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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 518YUwMH72L._SX448_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

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?

Everyone Knows

by Crystal Bowman

Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14 NIV

Several years ago I sat next to a young woman on an airplane who started up a conversation with me as soon as I took my seat. “Flying makes me nervous, so I like to talk to someone because it makes the time go faster.” 

I smiled at her and said, “Honey, you are sitting next to the right person—I love to talk!”

As we ascended into the clear blue sky, she began telling me her life’s story. When she was four years old, she and her family crawled through a tunnel from Mexico to the U.S., eventually finding their way to Chicago, where they settled. She shared that her father was an alcoholic and  she rarely saw him sober. He beat her every day, and her mother did nothing to protect her. She was never allowed to wear dresses to school because her mother didn’t want the teachers to see her bruises. Even in the hot, humid Chicago summers, she wore long sleeved shirts and pants.

She continued her story and told me that she left home as a teen and moved in with her boyfriend’s family. I asked her if it was a safer environment, and she told me that it was safer physically, but his mother was verbally abusive. She and her boyfriend married at the age of 19, and her husband worked as a landscaper, eventually building a successful business. With great pride, she told me they had three children, and she loved volunteering at school and being a teacher’s helper. It was obvious to me that she loved her children. She told me that she showered them with the affection she craved as a child.

I then asked her the questions that were begging to be answered. How do you know how to be a good mother when you didn’t have any role models? How can you raise your kids in a healthy environment when you were physically abused, and your husband was verbally abused

Her reply was confident and profound. “Everyone knows what’s right and wrong. You just choose to do one or the other.”

Wow! Such wisdom from a young woman.

The Apostle Paul preached the Gospel to both Jews and Gentiles. The Jews followed the 10 Commandments, also known as the Law. In Romans 2, he explains that the Gentiles, who do not have the Jewish law, know right from wrong because God created humans with a sense of right and wrong. In verse 15 (NIV) he writes,  “They [Gentiles]show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.”

Since we are born with a sinful human nature, we don’t always choose to do what is right. It is impossible for us to live perfect lives. But when we choose to do what we know is wrong, our conscience convicts us.

Jesus came to bear our penalty for all those wrong choices we make. Through his death and resurrection, we can be fully forgiven and cleansed of sin. Even after we accept Jesus as our Savior, we continue in sin because of our human nature. But God is a God of mercy and forgiveness and wipes the slate clean as we confess our sins.

I had another question that I wanted to ask my passenger friend. “Are you a Christian?”

“Oh, yes!” she replied. “Being a Christian has allowed me to forgive my parents for my abusive childhood. I still see them often, and every year I help my mom put up her Christmas tree.”

As we landed, I told her that I would never forget her or our conversation. I told her how blessed I was to sit next to her, and how someday I would be sharing her story in one of my articles or books. That day is today. I trust her story inspires you as much as it has inspired me. May we all ask God to help us make the right choices in our lives. We know right from wrong—it’s written on our hearts.  


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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 518YUwMH72L._SX448_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

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: Is there a conversation you have had that you will never forget?

When God Feels Distant

by Crystal Bowman

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8 NKJV

Life is hard sometimes. For many, life is hard most of the time. Being a Christian is no guarantee that we get a free pass from pain and hardship. Just look at the stories in the Bible. Joseph spent some dark moments in a pit, was sold as a slave, and just when things were improving, he ended up in prison because of a woman’s lie. For 40 years, Moses led the grumbling, complaining Israelites through the wilderness on their quest to the Promised Land, and then he only got a sneak peek of the land from a mountain top. Do I even need to bring up the name Job? Probably not.

In the New Testament, many of Jesus’s followers were beaten, imprisoned, and experienced violent deaths. The suffering we see in the pages of Scripture is more than enough to understand that life is hard. And sometimes, in the midst of our pain and suffering—in the midst of wondering how life got so messed up—we wonder where God is.  

Do you ever feel distant from God? If we are honest, most of us will say yes. But just because we feel distant from Him, God is never far from us. Whether we feel close to God or not, it doesn’t change who He is. God loves us with an everlasting love. He is with us wherever we go, and His Spirit lives within us. In Romans 8:38-39 (NKJV), the Apostle Paul writes to the Romans, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

That about covers it, right? Nothing can separate us from God! And here’s the thing—it doesn’t matter what we feel. It matters what we know. Feelings can be unpredictable and unreliable. Feelings can come and go like the wind. When we base our beliefs on what we feel, we will be tossed to and ‘fro, like the waves on the sea. Rather than letting your feelings determine your closeness to God, cling to what you know and believe. Do you know God is with you? Yes. Do you believe He will never leave you? Yes.  Do you know and believe He loves you? A thousand times yes. 

