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Episode 73 — Sharing faith through media

Julia Strukely (front of the room) teaching her students. Julia teaches theology, journalism, and media literacy.

About the episode | Listen to the episode | Meet Julia Strukely | Episode transcript

About the episode:

"If this is not my calling, how can I still take those things that I've learned and the things I still love, and how can I use those things now?" With a background in media studies and theology, Julia Strukely has found a variety of ways to put her degree and faith into action. As she followed the promptings of God in her life, she found herself leading retreats, serving with NET Ministries, working as a youth minister, and even discerned a religious vocation. Even though she ultimately discerned out of religious life, Julia saw that her time discerning religious life was just the beginning to a deepening of her personal mission. Now, she teaches religion, journalism and media literacy to middle schoolers and continues to evangelize with and through the media - all because she continued to say yes. In this episode, Julia and I talk about her love for media, her time discerning a religious vocation and how that formed her, and how she continues to evangelize now as a speaker and podcaster.


Listen to this week's episode:


Meet Julia Strukely

Julia Strukely is a Theology and Media Literacy teacher in Richmond, VA. She serves the Catholic Church in a variety of ways including teaching Middle School and High School Theology, coordinating faculty and adult faith formation sessions at her school and parish, and providing music ministry as a piano accompanist and vocalist. Julia currently is a member of an NCEA Advisory Council and has been a frequent presenter for Virtual Gatherings with Liturgy Training Publications. Julia has a background in Youth Ministry and served as a parish youth minister and with NET Ministries. Julia seeks to evangelize through blogging, podcasting, and social media. She is currently working on her Scripture-centered podcast, Seven Mile Chats, and creating and sharing STREAM lessons to be used by teachers in Catholic schools.


Instagram: @sevenmilechats

Twitter: @MsStrukely1

Seven Mile Chats podcast

ZilLearn: @juliastrukely


Episode transcript

00:00 MUSIC

00:10 RACHEL WONG: This is The Feminine Genius Podcast, a podcast that celebrates all women of God and their unique genius. I'm your host, Rachel Wong.

00:20 MUSIC

00:31 RACHEL: With a background in media studies and theology, Julia Strukely continually puts her degree and faith into action. As she followed the promptings of God in her life, she found herself leading retreats, serving with NET Ministries, working as a youth minister, and even discerned a religious vocation. Though she ultimately discerned out of religious life, Julia saw that her time discerning was just the beginning to a deepening of her personal mission. Now she teaches theology, journalism and media literacy to middle schoolers, and continues to evangelize with, and through the media—all because she continued to say yes. In this episode, Julia and I talked about her love for media her time discerning a religious vocation, and how she continues to evangelize media as a speaker, and a podcaster.

01:32 RACHEL: Hi Julia! 01:33 JULIA STRUKELY: Hi Rachel! 01:34 RACHEL: How are you?

01:34 JULIA: I'm great, it's good to be here!

01:36 RACHEL: Thank you, thank you! It is good to be with you today. I know that—I guess it's a couple weeks ago now we chatted earlier. You were so kind to host me on your podcast Seven Mile Chats, so I'm so, so happy to return the favour and have you on and to hear a little bit more of your story!

01:52 JULIA: Yeah, thank you so much for having me and for being on my podcast and sharing scripture with me, and I'm excited to share a little bit of my story and, you know, it's a very humble one but maybe it can people can connect with it so I'm looking forward to sharing.

02:06 RACHEL: Yeah. Oh, thank you! Well, maybe first off, Julia, we'll get you to introduce yourself to our listeners and share a little bit about what it is that you do right now. 02:15 JULIA: Sure. So my name is Julia Strukely. I'm originally from outside of Cleveland, Ohio, but I went to school in Washington D.C. I have a Bachelor's in Media Studies from Catholic University [of America], and I also have a Master's in Theology from Catholic University. I've lived in the D.C. area for a while after I received my master's, and I live in Richmond, Virginia.

