GrowingForChrist

Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

Litfuse Publicity: Letters from My Father’s Murderer A Journey of Forgiveness by Laurie A. Coombs


About the Book:

If you asked anyone who knew Laurie A. Coombs, they would tell you what an incredibly strong person she was — the kind of person who can make it through anything. As Coombs details in her new memoir, Letters from My Father’s Murderer: A Journey of Forgiveness (Kregel/June 27, 2015), that outward veneer of strength masked a crumbling interior.

When her father was murdered, Laurie sought justice—and found it. His murderer now serves two life sentences with no possibility of parole. Yet, despite the swift punishment of the killer, Laurie found herself increasingly full of pain, bitterness, and anger she couldn’t control. After coming to faith, she realized she was being called to seek something infinitely more difficult than justice: forgiveness.

This is an extraordinary true story of grace, mercy, and the redemptive power of God to change lives. The reader is swept along with Laurie as she undergoes the life-changing transformation of becoming a Christian. As she studies Scripture, seeing God redeeming losses and healing deep wounds time and time again, she starts to understand that her own healing would require her to love her enemy in a real, practical way.

Using her incredible correspondence with the man who killed her father, Laurie reveals a compelling journey of transformation, not only in her life, but in the lives of those whom many would call irredeemable.

Letters from My Father’s Murderer is for any audience—Christian or secular—who craves freedom from the inability to forgive those who’ve caused them harm, wants to hear testimony of God’s power in our obedience, has experienced pain through other’s sin against them, and needs to know healing is always possible.

The real story here is not primarily about murder and its fallout, but rather about redemption and how far it can reach.

Learn more and purchase a copy at Laurie’s website.

About the Author:

In 2010, Laurie Coombs was called to forgive the man who murdered her father. What happened as a result of that journey is now the subject of her new book, Letters from My Father’s Murderer (Kregel, 2015). Her story has also been featured in Billy Graham’s new film, Heaven, a part of the “My Hope with Billy Graham” national broadcast.

Coombs writes on her blog and is a regular writer for iBelieve.com and Crosswalk.com. She is a contributor to the NIV Bible for Women: Fresh Insights for Thriving in Today’s World (Zondervan, 2015), has been published in FullFill magazine and has appeared on the radio program Living Joyfully Free.

With a background in teaching, Coombs is a passionate speaker on the issues of forgiveness, redemption and the blessings associated with following Jesus. She and her husband, Travis, make their home in Nevada along with their two daughters, Ella and Avery. Together, they are in the process of adopting from Ethiopia.

You can visit Laurie at her website, on Facebook and on Twitter.

My Opinion:

The book sounded interesting but I’ll admit I wondered if I was ready for this book, was I ready to read about someone’s loss, their grief? Laurie lost her father to murder and with my husband’s passing still fresh in my head I began her story – I admit to feeling a great bit of anxiety as I began the pages of her story, she wrote with real emotion, holding nothing back. Granted my loss was different, it was my husband and he wasn’t murdered, but there are still similarities – both losses were unexpected and I also dealt with and still do deal with anger at both him and the Lord. Laurie had a case for righteous anger, one where her anger was justified according to Scripture however the bitterness she held on to wasn’t and she began to see how that was affecting her health and her life.

Reading Laurie’s story actually gave me some hope, seeing how she began to find her new normal without her dad – including her marriage and as she went on to have children, gives me hope that one day my children and I too will find a new normal. I so appreciated Laurie’s honest and raw writing – opening these wounds could not have been easy for her or for Anthony and both of their families. Her story is one of loss, hope, forgiveness and redemption – all of which are only available through the saving blood of the Lord Jesus. Laurie shows what it means to change as we allow the Lord to be the Lord of our lives, even when that change hurts and shows us who we really are – sinners saved by grace. As Christians we usually say we’d forgive those who wronged us but what if we really had to forgive – forgiving is easy when it’s someone who says a hurtful word or maybe even steals but what if someone took a life – a life that you loved? Laurie shows what it means for Christians to forgive.

