Archive | November 2014

Julie & Julia, Part II

 

The book: Julie & JuliaThese are my final thoughts on the book Julie & Julia by Julie Powell, who worked her way through Julie Child’s cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking and blogged about her experience in what she called the “Julie & Julia Project.”

In the past, Julie had not pushed through obstacles so well. (According to the movie, she had written a novel that no one wanted to publish, and in the book she had been from one dead-end job after another, never quite reaching any particular career objective.)

Discouragement seemed to have stopped her from doing and getting the things she really wanted. But Julie found that the only way to avoid or break such a cycle is to work through the challenges and continue toward the goal.

Julie had two things that brought her joy – her writing and her ability to cook delicious meals. But, she didn’t feel confident in her ability to do either, so she overlooked their power to change her life. Don’t we sometimes do the same thing with the word and power of God, and with our own gifts and talents? We overlook the power of the people, things and abilities that have been there all the time. We may be blinded by discouragement as Julie was or sidetracked by some lesser desire.

However, Julie got her groove back!  She derived joy from learning the art of French cooking from Julia Child and it created a platform for her to write again.

Learning from Julie

I found three things interesting about Julie’s journey and what we can learn from her experience.

First, it’s interesting how sometimes it requires someone else to identify our gifts and talents. A big part of Julie’s come back actually rested with her husband. Her husband’s discernment of her strengths and abilities, his encouragement and support helped Julie to exit her rut and push through to the finish. And once she began the “Julie & Julia Project,” she felt a level of accountability to her readers that also inspired her to finish what she had started.

Sometimes, I think we all need another person or persons to see the greatness within us that we tend to overlook in ourselves, to help us draw it out, and to offer accountability for our actions or the lack thereof. That’s what I just love so much about God, a loving family, close friends and a good spouse: they will draw some stuff out of you, prompt you to change and even to find your inner happy.

Second, pain should help us change our course and propel us forward in the direction we should go; the pain is to cause a detour from one place to another – not necessarily an all-out-stop-everything. Julie’s pain of being in one dead-end job after another had virtually gone ignored until the “Julie & Julia Project.” She’s lived with the disappointment and misery – mostly by more drinking, cursing, venting frustrations, envy – and repeat!

She had few positive coping methods and no change strategy. But Julie finally got tired of being sick-and-tired of the same, did something different, broke the rut and found success.  So, don’t stop everything thing; only the thing that’s not working i.e. the cause of the rut.

Third, we are here to fulfil God’s and our purpose through the unique gifts, talents and abilities God has placed within each of us for our good, the good of others and God’s glory. Others need what God has placed inside each of us, just as Julie Powell needed Julia Child’s gift of French cooking to help bring out her inner joy. And like Julie Powell and Julia Child, we need to tap into what’s already within us, cultivate it and share it. Somebody needs your talent just as Julie Powell needed Julia Child’s gift of French cooking.

I encourage you to find those things that you do or desire to do that bring you joy and see where they lead you. All of you who are worthy of admiration, find your inner happiness and flow with it.

One final note on the book Julie & Julia, get the movie!

 

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Julie & Julia, Part I

The book: Julie & JuliaI recently read Julie Powell’s book Julie & Julia, based on Julie Powell cooking and blogging her way through Julia Child’s cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking, in an endeavor Powell calls the “Julie & Julia Project.” I had the movie and felt so inspired by it that I thought the book might be even better.

However, I didn’t feel the book was as inspirational as the movie. I found Julie a little humorous, but her perspective about marriage and how to treat people, namely her husband, was disturbing.

She curses like a sailor, and for someone who isn’t at all religious, she uses the names of the godhead more than most Christians in crisis. I mean, why not simply use – yet another – curse word, rather than the name of God.

Anywho … Julie’s hung-up on the fact that she’s only been intimate with one man, her husband. And I was so ready – for her husband’s sake – for Julie to get over it. I mean they’ve been married for several years now and both seem to adore each other. At any minute, I was expecting her to have an affair or something, but she never did – at least not in this book.

All of the above often prompted me to put the book down and forget about any nugget of inspiration I’d hope to find. But, I pressed on anyway. I wanted to get some nugget of wisdom out of Julie Powell, and I believed it was in there somewhere amid the cursing, sex envy and just straight-up craziness.

Toward the end of the book, I got a glimmer of hope that I might, yet, glean something of substance from Julie Powell, and I did. Upon reflection, I realized that the project Julie had undertaken was no small feat, given that a single volume of Child’s cookbook is more than 500 pages and that Julie had a full-time dead-end job, a husband, several cats and a pet snake!

When Julie felt like quitting, her love and admiration, not only for food but, for her blog readers and her protégé Julia Child helped her to persevere. It was a lesson on tapping into one’s passion and purpose. Ultimately, Julie found joy and purpose as she pursued her passion for Child’s work in mastering French cooking. Julie also found a path for her life, along with a little confidence in herself and her abilities.

I admired Julie’s tenacity. She learned that when you do what you love, enjoy and believe in (passion and purpose), you will derive the strength and focus to work through the hard times, as she did on the “Julie & Julia Project.” Regardless of her fits of rage, she accomplished her goal and found her way.

Julie was what Bishop TJ Jakes in one of his sermons called an “anyway person.” This is someone who, regardless of the fear, pain, obstacles or other difficulty, does what he/she needs to anyway.

There are times when the stakes are high that we all need to be an anyway person. Jesus was an anyway person, and there is room for us to be anyway people, like Julie, when it comes to purpose and passion for what is good.

I will finalize my comments on the book Julie & Julia next time. Until then, say it with me “You are worthy because HE has made it so.”

All For Me

ChrysanthemumOne Sunday after the pastor’s sermon, he had the congregation perform an exercise in casting our burdens on the Lord by faith. For me, it was a reminder of how much God loves and cares for me and what’s happening in my life, and yours.

The pastor asked those of us who were carrying burdens of any kind to close our eyes and visualize the cross of Christ. Then, we were to think or call out our burdens, and go through the motion of nailing each burden to the cross.

When I got home that day, I immediately gathered a manilla folder for cutting, a pair of scissors and an ink pen to repeat the exercise in my own private exercise of surrender.

With manilla envelope and scissors in hand, I cut out  a 6″ or so paper cross. With my pen, I began to write the various things that troubled me in some way – things that brought tears to my eyes when I thought of them; dreams and desires that seemed to elude me; broken pieces of my life that needed mending; and costly failures and choices. I wrote them all on that makeshift paper cross, and I surrendered myself – all that I am, and all I hope to be – to God. And most importantly, I trusted the One who loved me the most with my troubles, releasing myself from the anxiety associated with trying to figure out how it all will work out.

Observing how my personal troubles filled my little cross with no standing room for another thing, I reflected on the heaviness of the cross Christ had to carry, ladened with the cares of the entire world. And as I made His experience personal to me, gratitude overwhelmed me. I began to worship as I meditated on the fact that He suffered under the weight of that cross – all for me. Yet another reason I, and we, are worthy because of who He is and what He has done for us.