Not long after, Juliana moved to North Carolina for work, while Lawton stayed in Texas for a year. They continued their relationship, and Juliana attended Episcopalian services on occasion.
When Lawton moved to join her in Raliegh, they decided they needed to become more involved with the Episcopalians. Juliana was confirmed, and they found a church they really liked, with a "high church" liturgical feel, active ministries, and a devout priest who was close to his people.
A year later, the priest to whom Juliana and Lawton – who were now married – had grown close announced to his congregation that he was converting to Catholicism.
"Lawton was like, 'I respect him, I look up to him. What's he doing?'" So Lawton and Juliana started reading, and Lawton read a book on Church fathers, and St. John Henry Newman's An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine. Lawton was growing more convinced that Catholicism was true, but Juliana was actively trying to persuade him otherwise.
She said she had some resentments toward her high school experiences with Catholicism - she had started to doubt whether some of the friendships had been genuine. Her experience as an English major at a liberal arts school also jaded her against certain teachings of Catholicism.
"Who are you to say that you have truth, and who do you think you are?" Juliana said she thought of Catholicism at the time.
"Everything I would say, Lawton would have an answer for it, or he'd come back with an answer for it. And there didn't seem to be any arguing with it, so we just stopped talking about it for a while," Juliana said.
When Lawton announced he had decided to convert, Juliana said she thought, "'Well, I guess we'll figure it out.' It was pretty painful though."
A priest advised Lawton to wait a year to convert, since Juliana was not on board. He said he wanted them to talk about how they were going to raise their future children, and where they would go to church as a family. Lawton remained respectful of Juliana's decision to remain Episcopalian, and attended services with her as well as Mass on Sundays.
Lawton joined RCIA, and after a time Juliana began attending with him, since he was making an effort to go to church with her. Most of the information was not new, she said, since they had both done a lot of reading about the Catholic Church. They made some good friends, but Juliana was still reticent to convert to Catholicism.
She said she started to accept that they would just believe different things, and they would work it out with their children as they came.
Some of the hardest things to accept about Catholicism for Juliana were its teaching against contraception, and the teaching authority the Church claims to have.
"Again, it was like, 'Well, who are you to tell us what to do? This should be up to us,'" she said of her thoughts at the time on the Church's teaching against contraception. "I get that in theory maybe it makes sense, but in practice, this is ridiculous that you'd ask people to do this."
"And they claim authority. And so if you accept the authority, then you can kind of go along with everything else. But if not, it all kind of falls apart. So it's that lynch point," Juliana said.
And having grown up a Protestant, she had a hard time coming around on Mary and the Eucharist.
"It was like, 'Well, those are Catholic things. Those are where they went wrong,'" she said.
Lawton was confirmed into the Catholic Church in 2018, and that year they moved to Denver, having finished their graduate studies. They started attending Holy Name Catholic Church, a parish that had the liturgical elements and beautiful music they were looking for.
It was there that Juliana discussed some of her lingering hesitancies about Catholicism with the pastor, who encouraged her to read St. Augustine of Hippo's Confessions. At that time, Juliana said, she had "run out of arguments" and had intellectually accepted most things about the Church, but emotionally she was not yet on board.
She read the Confessions that summer in a month, during a bout of insomnia.
The story of St. Augustine's own conversion - long in coming, reluctant in many ways - spoke to Juliana and convinced her that she needed to join the Catholic Church.
"I was hearing some of the things I'd gone through, and he's asking some of the same questions that I was asking, and he's feeling like he needs to move forward, but he tells God 'not yet.'"
"I thought, 'I guess if he could do it, I could do it.' I just had a moment where I thought if anything's ever going to change or develop, this is the only way forward. If I stay here trying to get all the answers figured out, I'm going to be here forever. So I need to just do it," she said.
Juliana was confirmed in the Catholic Church on Easter 2019, and chose St. Augustine as her confirmation saint. Since converting, she said it has felt peaceful and right.
"(I)f Christ really is who he says he is, then I believe that he intended to found a Church, and history, theology, and my own experience converged pointing to it being the Catholic Church. And that if Christ is the revealed truth and image of God, then following everything he taught and commanded should be, by grace, our only real goal in life," she said.
"The Church seemed to provide the best groundwork for taking that seriously and offered the clearest path toward that, through sacraments and devotions and examples of the saints. And I wanted to be part of that communion, which despite so much ugliness lately and throughout history, has also produced so much beauty in art, literature, and especially the lives of the saints. It's unpopular to say nowadays, but it all rang so clearly of truth that I couldn't ignore it."
"And honestly, having Lawton stay with me through long-distance and all the craziness, I think if it weren't for him...I wouldn't be Catholic if it wasn't for him."