“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” Psalm 8:3-4

Clear winter nights remind me of the very first time God spoke to my heart. It was a clear winter night, and the stars were brightly shining outside the aluminum-framed window of our little blue trailer house. The lights were off, and my mom was singing as I stared out the window.

She sang: “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus; there’s just something about that name. Master, Savior, Jesus, like the fragrance after the rain; kings and kingdoms will all pass away, but there’s something, something about that name.”

As my mom sang, God spoke to my heart and said, “Trust me, and I will lead you all the days of your life.”

At five years old, I understood who was speaking to me, and I had hope. I believed then and still believe that God has a plan for my life. I didn’t tell anyone this for years, because it never occurred to me to tell someone. However, I held onto this throughout my childhood.

I grew up on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation, and I fought the lie that I was worthless. As a little girl, I would think this through, “If the God of the universe would speak to me, then I must be worth something.”

I have come to understand that I am not worth something because God spoke to me. I have value and worth because God values me and created me with inherent worth. The truth is, we are all created with inherent worth and he loves and values each of us. I’m thankful that He loves and values every one of us. I believe he wants to lead each of us also. He is so good.

Over the years, I have found myself looking at the stars in awe of who God is and remembering what he spoke to me.

Pactola Lake, SD

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hand.” Psalm 19:2

In Him,


Not for a Moment Did He Forsake Me

IMG_7536 copy


Five years ago, I felt God leading me to delete my personal Facebook page. I didn’t want to. On November 27, 2013, the day before Thanksgiving, I deactivated it. That was the same day as my deactivation ceremony from my deployment to Afghanistan.

I know that some of my friends were upset that I deactivated it. What I think they didn’t understand was all that I was dealing with then.

That deployment fundamentally changed me. I came out of that combat zone needing inner healing and understanding that only God could give. I needed to see America for what it really was, not the social media version.

My first journal entry after returning: “Ready? I don’t feel like I’m ready. How could I have dropped everything Army one day, and simply changed clothes and walked away? I can’t seem to find anything. Where did I leave my memory?”

The transition home was quick and that first year was rough as I tried to reintegrate. I’m thankful for a patient roommate that year. I found comfort in the song Not for a Moment by Meredith Andrews.

God helped me understand that I will never be the same and that is okay. God helped me realize that I might never be able to fully put into words my experiences there, but He understands. He helped me accept that those who have never been in combat will never be able to relate and that is okay. I am thankful that not everyone has to go to war. What a terrible world we would live in if we all had to go.

Since being in combat, I’ve seen movies with war scenes only a handful of times. The visuals still trigger dreams and memories. Since that deployment, I always end up with a lump in my throat during our National Anthem.

I came home loving Americans more than ever before. I returned with experiential knowledge of the sacrifices that U.S. service members make for the freedom of all Americans. With that knowledge, I came back hoping that Americans–in their freedom–would make wise decisions for the sake of our nation and the future of our country. However, I think that most Americans do not keep the connection between their day-to-day lives and our nation as a whole at the forefront of their minds.


For me, this freedom we have in America is precious. We aren’t a perfect nation, but we do have freedoms that I believe we will be held accountable for. Galatians 5:13 gives guidance on what to do with freedom.

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13

Selflessness rather than selfishness. I would encourage all Americans to serve one another humbly in love and find ways to help foster peace, patience, kindness, and understanding.

In Him,





Reflections on my trip to South Africa

JEM_1607.jpgSouth Africa is a beautiful country. The land, animals and people are beautiful. My experience there was humbling and sobering.

Dr. Paul Alexander reminded us, “To whom much is given, much is required.” He encouraged us to be humble and patient with others as we sort through everything we’ve learned.

Luke 12:47-48, “And that servant who knew his master’s will and didn’t prepare himself or do it will be severely beaten. But the one who did not know and did what deserved punishment will receive a light beating. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be expected.”

This is a sobering verse. We are to receive what the Lord has given us in this knowledge of history and do His will.

I will attempt to articulate what I’ve learned on this trip. I went to South Africa with questions and returned with more questions.

South Africa is in a post-colonial time, meaning they have gained their independence from colonialism. They struggled through the Apartheid colonialism and before that, British colonialism, and before that, Dutch colonialism. Colonialism affected every aspect of life. From language and education to religious beliefs and social norms, nothing was left untouched by the empires. With colonialism came slavery and racism, and South Africa is still dealing with residual effects of the empires that ruled there.


