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A Highland Pearl Character Interview by Brenda B. Taylor

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

A Highland Pearl Character Interview

Greetings from 16th century Scotland. My name is Andrew Dubh Munro. I’m know as the Black Falcon of Fàrdach, and I am the Thirteenth Baron and Chief of Clan Munro. My home is located in the Scottish Highlands on the north shore of Cromarty Firth. The seat of my clan, the place I reside, is Fàrdach Castle. Fàrdach is a Gaelic word meaning, home. Gaelic is my first language, although in order to trade with merchants in Inverness and other places, I also speak Inglish and French.

My father, Sir William Munro was killed in a battle with the MacKenzie Clan. The MacKenzies and Munros have been feuding since that time. I wanted to bring peace between the two peoples, but Hugh MacKenzie and his warriors continued to reive Munro cattle and destroy Munro property. While confronting the reivers one day, I was seriously wounded, and thought I would die.

My brother, Gavin, sent for a bonnie lass and healer from the nearby village of Drumainn. Maidie saved my life, and I fell in love with her. She was a strong believer in the Lord of All Creation. I wanted to take Maidie as my wife, but she was hesitant since I, at that time, did not believe.

One night, the MacKenzies burned one of the Munro villages, and I accompanied my brother and our warriors in the chase for the culprits. My injury had not healed completely, and I could not keep up. I insisted Gavin and the band of warriors go on without me. My gille, Colin, stayed with me. We made ourselves comfortable and settled down to wait for Gavin’s return.

I soon learned the burned village was a trap to get me out of the castle. The MacKenzies captured Colin and me, and took us to the dungeon of their castle. We stayed in the dungeon five days, eating rancid meat and drinking foul water. Our physical condition weakened until I thought the two of us would die.

Being thrown into the dungeon was the best thing that could have happened to me. Colin was a believer and taught me the way to the Lord through his son, Jesus the Christ. I prayed and was accepted into the Lord’s kingdom. I wasn’t afraid to die then, for I knew Heaven awaited.

Hugh MacKenzie released us on the urging of my former father-in-law, Bryson Fraser. The story takes many turns and twists before Maidie and I were reunited and I declared my love for her. The miracle was, she loved me in return and promised to become my wife. The Lord truly blessed me with the desire of my heart—Maidie Cameron Munro.

My story is told in the novel by Brenda B. Taylor, A Highland Pearl. Secure your copy today while the e-book is on sale at most vendors. You will enjoy the adventure through the beautiful Scottish Highlands.

A Highland Pearl

A Highland Pearl

A sweet romance blossoms amidst feuding and war. With her reputation at stake after being accused of practicing witchcraft and hated as a member of a rival clan, Maidie considers leaving Clan Munro and returning to the home of her birth in Clan Cameron. Fierce battles, a tragic encounter, and a handsome clan chief compel her to make crucial decisions in this haunting romance set in the16th century Highlands of Scotland.

 

 

 

 

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Author Bio:

The desire to write historical fiction has long been a passion with Brenda B. Taylor. Since elementary school, she has written stories in her spare time. Brenda earned three degrees: a BSE from Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas; a MEd from Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas; and an EdD from Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas; then worked as a teacher and administrator in the Texas Public School system. Only after retirement could she fulfill the dream of publication.

Brenda and her husband make their home in beautiful East Texas where they enjoy spending time with family and friends, traveling, and working in Bethabara Faith Ministry, Inc. She crafts stories about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people in her favorite place overlooking bird feeders, bird houses, and a variety of blooming trees and flowers. She sincerely thanks all who purchase and read her books. Her desire is that the message in each book will touch the heart of the reader as it did hers in the writing.

 

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My Infertility Walk in the Valley—#NIAW

Posted by Julie on April 26, 2017 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

April 23-29 is National Infertility Awareness Week, #NIAW. The theme this year is Listen Up, and I thought I’d share a bit of my story. 

 

I call infertility the sorority no woman wants to join. When my doctor explained that the pelvic pain and irregular periods I was having was most likely PCOS, polycystic ovaries, I was naive. He sat me down and talked for 45 minutes about his wife’s experience with endometriosis. He let me know there was a good chance that I would not conceive on my own. When it was time to leave, he made sure I knew that he wasn’t the final say. He had a strong faith, and he gave me tips on what to do.

