When the Most Wonderful Time of the Year Isn’t by Julie Arduini

For me, it was 2004.

I stared at the blinking lights on our Christmas tree, almost in a trance like state. It wasn’t the colors or the tree. I was shell shocked at how fast my life had changed and how much those I loved suffered.

In a year we’d both had job changes. My husband’s job was such a transition we had moved 300 miles away. We knew no one.

We had a toddler recovering from a horrendous first year where we nearly lost her. She needed therapy several times a week on top of medical appointments.

My dad had passed away. When he got the diagnosis he knew the outcome even though for months he didn’t even appear sick. The strapping man who reminded me of John Wayne was gone.

Celebrate Christmas?

I was having trouble finding reasons to get out of bed each morning.

This year has been full of heartbreak for so many I know online and in person. So much transition, sickness and death. Job loss, injustices. Broken marriages. Miscarriages. Widowhood.  These are without looking at headlines. If so, there are families grieving from suicides. Shootings. Life seems full of bad news.

But the song says it’s the most wonderful time. How can that be? How can anyone celebrate the season when there is no feeling? When everything is numb and time feels frozen?

  • I know for me, it helped to decorate. That was my way of not only remembering I had two children who needed the bright lights and Christmas music, it was also a statement. I was down, but I refused to be out. I felt like the devil’s plan was to destroy everything in and around me and if I gave in, he won. And even if it was one small thing I did to remember it was Christmas, I was bound and determined.
  • I also thought of others. It wasn’t easy because I felt so lost inside myself. My favorite thing to do is to have blank cards and point to a random name in the phone book. I write something like, “You mean so much to God that I pointed to a name in a phone book to send a card and the person is you. You are not forgotten. You are loved. Have a Merry Christmas.” I don’t sign my name or leave a return address. I want them blessed, and it takes my mind off my situation to know I’m encouraging someone else.
  • If I couldn’t take the upbeat Christmas music, I put praise music on. If the words, as Christian and Biblical as I needed them to be were heartbreaking to hear, I played instrumental music.
  • I wish I’d been more honest. There were some events I shouldn’t have attended but didn’t want to let anyone down. Other times I isolated myself and should have said something. Keeping it all in wasn’t healthy and again, plays right into the enemy’s hand. You don’t have to air all your laundry, just say you’re struggling and can use prayer. And when someone offers, let them.

Since then I’ve had other difficult Christmas seasons but nothing close to that one in 2004. I think a lot of why I was able to bounce back a little faster was I applied the suggestions above and realized the pain had purpose. Hosea 2:14 has been my lifeline in dark times and I want my adversity to mean something and help someone else down the road.

My prayer is that if you’re struggling this Christmas, something here in this post helped you.

Father, let every person reading this post feel Your presence right now, and in the days and weeks to come. For every event and circumstance that has robbed them of peace and joy, replace it multi fold with blessings we can’t define. Give them special moments that are Your love notes just for them. Give them strength to celebrate Christmas, even if it’s in a different way this year. Draw them close to You. We give you the glory, honor and praise. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

All About Elf on a Shelf by Julie Arduini

He’s outfitted in red and white and pays attention to all your deeds.

He’s polarizing—he’s loved and tradition or hated and judged.

Santa? Nope. It’s the little figure that takes over your Facebook feed, Elf on a Shelf.

I had no clue who or what this was a few years ago and I still see folks scratching their heads wondering where did this thing come from, anyway?


Photo from Elf on a Shelf website.

Elf on a Shelf is a children’s book that explains how the elves are sent by Santa to watch over boys and girls and report back to let him know how they are behaving. According to the Elf on a Shelf website, when a family adopts an elf by giving them a name, the elf receives its magic so they can go to work. At night the elf leaves for the North Pole to report to Santa and when the family wakes, the elf is back home, but in a new location the child/ren need to find. Often the elf is caught doing something mischievous. Elves have been also known to share lessons, Bible stories, or even warnings about bad behavior.

The concept has taken off so much that there is also a birthday and reindeer tradition. There’s also an app that gives ideas for the scout elf that can be simple, crafty, silly or messy. Part of the fun is taking pictures of the elf antics and putting it on social media. Another aspect is sharing the elf name. Over the years I’ve read about Joe, Chippy, Sparkles and Buddy.

We for our family, I was skeptical. I didn’t want another product to take away the true meaning of Christmas but our youngest was so enamored with the concept I compromised. Instead of buying the book and original figure I bought a plush elf that was a girl (and in my opinion, less creepy.) Our teen son and I had fun and a little bit of stress trying to put Pinkie Pie in all kinds of situations. There were mornings the youngest found Pinkie Pie on a zip line, in the sink washing dishes, in the bathroom putting bows on the mirror. But she also led a Bible study for the Christmas stuffed animals. Gave out gifts. Wrote encouraging notes.

