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Thankfulness: A Gift from God by Brenda H. Cox

Posted by Julie on November 18, 2017 in Julie Arduini |


Thankfulness is a gift from God. Knowing the magnitude of the awesome sacrifice that our Father in heaven made in giving His son Jesus humbles our hearts and makes us grateful.  Jesus was the gift of atonement for our sins of the past, present, and future, and true understanding of the magnitude of that gift makes us grateful for everything in our lives. Our values change when we humble ourselves before God, and He opens our eyes to every little gift, the changing of the seasons, the smile of a child, the warmth of friends.

Just this week I drove my husband Jim home from Duke Hospital where he had undergone his second brain surgery. I found myself being so grateful for the success of the procedure, for his being able to stick out his tongue and roll his eyes in ICU, for the kindness of the attendant who wheeled him to the car, for the parking space near the elevator, for the glorious color of the trees along I-85, for smooth highways, and I could go on and on. That gift of gratitude opened my eyes to God’s providence and calmed my heart.

But I was also mindful that I had also sat in the waiting room throughout the day of the surgery seeing surgeon after surgeon come out to speak to families until 8:15 pm, leaving me as the only person waiting for news. I was grateful for the opportunity my husband had to travel from Greensboro to a world-class facility where he could receive care from the best of the best. I was grateful for safe travel, for the pleasant young woman at the coffee bar, for the sweet lady at the registration desk who spoke so kindly to me knowing I had been there most of the day and had been the only family member left in the waiting room. She could have been impatient knowing I was probably preventing her from going home for dinner. I was also grateful for the comfort and peace that I knew I would have if the surgery did not go well. The knowledge that my husband had followed Christ in his life was assurance that I could persevere even without him if God had chosen to take him home. What a blessing, what a gift to be grateful, not in my own strength, but in the “blessed assurance” that comes only from God through His gift of Jesus Christ!

Jim’s third great grandmother Henrietta Hall Shuck had traveled to China in 1835 as the first American woman missionary to China trusting in God’s providence through disease, poverty, robbers, disagreements with the mission board, and all during the dangers of the First Opium War. On her 200th birthday, her descendants are still strengthened by the gift of perseverance that comes through thankfulness for the blessings of Christ.


Tethered begins in 1835 as Henrietta and Jehu Lewis Shuck set off on a 19,000 mile voyage from Virginia to China to establish the first Baptist mission. In Tethered Henrietta must hold a leather strap nailed to the railing of their ship to keep from falling overboard, but her life is also tethered to her husband, to their mission board, and to God. Their relationship is marked by humor and unflinching determination despite illness, poverty, danger, and opposition from the mission board at home in the volatile years of conflict in the First Opium War.  By the end of her story, she has come to a full faith relationship with God and has become an icon in Baptist missions for American and Chinese Christians across two centuries.


Brenda H. Cox is a life-long English educator at the high school and university levels. She earned a BA at The University of South Carolina, an MAT from The Citadel, and a PhD at The University of Georgia where she served as the Assistant Director of the Freshman English Program. She was affiliated with the National Writing Project site at Clemson University where she led a Writing in the Humanities Institute and is a member of the North Carolina Writers’ Network. She has taught numerous writing workshops and delivered papers at state and national conferences and directed The Young Writers Conference at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro where she was an Assistant Professor of English Education. She has published articles in English leadership and in 18th century rhetoric. In addition, she has served as a writing consultant in numerous school systems in the Southeast and in the American and International Schools in Kuwait. She also served as a Reader of Advanced Placement exams for The College Board, and her students have won numerous local, state, and national awards in writing. Brenda lives in Greensboro, NC and is married to Jim Cox.  They have one son and daughter in-law and two perfect grandsons.



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Agreeing with God’s Plan by Julie Arduini

It’s been so fun reading these guest thankful posts with you. The month is almost over, and although I faced obstacle after obstacle working on my NaNoWriMo novel (my word count is on the right sidebar if you want to see how challenged I am,) I wanted to chime in with my thankful thoughts.

I posted this as my Facebook status Thanksgiving day:

I choose thankfulness! My broken wrist and eventual surgery taught me to wait on His timing. A major shakeup at my home church taught me church family can’t be confined to a building, because we are all one Body. In many things this year I realized the measure of moving forward with favor and acceleration was in tandem to how I walk in grace and forgiveness. What felt hopeless now is a thriving situation with the kids. I’m thankful that although to me He seemed four days late, He was and will always be right on time. These truths are what I feast on, and I’ll wear fat pants for the food!

I’d like to expand on that.

It’s been a tough year. I realized my wrist surgery symbolized my 2012. It took a plate and screws to heal me.  My wrist looks the same, but it’s not. It will never be as it was.