I didn’t feel the reality of the diagnosis right away because I was engaged. I was busy preparing for a wedding, so the impact didn’t hit immediately. But like the forbidden fruit, I never really considered motherhood until there was a chance I might not experience it.

Once we were married, it became an obsession.

My full story is included in the book, A WALK IN THE VALLEY, so I’m limited in what I can share. But for those of you that know us now, we have two kids together. Most people don’t know as newlyweds, my husband had to learn how to inject progesterone in my backside. He was so nervous he often hit muscle, and that left me bedridden. The pelvic pain was so bad that I needed surgery, and they discovered my ovaries were 5x the normal size. I have a high tolerance for pain to this day because of it.

I left conferences that focused on parenting, and I had the shaky-lip-trying-not-to-cry at church when moms had to stand up on Mother’s Day to receive their flowers. It was more than an ache. It was a cavern of pain.

In posts earlier this week I shared infertility etiquette, and I made mistakes, too. I shared with people who couldn’t handle my reality and their responses or lack of one made things worse. I hid. I felt so “less than” that I shut my husband out most nights, hiding upstairs as soon as dinner was over.  I was attached to the internet, looking at all forums and articles that had anything to do with infertility. It wasn’t healthy and only kept my anger in a spiral.

If you are going through infertility, my prayer is that you don’t isolate yourself or use your computer as your only source of hope. I am not being commercial in recommending A WALK IN THE VALLEY, I truly believe in this book and wish I had it back when I was hurting. It contains my entire story from diagnosis to where I am today, but it also includes five other authors who share their entire stories. Not one of us has the same experience, so it is a transparent, comprehensive look at infertility.

If you need someone to talk to, I’m not a counselor, but feel free to contact me.

My prayers are with you.

***

My Infertility Walk in the Valley

Struggling with infertility? As a Christian, how do you work through the hurt, anger, frustration, pain, and sorrow? Where is God’s hope and joy?
This devotional workbook features the stores of real women, and helps you reflect on your experiences via journaling prompts, prayer exercises, and Scripture. Explore topics such as: *infertility testing *diagnosis *decision making *infertility treatment *miscarriage and pregnancy *pregnancy and childbirth after infertility *remaining childless *adoption *foster care, child sponsorship, and orphan hosting *and healing emotionally.

Written by six women who have completed their journey through infertility. Some eventually conceived and gave birth, others adopted, and others remain childless. But all of them have found peace in the loving arms of God. And you can too.

PURCHASE A WALK IN THE VALLEY HERE

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Transformation: God & Me After the Loss of My Child by Jean Ann Williams

Posted by Julie on April 21, 2017 in encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

Transformation: God & Me After the Loss of My Child

When my son died within my embrace and in our home, I was certain the world had gone insane. Utter disbelief coupled with harsh reality ravished my broken heart.

Over the weeks and months after Joshua’s death, I didn’t know one could cry so many tears. Nor feel this lonely and misplaced from Joshua’s absence. My presence in the house caved in around me, and I believed I would go crazy and join him.

As the months became three years, and I still lived in the house where Joshua died, I told God it was too much. What did He expect from me as I walked the hall and past the door of my son’s room? What was the purpose of me in this home?

Wasn’t the loss of Joshua a teachable enough experience?

I cried unto Lord God and my spirit wrestled with His. I demanded a blessing from Him. Good had to come from this wreck of my life. Didn’t it? And, I hounded my Lord for relief from the pain and agony of losing my youngest child.

My prayer became simple: Make me stronger or allow me to die.

Joshua was a unique individual, and I’m not saying this because he was mine. He helped a friend choose life for her unborn child and spent time with her, sharing the gospel of Christ. He defied a high school teacher to his face, who, after class, offhandedly encouraged a student to get an abortion.

There were no gray areas in my son’s life. He stood strong in his beliefs. At Joshua’s grave side service, one of his friends said it best, “Joshua knew how to help others, but he couldn’t help himself.”

At the three and a half year mark after Joshua’s passing, I almost took my own life. At the last moment, though, weary and humbled within my spirit, I reached for the love of my Father in heaven.

