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CD REVIEW: Out of the Dark by Mandisa #GIVEAWAY

Posted by Julie on May 21, 2017 in Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

Out of the Dark by Mandisa

Mandisa wrote her song “Overcomer” in 2013 to encourage her close friend Kisha, who was battling breast cancer. Mandisa really believed and prayed that God was going to heal her, but when Kisha went to be with Jesus in 2014, Mandisa’s foundation was shaken in a way she never expected. She fell into a deep pit of depression for close to 3 years, shutting out her friends, family and the rest of the world. Mandisa believes if she had kept going down that road she was on, she would not be here today… but God stepped in and lifted her out of that pit by using her close friends to communicate their love for her and God’s love for her. This album is Mandisa’s way of letting her fans into her story – it’s called ‘Out Of The Dark’ because that is exactly where God lifted her out of!
You can watch her talk openly about this on Good Morning America last week here:

The first track on Mandisa’s newest CD, OUT OF THE DARK, is a voicemail collage, and the messages set the tone for the journey Mandisa has been on since her megahit, “Overcomer.” By her own admission, the loss of a dear friend, her inspiration for the song, “Overcomer,” took her to a place so dark she isolated herself. Refused visits and calls. Re gained all the weight she had lost. Fought suicidal thoughts. With God’s love and guidance, Mandisa is back and her music is stronger for it.

Right from “I’m Still Here,” there’s something in her voice that conveys the strength in Him she’s gaining from her depression and grief. I don’t know how to explain it, a literal maturity that emanates, and I’m not saying it was something lacking in her before. There’s just something relatable in her words and voice that sends the message she’s not the same as she was. It wasn’t easy, it still isn’t. But God’s there.

This CD is perfect timing and for anyone fighting grief or questioning God, OUT OF THE DARK is a must listen. There are reflective songs and upbeat ones. Each song has a message, and by the end I realized as Mandisa emerges from the dark, she is now the overcomer.

This was an encouragement and blessing to listen to, and I highly recommend it.

YOU have a chance to win a copy! Leave a comment on this post or on social media on why you would like this CD and I will choose ONE US winner. Please leave a way for me to contact you when you leave a comment or I will choose an alternate.

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Story Behind The Album:

Acoustic Video for “Unfinished”:


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Saturday Confession: That Face

I’ve mentioned here and there that we have a child with what we deem minor special needs. Her first year was critical and much has stabilized. As she’s maturing, I’ve been preparing myself to watch for new things.

Already lab results have changed and we have a new specialist to call. It would be easy to worry and at times, I fall prey. For the most part, I’ve learned to trust the promise regarding her, that she is an overcomer. And trust the One who gave her that promise and created her. She’s been through so much and has overcome.

In the hardest times where care was constant, her face kept me going. Always smiling. A twinkle in her eye. If she wasn’t falling apart, how dare I? That face continues to encourage me, because it still has that smile that chooses sparkly things, loves to write, and is so creative.

100_0542What I learned not too long ago was that face was also an indicator that something was off. There were so many other things to tend to when she was younger everyone missed the signs. The blessing was most people with that diagnosis also were having seizures, and she never did. Another reason she wasn’t diagnosed as early as others.

Even as her face is something for a specialist to realize there is an issue to monitor, that same face ministers to others. She was maybe six weeks old when I was on a Wal-Mart run. I was used to running in and out but that day, and many, many times after, someone stopped me and because of her face, was drawn in. And they open up and start confessing their lives. My life changed that day. I no longer plan to get in and out of places. God’s often stopped everything to have people start sharing with me. I’ve learned to encourage and pray. She keeps smiling. And lives change.

My life has changed thanks to that face. I too look for sparkles and pizazz. I’m not afraid to try new things. I learned there’s quite a fighter in me because of that face. I realized a face can be a prayer request and a ministry at the same time.

This week I had a lot of unplanned moments where I was listening or sharing in ways I didn’t think would be happening. I got thinking, it all started back at Wal-Mart when that person saw that face and walked over. That this week I have new calls to make and new meds to pick up because of that face.

And it’s worth it.

Note: Her round face is part of what tipped her doctor off that she has albright’s hereditary osteodystrophy. Nothing life threatening, but another issue we manage through prayer, a good doctor, and regular lab work.


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Character Confession: One Letter Makes All the Difference

Posted by Julie on May 5, 2012 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

I thought I had a good grasp on compassion and understanding toward families with special need situations. Then we encountered seasons with our youngest where she was quite ill or not meeting developmental goals, and we entered the outer skirts as a family with unique needs.

We still don’t have the minute to minute, day to day circumstances that many families do, and how I wish they received more cards in the mail, prepared dinners at the door, and available ears and shoulders for those days a parent needs to vent. It is hard stuff and I don’t want to patronize.

We’ve had to re-visit this aspect of our lives a bit lately and I was overcome by the paperwork. The diagnosis or lack of. Coding. Evaluations. Outcomes. Goals. Therapies. Meetings. Reviews. I could feel the tears forming, not understanding why she has to go through these things.

Then my husband randomly said to everyone at the table, “Well we know God created her to be an overcomer.”

Hours  later, I heard nearly the same statement. Don’t forget–she’s an overcomer.

I did forget.

When I was pregnant with her, it was a promise God whispered to me. He made it clear she would be an overcomer. As I typically do, I put my own spin on things, assuming she’d skip the hard PMS symptoms I had. Nope, her test came early and hard. By three months of age she’d experienced a hypothyroidism diagnosis that wasn’t confirmed in a timely way. Croup that nearly killed her when she was prescribed the wrong medicine and wrong dosage. Breathing tubes and tents. Wires. Machines. Specialists. Diagnosis. Evaluations. Meetings.

And she overcame all those things.

I realized this week how one letter makes all the difference.

Overcome OvercomeR.

I was overcome by the paperwork and conversation that was so business like and matter of fact. Over my head. Then I remembered, she is an overcomer.

What an a-ha moment!







If she can not just survive but thrive in her circumstances, why can’t I?


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Character Confession: Happy to Teach the Professionals

Posted by Julie on August 13, 2011 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender, Writing |

Ah, the weekend. It’s a busy one for us. It’s for a good reason, so let me share.





Eight years ago tomorrow I watched my husband hold our daughter for the first time. It was a surreal planned c-section: the surgeon had music play and Bryan Adams “Everything I do, I Do it for You” was in the background. The doctor was a large man who confessed he sweats a lot so he donned a mask the others said made him like Darth Vader.

No matter, he delivered a daughter we had long waited for.

She struggled a few months later and for the rest of her first year. We nearly lost her. She had delays that professionals warned me would most likely put her in the category of retardation.

Those professionals always forget one thing before they come into contact with me.

They don’t know my God like I do.

I knew when she was in the womb that God promised she would be an overcomer. He doesn’t lie. She isn’t in any category but incoming second grader. Her medical team is down to pediatrician and endocrinologist.  She doesn’t just talk, she sings. If a person can be a color she is glittery pink. If you need her defined by one word, it’s joy.

Removed from those dark days I now see that God didn’t cause those times, but He DID allow them. Not only did He heal our daughter, He grew my faith. I am not the same person I was. I guess to take the cliche, we are new and improved.  But out of all it, God uses her and me as a mom advocate to show the professionals who the true Professional is.

And in the end, I have faith they will know my God like we do.

That makes me happy.

Another thing that makes me happy is when someone wants to know more about what I do. Jeff Rivera, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Gatekeepers Post interviewed me. I share basic tips on adding speaker to your writing resume. Would you please read and pass the link on? That would make me…happy.

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