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CD REVIEW: Out of the Dark by Mandisa #GIVEAWAY

Posted by Julie on May 21, 2017 in Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

Out of the Dark by Mandisa

Mandisa wrote her song “Overcomer” in 2013 to encourage her close friend Kisha, who was battling breast cancer. Mandisa really believed and prayed that God was going to heal her, but when Kisha went to be with Jesus in 2014, Mandisa’s foundation was shaken in a way she never expected. She fell into a deep pit of depression for close to 3 years, shutting out her friends, family and the rest of the world. Mandisa believes if she had kept going down that road she was on, she would not be here today… but God stepped in and lifted her out of that pit by using her close friends to communicate their love for her and God’s love for her. This album is Mandisa’s way of letting her fans into her story – it’s called ‘Out Of The Dark’ because that is exactly where God lifted her out of!
You can watch her talk openly about this on Good Morning America last week here: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/mandisa-opens-overcoming-depression-47020463

The first track on Mandisa’s newest CD, OUT OF THE DARK, is a voicemail collage, and the messages set the tone for the journey Mandisa has been on since her megahit, “Overcomer.” By her own admission, the loss of a dear friend, her inspiration for the song, “Overcomer,” took her to a place so dark she isolated herself. Refused visits and calls. Re gained all the weight she had lost. Fought suicidal thoughts. With God’s love and guidance, Mandisa is back and her music is stronger for it.

Right from “I’m Still Here,” there’s something in her voice that conveys the strength in Him she’s gaining from her depression and grief. I don’t know how to explain it, a literal maturity that emanates, and I’m not saying it was something lacking in her before. There’s just something relatable in her words and voice that sends the message she’s not the same as she was. It wasn’t easy, it still isn’t. But God’s there.

This CD is perfect timing and for anyone fighting grief or questioning God, OUT OF THE DARK is a must listen. There are reflective songs and upbeat ones. Each song has a message, and by the end I realized as Mandisa emerges from the dark, she is now the overcomer.

This was an encouragement and blessing to listen to, and I highly recommend it.

YOU have a chance to win a copy! Leave a comment on this post or on social media on why you would like this CD and I will choose ONE US winner. Please leave a way for me to contact you when you leave a comment or I will choose an alternate.

“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.

Story Behind The Album: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Df27myDpm1c

Acoustic Video for “Unfinished”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQFpXcvFI0A

To purchase “OUT OF THE DARK,” CLICK HERE.

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Dr. Michelle Bengston: What to Say When To a Depressed Loved One

Posted by Julie on October 6, 2016 in Julie Arduini |

What to Say When To a Depressed Loved One

by Dr. Michelle Bengtson

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” Proverbs 18:21

What we say to others can either build them up or tear them down. We must take care not to further injure someone in their suffering from something we say.

As a neuropsychologist, I’m witness to the well-intentioned but misdirected words of friends and family to depressed loved ones that only serve to pull them down further.

When people suffer from depression, they often also harbor low self-esteem, guilt, and shame. What they crave is to know they are loved, accepted, and not alone.

Let Scripture help you determine what to say to a depressed loved one: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Here are a few things to say to someone struggling with depression:

-I love you. There is no better time to hear this than when they are struggling to love themselves and wonder if others truly love them too.

-I’m here for you. This is one of the most comforting things you can say to someone feeling alone.

-You are important to me. It’s vital to know they are still acceptable, accepted, and important.

-I’m sorry that you are going through such a painful time. Expressing your sorrow for their pain communicates that you care, even if you don’t fully understand.

-Is there something I can do for you? This communicates your willingness to help and just your offer will lend comfort and encouragement.

-You may not believe this now, but you won’t always feel this way. The depressed individual often needs reminding that there is hope.

-We will get through this together. This communicates your acceptance, and your love.

-Nothing. Actions often do speaker louder than words. I remember when Job encountered great hardship. Job 2:13 says his friends came and sat with him for seven days and nights. During that time, they didn’t speak a word because they saw how great his pain was. Words could do nothing to help his misery, but their company spoke volumes.

