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Ask Arlene: An Interview with Arlene Pellicane

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In 2004, six years before author and speaker Arlene Pellicane’s first book, 31 Days to a Younger You: No Surgery, No Diets, No Kidding, lined the shelves of Christian bookstores and filled Amazon shopping carts, I ate Christmas dinner with her.

My husband Ted had attended grad school with Arlene and her husband, James, but it was the first time she and I met.

I liked her instantly.

Arlene is upbeat, energetic, motivating, and kind. I’m grateful to have had her contribute to Ungrind since its founding and to call her “friend.”

Before becoming a stay-at-home mom and published author, Arlene served as the associate producer for Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah. She also put her journalism skills to use as an on-air features producer for The 700 Club. In addition to these programs, she’s appeared on The Hour of Power and TLC’s Home Made Simple. Over the last several years, she’s encouraged moms like me in their weight loss after pregnancy and now offers practical advice for women of all ages on how to live life more fully in her book, 31 Days to a Younger You. Arlene’s next book, 31 Days to a Happy Husband, focuses on improving a wife’s most important relationship: her marriage. It releases this summer.

I recently asked Arlene to consider writing a monthly Q&A column for us. She agreed. Once a month in “Ask Arlene,” she’ll answer a question related to health, beauty, marriage, or parenting. To kick off “Ask Arlene,” we took the time to chat via email about her book and her new column.

Why did you write 31 Days to a Younger You: No Surgery, No Diets, No Kidding?

My daughter turned two and I turned 40 last year. I realized when she is in her 20’s, I’ll be in my 60’s and well, I don’t want to be old! I want to be able to walk down the aisle when she gets married; not stroll down in one of those motorized carts! So I set out on a journey to discover keys to staying young from women who were aging well. By aging well, I don’t mean their skin was flawless. I interviewed women in their 40’s-100’s about being fit in body, mind, and spirit.

What would you say to women who believe the outward appearance shouldn’t be their priority and that people should accept them as they are?

I’d say they’re right and they’re wrong. Beauty comes from the inside out. It’s better to be a person of character than a person with good looks. But why does it have to be either/or? My friend said she’d love to go to work in her pajamas (ah, the comfort!) but she would never do that out of consideration for her co-workers. How she looks affects other people. In the same way, we ought to do our best to look as attractive as possible to the people around us. Especially as believers, we are ambassadors of the King.

Can busy women apply these principles in a short amount of time?

Yes! By reading 5-10 minutes a day and then doing a simple action step, a busy woman can start looking and feeling younger in days. I know a busy single mom who read my book and started doing crossword puzzles to challenge her mind, lifting weights, and cutting out white flour from her diet. She feels better already and those are just a few small changes that can make a big difference.

What are some areas of the heart, mind, and body that you cover?

For the heart, readers are led to be more joyful, recover that childlike faith, roll with the punches, and laugh again. As we grow older, it’s easy to think, “I’m losing my mind!” So we spend time to focus on improving memory and strengthening our brain power through learning new skills and doing hobbies we enjoy. The adage “move it or lose it” rings true, so we spend the last part of the book focusing on improving our exercise and eating habits, plus fashions do’s and don’ts as we age.

What steps can a woman take to give herself a new look without spending much money?

First thing to put on is a smile. It doesn’t cost a penny and can give a girl a new look in seconds! Next it can be a haircut or a closet cleaning party. When you toss unflattering clothes and things you don’t wear, you can find more outfits that do work. You can look at magazines for ideas of looks you like and then shop in places like Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx, or Ross with those ideas in mind. If you have a fashionable friend, bring her on a shopping trip!

What are some tips for relieving stress or making time for yourself?

Exercise is a great stress reliever whether it’s an intense exercise class at the gym or walk around your block. Find something you enjoy that helps you “change channels” so you can walk away from the things that are stressing you out. It may be reading a Psalm, a chapter in a book, calling a friend, asking someone to pray with you over the phone, or journaling. If you see you have a particularly busy week or you’re in a demanding season of life, schedule time in your calendar for down time. Set aside a weeknight where there are no outside activities and regroup. Protect that time or something or someone will take it away.

Your second book comes out in July of 2012. What’s it about?

It’s titled 31 Days to a Happy Husband and it’s about going back to the honeymoon and championing the wonderful man God has given you. After awhile, that intense passion and romance turns into comfortable warmth which is natural and fine. But if we don’t stoke the embers once in a while, we can become cool business partners with our spouse, sharing a home and bank account but little else. This book will drive you back towards your spouse and guide you towards having the marriage of your dreams. I interviewed thirty-one happy husbands for their advice; husbands like Dr. David Jeremiah, comedian Tim Hawkins, and renowned therapists, Dr. Cliff and Joyce Penner.

You will be writing a monthly Q&A column for us here at Ungrind called “Ask Arlene.” Tell our readers more about it.

I’m honored to be available to answer questions about health (spiritual, emotional, or physical) or relationships (marriage, parenting), so bring it on! We’ll have fun as a community considering real life issues. I hope to encourage readers to take the next best step towards what God has for them in their health and homes.

We have a copy of Arlene’s book 31 Days to a Younger You: No Surgery, No Diets, No Kidding to give away. To enter for a chance to win it, leave a question you’d like for Arlene to answer in her new column, “Ask Arlene.” If she chooses your question to answer in her April column, the book is yours!

This contest closes on Monday, March 12, 2012, at 12 a.m. Our apologies to our international readers, but it’s only open to those residing in the United States.

This contest is now closed. Congrats to Lisa M! Arlene will answer your question in her April column.

