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Favorite Non Fiction Reviewed Read of 2011

Posted by Julie on December 28, 2011 in About Me, Book Review, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender, Writing |

Each year I like to blog about my favorite fiction and non fiction reads. Today is my favorite non fiction announcement and tomorrow I will do fiction. New this year will be my favorite Free Kindle read of 2011. Because most of my reads this year were books to review, that is what they will be based on today and tomorrow. Remember, my shelves are always up for view.

Most of my reviewed books this year were non fiction, so this wasn’t an easy choice.  I mean Made to Crave was a runaway bestseller and the tool I give credit for helping me for weight loss this year. Zombie Church was a great wake up call. Married Mom, Solo Parent met a need I don’t think existed otherwise and I’m so grateful Carla Anne Coroy wrote it. But there is one that has personal meaning to me, with a life affirming message and a marketing plan I haven’t seen before.





Congratulations to Leanne Stevenson and her gift book, Tiny Hands that Hold My Heart. I promoted it earlier this year in this post and Leanne and her husband, someone I went to high school with, were kind enough to send me a copy.

What sets this “baby book” of sorts apart is there are actually two books. One is the hard cover gift book, and the second is the same look but an outreach book for CareNet/Pregnancy Centers to use to help women realize when life truly begins. The pictures are gorgeous and Bible verses are woven throughout the book. It’s everything I would want to present to a newly-pregnant mom, especially one not sure about her intentions to preserve the baby’s life.

I personally used this book with my 8yo so we could keep track of my sister’s pregnancy. The pictures were breathtaking and reading not only bonded the two of us for some precious girl time, it gave us great conversation about God’s promises and life.

I hope you’ll take a look not just at Leanne Stevenson’s book, but also her business, Best Baby

Tiny Hands That Hold My Heart isn’t just a Godly gift book, it’s a promise.


Featured image from Facebook


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Thankful for Melissa Foster’s Two-Posts-in-One

Posted by Julie on November 8, 2011 in Book Review, encouragement, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender, Writing |

Escape the Gratitude vs Platitude Trap

November is the typical month for giving thanks, spreading good will, and appreciating the things in life that you have. However, for women business owners, every month is the time to show gratitude, and unfortunately, many of us also spread platitudes without even realizing it.

I’m sure you can think of the many ways you show thanks to your clients and your families. They probably range from the simple, “Thank you” to generous gifts and meaningful hugs. But do you ever give thought to how much you mean your thank yous? Are they said with your heart behind them or are they empty words? Platitudes perhaps?

So many of us smile as a natural reaction, or perhaps a learned reaction, when a client has taken the time to speak with us or ordered from our businesses. Has your smile lost any of its sincerity? Do you find yourself smiling and really thinking, “Come on, already. I have three more important things to be doing”?

A platitude is a pointless, unoriginal, or empty comment or statement (yes, a facial expression is a statement) made as though it was significant. Many comments of gratitude often fall into this category, such as:

Thank you!

That was so nice!

I couldn’t have asked for more!

These are not always meaningless or insignificant comments, but they are likely thrown around much more often than they are really felt. Here are a few ways to say things that you really mean.

  • Think before you thank. For example, if you were on the phone with a  client and your are wrapping up the conversation, do you want to say thank you for their time, their business, their advice? Wrap what you really mean into the thank you, it will be much more sincere and your client will certainly appreciate the difference.
  • Before you appreciate a nicety, what made the effort the person made “nice”? Was it the time they gave you, the thoughtfulness that went into the effort, or perhaps someone went above and beyond what was called for. Again, spread your gratitude wisely and with an explanation.
  • Could you really have asked for more? Did you ask for something in the first place? Are you being given a gift because it is a holiday or birthday or for no specific reason? Is your client/family member really saying thank you to you with the gift? Slow down and analyze what you appreciate. If you are receiving a gift for a special occasion, perhaps gratitude for their remembering the occasion is in order.

Being thankful is important in our lives. Spreading good will can only invoke the same in others. But falling into the platitude trap because you feel you are supposed to be grateful can be more harmful to your business than beneficial. Take your time. Think before you thank, and mean what you say!

—Melissa Foster

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BUT WAIT—there’s more!

Besides offering a great post on thankfulness, Melissa Foster has a new release, Come Back to Me, that readers are calling “a gift” and her “best book yet.” I’ve read Chasing Amanda and Megan’s Way, and I agree. Her character driven story takes readers on an emotional journey where you’re thinking and most likely crying long after the last page.

What I like about Come Back to Me is you can’t guess the ending. When I find something like that I call it the “LA Law” ending because that was the one show back in the day where I never saw the ending coming. It defied everything you expected to happen and I found it brilliant (for those that need to know the episode, it was the one where Roslyn was talking with Leland, stepped in the elevator, and the elevator was broken. There was no floor. Roslyn fell to her death.)

