Staring Down A Scary Path

“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 8:11

 The graveyard path stared me down. It was the safest route to school, she said. Yet, my first grade feet stood motionless–planted in fear at the opposite corner. I cowered my head into my mother’s side. No words of comfort, no logical argument could persuade me to cross that street and enter the gates of death.

Then, the friendly crossing guard lady approached, holding open a small, black, silk change purse filled with rainbow sweetness. Nursing a pink jelly bean, I listened to her calming voice. “Don’t be frightened,” she said. “I’ll watch you walk that path and I’ll be right here when you come home. Now take this little purse and suck on a jelly bean when you feel scared. You can do this. I’ll see you soon and Mommy will be here waiting for you, too.”

Isn’t it like that sometimes when we’re faced with God’s chosen path in our lives? We stand–firmly planted in the familiar, the safe–in a stare-down with God’s chosen path. The leaving looks like death–scary and unfamiliar territory. We want to turn around, run back home or take another path.

God meets us and leads the way–feeding us sweet nuggets of encouragement through his Word with each frightening step until we are fully immersed in His joy. What’s better, unlike the crossing guard, he never leaves our side, but walks with us–even through the shadow of the valley of death–until the very end.

 Are you or your family faced with a scary, unfamiliar God-path today? Are your hearts gripped with fear at the overwhelming road ahead? Grab onto God’s hand in faith together and let Him lead you. Lean into His side and find reassurance and joy in His presence and through His word.

 “I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:8


Oh Lord, sometimes your paths frighten us. Your ways are unfamiliar and at times beg us to leave the comforts of home. Yet, Lord, may we find comfort in your promise that you “will never leave us nor forsake us.” Speak your words into our hearts. Whisper your sweet comfort and lead us down your path that always leads to life.

My Grandma and Me


When I told my editor at Tyndale that I was going to be a grandma, her eyes lit up like lightbulbs. “Then you have a whole new audience!” she said. And my new audience is a big one! The baby boomers are now grandparents, and they are actively involved in the lives of their grandchildren. Statistics show that today, more than ever, grandparents are helping to raise their grandchildren either part time or full time. Grandma often steps in to save on childcare costs if Mom has to work. Grandma also lends a hand to her single daughter, or the mom whose husband is in the military. Grandma attends school programs, soccer games, and piano recitals. And Grandma can also invest spiritually in the lives of her little ones.

My Grandma and Me–Rhyming Devotions for You and Your Grandchild hits the bookstores this month. Each two-page spread offers a Bible verse, a short rhyming devotion, and ends with a song or prayer. The interactive text gives Grandma the tools she needs to fill little hearts with truth from God’s Word. The book concludes with the Ten Commandments, Psalm 23, The Lord’s Prayer, and a Grandmother’s Prayer.

The introduction explains how a grandma can use this book with grandchildren who might live too far away for regular visits. Using the telephone or Skype, grandmas and grandchildren can enjoy this book even if they are miles apart.

The following is an excerpt from the book:

God Is with You

The Bible Says: I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken; for he is right beside me. Psalm 16:8

You can run and you can hide.
You can jump, and you can slide.
And no matter what you do,
God is always there with you!

You can travel on a plane,
in a car, or on a train.
On the ground or in the air—
God is with you everywhere.

This devotion ends with a short song for Grandma to sing with her grandchild.

The publisher chose a great illustrator for this book. The illustrations are adorable! Warm and sweet, they add life and joy to every page.

It is my prayer that this book will be a blessing to grandmothers and grandchild as they share precious moments together.

Crystal Bowman


What’s So Hallowed About Halloween?

Ghosts and witches. Jack-o’-lanterns and black cats. Scary masks and things that go bump in the night. Typical scary Halloween fare. But the day is not called Scary-ween.

So what’s so hallowed about Halloween?

Hallowed is not a frequently used word these days. When something is hallowed, it is sacred or holy, set apart from common use. We think of the phrase, “Hallowed be your name” from the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9. When we pray this, we are asking God to set apart His name in a special way. To hallow God’s name is to treat it reverently, approaching it as most precious.

Yet a holiday that has the word hallow in its name is celebrated with representations of goblins, witches, and vampires. Children – and adults – dress up and beg for candy, threatening “tricks” if they don’t receive what they want. These threats are usually harmless, however mischief and vandalism have long been associated with Halloween and especially with the night before Halloween, often called “Mischief Night” or Devil’s Night.”  While these activities often include pranks such as toilet papering, they can escalate to egging, and ultimately to vandalism and arson.

Halloween has its roots in an ancient Celtic Feast called Samhaim. It began as a druid celebration of the beginning of winter, and was believed to be the one night each year when spirits of the dead walked the earth. Spirits of family members were welcomed and honored, while evil spirits were warded off with the use of costumes and masks to impersonate an evil spirit and avoid harm.

In an effort to stem these activities, the early Christian church chose November 1st as All Saints’ Day, and renamed October 31st All Hallows’ Eve. People were taught that costumes and masks could not protect them from evil spirits. Protection is found only in Jesus Christ because of His victory on the cross over sin and death and the devil.

