Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

Book Review: The Pinecraft Pie Shop book 1: Made with Love by Tricia Goyer and Sherry Gore

love_zpskbjceed3 About the Book:

Lovina Miller should be thrilled. Pinecraft, Florida, has everything a young Amish woman could ask for: sun, sand, volleyball games, and evening singings in the park. But Pinecraft lacks the one thing Lovina desperately wants—a pie shop of her own. She longs for a place to gather with the community and serve the treat she loves.

A young carpenter named Noah Yoder strolls into her life and offers a way to make her dream come true. But before Noah and Lovina can build a shop—and a life—together, they must each face heartaches from the past. Is their new love stronger than their regrets?

You can purchase your copy at Harvest House Publishers.

love2_zpsm6hcjcin About Tricia:

Tricia Goyer is a busy mom of six, grandmother of two, and wife to John. A USA Today bestselling author, Tricia has published over 40 books and has written more than 500 articles. She’s well-known for her Big Sky and Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors Amish series. For more information visit Tricia at Tricia, along with a group of friends, also runs, sharing ideas about simplifying life.

love3_zpsousbu2xi About Sherry:

Sherry Gore is the author of Simply Delicious Amish Cooking and Me, Myself and Pie and is a weekly scribe for the national edition of the Amish newspaper The Budget. Sherry’s culinary adventures have been seen on NBC Daytime,, and Mr. Food Test Kitchen. Sherry is a resident of Sarasota, Florida, the vacation paradise of the Plain People. She has three children and is a member of a Beachy Amish Mennonite church.

My Opinion:

I’ve read many of Tricia’s book before, such as Where Treetops Glisten and Mom’s Night Out, among others. I have never read any of Sherry Gore’s other books though and that is something I will be rectifying soon. I used to be obsessed with the Amish culture, so much so, I tried to convince my husband to convert but there were some issues and we couldn’t and he wouldn’t so we stayed English. I didn’t quite connect with Lovina like I wanted to, she was single, still at home and all she wants is to open her own pie shop – I could relate to the dream part but not so much some of her mopey attitude. Enter Noah, who has a bad reputation among the Plain People and well I’m sure the reader can figure out what happens next, or can they?

Full of twists and turns, I had a hard time figuring out what was going to happen next because just when I think I figured it out, I was wrong. I like that, I don’t like boring, predictable books and this was not that. Even though I’m not as obsessed with the Amish as I once was I still enjoy a book about them. That said there is romance, nothing risque, obviously but I’m throwing that out there. Lately, when I read romance novels my heart isn’t in it but this one seemed so real it was hard to not want the ending to be what it was and so I could enjoy it without feeling like my heart was being ripped out. A fantastic book if you’re looking for a quick, summer read.


(c) 2016, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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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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Book Review: Cast Me Not Away by Zara Heritage

cast1_zpsapgl4zrs About the Book:

Aktion T4, a largely secret program approved by the Nazis in 1939, was designed to rid the nation of young children deemed unworthy of life. It eventually took the lives of over 200,000 children and laid the groundwork for the destruction of millions of Jews and other perceived enemies of the state. Despite Nazism’s defeat, its wickedness lives on. Today the world wrestles with concepts such as quality of life, meaningful medical benefit, and rationing care for the sick and elderly. Where will it end?

Fast forward to a time and place where the future meets the past and the abortion/euthanasia movement reaches its inevitable conclusion. Family size is strictly regulated, the unborn are routinely aborted, and unwanted children are labeled useless and sent away to be gassed and their bodies incinerated.

In this time of societal darkness, Mira Hastings and Grayson Stevens join a cadre of brave individuals who stand against this juggernaut of evil by putting their lives on the line to rescue ill-fated youngsters from certain death. In a bold attempt to bring down the beast, they publicly expose the greed and corruption that drives the system. Declared enemies of the state, Mira and Gray are forced underground as they flee the wrath of a vengeful government. While on the run they encounter danger at every turn. But, with the aid of a network of supporters, they also encounter hope, joy…and eventually love.

You can purchase a copy on Amazon.

My Opinion:

Since this is Zara’s debut novel I was a bit nervous about how the book would actually be written and I was so pleased by it. The book is well written and the characters well formed and add a dimension of reality to the entire story. Set in the future when family sizes are limited and if you want more than allowed you have to get permission or chose which child to get rid of. Heartbreaking. Thought provoking. This book runs the gamut of emotions from the feeling of justice for an unnecessary murder, to love both the protection kind and the truly agape love of the Bible. As I said the characters come to life on the pages of Cast Me Not Away, from the bad characters to the good, they all come to live with Zara’s vibrant writing.

