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Faith

the sea of galilee | juliekmccomas.com
Faith, Travel

One of My Favorite Places on Earth – Sea of Galilee

The Sea of Galilee was so peaceful that day. It was almost hard to imagine a storm big enough to make the disciples fear for their lives happening here.

“Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”  Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!””

Matthew 8:23-27

on the sea of galilee | juliekmccomas.com

The Sea of Galilee isn’t exactly the kind of “sea” you are thinking about.  It is a lake.  Sea means basin, so it is a large basin of water.  My family spent lots of time on the lake when I was a kid, and I have some of the best memories from then.  But, I cannot remember there ever being a storm so big and bad on the lake that we were scared for our lives.  Granted, the boats we were on had motors, and were not an oversized canoe looking boat.

While I sat on the tour boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee I felt a calm like I’ve never felt before.  I could say it was because I love being at the lake, in a boat with fish jumping all around me, and bonus, it was a beautiful day.  But I don’t believe that was the reason.  I believe with all my heart that it was because I asked God to be with me, for the Holy Spirit to reveal to me the places Jesus spent time, and He did! I can’t explain it, but there were only a few places I had the same feeling, and I believe it was God answering my prayer.

selfie on the sea of galilee | juliekmccomas.com

This was at the beginning of our boat ride, and we were so thankful that it was a calm day.  We both have issues with motion sickness, and had even thought about skipping the boat ride.  We are so glad we didn’t miss it.

at peace on the sea of galilee | juliekmccomas.com

Let me tell you what is happening in this photo.

This is my dear, dear friend Sandy.  She was brave enough to embark on this journey with me, to put up with me for 24/7 for 16 days, and I love her more today than ever! She has truly blessed my life!

On the right you can see the platform that I was sitting on, and taking in the absolute beauty that surrounded us.  I was imagining the people looking across the lake at the crowd of people gathered to hear Jesus teach, and them heading in his direction to see what all the fuss was about.  I don’t know what Sandy was thinking about while she stood at the side of the boat, but I know she was at peace. (We discussed it later.)  The men in charge of the boat tour started playing worship music as we headed back to shore, and we were singing along.  It was perfect.  I can close my eyes and put myself right back on that boat, and I can feel that calm all over again.

God is so good about calming things in me.  Being on the Sea of Galilee reminded me that I always need to ask God to calm my storms.  I have known that all along, and going half way around the world didn’t suddenly bring that to light.  I just need to remember that daily.  I can almost hear Him saying, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”

Imagined Nativity Scene | juliekmccomas.com
Faith, Travel

I’ll Never Look At A Nativity Scene The Same Again

Most of us have been taught about the birth of Jesus all of our lives.  We have been told how there was no room at the inn, and we have visions of Mary and Joseph in a stable with baby Jesus in a manger.

By definition, a manger is a trough or an open box in a stable designed to hold feed for livestock.  All my life I’ve imagined a stable and a manger to be made of wood, and be a cute little scene for the story of the birth of Jesus.  I imagined a wooden manger filled with soft hay for the newborn baby.

Manger with straw | juliekmccomas.com

Does this look about right?

Well, hang on to your hat because it isn’t the kind of manger used those days.

A Real Manger | juliekmccomas.com

See what I mean?

Did you have a “What?!?” moment like I did when I first saw it?

The “stable” that Mary and Joseph went into was not a cute little barn looking stable.  It was a cave.  Yes, really.

In the Holy Lands, cities are built on top of cities and churches are built on top of what people considered to be sacred sites.  Below you will see the entrance to the cave where people believe Jesus was born.

Entrance - Jesus's Birth Place | juliekmccomas.com

Today there are several very steep steps going down into the cave.

14 Point Star | juliekmccomas.com

This is the 14-point star that people have placed in the spot they believe Jesus was born.  Almost everyone wanted to kneel down and touch the star.  I honestly don’t believe that this is THE spot where Jesus was born, but I do believe that it resembles the true location.  This is just my opinion, and I know that I could be wrong.

Manger Location | juliekmccomas.com

This was several steps away from the 14-point star, and it is where people believe the manger was that He was placed in.  Here again, I’m not sure this is the exact location, but we played along nicely.

When we think of babies being born into this world we imagine softness.  Soft hay, a wooden manger and not a hollowed out stone, a barn with the moonlight and stars shining bright not a dark cave.  No wonder we like to use the pleasant looking nativity scene at Christmas.  I for one, will never look at a nativity scene the same.

 

Faith, Travel

Spending Time Abroad

Several months ago, March actually, I was asked if my husband and I would be interested in going to the Holy Lands. He couldn’t take off for the 16 day trip, but I could. I talked to my friend, Sandy, and she could get away too. So, for the last week, we have been in Israel! 

We’ve tried new things, taken adventures, walked where Jesus walked, and floated in the Dead Sea. This has been a great trip for both of us! We can now read the Bible and remember what they looked like because we’ve been there.

Coming to the Holy Land is such a personal journey for each individual. Everyone sees the same thing, but we all walk away different. Touched in our own ways. I will never be able to describe this trip. Sure, I can say where I’ve been, but there are some experiences that are just indescribable. This is one of them.

The take away from this is that every Christian should make this trip.

A Fierce Love | juliekmccomas.com
Book Reviews, Faith

A Fierce Love – Book Review

Book Description:

Love is easy to give when you are getting it back. Are we still called to God’s plan of how to love when we are getting none in return? Shauna Shanks’s brave journey through obedience reveals the outcome of when we dare to follow God’s ludicrous outline for love as described in 1 Corinthians 13.

Wrecked with news of her husband’s affair and his request for a divorce, Shauna finds herself urgently faced with a decision. Does she give up and divorce her husband and move on, or does she try to fight for her marriage? The former choice seems to contradict God’s plan for how to love, such as “love never gives up,” “love is patient,” and “love is kind.”

Taking God at His word and assuming the love chapter was really meant to be followed literally word by word, she not only finds herself falling in love with her spouse again, but also falling in love with Jesus, which changes everything.

First Corinthians 13 presents an audacious, illogical, and irrational context of how to love, meant to be applied to every marital context not just the fairytale marriage. If God’s instructions seem illogical and audacious, you might just expect the same kind of results in return!

This book is not air-brushed. It was written in the midst of the author’s deepest trauma, and she purposefully did not edit out her mistakes and failures during that season. This book will resonate with women who do not feel like the picture-perfect Christian woman with the fairytale life and marriage. A Fierce Love is the story of a train wreck and reaching out to God not in the calm but in the chaos and finding hope for the future.

 

Watch Shauna talk about her new book, A Fierce Love, and answer all of our questions.  Loved being able to see this live last night!

Review:

I loved A Fierce Love!

Let me clarify.  I hate that Shauna and Micah had to travel this road.  I hate that anyone has to travel this road, whether it is the husband having an affair or the wife that has an affair.  It isn’t pleasant at all for anyone.  If you are one of the few that know our story, then you know that we have been down this road and we have come out on the other side stronger than ever.  Loving this book does not mean that I love what happened to them, it means that I love that they have shared their story with us.  I love that they are still writing the rest of their story.  No, I do not have any inside scoop about another book or a Hallmark movie (which was mentioned on the live chat), I mean that they are still doing life together.  They are still in this love story.  I love that Shauna listened to God, and applied the Love Filter to her life.  I love this book!

A Fierce Love is a book of life, hope, heartache, and healing.  Divorce happens, and it happens a lot.  I’m not judging.  I have friends, family and even my husband has been divorced.  A preacher man that I am “friends” with on the Book of Faces pointed out that even God has been divorced.  I’ll leave the scripture right here so you can read it for yourself.

Jeremiah 3: 8
New International Version (NIV)

I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery.

I know that is a completely different blog post, but it is written right there in the Bible.

