Following God One Step at a Time

River of Doubt

Although the title might suggest a topic about how to deal with overwhelming doubt, that is not the case at all.  The book I am reviewing today is an amazing adventure story that is all true!  The people in the middle of the action are brave and reckless, standing up to all odds against them to explore a large river in the Amazon jungle of Brazil, a river that had never before been explored! It is amazing that any of them survived. Even more surprising is who was on this 1914 expedition.


The book, “The River of Doubt” by Candice Millard is about a dangerous exploration trip set up by the former President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt.

I had heard a few comments about Teddy Roosevelt’s bravery, but this book really opened my eyes.  I would never expect a former President to ever go on such a dangerous trip, let alone be the first person to travel a large river with many unknown white water rapids.  This river was called the River of Doubt, because it was doubtful that it even existed.  In fact, many people thought Roosevelt was making the story up when he returned to the States, but he proved them wrong!

The author Candice Millard did an excellent job of research to write this book! Bravo to her! Luckily she had access to some journals that some of the men wrote in almost daily during their trip.  This first person witnessing of what happened on the river helps make this story riveting!

The book is long, but it is filled with history, mystery, bravery, intelligence, physical endurance, and determination.  Making it even more exciting are the treachery of long hidden local Indians, poisonous snakes, unbearable heat, malaria, betrayal, even the loss of food, equipment, and canoes!  

I love action movies!  I wish this book was turned into a movie.  It would be a blockbuster!  The book is filled with so much history I did not know about, that I am very glad I read it.  It would have been a tragedy not to have read it, especially since I am a history fan, and love to read true stories.  Not even Teddy Roosevelt himself could have written a better book about his trip through the Amazon Jungle!

I borrowed this book from my local library.  It is also available at bookstores.

–>Click HERE to get the book!

I just want to share a little bit about the author, Candice Millard.  I am grateful to her for writing this book, making this part of history available to us all.  Candice was a writer and editor for National Geographic Magazine.  That experience helped her do the research necessary to write this book, and gave her the interest in real life exploration. Thank you Candice.

Candice Millard has also written two other historical books,  “Destiny of the Republic” about President Lincoln, and “Hero of the Empire” about Winston Churchill.

–>See all her books HERE!


A Dream So Big

AfricaMissionary ADreamSoBig

Some books are exciting and some are sad, but “A Dream So Big” by Steve Peifer is a real life story full of happiness and sadness, hope and despair!

You will not be bored reading this book!

Steve and his wife, Nancy are missionaries in Kenya.

Steve tells the story of their lives very well.  He gives us a picture of how missionaries live.  He talks about the exciting and amazing things like seeing the wild animals of Africa, and the baboons on their porch.  He also talks about the daily tasks that are so difficult in Africa.  There are so many children who go hungry all the time.  There are so many children who do not go to school.  There are so many children in Africa who have no hope.

Steve decided to do something about the children of Africa, as many missionaries do.  He started a feeding program at some of the schools, and set up computer centers at several schools.  Many children started coming to school just so they could have one meal each day of school.  Many of them had never seen a computer.  One man deciding to do something, accomplished so much.  Steve’s true story shows the difference one person can make.  It will give you hope, and encourage you to do something to help others.

–>Click on THIS to donate or see their website.

Steve tells us what missionaries have to do to raise money so that they can go to Africa and work.  Missionaries don’t get paid unless they raise enough money.  People like you and me can answer that request and give money to a missionary.  Missionaries care about the people they are working with, and the people who live in their community.  They always do much more than they were asked to do.  To be a missionary takes a strong dedication and a loving heart, this is what keeps them working so hard.

Steve and Nancy were sent to Kenya to work at one school doing various jobs, but they did so much more than that!  Their story is one that grabs your heart, and may make you cry, but it also makes you feel thankful for what you have, and thankful for people like Steve and Nancy who are willing to leave their home and travel to a foreign country and live in poor conditions, all to help people and show people the love of Jesus.

I highly recommend you read this book!

–>Click HERE to get a copy!

–>Press HERE to see what they are doing now.

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Black Lives Matter

BlackLivesMatter Cover

I want to know why we need “Black Lives Matter”.

