Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

Crew Review: The Brinkman Adventures Season Two #grow4christ #hsreviews


Do you, like my children and family, enjoy audio entertainment?  If so I need to introduce you to The Brinkman Adventures, an exciting audio adventure that follows the life of the Brinkman family as they give aid and support to missionaries around the world – as well as being missionaries themselves.  I was sent The Brinkman Adventures Season 2 – Episodes 13-24 which begins with a couple of the boys finding a class ring in a river close to their house and the suspense and lessons just keep building.  There are 4 discs and each disc has 3 episodes each and ran for approximately 60+ minutes for each disc for over 5 hours of entertainment that the whole family will enjoy.


We were instantly drawn into the stories and we would find reasons to go on car trips just so we could listen to them – that is how fantastic they are.  The interesting thing I enjoyed about The Brinkman Adventures is that they are based on true events and stories however some are dramatized and while the names of the families have been changed they each act their own parts – which is totally awesome in my book.  I also enjoyed how other missionary families were entwined into the stories such as John and Donna Benti – and their sharing of their real life missionary journies.  To find out more about the real life stories you can visit The Brinkman Adventures Real Stories pages to learn more about both Season 1 and Season 2.



The episodes are geared for all ages as they are family friendly however there are 3 or 4 episodes that do issue a warning that due to some situations it is best that children ages 10 and under listen with their parent present.  That being said I didn’t find the situations anything that either my 7 or 9 year old could listen to without me, we’ve discussed the situations before such as child abuse, so it’s something they are aware of.  It would depend on each parent’s comfort level as to whether they listen before or along with their child and discuss the events as they listen.  The discs sell for a suggested donation of $25.00 or you can purchase an MP3 download version for a suggested donation of $17.00 – very much worth the price for the quality entertainment you’ll receive and when I say quality, the sound effects, the music and the stories are high quality and well done.


The episodes are as follows:

  1. The Mystery Ring
  2. Blue Hat and the T-Shirt Bible
  3. How Big Is Your God, Part 1
  4. How Big Is Your God, Part 2
  5. Mexico by Bus
  6. Treehouse Academy (one of my favorites)
  7. Pirates of Mayan Island (one of all of our favorites)
  8. Sapphire Slaves, Part 1
  9. Sapphire Slaves, Part 2
  10. Hadi’s Choice
  11. Castle of  Secrets
  12. On the Run


This was a fantastic audio adventure that we all thoroughly enjoyed and will be listening to over and over again and my children are even begging me to buy Season 1, which I did try to find at the convention but was unable to do so, so it looks like that will be on my purchase list so we can listen to them all including Season 2 again as we wait, hopefully for a Season 3 to be released in the near future.  If you’d like to see what other homeschool parents thought please visit The Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to see their reviews.



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Kregel Tour: Defy the Night by Heather Munn and Lydia Munn #grow4christ #bookreview

About the Book:
In the midst of war, one teenager is determined to make a difference.

If no one will do anything, she’ll have to do it herself.

In 1941 France is still “free.” But fifteen-year-old Magali is frustrated by the cruel irony of pretending life is normal when food is rationed, new clothes are a rarity, and most of her friends are refugees. And now the government is actually helping the Nazis. Someone has got to do something, but it seems like no one has the guts–until Paquerette arrives.

Smuggling refugee children is Paquerette’s job. And she asks Magali to help.

Working with Paquerette is scary and exhausting, but Magali never doubts that it is the right thing to do. Until her brash actions put those she loves in danger.


You can purchase a copy at Kregel’s website.


My Opinion:


Historical books, whether fact or fiction, intrigue me – this book had several factual events but names and places were changed and Defy the Night is one of those books that will stay with you long after you close the cover.  I read How Huge the Night back in 2011 and that book sort of starts the reader off, however you don’t have to read it to figure out what is going on in Magali Losier’s (Julien’s sister from How Huge the Night) life.  Magali is 15 years old and wants to do something – anything to help those who are caught up in the war that doesn’t seem to be affecting her small French town.  Her parents are resistant to her pleas but eventually, even though it’s a selfish act, relent and let her travel with Paquerette to an internment camp (before camps became death AKA concentration camps) to rescue the children who are being released.  This of course means a whole network of people who write fake documents, teaching the children their new names, and more – all of which Magali is unaware of until she finds a local girl who is helping.


I found it very hard to like Magali’s character – she is whiny, she thinks she is better, smarter, more world wise than others and even gets mad at a friend when she is taken on a rescue mission over her.  However, she is 15 and I can understand that she wants to do something instead of sit at home and help her mother who is plagued with migraines.  I won’t give spoilers but I will say I did like seeing how Magali transforms herself and even begins to own her faith and lets God lead her to how she is supposed to help.  Filled with details about the internment camps, nothing too descriptive and I’d feel safe giving this to my 12 year old to read, but enough that it gets the point across as to how horrible these places were and mothers were so wanting to have a hope that their child or children would survive would release them to organizations – some to never know or see their children again.