I'm a teacher, I teach religion. I've taught high school theology, but I'm currently teaching middle school, which kind of get the bad rap but I love it! I also get to use my media studies degree, I teach a journalism and media literacy class at the school too, so it's kind of cool. Not too many people can say that they actually use the degrees that they earned! [laughs] And I give faith formation presentations to faculty, I am active in the RCIA program, I'm on the team at my Parish, and I give presentations there I've also currently been working with, in this pandemic, doing virtual retreats through Liturgy Training Publications, I help do their weekly presentations on Living the Sunday Word. And I started my podcast! So just trying to stay busy in the pandemic you know and do what we can from home, being where the Lord is leading me so that's what what I'm doing right now. 03:23 RACHEL: Yeah, and you're doing so much of it, that is so wonderful!

03:26 JULIA: It's a lot right now! But I have to stay busy, I've always been that way.

03:29 RACHEL: Well, praise God. Praise God! And I have to say, as someone who loves media, who for a period of time wanted to go into journalism, I would have loved to have like a teacher who actually studied media studies, first of all, and actually had a journalism class. So whoever your students are I hope they're listening and I hope they realize how lucky they are, because that is so cool to have that in high school! 03:52 JULIA: I think they think I'm a little bit crazy because I do love it so much. And when I was getting my undergraduate degree, the media was not being used the way that is used now, so I'm constantly learning too and having to inform myself, but I really enjoy it and I hope that they do too. 04:07 RACHEL: That's awesome. There are some little bridges that are starting to form in my head and that gets me so excited! So Julia I'd love to hear your personal faith journey, how it is that you've come to know the Lord in such a personal way. 04:19 JULIA: Man, I love the opportunity to do this. I know I've thanked you several times, but it is a really cool opportunity! And I was born outside of Cleveland, Ohio. I've been raised Catholic, baptized Catholic, cradle Catholic. And my parents were involved in our church. I'm Eastern European background, my parents, both sides of the family, [were] relatively recent immigrants to America. My mom is first generation on her side from Poland, her whole family is from Poland. And my dad's side of the family is Slovenian and Slovak. And I share that because Catholicism is very much part of, especially the Polish faith. However, it's not really like a touchy feely kind of nationality or background. It's kind of stoic and so we have a faith, but it's not something that we necessarily share all the time like in a very expressive way. We go to mass, we do the rituals, we do the things, we show up. So my faith was very much like that: we showed up at mass, we did all the things, but it wasn't like very personal to me, probably until high school.

I went to Catholic school—Catholic elementary school, Catholic high school. Started to get a little bit involved in my youth group. In high school I started to get more involved with my faith. I won't get into too much detail but I did suffer, my junior year, with an eating disorder and depression.. And that, actually, I share that because that is what brought me closer to God in those moments where I didn't know what else to do. I started journaling and so that writing, now I'm kind of blogger and I do a lot of writing now, and it really started with journaling my prayer life in high school and in those moments where I felt sad and didn't know what to do, I would go to God through the word. That's also where my relationship with Scripture really started, even though I'd gone to mass and, you know, was taught scripture growing up. I think Catholics, another kind of conception of us that that we don't know our scripture very well even though it fell over the mass. In that time, I would also use the Bible in my prayer because I felt like it was God really speaking to me in a time where I needed kind words, I needed affirmations, and you open up the Bible and the Bible is full of those affirmations of love!

So after high school. I went to Catholic University. Got really involved in campus ministry very active and doing community service around the D.C. area, missions trips, a lot of retreats, I went all in! And I found I love doing retreats so much that I did a year with NET Ministries after I graduated from CUA. And so traveled around the country in a van [laughs] giving retreats. It's amazing how one thing like leads to the next, the next thing. So doing retreats at Catholic [University] led me to NET. And during that year with NET led me to doing youth ministry. So I was a youth minister at a parish after that for a couple of years. And during that time I also started to discern religious life, because NET very much is like a religious community in a way. You're living together, you're working together, you're serving together. And that helped me to think, maybe I could do this. And when I was working at a parish as a youth minister, the priest was very generous to let me take time to discern. So he was excited that I wanted to think about religious life and wanted to encourage me in that. So I actually got to take like a month off and go stay with some sisters.

