By Virginia Smith
Published by: Kregel Publishing
ISBN# 0-8254-3693-1
222 pages

Back Cover: When purple-haired Mayla Strong struts down the center aisle of Salliesburg Independent Christian Church, the bug-eyed congregation strains to get a peek at her pierced nose and lip. But Pastor Paul welcomes her with a huge, infectious grin and baptizes her on the spot.

Determined to make her heavenly Father proud, Mayla’s sincere, and often hilarious, attempts to let Him change her from the inside out take her into some difficult places—like the hospital room of a man dying of AIDS.

Through it all, she grows in faith and wisdom—sometimes through pain, sometimes through humor, but always in a way that is distinctly Mayla.

REVIEW:Virginia Smith has penned a refreshingly honest, heart-felt, funny story. I was pleasantly surprised and instantly grabbed by how real and entertaining this story was, even though its intended for a youthful audience.

This story begins with Mayla Strong, a girl with purple hair, an earring in her nose and stud in her lip, makes a decision to be saved and then baptized in church one day. Here is a sneak peek into when Mayla is talking to the Pastor in front of the whole church about the decision of accepting Christ into her heart.

The Pastor asks her, “Are you prepared to commit your life to Christ, to die and be born again as a new creation of His, to let Him lead you wherever He will and never turn your back on Him?”

Mayla responds, “Die? I knew that couldn’t possibly mean what I thought it meant, but I had certainly never had someone ask me if I was ready to die before!”

So often stories lead up to the salvation experience, but in Just As I Am, the author has her main character get saved and baptized in the first chapter! It’s great! My heart was pricked by Mayla’s desire to do what the bible says to do, not man. I loved the innocence, conviction and love Mayla had for Christ and the desire she has to show that love to anyone God puts in her path. She notices little changes inside herself right away and so do others. She wonders if this could be because she gave her heart to Christ and was baptized. Mayla can’t believe the change was so fast, not can anyone else.

How does a purple—haired girl with an earring in her nose and stud in her lip, walk out this Christian life? Virginia Smith shows all the natural things Mayla encounters soon after making her decision to make Jesus, Lord of her life. Her experiences in this book are very insightful, and in parts hysterical when she try’s to figure out what God would have her do next. She wasn’t about to change her hair color and nose ring just because it would make her mother happy. All she wanted to do was be pleasing to Jesus, no one else.

I loved Mayla’s determination and vulnerability as she was seeking God’s face and did what He called her to do, even if it meant visiting a man in the hospital she doesn’t know, who is dying of AIDS.

The sequel to this book is called Sincerely Mayla. I can’t wait to read about what happens next in Mayla’s walk with God. You will want to read the next chapter in Mayla’s life too.

Nora St. Laurent
Book Club Servant Leader


  1. What a great review! I'm so glad you enjoyed Mayla's first story. She's a one-of-a-kind girl, isn't she?

  2. I've read a lot of books and this is still my all time favorite! I have lent my copy to many friends :) I think one of the reasons I love it so much is it really opened my eyes to not judge people on their outward appearance and how God wants you right where you are!!