Eight Quarters and Lesson Learned

by Crystal Bowman

I was annoyed with the long exit line on the hospital parking ramp. Eager to get home after visiting a friend, I inched my way to the ticket booth where the attendant informed me of the eight-dollar fee. I handed him a ten-dollar bill, expecting two dollars in return. I did, in fact, get two dollars back—eight quarters.  

“Sorry, that’s all I’ve got,” he apologized. I groaned and rolled my eyes, even more annoyed than before. I planned on dropping the quarters into our coin jar but forgot about them when I got home. Several days went by and the quarters still jiggled in the bottom of my purse. 

Later that week I had a book signing at a local bookstore. This was during the early days of my writing career, and I was excited for the opportunity to promote the handful of children’s books I had published.

Many people think a book signing is a glamorous event for rich and famous authors, but nothing could be further from the truth! Most authors are neither rich nor famous, and book signings are a lesson in humility.

No one came to the store just to see me. I sold a few books to some shoppers who happened to be there, but that was about it. One woman asked me to watch her daughter while she went to the bathroom, and another customer asked me to help him find a book by another author.

As I began packing up my books to go home, a middle-aged woman with a contagious smile came to my table. “Are you a real author?” she asked as she picked up one of my short chapter books.

“Yes, I am,” I replied.

“Well,” she said, “I can’t read very well, but I know I can read this one.”

She fumbled through her purse for a few minutes and then her smile faded, “I don’t have enough money to buy your book,” she said. She put the book back on the table and started to walk away.

 “Wait,” I said. “How much more do you need?”

“Two dollars.”

At that moment I remembered the eight quarters in my purse that had never made it to the coin jar. “I might be able to help you out. I have a bunch of quarters that I don’t need, and you can have them.”

Her smile returned as I counted the quarters and dropped them in her hand.

“What’s your name,” I asked. “I’ll write a note in the book and sign it for you.” 

“My name is Gina.”

On the inside cover I wrote, “To my friend, Gina. I hope you enjoy reading this story. May God bless you.”

Too many times I let little things that don’t matter—like those eight quarters—annoy me. I’m reminded of the apostle Paul’s challenge to the Christians in Colosse, which challenges me as well. He taught them to live a new life in Christ and put to death the old life. He told them to put on compassion, kindness, humility, and patience as if they were clothing (Colossians 3:12).

Even though we cannot live perfect lives, we can ask God to help us live in a way that shows we belong to Him. Colossians 3:14 (NLT) says, “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”  

As far as book signings go, my time at the bookstore was not very productive. But I learned a lesson from those eight quarters, and I met a woman name Gina whose smile I will never forget.

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Colossians 3:12 NLT

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: What are the little things that you find annoying?

Praying for Hardened Hearts

by Crystal Bowman

Vivian became a Christian when she attended a women’s conference with some friends who had invited her. She shared the news with her husband, Brian, when she returned home. He was less than enthused and said, “You can practice your religion outside of our home, but I don’t want to see any of that Jesus stuff in our house.”

Vivian respected her husband’s wishes and began her faith journey on her own. She faithfully attended church every Sunday while Brian went golfing with his buddies. She became active in women’s ministries and joined a Bible study group. When she came home one day with a workbook that had Knowing God on the cover in giant letters, Brian told her to keep it in a drawer.

One rainy Sunday, Brian was bored and went to church with Vivian. She wished he had stayed home. All he did during the service was criticize and complain. “The music’s too loud! The people are too emotional! The sermon’s too long!”

For week, months, and years, Vivian continued to grow in her love for the Lord, all the while praying for God to work in Brian’s cold, hardened heart. In 1 Corinthians 1:18 (NIV), the apostle Paul tells the church in Corinth, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” When hearts are hardened and people are closed to the gospel message, they put up a brick wall that only the Holy Spirit can penetrate. They believe Christians are foolish and delirious, and to them the gospel is nonsense. There is little we can say to get through to them, but like Vivian, we can pray for their lost souls.

Vivian didn’t nag or preach to Brian. She didn’t put a “Jesus Loves You” magnet on the refrigerator or a “God Bless This House” sign in her kitchen. She quietly lived out her faith, and Brian noticed the difference that knowing Jesus had made in her life.

In Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV), Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Eventually Brian began attending church more regularly and complained less. He even started singing with the worship team, and when he raised his hands during a praise song, Vivian knew the Holy Spirit was beginning to soften his heart. Vivian continued to pray for her husband for many more weeks, months, years, and decades. At the age of 80, Brian surrendered his life to the Lord. He accepted Jesus as his Savior and was baptized. He now believes the gospel message is truth rather than foolishness.

Most of us know someone who thinks the message of the cross is foolishness and may not be open to our preaching. But if, like Vivian, we let the light of Jesus shine in our lives and keep praying, the Holy Spirit can penetrate those brick walls and soften hardened hearts.

For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. Ephesians 5:8 ESV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: Have you seen a hard heart finally reconciled to God? Please share your story to encourage those of us still praying for unbelieving family and friends.

Stay Hydrated

  by  Crystal Bowman

My hubby and I spent the first two weeks in January at our home in Michigan with an uninvited guest by the name of Omicron. We coughed, hacked, sneezed, and blew our noses until we finally kicked that bad boy to the curb. Once we recovered, we jetted to Florida to escape the frigid temps.

I planned on walking, writing, and meeting up with a few friends. What I didn’t plan on was spending 48 hours in the hospital with post-Omicron cardio symptoms. As my hubby raced me to the ER, my heart pounded hard and beat fast. At times it felt like I had a gymnast in my chest doing flips on a balance beam. This was not the vacation I was expecting.

After a bazillion tests, needle stabs, and blood draws, I was relieved to learn that my heart was healthy. I needed a beta blocker to calm things down for a while, but in a month or two I would be fine. Oh, and one more thing—I was seriously dehydrated.

I’ve never been one to tote a trendy water bottle around with me wherever I go. I always thought water bottles were more of a fad than a necessity. I was wrong—seriously wrong! The doctors discharged me from the hospital with a strong verbal prescription: DRINK MORE WATER!

Our bodies need plenty of water to be healthy and function properly, but so do our souls.  
In John 4, we read the story of Jesus at Jacob’s well. A Samaritan woman with a promiscuous life style comes to the well in the heat of the day to avoid the shame of those who drew water in the morning hours. She is surprised when Jesus asks for a drink because Jewish men didn’t talk to Samaritan women. 

Jesus says to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water” (John 4:10). Jesus goes on to tell her that if she drinks this water, she will never be thirsty again. The woman takes Jesus’s words literally and begs for the water he offers so her laborious trips to the well would end.

Through continued conversation, Jesus reveals her past and present sins by giving  specific details of her life. She recognizes Jesus as a prophet, and she speaks of the coming Messiah who will explain everything. Then Jesus says to her, “I am He.” The woman drops her water jugs and hurries to tell others about the man who told her everything she ever did.

The living water Jesus offers is for our souls. When we receive Him as our Savior, our souls are quenched, and we no longer thirst for something to fill our empty vessels. We can continue to grow in our faith and knowledge of God through studying His Word and prayerful conversations, but we will never need to go back to the well to find eternal life.

My trip to the ER in February made a difference in my life. I am now more intentional about drinking enough water to stay hydrated so my body will be healthy and function properly. I used to leave the house with three essentials—purse, keys, and phone. Now I leave with four—purse, keys, phone, and trendy water bottle.     

“Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: How do you keep yourself spiritually hydrated?

Till Death Do Us Part

by Crystal Bowman

My parents were engaged when my dad was drafted into the army during World War II. When he received his overseas assignment, he hitchhiked home for a weekend so they could get married on a Sunday afternoon in the church parsonage. They kissed good-bye, then didn’t see each other for three-and-a-half years.

My father was not allowed to tell my mother where he was stationed. They didn’t have email, text messaging, Skype, or Zoom. The only way they could communicate was through letters, which were opened and read by military personnel and post office workers to protect sensitive information from being leaked to the “enemy aliens.”

My creative and clever father used a hidden code in his letters to my mom. The first letter of every paragraph spelled out his location. He used to joke that when he was stationed in New Caledonia, in the southwest Pacific Ocean, it was the longest letter he’d ever written!

