Review of A Harvest of Hope

A Harvest of Hope
In Lauraine Snelling’s A Harvest of Hope, Miriam Hastings must go to Chicago to tend to her dying mother. When she returns to the small town of Blessing, she is determined to focus on her work at the hospital, but she is torn between the small town life she has grown to love and her family in Chicago. Which will she choose? And will she find love along the way?

A Harvest of Hope was a delightful surprise to me. The novel takes place in the early 1900’s. I love the small-town feel, the unhurried pace, and the hints of Scandinavian culture throughout the narrative. I also found the medical aspect of the novel fascinating. The characters are authentic, warm, and empathetic, and they display resiliency in the midst of whatever comes their way. The plot relies heavily on relationships and moves at a leisurely pace, but not without conflict or challenge. The Christian themes dominate and slow the prose at times, but the book is far from dull. It is an easy, entertaining read, and perfect for a gloomy day. I’m happy to say I enjoyed A Harvest of Hope, and I recommend it for those seeking an escape from their fast-paced life.

I was given a free copy by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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Review of One Thousand Wells

one thousand wells


In her book, One Thousand Wells: How an Audacious Goal Taught Me to Love the World Instead of Save It, Jena Nardella tells of her desire to make a difference by reaching the poorest of Africa, one water well at a time. Along with the band, Jars of Clay, Nardella founded the organization, Blood:Water, which seeks to provide African villages with clean water sources. This goal, which began when Jena was in college with limited income, is now a million-dollar charity. This outreach is just one example of how a dream to change the world can become a reality.

One Thousand Wells is a riveting account of the incredible highs and heart-breaking lows of one woman’s quest to meet a desperate need. Nardella’s compassion can be felt on every page. What began simply as an idealistic dream soon became a fight for hope in the face of rampant corruption and unspeakable loss. But, in spite of insurmountable odds, Jenna’s story is a shining source of inspiration and motivation for readers to be aware of the needs around them.

There is one aspect of One Thousand Wells that is concerning. Nardella’s worldview is somewhat liberal and her theology incomplete. Specifically, she speaks of Liberation Theology in an innocuous way. In reality, this belief system has negative and harmful implications which are unbiblical. All ideas, especially theological ones, have eternal consequences. Readers should be aware of this when considering this book.

However, One Thousand Wells is beautifully written by a young woman whose heart overflows with love for the less fortunate.



I was given a free copy by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.


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Review of The Pilgrim


The Pilgrim

In Davis Bunn’s The Pilgrim, Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine, sets out on a pilgrimage to Judea on what she believes is a mission from God. Abandoned by her husband and denying herself the royal entourage due her, Helena willingly places herself into ever-present danger in order to fulfill her quest. But will her holy pilgrimage cost her life?

The Pilgrim is a well-written and captivating story that will grab the reader’s attention from page one. Bunn knows how to weave a tale like few Christian authors. His attention to detail and ability to place a story in its setting highlight his gift for story-telling. His characters in The Pilgrim are warm, likable and empathetic, and the plot is action packed. I wasn’t ready for the story to end, which reminds me why Bunn continues to be one of my favorite authors.

However, there were a few things in The Pilgrim that gave me pause. Understandably, historical fiction allows authors to take a few liberties to embellish their stories, but I found some events surrounding the novel to be alarmingly inaccurate. In addition, there seemed to be an emphasis on mysticism which made me uncomfortable. With those concerns in mind, readers will still, no doubt, be intrigued and immersed into another one of Davis Bunn’s page-turning narratives.

I was given a free copy by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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The Glory Gap By Joni Eareckson Tada

Suns rays bursting through the clouds


Have you ever wondered how you might bring glory to God in your everyday routines? Routines that, well… can be stressful or difficult? Well, there is a way. Think about it: there’s a wide gap between what you would naturally and instinctively do (like complain or whine about the routines) and what you do by His grace (like biting your tongue from grumbling). And friend, that wide gap is the glory of God. That gap, that “difference” between complaining and choosing not to complain makes God look great! And our Savior takes note; He marks that gap down on our eternal account. And one day? Romans chapter 8 says it best. “Our present sufferings aren’t worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” So join me in tackling our routine jobs with an eye to that wide, wonderful gap of God’s glory.


Posted: August 15, 2015

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What Kind of Reader Are You?

