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Book Review: Melody’s Song by Kathleen Friesen

Posted by Julie on August 31, 2016 in Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

Book Description:

Book Review: Melody's Song by Kathleen Friesen

Book Review: Melody’s Song by Kathleen Friesen

“After the tragic death of her husband, timid Melody Jamison moves to the city of Saskatoon, hoping for a peaceful life, an escape from the nightmares that haunt her, and the safety and salvation of her son, Will.

However, Will is determined to prove he doesn’t need anyone, and God isn’t even a blip on his radar. He’s doing just fine, if you don’t count the times he’s had to crash at a friend’s or sleep in a downtown Vancouver alley. He’s not deliberately messing up; trouble just seems to follow him. But he’s strong enough to deal with it. He can deal with anything—at least that’s what he wants to believe.

Melody keeps praying, even though she’s not sure God hears her. With her faith as fragile as yesterday’s dream, she is shaken when dying friend Rose Martens predicts that God will use her to be a blessing to their neighborhood. As she gets to know her new neighbors, Melody finds herself on a faith journey through demonic attacks, domestic violence, and the revelation of a secret that could destroy everything she’s gained.”

I was surprised to learn this was Kathleen Friesen’s first book because she penned a captivating story that had my attention right away. I could feel the fear and transition in Melody as she is a widow trying to find her way. The anxiety was palpable, I really felt for Melody as if she were real.

I also enjoyed the other characters. They have purpose and are not superficial. More than anything, Melody’s Song has an affirming message on the power of prayer. No matter what your faith level, I believe you too will be drawn in and encouraged by this sweet story.

To purchase Melody’s Song, click here.

I received a copy of Melody’s Song in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Reviews: Moms’ Night Out by Tricia Goyer & Moms’ Night Out and Other Things I Miss by Kerri Pomarolli

Posted by Julie on May 22, 2014 in About Me, Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

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Book Description:

Moms’ Night Out is a novelization of the hilarious family comedy that celebrates real family life—where everything can go wrong and still turn out all right.
 
All Allyson and her friends want is a peaceful, grown-up evening of dinner and conversation . . . a long-needed moms’ night out. But in order to enjoy high heels, adult conversation and food not served in a bag, they need their husbands to watch the kids for a few hours—what could go wrong?
 
Chronicling one night out gone awry, three harried moms, their husbands, a sister-in-law with a misplaced baby, a tattoo parlor owner, a motorcycle gang, and a bewildered cabbie all learn to embrace the beautiful mess called parenting. This book spotlights the unfulfilled expectations and serial self-doubts many moms feel . . . then reassures us that the key is raising kids in a loving home. Mom’s Night Out is an endearing, true-to-life comedy.
 
The MOMS’ NIGHT OUT film features Sarah Drew (Grey’s Anatomy), Sean Astin (THE LORD OF THE RINGS), Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond, The Middle), Alex Kendrick (COURAGEOUS), Robert Amaya (COURAGEOUS), Andrea Logan White (REVELATION ROAD), Kevin Downes (COURAGEOUS), and platinum-selling country recording artist Trace Adkins (THE LINCOLN LAWYER).

My hat’s perpetually off to Tricia Goyer. I know enough about her to know she’s raised children who are grown, is a grandmother, and then turned around and adopted three more children who are under the age of 5. To put Moms’ Night Out in book form, she had to watch the movie. Again and again and again.

I don’t know how many times it took, but I believe Tricia captured the movie. Although I’ve yet to see it, I saw the trailer after I finished and it was amazing how well the book explores the characters and hilarious events that take place on screen. More than that, the characters have depth.

It would be easy and perhaps tempting to make the male characters one dimensional because usually that’s what happens to the wife characters in movies. But Sean, Marco, Kevin and Bones have heart and important parts to the story. Allyson, Izzy, Bridget, and Sondra all have things I can relate to. And threaded together is one disaster after another.

This was a very quick read. I highly recommend you find a copy of Moms’ Night Out.

But wait!

That’s not all.

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Kerri Pomarolli is a Christian comedian who has a great reputation in Hollywood. She wrote a devotional called Moms’ Night Out and Other Things I Miss and this was a fun read that really soothes the soul. Kerri writes all things mommy, and they are real, but she gives even the worst disasters a smile, and hope.

This is as enjoyable as Moms’ Night Out.

Book Description:

As a Mom, couldn’t you use a good laugh? 

Inspired by the endearing, true-to-life movie MOMS’ NIGHT OUT, comedian Kerri Pomarolli has created this light, yet inspiring devotional that will definitely make you laugh, but will also help you discover that indeed you are not alone, and that God’s gracious provision of love and faithfulness is at work in your life and of your loved ones. 

