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!
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!