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Book Review: Come Empty by Saundra Dalton-Smith

Posted by Julie on February 9, 2016 in Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |
Come Empty by Saundra Dalton-Smith

Come Empty by Saundra Dalton-Smith

When a water vessel is filled with dirt and stones, it cannot be used to quench a thirst. But, when this vessel is emptied, there is an opportunity to fill it until it overflows with fresh, cool, life-giving water. Water that quenches. Refreshes. Soothes.

Our souls are the same: filled with fear, doubt, and disappointment. Running over with unanswered prayers and lingering questions. When we empty the mess of our lives in the presence of God, we’re offered an invitation to come. An invitation that allows us to come empty – so that we can be filled until we overflow.

Come Empty – Pour Out Life’s Hurts and Receive God’s Healing Love guides you through fifty days of experiencing the fullness of God’s love and His ability to overcome life’s hurts. Each day, you will receive assurance of God’s presence in your difficult situations. Each devotion gives new vision and perspective when you’re hindered by emotional blind spots, and leads you to experience God’s peace and wholeness. When His invitation is accepted, He will set your captive mind and heart free to live fully by His grace. The question is not if you will get an invitation. The question is, will you come?

This is a 50 day experience that I believe you will want to return to time and time again. You choose the ones you feel best fit and be prepared to be moved. Each reading is transparent and emotional. What is an absolute standout to me is the Lord’s response. It’s obvious this was a Holy Spirit guided endeavor. That’s why I say COME EMPTY is an experience. It’s not just a book. I believe it is an anointed tool to bring comfort and healing to your life. However, it means you need to do more tha  read. Like the book description, the author states this isn’t about whether you get an invitation. The question is, will you respond?

I highly recommend COME EMPTY and that you use it for all its worth.

To purchase COME EMPTY, click here.

I received COME EMPTY from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Saturday Confession: That Time I Sobbed at the Movies

Posted by Julie on February 21, 2015 in Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

The title doesn’t read, “That One Time” because I’ve sobbed more than once. Funny thing is, they aren’t the movies you’d think of.

  • I laughed during ET because my mom was crying (I was 12 and obnoxious.)
  • I cackled during The Guardian
  • I made smart comments during Steel Magnolias

I have cried during movies like:

  • Toy Story 3
  • Titanic

But the sobbing experiences in movies often comes when I least expect it and it’s a download from the Holy Spirit. I know you would think it would come from a spiritual experience but not so much.

  • Spiderman 3, which wasn’t my favorite, but the download was “this is what unforgiveness looks like.”
  • Evan Almighty, this is ridiculous faith and He loves watching it in His kids.

But that one time came back to me this week. I was a red-faced, dripping snot mess. I wasn’t prepared because it was an action movie.

It was Superman, Man of Steel.

I know.

It wasn’t the suit reveal or taking down the bad guys. It wasn’t coming home to Ma and Pa Kent or dealing with Perry at The Daily Planet.

Image: We Minored in Film/Man of Steel trailer

Image: We Minored in Film/Man of Steel trailer

It was when he was Clark Kent as a child and he knew he was different. He’s at school and locks himself in the closet as the kids whisper. The loneliness of the moment where Clark understands he’s in this world but not of it, I nearly doubled over from the spiritual impact.

Do I align myself with the theory I’m Superman?


But did I have “a moment” understanding as a Christ follower I’m committed to surrendering and being obedient to whatever He asks me to do and as free as it feels.,

It’s lonely.

Aching, agonizing, locked in the closet while kids whisper lonely.

The few people I know who live this way, we call it the “Pioneer Spirit” or “modern day John the Baptists.” I often say I am a member of Rudolph’s “Misfit Island.” Beyond being a Christian, I often struggle fitting in with fellow believers.

I can see the potential in them, something God shows me, long before they see it or believe it.

I follow through when I feel I’m supposed to do something. Go to a person and ask if I can pray for them. Lead a group of children in a prayer time until we sense a breakthrough. Sending a card to a stranger with a specific encouragement.

Few get it. There are whispers, I’ve heard them. There’s been the avoidance and shunning, too.

Then there is the Superman moment when things come together, they see lives changed and the world impacted, and they want to be part of that circle. Until it’s time to move forward in faith.

And they pat me on the shoulder and announce they’d rather watch me and stay right where they are at.

