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Love Your Spouse Challenge, Day 4

Posted by Julie on August 19, 2016 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

This week I’m sharing my posts from the recent Facebook Love Your Spouse Marriage Challenge. Beyond the pictures, I wanted to be transparent with our story. Perhaps you can relate and need encouragement. I hope this blesses you today!

Love Your Spouse Challenge, Day 4

Love Your Spouse Challenge, Day 4

Love Your Spouse Challenge, Day 4

This is a rare night out with other couples. I can’t remember the date, but our then baby was young and her health wasn’t stable. We lived in a new state with no family around. We couldn’t just get a sitter and go out, and for a long season, we lost “Tom and Julie.” Most of our pictures during this time are of all of us, which I love, but few exist of the two of us. Mothers of Preschoolers, MOPS, helped me so much in this season. If you’re married with young children, don’t forget to date. If you have a special needs situation, understand the divorce rate is high. Make a point to keep dating. Learn what organizations and people are out there to help. You and your spouse are worth it.

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Entangled by Julie Arduini

Entangled

by Julie Arduini

Giveaway ends August 29, 2016.

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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: One Choice a Future Makes by Travis Inman

Posted by Julie on January 22, 2016 in Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |
Book Review: One Choice a Future Makes

Book Review: One Choice a Future Makes

Book Description

Secret societies, dangerous passions, and untold millions await Justin “Flip” Grey when he arrives at a banking conference for a weekend seminar. Little does he know he is being auditioned for inclusion in The Lair, a group of businessmen who influence more than the economy. And they are going to test Justin. Enter Dahlia, the world’s most dangerous temptress, who has been assigned to seduce Justin. He must choose his future: his wife or his passions?

Travis W. Inman then allows Justin to make both decisions, and creates duel realities. In the first, Justin remains faithful. In reality two, Justin becomes “Flip” and chooses the seductress.

One choice a future makes.

This is one those books where you have to remind yourself to breathe. Travis Inman takes one family and offers a look at the fruit and fallout when the husband faces temptation—and the author offers both reactions to play out.

Justin and Connie have been married awhile. He is being courted by a secret organization that knows his weaknesses and asks him tough questions. Suddenly another woman comes on the scene and Justin needs to make a choice.

Justin chooses to flee from temptation and future chapters show the reader how his marriage and family look from that one choice. In this scenario the secret organization continues to play out and it was an interesting read to see all the family went through together.

Flip is an old nickname of Justin’s that’s resurrected during a work conference and the persona he takes on when he decides to take on an “exciting” relationship outside his marriage. The premise reminds me of a Gwyneth Paltrow movie, Doors. The movie explored everything that happened based on the “what if” of a choice.

Flip’s choices and the places it takes his family were hard to read. Hard because I know and love people who are walking this scenario out. I know a Flip, a Connie, a Ginger and a Kevin and my heart broke to watch everything crumble. No one wins when one decides to find excitement outside of marriage. This book spells it out, and does a great job.

I loved the creativity and I was very touched by the author’s honesty. He writes a note at the end, and it is a note I could relate to. It wasn’t long ago I confessed to my husband I had been so battle weary that I felt tempted in ways that had not happened in decades, or I never had been before. Nothing really presented itself, but I knew if I stuffed it and tried to work it out alone, that day would come and I would fail. By sharing with him, my husband realized I was hurting and needed a new level of communication and encouragement. We’ve been walking that choice out, and I’m excited to say we have oneness as we enter our 20th year.

Flip and Connie find nothing but isolation and despair. It’s a great warning, and a fascinating read. I definitely recommend.

To purchase OUR CHOICE A FUTURE MAKES, click here.

I reviewed this out of my own accord as part of my Don’t Miss This Series. I purchased the book on my own and this is an honest review.

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Book Review: Intertwined by Jennifer Slattery

Posted by Julie on October 7, 2015 in Book Review, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

Julie’s Note:
Don’t forget! I’m looking for YOUR thankful thoughts to post here during the month of November. Click here to learn the details.

cover71157-mediumBook Description:

Abandoned by hubby for another woman, Tammy Kuhn, an organ procurement coordinator finds herself in an altercation with a doctor. Now she is fighting to keep her job and her sanity when one late night she encounters an old flame facing an unthinkable tragedy. Because they both find eternal purposes in every event and encounter, they soon discover their lives are intertwined but the ICU is no place for romance….or is it? This could this be where life begins again.

I don’t think there are tougher topics to conquer in fiction, and life of course, than divorce and death. Jennifer Slattery does both with her newest release, Intertwined. Tammy is newly divorced and trying to find a “new normal” with an ex-husband who deeply wounded her and isn’t much help, kids with needs and only one parent at home to help, and a demanding job as an organ donor procurement coordinator.

