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Thankful for Perspective

I'm thankful for perspective.

I’m thankful for perspective.

I don’t know how to explain it, but I had a feeling in the pit of my stomach 2016 was going to be a long haul.

Some things I knew were happening—a wedding in the same time frame as a graduation. A child’s genetic testing. Another child transitioning from high school to college.

But, as the year unfolded, there were plenty of surprises.

  • I felt a stirring I attribute to God that I was to my own ministry/business as an author and speaker. By February, I was moving forward with Surrendered Scribe Media. By March, ENTRUSTED was re released and ENTANGLED was released.

 

  • My husband changed his job. I had a feeling this was coming, but what I didn’t anticipate was his working from home much of the time.

 

  • My father-in-law passed away in July. The kindest man, talk about a huge void.

 

  • Grief from loved one’s choices I couldn’t control (and still can’t!)

 

  • A complete flip in health that was hormone/menopause related. It hit me HARD.

 

It was rough, and I honestly wanted to define the year that way. However, the word for my year is perspective, and I’ve really tried to apply that. I see why it is the word for me, because I learned a lot.

 

The absolute fear and anger I had over my husband being home on “my” schedule also offered a lunch partner at times, and help when I wasn’t able to get our child from school.

 

Watching God grow our loved ones closer through as they listened to us share with transparency regarding choices. Had I stayed grief-stricken, I don’t think God could have used us. Seeing it in time as an opportunity instead of devastation changed everything.

 

I’m sure there is more I’m not seeing yet, but perspective definitely helps me move forward and not dwell on the negative. As we wind the year down, we also had a very thankful Thanksgiving. Not only are we surviving all these things, but we learned Tom’s oldest daughter is expecting. It’s the first grandchild for us, and we are thrilled for her and her husband.

What are you thankful for this year? Do you think of perspective at all? How?

 

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Thank God for Memory by Patti Shene

THANK GOD FOR MEMORY

Two deaths in the space of four months—first my mom in February, then my husband in June—labels 2016 a tough year in my history book.

Death of a loved one is never easy, but to experience two losses in such a short period of time is like having the ambulance transporting you after a car wreck you just survived T-boned on the way to the hospital.

You’ve barely had time to catch your breath from the first gaping wound when another is inflicted.

Grief is nebulous, yet poignant; crippling, yet cleansing; personal, yet universal.

The last word that comes to mind when hearing the word “grief” is “thankfulness.”

Yet, would grief exist if joy, happiness, and love had not precluded it?

When I struggle to put grief in perspective with the goodness of God, I am drawn to the book of Job. We all know of the misery he suffered, the unspeakable sorrow he bore, the devastating despair that enveloped him. Yet, how did he respond?

His wife said to him, “You are still as faithful as ever, aren’t you? Why don’t you curse God and die?”

10 Job answered, “You are talking nonsense! When God sends us something good, we welcome it. How can we complain when he sends us trouble?” Even in all this suffering Job said nothing against God – Job 2:9-10

dorothy-k-shene_editedIt was harder to accept my mom’s death than I thought it would be. I was so sure I was “ready” when Mom passed. Although mentally keen as a knife drawn across a sharpening stone, physical maladies, pain, and exhaustion warned us her days on earth were nearing their end. To be honest, my sister and I prayed for her relief from suffering.

Since her death, too many moments have come and gone that I wish I could share with her. The fact that I can’t produces a dull ache, kind of like the nag of an arthritic joint on a cold, cloudy day.

Although we had been forewarned of the gravity of his condition, my husband’s passing was much more difficult to bear. Reports from the surgical suite were optimistic, so much so that I went to the hospital chapel and thanked God for his mercy in bringing Manuel successfully through yet another surgery. It was upon my return to the waiting room that I was informed he had suffered cardiac arrest and was unable to be revived, despite heroic efforts by the surgical team.

Kind of reminds me of Job in a remote way. I’m sure that iconic Biblical character asked more than once how life could be so good one moment and so bleak the next.

The loss of my husband has inflicted a more acute, more frequent pain that throbs like a knife slash to the gut. His death has forced me to examine myself as a widow, a self-sufficient woman, and a child of God.manuel-pat_edited

The drug that renders my pain bearable through both of these losses is memory. Sure, photographs, videos, greeting cards, and conversations with others whose lives they also touched trigger vivid recall of the part these loved ones played on my life stage.