It wasn’t a quick read – it is very detailed so some areas were a bit long and drawn out but I can understand the reasoning behind it because if we didn’t have some of the descriptions we would lose some of what the book has to teach us.  While I didn’t get attached to the characters in the book, Magali was just frustrating and my 12 often is more mature than this girl is – I enjoyed it for the history that I didn’t learn.  We all know about concentration camps but I had no idea that there were relief organizations who rescued children, Jewish, Gypsy, mentally ill or handicapped from camps – it was the Nazi way of trying to get citizens to see them as caring – before the real truth came out.  The brave people who worked this network, reminds of those who worked the Underground Railroad, it took faith, guts and a lot of prayer to do a good work – even though it was ‘legal’ to get the children out if they got caught with fake papers and found out, it would all end.  If you enjoy books set in the time frame of WW2 then definitely this book will give you a dimension to that war.





(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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2014 Homeschool Convention #grow4christ


I returned home from convention today tired but refreshed, overwhelmed but at peace – yes it’s possible to have such conflicting emotions and of course it also makes one quite exhausted.  I arrived at the Millennium Hotel in the early afternoon being greeted by my wonderful friend Jenn (who blogs at Fresh Start Academy) who had driven in from Michigan for this event.  The room was lovely, I think my only complaint was that we didn’t have a mini-fridge which was listed as being included in our room but Jenn was told upon check in that we had to request it and that it would be an extra charge.  Jenn made a lot of trips to the ice machine!  We were on the 18th floor which is a bit disconcerting when you’re used to only staying in hotels with maybe a max of 5 floors.  Oh, the other disappointment was because the hotel was (almost) completely full I could not access the internet but was kindly told I could come to the lobby – not wanting to check my email or write a blog post in the hotel lobby I was basically internet free since Thursday afternoon until my return home today.


The last few times I’ve gone to convention I’ve stayed at hotels that are in Kentucky so I’ve had to park and leave each day and the traffic can be a challenge.  So staying at a hotel that is actually connected to the convention center was so wonderful and I just left my car in the garage as what we needed were within walking distance.  Cincinnati is a whole other world – I know I could not live in a big city and it made me thankful my little city in Ohio – even though there is much wrong in my little city – there is no way I could live and thrive in a place like Cincinnati on a daily basis.  So after arriving on Thursday and calling my hubby and children to let them know I had arrived safely (I’ve driven to Cincinnati before but never on my own, so it was a bit discombobulating) we ventured over to the convention center to check in, get our packet that had our wrist bands and our tickets to Mark Lowry.   After that we left to get dinner, I drove as Jenn couldn’t recall which garage she had parked in!  I opted the GPS to take us to the Outback via the scenic back way as I didn’t want to get on the highway again so soon.  Little did we know that it was also rush hour even on the back way so a 20 minute drive turned into an hour but we got to see some beautiful roads in Cincinnati that were bright with spring color.  After dinner we were thankful the parking garage I left and was full when leaving was no longer full upon our return so we parked and went to the vendor hall.


Jenn capturing one side of the vendor hall – saying it’s huge is an understatement.


The other side of the vendor hall – not including what was under us in the catwalk.


So having had a great dinner and having explored the vendor hall – which was VERY packed on Thursday as anyone and everyone was welcome to come and shop for free that night (which also made it VERY hot) – we went back to the hotel.  Tried to unsuccessfully find something good to watch on T.V. (we’ve been without our local channels since about January and we don’t have cable so I was a little shocked by what passes as good on cable) and we just unwound and talked till late and fell asleep as we had a Schoolhouse Review Crew meet up the next morning.  I lived dangerously and ordered the $14.95 breakfast buffet (thankfully my drink was included or I probably wouldn’t have ordered it!) and I ate my fill as the plan was to eat a big breakfast, skip lunch and eat an early dinner before Mark Lowry.  Thankfully the service at the Bistro on Elm was much better than the service we had last year which I much appreciated and it was a special splurge.  After breakfast we headed over to the TOS booth to have our pictures taken and then we dispersed to explore the vendors and listen to speakers.


Our TOS Crew meet-up picture. I’m on the very end on the right. Jenn is on the far left.


We spent most of our day on Friday in the vendor hall – we visited the Notgrass Company’s booth – where we got to meet Ray and Charlene Notgrass, such a wonderful couple.  If you remember I reviewed last year and we are still using their America the Beautiful curricula.  I hadn’t intended to seek out review products at the convention, my business cards are no longer up to date and I didn’t order new ones so I was just going to enjoy myself but when a curricula you believe in is there it’s hard to not ask.  Jenn and I engaged Charlene and Ray in conversation and they blessed us both with the Uncle Sam and You curricula package and I purchased the lesson workbook as well as Charlene’s Daily Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms book.  I also purchased my daughters their Beyond Five In A Row volume 1 and 3 for this upcoming year and some other fun stuff like a t-shirt for each child (pictures coming soon), games, and such.  As we were heavily loaded even with our rolling carts we headed back to the room to unload, figure out dinner and then get back in time to line up for Mark Lowry.


We decided on Chipolte for dinner but only if we could find one within walking distance and there was!  Now I had never tried Chipolte so was excited – and while the food was great – it was like what we have in my city with another type of Mexican food in a bowl.  It was so crowded, the line went out the door and almost around the building – so it’s popular and the staff were friendly and helpful.  The music was too loud for this woman though so it was hard to carry on a conversation with Jenn without feeling like I was yelling.  Did I say Cincinnati was another world yet?  Well we got to see some very interesting people and even those who were dressed nicely but asking for money on the sidewalks – we walked VERY fast and probably burned off dinner as quickly as we had ate it. We saw a beautiful hotel called The Cincinnatian that had a bell hop outside and a cute old style London cab car for their guests (Can we stay here next year Jenn? starts out at $159.00 a night) .  Horse drawn carriages (if New York makes them illegal, you can come to Cincinnati) and finding out to turn around in Cincinnati you have to go into Kentucky! When we got back to the convention center we got in line for Mark Lowry and The Martins, the tour was called Music and Madness, and it was great.  I’ve watched Mark Lowry on shows like Bananas when we had cable and when we can find stuff on Roku and he had new material and the music was great and of course he sang Mary Did You Know (and in case you didn’t know he doesn’t just sing it he also wrote it), which makes me cry every time I hear it.  I laughed, I cried and we went back to the room happy and feeling great.