I'm a very analytical person. I don't make decisions lightly, and God knows this about me, so I definitely took my time to discern. I took a good year, year and a half to look at a bunch of different orders, stay with them. And then I finally landed on the Daughters of St. Paul, because of their media background no one's surprised [laughs] that I've read so drawn to them! But I really felt like if I had a religious vocation, they were the perfect match. They had an active charism, they produced media, they use media to evangelize.

So I sold my car, quit my job. I'm about, let's see, 26 now at this point—which was actually kind of older, like a lot of my friends are already married and I feel like the other girls that entered with me were in their younger 20s, I was like in my mid 20s, which doesn't sound old now! But then I was like, "Oh man she's 26 and she's just now figuring it out!" So for those listeners out there that, you know, maybe you're younger and think you have to have it figured out, you don't! But I entered it 26. And right away, I couldn't tell if it was just me mourning my old life and just grieving my old life, or if this really was not my vocation. And so the discernment process was so amazing. I love the Daughters of St. Paul, I still love them, we're still in touch and I stay in touch with a lot of them. But it was just kind of clear to both sides that this was not my vocation and they wanted me to find my vocation. I remember my vocation director saying to me—or the formator actually—saying to me, like, "Your vocation is supposed to give you life." And I just knew when she said that, even though it's so simple, I was not alive. You know, I wasn't my most full self and that's what your vocation is supposed to do.

So after about not even a year, like 10 months, I discerned—I actually left on Pentecost—I was sent forth into the world on Pentecost to go back and figure out what I was called to do next. I worked for a non-profit for a couple years, but during that time just starting with the Daughters, we took classes. Like we went to the seminary and took scripture classes, so here's where the scripture comes back in. And I decided I want to do that, I want to go back and get a degree in theology. So went back to D.C., worked nonprofit, started my Master's in Theology. And then this teaching opportunity came along and I, my mom's a teacher and I just kind of naturally fell into teaching. 11 years later, I'm still a teacher I have my Masters, and now God is using me in that way has been, it's a pretty good fit, and I continue to use media through blogging and social media and podcasting, so I know it's kind of a long journey. I'm getting close to 40, so I've had a lot of moments [laughs] in my life but it's just, they all connect like I said they're all kind of stepping stones. So, that's me, that's Julia, that's me!

10:08 RACHEL: Yeah, no thank you! That's so beautiful and like you said, I mean I couldn't have a better with just how, you know, you said at the end there everything connects and kind of...yeah, the bridges and everything are kind of forming in my mind. That is really cool! And I'm curious to know like what is it about media studies, or at least media, that you were really drawn to because it's very clear that it's part of, you know, not only your interests and that kind of informed probably how you landed on the Daughters of St. Paul to discern with them. And even now like how you're continuing to build on your education and really carry that forward and give it to the next generation and the students that you're working with. So what was it about media in the beginning that really drew you? 10:56 JULIA: I think media captures so many of my interests. I'm kind of like a jack of all trades, master of none, I have my hands on so many things! I'm a musician which I haven't mentioned, so I love music, I'm very into pop culture, I love writing. And so the media is all of those forms and it distributes information and I am a teacher and I feel like that teaching element has always been inside of me, too, even though I didn't realize it until later in life. And the media is a tool given for us to teach and educate. So I see it as a means of education and it encapsulates all of my interests, like art and music and writing. And when I was with the Daughters, too, and getting to learn more about their charism, [Saint] Paul, all it just became such a huge connection for me because he uses the medium, like the letter writing, to give good news. And so I've always felt drawn to that, to use the media for good, whatever means that is so whether it's teaching about it, writing, creating it. 11:55 RACHEL: Right, and everything that you just said there is so Pauline, right? I mean, for those who aren't familiar with the Daughters of St. Paul, their founder Blessed James Alberione, you know, he said to evangelize the good news and the gospel using whatever means possible and as well as whatever means were used at that time. So again, to use your example, like obivously St. Paul, he was using letter writing and probably like exhorting from the town square or whatever it might be. And you know, Blessed James Alberione for a figure who is I guess like late 19th, early 20th century, at that time, probably like news media, dabbling into film a little bit. And then now here we are you know we're using podcast to evangelize and. And it's funny, I think you'll appreciate this Julia, it was the Daughters of St. Paul actually who taught me what Tik Tok was. I went to go visit...