Yet, it is the intimate moments of laughter and tears, triumphs and failures, dreams realized and hopes dashed, shared within those relationships that bind me to Mom and Manuel across the span of time. Without that treasure trove of deep seated memories that allows me to drink my fill, the pain would be so raw that it would surely crush my spirit under its weight.

There is much in my current circumstance that I have to be thankful for, but the one gift from God that stands out most prominently for me during this stretch of my life journey is memory.

My sentiments about this blessing are reflected in the following poem, recited by me at my mom’s funeral service and printed on my husband’s memorial card.

God gave us memory,

A dear and precious gift,

That on our darkest day

We could receive a lift.

 

He knew we’d suffer pain

Along life’s rocky fall,

And so He gave our brain

The power to recall

 

Our loved one’s tender smile

Or kind, devoted touch,

The guidance thru each trial

That fueled our love so much.

 

Though gone from here below

And where we cannot see,

Love leaves our heart aglow

Thanks to our memory.

 

So when your day is long

And sadness in you burns,

Your loneliness is strong

And there seems nowhere to turn

 

Take a moment from the day

To get down on your knees,

Bow your head to pray

“Thank you, Lord, for memories.”

Patti Shene

Can you find thankfulness in any grief you may have experienced this year?

Patti Shene is thankful for memories.

Patti Shene is thankful for memories.

BIO: Patti has had short work published in two anthologies and local publications. She has three novels in progress. She has conducted workshops at Christian Writers conferences and served as an editor with a small publishing company. Patti loves to promote writers, both published and unpublished, on her two blogs, Patti’s Porch and The Over 50 Writer. She shares stories through personal interviews of those who have found their way from a dark place back to light or those who help others back to light on her weekly Blog Talk Radio show, Step Into the Light.

Patti lives in Southeastern Colorado and is fortunate to reside in the same town as her daughter and fifteen year old granddaughter, her only grandchild. Still, her heart brims with memories of the Adirondack North Country of New York, where she spent many childhood vacations and still returns periodically to visit family.

Website-www.pattishene.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/PattiShene

Facebook – http://ow.ly/QN1u306koqf

Facebook (Step Into the Light page) –  http://ow.ly/CRNS306koSJ

Blog talk radio show http://www.blogtalkradio.com/stepintothelight

 

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Book Club Launches Tuesday

Posted by Julie on October 10, 2016 in About Me, Book Review, encouragement, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender, Writing |

fall-book-club-1_edited

When I was sent to the assistant principal’s office in middle school it wasn’t for mouthing off or fighting. Nope, I got in trouble for reading ahead.

Story of my life.

Reading remains my favorite relaxation. Although most of my time is invested in writing, I love sitting down with a good book. I long to talk to people about it.

Starting Tuesday, I’m combining writing and reading by launching my Fall Book Club. My plan is to connect with fellow readers and start reading and discussing my first contemporary romance, ENTRUSTED. We will discuss the chapters, and I’ll share behind-the-scenes features with characters, chapters, plot, and the Adirondacks. I’ll talk about the writing process. Some weeks will feature other authors and an interview with them, as well as “free surprises.” Once we finish ENTRUSTED, we’ll move onto ENTANGLED. Hopefully, ENGAGED will be after that. If not, we will read the third installment of the Surrendering Time series. I also look forward to reading books from my favorite authors.

Tuesday’s meeting is a kick-off with no reading required. I want us to get to know each other and I’ll release the reading schedule. After that, we’ll meet weekly.

Here’s more information:

The Surrendering Time series is an entertaining yet reflective adventure to the Adirondack Mountains. Each book takes an element of time (past, present, future) and explores through flawed and humorous characters what a surrender journey looks like.

In ENTRUSTED, Jenna Anderson leaves her Ohio hometown for the unknown in Speculator Falls. She’s determined to make her new job as senior center work and become one of the locals.

Ben Regan’s family is the backbone of Speculator Falls and he’s made a vow to protect the rural village. When his grandfather passes away and his former girlfriend leaves without even saying goodbye, Ben’s determined to prevent further transition in his life.

But Jenna produces a lot of change for Ben in a book about surrendering the present fears we have about change and wanting to belong.