Nick is divorced and unable to see his kids thanks to a cruel, ex-wife when one of the sons passes away. Tammy, an old flame from high school, is there to walk him through the organ donor process and they get to know each other and help each other through divorce and trusting others again.

I really enjoyed this book. The conflict is there and is on a constant acceleration. It feels awkward and uncomfortable during the tense moments, and I love that, because that means the reader has been put in the scene and is involved. I thought the moments where Tammy’s called to work but needs childcare were especially realistic for a single parent.

What I would have liked is a little more time to dig deeper into the romance between Nick and Tammy. I think as readers we just scratched the surface as a lot of time was on Nick and Marianne. But for all Intertwined represents, Jennifer Slattery did a great job keeping the reader turning the pages.

I definitely recommend.

To purchase Intertwined, click here.

I received Intertwined through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Love Arrives in Pieces by Betsy St. Amant

Posted by Julie on June 23, 2015 in Book Review, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

91MAVt6t4OLBook Description:

Former pageant queen Stella Varland doesn’t trust beauty anymore after her divorce. Her appearance betrayed her and led to brokenness, so instead of being beautiful, now she tries to make beautiful things, but she always falls short. So she keeps her passion for art to herself and focuses on her interior design work. But if she doesn’t get another job soon, she’ll be stuck living with her parents.

 

Contractor Chase Taylor is determined to live a life of no regrets after losing his fiancée. Now he lives life at full speed, striving to see how much he can accomplish. He knows if he slows down, he’ll fall apart. So he returns home to Bayou Bend to renovate the town’s old theater and is shocked to discover that the designer for the project is his old flame, Stella.

 

Forced to work together, Chase and Stella battle their chemistry and past as they struggle to compromise and work together on a vision for the theater. Their wills clash as they attempt to hide their brokenness—and their unresolved feelings for each other—until Chase discovers the hidden parts of Stella, while losing her trust in the process.

A near catastrophe, a fire, and a small-town gossip mill finally force Stella and Chase to realize that they have a choice—to hold on to the shards of their pasts, or surrender their fragmented pieces to the One who makes a beautiful masterpiece from their brokenness.

I’ve read several, if not all of Betsy St. Amant’s books. I loved the premise of this one—two people with a past involving each other have to work together on a restoration project of a movie theater while having even more past the other one doesn’t know about. For Stella, she’s divorced and suffering terrible anxiety because of it. For Chase, he lost his fiancee.

Like a mosaic, pieces are there for a great piece of work. I loved the umbrella aspect of the story, that really stood out to me. But I felt like a piece was missing. That we could get to know Stella a little bit better but we didn’t have access. Like her beauty pageant past we saw a beautiful glimpse of the outside, but didn’t get to know her beyond that. Chase was a bit more developed but I wanted to know and feel more from the both of them.

Their chemistry is great and there’s a lot of conflict to keep the pages turning. It would be a great book to bring to the beach.

To read Love Arrives in Pieces, order here.

I received a copy of Love Arrives in Pieces in exchange for an honest review.

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Thankful: It’s Hard to Pick Just One by Jill Barlow

Posted by Julie on November 18, 2014 in Guest blogger, Life Lessons, Thankful November guest blogger, Writing |

In the beginning of 2013, I felt led to start my own blog. I wrote about God, but nothing in particular. I also ended up going through a divorce that year, which completely changed my life. I was married for 19 years. I was a stay at home mom for a great deal of that time. The last 3 years had been dedicated to my three children, because we pulled them out of public school to home school.

 

As I sit and type this up, I am thankful for so many things. It is hard to pick just one.

 

I am thankful for my Heavenly Father who has gotten me through the rough spots. This  journey we call life is not an easy one. Being a Christian is not a “get out of trouble” free card. We are still going to have hard times. Jesus even said, in John 16: 33, “33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”john16_33

 

It’s not an IF, it’s a WHEN type thing. God is always here for us, no matter what.

 

I am also thankful for my children, friends and family. Without them, I don’t know where I would be. They have made me laugh, hugged me as I cried and told me the truth when I did not want to hear it.

 

God has really moved in my life and heart over the past several months. He has started talking to me in every day ways. I have started writing those things for others to see that He is there, daily. He cares about our daily lives and He just wants to help us make it to tomorrow.

 

Take a moment and think about what you are thankful for. Maybe it’s totally different from me. And, guess what? That’s ok. 

 

ME_edited

 

Jill Barlow is a mom of three, an administrative assistant to two, and a writer. Divorced after a lengthy marriage, she started finding God in her every-day life. Jill says, “God really cares and is interested in talking to us through the little things. Showing people His love and character in a way they might not have ever experienced is my passion.” You can find Jill at www.coffeewithsnoopy.blogspot.com and on Facebook .



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