Anyway, that’s how I view Melissa’s writing with her latest. I won’t tell you the ending but it isn’t what you think. At all. I definitely could picture this as a Lifetime Movie or something on screen that would grab your heart in the beginning and refuse to let go.

Here is more on Come Back to Me:

Tess Johnson has it all: her handsome photographer husband Beau, a thriving business, and a newly discovered pregnancy. When Beau accepts an overseas photography assignment, Tess decides to wait to reveal her secret–only she’s never given the chance. Beau’s helicopter crashes in the desert.

Tess struggles with the news of Beau’s death and tries to put her life back together. Alone and dealing with a pregnancy that only reminds her of what she has lost, Tess is adrift in a world of failed plans and fallen expectations. When a new client appears offering more than just a new project, Tess must confront the circumstances of her life head on.

Meanwhile, two Iraqi women who are fleeing honor killings find Beau barely alive in the middle of the desert, his body ravaged by the crash. Suha, a doctor, and Samira, a widow and mother of three young children, nurse him back to health in a makeshift tent. Beau bonds with the women and children, and together, with the help of an underground organization, they continue their dangerous escape.

What happens next is a test of loyalties, strength, and love.

A caveat for those who prefer not to read profanity in their books, there is strong language contained in Come Back to Me.

To purchase Come Back to Me, click here.

I received a copy of Come Back to Me from the author in exchange for my participation in her blog tour.


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Mother of Pearl Blog Series: Megan Alexander

Posted by Julie on May 3, 2011 in encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender, Writing |

Welcome to Pearl Girls Mother of Pearl Mother’s Day blog series. The series is week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today’s best writer’s (Tricia Goyer, Megan Alexander, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Beth Engelman, Holley Gerth, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, 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 hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/1-5/8 and the winner will on 5/11. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls, please visit 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 Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT Mother’s Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

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

A Merry Heart … by Megan Alexander

Sometimes family is really all you need. This was reinforced to me when my Mother shared a story a few days ago about her mother, my Grandma. You see, when my Grandma was a very young girl, around age 10, she was diagnosed with polio. This meant long hospital stays, extremely limited interaction with children her own age and lonely days staring out the window from her hospital bed. In those days, with polio, they felt keeping the children very subdued and quiet was best, and this particular hospital was as drab as can be. It was also during the time of the Depression, which meant money was tight and life was tough. Day in and day out, she was given the best medicine and treatment, but she wasn’t thriving and recovering. Daily visits from adult doctors and specialists is not exactly stimulating for a young girl. Her health was so poor, at one point, a Catholic Priest had administered the “last rites” at her bedside.

One day, her older brother and sister decided to sneak some brand new baby kittens into her hospital room. Their cat Fitzy had just had babies, and the cute kittens were small enough to put in a basket. Upon entering her room, my mother says they quietly took off the lid and showed my Grandma the sweet little kittens and let her cuddle with them. Her mother, my Great Grandmother, observed my Grandma’s mood instantly lift. Her eyes sparkled and she squealed with delight at the cute kitties! Her whole demeanor changed and she came to life.

My Great Grandma took all this in and made a decision that day. She decided that my Grandma would heal much better at home. She promptly checked my Grandma out of the hospital and brought her home with her family. My Grandma did gradually recover, among the love and warmth of her family. You know what Proverbs 17 says “ A merry heart does good like a medicine.” Also, I can imagine that she healed emotionally and physically and spiritually as well and that combined strength wouldn’t have been possible in the hospital alone.

When they left that day, the hospital instructed my Great Grandmother to massage my Grandma’s legs everyday, something she promised the hospital she would do, and she did. My Grandma was one of the few people we know who did not have a limp or shortened leg due to polio. And perhaps most importantly, the entire family was always praying for my Grandma.

I’m not saying that medicine is bad or not necessary. But there is no cure quite like the warmth of your family. Its like milk, it simply does a body good. As a pregnant Mom about to give birth to a baby boy, I am inspired to provide this same love to my child. May he feel the same warm love from his family that my Grandma felt from her’s.

And in this same way, we are called sons and daughters of God. Galatians 4:1-7
“Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”

God claims you and I as his children. This is a wonderful gift and identity that is good for our heart and soul, and something that is more powerful than all the medicine in the world.

Megan Alexander can be seen nightly as a television correspondent for the top rated news magazine show “Inside Edition”.  She also appears on the CNN program “Showbiz Tonight”. She especially enjoys reporting on stories with a heart. She graduated from Westmont College with a degree in Political Science. She loves speaking to youth and works with Girls Inc and National American Miss. She and her husband reside in the New York City area and attend Redeemer Church of Manhattan. For more on Megan, go to Megan’s mother, Mary, resides in Seattle and provided insight into this essay.

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Fiction Friday: Faith, Hope and Love Again

Posted by Julie on February 4, 2011 in Julie Arduini, surrender, Writing |

Fiction Friday! I’m excited to host Fiction Friday today. Keep reading to learn more about this great meme AND to leave your story. I can’t wait to read it!

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