I love those hills in the background – view of the city from our hotel room.


That building is the Duke Energy Convention Center and this street view is from our hotel room. The 18th floor is quite high!


Saturday brought the realization that it was almost time to say goodbye and the end of the convention – Jenn and I are of the mindset that there needs to be a day or two added to the convention as there is not enough time to take in sessions and do what one needs to do in the vendor hall in just the 2 days, well 2 1/2 if you could how late the vendor hall opens on Thursday.  We took in a session with Wendy Jeub and we listened to Matt Walsh, I worked my 1:30 to 5:30 shift at Mystery of History (it’s another curricula I believe in and could probably talk for hours about).  I reviewed a book last year titled, How Am I Smart? by Dr. Kathy Koch and I really learned a lot from it so when I found out she was at the convention again this year I stopped by her Celebrate Kids booth and got a chance to meet her and she gave me a copy of her newest book (and autographed it!), No More Perfect Kids , Love Your Kids for Who They Are.  It was so wonderful to connect with more homeschoolers from around Ohio and other states and meet with those who write wonderful, godly, helpful books whether I’ve reviewed them or not – because they truly empower us to keep on with the good fight and be what we need to be as parents, educators and above all modeling Christ to our children.  I’m already looking forward to next year’s convention!


I’ll post some more pictures later on  that my friend, Jenn, is providing me as my iPod Touch died and I kept forgetting to bring my regular camera.  And if you’d like to read about and see pictures from the first time I went to convention with my other friend, Micki in 2011, read my post Homeschool Convention.


(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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Life Sentence Publishing: Two Mother’s and their 60-year Secret by Nita B. Rogers #grow4christ #bookreview

About the Book:

Childless couples in the twenty-first century have a number of options when they choose to adopt, but in 1936, options were fewer. There were few counselors who could help advise those wanting to adopt. So Tommie and Minnie Brock set out to find a baby on their own and told only one person, their family doctor. The doctor connected them with a well-educated, bright, young woman, pregnant and willing to consider adoption. Then my adoptive mother and birth mother pledged in an oral pact to keep my adoption secret. For many years, no one spoke to me about my birth and adoption, and all I could find out was through some grapevine gossip.

This book recounts the sequence of events in my life that led me to full disclosure of that agreement between my two mothers. My life with all its unanswered questions has been blessed beyond measure, showing that God is in control of our lives. I still know nothing about my birth father, but I am certain I have a heavenly Father, Who has made me His child by faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, and has adopted me into His family with full rights of son-ship.


You can purchase a copy of the book from Life Sentence Publishing.


About the Author: 

Nita Brock Rogers was adopted at birth and grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana. She earned her B.A. in Biblical Studies from Luther Rice Bible College & Seminary. Nita was secretary for the 1973 Billy Graham St. Louis Crusade, Administrative Assistant to the Director of Evangelism for Florida Baptists, as well as being widely known as a speaker for women’s conferences and retreats. She led a women’s seminar on prayer and spiritual awakening for the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Married for fifty-nine years to Dr. Ben D. Rogers, pastor, evangelist, author and educator, she has served as the administrative assistant of his evangelistic association since 1972. Nita has joined her husband for crusades in England, Korea, Israel, and Africa. She began teaching the Bible at the age of thirteen and currently leads a women’s class in her home church. Her current ministry focus is an orphan feeding center in the area of Lilongwe, Malawi. Nita is mother and grandmother of five children, eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.


My Opinion:


This book intrigued me, because usually we don’t hear about adoptions from the 30’s, 40’s, and so on because there were not many who did it, could afford it and there was a stigma attached to the word adoption so when I had the chance to review this book written from the perspective of the adoptee I jumped on it.  Nita’s adoptive mother never mentioned or let on that she was adopted, there were only a couple of times when a school peer would poke fun that Nita would bring it up and her mom would brush it off and Nita would again be in the dark.  After her mom passed she contacted her birth mom who had never let her husband or daughter know she had once had another child.  She didn’t set out to undermine her adoption as she knew in their own way her adoptive parents loved her but she wanted some answers to why these two women kept their secret for so many years.


One draw back to the book is it did seem to skip around at parts, but it wasn’t a bad skip around, but there were times when I’d go back to re-read the previous paragraph to make sure I was following.  I understand sometimes during the telling of the story that we do sometimes need to explain something about the past, so it wasn’t a bad drawback, just a little confusing.  Nita writes with love for both mothers and there are pictures of her birth mom as well as the parents who raised her – I especially liked the pictures of her with her half-sister, who was grateful to know she did have a sister.  She writes with a beauty that comes through the pages, her love of her family and especially the love she has for the Lord shines through the pages as she tells her story and the closure she knows the Lord ultimately gives her.




