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Sabbath Sunday: When I See a Cave

Posted by Julie on April 5, 2015 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Nature, photography, Sabbath Sunday |
CristaKuncave

Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. John 20:8, NIV

Every time I see a cave, I think of the empty tomb.

I think about Jesus.

What were His first thoughts as He looked and saw the linens?

The angels as they received that assignment and positioned themselves?

The guards, when the cave started to shake?

Mary, when she realized the tomb was empty?

The questions consume me as much as the curiosity of a cave.

What about you? If you’re not familiar with the story, read a chapter a day from John in the Bible.

And don’t be afraid to ask questions.

 

This is the Kunjamuk Cave in Speculator, NY, the area I based my contemporary romance, Entrusted, on. Photo credit by CT

 

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A Teenage Pregnancy by Robin Jones Gunn

Posted by Julie on December 25, 2013 in encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |
12pearlsofxmas

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 www.pearlgirls.info 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 Teenage Pregnancy
by Robin Jones Gunn

It was early, early morning, that delicate time of day just before sunrise when it seems as if all of creation is still asleep.

In the cold, gray light she gazed at the infant in her arms. He was less than an hour old and so, so small. Instinct prompted her to draw her newborn close that he might feel the rhythm of her heart. He curled his tiny hand around her finger and she smiled. His eyes closed, and with feathered breath he gave way to the blessed sleep that follows such a long journey.

In weary awe she studied his face, his ears, his nose. He was here. He had come at last.

A single tear fell from her eye and rolled across his cheek. She kissed the tear away but could not kiss away the memories that came with the tears; memories of the day she found out she was pregnant. How exhilarated she felt and yet how terrified. She was young, and there was much she didn’t understand.

Trying to justify her condition to her parents proved more difficult than she’d hoped. But the most excruciating memory was the moment she stood guileless before the man she hoped to one day marry. She had no words to make him understand the awful truth—the child she carried was not his.

Leaving seemed to be her only option. A gracious aunt took her in and welcomed her with open arms. From the moment she arrived she was showered with motherly words of hope and sisterly touches of love. Week by week, month by month, the child inside her grew.

Was it a miracle when she returned home, her belly round, her face flushed, and found him there?

What prompted this man to take her back and make her his bride? Did he now believe what she had tried to explain all along, that none of this was her own doing?

When the time was right they left their small town together, as husband and wife, with her due date rapidly approaching. The labor began—tightening her abdomen with a force she had never before imagined. Perspiration streamed from her forehead. The contractions multiplied with a frenzied urgency until the need to push overwhelmed her young body, and the baby was born.

Nothing of the past mattered anymore. He was here. Naked, perfect, quivering in her arms. With a thrill of hope, she believed that her life, her world, would never be the same.

Now as the first silver streaks of dawn pierced through the cracks in the stable, she tenderly wrapped her sleeping babe in swaddling clothes and laid him in the manger.

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***

Robin Promo Photo Close Up 2013Robin Jones Gunn, bestselling author of the much-loved Christy Miller Series and the award-winning Sisterchicks® series, has had more than 4.5 million copies of her books sold worldwide. Her frequent speaking engagements have taken her around the globe. Robin and her husband live in Hawaii and have a grown son and daughter. You can learn more at Robin’s website.
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Character Confession: Waiting for that Light at the End of the Tunnel

Posted by Julie on April 6, 2013 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

Original post July 2012

Is it just me? I don’t think so, because when I asked on Facebook about waiting, a few people chimed in.

Here’s my deal–I do pretty well with long waits. I’ve waited years for children, for job circumstances, to overcome fears. I’ve waited months for vacations, sales, weight loss, and television shows to return. No matter what the wait is, when the wait is almost over I fall apart.

Every time.

Big, life-changing wait like having children, and small issues like The Closer returning to TNT. In both cases, when it is thisclose to happening, I whine, complain, try to quit, walk away, cry, and repeat.

Every time.

Case in point: when my husband and I were first engaged, he lived a couple hours away. He hated the distance, but I held up pretty well until the countdown was on for him to move to my hometown. We were two weeks away from the big move and I couldn’t take it. The time frame seemed suddenly impossible to handle, so I decided to walk away. I sent him an e-mail and broke up.

