Books in Review: The Magnolia Story
I bought this book on clearance a long time ago, but didn’t think too much of it because I didn’t watch Fixer Upper. I didn’t watch it for the first time until the summer of 2019, when it came to be my favorite HGTV show (which is saying a lot, because I am a pretty big Property Brothers fan). Not only did I love their designs, but I loved seeing a Christian couple with a family portrayed in this type of a show. Several months and many reruns later, I finally remembered their book that I’ve never read and was excited to finally dive in. I found that this book made me enjoy the show and respect Chip and Joanna even more. Although they largely shifted their focus the Magnolia Network, I am grateful for the example of faith, hard work, and love that this couple has been able to share with the world. I think you will too ~ Bethel
In their first book, The Magnolia Story, Chip and Joanna Gaines share the story of how they fell in love, got married and started a family, and started the businesses together that led to the hit HGTV show Fixer Upper. Using contrasting fonts, they share in their own words how they found themselves staring in a popular TV show when they don’t even own a TV. The story of where they were by 2016 is both fascinating to the fans of their show and entertaining for those they may not know much about this couple. Chip’s wit and humor is on full display, which is funnier against Joanna’s more straightforward nature. But all the while, even though the ups and downs of raising a family and starting and even ending businesses, their faith and trust in the Lord is evident throughout their story and will inspire those that read it. If you enjoy autobiographies, home renovations, and stories of God’s hand at work, this book is definitely worth reading. Get your copy today!
Books in Review: Unplanned
I was so excited when I heard about the film Unplanned. I have always been prolife, as is the the rest of my immediate family. I even remember participating in a few “walks for life” when I was still a kid. I knew a lot about pro-life arguments, and even some pro-choice strategies. But I knew hardly anything about Planned Parenthood and I definitely knew very little about what goes on within the walls of these types of clinics. But when the film Unplanned was announced and it immediately attracted controversy, I was drawn to support the film. After I was inspired by seeing the film, I became interested in reading Abby’s book to learn the more complete story of her personal journey. I am so glad I did. Although the film does a wonderful job at portraying the story of her life, I loved hearing more of her story in her own words. If you are interested in learning more about the pro-life cause, or want to read a book about a life transformed by a radical transformation in Christ, this book is a must read ~ Bethel
Abortion is one of the most controversial topics in American culture. I believe this is because of a prevailing mindset in our culture that we should be able to pursue happiness in any way we see fit and never have to deal with the consequences. But the truth is there are almost always consequences, not just for you but for those that are impacted by your decision. This is especially true with sexuality in America. By this mindset, a women should be able to have sex and not have to suffer any of the consequences, including an unplanned pregnancy. As long as that mindset is prevalent, they will always be women seeking what seems to be the easy way out. There will always be women willing to buy the lies fed to them about the baby being only “undeveloped tissue.” It makes it difficult for those that are pro-life to have hope that we will ever be able to make a difference in the fight for the unborn.
In her book, Unplanned, Abby Johnson shares her journey from being pro-choice to pro-life, all the while demonstrating God’s redeeming grace at work in her life. When Abby first heard about Planned Parenthood at a college volunteer fair, she had no idea how much this organization would change her life. Having had abortions herself, she decided to support women in crisis by volunteering at the local Planned Parenthood clinic. Over the span of eight years, he rose to being clinic director, truly loving the job of helping women in crisis. Despite the disapproval of her Christian family, she was committed to her cause. But when she actually participating in helping with an ultrasound guided abortion, she knew she could no longer be a part of abortion or Planned Parenthood. She turned to the same people that she had been fighting against, the Coalition for Life, literally moving from one side of the fence to the other. When Planned Parenthood filed an injunction against Abby and the Coalition (which was shoot down in court), she was given a platform to share her story with the world and help further the pro-life cause. Abby’s story isn’t an easy one to hear, for she even warns you of this in the first sentence of her introduction. But it is one that demonstrates God’s grace and forgiveness. In a story much like the apostle Paul, we can see that God can turn the most zealous of hearts back to Himself. We just have to trust Him with all the details, even the ones that are unplanned. Get your copy of the book or the movie today!
Quick Review: Unplanned Movie
Since I had posted a quick review of this film on my Facebook page, I will go ahead and share the images of my review here. Enjoy!
When I first heard that Jackie Hill Perry was coming out with a book, I was so excited. I had already been exposed to her testimony when I first read the book Messy Grace and researched some of the resources that went with it. I already knew that her story demonstrated the power of God’s redeeming grace and wanted to know more. When I finally got around to reading it, I could not put it down. I finished it in a single day. Even if you don’t struggle with same sex attraction, most of us can find ways to relate her story to our own. This is a book I highly recommend to practically anyone ~ Bethel
In her first book, Gay Girl, Good God, Jackie Hill Perry shares her incredible testimony of God’s redeeming grace as he helped her overcome her struggles with same sex attraction. A childhood including an inactive father and abuse at the hands of someone she trusted, brokenness was a theme of the early part of her life. This eventually result in her pursuing same sex relationships, embracing masculinity instead of womanhood, and drug abuse. But one night, while she was home alone watching TV, God got a hold of her heart. Without a church or a preacher, God revealed to her that her sin would be her death and that she needed to repent and change her ways. And that’s exactly what she did. She broke up with her girlfriend, slowly started to change her clothes, and started going to church. She eventually met and married Preston Perry, a man who also had brokenness in his past. They are now the parents of two little girls. Although Jackie knows that struggles with temptation will be an ongoing battle, she also knows that power of God’s grace in her life, if we choose to pursue. She also addresses working through same sex attraction from a biblical perspective. Jackie’s testimony is powerful and moving and her insights into living in victory over sin is something that everyone can relate to. Aside from its biblically grounded perspective on same sex attraction, the story of the redemption in Jackie’s life makes this a book that I would recommend to practically anyone. Get your copy today!
