Sunday, August 28, 2016

Bible Study Review - Redeemed by Angela Thomas-Pharr


The moment you accept Jesus as the Lord over your life, you are redeemed. As the redeemed, we experience a lifelong journey of being transformed into HIs image. As redeemed women, we grow in the grace of Christ, and He calls us to extend grace to others.

 In this 7-session Bible study, Angela Thomas-Pharr explores the practical side of redemption, inviting us to lean upon Jesus for our real help and hope.

•Leader helps to guide questions and discussions within small groups
•6 personal study segments with homework to complete between 7 weeks of group sessions
•“40 Days of Prayer” section to help women practically apply the concept of ongoing redemption to their lives

•Desire to fully live the life of the redeemed
•Welcome change as God slowly transforms you into His image
•Increase your passion for God’s Word
•Apply redemption to your life in practical ways
•Learn alongside other women and support each other through prayer and small group community
•Learn to lean upon Jesus for your real help and hope


Angela Thomas-Pharr is a Bible teacher, national speaker, and best-selling author of books and Bible studies that include Stronger and Brave. As a mother of four, her determination to know God on an intimate level and her dedication to studying the Bible have taught her many truths—some discovered through tears and some in times of joy. Angela has the uncanny ability to be transparent, make readers laugh, and whisper to them about their most personal fears and heartfelt dreams. Visit her at


This is a wonderful study that will totally transform how you react to your everyday life. I feel like I gained so much from this study which is full of Biblical truths. I haven't finished the study yet but so far I have been very impressed.

This is a seven day study, which is unusual as most studies are five days. However, Angela points out the reasons why we can do a seven day study and I found I agree with her.

This study is based on the word LOVE and how it can transform us. It comes down to the fact that God is love and that HE transforms us. She emphasizes that we aren't strong or capable ourselves but God can make us so.

This is really an excellent study and I love all the space to write! A lot of times the authors don't take into account that we need room to write what we've learned and I love that there is definitely enough space. I highly recommend this study and I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

*This book was provided to me for my honest review by B and H/Lifeway Publishers

Blessings - Julie

Book Review - The Things We Knew by Catherine West


A tragedy from the past resurfaces in this tale of family secrets and reignited love.

After her mother's death twelve years ago, Lynette Carlisle watched her close-knit family unravel. One by one, her four older siblings left their Nantucket home and never returned. All seem to harbor animosity toward their father, silently blaming him for their mother's death. Nobody will talk about that dreadful day, and Lynette can't remember a bit of it.

But when next-door neighbor Nicholas Cooper returns to Nantucket, he brings the past with him. Once her brother's best friend and Lynette's first crush, Nick seems to hiding things from her. Lynette wonders what he knows about the day her mother died and hopes he might help her remember the things she can't.

But Nick has no intention of telling Lynette the truth. Besides the damage it might cause his own family, he doesn't want to risk harming the fragile friendship between him and the woman he once thought of as a kid sister.

As their father's failing health and financial concerns bring the Carlisle siblings home, secrets begin to surface---secrets that will either restore their shattered relationships or separate the siblings forever. But pulling up anchor on the past propels them into the perfect storm, powerful enough to make them question all they ever believed in.


Catherine West writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. When she's not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border collie for long walks on the beach or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two grown children.

This book just gripped my heart and the characters even more so. I loved this family with all their dysfunction, love and loyalty. 

This is a great read for pulling you into the story and being a page turner. Like me, I'm sure you'll see yourself or one of your siblings in this family. That's what I loved - this was a real family and not a contrived, supposedly, perfect family. 

I love how West lets us get to know each person individually. So many times, the book will focus on one or two characters without letting us really get to know the others. She shows each person as an individual with good and bad qualities. The things they are struggling with are each their own. There is also a real element of mystery in this story that kept me turning the page and more and more secrets are revealed.

I loved Lynette, the caregiver of the family, as she tries to pull everything together yet is plagued by nightmares and trying to figure things out from the past. Her relationship with Nick is very sweet and makes a great romance. 

There is so much to this story and I loved that it was not just a typical romance. There is much to love here and I highly recommend it. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

*This book was provided to me for my honest review by LitFuse Publicity Group

Blessings - Julie

Book Review - Mommy Needs a Raise


Um, excuse me, but . . . do these children come with dental?

Sarah Parshall Perry knew that raising kids would be different from climbing the corporate ladder. But she wasn't ready for just how different. Wasn't a job just a job? And what was that on her shirt? Sarah left the corporate world with a plan to win at mothering and was downright blindsided. Nothing went as planned, everything was foreign, and her bosses didn't always understand her value to the organization.

With her signature wit, lawyer-turned-stay-at-home-mommy Sarah says what all of us are thinking when we trade annual reports for homework help and sleepless nights. Sarah invites you to laugh alongside her in the "Are you kidding me?!" moments that come with the job of growing people. Crossing the divide between "employee" and "mother" is hard. But thankfully, it's also hilarious.

This book isn't just her story. It's your story. The story of every mother who gives up one thing to get something better--and ends up finding out what she's worth along the way.


Sarah Parshall Perry is a Maryland-based writer and free-lance journalist. The author of three books, short stories, op-eds, and white papers, her experience spans topics ranging from education reform and law, to lifestyle, marriage and family, and disability. Sarah has worked with local, national, traditional, and new media publications, bringing her law degree and 20 years of writing experience to bear on some of the day's most pressing issues.


This book is a great book for any mom who still has children at home! For the first time mom or the mom who has years of experience, you'll definitely glean something great from this fantastic book.

I really like how Sarah encourages moms to live their own family traditions and not to compare your family to other families or yourself with other moms that you think have it all together. We all know there is no such thing and putting this kind of pressure on ourselves is just not good. The greatest thing I loved is how she made me feel like being a stay at home mom was a worthy thing to do when the world tells us different. I absolutely loved her encouragement!

