Easter for a child can often only mean candy, ducks, bunnies and an Easter egg hunt. And for the

children and Easter Basket

first six years of my life, I am sure waking up to find out how many jelly beans and chocolate bunnies were in my Easter basket must have been my priority– that is until one Easter, when my mom’s best friend recognized how much we needed the Easter message:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

1 Peter 1:3 

My family NEEDED that living HOPE! My parents’s marriage was unraveling and hanging by a weak, fraying  thread. And we also needed the unconditional love Christ demonstrated when HE CHOSE to leave the glory of heaven and come live among we lowly, imperfect human beings– and my alcoholic dad especially needed to hear he was loved, even in his unlovely state. We needed the grace and mercy the Father extended. To this day when I wake up, I pray God’s grace and mercy over me, my marriage, my family and my future:

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)

God give me GRACE: Lavish me with the blessings I DO NOT DESERVE but that you freely give

  • I am a sinner, You are the Savior

God give me MERCY: Hold back the wrath that I DO DESERVE but You shield far from me

  • I am unrighteous, You are the Redeemer

As a little girl, in my pajama’s, I used to tip-toe out to the living room, pull my flannel night gown over my knees and turn on the TV to watch a Christian television cartoon that showed a healthy mom, dad and happy children. I would pray, (not even having a clue who I was talking to in the cosmos,), “I want a happy family like that.”

Soon, God sent my mom’s best friend to invite us to her church. My mother, sensing this was an

Pam Farrel first Easter

important day, dressed us all up in our very best and bought me white gloves and an Easter bonnet to wear on my first day of going to the “House where God lives.” There, in that little tiny church, in a little tiny town, a little tiny girl met the GREAT and GLORIOUS GOD.

My life was forever transformed for the better. I soon began a personal relationship with the Creator God I had been whispering to. Eventually my mother, my siblings all began a relationship with Christ– and the day my dad died, he too, while reading Steps to Peace with God by Billy Graham, finally gave his broken heart to the One who had been lavishing love over his life, waiting patiently for His prodigal son to come home.

This is why we write — we write, we speak, we teach for the reason Christ came and gave His –to reach the lost, the hurting, the broken and the bruised,

The Easter Sunday, or any Sunday after, be brave enough to pray one of two prayers:

  1. Lord, give me eyes to see who needs a relationship with you, and the courage to invite him or her to come hear about You, the God who loves us all enough to go up Calvary’s hill and give your perfect life, in payment for our imperfect lives. 
  2. Lord, I want to know You. I, too have been talking to You, hoping, wishing, praying for a better life here on earth and an eternal home one day in heaven. Thank you for dying on the cross for me. I receive that free gift of Your love.  

Pastor Pete Jankowski once put it like this, “The cross was not Christ’s destination– YOU were.” .Jesus went through the grueling pain of the cross out of love for you! God reached out in sacrificial love to you, now, simply reach back in surrender to the God who created you, knows you and loves you.

 

Pam and Bill Farrel, authors of 45 books

Pam and her husband, Bill are passionate about sharing the good news of Christ’s redeeming, life-transforming resurrection power through their ministry Love-Wise. The Farrels are the authors of 45 books, including A Couple’s Journey with God,  her newest, Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experience (penned with Jean

Pam Farrel, author Discovering Hope in the Psalms

E Jones and Karla Dornacher) and the Farrel’s best-selling Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti  The Farrels have experienced many of the merciful answers to Pam’s “little girl” prayers, including a happy marriage of 38 years and three grown sons, three daughter in laws and four grandchildren who all love Jesus too.Pam and Bill live in Southern California, where they enjoy Easter sunrise services on the beach.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinrssyoutube

St. Patrick’s Day Shamrocks

by Susan G Mathis

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, because I’m Irish, and because my novel, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, is about the Irish immigration, I want to share with you how St. Patrick used a simple weed to share the Gospel.

St. Patrick lived in the fifth century Ireland where the shamrock clover was abundant, even a staple food for livestock. The shamrock is a weed that grows quickly and is hard to get rid of. In Ireland it was everywhere, so as Patrick traveled the country, he had a ready-made symbol that he could easily find, pluck, and use as a teaching tool. Sounds like something that Jesus would have done, doesn’t it?

As he spoke Patrick would note that the shamrock has three leaves, just as there are three persons in the trinity. In using the shamrock as a symbol, he taught about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who they were, what they did, and how they could change the listeners’ lives. Then, whenever folks would see the shamrock in their garden or fields or yard, their minds would instantly connect to the Trinity and think of God. Brilliant!

As Patrick traveled throughout Ireland spreading Christianity, the shamrock became an important symbol of the Trinity and of God’s work in man’s life. Even today, the shamrock is Ireland’s national symbol and still points to the Trinity as well as to 1 Corinthians 13:13, “and now these three remain: faith, hope, and love”. The number three is so important to the Irish that they use three cords in their Celtic knot, in their three-fold repetitive rhythm of Irish storytelling, in their idea of past, present, and future, and a lot more.

So when you see a shamrock during this holiday, remember that it means so much more than just “the luck o’ the Irish.” It’s represents biblical truth, wise teaching, and a beautiful way to share God’s story.

 

Dear Lord, Like St. Patrick and the simple shamrock, help us to find all kinds of creative ways to share biblical truth. In Jesus name, Amen

 

About the author: Susan Mathis is the author of The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy and four other books. She is the vice president of Christian Authors Network and the Founding Editor of Thriving Family magazine and former Editor of 12 Focus on the Family publications. She has written hundreds of articles and now serves as a writer, writing coach, and consultant. For more, visit www.SusanGMathis.com.