Whenever I feel distant from God, I know that He isn’t the one who moved. And so I seek Him though reading Scripture, through worship music, through prayers, and through looking at His creation. Psalm 95:4-5 (NIV) says, In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. And Psalm 19:1 (NIV) says, The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

If you want to feel close to God, just open your eyes. Do you see the sky? God made that. Do you see trees, rivers, or mountains? They belong to God. Do you see birds and squirrels? God feeds them. Do you see flowers? God makes them grow. We are surrounded by God’s creation that speaks His name.

Psalm 100:4 (NKJV) gives us clear instructions on how to draw near to God: Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

If you are feeling distant from God today, follow the advice of the Psalmist. Thank Him. Praise Him. Enter His presence. He is waiting for you with open arms, and nothing can separate you from His love.  


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 do you do when you feel distant from God?

The Doors are Still Open

by Crystal Bowman

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  Matthew 9:36 ESV

With only an eighth-grade education and some carpentry training in the U. S. Army, my dad became a successful contractor, building beautiful homes on Lake Michigan and remodeling almost every downtown storefront in our city. I enjoyed spending summers at our cottage on an inland lake in a small rural community. It was a way for our family to be on vacation while my dad was able to work in the area.

My dad had a burden for the lost, and when he discovered a poverty-stricken neighborhood only miles from our cottage, he could not ignore their spiritual needs. He saw them as sheep without a shepherd and had compassion for them. With support from our church, my dad built a small chapel at the entrance to the neighborhood. Every Sunday afternoon, instead of taking a much-needed rest, he canvassed the dirt roads on foot, inviting the families to come to the evening service where a pastor told the people about Jesus. Recognizing their physical needs as well, my dad provided food and clothing for those who came to worship. 

The ministry flourished for decades, and because of my dad’s vision, many people from this poor neighborhood have a mansion in heaven. When my dad became too old to continue this ministry, another local church took it over and continued offering services in the chapel.

Before Jesus went back to heaven after His resurrection, He told his disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV). This passage is also known as The Great Commission, and if we are followers of Jesus, then the message is for us.

Many people leave their homes, friends, and families to serve on foreign mission fields. They follow God’s calling to share the Gospel in other countries or continents. The sacrifices they make for the sake of the Gospel are something I cannot relate to. But even if God has not called me to leave my homeland, He still asks me to share the Gospel in my neighborhood, my community, and at the grocery store.

We are surrounded by people who need Jesus. There are many different ways to share the Gospel, and opportunities are all around us. We can invite others to church or Bible study (even virtually). We can volunteer at local food pantries or after-school programs for children. If we have physical limitations, we can partner financially with ministries to support those who are able to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

In 1 Peter 3:15 (ESV), the Apostle Peter shares these words, “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” In other words—be ready to share at any moment because we never know when someone is open to hearing about the hope, joy, and peace that come from having a believing faith in Jesus.

My dad has been with Jesus for 15 years, and there are others walking in heaven with him because he saw their needs. He built that little chapel 55 years ago, and I could never count the number of people who have come to know Jesus because of his compassion. The chapel is still standing and the doors are still open.   


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: Who has inspired you?

Holding God’s Hand

by Crystal Bowman

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you” (Isaiah 41:13 NIV).

After 63 years of being married to her soulmate, my mother went into a deep depression when my father died. She was 84 years old and didn’t want to live anymore. But eventually, with the help of a caring doctor, close friends and family, she gradually emerged from her depression, ready to live again.

My mother was “young” for her age and sill had many years to enjoy life. She volunteered to chauffeur her widow friends to doctors’ appointments and grocery stores. She entertained nursing home residents by playing the piano during their lunch hour. She referred to the facility as “the old folks’ home” when in fact, many of the residents were younger than she was. I told her often that Dad would be proud of the way she found purpose and meaning in her years of widowhood.

In her early 90s she began falling, even with the help of a walker. We moved her into a beautiful, assisted living home where she was the most popular resident because of her kindness. In the dining hall, she would look for someone sitting alone and join them. In the fitness room she assisted a blind woman on the exercise bike. And she always thanked every staff member for caring for her.

My mom loved the Lord and spent hours every morning reading Scripture and talking with God. She knew it wouldn’t be much longer before she would be going to her forever home and grew closer to God every day. One day, as she was writing in her journal, her pen ran out of ink. She got up and walked to her desk to get another pen. As she was about to walk back to her chair, she froze in place, realizing she had forgotten to use her walker. She reached her hand toward the ceiling and said, “Dear God, please walk with me.” Then she felt the strength of His steady hand in hers, as God walked her back to her chair. 

In Isaiah 41, God reminds the children of Israel that they are His chosen people, and that He cares for them and fights for them. In verse 10 (NIV) He says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Anyone who has received Jesus as their Savior is part of God’s family. When we belong to Him, there is no need to fear for we are never alone. Life can be full of sadness and grief. We lose spouses, siblings, children, and best friends. It’s easy to let the troubles of this world bring us down. But when that happens, we need to look up, reach out our hand and say, “God, walk with me.”

