A comforting companion for growing Christians, Cracked Mirror, Clear Reflection invites you on a journey from fear and doubt to discover your confidence. After wrestling with illusions of perfection, clear reflections in her cracked mirror gave author and life coach Julie Barbera the courage to take a chance. Now she shares her God-inspired message with you using personal experiences and uplifting Bible verses.
Perfection is an illusion. Despite the cracks, your reflection can be clear. When you look in the mirror, in weaknesses you may find your greatest strengths-and this is the clearest reflection of all when you see God's purpose for you.
2020 Readers' Favorite International Book Awards Gold Medal Winner Christian-Living
2020 Book Excellence Award Finalist Personal Growth and Development
2019 Best Book Awards Finalist Religion: Christian Inspirational
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About the Author
Julie attended Florida Atlantic University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. She also holds a Certified Professional Coach designation from the University of Miami. She released her first book, Cracked Mirror, Clear Reflection: Shatter an Illusion of Perfection, in 2019. The audiobook version will be available in late 2021. Her forthcoming books, Renew Your Mind and Shine: An Inspirational Devotional for Young Adults and Dare to Shine: A Brighter Way to Purpose for Young Adults, will be released in 2022.
God gave Julie the gift of language. Self-taught in four languages beyond English, her goal is to use this gift to impact as many lives as possible. Julie is on a journey to do what she loves, love what she does, and live with purpose. She resides in Florida with her husband, German, and two teenage sons, Sebastian and Deangelo.
Christina Goebel writes books with love. Her newest release is Birth Right: Galak's Rising and her previous book is GoldenHeart: How to Love Humanity. www.lovegoldenheart.com.
Christina Goebel, M.A., was born in Texas and is a former secondary English teacher and statewide disability conference planner. She has an associate degree in World Literature from Miami Dade Community College, a bachelor's in Secondary English Education from Florida International University, and a master's in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. She freelance edits and writes.
Read an Excerpt
Eyes to See, Ears to Hear
"Do you have eyes but fail to see, and earns but fail to hear?"
(Mark 8:18 NIV)
Was I listening to God's voice or was I unable to hear over the noise? Either way, He wanted my attention. I needed to lay some things down for a season. Perhaps then, I would hear more clearly.
My journey began with a paintbrush, pen and pencil. My manuscript was the tool. A story was written in time. I needed faith to believe.
Losing my voice left me like a painter without a paintbrush. Forced into silence, I unwillingly opened my art box and placed the paintbrush of vocal expression inside. I thought to myself, What will life be like if I can't speak my mind?
In search of a tool to replace my voice's paintbrush, I found eyes to see and ears to hear. More aware, I noticed a blunt pencil in the box. I turned to God and asked, "Why is this pencil so dull?" He responded, "That is the pencil I have been using to write on your heart. I have had to press hard to get your attention."
At that moment, I exchanged my paintbrush for a pen. God and I began to write in unison. I had a pen in hand, and He held a dull pencil. But something was different. For the first time in my life, I was listening to my heart.
My paintbrush — my voice — was still favored over other tools. After all, speech allowed me to express my thoughts quickly. But other instruments in my box looked different now, and every one of them had value.
My family and I were set to go to Saint Augustine that weekend. I was unhappy that I couldn't speak. God knew exactly what He was doing. He knew I needed to learn to listen.
While on the trip, my voice slowly returned. I wasn't really anxious for it to come back. In fact, I enjoyed the silence that went along with a muted voice and an open heart.
Able to use my paintbrush once again, I had a newfound appreciation for silence. I went back to my art box to lay my pen down. With hesitation, I exchanged it for my voice.
Suddenly, I noticed something was missing. The blunt pencil was no longer in the box. I turned to God and asked, "What happened to the dull pencil?" His response: "The pencil is now sharp. I no longer have to press hard to get your attention."
Thus began my journey through the simple teaching of a paintbrush, pen and pencil. God imprinted a blueprint on my heart. Life would never be the same.
Every person must lay his or her paintbrush down for a season. This helps us to hear more clearly. Some try to paint their own picture, and dark paint covers the story. Words written on the heart are impossible to read.