Remember, when you are speaking to a depressed loved one, your goal is to encourage and uplift them. “But if it were me, I would encourage you. I would try to take away your grief” (Job 16:5 NLT).

How will you encourage a loved one today?

~+~

DrMichelleAuthor, speaker and neuropsychologist, Dr. Michelle Bengtson combines her professional expertise and personal experience with her faith to address issues surrounding medical and mental disorders, both for those who suffer and their family. She offers practical tools, affirms worth, and encourages faith. She blogs regularly on her own site: http://www.DrMichelleBengtson.com

 

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Love Your Spouse Challenge, Day 3

Posted by Julie on August 18, 2016 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

Earlier this month I participated in the Facebook Love Your Spouse Challenge because I wanted to encourage others. I believe I still need to do that, so I’m sharing my posts here. May it give you hope!

Love Your Spouse Challenge, Day 3

I know there are folks out there pointing out this challenge shows the smiles and not the hard times marriage brings. That’s why I’m doing this. To be authentic and to give hope. Marriage and parenthood is the toughest thing I’ll ever be involved in.

Love Your Spouse Challenge, Day 3

Love Your Spouse Challenge, Day 3

This is February 1998. I’m pregnant with Brian and my smile is fake. I’d been so sick for the first trimester, I was still trying to find “normal.” I’d been in a car accident that nearly totaled our new van. I/Brian walked away without a scratch, but it took an emotional toll. My hormones were a mess and I received the message that I was a failure for nearly killing our child with the accident. I now know I was depressed (hormonal imbalance has always been an issue, I just didn’t know it for a long time) and a form of PTSD from the accident. I isolated myself, hiding in our bedroom because I was so ashamed to feel this way during such a happy time. Tom didn’t know what to do, so he left me alone.

If this sounds familiar to you, learn from us. I might have to initiate the talk, but it is worth it. Be honest. Explain you don’t need him to fix you, just listen. If you need a hug, say so. If you need to snot on their shoulder, say it. I encourage you to pray together. It’s talking, not fancy talk or religious speak. That is a powerful tool in your arsenal to break isolation.

We came out stronger (after a long time, it was a process) because of this and from that accident came Brian’s name. Brian means strong, and we chose Paul as a reminder that God can use the most impossible people, and once chosen, you might have an issue/thorn that makes it hard to be used, but be available—and watch Him do mighty things through you.

And that’s why I’m doing the challenge! Thanks, Susan, for tagging me. If you want to play along, please do!

***

Time is running out! Don’t miss my Goodreads giveaway. Details below.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Entangled by Julie Arduini

Entangled

by Julie Arduini

Giveaway ends August 29, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

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Book Review: The Second Half by Lauraine Snelling

Posted by Julie on July 16, 2016 in Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |
The Second Half by Lauraine Snelling.

The Second Half by Lauraine Snelling.

Bestselling author Lauraine Snelling shares a heartfelt story of a couple who put their plans for a peaceful retirement on hold to assume guardianship of their young grandchildren.

Mona and Ken Sorenson are approaching the best years of their lives. Mona’s greatest concern is that Ken will learn of the surprise party she’s planning for his retirement from his job as Dean of Students at Stone University. They’ve already been making plans to travel, spend limitless hours in the garden, and Ken is looking forward to working on his woodworking and fishing with his grandchildren. It’s what they deserve after years of careful planning.

But things begin to unravel when Ken learns that office politics are about to destroy his department. Can he really just leave, abandoning the work he spent a lifetime achieving? Mona is eager to build her event planning business with Ken’s help, but rather than supporting her, he expresses concern that the stress of the work will send her back into the depression she struggles with.

Then, just days before Ken’s last official day of work, their son, a Special Forces officer in the Army, learns he’s being immediately deployed on a six-month mission in Pakistan. Since his wife left him, the only people he trusts to care for his two young children are his parents. In an instant, everything Ken and Mona spent their lives planning changes, and they will need to find strength, both physical and mental, to become parents once more. This is not the second half they wanted, and when their son fails to contact them as planned, they struggle to trust that it is God’s plan, not theirs, that matters most.

