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Surrender Story: Approval and the Eggplant

Posted by Julie on January 12, 2016 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

This year my goal is to share surrender stories, encouragement from myself and others that will encourage you to surrender the good, the bad, and—maybe one day—the chocolate. Last week Sarah Hamaker shared her story about parenting expectations. Alexis A. Goring let us in on her journey about surrendering refined sugar.

My story is about letting go of people pleasing and approval.

For those that know me now, they can’t believe I’d waste much time on such a thing. Peers find me God confident and secure in who God says I am. Trust me, that wasn’t always the case.

I was a hurting person growing up and took offenses, even slight ones that weren’t even intentional, to my core. I nursed them, fed them, and sewed them into my heart. By the time I was in my mid/late twenties and starting married life, approval had a grip on me.

What my husband thought of me kept me busy day and night. Choices he made I zeroed in and was certain was because of me. I can’t tell you how many of our early conflicts had the words, “This isn’t about you.” I couldn’t believe it. And I was imagining so many disappointments he had about me that I conjured up real conflict.

I did the same with colleagues and clients. I wanted to be the best and felt I was only good at what I did when I saw the organization or may name in bold newspaper print. Well, not every task is going to make the news. I exhausted myself wanting the approval.

The object lesson that I share with ladies I speak with is the loudest example to me about how sick I was when it came to needing approval and caring what people thought of me. I am so NOT a crafty person. But years and years ago for Christmas dinner at the in-laws I was chiseling an eggplant into a penguin centerpiece. If Pinterest existed back then I would have scoured the site looking for something I could bring that would make me feel worthy enough to be there. I was up into early morning getting this eggplant centerpiece ready. By the time I got there, I was too tired to be social. No one cared about the penguin. These people just wanted to see ME.

This Pinterest eggplant penguin kept me up all hours just so I'd feel worthy enough to attend Christmas.

This Pinterest eggplant penguin kept me up all hours just so I’d feel worthy enough to attend Christmas. Image: Goods Home Design

But back then, I still didn’t see it, and surrendering it was a process.

Here’s what God did in me.

I went to a couple retreats where prayer was intensive and I took steps of faith to share my story and allow others to pray. The results were powerful. God showed up and I felt for the first time how deeply Jesus loved me. He started to re wire my mind.

Then, I read. I’m an avid reader and I’m not afraid of a tough Bible study. I journeyed through Beth Moore’s Believing God and a few years later, Stasi Eldredge’s Captivating. Both these books were tools in God’s arsenal to set me free.

This healing in my life paved the way for me to write. There was no way I could have pursued writing for the public the way I was, and sadly I see too many authors with this approval/what others think burden and it is exhausting for them and frustrating for those in their circles. It would have emotionally snuffed me out had I not sought healing. And in His mercy and humor, I did receive a negative review with Entrusted. The person was kind but they didn’t like the book. They even admitted the hardest part was they hit purchase twice, so they were stuck with two copies they didn’t want.

Not long ago that review would have sent me to bed and I would have kept it churning in my mind for months. Today? I smiled. Not because I’m mocking the reviewer, but I’m so thankful for what the Lord has done in me.

And my friend, He longs to do the same for you.

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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: – –


Social media links:

Author page on Facebook,

Blog, “God is Love” –

Twitter handle, @pennedbyalex






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A Sweet Weekly Encouragement Just for You

Posted by Julie on December 19, 2015 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender, Writing |

Is there anything better than encouragement?
Okay, chocolate is definitely on the list.

Well, I’ve done a lot of praying this last quarter on what specific things could I be doing to reach the most people with the message I believe God has me to share.

The message?

Simply, Surrender Issues and Chocolate.

What do I mean?

I believe people find freedom when they surrender. That was the one quote that jumped at me when I watched War Room. Miss Clara said something to the effect, “Before you can have victory, you first have to surrender.”

My goal is to encourage and cheer as you lay those things down.

Sometimes they are good things. I’ve had to surrender a home and loved ones because a job took us somewhere new.

