Do I look like God? Where can I see Him? Wanting to connect more with God, a child asks his mother these questions and more in this rhyming verse book. In answer, Mother's tender and patient responses model God's love. The purity of children and the spiritually of all cultures radiate in this touching story. Mama, I Want to See God is Book 1 of the series Families Growing in Faith.
One can smell the aroma of yeast, as I have been busy baking bread for the past few weeks as research for a new writing project. However, my enjoyment comes most from the eating of the bread, as opposed to the process of making it. In ancient times, bread was baked daily, as it was considered a primary staple. “The Bread of Life”— one of the names of Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life . . .” ( John 6:35). Did you know that Bethlehem, where Jesus was born means “house of bread?” It is the Bread of Life — Jesus, that I employ a thankful heart. It is He, the sustainer of life from heaven. Give thanks to God!
As reported in an article, “How a North Carolina Summer Camp Started Christmas in July” written by Maria Carter (7/13/17), the legend of Christmas in July began in 1933 at the Keystone Summer Camp for girls, located at Brevard, N. C. Two days, July 24 and 25, were dedicated to this special celebration. Original decorations included fake snow, ornamented trees, gift exchanges, carolers, and Santa, of course. https://www.countryliving.com/ life/a43909/how-christmas-in-july-started The origins of the phrase commenced with an 1892 French opera based on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s “The Sorrows of Young Werther.” Festivities for Christmas in July was not intended as a ploy to boost retailer and/or greeting card manufacturers. Last year, my daughter and I celebrated Christmas in July by exchanging a small homemade or inexpensive gift and watching a Christmas movie. For me, celebrating Christmas in July was joy at its most simplistic form. Scripture says, “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full,” (John 15:11). Overall, receiving Jesus as my Lord and Savior becomes the greatest gift of all, (John 4:39). www.vanessafortenberry.com
Dear Mama, I want you to know how much I miss you and love you. For me, you were the best mom that anyone could ever have. I felt your love near and far. If the love you gave me could be described in colors, I’d see red, yellow, purple, and blue; as far as the eye can see. God stored up all of the greatness in you so that you could model His love. In turn, I aspire to model God’s love everywhere I go. Thank you for simply being “my mama.” Indeed, God gave us His wonderful gift of love. So loved and blessed! Your daughter, Van “To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.” ~ Maya Angelou
In my lifetime and more than likely during your lifetime; we have never experienced a close encounter of calamity such as COVID-19. Suddenly, schools are closing, church services cancelled, and businesses scrabbling to also close their doors. These disruptions in our lives scream havoc, fear, and uncertainty as we navigate a steady path to peace and normalcy. While the world was not prepared for this pandemic, without a doubt we have equipped ourselves to carry on as much as possible while we begin to quarantine ourselves. Students and parents are executing virtual learning whereby teachers teach and children learn via online devices, churches are streaming Sunday services, businesses are allowing employees to work from home, restaurants are utilizing take-out and delivery services, brick and mortar businesses have online websites, etc. Unfortunately, people and businesses are still suffering financially and emotionally. We are frightened, our children are anxious, and some may even question if God hears our cries. Overall, we must not underestimate the power of constant prayer. Talk and pray with your children. Let them know that through our distress, God “hears” our prayers. Have a little talk with Jesus today. He loves us and He’s listening! Special thanks to doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers who are on the front line working on our behalf.
Gone are the days when I focused on receiving "This gift or that gift." Who needs a gift when I have received the greatest gift of all: Jesus! Jesus showed us how to live in harmony with God. God wants us to not only love and serve Him, but to love and serve others. Let your light shine so that others see God in you. Enjoy this amazing Christmas Season!
