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Fear Can Take a Hike

Posted by Julie on May 5, 2015 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

When Jennifer sent word out that she was doing a study on fear I knew I wanted in before I even saw her notes and Scripture references. It seems every time Jennifer is doing a study, the Lord is growing me in the very same area.

As I grew in my relationship with Christ, He took me through the process of letting go of fear. Through His grace, patience and steadfast love I reached a point where man’s approval didn’t matter anymore. My eyes were completely focused on Him and what He thought. It was then I knew I could write. I wouldn’t be caught up in people pleasing, reader reviews and the rejection I would have to deal with. I was even given the wise advice for that eventual day when I’d have to deal with negative words to “have the skin of the rhino and the heart of the dove.” I’m so grateful for that quote because I’m now in a season where the hard stuff is here. There’s been criticism from readers and verbal lashings I never saw coming. And honestly? The fear started to creep back.rejection_zpsa13d9f5c

At first the rejection wasn’t so bad. I received my first not great review for my contemporary romance, Entrusted. It wasn’t mean and I actually thought it gave balance to the wonderful five star ones. What would have sent me to a pit of depression for weeks where I’d rehearse my reply in my head never happened. I thanked God for giving me the ability to appreciate the review.

A negative review I was prepared for. What I wasn’t ready to deal with was the unexpected. Someone not liking me. Forget the writing or ministry work or anything I do, people started taking issue with me. The words aimed at my direction were their opinion of me and it wasn’t positive. Not even close. The more I heard about the situations, the more I felt my eyes moving. The focus changed from Jesus to man. And I found myself worrying what others were thinking about me.

Whether intentional or not I walked away feeling unworthy and unfit for much of anything. Not as an author, blogger, servant, honestly, even as a human being.

I started to feel emotionally paralyzed. When I spoke or wrote I worried if I was being offensive. I knew I needed help.

During this time I was helping out a ministry and they are all friends and mentors. I shared my situation and they started to pray. Like the Taylor Swift song they encouraged me to “Shake it Off.” Not so much the words said against me but the fear I allowed to conquer. When they finished praying and giving me a bit of strategy, they came back with a Scripture card.

It was Psalm 32:7.

You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.

 

My friend went on to explain that the trouble here are the words and attacks lobbed at me. The songs of deliverance are His words. No matter who or how many people take issue with me in any role I take on, His words cover me. His promises and words are bigger than anything else.

That promise gave me such comfort and peace.

It was in this that Jennifer’s study caught my eye. I was curious what verses she would use.

 

“God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true.”

It was further encouragement that He’s got my back. He goes before me. He’s my rearguard. With that kind of protection, fear has no place. When I read Jennifer’s recollection, she reminded me about David. Saul was after his hide. His obsession with the lad was with laser focus. Yet God took care of him. So much so David had the opportunity to take Saul out and out of honor and obedience, he did not. And God blessed him.

I’m not in it for the blessings but I know as His beloved daughter He longs to lavish his love on me. One form of that love is protection and covering. To have His words, His song of deliverance, be bigger than trouble and a promise for me to take faith in, fear took a hike.

And my prayer is fear will take a hike in your life, too.

 

Father, I ask that You remind the precious person reading this post that Your promises, Your words, are bigger than any trouble they might be facing. Like David, protect them and bless them for their faith, honor and obedience. In Christ’s name, Amen.

 

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A Call to Praise Blog Hop Starts Today by Jennifer Slattery

Posted by Julie on March 5, 2015 in encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

Julie’s Note:
This post first appeared at Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud.

A Call to Praise Blog Hop Starts March 5th at Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud

A Call to Praise Blog Hop Starts March 5th at Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud

I’m a firm believer in the power of praise. When I’m sad, anxious, or upset, nothing lifts my heart quite like singing praises to my Heavenly Father. I think there are many reasons for this, perhaps the most important of which being that it centers my heart and mind in God’s peace-giving, ever-loving presence. As some of you may know, I battle chronic illness, which means, I often battle negative emotions as well. One week, when going through a particularly difficult time, I felt as if God led me to Psalm 103, calling me to focus not on my struggle but instead on Him–who He is and all He’s done. Ever since, I’ve found praise to be my life-line, so I thought I’d share this precious gift God showed to me with each of you.

Starting March 5th, a group of bloggers and I have decided to dig deep into Psalm 103, passage by passage. I hope you’ll join us by following the links below. 

March 5 Jennifer Hallmark will launch our series with a beautiful post on gratitude on my blog.

March 9: Sarah Ruut will visit Carol McClain’s to share her thoughts on what it means to praise God will ALL that we are.

March 11: Allyson Carter will visit on Sarah Ruut’s to talk about those things that hinder our praise.