My mom lived to be 97 years old and passed away on Mother’s Day 2019. She left a legacy of faith to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She didn’t just speak about her faith, she lived it every day. Her faith continues to bless me as I read the pages in her journal.  I’m so happy she was able to get another pen. 


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 ever experienced God in a tangible way? Encourage us with your story!

Love One Another

by Crystal Bowman

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7 NIV

With Valentine’s day being smack dab in the middle of the month, February is known for celebrating love and romance. According to the National Retail Federation, about 55% of Americans celebrate Valentine’s Day, and those who do will spend close to $150 to give gifts to their loved ones.

To love others and to be loved is one of the strongest and most basic needs we have. When God created our innermost being (Psalm 139), He created us with that desire to love and be loved.

There are four different kinds of love in the Bible. Eros is a Greek word that refers to the longing or desire that is present in romantic love. Storge is the love we have for our family and close relatives. Mary and Martha showed this type of love in their deep grief over the death of their brother Lazarus. Philos is the love we have for friends. It’s the type of love we practice through social friendliness and acts of kindness. Agape is divine love. It’s the love God demonstrated when He gave His Son to die on the cross to save the world from sin (John 3:16). It’s the highest form of love and the kind of love God gives us every day.

Agape love is the type of love God commands us to have for others. It’s unconditional, unselfish, and sacrificial. In John 13:34-35 (NIV) Jesus tells His disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”

Loving my friends and family is easy to do (most of the time). But loving strangers or people we don’t like is another matter. Do I truly care about the people suffering in 3rd world countries or inner-city slums? Do I offer agape love when it’s an inconvenience or a burden? 

One summer afternoon (before the pandemic), while walking downtown, I saw a homeless man sitting on a bench in front of our high-rise condo building. I’d seen him there often and usually smiled as I walked by. But this time, the Holy Spirit nudged me to do more than smile. I thought about my options as I rode the elevator to our floor. I knew he was probably hungry, but I wanted to offer more than physical food. 

After I packed a sack lunch and a bottle of water, I enclosed a copy of Our Daily Bread—a monthly devotional. I slipped some cash in between the pages of the devotional and rode the elevator back to the ground floor. I handed him the sack and said, “Here’s something I want to share with you.” He looked surprised, smiled brightly, and said, “Why, thank you so much. God bless you.”

This small act of love was not an inconvenience or a sacrifice. I’m not even sure in which category of love it belongs. But the smile on that man’s face is something I will never forget. I hope he read the devotions in the monthly booklet, and I hope he knows how much God loves him.

Expressing love is not just for the month of February, it’s for every day of the year. I pray that God will open my heart and my eyes to see ways I can show love to others.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 1 John 4:16 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: Have you been led to show love lately? Tell us your story!

A Word of Hope

by Crystal Bowman

But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love. Psalm 33:18 NIV

It’s become sort of trendy to choose a word or phrase to focus on for the coming year. Maybe you’ve been doing this for years, or maybe this is new to you. Either way, I like this idea. The phrase I picked for 2020 was hang in there. In the fall of 2019, we had some sudden and unexpected changes in our lives, and I knew the adjustment to these changes would be long and hard. We had to leave our home in paradise (Florida) and return to our home in the Midwest for a variety of reasons. I was doing my best to “hang in there.” Then the pandemic reached the US and once again I was adjusting to sudden and unexpected changes.

Along with my 2020 phrase, I also chose a Bible verse: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

I taped the verse to my bathroom mirror and read it every day. During the months of 2020, I had multiple reasons to be anxious and worried about the future. But every day, as I soaked in the words to that verse and chose to thank God, His peace filled my soul.

In John chapter 14, Jesus begins preparing His disciples for His departure. Since He would not be with them much longer, He offered words of comfort and the promise of the Holy Spirit. He knew they would be troubled because they didn’t understand all that would soon take place. He explained that the Holy Spirit would help them remember Jesus’s words and instructions. I love what Jesus says to them in verse 27 (NIV): “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

The peace we receive from the Holy Spirit in the midst of our anxious moments is a peace that we can’t explain. This peace does not come from the world, it only comes through faith. Even when troubles swirl around us like an F-5 tornado, we can experience inner peace when we belong to Jesus.

I began 2021 with a new word to focus on. That word is hope. There are two definitions of the word hope. One is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. The second definition is a feeling of trust. I chose the second. I trust that God will continue to be my source of strength and peace in the coming year. I trust that my life is in His hands and that nothing will happen to me outside of His will.

My Bible verse to focus on this year is Hebrews 10:23 NIV: Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

Do you have a word or verse for 2021? I’d love for you to share in the comment section below. May God richly bless you in the coming year and fill your life with peace, hope, and joy. 

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 is your word for 2021?