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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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Surprised by Tears by Teri Wangard

Posted by Julie on September 22, 2016 in encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

Surprised by Tears

Five years have passed since my mom died. Her final years brought significant back pain from a narrowing of the spinal column, or something like that. We used to range far and wide on bicycles; she had to give up bike riding. She stopped driving. She couldn’t even go for a walk. To get anywhere required holding onto someone’s arm.

Her life contracted to the house with visits to the therapy pool at the YMCA.

And then dementia began destroying her mind. She’d put plastic bowls in the oven. She forgot how to spell. Children’s books became her preferred reading.

Staying patient with her wasn’t always easy. When I had full care of her during my dad’s absence, she insisted he didn’t want to bother with her anymore. I kept telling her, he’s on a business trip, he’ll be back. She would not be consoled.

There were times I wished she would die. There is, after all, no more pain or crying in Heaven. She was no longer living; merely existing. A painful, confusing existence. What’s the point in this suffering?

And then she died. She is free from pain and crying and sorrow. But we are not. Five years has passed, and sometimes, still, the grief strikes fresh.

While cleaning the house, I decided to look through the half dozen boxes stacked in the tiny sewing room. They contained remnants of yarn. Mom was a prolific knitter and sewer. As I pulled out the skeins, I remembered their use. I remembered when she fell on ice and broke her arm. She had completed one mitten of a new set for me and wanted to finish its mate before I returned to college after Christmas break. With her arm in a cast, she couldn’t knit, and was so frustrated.

I remembered trying to sew a new top for the first day of a school year. I had to rush off to orientation, my sewing unfinished. I returned home, wondering what I’d wear, and discovered she had finished it.

Holding that yarn, the tears fell. The agony and horror of her last years are fading, and the memories of the good years are pushing forward. And I miss my mom. The mom who could be found in the church kitchen stirring up Kool-Aid during Vacation Bible School. The mom who helped plan and hosted a birthday party for two friends and me, born just days apart, with the church youth group.

She was very much an involved mother. Mom had the gift of service. Had she been old enough during World War II, I could imagine her serving as a Red Cross doughnut girl. For my new release, Soar Like Eagles, I named my main character for her. And I dedicate this book to her.

Carol wants to do her part for the war, but can she maintain her ideals?

Chet joins the air force, hoping to find peace.

Carol joins the Red Cross, serving doughnuts  and coffee to GIs in England. Convinced wartime romances are doomed to disappointment, she avoids entanglements. She transfers to France, away from Chet, the B-17 navigator who tempts her to throw caution to the wind.

Chet’s father and brothers always belittled him. Now a squadron lead navigator, he longs to prove them wrong. He’s been offered a terrific job with PanAm after the war, but has several close calls in combat.

Carol and Chet continually cross paths. Do they dare make plans for a future together?

terri-wangard_editedTerri Wangard’s first Girl Scout badge was the Writer. These days she is writing historical fiction, and won the 2013 Writers on the Storm contest and 2013 First Impressions, as well as being a 2012 Genesis finalist. Holder of a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in library science, she lives in Wisconsin. Her research included going for a ride in a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. Classic Boating Magazine, a family business since 1984, keeps her occupied as an associate editor. Her first two books, Friends and Enemies and No Neutral Ground, were published earlier this year, but the publisher went out of business one month before the third book in her WWII series was to release. All three books will be released by Celebrate Lit later this year.

www.terriwangard.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTerriWangard
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/terriwangard/

 

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Being Thankful in Grief by Sara Nelson

Being Thankful in Grief

My daughter and I were the best of friends. People who didn’t know us often thought we were sisters, because of our cheerful camaraderie. She was an only child, and perhaps, growing up as an army family with my husband often away for extended periods, our bond as a mother and daughter grew uncommonly close. All the more reason why her passing cut so incredibly deep.

