A Willing Heart


For years, I hid in my loft office upstairs and wrote the days away, trying to make my life count. Trying to be somebody.

But God’s been messing with my heart lately. Big time.

On Saturday, November 4th, I went with some friends to downtown Atlanta. We took goodie bags to the homeless.

This pastor happened by.

He said he’d just walked his 6,000 steps for the day and ended up at same park where we were.

“There’s a reason God brought me here,” he said. “Now I know why.” He smiled. “To pray for you ladies.”

He didn’t say a quick prayer and hurry on his busy way.

He spent some time with us. He thanked us for what we were doing, and then he began to pray–the kind of prayer that stirs your soul. He asked God to protect us and to shine His Light through us. 

There was something special about him.

Something unforgettable. 

The man depended on God for every step he took. Every word he spoke. 

We said goodbye and headed to our next stop.

I want to live that way, I thought. Like that man. Totally free to be myself. Free to share God’s love anywhere and everywhere.

Two days ago, I met Missy for lunch.

She attended a women’s retreat in October where my mother and I spoke.

Missy and I chatted and laughed while we ate. Then we got gut-level honest.

“Missy,” I said. “I’ve been speaking to ladies’ groups for years. Usually it takes me a few minutes to feel comfortable in front of a crowd. But something happened when I spoke to your group. I’m not sure what it was, but I had so much fun. No fear whatsoever. Wonder what made the difference?”

She leaned forward and looked right in my eyes. “You were real with us, Julie. Every woman in the room could relate to you.”

Holy goosebumps covered me.

That’s how I make a difference in the world?

I take off my skin and be myself?

It sounded too good to be true.

Then I remembered the pastor. His compassion. His easy manner. The way God drew near when he prayed for us.

I want to live that way, every day.

And for a few precious minutes at the women’s retreat, I did.

When you surrender everything to God–even for a few minutes, He never wastes a willing heart. (click to tweet)

Can you relate? Have you had moments when you completely surrendered your heart to God? What happened? Please share with the group! It’s an exciting way to live, isn’t it?!

P.S. I’ll be speaking Thursday and Friday nights, November 16th and 17th. Say a prayer. 🙂












  1. Anna Haney says:

    Oh Julie. Moments when I completely surrendered my heat to God. Hmm. I feel like these should be youth group moments–that I should have a story that pulls me from my reckless wild ways to God. I don’t. This year’s word was ADVENTURE and I’ve not had anything big–nothing that I think anyone would want to follow or find inspiring. But I’ve had adventures. Had my first major dental work ever. Saw challenges at work. The biggest adventure, though, has been learning to live without my momma. So I guess, well, more accurately I see now, that in those adventures, I had the courage and strength to persevere because I DID fully surrender.
    Thank you for the reminder.
    Love you

    • Anna—

      My friend.
      Your live sounds incredibly adventurous to me. I’ve watched your stretch and change and grow–and let go…and to say goodbye to your mom–that’s huge. And you’ve done all of this with His Grace.

      I love finding out about your work-a-day world. You’re changing lives. Every day.

      Surrender is a mighty big thing, isn’t it? NO other way to really live.

      I love you.

  2. Marcia Bargo says:

    I can so identify. I too, have spent needless emotional energy searching for worth in what I do. I am beginning to realize that it is not in the “big things” but the little things. And , the Lord sends affirmation with comments made by people such as you to bring that home. He wants us to be ourselves–ourselves,covered through and through with His grace. I think that is what makes the difference. His grace is what allows us to realize that a smile given to someone we don’t know, opening the door for an elderly person, taking time to listen without putting our two cents in the conversation, doing a kind act like taking a goody bag to someone to brighten their day. Yes, Julie, I can so identify with you and it is not by accident that our paths have crossed. I only wished I could hear you speak more often, but do not know your schedule. I will pray for you this week.

    • Marcia,
      YES. This is what I’m talking about! Yes, yes, yes!

      His Grace. Moment by moment.

      Slowing down.

      Saying, “Please help me, Lord, because I can’t do this without You.”

      He stirs our hearts to open doors, to smile, and I’m telling you–the afternoon we spent in downtown ATL with the homeless, it’s like we were in a God bubble. He was all around us, moving through us, loving through us. Nothing like it.

      Thanks so much for reading and understanding–and commenting! xo

  3. You’ve spoken exactly what I’ve been thinking lately. Thanks for being a willing vessel!

  4. sandy Coffey says:

    I can feel God talking thru you and your mom. Just the way you ladies express and look at folks. I am reminded of all the steps the preacher took every time I walk or drive somewhere by myself. Always behind me pushing me onward and forward. I will pray for you this week also. You have this, God is standing right there and folks notice that. I like to think my one daughter and I have that glow as folks will just randomly chat with us in a store or where ever we are. It is special. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and continue your writing. I think about it all the time when I need help myself.