That is why I read “When They Call You a Terrorist” by Patrisse Khan-Cullors.

This book is about the formation of the group “Black Lives Matter”.  I wanted to know how it came about, and why it is needed.  This book explains that.

The author is one of the founders of the group “Black Lives Matter”.  I wanted to know more about “Black Lives Matter”, but much of the book is about the author’s life.  However, that does explain how she came to create “Black Lives Matter”. 

There were many factors in the process.  There was her life growing up in poor neighborhoods.  There were her experiences growing up in the Black culture. There were political factors.  There was the tendency of the police to call any group of Black kids, a gang.  There also was the tendency to call Black political or social activists, terrorists.  By labeling them terrorists, they could treat them with more severe tactics.  Their civil rights as citizens were often ignored.  Then there were a string of instances when police killed unarmed Black suspects on the streets.  This brought with it, fear and anger and mistrust.

The three women who started “Black Lives Matter” did not do anything illegal.  They did not kill anyone, nor make a bomb, yet they were labeled terrorists.  The author writes about her fear that at any time, police could kill her or one of her friends or family members.  She writes about needing to find some hope.  

Even just this week, improper arrests of Black people, even children, are in the news.  Yes, we need “Black Lives Matter”! Our society needs to change.  Change will not happen without protest.  Change will not happen without listening to both sides of the story.  

Taken in full, this book does explain how “Black Lives Matter” was started and why we need it.  This book is a political history, but it is also a memoir.  That is a strange mix, and yet it is the life the author experienced.  Out of her life, “Black Lives Matter” was born.

Reading this book will explain a lot about what living Black in the United States is like.  It will explain why we need “Black Lives Matter”.  For me, it explains why we should encourage the group “Black Lives Matter”.  We do not have freedom, until every citizen has the same freedom.  

–>Click HERE to get a copy of this book!

Just a note – Nelson Mandela was labeled a terrorist by the FBI, yet he later became President of South Africa!

I am supposed to tell you that I got a free Kindle copy of this book from The book review is my own opinion about the book’s merits.  Your comments are welcome in the comment section below.  I would love for you to share about this book on Twitter or Facebook or other social media. Thanks!



Be the GIFT

BeTheGift Cover

“Be the GIFT” by Ann Voskamp —

When I saw that Ann had this new book coming out, I pre-ordered it in hardcover!

It is now available at most book stores.  It is a book that includes:

  • page after page of color photos that Ann took herself
  • a list of 60 ideas of how to be the GIFT (Give It Forward Today)
  • 20 card-stock gift tags of Ann’s own color photos (or use as 10 bookmarks)
  • journal space to write about the ways you chose to Be the GIFT
  • over 200 pages

This book is a GIFT on its own!

Ann is a very generous author! This is a beautiful book with color photos, poignant words, as well as the encouraging spirit of the book, which is to “be a gift” to other people.

I was delighted when I received this book to see the quality of it!  I began reading it immediately, and had to smile in thankfulness. 

Each book is Ann being a GIFT to us!

Purchase this book for yourself or someone you love, and you will smile in thankfulness too.

–>Get the book HERE!

To me, this book is healing, encouraging, challenging, hopeful, and caring

Ann is reaching out to us, despite her pain, despite our pain, and she says, let’s help each other; let’s “Be the GIFT” for each other, and heal our pain together. 

Sample Bookmark photo —

AnnVoskamp BookMark

(Break at the perforations to get 2 gift tags.  On the back it says To:/From:)

(To get the gift tags/bookmarks, you must purchase the hardcover, not the e-book.)


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At Any Cost


The true story, “At Any Cost” by Mike & Hayley Jones, is an amazing story of faith!

When we say “Yes” to doing something for God, we can’t always know the full cost.  The Jones’ family had two young sons, and they decided to say “yes” to the call from God in their heart to adopt a child from Africa.

They thought they knew the cost of this venture, and were willing to jump in.  They had no idea what God had planned to ask them to do.  They had no idea how much time, money, courage, patience, and faith they would need to accomplish this adoption.  They did it! Despite feeling like they were building an ark in the desert like Noah did.  It was a huge undertaking that people thought they were crazy for doing!  But God asked, and they said “Yes”.