Whether you’re running full-speed-ahead or disappointed that it’s Monday (again), you’ll find joy in these devotions where Kerri shares hilarious stories and insights on daily life. Messy homes, messy kids, lost pets, never ending casseroles, forgetful husbands, and the desire to just take a long bath… This world can be a funny place, and these stories are bound to prove it. Read a devotion to brighten your morning, or catch a few words to make you smile before bed. There’s never a bad time for a good laugh, and as a Mom, you need a Moms’ Night Out and Other Things I Miss: Devotions To Help You Survive. 

The MOMS’ NIGHT OUT film features Sarah Drew (Grey’s Anatomy), Sean Astin (THE LORD OF THE RINGS), Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond, The Middle), Alex Kendrick (COURAGEOUS), Robert Amaya (COURAGEOUS), Andrea Logan White (REVELATION ROAD), Kevin Downes (COURAGEOUS), and platinum-selling country recording artist Trace Adkins (THE LINCOLN LAWYER).

I received these books from the publisher in exchange for honest reviews.

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Mother of Pearl: My Final Words to My Mother by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen

Posted by Julie on May 11, 2013 in encouragement, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

ImageProxyServletWelcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother’s Day blog series—a nine-day celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today’s best writers (Tricia Goyer, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, Beth Vogt, Lesli Westfall, and more). I hope you’ll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother’s Day.

AND . . . do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful handcrafted pearl necklace and a JOYN India bag. Enter at the bottom of this post. The contest runs 5/4-5/13, and the winner will be announced on 5/14. Contest is only open to U.S. residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info, subscribe to our blog, 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: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith to help support Pearl Girls™.

 
And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother’s Day!
~

My Final Words to My Mother By Lisa Takeuchi Cullen

The day had come.

My mother lay pressed against her pillow, her skin like baking paper, her limbs disposable chopsticks. She had not moved or spoken for days.

In those last days we rarely left her side, my three siblings and I. Between us we had eleven children, the youngest my newborn, whom we had baptized a week ago right here by my mother’s bedside. The children tumbled and danced around the hospice floor, admonished by us to keep quiet, keep quiet! They had already said their good-byes to Nana. Now it was our turn.

The hospice nurses had told us of the final signs. She will cease to wake, even briefly. Her fingers and toes will turn blue. Her breathing will grow shallow and ragged.

Then we heard it. My mother took a breath. That’s all it was—a sip of air. We knew it was time. We rushed around her, my siblings and I, and all together began to sob.

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And this is what I said to my mother before she died: “I’ll be all right, Mommy. Don’t worry. Don’t worry about me. I’ll be all right.”

Not “I love you.” Not “I’ll miss you.” Not “thank you for everything.” Why? I asked myself that night as I cradled my colicky newborn, both of us wailing. Why did I choose that moment to inform my mother of my own well-being? Why did I feel this was the very thing she needed to know as she drew her last breath?

It took me years as a parent to understand: As mothers, that is exactly what we want to know. We want to know our children are safe. We need to know they’ll be all right as they journey into the world without us by their sides.

I don’t know if my mother heard me. But if she did, I hope my final words eased her journey just a hair. That she believed and trusted in my well-being, and then let go.

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The Pastors Wives_LisaTakeuchiCullen_cr Matt DineLisa Takeuchi Cullen is the author of Pastors’ Wives, a new novel from Penguin/Plume, and The Ordained, a 2013 CBS drama pilot. Previously, she was a staff writer for Time magazine. Readers can friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @lisacullen, or visit her website at www.lisacullen.com.

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Mother of Pearl: The Pursuit of Imperfection by Beth Vogt

Posted by Julie on May 10, 2013 in encouragement, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini |

ImageProxyServletWelcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother’s Day blog series—a nine-day celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today’s best writers (Tricia Goyer, Lisa Cullen, Beth Vogt, Lesli Westfall, and more). I hope you’ll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother’s Day.

AND . . . do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful handcrafted pearl necklace and a JOYN India bag. Enter at the bottom of this post. The contest runs 5/4-5/13, and the winner will be announced on 5/14. Contest is only open to U.S. residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info, subscribe to our blog, 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: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith to help support Pearl Girls™.

 
And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother’s Day!
~

The Pursuit of Imperfection by Beth Vogt

In my early mommy-ing years, I was all about perfection. I wasn’t going to be just a good mom—oh, no. I grabbed the virtual performance bar and shoved it way out of my reach.

It didn’t take long for that bar to come crashing down on my head. Perfection was toppled by the harsh reality that, at times, I was an angry mom. I hit my knees and begged God for forgiveness, for patience, for the ability to love my children one day at a time . . . sometimes one hour at a time.