    • I know what you mean about talking to people in stores. Happens all the time to me. I really like it too. 🙂 It feels like God-moments.

      Thank you for your kind comment, Sandy. And for reading and cheering me on! Means so much to me.

      Yes, you have the glow, I’m sure. And your daughter does too. His Glow.

      Much love, my friend!

  5. Amen Julie! Great message we are free to be. True peace and complete Joy is found in being true to who God created us to be. We are shaped and molded by our stories and our stories are needed by someone. Ahhhhhh, just be a real blessings and thank you

    • Thank you, Tom.

      I can’t help it. I always smile when I find out a guy reads my posts. 🙂

      Good words. I appreciate them.

  6. Debra-Diane McDonnell (Chaplain DD) says:

    Congratulations, Julie: Welcome to YOURSELF! You are perfect, exactly the way God created you to be. As a woman, we all think we have to “do more” and “do it perfectly” before we can be accepted. Nope. All we have to do is “let our hair down” and be ourselves. That’s what God loves. Without pretense, we are free to go deep into ourselves and share from our innermost being. That’s what He loves.

    I just spent 5 days as the “Chaplain in Charge” at the Traveling Viet Nam Wall here in my City. It was an experience I will never forget. To be able to help so many Veterans “break through” the wall they’d built around their hearts was amazing. I handed out hugs and “Thank You For Your Service” challenge coins. It broke my heart when so many said they’d never been thanked before. I offered a handshake with each coin and usually ended up with a hug. One Vet told me he hadn’t been touched by another human being in 5 years.

    Why did I share that? Because I want you – and everyone – know it’s OK to be US, who we are, the way we are, with all our foibles and “warts” and all. We do what we do because we love. Purely and simply. From that deep place down in our hearts. You can’t fake that. And when you let yourself be yourself, wonderful things happen.

    You have been amazing all of your life; thank you for being YOU, the wonderful person God created you to be.

    • Chaplain DD,
      Ohhhhhhhhh, now I have Holy Goosebumps again. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE what you shared. That’s what I’m talking about! And God’s hands and heart were all over what you did. I’m sure of it.

      You wrote an amazing first sentence too. I guess you know that. Welcome to YOURSELF.

      That’s powerful. I’m going to have to chew on that one for a while. It’s been a long time coming–if you know what I mean. 🙂

      Wish I could give you a hug and walk and talk with you.

      Thank you. So very much.

  7. Julie Gilleand says:

    Hi Julie, I’m so glad you had that moment that freed you to be yourself. And what a revelation. It seems so simple that God could more easily use us when we are being exactly who he created us to be, but it doesn’t come easily, does it, to realize that. I don’t know about you but I always feel I have to become something or someone else for everybody. One thing for my kids, one thing for my husband, one thing for my job, another for my friends, etc. It’s exhausting, really. It’s a very deep subject to get into how I got that way, but I think I do know. My mom was very smothering and controlling so I learned from a young age how to step around all of that to best avoid those situations. So I had to become something else in order to survive that situation. And at the time I didn’t even know that’s what I was doing or why. When you’re a kid you think everything that happens is normal — until you grow up and find out differently! There were other things too but I think I’m very well-versed in being who I have to be, in whatever situation. In one way that makes me feel capable, but in another, it makes me feel fake and that is perplexing. So hearing about your “epiphany” or sorts, inspires me to believe that maybe I’ll find mine too, one of these days!! Thanks for sharing about this and I love that this happened for you!! I will keep you in my prayers for your speaking engagements tomorrow and Friday. Be blessed and have a wonderful Thanksgiving, too!! ♥


    • Leafy,
      Do you know what I love about you? You’re honest. You’re genuine. I get no hint of phony from you–none whatsoever. You did what you had to, growing up. And you made it. 🙂

      I agree big time…everything that happens when you’re a kid, you think is normal. So true.

      Thank you for your prayers–because if God doesn’t speak through me, I have nothing to say.

      I love you. Wish we could walk through the leaves together and laugh and talk–and have a cup of coffee.

      And I believe you’re centimeters away from your epiphany moment.

  8. Patricia Martin says:

    Julie, I said a prayer for your speaking and know that you will be wonderful! Please pray for my family as everybody is going through health issues right now.(): My fur babies are ok, still, one eats fur and another one does not drink enough water… No one, not even my cats are perfect! I love your lacy top, it looks great against your skin tone.(((:

    • Hey my sweet Patricia!