(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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Litfuse Publicity: Surprised by Grace: A True Story of Relentless Love by Elizabeth Sherrill #grow4christ

About the Book:

Renowned writer Elizabeth “Tib” Sherrill shares her own faith journey in Surprised by Grace. Embrace this page-turner and see God’s work in your life every day!

Discover how God’s love transformed Elizabeth’s life from one of great struggle to one with a clear direction and find inspiration, hope, and strength for your own journey.

See how Tib finds hope, strength, and meaning in almost everything, from her unhappy childhood to John’s surprising marriage proposal; from her lifelong eccentric friend Mia to her dear father-in-law who was able to see her for the complex person she was even though he was blind. Enjoy touching stories about Tib’s family and close relationships, and travel with her to fascinating places across the United States and Europe. Find out how she overcame her poor self-image after a stunning encounter with her Creator.

“My hope,” Elizabeth shares, “is that Surprised by Grace helps you discover how much God loves you individually and infinitely. You are His amazing creation, and it’s time to live in that truth.”

Elizabeth Sherrill’s superb storytelling will make you experience every scene. You’ll laugh and cry many times over. You’ll be reminded that God intends hope and freedom for you. You’ll also find wonderful insight and encouragement in the inspirational “Conversation Starters,” particularly useful for women’s Bible studies, book clubs, or home groups.


You can purchase a copy at Guideposts and also get the devotional 101 Moments of Prayer for free.


About the Author:

Elizabeth Sherrill is the author behind the classic best sellers The Hiding Place about Corrie ten Boom, The Cross and the Switchblade about David Wilkerson, and God’s Smuggler about Brother Andrew. She also is a longtime contributor to America’s best-loved inspirational magazine Guideposts, and best-selling devotional, Daily Guideposts.

You can learn more about her and her website.


My Opinion:


I remember seeing Guideposts sitting on my Great-Grandparents coffee table when we would visit and I’d flip through them and then as I began to read I’d read the stories, some were harrowing stories of faith in hard times and others were testaments to a life long faith – they were always inspirational though and showed that God cares for each of us.  Who knows I probably read some of Elizabeth’s articles as a child and now I read her story – one that sort of mirrors mine in a way – I grew up in church (she didn’t) and was baptized when I was 12 (she as an infant) – but at one point or another we both were running from God.  Of course, she was an unBeliever most of her life, I was one from the go and then chose to run and turn away – regardless we both lived life on our terms.


I found myself nodding my head in agreement and at other times to the point of crying because I knew the pain and I know the love of the God who pursues us – of course we can also decide totally against Him and He will and can harden hearts – thankfully though that isn’t my story and it isn’t Elizabeth Sherrill’s story either, we were pursued by the God who loves us and pursues us relentlessly.  Elizabeth divides her book into 3 sections, Heaven behind Me, Heaven around Me and Heaven before Me – simply put she describes how even when she didn’t recognize God at work in her life before believing in Him He was at work, and she goes forward.  God used many people and many circumstances that looking back on her life Elizabeth can now acknowledge that God was indeed pursuing her even though she didn’t recognize it at the time.


This is the book a woman whose testimony isn’t filled with debauchery, drugs or other ills of the world but of one who still lived life on her own terms until coming to the realization that she couldn’t do it on her own anymore.  Do I agree with all of her theology?  No.  However, that doesn’t make her testimony any less just because I don’t agree with her choice of denomination or whether or not I agree with her that we are in a sort of Heaven on earth.  God works through His Word using us as He needs to at the time and reading Elizabeth’s story is one that is powerful and will be on book shelf that when I need a pick up of my faith I’ll turn to to see how He works through each of us and how much He loves us with His Grace.


To see what other bloggers thought of this book please visit the Litfuse Landing Page.



(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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Crew Review: Home School Adventure, Co. #hsreviews #grow4christ


What if there were a curricula that put Christ at the head, the sole purpose of it being to teach our children about Him and how to love Him?  Yes, it’s a big feat and one that not many can accomplish, however I’d like to introduce you to Home School Adventure, Co.  I was given a the electronic download copy of The Wise Woman with Literary Analysis Journal Questions, The Wise Woman is written by George MacDonald and the literary analysis questions were written by Stacy Farrell.  Never fear, just because the title has woman in it doesn’t mean it’s just for women – boys can also learn a lot from this book (also available as a spiral bound book) – both boys and girls need to learn lessons about why conceit, selfishness, and pride are sin and how humility, sacrifice and compassion are beautiful – even if the world we live in values the latter and despises the beautiful.  My electronic copy ran 166 pages and covers a dedication, introduction, 14 chapters, vocabulary as well as more about the author, Stacy Farrell and ordering information.


After each chapter follows 16 to 24 questions that are used to dig deeper into this story that strives to bring about character training in an engaging way that honors the Lord.  If used as a family read aloud it is geared towards ages 9 to 11, ages 12 and up can use it alongside their parents and high-school students can complete it on their own.  I preferred to use this with my three children as a read aloud and mine are aged 7, 9 and 12 and then I would ask a few questions about the chapter, we didn’t go over every single question.  I read ahead and got a feel for each chapter and then picked the questions that I thought would be good for the ages of my children – I tried to keep some easy, some hard and others in the middle – I wanted them to think about the questions and what we just read.  I would like to have my oldest re-read this on her own and have answer the harder questions, in my opinion the first few questions are fairly easy while the ones toward the end were a bit harder.