Although I tried to listen to God's voice, the noise was all around. The music was so loud that it blocked out the melody. This made it difficult to hear clearly. I couldn't even hear over my own thoughts.
Unwilling to silence my voice, it was taken away for a season. The world somehow looked different. Inspiration was all around, and I needed this experience to see.
My paintbrush was tucked away. God had a sharp pencil in hand, and I held a pen. Together, we would write my story.
Alone at the kitchen table, I looked outside. A butterfly fluttered by and then landed on the ledge right beside my window. Suddenly, I was reminded of the truth. "But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear" (Matthew 13:16 NIV).CHAPTER 2
A Flicker of Light
"You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden."
(Matthews 5:14 NIV)
Was I alone or was God there all along? Either way, I wrestled with doubt. Although I had gone through many trials, I had seen miracles. God had proven himself faithful, yet my faith wavered more than I would like to admit.
Lessons needed to be learned. Weaknesses would eventually turn into strengths. My beliefs would be challenged again and again, and the truth would be revealed in time.
It was 2015 when a trip to Saint Augustine opened my eyes. A simple outing to a lighthouse helped me to see. Coincidentally, I lost my voice a few days prior. Since I was left without a voice, I had no choice but to listen.
As I approached the lighthouse entrance, the front door was ajar. I gently knocked and then poked my head inside. After a moment of silence, I carefully opened the door. The scene quickly reminded me of my past. If for just an instant, I journeyed to another place in time.
With my husband and two young sons by my side, I stood in awe. The grand spiraling staircase was magnificent. The room was dark, and light peeked through tiny windows on every side.
When I was ready to begin my ascent, I stopped for a moment to look up. The view was amazing. The spiraling staircase appeared to be never-ending. It felt like I would never make it to the top. A bright light lit up the ceiling. It stretched from the top of the lighthouse to the entrance floor.
I paused on the second floor to look out a small window. Suddenly, I caught a glimpse of my past. As I thought about lonely days, my future felt uncertain. I was walking with my head down. I looked isolated, but I wasn't alone. There was someone by my side.
The staircase was full of twists and turns. While I had forgotten many experiences, I had securely tucked others away. As challenges came to my mind, I didn't want to think about them. It appeared I had no choice when I was forced to remember.
I stopped to look out the fourth-floor window. I saw myself running. Perhaps I was running from life. The world seemed to be against me. There was sadness in my eyes, but I wasn't without hope. A bright light directed my path.
I continued my ascent and then stopped to pause on the seventh floor. Instantly, I sensed an uncomfortable feeling. I didn't feel good enough to continue my journey. Loneliness followed me through the lighthouse. Insecurity and doubt met me on the seventh floor.
Then I saw myself sitting on a bench. I was reading a book. It appeared I was relaxing, but there was a look of despair in my eyes. Surprisingly, I wasn't friendless. Someone was by my side.
Suddenly, I had a vision. Maybe it was just a dream. Perhaps it would happen in time. Either way, it opened my eyes.
As I thought about my blessings and strengths, I watched. I walked with confidence with my head held high. With a smile on my face, I stepped onto a stage. My book was in hand, and I began to share.
Instantly, the truth was revealed. My story was already written in time. I just needed to trust. Years of doubt suddenly drifted away as I climbed the staircase with ease.
With only two floors left to climb, I was nearing the catwalk. The higher I climbed, the more I could see. With every step forward, the past drifted further and further away from me.
Negativity followed me through the lighthouse. Positivity met me at the top. While I had encountered many obstacles in my life, I was blessed beyond measure.
Although I had felt alone, I was never on my own. God had been by my side every step of the way. Twists and turns had made the road bumpy. Life's challenges had made my journey difficult. There was a reason for everything, and nothing would go to waste.
Towering above the ocean, I proudly stood on the catwalk. I watched as ships passed. The light at the top was brighter than ever. I wanted to share with my family, but my voice was still silenced. They had no idea what had just played out in my mind. Perhaps they were busy creating their own story.
My speech would soon return. Saddened, I promised myself that I would maintain an open heart. Silence speaks to the soul. A muted voice allows inspiration to speak. My experience would eventually make it to paper. And it would soon become a part of my story.