Throughout the night after my near suicide attempt, I sobbed hours of tears until I was an empty shell. As dawn peeked through the curtained window above me, I gave my whole being to God. “You win, Lord,” I prayed, “do with me as You will.” It was not a joyous moment. I didn’t feel victorious.

It was a profound shift of surrender in my shattered spirit.

From the dawn of this new morning and the ten years since, I will never regret God kept me in the home where my son died. God broke me and remolds me into someone who can be used by Him to help others who suffer.

Within three months after my near suicide attempt, we had a buyer for our house. Weeks later, we signed the papers and handed over the keys to the new owners. At the seventh month point, my husband and I moved to Oregon on one acre of land where we raise a garden, chickens, and goats.

After our move here, I told a seasoned Christian my story. That God saw fit to keep me in the home after Joshua’s death, and this drew me closer to Him. “This was hard on me,” I told the man, “and I almost didn’t make it. God knew best, and I received His blessing.”

I thought the gentleman would agree with me, and what he said left me speechless and sad. “I wouldn’t have done it. I would have left the house.”

If I had escaped the home like I wanted, and I did make plans to do so, I would never have tasted the deep love and steadfast presence of God and His Son.

Jean Ann Williams published a book on suicide loss after her youngest son Joshua took his own life in 2004. “God’s Mercies after Suicide: Blessings Woven through a Mother’s Heart” is a devotional style memoir showing how God walked alongside her in the most difficult grief journey of her life.

God & Me After the Loss of My Child by Jean Ann Williams

Where to purchase God’s Mercies After Suicide: Blessings Woven Through a Mother’s Heart: Create Space

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Three God Whispers to Live By

Posted by Julie on April 19, 2017 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

How did we get into April? I am loving the lilacs, lawn mower sounds, and general themes of new life and beginnings. If nothing else happens in April, I was giddy to be over March. That was a tough month full of adversity and challenges.

Three God Whispers to Live By

What made things extra hard was that they were not my challenges. Both our kids were facing things that left them hurting and asking God why. I’ve faced prayer times that I thought were difficult, but seeing their pain nearly broke me.

One night we grieved and prayed together. We asked God tough questions and requested wisdom, discernment, and direction.

Not everything has changed, but here are three things God whispered to my heart to prepare for and to apply to the challenges.

 

  • Close the current door with grace. We had an opportunity that we knew wasn’t working. It was time to leave, but feelings were raw and the true defeated one was trying to leave us in a quake of anxiety and depression. It would be easy and tempting to walk away angry and bitter. God’s whisper was to close the door with grace. More than that, the same manner we close one door is the exact way we open the next. We definitely wanted to act wisely.

 

  • Use your voice. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but “praying in your head” doesn’t have the power that praying out loud does. I don’t think God is looking for us to stand in the middle of a park and start talking in King James Bible translation, but when we use our voice and pray, heaven moves and hell quakes. I’ve seen it. As I prayed with the kids, that phrase kept coming back. They needed to push back fears and bring down heaven’s promises to earth with declaration. That takes a voice, and in their hard times, I believe God is developing a powerful voice to speak on His behalf.

 

  • Hands off. They are toddler rules, but I need to hear them. It is my personality to run way ahead of God, turn around, and ask Him how I’m doing. I call it living, “Sarah, Plan B,” and it is not a lifestyle you want to emulate. Sarah ended up with an “Ishmael” of a problem. I hate seeing the kids hurt, but I’ve been around long enough in faith to know that what’s happening is a refining fire. He’s taking everything that isn’t going to work in serving Him and melting it away through affliction. What’s left is pure Him. In their hard times I’m seeing a new level of faith from them. They are pressing in, going to Him and not giving up. I can’t orchestrate that or manipulate it. I’m not going to lie, being an observer of the process was one of the hardest things I’ve come up against as a parent.

I believe with this season and God’s whispers, the kids will look back and credit the time as a spiritual marker—a time they mark as when God changed everything.

Have you gone through a searing time of adversity where God whispered to you?

***

Finding Freedom Through Surrender-A 30 Day Devotional available on Amazon.

