One of the activities I have going on this season is I’m hosting a book discussion with a group of ladies. The book is NO MORE FAKING FINE by Esther Fleece. When I first started reading, I thought just that—it would be a great resource to share with others. I’ve benefited from a healing I can only credit God with where I used to be so worried what others thought that I lost sleep. I was wracked with worry and pretended I was just fine. I have felt for a number of years that the person that God sees is who the world sees. I’m authentic.
I still believe I am transparent, and I didn’t intentionally fake my feelings, but this book is kicking my tail HARD. An early chapter talked about the coping mechanisms we use. I had to face the truth. I used many of them, and had been for some time. Stuffing my feelings. Laughing it off. Gossiping about it. Even making a vow to God to protect my heart from ever getting hurt at that depth again.
As I kept reading, I realized the theme of the book, learning to use the power of a lamenting prayer (a raw, unfiltered prayer) was something I had done before, without knowing I was giving Him my lament. Thing is, I knew that was quite a while ago and that there were several areas where I had not given my true, raw, not-very-pretty feelings and thoughts to the Lord.
At first I thought, hey, this will be easy. I’ll journal that. It’s not a bad idea, but as I read further, I knew for me, God needed the power of my voice. Not that I have any authority, but by speaking my pain out loud, not only am I truly handing it over for Jesus to deal with, it strips the true defeated one of any power he thinks he has, and any access I gave him by isolating myself and pretending all is well when it hasn’t been.
This week I have been intentional with my laments. It is a raw vent to God about how I really feel. It is not full of Christian-ese or thous or thee or anything you think you might hear from me. To your ears, perhaps my laments sound like tantrums. There are things, especially in the last 14 years, I don’t get.
And when I spewed it all out, I realized I was angry.
- Angry because there has been so much carnage in the fields of grief, and change.
- Angry because the vision God gave me not only didn’t come to pass in some ways, it is a fraction of what it was to begin with.
- Angry because being obedient has left me lonely, used, betrayed, and I realized in my lament, I’ve isolated myself further and have become skeptical in light of these things.
- Angry because the people I’ve prayed for, so very, very few are walking in the ways He showed me the potential they had.
- Angry for the losses we have had in loved ones, relationships, and finances when we did everything right.
- Angry that I’m tired and often depleted, still fighting for things I thought would be victorious by now, and not fighting for things I probably should be.
But I’m thankful.
Because in finally speaking these things out to the Lord, I KNOW the healing from inside out can begin. I will not be walking in ignorance or disobedience. Will it be hard? Yes. I’ve been down this road before. Will it be worth it?
I don’t regret being obedient or the paths He has put us on. But I did have to surrender my anger because so much is different than I thought, and there have been a lot of tears over the years. But so many good things, too. Crazy favor that again, only God could get credit for. The honor to pray for situations and people. Opportunities through writing and speaking to show His goodness. Yes, His goodness, even when I was pushing down private and escalating pain and anger.
I’m not done with the book, and I know the healing process isn’t mastered. But I am thankful I can place my laments in the hands of the Master, the One who created me and knows me best.
If you can relate to anything I’m sharing, I highly recommend No More Faking Fine. If you want to work through it with me as a private, confidential book study online, I am in the middle of one now, but you can contact me and we can start one in 2018.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving.
Hi! Remember me? I’m the author of this blog. It’s been so long I feel like I need to re-introduce myself. I look like this:
This blog was my first, my baby, the one writing vessel I clung tightly to as I sought publication. In the last couple years as I followed God’s call to have my own writing and speaking ministry (and released four books,) this little blog hasn’t featured my own voice for a long time.
And I hate that.
I miss it.
I hope to catch you up with this post, and most importantly, kick off what I think might be the 10th year of the thankful series here at juliearduini.com. Each November I hand the blog over to anyone wishing to share why they are thankful. There are some great guest bloggers lined up with amazing gratitude. I don’t know about you, but I feel this is a critical juncture at this time, in this world.
I need to hear positive words. Encouragement. Affirmation. Thankfulness.
Why not start here?
If you aren’t subscribed to the blog, click to the right sidebar and you will be able to receive the posts to your inbox. You don’t want to miss the thankful series, trust me!
