For Adults

Things Above

By: Claire Ryan

I have been blessed to know and love both sets of grandparents for twenty-six years. That changed in January of 2023 with the passing of my Mawmaw Malone. She suffered a stroke ten years ago and, although the Lord graciously gave her to us for the last decade, Mawmaw has never been what she once was.

This life took her strength, her memories, her mind. But it could not take her knowledge of and love for Jesus.  

And, Praise the Lord, she is now what she has never been. Fully restored! Perfectly transformed! Eternally made new!

In the last few weeks of her earthly life, Verna Malone continued to profess Jesus as her Lord, proclaiming His Great Name to the heavens through songs and praises. And, her family—direct results of her love and devotion to Christ and His Ways—worshipped there beside her; in awe and thanksgiving of the God Who has been so good to them.

Because of Christ, not only do I have the hope of eternal glory with Him; but I also have the promise of being reunited with Mawmaw.

The same to you and your loved ones in the faith who have gone on before. The eternal promise of Heaven begins by setting your heart and mind on things above; beyond this temporary life on Earth. When frustrations, confusions, or difficulties come our way, believers should filter all thoughts and actions through a heavenly perspective.

Recognize that what Christ did on the cross—the bearing of all the sins of the world—has the power to set you free from your insecurities, shame, confusion, loss, heartache, and hopelessness. His sacrifice provides us with the promise of eternal life with Him and all who believe.

Let your thoughts be flooded with Christ and His Ways. Set your mind on things above.

For Adults

The Best love Song Ever

By: Ruth McDonald

My yet unmarried children call it “Singleness Awareness Day” or SAD, for short. Not a happy day for those who don’t have a special someone.

I always wanted to play hooky from school on that day each year. As a shy, serious, and socially awkward teen, I dreaded homeroom on that particular morning like the plague (wait – can I still say that in the middle of a worldwide pandemic? Idk) Each year, the cheerleaders sponsored a fundraiser for students to send “Kiss-grams” or flowers or some such thing to their favorite people. I wanted to crawl under my desk as the perky popular girls received armloads of affirmation and I received none. It was the most humiliating day of the year.

It was different in elementary school, of course. We all decorated our own mailboxes in anticipation of the deluge of cards we would receive. Every student gave every other student cards because it was mandatory. I do remember choosing the most deluxe valentines in the set for those I liked the best and sometimes taping a special sucker to the envelope. I also picked the cards I least liked for the classmates I least liked (which, now that I think about it, was fairly passive-aggressive for a child, wasn’t it?)

I have 4 children, and I love them all. Not equally, exactly, because they’re such different people. It’s impossible to quantify my affection or rank them in any kind of order. Each of them thrills my heart with deep, inexpressible joy. On some days, one of them makes me especially happy and I jokingly tell them “You’re my favorite!” But they all know that coveted position will shift to one of the others before they turn around.

While God may be a bit more pleased with my behavior at certain times and less at others, His love for me never wavers. The very idea that I’d like to be His favorite only serves to showcase the self-centeredness of my nature. And yet, it does thrill my heart to know that He “rejoices over me with singing.” The God of the entire universe serenades me on Valentine’s Day and every other day of my life! And its more than okay with me that He does the same for you.

I hope you receive flowers, chocolates, and expressions of love and friendship today. But even if you don’t, please imagine yourself holding armloads of Valentines – the best in the box. God doesn’t love anyone else more than He loves you. YOU are the apple of His eye, His treasure, His special someone.

For Adults, Uncategorized

The Right Direction

By: Alicia Crowe

I often find myself asking the question, “Am I doing this right? Am I being the wife, mother, friend, neighbor that God is wanting me to be?” Those questions come from a deep desire to honor God with who I am, what I value, and where I put my time. However, I think the question shows that I have a misguided expectation of what is “right.” We are not able to trust our right, right? That can lead to a dangerous place of defining right with pride and perfectionism, trying to measure up, and a legalistic comparison. This is the world system of striving to keep well thought out plans instead of surrendering to His way. Surrendering is a state of being whereas the obedience driven me is usually about doing to prove that I am right.