This story will challenge you to think bigger.  What big thing is God asking you to do?  Will you commit to it “At Any Cost”?  Read this true story first, so you can see if you have the courage and the faith to say “yes”.

The adopted children in this story are miracles themselves! These kids had to deal with an entirely different culture — different clothes, different food, different games, different schools, different weather… and they met every challenge!  They even had to home school to catch up with their grade, since their schooling in Africa was not up to standards.  

Only God could make this family work.  Only God could give them the vision, the courage, the strength, and the financing.

This family even set a world record for adoption, —  but I’m not revealing what record they set.  

–>Get the book HERE!

–>Check their website for current news!

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Beyond the Castle


“Beyond the Castle” is by Jody Jean Dreyer.

This is a fun book to read!

Maybe you didn’t think non-fiction could be fun, but this is the memoir of Jody Jean who worked at Disney for 30 years! 

As you might expect, she is fun, up-beat, has a great sense of humor, and has a ton of information about behind-the-scenes at Disney World.

This book tells you stories about the people who work at Disney parks.  As well as information about characters like Tinkerbell.  Of course the author also knows a lot about Mickey Mouse.  She tells us about Walt Disney himself, too.  She even tells us the rules of being a Disney princess!

The book starts with the author’s first visit to Disney World when she was 10. Later she talks about how she got her first job at Disney, and many more jobs to follow.  She even got to be on the Grand Opening Team for EuroDisney! (in Paris, France)

This is not just a book about Disney.  It is also about how to live a successful, happy life.  The author talks about things she learned from working at Disney.  There are a lot of things that Disney does right.  After all, for over 50 years, it has been a very successful business!

You don’t need to be a fan of Disney to enjoy this book, but it helps if you at least have visited one of the Disney parks, somewhere in the world.  There are Disney parks in California, Florida, Hawaii, France, Japan, China, and Hong Kong!  (Personally I have been to Disney parks in California and Florida, and loved all my visits!)  Maybe reading this book will inspire you to visit again!

You won’t believe who was the first Tinkerbell that “flew” over the castle during evening fireworks at Disney World in Florida!  I’m not going to tell you, because it is so surprising…

–>Click to get the book!

–>Go to the author’s website.

Have fun reading this book!

(I did get a free book through –>BookLook Bloggers so I could write my honest review. I so enjoyed reading this book!)


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Failure to Communicate

Communication 2people

You may have heard it said, —

“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate”!

(It’s a famous line from the movie –>“Cool Hand Luke, 1967, said by Paul Newman.)

There definitely are times when my husband and I are struggling to understand each other.  We try to rephrase what we said, to repeat what we said, to say it louder even!  HaHaHa!  There are times we just shrug and say, “Oh well I guess we just don’t understand each other on this issue”. 

The book “The Respect Dare” by Nina Roesner is targeted at this problem of communication between men and women.

“The Respect Dare” is about communicating with respect.  It is intended for wives who want to communicate with their husband better.  It is also definitely relevant for a woman and her boyfriend.  The key to communicating better with a man, according to several books I have read, is to show respect.  Evidently, research shows what is missing from most male-female relationships is respect.   Respect is shown in attitude, tone of voice, words used, facial expressions…

In case you didn’t know it yet, men communicate and think differently than women. Duh! We knew that right? This book tries to help women communicate better with the men they love.  It does not address how men can communicate better.  But as the book points out, you can’t change him, you can only change yourself.

There are 40 short lessons in this book, each on a different aspect of communicating with respect.  The book assumes the reader believes in God and wants to follow God’s teachings.  There were parts of the book that were too conservative for me in the attitude toward women, even though the book is written by a woman.  I chose just to ignore those few lessons.  Generally I try to get as much as I can out of self-help books, so I don’t throw out the whole book just because I don’t agree 100% with the author.  If you don’t want to ignore some old-fashioned attitudes toward women, then it might be better to skip this book.  I have definitely learned some helpful things from “The Respect Dare”.

At the same time I am reading “The Respect Dare”, my husband and I are reading “Love & Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.  This book showed me that even though I thought I respected my husband, I was not always communicating that to him.  I realized I needed help figuring out how to communicate with respect, so I bought “The Respect Dare”.   

