Book Summary

Leona Koehn Nichols was born into a loving Holdeman Mennonite family and grew up within the Mennonite community, being very much a part of this ultraconservative culture. Her parents were devout and committed to their church but were also balanced in their views of what it meant to follow Jesus. Raised in a family of five, with an older and younger brother, Leona enjoyed a happy childhood in rural California. Her father was a respected leader in the church and also in the community. Her mother enjoyed life and had visitors in the home frequently. She loved reading and read often to her children, both Bible story books and children’s classics. Having been baptized into the church at age ten, Leona fully expected to spend her life as a faithful member of the Church of God in Christ (Mennonite). She married a minister’s son, and they began a family.

However, as their six children got older and decisions regarding what they would or would not be allowed to do began to immerge, so did the questions. Desiring to have biblical reasons behind their beliefs and decisions caused them to search the scriptures, looking for answers. This was met with concern. Being part of a church culture that emphasized unity in all things, including clothing and grooming styles; it was expected that their family would conform without question. When Leona and her husband met Jesus in a very loving and unexpected way in their own living room, it was soon obvious they would need to make a choice. Who would take first place in their hearts? Jesus, the Savior of their souls, or the church of their fathers? After months of trying to find a solution to conflicting views, their church fellowship was severed through the ordinance of excommunication. Now they would learn to trust in Jesus alone as the foundation they could build their lives on. Follow their story as they moved from legalism to grace.


A Word of Thanks

To give thanks to the many people who have impacted our lives in a positive way would be impossible.  However, certain individuals stand out as having been especially encouraging.  These I would like to mention by name. First of all, my husband, Willis, with whom I have shared this journey, and whose insight and kindness have always been a blessing, especially during the most difficult times. To my three daughters, Micki, Bethany, and Darlisa, all of whom have prayed and encouraged, and whose personal commitment to Jesus is always an inspiration to me.
  • To my three sons, Bruce, Danny, and Jon, whose love for their mom has given me joy and has encircled me with their tender caring. And for the many friends who listened, prayed, and encouraged during the hard times. I especially thank friends, Ray and Glenda Eck, who walked through much of this journey with us, and whose prayerful support and knowledge of the Word was fittingly given at just the right time. And to our pastor, Pastor Dave Larson, whose gift of encouragement extends to the many and diverse members of his flock who depend on the Holy Spirit teaching them through his ministry, week after week. All of these dear ones have impacted my husband’s and my walk with the Lord. I owe a debt of gratitude for the hours my daughter Micki spent in editing and re-editing, catching many of the mistakes I made in this manuscript. Her skill brought clarity in how events and thoughts were expressed. And for Darlisa and husband Tim, who understood the directions and prepared the photo section that gives a glimpse into our family. Finally, and most of all, to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who loved me enough to walk with me though the Valley of Misunderstanding that was so much a part of our story. May His name be lifted up and may all men be drawn to Him. Amen.