God led our family to Japan and then back to the states again after 10 years with FWB Missions. It was a journey in faith and surrender especially the last 6 years stateside. He brought us right up to “Little Japan” in Columbus, Ohio through the vehicle of Chick-Fil-A and with it a revival in my familiar role as missionary and teacher. After jumping into our new life in our 11th home and our 8th school, God got my attention. Before Covid and online/hybrid public school, God was stirring in Josh and me to re-evaluate how we were loving and leading our children. I was entering a scary place of pouring all my time into doing what I thought was right and realizing God wanted me to rest in Him and serve my family. This had been my constant struggle of humbling myself under the mighty hand of God during our time in Japan when serving others took priority over my own family. God wanted me to rest in His plan and homeschool all four kids! Rest and homeschool together; is that even possible? We had done public and private schools in both countries, and I thought that teaching my own children would not allow me the freedom to continue to teach ESL and Bible classes which had been meeting in my home during the last few years. I gave those “ministries” over to Him and focused on our first year of homeschool instead. God tenderly showed me (again) that He would lead me in the paths of what is right for His name.

We are on our second year of homeschooling and God is teaching ME so much as I serve my family first during this season of life. Amazingly, God has reopened opportunities for our whole family to serve with the Japanese community here and this year we are ALL involved in leading and teaching in the ESL group. Josh is the new director, and I am teaching while my children jump in and serve for special events. We are serving together!  God doesn’t ask us to get our plans right and do it on our own. We loosely hold our plans and can cling to Him. Then, we get to do it with Him. He leads each of us and our families along His steps! This verse brings such peace, “A man’s heart deviseth his way but the Lord directeth his steps.” Proverbs 16:9


  • You can trust God! He is perfect therefore His ways are perfect. Psalm 18:30
  • When you seek God and humble yourself under His loving hand, He will show you where to step. 1 Peter 5:6
  • He is so loving and gently leads us with young. Isaiah 40:11
  • He is with you each moment and in that frightening next move. Isaiah 41:10

Whatever you are facing right now with big or little daily decisions concerning what is right for you/your family, during a transition, a lost dream, a ministry shift, a family crisis, education/job decisions, remember not to ask God, “Am I doing this right?”  Consider asking, “Am I trusting You in this? Am I surrendering my good-intentioned but greatly lacking plans to Your perfect will?”

Oh, what freedom there comes when we realize we can be confident God is leading us to His abundant and joy filled paths of righteousness through Christ by His Spirit in our many roles. Christ died for our sins so that in Him we might be made right with God!  We have nothing to prove. Surrender to His love and let Him lead you!

Spend some time praying and listening to what God is telling you. Listen to the gentle Shepherd’s voice and expect a big adventure with Him as you take the first step of faith today!

  • Call out His characteristics (good, holy, perfect, loving, faithful, powerful, all knowing) and adore Him!
  • Recognize, apologize for, and release control of your plans made in your own strength.
  • Look back and remember how He led you before and thank Him!
  • Ask Him to help you listen to His voice in this next step.
For Adults

What Do You Want For Christmas?

By: Anna Fox

How many times have you asked your teen this question? We spend the holiday season focused on buying and wrapping gifts, baking, and making family memories. These are all wonderful things, but we often miss celebrating the best gift of all, Jesus, God in the flesh.

Jesus fulfilled the prophecy that many had been looking for. Isaiah 9:6 says, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace”.

            Read the names of Jesus again, He is our Counsellor, Father, Prince of Peace. He is worthy of all honor and praise. The best gift of all is not that Jesus was born but that he was born of a virgin, crucified, and raised again to give us the gift of eternal life. Jesus made it possible for us to have an intimate relationship with the Father. 

            What does your family Christmas season look like? Is it focused on the gifts, family time, and entertainment or is it Christ-centered? Does your Christmas season pull your family out of church, or does it bring you closer to your church family? What we prioritize will be what the next generation prioritizes.