That speaks to much in my life right now. Everything looks as it was in 2011, but it isn’t. My guess is my life is in a paradigm shift,something I’ve realized the faster I embrace it and stay thankful, the faster God blesses. My knee jerk reaction to change is to:

A. Freak Out

B. Run Miles Ahead of God to guarantee success, only to fail miserably.

I treated the transitions with fair amounts of A and B. I started making lists of all the prayers and declarations I needed to make. As Godly as it sounded, it wasn’t the right way to handle things. In fact, I was ready to run so far ahead that God reminded me that I was in Sarah Plan B mode- and for Sarah-her making things happen created an Ishmael of a situation.

Not good.

So what was I supposed to do?

God was and remains clear. For all the crazy plans, deep prayers, and reactions to this year, God has asked me to do one and only one thing.

Agree with His plan.

That’s it.

When I pray for people, I name them and say I agree with His plan for them.

When I pray for my country, I agree with His plan, even though I don’t understand it.

When I pray for my church, I name it and agree with His plan, even though things could shake further, or maybe not, but either way, I have to trust Him.

I agree with His plan for people I don’t see as often as I used to.

I agree with His plan for people where their choices or words or combination were like kicks in the gut to me.

I agree with His plan for the school the kids attend.

I agree with His plan for my husband.

I agree with His plan for our marriage.

I agree with His plan for my writing and other ministry.

Get the picture?

Don’t worry, I don’t all the time either. I make myself agree with His plan as part of my everyday speech. Everytime I do that, it becomes a little bit easier.

Which wasn’t anything like this year. How about you?



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Character Confession: Renewing My Mind and Wrist

Posted by Julie on September 22, 2012 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

Thursday I went to my first post-surgery check-up and was warned hand therapy would be immediately after. The surgeon loved the x-rays and how my wrist looked. He got rid of the stitches and ordered a new splint. He called for the therapist and told her point blank, “Her body is naturally resisting. You need to work on her mind as much as her wrist.”





My previous therapist came via a doctor script. My new therapist explained that when this happens, both the doctor and therapist believe all is well and they go full throttle, and that happened with me. What no one knew was that the bones were moving in reverse. The pain was indescribable, but my reaction to tense up in this new situation is natural.

This time around, this is a specialist working hand-in-hand (ha, funny) with the surgeon. She knows my story.

My first session was more about renewing my mind and gaining my trust than anything. It took several attempts to assure me my exercises didn’t need to be fast, with weights, or with a ton of mobility. By the end, she noted how my back relaxed.

This is a lesson that far transcends my wrist. I’d say the last 8 years I’ve come up against circumstances where the first time around, things went awful. The pain was deep and my natural reaction was to never, ever go through anything that looked like that again. And not because He’s a meanie, but because He loves me enough to want me to grow, God would create circumstances that looked near identical to the first. I’d fret, stew, whine, cry–and eventually give in.

And I learned through renewing my mind in Christ and trusting God that it was going to be okay.

Can you relate? I have a feeling someone out there can. I’m going through it, too. The therapy example helps me, and so does the cardinal.

Yea, the bird.

For nearly two years there was a cardinal in my path. In my driveway, dive-bombing my car, walking up to our patio, chirping to get my attention. It was during a time I was struggling to trust God because He was putting me in situations that looked far too much like ones I’d already been through, and I was scared.

He is our loyal defender.

It took me time to realize there might be something to the cardinal. I read up on it and guess what I learned?

The cardinal is a loyal defender.

I realized all those cardinal sightings were God’s encouragement that He had not forgot me, and that He was going to be my loyal defender. I entered those situations and not only were they not like the first, they went way, way better.

If you are scared, trust God. He truly is your loyal defender.

Even when I have to trust Him with my wrist.

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Marriage Monday: Have Some Children Pray

Posted by Julie on October 17, 2011 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

Twice in a row! It must be a record. I’m excited to be able to participate in e-Mom’s Marriage Monday. Before I share her topic and my personal story, I think congratulations are in order.

e-Mom is a grandma! I love her story and I’m with e-Mom, the timing of this precious birth isn’t a coincidence. Such a beautiful post, I hope you read it and leave your congratulations.

But sometimes those baby stories aren’t all happy ones. Part of my “broken places” that I share with others is my experience with infertility and PCOS journey. Although I drive my family nuts by being so open, I do it about what personally affected me in hopes it encourages someone else.

And today, I think there is someone out there who needs to know my story.

I learned at age twenty-five I had PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome. The symptoms for me were irregular periods, acne, and hormonal imbalance. The doctor sat me down, knowing I was in a serious relationship that looked like it was heading for marriage. He spent 45 minutes with me sharing his story, even though we both heard the crying babies and other patients outside the other door.

He was candid and let me know that I would most likely have difficulty conceiving, if I could do so, at all. His encouragement was that as a man of faith, to take his words as just that, words. He was a mere doctor. He suggested if I wanted to have children some day, to ask children to pray. I left with hope, although devastated at the facts before me.

