Hi! Remember me? I’m the author of this blog. It’s been so long I feel like I need to re-introduce myself. I look like this:
This blog was my first, my baby, the one writing vessel I clung tightly to as I sought publication. In the last couple years as I followed God’s call to have my own writing and speaking ministry (and released four books,) this little blog hasn’t featured my own voice for a long time.
And I hate that.
I miss it.
I hope to catch you up with this post, and most importantly, kick off what I think might be the 10th year of the thankful series here at juliearduini.com. Each November I hand the blog over to anyone wishing to share why they are thankful. There are some great guest bloggers lined up with amazing gratitude. I don’t know about you, but I feel this is a critical juncture at this time, in this world.
I need to hear positive words. Encouragement. Affirmation. Thankfulness.
Why not start here?
If you aren’t subscribed to the blog, click to the right sidebar and you will be able to receive the posts to your inbox. You don’t want to miss the thankful series, trust me!
This year hasn’t been horrible, but it’s been hard. I figured I’d be thankful for the good, the bad, and the ugly.
- We have two grandsons! They both live in the same state (sadly, not the state we live in,) and are very close in age. It’s going to be so much fun watching them grow up together.
- Our daughter is thriving. She has braces, she is on student council, and bouncing back after a brutal 7th grade experience.
- Our son is doing well as a sophomore at Kent State. This semester he’s 100% online, and that’s been such a blessing for me with various projects.
- We have a wonderful family living in our rental property. God did an amazing thing orchestrating it.
- I finished the Surrendering Time series, and am grateful for the readers who have been transformed by the surrender messages.
- I received an invitation to join Inspy Romance, and love being a monthly blogger with them.
- I created a community of encouragement called 180 Encouragements. For us, we pick a slip each school day and start it with words of life. It’s also for anyone else to take the images/words and encourage someone else.
- My word for the year is transformation and I never thought I’d see so much change hit so fast and hard. Our son saw so much change with friendships, school, and work. What was hard to watch was knowing he’d done all the right things. It was Christ refining him, growing him. As a mom, it was tough to observe.
- As I mentioned, our daughter did not have a great 7th grade year. Like her brother, she was doing the right things and there were key people around her who destroyed the joy she so naturally carried.
- Car repairs. My husband’s retirement was on the table as something to talk about with a timeline. Then the transmission on his car went. The repairs were crushing. Our son’s car had a major repair that was a fire hazard, and the dealer really could have cared less when I brought it to their attention, making us pay $200 more than they quoted, and that quote was outrageous. Retirement? We can’t even afford for him to talk about it anymore.
- We had a situation where we trusted and got burned. It was a financial gift that was a sacrifice for us that cost us thousands in the end. More than that, it paralyzed us from trusting for a bit. It forced us to work on restoring property we didn’t have time or money to invest, but we had to. Things we lent that were nearly or brand new were lost or destroyed.
- Not even a week into the new year and we learned that our friend’s three year old daughter was taken from them through the actions of a refugee who received her license although she can’t speak or read English. Before this tragedy, she had already been cited for driving down the wrong way. In this instance she hit both the girl’s father, and the girl, while her friends from pre school witnessed it. The driver was not cited, and last I knew, has her license and is still driving. I don’t want to be political, but I will be real—this aspect of the refugee debate has not been discussed, and it is a real issue. No one should have to attend a funeral for a child. No. One.
- All the changes with the kids took me to a new place I had not known outside of hormone imbalance, anxiety. I feared new situations for them and wanted to be one step ahead. I wanted to take their pain and wrap it in a ball and throw it all away. I yearned to talk to the people who hurt them, intentional or not, I wanted to have the last word. I was exhausted even after sleeping, craved sugary foods again, and felt like I backtracked in health progress from last year.
- So many tragedies this year. Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Terrorism. Division. Ugly isn’t a strong enough word.
It’s hard to be thankful for the bad and the ugly, but as much as I can be for these hard and even terrible things, I am. With the kids, I had to lean on God and trust Him. Instead of acting on my temptations, I was able to wait on God and watch Him work wonders. And He is. I still have a quick seize of fear when something new or shocking comes our way, but my time is shorter in surrendering that fear to Him instead of trying to tackle it for myself.
