Hi! Remember me? I’m the author of this blog. It’s been so long I feel like I need to re-introduce myself. I look like this:
This blog was my first, my baby, the one writing vessel I clung tightly to as I sought publication. In the last couple years as I followed God’s call to have my own writing and speaking ministry (and released four books,) this little blog hasn’t featured my own voice for a long time.
And I hate that.
I miss it.
I hope to catch you up with this post, and most importantly, kick off what I think might be the 10th year of the thankful series here at juliearduini.com. Each November I hand the blog over to anyone wishing to share why they are thankful. There are some great guest bloggers lined up with amazing gratitude. I don’t know about you, but I feel this is a critical juncture at this time, in this world.
I need to hear positive words. Encouragement. Affirmation. Thankfulness.
Why not start here?
If you aren’t subscribed to the blog, click to the right sidebar and you will be able to receive the posts to your inbox. You don’t want to miss the thankful series, trust me!
This year hasn’t been horrible, but it’s been hard. I figured I’d be thankful for the good, the bad, and the ugly.
- We have two grandsons! They both live in the same state (sadly, not the state we live in,) and are very close in age. It’s going to be so much fun watching them grow up together.
- Our daughter is thriving. She has braces, she is on student council, and bouncing back after a brutal 7th grade experience.
- Our son is doing well as a sophomore at Kent State. This semester he’s 100% online, and that’s been such a blessing for me with various projects.
- We have a wonderful family living in our rental property. God did an amazing thing orchestrating it.
- I finished the Surrendering Time series, and am grateful for the readers who have been transformed by the surrender messages.
- I received an invitation to join Inspy Romance, and love being a monthly blogger with them.
- I created a community of encouragement called 180 Encouragements. For us, we pick a slip each school day and start it with words of life. It’s also for anyone else to take the images/words and encourage someone else.
- My word for the year is transformation and I never thought I’d see so much change hit so fast and hard. Our son saw so much change with friendships, school, and work. What was hard to watch was knowing he’d done all the right things. It was Christ refining him, growing him. As a mom, it was tough to observe.
- As I mentioned, our daughter did not have a great 7th grade year. Like her brother, she was doing the right things and there were key people around her who destroyed the joy she so naturally carried.
- Car repairs. My husband’s retirement was on the table as something to talk about with a timeline. Then the transmission on his car went. The repairs were crushing. Our son’s car had a major repair that was a fire hazard, and the dealer really could have cared less when I brought it to their attention, making us pay $200 more than they quoted, and that quote was outrageous. Retirement? We can’t even afford for him to talk about it anymore.
- We had a situation where we trusted and got burned. It was a financial gift that was a sacrifice for us that cost us thousands in the end. More than that, it paralyzed us from trusting for a bit. It forced us to work on restoring property we didn’t have time or money to invest, but we had to. Things we lent that were nearly or brand new were lost or destroyed.
- Not even a week into the new year and we learned that our friend’s three year old daughter was taken from them through the actions of a refugee who received her license although she can’t speak or read English. Before this tragedy, she had already been cited for driving down the wrong way. In this instance she hit both the girl’s father, and the girl, while her friends from pre school witnessed it. The driver was not cited, and last I knew, has her license and is still driving. I don’t want to be political, but I will be real—this aspect of the refugee debate has not been discussed, and it is a real issue. No one should have to attend a funeral for a child. No. One.
- All the changes with the kids took me to a new place I had not known outside of hormone imbalance, anxiety. I feared new situations for them and wanted to be one step ahead. I wanted to take their pain and wrap it in a ball and throw it all away. I yearned to talk to the people who hurt them, intentional or not, I wanted to have the last word. I was exhausted even after sleeping, craved sugary foods again, and felt like I backtracked in health progress from last year.
- So many tragedies this year. Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Terrorism. Division. Ugly isn’t a strong enough word.
It’s hard to be thankful for the bad and the ugly, but as much as I can be for these hard and even terrible things, I am. With the kids, I had to lean on God and trust Him. Instead of acting on my temptations, I was able to wait on God and watch Him work wonders. And He is. I still have a quick seize of fear when something new or shocking comes our way, but my time is shorter in surrendering that fear to Him instead of trying to tackle it for myself.
With our friends, they are grieving, understandably. I am thankful to see they have a very strong support system. They created a page on Facebook encouraging people to do acts of Kindness in Regan’s memory. Their goal is for her not to be forgotten. There is also space dedicated to Regan at The Wild Animal Park in Chittenago, New York. Families can now have a seat and photo opportunities at a place Regan loved. Many people came together to make this happen. Recently, people are painting rocks and hiding them as another way to honor and remember her. These are ways to make the goal a reality, and help her family.
These days, it’s hard to be thankful. I haven’t met anyone this year who has boasted of a perfect life. There is hurt and hardship everywhere. Thankfulness makes a difference and is a choice. I pray the posts throughout this month lift you up.
