decorate cupcakes and make crafts. Each big-bowed head would walk to her seat that was perfectly organized with every ingredient, supply and snack they could possibly want. I have a problem cleaning my own stuff, but after I party, I’m overjoyed to clean.


Do you see the oxymoron here? I am a walking contradiction. I want people to come into my home, allow me to serve them, but I don’t want them to know me. Why would anyone want to come into that home?! Why would anyone want to build a relationship with someone that wasn’t being true?


As women, we like the door half closed. We want others to see our home – us and our families- when the cider is hot, the floors are vacuumed, homework is done, outfit is adorbs, etc. We want them to see who we’ve made ourselves to be — what we’ve trained ourselves to be.


We approach each other through the same lense that we see ourselves. I’m not pretty enough, skinny enough, popular enough, funny enough … so why should she be? Why does she deserve it? Why can’t I have it?


And thus, the state of womanhood today is born. We lose heart in ourselves. We think that by wishing, wanting, provoking, gossiping, fixing and Pinteresting, we can bring something to ourselves, even if it means we steal it from each other, or even just close half the door.


I have lost heart, as many of you, in who I am. God created me with a passion and a purpose. And with a beauty that is the joy of bearing His image. I forget that everyday. I see myself the way I’m told I need to because of what other girls say, do and act. I started to believe the lie that others, or even myself, get to decide who I am, not the Lord.


I have this hope. A hope that we, women, can rally for revival. A revival of the nurturing, loving, joyful, hospitable creatures we were put on this Earth to be. There is a trove of untapped potential in all of us just waiting to break out. A treasure chest of individuals that were woven together in this story of life with unique qualities, beauties and joys no matter our circumstance or our mess.


I once asked some of the Godliest, most captivating women I know to write a letter to their teenaged self. All of them had a common thread: be unashamed of who you are. They weren’t afraid to be, well…themselves. They found the courage to be who they were created to be. None of them said it was easy or that they didn’t fall. But they all were women marked with a courageous heart to be themselves in a world full of girls comparing them to everyone else. They found peace and contentment in seeing their friends through the same view they saw themselves: unrepeatable and beautifully made with the door fully open.


We don’t get to do this life again. My hope is that the cry of our womanly hearts is to see ourselves as our Father sees us: an image-bearing princess to the Almighty King. We would find peace in the image we bear and the courage to live knowing we are each one of a kind. Maybe, just maybe, then we’d be able to spread joy like icing. Glopped, messy, but sweet and delicious. Maybe then, we could invite people into our homes with an understanding that life is a mess. Maybe then, we’d form relationships where the door could be fully opened.


My prayer for this series is to be an open door. Let’s sip sweet tea over authentic, open conversations of who we are, what’s going on in our lives, what relationships should and shouldn’t look like, how to honestly reach people, and truly be all that God has created us to be. So gather ‘round as we open the whole door and chat about relationships, families and our homes.


I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. -Jesus (John 16:33)