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Five Tips for Flexible Family Faith Time by Stephenie Hovland

Posted by Julie on October 11, 2017 in encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

Five Tips for Flexible Family Faith Time

by Stephenie Hovland

 

Guess what? There is no such thing as a perfect Christian family! That means there isn’t one perfect way to devotions. In fact, I’m thinking the word “devotions” might need to go. Think of this as family faith time.

 

Let’s go through five tips to make your family faith time work. Remember to revisit these ideas regularly. As your family grows and ages, you might need to change how this works.

 

  1. Purpose: This is a time for your family to meet around God’s Word. Your family and circumstances may dictate what time of day, where, what materials, how long it will last, etc. You are not trying be a theology professor or expect perfect participation from every family member every time. Just start with something (the Bible or a kids’ Bible story book, for example) and run with it. Make changes later.

 

  1. Plan a little: Don’t worry about it being perfect, but make a few plans. Or, if you’re like me, plan a lot! I am not spontaneous, so I need to have several options. You can evaluate how it went after you’re done, so the next time is a little better.

 

  1. Pray: I hope you pray with your family, but say a quick, private prayer as everyone gathers. That personal prayer time will help you to take a breath and let God handle things.

 

  1. Physical: Be physical. Hold hands when you pray, hug when you’re finished, and try to touch members of your family in a loving way when you talk about and with God. We want to be Jesus “with skin on” in a sense, so we should touch. Jesus did.

 

  1. Play: While family faith time works great around a dinner table for some, others find it easier to focus on faith talk when they’re more active. Maybe you need to take it outside and shoot some hoops while you explore God’s connections in each family member’s life. Or, perhaps you start or end your time with play. Dancing helps get the wiggles out, so it might be a great way to start your family faith time. Or, maybe after a quick devotion and prayer time, you play Candyland together as a family.

When it seems like it’ll never work, please don’t give up! Try not to force your way. Change elements of your time together, and see if something else might work better. (I say this from much experience.) Keep trying. Keep praying. God is there for you and your family.

 

 

ABOUT

Stephenie Hovland loves reading and writing devotions. She also writes rhyming Bible stories for children and resources for teachers. You can find her work at Concordia Publishing House, Creative Communications for the Parish, and many online bookstores. Visit her Facebook page: @StephenieHovlandWriter and on Twitter:@StephHovland

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Hearts Afire: A Child’s Life of Christ by Katheryn Maddox Haddad

Posted by Julie on October 6, 2017 in encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

A Child’s Life of Christ: HEARTS AFIRE

Storybook #3 in Series THEY MET JESUS

 

 

In storybook 3, Hearts Afire, your children will meet….

 

*Zebedee where they learn to share with their friends, including their time.

*Simon the Zealot where they learn to try to make friends with someone no one likes.

*Hurt Minds where they learn to take a smile, a flower, a cookie to someone who is sad.

*Lepers where they learn not to take their health and other good things for granted.

*Paralyzed Man where they learn to draw a picture to give someone who is paralyzed.

*Matthew where they learn to befriend someone no one likes.

*Judas where they learn to go to church, not for the cookies and prizes, but because they love Jesus.

*Pharisees where they learn God will forgive them of even the worst thing they ever did.

*Twelve Apostles where they are encouraged to go to church if they have never been.

*Widow’s Son where they learn to draw a picture to take to someone who is very sick.

 

Here is a sample from one of the chapters:

 

 

6 ~ MATTHEW

 

People didn’t like Matthew. He was a tax collector. People know taxes must be paid to pay for road building and sewers and schools and such like. Nothing is free.  People had to pay for it in their taxes.

 

But people don’t like to pay taxes for things they don’t think the government should pay for.

 

The government let Matthew keep whatever tax money they didn’t need. So he doubled their taxes. He got rich that way. People resented Matthew. He was not popular.

 

One day Matthew went to hear John the Baptist preach. John told people there was going to be a new kingdom of God soon, and they needed to be ready to be included in it.

 

John kept baptizing unpopular people who wanted to be part of that kingdom of God, and the goody-goody people didn’t like it.

Katheryn Haddad was born in the cold north, but now lives in Arizona where she does not have to shovel sunshine. She enjoys hot weather, palm trees and cacti in her yard, and a computer with the letters worn off.
With a bachelor’s degree in English, Bible and social science from Harding University and part of a master’s degree in Bible, including Greek, from the Harding Graduate School of Theology, she also has a master’s degree in management and human relations from Abilene University.
Her newspaper column appeared for several years in newspapers in Texas and North Carolina ~ Little Known Facts About the Bible ~ and she has written for numerous Christian publications.
Currently she teaches English over the internet every morning, using the Bible as a text book. Most of her students are Muslims. She has taught some 6000 thus far, and has former students, now Christians, in hiding in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Jordan, Uzbekistan, and Palestine. “They are my heroes” she declares.
She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Christian Writers of the West, and is also an energetic public speaker who can touch the heart of audiences.

