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Sweet Surrender by Alexis A. Goring

Posted by Julie on January 7, 2016 in ACFW, encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender, Writing |

Julie’s Note: Throughout 2016 I will have guest bloggers sharing their surrender stories. Today, Alexis A. Goring shares her sweet surrender.

Sweet Surrender

A guest post by Alexis A. Goring

 

Sugar. Refined sugar. It was my solace, my relief, my healing from emotional trauma.

 

Since age 16, sugar had been my source of healing from emotional trauma, my relief from mental stresses and a primary cause of weight gain and preventer of clear skin.

 

But the last four years had been intense when it came to my love affair with refined sugar. I had a lot going on in my life and turned to sugar so much that to me, the choice was simple: sugar or my sanity! I truly believed that in order to remain sane and able to cope with life, I needed sugar. I craved it. I thought I could not live without it.

 

Just like anyone in a toxic relationship, I tried to breakup with sugar but it wouldn’t let me.

Just as I started to step closer to freedom, something would happen or I’d remember a sad situation or traumatic event and my cravings for sugar would peak then rush in like a hurricane that wrestled with me and would not let me go until I gave in and ate a sugary treat.
Cake, cupcakes, cookies, candy—I loved it all. Nothing could soothe a hurting heart like a gallon of ice cream or a slice of chocolate cake. No one could comfort me like a chocolate chip cookie or a slice of peach pie. Not even Jesus. Yes, sad but true. I found comfort in food, not Christ. And therein lies the source of my problem.

So by Spring 2015, I knew I needed deliverance. And I knew that I needed prayer support in order to break free. So I asked a dear friend of mine who is like a world-class prayer warrior, to pray for me. I asked her to pray that God helps me break free from the stronghold of sugar. I’d prayed about it plenty of times by myself but I didn’t follow through with exercising my willpower because I felt overpowered by my desire for sugar. But I knew that if I had someone else who supported my desire to be free from this stronghold and was strong in their walk with the Lord, praying for me then my chances of success would be greater. So I confided in Summer and she told me that I needed to fast and pray, not just pray, to get my breakthrough.

 

I decided to do a fast from refined sugar for 40 days and 40 nights. The day before I started it, I called Summer and told her my plans then asked her to pray for me. Summer prayed. I fasted (and prayed). It wasn’t easy but God helped to wean me off of refined sugar. When I wanted dessert, I reached for a nectarine. At first, it was tough but I kept praying and fasting. I did NOT give in or give up. Halfway through the fast, nectarines started tasting sweeter and better than dessert. Toward the end of my fast, I didn’t crave sugar and after the 40th day and 40th night of my sugar surrender, I was set free!

 

God gave me that breakthrough and to this day, I do not crave refined sugar. Since then, I try my best to choose foods that are healthy. Sugar-free smoothies and fresh fruit are the way to go when you’re craving something sweet and it benefits your body with the nourishment and nutrition that your body craves.

 

I am so grateful to God for setting me free from the stronghold of sugar! I praise Him for my breakthrough and thank Him for friends like Summer who pray for God to help me to surrender to Him the things that are holding me back from living a life free of strongholds.

 

If you are struggling with a stronghold, I encourage you to surrender your struggle to God. Fast, pray and surround yourself with God-fearing, Bible-believing people who can pray for your surrender and victory.

 

Trust me, it works and it’s worth it!

Author Alexis Goring

Author Alexis Goring and her sweet victory

Author bio: Alexis A. Goring is a writer at heart and a journalist by profession. She loves the art of storytelling and is especially delighted to have released her first book, an inspirational romance novella called Hope in My Heart: A Collection of Heartwarming Stories, in Sept. 2013. When Alexis is not working on her next book or chasing down the next big story for the newspaper where she works as a freelance reporter, she can be found listening to songs by her most admired musicians, enjoying the food in cafes/restaurants, shopping at her favorite malls and spending quality time with loved ones (family and friends).

 

Book blurb:

Hope in My Heart_editedHope in My Heart is a collection of short, heartwarming stories with characters in need of hope.