            Making your Christmas Christ-centered doesn’t have to be boring and just reading Scripture, it is a lifestyle. Here are some ways to intertwine Christ into your Christmas season this year:

  1. Share your faith. Teach your family what it means to be always looking around you for people of peace. This means we have to have an intimate relationship with God to know when He is speaking and asking us to share our faith. Be an example to your teen by sharing your faith.
  2. Serve others. Find ways as a family to serve in your church and community. Serving as a family builds memories for a lifetime.
  3. Show love and compassion. The holidays can be a lonely time for some, and this is a way to help show your teen to be looking for people who are hurting that need to be loved on. As you are doing your holiday baking, invite your teen to help. Brainstorm together on who you could bless with a batch of cookies or cake.
  4. Stay devoted. Your relationship with Christ needs to remain solid and growing throughout the year. We can get busy during this season and let our relationship slide. We cannot lead our teens spiritually if we are not strong spiritually. We need to stay devoted in having spiritual conversations with our teens.

Make this Christmas season matter spiritually for your family. You only have a few Christmases left to influence your teen’s life. These can be precious memories that spiritually last a lifetime if we stay devoted and focused.

For Adults


By: Pam Jones

Ecclesiastes 3:1: To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

It’s that time of year again. The days are getting shorter, the nights longer and the leaves are falling. Here in southwest Pennsylvania, we experience all four seasons and I love it. I have a sense that again this year, winter will be ushered in all too quickly. As season turns into season, year after year, time changes things.

Wasn’t it just yesterday when I had three little girls at home to care for? Now, those girls have families of their own to take care of. Just as I can’t keep the leaves from falling to the ground, I cannot change the seasons of my life. Would we really want to change them?

If I had been able to keep those three girls from growing up, would it have been the best for them or me? I absolutely love being the mom of adult women, but it has required some adjustment. The leaves don’t fall before they change from green to a beautiful color. Life changes are a process but can also be a beautiful thing.

Seasons happen when the earth axis points toward the sun. It is summer for that hemisphere. When it points away, winter can be expected. It is simple science. We can go into winter kicking and screaming and sometimes I do. But it doesn’t change a thing. So, what can we do?

  • Learn to celebrate the season.   

Try to find something you can do to get through your current season. For instance, in winter, enjoy the snow, snuggle with hot chocolate at home, decorate your home for Christmas, etc.

When you are in a winter type season in your life, try to celebrate something about the season. This season might bring illness, loss of your youth, difficult financial time, or aging parents. I might not look or feel the way I did in my 30s, but I am thankful for the opportunity to be the age I am. Some people don’t get that gift. Neither of my parents lived to be 70, so celebrate those aging parents and the gift of everyday.

  • Don’t rush the season!   

I remember so well when my girls were small, we were homeschooling. There were days that I thought we would never be finished with school! When your child is small, the days get long and it is all you can do to make it through the day. Trust me, the days are long, but the years are short! I had well-meaning people tell me that when my kids were little, but I just didn’t fully understand until they were almost grown.

Don’t rush the season you are in. It is totally natural to want to get to the next thing. It will come soon enough, and you will only have the memories. Whether it is children, aging parents, waiting on a job…don’t rush through it. Allow God to walk with you.

  • Learn from each season.

I may not have always been the best learner, but I tried to glean valuable lessons from the hard seasons. Evaluate what God might be teaching you during this challenging time.

I’m a summer girl! I love vacation, travel, swimming, 4th of July, and sun!! But if I never go through fall, winter and spring, I will never realize how wonderful summer can be!

You might be a fall person. But if the green leaves don’t die, they will never turn those beautiful reds, yellows, and oranges.

The different seasons serve a purpose. They can all be helpful. As much as I dislike winter, the snow we get helps our grass stay a beautiful green all summer long. Learn through the hard stuff. It won’t last forever.

Seasons. I’m learning to embrace them and be content with life. Just as I raised three daughters, helping all of them with schooling, boyfriend issues, broken hearts, weddings, and getting used to motherhood. I know more changes will come for them and for myself. We can’t stop the seasons or even slow them down.

One constant I have had my whole life is Jesus. He has been with me since I was 10 years old. He was with me through early adulthood. He has been with me through heartache and the loss of my parents. Jesus is the constant!

Your parent, sibling, spouse, children, and grandchildren will love you, but there is no person that will love you like Jesus. He will go with you through every season. He is the only one who can do that!

For Adults

Choose Contentment

By: Dawn Elliott

We live in a society of discontentment.  Adults are always looking for a better job, more pay, a better car, a nicer house, and even more recognition.  Our children want more games, more toys, better sports equipment, the best position in sports, and better clothes. Our society is buried in debt and discontentment. The Bible commands us to be content and thankful, and, as parents, it is our job to disciple our children, teaching them godly priorities. Upon reflection, I realized that there are three essential things that I would like for my children to learn.


