Book Review: The Plans I Have for You by Amy Parker

Posted by Julie on January 13, 2016 in Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |
The Plans I Have for You Devotional and Journal by Amy Parker

The Plans I Have for You Devotional and Journal by Amy Parker

Book Description:

Part of a new brand in the Zondervan family, The Plans I Have for YOU! is an illustrated 90-day devotional written by bestselling children’s book author Amy Parker and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton, teaching and inspiring kids to dream about their future, to focus on faith, love and joy and recognize that God has a plan and purpose for each and every one of us.

Journal Description:

Part of a new brand in the Zondervan family, The Plans I Have for You journal prompts creative thinking and exploration of the talents and personalities that make us special, and then helps explore how God may use our unique traits to spread love and joy and make the world a better place.

The Plans I Have for You is a great way to teach your 8-12 year old that God cares deeply about you and every aspect of your life. Drawing from Biblical examples, the devotional reminds that God is faithful and He has a wonderful plan for you. Although I felt the devotional was geared toward the younger age, my 12 year old was very drawn to the journal.

Both products are visually stimulated and complement each other well. My daughter loves diary type books so for her, the journal was the bigger draw. However, I went deeper with the devotional and once she knew even more of the stories, she was impressed with the level of faith people took in the Bible when they didn’t know how it would end. I was interested in the message and visuals as well.

I highly recommend The Plans I Have for You. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

To purchase The Plans I Have for You devotional, click here, and for the journal, click here.

I received The Plans I Have for You devotional and journal, sold separately, from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Saturday Confession: The Brave Earmuffs

Posted by Julie on January 10, 2015 in About Me, encouragement, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, Saturday Confession, surrender |

Growing up, I believed a lot of things.

  • I was fat and lazy and of no worth to anyone
  • I was meant to stay in the background and have little to no voice
  • I would always be the smart one, good for an answer, but never the option for the opposite sex

After awhile, I shut down and used all my dreams for my characters. I wore the colors I was told I should adopt and the length of hair and style suggested for me.

Deep down, way deep down, I wanted to be the bold one.

  • The girl with fire-engine red hair and spunk to match
  • The one who could be counted on for a smart answer and a smart man by my side
  • The one who could embrace color in everything about me

earmuffsI’ve come a long way since then and God has really transformed me. My hair has the red and I definitely have a spunk about me. As I’ve watched the so-called pretty girls find man after man, marriage and then divorce, I’m closing in on twenty years with the same man. Something I never dared dream.

But more than that, God gave us a child that doesn’t have the fears I was shackled by. Even in the womb she had sass, moving everytime the doctor tried to get a heartbeat. Refusing to reveal herself until she was ready to debut her gender. At five days old she pushed me to a better position for nursing. She has her own drum, and she’s not afraid to use it.

She’s also had to fight for things I never had to. Like her very life. School isn’t easy for her. But even as I’m watching her evolve into a young lady where she’s paying more attention to her hair and overall appearance, she’s got that flair for boldness I wanted so much as a kid.

Like the earmuffs.

She wanted earmuffs over Christmas break when it was in the 50’s. She knew we were going to have a cold spell and she looked between Upstate NY, PA and Ohio in our travels for a pair. There weren’t any. We return home and she went to the local Justice store and there they were.

The boldest, most confident ear muffs I’ve ever seen.

They draw attention, let me tell you. And I’m watching those that see her with them on.

They aren’t smiling out of mockery.

They applaud her boldness and confidence.

And dare I assume, I think they want a pair, too.

Looking at those ear muffs, I realized how much she’s changed me. I now look for things that sparkle and have some pizazz. I too looked for ear muffs but came out with a little more mainstreamed look. But honestly?

I can feel it deep down, just like I did as a kid.

I want to wear her ear muffs.

See what it’s like to wear cat, furry ears in bold colors.

Do a little cat walk with bravado.

Will I?

Probably, but most likely you’ll never see it.

But it will be my little victory, and I’m going to savor it.



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Book Review: Seeing the Voice of God by Laura Harris Smith

Posted by Julie on January 21, 2014 in Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

God is always speaking . . . even when He doesn’t use words.