It would be easy to give an older child this book to read, telling them which chapters to read each day and have them answer all or some of the questions – or for those who don’t like to write or who it may take more time for them to form their idea being asked let them take a day or two to answer the questions.  There are many ways to use this book – depending on each families situation – while some may prefer our method to answering the questions out loud and discussing and expounding on the answers others may prefer to have their children write out or dictate their answers.  The story is engaging, not only for children but also for adults – even I learned things from reading this book and going over the questions with my children.  By visiting The Wise Woman product page you can view sample pages, watch a video and even read what others have thought about when they’ve used it.


The electronic format that I received is available for $14.95 and as I said above there is also a spiral bound version that is available for $28.95 – of course in my opinion the value of this far surpasses any monetary investment as the lessons learned will be far reaching.  There is a discount code located at the bottom of my review where you can save 10% off a download purchase from Home School Adventure, Co.  I know I will be using this again as the children get older and we need more reinforcement about acceptable behaviors both in our home and towards others, especially the heart of issue of serving others and laying aside our selfish desires in order to bring glory to the Lord.  Home School Adventure, Co is also on social media, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram if you’d like to follow along with them.   If you’d like to see what other homeschool parents thought about this product and others from Home School Adventure, Co please visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.



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Litfuse Publicity: A Sensible Arrangement (Lone Star Brides Book 1) by Tracie Peterson #grow4christ

About the Book:

A Lone Star Brides book.

Marty Dandridge Olson is ready to leave behind the pain of the past.

Answering an advertisement for a “Lone Star bride,” she leaves her Texas ranch and heads to Denver to marry a man she doesn’t know.

Jake Wythe is the man waiting for her.

Burned by love, he marries now simply to satisfy the board of Morgan Bank, which believes a man of his standing in society should be wed. Together Jake and Marty agree they are done with romance and love and will make this nothing more than a marriage of convenience.

When missing money and a collapsing economy threaten his job, Jake’s yearning to return to ranching grows ever stronger, much to Marty’s dismay. But a fondness has grown between them, as well, further complicating matters.

What will happen when their relationship shifts in unexpected ways . . . and dreams and secrets collide?


Find out how to purchase a copy at Tracie Peterson’s website.


About the Author:

Tracie Peterson is the award-winning author of over eighty novels, both historical and contemporary. Her avid research resonates in her stories, as seen in her bestselling Heirs of Montana, and Alaskan Quest series. Tracie and her family make their home in Montana.


Learn more about Tracie at her website.


My Opinion:

I’ve read other novels that had an arranged or a mail order marriage as part of the plot and this one was no different – the woman is widowed and she vows never to fall in love again and only wants to marry to escape.  The difference lies in the fact that the man is forced into finding a bride by his employer and he himself is also a widow and he too does not want to fall in love again.  At first I thought “great, another mail order bride novel” but I was thankful that it turned out to be more than that and it was one in which love and also faith grows and becomes part of the characters life.  I’ve read other of Tracie’s books and they are always delightful reads – and this one is no different – it was a fabulous read and one that I enjoyed using to take a break from the unpacking we’ve been doing – I read it in a very short time frame.


The characters are deep and have very real dilemnas in their lives and that is what I like, the characters didn’t just have fluff but actual substance to their beings.  I could feel Mary’s agony over needing to leave the ranch that her husband worked and then to be put into the role of a society lady where everything is done for her (there are days I would love to have a maid) and then Jake who wants to be the best at his job but still longs to own his own ranch and also give Marty a good life.  I can’t wait to read book 2 and see where Marty and Jake end up and how their lives become even more full – both with their faith, their love and hopefully a few children.  I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to read a Christian historical fiction book that is a fast read but will also stay with you for awhile afterward.


If you’d like to read what other bloggers though please visit the Litfuse Landing Page.



(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws



Welcome to the campaign launch for Tracie Peterson’s 100th book! A Sensible Arrangement launches Tracie’s new Texas-based series, Lone Star Brides, that’s sure to please. As a special treat, devoted fans will be able to catch a glimpse of several popular characters from previous series.

Tracie is celebrating by giving away an iPad Mini and hosting a LIVE webcast event on 4/29.


One winner will receive:

  • An iPad Mini
  • A Sensible Arrangement by Tracie Peterson

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 29th. Winner will be announced at the A Sensible Arrangement Live Webcast Event on April 29th. Connect with Tracie for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Tracie will also be taking questions from the audience and giving away books, fun prizes, and gift certificates throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of A Sensible Arrangement and join Tracie and friends on the evening of April 29th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the book, don’t let that stop you from coming!)

Don’t miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by signing up for a reminder. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 29th!

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Litfuse Publicity: Mom Seeks God: Practicing Grace in the Chaos by Julia Roller #grow4christ #review

About the Book:

The first months and years of motherhood can be the most challenging and disorienting of your life—and faith. When you’re surrounded by the happy chaos of children, how do you spend quiet time with God if the only quiet time you get is while you sleep? How can you demonstrate a solid spiritual life to your children if you don’t have time to pursue one yourself?

When Julia Roller discovered that her spiritual growth had been stunted by the busyness of life with her toddler, she embarked on a yearlong journey through ten spiritual disciplines: prayer, fellowship, submission, study, simplicity, silence, worship, fasting, service, and celebration. As she focused on each discipline, she discovered practical ways to observe them—even in the chaos of her every day.


