True Religion

I just finished a memoir written by Elizabeth Smart.  In case you don’t remember, she is the young Mormon girl who was abducted and held for nine months before being rescued.  I’m not going to review the book here, but some of Elizabeth’s experiences are worth thinking about.  Periodically her captor took her into Salt Lake City with him — a place where she was known and people were looking for her.  Yet, since she and her companions were dirty, looked weird (wearing long robes and veils) and appeared to be homeless they were avoided and ignored.  She was too frightened by the threats of her abductor to speak with anyone or try to escape.  She felt invisible.  It made me sad to realize how most of us, every day, ignore the needy and helpless around us.  Yet, in the book of James we are told:

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this:  to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”  James 1:27

In other words, true religion is not just about going to church every Sunday and refraining from sin;  it’s about identifying with and helping the most vulnerable people in our society.  For a review of a book on this topic, see this post:

Vulnerable by Raleigh Sadler– Book Review

In this book, Raleigh Sadler will open your eyes to the many helpless people we walk by without a thought.

Photo by Jimmy Chan on

In addition, Elizabeth Smart enumerated times when she felt grateful, even during those nine dreadful months.  The things that made her happy were so simple — a motorist giving them a lift after miles of walking in the hot sun;  someone stopping at MacDonald’s to pick up hamburgers for them;  a free community Thanksgiving feast, when she got to eat all she wanted after weeks of hunger.  In other words, things that all of us could do or help to do.  It wouldn’t cost much or take much time.  Yet we tell ourselves we are too busy, or that those homeless folks are lazy and undeserving of our help.

Now, I know we can’t do everything for everyone.  I know that helping at the mission once in a while, or handing out a blessing bag or buying some sandwiches is only putting a bandage on a much bigger problem.  I’m just saying, think about what these little things might mean to one person.  They meant something to Elizabeth.



GraceFull by Dorena Williamson — Book Review

This is the third in a series of books for children authored by Dorena Williamson.  Like its  predecessors, ColorFull  and ThoughtFull, it has bright illustrations and a solid Christian message.

Hope and her family (who attend an ethnically diverse congregation) volunteer to serve the residents of Chen House, a local residence for homeless families.  Hope’s mother explains that this is a way to show God’s grace to others.  She explains:

“God showers blessings on all of us.  When we truly understand that, we can’t help but share grace and lift others up. … When grace is full and overflowing, we are graceFull. “

Hope takes the lesson to heart and shares by giving her new friend Anna Habib, from Chen House, her new pair of rain boots.  The Habibs are eventually able to move into their own home.


Grace is a difficult concept to explain to young children, and Gracefull does not really attempt to define it,  Instead it presents a portrait of how grace can be shown in daily life.  A suggested memory verse, further Bible reading and thought questions are included at the end of the story.

I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the first two, because the illustrations were not as engaging , and I found the story line predictable and unexceptional.  However, I give it 4 out of 5 stars.  It would be a worthwhile addition to a nursery library.

For more information or to order this book follow the link below:

I have a free copy of this book in return for an honest and fair review – Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR Part 255