We live in a post-verbal society that communicates through images–television, smartphones, the Internet–and our Creator longs to communicate with us visually if we’ll live with our eyes wide open.9780800795689

With absorbing insight, Seeing the Voice of God demystifies nighttime dreams and daytime visions, revealing the science behind the supernatural and giving you a biblical foundation for making sense of what you see. You’ll also:

learn to discern if what you see is from God
study the ten most common types of dreams
discover spirit, mind, and medical tips for better dream recall
interpret dream symbols and imagery
review the best iPhone and Android sleep cycle apps

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book. I am a vivid dreamer with fantastic recall and when I’ve picked up books on dreams before, I found a lot of it new age’ish or vague. Seeing the Voice of God was comprehensive and Biblical. The author is very upfront that the first and best authority when it comes to dreams is asking God Himself. That really impressed me.

She dissects everything using Scripture and her own experiences. I didn’t plan on reading app suggestions for sleep cycles, and I had no idea the dream dictionary would be as exhaustive as it was.

Of all the dream books out there, I’m most impressed with Seeing the Voice of God. I highly recommend it.

To purchase Seeing the Voice of God, click here.

I received a copy of Seeing the Voice of God from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Thankful for the Season by Holly Hrywnak

Fall has always been my favorite season—from the array of colors found in the changing leaves to the fresh-picked crisp apples to the coziness of a worn in over-sized sweatshirt. What’s not to love?

We all go through different seasons in life—from the curiosity of childhood to the angst of teenage love to the contentment of adulthood. Again I ask, what’s not to love? Well, a lot. It’s been an interesting 28 years for me. I use the word “interesting” because nothing else quite fits. I’m not sure there’s a word to describe the many different things I’ve experienced.

At the age of 28, I find myself miles from where I’ve come and still more miles than I’d like to admit from the place I’d like to be. I had thought by now I’d have complete healing from my hurtful childhood that the anger and bitterness would long be dissipated. And yet, here I am. Some days feeling MORE angry, MORE hurt, and MORE bitter.

Then, there’s my singleness to contend with. My high school sweetheart married to the skinny, young, French woman he met while teaching in the romantic European city. He turned from Jesus long ago, and labels himself an atheist. From all outward appearances—he appears blessed. The woman, the job, the life. Or most painful of all, the amazing man I was blessed to love and be loved by has been dead six long years. All of our dreams for the future buried in a grave in the hills of Pennsylvania.

It doesn’t seem fair. And when you look at it like that—it doesn’t seem like much to be thankful for, but I am.

I’m thankful that I experienced a childhood that daily brought me to the arms of Jesus. I lived in constant fear, but I learned to cling to a God who never left. Through every tear, every suicidal thought, every hurtful word He was there drawing me closer to Himself. I learned early on that I could only depend on Him and that He would take care of me.

I’m thankful for the one that got away because it made room for God to bring a man who would show me what genuine faith and unconditional love looked like. Instead of slyly crafted put downs I was lavished with kindness and accepted for who I am. He never asked me to change my appearance, but treasured my gifts and the person God made me to be. And I may still be single, but I’d rather be single than wishing I were.

And some days, not always, I am thankful that in the midst of losing the man I thought I’d spend my forever with that God brings me hope and renewed dreams. God had allowed me to go places and serve in ways that I never imagined possible. He’s brought me friends and family who walk beside me in the valley of the shadow of death and laughed with me while on Cloud 9. I may not be where I had hoped, but I’m thankful for this season. For this time. It’s not always pretty or fun or pain free, but I get to walk through it with a God who knows my most intimate and deepest thoughts and loves me anyway. What’s not to love about that?

 Holly Hrywnak is 28 year old with a dream to write more. She is currently addicted to Nutella, Matthew MacFadyen movies and Pinterest. Her other interests include serving at youth camps and a regional young adult group in her area. Most importantly, she loves Jesus. 

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What I Learned from My Dream–And it Could Be Your Lesson, Too

Posted by Julie on October 17, 2012 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

Don’t forget! I’m looking for your thankful posts to use throughout November.  Learn more here.


It took awhile for me to realize I’ll never be one of those people with normal dreams. Normal people either can’t recall their dreams, or they are mildly entertaining.

Mine are full length movies in HD where I often receive instruction during the dream to apply to my non-dreaming life. They are so vivid and intense I often wake more tired in some ways as when I went to bed.

I’m in an active dreaming season, and it coincides with an intense praying time. 2012 has been wrought with the unexpected, and full of conflict. There is something in me that feels it’s time to take action. Do something. Make a plan and execute it.

And in song, sermon, book, devotions, conversation and dream the answer is the same–be still and know He is God. Trust Him. But doing nothing, or at least what looks like nothing to me, is the main point time and time again. And I’m struggling because it goes against everything I want to do.