The scary part about this book is that it’s only a matter of time before these fictional happenings will become reality – in fact with abortion and even letting babies born alive after an abortion attempt die or be killed – is already coming to fruition. The thought of it being allowed by law to kill a child up to age 4 is beyond our comprehension, for those who view children as valuable and as blessings, no matter their abilities levels. What about the family that has “too many” and must make the decision to give their pre-born child away or abort it or give away a child they’re already bonded too? As the saying goes, evil triumphs when good men do nothing, and so Zara’s novel will open many eyes, or at least I pray it does.



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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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Kregel Tour: Bible Stories Gone Crazy by Josh Edwards

About the Book:

Eight Bible stories are depicted in bright color and comic, cartoony illustrations. There is a sentence or two explaining the scene at the top, and then details to spot, mistakes to find, and questions to answer along the sides of the picture, such as, “Did Noah’s workmen REALLY have power tools?” and “How many rabbits are in the picture?” Children will love scouring the illustrations to find the answers and spot more amusing details in the busy artwork of Emiliano Migliardo.

The stories are Noah and His Great Ark, Moses Crossing the Red Sea, Joshua and the Fall of Jericho, David and Goliath, Daniel and the Lions, Jonah and the Big Fish, Feeding the 5,000, and Man Through the Roof.

You can purchase a copy at Kregel Publications.

My Opinion:

I enjoy interesting ways of presenting Biblical truths to my children and when Bible Stories Gone Crazy popped up to be reviewed I knew I wanted a copy for my home. The overall goal is to get children interested in learning more about the Bible and the history inside, so Scripture references are given so that children and adults can easily find the real account of what is going on in the pictures. There are also many mistakes in Emiliano’s drawings, and while some may take offense of some characters that resemble KISS in a book on the Bible, for us it was humorous because my husband enjoyed KISS. There are questions around the picture such as “Did a rock band really play when the walls fell down?”, obviously for the adults the answer is no, but the goal is to get children digging into the Word, and for non-churched children this book will have a way of resonating with them.

Children should also be on the look out for all the teddy bears hidden through out the book – an answer guide in the back will tell how many bears are to be found in which story. The heavy laminated pages are durable and can withstand some heavy use and are very smooth, which may be appealing to children who have sensory issues. The hardcover book lays flat when opened to allow full viewing of all the pages and their illustrations, which is great for children who may get frustrated at not being able to see the whole picture. All three of my children, ages 13, 11 and 9 enjoy looking at this book and it kept two of them busy in the back seat on our eight hour drive to vacation. I definitely recommend this book to really get children of all ages engaged with the Bible and all the history of the Christian and Jewish faith that is contained within.

(c) 2015, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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B&B Media Review: Starting at the Finish Line The Gospel of Grace for Mormons by John B. Wallace

About the book:

John Wallace recognizes that the devout Latter-day Saint is unlikely to ever read his new book Starting at the Finish Line: The Gospel of Grace for Mormons (Pomona House Publishing LLC June 2014). In fact, they are prohibited from doing so! But even if they did, the book’s central message of salvation by faith alone in the completed work of Christ would likely seem overly simplistic and terribly inadequate to them. This is unfortunate and is the cause of much frustration for both the Christian who just cannot seem to “get through” to his or her LDS loved one and to the Mormon who feels insulted that someone should feel the need to “save” them.

Realistically, Starting at the Finish Line is for three groups of people: 1) The “cultural Mormon” who values the benefits of belonging to the LDS church, but secretly doesn’t fully believe in the Joseph Smith/Moroni/gold plates narrative (or in any of a number of difficult doctrines). 2) Those that have already left the Mormon faith, but aren’t sure where to turn. These people often feel lost and untethered in this world, often concluding that if Mormonism isn’t true, then nothing is. 3) The Christian who desperately wants to better understand the Mormon mindset, if for no other reason but to know how to dialogue with them.

