I would have never guessed she grew up in a cult. I “met” Anna online when she was the publisher’s leader of one of my most recent book launches. In fact, I realized we had been on other book launches together! She is so fun and full of passion, especially when it comes to reading and launching books she believes in. (She even called herself the “cat header”, lol) When she friended me on Facebook, I was excited to find out that she had written her own book, but I was shocked to discover what it was about. I was very curious and brought it soon after. I was amazed when I finished it, amazed by all that this woman has overcome. Much of her story is shocking and unsettling, especially for those of us that haven’t grown up in a polygamist culture or in extreme poverty. Being this vulnerable about her broken and difficult past wasn’t easy, but God has used it for His glory. I am so grateful I found this book and for Anna’s courage in sharing her story. I hope that anyone that reads this book will be inspired to let God use the broken pasts of your past for His glory ~ Bethel
Many people with broken or difficult pasts struggle to share their story. Especially when you are still in the process of healing from your brokenness, most of us would tend to suppress memories of our past trials. This tends to lead to a feeling of isolation and can often hinder the healing process. Therefore, it takes great courage to write a book that shares your life story when you have brokenness in your past. In fact, after reading this book, I’ve come to realize that writing a autobiography or memoir is one of the most courageous and vulnerable things any writer can do.
In Anna LeBaron’s memoir, The Polygamist’s Daughter, we meet one of over 50 children of the infamous Ervil Lebaron, the murderous leader of a Mormon fundamentalist group with 13 wives. Anna and her siblings grew up in the worst of condition, as their family was extremely poor and constantly on the run from law enforcement due to her father’s illegal activities. She was often separated from her mother and mistreated by her father’s other wives (sister-wives). They all believed that Ervil was a prophet of God and they have to do whatever he told them. As a result, they all suffered at his hands. When her father was arrested and eventually died in prison, the oppression from the cult did not stop. They living conditions did not improve and many of her siblings and the sister-wives were forced to work for slave wages or no wages. When Anna’s mother and some of her siblings moved away from the cult’s leader, things finally started to turn around for their family. They had some money to provide for basic needs and things were going well for them. But when the cult’s leader convinced Anna’s mom to move back, Anna knew that she could not go with them. She ran away when she was 13, moving in with her half-sister Lillian, her husband Mark, and their six children. After being enrolled in a Christian school, Anna (as well as Mark and Lillian) can to know Christ and they lived changed for the better. But this doesn’t mean that their troubles from the cult were over. After several years past, some of the people that escaped the cult were murdered at the exact same time, Anna’s life was once again turned upside down. Several years later, after 5 children and a marriage that she through twice, Anna found healing throughout that time through the help of counseling, and was finally able to break down the walls of defenses she had built up to survive during her childhood in the cult. And seeing where she ends up is probably the best part of all.
This incredible woman should be an inspiration to all of us. I am personally in awe of the raw honesty in her story and as her courage in being willing to share it with her readers. Through many trials, she has overcome is now a strong woman in Christ. My heart grieved for what she went through, but also rejoiced to see all that she overcame. You will be moved, challenged and inspired by this powerful story if you read it. I highly recommend this book to anyone about 13 or older (due to moderate references to violent events and mild sexual content). Get your copy today!
Books in Review: Messy Grace
From the moment I heard what this book was about, I was intrigued. Loving the LGBT community has been both a serious struggle and topic of significant controversy among Christians for decades. This struggle has been one that I have personally wrestled with every time I’ve heard of a friend or a family member that has chosen to identify with that lifestyle. So when I heard there was a book written by an Ozark Christian College graduate that has gay parents and found a way to love them without compromising conviction, I knew it was a book I wanted to read. But it took recently learning about another close friend making that lifestyle choice for me to determine that this was a book that I needed to buy. When I did finally read it, I was not disappointed. This pastor has a heart for this difficult-to-reach community that is rare, because he was raised in that community. I now have a perspective to help me still uphold the truth of God’s word, but to also love these people as never before, thanks to this book. This is now my first recommendation on the topic of homosexuality for Christians, hands down. ~ Bethel
Giving grace is really hard. We have all received it, but Christians struggle to give to those that need it the most. This seems to be especially true when it comes to a Christian’s response to the LGBT community. When it comes to responding to this people group, they often choose to push on the truth in a condescending way, or they choose to order too much grace, to the point that they ignore what God has to say on the subject. Neither one on its own fully pleases God, but we struggle to find a way to find a balance between grace and truth. Especially they put the label of “hater” on us just as quickly as some will put the label of “sinner” on them. In the end, we are left unsure of how to even begin to approach the subject in a Christ-honoring way. It makes us ask the question: Is there a way to love those in LGBT community in a Christ-honoring way? Can we love them without compromising our convictions?