Website: http://inspirationsbykatheryn.com

Purchase Hearts Afire A Child’s Life of Christ HERE

 

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Walking in Your Own Shoes by Kolleen Lucariello

Posted by Julie on October 5, 2017 in encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

Walking in Your Own Shoes

By Kolleen Lucariello

 

Here in my home state of New York, October ushers in the fun of pumpkins, apple picking and salmon fishing season. There’s also the beauty of leaves peaking, apple cider and cozy sweaters. Among the many things October has to offer, it has also been designated as Women Walking in Their Own Shoes month: a global call for women to say yes to their purpose, passion and power.

 

If you’re like me, fall also means it’s time to shed the flip-flops, put away the sandals, and slip your feet back into a pair of shoes. Preferably comfortable ones—it’s never enjoyable to spend a day in shoes that don’t fit.

 

Once, while visiting my parents, I slipped my feet into a pair of my mother’s shoes so I could retrieve something from the car. Immediately, I noticed we walk completely differently; she walks on the inside of her sole—I don’t. My feet in her shoes didn’t work well. Come to think of it, I’ve stood in the clearance section trying to squeeze my feet into the wrong size shoe all for the sake of cuteness. I’ve also clomped around in shoes too big out of convenience. Neither were comfortable. Did you know it’s possible to cause serious harm to yourself by wearing shoes that don’t fit properly?

 

Serious harm can also happen when insecurities keep you from walking in your own shoes. Just as there’s comfort when we slip our feet into our own shoes, comfort can be found when we slip ourselves into the purpose, passion and power God has given us.

 

Paul wrote, “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone” (Ephesians 1:11-12, MSG).

 

When we say yes to Christ, we say yes to purpose because we discover what we are living for. We say yes to passion because we recognize who we are, and we say yes to power because we understand the kingdom of God is not based on talk but on power (1 Corinthians 4:20).

 

Cinderella was the only one who could wear the glass slipper.

 

You’re the only one who can walk in your shoes.

 

ABOUT

 

Kolleen Lucariello, #TheABCGirl, the author of the devotional book, The ABC’s of Who God Says I Am, resides in Central New York with her husband, Pat. You can connect with Kolleen at www.speakkolleen.com as she pursues God’s heartbeat to change our identity—one letter at a time.

 

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Character Interview: Embracing Hope by Janell Butler Wojtowicz

Posted by Julie on September 28, 2017 in encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, Writing |

Character Interview – Drew McKinley

 

I’m visiting with Drew McKinley about how God transforms people to serve and glorify Him. Drew has a heart-wrenching yet inspirational story that people who are hurting need to hear. Drew, please share how God transformed you into the man He could use for His purposes?

 

Drew: I’m going to start with a verse that sums up what I and two others have experienced. Roman 12:2, ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.’” I know some have heard that verse so often that it has become passé, but believe me, eventually they’ll find personal application and comfort in it.

 

How has your life exemplified this verse?

 

Drew: At one time I focused on what the world wanted me to be, not on what God wanted me to be. He had to knock me upside the head to renew my mind. And how He did that was painful—excruciating actually.

 

Yes, I understand you lost your wife.

 

Drew (sad smile): Tragically, suddenly, seemingly without reason. The anger I felt toward God … I’m surprised He didn’t strike be down with lightning based on my thoughts, words, and behavior. I had never faced tragedy in my 30 years. Life was almost perfect. (Chuckle) Except for a slightly over-bearing father. I attended a prestigious college; married a beautiful, talented, Christian woman; and had a lucrative career at a renown Christian university. But in one moment all that meant nothing.

 

How did God transform your mind? It sounds like before her death there was some, well, based on what I’ve heard about you, I’ll be blunt: conceit.

 

Drew: Your bluntness is accurate. And after her death came hopelessness, and even hatred.

 

Wow, I understand hopelessness, but hatred?

 

Drew (pulling his hand through his hair): Raw hatred. I hated God. I hated people who had hurt me and those I loved. I hated myself.

 

How did you overcome that hatred and hopelessness?

Drew: Through three people. First and most importantly, God. Despite my feelings, thoughts and actions, He never abandoned me, and He had every reason to wash His hands of me. But in His grace and mercy, He opened my eyes to others who were hurting; who needed guidance; who needed forgiveness. Second, God placed a wonderful woman in my life who had been through her own loss and hopelessness. She was strong, compassionate and insightful, and she showed me how to go after hope, not just sit around waiting for life to get better. Then God plopped an arrogant young man in my path who tried my patience, disappointed me, and even broke my heart. God was adamant that I forgive him. That was the hardest thing I ever had to do, even harder than grieving my wife. But in the end, God used them to renew my mind—my heart. I acknowledge that everything the three of us went through—everything—is what transformed us for God’s purposes and His glory.