Dr. Wallace excels in relating to his audience. Having been Mormon for twenty years and deeply committed to the LDS way of life and doctrine, he serves as a “double agent” of sorts. While this book is not intended to be a comprehensive, point-counterpoint analysis of Mormon and biblical Christian theologies, it may very well prove to be the most powerful and relatable explanation of the gospel of grace in terms that the Latter-day saint will readily understand. As Wallace is fond of saying, this is all about “sharing the good news of the gospel and making it sound like good news to the Latter-day Saint.”

Starting at the Finish Line seeks to reveal three primary truths to its reader. 1) The Bible is the Word of God. It is trustworthy in its translation and transmission over the many centuries and is authoritative in terms of leading people into a saving relationship with Christ. 2) Christ purchased mankind’s salvation with his precious blood on the cross of Calvary. This is the work of salvation and no other work remains than for people to receive the free gift by faith. 3) Any attempt to contribute or “add to” Christ’s work on the cross is an offense to God and demonstrates a lack of faith in the sufficiency of Christ’s redeeming blood. As Paul so bluntly wrote to the Galatians, attempts to gain salvation through works sever people from God’s grace and place them in the unenviable position of obeying the law perfectly in order to enter God’s kingdom.

By sharing his own personal journey, Wallace ultimately demonstrates the incomparable joy of emerging from a religion of works into a relationship with Christ that is based on acceptance and freedom. He further explores the mystery of what it means to be “born again,” inviting the Latter-day Saint to faith in Christ alone, explaining that good works are but natural by-products of the indwelling Holy Spirit – the same Spirit who gives the believer assurance that their salvation is indeed secure in Christ. Good news indeed and cause for great celebration!

You can learn more about the book at Starting at the Finish Line.

My Opinion:

Having family and friends that are Mormon has me wanting to understand how they believe, what their faith entails and how it is so different from my Christian walk that I knew I wanted to read John B. Wallace’s book about the Gospel of Grace for Mormons in Starting at the Finish Line.  I’ve known for awhile that Mormons don’t believe in Jesus Christ as other Christians do, that He is the Savior came to save us all by His work on the Cross and His Resurrection.  I also know how easy it is to get things muddled and forget what He did and think we need to add to it or somehow feel that we aren’t good enough and so we must work and work at earning our Salvation.  However, if you pick up this book, this isn’t so much about their doctrine and their adding to the Holy Bible through the Book of Mormon but more on how a devout Mormon can find freedom in accepting Christ’s sacrifice, not partially, but fully embracing the work He did for us.

I would desire that all my Mormon friends and family read this book, but as it says in the description even the author recognizes that they more than likely won’t and so it’s up to as Christians to read it so we can learn how best to minister to those who are open to the truth by using what they’ve been taught and showing them through the Bible how it is really is.  While Mormons believe they are Christians, John shows the reader why that isn’t true and even that Mormons teach they are the only true church – so why would they want to be a Christian?  This wasn’t a quick read and it took me about a week or so to read the whole book as some of it was heavy and needed quite a bit of brain power to digest, and even then some of it I still could go back and re-read again to really get it.  Overall, this is a great book for those questioning their Mormon faith or for those who want to minister to a Mormon in their life and show them the Gospel of Grace.

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

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Green Egg Media: Power Bible Volumes 1(From Creation to the Story of Joseph) and 8 (the Light of Salvation) #grow4christ #bookreview #giveaway

About the book:

The Power Bible is a ten volume series that presents the Bible in a comic book format which appeals to all ages. From Genesis to Revelation, the Power Bible tells the truths of God’s Word in a fact-checked, fun-to-read format that kids will want to pick up again and again!

In the exciting first volume of the Power Bible series, From Creation to the Story of Joseph, read about how…
– Out of the darkness, God creates the heavens and the earth.
– He creates all living creatures, and creates man in His own image.
– Adam and Eve disobey God’s one rule to them and are driven out of the Garden of Eden.
– Meet Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Joseph and a host of other characters and read about how it all began.


You can purchase a copy for $14.99 at Green Egg Media.


About the Book:

The Power Bible is a ten volume series that presents the Bible in a comic book format which appeals to all ages. From Genesis to Revelation, the Power Bible tells the truths of God’s Word in a fact-checked, fun-to-read format that kids will want to pick up again and again!
In the spell-binding eighth volume of the Power Bible series, The Light of Salvation, read about how…

– Jesus and His disciples continue their ministry as they travel through Judea performing God’s miracles and delivering His word.
– Many people are moved by the miracles and teachings of Jesus and come to follow Him as their Savior.
– The Jewish leaders begin to feel threatened by his popularity, and come up with a plan to kill Jesus.
– Jesus concludes His earthly ministry by sharing His last supper with the disciples and putting into motion God’s plan to save the world by giving His own life.


