Softly and Tenderly – A Book Review

Singer/songwriter Sara Evans partnered with author Rachel Hauck to write Softly and Tenderly, a modern, true-to-life storyline continued from The Sweet By &By.  Each character in this book was dealing with past indiscretions/secrets and the present consequences of them.

I loved the modern references in the story, for example to the TV show, “Friends” or the fact that Jade and Max have iPhones J.  The characters are so real, it could be written about your neighbor, or your family, someone living in the here and now.   We all have a story, don’t we?

It seems like it took me a long time to read “Softly and Tenderly”, but overall I did enjoy it.   The reader is carried through the gamut of emotions; frustration, love, regret, confusion, sadness and hope.  I was particularly touched by the events in Chapter Twenty-Six.  At the risk of being a “spoiler” I won’t say any more about that.

Softly and Tenderly left me filled with hope and eager for the next book in the series to come out this winter.  Pick up or download a copy at


Heaven Is For Real – A Book Review

Loved.This.Book. I read it in a day, if that tells you anything!  Todd Burpo takes us through the journey of a year of struggles they faced starting with a severely broken leg, kidney stones, a cancer scare then almost losing their four year old son due to doctors missing an appendicitis diagnosis.  It wasn’t until a year later that they started finding out that their son wasn’t just severely ill, on the brink of death, but that he actually was so close to death, or even died, and in that time experienced HEAVEN.

Little Colton Burpo started revealing snapshots of his little visit to heaven.  The experiences he shared with his parents about heaven were not things that a three/four year old learns in Sunday School.  He ‘met’ his Grandpa in heaven, a grandpa he had never met on earth.  He knows that he didn’t die because Jesus answered his dad’s prayer directly.  He described different scenes that matched scripture perfectly.  Some of the stories Colton told his Dad (and his Dad tells us) made the hair on my arms stand up.

Heaven Is For Real got me excited for heaven, encouraged me that my prayers are heard and brought scripture to life through the faith and experience of a little boy.  God used an ordinary family, an ordinary boy to share a message that not only is Heaven for real… He is for real!  Read this book. You won’t regret it!

I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Who Is In Charge Anyway? (Book Review)

For this blog review, I’d like to welcome you back to the garden of Max Lucado, where cute little garden critters congregate and life lessons are learned.  Freddie the flea is discouraged because everyone else seems to have a special purpose in life, and he feels so, well, non-purposeful.   He thinks everyone else has done such wonderful things in life, and he hasn’t done anything noteworthy.   What he didn’t know, was the struggles, fears, insecurities and adversities each of those critters had to face, before the amazing thing they’re known for.  Freddie learned that God doesn’t make mistakes and the only thing that matters is what God thinks of him.  In the end, God blessed Freddie with a job to do, a purpose in life, and an opportunity to make a difference, to make his mark on this world.  Isn’t that a yearning in everyone’s heart?

No detail was lost in the making of ‘Who Is In Charge Anyway’?  It is delightful, meaningful, colorful and just plain wonderful.  This is a perfect movie for ‘family movie night’ and for kids of all ages! It gets FIVE STARS from me!

"A Passion for Purpose" Book Review & GIVEAWAY

Julie Johnson

Ladies – please email me ( your address and I’ll get that in the mail asap!

If you weren’t a winner today, you can find “A Passion for Purpose” on or 😉

Wish I could’ve given you all a free book!! Thanks for stopping by!!

Well, GOOD MORNING everyone in blogland. I have some exciting news… This is NOT just a ‘book review and giveaway’…. This is a ‘book review and give THREE copies of the book away!’ Yippppeeeeeeeee!!!

So, here goes.

First of all, take a look at the cover (pictured to the left). They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but that is not the case with this book. The brightly colorful, unique and lovely cover does represent what you’ll find in the pages of “A Passion for Purpose.” There are FIVE amazing authors bringing God’s word to life highlighting spirituality, scripture study, worldview, relationships, communication, ministry and leadership. It’s a daily encouragement for Missional Living.

“A Passion for Purpose” is a great tool:

  • a) for someone who is just beginning a walk with God but is not sure how to begin having a devotion (‘quiet’) time.
  • b) someone who wants to start or end their day with something to ponder from the Word.
  • c) to keep in your car and be encouraged as you wait in the ‘kid-pick-up-line’ at school, wait in the waiting room at the Drs. office etc.

There are 365 devotions in “A Passion for Purpose”, but they’re not dated – so no worries starting in in February :). Ladies, you’ll be blessed if you read this devotional book.

Wanna hear something cool?? When we were on deputation, we stayed at many peoples’ houses along the way. One night, we actually stayed with Tricia Scribner (one of the authors of “A Passion for Purpose”) and her family in North Carolina. Her husband, Randy, was very involved with our organization, Score International, and made the arrangements for us. I was excited to see her name on this book, and I thought… “Is that the same Tricia Scribner???” Sure enough, it is! In addition to being a great author, I can testify that she makes a fabulous breakfast!! 🙂

OK – Regarding the GIVEAWAY – Thanks to the nice people at New Hope Publishers, you can comment below to be registered to win one of THREE copies of “A Passion for Purpose!” I will do the drawing Friday at 4pm EST.

Happy commenting!!

