When I’m Old and Gray

by Crystal Bowman

I will tell everyone about your righteousness. All day long I will proclaim your saving power, though I am not skilled with words.I will praise your mighty deeds, O Sovereign Lord. I will tell everyone that you alone are just. Psalm 71:15-16 NLT

My mother lived to be ninety-seven and a half years old. Just like young children add “a half” to their age when they reach it, some seniors do the same. A half year is important when you are young or old. What was more important to my mother, however, was not her age, but how she could continue to serve God while she still had her life on earth.

Mom was strong and healthy until she reached ninety-four and a half years. During the last three years of her life, she became weak and unable to walk without assistance. At times, she sunk into a feeling of helplessness and wondered why God hadn’t taken her home. But every morning, as she sat in her recliner with a cozy throw, she opened her Bible and met with God one-on-one. Mom talked to God, and He talked to her.

One day, as she read Psalm 71, the Holy Spirit reminded her that He still had a purpose for her life. Even with her physical limitations, she could continue to tell other about Jesus as she had done in her younger years. In that passage, the Psalmist cries out to God to be the rock he can always go to. The Psalmist praises God for being his hope since he was young. And in verses 17-18 he says, “O God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood, and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do. Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God.
Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me”(NLT).

My mom claimed that verse for the rest of her life. She praised God and spoke about Him to everyone—the aides who cared for her, other residents in her retirement home, the hair stylist, and friends and family who came to visit her. But her deepest desire was to pass on her legacy of faith to future generations.

Every day she prayed for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren by name. She prayed that they would know Jesus and follow Him all the days of their lives. She prayed for them to have wisdom, guidance, and good health. She prayed for good friends, future spouses, and protection from evil. She prayed for a baby to grow in my daughter-in-law’s empty womb, and God answered that prayer three times!

Mom has been in heaven now for three and a half years. Now it’s my turn to carry on the legacy she passed on to me. As I pray for my children and grandchildren by name, every day, I pray that they would know Jesus and follow Him all the days of their lives. I pray for them to have wisdom, guidance, and good health. I pray for good friends, future spouses, and protection from evil.

I do not have gray hair, and I don’t feel old, even though “old” is only a short decade away. But like the Psalmist who wrote Psalm 71, I want to proclaim God’s power to a new generation and tell of His mighty miracles to all who come after me.   

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 legacy do you hope to leave behind?

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Time for a Nap

by Crystal Bowman

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 NIV

My two-year-old granddaughter was beyond tired and in desperate need of a nap—but she didn’t want to take a nap. I knew it was exactly what she needed and that nothing else was going to help her cranky disposition. As I carried her upstairs to her bedroom, she kicked and screamed, “No Gigi! No nap!”

Once inside her bedroom, my granddaughter refused to lie down in her toddler bed. She sat on the floor in bold defiance, with her arms crossed and a scowl on her face. There was no way she was going to lie down! I took her Minnie Mouse pillow from her bed and put it on the plush rug where she was sitting. I laid down on the rug and tried to coax her into my open arms. She refused to comply. As she sat next to me with her arms still crossed, I began stroking her hair and gently singing “Jesus Loves Me.” Her stiff body finally relaxed, and she fell asleep sitting up! Then she toppled into my open arms and settled in for a much-needed nap.

Two hours later, my granddaughter woke up with a smile on her face. She was sweet, calm, happy, refreshed, and ready to play. My precious angel was back.

We never outgrow our need for rest, but we often push ourselves to keep going because we have things to accomplish. If we look at the Scriptures, we can find many references to rest. The Bible begins with the story of creation, which God accomplished in six days. On the seventh day, God rested. In Exodus 20, God gives the Ten Commandments to Moses. The fourth commandment says to work for six days and then refrain from work on the Sabbath day to rest and worship.

The Gospels give an account of Jesus’ life on earth. He kept a busy schedule traveling with His disciples through towns and villages. They had little time to rest since crowds followed them around seeking physical and spiritual healing. In Mark 6:31, Jesus tells His disciples, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (NIV).

Resting not only allows us to recharge our bodies, but it’s also refreshing for our souls. When we take time to rest, we can commune with God without all the distractions and chaos that surround us. God knows we need rest, and He offers to carry our burdens so that we can rest both physically and emotionally.

When I am stressed, weary, tired, and overwhelmed—like my two-year-old granddaughter—God is beside me. He speaks softly and gently, calling me to rest in his open arms. When I surrender to Him and give Him my cares and concerns, I find refreshment and peace for my body and soul.

Are you weary today? Maybe it’s time for a nap!

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. Do you make rest a priority? Why or why not?

Cornbread and Faith

by Crystal Bowman

For more than a decade I was a mentor for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). I loved meeting with moms who were facing the challenging role of motherhood. I tried to encourage them with words of advice, affirmation, and some much-needed hugs.