You can purchase a copy at Julia’s website.


About the Author:

Julia Roller is an author and editor. Her books include Mom Seeks God (Abingdon Press), A Year with God (with Richard J. Foster), A Year with Aslan, and 25 Books Every Christian Should Read. Working with Renovaré, she has also co-authored four spiritual formation guides. She has written study guides for authors such as Desmond Tutu, Richard J. Foster, Henri Nouwen, Jenna Bush, and Rob Bell. Her articles have appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, Street Spirit, Group, Rev.!, and Children’s Ministry. She and her family live in San Diego, California.


You can learn more about her and her books by visiting her website.


My Opinion:


I enjoy reading books by moms for moms who are busy and who need to find God in those spaces of times where the children are being quiet and well behaved.  I tried very hard to enjoy this book and really ‘see’ myself in it but I just didn’t – while I enjoyed the overall premise of the book I just didn’t like some of the reactions of her to her children.  She seemed very much one of those moms who enjoy sending her child away to pre-school or to other babysitting options – while I wouldn’t even join a popular moms group because of their stance on mom time and separating even nursing infants from the mom.  I love being a mom, even on the hard days, and would never wish to send my child away.


I like the way she planned to do a different way of connecting with God each month (although life got in the way and she only did 10 instead of 12) even though I don’t agree with contemplative prayer which is what she started out with and she quotes a lot from Richard Foster of whom I know nothing about his beliefs or his theology – even though most of the quotes seemed quite Biblical.  In a way I saw this as more of a book geared towards working moms whose children are in daycare or a school setting and not so much for a mom who is a homemaker and who homeschools her children and wants them to be with her.


If you’d like to read what other bloggers thought please visit the Litfuse Landing Page.



(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

Mom Seeks God by Julia Roller offers a highly relatable story and useful advice to help new moms grow in their faith as they address life changes with grace, patience, and prayer. As readers discover ten essential faith practices, they’ll learn that motherhood itself is a spiritual discipline and can be God’s most effective technique for forming a more Christ-like life.

Julia is celebrating the book’s release with a fun giveaway and connecting with moms during a live Facebook author chat.


One winner will receive:

  • A Kindle HDX
  • Mom Seeks God by Julia Roller

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 1st. Winner will be announced at “Moms’ May Day” Facebook Party on May 1st. Connect with Julia for an encouraging discussion on spiritual discipline and finding joy in the middle of motherhood. Win prizes, connect with other moms, and be inspired.

So grab your copy of Mom Seeks God and join Julia on the evening of May 1st for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the book, don’t let that stop you from coming!)

Don’t miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 1st!

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FIRST Tour: Jenny’s Choice (Apple Creek Dreams Book 3) by Patrick E. Craig #grow4christ

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is: Patrick E. Craig


Patrick E. Craig


and the book:


Jenny’s Choice
Harvest House (2014)
***Special thanks to Ginger Chen of Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***



Patrick E. Craig is a lifelong writer and musician who left a successful songwriting and performance career in the music industry to follow Christ in 1984. He spent the next 26 years as a worship leader, seminar speaker, and pastor in churches, and at retreats, seminars and conferences all across the western United States. After ministering for a number of years in music and worship to a circuit of small churches, he is now concentrating on writing and publishing both fiction and non-fiction books. Patrick and his wife Judy make their home in northern California and are the parents of two adult children and have five grandchildren.

Visit the author’s website.

In the concluding novel to the Apple Creek Dreams series, Jonathan and Jenny Hershberger are settled on the farm Jenny inherited from her grandfather. But when an accident takes Jonathan’s life, Jenny and her daughter, Rachel, return to Apple Creek to live with her adoptive parents, Reuben and Jerusha Springer.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99