Book Review – The Family God Uses by Tom & Kim Blackaby

Well, RACHEL BOLDMAN… You must be on a roll… 1st you win a ticket to BLISSDOM… and NOW you’ve won a copy of “The Family God Uses” by Tom & Kim Blackaby!!! CONGRATS!! (Email or DM me your contact info and I’ll get the book out to ya’ asap!!)

Following the principles of his father’s book “Experiencing God” Tom Blackaby, along with his wife Kim, share how your family can ‘see where God is working and join Him.’ According to Blackaby, the ‘family God uses’ a) has authentic faith, b) strives to live righteously and c) strive to seek and serve Him. Who doesn’t want this for their family?

While I found many practical and helpful insights from this book, I did not find it easily readable at times. However, it is worth trudging through to get to those nuggets of inspiration and application so readily presented throughout the book. For example:

  • “God’s priority is for church leaders to be spiritual leaders in the home first and out of that, to be better able to lead God’s people.” (emphasis mine)
  • “Families who take seriously their relationship with God and their involvement with His people will begin to incorporate the mission of the church as their family mission.”
  • “Families and churches work together to bring the good news of Christ’s love and sacrifice to those who have not heard it.”
  • “There’s no better way to demonstrate our love than when we serve. Every Christian should be service-oriented.”
  • “Service shows our gratitude to God for all that He has given us physically, spiritually, socially, etc., and demonstrates to others our love for them and for God at the same time.”

The book concludes with ideas of how your family can serve together as well as some ‘family time reflection’ starters. I do recommend “The Family God Uses” as a resource for the family that is seeking and willing to say YES to God’s invitation to join Him in His work.

The kind and generous folks at New Hope Publishing have graciously donated a copy of “The Family God Uses” to be given away on my blog! Yea! Who doesn’t love a GIVEAWAY?? If you’d like to try to ‘win’ a copy of this book, simply leave a comment below and you’ll be in the running! I’ll be doing the drawing Monday (the 18th) at 10pm.

If you aren’t the ‘lucky winner,’ stop by New Hope Publishers and get 30% off with this promo code NHWEB.

Happy reading!!

PS – New Hope Publishing does send me a free copy of books that I review for them, whether my review is favorable or unfavorable.

Redefining Beautiful by Jenna Lucado (W/ Max Lucado)

Imagine you’re at summer camp as a teenager (or tween). You don’t want to leave because you’ve had a great time, learned some awesome things and had an amazing camp counselor. Your counselor, although just a few years older than yourself, has listened to what you’re going through, shared how she got through it and gave the best advice that wouldn’t be heard from any other venue. She she’s super cool. Meet Jenna Lucado and “Redefining Beautiful.”

Jenna, with some help from Daddy Max Lucado, shares her heart on everything from not fitting in, figuring out who you are, boyfriends, disappointments and seeing yourself as God sees you… beautiful. She focuses on relationships; your relationship with God and your relationship with your Dad, and how that influences the other relationships in your life. I’m now reading this book with my 11 year old girlie, who may just be a little bit under the target age range for this book, but she ‘gets’ most everything Jenna is talking about.

I do recommend “Redefining Beautiful” for those young ladies – maybe in the 13-17 age range. Your young lady will feel like she’s at summer camp with a truly amazing camp counselor and walk away understanding what true beauty is and where it comes from.

Here’s a snippet of Jenna Lucado on YouTube talking about “Redefining Beautiful.”

You can find “Redefining Beautiful” at Amazon.Com,, or directly from the Thomas Nelson website.

DISCLAIIMER: I did receive this book for free in exchange for providing my thoughts, positive or negative, (review) on this blog.

What Are You Reading?

No, not a book review post, although I do have three (THREE?!?) coming up here in the next week or so… But, I thought I’d take a moment to see what people in blogland are reading…

My next three review books are:The Family God Uses by Tom & Kim Blackaby, A Passion for Purpose by Kimberly Sowell, Edna Ellison, Joy Brown, Tricia Scribner & Marie Alston, AND Redefining Beautiful by Jenna Lucado (with Max Lucado). I’ll save my thoughts on these books for their respective blog posts :). Stay tuned.

On the FICTION front, recently finished Shades of Blue by Karen Kingsbury. As you know, I’m a fan :D! I open the 1st pages of one of Karen’s books and am instantly transported as an eye-witness into the storyline. Reading “life-changing-fiction” by KK is relaxing to me, a way to breeze through a book, and yet while not a non-fiction, instructional book – always leaves me with something to think about. It’s not called “life-changing-fiction” for nothing! Cannot wait for Take Three and Take Four coming out in 2010 to close out those series. If you’ve never read a KK book, she has stand-alones as well as series. If you’re in for the long haul, start with the Redemption series. You won’t be disappointed.

Also recently finished and am re-reading with the hubs, Crazy Love by Francis Chan. This book has revolutionized, is revolutionizing my life. It will change how you look at God, and cause you to examine how your life looks and how your life should look as a believer and follower of Christ. It’s a major ‘put your money where your mouth is’ kind of book. MUST READ. I do not say that lightly.

Finally, I’m reading Mom, I Hate my Life by Sharon A. Hersh. Having an (um, two) emotional tween(s), a friend highly recommended it to me. I’ve just started it (as you can see I’ve had my nose in some other books lately), but I pray God will use this as a parenting tool in my life and that of my precious girlies!!

So, that’s what I’m reading. What have you been reading lately?