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Entries in Julie Watson (7)


Choosing Joy in the Midst of Chaos

Julie Watson is an amazing woman. She has faced situations that could rob her of joy and peace, things that could have led to her defeat. But she is an overcomer, and in this Attitudes UPGRADE, she shares how she has found joy—and we can too.

“Decisions, decisions. Choosing joy in the midst of life’s messiness is quite the feat," Julie says, "but oh, so worth it!"

I (Dawn) have watched Julie cope with huge changes in her and her husband's life over the past few years. I can testify that she has found God faithful, and in the midst of the messiness of life, she has found God's unlimited joy.

Julie continues . . .

Ah, summer. If you’re a mom, you’ve likely just finished it. If you’re anything like me, you planned to have a great summer filled with fun activities: places to go, things to try, people to visit, etc.

And, if you’re still like me, you probably jumped for joy (to some degree) when it was over!

My HOPE is always to have the best summer, but my REALITY typically falls quite short.

I don’t know about you, but one can only take so much arguing, teasing, fighting, not listening and disobedience.

  • Behaviors get stretched to new limits when the TV and tablets are turned off because someone (or two) is grounded, and it’s too hot to go outside to play.
  • Boredom reaches new heights when Legos and Matchbox cars are the primary imagination booster to combat such yawn-inducing, brain-frying monotony.

In these instances, children often create their own “fun” which loosely translates into CHAOS for mom! And, not just any chaos, but the kind that horror stories are made of, such as: burning ants with a magnifying glass outside becomes a small brushfire (fictitious example), or a sister’s toothbrush is used as a toilet brush in a fit of assumptions, rage and revenge (a factual example from my summer).

This summer I did things differently.

Since the kids would be attending a new school, I had three whole months to work with them on the high expectations this new school has for its students.

Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays we worked on math (the subject everyone is scared of at my house).

Tuesdays and Thursdays, I put their imaginations to work and had them write their very own books!

Since all three of my kids LOVE to read, I thought it was time to make them the authors of their own imagination destinations. Funny enough, they really loved that idea and dove right in!

But, oh my goodness, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays just about sent me over the edge.

The frustration and tears shed are almost too hard to relive… and I’m talking about MINE!

Trying to find even moments of joy became increasingly difficult.

The longer the summer dragged on, the harder it became. I had done some wonderful studies on joy in the past, and am still in the midst of one now. So, why was I struggling so much with finding joy in this summer chaos?

Joy is a choice, plain and simple. It’s not something given, bought, earned or found.

1. We have to RECOGNIZE who the author of joy is.

That’s Jesus. By taking our place on the cross and forgiving us our horrible sins we don’t deserve forgiveness for, He created an institution of joy within our own hearts when we accept Him.

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-3).

(Also see Isaiah 61:10 and John 16:24.)

2. We have to CHOOSE to be thankful for everything He has done for us.

Being grateful for our abundant blessings is the fastest way to create joy in the midst of chaos.

Even being thankful for the chaos teaches us how to cling to our Lord and Savior during the most trying of times!

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).

(Also see Habakkuk 3:17-18; Galatians 5:22-23; and 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18.)

3. We have to SHARE it and spread that joy with those who need it.

In my estimation, that’s pretty much everyone!

Joy spreads like wildfire when you act in love and compassion toward another.

If we could share God’s love with others and act towards them with that same love, the world would change, one person at a time.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

 (Also see Proverbs 15:23 and Romans 15:32.)

In my case, I needed to choose to be thankful for these three little lives He had placed in our home and hearts after 17 long years of waiting.

He allowed us to become parents to some pretty amazing kids who were grateful to find a home with loving parents willing to help them with their schoolwork.

But, why had I forgotten to be thankful for them this summer? 

Because I had focused too much on the temporary frustrations and didn’t choose to be grateful for my lifelong blessings!

Are you struggling with choosing joy in the midst of chaos? Is there something you’re forgetting to be grateful for that will increase your joy meter? Reach out to a sister-in-Christ to pray with you and make a better choice for yourself today.

Joy is right there for the choosing and sharing!

Julie Watson worked in women’s and children’s ministries for 10 years as a Development and Executive Director before becoming a stay-at-home mom to three beautiful children. In 2016, God created a beautiful forever family when she and her husband, Shawn, were able to legally adopt the children. Julie now helps others find hope and freedom from emotional eating & unhealthy habits as a C.O.P.E. Certified Health Coach.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Pixabay.


