Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Gifts

Christmas is coming very soon. Are you ready? Have you shopped? Did you buy local? Thank God for Christmas... so we all have a reason to boost the economy!

Truthfully, I'm not much for shopping... but I do love giving gifts... not just any gifts though. I think gifts should be useful, have meaning or both. For instance; every Christmas I go to Costco and buy each of our kids their own box of gum. It's the perfect gift. I know their gonna love it, chew it and not fight over who took the last pack. It's a gift that means something and serves a purpose.

I wonder... of all the gifts my husband and I have given our kids over the years... the bikes, the game systems the Barbie Hotel... what if anything of that... will they remember?

Maybe our son, Alex, will remember the year we bought him air soft pistols... yeah that was a great idea... until he and the neighbor kid shot the mirrors out on the car. I hid those air soft pistols so well that day ... I can't even remember where I put them.

I wonder... what do I remember?

I remember general things about Christmas when I was a kid... like;

Christmas meant a lot to my mom. She loved to decorate, still does... and she's very good at it. I remember her making so many cookies and and all of us getting into trouble for eating them before we were told we could. I remember the parish priest who came to get his package of Christmas cookies and... as I remember it... always had a little too much to drink. I remember my Grandma, my mom's mom, sending a box from Minnesota. In it was always... a popcorn cake, homemade frosted molasses cookies and a new pair of crochet slippers for me and each of my five brothers and sisters.

I remember those kinds of things about Christmas growing up but had to focus really hard to remember an ACTUAL Christmas present given to me by my parents in my childhood. I know they must have spent a bunch of money every year on us kids... and would probably be disappointed to learn that I can only remember one gift.

The only gift I can remember receiving from my parents growing up... was a stuffed animal. It was a frog about two and a half feet long from nose to flippers. It was actually more like a toad with spots. It had long legs that dangled when we walked. I called him Froggie and as strange as it may sound he was a good friend to me. I was probably seven or eight when I got him. I told him everything and took him everywhere possible. In the midst of some difficult times in our family he was always there for me. He was not spectacular... to anyone but me. I doubt he was HUGELY expensive... but he really meant something to me and obviously still does.

As we count down these last few days to Christmas, I feel inspired to pray;

Dear God Please keep our eyes, ears and even our hearts open for gift ideas. Help us to listen closely to what the people around us are really asking for. (Amen)

Shopping is fine... and certainly good for the economy... but if we think deeply and creatively we just might find a very special something which doesn't have to cost a ton of money... or even any money at all... but will be remembered and treasured for a lifetime.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Down With Stupid?

At church this morning our pastor posed a question I know I have asked myself from time to time. Do those who perpetrate evil get to heaven? He was referring to the terrorists of 9/11 who believed with all their hearts what they were doing was right.

I wonder what the final moments must have been like for the passengers and crew of each fateful flight. They probably thought about their loved ones. I'll bet they were afraid, in shock and disbelief. If they had faith in God, I'll bet they prayed. If they had children I'll bet they held them close.

I thought about what I might say If I knew my last moments on earth were near. Perhaps it would be something like this, "O God, forgive me for what I have done and what I have failed to do. Please take me in your arms and care for all of those I leave behind." But who knows, right?

I prayed for the helpless victims whose planes were turned into weapons. Then I thought about the terrorists. They were passengers too. I wondered if they had any change of heart or if they died shouting, "I do this in the name of God!" Could they be in heaven... with the God they claimed to serve? Surely the God I love would not appreciate such a sadistic gesture. Did they know what they were doing? Did they really think it was right? Had they been brainwashed into thinking 9/11 was their destiny? Did they buy into a stupid idea and just stay there too long? It happens all the time on so many levels. I know this... a bad idea grew in that group of terrorists and nobody stopped the stupid. Did they brace themselves before the end and realize their wrong doing... or did they go down with stupid... believing to the end there was no other way?

Is heaven for humans like that? It's not for me to say.

(You can read Fr. Tim's homily on his blog, From My Side Of The Altar)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hard Work And Beauty

Our neighbor grows roses. There are other flowers in his yard too... but his roses simply blow my mind. Every bloom is perfect and I never see them wither. He must maintain them regularly, but I never see him doing so. Maybe he works on them in the night while the rest of us are sleeping. The fruits of his labor are beautiful. I reap the benefits of what must be hard work every time I walk by.

Wouldn't it be great if everything we're just beautiful all the time... and we never had to see backstage where all the messy hard work happens? I think not. It is nice though to have some things perfect every time. For example; I like it when I first check into a hotel and the toilet paper in my room is folded just so. Somehow that little effort makes me feel like I'm the first one EVER to use it. I like not seeing the room get cleaned... but the truth is... somebody had to do it.