BOOK CLUB KICK-OFF:

Tuesday, October 11, 8pm, EDT
Julie Arduini’s Facebook Author Page
Format: I’ll paste a graphic a few minutes ahead of time saying that all our discussion will take place under the picture. You might need to refresh, if so, hit F5.

To purchase ENTRUSTED: click HERE.

 

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Surprised by Tears by Teri Wangard

Posted by Julie on September 22, 2016 in encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

Surprised by Tears

Five years have passed since my mom died. Her final years brought significant back pain from a narrowing of the spinal column, or something like that. We used to range far and wide on bicycles; she had to give up bike riding. She stopped driving. She couldn’t even go for a walk. To get anywhere required holding onto someone’s arm.

Her life contracted to the house with visits to the therapy pool at the YMCA.

And then dementia began destroying her mind. She’d put plastic bowls in the oven. She forgot how to spell. Children’s books became her preferred reading.

Staying patient with her wasn’t always easy. When I had full care of her during my dad’s absence, she insisted he didn’t want to bother with her anymore. I kept telling her, he’s on a business trip, he’ll be back. She would not be consoled.

There were times I wished she would die. There is, after all, no more pain or crying in Heaven. She was no longer living; merely existing. A painful, confusing existence. What’s the point in this suffering?

And then she died. She is free from pain and crying and sorrow. But we are not. Five years has passed, and sometimes, still, the grief strikes fresh.

While cleaning the house, I decided to look through the half dozen boxes stacked in the tiny sewing room. They contained remnants of yarn. Mom was a prolific knitter and sewer. As I pulled out the skeins, I remembered their use. I remembered when she fell on ice and broke her arm. She had completed one mitten of a new set for me and wanted to finish its mate before I returned to college after Christmas break. With her arm in a cast, she couldn’t knit, and was so frustrated.

I remembered trying to sew a new top for the first day of a school year. I had to rush off to orientation, my sewing unfinished. I returned home, wondering what I’d wear, and discovered she had finished it.

Holding that yarn, the tears fell. The agony and horror of her last years are fading, and the memories of the good years are pushing forward. And I miss my mom. The mom who could be found in the church kitchen stirring up Kool-Aid during Vacation Bible School. The mom who helped plan and hosted a birthday party for two friends and me, born just days apart, with the church youth group.

She was very much an involved mother. Mom had the gift of service. Had she been old enough during World War II, I could imagine her serving as a Red Cross doughnut girl. For my new release, Soar Like Eagles, I named my main character for her. And I dedicate this book to her.

Carol wants to do her part for the war, but can she maintain her ideals?

Chet joins the air force, hoping to find peace.

Carol joins the Red Cross, serving doughnuts  and coffee to GIs in England. Convinced wartime romances are doomed to disappointment, she avoids entanglements. She transfers to France, away from Chet, the B-17 navigator who tempts her to throw caution to the wind.

Chet’s father and brothers always belittled him. Now a squadron lead navigator, he longs to prove them wrong. He’s been offered a terrific job with PanAm after the war, but has several close calls in combat.

Carol and Chet continually cross paths. Do they dare make plans for a future together?

terri-wangard_editedTerri Wangard’s first Girl Scout badge was the Writer. These days she is writing historical fiction, and won the 2013 Writers on the Storm contest and 2013 First Impressions, as well as being a 2012 Genesis finalist. Holder of a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in library science, she lives in Wisconsin. Her research included going for a ride in a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. Classic Boating Magazine, a family business since 1984, keeps her occupied as an associate editor. Her first two books, Friends and Enemies and No Neutral Ground, were published earlier this year, but the publisher went out of business one month before the third book in her WWII series was to release. All three books will be released by Celebrate Lit later this year.

www.terriwangard.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTerriWangard
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/terriwangard/

 

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CD Review: Live On Forever by The Afters

Posted by Julie on September 11, 2016 in About Me, Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

From Moses to Job to Jesus, the most intrepid heroes in scripture knew times of trouble that multiplied like a plague-—but always led, in the end, to mighty celebration.

It’s easy to assume such stories of trial and triumph are for the Bible’s books or the history books. But miracles happen, even when adversity hits hardest. Just ask Josh Havens, guitarist and lead vocalist of the Afters. He relates how the band’s latest effort, Live on Forever began during a season of tragedy.