Motherhood: A Bumpy, Painful Road to Navigate

I've watched Julie Watson's life for several year. I saw her godly heart. Her commitment to good health and positive choices. Especially her choice, with her husband, to give three children a home where they can grow in every aspect of their lives. In this special Mother's Day UPGRADE, she shares her heart about that "mothering" journey, and offers positive principles for all of us who are mothers or who work with children.

“Motherhood.  Why didn’t anyone warn me how painful it can be!” Julie says. 

Painful? I (Dawn) thought at times, "excruciating!" Though I see now, on the other side of parenting, all the blessings that came our way, I still have memories of frustrating, trying days.

Julie continues . . .

Before becoming a mother at the late age of 45, I used to dread Mother’s Day! Year after year, I watched friends attend special Mother’s Day celebrations, receive sweet gifts made by tiny hands who revered the ground they walked on, and sip on sweet gestures from husbands who did their best to make the day special.

Each year that just reminded me that I still wasn’t a mother. My husband did his best to make my day fun, as a mom to several “fur kids.” 

But the pain was real. It hurt. And, I was not alone.

I found many women felt the same way. Those who, like me, couldn’t have children of their own, or had lost children, had pain-filled memories of their childhood, or a poor relationship with their mother. There were many reasons for the pain, but it was there. 

Fast forward 17 years!

I became a foster mom to three beautiful children.

Yet, Mother’s Day still did not feel “real” to me, because nothing is official with foster kids.

It would be another two Mother’s Days until I got my wish!

Mother’s Day 2016 was truly my first. Yes, I received those sweet little hand-made gifts, happy smiles, big hugs, and all the yummy goodness that comes with it... for about an hour.

Then, it went right back into the toils of war!

Parenthood is hard! Being a mom is HARD!

All those years dreaming of it, yet I only pictured the warm hugs, smiling faces, and Norman Rockwell moments that filled my head from one too many Hallmark movies.

I neglected to focus on the screaming tantrums, sibling rivalries, moments of sheer chaos, and the first time I was told, “I hate you,” by those same sweet, little darlings I dreamt of for years.

Motherhood is gritty and unpleasant at best most days. At least, it was for me for several years.  We are just starting to turn corners now, but every few days they remind me we haven’t really—at least not yet. 

Yes, we have lovely moments sprinkled throughout our days and weeks. I treasure those... truly!  We talk and laugh, dance and sing, watch movies, and share the love of Jesus. We’re a regular family just like anyone else. 

But my kids have a past. It isn’t pretty, easy, or loving.

It was filled with neglect, abuse, feeling unloved and unwanted for years. One can’t overcome that overnight. No. It takes years! 

And so, we wait, love them, and work through their issues together, one day at a time.  We know God turns beauty from ashes and joy from mourning (Isaiah 61:3)!

Whether you’re a biological, adopted, foster, grand, or step mother, please know there are proactive things you can do to reach your child, as well as ways to cling to God during this bumpy and painful road of motherhood.

1. Listen

Open your ears and heart and hear what your children are saying—not just with their mouths, but with their behaviors too. 

Children often can’t process their emotions because they don’t understand what they’re feeling or have experienced. Get down to eye level with them and let them talk to you.

They may need to punch a pillow because they don’t know how to handle their anger. It’s ok. They just want to be heard and acknowledged that their feelings are real and they matter.

Spiritual Counsel—Go to the Lord in prayer, and listen to Him.  He will speak to your heart and refresh your spirit. 

Be still, and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10). See also Jeremiah 31:25 and Isaiah 40:31.

2. Read their body language.

My kids always have tell-tale signs of their real feelings. I acknowledge what I’m seeing as well as what they say they’re feeling.

Then, we offer a safe space to talk about it and what it really means deep down. (For example:  they say, “I’m fine” or “I’m not mad,” yet their hands are balled up into fists.)

Spiritual Counsel—Use wisdom to decipher the truth and don’t let their fears control the outcome.

“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13). Also, “…let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance…” (Proverbs 1:5).

3. Speak life and positivity into your child. 

They hear so much negativity all the time. Remind them of their godly gifts and talents, and that God has a perfect purpose and plan for their life!

Spiritual Counsel—Read the Word to guide you in raising your child in a godly way. The Bible is great resource for parental guidance. 

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6). See also Jeremiah 29:11.

Are you struggling today with being a mom? You are not alone. Reach out to other moms for help and support! We need to stick together, not compare or condemn one another.

As soon as we realize we are stronger together, we might just come out of this bumpy, painful journey alive and sane!

What can you do to reach out to the children in your care and speak to their deepest heart needs? Who is in your “mom support group”?