2013 was a rough year. Health problems emerged for which we never did find the cause, but she began having seizures. There were financial hardships. Then, she and her husband separated. As 2014 began, we looked forward to a more hope-filled and brighter year. We had just celebrated her 36th birthday. And then, suddenly, she was gone.

When tragedies happen, everyone wants to know why. Why did this happen? I don’t have all the answers, but I do know this. In John 16:33, Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” Life is not always sunny and happy and wonderful. Sometimes, there’s pain. Jesus said himself troubles would come, BUT not to despair. He overcame, so we could be overcomers.

That’s the kind of promise I cling to in my heartbreak. I am thankful for the overcoming grace of God which sustains us, even in this. I am thankful for God’s loving arms which I cling to in my tears. I’m thankful for my relationship with God, and for knowing, before this ever happened, that God is good and kind and loving. He cares, and He carries our grief.

I am thankful for many things. I’m thankful she doesn’t have seizures anymore, and she is completely whole and well. I’m thankful that the cares and heartaches of this world which were such a burden in the last year of her life, no longer plague her. I know she is joyful in the presence of God.

I’m thankful for all the wonderful years of her life we had together. Such good memories to cherish! I might have been childless, otherwise. She was our miracle. I’m thankful for God blessing us with her and for every year of her life.

I’m thankful for what a blessing she was to others. She was a gifted teacher and touched more lives than she even knew. People still come up to us and share anecdotes of ways she ministered to them or their child. I am thankful for her gifts and talents and the precious legacy she left to us.

I had sometimes thought about my daughter’s eventual grief when she would face losing her father and me. I would rather bear this grief for her than that she should have to bear it for us. I’m thankful she won’t have to grieve for us someday.

I’m thankful for this taste of grief, bitter as it is, because I’ve grown so much in ways I might not have otherwise. I never realized how many people are walking through a grief journey of their own. Before, I might have felt compassion, but now, I know what it’s like. It’s true that we are able to comfort others because of the comfort we have received. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

I’m thankful for the promise of heaven for those who trust and believe in Jesus. The movie, Heaven is For Real, came out a short time after her passing, and it blessed us so much. Other books and testimonies have also helped strengthen our vision and understanding of what heaven is like. These things have greatly encouraged and comforted us.

God does not keep every bad thing from happening, but He is very much with us in our sorrow. He comforts, and strengthens, and helps us go on, even when—especially when—we think we cannot. And, that is worthy of thanksgiving.

1378554_10202365435760096_915185415_n_edited Sara Faith Nelson is a retired teacher and aspiring writer. She writes devotions and blogs about her grief journey on her website, Sunshine for the Journey. Many have said they’ve been comforted and encouraged by her sharing. On her Facebook page, she enjoys passing on positive and hope-filled messages. She and her husband live in Arizona. Sara enjoys bird-watching, rock collecting, and adding to her collection of coffee mugs and tea cups.

 

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Saturday Confession: That Face

I’ve mentioned here and there that we have a child with what we deem minor special needs. Her first year was critical and much has stabilized. As she’s maturing, I’ve been preparing myself to watch for new things.

Already lab results have changed and we have a new specialist to call. It would be easy to worry and at times, I fall prey. For the most part, I’ve learned to trust the promise regarding her, that she is an overcomer. And trust the One who gave her that promise and created her. She’s been through so much and has overcome.

In the hardest times where care was constant, her face kept me going. Always smiling. A twinkle in her eye. If she wasn’t falling apart, how dare I? That face continues to encourage me, because it still has that smile that chooses sparkly things, loves to write, and is so creative.

100_0542What I learned not too long ago was that face was also an indicator that something was off. There were so many other things to tend to when she was younger everyone missed the signs. The blessing was most people with that diagnosis also were having seizures, and she never did. Another reason she wasn’t diagnosed as early as others.