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


Can God heal the deepest wounds and redeem what seems unredeemable? Laurie Coombs experiences God’s transforming and redemptive power in her new book, Letters from My Father’s Murderer. When her father was murdered, Laurie Coombs and her family sought justice―and found it. Yet, despite the swift punishment of the killer, Laurie found herself increasingly full of pain, bitterness, and anger she couldn’t control. It was the call to love and forgive her father’s murderer that set her, the murderer, and several other inmates on the journey that would truly change their lives forever.

Join Laurie in celebrating the release of Letters from My Father’s Murderer by entering to win a Kindle Fire!

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One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A Kindle Fire HD 6
  • A copy of Letters from My Father’s Murderer

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on July 20th. The winner will be announced July 21st on Laurie’s site.

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Grant: Savior of the Union by Mitchell Yockelson


 

About the Book:

 

When Ulysses S. Grant accepted the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865, he became the Savior of the Union. But he was more than just a general during the most controversial and costly time in American history.

One hundred and fifty years since the Civil War commenced, Ulysses S. Grant is still considered one of the greatest officers to wear the uniform of the United States Army. But he began his military career reluctantly.

After his father submitted an application to West Point for his son, Grant reluctantly attended. A few years after graduation he served in the Mexican War and distinguished himself in combat, but while he enjoyed the excitement of war, shortly after he married he became despondent at the amount of time his army life kept him away from his family and resigned. But when the country split apart in 1861 and war between the northern and southern states erupted, Grant was eager to wear a uniform again and serve his country.

Joining the Union Army meant more to Grant than becoming a soldier again. He fought because he believed it was his duty to do so. He firmly believed the war was fought over the issue of slavery, and so even after he was unable to secure a commission with the regular army he signed up with the Illinois volunteer army. Grant was a natural leader and rose quickly to Commander of the Union Army. He was a soldier’s soldier and the men who served under him respected his abilities to lead them in battle.

After the war, Grant went on to become the eighteenth president of the United States, serving two terms and presiding over the second half of Reconstruction, fighting for African American and Native American civil rights, and signing bills promoting black voting rights and Klan prosecution.

After years of resisting offers to write about his Civil War experience he suddenly found himself rushed to complete his memoirs when he was diagnosed with throat cancer. His two-volume memoirs were completed days before he died and were published posthumously in 1885. They are considered to be the greatest work of the genre and through them his military contributions remain with us always.

 

My Opinion:

 

I enjoy anything Civil War and I was hoping for the same thing as I agreed to read and review this book, Grant: Savior of the Union.  I must say I found myself slogging through the book in order to finish it so I could honestly review it – I got over half way through and I couldn’t take it anymore.  I found the writing to be, well, boring and even though Grant lived an exciting life this book did little to help the reader in getting excited about him or his successes.  I would probably recommend this to a middle school or even a remedial high school student should they want a semi-unbiased account of Grant and his life, but for an adult it simply moves to slow.

 

I’ve enjoyed the other books in this series and that is what makes this review so hard to write.  I really wanted a little more history on Grant than what I received in high school but this book just seemed to reiterate what I already knew and didn’t do much to make me more knowledgeable in someone with so much history.  It was informational but more in a juvenile way than something that an adult would enjoy and find engaging – so if you have a child who is studying the Civil War or wants to know more about Grant then this book may be a good source, but if you want a more engaging and captivating writing style this isn’t it.

 

**Disclaimer:  I was provided an e-book version from Booksneeze in exchange for my honest review, no other compensation was given.

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George Washington Carver (Christian Encounter Series) by John Perry


 

About the Book:

A generation of 20th-century Americans knew him as a gentle, stoop-shouldered old black man who loved plants and discovered more than a hundred uses for the humble peanut. George Washington Carver goes beyond the public image to chronicle the adventures of one of history’s most inspiring and remarkable men.

George Washington Carver was born a slave. After his mother was kidnapped during the Civil War, his former owners raised him as their own child. He was the first black graduate of Iowa State, and turned down a salary from Thomas Edison higher than the U.S. President to stay at the struggling Tuskegee Institute, where he taught and encouraged poor black students for nearly half a century.

Carver was an award-winning painter and acclaimed botanist who saw God the Creator in all of nature. The more he learned about the world, the more convinced he was that everything in it was a gift from the Almighty, that all people were equal in His sight, and that the way to gain respect from his fellow man was not to demand it, but to earn it.