12:47 JULIA: That's amazing! [laughs]

12:50 RACHEL: ...And the sister was just like, "Rachel, how do you not know?" And I'm like, "I guess I'm not as young as I thought I was!" [laughs] So...

12:57 JULIA: [laughs] I love that! Yes, definitely check the Daughters of St. Paul out. I'm a big fan still, obviously, because of what you just said. Alberione, learning about the founder stuck so much with me, learning about Paul, and ultimately, they're taking their example from Christ. And so when I think about evangelization too, Christ use stories and I just think that both Jesus and Paul, Alberione, would have used whatever means possible. So yes Rachel I think they would be on Tik Tok, I think they would! [laughs] 13:26 RACHEL: Yeah, of course it's using those modern day means or whatever means kind of fit the times, but also it's where the people are! When we look at just maybe not so much now as we're recording this, it's still COVID time, so maybe we can't get out as much. But if you think back to a pre-COVID time where you're out and about, how many times do we see just people, head down, looking at their phones or just, you know, at a cafe you see a number of people on their laptops, doing whatever it might be. But it's just, media is everywhere! And to kind of tie it back to what you were mentioning earlier about how it encompasses so many things right? Like it encompasses art, you can talk about science and media. So it really is just this broad reaching thing that can do so much. So, obviously it's very clear to you that you and I have almost like very similar, shared interests, kindred spirits and it's just making me come alive, so thank you for that! 14:22 JULIA: [laughs] It was through media that we were able to connect like that and share interests! Even when back in undergrad when I was learning and doing Media Studies and it's not, it wasn't what it is now, I still feel like there was that spirit of media can produce good and bring people together and again because that's existed since, Christ and before, so yeah. It's amazing!

It's always been this debate of like, "is technology good? Is media good?" And, you know, we can look at creation story, it's like everything is good and created and started good. But then we have the freewill to use it for good or bad and so we can certainly, we have the power to take it in certain directions but I think ultimately to have a source that can share information the good news, like that's a good thing, you know, it's just how we use it.

15:09 RACHEL: Yeah, we're called to higher uses of things, like we're always called higher. So even something as ubiquitous and simple as media, when used well, it can be used for good. So yeah I just really appreciate that!