Even as her face is something for a specialist to realize there is an issue to monitor, that same face ministers to others. She was maybe six weeks old when I was on a Wal-Mart run. I was used to running in and out but that day, and many, many times after, someone stopped me and because of her face, was drawn in. And they open up and start confessing their lives. My life changed that day. I no longer plan to get in and out of places. God’s often stopped everything to have people start sharing with me. I’ve learned to encourage and pray. She keeps smiling. And lives change.

My life has changed thanks to that face. I too look for sparkles and pizazz. I’m not afraid to try new things. I learned there’s quite a fighter in me because of that face. I realized a face can be a prayer request and a ministry at the same time.

This week I had a lot of unplanned moments where I was listening or sharing in ways I didn’t think would be happening. I got thinking, it all started back at Wal-Mart when that person saw that face and walked over. That this week I have new calls to make and new meds to pick up because of that face.

And it’s worth it.

Note: Her round face is part of what tipped her doctor off that she has albright’s hereditary osteodystrophy. Nothing life threatening, but another issue we manage through prayer, a good doctor, and regular lab work.

 

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Saturday Confession: I Watch THAT Show

Posted by Julie on March 22, 2014 in About Me, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

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A few years ago there was a new show I was hearing buzz about. It was a comedy that I heard a great ensemble cast with sharp writing. It seemed a lot of my peers were watching it, but I had enough shows on my docket and figured one more would do me in.

Then I heard it was edgy and I definitely felt there was a tsk tsk to anyone who called themselves a Christian caught watching it.

I forgot all about it.

Until it started on re-runs.

I watched one show and understood why religious folks weren’t excited. Why my Jesus friends weren’t admitting to watching it.

And why I haven’t been able to stop.

The show?

Modern Family.

I get it. Things get complex when one of the families is not straight. Then there’s the teenager who has admitted she’s chosen to lose her purity. The show hasn’t once pretended to be Biblical and didn’t ask to be the standard for any family to aspire to.

It’s got some sharp and observant writers displaying the reality in and around us.

I laughed until I cried when I watched Claire, a mom around my age, try to change a channel that her techie husband wired together. Why? Because that’s our family. My husband is a programmer and I need three remotes to turn the stinking thing on. I can relate.

Although the similarities end with me and the character Gloria being second wives, there’s a lot of writing in that marriage that resonates with me. My husband is a decade older and sometimes the age means nothing, and other times, it’s a little obvious. And we are able to laugh at those things.

There’s a lot of poignancy in the writing. I’ve teared up when the step-son was in an accident at his step-dad’s workplace and the employee was fired. The child didn’t think it was fair and finally Jay speaks up and says “no one, and I mean no one is going to harm my kid and not pay the consequences.” It was the first time Manny heard Jay refer to him as his kid. Jay reminds me a lot of my dad, and the actor that plays him was one of my dad’s favorite.

Claire and Mitchell talking things out that still hurt from their childhoods. I relate to that.

There’s a friend from my past that is Cam. Watching Cam have a sensitive moment makes me smile. His parenting style against Mitchell’s could be any parent. And as for their lifestyle, even they make fun of how non political they are about it. Now, these are the repeats, so maybe that changed. I haven’t handed in my Jesus girl card, nor have I stopped reading my Bible. But the scenarios are real things out there.

I’ve been struggling, I think putting our house up for sale is bringing back emotions from the last time, and that was when my dad passed away and our baby was so sick. It was horrendous, and I’m extra emotional lately. Tonight I turned on the TV and it was the episode when Jay was trying to return a dog. He was driving around and the more he did, the more the dog grew on him.

And in a voice-over, Gloria talked about how she always wanted a strong man who could say no to her.

When Jay walks into the house with the dog, hands him to the step son and coarsely said “not a word,” Gloria continues. “But instead, I have Jay.” And it’s not a put down.

Modern Family ABC TV photobucket

Modern Family
ABC TV
photobucket

I started to cry. Because that was my family growing up. It’s me now. It’s people in my life. It’s their flaws. Their strengths. Their loyalty to each other. The laughs at each other that bring about a lesson learned where they laugh with each other.