Hebrews 13:5 says, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”  As Christians, we have all we need to be content.  Jesus has promised to always be with us.  We may not have everything that we want, and life may not always be easy, but we have a Heavenly Father that has promised to be with us and supply all of our needs (Philippians 4:19)


I Thessalonians 5:18 says, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” It does not tell us to be thankful when things are good and life is comfortable, but it says to be grateful in all circumstances.  In the good, the bad, and the indifferent, God is still the same, and we have reason to be thankful.

The Value of Eternity

Matthew 6:19-21 says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  What I have here on earth will mean nothing in eternity.  The only thing that will matter is what I have done for Christ and His kingdom.  

My children will best learn these lessons if I model them in my everyday life.  Our children tend to emulate our actions and attitudes, so what are we teaching them?  My prayer is that I will be content and thankful and that my children will learn by my example.

For Adults

Lesson Learned

By: Mitzi Munsey Satterfield

Learning that your precious baby was born with a serious illness is a difficult challenge for any parent.

Rachel was our third child. She was a beautiful baby, but our celebration soon became solemn and sad.  Rachel was born with a very rare chronic illness that would affect the rest of her life.  We would learn to depend upon God in ways we never dreamed.

I believe God gifts children who are born sick with an extra portion of grace. Their illness is their reality and they often do not realize how different they may be. Rachel was a happy child, but after her renal transplant at age seven she experienced what “feeling good” really meant.

Prayer is always necessary, but I also want to share some practical tips I learned in my journey with Rachel.

First, get organized.  A notebook to keep all doctor notes, appointment dates, medication lists, test results, and questions to discuss at the next visit made all the difference.  That notebook never left my side for 18 years.

Educate yourself about your child’s illness.  Find out about support groups or any resources that might help. Learn about every medication your child takes, its purpose, and side effects.

Respect your child. Rachel learned at a young age how to communicate with adults. I encouraged her to ask questions of the doctors. I knew her understanding of her illness would change as she aged. My ultimate goal was for her to learn to make appropriate medical decisions for herself as an adult.

Do not neglect your other children.  After Rachel’s birth my life was totally occupied with her survival. When she was two months old, I realized I had not hugged her brother and sister enough.  I immediately made some changes.

Encourage your child’s relationship with God.  Pray constantly that she will seek the Lord early in her life. In one particularly painful medical procedure Rachel turned her tear-filled eyes toward me and asked why did Eve eat that apple.  She was five years old, and already understood the origin of sin and the consequences of Eve’s sin.

Rachel did accept the Lord as her Savior at a young age. I am so grateful to God that my precious girl is now a happily married school teacher, a graduate of Welch College, and a vibrant Christian.

She recently had her second renal transplant and is doing very well.

PS: Read Rachel’s story on the Shine blog for girls.

For Adults

Big Lessons for Small Choices

By: Diana Bryant

One of my favorite Sunday School classes ever was a group of tenth through twelfth grade girls several years ago.  We studied scripture, but we also spent quite a bit of time applying scriptural principles to their everyday life situations.  We discussed, analyzed, and looked for principles from God’s Word to apply to the many choices they were facing as they prepared for independence, college, and career choices.

One area we examined was finances.  The girls were just starting part time jobs and were enjoying having cash to spend.  Even then, some had more, some had less.  Some had to use their earnings for their school basics, while some were able to use their paychecks however they wanted.

This critical period in the lives of our young women is an excellent time to instill biblical principles concerning the use of money. While they still have somewhat of a safety net, there are so many things we need to teach them. They can learn from the things we say, examples we give, and from mistakes they make.

            *Talk about giving. Give them projects to support and goals to meet.  When giving becomes a    habit with a small amount from a small paycheck, it’s easier for it to stick when the amounts   grow.

            *Teach them that being wise with their money gives them choices.  If you’ve spent carefully,     many times you can choose to go or not go, do or not do, or buy friends birthday presents if    you want. A bad credit score severely limits your choices in many ways. Learning to delay           gratification is a valuable life skill, so teach the satisfaction of saving for things they want.           

