Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

Aneko Press: Christmas Time by Sue Murray Barksdale

About the Book:

Since Christmas is such a captivating time of year, it’s the perfect setting for telling children about the miracle of the Lord Jesus Christ’s birth. Using selected passages from the first chapters of the gospels of Matthew and Luke, Christmas Time – It’s All About Jesus tells the story of Jesus’ birth in a delightfully poetic and child-like way. The sensational illustrations create an unforgettable image, so a child can always remember the true meaning of Christmas.

As an added bonus, Pastor Russ and Sue have developed devotionals to be used by families to enrich their Christmas celebrations. These are complete with attributes and names of Jesus, questions for discussion, and activities to do as a family to share Christ with those around them. Coupled together, this story and devotionals will enhance your celebration of Christmas during the season and all year long!

About the Author:

Sue Murray Barksdale has been a pastor’s wife, mom, and educator for over 30 years.  She and her husband Russ live in Arlington, Texas, where Russ pastors the multi-site The Church on Rush Creek, a multi-site church. Sue has a BS in Elementary Education from The University of Houston and enjoys teaching at a public charter school in their neighborhood.

Russ and Sue consider their relationship with their grown children and spouses and their six beautiful grandchildren as one of the greatest blessings in life! Their desire to leave a legacy of Christ-centered lives motivated them to write this book for their own family and all the children in their sphere of influence. This is Sue’s second book, her first being G.I.F.T.S.: A Prayer Book for Kids and Those Who Love Them.

My Opinion:

Before I begin this review I want to apologize, I’m very late – this is a child’s Christmas story book and as we approach the Resurrection seems a bit out of place but I want and need to write this. This is a very cute story recounting Jesus’ birth in a good Biblical way, it doesn’t try to weave in Santa, trees or gifts but sticks to why we really celebrate Christmas. The illustrations are cute and child like with the characters also taking on a child like appearance, something young ones can relate too. The story is short which is great for young attention spans who usually can’t sit still for long periods.

At the end of the story are five short devotionals using the letters in the word glory – “Jesus came as a Gift, the Light, as the Only door, we can Rejoice in Him, Yes to God’s promises.” In each devotion there is a short reading, a prayer and family activities, one is to pick a favorite song about God and go caroling in the neighborhood. As always the activities are tweak-able, and as a home-school parent, I’m good at making things that won’t work the way their written, work for my family. This is a very cute children’s book and I have to say it’s the best at sticking to the Biblical account as I’ve seen in awhile.

Please visit Aneko Press’ Blog Tour Link-up to see what other bloggers thought.



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Aneko Press: The Christmas Story in 40 Days by Christ Loehmer Kincaid


About the Book:

Do you know the story of the first Christmas, the entire story, not just what you have seen on Christmas specials or heard in Christmas hymns?

Take a few minutes each day for the next 40 days to read about the events leading up to this holiest of nights.  Meet the people who were there, Elizabeth, Zachariah, the Angel Gabriel, Mary and Joseph.  Travel across the Judean countryside to Nazareth and on to Bethlehem.  Witness the birth of Jesus as you never have before.

  • Spend 40 days strengthening your faith.
  • Spend 40 days drawing closer to God.
  • Spend 40 days getting to know your Savior Jesus Christ.

About the Author:

As I was growing up, I dreamed of accomplishing two things with my life: write a book and change the world. You might think that the book was the easy part, but who can change the world?

While I was publishing my memoir of my mission trip to Kenya, “A Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven”, that I realized my dream of changing the world is not so foolish. Like every item on anyone’s bucket list, this too could someday be crossed off my list. I have come to realize that to change the world means to change one person’s world.

My daughter and I returned to Kenya in the spring of 2013 and while there met many more men, women and children who need positive change in their lives. My daughter began working on a nonprofit organization to help these people, to empower them and improve their way of life. Tumaini Volunteers, Inc., was born and remains a work in progress.

In addition to my writing and involvement with Tumaini Volunteers, I work fulltime in the medical field, mentor a Kinship kid, mentor my church’s college students, and sponsor a Compassion child.

I am not anyone special, but I now know that change is possible. The world can be a better place. We just need to get out there and do the work that God has given us to do.

