“I’m quitting the shop!!”

I hope I didn’t scare you! This was actually an email I sent to my VIP club about a month ago. I had so many people write back to tell me that it was a help to them, so I decided to share it here as well.

While I’m not closing the shop, not too long ago, I said those words while sobbing heavily on my husband’s shoulder.

You see, I finished out 2016 with huge goals & dreams. I picked the word ‘intentional’ as my word for 2017, and I had prayed and planned to make this the year that I could help other Christian women and help my family financially as well.

Then the week of Christmas, we had to call an ambulance because my husband wound up on the floor in crazy amounts of pain from a pancreatic attack. From there, we were in and out of the hospital for 3 1/2 months for ER visits, a gallbladder surgery, and waiting on the results for a biopsy on a spot that was found on his pancreas. Unfortunately, while this was happening, we had zero medical coverage.

I was stretched thin, I was tired, and I quit sleeping. And the nights I did fall asleep, it was after hours of crying.

And right about that time, I had some loved ones choose to make some heartbreaking choices that heavily impacted my family…

The sales from my shop almost came to a stop in January and February…

I had some major car repairs…

My computer decided to go on the fritz…

My health took a downward spiral…

And God started leading us to find a new church…

I was overwhelmed, frustrated, tired, and hopeless.

I would find my eyes wandering off the pages of my Bible.

My prayers became ‘whining’ and ‘complaining’ sessions with God.

And no matter how much I cried and tried to quit, the words from Jeremiah 29:11 kept ringing through my head:

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

While this isn’t the first time my family has been faced with traumatic circumstances, and while I will never fully understand the power and overwhelming grace of God… for the first time in my life, I realized just how much greater His plans for me are than my temporal circumstances.

2017 has been both the hardest year and greatest year of my life so far.

Through the medical struggles, God helped my family re-prioritize what was really important to us.

Through the medically related financial struggles, He miraculously provided for a large portion of our bills.

And through my personal struggle and failures, He helped me finally understand what His purpose for giving me the desire to run this business really was.

I’m not promising that every struggle will end in bliss.

But I do want you to know that if you know Jesus as your Savior, He wants to mold you to be more like Him…

He has plans and a specific purpose for you…

And He wants you to let Him guide you as you face whatever struggles you are faced with in your life.

He loves you so very much!

I know this is super long, so if you read this all the way to the end, thank you.

I hope that it encouraged you and reminded you that there is so much God wants to do with your life!!

Have you looked back to see how God has used difficult circumstances in your life for good lately? Write back and tell me about it. It encourages me so much to hear your stories!

Love,
Julie

The trials and tribulations reading list…

Do you remember that time everything was falling apart, and just when you thought you couldn’t take any more…

…it happened.

The car stopped.

You got the pink slip.

Somebody gets sick.

Life can be so ridiculously hard, and sometimes we just need a little encouragement.

Sometimes it’s a caring text from a friend,

a verse that stands out and speaks to us in our quiet time,

or maybe it was someone just taking the time to listen.

God shows His love to us in so many ways all around us… we just have to look for it.

This is my unofficial ‘trials and tribulations reading list’ and I hope that these books comfort and encourage you through whatever you might be struggling through.

 

The Bible

I know, I know… you’re saying ‘well obviously’. But I wanted to go ahead and list it first for a reason. How often are we guilty of calling up a friend faster than we take the time to pray, or search the web for inspiring articles before we spend extra time in God’s Word when we are searching for strength. I hope you will always reach for your Bible first and remember how much God loves you.

 

God of All Comfort

This book has been around for a very long time, but the points that Hannah W. Smith makes in her book are still relevant today. I found it both encouraging and convicting.

It’s so easy for me to start running around like a chicken with its head cut off when things go wrong. I sometimes forget to just stop and remember that God is in control rather than trying to ‘make things better’ in my own strength. This book, while old, definitely encouraged me through my current struggles.

A Place Prepared

This one is a brand new book! As in it just came out today!! I’m so honored to have been able to be a part of the launch team and read it ahead of time. Julie Varner opens up about everything from finding out that her husband’s spinal fluid was leaking through his head, to being wrongly accused of parental neglect just after giving birth.

She shares how so many times the trials made no sense while they were going through them, but God would always bring them through and eventually show them why He did what He did.

 trials and tribulations reading list

 

As funny as the title may sound, I hope this  ‘trials and tribulations reading list’ helps you find some encouraging words through your struggle. Do you have any helpful books to recommend? I am always looking to add to my reading list, so I would love to hear about it!