 

My Opinion:

I really enjoy these biographies in the Christian Encounter Series by Thomas Nelson as they give you a Christian perspective on people from history, that you wouldn’t find out about in secular books.  This one on George Washington Carver is actually a fast moving biography – maybe because I like this time period or was just plain fascinated by GWC – regardless this book on his life had me flipping pages fast.  I learned about this man of great faith in school, but not much stuck with me and I sure didn’t learn about his Faith in God and how he taught the students at Tuskegee how to see God in all things through His Creation.

From being kidnapped to be raised by his former white owners, to earning an honorary doctorate – George Washington Carver wasn’t one looking for hand outs based on his race, age or even prior slave status.  His faith in God took precedence in his life even in his experiments, going so far as to tell others that God told him where and how to do certain experimentation.  Never recording any data on paper, he balked at the scientific hypothesis and other ‘norms’ of verification – but nevertheless he had some great results.

While his faith was strong and he continued working almost up until his death, he appeared to be very vain (we all have our vices) – some would donate money to him or give him things and he’d give them back.  Instead, he preferred attention and accolades – like the two busts that were made of him – and unveiled in front of a large crowd amid applause.  He often would threaten Booker T. Washington that he would quit his job if he didn’t get his way.

I was glad to have had the chance to ‘meet’ this man who has largely gone forgotten in our modern culture.  He believed that God created the Earth and he bucked the thought of those who wanted to believe the Earth came about purely by coincidence.  I’d recommend this book for anyone who wants to get a brief look at Carver’s life including young students – as this book isn’t long at only 12 chapters, it’s just right for a 4th grader and up to be able to read and understand and gain understanding of this man who joined science and faith.

**I was given an e-copy version of this book from Booksneeze (Thomas Nelson) in exchange for my honest opinion, no other compensation was given.

You can purchase the book here and here.

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I Am Hutterite: The Fascinating True Story of a Young Woman’s Journey to reclaim Her Heritage by Mary-Ann Kirkby



Book description from the Book Sneeze website:

A fascinating journey into the heart and culture of a reclusive religious community.

I Am Hutterite takes readers into the hidden heart of the little-known Hutterite colony where author Mary-Ann Kirkby spent her childhood. When she was ten, her parents packed up their seven children and a handful of possessions and left the colony to start a new life. Overnight they were thrust into a world they didn’t understand, a world that did not understand them.

With great humor, Kirkby describes how she adapted to popular culture, and with raw honesty she describes her family’s deep sense of loss for their community. More than a history lesson, I Am Hutterite is a powerful tale of retracing steps and understanding how our beginnings often define us.

My Opinion:

I was impressed with this book, since I am into studying the Anabaptist faith and cultures this book caught my eye when I requested to review it. The author, Mary-Ann Kirkby was raised Hutterite, which is a segment of the Anabaptists like Amish, Mennonite, etc however they live communal life, sharing all they have.

Mary-Ann made you feel as if you were sharing her journey of her life in Canada as part of a Hutterite colony as well as living apart from them. The hardships both in colony life and regular society is felt in her words, I could feel the taunts from school mates and the feelings of her first love. She realizes that the world was not as safe outside the colony but her parents along with her siblings made a safe haven at home.

Gripping from the first page Mary-Ann Kirkby weaves a fascinating story, all of it true, of life in a communal setting which provided for the needs of all including safety and a way to worship God. If you’d like to know more about the Hutterities then this book will give a great glimpse into this seemingly secret way of life and religion – however as you read you’ll also see how friendly these people can be, but also see how human they are and that even they have bad days.

**I received this book through Book Sneeze in exchange for my honest review. To see my full disclosure see the above tab.

