From Hot Mess to Blessed, by Julie K. Gillies

I am in a season of my life in which I am a hot mess. Truly. Unfortunately, it is a season that has lasted… decades? Maybe, but certainly for YEARS! Enter, the new Bible Study by Julie K.Gillies, titled “From Hot Mess to Blessed: Hope to Propel Your Soul and the Promises that Change Everything.”

I spent the past few days “drinking in” chapter 1, savoring every drop of wisdom and insight. I’m working through this study slowly because I don’t want to miss a thing! I promise you, dear readers, that there will be many more posts about this study where I will share the incredible insights that I am receiving- because I just can’t help myself! Somebody finally “gets it!”

In the introduction, Gillies tells us that every woman experiences 2 struggles:

– to believe that we are who God says that we are

– to believe the stunning promises that God whispers to our hearts

We have accepted “lesser” versions of ourselves based on what we can perceive in our lives on this fallen Earth. We struggle to believe because so much of what we see appears to be the exact opposite of what God tells us He knows to be true, and what He promises to bring into fruition. Fortunately, Gillies provides us with verses from God’s word to remind us of how God sees us:

– beautiful (Song of Solomon 1:15)

– accepted (Ephesians 1:6)

– new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17)

– precious in His sight (Isaiah 43:4)

– really and unquestionably free (John 8:36)

– chosen (John 15:16)

Does that sound like a Hot Mess to you? Not to me either! I’m spending this weekend focusing on the verses above, memorizing and journaling, in order to know and believe the way that God sees me. Moving forward in this study, I look forward to seeing how God is going to heal this Hot Mess with His extravagant blessings.

Abundance in All Things

Read: Isaiah 54-55

I selected the word “abundance” as a focus for 2017 while reflecting on my financial reality and business resources. These two areas need a serious infusion of abundance.

Then I read Isaiah 54-55, which cracked my heart and my mind wide open to the possibilities! God offers and promises His people abundance in everything:

– children/family (54:1-3)

– protection and honor (54:4-8)

– peace (54:9-10)

– stronghold and  weaponry (54:11-17)

– physical necessities and money (55:1-2)

– international influence (55:3-5)

– physical and spiritual sustenance (55:6-13)

My favorite verse in these chapters is Isaiah 55:2, “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance.” God tells us to be delighted with abundance, not to struggle for it or feel guilty when we have it. This will be a new mindset for me.

I’m Sorry, I Promise!

Probably two of the most meaningless and misused words in the English language are “sorry” and “promise.” We want desperately to believe them when we hear them. We accept the apology and forgive. We accept the promise with renewed hope. Yet 99% of the time, they fall flat.


We know that if someone is truly sorry, then they will make every effort so that the same mistake doesn’t happen again. But then it does. And again, and again. We understand a promise to be a sacred vow between the hearts, souls, and spirits of 2 or more individuals, only to find out “promise” is just a word. A pretty word, yes, but just a word.

But words are powerful! And hope is a strong, courageous feeling. We want to believe and trust words like “sorry” and “promise.” In spite of the odds, in spite of the past broken promises and repetitious sorrys, in spite of the resulting feelings of betrayal and anger and bitterness and naivete that we experience when we believe just one more time… still… we believe.

I can’t anymore. I won’t.

Not. One. More. Time.

So, friends, family, acquaintances, students, all of the people that I know and love, please save your “sorry” and your “promise” for someone else- I don’t need “sorry” or “promise” for anything, ever, anymore.



Gratefully inspired by the poem, “Sorry,” by Ntozake Shange, American poet

All wives Are Warriors

Yep, all wives. We are designed to e warriors, alongside our husbands. Remember that crazy verse in Genesis?

“It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18

A suitable helper? Seriously? In the garden, charged with caring for and having dominion over… everything? A helper. Umm, yeah.

But what if I told you that the word “helper” is translated from the Hebrew phrase “ezer kenegdo.” The literal translation of ezer is “protection or aid.” Kenegdo is “counterpart or equal, and sometimes against.” Ezer is used 22 more times in the Old Testament. 17 of these references are made to show God as the Hebrews’ protection or aid, often in times of great need of physical assistance or military assistance.

Adding kenegdo to ezer denotes an equality and strength of support. Therefore, God clearly designed wives to stand for and with their husbands through times of trial and challenges.

And this is the premise of my newest book project! So excited to get it underway. Watch this space for more information!

Another Role Emerges


Business owner/operator. It’s in the very early planning stages, but our new kombucha brewery and tea house is coming to life in my head.

The name “Bella” has captured my imagination. Italian for “beautiful,” it was perfect for our new chihuahua puppy. And now it is perfect for a company name, featuring our adorable Bella as a mascot on the company logo.

  • college instructor
  • author
  • life coach/mentor
  • business owner

Now the trick is juggling the roles, without dropping any of them. I think “business owner” is the primary role, with the others falling into place in my various business pursuits:

  • Joanna Branson, Author
  • Strong Minds Press
  • Bella Tea Company
  • Team Phoenix Ltd.?

Why am I sharing all of this in my blog? Well.. there are two reasons, I guess.

