Surrendering the Present

What do you think of when you hear the word surrender? For many, it can induce fear. But it can also be so freeing. Read on as Julie Arduini tells her story of surrender.

But first, I need to announce the winner of last week’s give-away. And our winner is … Jane Squires! Congrats!

Surrendering the Present by Julie Arduini

Although I’ve been writing for publication since 2011, creating stories has been my passion since I was four years old. During the teen years when my stories and characters were my emotional lifeline, I was told I had a great imagination and knack for making characters feel like friends. When it came to grammar and the more formal aspects of writing, teachers were less than encouraging about making writing a career. Struggling with confidence and consumed with people-pleasing, I played it safe.

Writing played a part in college and my young adult years, but not in any way that would lead to a potential reader rejecting me. notebook-1194456_640As I became a Christian and got married, I was spending my time thinking I had to do things for everyone just so they would like me. I was exhausted and in need of healing. As I surrendered my past wounds and warped mindset to Christ, He not only transformed me, He gave me the desire to write.

I started writing for the local Mothers of Preschoolers chapter, then I created a blog. Suddenly opportunities were falling into my lap to participate in anthologies and gift books. By 2010, I’d completed a contemporary romance through National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and started the process to make it publication-ready.

Fears started to return. What if no one wanted the story? What if a reader hated it and left a negative review? I pictured myself leaving those fears at the feet of Jesus and allowing Him to take care of everything. And I kept that visual in the forefront as that NaNoWriMo story became an actual book.

His faithfulness reigned even when I got that negative review.  As I revised the sequel, a lot of trials hit that I never saw coming. I felt shaken and unsure. Through Bible study and prayers from a great group of prayer warriors, I not only survived the experience, but felt His stirring to surrender yet again.

My tagline this entire time has been Encouraging you to surrender the good, the bad, and—maybe one day—the chocolate. As I’ve shared with audiences as a speaker and author, I’ve been clear that the surrender process starts with me. I can’t convince any halloween-candy-1014629_640reader to trust me if I haven’t lived a life of surrender. Some of the things the Lord has asked me to give up that were good was our life in Upstate NY. We left everything and everyone for Ohio, and it was hard. I’ve had to surrender bad habits like negativity and people-pleasing. And although I don’t eat M&M’s for breakfast anymore, I confess I’m not quite ready to give up the chocolate today. I am in the midst of another big surrender. I recently left traditional publishing to become an Indie author. I had to release my goals and timeframes for His.

With that, I’m ready to share my message to anyone willing to receive it. My focus is something I’ve become pretty fond of—Surrender Issues and Chocolate. I will be re-releasing ENTRUSTED this spring, as well as the sequel, ENTANGLED. Instead of an Adirondack perspective, where the books are set, they will be the Surrendering Time series. ENTRUSTED is about surrendering the present. ENTANGLED is about surrendering the past. Coming this fall will be ENGAGED: Surrendering the future. My prayer is that readers will open my books in hopes of entertainment but also find my flawed characters relatable. As they observe the characters finding freedom through surrender in Christ, I believe readers will seek the same for them.

I look forward to partnering with audiences in their surrender journey.

ENTRUSTED: Surrendering the Present

Jenna Anderson, sassy city-girl from Youngstown, Ohio, plows–literally–into Adirondack village, Speculator Falls, with a busted GPS and goals to make everyone in her new hometown love her as the new senior center director. Town councilman and grocer Ben Regan is as broken as the flower box Jenna demolished. He’s grieving loss and rejection and wants to shut down the center permanently before there’s too much change and further heartbreak. The two work on community projects and build a slow relationship, but the council needs to vote on the senior center’s future. Can Jenna show Ben both her and the center are worth trusting?


profileJulie Arduini loves to encourage readers to surrender the good, the bad, and —maybe one day—the chocolate. She’s the author of the upcoming re-release, ENTRUSTED: Surrendering the Present, as well as the sequel, ENTANGLED: Surrendering the Past, set for a Spring release. She also shared her story in the infertility devotional, A WALK IN THE VALLEY. She blogs every other Wednesday for Christians Read. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. Learn more by visiting her at, where she invites readers to subscribe to her monthly newsletter full of resources and giveaway opportunities at JULIE ARDUINI: SURRENDER ISSUES AND CHOCOLATE and the weekly e mail. SUNDAY’S SURRENDER AND CHOCOLATE.

Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Goodreads, and Amazon.

Let’s talk about this: What kinds of things have you had to surrender? What fears did you have to face in the midst of that surrender? How did you face those fears? Do you have any wisdom to share? We can all learn from one another.

“My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways” (Proverbs 23:26, ESV).



We all make plans for our lives. We have ideas of what we want to do, what we want to be, and how our lives should go. But what happens if our plans aren’t the Lord’s? Bonnie Leon shares with us her experience…and how God’s plans led to her calling.

But first, a giveaway! Bonnie is graciously giving away a paperback copy of her book, To Dance With Dolphins. To enter, leave a comment below. Enjoy this piece from the back cover:

To-Dance-with-Dolphins-Front-Cover-2-197x300Twenty-two-year-old Claire Murray has suffered from a mysterious disease for years. Her social circle has shrunk to a small support group for people with chronic illness and disability. But what if life could be about more than doctors, pain, and medications?

Claire and three others—old grouch Tom, hippy-holdout Willow, and moody Taylor—hatch plans for a cross-country trip to swim with the dolphins in Florida. Only a day into the trip, they unexpectedly need help. And who happens to be hitchhiking along the highway but a young, good-looking loner named Sean Sullivan? However, the last thing he wants is to be harnessed to a bunch of ailing travelers.

Though the journey proves difficult, following God’s plan might be even harder. Will they find the courage to follow their dreams and dare to live again?

And a fun, pre-devo note: Jennifer Slattery’s next release, Breaking Free, a novel that is getting some great early reviews (read those HERE), is available for pre-order! You can get breakingfree_n1664109that HERE. You can read a free, 33-page excerpt HERE.

Sidelined? by Bonnie Leon

The day after I wrote a blog about my new and healthier perspective on being “sidelined” I had to leave church because I couldn’t stop crying about the life I’d lost.  Something small set me off—the introduction of a pastor search team.

girl-517555_640Sometimes it doesn’t take much.

I don’t want to be part of the search team, but I do want to be part of my church … the way I once was. My disabilities have benched me.

I couldn’t stop the tears so I left church. Once in my car, the tears turned to sobs. What was going on? I prayed and cried some more.  I decided it couldn’t be hormones—I don’t have any of those left. I knew the culprit something I thought I’d worked through—my feelings about being sidelined.

Evidently those feelings were not resolved.

June 11, 1991 a log truck tipped over on a corner and hit my van. I was alive but at thirty-nine my life had been permanently altered. We, my body and I, have been through a lot. We’ve been through numerous battles—won some, lost some.

After years of struggle I finally reached a place where I could be involved in my church and community. And I knew my boundaries.

My life was full—family, baseball games, volleyball games, basketball, track and football. I made it to nearly every competition for my children and grandchildren. I relished the concerts and parent nights. I taught Bible studies, led women’s ministry, worked alongside my husband in small group ministries. I also taught at writing conferences and shared my heart with women’s groups. It was a privilege and a joy.

In recent years all that has changed. I’ve had to curtail most ministries and special activities. It is a heartache, a disappointment.

I’ve been “sidelined”.

The word, sidelined, is not accurate. But there’s a voice in my head that tells me it is. Until last Sunday I thought I’d shut off the lying voice.

word-907382_640My life matters to me and others. It doesn’t look like it once did, but I have a lot to give. People love me and count on me. I have prayers to say, hugs to give away, and love to share. I am a friend, a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter, one who stands shoulder to shoulder with those I love. It is a precious calling.

And I have books to write. I even wrote a novel about this topic. To Dance With Dolphins is a story about a unique group of friends who live with disability. They taught me about the possibility of finding hope and joy even in the midst of disappointment.

We never arrive, at least not this side of heaven. Insecurities and struggles have a way of returning and taunting. But they can only have as much power as we give them. God is bigger and more powerful than all of it. Everything is possible. If we stand with God, if our hope is in Him, and if we surrender our will to His we will discover lost hopes and dreams, new paths and callings.

There is a lot I do not understand in this life, but I do know this—I have not been sidelined. And neither have you. God uses all who are willing to listen and hear and see the possibilities.

I am disabled, and my life is rich.

The Lord will never sideline us, we can only do that to ourselves.


Bonnie Leon is the author of twenty-one novels, including the merecently released To Dance With Dolphins, the popular Alaskan Skies and bestselling The Journey of Eleven Moons.