Yet as the centuries have passed, we find our culture celebrating Halloween with all the verve of the ancient druids. Debates rage in churches as to whether it’s appropriate for Christian families to allow their children to trick-or-treat. Are costumes okay as long as they’re not scary? Are alternatives such as Harvest Festival costume parties the answer?

Maybe we’re asking the wrong questions. Perhaps we should focus once more on the Hallow of Halloween. The world sets apart one day to glorify evil spirits, mischief, and vandalism. We can rationalize these activities, or we can choose to set apart the day to hallow the name of our glorious God. We can use this day to remember that Christ alone is our protection from evil. Where we have the opportunity, we can share the truth of God’s Word with those who need to know that not only is God holy and set apart, but He sets apart His children to represent His light in a dark world.

What are your plans this Halloween?

Super-Christian to Save the Day!? Ha!

This year has been a rather difficult one for me. I have faced some unexpected challenges and new responsibilities, and to be honest, I don’t feel that I’ve met them with a very Christ-like attitude. At least not on the inside. There has been anger, frustration, complaining, and a host of other not-so-nice emotions and attitudes that have welled up inside of me. And all the while, a constant inner struggle over whether or not any of my feelings are justified.

But then I see other people dealing gracefully, even joyfully, with much more difficult circumstances, much more demanding responsibilities than I, and I wonder, “What’s the matter with me? I should be able to handle this better. I’m a Christian after all! Shouldn’t I be counting it all joy?” I tell myself: “If you’re a Christian, you should gladly accept it. You should go through it with a smile. You should, you should, you should. . .”

But since I haven’t been able to do so (at least not with any consistency), my response has been to heap guilt upon myself and to spend most days feeling like I’m just a selfish, not-so-nice person. Then I am angry not only at the situation, but at myself for not being able to get a handle on it. I want to be better. I want to be the Super-Christian who rises above and displays a glowing testimony in the midst of great trials. But instead, I end up feeling like Paul in Romans 7 where he says,

 “I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. . .  Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.  What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?”

This week, I finally made a discovery. I discovered that I have been trying to be Super-Christian on my own. I have been squeezing into the tights, tying on the cape and attempting to get my selfish thoughts and feelings under control in my strength. And I have falsely believed that with enough effort on my part I could do it. However, after months of struggling, I now realize that that is not the case. No matter how hard I try, my efforts will always fall short because, indeed, I am sinful man. And now matter how much I may desire to be spirit, I am still bound up in flesh. So what’s the answer? . . .

In Paul’s words (continuing in Romans 7):

“Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Jesus Christ is the answer. Dependence upon Him and not upon myself. Instead of beating myself up over my failures and my inability to live up to my expectations and to the “Christian” name, I need to be calling out to Him. I don’t have to be ashamed that I can’t do it on my own. That is the very reason He came, isn’t it? I need to stop blaming myself for not being able to be Super Christian. I need to throw away the cape and the tights ( or at least give them back to their rightful owner!), and with them the illusion that I can save myself from anything. Instead, I need to rejoice that God loves me the way I am — even when I seem to be stuck in “selfish mode.” And I must recognize that there’s nothing I can do to get myself out of selfish mode. Nothing but call upon and depend upon Jesus, the true Super Hero.


Christian Children’s Books for Halloween

Whatever your attitude toward Halloween, you can find a colorful Christian children’s book to turn your family’s attention to what matters most: knowing and following God.

Let’s Shine Jesus’ Light on Halloween isn’t a book about evangelism. Instead, it shows young children important ways that Jesus is always with them, even on Halloween. In the opening pages, the main character walks past a decorated home on his way to school. He says,

On Halloween I might see black cats, pointy hats, and creepy flying bats . . .

But God’s power is the reason I don’t have to be afraid.

I have overcome the world.–John 16:33

Other Halloween scenarios included in the book include carving a pumpkin, dressing up in a costume, seeing other costumed characters out walking in the neighborhood, and sorting through sweet treats at home. Each scenario states God’s involvement in the child’s life and provides an appropriate Bible verse.

As the back cover says, “Halloween is jack-o-lanterns, costumes, and candy on a dark and scary night, but Jesus is the light of the world!” has a nice Look Inside the Book! preview here. You can read more pages and see Rusty Fletcher’s endearing art.

Let’s Shine Jesus’ Light on Halloween is published by Standard Publishing. The book is available as a Happy Day paperback and as a board book.

The Pumpkin Gospel: A Story of a New Start with God by Mary Manz Simon uses pumpkin-carving fun as a child-sized metaphor for how God forgives us. It’s a shaped board book, and it glows in the dark!

To glow like my big pumpkin

and have a nice clean heart,

ask God to please forgive you.

You’ll have a brand new start.

You can find links to these and other good seasonal books on my Christian Children’s Books for Halloween Pinterest board.


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© 2012, Diane Stortz