Paperback: $13.99

Publisher: Harvest House

Language: English

ISBN-13:  978-0-7369-5109-8


The Departure
Jenny Hershberger walked slowly into the room and surveyed the piles of boxes waiting to be moved out to the wagon. Her eyes turned to a heap of clothing spread across the bed. With a weary sigh she brushed back an errant curl that had escaped from her kappe. Each item she looked at seemed to have a mouth clamoring for her attention, each with a story to tell or a memory to unveil.
This will be the hard part.
She went to the pine dresser—the first big project Jonathan had undertaken after Grandfather Borntraeger began to teach him woodworking. The detailing was coarse and the lines of the piece a bit awkward, but she had loved it from the moment Jonathan moved it into their room. She remembered him standing proudly beside it as she ran her hands over the top and opened each drawer as though it were a treasure trove. She loved the smell of the linseed oil he had rubbed into the wood, and when she had spread a lace piece over the top and placed her things there, it had become a symbol of all that Jonathan had left behind from his old life and all that he had become to be with her.
Now she picked up one of the objects on the top of the dresser, a small box. A sharp, almost physical pain touched her heart as she opened the lid. Inside were several folded pieces of paper. She took one out, slowly spread it open on the dresser, and began to read.
My precious Jenny,
It’s the end of another long day here in Paradise. I’ve been in the fields since daybreak with Grandfather Borntraeger. As soon as the thaw came and the soil started to warm, we began preparing the ground for spring planting. This is the hardest work I’ve ever done, yet at the same time it is the most fulfilling. Your grandfather is a kind man, but he’s very strict and doesn’t put up with any complaining or questioning of his methods.
Since I’m so new to this, he must teach me as we work. I feel like a little boy all over again, but he’s very patient with me even when I make mistakes.
I’m beginning to comprehend so many things, especially about God and His Son, Jesus. The Bible is a wonderful book. Did you know that God made the first man out of dirt? I wonder if that’s why I feel so at home on the land. When I’m out in the fields with Grandfather Borntraeger, walking behind the plow, I feel as though my life finally means something, as if this is the most natural and real way I could ever be. As I work, I remember the words of a song I heard the Amish men singing when I first came to Apple Creek.
Let him who has laid his hand on the plow not look back! Press on to the goal! Press on to Jesus Christ! The one who gains Christ will rise with Him from the dead on the youngest day.
That’s who I want to be—the one who lays his hand to the plow and doesn’t look back!
Jenny didn’t finish reading, but folded the letter and placed it back in the box. Tears formed in her eyes as she stood alone in the room, lost in her sorrow.
A quiet little voice spoke from the doorway. Jenny turned to the young girl who stood there. She was small, with dark hair and deep, sea-blue eyes.
She has his eyes—she’s so much like him.
Jenny went to the girl and stooped down as she took the little one in her arms and lifted her into a hug. The girl softly touched Jenny’s face.
“Why are you crying, Mama?” she asked.
“It’s nothing, my Rachel,” Jenny answered. “I was only reading your papa’s letters, the ones he wrote to me before we were courting, when he lived here with your great-grandfather and learned the Amish ways. He wrote to me every day of the two years we were apart. I kept the most special letters in this box so I could read them now and again and let du lieber Gott remind me how much He blessed me by sending me your papa.”
“Is Papa happy in heaven?” Rachel asked.
“Oh, yes, my dearest; Papa is very, very happy with Jesus and all the angels.”
“Why do we have to move to another house, Mama? I like our house. What if Papa decides to come back from heaven and he can’t find us? Won’t he be sad?”
Jenny sat on the bed and set Rachel down beside her. “Papa won’t come back from heaven, darling. Heaven is so wunderbar that once you’ve gone there, you don’t ever want to come back. And we wouldn’t want to call him back to this world once he’s been with Jesus. He will wait for us there, and one day we will join him and be with him again.
“In the meantime, we’re sad that he’s gone…very sad. We must move because it’s very hard for your mama to live here without Papa. There are so many things that make me remember him, and my heart breaks again each time I see them. I need to go back to my old home and be with my mama and papa so they can help me not to feel this way. And they will help you to be happy again. Your grossdaadi can’t wait for you to come, and Mama, my mama, has prepared a special room just for you. You will love being with them. Thanksgiving and Christmas will be here soon, and it will be comforting to be in Apple Creek with our family and friends for the holidays.”
“Oh, yes, Mama, I love Grossmudder and Grossdaadi. It will be nice to see them. But won’t we ever come back to Paradise?”
“Only der vollkluge Gott knows the answer to that question, my darling. Now, do you have all your things packed up like I asked you?”
“Mostly, Mama. Can you help me with the rest?” Rachel asked.
“Yes, dearest. I’ll be there in a bit, when I finish here. Run ahead.”
Rachel bounced off the bed and ran from the room. Jenny smiled as she watched her go.
She has her papa’s eyes and my bounce!
Jenny sighed again as Jonathan crowded back into her thoughts. She stood up, grabbed an empty box, and quickly put the letter box and the rest of the items from the dresser top into it. Then she folded up the lace piece, placed it on top of her other belongings, and closed the box. She set it with the others, piled the clothing on a chair by the door, and then pulled the quilt and the linens from the bed. She folded them and put them into the last remaining empty box. She surveyed the stack of boxes and then went to the closet and took out her suitcase. Carefully she packed her clothing in it and snapped the latches shut. The click of the latches echoed in the room like tiny gunshots. Finished.
She took a deep breath.
There, I’m done. That wasn’t so bad. Cousin Borntraeger can carry all this out for me and take it to the storage place. Mama said to just bring our clothes for now.
She heard boots on the front porch, and her heart leapt. Then just as quickly, reality dashed her hopes. Another deep sigh. How many times had she heard Jonathan coming up the front stoop and walking across the porch to the door? It was always such a comforting sound at the end of the day. But now…
There was a knock and then a voice calling. “Jenny? Are you ready, then?”
“I’m here, Cousin, in the bedroom. Can you help me with these boxes?”
Lem Borntraeger walked down the hall and into the room. He glanced around at the emptiness and pulled his black hat from his head.
“Jenny, are you sure this is what you want? We all want you to stay. I know it won’t be the same without Jonathan, but you have family here.”
Jenny looked at her tall cousin. He had been one of the blessings God bestowed on Jenny and Jonathan when they had come to Paradise ten years before. He had taken her into his heart from the first day they met, and after she and Jonathan married, he became their good friend and helper. She reached over and patted his arm.
“I have to go home, Lem. I need to be with my mama and papa. You will run the farm, and it will prosper in your care. For me, there are too many memories. Sometimes my remembrances of Jonathan and our days here feel like cobwebs that stick to me and hold me fast. They keep me from going on with my life. And I need to go on now or I’ll die inside.”
“Will you ever come back?” Lem asked.
“Right now I would say no,” Jenny answered. “But who knows the road ahead? We may come back someday when I can be in this house without weeping every time I turn around.” Jenny managed a weak smile.“I need to go, Lem.”
“All right then,” Lem said. “I understand.”
He stood for a moment with his hat in his hands. “Jonathan was a good man, and he was my friend. I will miss him deeply.” Then Lem put his hat back on and smiled. “It’s enough. Now let me load these boxes.”
Jenny watched him as he picked up two boxes and went out. She took one last look at the room and then turned to go.
She stopped and turned, thinking she had heard Jonathan’s voice. But it was only the echoes of unspoken longings that filled her aching heart. She went one last time to the bed and touched it softly.
“Jonathan, oh, Jonathan. You are my true love. There will never be anyone like you for me. Thank you, my dearest, for loving me so deeply. Thank you for being a good man, a wonderful husband, and a loving father to Rachel. May Gott be with you on your journey.”
Jenny stood silent for a moment and then picked up her suitcase, turned, and left the room. She went into Rachel’s room, gathered up the few remaining things that were still unpacked, and laid them in her daughter’s suitcase. Then she took Rachel’s hand, and together they walked down the hall, through the empty front room, and out onto the porch. A buggy waited for them in the driveway. She boosted Rachel up as Lem put the suitcases in the back, and then she climbed in. She nodded to the driver, who clicked his tongue and set the horse in motion.
The buggy rolled slowly down the driveway. Jenny looked straight ahead. She would not look back. But then just as the horse turned onto the main road, her resolve crumbled, and she turned. The blue two-story house stood in the middle of the harvested fields. As she looked she could see Jonathan behind the plow, waving to her as the rich soil turned and broke beneath the sharp blade. She could see his smile and his blue eyes. She could feel his strong arms around her as they stood together on the porch, looking out over the land—their land—in awe of the blessings of God. She put her face into her hands and silently began to weep. The clopping hooves beat out a slow and mournful cadence—“He’s gone, he’s gone, he’s gone.”