 

*This post contains affiliate links.

On Memorial Day

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On Memorial Day, have you ever stopped during the national anthem and suddenly felt tears welling up in your eyes and an overwhelming gratitude in your heart?

I wasn’t born or raised in the United Stated, but as someone who came to live here as a young adult, and have close family members going all the way back to WWII who have served this country at some point… the flag, our anthem, their sacrifice… it’s tough for me to hold back the tears when I hear our song sung.

I think of people like my sister who have anxiously waited for loved ones to come home from deployment, those who may have been injured on the line of duty, and families who have carefully hung a ‘gold star’…

So the next time you hear our song, and you see a tear roll down my face, I hope you’ll remember how blessed we are, stand a little taller, and remember…

…I am forever grateful.

When Mother’s Day hurts…

“Julie, I think I’m going to sign off of social media. Mother’s Day hurts too much…”

I was talking to someone recently, and they were telling me how difficult it was to see all of the ads, photos and posts leading up to tomorrow.

As we scroll through Facebook, it doesn’t take long to realize that there are so many different emotions going on this weekend.

There are everything from blog posts about the blessings of motherhood, to trusting God to give you grace through the pain… photos of kids making faces at the camera to a bouquet of flowers next to a tiny tombstone.

You may have never lost a child, but the pain of your circustance is just as real…

To be honest, I don’t know what every heartache feels like… I may not even know how to empathize, because I’ve never been in your shoes. And as a naturally empathetic person, I wish so badly that I could.

But this Mother’s Day, even if you don’t read anything else, I hope you’ll read this:

Thank you for choosing to serve and love Jesus and others in spite of your pain. You are teaching me how to do the same when I don’t feel like it.

Thank you for letting others feel joy without guilt, so they can praise Jesus for the circumstances He has given them.

Thank you for making others feel like they are a part of your family. The world is a better place because of it.

And thank you for loving with transparency, honesty, and depth… I can see Jesus in you.

Your price is far above rubies…

 

Faith not fear…

Today, I was sitting down to fill out the ‘reflection page’ in my Brilliant Life Planner, and I was thinking about how I don’t always see huge progress from week to week. That being said, when we look back a few weeks, months or even years, we can see how much God is teaching us and growing us.

 

faith not fear, brilliant life planner, tokyo blossom boutique

 

One area that God is really working with me on is learning how to trust Him more. I don’t know about you, but I’m the kind of person that has to have it ‘all figured out’ before I make any decisions. If we take a road trip, I have to have every stop along the way planned out, how much we are going to spend on our meals, and all of the activities we will be doing once we get there. I’m not a control freak, I promise! I just REALLY enjoy planning. It’s half the fun for me!

The only problem is, I’m like that with life decisions too. I struggle to move forward on things I should do unless I have every step planned out and I have it under control. I think it’s good to make wise, thought out decisions, but when I refuse to move forward until I have every detail worked out in my control, I’m really just saying that I’m not sure if I can trust God with my life. 😕

While this is an ongoing lesson I have to learn in my life, I’m so grateful for the big, scary opportunities God has put in my life that I can reach out in faith and say ‘YES’ to! Sometimes that might be saying ‘yes’ to doing a show that I might feel inadequate for, sometimes that might mean saying ‘yes’ to trying something I’ve never done before, and sometimes that might mean saying ‘yes’ to taking the next step in life that I don’t fully understand yet.

Whatever the scenario may look like, I’m learning that it’s a lot less stressful to trust God for directions instead of bearing the weight of having to have it all figured out! What is God teaching you this week?

 

Unconditional love…


Yesterday my baby brother married one of the sweetest girls I’ve ever met. The ceremony was beautiful and Christ centered, and God far exceeded my prayers and hopes for his life. There was a short devotional given about unconditional love, and while that’s often thought about and talked about at weddings, it applies to every aspect of our lives.

God gave us the ultimate example of unconditional love through Jesus, but sometimes He gives just a little taste of that through loved ones and friends that walk along side of us through life. People who love us when life is easy… and even when it’s not.

I have an amazing husband and family that have shown me that love over and over again, but sometimes God also gives us friends who may not be family, but choose to overlook the normal ‘qualifications’ of what we consider family and make us their family. I have been so blessed with friends like that, and recently I had one of those people share their heart with me.

 

I’ve known this friend for a very long time and they probably know more about all my quirks than I do. But more importantly, they knew about some personal heartache that I never ever thought I would have to face. They knew every single detail of that unpleasant, difficult, heart wrenching situation, and yet they purposefully chose to hug me till I cried and told me over and over again how much they loved me, my husband, and my son exactly the way we were, and that they would always be there for me.