Those young moms arrived sleep deprived and hungry for both food and fellowship. Our gourmet breakfast spread with egg souffles, French toast casseroles, yogurt parfaits, and cranberry muffins was the best way to kick off each meeting. The moms took turns bringing the food; and as a mentor, I would often get a last-minute phone call to please bring a dish since one of the moms (or her child) was sick. I kept a stash of mixes in my pantry just for that reason.

One morning, I received the 911 call that more food was needed for the breakfast table, so I opened my box of cornbread mix and added the milk, oil, and eggs. In a few minutes the cornbread was in the oven and soon the sweet aroma engulfed my kitchen. The moms will love this, I thought as I pulled the Pyrex dish from the oven and headed out the door.

I placed the 9×13 glass dish on the buffet table and set a table knife beside it. If my cornbread could talk, it would have said, “Help yourself.” But here’s the thing—almost nobody did. I went home later with nearly a full dish.

A few months later I received the call once again. My pantry stash was running low, and the only thing I could whip up in a hurry was another dish of cornbread. This time, however, I tried something different. Rather than placing the Pyrex dish on the table with uncut cornbread, I cut the cornbread into squares and neatly arranged them on a silver platter lined with a paper doily. I placed a small card next to the platter that read, “Mama’s Southern Cornbread.”

I went home with an empty platter!

The cornbread was exactly the same, but the presentation made all the difference. And that got me thinking about my life and how I live out my faith.

The Apostle Paul instructed the early Christians to imitate Jesus. Crowds had followed Jesus because they were drawn to Him and the way He treated everyone, even sinners, with love and compassion. He reminded those in Ephesus, You are the children that God dearly loves. So follow his example. Lead a life of love, just as Christ did. He loved us. He gave himself up for us. He was a sweet-smelling offering and sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:1-2 NIRV).

If non-believers see our lives as dull, unfriendly, or uninviting, why would they want to know more about our faith? But if we follow Jesus’ example of loving others with kindness, gentleness, and authenticity, others may be drawn to us and interested in learning more about our faith in Him.     

Living and loving as Jesus did is not something we can learn to do overnight. To live like Him, we need to know Him more. As we spend time in the Word and pray for the Holy Spirit to fill us with power and wisdom, our faith will grow—and it will show in the way we live.

So, the question I ask myself is this: Am I serving my faith in a Pyrex dish that says, “Help yourself,” or is my life of faith an irresistible, sweet aroma served on a silver platter?

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. 2 Peter 3:18 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 has your faith grown in the past year? How has your life reflected that growth?

In Jesus’ Hands

by Crystal Bowman

When Jesus stepped out of a boat (in Mark  6:33-44), a large crowd gathered around Him. He had compassion on them and healed many who were sick. As evening approached, the people were hungry. His disciples wanted to send them away, but Jesus told them to feed the people.

The disciples were puzzled since they had no food. “We don’t have enough money to buy food to feed this many people,” they said. Then Andrew brought a young boy to Jesus who had two small fish and five small loaves of bread. Perhaps it was his lunch. Perhaps his parents sent him out to sell the food. The story doesn’t include those details.

But one thing we do know is that the young boy freely offered what he had and gave it to Jesus.

You know the rest of the story. Jesus blessed the food and broke it. As the disciples distributed the food, it multiplied until more than 5000 people had enough to eat. An amazing miracle in the hands of Jesus!

So what does this have to do with us?

A lot.

We are like that young, nameless boy walking among spiritually hungry people. We may not have much to offer, but if we give what we have to Jesus, He can bless it, multiply it, and use our offering to feed hungry souls.

In Romans 12:6, the Apostle Paul reminded the Christians in Rome that by God’s grace, He has given each of us gifts to use in the body of Christ. If you are a teacher, writer, or pastor, ask God to bless your words so He can multiply them and use those words to give spiritual food to dozens, hundreds, or thousands of people. If you have the gift of service, ask God to bless those whom you serve that they in turn may bless others, and your efforts are multiplied to reach people you don’t even know. If you have the gift of encouraging others or showing mercy, ask God to bless your acts of kindness and caring so that He can do more than you can imagine.

Besides our spiritual gifts, God has given us talents to use for Him as well. If you are an artist, musician, athlete, scientist, nurse, or hair stylist, God can use your talents to reach thousands of people when you dedicate your work to Him.

What do you have to give the Master that He can use and multiply? Whatever it is, it’s more than enough when you put it in Jesus’ hands.

God is able to do far more than we could ever ask for or imagine. He does everything by his power that is working in us. Ephesians 3:20 NIRV

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 have to offer back to Jesus today?

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?