To read more about the subject of a Christian's response to same sex attraction, check out my review of the book Messy Grace by clicking here
This book is powerful and moving. I sensed that the first time I heard about it. I had been drawn to the work that Mary Beth and Steven Curtis had done for the orphan crisis and adoption aid back while I was in college, but didn’t know a ton of details of what led them on that journey. I had known that they had lost a daughter, but I didn’t know much beyond that. When I finally read this book, I was so moved by Mary Beth’s heart. I found there were so many points in her life in which I could relate to her personally. Because of this book, there are two things that I now SEE in a different light: the need to care for the fatherless, and God’s ability to make beauty out of the ashes. If you like Steven Curtis Chapman, if you have a heart for orphans, or if you have endured a personal tragedy, this book may be just what you need to read ~ Bethel
To read more about my Show Hope project that was inspired by Mary Beth's and Steven Curtis' heart for orphans, click here
Sometimes life is hard. When circumstances come that threaten or destroy our security and peace, it’s hard to understand why or discern where God’s hand is at work. Especially when we experience tragedies that alter our lives, we hardly know how to handle ourselves in our grief. It becomes all the harder for us to understand why bad things happen and God’s plan fits into the chaos that has taken over our lives. We remember life as it used to be, wishing it could be the same again, but are left with pain and brokenness in the midst of the ashes of tragedy. Things that made sense just a week before are unclear and messed up. We don’t know how to move forward from the place where we currently stand. It makes us ask the question: Can God really make beauty out of the ashes of tragedy and brokenness in our lives?
In her first book, Choosing to SEE, Mary Beth Chapman, wife of famous Christian artist Steven Curtis Chapman, tells the story of her life to help us SEE that beauty and come from tragedy. She walks you through her childhood, meeting and marrying Steven, struggling with clinical depression, having their children, choosing to take up the call to adopt from China three times, and founding the adoption aid organization Show Hope. She shares from her perspective to walk her husband rise to fame, and how circumstances in their lives shaped some of Steven’s greatest hits. You walk through the crazy journey of life with them in a way that is engaging and entertaining, at first. But everything changes when you learn about the day when they lost their youngest adopted daughter, Maria Sue. The tone of the book changes, even to the point of using a different font. Mary Beth recounts the tragic day of the accident and the days that followed in a raw and vulnerable way that will connect to anyone that has endured such a personal tragedy in your own life. Mary Beth opens up to an honest struggle to understand why their lost their daughter and how to find beauty from the ashes of grief and tragedy. But in the middle of the darkest season of their lives, they found stories and lessons that Maria left behind, that helped them find peace and trust God despite their circumstances. Thanks to Maria, they now SEE in a way they never had before, and so can you. You will be moved, challenged, and inspired by this book, especially if you have endured a personal tragedy. Get your copy today!
Teen Rating. My only hesitation with recommending this book to a teenager is that the details shared about Maria’s accident are shared in somewhat graphic but completely appropriate detail. There is a lot of descriptions of blood and bloody clothes. You may want to read that portion in advance to determine if it’s right for your teen to read.
I don’t know if I will ever forget hearing Beth and Darrell share Rachel’s testimony. I was in 8th grade at a private Christian school and our school was invited to a special chapel service at another local Christian school. Most of us didn’t even know what it was about until we got there. At this point, it would have been almost 6 years after the tragedy of Columbine, but most of us remembered that day even if we were just kids. I’d heard stories about a few of the victims dying after they were asked if they believed in God, but I had a hard time telling them apart from each other. But after hearing Beth and Darrell, Rachel’s story will forever stick out in my mind. We all left that service so moved and challenged by what we heard. Rachel was beautiful young woman with a beautiful heart devoted to living for Christ. The more I learn of her story, the more I am inspired to live my life fully for Him. I believe everyone else that reads this book will be inspired to do the same. ~ Bethel
April 20, 1999 was one the defining tragic moments of my generation. On that day, two teen boys entered their school in Littleton, CO with weapons, including guns and bombs. When most of their bombs didn’t go off, they resorted to shooting their fellow students, especially those of a minority or those that profess to be Christians. In the end, 12 students and one teachers died before the shooters took their own lives. Some of the students were reportedly asked if they believed in God, and those that answered ‘yes’ were shot. But one victim’s response stood out above the rest. Rachel Joy Scott, after having been shot three times, was picked up by the hair and asked “Do you still believe in God?” She answered, “You know I do.” Her shooter than told her, “Then go be with him.” Her answer has left her a powerful legacy that has endured for years after her death, but also continued to unfold for years after she passed away.
In the book Rachel’s Tears, Rachel Scott’s parents Beth Nimmo and Darrell Scott share more than just the story of her death, but share about how she inspired and cared for others while she was still alive. They take turns sharing stories of the ups and downs of Rachel’s life, including the struggles their family faced when they divorced, the experiences surrounding the shooting, and many of the good things that have come from the experience of losing their daughter. You also hear stories that others told about her, including part of a chapter written by her youth pastor Lori Johnson. You also get to see some of her writings and drawings from her private journals. The result is that you are given a picture of young woman who truly hungered for a deeper relationship with the Lord, who wanted to live out her faith, and wasn’t afraid to live out her faith, even when it eventually cost Rachel her life. Through this book, you come to understand that enduring this tragedy was not easy, for Rachel’s brother Craig was also at the school and continues to heal from everything he witnessed that day. But you also come to realize that Rachel’s death was not in vain, that God has made something beautiful out of the ashes of grief and tragedy. God made something beautiful out of Rachel’s Tears. This book is powerful and moving, and one that I highly recommend. Get your copy today!
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