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Saturday Confession: What 44 Looks Like on Me

Posted by Julie on April 12, 2014 in About Me, encouragement, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

For a few years, each birthday I’ve blogged about how I’m feeling about the new age I’m in. I’m a little late on this one, but here it goes.


I’ve noticed 44 is usually the last number on surveys and paperwork before a new age bracket begins.


It’s a small step forward to being closer to 50 than 40.

But for me, 44 isn’t a bad year to embrace.

I’m looking forward to the future while contending for it.

I’m believing God for promises He sealed to be delivered long before I was born.

I’m long past the longing for a baby to hold as my own, and starting to look forward to the day when I hear I’m going to be a grandmother (from Tom’s older children, when they are both married.)

We’re looking for a home that will be our last.

The place where kids graduate and move on.

Where we retire.

Where we entertain our kids and their families.

But first, there’s the now.

Entering new writing projects filled with hope and promise.

Waiting on other writing projects but coming to terms with it.

Trying new things, including a haircut my stylist based, of all people, on Miley Cyrus.

And I wear that hair, with the same attitude I wear 44.

With confidence.



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A Hibiscus “Hug from Heaven” by: Margaret McSweeney

Posted by Julie on December 14, 2013 in encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!

Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.

We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items from the contributors! Enter now below. The winner will be announced on January 2, 2014, at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.


A Hibiscus “Hug from Heaven”
by: Margaret McSweeney

photo-12The flurry of festivities during Thanksgiving weekend came to an abrupt halt as I began the first week of December 2013 with an empty nest. My husband was back at work. My daughters were back at college. And my brother, Claude, and niece, Mary, were back in Alabama and Tennessee.
Bare branches accentuated the overcast gloom in the Chicago suburbs on what marked the third anniversary of my brother Randy’s passing. Randy had been feeding a stray cat on his deck when the fatal heart attack struck.

Walking downstairs, I whispered a prayer. “Lord, I am feeling really sad right now. Please help me experience your joy.” As I walked into the family room, my heart smiled. The pruned hibiscus plant balanced a solitary flower that had blossomed overnight! This was truly a hibiscus “hug from heaven.”

In her book <em>When Grief Is Your Constant Companion</em>, my late mother shared her poignant poem about a hibiscus plant. She wrote this following poem several years after losing my dad to a sudden heart attack while he was in Paris on a business trip.


By Carolyn Rhea

My love, how can it be

That I no longer think of you

Almost every waking moment

And grieve for your loving presence?

There are small spaces of time

When my life is so absorbed in present living

That you are not in my thoughts at all.

How unthinkable!

How sad that I should forget you even for an hour!

But I have not forgotten you, my dear.

You are forever a part of me.

You helped God shape my life

Into my present self.

I carry your love in my heart.

I miss you so very much and always will.

But now I’m caught up in trying to reconstruct

With God’s guidance

A meaningful life for myself.

One in which I can help,

Serve, share, love, grow.

I remember the hibiscus plant

We bought at the annual show.

It was called Teardrops,

For several perfectly-shaped white teardrops

Spattered the broad expanse

Of its gorgeous pink blooms.

How we loved it!

Then later, after it had grown much taller,

We saw a different kind of bloom:

Multitudes of small, sturdy, happy pink blossoms

Swaying merrily in the Florida breeze!

Teardrops had been grafted onto a stronger plant!

We named it Everlasting Joy.

Teardrops still bloomed at the lower level,

But as the plant grew ever upward and outward,

Everlasting Joy bloomed in profusion!

Lord Jesus, when teardrops fall,

Help me remember that through faith

I have been grafted in You –

You, the vine;

I, a branch –

Eternally secure in God’s love through Thee!

Blessed with Thy fullness of joy on earth

And the promise of everlasting joy in heaven!

Thank you, dear Father for sharing your everlasting joy with me today in my solitude. We are not alone in our grief. You are with us.
“Ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.” John 16:20

Margaret McSweeney is well-published author (A Mother’s Heart Knows, Go Back and Be Happy, Pearl Girls, Mother of Pearl, Aftermath), host of Kitchen Chat, and the founder of Pearl Girls™. Through Pearl Girls™, Margaret collaborates with other writers on projects to help fund a safe house for WINGS, an organization that helps women and their children who are victims of domestic violence, and to build wells for schoolchildren in Uganda through Hands of Hope. For the past twelve years she has served on the board of directors and leadership advisory board for WINGS. Margaret lives with her husband and 2 daughters in the Chicago suburbs. Learn more at Margaret’s website.


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