A Life Well Lived

Julia Tarter 1993-2013

Julia Tarter was an example to many and an encourager to all. She served with all her heart, she laughed with all of her breath, and she smiled with a joy that could only have come from the Lord. Her relationship with Jesus was what defined her life, and she exuded a confident spirit that was rich in love and grace. If I can spend the remainder of my life half as well as Julia spent her time, I will be a happy man.

See, I’ve always looked up to Julia. She’s the type of girl that you meet once, and you never forget, which makes it hard to decide which one of her characteristics made her such a special person to be around. She overflowed with joy, and was quick to laugh at anything remotely funny (and for someone who tells a lot of bad jokes that’s a pretty likeable quality). I can’t remember the last time I was with her where she wasn’t smiling. Even if she was going through something difficult, she would always smile as if she knew that brighter days were ahead, her brightest day being today. She cared about other people more than she cared about herself, which, as she would tell you, is something she had proudly learned from Jesus.  I remember one time when I was with her serving in a homeless shelter in downtown Atlanta. We were washing people’s feet and giving them new socks to wear, which was a humbling experience in itself. However, Julia decided that washing someone’s feet wasn’t enough. She thought it would be a good idea to help them break in their new pair of socks with her own impromptu dance party. Classic Julia. I sat next to her as she washed this woman’s feet, and then I watched as she brought that woman onto the dance floor to jump up and down and act ridiculous and the glow on both of their faces is something I will never forget. It was this glow that Julia always had on her face, which somehow she always managed to spread onto the faces of others.

Her energy, her joy, her laughter. They were all contagious. But she didn’t stop there. She realized that the only way to make a smile permanent on someone’s face was to share with them the love she had for Jesus Christ. I have no idea how many people Julia has told about Christ, but it only took her 20 years to make a lasting impression. And, while what happened to her is tragic, it has only served to bring Jesus into the lives of many more. Julia was the type of person that didn’t need a long life to impact the kingdom of God. She did all the work that God required of her in a shorter amount of time than it would’ve taken you or me. The reason we are alive is because we have more work to do, but Julia was able to go to heaven today because she finished what God needed of her. The faithfulness in her life resulted in a reward of early admission into heaven. How sweet is that!!

I can’t help but mourn today because I miss her like crazy, yet I can’t help but rejoice either because I’m so proud to be able to call her my friend. To be able to say that I was able to watch her influence other people towards Christ while she influenced me as well. To be able to spend even a little time with her. What a blessing.

Julia, I know you’re up in heaven now, and I imagine you’re probably caught up in the greatest dance party of your life. There are a lot of people down here that are missing you, but we are thankful for what your life meant to us, to others, and to God. You’re an incredible blessing. Watch over us as we try to run after Christ the way that you did, and thank you for living a life worth following. We love you girl.