I’m not saying everyone should watch this show. I’m about conviction. If it convicts you, don’t watch. I respect that. My husband said he doesn’t see why I bother. For him, it’s more of a chick show than anything that offends. I promise I’m not on a campaign for readers to start watching.

But my Saturday posts are about confessions. Mine. And I love a show with top-notch writing. Ensemble casts. Emotions that tug. Laugh out loud moments. And people, I watch Modern Family.

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Surrendering Daddy’s Girl

Posted by Julie on May 9, 2011 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

So moms, are you back to the reality of getting up first making breakfast, finding socks and feeding the pets?  Yep, must be the day after Mother’s Day.

I try each year to write about the different facets of motherhood from honoring my own mom to encouraging women with infertility because I have been there.  Although I’m writing a little ahead of schedule I feel like I’m supposed to share something I don’t read too much about but is very real just the same.

When you aren’t daddy’s girl and/or when you’re the seemingly invisible parent raising a daddy’s girl.

Guilty on both counts but I think after a lot of time, prayer and tears, that doesn’t define me anymore.

As a child I was the oldest and wired to be a little ahead of my age and now that I really think about it, a bit of sass to me. If I saw injustice whether I understood it or not I was going to talk about it with a lot of negativity. It’s not a real popular place to be especially if you think there is injustice pretty close by.  I was angry and vocal and there was a lot of baggage. We all did the best we could.  But I knew back then I  was not daddy’s girl.

The praise is that before his death we reconciled and I had the absolute honor of being the last to speak with him. I was able to give him a tribute to send him to his eternal destination where I know I will see him again. I believe that was a God given gift for all the years we struggled and I know he never meant and hated that I came away feeling the things I felt. It truly ended all good.

Then I had a daughter.  As soon as she was placed in my husband’s arms he said, “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to discipline her.”  Although that wasn’t quite true it was close. She was chronically sick as a baby and as any daddy would want, he wanted to meet every need she could possibly have…and then some.

It didn’t take long for her to realize this and take advantage. When she started talking she started wheeling and dealing. Everyone saw it but daddy. She would toddle off to him and ask for something I already said no to.  Then came a time when she was very verbal and made it clear she wished dad was a stay at home dad…and wished I would go to work…and take my sweet time coming home.

This crushed me. I definitely felt like a house divided and I didn’t handle it well.

This year things have improved. Oh she still brings artwork after artwork home for daddy and apologizes that she ran out of time before she could draw anything for me or her brother. When she draws pictures of the family I am finally not just in the picture, but drawn a lot closer to her and daddy.  There was a time she drew me way, way, way off the page.

We’re now at a place where she takes her time coming inside off the bus because she’s stopping to bring me dandelions. I always equate them as weeds taking over a lawn I just mowed or want to mow but this year I’m realizing this is a precious gift I enjoy receiving. Her class had a mother’s day brunch and she made sure I received an invitation but hoped I was recovering enough from surgery to attend. She gives me hugs, tells me she loves me and just this morning had a tude with her dad, something usually reserved for me.

I’m grateful that my dad and I reconciled and very happy that our daughter is embracing me as much as her dad. Thing is, I had to let go of that expectation and the minute I did, things improved.  I had to place myself in the truth that I AM a Daddy’s girl, my heavenly Father.  Just as it is with you, I am His favorite.  I love that He’s so Sovereign we can all be His favorite. If I waited and put all my hopes in being received that way in all my relationships on Earth I believe I would be a bitter unfullfilled person.

Life is too short for that.

If you are a rejected Daddy’s girl, surrender that today because it’s not true.  You are THE Daddy’s girl and He wants to lavish and brag on you for all of eternity. He’s not a far off God who crosses His arms and shakes His head at you in disgust–so far from it. His arms are open waiting to hug you with promises and truths.  You just aren’t in His picture, you are in His arms. As you receive that truth and draw closer to Him and His Son, it will change your life.

Take it from this Heavenly Daddy’s Girl.

 



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