Meet Julie, She is Beauty Revived
Photographer: Michelle Gifford Photography
Meet Julie. I met Julie more than twelve years ago. She was my one of my church youth leaders and was there for me during my formative years. Back then, I knew she was amazing. Her faith and dedication were unmatched. It wasn’t until after I left my small hometown to go to college that her faith was really tried and she has come out triumphant. When I think of resilience, grace under pressure and strength in adversity, I think of Julie. She has overcome tragedy after tragedy and with faith in Christ has found a way to turn her negatives into positives. Now, she speaks around the country and has a blog about her trials and the things they have taught her, inspiring others to have faith in Christ. Well, let me let her tell you her story.
In Julie’s words:
When I was 18 years old, in January 1996, I went on a first date with Jake Jorgensen, the man I would marry, and the love of my life. We fell in love instantly and had a great life. In the first 7 years of our marriage we experienced many ups and downs. We had 3 young boys who were all sweet and amazing. We moved several times, but built our dream house in 2002. Jake ran a cattle ranch that he loved, and I lived my dream as a stay at home mom. Jake worked as a mechanic in a coal mine in addition to the ranch to make that possible.
On the night of January 22, my husband left for work at 9:00 at night. He worked graveyards at a coal mine in Price, Ut. As he walked out the door, I called him back to give me a kiss goodbye. We shared a passionate kiss in the middle of the stair case and I gave him my usual goodbye, “I love you, have a good night, and make sure you come home to me in the morning :).”
Around midnight there was a knock on my door.
My best friend and his wife were standing on my porch. They asked if they could come in…(no this isn’t happening to me, don’t let them in). I must have let them in though, and they made me sit down. (Don’t say it, don’t listen, make them leave) I hear my friend say, “There’s been an accident at the mine and… (this isn’t happening, this is not my life!!!) and Jake didn’t make it”. Now my thoughts became screams as I sobbed uncontrollably. “No! Where is he? Take me to him right now! There has to be a chance! He has to be ok! I know he is alive! Just take me to him and he’ll be alive. PLEASE PLEASE take me to him!” They didn’t have any details or know where he was… they just knew he was dead.
I spent the night sobbing, waiting for my family to make the 2 hour drive to get to me. Then spent the next day sitting with my 6, 3, and 1 year old sons on my lap, telling them their daddy died, and that he was never coming home. I then went and picked out a casket for my amazing, adoring husband. And OH YEAH, I took the pregnancy test I had bought the day before with such hope and excitement in my heart.
The test was POSITIVE.
In the midst of the most horrible event I could imagine, I had a MIRACLE. This baby was a BLESSING. It was a piece of my sweet Jake still living inside of me. That little baby saved me.
There I was… 26 years old, a pregnant widow, and a single mom of soon-to-be 4 sons.
When Jake first died, I was offended by anyone even suggesting I remarry. I remember my mom suggesting that I start dating after it had been a year. After a year or so though, I started realizing that I was so young and it would be a very long, lonely life if I stayed single.
I started dating after it had been about 2 years. It was awful, scary, hilarious and sometimes even fun. In April 2006 a man named Curtis asked me out and with a little divine intervention I eventually said yes. It was hard at first but, within a short time we fell in love and I KNEW I was supposed to marry him. He had 4 sons as well, all the same ages as my kids. I was thrilled to feel happiness again. I was going to make plans and have dreams again! Curtis was great about accepting Jake’s presence in our home, our lives, and my heart. This made it easier for me to allow myself to fall in love with him.
I was now a mom to 8 boys.
In 2008 Curtis and I had our first child together. I was so excited to find out what it was, obviously hoping for a girl to add to our family of 8 boys. I have to admit that I was devastated to find out it was another boy! It took several weeks to accept this reality. Cameron was born in July. He was so sweet and he had my heart from the minute I saw him. I wouldn’t have traded him for any girl in the world. I knew he was meant to be my son. He helped bond our blended family into a family. Everyone adored him. He brought so much happiness and love to our home.