You can purchase a copy for $14.99 at Green Egg Media.


The inside of Volume 8, The Light of Salvation or better yet, Take a Peek



My Opinion:


I was contacted by Green Egg Media to see if I’d like to do a review of a copy of the Power Bible, having not heard of them or the Power Bible before I went to their website and looked around and then I called my children over and asked them if they’d like me to review a copy of this Bible.  When I showed them they all three said, most definitely yes, and when I emailed Green Egg Media back to let them know I’d like to review the 1st volume they also offered me a second – so wanting to make sure I got a bit of the Old Testament and the New Testament I also asked for Volume 8.  They’ve been given the Moms Choice Award, and I can see why these are easy to read – in fact if your child struggles with reading these may help them as the words are few and are simple for ease of use and the cartoon figures make it engaging and fun, they won’t even know they’re reading!  Volume 1 is 208 pages and measures 10 by 7.3 by 0.5 inches and Volume 8 is 196 pages and measures 10 by 7.2 by 0.1 inches.  Both volumes have thick paperback covers that can withstand many openings and closings and thick pages that are meant to stand up to children using them repeatedly.


I read through both of these Bibles in a matter of just a few hours, that is how easy of area they are so while even my oldest, fast reader will enjoy them (she likes the kind of cartoon art that is used to illustrate) as will my non-reader and my not so strong reader.  There is something for everyone in this Bible – whether adult, child or child at heart – this will have you reading the Bible in a way that is easy to understand but in no way takes away or add to the original Scripture.  Children aren’t only reading the words but they are experiencing it which means they will linger over the illustrations AND the words allowing them to learn more and really feel what the Scripture means for them.  The engaging form that the Power Bible uses is really a great way to instill Biblical truths, if you can’t be reading right then like if you’re driving, then the Power Bible can occupy a child(ren) in the backseat, even if they can’t read the pictures can speak to them.


Overall, I’m very impressed with the Power Bibles I received and I hope to add the others to the collection – the Old Testament sets which are Volumes 1-6 sell for $89.90 and the New Testament set which comprise Volume 7-10 sell for $59.90 – is a great deal especially if you’re looking for something that will have a life long impression and could be a wonderful gift for a birthday, holiday or even a baptism.  These are just really awesome and all three of my children ask to read them or have me read aloud to them as they gather around to look at the pictures – I need to have a copy for each of them so they don’t fight over the copies we do have!  I’m thankful to have had the chance to read and review these because it’s rare to find a Bible like these that impart God’s Word using His Word without diluting it and making it worthless, thank you Green Egg Media for making the Power Bible available.  Be sure to check the Family Fun tab on the website for free coloring pages, verses of the week, power packs and activity pages to have even more learning fun in God’s Word.



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



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B&B Media Review: Adventures Under the Mango Tree by Lillian Ann Klepp #grow4christ #bookreview

About the Book:

If you were to ask God how to best be of service in a troubled world and the answer you received was to “Sell all you have and give it to the poor”, could you – would you – do it? Could you really sell everything you own, leave your home and well-established life behind, and travel halfway around the world to live in a country best known for its civil wars and extreme poverty? Most of us, in all probability, could or would not. But that wasn’t the case for Dennis and Lillian Klepp, a Wisconsin couple who asked the question, received the answer and then stepped out in faith to do exactly what they felt God was asking them to do.

Their massive step of faith began in 1999, after Lillian heard a speaker talk about the plight of orphans and widows in Sudan. A short two years later, the couple said goodbye to friends and family and headed to the war-torn African nation to devote their lives to serving God. They have been there ever since, establishing orphanages, schools and health care centers and bringing hope to those who need it most. In her new book, Adventures Under the Mango Tree: A Story of Hope in War Torn Sudan, (Creative Enterprises Studio, June 2014) Lillian, or, as she is more affectionately known, Mama Lilly, chronicles the couple’s amazing story of faith, sacrifice and obedience as they endeavor to follow Christ­­­­­.