She was a lawyer/agent who made the decision to stay at home with her three children and she shares her life very openly and honestly. It's a very easy book to read and I greatly enjoyed her humor sprinkled throughout. It made the book so fun to read while also focusing on an important subject.

This is a wonderful book and I highly recommend it to the moms out there who are staying at home or are thinking they would like to. You'll learn a lot and laugh along the way. I give this book 5 our of 5 stars.

*This book was provided to me for my honest review by Revell Reads

Blessings - Julie

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Book Review - The Loyal Heart


 Robert came to Galveston to fulfill his promise to a dying man and look after his widow. He didn't expect to find love in the unlikeliest of places.

Robert Truax, former Second Lieutenant and Confederate officer in the Civil War, made a promise to his comrade Phillip Markham. If anything happened to Phillip, Robert would look after his beloved wife, Miranda. She was his life, his world, his everything.

After the war, Robert is left to pick up the pieces and fulfill his pact. When he arrives at Miranda's home in Galveston, Texas, things are worse than he imagined. Phillip's name has been dragged through the mud, everyone in town believes him to be a traitor, and his widow is treated as an outcast. Even more disturbing is her emotional well-being. Miranda seems hopeless, lost, and so very alone.

Robert had thought his duty would be simple. He would help Miranda as quickly as possible in order to honor a promise. But the moment Robert laid eyes on her, his plans changed. He's mesmerized by her beauty and yearns to help her in any way he can.
He makes it his duty to protect Miranda, turn her reputation around, and to find some way to help her smile again. But it doesn't prove to be an easy task---Robert knows something about Phillip that could shake Miranda to the core and alter her view of the man she thought she knew so well.


 Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.


 I am a huge Shelley Shepard Gray fan so when I had the opportunity to read and review this book, I jumped on it! I was not disappointed in this book at all and I was quickly swept up into the history of 1800's Texas and the story of Miranda and Robert.

Miranda has been left a widow with horrible rumors about her beloved husband swirling about her. Her husband's family is making moves to try and take her home away from her - the home that was left to her by her husband. There are horrible rumors going around about Miranda, too, and it makes her life unbearable and we find she is fighting depression through much of the story. It's totally understandable after losing the love of her life that she would be depressed but to have her friends and neighbors turn against her is too much.

Robert is an honorable man who made a promise to Miranda's husband and he intends to honor this promise. He makes an appearance at really just the right time in her life to help her. I really liked Robert and found him very likable and sweet.

This book had a story of suspense running through the book that makes it a turn pager. We aren't sure who is sending Miranda the threatening letters or who is spreading rumors about her. I also love the sweet romance that happens, too. Just a really good book that I know you'll enjoy! I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

*This book was provided to me for my honest review by LitFuse Publicity Group

Blessings - Julie

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sunday Thoughts

 This is the day the Lord hath made...

The Lord, our Creator and Savior. When I think about all the Lord has done for me, how He has loved me when I'm most unlovable, my heart just can't take it. I know what a sinner I am and I know I am so very unworthy of His love, yet He loves me. Not only that, He blesses me and wants what is best for me. I always, always feel so unworthy. Let's face it - I am unworthy!

I still struggle with so much - especially unforgiveness to those who have hurt me. That is my biggest struggle. I get my feelings hurt so badly when someone rejects me that I thought wouldn't and I have a horrible time getting past it. I think about it and meditate on it when I should be meditating on the Word of God!

The Bible has everything to help us in our struggles. It has encouragement and admonishment and a step-by-step instruction manual for living. Why is it that it's so hard to open this book when we're hurting? Why is it so hard not to reflect on the hurts from others? The quiet phone or empty inbox of our emails can devastate us. The rumors that people start behind our back and we find out it was our best friend who started them. The people in church who ignore us because they already have their little circle of friends and there's no room for one more. All of this can break our hearts and it can start to define us and harden us. I know.

I can only encourage us to pray and ask God to help us to not hurt so much but to forgive over-much. It's also a really great idea to journal our feelings. Getting it out on paper can really help us to work things out in our hearts and minds. Putting our blessings on paper really helps, too, and that's why I keep a blessings journal where I list my blessings. Putting the positive stuff into our mind and getting rid of our sadness and unforgiveness is a great step for moving forward.

This all sounds so easy, doesn't it? It's not. It's much easier to wallow in our hurts and remind ourselves of how we've been hurt. We can wallow around so much in this sadness that we become rather stinky! We're hard to be around and then the problem perpetuates. We push people away because we don't want to be hurt again.

We need to ask God for help.

Dear Lord,
I pray for those who are hurting today. Especially those who have been hurt by others in the church, our friends and family.  We always expect so much from those closest to us, yet they are human, just like us. I pray that we would be able to lie our unforgiveness aside and give those who have hurt us total and absolute forgiveness. I pray, Lord, that you would comfort our hearts and bathe them in the peace and love that only You can provide.

I pray that we would know how truly loved we are by You. I pray that we would know how special we truly are and that the opinions and pain from others does not have to define us. You define us, Lord, and I pray that we would hold that close to our hearts and minds until we know it as sure as we know our name. 

Thank you for caring for us so much, Lord. I thank you for all your blessings. I pray this through your Son, Jesus...Amen.

I hope, as you spend this day with the Lord, that you will realize how truly loved you are and how there is a plan and a reason for all that we go through. We may not understand it but we must trust God and know that because He is God, He knows what we're going through and He understands it. Sometimes knowing that God understands is enough. Knowing that, in the end, things will work out and we will be redeemed is enough. Hold on to that, dear friends. I intend to.

Blessings - Julie