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FIRST tour: "The Secret Holocaust Diaries: the Untold Story of Nonna Bannister" by Nonna Bannister


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:

Nonna Bannister

and the book:

The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister

Tyndale House Publishers (March 4, 2010)

***Special thanks to Vicky Lynch of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Nonna Bannister was a young girl when World War II broke into her happy life. She went from an idyllic early-twentieth-century Russian childhood, full of love and comforts, to the life of a prisoner working in labor camps—though she was not a Jew—eventually bereft of her entire family. But she survived the war armed with the faith in God her grandmother taught her and a readiness to start a new life. She immigrated to America, married, and started a family, keeping her past secret from everyone. Though she had carried from Germany the scraps of a diary and various photographs and other memorabilia, she kept it all hidden and would only take it out, years later, to translate and expand her writings. After decades of marriage, Nonna finally shared her secret with her husband . . . and now he is sharing it with the world. Nonna died on August 15, 2004.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (March 4, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414325479
ISBN-13: 978-1414325477

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

http://books.google.com/books?id=SKJX27yU8i8C&lpg=PP1&pg=PP1&output=embed

My Opinion:

When we think of the Holocaust we think mainly of the Jews who were murdered because of their Faith – but rarely do we realize that many others were also murdered by an evil man. These included those who were handicapped, Russians, Poles and many others and it was only because of who they were or where they lived. Along the lines of Anne Frank, Nonna Bannister kept a diary, actually several diaries through out the War and she kept them hidden, even from her husband.

Atrocities abound and Nonna doesn’t try to make it seem better than it was. In reading this book – her diaries – you’ll feel the pain of the women as they watch a Nazi kill an infant and the heart ache when Nonna realizes she will never see her mom again this side of Heaven (or any of her other family). Nonna requested that her diary not be published until her death, which occured in 2004, she kept her life secret from everyone. You will cry, especially upon reading the words written by one of her son’s and her husband.

For those who would deny that the Holocaust happened, there is proof, read this book. I can’t for the life of me imagine why some want to deny, as it’s been said before when we forget the past we’ll be doomed to repeat it. Pictures that Nonna was able to keep hidden as well as copies of papers from that time will substantiate her claim as well as help the reader realize this was a human person who suffered and fortunately survived to one day tell her tale so we can’t forget!

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FIRST tour: "Scars and Stilettos: The Transformation of an Exotic Dancer" by Harmony Dust


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:

Harmony Dust

and the book:

Scars and Stilettos : The Transformation of an Exotic Dancer

Monarch (December 18, 2009)

***Special thanks to Cat Hoort, Trade Marketing Manager, of Kregel Publications for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Harmony Dust founded and leads Treasures, a nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles that helps women in the sex industry to make healthy life choices. She and her husband John have a young daughter.

Visit the author’s FaceBook.
Visit the author’s MySpace.
Visit the author’s YouTube.
Visit the author’s ministry.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 252 pages
Publisher: Monarch (December 18, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0825463092
ISBN-13: 978-0825463099

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

The haze of dusk was a soft blanket over my green Honda Civic as I drove the familiar route to the Los Angeles Airport. How many times had I taken this freeway? This exit? On autopilot, I changed lanes smoothly and rounded the bend towards Century Boulevard. I was going in the same direction I had always gone, but I might as well have been in a parallel universe to the one I lived in six years before.

I glanced at the clock in my car: 5:45 pm… Always early.

My husband’s plane wouldn’t land for another 15 minutes. I decided to wait in the Taco Bell parking lot down the street.

I missed him. For the first year of our marriage I went on tour with him. We traveled from city to city in dusty rental cars, eating lunch at truck stops and fast-food chains. I sold his Pigeon John T-shirts and CDs at the product table, while he rocked the stage for a steadily growing fan base of nerds and ex-nerds, hip-hop heads and youth groups. I was happy to do so. It was a lifestyle that appealed to the bohemian Venice girl in me.

‘I want your dreams to come true, too,’ he said to me on the night of our honeymoon.

My dreams. What were my dreams? Driving through Nebraskan corn fields and the dim streets of Baltimore on our way to shows, I found myself pondering this question. One moment I was exploring the possibilities; the next I was filling out an application to join the program for the Master’s in Social Welfare at the University of California at Los Angeles. My new role as a full-time graduate-school student meant leaving behind the life on the road with my husband.

He had only been gone for a few days, but I couldn’t wait to kiss his handsome, caramel face.

Driving down Century, I saw the sign in the distance. The words ‘Live Live Nude Nudes’ hung in muted, orange and red 1970s-style lettering. You’d think with all the razzle-dazzle strip clubs popping up everywhere, this one would wither and die and go back to being something more functional, as it was when it was a bowling alley. But it’s still there. And so are the girls.

