Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt! Back-to-School

Month: August 2023

August 29, 2023|In Giveaways|By Alicia van Huizen

Congrats to all those who have made it this far! And to all newcomers, welcome to the inaugural Back to School Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt. We hope that throughout this hunt, you discover some new books and get to know a little more about us.

A few things before you begin:

This hunt is a blog hop. Collect the “clues” (pieces to the longer phrase) at each stop. Enter the individual giveaways along the way, then click on the link to the next stop and repeat until you reach #28, where you will input the full phrase as your entry to the grand prize drawingTrust me, if you love books, you’ll want to win this one!

The hunt begins August 30, 2023, at noon EST and ends September 4, 2023, so you have plenty of time to visit each stop. If you need to step away and come back later, make a note of the last stop you visited, and go to this post with the list of all stops on the hunt.

If you are having trouble viewing the posts, you may need to switch browsers. Chrome and Firefox sometimes work better than Microsoft Explorer or Edge.

Let me first introduce myself. My name is Alicia van Huizen, and I write stories of courage and truth within the Biblical fiction genre. I began writing stories as soon as I could string sentences into paragraphs. I still remember my first short story penned on colorful construction paper.

Stories have a way of gripping one’s imagination and bringing dull facts to life. That’s exactly how history became my favorite subject in school. My incredible teacher (i.e., my mom! Yes, I was homeschooled!) used the Greenleaf Press curriculum which presented historical characters and events all within a well-researched story form. The end result? History came alive.

Are there any fellow homeschoolers out there? How about homeschool parents? Y’all are superheroes! Whether you have one child, four, or ten, homeschooling is not easy! So let me just take this moment to say: You can do this! As one who survived (don’t worry, so did my siblings), I can say with confidence that your children (and you!) will too. And they will thrive as you take the time to connect to them individually and teach them in the way they learn best. And one day your kids will thank you. (Thanks again, Mom! =D)

So as you launch into the new school season, may you find God’s shalom (peace, soundness, completeness) in the midst of the chaos.

Finding some new wholesome reads can certainly help too. So here’s a little about the book I’m giving away.

When the Stars Fought

What if the man who killed your family needed help only you could give?

Thirteen-year-old Oriel dreams of leading Israel to victory over their enemies, just like the bold and daring heroines of her faith. But those dreams are shattered when a long-standing feud between nations flares up again and she is taken captive to pagan Damascus. Abandoned by the God of her fathers, she struggles to hold on to faith and find purpose in her captivity. But when she comes face-to-face with the man who slaughtered her family, bitterness threatens to snuff out what little faith she has scraped together right when she—and the murderer—need it most.

Tasked with reclaiming Syria’s glory, Commander Na’aman conducts raids into the land of Israel. But when he unexpectedly collides with a strange prophet and witnesses the power of Israel’s mysterious God, he is left shaken. Does the God of Israel have more power than his gods? Na’aman is not convinced. Until the leprosy appears. Has Israel’s God at last taken revenge on him? Stripped of his title, his dignity, and cast out from society, he has nowhere left to turn. Except to his enemies.


Here is your next clue: The History Boys

Next stop: Suzie Waltner’s blog

**Also, if you haven’t heard of Greenleaf Press, check them out! They are officially homeschool-kid-approved!

Cain, Abel, and the Original Sacrifice - "Daughter of Eden" by Jill Eileen Smith

Month: August 2023

Have you ever wondered why God accepted Abel’s sacrifice, but not Cain’s? I have. And I thought I had also found a satisfactory answer as well. That is, until I read Jill Eileen Smith’s Daughter of Eden. 

Let me tell you about her creative interpretation of scripture that left me with an “Aha!” moment I won’t forget.

Cain, the farmer, offered the fruit of the ground that he stewarded. Abel, the shepherd, offered a lamb. Both sacrificed to the Lord. So why did God not accept Cain’s gift? If you take the answer from a young girl I watched in the church nursery once, it’s because “God doesn’t like sheep.” Hmm. She mixed up the offerings a bit, but you get the point. 

Whenever I hear a sermon on this topic, they emphasize the heart. Cain brought a last-minute oh- maybe-I-should-bring-something-to-honor-God-so-here-is-some-produce-I-haven’t-eaten-yet gift. While Abel brought the first fruits of his flock. Don’t get me wrong. I do believe the heart is at the very center of all this, and it is God’s priority in dealing with us. 

But in Daughter of Eden, Jill Eileen Smith painted a deeper understanding of this event in light of the entirety of scripture. Sacrifice and the blood of a lamb are key themes throughout the Bible. We know God instructed the Israelites to sacrifice a lamb on the Day of Atonement to cover over their sins. And we know that this perfect, spotless lamb offered year after year represented the perfect Lamb of God to come whose shed blood would wipe away our sins once and for all! 

The price of our sin was death. Spilled blood. The price of Adam and Eve’s sin was death. But instead of killing them, God killed an animal and, from it’s hide, prepared garments of skin to cover Adam and Eve (Gen 3:21). Jill Eileen Smith postulates through her story that, from the Fall forward, a sacrifice of blood was required every year to cover over their sin. It was a day of atonement even before the law labeled it as such. 

Now we come to Abel’s lamb. Suddenly, it’s not about whether or not God was interested in fruit or meat. And perhaps, not even so much about the heart of each giver. But rather, that the price for sin still had to be paid. Abel submitted to God’s instructions for the blood sacrifice. Cain, on the other hand, thought he knew of a better way.

Is this not like the great debate surrounding faith? So many in the world would argue there are many paths to God. But Yeshua (Jesus) said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Interesting how every other path humanity comes up with excludes the blood sacrifice of Yeshua that takes away our sins. But God made it quite clear. There is only one way, and it is through the blood of His Son shed on the cross, the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8 NKJV).

While the Genesis account does not spell all of this out, I find Smith’s interpretation beautifully fits into the continuity of the scriptures. Why is this significant? Because our God has not changed. His Word is not chopped up bits of anecdotes that have been strung together. If we think the God of the New Testament is different from the God of the Old, then we’ve missed what He has been saying since the beginning! His plan of redemption in the garden remains His plan even now. It always has been about Yeshua! Ever since the Fall, God gave instructions for the sacrifice which pointed directly at His Son, our Savior and Redeemer. He never left His people without hope! 

What has been your experience? Have you approached the God of the Old Testament as the same or different from the New? Can you recognize God’s plan of redemption in Old Testament scriptures?

**Check out my full review on Daughter of Eden here on my Goodreads page.

Image by Kat Smith from Pexels