In sharing their story, Lillian explains not only the early motivation that prompted the couple to make such a massive life change, but also shares how their faith and trust was strengthened prior to the move by numerous situations in which they had nowhere­­ else to turn but God. Recalling one day in particular when one of their children was suffering from a severe asthma attack, Lillian details her thoughts and fears, writing, “I immediately prayed to God asking, ‘What do I do?’ I then proceeded to pray over Lance the words of Mark 10:14, ‘Let the children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’ And while I read this, I realized in that moment that I needed to trust God for healing, medicine or no medicine. I needed to have full trust in the Lord.”

It was during times such as those, Lillian writes, that she realized “God was working in our lives to help us come to trust and rely on Him for everything. And as it turned out, He was preparing us for what was to come.”

That complete trust has been repeatedly tested in the years since their move to Sudan. From Lillian’s initial fear of sleeping in a rat-infested room her first night in her new Sudanese home; to frantic moments spent trying to keep the orphans in their care quiet during the wee hours of the night as war raged around them; and fear that the flight needed to take Dennis back to America after suffering a heart attack might come too late, Lillian has placed her trust in her Heavenly Father repeatedly and, each time, that trust has seen them through. Together she and Dennis have worked tirelessly, building their non-profit Christ-based organization, Harvesters Reaching the Nations, from its humble beginnings to a burgeoning outreach serving more than 190 orphans in two locations in what is now South Sudan and providing a Christian education to over 500 students including more than 400 children from surrounding villages.

Lillian’s forthright, honest and often humorous accounting of their experience gives readers a firsthand look at what it takes to leave a life of relative ease behind and travel to the ends of the earth to spread the gospel. While it is a must read for every person contemplating work in the mission field, Adventures Under the Mango Tree offers all readers an insightful glimpse into a world few can even fathom. More importantly, through Lillian’s humbling and unique story, we are shown the extraordinary power of a loving God who enables his faithful servants to shine a light in one of the darkest corners of the world.

For more information about Pastor Dennis and Mama Lilly Klepp and Harvesters Reaching the Nations, the Christ-centered organization the couple began in 2001 to provide discipleship, education and health care to vulnerable women and children living in remote regions of the world, please visit their website at


You can find out how to purchase by going to the website.


My Opinion:

Sometimes there are books that change the way you think and feel and that is what I’d say about Adventures Under the Mango Tree – I’ve stated here before that I enjoy reading books that are written about and by missionaries, especially those that deal with children and Lillian Ann Klepp pulled me in right away to her story.  She starts by giving some background information on her and her husband’s family and their early years of marriage, the first chapter spans the years of 1954 to 1980 – and gave me a glimpse of what they were like before they were Christians.  This is the story of missionaries but also a testimony of how God does and will work in those lives that turn themselves over to Him and His Lordship, that is what makes this so powerful, I believe.  When you’ve grown up in a Christian in name only or even in a non-Christian home, your past likely contains skeletons that you want to hide and will think that makes you unwanted by God, but He chases you and He will forgive and He will do a good work through even the most depraved of sinners if given the chance.  I know I was there too.


As Lillian dedicates time to fasting and prayer, the Lord begins to call her to mission work and she eventually tells her husband, Dennis, they need to go to the Sudan – he of course is slightly shocked and needed time to also let the Lord speak to him.  He eventually agrees and the Klepps set out to go to the Sudan – even against the words of friends who insist they should go with an established ministry but the Lord is telling Lillian and Dennis to start their own.  As they arrive they have nothing but as the Lord moves they eventually are able to set up a school, an orphanage, medical facilities in not one location but two!  It’s awesome how when the Lord calls and the person(s) He calls answers what can happen, even when it feels like things are falling apart – the Sudan isn’t very welcoming to outsiders.  In fact in order to adopt from the Sudan one must establish residency for three years prior to the adoption taking place!


I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy reading missionary stories or testimonies – as the back of the book says “What can one ordinary person do?  Read this astonishing memoir and you’ll see.  Then perhaps you, too, can step out in faith for the sake of the gospel.”  So if you aren’t sure if you can step out in faith and let the Lord lead you, this book will have your heart and mind wondering you can do – I know I lack in praying and I’ve never fasted but I wonder what blessings and callings I’ve missed out on by not being strong in these areas.  While many doubt that the Lord still moves through His Spirit either in miracles through protection or through the physical healing of ailments, this book can put these doubts to rest if you read it with an open mind and let the Spirit lead you.