 

What you’ve learned is something all of us can apply to the times when we lose hope or fall into the trap of what the world wants us to be. What do you say to encourage them?

 

Drew: Even though it may seem impossible at the time and against everything you feel, God will take you safely through the storms. Yes, it’ll hurt and you’ll have questions and doubts, but the healing will come from the Lord if you seek Him. The answers can be found in the Bible and through the power of the Holy Spirit. And don’t be afraid to seek out help, whether it’s a pastor, close friend, mentor, or a counselor, which is what I did. I’ll close with one of my favorite verses, also found in Romans, 15:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

 

About Embracing Hope

Christian college dean Drew McKinley mourns his dead wife and still wears his wedding ring. He stumbles on a desperate journey to understand God’s motives for her tragic death. Crossing his perilous path is Allison, a graduate student and new employee in the dean’s office. Even as she deals with financial hardships, she recognizes Drew’s unresolved grief from her own loss. Putting up a roadblock is Chris Whitney, the handsome but egotistical student senate president. He carries the secret burden of a dysfunctional family and a below-the-surface temper. The road Drew must navigate is fraught with career upheaval, a reawakening heart, substance and domestic abuse, a violent assault, and the struggle for forgiveness and restoration. Will Drew finish his journey to embrace the hope God offers, the love Allison shares, and the guidance Chris needs, or will he turn his back on all three with catastrophic consequences?

 

Author Bio

Janell Butler Wojtowicz, born and raised on an Iowa farm, was one of those kids who loved to write the dreaded “What I did on summer vacation” essay. It’s no surprise that she has spent her entire 30-year career in writing, including newspaper journalism, Christian higher education and nonprofit public relations, and local government public information. Much of her writing has been the “people stories” of trial, tragedy and triumph, which are reflected in her debut novel, “Embracing Hope.” Janell is a freelance writer/editor, and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She and her husband, Frank, live in New Brighton, Minnesota. She has two step-sons, a step-daughter-in-law and three step-granddaughters.

 

Links

 

Twitter – @janellwoj

Blog – http://janellwoj.wordpress.com

Author Facebook – www.Facebook.com/janellbwoj

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16046310.Janell_Butler_Wojtowicz

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Embracing-Hope-Janell-Butler-Wojtowicz/dp/1988422043/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1479298376&sr=1-1&keywords=janell+butlerSmashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/682248

Barnes Noble Nook – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/embracing-hope-janell-butler-wojtowicz/1125151446?ean=2940153857114

kobo – https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/embracing-hope-1

Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/682248

 

 

 

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Dr. Michelle Bengtson: 7 Tips for Handling Anxiety

Posted by Julie on September 27, 2017 in encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

7 Tips for Handling Anxiety

by Dr. Michelle Bengtson

 

Worry, fear, and anxiety are epidemic. Anxiety disorders are the most common class of mental health disorders.[i]

Dr. Michelle Bengtson: 7 Tips for Handling Anxiety

It started in Genesis, when Adam and Eve developed an unhealthy fear of God, prompting them to hide in the garden after realizing their nakedness.

 

God commands us not to worry or fear over 300 times, because He knew we would.

 

 

Scripture Gives 7 Tips for Handling Anxiety:

 

  1. Recognize it exists. My people perish for lack of knowledge. (Hosea 4:6)

 

  1. Realize those thoughts aren’t your thoughts. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

 

  1. Ask God what prompted the concern. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. (John 16:13)

 

  1. Combat anxiety with the truth of God’s Word. For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

 

  1. When tempted to worry, vocalize God’s truth. So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

 

  1. Trust God to handle your situation and thank Him for His answers. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (Philippians 4:6)

 

  1. Stand firm, resist the devil, and command him to leave! Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s. (Matthew 16:23) So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

 

Anxiety isn’t from God. Instead God gives us power, love, and a sound mind. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

 

Will you exchange your anxiety for His power, love, and sound mind?

 

About the Author:

 

Dr. Bengtson, author of Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression is a clinical neuropsychologist and international speaker. She gives practical tools, encourages faith, and offers hope to acquire peace and joy. She blogs at www.DrMichelleBengtson.com. Find her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/DrMichelleBengtson), Pinterest (http://www.Pinterest.com/Drbhopeprevails), and Twitter (http://www.Twitter.com/DrMBengtson).

 

[i] Kessler RC, Aguilar-Gaxiola S, Alonso J, Chatterji S, Lee S, Ormel J, Ustün TB, Wang PS. The global burden of mental disorders: an update from the WHO World Mental Health (WMH) surveys. Epidemiol Psichiatr Soc 2009;18(1):23–33.

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Book Review: Brave Beauty by Lynn Cowell

Posted by Julie on September 25, 2017 in About Me, Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

Book Review: Brave Beauty by Lynn Cowell

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.



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