I realized during the process I looked forward to our daughter’s reaction and her joy was contagious. It pushed me to be creative and intentional. Because she was on the upper end age wise, Pinkie Pie retired after one year of service. But the process surprised me. Sometimes the season is hard for me and this was a way to push past the fog and celebrate the season. We didn’t lose the focus on Christ’s birth. I really have no regrets.

This year we’ve moved on by adopting a family advent calendar. We took turns creating challenges meant to give us family time and situations that encourage us and focus on the real meaning of Christmas. Already I’m glad we’re taking the time for this, but I confess, I’m watching my Facebook feed to see what the elves are up to.

How about you? Does your family have an Elf on a Shelf? What are your thoughts about them?

I’m Not Ready by Julie Arduini

You know the phrase, “Be careful of what you wish for, you just might get it?”

IMAGE_024 (3)

I wasn’t ready for two feet of snow a couple years ago.

I was thinking about that when I looked at the pictures from Greater Buffalo earlier this week. I heard a lot of people say how they wanted snow. The people who saw 50+ inches of snow, yes, nearly 5 FEET of snow in a day, most likely were saying they didn’t ask for that. Who could be ready for such an event?

It’s the same for couples with infertility. Before certain medications or procedures they are warned that there could be such success that they could end up with multiples. I dealt with infertility and even learning I was having one after praying for so long and hard still gave me fear. I got what I wanted and I remember saying to my husband as birth was imminent, “I’m not ready!”

With the holidays, I know how easy it is to get caught up in the events of the season and the massive to-do list that comes with it. No matter how early we wake up to prepare there’s a knock on the door and it hits me it’s show time. I look around and see a kitchen in chaos. Things I missed cleaning in other rooms. The guests are in the entry taking off their coats. “But wait, I’m not ready!”

This sentiment is exactly what I’m feeling with my first release out. I’ve worked years for this. Reading, writing, revising chapters only to tweak again. Now Entrusted is out and it’s a new road. I’m creating guest blog spots, interviews, media releases, updating my website, recruiting reviews and influencers. There’s writing deadlines for the second and third books in the series.

As I’ve tried to juggle these things against two kids in dramas, one also in driving school, helping the other with homework, cleaning a new house and keeping everyone dressed and fed, I’ve wanted to scream, “Wait! I’m not ready!”

No matter what we’re facing that seems too daunting to deal with, this I know: God equips. It’s His nature.Whether it’s a national weather event in my back yard or a new author trying to make the public aware of , it’s hard stuff.

What have you been wishing for that now that it’s here you’re in a panic saying, I’m not ready!

The Newbie Perspective by Julie Arduini

It’s been off air for awhile but as a newlywed I remember watching ER with my husband. What I enjoyed was watching the show from the newbie’s POV, point of view. When the show started it was Carter, the resident under the tough Dr. Benton. At first he was unsure and trying to prove himself against his never-impressed mentor. We saw through this eyes the highs and the lows. Life and death. When it was Carter’s time to move on to other things, he evolved into a top notch doctor who was a colleague. It was a beautiful transition to watch through the years.

I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV but I can relate to the ER journey. Through the years readers have walked with me as I transitioned from a writer of a rough draft to a critique partner and editor. As I queried and waited. Rejoiced as I signed a contract with Write Integrity Press.

And here we are.

This week I released the cover to Entrusted, my first Adirondack contemporary romance, to the public. I’ve heard from other authors with multiple books. The day they see the final cover, the times the mail carrier drops off a box of books fresh off the press, it never gets old.

Set for release this month, you can mark Entrusted as a "want to read" on Goodreads and join Julie Arduini there as she talks about the book and writing.

Set for release this month, you can mark Entrusted as a “want to read” on Goodreads and join Julie Arduini there as she talks about the book and writing.

The plan is for Entrusted to release this month. I’ve sent in the galleys/proofs. It has an ISBN number. Goodreads has officially recognized it, and me. The work really revs up now as it’s no good to write a book and not market it. My prayer is many will not only become aware of Entrusted, they will want to purchase it. They will purchase extra copies for Christmas gifts. They will realize reviews are important for future work for the author, so they will leave honest and kind reviews.

I admit, I feel like Dr. Carter and I’m blessed because there is no Dr. Benton. As wise as he was, he had a lousy bedside manner. I have my Heavenly Father guiding and cheering me on. I have a publisher that believes in me and fellow authors who are like family.

I’m pretty sure there are episodes where Dr. Carter got a procedure right and when no one was looking, he was in a hallway doing a dance or a fist pump in the air.

Been there, still doing that.

Is there anything you’ve accomplished that was a transition that started as the new person? Can you relate?