God's grace was all around. At that moment, I realized I was blessed. I just needed help to see. Suddenly, a still small voice called from the lantern room. "For I know the plansÂ I have for you," declares theÂ Lord, "plans to prosperÂ you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).CHAPTER 3
"There you saw how the Lord your God carries you, As a father carries his son, all the way you went Until you reached this place."
(Deuteronomy 1:31 NIV)
Was there one set of footprints or were there two? Either way, I decided to follow them. I set out on a journey, and imprints in the sand led the way. I wondered if I would see things missed or realize things misunderstood. Perhaps I would wish life had been lived differently.
Memories of a trip to Saint Augustine were fresh in mind. My family and I had just returned, and I arrived with a newfound appreciation for silence. Inspiration finally had a voice. It spoke through the simplest of things.
It was early morning. As was my daily routine, I sat at the kitchen table alone. This was my time to think. The silence made it possible to hear God's voice. Although I was fully present, my mind drifted to another place in time. With a cup of coffee in hand, I picked up my pen to write.
What started as an ordinary day turned into a day like no other. Footprints led to a pretty, pink seashell. I picked up the shell and then placed it over my ear. As expected, sounds were trapped inside. They weren't relaxing, and they certainly didn't come from the ocean.
Suddenly, I had a vision. The scene was all too familiar. I watched as a child quietly snuck out the front door. Yelling rang out into the streets, and it could be heard blocks away. I quickly realized I was watching myself at the young age of ten.
With my ears covered, I went up a steep hill. I ran alone in the dark. Although I was scared, I had done this many times before. Grandma's house was just a block away. I knew it would be peaceful there. It always was.
When I spotted a pier in the distance, I followed imprints in the sand. They led to the water's edge. I looked down and saw a reflection in the water. It took a moment to make out the image. I soon realized I was watching my fifteen-year-old self.
As I stood in front of the mirror, I gazed at my reflection. Since I was unhappy with what I saw, I stepped on the scale. I did this several times a day with the hope that the number would change.
The scale was my gauge. It was used to measure self-worth. Excessive exercise and a strict diet gave me a sense of control. Aside from that, life felt completely out of control.
All of a sudden, the front door opened. It was dark and bitter cold outside. Snow covered the ground. Although it was difficult to make out a clear path ahead, I had to run. This was my routine.
I walked a few steps and then quickly picked up the pace. I made my way to the North High running track. Once I was there, I ran alone in the dark for miles. I suppose I was running from life.
The sun began to rise. This reminded me that I was almost done with my daily regimen. Since my mission was accomplished, I made my way back home. Grandma knew I had left early that morning. As usual, she met me at the front door with a smile.
Although I was exhausted, I returned with a feeling of completion. Once my exercise was done for the day, nothing else really mattered. I simply had to control my diet.
Despite my imperfections, Grandma accepted me unconditionally. I am sure she saw my flaws, yet she made no mention of them. I looked down and noticed one set of footprints, but I now realize that there were two. God kept Grandma in my life to carry me through.
The scene changed drastically. I was at Salisbury State University in a college dorm room. I still struggled with low self-esteem and an eating disorder, only now I was overeating. Food was used for comfort. Fear of gaining weight had pushed me in the opposite direction.
College life was difficult. Frankly, I wasn't ready to break old habits. It was even more challenging without Grandma by my side.
As I watched intently, a car pulled up in front of my dormitory. Since I was ready to go with my bags packed, I got inside. Then the car pulled away. I had to leave college life behind to start counseling for a compulsive overeating problem. I went back to my hometown in Hagerstown, and I would finish my first two years at Hagerstown Junior College.
The setting quickly changed. I was sitting in a waiting room. A kind counselor walked out to greet me. I had my doubts, but I had no choice. I needed to get help. He reassured me I would get better. It was time to work through issues, and it would take years to recover.
Once the session was over, I walked out of the office with my head down. Then I noticed several sets of footprints. While I felt alone, I didn't walk alone. God put the counselor in my path. Mom, Dad and Grandma also helped me through this trying time in my life.
When I noticed a large object in the distance, I followed imprints in the sand. I was eighteen years old, and I had found a treasure chest. The scene quickly changed, and I was sitting in the back of a small, country church. A pastor was preaching. I was alone, and I was the only person in the pew.