In Caleb Kaltenbach’s book, Messy Grace, he shares his personal journey of having two gay parents, finding his way to the Lord as a teenager, and eventually learning how to love those in the LGBT community without compromising his conviction about homosexuality. You follow Caleb as he describes how he was partly raised by his mom and her partner, and how he even participated in gay pride parades. He was taught that Christian hate gay people. When he was teenager, he started going to church, and he eventually became a Christian and was baptized. His parents were less than supportive, even his dad who was still in the closet at the time. He eventually went to Christian college (my alma mater, Ozark Christian College) and became a pastor, and has learned about how to minister to the LGBT community. He walks us through what it means for us as Christians to live in the tension between grace and truth, demonstrating that it is possible as he displays in his own personal journey. He shares what this can look like in the context of a church, and helps us to see that in order to love as Jesus loved those who struggle, we have to be willing to get a little messy.
You will be inspired and challenged by Caleb’s testimony and biblically grounded insight, if you choose to take these truths to heart. This is a book that every Christian about 13 or older needs to read, especially if you have loved one that identifies as LGBT. This book is available pretty everywhere Christian books are sold, so get your copy today!
When Heather Hart (an acquaintance from a book launch team) approached me about reviewing a book she co-authored, I was excited. Although it took much longer than it should have to finally read it (like 9 months after I first received it! Opps!), I was grateful that I finally did. This book is powerful, relevant, and necessary in our culture today. Shelley worked hard to make her original edition of the book more relevant by bringing Heather on as a co-author, and I think it really paid off. As an adult, I find that I need to be reminded of my worth in God’s eyes, especially in the middle of a world that gives so many unfulfilling methods to find our value. Not only do I think that this book is great for teen girls (the primary target audience), but as a youth leader, I think this book is a fantastic resource for anyone working with teen girls, because it covers so many relevant topics. I also found that like Shelley and Heather, I too have a heart to proclaim similar truths about finding confidence in Christ to women that need to hear it, especially teen girls. This is definitely a resource I will use in the future. Thank you Heather for reaching out to me to review this book. I was greatly blessed by it. I know that any other woman or teen girl that reads it will be too ~ Bethel
Every girl wants to be beautiful. We all want so desperately to be thought of as attractive, especially by guys our age. But unfortunately, in the process of trying to achieve that beauty, we often turn to the wrong sources to find and keep our beauty. Everyday makeup, inappropriate clothes, overdone hairdos, relationships (good or bad) with guys, and the list could go on. In addition to that, as we seek affirmation, we also struggle with what the world tells us about how to live our lives and where we can find our happiness and contentment. They all look appealing, especially since everyone else is doing them, but none of them really work. All of this makes it hard to live life as a young woman in our culture today while keeping our self-assurance and our self-esteem intact. It makes us ask the questions: How can I find assurance in our world today? Am I really beautiful, or is there another way to measure my value and worth?
In their book, Mirror Mirror…Am I Beautiful (2nd Edition), authors Shelley Hitz and Heather Hart answer the questions of where women (especially teen girls) should find our value as well where to find assurance in our culture today. They take the opportunity to address many relevant issues that are so prevalent in our culture, and they share ways that we can understand them from a biblical perspective and demonstrate how we can use our responses to honor the Lord in the process. What makes this book so relevant is the number of topics it covers. This isn’t your typical Christian book on beauty and self-esteem; it’s really a guide book to help you find your confidence in Christ and to live your life in such a way that expresses that confidence. And this confidence in Christ will be what will make you beauty, not anything you can do to yourself or for yourself. All of this is communicated in easy to understand language and relevant examples from the lives of the authors and from other girls and women just like you. There are even discussion questions for each chapter in the back of the book that can be used for a Bible study.
Whether you struggle with not having enough confidence in Christ, if you find you have too much confidence in the world’s ways, or if you find you’re somewhere in between, this book is for you. I would recommend to any teen girl around 15 or older, or anyone that works with teen girls, like parents, youth sponsors, or teachers.
This book, as well as a leader’s guide for the Bible study, are available on Amazon (both paperback and Kindle) as well on the book’s website: www.FindYourTrueBeauty.com. Get your copy today! (Remember to look for the 2nd Edition from 2016. The 1st Edition was released in 2008 by just Shelley Hitz)
Lion's Eyes Reviews is a blog dedicated to reviews of Christian books, most of which are non-fiction, but may also occasionally review movies and musicals. It will also feature the work Bethel does to help launch and promote the works of Christian authors.
The name is derived from one of Bethel's favorite books, Through the Eyes of a Lion by Levi Lusko. Through these reviews, Bethel hope to give Christians the tools they need to look at the world "through the eyes of a lion" so they can find the courage to "run toward the roar".
To find the detailed archives of these reviews, you can check them out here:
Books In Review
Movies in Review
Broadway In Review
To understand the rating used in these reviews, click here
Bethel Grove is a Christian young woman who loves to read and write, eat Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Blizzards, and disciple teen girls as a youth leader. What started as a hobby of writing book reviews and doing deep biblical studies eventually led her down the path of self-publishing and helping other Christian authors launch their books. She hopes to someday be a vocational youth minister and well-known author.
Lion Eyes Reviews
Author Bethel Grove
Simple Youth Ministry
Teen Girl Youth Ministry