March 13: Julie Arduini will visit Allyson Carter’s blog to talk about “Discerning Satan’s Tactics and Living on the Offense.”

March 16: Carol McClain will visit Susan Aken’s to share her thoughts on the importance of remembering all God has done.

March 18: Maria Morgan will visit Sarah Ruut’s blog to expand on Psalm 103:2, especially focusing on what it means to “forget not all His benefits.”

March 21: Allyson Carter will discuss Psalm 103 verse 3, hosted on Carol McClain’s blog

March 24: Sarah Ruut hosted on Marji Laine’s blog, discussing how God’s Blessings in our lives can give us strength.

March 26: Delia Latham will visit Carol McClain’s blog to talk about verse 6 and how God’s justice makes a difference in our lives

March 30: Susan Aken will visit my blog to discuss Psalm 103:9-12, focusing on God’s underserved grace

April 2: Marji Laine hosted on Allyson Carter’s blog, discussing what it means to live anew in God’s grace.

April 4: Susan Aken will visit Delia Latham’s blog to share her thoughts on Psalm 103:14, discussing the what it means when Scripture says God knows we are weak

April 9: Carol McClain will post on my blog, discussing God’s sovereignty and power.

April 11th I’ll tie up our series on Ginger Solomon‘s blog, calling each of us to be fully present when we praise.

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Sisterhood of the Word Bloggers Award

Posted by Julie on January 6, 2015 in About Me, encouragement, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, Writing |

My new year started off with a pleasant surprise when Paula Mowery nominated me and other bloggers with the Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award.

Here are the rules:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Put the Award logo on your blog.
3. Answer 10 questions you’ve been sent.
4. Make up 10 new questions for your nominees to answer.

Here are the questions I was sent and my answers:7203595_orig

1. What is something you would count as a “success” from this past year?

Seeing Entrusted published.

2. Who has had the biggest influence on your life?

Obviously, as a Christian the immediate answer is Jesus. When I finally surrendered everything to Him beyond salvation, I embarked on a relationship full of friendship and intimacy I never would have imagined. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my mom. She had so much adversity growing up and challenges as an adult. She’s got tenacity and faith.

3. What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Have the heart of a dove and the skin of a rhino.

4. If you could have a week to retreat, where would you go and what would you do?

Adirondacks to write, read and refresh.

5. Looking back on this year, what are five things you are especially thankful for?

Family. Our home. Health. Writing direction. As much as he drives me crazy, our 80 lb puppy, Tucker.

6. What is one lesson you feel you learned this past year?

I keep referring to it, but the picture on Facebook where Jesus is asking a little girl to give up her teddy bear. She’s telling Him she loves it, not knowing Jesus has an even bigger and better one for her. We were on a faith journey for a new home last year and thought we found “the one.” It fell through and I was so angry. That picture came to mind and helped me surrender that anger and home. In less than a month we had “THE home” and it was so much more than we prayed for, for less than what the first house was. It’s cozy and a sanctuary for others to be encouraged.

7. If there were no limits, what is one goal you would like to achieve this year?

I’d love to have control over what my kids have to deal with and hand them the tools to succeed. With a tween and teen I know that’s not possible. There are times I have to let go of some rope and see what happens, within reason. There are choices I’d love to jump in front of, not bad ones, but ways they could go about things a little better.

8. What is one Bible verse that is special to you and why?

Hosea 2:14. It absolutely delivered me during a wilderness season and I refer to it again and again.

9. Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Why or why not?

I don’t. I think they set me up for failure. I do, however, pray for a word for the year and will listen all year long for the ways I’m to learn from and utilize the word. This year is revive.

10. Do you set goals for yourself in your spiritual life? Give an example.

I do. I’m working through a Bible study, Red Hot Faith by Cindy Bultema, to get that kind of faith back. I let life get in the way and put time with the Lord down on the list, and it showed. I was getting burned out. I set a goal to do things to work on putting Him first and keeping Him there. I’m also journaling, doing a plan on Bible.com, and set a timer to make sure I do these things.

Here are my questions:

1. What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned?

2. What temptation is hard to resist?

3. If you weren’t doing what you do weekdays, what would your life look like?

4. What book could you read over and over?

5. What motivates you?

6. What are your pet peeves?

7. What are your goals for 2015?

8.  If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

9. Would you rather stay in a five star hotel, a bed and breakfast, or a cabin?

10. What’s your favorite season? Why?

I’m nominating Jill Barlow, Holly Hrywnak, Penny Frost McGinnis and Jennifer Slattery! I enjoy your blogging!