When the war was over, my parents started their family of four children—all of us born in the baby-boom era. My dad started a construction company and built the house where I grew up. But here’s the thing: they always acted like teenagers in love. Of course, they didn’t agree on everything, but even when they didn’t, they treated each other with respect. My parents never raised their voices at each other, and I never heard them fight.

My children were grown when my dad passed away at the age of 85, and they all attended his funeral. Since he was a veteran, we witnessed the chilling and emotional military ceremony at the grave site. Military men dressed in crisp uniforms performed a rifle salute, played “Taps,” and folded the flag that draped my father’s coffin.

When one of my sons got married two years later, he gave a card to my mom. On the front was a picture of a bride and groom holding hands. Inside the card, he penned his own message. He wrote, “When we were at the cemetery, I watched you clutch Grandpa’s folded flag to your chest. As they lowered him into the ground, I had a clear understanding of ‘till death do us part.’ I want the kind of marriage like you and Grandpa had—the kind where true love lasts forever.

Everyone desires to love and be loved—it’s a basic human need. The Bible has a lot to say about love, because God defines love, and He is love. In Romans 5:8, the Apostle Paul writes, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (NIV).

In the Gospels, Jesus boils down the Ten Commandments into two: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind;” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27 NIV). And, in John 15:12, Jesus says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (NIV).

Whether it’s a spouse, child, parent, neighbor, sibling, friend, or stranger, we can demonstrate love to them by our words and actions. We can demonstrate love when we are willing to be inconvenienced to help someone else and when we put their needs ahead of our own. Though we will never be able to love as deeply as Jesus, we can ask God to let His light shine through us, so that others may be drawn to a love that lasts forever.

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. –Romans 12:10 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advance Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids. She and her husband have three married children and eight huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: Have you seen a “love that lasts forever” modeled for you?


           

A Word for the New Year

by Crystal Bowman

A few years ago, like many of my friends, I began the practice of choosing a word or phrase to focus on for a given year. Before I choose my “word” I think about it for a few days and ask for God’s direction. As I look ahead to 2022, I have a few events that will demand my time, attention, and more energy than I have. After much thought and prayer God brought a Bible verse to my mind, so I did a quick Google search to find the reference. “The Lord gives strength to his people. The Lord blesses his people with peace”(Psalm 29:11 NIRV).

Nothing could be more fitting for me to focus on than that verse! I need strength for what lies ahead, and I need peace knowing that God will equip me for what he has called me to do. So I guess I actually have two words this year—strength and peace.

With the events of the past two years, I have learned to be flexible. I have learned that my plans may fall through. I have learned that a loved one may become seriously ill, and some may die. I have learned that the only thing I can count on is God’s love, and that even when I cannot understand his ways, I can trust that his ways are best.

I know that everyone is hoping and praying for a happier and healthier year. Will 2022 bring an end to the pandemic? Will there be peace in the streets rather than riots? Will political issues continue to divide our nation? Will hate and racism continue to escalate? Of course, we don’t know the answers. But we do know that God is in control, and he is faithful to meet all of our physical, spiritual, and emotional needs in the coming year. He will give us strength and peace for what lies ahead.

I came across another Bible verse recently. John 1:1 (NIRV) says, In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.  The “word” is Jesus, who was with God from the beginning of creation, who left his throne in the heavens to come to earth in the form of a baby human. His earthly life began in a humble stable and ended on a wooden cross to pay for the sins of the world. His victory over death gives us victory over sin, pain, and sorrow. His resurrection gives us hope for eternal life with him and with our loved ones. Jesus is the word of life, the word of hope, and the word of peace.

I will focus on the words strength and peace in the days ahead, but the greatest word I can focus on is Jesus. He is the way to the Father, the truth that we seek, and the giver of eternal life. Jesus is the Word above all other words!

Here is what we announce to everyone about the Word of life. The Word was already here from the beginning. We have heard him. We have seen him with our eyes. We have looked at him. Our hands have touched him. This life has appeared. We have seen him. We are witnesses about him. And we announce to you this same eternal life. He was already with the Father. He has appeared to us. We announce to you what we have seen and heard. We do it so you can share life together with us. And we share life with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ”. 1 John 1:1-3 NIRV

This article is brought to you by the Advance Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and eight huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: On what word will you focus in 2022?