Back to the book, A Fierce Love.  When we get married, we make a vow before God, family and friends, and lots of weddings are in churches. LOTS!  We want God there when we are in the midst of all the wedded bliss, but when we are wronged we often forget to bring God into the situation.  This book is a wonderful example of how we can go to God, listen to God, and obey God in what seems like the end of our world.  Don’t get me wrong, this happily ever ending won’t happen for everyone, even with God being in the situation.  But shouldn’t we be willing to bring Him into more of our situations?

Oh I seem to be getting off track here, let me see if I can wrap it up with something about the actual book.

A Fierce Love is a book that I recommend to everyone!  Men and women! I admire anyone that is willing to showcase a terrible time in their life to remind us that God is good.  They are willing to share their story in hopes that someone will gain from it.  I’m sure there will be haters out there, because anytime God is glorified the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.  (Sorry!) Just shake it off! (I know, sorry! Couldn’t help myself!)

Love this book! Go get it! Read it! Share it!

A Fierce Love: One Woman's Courageous Journey to Save Her Marriage Book Cover A Fierce Love: One Woman's Courageous Journey to Save Her Marriage
Shauna Shanks
Nonfiction, Christian, Marriage
Zondervan
June 27, 2017
eARC
240
Received an advanced eARC from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

2016 Word PURPOSE | juliekmccomas
Confessions, Faith

My Word for 2016 and What Came of It

My word for 2016 came to me one day in late 2015, and at the time I couldn’t figure out why it kept coming to mind when I would pray about it.  Purpose.  That is what kept coming up everywhere, purpose.  It came up in ladies bible class, I received a bracelet with purpose stamped on it, and the list keeps going.  At first I just thought it was because I have often wondered what my calling is, and I even asked The Big Guy if that was what he meant.  You know, we all doubt Him every once in a while, right?  Anyone?  Don’t we?  Bueller?  Okay, so it’s just me.  Purpose kept coming to my mind, and I finally (I am stubborn) committed to my one word for the new year.

Purpose 2016 | juliekmccomas.com

After thinking about my word many times throughout the year of 2016, but seriously between you, me and the keyboard, I couldn’t figure it out.  Then I went to She Speaks.  It is a conference held by Proverbs 31 for speakers and writers.  It was the first time I’d ever flown anywhere by myself, and wouldn’t you know it, there were all kinds of problems.  But, it all worked out.  I ending up attending my very first writing conference, and I loved it!  I made wonderful friends, learned lots of information that I still use today, and I think I found my purpose.

Purpose Definition | juliekmccomas.com

What is cool about me finding my purpose is that I found yours too!  Yep!  If you are a Christian, it is your purpose to become like Christ.  So, if that is our purpose, we as individuals have different gifts to accomplish this purpose.

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.
If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;
if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;

if it is to encourage, then give encouragement;
if it is giving, then give generously;
if it is to lead, do it diligently;
if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Romans 12:6 (NIV)

While at the She Speaks conference, I took in everything I could on the writing end of things.  I took written notes, mental notes, and photos of different slides. I loved every minute of it, but things weren’t clicking for me there like I thought they would.  Then on the last night there it hit me; maybe I’m supposed to do the speaking thing too.  Everything led me to think, sure publish your book but make that the starting point.  I thought about it and I prayed about it for a few weeks before I ever said anything out loud to anyone.  The first person I told was my husband, and he was very blasé about it.  After keeping it to myself for a while longer, I decided to talk about it with up to a couple of friends.  Finally, when I decided to update the website, I tossed the idea out to my girl, Kristin, who did all the work on here, and she said, YES! If that is what you feel called to do, then put it out there! (Possibly paraphrased.) So, my purpose is to become like Christ, and my gift might be to encourage, teach, and speak (even though that one isn’t on the list).

Everyone has a gift, and I hope that you have discovered yours.  Once you do, your life will never really be the same.

