Ben & Julianna's Bio/Testimony
Identity in Christ
When I was younger I was defined by my success on the sports field. Since my faith was in my performance I was on a roller coaster of emotions. It was the same in my daily life. I strove for a life of moral perfection, but always fell short. Deep down I knew I would never be perfect.
But, I don't have to be perfect. Jesus Christ is perfect. This truth has freed me in sports and life. In Christ God loves me unconditionally. My performance good or bad does not change His love for me. "God demonstrated His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)"
According to the Bible, all men are sinners in need of a Savior. God sent Jesus Christ to live the life we couldn't and take the penalty we deserved. God has proven His gracious acceptance of me by raising Christ from the dead and allowing over 500 people to witness His life even after He was crucified.
Jesus is my Lord and my righteousness. My faith is no longer in my performance, but in His life, death and resurrection on my behalf. Read Ephesians 2:8-9 and Galatians 2:20 to learn about my Savior and how you can know Him too!
I was raised in an energetic family of eight. Being the fourth, and therefore "middle child", much of my childhood was spent trying to keep up with the big kids. I was painfully shy and very content to just listen to music in my room alone which I realize sounds kind of depressing as I write it! But I grew up very happy and very loved. My dad is a pastor of an evangelical church in Iowa so much of my time growing up was spent at our church doing various "church things". I have believed in God ever since I was a little girl, and although most of my understanding was fairly elementary, I never doubted His existence.
Creation speaks very loudly of God to me, so I would sit in a tree outside and write poetry almost every day after school. It was not until I was 21 that my assurance of His existence was ever questioned. My heart was hardened to the things of God, and I was asking questions that would give most parents a heart attack. During that time, I tried everything in my power to get that belief back... I prayed, I read the Bible, I talked to my older and wiser sister, I went to church, and even Googled "how to have faith". But none of my efforts succeeded.
It was not until I came to this place of complete and utter defeat in my own efforts to muster up some sort of faith that God, in His miraculous Grace, chose to reveal Himself to me. He opened my eyes to His existence and all of the sudden what was complete foolishness to me was my saving grace. That God Himself would take on the form of a man and subject Himself to the cruelties and weathers of this world for a period of time so that He could live life perfectly and die unjustly to bear the weight of my sin... to bear the weight of your sin, and therefore paying our debts which separate us from knowing God.
I had never understood that my salvation had nothing to do with what I think is my own "goodness". And it was terrifying to realize that this "goodness" is horribly unimpressive to God. But that is where my freedom lies. Our faith is only as strong as the object in which it is placed, and if my salvation was reliant upon my own faith, none of us would be able to stand.
I am learning to rest in this freedom and enjoy loving Christ...living with the Gospel stamped upon my eyelids so I see life through that lens.
Ben & Julianna's Journal
Hello from Ben and Jules!
Posted October 20, 2011
Ben and I are excited to get to share some of our heart with you through this new page on our website. In reading these journal entries, you can probably expect to be enlightened into our lives a little bit, maybe entertained sometimes, hopefully encouraged, and perhaps challenged even.
We will be the first to admit that we do not have it "all together". In fact, we boast in that…because in our weaknesses is the way to beginning to understand the Gospel. And the Gospel is our passion. Studying it, questioning it, wondering and standing in awe of it. And the more we see ourselves as we really are (which unfortunately is not so great), the clearer God becomes and our need for a Savior is a blazing neon sign.
So don't be surprised if you read something that you are appalled by. Don't be surprised if you disagree with something we write. Don't be surprised if your motherly, "I would never do that" buttons are pushed by something I say. Because more than likely, it will happen. We aim at honesty, not to make light of struggles or try and make them seem "cool", but an honesty that will hopefully spur us all on to seeking out the true Gospel which has absolutely nothing to do with our merit or deeds. We need to release one another from the bondage of living for eachothers approval, stop winking at legalism, and begin living in the freedom that we cannot earn or attempt to gain favor with God. He has done the work for us.
So I really do pray that you will laugh, question, agree, get mad, and find resolve in reading these journal entries. Because we will definitely be laughing, questioning, agreeing, getting mad, and finding resolve right alongside you!!
Grace and Peace
Dare To Live Fully
Posted October 25, 2011
One of the most common questions I receive as the wife of a professional baseball player, recording artist/performer, mother of a two year old and now a six-month pregnant woman is, "How do you balance everything in your life?"
My typical response with a smile and a short laugh, is "Let me know if you figure out what that means!" Balance is not a word frequently used in our household. Our schedule is constantly changing, we know Southwest flight attendants by name and our son, Zion, often says, "We're home!" when we pull up to a hotel.
Growing up in a family of eight where my father was a pastor and my mom cooked every meal, I was used to the comfort of routine and consistency. So the crazy lifestyle Ben and I have is a big change for me. We live in Tennessee for four months out of the year during the baseball off -season; Port Charlotte, Florida for a month and a half during spring training; and then in Tampa Bay for the regular season. Out of the six baseball months, we are on the road for half of them.
On top of the baseball world, I am a musician. I write all of my own music, fly to Nashville to record, and often perform at festivals, churches and schools throughout the year. Needless to say, there aren't very many home-cooked meals coming from this mama! At first, the ugly little monster of "comparison" kept me from just letting go and loving our life. I was always trying to fi t us into what I thought was the good, American, even "Christian" way of living. But the more I compared, the more bitter and discontent I became.
I soon found out that I can spend these years trying to obtain "balance" to have a very normal, predictable life with one home, no traveling and home-cooked meals every night, or I can spend these years not only being content, but loving the life God has entrusted our family with and enjoying it! Th e truth is that for many, a life of routine works beautifully and I am sometimes jealous of that! But that wasn't the life God handed my family. So instead of trying to make it into what I thought it should be, I dared myself to live fully right where I am!
I recently attended a funeral, and as heartbreaking as it is to lose someone you love, I think God uses those moments to graciously give us a dose of perspective. One day this life will be over…what did I spend it doing? What kind of legacy will I leave with my family and friends and people that I randomly meet at a baseball game or one of my shows?
I pray that my children aren't left only being able to say that their Mom loved them and provided for them. But that they saw that God so radically permeated me that I lived this life fearlessly and was not a slave to what others said was the way to live. I want to live a life that loves the Gospel of Christ, a life that teaches my children how to be bold. I want to live a life where I don't expect me to be perfect, but one that holds onto the Grace and Forgiveness and Redemption given to me. I want to live a life that shows my daughter how to love her husband like they are newlyweds forever and a life that seizes the crazy moments and makes them fun. I want to live a life that shows my children and others watching, how to live fully…not simply how to be balanced.