Just like you have for me.
Look at these great book choices. Which one has your attention?
Good, Clean, Murder: A Plain Jane Mystery by Traci Hilton
Living on her own for her first time, Bible school student Jane cleans houses to make ends meet. But being independent brings big trials, like falling for a handsome professor, dealing with an obnoxious roommate, and then there’s the dead bodies…
In book three of the McKenna’s Daughters series, Catherine McKenna begins a journey to find her lost sisters that turns into a spiritual journey for the entire McKenna family and leads her to the love of her life.
Army veteran Drew Presley will stop at nothing to find the answers behind his wife’s murder. But will those answers destroy the life he’s made for him and his son?
The last thing Jeff Scott wants is to end up like his vigilante predecessor, Jim, by letting a life of violence and evil get the better of him. So, in a pursuit to find the path less traveled, he seeks the truth about Jim and the life he led before the two joined forces.
Love’s Journey Home is the story of how the families of Bliss Creek’s Amish community learn to be still and listen for the Lord’s direction and then act on faith that His plan will lead them to a long awaited new life.
Every Sunday it’s a joy to share my own amateur nature pictures along with my thoughts on God’s love for you.
I took this the hottest night of the summer where the humidity was panting at 81%. I spent the day in and out of stores getting groceries and school supplies. I needed new brakes. It was one credit card (check card) transaction after another, one in the sultry outdoors moment to the chilled hum of the A/C inside. I overdid it, didn’t have enough to drink and was just plain spent. I was in tears before I was finished unpacking groceries.
Fast forward two hours. My husband prescribed time in the pool alone to help me calm down. I finish my workout and look in the sky.
What do you see?
But wait, there’s more.
To the neighbors it’s most likely some “tower” to give more juice to their HAM radio hobby. Or something techy.
To me, it was a cross against the sunset saying I’m in control. I’ve got the heat and the humidity on my radar. Just like Iraq and Afghanistan. Same for the back to school supplies I’m worried about. The hurting families I know. The slave trade market that robs children of everything innocent about them.
The cross covers. If you’ve never heard someone explain what makes Jesus so important that people still fight and die over Him, He covers what we can’t. Imagine a chasm. One side you stand, wishing to get to the other where eternity in heaven lies. Treasures like peace, kindness, love, joy, self-control, meekness and faith live within you IF you can bridge the gap.
But you can’t. No matter how good you are, how hard you try.
That’s where Jesus covers.
He was more than a teacher. He is a Savior that lived on Earth a perfect life. Not one cuss word, not one lie, not one fudge on His taxes, no regrets. No sin. None. His purpose was to come, love, save and return one day as King of Kings.
And…bridge that gap.
No matter how bad your day is, what your worries are, won’t you embrace the cross? Let Jesus cover the chasm.
So you can enjoy the sunset.
It took me years after having a real “let’s be friends, I believe in you” relationship with Christ before I understood Good Friday. I’m sad to see most people either not understand or even care why such a day exists. Lord help us that it would always mean more than part of Spring break.
I was perplexed by the thought that Good Friday was good. What was so good about Jesus dying on the cross? After watching Passion of the Christ I was even more disturbed. He endured so many violent gruesome things for no good reason. I couldn’t get over it.
I asked Him about it in prayer and as only He can, He whispered the answer that satisfied my confused heart.
Good Friday is named as it is not because anyone wants to attribute violence and death with good but because without Friday, there would not be Sunday. He didn’t deserve any of it, not even a trillionth of a second’s worth. But out of love, a deep, unmeasurable love for you, me, everyone, He went there. He took it. He endured it all to death, for our good.
Because we fall short. On our best day we’re still coming up empty on our own. We can do good things for every second of the rest of our lives and it still won’t equal what Jesus did, who He is, and what He feels for you. None of those things are good, as hard as we try.
Good Friday is a reminder of the amazing Savior He longs for you to know. The nail marks are there, but He is no longer bound. To have a resurrection, you need to have a death. We never could fit the bill and Jesus knew that even in the manger. Nothing that happened to Him that Good Friday was personally good for Him. It was life saving for us. We just need to choose not only to see Good Friday that way, we need to choose to know Him on a personal level by acknowledging Him as a sinless Savior. I made that choice in 1992.
I understand Good Friday so much better now and I love how someone defined how Christians should see it: a “humble celebration.” Because for all the not so good things Jesus bore that Good Friday.
Resurrection Sunday for those that know Him is really, really great.
The video hopefully below is about 6 minutes long but I thought well done. Parents please watch this first before deciding if your child should watch. Although there is not gore per se, there are heavy themes. If the embed doesn’t work, the link is here.
If you would like to know more about knowing Christ as a friend, please click here.