With our friends, they are grieving, understandably. I am thankful to see they have a very strong support system. They created a page on Facebook encouraging people to do acts of Kindness in Regan’s memory. Their goal is for her not to be forgotten. There is also space dedicated to Regan at The Wild Animal Park in Chittenago, New York. Families can now have a seat and photo opportunities at a place Regan loved. Many people came together to make this happen. Recently, people are painting rocks and hiding them as another way to honor and remember her. These are ways to make the goal a reality, and help her family.
These days, it’s hard to be thankful. I haven’t met anyone this year who has boasted of a perfect life. There is hurt and hardship everywhere. Thankfulness makes a difference and is a choice. I pray the posts throughout this month lift you up.
Just like you have for me.
The word for my year is transformation and as always, I’m constantly looking to see how that word applies to my life. A few days ago I received news that I can’t stop thinking about. A little girl is gone and her parents, amazing parents who were great to us when we lived in NY, are shattered and forever changed. A tragic accident that took place in a split second.
Then I saw the breaking news coming out of the Fort Lauderdale airport. One minute passengers are focusing on travel, the next, diving for cover because of gunfire. I read on one of the sites I belong to that a cousin was one of the victims. Again, everything transforming in a split second.
I realize those transformations can come with good news, too. A marriage proposal. A birth. Hearing about a job promotion, or even getting a call that you got the job. It means in a second you go from that title to a new one. A change in address, perhaps. And always so much more.
I am one of those that is always so far ahead in my thinking that I am guilty of missing out on celebrating the present. My dear friend told me her goal for the year was to choose present over perfect. I love that. I want to embrace what I have in my life. This week showed me that can all go away in a moment. I don’t want to have regrets. But in search of perfect, I’ve missed out on the present. That’s not how I want to approach life.
Are there examples you can think of where your life changed in a split second? What are transformations you can think of?
Yesterday I presented an interview with author Sharon Srock. Today I have a review of her women’s fiction book, Callie. This is Book One in the Women of Valley View by HarbourLight, an imprint of Pelican Book Group.
I think it’s natural for every woman to want to help, make a difference, be a rescuer. I also te think it’s reality to have the very best of intentions and have things go horribly wrong. When it does, the urge to never help again is something I can relate to.
That’s why I believe readers will enjoy Callie. She’s not a college-age model as most TV characters appear, but a fifty-something grandmother with frustrations and dreams. But when tragedy strikes, Callie wants to retreat. Yet as a grandmother and Sunday School teacher, she’s drawn to a young girl who looks like she needs help. Trust is a mutual thing as Callie as to trust it’s worth helping and that results can be different, and for the family she encounters, they have to trust things will work out for their benefit.
In the middle of this story of friendship, grace, and healing are strong, well-developed characters that will become your friends. I especially enjoyed the interactions between Callie and her husband, Benton.
I found Callie a warm and tender read, perfect for a night by the fireplace.
Three dire circumstances. Three desperate prayers. One miracle to save them all. Callie Stillman is drawn to the evasive girl who’s befriended her granddaughter, but the last time Callie tried to help a child, her efforts backfired. Memories of the tiny coffin still haunt her. Samantha and Iris Evans should be worried about homework, not whether they can pool enough cash to survive another week of caring for an infant while evading the authorities. Steve Evans wants a second chance at fatherhood, but his children are missing. And no one seems to want to help the former addict who deserted his family. For Steve to regain the relationship he abandoned, for his girls to receive the care they deserve, Callie must surrender her fear and rely on God to work the miracle they all need.
Readers, you are in for a treat. Sharon Srock and Harbourlight have a free PDF available for you to download that contains a glimpse of Callie. You can enjoy by clicking here.
A copy of Callie’s story
A certificate for Terri’s story when it releases in April
A 6 piece Cherry blossom bath set
A cosmetic bag
A Bath Wrap
A Cozy pink eye mask
A Pair of aloe infused booties
A Hair Turban
A Tennis Bracelet
A 25.00 Amazon gift card
From Sharon: “The rules are easy. For every reader that comments on my feature, they get an entry into the drawing. Please remind them to include some contact info with their comment. A winner will be drawn Monday November 19th. The items add up to well over 100.00 in value.”
I received Callie from the author in exchange for review.