JBH - About My Cause | juliekmccomas.com
Faith, My Battle with Breast Cancer, My Journey

JBH – Breast Cancer & 3-Day Walk

Wondering what JBH stands for?  Well, it is something I just made up or didn’t know about, and am claiming as my own.  Ha!

JBH = Just Being Honest

Maybe I should use LBH, Let’s Be Honest, instead.  Thoughts?  (That means you should tell me which one you would use.)

Today, I am going to share photos from the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk for the Cure I went to last year, and going to be right up front and honest about being a breast cancer survivor.

Let’s get started shall we?

3DayStart - juliekmccomas.com

3-Day – And we are off!

On August 3, 2016, my friend Margaret and I left for Detroit, Michigan to walk in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk for the Cure.  Honestly, I can’t remember how many people were there, but it was a sea of pink.  It was really quite intoxicating.  What was amazing was that every person there was affected by breast cancer in some way.  People were either survivors, or walking for someone they knew.  I didn’t meet one person there that had not been touched by this type of cancer.

3 Day SGK Walk | juliekmccomas.com

Some people were so creative.

If you aren’t familiar with the 3-Day Walk, then let me tell you a little about it.  Thousands of people participate every year, and we just happened to be walking in the 150th walk.  The three days consist of anywhere between 18 and 2oish miles per day, with a few Komen miles thrown in.  Only fellow walkers will really understand that one.  🙂  You sleep in a tent, and take showers in a semi-trailer with 5 or 6 showers inside.  Breakfast and supper are served buffet style, and were delicious.  There’s a kind of party every night, but I was usually in the medical area taking care of my aches and pains.

3 Day Encouragement | juliekmccomas.com

There’s always encouragement along the way!

The people involved in the walk, encouraging us along the way, or volunteering at camp were fantabulous!  Even the people driving past us on the road were encouraging; they honked, waved and gave everyone a thumbs up.  I’m not an emotional person, but it makes me tear up just thinking about it.  It was moving, and still is to this day.  I made friends on this adventure, and I still keep up with them today.  Facebook is good for somethings, I guess.  The photo above is just a little of the encouragement written along the way, and the nice lady in the tutu is my friend Amy.  Amy walked the whole way, and get this…she wasn’t even a year out of fighting her fight with the monster that is breast cancer.  She is an inspiration!

3 Day Potty Line | juliekmccomas.com

These were some long lines!

Porta Potty Row!  These were the cleanest Porta Potties I’ve used, and they even smelled good.  The lines were long, but everyone was friendly.  It was so nice to be around hundreds of people for three days and not hear a bad word said by anyone.  There wasn’t complaining or whining, and there was lots of love.  (See the dude in the white cap with the pink things on his head? His name is Jim, and he walked every single 3-Day event last year. He is pretty tall, so those fluffy pink things on his head were knocked off by tree limbs more times that I could count. We all helped keep track of them for him. That’s just one of the memories. There are many.)

3 Day Oldest | juliekmccomas.com

He’s not 84. He’s only 21 for the 4th time.

The oldest walker of the Detroit, MI 3-Day Walk.  I don’t remember his name, but at one time everyone there knew it.  He was amazing!

One of the truest quotes.

It’s one thing to talk about a cause.  It’s another to do something about it.

This is a quote that can be used for just about anything!  I have recently started thinking about it differently, let me tell you about it.

It’s one thing to talk about a dream.  It’s another to do something about it.  You can change that one word… “cause” …to anything you want.  Dream. Purpose. Job. Chore. Adventure.  You name it, you can throw that word in there to fit your situation.  For me personally, I have a dream or desire to tell people about our Lord, our God, our Father in Heaven.  I went to a speakers/writers conference last year, She Speaks, and came back wondering if I was supposed to be speaking, as well as writing.  It’s been almost a year since that conference, and I have just now put myself out there.  It is a strange and scary feeling, let me tell you!