If something is nice. Somebody made it that way. I thank God for all the people who make things nice. When I witness things that happen naturally... like the beauty of nature or human kindness I thank God for that too.

It's the pruning back that makes good stuff happen, right? I can say that about nature and plants, about life and especially about me. I want to be more beautiful. So, God, whether you work in broad daylight or while I sleep. I'm yours. Prune away. Make me so beautiful that people wonder how I got that way.

Monday, August 22, 2011

What Do I Do? Part 2

My name is Julie Hoy.

What do I do?

I'm a wife and a mom. I sing. I play guitar. I write. I tell stories. I create. I help where I can. I make good soup. I clean house. I raise my voice sometimes. I've been known to swear on occasion.
I laugh a lot. I cry sometimes. I worry more than I should.
I live with my eyes open and my heart on my sleeve.
I pray.
I trust God.
I have hope.
I dream.
I seek to do as I was born to do.
I encourage others to do the same.
I am a published songwriter, author and public speaker.
My list might grow longer... or perhaps you know me and wish to add something.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I Thought It Was Over

I spent the first four days of this week at an incredible writer's conference. I learned so much, met wonderful people and got to hang out with others I already knew. I left the retreat center feeling so affirmed in what I do. I am an author of stories and songs, I am a performer, a public speaker and somewhat of an inspirationalist.

If you read my blog you know I took a summer job at a local cannery to supplement our household budget. This ministry stuff I do just doesn't pay regularly enough. The writer's conference left me so encouraged. I just know my financial viability in ministry is going to increase. Even with that in mind... I knew I had to call the cannery and see if I was to report for work the next night. I was reluctant but knew calling in was the right thing to do. I might of done a cartwheel, if I thought I could, when the woman in the office told me, "No work tomorrow. Things are really slowing down for the summer and in fact we'll call you if there is any more work to be had."

I put away my lunch box and threw out my earplugs. Such a relief. I'm done with that. I fulfilled my promise to God that if I got the job I would work it to the best of my ability. I finished well, I thought, and will be asked back next year, if need be, and I won't have to go through that awful application process again. It's all good news!

Well, the phone rang about an hour ago. About took the breath out of me when the voice on the other end of the line said, "This is Ana at the cannery, any chance you could work the three to twelve shift today?"

I have about a dozen other things I'd rather do. But I will go, lunch in hand and a smile in my heart because I made a promise to God.

Just when you think you've gone as far as you have to. God might ask you to go a little bit further. I'm counting on the fact that there is a reason for me to be at the cannery on THIS night. Maybe it's just for the money. Maybe it's for something more.

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Moses Called... It's About The Eleventh Commandment.

At some point in our lives don't we all lose a wallet?

When I was 19, I left my wallet on the trunk of my car one day after I got gas. Figured out it was missing late that night. The next day I went back to the scene of the incident and found my wallet in the middle of the four lane highway in front of the station. It was empty. Then I noticed my driver's license on the side of the road. Not far from that was my Social Security card. I walked for about half a mile... into a neighborhood... picking up my personals. I got a little uncomfortable thinking I might actually end up at the tosser's home. Almost as quickly as I became concerned... the trail went cold. I was down $50.00 but had everything that meant anything to me back in my possession.

About two weeks ago, on a Friday, my son Alex lost his wallet. He had no idea where it might be. It wasn't till the next day that he realized it was gone. It wasn't until I got an email saying someone was attempting to transfer money from Alex' bank account into their own that I realized we could have a real mess on our hands.

As the drill goes... we cancelled everything and come Monday morning were at the Oregon DMV getting a new license for Alex. The sad part... was the loss of the wallet, a gift from his Grandma.

New license: $28.00
New Wallet: $24.00
Time together: Priceless
The whole thing: A good life lesson and a bummer

Two weeks later, while I was at work, I received a text message from my daughter, Maddie.

It read, "Moses called... He found Alex' wallet."

Yesterday afternoon, Moses came by the house. He had the wallet in hand... and everything was still in it... even Alex' $10.00 in cash. When we tried to offer him a reward he wouldn't take it. What a guy!

Moses came to our house and delivered an eleventh commandment:

XI. Thou shalt do good things and expect nothing in return.

I was thinking...

VIII. Thou shalt not steal.

Made me wonder... who tried to transfer the money?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Turtle Eggs and Greek Yogurt

I'm pretty adventurous when it comes to food. I'll try just about anything. If the texture is crunchy, like grasshoppers for instance, I'm in. If the texture is slimy I'm slightly on the fence. If anything is covered in garlic and butter, no question!