The Shepherds and the Lamb

by Crystal Bowman

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29 NIV

In most nativity sets, you will find a shepherd or two or three. It’s because the shepherds were the first to hear the good news that Jesus, the Messiah, had been born. In Luke 2:8-12 (NIV) we read, And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Through the years, many have debated why the angels announced the news to the shepherds first. In Bible times, shepherds were the low rung on the social ladder. They were dirty and smelly and probably not well educated. Some have suggested that this shows how Jesus came to demonstrate His love to everyone—even lowly, humble, scruffy shepherds. Though that is certainly true, there is more to this story.

Most shepherds cared for their flocks in fields that were in the wilderness, far away from any town or city, so the proximity of a field near Bethlehem was an exception. The lambs being bred in the fields near Bethlehem were designated for sacrifice at the Temple in Jerusalem. The shepherds who raised the lambs were trained by priests to inspect the newly born lambs to check for imperfections. If they determined a lamb was free from defects and qualified for sacrifice, they would wash the lamb and wrap it in strips of cloth. 

Like most Jews of that time, the shepherds anticipated the coming of the Messiah who had been promised long ago. With his birth, the days of animal sacrifice would soon end. Upon hearing the announcement from the angels, the shepherds left their flocks and raced to the town of Bethlehem, where they found the newborn King wrapped in strips of cloth, lying in a manger. It’s no surprise that these shepherds were overjoyed to see Jesus! Believing and rejoicing, they ran through the town and shared the news with everyone they met. 

As we enter into this most holy season of the year, I pray that we will dwell on the true meaning of Christmas; that God loves us so much He sent His only Son to pay for our sins and restore us to a right relationship with Him. Jesus came for everyone—rich and poor, male and female, educated and uneducated, kings and queens, common people, and scruffy shepherds. May we share the joy and excitement of Jesus’s first visitors and run to the manger to see the perfect sacrificial Lamb.  

This article is brought to you by the Advance Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and eight huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: What part of the Christmas story is most meaningful to you?

A Lesson from the Elephants

by Crystal Bowman

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Romans 12:15 ESV

My husband and I were away on a weekend business trip and found ourselves with free time on a Friday evening. As we drove through town looking for something interesting to do, the local museum advertised a showing of Elephants in Africa in their state-of-the-art IMAX theater. We parked our car, bought tickets, and then entered the massive theater with a wrap-around screen and surround-sound audio.

The National Geographic-type film documented the day-by-day experiences of a clan of African elephants as they moved from one place to another in search of water and food. As we watched from the center of the theater, we felt like we were in the middle of the jungle with the camera crew!

Since elephants can walk within hours of birth, a newborn calf ambled on wobbly legs closely behind his mother. As weeks passed, the baby grew larger and stronger and began playful interaction with the other elephants. After a while, however, food and water became scarce, and the calf grew weaker and weaker until it toppled over and died. The mama used her powerful trunk to poke and prod her baby to help him stand up. When her efforts failed, she realized his fate and stood over him, refusing to move as she mourned. During her time of grieving, all the female elephants from the clan surrounded her and stayed by her side for three days until she was ready to travel.

I couldn’t help but see this as a beautiful picture of friendship and caring for those who are hurting. We often don’t know what to do when someone we know is grieving. In our best efforts we may offer a meal, some encouraging words, or a small gift. But perhaps the best thing we can do for someone is to just be there.

Galatians 6:2 (NIV) says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” What is the law of Christ? The answer is found in Mark 12:30-31 (ESV), “‘And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And in John 15:12 (ASV) we read more words of Jesus, “This is my commandment that you love one another, even as I have loved you.”

Loving your neighbor, friend, sibling, or anyone else in your social circle is not always easy, and sometimes it takes a sacrifice of time to be there for them. But being with someone in their time of need speaks volumes even if we say nothing.