 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinrssyoutube

A Valentine’s Gift That Lasts

By Susan G Mathis

On this Valentine’s Day week, I’d like to remind you of the importance of keeping your marriage strong. It’s the best gift you can give your spouse.

“Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, it is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails,” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

Remember what a great adventure your marriage has been and can be, and be careful not to get apathetic about your relationship. As with any journey, there are slow, boring, mundane seasons, but the times of making memories, capturing intimate experiences, and finding quality moments supersedes all the rest.

Choose not to get discouraged or weary in well doing, in working at your marriage, in resolving conflict, or in struggling to make ends meet. Build memories that transcend everyday life. It’s a daily choice…to love unconditionally, to sacrifice substantially, and to enjoy each other eternally.

 

Dear Lord, It’s easy to take our spouse for granted. Help us to lean into the adventure of marriage and keep our marriages strong and vibrant. In Jesus name, Amen

 

About the author: Susan Mathis is the author of of two Tyndale published premarital books Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage and The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love & Happiness as well as The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy and four other books. She is the vice president of Christian Authors Network and the Founding Editor of Thriving Family magazine and former Editor of 12 Focus on the Family publications. She has written hundreds of articles and now serves as a writer, writing coach, and consultant. For more, visit www.SusanGMathis.com.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinrssyoutube

Resting on the Sabbath

By Susan G Mathis

There was a good reason that God invented the Sabbath, and I think that’s doubly important for families. Our kids never stop. We often feel pushed to do, go, do. We’re always on the move. But we need to stop and take some time to honor the Sabbath as well as our body, mind, and spirit.

 

Rest your body.

Get your sleep. Take time to do—dare I say it?—nothing. Just sit. Just relax. Our culture is frantically pushing us to the point of craziness and so do the kids Busy is not the best.

Rest your mind.

I have a notebook beside my bed because my mind often doesn’t stop at night. A bill I need to pay. An appointment I need to schedule. As a writer I wake up and have an idea about a character, a plot point, a setting detail—whatever. Without it, I’ll ponder it and lose sleep. If I write it down, I can come back to it later.

Sometimes we need to rest our mind for a while and just stop and daydream. Stop checking Facebook. Stop watching TV. Just stop. Let our poor overworked brains rest.

Rest your spirit.

Ever watch children play with abandon? Their spirits are unencumbered and free to enjoy life. We should play too.

We get too serious, too determined, too competitive, too driven. Sometimes we just need to take some time to enjoy watching a bunny hop around our yard or take a walk and enjoy the beauty of nature or lie in the grass and play the cloud game. It reignites our creativity and energizes our spirit.

So how do I take a Sabbath rest? Hope these ideas might help you too.

  1. Besides going to church, I try to stay off my computer (unless, of course, I can skype with the grandchildren—then all bets are off!). I avoid social media, writing, or doing anything connected to work.
  2. I try to do something in nature—take a walk, sit in the yard, etc.
  3. I enjoy on a nice meal or just a special dessert.
  4. I spend some special time with my wonderful husband.
  5. Sometimes we spend time with friends.
  6. I often call someone that I haven’t talked to in awhile.
  7. I read or watch TV for pleasure not for research (i.e. work).
  8. I spend some time praying for the upcoming week.

Try it for a year and see how it transforms your life. I know you’ll be blessed.

 

Dear Lord, It’s too easy stay busy and miss your Sabbath rest. Help us to stop and experience your refreshing Sabbath. In Jesus name, Amen

 

About the author: Susan Mathis is the author of The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy and four other books. She is the vice president of Christian Authors Network and the Founding Editor of Thriving Family magazine and former Editor of 12 Focus on the Family publications. She has written hundreds of articles and now serves as a writer, writing coach, and consultant. For more, visit www.SusanGMathis.com.

 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinrssyoutube

I love after-Christmas sales! Wrapping paper, ornaments, and Christmas cards are available at greatly-reduced prices.

One year while buying groceries in a super-store, I steered my cart to the Christmas aisle—just out of curiosity. And there it was—a beautiful, hand-painted ceramic nativity set on display at seventy-five percent off!

Several boxed sets were on a shelf, so I took one and placed it on the bottom rack of my cart. When I got home, I left the box intact and slid it in my Christmas closet.

The winter months came and went, as did spring, summer, and fall. Soon it was December and I began unpacking my Christmas closet to decorate our home. That’s when I found it again—the box with the nativity set I had forgotten.

I opened the box and gently lifted each piece. I arranged the scene on the marble-top sideboard in the foyer, so it would be the first Christmas item people would see as they walked in the door.

Forgetting about the nativity set in my closet reminded me how easy it is to forget the real meaning of Christmas. Decorating, shopping, entertaining, and baking cookies jump to the forefront as Jesus remains in the background.

This Christmas I want to keep Jesus front and center. I want people to see Jesus in me when they enter my home.

I know this phrase has become cliché, but I still love to hear it.

Jesus is the reason for the season.

Crystal Bowman is a best-selling and award-winning author of over 100 books for children. She also writes lyrics for children’s piano music and stories for Clubhouse Jr. magazine. She is co-author of Our Daily Bread for Kids, M is for Manger, and Does God Take Naps?

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinrssyoutubeFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinrssyoutube