Julie grew up in Southern California as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She is the oldest of 10 siblings. She currently lives in Utah with her husband. They have five children and five granddaughters. Family time is her favorite time. Monthly Sunday dinners with her children, grandchildren, local siblings, nieces and nephews are the best. Julie has served in the Church in many different capacities over the years, most often with the Primary children and Young Women.

Enter Julie…

By the time I graduated from high school, our house was getting pretty crowded. At this point, I no longer wanted to have to share a room with my little sisters. Soon after my 18th birthday, I moved from California to Utah. My grandparents and cousins lived in Salt Lake, so that’s where I wanted to be. After a few months of living with my grandparents, I got a job waitressing and moved into my own little apartment.

On My Own

Once I was totally on my own, it was easy to stop going to church on a regular basis. I never really stopped believing, I just wanted to live my life for a while. Six months later I started dating a regular from the restaurant where I worked. He was not a member of the Church, nor were any of his friends, which I didn’t think twice about. By that time, I had stopped going to church altogether and I was smoking and drinking with the rest of the group. I was happy and having fun.

I worked a few different jobs and moved from place to place around the Salt Lake valley for several months. We then decided to move in together. I finally got a regular full-time job, and things were going well for us.

A Wake-Up Call

After almost a year of dating, we decided to get married. Unfortunately, our marriage lasted for only seven months. Two days after my 20th birthday, my husband told me that he didn’t want to be married anymore, and that was it. It was a month or two later that I found out I was pregnant. This was a bit of a wake-up call, and I stopped smoking and drinking basically overnight. Nothing was more important than this child.

Plans Change

For the rest of my pregnancy, I didn’t really change anything else about my life or my way of living. I got my own place and continued working. My ex was planning to be a father, and I was hoping we would get back together. When my son was born, my ex-husband was there with me. After the birth, he called his girlfriend from the hospital to give her the good news. It was then that I knew that we really weren’t getting back together.

I stayed with my former in-laws for a while right after my son was born, since I wasn’t working. I started training for a data-entry job that I could do from home.

My Responsibility

When my son was almost two months old, he and I went to visit my family back in California. That Sunday, while we were in town, we went to church with my family and my dad gave him a name and a blessing. In this special blessing, I remember my dad blessing my son that he would serve a mission one day.

After hearing this blessing, I realized that it was my responsibility to make sure he grew up preparing to serve a mission. To do this, I needed to turn things around in my own life.

A Welcome Home

Not long after returning to Utah after our visit, my son and I moved back to California to live with my family for a while. Once there, I started attending church regularly again. I was welcomed back to my home ward with such love. Nobody cared what I had been doing for the last two years of my life, they cared about me and they were happy I was there with them.

I realized that I needed to repent and go through the process to return to full fellowship in the Church. Our bishop at that time was the father of my good friend, a man I had known for years. I trusted him and I knew that when I was ready, he would be there to help me.

Support During Change

The repentance process isn’t easy, but I had so much support. For my first visit with the bishop, my mom went with me and spent over an hour in the foyer waiting while I spoke with him. I met with the bishop regularly after that. It was a slow process.

I moved back to Utah when my son was six months old. We moved into an apartment and I was able to start my at-home data entry job. We attended a family ward while we were living there. After nine more months, I was finally able to return to full fellowship in the Church. A couple months later I was able to join my parents, grandparents, aunt, uncle, some cousins and friends in the Salt Lake City Temple, where I received my own endowments.

A New Family View

I met and married my eternal companion later that year. My ex-husband relinquished his parental rights and my husband petitioned to adopt my son. One year later his adoption was finalized. Our daughter was born near that same time. We then had the wonderful opportunity to go to the temple, with my son and my baby daughter, to be sealed together as an eternal family. We have since been blessed with another son and two more daughters.

Blessings Fulfilled

Seventeen years later, my first son’s blessing was fulfilled. He was called and served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in the Argentina Cordoba Mission.

Following his mission my son married his high school sweetheart in the Salt Lake Temple. They are now the parents of four beautiful daughters.

Eternal Joy

Looking back at that time in my life, I’ve realized that what I thought was happiness was only temporary. The joy I have now, with my family, is eternal.

The way I felt loved and not judged is how I want others to feel as well. Everyone has different life experiences, trials, fears, sadness and other suffering that we may not see, and we may never know about, and they all deserve to be treated with kindness, love and compassion.

I’m so thankful I was.

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