I think my worst food consumption memory is that of eating turtle eggs. You do what you have to do though... when your in a foreign country... and a family of little means is pulling out all the stops because you're in town. You mind your manners and eat what is put in front of you. I would never have eaten an endangered species if it were not such a special treat in their eyes.

After being dipped in boiling water turtle eggs look a lot like ping pong balls with dents in them. The instructions were to tear a hole in the top, squeeze in a little lime, shake a little salt, slurp, and swallow. I can remember the experience vividly. (My gag reflex is kicking in just thinking about it.) The first thing to hit me was the fact that, even though the eggs had been dipped in boiling water, they were not at all cooked on the inside... only slightly warmed. I made it through the first round. I was a little worried when the plate was passed to me for the second and third time. I understood and came to appreciate the sipping of tequila throughout.

A little closer to home... I went to the store for some yogurt and bananas. (I like to make smoothies in the summertime.) All the store had in stock was Greek yogurt. Never tried it, that I know of, and I figured yogurt is yogurt... so why not? I was surprised to find Greek yogurt is very thick. Why is that?! It's a little more like really dense sour cream. Yesterday's smoothie was so thick I could hardly suck it up through my straw! Today's smoothie was much better. Adding more fruit juice did the trick.

As for the turtle eggs... I don't know if I will ever have the pleasure of eating them again, and that's okay with me. On the contrary, I think Greek yogurt would be completely acceptable on a daily basis. I'm so glad I tried it and vow to step out and reach for another food that's foreign to me next time I'm out shopping. Why not? It's cheaper than traveling abroad!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Fahrenheit 635

I had the night off from work. Thought I had tomorrow off too. My employer called for me an hour ago. I was out when the call came. I thought seriously about NOT returning it but I promised God I'd work hard if I got the job. I will be there... a little before 3:00PM... lunch in hand and a smile in my heart. At midnight I'll shed my hairnet and earl plugs and head for home. I'll probably be tired from standing but thankful for the opportunity to work and earn a wage... no matter how small.

Keep on... keeping on is what we must do... as a country and as individuals. Large or small... every effort to better ourselves and our way of living is worth making. Hopefully we're getting smarter every day.

On a lighter note... How about that Stock Market?! August 8th, 2011 will probably go down in history. A loss of 635 points is big news to some and even bigger news to others. My husband, Roger, said it very well just before he went to bed:

"Things are not going well in our economy. God knows the mess we're in and how we got here. We need to pray."

Friday, July 29, 2011


The search started online three months ago, when It became painfully obvious that the ministry was not supporting itself financially.

I've always been reluctant to get paid for what I do for God. I just suck at asking for money. I've always felt what I've been given should be given in return. The music and such are no exception. My dear husband works hard at a real job... with a regular paycheck... to support it all; our household, my music ministry and the work of the non-profit I helped to form.

I knew I needed to help. I set out to get a summer job... something temporary... in order to pay expenses needed to support the ministry work and supplement the household budget at the same time.

I found a cannery job online. Having done that kind of work in college, I knew I was qualified. I was shocked to realize that they required applicants to first register through the State Employment Division. THAT experience, in itself, was a day to remember. I scored pretty high on their aptitude tests. Frankly, that made me feel pretty smart and rather proud of myself.

After jumping through the state hoops... I received my permission slip. (A piece of paper that gave me the right to show up for the cannery job on application day.) About a thousand people showed up for a little over a hundred jobs that day. I was sure I wouldn't get the job but stuck with the process and promised God If I did get it... I'd consider it His plan and would work my butt off for His purpose.

To my surprise, six weeks later, the cannery called and asked if I could come for orientation the following Friday. I was one of the first twenty five or so people to get the call. I considered it a divine appointment and have worked just about every night since. Three to midnight is my shift. Would I rather not be working there? Honestly, yes, as I have continued my work with the music and marketing the ministry at the same time. Now I really know what it feels like to not have enough time in a day.

Through it all, I realize I'm stronger than I thought. I'm certainly not afraid to be humbled, and the work I do for God is worth the sacrifice.

Last night was my best night of work so far. I was thrilled to get my first paycheck. The money will be used to buy postage for the mailing of my brochure for potential author visits this school year. I'm hoping to fill the calendar with opportunities to serve God... and for the first time... for a fee.

God has been trying to teach me this lesson for a very long time. I guess as long as my husband's income would support the ministry... I didn't need to ask. Those days are over. I'm about to enter the workforce in ministry! I just have to get used to the idea of getting paid.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Long Uncomfortable Pauses

It's been quite a while since I last posted a blog. That was stupid. Just felt like I didn't know what to say. I find it difficult to be inspired when life is a little upside down.

