Roma Downey Reads The Sweetest Story Bible

We all need an entry point into God’s Word. Children too.

That’s why I’m so thrilled and blessed that The Sweetest Story Bible now comes in a deluxe edition, with all the stories narrated on two audio CDs by Roma Downey.

The forty stories in The Sweetest Story Bible  focus on helping little girls get to know God–who he is and what he does. And each one relates in some way to the everyday sweet moments in a little girl’s life.

Here’s one little girl, Scottlyn, enjoying her book! Scottlyn’s grandma asked me to autograph a copy of the deluxe edition for her.

Nearly a year ago, on my birthday, I got an e-mail from a Zonderkidz editor letting me know about the deluxe edition and that Roma would likely be the narrator.

Quite the birthday gift!

But nothing like actually hearing Roma read the stories I wrote! I waited a day after my sample arrived–there’s something quite scary about hearing your own words read back to you, especially by someone with such a wonderful voice. Finally I got brave and sat down to listen. Chills and tears!

We just have no idea, sometimes, what might happen with our small efforts, do we? May Scottlyn and so many other girls like her grow up to have a sweet relationship with God through his Son, the Word, Jesus Christ.


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© 2012, Diane Stortz



Gunther the Underwater Elephant

Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

The cover of this book caught my eye – a darling baby elephant floating along in the current, his trunk reaching skyward like a snorkel. That’s just how little Gunther looked as he unwittingly sailed away on a grand adventure.

This book will be a delight for parents, teachers, and librarians to share at story time. Not only will children love the illustrations of brightly colored sea creatures and expressive elephants, but the story has depth that encourages questions and discussions.

Gunther’s tale shows children that things they do can have big consequences. The story also illustrates how youngsters can use creativity and quick thinking to help others. Gunther the Underwater Elephant is heartwarming and fun – with a surprise ending that made me laugh out loud. Five smiles for Gunther!

P.S. You can order this book from the publisher at several dollars less than the suggested retail price.

This is my own honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation of any kind for my review.


6 Tips for Settling In To a New Church

In my last post, I gave you three basics for choosing a new church. But once you choose it, how do you settle into this new church family? Here are six suggestions:

  1. Remember it takes time to settle in to a new community, neighborhood, or church. I’ve heard it said it takes about two years before a person feels really at home in a new community. Hopefully it won’t take that long at your new church, but give yourself plenty of time. Nothing becomes familiar or comfortable without regularly spending time on it.
  2. Stay long enough after services to meet people. When the last song is sung, don’t bolt for the door. Hang around and visit with the people around you. Introduce yourself and get a feel for this new church body. And don’t limit yourself to only befriending those in your own age bracket. Rich friendships can be made with those older and younger than yourself.
  3. Let people know your interests. As you visit with the folks at church, let them know things you’ve been involved in at other churches, in your children’s school, or at work. This lets them know how you might become involved in ministry. It also gives them opportunity to point you to people with similar interests who may be good matches for new friends.
  4. Offer to help. There’s no better way to settle in somewhere than to offer your services in an area of need. If you love working with kids and you see a Sunday school teacher is needed, step up and offer to help. Is someone moving and needs help loading or unloading a moving van? Be there to lend a hand. Did someone just have surgery? Take them a meal. Meeting needs not only shows your heart, it’s one of the best ways to build lasting relationships.
  5. Join a small group such as a Bible study or a Sunday school class. It’s easier to participate and get to know people better in these smaller settings.
  6. Keep a positive outlook. Settling into a new church is not always easy. Give it some time and stay positive. Be an encourager. People love being around someone who builds up rather than tears down. Keep praying for this new church family and your place in it.

Is there a time when you should cut ties and change churches? Yes. We’ll tackle that subject in my next post. But for now, what tips can you give for settling into a new church?

Are You Listening?

My one-year-old granddaughter sits in church with her parents until the children are dismissed for children’s church just before the sermon. My daughter-in-law then brings her to the nursery so she and my son can listen to the pastor’s sermon without interruption. My granddaughter loves the time of worship and seems to pay attention as well as any one-year-old is able to. Recently, as the pastor was integrating some spiritual thoughts in preparation for the sermon, he said, “And what does God say . . .” But before he could finish his sentence, my granddaughter said, “Woof woof!” She didn’t quite get it right—but she was listening!

Isaiah 28:23 says, Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say.

Proverbs 2:6 says, For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 

We are blessed to live in a land of religious freedom where we can worship as we choose. We are blessed to live in an age when Christian books fill the book shelves and a Bible study can be downloaded with the click of a mouse. God’s Word, pastors’ sermons, Bible commentaries, and biblical studies are available to everyone.  But in order to benefit and grow spiritually, we need to use them and we need to listen.

Before you go to church, before you open the Bible, or before you dig into a Bible study, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to hear and understand God’s truth. The wisdom and understanding that come from God enable us to make better choices in our lives. And the more we grow in our spiritual journey, the more we will be able to live a life guided by the Holy Spirit.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelation 3:22

Crystal Bowman


Childish or Childlike?

I’ve always loved the Bible passage where Jesus speaks about the need for us to become like children:

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 18:1-3).

Problem is, too many of us confuse “childlike” with “childish” – and boy, is there a huge difference!

Remember The Toddler’s Creed by Elisa Morgan, president of MOPS International?

Toddler’s Creed

 If I want it, it’s mine.
If I give it to you and change my mind later, it’s mine.
If I can take it away from you, it’s mine.
If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine.
If it’s mine, it will never belong to anyone else,
no matter what.
If we are building something together,
all the pieces are mine.
If it looks just like mine, it is mine.

Unfortunately, many adults have never outgrown the “terrible twos.” If this behavior is bad in children, it’s horrific in adults. Yet, even a cursory glance at the news headlines proves that in business and in politics, in international relations and in local neighborhoods, the Toddler’s Creed is alive and well…in grownups!

Our relationship with the Lord will show in a variety of behaviors, but one way in particular is when we are willing to give up our rights…even if those rights are legitimately ours. This includes the right to keep what is ours, say what we think, or put ourselves first.

Let’s outgrow the “terrible twos” and relinquish the Toddler’s Creed!

Ava Pennington