My Opinion:

I know it’s late and I’m so sorry about that – life happened and so this got put on the back burner along with some other things. If you’re looking for a short but meaningful devotional for the Christmas season then The Christmas Story in 40 Days is definitely one that I would recommend. It is suggested that in order to finish by Christmas Eve to begin this devotional on November 15th, and if you buy it now you’ll have plenty of time when November rolls around again. I also want to note that the Bible passage given at the beginning of each day’s reading is from The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. I don’t like to use The Message but it isn’t hard and doesn’t add any time to grab my own Bible and read the passage listed.

Each devotion takes five minutes or less unless you want to go deeper or you use the notes section to make your own notations – it can be used as you see fit for your or your families needs. There is no denominational bend so just about anyone who is Christian can use this devotional through the Christmas season, of course we should always remember Christ’s birth and His death and resurrection every day so maybe this shouldn’t be just a ‘Christmas’ devotional. I like that while the readings are short, they are also deep and meaningful and really help one focus on Christ’s coming and what all that entailed both then and now.

Please check out what other bloggers thought at Aneko Press’ Link-up.



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Life Sentence Publishing: Out of the Dust by Avis Goodhart with Marti Pieper

About the Book:

“Don’t waste your pain,” says unlikely missionary Avis Goodhart. She didn’t – and neither should you.

Despite a background of childhood abuse, dyslexia, and marital infidelity, Avis took her first international mission trip at age fifty. The church, school, and orphanage she later founded in northern Peru, all products of both her pain and her radical obedience to the Lord, have brought thousands of others out of the dust. This compelling story of an ordinary woman who serves God in extraordinary ways will challenge, inspire, and empower you to:

  • Eliminate excuses from your life
  • Recognize that in God’s kingdom, availability matters more than ability
  • Allow your pain to produce – not prevent – your obedience
  • Serve the Lord with the same abandon shown by one unlikely missionary

Note: Proceeds from the sale of this book are sent to the author’s orphanage in Peru.

You can purchase a copy of this book and help the author’s orphanage by visiting Life Sentence Publishing.

About Avis Goodhart:

She is the founder of Go Ye Ministries, is a missionary, Bible teacher, and conference speaker who has blessed audiences across North, South, and Central America. Although she holds a B.S.Ed. and M.Ed. from the University of Arkansas, her primary qualifications include the pain and obstacles she’s encountered along the way. These provide both insight and passion for her work in bringing the lives of countless orphans, volunteers, and others out of the dust. Avis, a widow, has five children and twenty-two grandchildren.

About Marti Pieper:  Her prayer involvement moved her to assist Brent and Deanna Higgins in telling their son’s story in I Would Die for You, which became a young adult bestseller. Marti, who has a B.S.Ed. from Ohio State University and an M.Div. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, has written multiple books and often teaches at writers’ conferences.

My Opinion:

I’d not heard of Avis Goodhart until I was given this book to read and review, even though she has been on many television and radio programs – but isn’t that like most missionaries?  We don’t hear about them and all the good they are doing for the Lord?  That said, she refers to herself as an unlikely missionary, which in all honesty describes just about every missionary I have ever heard of – no missionary can do it alone and in our humanness we are very unlikely candidates for missionary work, but the Lord gives us what we need when we become missionaries.  In the end aren’t we all missionaries?  Some of us have domestic mission work while others are sent into harrowing, overseas work – in the end all Christians are missionaries.  I digress though – this book was a fast read but I won’t say great because Avis’ story is heartbreaking, one of abuse, nomadic living but also one of love and forgiveness.  Then there are the stories of the children – mothers who can’t raise their children so they bring them to Casa de Paz so that they might be fed, clothed, sheltered and educated.  My mother’s heart breaks at the stories, but I also know I would do whatever I could to give my children a fighting chance to survive.

While I do say that this is a great book and I love the fact that all proceeds from the book go to support Avis’ orphanage in Peru I didn’t find that there was much that would have me wanting to leave my home in America if I didn’t already have a passion to one day become a traveling missionary.  Her book did more in opening my eyes to the plight of the Peruvian people, especially the children, than it did to really make me see how to eliminate excuses or how to serve the Lord.  It was a book about Avis and her work as a missionary, but it wasn’t a book written to would-be missionaries – although it does make one aware of what they may be facing.  Usually, missionaries are already of the mindset of Lord send me my life is Yours, but this book could speak to the hearts of Christians who feel that just by throwing some money in a love offering, they’ve done all they can.  Even with my children, we’ve found ways to serve others in our community – my only regret is that we should have started much earlier, even infants can help and bring comfort to those around them.