Julie Watson worked in women’s and children’s ministries for 10 years as a Development and Executive Director before becoming a stay-at-home mom to three beautiful children. In 2016, God created a beautiful forever family when she and her husband, Shawn, were able to legally adopt the children. Julie now helps others find hope and freedom from emotional eating & unhealthy habits as a C.O.P.E. Certified Health Coach.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Theo Rivierenlaan at Pixabay.


Shed Your Past—Shed the Pounds

Julie Watson is inspiring. In this UPLIFT post, she shares her story of how dealing with personal pain from her past enabled her—with the help of a healthy nutrition program—to lose weight and gain confidence.

“You can’t shed the extra pounds,” Julie says, “until you shed the painful experiences that put them there in the first place!”  

Exactly! I (Dawn) discovered the same thing over the past two years. I had to deal with the underlying emotional causes for my weight gain, and I appreciate Julie's honesty here.

Julie continues . . .

Last summer I set out to lose weight… a lot of weight! It’s not weight that came on recently, or even in the last 10 years. I’ve been carrying around this extra weight my entire life.

I often joke and say, “The last time I was thin was in the birthing room the day I entered the world!” 

Laughing about my weight has been my coping mechanism for as long as I can remember. But the truth is, there’s a lot of pain under that laughter.

My guess is that’s the case for most people who are obese. There’s always going to be a memory or two of the mean kids on the playground who called you, “fatty” or, in my case, my third-grade crush who called me “moose” while standing behind him in line at a Sea World drinking fountain.

I can still remember it like yesterday, and that was nearly 40 years ago!

Worse yet is when a person of authority crushes your spirit with words that are hurtful and damaging.

Such was the case with my pediatrician when I was 10 years old. I was told that I was overweight and needed to go on a diet immediately or I might get a myriad of health problems. 

Perspective for just a second:

  • I was five feet five inches tall at 10 years old.
  • I was a fully developed young woman and weighed 145 pounds.
  • I realize that’s a lot for an average 10-year-old. But I was NOT average! I was 3 inches taller than my fifth-grade teacher!

Back to the story . . .

My pediatrician sent me home with instructions for a 1,000-calorie-a-day diet and requirements to come back weekly to weigh-in. You would have thought I was the fattest person she had ever seen! That’s how I felt, anyway.

I remember crying in my room later that day. Nevertheless, I listened to her instructions and followed the plan. Of course, my mom made my food because, quite frankly, at 10 years old I didn’t know what a calorie was!

The following week, back we went. The scale read 144.5 pounds. I felt good that I had lost! But, that’s not the response I received. I got a FULL-ON YELLING LECTURE!

She was upset that I ONLY lost a half pound and needed me to understand—quite loudly—that if I didn’t lose weight, I was going to have High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, Diabetes, and would die of a heart attack really young!

I was 10—what did those words even mean? 

Traumatized, we left, and thankfully, never returned! However, the damage was done.

As I aged, I learned what those diseases were. I started having anxiety and panic attacks that I would get them.

I became a moderate hypochondriac in my teen years as the weight piled on. I used food to escape my emotions and feelings about my weight. If I heard one more person tell me, “You have such a pretty face, if only you lost weight,” I might have just exploded!

Fast forward to June 25th of 2018.

Desperate and alone I cried out to God for help!

I had self-fulfilled much of the prophecy that pediatrician had placed on me. I was in a very dark place, imagining an early death and that my family was going to have to bury me in a double-wide coffin.

God was faithful and graciously led me to an amazing, life-changing health program!

  • It broke through “why” I had a food problem, all relating to the pain compiled over the years.
  • It helped me look at the triggers, why they were there and how to be free of the pain that kept me in bondage.
  • At the same time, I learned new, healthy habits to replace the old, bad habits, one at a time.

The weight began to melt off and I began to heal from the inside out!

I learned that you can’t shed the extra pounds until you shed the painful experiences that put them there in the first place! 

I’m just about halfway in my weight loss journey—nearly 90 pounds down in just over 6 months! I have a long way to go yet, but I haven’t looked back because I haven’t wanted to!

When you feel good—really good—you don’t want to give that up! I found true FREEDOM, one directed by the Lord, for such a time as this!

When someone gives you keys to the jail door, you DON’T give them back!

Painful pasts must be dealt with so we can reach our goals! Whether it’s losing weight or another desire, speak to a pastor, counselor or therapist to work through your past and reach for your dreams!

You are worth it!

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’”  (Jeremiah 29:11).

Are painful experiences keeping you in bondage? Are you ready to shed them?