Ya’ll I hate crying in public… but you better believe I cried like a baby.

I told you all that, because through all of this, I was reminded yet again of how much Jesus loves us. How much He went through to make a way for us to be adopted into His family. How He saves us exactly where we are, and gives us the strength and the love to help us grow to be more like Him each day. He wants to hear every prayer, concern, or cry for help.

And if you didn’t know…

He WANTS you to cast your every care one Him. (I Peter 5:7)

He will NEVER leave you. (Hebrews 13:5)

He is FAITHFUL to forgive. (I John 1:9)

He holds us close and covers us like a mama hen does for her babies. (Psalm 91:4)

Maybe you’ve had people you love use you, hurt you, lie to you, disappoint you, talk about you… you fill in the blank. But Jesus NEVER fails. We’re not perfect and yet He loves us anyway. We have a lot on our hearts and minds and not once does He turn us away because He thinks it’s stupid or insignificant. Not once does He kick us down for not having all the answers, for not knowing what to do, or for needing help. He is our advocate, He is our heavenly father, He is our comforter, and He is our refuge.

And if you don’t know Jesus as your Savior, He WANTS to be all these things for you. He loves you so much that He gave His own life on a cross to pay the penalty of sin that keeps us from going to heaven and spending forever with Him. That’s why Easter is such a beautiful time. We celebrate His victory over sin… His victory over death and the wonderful things that means for us.

I hope you know you are loved, but most of all, I hope you know just how much God loves you unconditionally and that He truly wants for you to be a part of His family.

John 3:16

 

Are you a worry wart?

 

I know this is kind of a personal question, but are you a worry wart? I’m going to be very honest with you… I am. And with all of the health scares that have happened to my family in recent months, let me tell you… I’ve lost a LOT of sleep. But I came across this quote that really convicted me the other day:

It is folly to think the Lord provides grace for every trouble but the one you are in today. – Charles Spurgeon

 

 

Ya’ll… this… how often do we live like this?

“I know God’s in control but… that was last week.”

“I know God gives grace, but… this I’ve got going on right here??”

“God can do anything, but… what I’m going through right now?!?!”

It seems so silly when we stop to think about it, but we do it ALL. THE. TIME. We can be some of the biggest worry warts.

We trust Him when we accept His beautiful gift of salvation and trust Him as our Savior, but we start thinking about bills, our kids, our family, our friends, what others think… and we forget just how gracious and powerful He really is!

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭10:29

 

 

He loves you so much, friend. I hope this encourages you as much as it did me!

 

worry wart

Light at the end of the tunnel…

*Phew* This week has been a whirlwind!

If you have been following along over on Facebook or Instagram, the week before Christmas, my hubby was rushed to the hospital for a gallstone induced, pancreatitis attack. From there we found a mass on his pancreas that required a biopsy (which came back benign!), and we have been in and out of the emergency room, never knowing when the next gallbladder attack would happen.

This last time, he was in the worst pain of all of the hospital visits, and even got to the point to where the morphine they gave him in the ER was giving very little relief. We had been working to schedule a gallbladder surgery with the hospital for the last several weeks, but because of the severe pain, they went ahead and scheduled the emergency surgery right there.

It was a long day, but because we have been through so much the last several months, knowing that we were finally getting to take care of the root of the problem was a welcome relief. To be honest, I got more rest waiting in the post surgery room, watching cartoons with the little man, then I have in a really long time.

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I think back on everything that has happened and it feels like such a blur, but one thing that has really stuck out to me is the grace God has given my family to get through these tiring, stressful times. It’s amazing how much God can use difficult seasons to prove His love for us. Wether it was how He used people to miraculously provide for our initial medical needs, friends coming up alongside of us to make sure we had meals and childcare, and the daily grace He has given me to get through the overwhelm of getting ready for popup shows, a wedding, and the never knowing when we would be in the hospital next.

He is so good to care enough to work out the details of our lives, isn’t He? 💗

II Corinthians 12:9

Do I love God’s word?

Love God's Word
Cherry Blossom Planner Clips

 

This last week I had the unique opportunity of getting to meet someone who has recently come to know Jesus as their Savior. As they asked questions and had them answered with verses from the God’s Word, they clung to every word, wrote in the margins so they wouldn’t forget what they learned, and asked what other passages they could read to learn more.