If you enjoy a book on missionaries then this will definitely fill the niche, mostly there are books on those missionaries who have gone on to their Eternal reward but there needs to be more in the way of modern, living, missionaries so that a new generation can learn to become servants and be with the least of these.  I never would have thought of Peru as being a place where missionaries are needed but after reading this and another book this week, I know that Peru needs missionaries just as much as China, Russia or Korea does.  Avis has gone out of her comfort zone, overcome her obstacles that most tired to persuade her would make her a horrible missionary, to bring the Light and Love of the Lord to those who needed it.  I also felt the book was ‘safe’ enough to allow my almost 13 year old daughter read it if she would chose, even while Avis describes some life events they were not descriptive enough that it would cause me concern, and it would open dialogue with issues that go on in the world and how one Christian took the evil that was dealt and fulfilled Christ’s words – what one means for evil the Lord can turn to good.

You can read what other bloggers thought as well as enter to win a $10 Starbucks gift card at Life Sentence Publishing’s blog.

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


Life Sentence Publishing: Trouble in Ippy-Tippy Town by Katie Berdan


About the Book:


“More free stuff! More free stuff!” What happens in Ippy Tippy Town when the Gimmie Getters make everything free? Where will the money come from? Where will the food come from? What will the Wanna Workers do to save their town?


The book is available in paperback and e-book form on Amazon.




My Opinion:

This is a cute illustrated book for children to teach the value of hard work and that nothing is free – both good things to understand at a young age.  It gives a good basic story line of working hard, politics and the unmistakable truth that being given something for nothing will make one lazy and the culture around you fall.  I really don’t have anything to say against this book, we are not a political family but even the politics which are very generic and the voting portrayed, didn’t have me gnashing my teeth against it.  These are things that my children must learn at some point and the cute, basic illustrations appealed to my 8 and 9 year old although not much to my 12 year old.  There is mention of war and while some might object it demonstrated that taxes paid by those who do work pay to have our country protected by the armed forces.


Overall, a cute book that children ages 6-8 would probably enjoy, even some 9 or 10 year old children but I don’t think older children would appreciate the simple text or the illustrations as much.  The book had a good lesson at the end and everyone in Ippy-Tippy Town eventually realizes that work is a good thing and most return to their jobs so that they can earn money to live on, touches a little on taxes, and why they can be a good thing when not overly done or re-distributed.  Some concepts may be to big for the younger child but it would definitely open up a good conversation between a parent and older child about the bigger concepts of finances.  This is not written to be distinctly Christian although there is a Bible verse at the very end – my secular homeschool friends would also benefit from the book.



(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: Why You Really Can Memorize Scripture by Dr. Daniel Morris

About the Book:

Understand and unlock your mind’s natural ability to memorize long passages

Called to be a missionary as a teenager, I had a great desire to fulfill God’s will, but had a great sense of inadequacy for such an extraordinary purpose. But God says he who meditates in His Word …shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper (Psalm 1:3). This verse was and still is a great source of encouragement.

Part of meditation is to memorize God’s Word, so I began a systematic method of memorizing consecutive passages of scripture. Through the years I learned, both by study and by experience, how God made our memory function. Presently, I have 42 chapters memorized and, best of all, our missionary work has prospered beyond what I could have imagined.

This book describes what I learned about permanently memorizing scripture and will help you be one of the few who experiences the blessing of meditation in God’s Word, and the hope that whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

In this book you’ll learn:

  • Specific memorization techniques.
  • How to memorize scripture, the Bible.
  • How to retain what you memorize


You can purchase a Kindle version or a Paperback copy by following the links.


About the Author:

Dr. Morris graduated from Pacific Coast Baptist Bible College and Anchor Theological Seminary. He received his Ph. D. in Biblical Studies from Louisiana Baptist University. Since 1978, he and his wife, Debbie, have served as missionaries in Chiapas, Mexico. He presently pastors the Baptist church he founded in Tuxtla Gutiérrez and oversees several other churches, missions and a Christian school. Much of his time is dedicated to training Mexican pastors, and counseling.




My Opinion:

I struggle with memorizing facts, dates and even Scripture – I have a working knowledge of certain passages and I can recall the Scriptures I learned as a child such as Psalms 23 but memorizing many whole chapters or even books of the Bible proves to overwhelm me.  I’ve never had a great memory, even as a child – for a pseudo-historian that is troubling and for one who knows the importance of memorizing Scripture it’s even more troubling.  There will probably come a time where, like other countries, owning a Bible will be illegal in the United States and so memorization is even more paramount to the Christian so that we can hide His Words in our hearts and minds and still let them bring comfort to us when we need to recall them from memory.