You’re Invited: I’ll be across social media talking about Entrusted, writing, faith, chocolate and life in general. I have a group at Goodreads and would love for you to join. The same for G+ and Facebook. I’d love for you to follow me on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, too.

Book Release Update by Julie Arduini

If you’ve read Christians Read for any length of time, you’re aware I was seeking publication. Earlier this year I signed with Write Integrity Press for a three book contemporary romance series based in the Upstate NY Adirondack Mountains. I can’t wait to share my friends from the fictional village of Speculator Falls.

I learned the official titles for each book and I’m excited. They reflect not only part of the plot, but the surrender journey the characters go through.

EntrustedJenna Anderson, sassy Youngstown, Ohio city-girl, plows–literally–into Upstate New York’s Adirondack village, Speculator Falls, with a busted GPS after agreeing with one phone interview to accept the senior center director position with the goal of belonging no matter how out of place she appears and how angry she makes town councilman and grocer Ben Regan.

Her new life is so rural there are no traffic lights, and when she learns her car isn’t equipped to handle the mountain terrain, Ben’s grandmother offers her late husband’s vehicle, further alienating the local businessman.

As she endears herself to the seniors at the center and creates a vision full of ideas, programs, and equipment, she ruffles Ben’s plans to keep Speculator Falls void of change, including the store his grandfather built.

The two work through community events and shared heartbreak only to face off in a town council meeting where Ben publically rejects her proposal for the senior center, causing Jenna to react out of her fears about belonging.

She returns to Ohio where she realizes she needs to surrender her plans for the center and fears about belonging and trust her Heavenly Father when facing fear, change, loss, and love.

A single mom and former Adirondack sheriff enters beauty school but creates split ends for the men in her life.

Trish Maxwell returns to Speculator Falls with crushed dreams, egg on her face, and the chance to make a new start with the very people and places she used to make fun of.

Entrusted is set for release next month. I don’t have a cover to share yet so when I have updates, I’ll be sure to pass that on. I encourage you to consider Entrusted as a Christmas gift for the romance reader on your list.




But wait! There’s more. I do have a cover for another book I’m co authoring with Jerusha Agen, Theresa Anderson, Joan Deneve, Marji Laine, Fay Lamb, Elizabeth Noyes and Betty  Owens. The Love Boat Bachelor is a sequel to last year’s A Dozen Apologies. This time readers pick who Brent Teague will propose to. I can’t say much more than that except for I love the premise and I am having a blast writing my chapters. Stay tuned for this romance as well.

As you can tell, setting is a big part in the books I’m writing. What’s a setting you enjoy? Have you traveled there?



When Childhood Stories Grow Up by Julie Arduini

I’m late to the party but my new binge watching hobby has been Once Upon a Time. I’m fascinated by the way the writers have taken beloved fairy tales and classic stories and put a modern spin on them. For the few people left who haven’t heard of the show, characters like Snow White, Prince Charming, Belle, Red Riding Hood, the dwarves, Hook, Aurora, Mulan, Rumpelstiltskin, Pinocchio and the Evil Queen are part of a modern town called Storybrook.

When the show begins we learn the town is under a curse and that the characters have forgotten their fairy tale roots. A little boy adopted by the mayor has a special book and believes everyone in Storybrook is from a story. When his biological mom comes to town, the clock in the village starts to work again and things start to change.

I’ve had fun thinking about the show, the original stories, and the new opportunities the characters have with a contemporary take on things. Often the characters are motivated by revenge, greed, or loss. When an episode ends, I realize even as an adult, there’s a lesson for me to take away. The pure bliss of such great writing keeps me pressing play to watch the next episode.
Once Upon a Time photo: 1347038686 1347038686.jpg
Then I saw movie trailers for Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. This was one of my favorite books growing up. When I felt dramatic and wanted sympathy for a lousy day I’d open the pages and realize my life wasn’t so bad afterall. To see this updated and onscreen got me thinking again. This is another classic now updated and available for adults.


What other books from my childhood are out there as movies or other adaptations I enjoyed as an adult? I took a look and came up with:

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Freaky Friday

Ramona and Beezus

Nancy Drew

The Grinch

What about you? Have you noticed anything on television or the big screen that was once your favorite book as a child?

For inspiration, take a look at this list.


photobucket image



How Writing is Like Moving by Julie Arduini

This past year has been full of adventures both in and outside my writing life. I had the opportunity to sign contracts and move forward in the publication process. Most of my time has been spent with our journey to move to what we call our “forever” home.

We’re now in our new place and although there’s still boxes to unpack, I’m already reflecting. I realized that a lot about the moving process reminds me of writing.