THE SECOND HALF is a very realistic look at what I know is happening with baby boomers across the country. Ken is ready to retire and Mona is close to taking on a project she’s always wanted. They have fought hard for this season, including Mona’s depression.

Their son calls, and he’s been called overseas by the military. His ex wife wants nothing to do with their children, and the kids need a home. Between the divorce and his military lifestyle, the kids are hurting and scared. They need the stability their grandparents can provide.

I was immersed in this book because it was so realistic to me. The conflict never stopped, and I wanted to see how Ken and Mona would fare. I enjoyed that they weren’t perfect. Ken was trying to find a balance in retiring when his place of employment wasn’t doing well. Mona carried fears her depression would return. The grandchildren had issues.

The only minor problem I had in the book was the names were a bit complex and I was distracted wondering how they were pronounced. It’s so minor though, these characters will feel like family to you. I had tears by the end. I think you will, too.

To purchase THE SECOND HALF, click here.

I received THE SECOND HALF from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Original Design by Denise Buss

Posted by Julie on March 4, 2016 in Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

Book Description:

Original Design by Denise Buss

Original Design by Denise Buss

You can’t simultaneously be who God created you to be and the person Satan molded you into.
We are perfectly designed by God. He drafts our blueprint with distinct characteristics, traits, gifts, and talents and stamps it on our spirit before we are born. Unfortunately, Satan often succeeds at concealing our true identity when we are young. He uses an array of influences such as our family, our culture, and even the Church to wound and scar us. This not only stifles God’s original design, but we end up engraved with Satan’s trademark. We don’t realize that we’ve been altered because much of Satan’s work is either subtle or completely invisible.
The Refiner’s fire can expose the HIDDEN SECRETS of the heart!
Do you think the past can’t be changed because the damage is done? Spiritual destruction can be undone because in Christ, you have redemption from all of Satan’s work, including the impact it has on your heart, the reactions it produces in you, and even his work that becomes a part of who you are.
In this book you will witness how God’s truths destroy the lies of the enemy and heal the unseen wounds of the heart. You will discover in a radical way how God can break the spiritual bondage that holds you captive. Invite the Holy Spirit to reveal where your blueprint has been distorted and allow Him to restore you back to God’s original design. Only then can you be who God created you to be and do what He created you to do. This is your true freedom in Christ!

This is a powerful account from Denise Buss regarding her journey from a less than perfect childhood to a decent into alcohol, promiscuity and drugs, to a relationship with Christ where she was desperate for emotional healing. She shares how spiritual warfare was so intense that she asked her sister to care for her adopted daughter for fear of her daughter’s safety. There was depression to the point that Denise considered ending her life.

Through those battles, Denise has a pastor friend that is wise in prayer strategies that gives her the tools to find healing and restoration in Christ.  He is a major factor in the book and Denise credits him for being gracious with his time, prayers, and wisdom as he shared with her time and time again.

The writing is strong and her story is gripping. The book description lead me to believe I’d be reading a book that gives strategies in the theme of something you might read from Chuck Pierce or Dutch Sheets. Instead, Original Design reads more like a memoir. It’s still powerful, though.

One issue I have that I think deserves a mention in the book is I have received training in spiritual warfare/deliverance ministry and rule number one, especially if you have a history of promiscuity and insecurity, is to receive prayer from someone of the same sex. If you are with someone from the opposite sex, you bring someone from your gender with you. It’s wisdom and accountability and I’ve seen just as many accounts written from people who failed to do this, and it took the prayer times to a dangerous place. Denise makes it clear Ed is like a brother figure and not once do I ever see where he crosses a line. However, I think it warrants a warning concerning anyone considering adopting her approach.

She features information on salvation and Baptism of the Holy Spirit that are helpful. There is of course a lot of talk of demons and battling them through prayer.

If you enjoy stories that show the freedom Christ gives, especially through times of torment from the enemy, you will enjoy ORIGINAL DESIGN.