I sat down to read this book and got through it in a day, for the purposes of the review so I didn’t have time to actually put any of the techniques to work.  I must say to me, it seemed like there was a lot to do and it made it seem much more overwhelming to want to memorize.  Dr. Morris walks the reader through the various types of memory and which memory will be used during the memorization of Scripture and he shows how Scripture commands the long term memorization of Scripture.  It may depend on your interpretation of Scripture in what the reader thinks those verses actually mean but I understood where he was going – the Lord does want us to memorize His Word.


After reading the first few chapters Dr. Morris then walks the reader through the steps in how to memorize, even if you think you can’t, such as utilizing such questions as who wrote the passage, what did it mean then, what does it mean now, and inventing nails – to make the verse stick.  He says all it takes is about 10 minutes a day.  Then he walks you through applying the steps in two different chapters using a verse he picks – one that most do not already have memorized (it’s not John 3:16).  He also tells you how to not lose what you’ve already memorized while working on more Scripture to commit to memory – of course that takes a little more time – as it’s said about foreign languages, if you don’t use it you’ll lose it.  Again, I think the book makes a simple thing like memorizing and turns into something a bit too scientific for my liking but it definitely is a book that is needed in today’s world.


Please click on the banner above to read what others have thought about this book.



(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: Rescue the Captors by Russell Stendal #grow4christ #bookreview

**May contain affiliate links**


About the Book:

American bush pilot Russell Stendal, on routine business, landed his plane in a remote Colombian village. Gunfire exploded throughout the town and within minutes Russell’s 142-day ordeal had begun. The Colombian cartel explained that this was a kidnapping for ransom and that he would be held until payment was made.

Held at gunpoint deep in the jungle and with little else to occupy his time, Russell got ahold of some paper and began to write. He told the story of his life and kept a record of his experience in the guerrilla camp. His “book” became a bridge to the men who held him hostage and now serves as the basis for this incredible true story of how God’s love penetrated a physical and ideological jungle.


You can purchase the book for $13.48 at Life Sentence Publishing or for a limited time it’s free on Amazon or purchase a physical copy on Amazon.


My Opinion:


I have a thing for reading books about missionaries, their successes and their failures both inspire me and also make me want to make a difference and it also gives me a way to somehow live vicariously through them.  Russell had an understanding of spiritual things at a young age and it was his question about serving that had his parents becoming missionaries themselves and so begins Russell’s life as a missionary kid and later a missionary himself.  Run ins with drug traffickers, death defying flights, and more are just some of the things that Russell encounters while he flies missions over Colombia to help people as well as meeting the love of his life, Marina.  Captured by Colombian guerrillas Russell spent 142 in captivity while his family worked to raise the funds to have him released – but he gained much more than his freedom during his stay with the guerrillas.  Earning their respect Russell witnessed to his captors and this book actually had most of it’s beginnings while he was still in captivity when the leader said he had to type a Spanish copy and he would be allowed to write an English copy to take with him upon his release.


I didn’t agree with everything that Russell does during his captivity, he uses Bible verses to justify his shooting a captor so he could try to escape and that goes against my beliefs in non-aggression but then again I’ve never been kidnapped or held at gunpoint or in a jungle where gunfire and carrying weapons are a part of life.  Russell maintains part of the reason why he was able to gain the respect of his captors was that he didn’t go quietly with his captors and fought them and remained strong without giving into their threats and intimidation.  Again, I don’t know what I’d do, but I’m not sure I’d ever be able to shoot a person – which could be part of the reason why I made a terrible Sailor!  I digress – this book pulls you in as Russell describes his time both in captivity as well as his years growing up in the States and then during his time in Central America – so while it may seem that he skips around there is a continuity to the whole book.


If you are like me and enjoy reading books about missionaries and their life then this is a must read and would make a great addition to your home bookshelf, why you’re at it ask your library to get a copy as well.  I read this in about a day and a half, it would have been shorter but I had some other things that needed my attention – it’s a fast read and since it pulls you in as soon as you start you’ll want to keep going.  Through out the book are also pictures of Russell and the various people he encounters or his wife and and daughter, which aid in picturing what he talks about in the book.  Also included are two QR codes in the beginning and you can scan the codes and watch and introduction by Russell Stendal as well as watch a trailer for a film featuring Russel in Rescue the Captors 2 – the tale of his captivity told from the viewpoint of the family.



(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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