Julie’s Dream is the realization of Julie’s long-time dream and vision for her life’s work starting in 2018. As we embark on this wonderful journey, we are humbled and grateful for the love, support and interest so many have shown over the past several months. And we are eager to see what God has in store for this endeavor.
Julie’s Dream has partnered with two tremendous organizations, Agape and Wilderness Works. We are excited to collaborate with both groups and will help them create and augment outdoor programs for the children they serve. It was Julie’s great hope that through this new organization she could provide an opportunity for disadvantaged youth in Atlanta to experience the hope and love of Jesus Christ by participating in outdoor and wilderness adventures and witnessing firsthand the beauty of God’s creation.
Her roots with both Agape and Wilderness Works ran deep. She was a long-standing volunteer at Agape, serving dinner to the children several times each month over the last few years. And Julie was always the champion of community service initiatives at Novare Group, where she served in various executive roles during her career. In fact, one of the projects she initiated at Novare involved its employees re-painting and decorating the Wilderness Works City Camp. City Camp serves many homeless and at-risk youth and provides a safe place to sleep, enjoy fellowship, activities and nutritious food.
Our family has made it our firm intention to relentlessly pursue blessings out of the darkness of Julie’s sudden passing. That is what Julie would have done. And through her example, we feel called to do the same. As she said many, many times – even in the face of Stage 4 stomach cancer and repeated setbacks – God is good ALL the time. She clung to two wooden crosses, one in each hand representing both of our sons, until the moment she went to heaven. Her faith inspired – and continues to inspire – so many and we know she is doing big work in heaven. We are also confident she is smiling down on the work we are doing here on Earth.
History about Julie and Her Dreams
“Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9
A Message from Chad:
This was one of Julie’s most beloved verses. It became one of my favorite verses, too. Even in the face of cancer, she was committed to finding ways to do good. And the harvest in life for her was not material or financial. It was drawing nearer to Christ, serving others and improving lives – spiritually, practically and relationally. For all of us, the harvest is the natural time of reaping in joy what has been produced during the year. And for Julie, the harvest was always measured in impact. I always loved that about her.
It is said that a farmer needs to do his part in planting in order to reap the harvest. As was illustrated in Julie’s life and well-documented at her memorial service, she had planted seeds EVERYWHERE. And my wife was a HUGE thinker with amazing vision.
From Lovett to Agape to Northside Methodist and many other organizations she touched, Julie’s greatest dreams were to see these important communities continue to thrive and grow exponentially in their outreach and impact. Her goal was for our family to pour our hearts, time and resources into the needs of these groups. And she had ideas that had not yet been fully realized…
We had a list of lifetime goals that we discussed and added to during our marriage. We pushed each other to dream bigger, and we found it energizing and exciting. While fighting cancer, Julie talked about forming a ministry for cancer patients, feeding them encouraging scripture and sharing with them her own cancer journey. She had such compassion for her fellow patients at MD Anderson and was so kind to every nurse, doctor and employee she met. Cancer can be an excruciating road, and Julie had such a heart for helping her brothers and sisters in cancer. She visualized visiting young mothers and fathers diagnosed with cancer at Winship, MDA and other hospitals to hear their stories and pray with them and encourage them.
Another one of her ideas was inspired by our trip to Mt. Rainier in August 2008. I had climbed to the summit the previous year with friends from Atlanta. It was my first mountaineering experience, and I fell in love with it. I have since stood on several amazing summits in the American West, but none compare in beauty to Mt. Rainier. Upon summiting, I knew I had to share this amazing place with Julie. When we embarked on our trip, it was all the more meaningful to her because our climbing target was Camp Muir, named after the great naturalist John Muir, and by happenstance her maiden name. She, too, fell in love with Mt. Rainier, and claimed the experience as one of the best of her life. Together, we dreamed of taking our kids and others to this otherworldly place.
We started brainstorming creating an organization to take at-risk and underprivileged Atlanta youth out west to experience the joy of mountaineering and the beauty of the wilderness. We, however, tabled the conversation in subsequent years due to the busyness of life and raising our family. In late 2016, Julie began to talk about it again, and started interviewing non-profit directors to learn the inner workings of these organizations. She became serious about formally launching this entity and pinpointed an early 2018 start date. She researched fundraising and branding and planned to start locally with outdoor excursions in metro Atlanta before venturing to Colorado, and ultimately, the Pacific Northwest. She was driven by the hope and joy she knew these children would reap by experiencing God’s awesome creation and challenging themselves in new ways. She knew the confidence and spiritual learnings that would result from these adventures would forever impact their young lives.
When we were in Houston for her treatment, we brainstormed a potential name for this new venture. Her eyes positively lit up when we talked about it. The vision of making her idea a reality gave her additional incentive to fight her cancer battle. We never had the chance to decide on a name, but her resolve to get this idea off the ground remained true to the end of her time here on Earth. It was (and is) yet another example of a seed she planted, and another opportunity for us to make good out of bad, and to finish the GREAT work she was doing during her life.
Philippians 1:6 says, “Being confident of this, He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
And so with God’s help and direction, it has become our family’s honor, duty and privilege to carry all of Julie’s good works to completion and to carry the torch of her legacy wherever His path leads us. We know God’s light – and Julie’s radiant smile – are both beaming on us as we bring Julie’s Dream to life and witness the impact it makes.