He never got the message.

And when I told him, he reminded me how close we were to being in the same city. I needed to be patient. Trust God.

Now here I am less than a week from getting my cast off. I made it through three separate casts. Teaching VBS. Driving. Sleeping. Getting dressed. Stabbing myself in the eye by putting contacts in left handed. None of that really got to me. Until this week.

Because I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The one song that helps me is the Southern Gospel song Four Days Late. It’s about Mary and Martha’s reactions to Jesus regarding the death of their brother, Lazarus. Had Jesus come immediately, without them needing to wait, they would never know a miracle. Lazarus was resurrected, and I’m pretty sure Mary and Martha would agree Jesus taking so long was worth the wait.

I guess some of us need to fall apart before the end to appreciate the light at the end of that tunnel.

So, share. Is it just me, or do you struggle with this too?

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12 Pearls of Christmas | Day 11 – Just Like Mary by Carla Anne Coroy

Posted by Julie on December 25, 2012 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 (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info 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 MotherofPearl,  PearlGirls: EncounteringGrit, ExperiencingGrace or one of the PearlGirlsproducts (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***

Just Like Mary

 By Carla Anne Coroy

 Mary. Amazing Mary. Mother of Jesus. We marvel at her simple, faith-filled acceptance of God’s will for her life. There’s so little written about Mary in the Bible. We know almost nothing, really, about this woman that God chose to parent His Son.

Many have speculated about the exact age of Jesus’ mother. How old was she, really? What would it have been like to be greeted by an angel—and told you would become pregnant by the Spirit of God?

Jesus Birth Pictures, Images and Photos

I wonder about other things sometimes, though. Like if she had morning sickness, or gained a lot of weight during her pregnancy. Was she overdue, or was baby Jesus born right on time? Did she mistake Braxton Hicks contractions for the real thing before labor really started? Was it a fast labor or did Joseph have eighteen hours to get that place into birthing readiness?

Most women who have ever given birth to a child have shared pregnancy stories. Everyone’s story is unique and interesting. Surely Mary’s was, too!

Then there are the stories of potty-training and conversations on how to get the baby to sleep through the night. Did Mary bounce Jesus on her knee while sharing recipes with other young moms?

We cannot find answers for these questions in Scripture. And as interesting as it might be to share pregnancy stories with Mary over a cup of coffee (maybe in heaven?) and get her tips on potty-training, we really don’t need to know any of that to love the Son she bore.

But Mary’s example raises questions about me and my own life that get under my skin.

Am I the kind of woman God will choose to be part of His plan? Do I trust and love my God enough to give faith-filled answers like she did? If there were just a few paragraphs written of my life for future generations to read, would those words reveal a heart of willing submission to God?

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38, NIV)

God has not asked me to carry the burden of His Son in my womb. There are other burdens He is asking me, and you, to carry instead. Are we being the women He needs for the part of the plan we’re living in now? Am I saying to Jesus today, “May it be to me as you have said”?

During this Advent season, let’s prepare ourselves to be used by God, filled with faith and anticipating His grace—just like Mary.

***

Carla Anne Coroy is a Christian speaker and blogger, and the award-winning author of Married Mom, Solo Parent. She ministers to a wide audience through her website and blog at www.carlaanne.com. Carla Anne has served full-time with organizations such as Youth for Christ and Crown Financial Ministries, and is currently developing mentoring resources for women and an international mentoring organization for youth. She also serves as a staff writer for the online magazine Mentoring Moments for Christian Women and is a spokesperson for Faithbuddy.com. Carla Anne lives in Canada with her husband and four homeschooled children.

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12 Pearls of Christmas | Day 9 – The ADVENTure Awaits You! by Charissa Steyn

Posted by Julie on December 22, 2012 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 (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info 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.

***

The ADVENTure Awaits You!

By Charissa Steyn 

God loves keeping us in a place of joyful expectation for what is next. He has mastered the art of surprise. Much to my dismay, God rarely ever lays out steps 1-2-3 for me to see. Maybe you’re like me and you’re a planner. You need time to prepare yourself for what is coming, the unknown grips you with fear, and it’s hard for you to simply enjoy a surprise.