Just as the band regrouped to record, Havens witnessed the wife of a close friend contract cancer. Drummer Jordan Mohilowski (who produced the new album) had a brief health scare, and a close companion in his church—-part of the worship team—-was hit and killed by an impaired driver. She was a young woman, Havens says, who had unlimited potential.

But Live on Forever still took shape as a celebration of faithfulness, protection and promise-—one that shimmers with strong rhythms, undeniable energy and compelling pop hooks. The album finds Havens in strong, soaring voice as he invites listeners to find shelter and strength in God.

“If any theme has emerged, it would be ‘inspiration and motivation,’” Havens says. “Look at the titles we’ve selected: They reflect themes of ‘rise up, get up, God has your back, you’re not in this alone.’ We thought, ‘Let’s encourage people and let this be a weapon for people’s faith: something they can hold onto.’”

Havens himself felt a deep need to hold on after another loss struck: The band’s longtime soundman, Anthony Martinez, saw his newborn daughter die in infancy.

“I remember going to that funeral and seeing a casket that was way smaller than any casket should ever be.” Havens recalls. “I will never understand why tragedies like that happen in this life. It was in that moment of loss and sadness that our thoughts turned to eternity. ‘What is heaven going to be like? We began writing ‘Live On Forever’ and pulled from Revelation where it describes heaven as a place where there’s no more pain, no more crying, no more suffering.”

The Afters have a new release, LIVE ON FOREVER, a CD that took two years to create. In that time, the band suffered loss after loss, and each of their experiences molded what became the music for LIVE ON FOREVER. The members share their losses on their website, and it is well worth the read. Even in grief, they realize God is ever-present and caring.

LIVE ON FOREVER is a great Christian pop CD to listen to for encouragement and uplifting. There’s nothing in their music that reveals the depth of their pain and grief, and I think it’s a testament to how faithful they believe God is, and we get the results of that with upbeat music. LIVE ON FOREVER is already well known, but I also really enjoyed SHADOWS and BATTLES. I enjoyed each song, but the first two really stayed with me in both beat and lyrics.

I highly recommend LIVE ON FOREVER if you enjoy a good pop beat with a positive message. If these band members can endure the losses they did and come out with these uplifting songs and messages, I think they deserve a listen.

PURCHASE LIVE ON FOREVER

I received a CD for review purposes in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Northern Light by Annette O’Hare

Posted by Julie on August 5, 2016 in Book Review, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |
Northern Light by Annette O'Hare

Northern Light by Annette O’Hare

Civil War has robbed Margaret Logan of all she holds dear, including her beloved New Orleans home and her fiancé. When her family moves to the desolate Bolivar Peninsula to manage a lighthouse that is no longer there, all her hopes for a normal future are dashed. Her world is rocked once again when a wounded Yankee soldier washes ashore needing her help. Despite her contempt for the North, Margaret falls in love with Thomas Murphy. As their love blooms, Margaret’s sister is overcome with neurosis, and her mind slowly slips away. Bitterness, psychosis and depression yield a decision fueled by contempt. Will one fatal choice cause Margaret to lose the man she loves and condemn Thomas to death?

I wish I could write historical romance, because I love to read it. When I learned that there was a review opportunity for a civil war romance, I jumped at it because that’s my favorite time period.

Northern Light did not disappoint.

Margaret is a single young woman living in Bolivar Peninsula grieving the loss of her fiancé who died in the war. It’s not her only loss. Her family had to leave New Orleans and her sister is falling ill, a consequence of the war. The last thing she wants to do is get involved in any aspect of the war, especially when it comes to anything yankee.

She then comes across a Yankee solider who is near death. Her family takes him in and nurses him back to health, something Margaret struggles with despite her Christian upbringing. Thanks to her parent’s example and their prayers, she overcomes her grief and bitterness, only to be threatened to go through it all over again.

This is a solid story that put me smack dab in the south during the war. It felt authentic and I could feel Margaret’s pain and conflict. The characters were all well-developed and well-researched, including Margaret’s attempt to make a meal for Thomas that is ripe of his Irish history. The secondary story of Margaret’s story is one I never thought about when it came to the war. It’s moving and heartbreaking and enhances an already great story.

If you love historicals, are a fan of the Civil War, and read romance, Northern Light is a must read.

To purchase Northern Light, click here

I received Northern Light in exchange for an honest review.



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