I wondered about my old co-workers. Had they moved on to other clubs, or other lives, or were they still there?

I remembered that life: the suffocating feeling of being trapped, with no end in sight; wanting the money, needing it, but wishing there were some other legal way to get it. The constant pressure to smile, and pretend you want nothing more than to fulfill every wish and fantasy of a stranger, when all you really want to do is lie around your apartment in sweat pants, watching mafia movies like Goodfellas and Casino – imagining you could live some other life.

I remembered, and all I could do was pray: that the women behind those very walls, feeling as I once did, would have a real and true encounter with the loving, gracious, God of freedom and wonder that I have come to know. That they would discover the beauty that lies within them that is more precious than the rarest gem. That they would realize that the dreams of their youth and the passions of their hearts are important, and within reach.

The driver in front of me gently pressed his brakes, snapping me out of the trance I was in. I glanced in my rear view mirror, and saw that I had passed the Taco Bell parking lot I was planning to pull in to. Instead, I parked in a lot directly across the street from the club, turned my car off, and sat staring. There are girls in there right now, I thought.

What are you going to do? A voice whispered to my heart. What could I do? I felt as though I was outside a prison that had once held me captive. I was free, while there were still women feeling trapped inside. There was a stand-off: I was still, waiting for something to happen. For the other guy, for some other person, to come up with something: a solution; an idea; anything.

What are you going to do? What can I do? It’s not like I can waltz up there and tell the bouncer I want to talk to the girls. Even if he did let me in, what on earth would I say?

What do you want to say?

I glanced to my left and discovered a stack of postcards from a recent women’s conference I had attended. The woman pictured was facing away from the camera, looking confidently ahead. Her back was draped with strands of pearls. Tattooed across the warm brown skin of her shoulder blades were the words, ‘Her value… far above rubies and pearls.’

That is what I wanted to say. That is exactly what I wanted the women in that club to hear. Hands shaking, I grabbed the stack of postcards and began writing on the back of each one:

‘I was just driving by and wanted to tell you that you are loved…’

What else?

‘If you are ever interested in going to church, I know of a great one: http://www.oasisla.org.

You are welcome there!

Love, Harmony

PS: I used to work here too.’

When I first started dancing, even if I wanted to go to church, it would never have occurred to me that a church would have me. Still sitting in the car, my legs were heavy and stiff as I held the postcards in my hands. I wondered if I was doing the right thing. Would people think I was crazy for going back there?

I called my mother-in-law. If I am insane, she’ll tell me so, I thought. Her voice was deep and soothing like a mama bear; her words steady and careful, as she encouraged and prayed with me. It was settled; I wasn’t crazy.

I approached the parking lot and there, scattered between orange cones, were the dancers’ cars. ‘My’ spot was among them. Each night, when the security saw my car pulling into the lot, he removed the orange cone and motioned me into the space nearest the dancers’ entrance. Someone else was parked there now. As I approached the first car, a large man wearing a dark blue security jacket stepped out of the porn shop adjoining the club. Security: I hadn’t thought of that. I wasn’t sure he would let me go through with it.

The words Go in confidence radiated from within me. Before the security guard could even open his mouth, I briskly approached him and stuck out my hand.

‘Hi. My name is Harmony. I used to work here. I just wanted to leave these little notes for the girls.’ I whipped out the postcards and presented them to him. He looked at them and back at me. Tilting his head, he seemed caught off guard by the whole thing.

‘All right; go ahead,’ he said, as he waved me along and went back into the porn shop.

Quickly, before he changed his mind, I placed each postcard on the windshields of the dancers’ cars. I wondered what they would think when they found the postcards at the end of the night. What would I have thought?

As I headed to the airport terminal to pick up my husband, I imagined myself walking to my car after a long night of work: feet aching, head throbbing from six hours of pounding music. How would I feel if I entered the buzzing silence of my car and saw that little postcard sitting beneath my windshield wiper?

‘You are loved… You are welcome here.’ Aren’t those the  words I had always longed to hear? That is all I ever wanted… to be loved and welcomed. Isn’t that what we all want?