In the month of November and throughout the year, there’s a song my church choir sometimes sing, “Every Day is a Day of Thanksgiving.” The lyrics go on to say: “God’s been so good to me, Every day He's a blessing, Every day is a day of Thanksgiving, Take the time to glorify the Lord, today.” Therefore, today, I am no less thankful than I was on yesterday, the National Day of Thanksgiving. Of course, I am thankful to God for the life He breathes into me and for His Son, Jesus who died on the cross to save us all from our sins. I am grateful for my family and friends for their unconditional love. Overall, I am appreciative to my reading fans, my supporters, and my fellow authors who thought it not selfish to encourage me in my continued literary mission to do God’s calling. Indeed, you are all a blessing from God!
As a new day begins, I still hear the blast of fireworks in the near distance. I reflect on yesterday’s celebration of Independence Day and I think on the liberties of Americans. This freedom reminds me of God’s desire for us to not only love Him, but also to love, inspire, and serve each other. Today and every day, freely give the gift of love, as God unconditionally loves you. Love and Blessings.
My grandson, the inspiration for this story, will soon turn sixteen in a few months. However, when he was two-years old, a friend and I carried him and my granddaughter, now 18, to the park. That day the park was bursting with blaring music. When we opened the door for my grandson, he jumped out of the car with some dance moves that left my friend and I, in awe. This toddler, who could barely walk, exhibited dance steps like a pro. As depicted in the illustration, my grandson has a lifelong love and talent for dancing. I, on the other hand, never possessed the skills to dance, in that I seem to have two left feet. You should have seen me last night at my line-dancing class. Most of the evening, I enjoyed a good laugh with myself. When the instructor said left, I went right and vice-versa. On rare occasions, I felt accomplished when I got the moves right. I do not aspire to dance on stage for performances, as some of my dance group members do. And, I might not get that eight-count Chicago step quite right, but, one thing I know, I can do an amazing two-count Vanessa step for God!
While I am not an outdoorsy kind of person, I do enjoy my early morning walks during summer vacation. However, in April, I literally experienced a rainfall of pollen falling on me. Immediately, I started sneezing and my nose began to run. For the next month, I could not go anywhere without tissue, due to excess nasal drainage. The other day, I went to my ENT doctor regarding my acid-reflux. In addition to a 20% increase of reflux since my last visit six months ago, my doctor indicated that there were still signs of inflammation in my nasal passages. She advised me to wear a mask whenever outside. I shared all of the above to say, while I may not be able to take the time to “smell the roses,” I can surely gaze upon them and admire the parade of colorful flowers that God so graciously gave us. I truly take pleasure in knowing that this is God’s handiwork. Possibly, you may also suffer from allergies and cannot sniff the flowers, but please know that we can appreciate nature; the beautiful blossoms, the gracious trees, the singing birds, and all of God’s creatures, for they are indeed God’s gift to you and me!
A year and a half ago, a woman contacted me by email. She and I had met at a writers critique group where she remembered me speaking about my book. She went on to share that several months later she ran across my book in the public library. Soon after, the woman's daughter told her that her grandson said, “I don’t like Jesus. I’m afraid of Him and He doesn’t look like my family.” My newfound reading fan immediately rushed to the library and checked out my book. With enthusiasm, she reported that her grandson loved my story and went to bed willingly to “hear God’s voice!” She thanked me and said that God is using me through my writing. The impact of receiving this message was indeed priceless. This gracious woman took the time to share her grandson’s struggle with God. She confirmed my mission of using my writing as a ministry that expands beyond the walls of the church. I give my gratitude and praise to God for the capability to have inspired this child and his family. It is such a joy knowing when a child or an adult are able to “see” God in themselves. I’d like to convey my love and gratitude to all of my reading fans and supporters during this season of love!
Since middle school, when I took a home economics class, I have loved baking. In my opinion, there’s nothing to compare to homemade cookies, cakes, pies, and bread. However, the aroma of sweet scented baked bread is quite intoxicating and can make one’s mouth water. Simply stated, I love bread. While nutritionists maintain that we should limit our intake of bread, we do need bread to “live.” Jesus declared himself as the “Bread of Life.” (John 6:48). Therefore, I find it fitting that Jesus instructed the disciples, The Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11, New King James Version). So, when we pray for daily bread, we ask God to provide provisions for physical and spiritual nourishment. Even with my semi insatiable desire for baked bread, I realize that a daily dose of Jesus gratifies me far more than food. The question: “Do you have bread?” That is, The “Bread of Life.” Let us teach our children that we are all blessed when we eat bread in the kingdom of God! (Luke 14:15).