Julie Watson became an independent C.O.P.E. Certified Health Coach after finding freedom using an amazing health program that is transforming lives one habit at a time. Her husband became her first client, lost 43 pounds in three months and remains in maintenance. She loves helping others find the same freedom she found! Julie and Shawn live in San Diego with their three children and myriad of pets.

(NOTE from Dawn: This article is not meant to promote any specific program, but if you are interested in learning more about the specific program Julie is using, let me know and I will contact her.)

Graphic adapted, courtesy of MoreHarmony at Pixabay.


A Thankful Heart Produces a Blessed Life

I've observed Julie Watson go through a severe testing of "waiting," and then the blessings God poured into her heart and life. In this special UPLIFT, she shares one of the things the Lord taught her during the long wait: Thankfulness.

“Whoever said ‘Cleanliness is next to godliness’ must have been one difficult Mother-In-Law to impress!" Julie says. "I believe a more accurate description is ‘Thankfulness is next to godliness.’”  

The two thoughts that came to my (Dawn's ) mind when I read Julie's post today were: I think any child would want a mom like Julie; and I want to be a more thankful person!

Julie continues…

Thankfulness, gratefulness, heartfelt appreciation for all that God has blessed me with is something I think about almost every day. It’s an attribute of Christ I wish to instill in the hearts of my children. *

The words “thank you” are said in my home at least 20 times a day, or at worst, a gentle reminder to do so is given to an otherwise distracted and forgetful child.

But, let’s be honest. Having a thankful heart is hard to have on difficult days, especially when you find yourself in the midst of an unexpected life storm!

We recently finalized the adoption of our three beautiful children just a few months agoPRAISE JESUS! It was such a blessing for our family to finally be official

What a difficult, nearly two-year journey it had been. There were many days I was thankful during that time:

  • Thankful when my oldest, who was filled with anger, stopped chasing his sister around trying to rip her hair out. 
  • Thankful when my youngest son stopped hiding behind furniture when he didn’t want to talk, or more accurately, “grunt” at us for something he wanted. 
  • Thankful when my daughter, in tear-filled panicked cries, stopped screaming for me not to leave her, as her bio mom had done so many times before.

I slowly learned to be thankful for every small step in the process. In fact, it is still what keeps me in check today! 

Ultimately, seeing the huge progress my kids have made in the relatively short time we’ve had them has given me such a sense of joy and contentment.  I feel blessed!  It helps me stay focused on the good stuff and not so much on the obstacles in front of us.

However, it wasn’t always this way (and at times, I still struggle).

Between the temper tantrums, power struggles, constant lying (still working on this one), destruction of our property, issues in school with stealing and cheating, and days where I just felt completely alone with three little "monsters" ready to drive me into an early grave—I seriously have WAY more gray hair than I ever expected at this age—I can honestly say, I was NOT thankful.

Many tears were shed during my quiet times with God, begging Him to reconsider this path He had placed me on.

This Ministry of Motherhood He had bestowed upon me after waiting 17 years was NOT all it was cracked up to be! 

I remember telling Him quite clearly that He “had picked the wrong mom for this job.” And, “You’re crazy, God, if you think I can do this!” 

Looking back, I’m sure He just sat up on His heavenly throne saying, “Wait... just wait, child. What I am doing through you will be more amazing than you could ever imagine!”

That is truly where the thankfulness begins. 

Trusting in God as you wait upon Him during those hard days...  those life storms! Being grateful for each small victory and not focusing on the mountain still before you. 

Every day after that it’s simply a choice.

You have to CHOOSE to be thankful in all things. You have to PRACTICE it

You have to rely on the goodness and faithfulness of our loving Father who has something so amazing, you won’t believe it—until you do. 

A thankful heart produces a deeper, more intimate walk with Christ and a blessed life.

Here are some verses to encourage a thankful heart:

  • "O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!" (1 Chronicles 16:34, also Psalm 106:1)
  • "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
  • "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" (Colossians 3:17).
  • "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God" (Philippians 4:6).
  • "For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected it it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer" (1 Timothy 4:4-5).

Are you struggling with being thankful? Do you have a hard time trusting God to complete a good work in the midst of a life storm? Remember He cares for you and will speak to your heart if you open His Word and simply listen. Start thanking Him for some small victories today!

Julie Watson worked in women’s and children’s ministries for 10 years and as an Executive Director and Grant writer before becoming a stay-at-home mom to three beautiful children. She and her husband, Shawn know these children were hand-picked by God to be their own, and officially adopted them in the spring of 2016.  God is good!

