Julie Crist loves children, so it's no surprise that she is a teacher and that she has four of her own, two of which are twins! Her eyes light up and there is joy and energy in her voice as she talks about the children in her life, including some that she ministers to in her neighborhood. She also lights up when she talks about VMC's Rooted Discipleship Experience and what God is doing in her life right now. But sometimes our darkest moments play a part in what God later does in our stories, so she begins by sharing some of the things that brought her to this point.
When Julie was six years old, her parents were killed by a drunk driver. As a result, she was raised by her maternal grandfather and his wife, who was an alcoholic. Her paternal grandparents insisted that Julie be brought up to know the Catholic faith, so she was exposed to the sacraments and other aspects of Catholithism, but didn't actually attend church. Julie says these practices felt empty and she didn't understand that it was possible to have a personal relationship with God.
Julie met her husband, Robin, after college while she was working at Nordtrom's. Robin had grown up in the church, but because his mom didn't seem to "practice what she preached," he didn't have an interest in Christianity. Ironic now, Robin was drawn to Julie partly because of her lack of church connection, and Julie was drawn to Robin partly because of something she saw in his parents who were very involved in the church. She now sees God's hand in putting them together, which in turn brought each of them to discover the blessing of a relationship with Christ.
After Robin's mom passed away, they took care of his dad, who had Alzheimer's disease. At first they pretended they were sleeping in on Sundays, so that they wouldn't be up to go with him to church. Eventually, however, they went and became very involved in groups and serving. It was during this season that Julie accepted Christ for the first time.
Over the years, Robin and Julie have attended several churches. What has rooted them at each of these churches was the community and being involved. She has found that if you don't get connected with other believers as you journey through life, you just get stuck in the busyness. It's when you're "interrupted" by the interactions with people who are leaning on God in their own experiences, that you are encouraged in your own walk.
Eventually, Robin and Julie found themselves at Ventura Missionary Church. They came because of what VMC offers for children and youth. At the time they began attending, the Rooted Discipleship Experience was being promoted, and Julie thought, "Woah, that's just what we need." In a church the size of Missionary, she knew she needed some sort of vehicle to meet people, and Rooted sounded like a great option. At this time in her life, she also felt kind of stuck. Her experience at Rooted completely shook her loose. She discovered while attending that as a wife and mother, at times she was expecting too much of her family and frustrated when they didn't meet her expectations. She is a working mom and wanted their house to be clean at all times. At Rooted, she began to realize she was placing too much emphasis on the external, and that it was more important to be "happy with sunsets" than trying to find meaning in the pursuit of order. She has always struggled with wanting to be "more like Mary because she is definitely Martha's twin sister." (see Luke 10:38-42) But during Rooted, her priority changed from managing the perfect household to cultivating a strong family. In a prayer of surrender, Julie released her expectations, and over the weeks that followed, her group watched her "melt." Now focused on being more Christ-like, she in turn is modeling for her children what really matters.
Julie has signed on to be a group facilitator for the upcoming Fall Rooted Discipleship Experience. She has always been afraid to pray out loud and hopes that the leap of faith to be a Rooted facilitator will force her out of her comfort zone. She says she hopes to grow in her prayer life in other ways in the upcoming months. She would love to begin praying with her husband every night, something she saw her husband's aunt and uncle do that inspired her. (That aunt just recently went home to heaven.) She would also like to learn how to make prayer her default throughout each day, staying more in communication with God as she goes about her tasks and interacts with people. She is excited to see how God continues to write her story as she grows closer to Him, to others and her purpose.
The Fall Rooted Dicipleship Experience starts September 19. Click here to register.