Here’s the part where I’m just being honest.  I know, that’s the only reason some people will read this.  🙂

I am a Survivor.  I have survived breast cancer.  I have slayed every chemo treatment, shaved my head (that was fun), and I have gotten closer and closer to God along that journey in my life.  Just because I am a survivor doesn’t mean that I want to be a poster child for breast cancer.  I don’t want to only be known as the girl that had cancer.  I don’t want people to see pink every time they look at me.  I walked the walks, I raised money, and I continue to support anyone that has to travel that weary road. I may not walk the walks or raise money for the cause anymore, but I will donate, write, and hopefully speak.  I’ve written as much about my journey as I possibly could in the hopes that I could help just one person.  I want to do things a bit different now.

I want to be a poster child for God!  I want people to see Him, like I saw Him on different journeys in my life.  I want people to see Jesus in me, and I want to help them see Jesus in them too.  During a fight with cancer the patients are called Warriors.  I am still a Warrior, but I am God’s Warrior.  I always will be, and I want you to be one too!

RIP Kyle Lynn Thomas aka Zippy | juliekmccomas.com
Confessions, Faith

Best Funeral Ever – Kyle Thomas RIP

RIP Kyle Lynn Thomas aka Zippy | juliekmccomas.com

This is my first cousin, Kyle.

August 10, 2016, Kyle was shot and killed in Tulsa, Oklahoma. To be honest, we don’t really know what happened. The people that were there know what happened, but I’m getting stories that don’t even mesh at this point.

What we do know is that Michael Charles Jester, from Arkansas (apparently) thought Kyle had stolen his wallet (apparently) and shot Kyle over it. Then somehow shot himself in the hand. (I’m thinking Kyle fought for his life, and the guy got shot in the hand, but that is just my opinion because I know for a fact that my Kyle wouldn’t go down without a fight.) A Good Samaritan saw Kyle laying in the driveway bleeding, and loading him up into the bed of his truck and took him to the QuikTrip to get help. They even talked about how this man had blood on him. This is the story that was reported by the news stations the morning of the shooting.

You can watch the video of Jester running from the police here, on this dashcam video.

Here is the video telling about the Good Samaritan, and much more crime scene footage.

Now, there are more stories circulating about how this chick named Jacalyn Renee Ketcherside dropped Kyle off at the QuikTrip. Then she (apparently) ran, and was arrested later and is in the Rogers County Jail at the time this is being published.

So there are a few things that don’t mesh. But don’t you worry your pretty little heads, I am gonna go all Joe Kenda on this folks and find out the truth. Don’t even think for a minute that I won’t.

Part of the reason I wanted to write this post about my cousin, Kyle, is because of his funeral. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you things were all rainbows and roses in his life. Kyle fought addiction from an early age, and it landed him in prison. He was out of prison almost two years when that addiction got the best of him. The only thing that could get the best of Kyle was death.

These are the things I remember about Kyle. If you knew him, your memories might be different, but I can’t imagine by much.

Kyle loved everyone. He would give you the shirt off of his back if you needed it, and after hearing some stories from his friends he literally gave someone the shirt off his back. If someone didn’t have a place to go for the holidays he would bring them to spend the holidays with us, his family. He loved hugs, and he always told people that he loved them. But only if he really loved you. He was the life of the party, and if there wasn’t a party there was before he left. He made us all laugh, smile, and sometimes cry (only because we were laughing so hard).

Kyle touched a lot of lives in his short time on this earth. I witnessed this by seeing all of the people at his funeral. I don’t want to offend anyone by saying this, but if you know me then you know I mean this in a good way. Kyle’s funeral was the best I have ever been to, hands down. The pastor was great, the singing was fantabulous (props to our cousin Darsha for that), and the people were all touched by Kyle in some way.

When the funeral was over I was able to watch each and every friend of Kyle embrace his mom. They would share a story, condolences, a laugh or just a cry. I watched as every walk of life walked through that line. Business men/owners, elementary/jr.high school friends, friends from truck driving school, friends of his mom, drug addicts, recovering addicts, felons, and most of all loved ones. There were whites, blacks, Mexican, etc. There were hippies, bald guys, and beauties. Every walk of life was in that chapel, and there was only one reason – Kyle. I have never felt so honored to sit in a room full of people in my life. We all loved Kyle! We were in it together! We all had something in common, and Kyle brought us all together.