* Note from Dawn: I had never actually thought about thankfulness being an attribute of Jesus, but it is! We see Him giving thanks in John 6:11, and in many other places in scripture He offered private and public appreciation for the good deeds people showed—He thanked the Father and He gave credit on earth where it was due—a wonderful example for us.

Graphic, adapted, courtesty of HotBlack, Morguefile.


Praying for Others: A Call to Commit

If you want to know someone with a tender heart, meet Julie Watson. In this unique Prayer UPRADE, she reminds us to be careful when we say, "I'll pray for you."

“Where, oh where, have all those gone who committed to pray for me?” Julie says.

OK. I (Dawn) just felt a pang of guilt. Did you? Instead of running from the conviction, I want to face it head-on. And Julie's here to help.

She continues . . . 

Praying for others is a vital and daily part of our Christian walk. Nowadays, with the popularity of social media, I now find myself praying for online unknown acquaintances several times a day. But, lately I have wondered, “Where, oh where, have all those gone who committed to pray for me?” 

Lately, I have felt forgotten.

I rarely ask for prayer for myself. I have always felt my needs were so small in comparison to the serious nature of others, I didn’t feel right to ask. I’m often the one asking, “May I pray for you?” At least, that was the case until recently. 

As my husband and I embarked on the most difficult journey of our lives two years ago, we knew we would need to be surrounded in prayer for every stage of this new adventure:  adopting children out of the foster care system. We had many people from all walks of life wrap their arms (literally and figuratively) around us in love, support and prayer. It has been an amazing experience to feel so cared for and to know that someone is always praying for us and our new children.

Now, let me preface the rest of this blog by saying:

Without a doubt, I know people continue to pray for us daily.

Without a doubt, I know we are on the minds and hearts of some wonderfully committed friends, family and church members.  

However, the numbers feel as though they’ve significantly dwindled. I have literally gone weeks, and even months, only hearing from a few dear friends. 

Many, with the best intentions, have said, “I will call you next week” or “Let’s get together for coffee and to talk/pray,” etc.—only to never call or check in again. 

While I know life is busy and throws us off track at times, there is significant importance to keeping our word in things we’ve committed to doing—especially in praying for others.

I’ve failed at this myself many times. I used to tell people, “I’ll pray for you.” However, I often didn’t remember to do so. I found life got busy and it wasn’t until I saw that person the next time that I remembered to pray for them.

So, in order to stay true to my word, I changed to say, “Can I pray for you right now?”  Or, “I am praying for you now.” This helped me connect with that person and address their immediate needs, hopefully showing them God’s love and concern for them in the process.

So, if you are struggling to stay committed to praying for others, here are a few suggestions to help you keep your word, build your own faith as you see others’ prayers answered and stand in the gap for those in need.

1. Don’t commit unless you are SURE you will do it.

Face it, your word is your vow. Show that it is not empty and spoken in vain. 

You shall be careful to do what has passed your lips, for you have voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God what you have promised with your mouth” (Deuteronomy 23:23).

But whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected…” (I John 2:5). 

2. Once you commit, make a plan to STAY committed. 

 Whether you need to plug it into your calendar, create a reminder on your phone or write Post-it Notes all over your bathroom mirror, make sure you do something that works for YOU to keep your word.

3. Check in REGULARLY with the person you’ve committed to praying for. 

How will you continue to know how to pray—or rejoice in an answered prayer—if you don’t check in with those you are praying for? Just put it on that calendar or phone or Post-it Note to check in within a reasonable amount of time.

4. Create a HABIT of praying for others as a daily routine. 

 Whether you have committed to pray for anyone or not, remember: God calls us to pray for others, period. (1 Timothy 2:1, James 5:13,16, Ephesians 6:18, Romans 8:26-27)

Whether I hear from others or not, I can rest assured knowing my Heavenly Father loves and cares about me. I know that praying for others is an important part of my walk and it’s essential to keep my word.

When I pray for others I will be personally blessed and grow in faith as I watch God answer prayer. 

Where are you struggling? Are you struggling with keeping your commitment to pray for others?  Or, do you need someone to wrap their arms and prayers around you today? 

Right now, go to the Father in prayer. He will provide the right prayer partner for you—trust Him!

Julie Watson worked in children’s ministries for 10 years and as an Executive Director and Grant writer before becoming a stay-at-home mom to three beautiful children. She and her husband Shawn know these children were hand-picked by God to be their own, and plan to adopt them as soon as they are legally allowed.

Graphic adapted, photo by Jordan Sanchez,