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photo of Julie MillerJulie Miller 's Journey Story

I’ve had a deep attraction for God since I was child. I was the one who actually wanted to go to church when the rest of my family had more homebody things to do on Sundays. I question today whether I sought after God at that time in my life or if I thought that to go to church was what made me a good person. Approval was an important motivator for me as a young girl. 

In college I thirsted for something more than knowledge of God. I wanted to feel something. I was involved in a charismatic small group of college students and I felt they were onto something and I experienced some deep movement inside of me that wasn’t just in my head!

I studied Biology and Outdoor Education so people who couldn’t find a way to resolve the ideas of evolution with the creation stories of the Bible surrounded me. My peers were drawn to the outdoors and treated it, Nature, as something holy. I felt unencumbered by the trappings of the human world when I was out kayaking, walking, rock climbing or cross-country skiing. I felt that I could hear and speak to God more clearly in the outdoors, but I never confused whom or what received my devotion- creation has always pointed to the Creator for me.

Recently my life has been centered on connecting people to the Creator through the outdoors. I’m not sure I could have said that 3 years ago. Then I was dedicated to creating connections between people and nature with a goal of caring that might evolve into some action of stewardship of our planet. My definition of my life’s work has begun to expand and take on new meaning since I moved away from Yosemite National Park. I had lived and worked in the park since 1988. In 2007, not long after I married, I moved to Santa Rosa. I came knowing that I was to keep my options “open.” I’m not used to not knowing “the plan” but I came and I spent the first nine months waiting for some kind of direction. I told my husband after six months that we needed to go for a long walk. He said, “How long?” I replied that 218 miles would be about right. That is the distance from Yosemite to Mt. Whitney on the John Muir Trail. On that long walk, I again entered into wilderness time, where the voice and presence of the Holy is so much nearer for me. When we finished, I had decided to go to graduate school. The surprise was what I decided to study.

I’m currently seeking a Masters of Theological Study so that I can understand what I think and believe about my faith. I met Joanna Quintrell when she was a Pastor at Redwood Covenant Church. I asked her to mentor me so I could have a sounding board for all the learning I was going to undergo. When she moved to full time director at the Journey Center, I began to attend some of the classes and eventually, we realized that my interests and her needs for an assistant could be mutually beneficial. I took on the part time role as her assistant and have offered classes and outings under the heading of Encountering God in Creation and events under Compassion, Mercy and Justice. The first group I took out was on a snowshoe walk in Yosemite. I came back that day excited that I had spent the afternoon discussing nature and God in the same sentence, a first for me!

I have discovered Spiritual Direction through the Journey Center and am currently in the two-year training course to become a director. My desire to experience God has led me to embrace new spiritual disciplines and contemplative practices that are the foundation of following Christ and are offered at the Journey Center. Understanding my true self, the person God knew and formed before I was born, has changed the way I think of my vocation and most importantly, of how that vocation might aid people in discovering the Creator, the one who I hear in the wind, walk with under the stars and see in each person and living thing I encounter. I am on the journey of new discoveries!

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