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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?

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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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Moonstone Secrets by Dawn V. Cahill

Posted by Julie on April 11, 2017 in ACFW, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Writing |
Moonstone Secrets – Seattle Trilogy, Book 2
Dawn V. Cahill
Expected release date April 25. Available soon for preordering! Subscribe to my newsletter, and you’ll be the first to know when you can pre-order. Subscribe here: https://dawnvcahill.com/
About Moonstone Secrets: As the Christmas season sparkles around her, DeeDee McCreary eagerly anticipates visiting magical Victoria, BC, with her boyfriend, Nick, and meeting his family. But the trip proves disastrous. First, Nick finds his bank account cleaned out. Then he disappears. Frantic, she determines to uncover what happened. When she discovers something far worse than she anticipated, she questions everything she believes to be true about him.
With the man she loves in jail for an unspeakable crime, DeeDee knows the truth lies somewhere in Nick and his ex-wife’s past. But if she pursues their secrets, will she put herself in danger, too?
What are readers saying about Moonstone Secrets?
  • “I couldn’t put it down. The vivid descriptions and the setting pulled me into the story.” – reader Joy
  • “The sisterly bond was wonderful to see, how they stuck by each other. It was good to meet up with DeeDee and Livy again.” – reader Julia
Author Dawn V. Cahill pens “Stories of Victorious Faith for the 21st Century,” nearly always with a crossword puzzle, sudoku, or dark chocolate nearby. “The characters in my stories face situations that would have been unthinkable even 20 years ago. We live in a vastly different world than our parents did, and that’s the world I write about.”
Ms. Cahill also blogs about puppies, substance abuse, and single parenting…sometimes all in the same day. She’s going to finish that novel she started at age 11 called Mitch and the Martians…someday. She has written several newspaper articles, three Christian contemporary novels, and more limericks than she can count. Email her at dawn@dawnvcahill.com, or find her on Facebook. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).

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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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What 47 Looks Like on Me

Posted by Julie on April 8, 2017 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

I’ve been doing this a few years, post-birthday, sharing where I am, how far I’ve come, and where I hope to go.

How 47 Looks On Me

I have to say, 47 is weird. It’s a stone’s throw to 50, and wow, that’s an age I never gave a lot of thought to as a college student. That seems like yesterday.

One problem.

My SON is the college student, not me.

In fact, I just got notice my college reunion, #25, is this year.

Wow.

It’s a year where two of our children, Tom’s first two that I met when they were 12 and 10, are expecting sons this summer. We’re going to be grandparents. Yet, we have a middle schooler. And honestly? I relate more to teens than senior citizens. I’m eligible to be in the senior group in less than 10 years. And I just can’t see myself jumping all in for that. But the youth conferences I’m invited to attend as part of the adults helping out? I love it. Love it.

Weird.

I have to color my sassy red hair monthly, but if I felt it were safe and I had that kind of money, it could be every other week. Red is hard to maintain, but what it covers is white. Snow white. And I am NOT going there just yet.

If ever.

But 46 was a stumble, if not all-out free-fall in confidence. Menopause has been part of my life for years, thanks to surgery. Something about 2016 was a marker for everything to flip on me. Waking every hour. Volcanic temperatures. Voracious hunger. Mood swings I had not had in years. Depression. Anxiety. Weight gain.

So entering 47 is with a bit of trepidation. Thankfully, an endocrinologist helped get my health straightened out and I feel a lot better. But a tiny part wonders if it is short-term. There are times emotionally I feel completely fragile, and I hate it. People need me. And I don’t like spiraling out with no reason except hormones.

Yet, in those tears and exhaustion, so much happened that was GOOD. Our oldest son of the four kids got married to a wonderful woman. Our son graduated from high school and started pursuing education at Kent State. I started my own writing and speaking business/ministry. In three months I released two books in both print and eBook form. Now my hormones rebelling makes more sense…

It’s in writing I feel I’m on more stable ground. When I questioned God if I was doing the right thing, it was at 3:23 in the morning I woke and knew I was supposed to open my Bible to Colossians 3:23.

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Colossians 3:23

I feel free from numbers. Where my books rank. How much money they generate. I want to see readers living free in Christ. This 47th year I am on track to finish my first contemporary romance series with ENGAGED and start the first of six book in my new series about surrendering what others think. I’m not scared. I’m excited.

I take into 47 an amazing piece of wisdom my pastor shared when I doubted I could survive the stress and changes. He told me to picture an arch, and imagine Jesus on the other side. As long as I stayed on one side and Him on the other, a million tons of stuff could be on that arch and it would not break. That held true through all the things I mentioned, plus much more I have not.

It is true as I’ve watched the kids grow in Him through their personal valleys I know all too well: rejection. Loneliness. Depression. Anxiety. Doing the right thing and feeling completely alone. Their pain has been the most devastating thing to observe and feel so helpless. Yet, we’ve had the deepest most intimate prayer times we’ve ever had. In those times, God revealed so many awesome things. Messages of hope. Encouragement. That they are not alone. They are deeply cared for.

I’m 47 and full of hope for the world and people around me. Not because of the election results or new administration, but because there are so many promises I’ve prayed and prayed and believe breakthrough is close at hand. For our family. Friends who are hurting. Ministries that are 1000% ready to give all God asks of them, and have 1% provision as far as the world sees. I don’t know how or when, but I know it’s close.

And I guess to sum it up, it’s the same two words I’d use for turning 47.

I’m ready.

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