1. Plotting it Out

I’m a planner and organizer. When we first started praying about the move we listed what God laid on our hearts. The needs for the new home. As we progressed and I started packing things up, I labeled boxes. I wrote the name of the room I wanted it in and what the contents contained. This has been a life saver. When I’ve been asked “Where is the…” even if it’s still packed, I pretty much know where it is.

My writing life is like that, too. I’ve tried to be “seat of the pants” when it comes to plot and it isn’t natural. I don’t write every detail down, but I need a plan. My characters need a background and it’s important to write it out.

2. The Sagging Middle

There was the time in the real estate process when we had to wait on others and we didn’t know how long things would take. Now that we’ve been in the house two weeks there are boxes I can tell aren’t as critical because they’re still in the hall.

Like writing, the beginning and the end are exciting to me. Bridging those has never been easy, and I have a feeling I’m not the only author with that struggle. They don’t call it the sagging middle for nothing.

3. The Euphoria

Signing our name on the paperwork was exciting. Receiving the key? Try and stop our grins. Sitting in our chairs in the Florida room watching the birds at the feeder brings about a joy I can’t describe.

Putting my name on three contracts this year was an amazing feeling. Revising a chapter and receiving great feedback brings about an excitement most outside of writing wouldn’t understand. Hitting send on that manuscript? It’s euphoric to finish and know you’ve done your best and it’s time to let the baby go.

I’m sure there’s more similarities I’ll think of as I keep unpacking but those are the ones that came to mind.

Are there any you can think of?


Lessons from an Apple Core by Julie Arduini

While I’m in the middle of unpacking boxes and getting things set up in our new home, our youngest asked if she could have an apple. She’s on a Granny Smith kick these days and likes me to cut it up. I have a Pampered Chef slicer that works like magic.

Except last night.

I tried every which way to get that apple cut. I pressed down as hard as I could hoping the core would break under the pressure.

The core never flinched.
Granny Smith apple photo: Granny Smith Apple gsapple.jpg

I’m a visual person and right away I felt a check in my spirit.

These days, these last days where wars are popping up, diseases run rampant without borders, people rise up and claim they are savior and many follow—only those with a strong core are going to withstand.


A strong core is someone who not only knows Christ in a personal way, but trusts Him. It doesn’t mean anyone is perfect or never has moments of doubt or fear.

But when the special news reports seem hourly and full of bad news—

When scandals appear to put criminals in a better financial bracket while we seem to work harder for less—

It’s tempting to think about bending.

Giving in.

Joining the world for just one choice.

Maybe two.

Remember, we’re in this world, but we aren’t of it.

We’re made in God’s image and He has a purpose for us.

Keep leaning on Him. Go hard after Him to learn strategies, wisdom, secrets only He can share.

And watch your core build to the point that when the fires come, you don’t just survive.

You thrive.

That’s a strong core.


photobucket image

About the Ice Bucket Challenge by Julie Arduini

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last week, chances are you’ve seen the Ice Bucket Challenge gone viral to raise awareness and donations for ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Along with the videos, you’ve probably read the comments.

  • How does pouring water over your head help a cause?
  • Why would I participate in something just because someone tagged me?
  • Why not just give the money?
  • Wait, are people donating, or just getting wet?
  • I’m pro-life and have heard organizations use embroyonic stem cells to fight ALS. I don’t want to donate if that’s the case.
  • I’m uncomfortable jumping on a bandwagon that’s so massive, just because.
  • How can we dump water on ourselves when Africans don’t even have wells drilled?

I admit, when I saw it start, I hoped I wouldn’t get tagged. I don’t look great on video, and less so wet. There’s a vulnerability to put myself out there and share.

I also was fairly sure I heard about the embryonic stem cells, and that’s a deal breaker for me. I would want to give to an organization that uses adult stem cells.

I also interacted with people affected by ALS and their response to the videos was incredible. If the world could respond with as much passion to the issues I personally live with and around as they have ALS, I too would be choked up and overwhelmed. It is a terrible disease and I understand the need for awareness. I also know a cure can’t be found without donations.

My step son, Matt, in his ice bucket video.

My step son, Matt, in his ice bucket video.

So, what do you do with all the opinions out there about a video that challenges people to learn about ALS and send money?

My answer is to prayerfully remember your God-given convictions.

When I got tagged by my nephew, my own kids were so excited to respond that they didn’t even wait for me to move ahead. They researched ALS and created the video. They did wait on me to learn about donating.

When I was tagged by one of the girls I minister to Wednesday nights, I knew it was time to make the video. All the girls in the class were tagged and I thought it was a great opportunity to be foolish for Jesus, if you will. They saw me take the time to buy ice and put a call out on when and where we’d do it. They were so giddy to watch and participate, they couldn’t contain themselves, and the parents gave money.