I told my husband, Butch and several other people, that if there was a funeral for Jesus today that is what it would look like. People from all walks of life, all kinds of circumstances, but all of them loved by Him!

I don’t know how all this death thing works, but I truly wish that Kyle could’ve looked down to see how many lives he touched.

He knew the Lord, and he loved the Lord! I will see Kyle again some day!

Confessions, Faith, Giveaways

My One Word for 2016 – Giveaway Added!

WINNER: Pam Wade! Congrats Pam!! Please email me your mailing address and I will have this out ASAP! Thanks for playing along everyone!!!

Edited to add the GIVEAWAY at the bottom of this post in honor of being featured over at Sweet Jesus Ministries today. Have you seen the movie War Room? Here’s your chance!

Feel free to scroll to the bottom if you have already read all this mumbo jumbo. 🙂

For the past couple of years I’ve jumped on the one word for the new year wagon. I’ve had Focus and Encourage in the past. This year I really struggled to find a word. When I had just about settled on Love, I received a Faithbox in the mail and inside there was a small bag that said…What’s Your Purpose?

Purpose

Purpose or Love? Have I ever told you how much I hate decision making?

Instead of me making the decision for myself, like a big girl would, I prayed about it. I plainly asked God what my word should be for the new year. I explained to the all-knowing Father that I had narrowed it down to two words, love and purpose. Then, all I had to do was wait patiently.

I didn’t have to wait long, because on Day 2 of the January Everyday Faith devotional (comes in your faithbox) it quotes Ravi Zacharias:

When you find your definitions in God, you find the very purpose for which you were created. Put your hand into God’s hand, know His absolutes, demonstrate His love, present His truth, and the message of redemption and transformation will take hold.

Then, on January 3rd this is what was on my God in Every Moment, DayBrightener Perpetual Flip Calendar.

Everything that happens to you has meaning. Every moment of life has purpose. And God doesn’t step away from you for a single second of the journey.

Did you catch that?

When you find your definitions in God, you find the very purpose for which you were created.

Every moment of life has purpose.

Two days after I prayed about my word for the year, a word in which I would pray about and apply to my life all year, started appearing in everywhere. Not only was it in my calendar and my devotional, it was in scriptures we would read in church AND in ladies bible class. The word PURPOSE was everywhere! I felt like my prayer had been answered.

Purpose it is!

One Word - Purpose 2016

Did you choose one word for 2016? Please share! Also, be sure to go to #oneword365 and join a tribe with others that have chosen the same word. It’s a pretty cool website, check it out!  It might even encourage you to choose a word.

I know that I’ve talked about Faithbox a bit in this post. If you are interested in receiving a box full of faith each month, check it out! I’d appreciate it if you would click on this here link to let them know that I referred you. I will be doing a dedicated post on Faithbox in the near future if you aren’t sure about it just yet.

(NOTE: This post contains affiliate links; shopping through them makes me a little money and makes you even prettier than you already are, at no extra cost to you.)

 

Thanks for hanging out with me for a little bit!

Julie K. McComas

 

 

 

P.S.

Today, Friday, January 15, 2016, I am being featured over at Sweet Jesus Ministries. To celebrate, I am having a giveaway! All you have to do is leave a comment. Easy peasy! Don’t put it off, the giveaway ends Sunday, January 17, 2016 at 8pm!

War Room Giveaway | juliekmccomas.com

Again, all you have to do to win this awesome movie is leave a comment. If you can’t think of anything to say, just leave a prayer request. Why a prayer request, you ask? Because this movie is about strategic prayer, and I play on doing some PURPOSEful praying!  Now, you could always follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or just Subscribe to my little ol’ blog.  WINNER is PAM!!! Thanks for playing!