      I’ve missed you!! I’m so sorry everyone and everything around you is sick right now.

      Lord, will You touch Patricia’s peoples and animals? Will You restore their health?

      Thanks so much being you. I love your comments and your heart. I love you!

      P.S. I had to scroll up to see what lacy top you’re talking about. I bought in our little city in an antique store–for $12. 🙂

  9. Cathy Mayfield says:

    Wow, Julie, I’ve missed you! It seems like so long since your last post!

    And double-wow! You hit the mark on this one for me! The Spirit has me hopping right now. It would take entirely too long and too much space to spell it all out, but I welcome you to stop by my FB timeline to read the “Aha! God!” moments for the month of November. About a month ago, God started insisting on something new developing in my life. (My word-of-the-year is REDIRECTION!) And not just in my “life,” but in “me.” (See Nov. 3, 5, and 14 on FB timeline for more on this! I don’t post much else, so you won’t have to weed through other than one or two other posts.)

    You may recall I’m in the midst of planning and prep for TWO weddings for our daughters – Dec. 10th (soon!) and June 2018! So “something new,” or in the Spirit’s leading yesterday, a “new mission in life,” is not what I had in mind. But something is up, and I have been daily surrendering to each new message, each urging to do something new…such as the past two days when I sat down to work on the devotional I’m supposed to be writing for our Christmas gift-giving, and distinctly heard the command to write a psalm!

    “Write a psalm?” you ask. Yep! A pastor suggested I write them probably ten or more years ago. I thought he was kidding, because I didn’t think it was “proper” to do so. Then, the Spirit laid a title on my heart and I took off from there…but just in the research end. Until yesterday, I hadn’t given serious thought to actually doing it. So, I dug out that title from long ago: The Psalms of Martha and Mary, and I wrote the first one. Would you like me to include it in here? It’s not long and could maybe bless someone. I definitely encourage everyone to try it. What a blessed experience! Number 2 came this morning!

    May your Thanksgiving holiday bring you peace and times of just being grateful for who He is and who you are in Him. <3

    • Hey Cathy,
      Sure! I’d love for you to show us your Psalms! It’s your heart on paper!! That’s amazing!

      And I’ll go to your page to see your posts. 🙂

      Two weddings. So much joy! I’m grinning all over myself. 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Yes, it’s been a whole month since my last post. It was kinda weird. I kept sitting down to write a blog post and something just wasn’t right. I couldn’t get my fingers to cooperate with my heart–if you know what I mean. Then last night, I put two and two together, and came up with a way to connect these powerful encounters. Well, that and I got really honest.

      Much love to you and yours~~~~~

  10. Julie, thank you for this lovely post, which really speaks to my heart. I love “take your skin off.” I’m going to remember that. Many blessings to you as
    Gpd uses you to touch many. Prayers for this weekend. Bev

    • Thank you, Bev.

      Praying and believing I’ll be skinless and the Lord will love through me.

      I love you.

  11. Maxine Edwards says:

    Hey, Julie! I am going to be one of the lucky ladies to hear you speak tomorrow night at FBC!! I can’t wait!! Have been reading Daily Guideposts for many years and you and your dear mother are two of my favorites!! It’s going to be great to finally get to meet you!! Looking forward to the special evening…
    Much love!

    • Wo-hoooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!! I can’t wait!! Thanks for letting me know! And for reading this post! And for praying!!

      Big hugs,

  12. Your open and willing heart are what draws people to you. Your authenticity and ability to shed your skin and be real is what keeps them listening. You have a gift. You are being faithful and using it. Kudos, kiddo!

    • Why am I tearing up again? I always do whenever we talk. And it feels like we’re talking when I read your words. Your heart, really.

      I love you. I love you. I love you. xo

  13. Marci' a says:

    Julie, How meaningful this one is. And truly it is the lttle things we can do. This touches me where I am.
    Recently I read a quote, “Be yourself, Everyone else is already taken.”. and I wanted to say Yes! that is it.
    I know what you mean about being in the loft. I don’t have a loft, but I do know that feeling.
    Yes, surrender– and though that is not my word for the year, I wonder if that might not have been, or “letting go”,, “Accept”. Life comes with changes and this year several losses. A recent one that has broken my heart. As I read your words, I thought, how sometimes we think God is taking us in one direction then it turns out he has taken us in a different direction?
    And sometimes I think, “Well, I didn’t see that coming!” How wonderful that God had a minister there to pray with all of you. I always keep your needs in my prayers. Praying for you as you speak, and also thanking God that you are there speaking Just as yourself! That helps us all so much. Thank you Julie for being exactly who God meant you to be! God Bless, and much Love to you, Marci’a

    • Sweet Marci’a,
      Do you know how much you mean to me? I love your heart. Your beautiful Thanksgiving card came yesterday. It’s sitting on my kitchen counter. I keep looking at it and smiling. 🙂

      I pray that He holds you close–with the recent loss. I’m so sorry. You’ve prayed me through some tough times. I pray You feel His Presence right beside you.