Guys, I’m grateful that I can freely open my Bible, pray, and attend church, but I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t love it with the same passion and fervor that this person does. I can’t say that God’s Word is so sweet to me that it’s sweeter than honey. But can you imagine if it was? It would no longer be just part of our morning routine. It would no longer be something we made ourselves do, just because we know we should.


Can you imagine if we loved His word and got excited the same way we love to get a sweet note in our mailbox from a friend? I can only imagine my attitude towards other things would change! I wonder if I would stop seeing opportunities God puts into my life as “have to’s” and start seeing them “wow, this is so awesome’s”! 

Here’s to seeing the Scriptures with fresh eyes and a loving heart starting today. 💗

 

Seeing this person’s new love for Jesus and the Bible went further than just convicting me… it blessed and encouraged me. In fact, there has been a little bit of a shift in focus. Maybe not even a shift, but more of a sharpening of focus. If you are on Instagram, be sure to follow along with my #devoswithjulie hashtag to see what God has been teaching me!

 

Smart girl’s guide to colorful eclectic decorating.

smart girl's guide to colorful eclectic decorating-01

Until recently, I didn’t realize that colorful eclectic decorating was even a thing…

All I knew was that I LOVE whitespace, with happy, pops of color. And because I had to do everything on a slim budget, I would often rely on random pieces that I would spray paint to match my favorite colors, or hang a screen printed freebie that Scott got at a conference to my wall.

I thought, “Hey… maybe this is a little, quirky…”, and I was perfectly happy with that. Then I started getting complements, and questions like, “How do you make the randomness look good together?”, so today I’m going to show you just how easy, affordable, and fun this style of decorating can be!!

 

1.  Pick your neutral. 

Your neutral base is going to have a huge impact on the color scheme that you go with. Eclectic decorating is seemingly random at first, but if you look carefully, all of the colors ‘work’ together. In my office, for example, you will see reoccurring colors that are actually used over and over again in my shop.

Because we live in a rental, I didn’t get to choose my paint color, but most everything I have is a bright white, with a few gray things here and there. I really love how using white as a neutral can brighten and open up a space, so my shelving and large items are all white.

 

2. Pick 2-3 ‘base’ colors.

Picking your base colors doesn’t mean that you can only use those colors. It just gives you a color guideline to work with. My base colors are hot pink, yellow, and gold. As you can tell from the photo up top, I have WAY more than those 3 colors, but all of the ‘extra’ colors that you see actually work together. This just helps to keep it eclectic and not psychedelic!

Keeping paint chips in your wallet is a great way to always have a color guide on hand. Next time you see a piece of decor or art that you like in the store, hold up that base color paint chips next to it, and see if it works together! It takes the guess work and stress out of picking new pieces!

 

 

3. Use different sized picture frames.

Some of my posters are hung with binder clips that are pinned up with straight pins, but I seriously love me some picture frames. Wether you spray paint an old one from the thrift store, or use a bright colored one from IKEA, using different sized picture frames can create interest and tell a story. My wall is full of posters that were designed by graphic designer friends, printables from my shop and my friends’ shops, a letter from Joanna Gaines (totally not kidding!), and a shadow box that contains a locket from some dear friends that told me to never give up when I was around 14 years old.

Those are things that mean a lot to me, motivate me, and tell my story, but everyone’s story is so different. Your story would be beautiful in its own unique way. ❤️

 

4. Find accent pieces to hang between the frames.

Some people prefer to only hang frames in a gallery type layout, but I really enjoy hanging a little ‘bling’ here and there. All of my accent pieces came from dollar bins and places like Michael’s $3 section. Because those spots tend to be seasonal, think ahead to what time of year your base colors will be popular.

Since my colors are pretty bright, they tend to come out around Valentine’s and a lot during the summer. A little preplanning will go a long way in saving you some money! And don’t you just want this T-Rex head on your wall???? 😝

 

 

5. Experiment with storage solutions!

You want a good portion of your storage to be neat, stackable things that are going to help avoid the appearance of clutter, but having 1 or 2 unusual storage items can help to add a little character to the space. In my case, my unusual storage item is the bird cage shown in the top picture.

It has been a lifesaver for me! The drawers below it are full of wool yarn that I use to make my products, but once a skein of yarn is half used (not all products use a full skein), it’s hard to neatly store it in the drawer again. I’m able to place the leftover yarn in the bird cage without having to worry about it getting tangled up or having to dig through the drawers to find that tiny leftover ball.

 

 

Hope that gives you some fun ideas, and I can’t wait to see what you come up with! Tag me on social @TokyoBlossom, so I can see your finished work!

 

This post contains affiliate links and you can read about them here! ❤️