Following God One Step at a Time

They Came For Freedom


I wanted to read this book, because there has been a lot of discussion about the United States being a Christian country from the beginning, and many want to go back to those values.  I wanted to read a history book that looks at the factual events, so I could decide for myself whether I agree with the statement that this country started as a Christian country.  

The 1600s were a difficult time of monarchy rule, monarchy chosen religion, with riches for royalty, but only hard work for little benefits.  The common people were very poor, worked hard 6 days each week, and paid taxes to royalty.

This book is about the Pilgrims, and as the title suggests,

“They Came For Freedom”. 

I really enjoyed reading this book!  The author, Jay Milbrandt, did a good job of research and filled in many gaps in what I remembered about the Pilgrims’ history.  The story begins in England, because that history sets the stage for why the Pilgrims went to America. 

Of course it wasn’t even America yet.  It was a new world, still being explored for how other countries could use its resources to make money.  Spain, England, and France were all sending ships to bring back a bounty of animal furs, sassafras, and fish.  They were hoping to find gold and silver, but that didn’t happen this early in the history.

The people that later were called Pilgrims, were called Separatists in England.  This meant that they separated from the Church of England.  That was illegal.  They had to worship in secret.  The law in England said that everyone had to worship at a Church of England every Sunday.  Breaking this law would end you in prison.  Many of the Separatists did go to prison.  Some died there. Some survived.

First a group of Separatists left England to move to Holland, where people were free to choose their own religion.  It was illegal to leave England without permission.  Once again, they had to be hidden to avoid going to prison.  Some were caught and did go to prison.  Life in Holland was still hard.  At least they had their own church.  When England got word of the Separatists in Holland, they were in danger of prison again.  This time they decided to go to the New World.

By the time the Pilgrims arrived in the New World, explorers had already mapped the coastal areas all along the East coast.  There was already a settlement established at Jamestown.  They definitely were not the first to arrive.

The Pilgrims and the other settlers that came from England in the Mayflower ship, were going to the New World for different reasons.  Many were seeking their fortune. The Pilgrims mainly wanted religious freedom.

 In 1636, all the men on the Mayflower signed a document laying out the rules of law that they would follow.  This document was called the “Mayflower Compact”.  They decided to separate church and state, to guarantee religious freedom.  They gave land ownership to all men, and inheritance to all sons, not just the first son.  They made marriage a government function, not the church. These three decisions were in total disagreement with the ruling classes in England, France, and Spain.  There was to be no king.  There would be a governor, chosen by the people.  This was the first self-government of the common people.  None of these are really Christian based.

The book continues the story of how the Pilgrims lived and where they settled in the New World.  It covers their relationship with the Indians in the area.  It also covers the first thanksgiving feast.  Their lives were still very hard.  Many died. 

About the same time as the Pilgrims settled in the New World, the Puritans also arrived.  Although they both had Christian beliefs, they did differ, and did not live in the same towns.  The Puritans later became well known for the Salem witch trials. 

I believe, knowing our history, gives us good knowledge that can help us avoid some pitfalls.  Unfortunately, most people ignore history, and they are then doomed to make the same mistakes.  Some of the things Christians did after coming to the New World were good and worth following, but some things are not.  Even as Christianity exists today with many different churches and beliefs, the same was true in the day of the Pilgrims. 

People tend to want others around them to believe like they do.  Some Christians even want the United States government to legislate based on Christian beliefs.  This would be directly counter to the freedom the Pilgrims came here to find.  They wanted freedom of religion, and separation of church and state.  If we want freedom, we must give that same freedom to every citizen!

The story of the Pilgrims is complicated.  It is not clear from their story alone whether this country can be called a Christian country from the beginning.  I believe instead, what we can say is that it is a country with freedom of religion to all, and should stay that way.

If you would like to read the history, and make up your mind on this issue, this is an excellent book to read.  Just remember that the Pilgrims are only one part of the story.

–>Click HERE to get “They Came For Freedom”.


Jay Milbrandt also wrote the book “The Daring Heart of David Livingstone”.  If you enjoy history, you may want to read it too.

–>Click this to get the book about David Livingstone.

I am supposed to tell you that I got a free copy of “They Came For Freedom”, from —>BookLook Bloggers so that I could write my honest review of the book for you. Enjoy!

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Got One Word for 2018?

OneWord Difference


Do you have your One Word for 2018 yet?

It’s time.  I took longer than usual to come up with mine this year too.  I used Lara Casey’s Power Sheets to help me focus on goals for 2018 and to decide on my One Word this year.  I also used prayer to help pick my One Word.

This past year, my One Word was “Forward”.  I loved it! It really helped me push forward on some ideas and changes in my life.  I was amazed how often I would read a book or article or blog post and the word “forward” would jump out at me!

This year my One Word is “Light”! 

I am excited about this choice.  I actually was trying to avoid it, because other people have used it in the past.  I wanted to be more original. HaHa!  Well, it seems God had other plans

In prayer and after doing the prep work in Lara’s Power Sheets, I knew that “Light” was my One Word for 2018!

Now some people wonder how one word can be helpful.  Well for me, One Word is easier to remember and use as a direction when making decisions.  For example, last year when I was trying to decide whether to do something, or whether to change something, I would just say “Go Forward”!  It worked for me!