Alexander Venter

Our first lecture was by Alexander Venter. He lived during Apartheid rule and was struck by the disparity between the wealthy and poor. He decided to live by kingdom justice, meaning God’s kingdom. He noted that kingdom justice is profoundly political. He defined politics as the means of governing the life of the people in the city. Basically, it is how life is ordered in the nation. He also noted that Jesus had a lot to say about how life ought to be ordered. He said, “Jesus is profoundly political. He talks deeply about the ethics of human relationships.” He gave Biblical examples of times when Jesus was neither left nor right, and times when he was conservative and other times, liberal. Alexander said, “His frame of reference was kingdom ethics and not party politics.” He encouraged us to make very clear in our minds the difference between party politics and the political realm we all live in, which is about ethics.

In focusing on kingdom ethics, Alexander Venter was instrumental in establishing an interracial community in Johannesburg in 1990. Six couples, four black and two white, intentionally pooled their money, bought a farm and lived together. Alexander Venter and his wife lived there for 23 years.


Entering the Apartheid Museum

We toured the Apartheid museum, and seeing the atrocities was difficult. The question of why kept running through my head. Why on earth would someone oppress others for rocks? For gold and diamonds? Why? Who decided that those had any worth? Who was originally offended by a black person and why did they decide to oppress? Is oppression a reflection into the depths of emptiness in the oppressor’s hearts? The issues are not simple. The struggle is multi-dimensional, and the museum was a lot to take in for me.

Through Mmusi Maimane, the current leader of the Democratic Alliance, we learned about the current political landscape. He talked about the difficult decisions he has had to make and said, “Sometimes, you have to choose between the lesser of two evils.” The problem he continually faces is the issue of land. Do you give back the land, but end up without the ability to produce collectively and make a profit?


Dr. Paul Alexander, Mmusi Maimani, and Dr. Carol Alexander

In speaking on oppression, Mmusi expounded on a well-known saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” In South Africa, there’s more to that. He said, you can’t just teach a man to fish, you also have to remove the “No Fishing” signs. This is a good indicator of the state of the nation as the empires intentionally established a society where some people were underprivileged and oppressed, namely the black people. Dr. Gerald West also made mention of this saying.


Dr. Gerald West

We had an entire day of classes with Dr. Gerald West. He is a very humble man. He lived during the anti-apartheid struggle. He wrote his thesis on how the Bible was the justification of Apartheid and the justification of revolt against it. Dr. West has been doing contextualized Bible studies among the marginalized and poor for the last 30 years. He shared a few examples of how his Bible studies foster dialog and help everyone to see things in the Bible that we wouldn’t otherwise see. This Bible study method values everyone’s perspective.

A thought struck me on our final trip to the airport. This idea of the scarcity of resources, such as land, has been inappropriately spread into all areas of life to included God’s love. Empires create an understanding of supply and demand through the control of materials, such as land and natural resources. I think we tend to relate God’s love as being in short supply just like material things in our world.

Thankfully, God’s love is unlimited and it’s for everyone. Anyone can enter into a relationship with God, through Jesus, without the approval of a government. That’s part of the beauty of what Jesus offers everyone.

One last thought on skin color: I think that a person who is offended by the color of another, offends their creator, God. He created each of us and none of us had any choice in what color our skin would be.

This post barely scratches the surface and I’ve tried to keep it as concise as possible. As Dr. Paul mentioned, this isn’t a remote problem in South Africa; we are all still living in some shadow of colonialism.

As we prepared to leave South Africa, Dr. Carol Alexander encouraged us with Micah 6:8.

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

In Him,


He Heals


Healing for a broken heart is possible.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

When I was eight years old, my dad told me that he never wanted a daughter. He said he wanted all boys. Immediately, I went to my bedroom and cried. Reflecting on Psalm 139:13, which says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” I understood that God had created me to be a girl. I prayed, “God, why didn’t you make me a boy so he would want me?” I thought, “Why would he name me Julieanne, an obvious girls’ name?” I even began to problem solve and think, “Maybe someday science will advance to the point that I can have surgery to make me into a boy.”

For over 5 years, I didn’t want to wear dresses and I didn’t feel free to give my dad hugs. So, I wouldn’t do either if I could help it. By the time I was 14, It was very painful to see a father and daughter together. It was then that God began to heal my heart.

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

He’s near during the pain, and He will heal us if we allow him to. He is so, so good. This is not temporary relief from the pain. The world has many remedies for temporary relief. I’m talking about true, inner healing.

I allowed God to heal my heart. I believe only He can do the internal change that is needed for complete healing. Consequently, I didn’t walk down a path of hating God because of my situation. I didn’t walk down a path of hating the fact that I was born a female. I believe God is attentive to the details, and in His sovereign wisdom, He created me to be a female.