In “Love Unexpected,” a car crash brings commitment-wary Sebastian and career woman Chandra together. Neither is looking for romance, but those around them see the potential, and Sebastian and Chandra discover that sometimes love shows up unexpectedly.

Christmastime is the setting for the middle story, “The Best Gift.” Christina desires to lose ten pounds so she can fit into her dress for her sister’s wedding. Jordan wishes her mom would stop trying to marry her off. And Joshua hopes to be reunited with his ex-girlfriend but eventually learns that the best gift this Christmas will be the restoration of his relationship with God.

In “Peace and Love,” three characters living in a metropolitan area are desperately searching. Elle, a starving artist, aspires to become a paid professional. Eric, a divorce attorney, wants to resolve his issues concerning his parents’ divorce. Kristine anticipates finding her birth mom before she marries Derek. All characters pray their searches will conclude this holiday season and fill their hearts with peace and love.

 

Purchase links:

Amazon.com – http://amzn.to/1OfVasC

BarnesandNoble.com – http://bit.ly/1Tm5T4P

 

Social media links:

Author page on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAlexisAGoring

Blog, “God is Love” – http://capturingtheidea.blogspot.com

Twitter handle, @pennedbyalex

 

 

 

 

 

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Saturday Confession: I’m Glad I Listened

Posted by Julie on August 2, 2014 in About Me, encouragement, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, Saturday Confession, surrender |

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I was new to town, new to the state.

My dad had recently passed away, our daughter nearly passed away but was chronically ill.

My husband had a new job, our son, a new school.

I sat in the Sunday School class and fought the tears.

Everyone knew each other. You could tell there were thick bonds that I was so broken, I didn’t think my shattered self could mess with those bonds.

Some did visit my table and say hello but to hear the new laughter knowing all my 30+ years of friendships were laughing without me?

I thought I would lose my mind from grief.

Even as time marched on and I was intentional about getting involved, I still battled loneliness. The ache grew within me and I didn’t know what to do. Where are these friends I’m going to have for the rest of my life? Where are my girls who are going to whisk me to ice cream or take my phone call at midnight during a life and death moment? Where is my new life?

I asked the question enough of myself and God that one day I felt led to ask a trusted woman I considered not just a friend, but a mentor. She had a sweet spirit and I learned so much from her. She made me feel safe, so I asked her what was wrong with me. Why wasn’t I making tons of friends?

She barely hesitated. But she did smile.

“You aren’t making friends because you aren’t supposed to.”

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Say what?

She continued. “You’re a leader. Leaders don’t have a lot of friendships. They can’t. You’re being prepared to touch a lot of acquaintances. You will spend a lot of time with them, loving them. Encouraging them. Praying for them. And when they go away, you will be drained. You will need refilling. And that is when you return to the very small circle that will be your very closest and dearest of friends.”

Those words blew me away, and scared me at the time. I liked the number of people I hung out with and called on in NY and that number wasn’t even close in Ohio.

Today that number is even smaller.

But what’s left is like a refining fire. Precious gold that I treasure. I’m so glad I listened to her because she’s right. I do a lot of praying for people and I love to encourage. And as much as I enjoy it, it takes a lot out of me. To do that and run with a group of girls to the mall would be too much for me. But to have those few that I can call, text or visit and say I’m spent, they get me. They’ve got me. And I’ve got them.

The second instruction I received was as I prayed. It was probably 5 years ago a lot of people were coming to me and their needs were great. Needs that if I got a counseling degree and won the Lotto, I still wouldn’t be able to help. But I was staying up nights worrying about them. How would that marriage work out? What about that person’s job? Is this one going to harm themself?

I could feel my emotions churning so hard my insides were becoming toxic. I was literally making myself sick.

And that’s when I received this one sentence as I prayed: “If you take these burdens on yourself, it will kill you.”

I knew that was from the Lord. It wasn’t condemning or a fear based sentence. It was a fact. And I decided right then I was going to immediately surrender the people and situations I pray for to Him. It might come off to some that I don’t care, but it’s quite the opposite. I care enough to do it right. I have to do it His way. It’s the only way those precious people are going to find answers.

