How do you deal with daily crises? Mine seem to cluster around my computer, which affects my writing.

Any day now, I’m expecting a friendly response from the Apple folk: “Oh, hi, Ellie. How’s it going? What’s your issue today?”

I recently went through two levels of their techies, and even an operating-system upgrade didn’t fix it. The problems are seldom simple, and I find it unnerving when a techie says, “This is really odd!”

One day, my multiplying issues involved Apple, Microsoft, and Google Chrome. The following day, a second-tier Microsoft tech did a screen-share and fixed that one! I am grateful for these servants.

My golden rule is to remain calm, polite, and appreciative. One techie whose English was difficult to understand got a little testy with me. But at the end of our conversation, he said, “God bless you.”

Every day, every crisis, I say, “Why, Lord? What do I need to learn here?” Then I try to focus on two things:

  • God loves me.
  • He desires for me to love Him—totally, in all circumstances.

I am reading—for the second time—a small book, Surrender to Love by David Benner. It underscores these points—in neon. Life often gets annoying, but the God who loves is even more elemental than the God who saves.

What is your crisis du jour? Wallow in God’s love.

That sure beats emotional meltdowns. And yes, I have those, too!

Ellie Gustafson began thinking up stories at a young age but did not write or publish until 1978. A graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois, she was active in church life as a minister’s wife, musician, writer, and encourager. Throw in gardening, house construction, and tree farming as splashes of color and humor, and you have the makings of good fiction. Through the undeniable power of story, she wants to make the Bible understandable and relevant for today’s readers.




With Christmas wrapped up and neatly tucked away, we are almost to the end of January. But the hope that a new year brings is still fresh in our hearts and minds.

Maybe this is the year you hope to find a new job, earn a degree, or travel abroad. Maybe this is the year you hope to meet that special someone or start a family.

Hoping for a change, or for something new, is exciting.

But when our hopes and dreams are put on hold, it’s hard to be patient.

Proverbs 13:12 says “hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”  It’s only human to want things to fall into place quickly. Waiting for God’s perfect timing can be discouraging and painful.

Good things come to those who wait is a saying that’s been used in song lyrics and even a Heinz ketchup ad in the 1980s. But the message comes from the Bible and is woven into the pages of Scripture.

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry” (Psalm 40:1).

Here’s another familiar verse. “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

And I love this verse. “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him” (Lamentations 3:25).

When we find ourselves in a season of waiting, we can use this time to draw closer to God, realizing that His ways are not our ways, and that His ways are always best.    

Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award winning author of more than 100 books for children and adults. She is a lyricist for children’s piano music, contributor to Clubhouse Jr. Magazine, and presenter at writers’ conferences. Her latest book is Mothers in Waiting—Healing and Hope for Those with Empty Arms (Harvest House).



Who was Harry S. Truman to Israel? Find out more in I Am Cyrus by Dr. Craig von Buseck.

Who was Harry S. Truman to Israel? Find out more in I Am Cyrus by Dr. Craig von Buseck.

 Someone once said there are regulators on our lives that help control and shape our destinies. These regulators include things we often take for granted like energy, sleep, food, money, and time. Wise management of these regulators can mean the difference between an average and an abundant life.

Another important regulator is what I call “newness.” Every 24 hours we are greeted by a new day at Midnight. Sunday morning brings a new week. On our birthday, we celebrate another new year of life.

One way we human beings tend to “clean the slate” is by leaving behind the old year and forging ahead with hope and expectation in the New Year.

C.S. Lewis writes: “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” I would add this.

You are also never too young to dream your dreams.

Whatever you are facing today, know that God has built “newness” into your life to give you hope and strength to press on. He has also given you talents that are available to open the door to future success.

Your role is to engage your circumstances with those talents – trusting God for His grace, favor, and strength – and then be persistent in pursuing your dream. Vern McLellan declares: “What the New Year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the New Year.”

The future is yours to write. The New Year provides you with a book full of 365 blank pages. So get out your pen, roll up your sleeves, and chase that dream!

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. … The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” ― Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Dr. Craig von Buseck is the editor of Digital Content for His new book I Am Cyrus: Harry S. Truman and the Rebirth of Israel will be available from Lighthouse Publishing on April 22. Learn more at




This time of year, people are posting like crazy on social media the number of books they read in 2018. There are even some pretty cute videos and memes that you can use to illustrate what a productive reader you were last year.

While it’s perfectly fine to tally up your reading year, I don’t happen to keep track, nor do I want to know how many books I read. On the one hand, the number would be interesting. On the other, I will more than likely be depressed at the low number of actual books.

I read…a lot…like the newspaper every morning (yes, in print—my husband and I both trained as journalists and print’s in our blood!), weekly and monthly magazines, and fiction and nonfiction books, as well as all the reading I do in my crit group and blog writing.

Rather than focus on a number, this year I challenge you to focus on the ideas and thoughts of the books you read. I like to reflect on ideas that challenged me, that inspired me to change, and that moved me to look at the world differently. Both fiction and nonfiction books can give us much food for thought.

As we ease into 2019, by all means, keep your tallies of books read. But also, jot down what reached down into your heart and gave you a different perspective, an outlook, or a calling.

Sarah Hamaker is a writer, editor, and parent coach in Fairfax, Virginia. Connect with her at

(Illustration courtesy Pixabay)





Most cats hate water, right? Nope. Colonel Brandon, my kitty, loved it when he was little. He would smack the water in his dish and watch it fly in the air, landing all over the floor. Who knows? Maybe he could see a rainbow of colors while he splashed.

His joyful game usually ended when he knocked over the bowl, saturating the floor underneath. He’d walk away with droplets of water all over his face.

When he got older, he used to sit with his water dish between his paws, as if he feared it might get away.

His actions remind me of Psalm 42:1. “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God.”

How wonderful if I sought God as diligently as my cat sought water.

Sometimes I try to find satisfaction other places. Reading or watching a movie can help me escape for the moment.

However, the days I spend time in God’s Word and prayer, I always find the refreshment I need, and I have the courage to face life’s challenges.

Just like my kitty sought water, I encourage you to get in the Word and delight in God’s love.

Cynthia L Simmons and her husband reside in Atlanta. A Bible teacher and former home-school mother, she writes a column for Leading Hearts Magazine. She served as past president of Christian Authors Guild, directs Atlanta Christian Writing Conference, and hosts Heart of the Matter Radio. Her author website is