For me, healing was a process. Although God could have healed me instantly, He didn’t. In the healing process, God helped me understand the things I couldn’t change, and accept the fact that I couldn’t change them. I couldn’t change the past, and I couldn’t change what my dad wanted. God spoke to me often about how much He loves me. In the healing process, I forgave my dad and was able to freely hug him and tell him that I love him by the time I was 18. God even helped me understand the developmental process of males and females that begins at conception, and that sex-reassignment surgery isn’t the answer.

As difficult as that season was, I realize now that experiential knowledge of God’s healing power came out of that. I cherish that. He is able to heal a broken heart and will every time we need Him to and allow Him to. He is so good. 

In Him,


The Value of Human Life

vamuseum cafe smallThroughout my life, God has spoken to me about the value of human life. He hasn’t just spoken to me about my own value, but everyone’s inherent value. Sometimes, I would feel compassion well up within me when I would look at people. It was as though God would whisper to me, “I love them,” when I’d look at a family member who had hurt me, a bully, a student with fetal alcohol syndrome, a person being made fun of, or a suicidal person.

God spoke directly to my heart about this when I was preparing to deploy to Afghanistan. As people were finding out about the deployment, they shared an array of comments concerning how I should view the war in Afghanistan and the Afghan people. Most of the perspectives upset me. I prayed and asked God how I should view the Afghan people and others that I would meet in Afghanistan. He simply said, “They have value because I love them.” That was freeing. I chose to view them in that way. I remember the first time I saw Afghans: two men were walking on a path. God’s love welled up within me. I wanted to tell them that Almighty God loves them dearly, but as an English-speaking woman, I ran into language and cultural barriers.

In Kuwait, I began to feel God’s heart for people in this world. God was silent in the desert. I chose to respond to His silence by drawing closer to Him. In drawing closer, I learned to feel God’s heart for people. Now, at times, I simply feel like crying for victims, for the lonely, the oppressed, and the rejected.

In London, my cohort and our professors sat in the Gamble Room (pictured above) of the main café in the Victoria and Albert Museum and reflected on our experiences there. That day, God had reminded me of His love for people. The Victoria and Albert museum is immense with upwards of 2.2 million artifacts on display. While walking through the museum, I couldn’t help but see worthless inanimate objects compared to the immensely valuable people walking through the museum. God doesn’t value things more than people. Each person is far more valuable to Him than any artifact carefully displayed in a museum.

It is important to make a distinction between God’s view of people and the prevalent views in our world. Some people value others for their talents, net worth, skills, education level, social status, beauty, wealth, age, skin color, humor, etc. The list goes on and on. Some people value things or animals more than people. Some people value money more than people.

I’m thankful that God doesn’t value our skills more than He values each of us. He doesn’t value our productivity or creativity more than he values us. And, He doesn’t value us based on factors that we can or cannot change about ourselves. He simply loves us.

My heart hurts for the people who believe they aren’t worth anything to anyone. It’s simply not true. I think I am beginning to gain a deeper understanding of his love for each human being.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

In Him,


Destined to Travel


For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to travel throughout the world. It seemed like an impossible dream while growing up on a reservation. The cultural understanding is that Native Americans are stuck there. I’m so thankful that God’s plans for me have included travel.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” Psalm 32:8

On a train in Germany.

I have many good memories now from journeys in cars, buses, planes, and trains. Going wheels up in Nicaragua with a volcano smoldering on the horizon was amazing. Experiencing stomach-turning maneuvers in a helicopter in Afghanistan is a memory I will not forget. Traveling by train in Germany is a funny memory to look back on. We missed our train and waited an hour at a remote station, in the early morning, because we misread the marquee. Driving on the left side of the winding roads in Cyprus required a bit more of my attention. Touching down on American soil from Afghanistan was momentous. That was the fulfillment of God’s promise to bring me home to the United States of America.

Even in the not-so-fun experiences, I enjoy traveling. The Lord has used some of those situations to answer my prayers. I recently had to run through the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris to get a boarding pass printed. Everyone in my group had all of their boarding passes, and I really did not want to stay a night in Paris alone. The Lord answered my prayer by putting me at the front of the security lines. The flight was running late, and I made it to the gate just in time. He is so good.

Something about traveling simply excites me. I have kept track of all the flights I’ve been on, rotary- and fixed-wing, and the total is 111. Each of them has filled me with excitement for the future.


The start of my graduate studies.

During some seasons, my schedule is so full that I look forward to getting into my seat on an airplane just to sit and breathe. At those times, it is a much-needed break. Last summer was one of those seasons. I couldn’t wait to get on an airplane to rest and begin reading for graduate school. The master’s degree program that the Lord has led me to has travel built in. It seems only fitting that I would begin coursework on an airplane.

I’m so thankful for all the places I’ve been able to see and experience. It encourages me and reminds me that God is able fulfill His God-given desires in each of our hearts.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

In Him,