I felt I was supposed to share this, so my guess is there’s someone reading who is feeling lonely with that ache I know too well. A leader in the making whose circle is getting smaller and smaller. Take heart. It’s by design.

Perhaps you’re a prayer warrior and your blood pressure is up and your emotions are down because you’re trying to find the solutions for everyone. You want to say the perfect thing to that person in need of Jesus. Been there. The word I received isn’t just for me.

If you take these burdens on yourself, it will kill you.

You’re too amazing for that.

Slow down. Look around and appreciate that group you’re in. That very small circle of people you can trust. Who are out to better you. That’s a rare thing to have. It’s a gift.

If you’re a prayer warrior/intercessor, learn surrender. Picture yourself as the vessel God gives the words to for prayer. And as you do, picture yourself laying that person and their things at the cross.

And leave it there.

Trust me, you’ll be glad you listened.

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10 Not-so-Spooky Secrets When it Comes to Prayer

Posted by Julie on October 31, 2012 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

For some it’s a cute day to dress up the little ones and nab some candy. I’m not against that, but I know it is also a time where those whose allegiance is not with God conjure up curses against the faithful, among other deeds I’m not sharing here.

But what I want to do is share some basic things that put you as a prayer warrior on the offensive and ready to advance God’s kingdom through Christ.

1. Know Jesus as your Savior. This doesn’t mean get a degree, become a pastor, memorize the entire Bible, all great things. It simply says know Him. He wants your friendship. It’s a relationship, not religion. Just like I say to kids, we all say we know Justin Bieber, but have you met him? Does he talk to you? That’s what I mean with Jesus. You can’t move forward until you’ve accomplished #1. Not sure how? See here.

2. Never be a prayer warrior or intercessor on your own strength. You are merely a broken, flawed vessel. If you think of half a second you have the power to defeat the enemy, he will devour you. Praying is always about furthering God’s Kingdom for Jesus, so He best be invited when you pray.

3. Stay clean and surrendered. It’s not about being perfect, but if you feel called to be an intercessor/prayer warrior, be authentic. Confess your sins. Seek forgiveness. It isn’t because God is Big Brother constantly mad, but more about if you’re “hiding” a secret sin or unforgiveness, the enemy will come on you twice as hard.

4. Keep your focus. It’s an easy temptation to concentrate on the bad guy. Doing too much of that will overwhelm and suffocate. God’s got this, He’s just awesome enough to invite you for the ride. Focus on Christ and His work on the Cross. God’s goodness. The Holy Spirit’s counsel and encouragement. Of all the fancy things to pray, we miss the easiest prayer of all: Agree with His plan in Jesus’ name.

5. Have no fear.  The winner has long ago already been declared, but the devil would like you to forget that. He is already defeated. His sad tactic is to convince you that you are the defeated one to deflect the truth that HE is. That’s his real name–the defeated one. Also know the defeated one and his agents (depression, discouragement, division, spirit of suicide) are cowards. They do NOT want to be exposed. If you sense that’s what’s going on, be empowered in the Lord’s strength, not afraid. Like terrorists, evil prefers to stay hidden. Attacks are prevalent at night and that doesn’t surprise me. There were nights I felt like something was sitting on my throat. Afraid at first, I realized that feeling had no business bothering me. I said, “Jesus, I need your help. In your strength and name I command whatever is on me, in this room, property, or vicinity to die and be cut out the root, never to return. Thanks, and Amen.” It was an eek of a whisper, I struggled to speak. But I wasn’t afraid. Sensation was immediately gone. When you deal with junk like this, cast it out in Jesus’ name–declaring those evil things dead, cut at the root, never to return. If you pray it merely go away, it can be assigned back. Why not command it dead under Christ’s authority? Same for when a person attacks you, gets angry, then so whiny. I will not battle atheists or others looking for a fight, and it never fails, angry words come at me, and then accusations. Remember it isn’t personal, it is a spiritual warfare. As I stand strong and love my neighbor, the defeated one is like a dwindling, whiny monster that never had control. Don’t be afraid if you sense a catfight with strangers just by looking them in the eyes. That’s not the person, but the spirits behind them. If they are in witchcraft or a new age/world religion, you will know. I’ve had complete strangers greet me with accusations. I’ve heard of children strong in Christ being pinched and hit by those in a so-called peaceful religion. Don’t be afraid. Love the person, and if you have to whisper it, plead the blood of Jesus and remove the evil on His strength once and for all.