I embraced 1 Peter 4:8: Love covers a multitude of mistakes, even altering it a bit so that it met my need. My version of 1 Peter 4:8 became: Love covers a multitude of mommy-mistakes. There was no way I could pretend that I was perfect, but I could do everything possible so that my children knew that I loved them, despite my imperfections.

Fast forward through toddlers and teenagers to being the mother of a twenty-something son, two late-teen daughters, and one (surprise!) elementary-school-age daughter.

During lunch one day with Katie Beth and Amy, my two oldest daughters, Katie Beth looked at me and asked, “Do you want to know what the best thing was about you as a mom?”

Did I? How could I say no to an unexpected “her children will rise up and call her blessed” moment? I assured Katie Beth I absolutely wanted to know the best thing about me as a mom. She looked at me and said, “The best thing about you as a mom was that you weren’t perfect.”

Oh. I admit I expected something . . . more. I joked with my daughter, telling her I wished she’d told me this sooner, as I wasted too much time trying to be perfect. We all laughed and the conversation moved on.

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A few weeks later as a prepared a talk on motherhood and perfection for a moms group, I asked Katie Beth, “Can you tell me again why not being perfect was the best thing about me as a mom?”

She emailed me a letter that read: So many kids grow up thinking their parents are up on this pedestal. They think their parents can do no wrong, but then when they fail at something or make a mistake . . . it can tend to devastate those kids. Also, it taught me that being a Christian does not equal perfection. So many people think because they are a Christian they have to be perfect, and I learned from you that, while you are a very loving mother, you are not perfect. It helps me know you don’t expect me to be perfect. 



Our children don’t want perfect moms—but they do want to know we love them. And maybe by admitting we’re not perfect, our kids will avoid the perfectionist trap too.

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Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best is often behind the doors marked “Never.” After being a nonfiction writer and editor who said she’d never write fiction, Beth has proudly authored two novels, Wish You Were Here and the newly released Catch a Falling Star. Connect with Beth at bethvogt.com.

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Mother of Pearl: History Has a Way of Repeating Itself by Tricia Goyer

Posted by Julie on May 9, 2013 in encouragement, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini |

ImageProxyServletWelcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother’s Day blog series—a nine-day celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today’s best writers (Tricia Goyer, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, Beth Vogt, Lesli Westfall, and more). I hope you’ll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother’s Day.

AND . . . do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful handcrafted pearl necklace and a JOYN India bag. Enter at the bottom of this post. The contest runs 5/4-5/13, and the winner will be announced on 5/14. Contest is only open to U.S. residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info, subscribe to our blog, 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: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith to help support Pearl Girls™.

 
And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother’s Day!
~

History has a Way of Repeating Itself by Tricia Goyer

Forty years ago a single, young woman was about to give birth. She didn’t know how she could afford a child without her parents’ help. She hadn’t talked to her former boyfriend in months. She had no idea how to reach him, how to tell him she was having his child.

This young woman attended church some, yet her dialogue with God was stilted. How could God let this happen to her? What would her life be like now? A baby girl was born, and upon holding her child this young lady knew things would be okay. Perhaps this baby was a gift, not a burden as she supposed.

This woman raised her daughter the best she could, and while she wanted to give her child more than she had . . . history has a way of repeating itself. When the daughter became a young woman, she found herself in the same situation—living at home, pregnant and scared.

The daughter knew she could raise this child. After all, her mom had done it. But what would her life be like? How could God let this happen to her?

If you haven’t guessed already. I was the daughter born to a single mom and as a teenager became a single mom myself. At age 17, God gave me a son. My boyfriend was out of the picture, and I faced raising a child alone with little education, no money and, maybe according to the world, little hope for my future.

Now if you take this story at face value, I am nothing more than a statistic. According to government research, most daughters of young mothers will be teen mothers themselves. They face lives of hardship, living on welfare for the most part — becoming a burden rather than an asset to society.

Yet, I am not a statistic. Why? Because God doesn’t do them.

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As a 17-year-old pregnant teenager I prayed a simple prayer, “God, I have messed up my life big time. If you can do anything with it, please do.” I dedicated my life and my heart to him and things changed. I had hope in my heart and I started walking God’s way. God brought an amazing, Christian man into my life. John was a wonderful husband and a father to my son. When had a daughter and another one on the way, God did something else unexpected. He gave me the desire to write books.

This Mother’s Day, my heart is filled with thanksgiving. I’m thankful for my mother who chose life for me. I’m thankful that when I questioned my future, God gave me hope.

