Wednesday, August 24, 2016

My Fake Family Tote Bag by Julie Arduini

Today's post from author Julie Arduini isn't necessarily writing related, but even as authors we can sometimes put on a cheery facade when things aren't going well instead of being honest and seeking prayer and assistance from others. -- Sandy

Julie: One year for Christmas I received a tote bag that has enclosures for pictures. Each opening has a model’s picture already in it that you can replace with your own.

When I first used the tote, I had a young son, a baby with chronic illness and intensive therapies, an out-of-state move and was grieving the loss of my father. I didn’t have time to add my own pictures and I didn’t have an idea if I was coming or going. But I was insistent to put on a smile and pretend I was doing just fine, when deep down I was certain I was dying inside.

I’d love to tell you I was telling the truth in church, but that was the place where I faked it the most. I realized after months of smiling and telling everyone I was great that I was carrying my tote bag.

The one with the pictures that I never replaced with my own.

When someone came up to me at church and asked how I was, without hesitating I smiled and said I was doing great. She touched my bag and asked about my baby. I was talking about her updates and progress, not noticing the confused expression she was wearing.

“Isn’t this your baby here?” She tapped the plastic opening where the model baby smiled.

I noticed the tote bag picture. “Actually, no. It’s the pictures that came with the bag.” Then I laughed. “It’s my fake family.”

And the conviction hit me. My fake family matched my fake reality.

I decided to keep using that tote bag to church to remind me that it was okay to tell the truth.

I was grieving. Lost. Scared. Angry. And so much more I was too numb to process.

As people kept asking me how I was, I gave honest answers. My fake smile was gone, and at times, there were even tears as I shared how I was really doing. There was such freedom in surrendering the fake. It is exhausting trying to keep up an appearance. I also realized I was robbing others of a blessing.

It’s been a decade since then and I still have that tote bag. I never did put my own pictures in it. I love the reminder it gives me, and the story I can share to a hurting woman who is afraid to admit she’s not great.

If you keep smiling and telling people you’re fine when you aren’t, I pray you can surrender the fake feelings and be real. God will see you through. I promise.

Have you ever found yourself in a similar position and realized you needed to be more honest in your feelings and the issues you're facing?



“You need to leave me alone. It’s the least you can do.” 

Carla Rowling has been given her dream of attending cosmetology school. The gift is so generous she feels unworthy because of choices she made as a teen. The pressure mounts as Carla juggles school, is a single mom, helps her best friend Jenna plan her wedding, spends time with boyfriend Will Marshall, and deals with the fact that her son's father is back in their lives.

Will Marshall is the one Speculator Falls resident everyone can count on. His truck deliveries are reliable. He's the first to help friends like Ben Regan with boat work or be a card partner with Bart Davis. Will's ready to settle down with Carla, loving her is natural. He's bonded with her son, Noah. But when Carla starts cosmetology school, she puts emotional distance between her and Will.

Can Carla release her past and create a future full of highlights, or, will she burn her options worse than a bad perm?  

Purchase on Amazon (Kindle and Print)

Entangled is book #2. Although it can standalone, if you’d like to read Entrusted: Surrendering the Present first, click here.

Julie Arduini loves to encourage readers to surrender the good, the bad, and ---maybe one day---the chocolate. She’s the author of the re-release, ENTRUSTED: Surrendering the Present, as well as the sequel, ENTANGLED: Surrendering the Past. 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.

Snapchat: @juliearduini
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Surrendered Scribe Media Promotions: (Book release info sent as needed)


  1. Yes, I have. Times when issues arose with one of my children or a sick parent. I think it's human nature that we feel we must soldier on and buck up as they saying goes. I absolutely loved your post and your fake family tote bag. What a great message you have shared here today.

    1. Thank you, Christina! I totally believe that true freedom comes when we surrender. I am so glad I let go of the facade and started being authentic. Thank you for reading!

  2. Thank you, Sandra and team, for letting me share today. I appreciate it!

  3. Thanks for being vulnerable enough to share your story, Julie. It takes so much energy to hide reality. Yet, the truth about our own struggles and what we learn through them can minister to others.

    1. Thank you, Dawn. Each time it gets easier. I realized how draining it was keeping up a lie. I appreciate you reading!

  4. Julie, this post really touched a nerve with me. After my husband's recent passing two months ago, I ask myself if I'm honest with myself as to how I'm doing, let alone other people! Your post was a great help. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Patti, I'm so sorry for your loss. I know much of my smiling when I was struggling was in part due to losing my dad and almost losing my daughter. GriefShare helped me a lot, and in time I was able to smile and really feel I was fine. I'm so glad I realized it was okay to admit when I was grieving.

      God bless you as you grieve. (((hugs)))


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