My turn came and it was important for me to say in the spiel that although I was taping on behalf of ALS awareness, I wanted people to respond to a charity they felt comfortable with. For me, I planned to take the monies and donate them to a charity close to these girls and me that I knew where and how the monies were spent. (M’Pact Girls Ministries.) I tagged people who I felt made an eternal impact in the lives of children. I challenged viewers to do the same.

My convictions are different than yours and I think too often and too easily we trip over ourselves about it. I’m not about to participate in anything demonic, but I’m not going to go after anyone that throws water over themselves. I know that it’s a first world excess and I’m aware of third world issues. But my conviction is to be relational with kids and this challenge was a way for me to share the gospel and be with kids. That might work for you, it might not. But it was my conviction.

I might not agree with where all the funds are going, but my answer has been that I am uncomfortable sending to a place that uses embryonic stem cells. I follow with my interest in using adult stem cells, and that I understand the world doesn’t agree with me. That’s my conviction.

I’ve seen arguments rise up over music choices, movies, several things that we end up fighting over and missing the bigger picture. God’s done amazing things using movies like Spiderman to help me share a nugget He revealed to me about unforgiveness. If all I did was watch Biblical movies, I’d miss that. But I understand some people have that conviction. I don’t watch R movies, but I know some very strong Christians who do. It’s their conviction. Alcohol? I know denominations struggle with it because Christians can be all over the map about it. Alcohol is a stumbling block for me and many people I know. That’s my conviction. I’m not afraid to walk into a bar, nor do I look for one. 

Anyway, I thought I’d share my observations. If nothing else, the person/people who created the ice bucket idea are marketing geniuses. As someone who studied marketing, they thought out of the box and it cost them nothing to come up with the idea as far as I can see. Pure genius.

I’m not interested in being a wet blanket. I am passionate about showing people Jesus. 

And I had fun getting wet.

What are your thoughts?

What I Wish the World Knew About Depression by Julie Arduini

I was stunned to open my Facebook feed and find it full of tributes to Robin Williams. I knew he wasn’t even 65, so I wondered if it was his heart. I was devastated to read and now know it was a suicide.

His family shared that he had been struggling with deep depression. His own confessions regarded his addictions. I love to read biographies and such and most of the great comedians had ravaging inner pain. Many medicate with alcohol or drugs. All in that category used humor, and we found it entertaining.

Robin Williams photo: London DSCN1435.jpg

I suspect his death is especially hard because his talents knew no bounds. Hysterical stand-up. Oscar winning drama. Laugh out loud interviews he hijacked. Touching tributes to causes and people like St. Jude’s. TV. Movies. I can’t think of another person like him, not before, not up-and-coming.

Now my Facebook feed is full of posts, articles, updates and comments regarding depression, suicide, God’s word, eternity. I don’t think any of these help his family. I pray something does. I can’t imagine the torment of anyone left behind after a suicide.

My hope is that through my small experience with depression someone might get a glimpse of what it is like. It took decades for me to realize I had hormonal imbalance. I suffered with severe PCOS, so I’m not sure if the two were related. But when I was in a certain time of the month I could feel a change and it was as ominous as a dark cloud and still night in the midwest. Nothing would be wrong otherwise and a thick veil of darkness consumed me. I was rocked with shame, for what, I don’t know. But it perpetuated knowing people needed me. The physical drain, almost like a vaccuum suck somehow took all energy and joy out of me left it impossible to manage the easiest of tasks. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to. I simply could not. Like I said, it was absolutely consuming.

This would hit hard for twenty minutes straight. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but I’ll be real here. It was such an intense darkness that I can think of many times I got a suitcase out and started to pack. I thought if I ran somewhere, anywhere, my family would be free of what my torment delayed them in having.

Three times I can recall walking to the medicine cabinet. I picked up pills and stared. I knew what I was contemplating but I was that void of hope and that full of desperation. And yes, this was as a Christian, and a strong one at that.

I longed for someone to bust in the door when I’d hide and tell me I was worth it. Who would hold me and let me cry or ooze the darkness out in whatever way. No one did. For those closest to me, they admitted they didn’t know what to do. They thought I wanted to be alone. I felt like I had no choice.

My story has a happy ending, and it is only by the grace of God. I finally broke down and confessed everything to my doctor. I now take a prescription medication that balances my moods and curbs menopause effects. Even with a hysterectomy, I still struggle. I’m upfront when I’m having a hard time. It’s not as dark or isolating but I get frustrated. My memory isn’t what it used to be. I have trouble sleeping. I tire easily than I used to. But it’s no where near where it was.

What do I wish the world knew?

1. It’s the darkest, most isolating and oppressive experience in the world. If you haven’t experienced it, you shouldn’t give answers as an expert.

2. It’s a vicious cycle, always looming. Just when you start to crawl out of the pit, there is a tug on your ankle threatening to pull you down and keep you there. It is frightening.