This year hasn’t been horrible, but it’s been hard. I figured I’d be thankful for the good, the bad, and the ugly.
- We have two grandsons! They both live in the same state (sadly, not the state we live in,) and are very close in age. It’s going to be so much fun watching them grow up together.
- Our daughter is thriving. She has braces, she is on student council, and bouncing back after a brutal 7th grade experience.
- Our son is doing well as a sophomore at Kent State. This semester he’s 100% online, and that’s been such a blessing for me with various projects.
- We have a wonderful family living in our rental property. God did an amazing thing orchestrating it.
- I finished the Surrendering Time series, and am grateful for the readers who have been transformed by the surrender messages.
- I received an invitation to join Inspy Romance, and love being a monthly blogger with them.
- I created a community of encouragement called 180 Encouragements. For us, we pick a slip each school day and start it with words of life. It’s also for anyone else to take the images/words and encourage someone else.
- My word for the year is transformation and I never thought I’d see so much change hit so fast and hard. Our son saw so much change with friendships, school, and work. What was hard to watch was knowing he’d done all the right things. It was Christ refining him, growing him. As a mom, it was tough to observe.
- As I mentioned, our daughter did not have a great 7th grade year. Like her brother, she was doing the right things and there were key people around her who destroyed the joy she so naturally carried.
- Car repairs. My husband’s retirement was on the table as something to talk about with a timeline. Then the transmission on his car went. The repairs were crushing. Our son’s car had a major repair that was a fire hazard, and the dealer really could have cared less when I brought it to their attention, making us pay $200 more than they quoted, and that quote was outrageous. Retirement? We can’t even afford for him to talk about it anymore.
- We had a situation where we trusted and got burned. It was a financial gift that was a sacrifice for us that cost us thousands in the end. More than that, it paralyzed us from trusting for a bit. It forced us to work on restoring property we didn’t have time or money to invest, but we had to. Things we lent that were nearly or brand new were lost or destroyed.
- Not even a week into the new year and we learned that our friend’s three year old daughter was taken from them through the actions of a refugee who received her license although she can’t speak or read English. Before this tragedy, she had already been cited for driving down the wrong way. In this instance she hit both the girl’s father, and the girl, while her friends from pre school witnessed it. The driver was not cited, and last I knew, has her license and is still driving. I don’t want to be political, but I will be real—this aspect of the refugee debate has not been discussed, and it is a real issue. No one should have to attend a funeral for a child. No. One.
- All the changes with the kids took me to a new place I had not known outside of hormone imbalance, anxiety. I feared new situations for them and wanted to be one step ahead. I wanted to take their pain and wrap it in a ball and throw it all away. I yearned to talk to the people who hurt them, intentional or not, I wanted to have the last word. I was exhausted even after sleeping, craved sugary foods again, and felt like I backtracked in health progress from last year.
- So many tragedies this year. Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Terrorism. Division. Ugly isn’t a strong enough word.
It’s hard to be thankful for the bad and the ugly, but as much as I can be for these hard and even terrible things, I am. With the kids, I had to lean on God and trust Him. Instead of acting on my temptations, I was able to wait on God and watch Him work wonders. And He is. I still have a quick seize of fear when something new or shocking comes our way, but my time is shorter in surrendering that fear to Him instead of trying to tackle it for myself.
With our friends, they are grieving, understandably. I am thankful to see they have a very strong support system. They created a page on Facebook encouraging people to do acts of Kindness in Regan’s memory. Their goal is for her not to be forgotten. There is also space dedicated to Regan at The Wild Animal Park in Chittenago, New York. Families can now have a seat and photo opportunities at a place Regan loved. Many people came together to make this happen. Recently, people are painting rocks and hiding them as another way to honor and remember her. These are ways to make the goal a reality, and help her family.
These days, it’s hard to be thankful. I haven’t met anyone this year who has boasted of a perfect life. There is hurt and hardship everywhere. Thankfulness makes a difference and is a choice. I pray the posts throughout this month lift you up.
Just like you have for me.