Our current pandemic makes it more challenging than ever to be physically with someone who is hurting, but modern technology allows face-to-face connection with iPhone, Skype, and Zoom. When a long-distance friend of mine lost her husband recently, the Holy Spirit prompted me to call her to see how she was doing. We talked for more than an hour, and she said my call was exactly what she needed that day.

Comforting a friend who is going through a difficult time—whether it’s a divorce, the loss of a loved one, a rebellious child, or something else—is not an easy thing to do. But I have learned a lesson from the friends of that mama elephant. When a friend needs me, I’ll just be there!

Lord, help me to be intentional about reaching out to a friend who is hurting. Help me to weep with those who weep so I can love others the way you love me. Amen 

This article is brought to you by the Advance Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: Practically speaking, what do you do to carry someone’s burden?

Look Ahead with Joy

by Crystal Bowman

Now it’s your time to be sad. But I will see you again. Then you will be full of joy. And no one will take away your joy. John 16:22 NIRV

My life-long friend, Helen, passed away two years ago. We became best friends in high school and were besties for 55 years. Her youngest daughter is single and misses her mom terribly. We have formed a bond because, as we grieve together and share stories of her mother’s life, it’s a way for both of us to preserve precious memories of someone we both deeply loved.

We recently met for dinner then walked around town for hours. Her daughter said to me, “What makes this so hard is that she can’t be replaced. No other person will ever be my mom.” I agreed and understood her feelings because no other person can be my best friend for 55 years. I have wonderful friends whom I am close to, but I don’t have the history and memories with them like I had with Helen.

Losing someone you love, whether it’s a friend, parent, sibling, or child is one of the deepest grief experiences we can have. The emptiness, heartache, and sorrow can be overwhelming. We want to keep looking back at the memories and hold on to the past. It’s all part of the grieving process that is necessary to move forward.

A friend of mine lost her son when he was twenty-five years old. She told me she was stuck in her grief for years until someone shared something with her. This person said, “You keep looking back but that is not where your son is. He is in heaven—ahead of you. He wants you to look forward and live your life with joy because every day brings you closer to being reunited with him.”

Jesus understood grief. He wept when His friend Lazarus died, even though He knew He would call Lazarus out of the grave and bring him back to life. He also tried to prepare His followers for His own upcoming death. He knew they would grieve His death but assured them that they would see Him again and be filled with joy.

For believers, this is where we find hope. Our loved ones may be gone, but we will see them again and that can give us present joy as well as future joy. Our loved ones who have gone ahead of us would not want us to be stuck in our grief looking backward. They would want us to look ahead, and live life with joy, knowing that one day we will see them again. That doesn’t mean we won’t have moments of sadness, but rather that the sadness will no longer consume us.  I once heard a saying that I love: “Grief is like a wound that scabs over. Once in a while, you bump the scab, and it bleeds a little.”

As long as we are on this earth, there will be times of grief and pain. But knowing we will be reunited with our loved ones gives us peace, comfort, and joy. And knowing we will see Jesus face to face fills us with eternal hope.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away (Rev 21:4 NIV).

This article brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: Have you ever lost someone near and dear to you?

Two Taxis and the Holy Spirit

by Crystal Bowman

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 NIV.

I was beyond excited to attend the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA) conference this year. I was unable to attend for the past two years, so this was a long-awaited trip. My early morning flight was delayed, but I made my connection. When I landed in St. Louis, I saw two AWSA gals and we agreed to share a cab. My friends pulled their luggage from the carousel while I waited for mine to appear. But it didn’t. As the noisy carousel made a few more laps with some unclaimed bags, it still hadn’t appeared.

 I told my friends to leave, and I’d catch up with them later. The hotel and convention center were not far from the airport, so it wouldn’t cost much for a solo ride. After an hour, my suitcase showed up, and I rolled my luggage to the nearest taxicab. When a kind man jumped out to assist with my cumbersome bags, I told him where I needed to go, and soon we were on our way. Though hard to understand, the driver initiated a wonderful conversation about God. I smiled and nodded in agreement. The ride took longer than expected, but we finally arrived at the hotel and convention center. After paying a hefty fare and generous tip, I rolled my bags to the reception counter in the lobby.