In the fall of 2009 my 3rd son Jordy was really struggling to learn in school. He had been very delayed in his toddler years but because he was only 1 when his Dad died they felt that explained his delays. I felt like he eventually caught up by preschool. He had a quirky personality, but that was just what made him Jordy. When he was in first grade things started spiraling downward fast. I was reading everything I could find and came across, The Out-Of-Sync Child. This was a game changer for us. It took almost 9 months to go through all the diagnosing, Doctor appointments and therapist to find out he was PDD-NOS (mildly autistic) with severe Sensory Processing Disorder, and had learning disabilities.
My name is Julie and I am a special needs Mom.
I was devastated and couldn’t believe that I was going through yet another trial. It took several months to come to grips with my anger over it. I felt betrayed by God somehow. Like we had an agreement that I would endure my trial with the understanding that he would prevent anything else bad from happening. I battled depression (again), and gained weight from all the stress. But in time, with a lot of prayer, God helped heal my heart. Instead of feeling picked on I decided to focus on helping my son. I found my strong personality again and became a mom with a cause.
My name is Julie and I will fight for my kids!
Our baby, Cameron, was easy from the beginning. I teased my older kids that he was happy just to be along for the ride. Sitting in the car seat silently accepting his fate as a passenger to their lives of football, baseball, and everything else they were involved in. It was kind of a joke until I realized that my soon to be 2 year old sweet baby boy that never cried or caused a problem, also never really made a sound.
Finally when Cameron turned 2, with almost no words or sounds they started early intervention. With a normal hearing test we began speech therapy. During that time I found out that I was (quite surprisingly) pregnant again. God really knows me, and knows to give me babies when things are going to get ugly;). I was thrilled and hoped and prayed for a daughter. Living with 9 sons was fun…but come on, throw a girl a bone and give me a baby girl!
In July, Curtis and I welcomed to our family our baby girl. Decorating her nursery, and buying her clothes brought so much happiness in a tough time. But, holding her in my arms was priceless. My heart was so full, and our family was complete.
My name is Julie and I FINALLY have a daughter!!!
We took Cam to many appointments with geneticists to find out what was wrong. The doctor ordered a special blood test and a week later, this time 3 days before Christmas we were told “Cameron has a genetic disorder called 22q11.2 deletion syndrome” (also known as DiGeorge Syndrome). This is a syndrome where part of the 22nd chromosome is deleted. In the next several weeks we learned that Cameron has 3 minor heart defects, 1 being potentially fatal that we will monitor his entire life. He was born with only one kidney, that is smaller than the Doctor would like and has a couple issues, that will also be monitored. Low immunity, over-all low tone, chronic fatigue, chronic rashes, and possible learning disorders. PVNH usually causes dyslexia and 22q causes issues with numbers and problem solving, so he is taking a hit from both sides. There is a 90% chance he will eventually develop a seizure disorder. His most recent EEG came back normal again though:). Cam had to have a sleep study done and they found he had sleep apnea. We removed his adenoids and tonsils to hopefully help his chronic fatigue. The surgery went well, but I’m sad to say the fatigue remains a big issue for him. It is likely that he will continue to have new issues come up through out his life.
The good news? Cam has beat the odds in many ways and his speech continues to improve. The mortality rate for 22q kids is extremely high in the first year, and a lot of 22q pregnancies result in miscarriage. He is the happiest, sweetest little boy I know. I can’t get enough of him. I am grateful everyday that he is alive.
My name is Julie and I see the miracles in my life.
I started realizing I could break under the pressure of being a widow, in a second marriage with 10 kids, not knowing what our employment situation will be or how we will get a new insurance to cover Cam or Jordy, and having two kids with special needs, on top of every other “normal” problem that most of us face everyday. OR, I could look for every blessing, every miracle, and every ounce of help I receive from God and my loved ones.
People often ask me how I handle so many trials. I usually respond with something like, “I didn’t know I had any other option”. The truth is though, the only way I can handle any of it is through the help and love of my Savior and his atoning sacrifice. I rely heavily on the words of my beloved church leader Thomas S. Monson, “Remember, whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies.” My life is a testimony of that statement.
My name is Julie and I love my crazy, tragic, stressful, difficult, wonderful life.
To read her whole story, visit her blog
a Rafflecopter giveaway