What will my life be like? Who will I be? Whether girls put these concerns into words or struggle anxiously with these thoughts, during this season of change, girls have questions. Sometimes these questions also come with fears and they need a safe place to process these fears. From Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker and blogger, Lynn Cowell, comes Faithgirlz Brave Beauty: Finding the Fearless You. For girls 8-12, Brave Beauty brings tweens 100 courage-building moments to reflect on Scripture and find confidence in God, rather than in someone, some place, or some thing, as culture will all-too-soon tell them to. Lynn will also prepare girls to:
Overcome confidence-defeating thoughts and stand on who Jesus says she is.
Shape her self-worth on Christ and overcome the temptation base it on environmental factors.
Build a strong foundation to face the fickle and flippant opinions of others.
Find approval of herself even when she lacks the acceptance of others.
Find security by turning to Christ as she steps through the exciting, yet scary world of growing up
Formatted as theme-based mini chapters, these moments can be read as one-a-days, one-a-weeks, or at the reader’s own pace. Simple and empowering, Lynn’s voice is relatable and conversational, making it easy for girls to feel like they’re spending time with a friend. This inspirational read will be set as a gorgeously foil decorated hardcover, with beautifully formatted pages in line with the well-known and loved Faithgirlz look, and with an easy-reference index to look up any topic.
I had trouble reviewing BRAVE BEAUTY because I showed it to my daughter, she thumbed through it, took it to her room, and I had to take it back. It disappeared again. When I grabbed it again so I could read through and write this, she asked me to please hurry so she could have it, and keep it. I’ve done a lot of reviews for books for girls, and this is the first one she’s taken and not wanted to give back to me.
I’m not surprised. BRAVE BEAUTY tackles a subject girls are crying out to learn more about, and this book offers relatable information that is Bible based. With social media judging girls with a simple click of a keyboard, girls need to know they matter and are loved. That they are approved of as is. The author does a great job making the book feel like they are at a coffee shop sharing together. There is space to write. There are quizzes and prayers. Everything is about showing the girls who they are in Christ so they can stand in God confidence when the things of the world come at them.
The cover is attractive and it is just a breath of fresh air in the form of a book. I can’t give a higher recommendation than telling you my daughter has this on her nightstand. I definitely suggest you get a copy of BRAVE BEAUTY for the 8-12 girl in your life. (Our daughter is a little older with some comprehension delays, so I am finding this perfect for her.)
I received a copy of BRAVE BEAUTY from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
To purchase BRAVE BEAUTY, click HERE.
Matthew wrote his new album All In with the goal of encouraging himself and others to get up off the sidelines of their faith and really live it out – to go all in in your time with God, all in with your family, all in with your community, and all in battling your fears that may hold you back from becoming who God made you to be. Along that same theme, Matthew will be launching a 6-week All in Challenge on his social media starting 9/18, and each week Matthew will be challenging his fans to go all in in a different part of their lives. What does it look like when a heart that knows Jesus takes a step and holds nothing back? How can we go All In in the places that mean the most?
Matthew West’s music is something I can recognize without a lot of notes or voice. He has a style musically I’ve come to know and certainly appreciate, and ALL IN maintains for the most part the sound you would associate with him.
Lyrically, it is much the same. When I think of his music, I think of songs that will play on K-Love with a pop like feel with lyrics that uplift and challenge. ALL IN keeps that consistency.
One song that felt a little different is “Amen.” The tempo and energy is a little out of the box, but a whole lot of fun. Other than that, “All In” is a positive challenge and “Mercy is a Song” was one of those a-ha moments. It really is true, and it was something I never thought of before. There are also personal songs and those that minister. My favorite is “Broken Things.”
All in all, there isn’t a whole lot outside of the box here, but that’s okay. I like what I’m getting when I hear Matthew West, and his “All In” message is one we all need to hear and live out. Whether he is new to you or not, I believe All In will be a wonderful listen for you.
Guess what? Propeller Consulting, LLC is offering one copy of All In to one US winner. Leave a comment on what Matthew West song has impacted you the most and I will choose a winner via random pick September 24.
“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win. Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.
Year after year, readers pulled me aside at events and said, “I’ve never had a problem starting. I’ve started a million things, but I never finish them. Why can’t I finish?
According to studies, 92 percent of New Year’s reso-lutions fail. You’ve practically got a better shot at getting into Juilliard to become a ballerina than you do at finishing your goals.