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A Loving Tribute to Elisabeth Elliot (1926-2015)

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Birthright Citizenship — A Fundamental Misunderstanding of the 14th Amendment By Hans A. von Spakovsky

What’s the citizenship status of the children of illegal aliens? That question has spurred quite a debate over the 14th Amendment lately, with the news that several states, including Pennsylvania, Arizona, Oklahoma, Georgia and South Carolina, may launch efforts to deny automatic citizenship to such children.

Critics claim that anyone born in the United States is automatically a U.S. citizen, even if their parents are here illegally. But that ignores the text and legislative history of the 14th Amendment, which was ratified in 1868 to extend citizenship to freed slaves and their children.

The 14th Amendment doesn’t say that all persons born in the U.S. are citizens. It says that “[a]ll persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof” are citizens. That second, critical, conditional phrase is conveniently ignored or misinterpreted by advocates of “birthright” citizenship.

Critics erroneously believe that anyone present in the United States has “subjected” himself “to the jurisdiction” of the United States, which would extend citizenship to the children of tourists, diplomats, and illegal aliens alike.

But that is not what that qualifying phrase means. Its original meaning refers to the political allegiance of an individual and the jurisdiction that a foreign government has over that individual. The fact that a tourist or illegal alien is subject to our laws and our courts if they violate our laws does not place them within the political “jurisdiction” of the United States as that phrase was defined by the framers of the 14th Amendment.
This amendment’s language was derived from the 1866 Civil Rights Act, which provided that “[a]ll persons born in the United States, and not subject to any foreign power” would be considered citizens. Sen. Lyman Trumbull, a key figure in the adoption of the 14th Amendment, said that “subject to the jurisdiction” of the U.S. included not owing allegiance to any other country.

As John Eastman, former Dean of the Chapman School of Law, has said, many do not seem to understand “the distinction between partial, territorial jurisdiction, which subjects all who are present within the territory of a sovereign to the jurisdiction of that sovereign’s laws, and complete political jurisdiction, which requires allegiance to the sovereign as well.”

In the famous Slaughter-House cases of 1872, the Supreme Court stated that this qualifying phrase was intended to exclude “children of ministers, consuls, and citizens or subjects of foreign States born within the United States.” This was confirmed in 1884 in another case, Elk vs. Wilkins, when citizenship was denied to an American Indian because he “owed immediate allegiance to” his tribe and not the United States.

American Indians and their children did not become citizens until Congress passed the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924. There would have been no need to pass such legislation if the 14th Amendment extended citizenship to every person born in America, no matter what the circumstances of their birth, and no matter who their parents are.

Even in U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark, the 1898 case most often cited by “birthright” supporters due to its overbroad language, the Court only held that a child born of lawful, permanent residents was a U.S. citizen. That is a far cry from saying that a child born of individuals who are here illegally must be considered a U.S. citizen.

Of course, the judges in that case were strongly influenced by the fact that there were discriminatory laws in place at that time that restricted Chinese immigration, a situation that does not exist today. The Court’s interpretation of the 14th Amendment as extending to the children of legal, noncitizens was incorrect, according to the text and legislative history of the amendment. But even under that holding, citizenship was not extended to the children of illegal aliens – only permanent, legal residents.

It is just plain wrong to claim that the children born of parents temporarily in the country as students or tourists are automatically U.S. citizens: They do not meet the 14th Amendment’s jurisdictional allegiance obligations. They are, in fact, subject to the political jurisdiction (and allegiance) of the country of their parents. The same applies to the children of illegal aliens because children born in the United States to foreign citizens are citizens of their parents’ home country.

Federal law offers them no help either. U.S. immigration law (8 U.S.C. § 1401) simply repeats the language of the 14th Amendment, including the phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” The State Department has erroneously interpreted that statute to provide passports to anyone born in the United States, regardless of whether their parents are here illegally and regardless of whether the applicant meets the requirement of being “subject to the jurisdiction” of the U.S. Accordingly, birthright citizenship has been implemented by executive fiat, not because it is required by federal law or the Constitution.

We are only one of a very small number of countries that provides birthright citizenship, and we do so based not upon the requirements of federal law or the Constitution, but based upon an erroneous executive interpretation. Congress should clarify the law according to the original meaning of the 14th Amendment and reverse this practice.


Hans A. von Spakovsky is a Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a former Justice Department official.

Hans A. von Spakovsky is a former Justice Department official. He is the co-author, with John Fund of  “Obama’s Enforcer: Eric Holder’s Justice Department” (Broadside/HarperCollins 2014). He is Manager, Election Law Reform Initiative and Senior Legal Fellow at the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation.


Posted: January 14, 2011


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