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Julie Arduini’s Favorite Reviewed Fiction Book 2014

Posted by Julie on December 29, 2014 in Book Review, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

Each year I look over the books I reviewed and choose the ones I enjoyed most and remember even after I finished the book.

Today I choose the fiction book.

I chose this one because it was more than a romance. It was a message, an invitation by the author to draw into a relationship with meaning. She went even further and on Facebook created a Bible study that not only re visited her book, but walked readers through the story of Ruth.

The book?

Beyond I Do by Jennifer Slattery.

91raRTxT4vL._SL1500_Book Description:

Marriage . . . it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more.

Ainsley Meadows, raised by a hedonist mother who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed, socialite psychiatrist. But as Ainsley’s wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream, a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancé. If she wants to embrace God’s best and find lasting love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.

Even though it’s been a couple months or so since reading, I’m still thinking about the story. The message. The Bible Study she had on Facebook.

If you need a book to see you through Christmas vacation, I definitely recommend my favorite fiction reviewed book of the year, Beyond I Do.

To purchase Beyond I Do, click here.

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Ruth and the Comfort Zone

Posted by Julie on November 26, 2014 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

I’ve been enjoying Ruth’s story from the Bible with a twist—Jennifer Slattery is facilitating this study on FB and her blog sharing against the backdrop of her own contemporary romance Beyond I Do.

91raRTxT4vL._SL1500_Last week she was kind enough to open up her blog to allow me to share insights.

It’s a chapter in the Book of Ruth I’ve read several times but I saw received fresh insights that I really could relate to as I compared my story to Ruth’s and to Ainsley, the heroine in Beyond I Do.

I’d love for you to read what I wrote.

Click to read about Ruth and the Comfort Zone.

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Creating Lasting Memories by Jennifer Slattery

Posted by Julie on November 8, 2014 in Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, Thankful November guest blogger |

They say when you reach the end of your life, memories play back like snapshots.

 

Images of your first best friend, your first doll house, your first day of school … your first surprise birthday party.

 

I was five or six, young enough to have little concept of time, when my parents decided to throw my first surprise party. Had I been a year or two older, their plans would’ve failed, sabotaged by all my nagging:

 

“Did you forget what day it is, Mom?”

 

“What’d you get me?”
“Where’s my cake?”

 

And receiving no answers, or vague ones at that, I would’ve thrown a giant, Jennifer-sized fit likely resulting in me being grounded. On my birthday.

 

But that wasn’t what happened, though, frankly, I don’t remember a whole lot of the details. I don’t remember who came, what gifts I received, or what games I played. I don’t even remember the flavor of the cake, though I assume chocolate. Yes, I was a chocoholic, even back then.

 

What I do remember, however, is spending a chunk of time with my dad who drove me all about, wasting time while my mother prepared for my party.

 

Funny, those memories of he and I doing basically nothing are stronger than my memories of the actual party.

 

Memories.

 

Why is it some events cement themselves in our brain with such impact, such emotional oomph, while others drift away, soon forgotten?

 

As a mom, I find myself considering this, because I know what I do (or don’t do) today, forms lasting memories deep in my daughter’s heart. Sometimes it’s the oddest things that mean the most to her. Listening to her talk about her past, I catch glimpses into her heart, hints of those mental snapshots she’s building.

 

And I’ve discovered something. Most often, her most vivid memories are of those simple, casual moments when she and I did basically nothing. Together.

 

Because it’s not the event that creates the memory but the person we share the event with. It’s the emotional connection made.

 

This simplifies things, doesn’t it? For me, realizing this creates a sense of peace. It reminds me I don’t need to be the most exciting mom, I don’t need to plan outlandish outings and events. I just need to be there. Fully present.

 

That’s the snapshot I long to create.

 

What about you? Consider some of your fondest memories. What sticks out the most—the event or the person you shared the moment with? As a parent or spouse, has your loved one shared any special memories with you? Did those memories surprise you? What are you doing today to create those special snapshots in your loved one’s life?

 

headshot2013_editedJennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. Her debut novel, Beyond I Do, is currently discounted in e-book format for under $3! You can find it here: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/beyond-i-do-jennifer-slattery/1118903211?ean=9781596694170

She also writes for Crosswalk.com, Internet Café Devotions, and writes and edits for Christ to the World Ministries. When not writing, Jennifer loves helping aspiring authors grow in their craft, and has editing slots open beginning in November. Find out more here: http://wordsthatkeep.wordpress.com/

Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud. 

 Beyond I Do is on sale for a limpted time at CBD!

Beyond I Do:

 

Will seeing beyond the present unite them or tear them apart?

 

Marriage . . . it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more.

 

Ainsley Meadows, raised by a hedonist mother, who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignite a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancé. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.

 

Read a free, 36-page excerpt here:



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