For years, I thought my problem was that I didn’t try hard enough. So I started getting up earlier. I drank enough energy drinks to kill a horse. I hired a life coach and ate more superfoods. Nothing worked, although I did develop a pretty nice eyelid tremor from all the caffeine. It was like my eye was waving at you, very, very quickly.
Then, while leading a thirty-day online course to help people work on their goals, I learned something surprising: The most effective exercises were not those that pushed people to work harder. The ones that got people to the finish line did just the opposite— they took the pressure off.
Why? Because the sneakiest obstacle to meeting your goals is not laziness, but perfectionism. We’re our own worst critics, and if it looks like we’re not going to do something right, we prefer not to do it at all. That’s why we’re most likely to quit on day two, “the day after perfect”—when our results almost always underperform our aspirations.
The strategies in this book are counterintuitive and might feel like cheating. But they’re based on studies conducted by a university researcher with hundreds of participants. You might not guess that having more fun, eliminating your secret rules, and choosing something to bomb intentionally works. But the data says otherwise. People who have fun are 43 percent more successful! Imagine if your diet, guitar playing, or small business was 43 percent more successful just by following a few simple principles.
If you’re tired of being a chronic starter and want to become a consistent finisher, you have two options: You can continue to beat yourself up and try harder, since this time that will work. Or you can give yourself the gift of done.
I’m a Jon Acuff fan and really enjoy his work. When I heard about Finish, I was excited because that’s a problem not only do I run into, but I also hear it from people I work with/mentor/encourage. We have no problem starting, but finishing? A look in a craft room can tell you how real the problem is.
I loved Finish because it gave great strategies that are so simple you’ll be mad you didn’t think of it first. It’s also full of stories, stats, and anecdotes that Jon Acuff is known for. It’s motivational and humorous, practical and inspiring.
I finished the book a few weeks ago and I’m still going back to Will Smith. In the book it talks about financial challenges Will was having years ago and the simple technique he used to not only get out of that predicament, but keep him on the short list for big movies for 20 years. I won’t give it away, but it blew my mind.
There’s a lot of meat to Finish, yet, it’s a fast read. Don’t go too fast, or you’ll miss something, because there are a lot of takeaways you can and should apply to your life. I think this is a book you not only can start, but finish—and use as a practical tool in your life.
PURCHASE FINISH HERE
I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are strictly my own.
I know towards the end of summer, many people still have travel plans and a need for a good read.
I have on my tablet a load of books I want to read for enjoyment, not for writing or review, so my thought is perhaps that is your case, too.
Let’s add a FREE eBook to your collection, okay?
On Friday, August 18 and Saturday, August 19, ENGAGED will be a free eBook on Amazon. Make sure to double check as glitches sometimes happen, but after 3am Eastern on the 18th, you should be good to go.
Trish Maxwell’s back in Speculator Falls with egg on her face and a lot of apologies to make. She left the mountain town for her dream job in New York City, only to come back unemployed. With no prospects, she works at her family’s department store and makes amends as she finds a new passion creating window displays for Adirondack businesses. She works hard and tries to convince the people of Speculator Falls she’s changed for the better.
As Trish pitches in with community events, she meets paramedic Wayne Peterson, the one man who doesn’t seem to judge her. She even makes friends with Jenna Regan, who helps Trish when people demand to know what’s next in Trish’s life. Living in New York City has been her goal, but the more she’s around Wayne and the Adirondack area, the more she’s drawn to revising her plans. Just when Trish thinks the plan for her life’s coming together, a second chance comes her way that could give her every career goal she’s ever wanted, but threaten to tear her and Wayne apart. Can Trish surrender fears about her future and discover God’s plan for her?
Although this is book 3 in a series, I believe you can read it as a standalone without confusion. However, if you would like to start from the beginning, ENTRUSTED is a free eRead at juliearduini.com, and ENTANGLED is available at a low cost. All books are available for print, AND I created a devotional ebook using the characters from this series as well as my surrender stories to help you in your surrender journey.
You can locate FINDING FREEDOM THROUGH SURRENDER here.
Feel free to spread the word to other readers. If you enjoy my books, reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are the best way. The more reviews a book has, the more Amazon makes it visible. Thank you for considering Julie Arduini books for your summer!