Ashleigh Slater is the editor of Ungrind. As a wife and stay-at-home mom, she enjoys moonlighting as a freelance writer, proofreader, and editor. Her writing has appeared in print and online in publications including Marriage Partnership, Thriving Family, MOMSense, Brio, Brio & Beyond, Guideposts’ Angels on Earth, Focus on the Family Magazine, Radiant, Campus Life’s Ignite Your Faith, Focus on Your Child, Clubhouse, Jr., Small Group Exchange, and Sunday/Monday Woman. She spent five years as a media critic for LinC (Living in Christ): Youth Connecting Faith and Culture and two years writing music reviews and artist bios for All Music Guide. She graduated from Regent University with a M.A. in Communication. She currently lives in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri with her husband Ted and four daughters.
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Ashleigh Slater is the author of Team Us: Marriage Together and the editor of Ungrind. As a regular contributor at several blogs and websites, she loves to unite the power of a good story with biblical truth and practical application to encourage others. She has 20 years of writing experience and a master’s degree in communication. Ashleigh lives in Atlanta with her husband Ted and four daughters. You can follow her on Instagram here.

12 Comments
  • Shannon

    Hi Arlene-

    I am getting married in September! You and your husband seem to have a great, healthy relationship with a solid foundation. So my question is: “What advice can you offer to newlyweds on how to establish that foundation in the beginning in order to keep the embers going so that we don’t become cool business partners with our spouse in the future?”

    Thanks for your advice!

  • Hi Arlene! What kind of advice would you offer a Mother who wants to teach her daughter the importance of being beautiful on the inside and the outside? I know this starts young and I don’t want her to believe that only the “Barbie” type girls are beautiful — but I do want her to take pride in her appearance. Thanks!

  • Lisa M

    Hi Arlene, I loved reading this article. I want to want a healthier lifestyle and I feel I owe it to my kids to be a better role model in health. I feel like I’ve just plain lost my motivation. I’m a stay at home mom to four school-aged children, so time isn’t the issue, my motivation and “want-to” is. I feel like my life revolves around either feeding them or picking up after them and the last thing I feel like doing after dropping them off at school is another thing I “have to do”. Do you have any suggestions on finding my motivation to be a better, healthier me?

    Thanks!

    • Congrats, Lisa! You are the winner of a copy of Arlene’s book. She’s picked your question to answer in her April column. I’ll be sending you an email soon.

      • Lisa M

        This is awesome! I’m very excited to read her book. I’m looking forward to reading her column and to see what others are asking. :o) Thanks so much. I still can’t believe I won!

        Lisa

  • Lizzy

    hi, Arlene! i’m a new mom so gotta make this quick but what would be some fun, quick ways you would suggest to keep the ‘spark of romance’ aflame for a pair of overjoyed but sleep-deprived new parents like us? thx!!

  • Julie

    Hi Arlene,

    I love your thoughts here on a healthier you. Do you have any specific tips on how to strive for a younger you for those who struggle with chronic illnesses and/or diseases? Thanks.

  • Welcome to Ungrind Arlene!

    I am a mother of 2 great kids, and a very patient husband. I was raised to be a very strong, independent woman and often it creates tension between my husband and I because I sound like I don’t “need” him. Do you have any tips to help me show that I “need” him and that he IS the leader of our household?

    Looking forward to reading “Ask Arlene!”

  • Hi Arlene – I’m excited about your new column! I am a busy mom of a toddler. I work full time, mainly from home, and I have limited child care coverage. Before becoming a mom, every day I read the Bible, prayed, and spent time being quiet with God. However, since becoming a mom, I haven’t found a consistent way to weave that quiet time back into my schedule. I know you are a busy mom as well – how do work quality time with God into your schedule?

  • Sandy

    My husband and I have spent the last couple of years delving into the little known facts about food and nutrition. It’s been quite an eye opener! I know most Christians believe that the dietary restrictions of Leviticus are not applicable as they were wiped away with the sacrifice of Christ, but I often wonder if this is true? For one, God is unchanging… so why would the dietary restrictions he laid out fail to apply to the generations that followed Christ? Second, as we discover that “our” way of eating really hasn’t been beneficial to our health, shouldn’t we question whether the restrictions laid out by God would be more beneficial from a health standpoint? After all, I’m sure these rules were laid out for a solid reason. As Christians the bible is our handbook for EVERY area of life isn’t it? Sorry this is so long, but this question plagues my mind and I would love to hear your take on the subject.

  • Bethany

    I’m a mom of five age 7mo to 11 and I struggle with balance. I can get caught up on one aspect say feeding my family healthy meals and lose sight on other aspects how do you balance it all? I feel like we eat pretty healthy and I recently have had some issues with stress hurting my physical body. So my husband has made it a priority for me to get exercise time in the am but now I’m noticing his exercise time has decreased. I want him to have time too. I feel like so often we swing from doing well in one area but then something else slides. We both want to be healthy with exercise, food and spiritual time. Just really struggling making time for it all.

  • joanne

    Thanks for the insight in your interview! I’m not from the U.S., so won’t be in the draw… but love you ideals and will look forward to reading your column.

    We can all be an encouragement to others around us to stay young and enjoy all that God has given us everyday – – there’s such power in “growing up” together as women of God. Let’s tell our friends how beautiful they are and work on all these things side by side!

Articles

When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

As you read, we hope you consider us friends, the kind you feel comfortable sitting across the table with at the local coffee shop. You can read more about me HERE and our team of writers HERE.

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Ask Arlene: An Interview with Arlene Pellicane

by Ashleigh Slater time to read: 5 min
12