Friday, September 25, 2020

Book Review - The Christmas Swap by Melody Carlson


When songwriter West Prescott tries a vacation trade for Christmas, he accidentally ends up playing the caretaker of his own house--and falling in love with the struggling musician staying there. Will keeping his true identity from her hinder their blossoming romance?


Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women and children. That's a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a "storyteller." Her novels range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in My Flip-Flops) but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, TrueColors etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She's won a number of awards (including Romantic Time's Career Achievement Award, the Rita and the Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog. To find out more about Melody Carlson, visit her website at


I absolutely love every book by Melody Carlson that I've read and look forward to each new book she writes! This was another winner and such a great story! Let me tell you about it.

Emma is such a sweet person and so likeable. She is the main character in this book and I liked her right away. She enjoys the simple things in life and finds joy in the every day things. She is invited to spend Christmas with her friend, Gillian.  Gillian is the exact opposite of Emma yet still likeable. Since Emma's parents are in Africa on a mission, Emma has always spend Christmas with Gillian's family.  This year she decides she wants to be on her own for Christmas until she finds out that Gillian's familyl is swapping their house in Arizona for one in Colorado.  She can't resist experiencing a white Christmas for the first time.  

Gillian's family can be a bit annoying at times. They are wealthy and tend to expect others to treat them with respect because of that. There's also a lot of bickering between them, which gets a bit old.  

I liked West a lot, too.  He is the owner of the house in Colorado and a song writer.  This brings he and Emma together as she is a singer/songwriter, too.  I like how their relationship is brought about slowly and not rushed.  It's sweet seeing their relationship develop.  

All in all, I enjoyed this book.  I would have liked a bit more Christmassy feel to the story but I loved the characters of Emma and West so much, it made up for the lack of a Christmas feel.  I'm giving this book 4 stars.

*This book was provided to me by Revell.  I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this book.

You can go HERE on Amazon to purchase this book.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. When you click on my Amazon link, I will earn a small fee on this item or anything else you purchase while clicked in on this link. I appreciate your support for my blog, More Of Him. 

Blessings - Julie

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Book Review - Why Is That In The Bible?


What should we make of the Bible story about a talking donkey? What about the passage in Joshua where the sun and moon stood still? Should biblical practices like women wearing head coverings still be followed today? The Bible serves as the foundation for all of Christian life, crossing time and transcending cultures, yet many passages are perplexing.

Providing fascinating historical and scriptural insights, Eric J. Bargerhuff demystifies forty Bible verses and stories. Ranging from strange accounts, such as bears mauling forty-two boys (2 Kings 2), to hard-to-accept statements, such as Jesus saying we must hate our families in order to be his disciples (Luke 14), you will learn the context of each passage and how it applies to us today. Other fascinating accounts include

· The Finger on the Wall

· "Lead Us Not into Temptation"

· Jeremiah's Linen Underwear

· "No One Knows the Day or the Hour"

· The Battle for Moses' Body

· Death at Communion

In all, this book will help you be more confident about interpreting all of God's Word accurately.


Eric J. Bargerhuff, PhD, is a professor of Bible and theology and the associate dean of academic affairs at Trinity College of Florida. He served in pastoral ministry for more than twenty years in churches in Ohio, Illinois, and Florida. He received his doctorate in biblical and systematic theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Eric's passion is to write about the interpretation and application of biblical principles for the purposes of spiritual growth and reform in the church. He and his family live in Trinity, Florida.


This was such an interesting book, full of great information that clears up so many things in the Bible that are confusing. Eric does a good job of breaking things down and explaining these things.

My favorite part of the book is at the end of each chapter, he gives us the Scriptures and then questions so that we can gain more understanding of what we have just read. I like when an author lets us dig into the Scripture ourselves and doesn't just spoon feed us information.  Yes, he gives us the information we need to start our journey of understanding but he helps us to really get into the Scriptures.  

There are so many questions answered in this book.  If you've ever wondered about something that seems strange or odd in the Bible, you'll most likely find the answer to it in this book.  I also like that this book was easy to read and not dry as dust.  It was a pure joy to read! 

I highly recommend this book as it is very informational. I give it 5 stars.

*This book was provided to me by Bethany House. I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this book.

Blessings - Julie

Sunday, September 13, 2020

FREE Online Bible Study through BibleGateway!

BibleGateway is hosting a free online Bible study starting this Monday, September 14th! 

This study will help us to get the big picture of what the Bible is about and a deeper understanding of how to read and study it. 

Max Anders will be our guide on this journey and here's a video from the Pastor/Teacher about this study

When you sign up, you’ll receive:

FREE access to 6 teaching videos with Max. These videos will be available between September 14 – October 30. No additional registration is required.

FREE download of the the Arc of Bible History worksheet.

FREE download the Overview of the Old and New Testament History study sheets.

FREE download of the 30 Days to Understanding the Bible session one study guide.

FREE download of the 30 Days to Understanding the Bible session one audio Bible study.

Won't you join me on this exciting Bible study journey?  You can sign up HERE

Blessings - Julie

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Sunday Thoughts

Life can be difficult.  Not only that, it can be difficult in waves. Things have been this way for me and my family for the past (almost) year. I was diagnosed with cancer of the uterus, went through chemo and during that, my husband got ill and he was hospitalized for months. Then I had surgery and my husband came home. We then realized that he was not the same and it was two months of trying to figure out how to help him, only to have him hospitalized again.