  1. writing it down makes it real
  2. transparency

Three years from now when I look back at where I’ve been, I want a transparent record of what I did and how I did it. And yes, even a record of errors made so my readers can avoid the same mistakes.

And the best part is that while I’m figuring it out (now!?) I don’t have many readers or followers yet so the embarrassment or risk of losing credibility is minimal.

More to come soon!





Life Coaches and Mentors: Do YOU Need Them?

This week as I was outlining my new ideas for writing, business, and educational projects, I kept thinking, “What the hell are you thinking? Who do you think you are? Leave all that to the life coaches, the mentors and gurus. You’re ‘just’ a writer, not a mentor.” In the past, along with all of than, I used to hear, “What do you know? You’re too young…” Yeah. Not so much anymore. If a half-century isn’t old enough to offer sound advice, then I never will be old enough!

In the past ten years or so, I’ve connected with a dozen or more women- all online- who have served as my mentors: Danielle LaPorte, Marie Forleo, Joanna Penn, Carol Tice, Kate Northrup, Leonie Dawson, Samantha Bennett, Mama Gena, Dr. Christiane Northrup, Denise Duffield-Thomas, to name a few. Some are older, some younger, but all have contributed significantly to who I am and who I am becoming. And all share the belief that each one of us has something unique and valuable to share with the world. Appreciating each of their contributions to the world as I do, how can I then turn around and justify not sharing my gifts and knowledge with others? Especially if it can also support my family and our dreams moving forward.

So. I’ve come to the crazy, surprising, pleasing realization that, in addition to being an author, I am also a life coach and mentor to some of my audience. Thank you for trusting me that much. It is an honor to serve.

Friday Readers’ Grab-bag

Happy Friday! This post is a bit premature, but I’m setting it and sending it anyway. I’m kind of weird like that. It’s in my head and I want it out to make room for more stuff.

Moving forward, as I earn my way into more inboxes and create ever more useful content and products for you, it is my hope that many of you will find this space to be one for sharing, reflecting and questioning. On Fridays, I’d like to create a “Reader Mailbag” kind of article each week: a column/article that addresses readers’ questions or quandries about anything you deem important to modern women.

So, here’s what I need from you, my readers: your ideas and questions for discussion! Please? You can post them directly in the comments below this post, or send them to me in an email for a bit more privacy and confidentiality. Either way, I’ll answer them here on Fridays. Fair game?

Can’t wait to hear from you all soon!

Center-punched Sideways Again!

How do I keep getting knocked so far off track that I’m not even sure I’m still on the same internet as my readers? By now, I’m sure my readers recognize the signs and the pattern. Yep, when I step away and get quiet, it means that I’m questioning (again?!) my purpose, mission, goals, and how best to implement all that in my “real” life. My writing life.

I have thousands – hundreds of thousands- of words in my head and on my heart which I believe could be of great benefit to today’s women – women at various ages and states of life, but especially young women in the teen, young adult, and new adult categories.

Many of the projects in my head are stories about strong women in history, real and imagined, which I feel modern women can learn so much from. Other projects are non-fiction, books initially, but with potential for workbooks, journals, study guides, workshops, online courses, etc.

I used to question the wisdom of leaving out the whole male population as my potential audience. But I don’t anymore. My message simply isn’t for them. Sometimes when I run my ideas by my husband, I see his eyes glaze over. Zero interest. And that’s fine. I suspect, and hope, that a few of my novels and stories will cross the gender line, but if not then it’s men’s loss.

Over the next few weeks, expect to see one. more. overhaul… of this blog as I create the new content and pull all the pieces together for a final re-launch. This is it. My time is here.

A Warrior-Strong Mindset, Part 1: Aisha

Months ago, I read a book by Sherry Jones about Muhammed’s youngest wife, Aisha. (The Jewel of Medina) It was a fictionalized account of a historical figure and her life which stirred up a lot of controversy in the Muslim community, controversy which I have NO interest in engaging. Let me be clear: no controversy here.

What stayed with me long after I had finished reading the book was the powerful warrior that this young woman became, in spite of society’s limitations and censure. Aisha refused to let the limitations and censure define her. Instead, she ignored them, developed her own skills, and taught those skills to Muhammed’s other wives. This enabled them to defend their home on at least one occasion when Muhammed and his men were away at battle and marauders came calling.

Aisha’s bravery and warrior-strong mindset inspired me to further develop my own. The rest of this month’s series of posts will examine just how that can be achieved.

Core Desired Feeling: Abundance

Read Isaiah 54-55

I selected the word “abundance” while reflecting on my financial reality and business resources. These two areas need a serious infusion of abundance in 2016!

Then I read Isaiah 54-55, which cracked my heart and my mind wide open to the possibilities! God offers and promises his people abundance in everything:

children and family (54:1-3)

protection and honor (54:4-8)

peace (54:9-10)

stronghold and weaponry (54:11-17)

physical necessities and money (55:1-2)

international influence (55:3-5)

physical AND spiritual sustenance (55:6-13)

My favorite verse is Isaiah 55:2 which says “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance.”

God tells us to be delighted with abundance, not to struggle for it or feel guilty when we have it. This will be a new mindset for me this year!

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