Just speaking on the Daughters of St. Paul, I'm very intrigued by, you know, what you shared earlier and and I want to not gloss over the fact that what you shared is extremely vulnerable and it's very beautiful. And kind of like I mentioned to prior to hitting record, it's a story that we don't hear very often, and I think that there are many reasons for this. But obviously, given the life that you live now, it is clear that you're not a sister, and I want to reiterate for people that that is okay! Especially for me, I had that thought where it's like the moment you enter into the convent, you're automatically going to be a sister and you kind of automatically know where you're gonna go! However, the Lord doesn't work maybe quite that linearly, if that's even a word, and there's so much that can happen. And again, it kind of comes back to, all things are made for good, but it's what it is that we're called to. And, you know, I'm curious to maybe hear a little bit more from your experience on the difficulties or the challenges that may have arose. Because I think that it can be very scary, I would say, for people to maybe go in with a certain mindset or vision, and then to slowly over time realize that, okay, something is changing here. So yeah, maybe I'll let you take the story from there! 16:49 JULIA: Absolutely! No, I want to share my story because I believe, especially in my 20s, like I said I was 26, I have friends that were getting engaged and married and you just think even though that's still so young to me now, you feel like, "Oh, I have to have it figured out." So I'm like, "Okay well I'm not called to marriage at this point in my life. I love prayer, I love these retreats, I love this time, I want to serve. I could do this. I've lived in community before, I could do this." And then when that didn't work out—like you know you enter in just like maybe an engagement—you enter in thinking like, "No we're gonna do this, we're gonna share this." So when it didn't work out and I had to like get a new car, I had to get a new job, I had to find new housing I had to get new stuff, it was a lot, and I took probably a year or two, to kind of just regroup and just say, "Okay, if this is not my, my calling, how can I still take those things that I've learned and the things that I still love, and what how can I use those things now?"

It's been a long process like it's not easy, you know, I'm heading towards the end of my 30s now and I feel like I'm finally now confident. I've been teaching for most of that decade and I just I feel like I've found ways to share the gifts that God has given me. I think society sets us up to say, "Okay you get this or that. You get be married or you get to be a nun." Like, I've been told that like the single life isn't necessarily technically a vocation and I feel that. I feel sometimes it's like it's default. But I, while I'm still open to marriage and dating, I still very much feel like this is what I'm called to do right now and that I'm using my gifts as a single woman in that way. It is a call. So I just want to encourage listeners, you don't have to have it figured out. God can call you to many things, vocations are beautiful. They're supposed to give you life. And I feel definitely in the past like decade or so like I really have been evolving and really living my life, you know, I travel, I get to do the things I love and I'm still very close to God, so.

18:37 RACHEL: Absolutely! I think that sometimes for many young people—and again I include myself in this—the ways in which we approach vocation, it's almost as if it's a trap, so to speak. It's kind of like, you know, you were saying society sets us up to you know you choose one or the other and if it doesn't work out, then first of all you're kind of like left to your own devices. But also, if we feel like we're dragging your feet into it or is kind of like, "Oh man like I've got to spend all this time in formation or I have to try and figure out who this guy is that's right for me or whatever." Then you know if we approach it with that mindset then of course it's not going to be... it's not going to be this beautiful adventure that God has set up for us and of course this is not to say that it won't be without hardship. I think no matter what vocation you discern there will always be difficulties and we have to expect that because we're human and life is life and sometimes something like a pandemic will show up and then [laughs] and then what, right?

So, you know, I really appreciate what you're saying there and I think, to bring it back to that idea that the Lord doesn't set us up in life to fail and He doesn't set us up in life to suffer, either. Or at least like to suffer in misery. So, you know, whatever it is that He calls us to do, there is a joy with it. We might not understand it fully, but at the end like just to know that He does all things for our good. So that's just what I thought of and what I was reflecting on as you're sharing because I think it's certainly tough to understand and figure out what vocation is. But I think as many people have said to me before, like people who are much wiser and further along than I am, it's not, you know, a game to try and win or a puzzle to figure out!

20:24 JULIA: And I'm glad that you said that, because in the beginning when I was, when I entered, I thought that. Because I in my 20s, I was so idealistic and I wanted to...and I had shared, you know, that my family isn't very, like, emotional, so it was like your faith was kind of suffer, in a way. And I always identified with that. I always identified with "Easter Jesus" or like the "Paschal Mystery Jesus" as opposed to like "Christmas Jesus." I've always been very serious about my faith, like I, I had to do that.