She enjoys speaking for women’s groups and teaching at writing seminars and conventions. These days, her time is filled with writing, being a grandmother and relishing precious time with her aged mother.

Bonnie and her husband, Greg, live in Southern Oregon. They have three grown children and eight grandchildren.

You can find Bonnie at, on Facebook, on Twitter, and Pinterest.

Let’s talk about this. Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” We’re not promised that our plans will work, but we are promised that the Lord’s plans will be His best for us; we only need to trust Him.

Are you able to relate to Bonnie’s story? Has God ever changed your path? If so, how did you react? What helped you through those changes? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


My Father’s Father

Tough choices can be painful. More so when a family covers those choices up. What happens when those secrets are found out? And how can perceptions of people change when you start to learn more, and even understand? Read Donna’s story to see what it was like for her.

My Father’s Father by Donna Schlachter

I learned that my grandfather was, in fact, my great-grandfather, and that my truth-257160_640grandmother, who had just passed away, wasn’t related to me by blood at all. And that my aunt was actually my grandmother.

My father learned when he was thirteen years old that the woman he knew as his sister was actually his birth mother.

The only reason my father found out was because his “father’s” brother had died, and his son, my father’s cousin, was going through some papers, and saw the birth certificate which my grandfather asked him to keep in a safe.

My father was a very pragmatic man. He couldn’t change the circumstances, so he decided he’d just carry on. In fact, he never told the man he called Dad that he knew the truth of his birth until about twenty years later, and he never discussed the matter with the woman he called Mom, who was actually his father’s second wife, the first having died.

The idea for a book came from my father’s idea that although the story isn’t unique—many children are born out of wedlock and adopted by family—he felt that the time and the setting were. Newfoundland, in eastern Canada, during the 1930s and 1940s.

I agreed, and I wrote a “family only” version of the story, using the real names of the people involved. I spent hours recording my father as he told his story, which included his birth mother’s story, his growing-up years, and ultimately finding his birth family.

I did a lot of research into the location and the time, including connecting with the town historian, who helped fill in the gaps. We also used the journals and cashbooks kept by my grandfather in the course of his business, a grocery and dry goods store in this same town. Wonderful notations such as “air ship landed on the ice last night” sparked visions of dirigibles crash-landing. However, when I checked into it, it was a small airplane that landed quite safely because of weather in the destination city.

Another notation, “gave to garden party committee” reminded me of those grand social occasions where everybody gathered to drink tea, play lawn games, and buy baked goods and knitted goods to raise funds for one thing or another.

There were more somber notes: “Rendell Walsh missing in woods” and then three days later, “Found Rendell. Funeral tomorrow.”

I worked my way through the source documents and the oral history, filling in the blanks women-740625_640when memory or information failed. I cried over several chapters, including the one where my father’s birth mother mourned her own mother’s passing; when she learned she was pregnant and the father nowhere to be found; and when she handed the child over to the birth father’s family and said, “Here. This belongs to Clarence.”

Through the process, I learned more about this glamorous aunt whose lifestyle I’d always admired. When I was only about eight, I realized the family treated her life a black sheep, and I wasn’t sure why. Perhaps it was her three marriages and three divorces. Perhaps because she was a career woman who moved up the corporate ladder.

Only now do I understand that perhaps the circumstances of her childhood and pregnancy caused her to make these choices.

I also came to understand more about my father and his way of thinking. The man was a genius, even as a boy of nine doing experiments in electricity, chemistry, and physics that would astound most college students today, self-taught, in the attic of the family home.

But one real eye-opener for me was seeing his birth father from a different angle. During the writing of the story, I saw him as a man who used my father’s birth mother, then dumped her for a woman with more family influence and money. The man who never acknowledged my father, even though he knew for certain who my father was, and worked in the same building with him for years, even riding in the same elevator and never making eye contact.

But once the book was published, my father’s half-siblings started talking about their father, Clarence. He was a loving man, faithful to his wife, making sure his children had the best education money could buy.

This was not the man I’d imagined.

In fact, he was just like my father.