During the summer months, soon after sunrise, I take walks in my neighborhood. As I walk, I glance at the homes in my community. I observe the houses that could use a paint job, houses recently painted, yards needing a good clean up or overgrown lawns, . . . and the list goes on. OK, you can say it, “She’s nosy!” Just call me an advocate for the upkeep of my neighborhood. Then I spot yards with beautiful landscaping and flower gardens. At this point, I no longer focus on the homes that need up keeping, including mine. In awe, I gaze at the well-manicured shrubs, plants, color-rich trees, and the vibrant and sweet scented flowers, and I muse, “This is God!” Take a walk today and observe nature. Free your mind, listen ever so carefully, and you will realize that God is walking with you. “This is God’s wonderful gift, and He gave it to you and me.”
It took many years for me to truly reflect God’s light. Nope. It didn’t come over night. It took constant prayer, studying scripture, and obeying God’s Word. I did not possess the ability to change on my own. But, through God’s power, overtime, a transformation occurred. I soon found myself growing in the Spirit, for our likeness reflects that of God. I started to think, behave, speak, and love in ways that was pleasing to God. I became more like Him. My life began to change on the inside, and I began to see myself in God. Around this time, is when God spoke to me about writing Christian picture books for children. I am still a work in progress! We can also groom our children to see themselves in God, as well. Provide a mirror for children to look at their reflection. Ask them to look in the mirror and tell of any changes they see in their lives. Children will not always have a ready response. If so, ask them to proclaim this prayer every morning when they look in the mirror: “Good morning, God. Please allow your Holy Spirit to dwell in me so that I may look like you, talk like you, walk like you, and love like you. Thank you, God for Your blessings. Amen.”
Mama, can I dance for God? As a former music teacher, I know how children naturally gravitate toward the rhythm in music. Research has shown that babies come into the world having heard the rhythmic pattern of their mother’s heartbeat while in the womb. Let’s be honest, most humans can’t resist clapping, snapping, humming, and/or singing when hearing the steady beat in music. God wants us to show our love for Him with expressions of praise and thanksgiving. David, who wrote most of the book of Psalm, loved to dance and play music for the Lord. David felt such an overwhelming joy that he wanted to celebrate God through worship with song and dance. So, don’t resist a child’s spontaneous instinct to move when they hear music. Provide them with tambourines or any other percussion instruments. When I was a young child, my instruments were the pots and pans. What instruments did your parents provide? Play worship music and allow children to dance and play their instruments to the beat. Oh yes, you will wish and beg for quiet time. As with other plans you create in your day, arrange specific times for musical activities and dance!
“Psalm 126:2 says, “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’” God desires a friendship with us. He wants to hold us close. God can and will turn our tears into laughter and our sorrow into joy through a personal relationship with Him. A call to action: make a commitment to yourself to choose joy; choose laughter today for it is good for your spirit!
It is such a blessing when a Mother answers their children’s questions with patience and by modeling God’s love. As mothers, we know our children can sometimes exhaust us with their conversations and curiosity. But, as Christian parent’s, we want our children to connect with God. Through our teachings, we can be the first link between our children and God. ***** Happy Mother’s Day! www.vanessafortenberry,com
As adults, we understand that God is spirit (John 4:24). However, children are curious and have many questions about God and why they can’t see Him. My grandson was one such curious child. He genuinely wanted to connect with God. His curiosity spoke to me and inspired me to write Mama, I Want to See God. During my lifetime, I have strived to model God’s love. When we, as adults exhibit our love for God and for one another, children will see God in us. And, through their continued hunger for knowing God and loving Him, they will in turn see God in themselves.