This year, my One Word fits into a phrase that came to me in my morning prayer time –

–“Jesus is the Light that shines through my brokenness.”–

I have been reading Ann Voskamp’s book “The Broken Way”.  At first I thought my word was “broken”, but instead I was shown the “Light”.  I am really looking forward to what God will bring into my life through my focus on this One Word — “Light”.

So, I would love it if you would share your One Word with me!  Just click “Comments” below and type in your word.  If you share, I will pray for that word to positively influence your life throughout 2018.

If you don’t know how to choose your One Word, try reading Lara Casey’s 5-part blog post series.  While there you can enter her contest to win one of many prizes (winner will be picked 1-31-2018). 

You can browse my posts from past years to help you choose your One Word

–>Go HERE for more One Word posts.

I encourage you to choose One Word to help guide and direct your life in 2018!

–>Click HERE for Lara Casey’s Power Sheets, contest, or 5-part series.


–>Click IT to find Ann Voskamp’s book “The Broken Way”.

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Penned Without Ink


“Penned Without Ink: Trusting God to Write Your Story” by  Sarah Lynn Phillips is an interesting book!  It tells the true story of how one family trusted God to get them through tragedy.  The title tells why they must trust God — He writes our story from beginning to end. (But God does not write it down; no ink is used.)

“Penned Without Ink” is about a normal family with a Christian faith.  One day they had a horrific car accident that brought them near death.  If they were going to recover, they needed to hold on tight to God.

Sarah, the mother and wife, tells the story.  I was riveted on her words about how the family dealt with everything after the accident.  Their story is compelling.

 Their story is also teaching us how to trust God through the worst things in life — unexpected tragedy.  (Did you catch that in the title it says — “trusting God to write YOUR story?)

Sarah does a very good job of writing down their story.  I did wish that she had put the story down all in order from start to finish.  The parts of the book where she reflects on an event out of sequence, or has the reader reflect, were interruptions to the main story I was most interested in reading.  But in reflection is where we grow in our faith and trust in God.  In reflection we see the answered prayers.  In reflection we see how God arranged the details to bring about the help we needed.

I suggest you read this book, especially if you find it hard to trust God sometimes. Sarah is a strong woman to have dealt with everything she had to do, but she did not do it alone.  She walked with God through it all.

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

If you have never read a book from this publisher before, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, then you are in for a surprise!  Many of their books are available in Kindle format for free or 2.99 cents or less.  You can sign up to get regular emails from them, that will list the titles available for free.  I get lots of books from them!

–>Click HERE to get access to free books!


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Heard any good news lately?

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It’s tough right? The news last year was always bad, bad, bad…

Let’s turn that around in 2018!

Let’s share good news that we find! Use #GoodNews wherever you post good news comments or pics.  Share good news with friends on Facebook, followers on Twitter, Instagram…

Today I found an encouraging magazine issue — The current (1-15) issue of “Time” magazine is titled “The Optimists”!  There is a smiling 5 year old boy on the cover.  It is full of good news! If you need some good news, start with this issue of “Time”.

Bill Gates says that >90% of all children in the world are going to primary school. That is a huge improvement!  

Gates also says that back in 1990 over 30% of people in the world lived in extreme poverty. Today this is down to about 10%!  That is huge too! This is good news because it shows that our investments in poor countries are working! 

It is encouraging to see progress being made! We don’t want to quit helping families and kids; we want to keep doing what is working!  Keep donating to charities. Keep sponsoring children!  The kids you sponsor are going to school! Yay!

Having trouble finding good news? Me too!

Here are some places I found —

( –> points to clickable links, Click away!)

–>    — Good news online all the time.

–>   — Highlights good news stories.

–>  — Weekly good news.

–>  — Highlighted good news.

So read some good news and share it with other people!  

Let’s stay positive and share the good news in 2018!





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!



Pause and Take a Breath

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Pause and take a breath…

Then look at your To-do list and delete 1 thing!  

Just let go of 1 thing.  You can do it.

Maybe just buy bakery cookies instead of baking 3 kinds of cookies.

Maybe just put a wreath on your front door instead of putting up lights.

Maybe just mail a check instead of going to the store again.

Whatever it is, choose 1 thing to take off your list.

Then pause, and take another breath…  Feel better?

Christmas is not about how many things you can get done.  It is not even about buying everyone gifts and wrapping them to look impressive.  Christmas is about family and friends.  

Christmas is a celebration of love!

Love is not expressed through shopping or baking or decorating. Nope.

Love is expressed by hugs and smiles and welcoming people together.

Love is expressed by going to church and remembering Christ’s birth.  

Love is expressed by wishing people a Merry Christmas.

Love is expressed by making donations to charities that help people who need help.

In case you need some ideas of where to make a donation, here is a partial list of places where I have donated. (Please note that I do not make any money from these links. I am just sharing information.) —

link–>International Disaster Emergency Services (IDES)

(At IDES 100% of your donation goes to those in need.)

link–>Northwest Haiti Christian Mission  (NWHCM)

(NWHCM — orphanage and medical clinic)

Jeremie Christian Mission  / PO Box 273Scottsmoor, FL 32775  

(In Haiti — school, children’s meals, church, home repairs)

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                             Merry Christmas! 



Be the GIFT

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“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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