Fast forward and I was a newlywed and conceiving was on my mind, a lot. It’s funny, when you’re told you can’t have something isn’t that when you realize that’s the one thing you want? I never grew up wanting to be a mom or anything full of maternal bliss. As soon as I realized it might not be an option, I wanted to be a mom.

The PCOS for me was unique and challenging. Now that I’m 16 years after that diagnosis I realize how severe the hormonal imbalance was and I wish I’d fought harder for my peace of mind. The depression, just daily depression for no real reason beyond the imbalance assaulted me to no end. Add to it the sadness I felt regarding the situation and I was at times emotionally paralyzed. I’m not afraid to share this all was so consuming there were times I saw myself heading to the medicine cabinet for permanent relief. I write this not to be dramatic but to say to the woman reading this who feels the same—tell your doctor these things. Mine had no idea it was that bad. It wasn’t until years later when I started early menopause did that doctor understand how severe my moods were. I am now on a low dose medication to combat that and the menopause symptoms I had as well. I feel new and alive. Please don’t be ashamed to ask for help. You are worth it.

But…there was the physical pain as well. I was in such discomfort I could go to work and then I’d go to bed. It was constant pelvic pain that felt like I was in a vise. One night I was in such misery I remember crying out to God. I let Him know I was His and I knew there was more to my life than this. I understood I had something of purpose to do with my life and being in bed wasn’t it. I surrendered my ability to have children. I told him if I needed a surgery to end all chances to conceive, so be it. I just wanted my life to move forward.

From that surrender, things moved fast and the peace of God was overwhelming. My surgeon told me there was a procedure he could do that would not end my chances to conceive, but enhance them. He was fearful I would get my hopes up. I was adamant that this was no longer about conceiving, but just being able to live. I authorized the surgery. We moved into our first home. Nothing and no one could stop me, despite the pain.

Although the surgery isn’t done so much today, it was a wedge resection. He took half of each ovary out and in recovery he let me know he had never seen such large ovaries. It explained my constant pelvic pain. Turns out mine were FIVE TIMES the size of normal ovaries. I instantly felt better, even as I recovered.

The whole time I worked with a girls’ ministry at my local church. I asked them to pray for me and to ask God that one day I could be a mom. These girls believed God and pressed in. To this day when adults come to me for prayer I remind them to seek out kids. They are the ultimate prayer warriors.

I say all that to say…seven months after the surgery I was pregnant.

That baby is 13.

Another story for another day is in 2001 I miscarried, but I knew God had one more child for us.

In 2003 we had a daughter.

If you are struggling as an infertility patient I pray you don’t let the diagnosis own and define you. Believe God. Go to Him. Seek Him hard for His plan for your life. Don’t let doctor’s words trump God’s promises.

And have some children pray.

Did you know during the month of November this blog features YOUR thankful posts? Slots are filling up but I’m still looking for your thankful thoughts. Learn more here.

Also, Tuesday at 9pm EST I’m having an hour chat just to hang out with and encourage moms of all ages and stages. Although the overall topic is what do you do with your kids on October 31, all mom topics welcome. Just because we do things different doesn’t mean we should do them alone. Log in as a guest, I do rest. Please help me spread the word.  Free room link:

Lastly, I’m teaching highlights from the John and Stasi Eldredge book, Captivating. Thursday nights at 9pm EST share my own experiences, film clips and a video link in hopes of all women seeing how Captivating they truly are—always were, and always will be. If you don’t have the book or missed the last couple weeks, no worries. Join us! Same room link as above. I need all the help I can get letting ladies know about this life-changing book—just one hour a week!

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No Wonder

Posted by Julie on May 19, 2011 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

I had my follow up appointment regarding my recent laparoscopy. The surgery report was good but I confessed overall I’m feeling lousy and have for quite some time. I explained the symptoms and he ordered a couple tests. Turns out I had two additional things going on beyond the surgery recovery.

No wonder.

I dismissed a small issue and let it quickly evolve into something big. As the situation grew, it was more toxic, quite painful. When finally identified it attacked me from sides.

Isn’t that a lot like sin?

One of my favorite lessons on the matter comes from VeggieTales. Junior Asparagus meets a Fib from Outer Space, seems like a neat alien, nice enough. Junior breaks his dad’s bowling plate and he decides to tell a fib, a lie. One lie grows into another and another and suddenly Fib is a huge force threatening the entire city. It takes Junior confessing his sin and asking for forgiveness to save everyone.

Is there something threatening to take over your life, a toxin spreading like wildfire called sin? It can be anything, let’s remember in God’s eyes my lie is the same measure of sin as Ted Bundy’s serial murders. But guess what?

So is His forgiveness.

Don’t let a small thing overwhelm you.  Why not go to Christ today? He loves you and can’t wait to spend time with you!

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