Dr. Eggerichs’ book (“Love & Respect”) covers both sides of communication, both how a man can communicate better with his wife through love, and how a woman can communicate better with her husband through respect.  I may post a book review of his book in the future, but I mention it here in case you want to understand how it is important for women to communicate to their husband with respect.  The same premise works when communicating to any man — your dad, your son, your boss.  Both books, however, are targeted to husbands and wives.   

I don’t agree with these authors that only women need to communicate with respect.  I wish all men communicated to women with respect!  Unfortunately, neither of these books addresses this problem.  Again, we can’t change men; we can only change ourself.  The hope is that by changing how we communicate, our husband will change in response.

My take on reading these two books – If I can have a better relationship with my husband, by communicating with respect, then I want to learn how to do that!  How about you?

–>Click THIS to get the book “The Respect Dare” by Nina Roesner.

–>Look HERE for the author’s website.

–>Tap on THIS for the book “Love & Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.


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Love Casts Out Fear

Love BrotherNathan

The book “Love Casts Out Fear” by Brother Nathan is a true story. 

This true story is shocking, but also encouraging!  It is a good testimony for the Bible verse in 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”

The book covers Brother Nathan’s life from birth to the current day.  It shows how difficult it is for Christians living in Egypt.  His world is shattered when his father is murdered.  But he is transformed when he chooses to follow Jesus.  

Brother Nathan describes a picture of life in Egypt in small rural villages, and in the big city.  Through this book, Brother Nathan will give you an understanding of the heroic lives Christians must live in Egypt.  I found this very encouraging.  

God finds a way to reach people with the story of Jesus, even in remote places, and even in places of fear.  It is wondrous to see how Brother Nathan is freed of fear, and now lives boldly for Jesus! 

In the dedication, Brother Nathan says of his mother: “for more than eighty years Mama has shown us how to trust God for everything”.

He learned this lesson well!  

–>Click HERE to get the book!



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Hidden or Unseen

Unseen SaraHagerty

“Unseen” is a good book by Sara Hagerty.

My question to you is what is the difference between hidden and unseen?

There are subtle differences.  The author uses both terms throughout the book.  It would help if you think about the differences between being hidden or being unseen to help understand the author (Sara) better.

Sara is expressing her need to be seen by God, but God wants her hidden in Him, so other people likely do not notice.  God, she says, is not interested in our busy activities. She used to feel pressured to do more, but now she believes God does not need us to do more, but to be with God more.

Sara has learned that she can have moments with God throughout her day.  The results are that she feels closer to God, and is less stressed.  (That sounds good to me!)

Sara says that when you feel unseen, God is looking for your heart.

I agree with the author that we need more quiet moments with God.  I really liked looking at the differences between being hidden from people, when you are seen by God. I like the idea that God always sees us, and appreciates our attention to Him even in a few minutes here and there.

This is an interesting book, with a point of view different from most.  Sara is not pushing you to do more, but suggesting that your slow, empty, boring or seemingly wasteful times, can be filled up with God.  He will love the time with you!

This is not a quick,light read; however, it is a very worthwhile read!

–>Click on THIS to get a copy of “Unseen”.

–>Go HERE to learn more about Sara.

–>Click to go to Sara’s website.


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Church Danger

ChurchService new-york-city

Deadly Mass shootings are increasing; 32 occurred in the last 5 years. 

–>(source: Mother Jones)

Yes we are not safe even in church.  

Of course Jesus says that we will have trouble in this world.

Besides telling Congress to step up and write laws to protect us against people with guns, what can we do?

  • Pray!
  • Be aware!  Always know your nearest exit.  Keep your eyes on your surroundings.
  • Stop watching the news.  You can do it; I did.
  • Encourage each other!
  • Tell your family and friends whenever you see them, “I love you!”  You never know when it will be the last time.  Give them a hug, too.

–Here is a quote that I think is profound.  It is from the book “The Weight of Ink” by Rachel Kadish.  A blind Rabbi says, “Blindness can never suffice to extinguish the sight of the terrors of this broken world.” (p.405)  

–>Click to see the book!

Yes this world is broken.  That is why we need Jesus Christ.  He has overcome it.

“…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

–>(John 16:33b)



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