At 21 years old I heard God speak to me in my dreams. He came to my rescue. It was the night I planned to take my own life. I was ready to end it all. And then, God shouted to me “I love you! I love you!” I was consumed. His love rendered me speechless, and he put a new song in my heart. He replaced the lies my father told me about myself. I was completely redeemed the night I planned to take my life. My addictions, the men, the drugs and alcohol were now replaced with a heavenly joy. I became wild with love for my Abba Father!
At the age of 18, in order to save my life, I left home the day after I graduated from high school. My home was filled with violence. My father continuously took out his anger and lust on me, as did my brother and the men my father sold me to—I was the product of sexual exploitation.
I remember what it feels like to be sexually abused by so many men. You see, I was sold by my own father to our neighbor as a sex toy. The images are so horrific. At that time, I felt as though I was completely trapped; I felt like a commodity, used goods that were sold to men. I was small, tiny, I had no voice, and I was gagged. I felt so worthless being used by my own father and other men in our town.
In the middle of this chaotic cycle of abuse, I became pregnant. My father blamed my boyfriend Mike, but he knew the truth. His number one goal was to get “rid” of the problem. After my abortion, my life spiraled downward as my home became a “war zone.”
Surviving the war
But, God had a new plan for my life, a new life filled with love, passion and adventure — a plan where I could fight and be a voice for the voiceless. The consuming love of God gave me courage, love and hope in places that I felt despair and hopelessness.
After my conversion, God began to surround me with incredible Saints (both Catholic and Evangelical) to love me, direct me and pray for me. They became my new Family. I also have the following people to thank for their love and positive influence in my life: John Eldredge, Christopher West, Father Benedict Groeshall, Father Frank Pavone, Theresa Burke, Wayne Pederson, and the list goes on and on. I also have worked with amazing writes and speakers who gave me their expert witness to create my video project, “Wildflowers” – which helps heal people all over the world.
I have four amazing children and four grandchildren. When I was 26 years old, I found the incredible writing of St. Therese of Lisieux. I became captivated with her love for God and writings. I asked God, “What is my vocation?” I instantly heard him say, “Your vocation is to love.” I honestly didn’t know the details of that or what an incredible ministry God would bring to me. I only knew I wanted to shout out to the world how God radically and profoundly extravagantly loved me and how I longed to partner with God and others to bring love to the world.
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Gen. 50:20).
Becoming a catalyst for healing
I founded Restoring the Heart Ministries (RTHM) in the late 1990’s in order to share the healing that I received from Christ. I also had a horrific bike accident that left me with a head injury and forced me to learn to walk again. Yet, I feel as though I emerged as a warrior, a woman with a testimony of restoration and a walking example of God’s grace, mercy and supernatural ability to restore what was lost.
RTHM’s purpose is to help men and women who have been hurt. Individuals who turn to RTHM for support find solace in discovering that they are not alone. Compassionate and understanding hearts greet them, ready to help them start the healing process. While ministering, I often hear “Your story is my story.” For those who are doubtful about their hope of restoration, I emphatically believe, “God can restore anyone and everyone.”
I know that “God’s healing and love is for everybody” and as a result I make an effort to reach out to all cultures, with two initiatives of RTHM: In the Wildflowers Project and Into My Arms Counseling Series. People who have experienced childhood sexual abuse and post-abortion trauma are being equipped to gain victory battling against their pain. My ministry goes “beyond the church setting. It reaches out to anyone that is hurting.”
I want my ministry to grow and to reach out to people around the world who are hurting. “Wherever people are abused, that’s where I want to be.” I’m currently in the beginning stages of creating a documentary for Third World trauma, “A Voice for the Voiceless” and “God’s Love for the Exploited Wildflowers” (for women caught in the middle of sexual exploitation).
My reach would be limited were it not for the support of Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center where I serve as the Ministry Outreach Representative. Timberline Knolls offers a Christian residential treatment program for women and adolescent girls struggling with eating disorders, trauma, addiction, mood and other co-occurring disorders.
Currently, my DVD projects are used around the country at colleges (including Wheaton College and treatment centers such as Transformations Treatment Center in Delray Beach, Florida. I also serve as the Chair of the American Association of Christian Counseling Crisis Pregnancy and Abortion Recovery Network Division.
My recently published book, “A Wildflower Grows in Brooklyn” talks about my story of abuse, pain, and abortion. My prayer is that those in need will use my writings and video work as a catalyst for the love of God to transform, redeem and make all things new. As St. Therese writes “Because I was little and weak he lowered himself to me, and instructed me secretly in the things of His love.” (Heart of Love, Eugene McCaffrey)
RTHM is a non-profit, non-denominational organization wholly supported by private donations. For more information about this ministry them online at www.rthm.cc or call 1- 866-780-RTHM (7846). Transformations Treatment Center of Delray Beach implements Julie’s programs “In the Wildflowers” for those healing from the trauma of sexual abuse and “Into My Arms” to help those healing from the trauma of abortion. Call for more information: 866-211-5538.