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



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Kregel Tour: Should Christians be Environmentalists? by Dan Story


About the Book:


Did God instruct the human race to be His caretakers over nature? If so, is environmental exploitation disobedience to God? Is it true, as many critics claim, that Christianity is the root cause of today’s environmental problems–or are all religions and cultures responsible? How should the church respond?

Should Christians Be Environmentalists? systematically tackles these tough questions and more by exploring what the Bible says about the environment and our stewardship of creation. Looking at three dimensions of environmentalism as a movement, a Bible-based theology of nature, and the role the church has in environmental ethics, Dan Story examines each through a theological, apologetic, and practical lens.

Writing with easy-to-understand, nontechnical language, the author provides a powerful rebuttal to critics who claim Christianity is anti-environmental. He urges Christians–especially high school and college students–to embrace the tremendous evangelistic opportunities that exist in the environment debate.

In a time when Christians are becoming increasingly aware of the seriousness of today’s environmental and ecological problems and want the church to become more informed and engaged in confronting these issues, this book is the perfect introduction to this timely topic.


My Opinion:


I’m very much in agreement with the author that as Christians, we do need to take care of God’s creation as He did put us in charge – but I too see how the ‘left’ has turned environmentalism as a cross to die on, figuratively speaking.  I don’t like being told by those that I should only use one square of toilet paper or that by having more than 1.2 children I’m somehow polluting and killing our world.  The author states that with technology most people today, especially children, don’t get into nature enough or learn to appreciate it.  I don’t see technology as being the ‘bad guy’ but it’s ultimately the person’s fault to not want to be involved in anything past their gadget or game.


Should Christians care for the earth?  Yes.  Do we have to label ourselves as environmentalists?  No.  I love to take hikes and get my children out with me, especially in the fall which is my favorite season, and we leave our Kindles and iPods (except for when I need pictures for our portfolios) at home.  I do little things such as composting food scraps, hanging laundry out, and other small things but I don’t see myself as an environmentalist – to me it’s about saving money cutting back on our use of electricity so that our bill isn’t so high, but some I guess could see it as an environmental thing too.


I was really hoping for some new revelation in reading this book but it just didn’t come to me.  At some points I saw what seemed like anger in some of the commentary about how the church isn’t doing enough and while I don’t think that was the author’s intent, that was how I perceived it.  There was also some rather dry points that I found it hard to get through – tell me why I should be an environmentalist, I don’t need to know the liberal side as I hear it every time I turn on the T.V.  For me it was a lot of back and forth as to why Christians should be environmentalists even though most of the groups that support these endeavors go against everything a Christian should stand for.  Parts of the book were really interesting and held my attention but others I could have just skipped over.


**Disclaimer:  I was given a copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for my honest opinion, no other compensation was given.

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Son of the Underground by Isaac Liu with Albrecht Kaul


About the book:


Son of the Underground is a beautiful story of struggle, hope, and the ability of faith to overcome obstacles. Not only is it the story of the coming to faith of a Chinese boy, one whose life was already made more difficult by the role that faith had played in his early life, but it exposes the struggles of an entire nation of believers who have made the dangerous commitment to a life of Christ.


My Opinion:


This book needs to be read by every Christian who doesn’t understand fully what persecution is or what it looks like. We need to be able to know what our Chinese Brothers and Sisters are going through as they literally live and die for Christ – which is something we don’t know in our freedom in the United States.  When you begin the book you are introduced to life from Isaac’s little boy eyes, where his father is absent through no fault of his own and where his mom has to work in the fields all day.  He learns early on that his faith is the only thing that he has that will not change from day to day.


I devoured this book in a day – I could feel the passion and the hurt as his family ran for their lives and the worry of who may be spying on them to the Chinese government.  There are some things that we only hear of but reading about it from a first hand account, such as what happens to women who refuse to abort their babies, will have you reaching for the box of tissues.  There is sadness in the pages but there is also hope, hope for things not seen and hope for better things to happen – and believing in God is what that hope is pinned on and that resonates within these pages as well.


If you desire to learn more about what is going on to the Chinese Christians this book is a great place to start, one cannot deny a first hand account of the atrocities that the Chinese go through.  You’ll be inspired in how you can pray to help them be strengthened by the Holy Spirit among other ways to help by visiting the website listed at the back of the book.  At first I was going to let my 10 year old read this but after finishing it I know she isn’t ready for the whole story of persecution but this would make a good study for the older child.


**Disclaimer:  I was provided a copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for my honest review, no other compensation was given.

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