“My name is Crystal Bowman and I’m here to check in,” I said with a tired smile. The hotel clerk scanned the computer for my name but couldn’t find it. “I’m so sorry, Dear, but you’re at the wrong hotel. You need to be at our hotel near the airport. I’ll call a cab.” My heart caught in my throat. I was weary from traveling, had just spent more money than I wanted to, and I was in the wrong place!           

 The next taxi arrived, and a kind gentleman jumped out to help with my bags. As soon as we were on the expressway, he began a wonderful conversation about God. I smiled and nodded in agreement. After a thirty-minute ride, we arrived at the correct hotel. I paid an even heftier fare and another tip. Since this was way more money than I intended to spend on cab rides, I was terribly upset and frustrated. My heart pounded and my head hurt.

 Once inside my room, I unpacked a few things, then lay down to relax. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. Anger and frustration consumed me. Then the Holy Spirit put some thoughts into my head. (I know myself and these thoughts were not my thoughts): These cab drivers belong to Me. They need the money more than you do. They haven’t worked in more than a year, so I used you to provide for them.

When we look at Scripture, we can see how God provides in unusual ways. Hagar had to leave home with her young son, Ishmael, and they soon ran out of water. In her hopelessness, she placed Ishmael under a bush to die. But God heard cries and provided a well in the middle of the wilderness. When the Israelites were hungry in the desert, God rained manna from heaven in the morning and sent quail in the evening. When Elijah needed a time of rest, God directed him to a place where he could drink from a brook and sent ravens to bring him food twice a day.

 When I let those thoughts sink in, my emotions did a 180-degree turn. Peace and joy replaced anger and frustration. I was excited again—not only for the conference to begin, but because God used me to provide a little something extra for two cab drivers who loved Him.

One final thought occurred to me as I processed that experience: It’s God’s money and not mine. He provided for the cab drivers, and He will also provide for me.  

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: Has God provided for you in unexpected ways?

A Child’s Song

by Crystal Bowman

I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. Psalm 104:33, NIV

As I was walking down the cereal aisle in the grocery store, I heard a child’s voice loudly singing “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” I walked toward the sound of the voice because I wanted to see the child. A few aisles over, there she was—sitting in the front of the cart with her legs dangling, belting out the song with all of her might. I smiled at her mom, and she smiled back. My heart sang along, and I was envious of the child’s courage to sing so freely in public. She knew Jesus loved her and wanted the world to know.

In her innocence and boldness, the little girl didn’t care what others thought about her. She didn’t worry if someone would be offended with her choice of song. She simple expressed what was in her heart and soul with confidence in the One who loved her.

The Bible tells the story of two men who boldly sang songs in an unlikely place. The Apostle Paul and his companion, Silas, were thrown into prison after a severe beating and placed in chains for casting out a demon from a female slave. About midnight, they began singing hymns and praises, loudly enough for other prisoners to hear. Suddenly, a violent earthquake shook the prison. The doors flew open, and all the prisoners’ chains fell off.

When the jailer saw what had happened, he drew his sword to kill himself, but Paul told him to stop. He assured the jailer that no one had escaped. I don’t know if the jailer heard Paul and Silas singing, or if he just realized that something supernatural had taken place. Either way, he fell on his face before Paul and Silas and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” The jailer brought them into his house and gave them food to eat. He was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.

I wish I had the courage and confidence of that little girl in the grocery store. I wish I could be like Paul and Silas and sing praises in the midst of devastating circumstances. I share the Gospel message through my writing and speaking ministry, and occasionally to an Uber driver, but it’s that spontaneity I long for and pray for. In any and all circumstances I want my first thoughts to be of Jesus and telling others about His love. I want to be so focused on my love for Him and His love for me, that it is continually on my mind.

If we begin each day with praising and thanking God, it will set our minds on the right path. It’s an easy thing to recommend, but not always easy to do. Waking up with a fussy child, a headache, or a reminder that bills are overdue can make it hard to have a mindset of praise. But the more we make a habit of starting the day with praise, the easier it becomes. I want to wake up each morning singing, “Jesus love me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

Will you join me?

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

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When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: How do you proclaim your love for Jesus?