For all those reasons, I didn’t just cry in that scene, or for the love between father and son between Clark and Jonathan, I sobbed. It drained me. And those are often my experiences with downloads from the Holy Spirit.

I grabbed some napkins and cleaned myself up the best I could and knew deep down no one would understand, not even my husband who sat there watching his wife come undone during a superhero movie.

This week  winter has felt lonely. It’s been a brutal weather month where isolation is a given. I’ve been alone more as my husband’s work schedule accelerated and it gets old when for hours, and even days on end, the most interaction I’ve had is with the dogs.

But it’s been a year that I know for me is a theme of “revive,” with a call from above to be a literal scribe. Share what I’m learning. Cheer for anyone willing to join me. Put myself out there more than I’m used to or comfortable with.

Because at the end of the day, the crowds at the functions leave. Everyone goes to bed and my mind churns with things to do, people in need, and plans to be a vessel God would use to move His Kingdom forward.

And for that last item—that’s worth sobbing about.

Even locked in a closet when the world around you is whispering.


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Saturday Confession: Resurrected Fire

Posted by Julie on November 15, 2014 in encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, Saturday Confession |

I don’t know what it is about men and fire but they seem to think their success depends on a roaring fire.

I’m just grateful for enough flame to burn a marshmallow.

But with a new firepit and nice weather, we’ve had a few fires.

And frustrations.

The last fire did not want to take off. It showed potential, sputtered, and returned to a bright ember.

But then my husband did something that really spoke to me.

He gently blowed on the dying ember.

And the fire came back to life.


I’m terrible with symbolism and even I get it.

Without that time with the Lord, that flame, that passion we carried as new Christians, wanes. It isn’t about going to church. It’s about building a relationship with the One who sacrificed all for love. Talk to Him. Read His Word.

And when we get away from those things, and we do, let the living God breathe life back into you.

One of the most profound Holy Spirit moments I had was during a study on Esther. The host church transformed the sanctuary each week to the theme of the chapter for the week. It was all about the King’s chambers and women were invited to go forward and petition the king, so to speak.

I knelt outside the veiled chamber.

And the gentle breath but convicting message nearly blew me down.

“You always bring everyone to me, ushering them behind the veil. Yet, you rarely take the opportunity to go there yourself.”

It’s true. My heart is so full of wanting people to be set free that I forget in order to stay free, I need to develop that relationship. Allow holy breathing on this fading ember.

This truth really smacked me. How about you?



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Thankful: Walking in Favor by Joy Chickonoski

Walking in Favor


I used to think walking in God’s favor meant walking in the fulfillment of my dreams. The problem, I am a visionary, hating status quo  and relentlessly in  pursuit heaven on earth. No matter how many answered prayers I experience the unfulfilled ones made a larger impact; it left me feeling like I always walked just outside of God’s favor.


Recently I allowed the Holy Spirit to reframe my definition of God’s favor. Now I realize “favor” is walking in gratitude for all that God is doing instead of walking in want for what is coming next. This new definition for walking in God’s favor has filled me with satisfaction and contentment that only a thankful heart realizes!! I am so thankful for thankfulness!!

Reveling in His Glory,

joyJoy Chickonoski


Real Living Ministries

Author and Conference Speaker

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Saturday Confession: Sometimes I Say No to Prayer

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Each Saturday I share a confession.

Something I’ve learned from or am growing in.

Nothing horrible, certainly not criminal, but a confession to show you.

Hey, you aren’t alone.

And if you want to share your confession and link up,

I’ve made that possible, too. See the end of the post.

While I have you, I need you to help me out. 

Next month I’m handing my blog over to you.

November is all about the thankful posts.


So send me a few sentences or as many as 750 words on why you are thankful.

Any family friendly reason is fine.

Send it to with a bio and optional picture,

signing off as you want the world to see your name.

First come, first serve, and I reserve the right to edit, but rarely do.

Now, it’s confession time.

Sometimes I say no when I’m asked to pray.

It happened recently. I didn’t always say no, but now I do.


I read somewhere that a prayer warrior lifts up all kinds of prayers as they are asked and the Holy Spirit leads.

An intercessor stands in the gap and dedicates a season of prayer to a purpose or a person as the Holy spirit guides.

I’m an intercessor. When someone says hey, pray for me, I have a test tomorrow, I do. And mean it.