Last night I dreamed that I was involved in a mass shooting. I watched a deliberate assassin meticulously aim and take fatal shots at everyone around me. I wanted to run. Oh, how I wanted to run. I wanted to stop “her.” The shooting intensified. I could feel the bullets and I knew everyone else was dead and now the target was me.

Again, my instinct was to run. Escape. Do something, anything.

But I remained still, and I prayed. I could hear myself praying words I didn’t even understand, but my prayers were unceasing. As the bullets increased, even piercing a hat I was wearing (which tips you off it was a dream because I am not a hat wearer, but the praying part of me believes the hat represents a Godly covering over my life) my prayers were bolder, but I was so still it angered the part of me that was observing the dream.

Suddenly, the bullets stopped. The assassin was apprehended and I stood, grief stricken at the carnage. I felt a keen sense of survivor guilt. The killer, bound by handcuffs, called out to me.

“The only reason you’re alive is because you stood still. Everyone else moved, ran, and was active, so erratic and without structure they were the easiest targets. I couldn’t get you because you were unmoving.”

Although the dream continued with me grief stricken by the loss surrounding me and people pointing me out as the only survivor, there was that awake part of me that got it. The dream was strategy. Of all the things I want to do right now, the wisest thing for me to do is to sit still. Pray. Trust. And that will apprehend the enemy of my soul.

I don’t know your circumstances but justice is such an issue and struggle for me. I keep going back to the Lord not understanding my broken wrist. Before I was upset not understanding why it didn’t heal right and why I needed surgery after so long. Currently my cry is not comprehending the financial strain. Because of an insurance issue years ago over medical bills (that God supernaturally provided thousands of dollars for that we didn’t have) I am emotionally paralyzed by medical bills. They are pouring in. And I don’t get it.

I don’t get why good people have been taken out in their prime and absolute destruction surrounds. I’m seeing it time and time again this year, and just like my dreams, I want to stand up, shake my fists and say this isn’t fair. But the bullets are coming closer and the more I want to move, the more God says stay. Don’t go on my own. Don’t get a plan of my own. Any movement on my part only makes me a fatal target.

In my dream the ones who ran or moved without a plan were killed. I survived because I stayed still and prayed.

If that’s your temptation, know I’m there too. So let’s commit to be still in our surroundings. Pray without stopping. Trust God, even when everyone around you seems to have a plan that appears active compared to your doing what looks like nothing. This is the strategy God has for you, and obeying won’t just save your life, it will arrest your enemy.

Glory to His name.

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WFW: The Last Days

Posted by Julie on July 27, 2011 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

Word Full Wednesday! I’m taking an image and a verse from the Bible to give glory to God. I link the post up with the Internet Cafe and read other posts. What a way to spend a Wednesday!








Although I write more about deeper things of faith at The Narrow Gate Invites I think this is something for everyone to read. Those God has called as prayer warriors are having dreams and visions. They are getting strategies and having such vivid dreams that they are dreaming for hours and can recall every part.

How do I know?

I’m one of them experiencing it.

I got together earlier this summer with friends who are intercessors and they all said the same thing. They have NEVER experienced such detailed, deep dreams filled with answers, direction, prayer points and strategies. I’m not a theologian but I have a feeling these things will only increase. I expect to see a lot of Daniel moments—people in the world troubled who call on people like Daniel to interpret as God directs.

I think one of the best kept secrets in the world is that the Holy Spirit gives revelation in ways psychics never will be able to. I know a lot of well meaning people have misused the work of the Holy Spirit but when done with His leading people are set free, encouraged, taught and counseled. Dreams and visions are just part of what God is doing.

I also encourage the masses to know what the media isn’t reporting: Muslims are coming to Christ and one of the main reasons why is they are experiencing visions and visitations from Christ. Third world countries that appear to have nothing are experiencing resurrections and supernatural signs and wonders. Why them? Probably because they have nothing but God. They don’t have the equipment or resources to rely on to heal like we do so they so straight to the Source.

I’m not writing for a moment that I understand all that is going on but like everything else in the Bible, this verse is true.

I don’t know how long the last days are supposed to last. But friends, we are in them.

Are you ready?

You’re invited to join me Thursday at 1pm EST for a webinar book study. We’re going through the NYT bestseller Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst. This week we’re going through Chapters 4-6 and talking about accountability. If you don’t have the book I encourage you to participate anyway. I believe after the webinar you’ll want to run and get the book and participant’s guide. I’d love it if you tell others about this free, one hour a week opportunity.

My Room Link:






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