6. Do the math. I read this from Graham Cooke. Heaven’s resources never end. Ask, and He provides. Be specific (I ask for His wisdom, discernment, covering, His eyes, ears, and other senses instead of Lord, help me.) The defeated one has been in a constant recession. When he uses a trick, he can’t get anything new. He has to use what he has, so he keeps using the same ole’ same ole. He is all about deception. If it is a voice that wants nothing to do with furthering God’s Kingdom or praising Him, you know it’s a defeated tactic. If it is desiring division over unity, it is not God.  The defeated one will never partake in anything that gives God glory or praise, so keep those things constantly going. The supply never ends!

7. Wear your armor. I pray Ephesians 6 over myself and family every day. I’ve heard people say how there is something different about us. Our kids have a peace that is unique. Even our pets have favor. I can only say this has been a constant in our life since marriage. We get hit by the defeated one, and when we do, I know it is an opportunity more than adversity. God allows hard stuff and warfare not because He’s uncaring, but because He wants to prosper us. He knows how the hard stuff ends, and if we stay covered and see challenges as opportunities, favor is yours. I also pray the fruit of the spirit, and also something I read, I ask for the cloak of humility and mantle of wisdom.

8. Know rejection is promotion. This has a lot to do with the one above, but as a praying person, there is a target on your back. You are on the front lines, yet pay attention to #10. But when, not if, those hits come, rejection will happen. I guarantee it. Remember John the Baptist was beheaded. I doubt that’s your lot, but shake it off.  It seems like it is about you, it is a battle between good and evil, much bigger than you. If you can get excited–okay, at least come on board with rejection–and seek it as a way to become closer to the Lord and learn more from Him, it’s more defeat for the one who is full of it.

9. Use your own prayer language. I’m not going to get doctrinal here. I’ve been in Catholic, Wesleyan, and now a Pentecostal setting. For me, my prayer language is talking with words I don’t understand. It took me 10 years to allow this in my life because I was so scared. Now the words come with no effort. I can use them, or not. I’m not afraid of using them because I know my agenda is to give God glory, and the devil won’t be anywhere near that. When I am close to a breakthrough, they aren’t even words. Constant tears. I used to be afraid, now I know what’s going on at a basic level and realize okay, I’m going to be weepy. Please don’t be mislead that heaven isn’t for you if you don’t go all Pentecostal about this. That’s not fair, and it isn’t right. I confess, my life is much richer with my own prayer language, but Jesus is a gentleman and the Holy Spirit is a comforter. Nothing uncomfortable should be in the process, especially force or pressure. Praise Him. You can never go wrong with that. If you seek more, tell Him. Admit your fears or thoughts. Then repeat a praise word like Hallelujah. Meditation was from Christians first, the devil, again because of his lack of resources, will steal our stuff and put a counterfeit spin to it. Don’t be afraid to praise with repetition. It’s a process, and mine took so long because I was asking for the wrong reasons. Once I wanted it for myself, it was instantaneous.

10. Remember the battle is the Lord’s. Another temptation is to be “full-on” all the time, seeing the enemy’s hand in every single thing. Even so, it’s His battle. Always. The best advice I ever got was that He wants me on the couch as He goes out the door to battle. At the end of the day His desire is to return, join me on the couch, and tell me about His day. I can get intense and forget I can have fun. The world still exists if I’m not on my knees. You will know when He’s prompting you.

Books I Suggest:

Time to Defeat the Devil

Silencing the Accuser

Intercessory Prayer

Secrets of the Secret Place

Bridal Intercession: Authority in Prayer through Intimacy with Jesus

 

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What I Learned from My Dream–And it Could Be Your Lesson, Too

Posted by Julie on October 17, 2012 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

Don’t forget! I’m looking for your thankful posts to use throughout November.  Learn more here.