But when someone says, hey, I’m part of this ministry and I need you to take the cause up with me by praying a,b,c…that’s intercession to me. It might not be the same for all, but for me, I’m not led a lot of places.


When I stand in the gap, it’s a mentally intense place that is like giving birth. It is hard. It takes everything I’ve got. It is painful. But it’s always worth it. I think something that labor intensive can’t be spread too thin.

I’ve had to say no to praying for a person and their ministry because I knew God wasn’t asking me to. I said no with the confidence He did ask someone else, and they would know who it was, ask them, and get a yes. I’ve said no to praying for others because I had a check in my spirit that it wasn’t where God wanted me to be. When I said yes to everyone that asked, I was spread thin. I was lifting up sporadic prayers, hoping they’d stick. And that’s not what you want out of an intercessor.

The most recent no was from someone who had a mission that was Biblical and I’m sure on target for them. But I knew it wasn’t for me. I’d taken that on before and knew I was released from it. Taking it on out of guilt or obligation wouldn’t benefit any of us. It wasn’t easy to say no, but I had to. Right now there are two main places God has me in prayer. And that wasn’t one of them.

I left the conversation asking the Lord to bless that person and the mission He gave them, and those they are praying for. I always pray the person or thing that requests my intercession to prosper (unless they are asking me to pray for something outside God’s will, of course.) And I’m now able to walk away and feel free.

And move on and go to that place only intercessors know where words are lost and tears accelerate as intimacy with Him increases.

What about you? What’s your confession? Share in the comments or better yet, write your own confession on your blog and link up below. Thanks!

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Character Confession: New Marching Orders

Posted by Julie on October 6, 2012 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

I wear a few hats in what makes me “me.” One I don’t write too much about but takes a big chunk of my life is an intercessor. Someone who prayerfully stands in the gap. Prayer Warrior. I’m always “on duty,” getting nudges during conversations, sermons, during a deep sleep, or in the shower. But the intensity comes in seasons, often like a pregnancy.

The hardest part for me is the transition phase. In childbirth this is when you verbally say you can’t go on. It’s a sign you are almost there. The baby book told me 20-45 minutes. My transition was 3 hours, ending only because of an emergency c-section. But when that baby was in my arms, it was worth it.

When my prayer life hits that transition phase, I often don’t even know what I’m praying for. I have an onslaught of tears I can’t explain and they come from a place so deep inside me it wears me out. Sometimes I have prayers that are groanings, an exhaustive push in the heavenlies, I suppose. I feel like I’m on the front lines, so mentally my stance is as a warrior.

I make sure I’m prayed up and wearing spiritual armor as described in Ephesians 6. All dressed up, so to speak, I’m ready to run out the door and go get the defeated one in a way that I envision like a scene out of Braveheart.

And you know what?

That isn’t part of this intercessor’s job.

Years ago I was told that all God was asking me to do was sit on the couch and let Jesus fight the battle for me. When He returned at the end of the day, He wanted to lay down on the couch with me and share His day. It transformed my thinking even though I still fight the temptation to run ahead of Him.

This time around, I did as always. There have been the pressing in times, proclaiming promises.Lifting up the weary. Then the tears. Weeping I couldn’t explain or understand, followed by prayers I don’t even know what I said. I just surrendered to the moment. But before long I was suiting up (which is good, again, Ephesians 6,) but I was racing out the door and ready to outpass my Lord. Picture the jogging game on Wii when you pass the leader who keeps you on pace. Yep, that was me.

Imagine my surprise when in my reading, which always increases during those transition seasons, I got my marching orders. In an article I read and the words jumped off the page. Basically, march yourself back and let the Lord work this through.

My orders?

No front line battles where I boldly proclaim or decree.

Just a quiet, in my spirit, without fanfare, agree with the Holy Spirit.

Agree in His plan. And let Him execute it. Even when I don’t know the plan.

That directive has been at me for a few weeks now and it blows me away every time. Because I feel like I should be charging at the enemy through prayer. Instead, my focus is re directed back to my Commander, not the opposition. I’m agreeing, and trying to let go.

I can’t promise I’m going to be perfect at it, I guarantee I won’t be.

But if you wear a hat called prayer warrior, and if you think you’re in the transition phase and about to go gangbusters on the devil, take a step back and see if perhaps your marching orders are simply to agree.

And to God be the glory.

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