3. Isolation is the game plan of oppression. Love the person, no matter how much they protest, that they are going out with you for coffee. Show up with bagels. They will say they are busy and fine. Show up anyway.

4. If you’re not sure what to say, admit that. Transparency is an oasis. Patronizing, packaged answers are a wasteland. I didn’t feel better when I heard “I don’t know what your problem is.” Or, “You just need to snap out of it.” If I could have, I promise you, I would have led the way.

5. Jesus Christ CAN set you free. I admitted above that even as a Christian I struggled, so I get that you might argue why bother? Because without Him, I promise you, I’d be a dead statistic. Knowing HIm gave me enough hope to speak out, to call and seek help. I could picture Him next to me, weeping with me. That helped me so much. He is real, He is for you. Don’t go another step without Him.

To learn more, please visit the following: peacewithGod.net


Trusting God by Julie Arduini

I’ve been hit and miss blogging here this summer. I’d love to say it’s because I’m hunkered down with re writes and marketing plans now that contracts are signed. Although there’s truth to that, our family has been on a crazy ride this season.

We’ve had travels for family visits and our teen son’s missions trip. The bulk of our time has been searching for a new home. Last month we thought we found it. The offer was accepted and things seemed in motion. Deep down I sensed something was off, but I didn’t want to think about it. Red flags started popping up, but we didn’t think much of it. We dismissed them as inconveniences.

And the deal fell through.

Once we recovered from the shock we all confessed we felt this was going to happen. The challenge was to move past the emotions and trust God to move us forward. Literally.

There was one object lesson that gave me the courage to keep that process at the Lord’s feet. I’m a visual person and when this showed up on my Facebook feed, I felt the urge to save it. Now I know why.

Artist unknown. First appeared on Facebook.

Artist unknown. First appeared on Facebook.











The house we thought would be ours was nice. There was an open floor plan and space for entertaining, yet for us to recharge as an introverted family. It was designed similar to the home we left behind in our faith move from Upstate NY to Ohio. The yard was huge. There were “extras” we didn’t even pray about.

But fast forward past the deal falling through and choosing to move on, we are now on track to close on a new home even better than that one. This house has more space and bigger bedrooms. Cozier. A gorgeous neighborhood with breathtaking landscaping and privacy. So much more, and yet, $15K less than the last house. The sellers left a list of items they can’t take with them and gave us first shot at buying at a reasonable price. Nearly everything we needed was on that list and it saved us a lot of money.

Isn’t God good?

I wish that was my only lesson in the making this summer. With our current home, I was certain we’d be selling. Put a sign in the yard, the people come, we negotiate, done.

Not so fast.

As we’ve made repairs and cleaned out, we’ve prayed every step of the way. When we asked our agent to tour the house and share her insight she was honest. We were taken before the recession with the appraisal. The house will never appraise at the amount we need it to. Many families were taken like we were. Some lost their jobs after the recession and were forced into banktruptcy. They can’t buy right now—but next year—they can.

Her suggestion was to rent our current house out.

At first I couldn’t even entertain it. Afterall, it’s always about buying and selling. Not buying and renting. Right?

Our answer might not be everyone’s but we laid this down in prayer. And I felt such peace. Our agent has provided helps so we’re informed and protected the best we can. By focusing on that visual above, I was able to hand my plan for a straight sell and consider His plan.

Trusting God is so hard. That’s what makes the reward of faith so rich. We can’t see what’s ahead. We have to believe His best for us is the plan. When Eve sinned her real motivation was far. She didn’t think God would come through for her.

Boy, do I relate.

My prayer for you is if trusting God is a struggle, surrender that fear. The same inspectors that went through the first house also inspected this home we plan on moving into. They couldn’t believe we’re getting more house for less money. Over and over they said, “God’s sure blessing you.” They even pointed to the design on the doors, a cross. “See, even down to the door. A cross. God’s blessing you.”

Trust Him to bless you, too. Not for things, don’t get me wrong. As excited as I am for this house, the real blessing here is peace. Unity. And favor.

Trust Him today.

And It’s Official by Julie Arduini

I have a confession to make.

I’ve struggled as one of the bloggers here.

Not because I had an issue with anyone, quite the opposite, actually. As a reader, the other bloggers here at Christians Read are truly my favorite authors and have been. As a writer, they are my mentors.

But I felt like that Sesame Street sketch.

One of these things isn’t like the others.


Everyone was published but me. No one ever said a word about it as far as pressuring me to change the status. I was working quietly behind the scenes revising and taking my chapters through critique groups. But I let it get to me.

I even offered to step down.

And the gang lovingly said forget it.

They let me know it wasn’t a matter of if I’d be published.

It was a matter of when.

And I’m thrilled to say the time has come.