It’s difficult to understand why God doesn’t like to reveal more of His mysterious ways, but I have a feeling it has something to do with faith. I am quite sure that if I knew everything that God had planned ahead of time my response would be, “No way God!”

But maybe we need to be a little more like Mary when it comes to faith. The angel reassured her, “Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you…” (Luke 1:30)

Jesus Birth Pictures, Images and Photos

Did you get that? You have nothing to fear _________ (fill in the blank with your name) God has a surprise for you!

God invited Mary into the ultimate season of joyful expectation. He took her on the most miraculous adventure of birthing His son!

Instead of hesitation, Mary stepped forward, “Yes . . . let it be with me just as you say.” (Luke 1:38)

Instead of cowering in fear, Mary celebrated in faith, “I’m bursting with God-news; I’m dancing the song of my Savior God. God took one good look at me, and look what happened—I’m the most fortunate woman on earth! What God has done for me will never be forgotten. . . .” {Luke 1:46-48)

As the Christmas season is upon us, I can’t help but wonder what surprises God has wrapped up for us under His tree of life? What gifts does He want to reveal to us this year?

Like Mary, let’s face the unknown, the mystery, the surprises of God with a quiet, yet confident YES! 

God wants to show you the impossible can become possible, the supernatural can become natural. We don’t need special qualifications, just joyful expectation. 

May you accept the invitation of Jesus in this truly ADVENTurous season and embrace all the marvelous, mysterious surprises He has for you along the way!

***

Charissa Steyn is a God-adventurer. She believes everyday holds exciting undertakings that usually involve risk, but always draw us closer to the Father’s heart. Originally from Seattle, she now lives in Cape Town with her South African hubby, Michal and their son David. Together they are doing their best to lead a simple, yet dangerous life of love. Learn more about Charissa at her blog.

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That Saturday Revisited

Posted by Julie on April 23, 2011 in About Me, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

That Saturday

Matthew 27 (verse from BibleGateway.com)
The Guard at the Tomb

62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”

65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

I don’t know if it’s a writer thing or just a curious Jesus girl thing but I’d like to know about Saturday.  We have details about “Good” Friday where Jesus was crucified. We know all about Resurrection Friday.

So, what do you think Saturday was like?

Matthew 27:62-65 gives us a glimpse and if I close my eyes, I can picture the scene.  Those that loved Jesus are devastated and confused. Those that hated him are giving shouts of celebration and recounts of key moments. Government officials are proud, they took down the biggest threat to their government with no fight from this so called king.  Barabbas?  The real criminal? I imagine he’s overwhelmed with ideas on what to do with his new freedom.

All of them, I can guess, are spending Saturday with one eye over their shoulder.

Haunted.

Scared.

Anxious.

Sick.

I bet they all see shadows even in the peek of daytime that cause them to stop everything and look, wonder. Pilate and his officials took tentative steps all day. When Pilate brought a chalice to his lips I’m sure his hand shook. The guards around the tomb exhausted in half the time it usually takes. The mental strain of waiting on the promises will do that.

Barabbas starts dozens of plans to satisfy self but can’t complete one evil idea. He knows where he belongs and he can’t shake it. For all the open spaces and freedom he slinks in a corner, the tomb in view. He wraps his knees to his chest and rocks back and forth. The same position he had in prison.

The devil paces back and forth, anxiety quadrupling with every step and hands over his ears. His minions keep repeating what he already knows.

What about the third day?

He knows God’s word, he just twists it, but he knows. And I suspect he can’t enjoy his victory because he knows it is short lived.

Heaven is muted. A sense of grief and confusion weaves throughout the streets of gold. Something is in the works.  But what?

God hid His usual palette of color and painted a bleak gray scene for the world to interact in that Saturday. Shadows and phantom voices stalked everyone who ever heard of or knew Jesus. Anxiety and fear reigned. Guilt and accelerated exhaustion flooded thoughts, plans and celebrations.

That is what I think happened that Saturday.

How about you?  What do you imagine happened?

 

revised post from earlier this month



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