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.

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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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?

 

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BobHostetlerBob Hostetler here, offering another prayer for writers:

Abba, Father, Lord God,
thank you that I can type so fast,
that the internet makes research relatively easy (if dangerous),
that I can work at home or in a coffee shop.

Thank you that I can send manuscripts and galleys via email,
that I can quickly search a document,
that I can access, order, and download books online.
Read More →

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