To purchase ORIGINAL DESIGN, click here.

I received ORIGINAL DESIGN in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Character Confession: What I Wish the World Knew About Depression

I was stunned to open my Facebook feed and find it full of tributes to Robin Williams. I knew he wasn’t even 65, so I wondered if it was his heart. I was devastated to read and now know it was a suicide.

His family shared that he had been struggling with deep depression. His own confessions regarded his addictions. I love to read biographies and such and most of the great comedians had ravaging inner pain. Many medicate with alcohol or drugs. All in that category used humor, and we found it entertaining.

Robin Williams photo: London DSCN1435.jpg

I suspect his death is especially hard because his talents knew no bounds. Hysterical stand-up. Oscar winning drama. Laugh out loud interviews he hijacked. Touching tributes to causes and people like St. Jude’s. TV. Movies. I can’t think of another person like him, not before, not up-and-coming.

Now my Facebook feed is full of posts, articles, updates and comments regarding depression, suicide, God’s word, eternity. I don’t think any of these help his family. I pray something does. I can’t imagine the torment of anyone left behind after a suicide.

My hope is that through my small experience with depression someone might get a glimpse of what it is like. It took decades for me to realize I had hormonal imbalance. I suffered with severe PCOS, so I’m not sure if the two were related. But when I was in a certain time of the month I could feel a change and it was as ominous as a dark cloud and still night in the midwest. Nothing would be wrong otherwise and a thick veil of darkness consumed me. I was rocked with shame, for what, I don’t know. But it perpetuated knowing people needed me. The physical drain, almost like a vaccuum suck somehow took all energy and joy out of me left it impossible to manage the easiest of tasks. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to. I simply could not. Like I said, it was absolutely consuming.

This would hit hard for twenty minutes straight. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but I’ll be real here. It was such an intense darkness that I can think of many times I got a suitcase out and started to pack. I thought if I ran somewhere, anywhere, my family would be free of what my torment delayed them in having.

Three times I can recall walking to the medicine cabinet. I picked up pills and stared. I knew what I was contemplating but I was that void of hope and that full of desperation. And yes, this was as a Christian, and a strong one at that.

I longed for someone to bust in the door when I’d hide and tell me I was worth it. Who would hold me and let me cry or ooze the darkness out in whatever way. No one did. For those closest to me, they admitted they didn’t know what to do. They thought I wanted to be alone. I felt like I had no choice.

My story has a happy ending, and it is only by the grace of God. I finally broke down and confessed everything to my doctor. I now take a prescription medication that balances my moods and curbs menopause effects. Even with a hysterectomy, I still struggle. I’m upfront when I’m having a hard time. It’s not as dark or isolating but I get frustrated. My memory isn’t what it used to be. I have trouble sleeping. I tire easily than I used to. But it’s no where near where it was.

What do I wish the world knew?

1. It’s the darkest, most isolating and oppressive experience in the world. If you haven’t experienced it, you shouldn’t give answers as an expert.

2. It’s a vicious cycle, always looming. Just when you start to crawl out of the pit, there is a tug on your ankle threatening to pull you down and keep you there. It is frightening.

3. Isolation is the game plan of oppression. Love the person, no matter how much they protest, that they are going out with you for coffee. Show up with bagels. They will say they are busy and fine. Show up anyway.

4. If you’re not sure what to say, admit that. Transparency is an oasis. Patronizing, packaged answers are a wasteland. I didn’t feel better when I heard “I don’t know what your problem is.” Or, “You just need to snap out of it.” If I could have, I promise you, I would have led the way.

5. Jesus Christ CAN set you free. I admitted above that even as a Christian I struggled, so I get that you might argue why bother? Because without Him, I promise you, I’d be a dead statistic. Knowing HIm gave me enough hope to speak out, to call and seek help. I could picture Him next to me, weeping with me. That helped me so much. He is real, He is for you. Don’t go another step without Him.

To learn more, please visit the following: peacewithGod.net

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First appeared at Christians Read



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