I’ve had to let go of bad things. Fear of what people thought of me. Fear of rejection.

And, I confess, I’m not quite ready to give up the chocolate. But maybe, one day I will.

I think we can all relate. So, to cheer you on, starting in January I’m sending a sweet, weekly encouragement that will help you in your surrender journey.

Each week in your inbox you will find a short surrender based message that will always include some chocolate mention. I want you to start your week right and feel less alone. The encouragement my free gift to you.


Julie Arduini invites you to receive a Sweet, Weekly Encouragement delivered to your inbox.

Want in? I hope you do.

To subscribe to Julie Arduini’s Sunday’s Surrender with Chocolate, click HERE. (Remember to check all folders in your inbox for activation.)

Please tell others, let’s have fun in 2016 together!

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Heart Overflowing with Gratitude by Tracy Ruckman

Heart Overflowing with Gratitude

by Tracy Ruckman


My heart overflows with gratitude this year for so many reasons. Yes, it’s been another difficult year – broken relationships, financial struggles, health concerns, new work schedules, new school schedules, dealing with mental illness of loved ones, death of loved ones, car troubles, watching the world get darker by the second.

But in the midst of all those negatives, God has been ever-present and has poured out His blessings and wonders in many of those same areas: restored relationships, financial blessings, health improvements, new babies, awesome professors, incredible new opportunities, new friends. And about six months ago, we also overcame a mighty oppression that had haunted us for years, and the difference is extreme.

This year, we’ve watched countless Christians shine brightly for the Kingdom in so many different ways. Personally, I’ve watched our authors shine through the opportunities provided them – watched and listened as they’ve shared their personal walks with Jesus with a dying world. And then on a worldwide scale, we’ve all watched Christians summon every ounce of courage to proclaim the name of Jesus in the face of horrifying death at the hands of evil.

As I was writing this post, one specific word was repeated over the few days this document sat on my laptop and this word is what gets us through all the bad days, all the horror, all the darkness. The message of this single word is powerful and life-changing – the word OVERCOME. We can overcome the darkness because JESUS has overcome the WORLD. He told us that Himself in John 16:33. Jesus is the VICTOR, and those of us who follow Him are victors, too, regardless of whatever our current circumstances may be. Jesus won the war, which means if we follow Him, we win, too.Thankful_edited

I’m thankful for a Savior who loves us so much that He died so that we might spend eternity – ETERNITY – with Him. An eternity spent in worship and praise. An eternity without pain, sorrow, tears, or heartbreak of any sort.

I’m thankful He gives us all second chances (and most times, many more!) to follow Him, to tell others about Him, to serve Him. I’m thankful to know that He is indeed the Victor, and that as His follower, I am, too. That knowledge helps me get through the painful days.

We can let the darkness of the world invade our lives or we can focus instead on the Light – shining Jesus’ Light for others who may be lost or wandering. This year, I’m especially grateful for His Light, which shines for all eternity.


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Sabbath Sunday: Be a Firework


Sabbath Sunday–where I share an amateur nature(ish) picture and a few thoughts on God’s love for you.

Those oohs and ahhs aren’t just for fireworks.

Freedom isn’t just for Americans.

My story, in part, is about surrendering fear and what others thought about me.

That kind of peace has a price, but what a victory.

Be colorful.

Be a sight to behold.

Let all of heaven ooh and ahhh over God’s latest masterpiece.

Surrender what’s holding you back to the One who knows all.

And be a firework.

In Jesus’ name.

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Sabbath Sunday: Be a Firework


Sabbath Sunday–where I share an amateur nature(ish) picture and a few thoughts on God’s love for you.

Those oohs and ahhs aren’t just for fireworks.

Freedom isn’t just for Americans.

My story, in part, is about surrendering fear and what others thought about me.

That kind of peace has a price, but what a victory.

Be colorful.

Be a sight to behold.

Let all of heaven ooh and ahhh over God’s latest masterpiece.

Surrender what’s holding you back to the One who knows all.

And be a firework.

In Jesus’ name.

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