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Be Loved–a Review by Nancy Ellen Hird

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Be Loved, written by Emma Mae Jenkins, with most photographs by Mallory Zynda and published by New Growth Press (2019), is inspiring, upbeat, and full of one young woman’s enthusiasm and love for God.

Jenkins (now McDaniel) is a speaker, social media influencer, and host of the “Have You Heard?” podcast. Now twenty-four, she was still a teen when she wrote the book. It looks different than most books—lots of photos, lots of drawings, lots of color, informal fonts (looks like it’s been handwritten and sometimes in marking pens). But it is not just the format that’s different, its tone is different.

Sadie Robertson says in the Foreword, “I know Emma’s heart would be to sit down with every single one of you and have a cup of tea. Since she may not be able to do that, I know she has put every ounce of truth and wisdom into a book that is wrapped in love and filled with joy, just for you!”

Emma writes of teen-girl world. She talks the topics that are often part of that life—finding out who you are, connecting with other teens, struggling with perfectionism, doing your schoolwork, playing sports, other people’s perception of you, going to prom. She does it in a way that makes you, the reader, a part of that world. It’s intimate. You feel as if she really is sitting down with you over tea or ice cream and having a heart-to-heart. And what is more amazing is that she is putting all these topics through the lens of her love for Jesus. In Emma’s words and actions you see that loving Jesus, following Him really can change and beautify your life.

Chapter titles include Be Loved. Be Free; Go Private before You Go Public; Lunch; School Work; Sports; Be Loved, Be You. Each chapter ends with prayers and scripture verses that pertain to that chapter. However, Emma does not consign scripture verses to the ends of things. God’s word is what she stands on, where she lives. As she shows readers her life in high school and her decisions there, she points us readers to the scriptures that that she stands on.

For example, in the chapter called “Sports,” she relates a time when she and her soccer teammates were told to finish their workout with laps. Girls stopped short of running the last lap. Emma had to decide whether to continue or stop like the others. She decided to be faithful and obey. She says that there is an incredible power in it. It gives peace. And, she continues, the Lord will use our faithfulness to inspire others. She quotes, “Let us not grow weary or discouraged in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap if we do not give in,” Galatians 6:9 AMP.

Be Loved is not intended as a how-to. Emma stresses that God made us all different, with different talents and personalities and that He plans to use those differences for His glory. Rather the book is meant to encourage girls and young women by reminding them that God loves each us and by showing them that a life following Jesus can be rich and exciting and rewarding.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.) I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue are her most recent works. These novels are mysteries for kids, ages 10 to 13. For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.   

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