      I know what you mean about, “I didn’t see that coming.” Whew….

      Thank you for your prayers. Tomorrow and Friday night, I’ll be speaking at 8:30 EST. And I know you’ll be praying for me. Means more than I can say.

      I love you~

    • Julie Gilleand says:

      Marci’a, know that I’m praying for you too, about your recent loss. I read your email and will respond soon. I lifted you and your family up during our prayer time today and will continue to do so. God bless you, my dear friend — Leafy

  14. Cathy Mayfield says:

    Julie, here is psalm #1. This is raw and un-reworked. May it bless someone.

    A Psalm of Martha
    from The Psalms of Martha and Mary

    So much to do…
    So many places to go…
    What, Lord?
    Lord, go see a sick friend amid all this?
    Take the time when I have no time?
    Lord, my mind crawls with the serpents of busy-ness.
    My hands flutter as moths caught outside the light.
    Outside The Light.
    Lord, my feet balk with the stubbornness of a donkey.
    My body tenses as prey when it sees its predator.
    Beware The Predator.
    Lord, my heart aches for my friend.
    My spirit cries for release.
    Then, stop.
    In My time.
    In My way.
    So much to do…my friend needs me.
    So many places to go…only one place to be.
    I will go.
    I will do it unto Jesus.

    “As you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.”
    Matthew 25:40

    • Cathy Mayfield says:

      The formatting came out different when I hit “post.” Sorry. All the lines of God’s responses should be indented so it looks like a running dialogue.

    • Cathy…. I love this!!!!!!!! I’m preparing to speak tonight and doing a lot of praying. Your words are blessing me!! And I love the way it appears in the post. 🙂

  15. This is one thing you’ve taught me Julie…to be real. Everyone’s life is messy in one way or another. You remind us that we’re in this beautiful mess together- xoox

    • Loved being real with you this morning.

      I love you. Thank you for sharing the beautiful mess of our lives with me.

  16. Holy goosebumps indeed! Your post, and the comments that followed – all beautiful blessings. Hooray that when we are brave and show ourselves to the world we gain strength and love, and we give strength and love! I just put a post called “Be bold!” on my blog (inspiredbylove.me). It has a similar theme.

    Prayers and blessings to you and all who will be gathered tonight.


    • Hey Anne!! Thank you so much for your prayers. God was with me!!!! can’t wait to check out your Be Brave post. Love your title!

  17. Vicky says:

    I feel like you are being real through your words to us as well. I’ve always imagined meeting you in person, and being able to fall into a “gut level honest” conversation like you had with Missy, despite not knowing you in person. It must feel even more real to speak “gut-level honest words,” much like you write the words to us! I’m so glad you’ve discovered this for yourself, and how it will translate into helping so many others.

    Blessings and love to you, as you speak in the nights ahead!

    • Hey Vicky,
      Speaking…. oh, good is God! He was with me every moment. I’d would be such a joy to porch party with you, my friend. Let’s pray about it. Who knows? Maybe God will bring us together ❤️❤️

      I’m so grateful for your friendship.

  18. I wish I could sit and listen to you share!

    • Wish I could listen to you too, Elizabeth. I love how you call it “share” instead of “speak.” Much cozier.


  19. Beautiful, Julie. You just get real. I’ve always said that … the speakers I love the most are the ones who are gut-honest real, the ones who have made mistakes or don’t have it altogether, and share about it. A “perfectly, clean” life doesn’t touch my heart the way the “dirty” one does. It sticks and stays with me. A real heart, really changed. By God. By grace. Yes. I’m all over that. 🙂 And you are so real.

  20. Beautiful as always, Julie. Indeed God blesses the willing heart. I have learned that lesson too quite recently. When you are willing and ready, things just fall into place.

    And nothing is coincident in God’s timetable.

    I’m guilty of living in my own cave writing, writing, writing. So yeah, I can relate to this. When I go out, it must be to do something productive. lol

  21. Patricia Martin says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! Hope you eat lots of gf goodies(((: How is Katie doing? Xox

    • We had such a good Thanksgiving–everyone at my house! Hope you did too!!! Katie’s doing just fine, thank you.


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