IMG_6534  Juggling the books -midsizeDonna Schlachter pens historical suspense while her alter ego, Leeann Betts, writes contemporary suspense. Donna’s recent releases include Nuggets of Writing Gold and a collection of short stories, Second Chances and Second Cups. She plans to release her father’s story in the market version, with names changed to protect the guilty, in the Fall of 2016. Her books and her pen name’s books are available at and You can follow Donna at and Leeann at

Let’s talk about this. Proverbs 18:17 says, “The first to speak in court sounds right–until the cross examination begins. There’s always, always, always two sides to a story. But when we’re hurt or someone we love’s been hurt, it’s hard to see the other side. It’s hard to have the strength and courage to even look. That’s where prayer comes in. The next time you hear a scandalous story, or maybe simply a nugget of gossip, pause to pray. Ask God to show the situation or person through His eyes. You may be surprised by what He reveals.

Can you relate to Donna’s story, and if so, how? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


Who Says Accountants Can’t Write?


ID-100222653Have you ever wished you could hide under your office desk, indefinitely? Maybe that niggling of frustration could be the start of something good. Like a daydream that never ends until, well… Read Leann Betts post below.

Numbers Don’t Change by Leeann Betts

“I prefer numbers to people, because numbers don’t change.”

I’d made this statement after a particularly hard day at work. I didn’t really mean it—at least, not in the global sense of not liking people. I simply didn’t much like people that day.

I was trained as an accountant, completing a business degree in college, but my love for numbers started as a child. I counted everything. And if on the second count wasn’t the same as the first, I counted again. And if it was the same, I counted again just to confirm once more.

Neurotic, perhaps.

I counted ceiling tiles, floor tiles, cracks in the sidewalk, squares on someone’s shirt or tie. I counted people in restaurants, cars in parking lots, birds in flocks.

But if there was one thing I liked more than numbers, it was mysteries. Nancy Drew, Hardydetective-788592_1920 Boys Bobbsey Twins. And then as I got older, Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie. I liked the old-fashioned mysteries where the good guy always wins and the bad guy always get caught.

So about ten years ago, I heard about National Novel Writing Month, and I wondered if I had just one book in me. One, that’s all I wanted to write.

And since I figured I should write what I know, I decided on a mystery that included an accountant.

Talk about autobiographical.

So I started writing. On November 11th. Already behind. I wrote like a fiend trying to catch up and then to keep up, because I am very competitive, very badge-oriented, and there was a badge to be won when I completed this challenge. Notice I said ‘when’ and not ‘if’.

I had no idea about plotting or character arc. I just wrote a story that had been tumbling around my head for a few years. I got to the last three chapters and had no idea whodunit. So I had to decide that, then go back and put in hints and red herrings, develop some characters a little more to make them suspects, and finish.

There are still days when I prefer numbers over people.

But thankfully, not so many as before.


IMG_6534  Juggling the books -midsizeLeeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. No Accounting for Murder and There Was a Crooked Man, books 1 and 2 in her By the Numbers series, recently released. Book 3, Unbalanced, releases in January, with plans for Book 4, Five and Twenty Blackbirds, due in April, with more planned for later dates. Leeann and Donna have penned a book on writing, Nuggets of Writing Gold, and Donna has published a book of short stories, Second Chances and Second Cups. You can follow Leeann at and Donna at . All books are available at in digital and print, and at in digital.

No Accounting For Murder:imgres

Most people think accountants are boring. Carly Turnquist is about to prove them wrong. Join Carly, a forensic accountant, as she gets involved with a mystery business that threatens her quiet East Coast town, embezzled money, a missing mayor, and several attempts on her life. Will she live long enough to reveal who the killer is?

Purchase this book and receive a free reader incentive–the prequel to the series. Follow the link at: to read the story, Roasted Bean Counters.


The Beginning of a Story

once-upon-a-time-719174_1920Every new blog requires a bit of an introduction. Those of you who follow my personal blog, JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud, may remember me mentioning an idea triggered by the amazing and talented Carrie Stuart Parks, author of The Bones Will Speak.

Long story short, I’m interviewing a brilliant and grace-centered man for a medical missions story I want to write. Because fiction is, well, fiction, the story I create will veer from Dr. O’s, but his life is so historically rich and full of inspiring truths, I don’t want to waste a nugget of it. So, 12227841_1007588982632353_5276246818269330802_nI’ll be sharing it here, in bits and pieces, some most likely told in narrative form, other with the imagery and immediacy of fiction.

In the meantime, I decided to invite some of my author friends to join me on this venture, starting tomorrow. So come back to learn how Leeann Betts received the idea for her novel, No Accounting For Murder.

So come back, ask questions, and catch a peek of what goes on behind the scenes in the making of a story.