            *Share how you make financial decisions. Share examples of God’s provision in your life. Share times you’ve made the wrong decision and what the consequences were. You don’t have      share all the details, but teach them that all actions have consequences. That applies to financial            decisions as well – some short term, and some with longer lasting effects.

*Above all, teach them that everything we have comes from God and we are to be good stewards of it all – time, money, talents, possessions, everything! While finances are necessary, our security and value are not in how much money we have, it comes from God alone.  A valuable truth!

For Adults

Before You Say No

By: Ana Batts

Summertime is my favorite. VBS. Summer Camp. A break from school. So many adventures.

And now that our oldest children are in high school, summer comes with even more opportunities. Mission trips. Volunteer opportunities. E-TEAM. Truth and Peace.

All those things are great. And expensive.

It is easy to simply say no to these opportunities because funding them is terribly daunting. Here are a few tips that we have found helpful with our fundraising for these summer opportunities.

1. Figure out what your family’s financial contribution will be. In the end, fundraising only goes so far. Having a plan from the outset helps keep the finances from getting too stressful.

2. Don’t expect your church to be the primary source of fundraising for your teen’s summer adventures. We are blessed to be in a church that is incredibly supportive of our teens. But remember, churches and church members don’t have unlimited funding.

3. Think outside the box. Does your teen have a special talent? Crafting? Make something to sell.

Building? Build something to sell.

Cooking? Bake something to sell.

Photography? Offer to take family photos on Mother’s and Father’s Day weekends for donations.

Do you have access to equipment that your teen can safely use? Cutting grass. Weeding flower beds. Power washing sidewalks. All are great ways to turn time into donations.

4. Timing is everything. Take advantage of times people are already planning to spend money on special treats or gifts. Timing makes your efforts more successful.

Bake sales are great anytime but bake cakes and pies around Thanksgiving or Easter. Make special treats around Valentine’s Day.

Spring cleaning and fall yard clean up are other great seasonal opportunities.
Holidays offer unique opportunities but taking advantage of those requires advance planning. Everyone is fundraising in April and May. Don’t wait to start in the spring.

Don’t procrastinate. Plan ahead. Spread the word early.

5. Plan for your teen to work for their trip(s). Babysitting. Yard work. Cleaning house. Wrapping Christmas gifts. These and others are service opportunities and are great ways to practice serving while generating donations. Even more than that, working for these opportunities can help build a grateful heart and a good work ethic.

The first year of fundraising is always the easiest. If your teen decides on a second summer of E-TEAM, Truth and Peace, or other similar adventures, expect that it will be harder.

Plan accordingly. Start earlier. Work harder.

It is definitely worth the effort.

For Adults

The Words of Our Mouth

By: Diana Bryant

There’s an old, old saying that goes like this: Little pitchers have big ears. It comes from the 16th century and was used by parents to signal each other that their little children (pitchers) were around. They might overhear something that was not meant for their ears (handles on the pitchers). It’s a rather obscure picture today, but the point is still true that adults should be aware of what they say within the hearing of children.

Many first-time parents have learned that the hard way. When in a very public setting, their children repeat something said in supposed privacy at home.  Most of the time it just gets a laugh, but can be more than a little embarrassing, or at the least require some explanation.

Children, both young and old, learn much of their vocabulary and expressions from listening to the grown ups in their lives. Parents, teachers, and grandparents will often hear words they have said, expressions they use, and even their inflections coming from the mouths of their babes.

Matthew 12:34 and Luke 6:45 tell us that the words that come out of our mouths actually came from our hearts.  Do our children hear us gossip when we’re with our friends?  Make fun of others? Are we critical of people without considering our audience? Our kids form many of their opinions of other people and shape their reactions to situations from expressions we use, ideas we express, and emotions we display.

A common thing heard by our kids today is an abundance of ways to take the Lord’s name in vain.  Taking His name in vain is so much more than just swearing. It has been abbreviated, appears in jokes, and is used so commonly that it loses it meaning and shows no reverence. Besides the obvious commandment, scripture is full of the fact that God’s name is called hallowed, precious, majestic, and glorious. In fact, we teach our children how our heart feels about God by the language they hear us use.  Regardless of the words we use to teach them, we teach them even more by the words and expressions we use in their presence.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, oh Lord, my strength and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14).