My Opinion:


I apologize both to the author, Patrick E. Craig and the publisher, Harvest House, as I was supposed to post this tour on February 13 and the book got put at the bottom of my to-be-read pile and forgotten – I finally read it recently and am now making sure to publish the tour and my thoughts.  I’ve read the first two books, A Quilt for Jenna and The Road Home, in the series and if you look at those you’ll know I enjoyed them – a lot!  Oh how my heart ached to learn of the death of Jenny’s beloved husband and father of her daughter – she had had many heart aches in her life and this one only added to it, but thankfully she was surrounded by community and family to be loved and supported.  Jenny struggles even more as she realizes that God has given her a gift of writing, especially when a visiting bishop declares her writing too worldly and especially since the publisher is a man who has been placed under the bann in another district.


A fast read, which was great for my short time frame of reading most days – however when I was needed it was hard to put down – I read it in less than a day, quite a feat!  This isn’t a typical feel good Amish fiction book, but I enjoy that, sometimes you need a book that deals with real life – and this is it.  There is some romance involved but it doesn’t turn out at all what one would expect and I so appreciate that aspect as well.  The only draw back is that this is the 3rd book and it’s the conclusion of the series, which makes me sad as I would so love to read about Jenny’s daughter Rachel – as the book finishes she is a teenager and dealing with being Amish or being English – and I would love to see Mr. Craig delve into that a bit more and maybe create a series on Rachel’s life.  I will say that you should read this series from the beginning so you know what is going on – as there are issues from book 1 that are brought back up and to make reading it easier reading the series in order is a good way to go.



(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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History Comes Alive #fieldtrip #grow4christ

One of my favorite areas to teach my children is history – I love history – some periods more than others but I love it especially when I can make it come alive for them.  We can read about it in our books, watch movies about a time period, and do all sorts of things but unless you immerse yourself and get your hands into it then you really can’t experience it.  When a local park (that we visit quite often) held their homeschool day today I jumped on it.  We were transported back into 1896 for some real hands on history learning:

  • candle dipping – yes they really got to dip candles and even took one home.  It takes almost 70 dips to make one candle that will only burn for 30 minutes!
  • a one room school house visit – complete with McGuffey readers and pen and ink writing
  • musket firing demonstrations (I so wanted to try it but knew that would be a no-no)
  • hearth cooking demonstrations
  • there was also balloon demonstrations but we didn’t get to see that as we were wiped out after the other going ons
  • and there was supposed to be a canal presentation but we couldn’t figure out where that was but it may have been cancelled due to the snow and freezing temps.

My son helping to churn butter.


My 9 year old daughter taking her turn at churning butter.


Demonstrating a musket rifle. My son was quite taken with this and would have stayed here all day.


My son using a pen and ink to write on his book – which is printed in the print shop on various printing presses.


My 9 year old having completed her pen and ink writing.


The only picture I was able to get of my photo-phobic oldest daughter.


I have some pictures of them dipping candles but there are too many other children who I don’t know and don’t want to publish their pictures and cropping it is out of the question – so those will have to do.  The woman in my header pic is holding a huge chunk of beeswax which is what they melt to make candles – taper candles cannot be made in molds or they’ll stick.  The molds were expensive as is the elderberry wax used to make the tapered, molded candles so most used dipped beeswax candles.  We all agreed it was a fun day – and of course I got my fill of history for this week.


(c) 2014, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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