I signed two contracts recently that I’m really excited about.

The first is for an infertility devotional with Chalfont House Publishing. Heidi Glick, Elizabeth Maddrey, Kym McNabney, Paula Mowery, Donna Winters and I share our experiences with transparency in a way none of us saw in books when we were going through our struggles. Yet, there is hope. Something women in this season are in desperate need of. It’s the first time my name will be on a cover. Yay!

The second is twenty years in the making. Write Integrity Press offered a contract for my Adirondack contemporary romances. Spectacular Falls is finished and I can’t wait for readers to meet Jenna Anderson and Ben Regan. She’s the new senior center director in Speculator Falls producing a lot of change for grocer Ben Regan. My hope is readers fall in love with the people and the area. I’ve said more than once if I could go anywhere in the world, I’d most likely choose the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate NY.

The real Charlie Johns store in Speculator, NY is the inspiration behind JB's the store in Spectacular Falls. Picture by Julie Arduini

The real Charlie Johns store in Speculator, NY is the inspiration behind JB’s, the store in Spectacular Falls. Picture by Julie Arduini

I don’t know why having a contract makes a difference. I told my mom the only thing I can figure out is perhaps deep down I believe it’s validation. That I AM meant to do this writing thing. That someone believes in me. That I don’t stink.

Whatever the case, I’m thankful for the Christians Read gang. They believed in me when I didn’t and never made me feel less than because I wasn’t published. Thank you, reader, for contacting me behind the scenes when you enjoyed a post and didn’t question my qualifications.

Here are one sentence hooks for the series:

Spectacular Falls:

A  city-girl plows into an Adirondack village and produces change for the grocer.


A single mom and former Adirondack sheriff enters beauty school but creates split ends for the men in her life.

To Be Determined:

Trish Maxwell returns to Speculator Falls with crushed dreams, egg on her face, and the chance to make a new start with the very people and places she used to make fun of.

I’ll keep you posted!


It’s a Good Thing by Julie Arduini

I’ll never be mistaken for Martha Stewart on several levels, but she has that catch phrase, “It’s a good thing.” Well, there are some good things going on that I thought I would share. Because in full disclosure, I’m dealing with the stomach bug making its way through the family, we’re trying to ready our home for sale, and we’re looking for what we believe God has as our forever home.  These things made me miss my last scheduled post, so I thought I’d pop in and share what I can.

Because I don’t want to tell you that I learned my husband has been called to a business trip to India this year.

Or that I finished cleaning and our puppy flew through the kitchen and left his huge paw tracks everywhere.

So let me share some good things.

  • Last month I signed with Chalfont House. This is the first contract where my name goes on the cover, so pardon me while I do a little dance. Heidi Glick, Elizabeth Maddrey, Kym McNabney, Paula Mowery, Donna Winters and myself are writing a devotional on infertility. This opportunity dropped in my lap and I’m so excited about it. This is the book we wish existed when we were going through our season. None of our stories are the same, and we’re transparent about what our circumstances were, our doctors, the people around us, and more. Yet in these candid stories is hope. Prayers. And God’s Word. These ladies are amazing. Stay tuned.


  • I tried an experiment based on reading posts from Michael Hyatt and Jeff Goins. This year I was intentional about building my newsletter list by offering a contemporary romance to subscribers throughout 2014. Match Made in Heaven is a contemporary romance I first penned as a new Christian and a very green writer. I’ve had a blast revising it and sharing with subscribers. The experiment is working. My newsletter list is 4X bigger than it was in January. It’s not massive, but it’s growing. And like Martha says, “It’s a good thing.” My fiction features surrender issues and Upstate NY settings, and I’m proud to showcase Hammondport in this story, part of the Finger Lakes. As for surrender—Beth Prescott needs to let go of her past and comparing herself to others. Dean Kellerman’s stuck on trying to earn forgiveness because his mistakes continue to haunt him. Want to know more? Subscribe for free at http://juliearduini.com right sidebar and watch your inbox for activation.

My friend Holly's post on singleness went viral.


  • One of my dearest friends, Holly Hrywnak, recently started blogging. When I’m in Upstate NY we get together and share our struggles, breakthroughs, and I’m constantly encouraging her to write. She has one of the voices that I know God has a huge plan to use, and He is. Last week Holly’s post Forever Alone: The Single Girl Struggle, went viral. Her blog isn’t a year old and that post lit up cyberspace. She nails what I remember feeling as a single person, and what I’ve observed in others. If you know someone who is single, send them to her post. It went viral for a reason. Yep, Martha again. “It’s a good thing.”

There are other things going on that I wish I could share, but this is a good snapshot of what’s going on. And you know, as catchy as Martha’s phrase is, all that’s going on is better than a good thing. You know what it is?