 

 

FINDING FREEDOM THROUGH SURRENDER-A 30 Day Devotional features the characters and issues from ENTRUSTED, ENTANGLED, and ENGAGED to encourage you as you let go of fear, loss, change, regret and dreams. I also share my own stories where I was broken and in need of surrender. If you’ve read my contemporary romance series, you’ll be familiar with the characters and inspired. If you’re new to my writing, the devotionals will introduce you to characters and situations you can relate to. Purchase HERE.

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Hearts Afire: They Met Jesus by Katheryn Maddox Haddad

Posted by Julie on April 14, 2017 in encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

HEARTS AFIRE

Novel #3 of “They Met Jesus”

 

Things begin to heat up in book three.  Jesus recruits Simon the feared radical, Matthew Levi the hated tax collector, and Judas the admired banker. Does Jesus know what he is getting into with these three?

His miracles get more astounding. He communicates with demons dwelling in otherwise holy people. In fact, he takes control of the demons in the synagogue where those possessed continue to attend in hopes of fighting the demons. What better place could they go?

Then there are the lepers. The reader gets to know one of them intimately as he his face begins to have leprous bumps on it and he tries to pretend they are not there so he can continue his lucrative construction business.  Then the day comes he must do it, for he cannot hide or deny it any longer. He leaves his house and wife for the last time, wraps a scarf around his face, and for the first time cries out that which he had dreaded: “Unclean. Unclean.” How would you feel at a time like this?

Jesus turns lives upside down and right side up again: The demon possessed, lepers, the paralyzed.

Then he chooses his twelve ambassadors, his twelve apostles, and what a mess.  How in the world is he going to be able to control them so that they get along?  Matthew works for the foreign Roman government, and Simon attacks them. Peter talks all the time while Thaddeus is quiet. John tries to stop outsiders while Andrew welcomes outsiders. James wants to bring fire down on his enemies, while Thomas declares they should die with Jesus. Philip is a fanatic for facts, while Nathaniel knew Jesus was the Son of God the moment he met him. James the Less cares nothing for money while Judas loves money.

But they all do their part to help and protect Jesus when thousands rush to be touched by him. They divide up and march three on each side, and three front and back as a barrier so he can move more freely.

By now he is so popular, the chief priests and elders at the temple fear the people will make him king and they will lose their jobs. Jesus must be stopped. So, by the end of his first year of public ministry, his life is in danger. It will take them two years to kill Jesus. They will plot and twist things around and verbally attack and lie and spit and growl. They are determined to win.

In the meantime, Jesus goes out, defying them again. He attends the funeral of a boy and brings him back to life. Over and over he outsmarts his enemies. They will not be allowed to kill him until he lets them.

Come. Read book three and get caught up in the political and religious turmoil Jesus is creating among everyone who meets Jesus.

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 HERE

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Join Me at Inspy Romance

Posted by Julie on April 9, 2017 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, Writing |

I’ve often said that I’m a reader and then a writer. When I critique manuscripts, it isn’t as an editor that I go through chapters. I look as a reader. I’m such a fan of books.

As an author, I read a lot of blogs to learn more about the craft. One of my favorite blogs has been Inspy Romance. It’s a blog from Christian authors talking about writing, and their passion is to connect with readers. They write in a style that makes me feel like we’re sitting around a table enjoying a cup of coffee.

And secretly, I wished I could be a part of that team.

I never uttered it because it seemed too lofty. As it is, I write every other Wednesday for Christians Read, and that blog includes some of my favorite Christian authors of all time. I have devoured their books. I do not feel like I’m on the same playing field, let alone same sport. So to want to be part of another great blog? I felt silly.

Yet I felt this year would be about transformation, my word for the year. That new opportunities would blossom out of nowhere. That for the prayers and spiritual battles we’ve stayed obedient with, there would be a new level of faith and favor in our lives. Not a “we get stuff” mentality, but that we would be and feel blessed. It’s hard to explain.

But Inspy Romance came calling.

If you aren’t familiar with this blog, they are focused on readers. They host frequent giveaways. They talk about how their stories came to be. Cover design. Funny stories. And so much more.

My first post is Tuesday, April 11 and I will introduce myself and have a giveaway. I hope you not only read my post, but subscribe to the blog. If you love reading Christian romance, you will enjoy the blog.

Happy Reading!



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