 

It took awhile for me to realize I’ll never be one of those people with normal dreams. Normal people either can’t recall their dreams, or they are mildly entertaining.

Mine are full length movies in HD where I often receive instruction during the dream to apply to my non-dreaming life. They are so vivid and intense I often wake more tired in some ways as when I went to bed.

I’m in an active dreaming season, and it coincides with an intense praying time. 2012 has been wrought with the unexpected, and full of conflict. There is something in me that feels it’s time to take action. Do something. Make a plan and execute it.

And in song, sermon, book, devotions, conversation and dream the answer is the same–be still and know He is God. Trust Him. But doing nothing, or at least what looks like nothing to me, is the main point time and time again. And I’m struggling because it goes against everything I want to do.

Last night I dreamed that I was involved in a mass shooting. I watched a deliberate assassin meticulously aim and take fatal shots at everyone around me. I wanted to run. Oh, how I wanted to run. I wanted to stop “her.” The shooting intensified. I could feel the bullets and I knew everyone else was dead and now the target was me.

Again, my instinct was to run. Escape. Do something, anything.

But I remained still, and I prayed. I could hear myself praying words I didn’t even understand, but my prayers were unceasing. As the bullets increased, even piercing a hat I was wearing (which tips you off it was a dream because I am not a hat wearer, but the praying part of me believes the hat represents a Godly covering over my life) my prayers were bolder, but I was so still it angered the part of me that was observing the dream.

Suddenly, the bullets stopped. The assassin was apprehended and I stood, grief stricken at the carnage. I felt a keen sense of survivor guilt. The killer, bound by handcuffs, called out to me.

“The only reason you’re alive is because you stood still. Everyone else moved, ran, and was active, so erratic and without structure they were the easiest targets. I couldn’t get you because you were unmoving.”

Although the dream continued with me grief stricken by the loss surrounding me and people pointing me out as the only survivor, there was that awake part of me that got it. The dream was strategy. Of all the things I want to do right now, the wisest thing for me to do is to sit still. Pray. Trust. And that will apprehend the enemy of my soul.

I don’t know your circumstances but justice is such an issue and struggle for me. I keep going back to the Lord not understanding my broken wrist. Before I was upset not understanding why it didn’t heal right and why I needed surgery after so long. Currently my cry is not comprehending the financial strain. Because of an insurance issue years ago over medical bills (that God supernaturally provided thousands of dollars for that we didn’t have) I am emotionally paralyzed by medical bills. They are pouring in. And I don’t get it.

I don’t get why good people have been taken out in their prime and absolute destruction surrounds. I’m seeing it time and time again this year, and just like my dreams, I want to stand up, shake my fists and say this isn’t fair. But the bullets are coming closer and the more I want to move, the more God says stay. Don’t go on my own. Don’t get a plan of my own. Any movement on my part only makes me a fatal target.

In my dream the ones who ran or moved without a plan were killed. I survived because I stayed still and prayed.

If that’s your temptation, know I’m there too. So let’s commit to be still in our surroundings. Pray without stopping. Trust God, even when everyone around you seems to have a plan that appears active compared to your doing what looks like nothing. This is the strategy God has for you, and obeying won’t just save your life, it will arrest your enemy.

Glory to His name.

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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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Sabbath Sunday: Simply Put

Each Sunday I share an amateur nature picture of mine with a few thoughts about God’s love for you.

Are you a praying person? Have you answered the call to be a prayer warrior or an intercessor? It’s not an easy assignment. In fact, without proper perspective, it can be crushing.

Your job is to stand in the gap and intercede for the person God has laid on your heart. The temptation is to feel the burden to be the one to solve their problems.

The Lord let me know a few years ago if I try, the burden will literally kill me.

So what do you do when people you love come to you with real problems, heartbreak, and situations?

You pray.

And you keep it simple.

Simply put, you believe He is God.

Or, He isn’t.

The choice is yours.

 



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