Have you ever been in "home refinance limbo?" It must be a little like hell. Not being able to get things done until other things are resolved financially really sucks. One thing is waiting on the other day after day.

Road construction all around my home is a symbol for my life. Stop. Slow down. One way. Road closed. Turn this way. Turn that way. Did the bank call? "Yes, they want more information."

Hurry up and wait.

Long, uncomfortable pauses are necessary sometimes. I just have to be sure to keep my eyes on all the good parts and trust that God has the plan.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Road Trip Update, Bozeman, MT

Well, after a couple of days of travel Mom and I have landed in Bozeman, MT for the night. At the Best Western, such nice people and good food. Going to catch a few Z's and head for Eastern Washington tomorrow am early.

Can't believe all that God was able to accomplish in this time spent away from family and home. I've got my work cut out for me, and I look forward to what may come next.

I'm overwhelmed by the news that Bin Laden is dead. What a trip! When I heard it first, it was Geraldo talking. I didn't believe it. Then President Obama gave his version of events. Wow, I'm brought right back to that ominous date... 9/11. Believe it or not, I'm too young to have a JFK moment. 9/11, for me, will never be forgotten.

This day... fruition of the original military goal... feels strangely like progress... unless of course... somebody new takes up his cause and makes matters worse.

I thank God for my faith. I am pretty much powerless against all of this news, but I know I can pray for God's will to be done.

God Bless America. God Bless us all.

From Bozeman, MT.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Road Trip Update - Doorways With Silly Faces

Love these kids! Pacelli Catholic School is such a special place. Thank you, Mary Holtorf, for being such a wonderful doorway for the work of God. Special thanks to the third grade class for the beautiful Thank You notes. You are truly amazing!

There are "roadblocks" and "doorways" for God. Being at Pacelli was definitely a doorway experience. So much fun to watch God move and work in the lives of all of us.

Road Trip Update - Better Than Justin Bieber?

The day of my viit, St Francis School delivered! I had my hot dog with mustard for lunch. The beans were a pleasant surprise. Sun Chips are actually my favorite right now... . I saved those for later. Ate them for breakfast this morning.

One student wrote:

"Thank You so much for coming to our school. You were so inspiring to me. I will always remember the day you came to my school!"

And another:

"Thank You, Julie Hoy. You are a better singer than Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift combined!"

Reading the Thank You notes given to me by the 5th grade class blessed me greatly.

Watching God work in the hearts and minds of the students of St Francis School was better than any amount of Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, hot dogs, or Sun Chips combined!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Road Trip Update - Strength In Numbers

Well, after I couldn't find my keys, Alex and I finally hit the road. We made good time. Drove all night the first night... met a lovely waitress by the name of Ms. Marie at a truck stop in Eastern Washington.

It was about three-thirty in the morning when we stopped. Alex had chicken fried steak. I had ham and eggs. Not realizing it was Friday... a Friday during Lent... we ate like pigs. Oops.

After we ate, we went to the car to sleep for an hour. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't get Ms. Marie out of my head. I felt God asking me to give her a copy of my book. Alex begged me not to do it, but God wouldn't let up. I made my way through the cram-packed Honda Fit... to find a box of books. It was windy, cold, and dark, but I wouldn't quit.

I walked back into the truck stop, not knowing how my gift would be received. Would I be embarrassed? Would Alex have been right... and I shouldn't have done it in the first place? Emboldened by my faith... I walked right up to her... handed her the book and explained. My gift was met with her beautiful smile. And her strong voice saying "Really?! For me? I can't thank you enough. God bless you!" I told her a little about the book... and the fact that I was on the road working for God. She promised her prayers for me and for Alex. That meant so much. I feel Ms. Marie with me in prayer.

There is strength in numbers and because I listened and answered "yes" to God's call, Ms. Marie is now part of my team... and I am part of hers forever.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Faith First!

The Could I Paint The Sky? - Will Work For God Tour starts April 14th!

There really is nothing like saying "Yes" to God and then watching His purpose unfold before you. I strongly recommend trying it sometime.

This has been one of those situations where I had to leap... "faith first." Only after the leap could I realize the reasons why.

Rochester, Minnesota - I've looked ahead at the St Francis School lunch calendar. Looks like Hot Dogs are on the menu when I am there to visit on Tuesday, April 19th. Bring on the mustard!

Austin, Minnesota - I wish Pacelli Catholic Schools would update their website. Their latest lunch calendar is only posted through March! Looking forward to being together Monday, April 18th... no matter what's for lunch!