When I pulled up to the airport terminal, I saw my husband standing there, leaning on his luggage. Always dapper, his vintage-looking Kangol hat was tipped slightly to one side. I hopped out of the car and threw my arms around him, nuzzling my face into his warm neck.

‘Missed you.’

‘Missed you, too.’

We got in the car and headed home.

‘John, you are never going to believe what I just did…’

I recounted the story, and he listened encouragingly.

‘That’s cool, babe. That’s really cool,’ he said, while affectionately squeezing my fingers one by one.

‘Yeah. I mean the whole thing has me thinking… maybe I can do that every time I come to pick you up at the airport. Or every time I pass by a strip club. Do you think other girls would want to do this too? This could be the start of something,’ I rattled on.

We had no idea that within a year a group of volunteers would be going to over 150 strip clubs annually. That we would be walking alongside women, encouraging them to live the healthy, flourishing lives they were created to live. That within two years we would be an official non-profit organization. That four years later we would be training other outreach groups throughout the nation.

The idea I had that night sitting in the parking lot has expanded and become more than I ever dreamed possible. No matter how much it has grown and changed, the message is still the same…

‘You are loved. You are welcome here.’ In our churches, in our lives.

This very message was first breathed like oxygen into my heart during a time when I needed it most in my own life. My passion to share it was born out of my own broken past. This is my story.

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Christian Encounters Series: John Bunyan by Kevin Belmonte


Book Description from the Book Sneeze site:

Christian Encounters, a series of biographies from Thomas Nelson Publishers, highlights important lives from all ages and areas of the Church. Some are familiar faces. Others are unexpected guests. But all, through their relationships, struggles, prayers, and desires, uniquely illuminate our shared experience.

John Bunyan’s world was a turbulent age of regicide, civil war, and revolution. Against this backdrop emerged a man whose matchless literary gifts were burnished amidst suffering and who profoundly influenced western culture. This Christian Encounters biography presents the life story you’ve never heard—how, amidst the crucible of repeated imprisonments, civil war, and violent persecution, John Bunyan crafted The Pilgrim’s Progress, a testament unlike any other to the triumph of the human spirit.

My Opinion:

As a Christian and homeschooling parent I’m always on the look out for books that are safe for my children to read and that show great Christian character and morals. I’m glad that Thomas Nelson has put these book on the market in the form of the new series, Christian Encounters, as they are perfect for an adult or a child to read about upstanding Christians from the past but that can still be learned from today.

The book is short, 170 pages and that includes the end notes, acknowledgements, about the author and epilogue and while some may find this disappointing I thought it a great size for a short look into John Bunyan’s life. Although there are 21 chapters and we get to glimpse into the life of the man who gave us Pilgrim’s Progress . His exact date of birth is not known but he was in 1628 on November 30th and spent time in prison, a wonderful timeline in the back of the book gives more details and when they happened.

I enjoyed this book and will be using it in our school so that my children can learn about Christians who lived their faith and can be a good role model. The book is purse size and can easily travel for reading aloud times in the car while stopped at trains or in the doctor’s office. I think this is a great addition to any family’s library that wants good Christian books that focus on the person’s faith and devotion to God.

I was given a copy of this through Thomas Nelson’s Book Sneeze book review program.

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Christian Encounters Series: Jane Austen by Peter Leithart



Book description from Thomas Nelson’s website:

Christian Encounters, a series of biographies from Thomas Nelson Publishers, highlights important lives from all ages and areas of the Church. Some are familiar faces. Others are unexpected guests. But all, through their relationships, struggles, prayers, and desires, uniquely illuminate our shared experience.

Some may know Jane Austen simply as the English novelist whose books are required reading in high school and college. Perhaps it wasn’t until the BBC’s extremely successful TV miniseries of Pride and Prejudice or Emma Thompson’s film Sense and Sensibility that many became entranced. Now younger readers are flocking to Austen with a unique twist in the bestselling Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance, by Seth Grahame-Smith. In this Christian Encounters biography, fans of Jane Austen will discover the Christian faith that was in the weft and weave of her character and how it influenced her writing and her life.

