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Journeys of Faithfulness Review by Cindy West

Sarah Clarkson
Whole Heart Ministries
P.O. Box 3445
Monument, CO 80132

I always seem to be searching for Bible studies and devotional material that will encourage my soon to be teenaged daughter. Sadly, much of what I find is either very shallow in its teaching or very worldly in its message. Journeys of Faithfulness, much to my excitement, brought a smile to my face from the moment I began reading.

Written for young ladies and older girls, this book takes your daughter on a beautiful journey through the lives of four strong, yet humble women of the Bible. The author, only seventeen when writing this book, states that she had trouble finding encouragement and good role models that she needed in order to become stronger in her Christian walk, so she turned to the Bible for her influence. And, what insights the Lord has blessed her with!

In three chapters each, Ms. Clarkson takes you into a probable and intimate look at the lives of Mary of Bethany, Esther, Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Ruth. She retells parts of each woman's Bible story as she imagines what might really have happened, giving us a glimpse into the emotional side of the stories. For instance, the first chapter is a retelling of the night Jesus came to visit Mary and Martha for dinner. Ms. Clarkson takes us into their home through the eyes of Mary. We see her as she wishes she were more like Martha. We see her as she is pulled into every word that Jesus is speaking. And we see her as she comforts Martha after Jesus' rebuke.

In the author's retellings, she's taking a bit of liberty with the Bible stories, but allowing us to see the very human side of the lives of each woman. This has been powerful for my daughter, and even me. You almost feel as if you are there, possibly even identifying with the character's struggles so much that you can picture yourself as that person.

Seeing the sin, struggles, perseverance and growth of each of the ladies is inspiring to say the least. When we oftentimes read the Bible and see only the "holy" part of the stories, it can make us feel very unworthy and likely to never be able to live up to God's expectation. When we, however, look at the stories from a more real viewpoint, it helps us to see that God doesn't expect perfection. I feel like this is one of the things the author has done best through her writings - allowing us to see the real person behind the perception we might have.

Besides retelling Bible stories, Ms. Clarkson writes her own reflections in which she gives examples from her own life relating to the story. She is very real and honest in her failures, asking forgiveness and growing in the Lord.

Each chapter is concluded with several Bible verses and questions for your daughter to consider. Several pages of journal-like pages are provided for answering the questions.

I have begun reading the book with my daughter who is eleven. I'm beginning to think, though, that this would make a lovely study for our Jr. High/High school girls at church. Either way, I'm so pleased to have found a book worthy of placing in my daughter's hands. I'm excited to see what insights and discussions come from working through the book together.

Product Review by Cindy West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October, 2008