The pastor asked those who didn't know Christ to come forward. Nobody responded. My heart was pounding. I didn't want to be the only person standing, so I held back the urge to raise my hand. Then he spoke up again, and my hand went up. I had no idea what had just happened. I didn't even know why I was there.
My hands were shaking as I walked to the front of the church. I stopped in the middle of the aisle, and the pastor prayed a quick prayer for my salvation. Although I didn't fully understand what was going on, I sensed a change. I lacked self-confidence, so it was hard to believe that God would step down from heaven to meet me.
The service ended. I got up and quietly walked out of the building. As I looked down, I noticed two sets of footprints. Little did I know, I would never feel lonely again. I was forever changed, and my life would never be the same.
Many times, I saw one set of footprints. Other times, I saw two. At times, there were many. One thing was sure: I was never alone.
We walk this path solo, yet God is always by our side. He brings angels into our lives. They walk the earth just like you and me. We don't necessarily see it at the time. It's evident later. We look back and realize that we actually walked with angels in disguise.
Yes, I saw things missed. Many things were misunderstood. Negative wasn't really negative at all. In reality, it was all good. I didn't wish life had been lived differently. Good and bad, I understood the reason for struggle and pain.
Every experience was a blessing. Everything happened for a reason. Some reasons were visible, and others were much harder to see. Yet, I was thankful for every experience. It was all part of becoming a better me.
I turned to follow another trail. I looked down, and words of hope were written in the sand. "Your pathÂ led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen" (Psalm 77:19 NIV).CHAPTER 4
"God is our refuge and strength, An ever-present help in trouble."
(Psalm 46:1 NIV)
Would storms overwhelm me or would strength come after every storm? Either way, rainy days were a part of life. I had experienced my fair share. I longed for sunnier days yet held on to hope. Perhaps I needed both highs and lows to grow.
Challenges turned into lessons, and the struggle became my story. Many chapters were still unfinished. Although written in time, my narrative was far from complete.
It was early morning. I sat on the balcony alone. At a loss for words, it was challenging to write. Silence allowed inspiration to speak, and this was my time to listen.
With a cup of coffee in hand, my story picked up where it left off days prior. Reflecting on the past had somehow made it easier to move forward. Although I had overcome many challenges, life had made the triumphs easy to forget. Surprisingly, I had overlooked an important part of my story.
Footprints led to a viewing station. I spotted a boat in the distance with a young woman inside. A storm was developing. Clouds began to form as the vehicle entered rough waters. I looked closely and realized I was watching myself.
Inspired, I picked up my pen and scribbled words on a crumbled up piece of paper. If you are ready to give up, don't give in. Reflect on how far you have come. You will find the courage to start again.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Cracked Mirror, Clear Reflection"
Copyright © 2019 Julie Barbera.
Excerpted by permission of Inspireu2action Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
- Eyes to See, Ears to Hear 1
- A Flicker of Light 5
- Imprints Unseen 11
- Storm’s Reflection 17
- Glimmer of Hope 25
- Looking Glass 31
- The Vision Awaits 39
- A Shadow in the Dark 47
- Unbroken Dreams 55
- Beyond the Mirror 63
- Changed in Season 69
- A New Reflection 77
- Perfect Imperfection 83
- On Eagle’s Wings 91
- Run the Race 97
- Standing on the Inside 105
- Hold on Tightly 113
- Molded Like Clay 121
- Strength in Weakness 129
- Mustard Seed Faith 135
- Unguarded 141
- An Illusion of Order 147
- Still in Time 155
- Good Enough 165
- Unhidden Potential 173
- A Reflection Made Clear 181
- Expectations Revealed 187
Closing Words 195
THE JOURNEY AHEAD
Move Your Mountain 199 A Chance to Fly 203 When Opportunity Knocks 207 Step Outside the Box 211 Make a Way 213 Dreams in Bloom 217 Lenses of Grace 219 The Unfinished Masterpiece 223 Hidden Treasure 227 Raise the Bar 229 Stand Tall 231 The Keys to Success 233 Greener Pastures 237 Grow Where You Are Planted 241 Turn Over Your New Leaf 245
About the Author 249