So when I entered I was like, "Oh, this is what it's supposed to be. I need to be very serious and it's supposed to be hard." And like you said vocations, yes, there absolutely are times that they are hard. But it's supposed to give you life. And the scripture image that always came to mind when I was in the Daughters, is the story of Lazarus and raising of Lazarus from the dead. I just felt like I was in this tomb and like that I was starting to smell, that I was like affecting the—you know how the stench is described in that passage in John. And I'm like, "Oh man, people can tell I am like not giving life right now." But then Christ, brings him back to life and I really felt like that after I left, not because of anything that was, you know, nothing with the Daughters at all! Just me. Like, I wasn't being my full self, and now I'm able to do that now in the vocation that I'm called to now.

21:37 RACHEL: And actually it's funny too because what instantly came to mind just as you're describing the scene out of scripture of Lazarus and being raised from the dead. Something that Sr. Helena Burns [a Daughter of St. Paul] actually once said, you have vocation and, you know, and even discernment, but ultimately God's will for life is not meant to smother us and it's not meant to just kind of like press us down and have us like lose every bit and piece of our identity. And in fact it's supposed to do just the opposite. It's like, the more that we lean into who God is and who we are in God, then we're supposed to be like, you know hashtag living our best life and being exactly that we're meant to be!

And, you know, not to like totally switch gears, but I feel like that's totally like what I see. And I think you were mentioning this earlier to how like the Lord really does use everything. So, I'm so mindful of how, you know, yes it took time to, after you left the convent and you kind of re-entered into the secular world, so to speak. You know, it takes time but ultimately you were able to take a lot of the things that you had learned in the convent and it inspired you. And I think that's what's so exciting for me, is that inspired you to do more schools, to pursue more knowledge and now again like being able to share that with so many other people, particularly young minds who I think are certainly in need of that.

And then, alongside that as if it weren't enough like you do so much more like in the digital sphere, like giving retreats, and I wanted to talk to you about one of the things that you do in particular, which is your podcast, Seven Mile Chats! So I know that you mentioned that this was, it sounded like a quarantine project as well, as with many! So I was wondering if you could share a little bit about that, like what inspired you to start your podcast, Seven Mile Chats?

23:31 JULIA: Sure, yeah! It's definitely my quarantine project when everyone else's like baking sourdough bread and stuff and I'm not a baker or cook or anything! I like made cocktails for a while and like... and so then I'm like, "No, I need to do something more productive again! Like, evangelical, like catechetical, we need to go back to that!" Especially because as a teacher, I wasn't sure what if I was going to be going back to a classroom and what the fall would look like. So, you know, I was still teaching in the spring remotely, and then in about June or July I started to get really restless, because that's my time to go travel, that's my time to go the pool and like so I'm like, "How can I do this while connecting with someone?" Because in the pandemic too, you know blogging is great but I was like on my own I was having so much time to myself already in quarantine and living alone. The podcast has really been a way for me to connect with people that I have never met like yourself. I've connected with friends that I hadn't talked to in years. It's been an amazing way to connect and to catechize in this time, and use my gifts that I've mentioned.

And so yeah it's a podcast based in scripture, too. "Seven miles" as a reference to the Road to Emmaus in Luke's Gospel where people are talking. And then, among them Jesus appears. And so that the goal of podcast, is to reflect on the Scripture with someone, and hopefully we get some kind of insight to get closer to Christ in the process. So, that's the podcast, we'll see where God takes it! [laughs] 24:50 RACHEL: I love that image that you draw upon for the title of your podcast. I'm not nearly as well versed, no pun intended, as I should! But having said that, like when I first came across your podcast and I first met you I, like ,I had no idea, like the seven miles, I didn't get it at first. But you know like once I heard you explain it, I do find that really beautiful, because I think no matter where you are, particularly in a time such as now, where we are all, you know, we have to be apart in order to really help slow the spread of COVID. That doesn't mean that we stop journeying with one another and it doesn't mean that God is not among us. So the different ways in which we're able to journey with one another and, you know, it just makes me think of in Matthew's Gospel like, "Where two or three are gathered in my name, I'm there in your midst." So, you know, even in a time such as this where it seems like all hope is lost and yeah vacations are canceled or school is different, you know everybody's kind of behind masks, the Lord is still present among us, and life still goes on. But it's just, how do we intentionally try and seek him out in the midst of all of the chaos in the darkness. 26:05 JULIA: That's very well said! [laughs] Absolutely. I agree 100%. I mean, I've never considered myself an optimist, because I always consider myself a realist, like I'm realistic about things. But as I get older, I have to find—especially in years like this—I have to find the hope I have to look, you know, and I think I've just learned because it has that struggle that I've mentioned and kind of like these tumultuous times when I was younger, you'd have to keep pushing through and, and now I'm much more hopeful I don't know. I just... it's easier to hope and even in these dark times, hold on to the good things, hold on to what's positive.