I have been so sick and so stressed out, it's hard to explain. Then our sweet Cookie died.

 Oh my heart - can I take much more? Evidently, yes, because now I'm having thyroid issues that are causing a lot of other problems. I had thyroid cancer in 2004 and have been managing my thyroid well since having the thyroid removed. However, the chemo treatments have caused a whole new set of problems and, messing with my thyroid levels, is one of them.

Then last week, my youngest son got injured at work. It could have been a lot worse, but he ended up with 17 stitches and a nicked tendon. Of course, it was his right hand and he's right handed. I admire him so much, though, because of his faith in God and that this is all part of His plan. My heart knows this to be true, as well, but my mama heart just grieves that my son got hurt.

How do I go on? How do I find the strength to meet each day with hopefulness and joy? One word - Jesus. He gives me the hope and the strength to face each day.  Am I always joyful? I would love to say yes, but I can't. I've been extremely tired and little down for the past two weeks.  I think this is normal, even for a Christian who truly believes that the Lord is by her side and in control of things. Our human bodies and minds can only take so much before we just crash. I have been dealing with so much for so long, it's natural that I'm tired physically and emotionally.

We have to give ourselves grace. Just like the grace that God gives us as we continue to do sinful things even when we are saved. I have days where I feel guilty because I know I want to do more but I'm unable to physically do it. Or I'm just so tired, my brain won't function like it should (another lovely side-effect of chemo). I have the tendency to beat myself up and tell myself I should be doing more. But then I remember grace and that I need time to heal. It's hard to shut those thoughts off after always being such a go-getter and a multi-tasker. I'm good to do one task now! 😊 But you know what? That's okay! However, just because it's okay doesn't mean it doesn't make me sad or frustrated that my energy levels are so low. I have to accept that until the time comes that I'm completely healed.

My husband is in a long term facility and, while he's doing better, it's been extremely difficult because we aren't allowed inside the building to visit him (thanks Covid) and so all communication is over the phone or by mail. Even though he's doing better, he has a long, long road ahead of him. I don't think he'll be home anytime soon and that's another thing that I have to accept in my day to day life. While I don't mind being alone (I'm a super introvert), it's a huge change, after being married to my hubby almost 39 years and living together, and doing things together for all of those years.

I am so very thankful, though, that I have the Lord to talk to and to lean on during this difficult season. I'm not sure how I would cope without Him - probably not at all, to be quite honest. Even during these hardships, I have not lost the hope that God promises me in His Word. I am in my Bible reading all the time because it does sustain me in a very real way.

If you're going through hard times, I encourage you to know Jesus (if you don't already) and to get to know Him better (if you already are saved). There is no other greater sustainer of life or of mind.

Blessings - Julie

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Book Review - A Life Once Dreamed


Where you come from matters far less than where you're going

Six years ago, a shocking secret sent Agnes Pratt running in search of a new start. She found it in Penance, a rugged town of miners and lumberjacks in the Dakota Territory. In the shadow of the Black Hills, she became Miss Aggie, respected schoolteacher and confirmed old maid--despite being only twenty-four. But the past has a way of catching up with people.

When childhood friend and former sweetheart James Harris accepts a position as the town doctor, Aggie's pleasantly predictable days suddenly become anything but. James wants to know why Agnes left behind the life they had dreamed of creating for themselves--but he is precisely the one person who can never know.

Can a healing light be shed on the past? Or will the secret Agnes can't seem to outrun destroy her chance at happiness?


Rachel Fordham is the author of The Hope of Azure Springs and Yours Truly, Thomas. She started writing when her children began begging her for stories at night. She'd pull a book from the shelf, but they'd insist she make one up. Finally, she paired her love of good stories with her love of writing and hasn't stopped since. She lives with her husband and children on an island in the state of Washington.


I usually don't chose to read what I would categorize as romance fiction, however, when I saw the cover of this book and read the synopsis about it, I just had to read it and I'm so glad I did!

I loved the main character, Agnes and I related to her so much. I loved her selfless love she has for James and how she was willing to sacrifice her own happiness for his. I was so impressed with her strength of character to move from the home she knew to the Dakota Territory! You have to be strong to do something like this and we see this strength in her throughout the story. Of course, a lot of this strength came from her faith in God and it was so wonderful to see this woven through the book by the author.

James is caring man who follows his own dream and Agnes to the Dakota Territory. I love the scene where he is in the middle of the town and she sees him for the first time in her little town after so long. He is tenacious in his love for her and their friendship is so incredibly special and sweet.

Of course, there had to be a love triangle, which adds to the complexity of the story. Unlike some books where the third part of the triangle is usually not that likeable, Sam totally is.  He is kind and always willing to help Agnes with things. Adding him in to the story just made it that much more complex and interesting.

I found myself wholly invested in this story from the first page. I loved the secondary characters and hope we will see them all again as they have stayed with me after reading the book.

There is so much to like about this book! I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

*This book was provided to me by Revell.  I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this book.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. When you click on my Amazon link, I will earn a small fee on this item or anything else you purchase while clicked in on this link. I appreciate your support for my blog, More Of Him.

Blessings - Julie