Faith first... here I go!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Dose of Stupid

I found a shirt in my closet I hadn’t worn in a long time. I put it on this morning with my cute jeans and thought I looked like a million bucks… until I saw the big wrinkle down the front. Too lazy to take it off, I made the genius decision to steam the wrinkle out while wearing it. Now I have a nasty grouping of burns all over the left side of my stomach. Nice.

On the way to Bible Study, looking for the upside to my pain, I thought about the stripes I earned in pregnancy. Just so you know… steam doesn’t take out stretch marks. I’m not sure which made me feel more stupid… burning myself with the iron… or actually checking to see if my stretch marks were gone.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Am I a Roadblock, Or a Doorway?

I am constantly amazed at the differences in people. In my work I meet a lot of them. Some are roadblocks and others doorways. I can tell pretty quickly when things are going to flow well between myself and another person. I can also tell pretty quickly when the roadblocks are up... and for whatever reason... there is just no Spirit flowing.

I like doorways. When we are willing to let the Spirit flow... God gets so much done.

To all the doorways I have known... Thank You! To all the roadblocks... Thank You too. I'm praying for us both.

I do think we should ask ourselves at every opportunity...

In this moment... am I a roadblock or a doorway for God?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

She Ain't Heavy, She's My Sister

Just a favorite moment...

My daughter sprained her ankle in a basketball game. My son, her older brother, carried her out of the gym to the car, from the car to the ER. When we arrived home, he carried her into the house. At bedtime, he carried her up seventeen steps to her room. I was all choked up.

As much as they fight at times, I know they love one another. I know that he would carry her if she needed. He is 18 now, she is 16. While he might be too heavy for her to carry, she would stand up for him in any way she could. That is love.

Those we truly love are never too heavy to carry. In one way or another we can find a way to help... to the best of our ability.

Friday, January 14, 2011

I Met A Man

I met a man the other day. He and I were sat next to each other by fate, I think. For the sake of privacy, I'll call him Jim.

Jim was probably in his sixties and in a motorized wheelchair.  It was one of those big wheelchairs, with a headrest and everything. Jim had some use of his hands, but he was obviously in pretty tough shape. Of course I wondered what brought him to that place; not the place we were in together, but the place he had obviously been in for some time. Naturally curious, I wondered what might have happened to put him in that chair, but I knew I would never ask.

As our time together drew on a good conversation began to take place. We talked about football, and the weather, luck and fate. Then he opened the door... when he ended a short story with these words,

"... you know, since I had my accident."

I wasted no time in asking, "What happened to you?"

So much for never asking.

Jim opened right up told me that he had been paralyzed as a Senior in high school, while wrestling with a friend. Not organized sports kind of wrestling, just a couple of guys goofing around.

"It was just a freak accident." He said.

One minute he was fine, the next minute he was paralyzed from the neck down, for life.

My heart sunk, thinking about my own son, a senior in high school.

"What if?" I thought.

 What must his mother and father felt that day? Did they think their son's life was over?

Jim had rendered me speechless. He went on to tell me that he had great support of friends, family and teachers around him at that time. He managed to graduate with his class that year and go on to college. He graduated with a degree, I can't remember the type, and then went on to another college for another degree, this time in theology.

Jim left college and went to work as a chaplain in the mental health field, then later became a chaplain for... I think it was the military... finally he became a professor at a University and retired from there.

My head was spinning. I'm sure my jaw was dropped. I could not speak, this time because of the lump in my throat.

Sometimes my son says his life sucks. I admit I have my down days too. I know it's all relative, but really, if I've got all of my faculties, and every opportunity, what have I got to be down about? If a guy like Jim can come out of a situation such as his and make some pretty awesome lemonade out of life, can't we all?

I know God has given us all gifts. What are we doing with them? Are we doing everything we can? If not, what is keeping us from realizing our full potential? Jim and his inspirational story helped me to realize; it can be hard to find the road blocks when they are mostly in our minds.

Dear God, please help us all to jump into life with thankful hearts for everything we've been given. Help us to be strong, humble and hope filled. Help us to realize what we are here for and to do it all to the best of our ability.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

That's What She Said

Yesterday I went into Lenscrafters to have my glasses straightened. Somehow in the hustle and bustle of the Holidays they were...  inadvertently "adjusted."

So with my glasses sitting crooked on my face, head tilted to the right so I could see straight,  I walked into the store. The technician took one look and said,

"Oh dear, looks like you could use some help."

"Thank you, I said. Do you think you can fix them?"

She responded without even a wink, "Sure, and by the way, you've got a screw loose."

I asked her not to tell my husband. It would only reinforce what he already believes to be true.

Happy New Year Everyone!