A God thing.

The very best kind, don’t you think?

What God things are going on in your life?

No Dumb Questions by Julie Arduini

Each Easter season I’m fascinated to watch our daughter process Christ’s love for us as she watches it through our church’s Passion  Play. She has mild special needs that include comprehension issues, so often things her peers can figure out without a lot of cues, she needs some explanation. This year she wasn’t just the townsgirl/robe carrier, she made her way to the crucifixion scene. (I’m not certain she was allowed, but that’s another post for another day.)

Once the play ended, she asked if she could watch the Bible series on the History Channel. She compared the two performances and tried in her ten year old way to compare it to what she knew of the Bible. Of course, she had questions.


Jesus inviting the children to come forward. Our daughter is in the light blue.

  • Why is Jesus looking at Peter funny when he’s talking?

(Because Jesus knows in a matter of hours Peter will deny Him three times.)


  • Where do you think Satan was when Jesus was on the cross?

(I’m guessing close by, enjoying every second, thinking he had won.)


  • Why did you say I’m more blessed than Thomas?

(Because she believes without needing to see.)


  • I don’t understand how Saul and Paul are the same person.

(That’s a tough one to explain. But in the end, she grasped that Saul was someone who lived to see Christians die. He was on his way to catch Christians when Jesus blinded him. Saul’s life changed so much he became Paul, one of the greatest evangelists the world could ever know. And what faith on the Christians part, because they allowed Paul in, not sure if his transformation was true.)


  • Why is it such a big deal John is listed last and it says he died of old age?

(At the end of our Passion Play it lists each disciple and how they died. John the Revelator is the protagonist and he jokes how they’ve tried to burn him, poison him, beat him…and nothing worked, so they exiled him. For him to die of old age gives me the goose bumps. He took care of Mary. He was a true friend. And how he loved the Lord.)


She had a lot of questions but I loved her understanding, the best we can, the depth of Christ’s love to sacrifice as He did. That she saw flawed men who goofed up and goofed up bad turn things around so much they were among the first to take the gospel and run with it. She understood when evil is the core of intentions, it will not end well.

Her excitement fanned my flames of adoration.

I kept thinking back to Peter. So confident and sure to full of shame. And because of Christ, stronger than ever and remembered through the ages because we can relate. Paul. He thought he was right, and to know he had a hand in so many murders, how could he go on? But go on Paul did. I’ve always been inspired by Him.

And of course, John. Talk about passionate for Christ. The attempts to kill him were such failures they sent him away to exile. I’m sure no one wanted to see his anointed face as a reminder he couldn’t be silenced, not by their hand. That gives me courage to be bolder.

But none of these questions exist, there’s no reason to explore the personal histories without Jesus.

And I praise God our kids know Him. They treat participating in the Passion Play as a small gift to Him, their way of saying thank you for eternal life. For our daughter, thanks we don’t have to kill animals and use their blood to get forgiveness. She gets that Jesus did that for us.

If you weren’t able to take opportunity to watch the life, death and resurrection of Jesus played out, it’s not too late. Find a copy of Passion of the Christ. Check out the History Channel.

Or, best of all, take time apart and spend some quiet time in prayer.

You’re welcome to ask questions.


Photo by Julie Arduini/dream special effect used

What Would You Put in Your Locket? By Julie Arduini

origami owl photo: Origami Owl Living Lockets 3.jpg

Each Christmas vacation I visit my dear friends from my school years. Last December we met at the mall and as soon as I saw Julie, I was drawn to her necklace. It was a locket with charms inside. She told me it was a gift from her husband, an Origami Owl necklace.

I looked it up when I got home and became intrigued with them. The idea is you buy a necklace and fill it with charms that summarize your life and interests.

The charm choices are limitless.

  • Mom
  • USA/Military
  • Children (blue/pink)
  • Dog
  • Cat
  • Cheerleading
  • Golf
  • Cross
  • Words like faith and family
  • Flip flops

and more.

I gifted myself a cheaper brand for my birthday and I was surprised by how long it took me to figure out what charms I wanted. There’s only so much room in the locket, so you want to get it right.

I represent a lot of things to people: wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend. Ohio person, Upstate NY born and bred. Writer. Reader. Dog lover. Coffee drinker. Choco-holic. And of course,  Jesus-girl.

So, what did I end up with?

  • A set of wedding rings to represent marriage
  • A boy charm to represent our oldest son
  • A girl charm to represent our daughter
  • A pink cross to show the world I’m a Jesus-girl.
  • A stack of books because I’m a writer and a reader.

I think those sum me up well.

But I wondered, what charms would people pick?

If you were given a locket and 5 charms to choose from, what ones would most signify you?

I’d love to hear what you would choose, and why.

photobucket image


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 38,184 other followers