My Opinion:

Whether you are an avid Jane fan or just want to know more about her then this book from the Christian Encounters series is a must read. As soon as I received the book I began reading it and it’s a quick read and a fascinating one at that! I have never read Jane Austen before, I take that back I read one page of one book that I can’t remember now which it was but I just couldn’t find myself engaged by the book. I’m not sure if because it’d been so hyped up or that that the amount of characters were hard to keep straight, whatever the reason I’m not ready to tackle some Jane Austen novels.

For a history buff, this book really provides a historical background on Miss Austen (that’s right she never married although she did have her share of suitors). This history isn’t overwhelming and actually takes on a fun aspect when put in the context surrounding Jane Austen. The author has done a wonderful job on giving readers the real Jane, not some Hollywood starlet – for instance she was a Preacher’s Kid and was a Christian all her life. We’re also introduced to many family and friends which got an ugly portrayal in a movie (I’ve never seen it but I know the truth now), this aspect makes Jane feel real and not some untouchable author, as authors seems to be nowadays.

I cannot stress enough this book is well worth reading. If you’re looking for something for you child to read as an autobiography/biography (yes it’s listed as both) or just for a relaxing read on history or your favorite author this is definitely the way to go. A fast read as well as ‘exposing’ Jane Austen’s Christian heritage will make for an inspirational and knowledgeable read. Especially good for a family read aloud – which if you’re a homeschooler, like me, this is an added bonus in the literature department.

**This book was provided to me through Thomas Nelson’s Book Sneeze program in exchange for my honest review, no other compensation was given.**

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First Things First by Kurt and Brenda Warner w/ Jennifer Schuchmann


First Things First written by Kurt and Brenda Warner with Jennifer Schuchmann is much more than a biography or autobiography about a famous wanting to seek more fame for themselves. The book is published by Tyndale and can be purchased through the Tyndale Publishing site.

I will admit it I am not a football and I am usually the one you’ll find complaining because I believe they make too much money for what they do, considering there are people who work hard everyday and struggle to survive everyday. I had never heard of the Warner’s (I can hear some big gasps), but I am sorry I hadn’t heard of them and not because of his pro-football player status, but because of all they have done with all that money. Finding out that Brenda was a single mom and divorced at age 25, living on welfare and working to put herself through nursing school and provide for her children, surprised me. Kurt is a family man and one that you don’t normally hear about playing pro-ball.

The book is down to earth and one where you can see that the entire family truly strives to live for Christ. The ministries that they have set up are worked with their hands – they don’t just throw money at it, they actually get dirty. For Thanksgiving the family serves the homeless and downtrodden by serving them, even their youngest help in some way. In St. Louis they buy caskets for children who pass away because the Warner’s believe that parents shouldn’t have to buy a casket for a dead child. Okay so they do have a nanny (it doesn’t seem like she lives in), a cleaning lady (the children still have to do chores and pick up after themselves – one rule is if the cleaning lady can’t see their oldest daughter’s floor she isn’t to clean that room!). Really though they are normal people who want to avoid the appearance of evil and do right by God.

The other thing that really hit home is the fact that their son who was dropped as a baby and as a result is handicapped. It’s amazing how she fought for her son, when the doctor’s were ready to give up and she still continues to fight for him with Kurt by her side. I guess this affected me because having worked in the field and my husband working in it as well, we see families who toss aside or abuse the handicapped family members and it’s heart wrenching to watch. They have a ministry for that too as well as joining efforts with other foundations they enable families to take a week vacation to Disney World in Florida.

The book talks about their rules for the family which makes their family run smoothly. Communication is very important but then again with nine people in the house, communication is important. When out to eat the children have to be able to tell the color of the waitress’ or waiters’ eyes, this enables the children to look into someones eyes and show respect for an often thankless job. The rules help to make the children get along and learn how to deal with the real world along with making a house functional and peaceful.

First Things First also talks some about Brenda’s past and her first marriage and what happened to her son before she met Kurt. They do discuss their sex life, which too me was a bit too personal and I could have lived without knowing about it. The book is great though, it goes into the struggle of people asking for autographs during their family time, discussing purity with their daughter, and other happenings in a family. Overall, a very well written book that shows how one family struggling with fame also adds in being a regular family and living for Christ.

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