26:36 RACHEL: Yeah, and that's so important. I mean it's such an important mindset to have, especially given the times that we're in. But even in a pre- or post-pandemic world, like I feel like there will always be difficulties, even if you're not like discerning a vocation, so to speak! Just life in general can be very challengin,g but it doesn't have to be as long as we have our days fixed on Christ. And I've really been meditating on this recently about how like He's this immovable being, like just even more solid than like the mountains or rocks. At the end of time, you know it's God that still will prevail. And in the midst of all of the the difficult and crazy things that happen, like people come people go, things change but God doesn't. And it's just been something really good to hold on to. I think sometimes it can be really abstract, but when we remember that, that God is always in control, I think it's a it's a good reminder of hope. 27:41 JULIA: Yeah, but what you said, God has been my constant like through it all like, even before I got involved in my faith in high school. God has always been my constant whether I've recognized it or not and now I definitely... He's always my touchstone and my foundation there through whatever, wherever He leads. 27:57 RACHEL: And I guess like, for those of us who are listening to this and, you know, you mentioned as you were recounting your faith journey, one of the things that...or, one of the practices that you had taken on pretty early on was first going to Scripture, but then also journaling. And I have to say that that's very impressive, because I feel like first off, like when I journal, while I'm praying, I feel like I'm kind of rambling and I'm not really sure how to go about it. But again, like going to Scripture, even in my mid 20s now I feel like I still don't really know what I'm doing, much less when I was a teenager, I definitely wouldn't have thought to do it. So I think that there's a particular grace that's there and I'm so happy to hear that. But maybe for those of us who are listening, I was wondering if you had any encouragement or just like any pointers for when it comes to praying with Scripture and journaling and making it that free flowing conversation with our Lord. 28:50 JULIA: Yeah, no, it is kind of interesting that you pointed out and I shared my story. Like the Scripture and the writing, even before I knew that I was gonna be called to the Daughters and like now that I'm a blogging, it has been there since I was like 15, 16, which is amazing. That's God, by the way, that's nothing to do with me!

But I just started with journaling like I had a diary, you know, when I was younger. And then it kind of turned into like a letter to God rather than 'dear diary.' It just kind of turned into like, "Dear Lord, this is what happened today, this is how I'm feeling today." And then, I found that it was just me always kind of like sharing my feelings and prayers was to be a conversation. So for me scripture is that way for God to speak back. And so I think in the beginning, I was doing a little more "Bible roulette," "let me just see where..." But now as I've you know grown and again gotten older and grown in my faith and in the church. The church has, you know, these literary cycles, lectionary cycles for a reason. Everything's mapped out pretty well. There's themes there's connections in Scripture.