History has a way of repeating itself in families, but even more important that our history of mess-ups is God’s history of setting things right. God has a history of seeing something no one else does . . . like seeing a king in a shepherd boy named David, seeing an apostle in a young zealot named Paul, and seeing a mighty warrior in a frightened nobody named Gideon. God’s X-ray eyes see right through any outward characteristics or national statistics. His X-ray eyes scan down to the heart.

Where have you felt you’ve fallen short of God’s perfect plan? Trust that God’s dream is to turn a mess-up into a miracle. He’s a BIG God with BIG dreams. A God who has made an agreement with us that is eternal, final, and sealed. A God who is strong in our weakness. A God who sees the future, sees the past and has a perfect plan for me . . . and for you. It’s something we can all be thankful for.

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Tricia Goyer is a busy mom of six, grandmother of two, and wife to John. Somewhere around the hustle and bustle of family life, she manages to find the time to write fictional tales delighting and entertaining readers and non-fiction titles offering encouragement and hope. Tricia is also on the blogging team at MomLifeToday.comTheBetterMom.com and other homeschooling and Christian sites. In addition to her roles as mom, wife and author, Tricia volunteers around her community and mentors teen moms. Tricia, along with a group of friends, recently launched www.NotQuiteAmishLiving.com, sharing ideas about simplifying life. She also hosts the weekly radio podcast, Living Inspired. Learn more about Tricia at www.triciagoyer.com.
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Mother of Pearl: Daughter Sing Softly by Lesli A. Westfall

Posted by Julie on May 8, 2013 in encouragement, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

ImageProxyServletWelcome to Pearl Girls™ Mother of Pearl Mother’s Day blog series—a nine-day celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today’s best writers (Tricia Goyer, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, Beth Vogt, Lesli Westfall, and more). I hope you’ll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother’s Day.

AND . . . do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful handcrafted pearl necklace and a JOYN India bag. Enter at the bottom of this post. The contest runs 5/4-5/13, and the winner will be announced on 5/14. Contest is only open to U.S. residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info, subscribe to our blog, 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: Luminous Lessons and Iridescent Faith to help support Pearl Girls™.

 
And to all you MOMS out there, Happy Mother’s Day!
~

Daughter Sing Softly By Lesli A. Westfall

RedBirdAlong with the visit of winter comes the wet, dull, silent days and gray landscape, even in Southeast Texas. On the other hand, there is always a turn between the seasons. The brightness of spring is just around the corner. And God, in His unique, loving way, proves to us a sign through the things we love and when we need it the most.

I love birds, truly, any kind of bird! However, one of my favorites is the cardinal. It’s indigenous to some parts of North and South America. An attractive bird to say the least! Bright red feathers, black bill, a metallic chirp with a sweet, crystal clear melodic song . . . and my most favorite feature, for the most part, the male and female are always together.

For the last two weeks, right outside our bedroom at daybreak there has been a cardinal singing, loudly, wakening me morning after morning. In the deepest sleep, I would hear the bird’s song, and smile, knowing God is near. The daily morning concerts continued. Then, one particular day for my daily devotion, I opened my Bible and my eyes fell upon this scripture:

“. . . one arises to the sound of the bird, and the daughters of song sing softly.”  Ecclesiastes 12:4

Wow!  How personal God truly is to you and me. He knows how much I love birds. The little feathered beings always reminded me of the Creator. He placed it in a strategic place to sing, then He led me to His Word and gave instruction for the moment: while waiting for the desire of my heart to become a mother; daughter, sing softly. In our waiting the Creator of life desires for us to worship Him.

In doing a word search about the cardinal, I found some interesting characteristics. The word “cardinal” originates from the Latin word “hinge.” A hinge helps a door or gate to turn. Could this sweet bird be a sign there is a turn in the change of seasons of our lives? Could the waiting to become a mother or answer to a long awaited prayer be a turn from winter’s silent, dull barren landscape to spring?

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I believe He is saying to us, “As the season turns, Daughter . . . sing softly!”

Scripture for reflection: 

“Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, O Lord, have helped me and comforted me.” Psalm 86:17

A prayer for the day:
 “Heavenly Father, I ask that you show me a sign of your goodness! I need it Lord. I thank you for your faithfulness to me, even in the littlest things. Comfort and help me as I wait upon you for the desires of my heart!” 
In Jesus’ name, Amen.

(All scripture from The Holy Bible, New International Version, Thomas Nelson Inc., 1991.)
 
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Westfall - author photo smLesli Westfall, author of Dancing Upon Barren Land, enjoys her moments in life by teaching cooking and etiquette to children, finds pleasure in spending time with family and friends, traveling and eating dark chocolate!  Most of all, she enjoys sharing God’s love and teaching His Word to women. She is happily married to her man of faith, live-in comedian and best friend, Larry, of twenty years. Visit her website.
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