So I guess I would just recommend maybe getting an app that has the readings for the day. If you're not Catholic maybe just starting with the Gospels. Mark's gospel is a really easy one, it's the shortest one. And don't put pressure on yourself to like read a whole chapter or whatever. Like Mark's pretty short so you could probably do that. But just a couple verses and if you feel like something strikes you or catches you, to just stop there and meditate on that, what word stood out to you. And then if you want to reflect, I like to write down those feelings or those thoughts—like so, if something a word jumps out to me, I kind of write about it and why it jumped out to me. But again I don't pressure myself to like sit down and write a full page, you know, it's just kind of... I've learned to be very patient with myself and just kind of gentle with myself. But Lectio Divina is a great way to pray with Scripture, so reading a passage—this is what we did with the Daughters, actually. Every night we would do Lectio Divina together. We would take the gospel for the day and read it three times. The first two times we just kind of sit with it, then we pick out a word, we'd kinda talk about it and then you end with taking that word or phrase with you for the next day that you can kind of recall in your prayer. So those are my ways of praying with journaling and scripture.

30:54 RACHEL: Wonderful! Thank you, thank you for that!

30:56 JULIA: Yeah, I hope that's helpful!

30:58 RACHEL: Oh, absolutely. Even though like I've been doing it for, I would say a couple of years now, it still is always so good to just hear it from another person because I feel like when I tell myself it's like, "Okay, this is a good way to do it." Sometimes it's, it's one thing to, to kind of know it in your head, but you have to take what you know and translate it to some kind of action. So every time I hear it from another person it's, I feel like it's a little God nudge to be like, "See, it's not just me telling you that this is how you can do it, other people are doing it in that way too!" So, really great encouragement, thank you!

And maybe just as we kind of tie this all together, for yourself Julia, I would love to hear how you've seen just over the time that you grew up you journeyed in your faith, you were with the Daughters and then now here you are doing so many incredible things. How have you seen your feminine genius grow?

31:52 JULIA: I've seen perseverance, I feel like that's the quality that I embody that even when maybe something isn't going the way that I thought was going to go. I still persevere and I don't give up. And I think that women, we don't get enough credit for the strength and the perseverance that we have. So I see my feminine genius and my perseverance, and my strength and my sassiness, my quick wits! [laughs] And that's a gift that God has given me, too. And yeah, just the commitment. If I'm in, I'm all in. And discernment has been something to like that analyzing and looking and trying to see where God is in my life at the moment and, yeah, discernment, perseverance, commitment, all of them!

32:35 RACHEL: That's beautiful! Yeah, all of these wonderful traits that make up women and I totally agree with you I mean I think sometimes we don't get enough credit for the resilience and the perseverance that we have in the midst of everything. So, thank you for being a witness to that and, of course, for sharing your story today, your testimony and all of the wonderful things that you're doing. Yeah, it was just such a pleasure to chat with you! And I was wondering if you could help us close this episode in a prayer?

33:05 JULIA: Absolutely! In the name of the Father and the Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Lord, we thank you so much for all of your many good gifts. And I just ask you that wherever we are on our journeys in life, whether we're just starting, whether we're in the middle, or we are towards the end that we continue to see where you are in the midst of all of that. And if there is any darkness in our lives, Lord, I ask that you would shine a light of hope. And I also continue to pray for those who use media that we would use it for your good, and that we would transmit your Word, and that people would receive your word. We pray all of this in Jesus' name. Amen.

In the name of the Father and the Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

33:46 RACHEL: Julia, thank you!

33:48 JULIA: Thanks, Rachel! This was fun! We are kindred spirits, I love it. [laughs]

33:57 RACHEL: Thank you again to Julia Strukely for joining me on The Feminine Genius Podcast today! There are a number of ways to stay in touch with Julia. I'll first point you to her podcast, Seven Mile Chats, which you can listen to wherever you're listening to this episode right now. You can also find her on Instagram, @sevenmilechats, and on Twitter @MsStrukely1. I've left links to these in the episode description below.

You can stay up to date with The Feminine Genius Podcast by following us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, we're @femgeniuspod, and you can listen to this podcast wherever you listen to your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, SoundCloud, Spotify, Stitcher, and many other platforms. All this information can be found on our website,

We'll talk to you soon, and God bless always!

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