I want children to experience the joy I feel each day knowing that God is with us always. God's love caresses me in the gentle breeze as I venture out on my morning walks. He accompanies me on road trips and He rides along when I drive to the neighborhood store. God orders my steps on the job and He resides in my heart when I praise Him through song. God’s grace blesses me at the table when I break bread. He watches over me when I slumber. At times when I feel abandoned or unloved by others, God's loving touch soothes me and I am thankful for Him in my life. I invite God's children to praise Him for His continued love and every day presence in our lives.
Often times, I prayed for God to grow me spiritually. But, without discipline in studying God’s Word, I was only giving lip service to this request. However, over time, I have learned a spiritual truth; “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). As I continue to grow spiritually, I display my actions when I live my life honoring God. So, when our children waiver in their faith, it’s good to say, “trust in God.” But, we need to ensure that we model our “faith talks with our walk.” When our children observe that we are not just “talking the talk, but walking the talk,” we teach them how to show their faith through their actions. And, when we take those steps that lead us to action, as my minister says, “begin to trust the process.” God is able.
I remember as a child, the mornings my mom and I sat at the kitchen table sipping hot tea and eating cheese toast. Those moments were special to me and will forever remain etched in my brain. I do not recall the topics of our talks; but I’m sure they were positive and heart felt conversations. Perhaps I asked questions about God. Maybe I wanted to know if I could see God and if He looked like me. If so, knowing that my mother knew the Lord, she would have explained to me that God made us in His image. Thank you mom for those private mornings we shared drinking our morning tea. ~ I would be remiss if I didn’t take these last few minutes of Father’s Day to celebrate the contributions that fathers and father figures make toward the lives of their children. In addition, soon I will add to Bublish my newest book, Daddy, I Want to Know God, which is available for pre-orders and launches October 1, 2017.
As I reflect upon my childhood, I remember the feeling of basking in my parent’s love. I felt peaceful and I loved them in return. Because of this reciprocal love, I wanted to please them; but sometimes I made poor choices and consequently they were not very thrilled. But, right or wrong choices, I always felt their love. You cannot beat that “unconditional love!” That’s the same kind of love that God rains on us, despite our sinful nature. God loves caresses us morning, noon, and night. "The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness." ~ Jeremiah 31:3
Blessing our food before we eat has so many benefits. We are reminded that God is the benefactor of so much and that He is a generous God. It is an honor to bow our heads to express our gratitude to Him. I find that when I am at home, sitting quietly at the kitchen table, I readily bless and give thanks to God for my food. However, some mornings when I am driving to work and partaking of my bacon and egg sandwich, I have to slow down and stop eating to say a word of thanks to God for breaking my fast. Of course, I keep my eyes on the road! It is also important that we teach our children to say grace for the many bountiful provisions He provides us, even when we are on the road.
While I do not consider myself an outdoorsy kind of person, I enjoy my early morning walks during summer break. Strolling through my neighborhood fills my being with calmness and peace as I take in the morning sun and bright blue sky. Crickets chirping, birds singing, and on rare occasions catching sight of a rabbit huddled amongst the bushes fills my senses with God’s creatures and His beautiful land. I marvel at His creation.
Good friendships develop over time. It takes mutual interest, experiences, and shared communications during a set amount of time for a friendship to grow. Gradually, my friendship with God has developed through my Christian journey. Unlike my friends though, God knows everything about me; there are no secrets. Even through the good, the bad, and the ugly, God forgives me and loves me anyway. On the other hand, friends will sometimes abandon us when we do not meet their expectations. I count it a blessing to know that God’s unconditional love for me is timeless. The song says it all: “Have you heard about Jesus? He died on Calvary. He died for you and me, He died to set men free … He’s the greatest friend of all, have you heard?"
Some years ago, when God spoke to me regarding writing children’s books, I immediately said, “Yes.” Of course, I had plans of writing that great American romance novel. However, I tossed my plans to the wind and hit the road running, writing for God! I have never looked back and I love writing children’s stories. My prayer is for my words to minister to and enhance the lives of my readers. The process of writing Christian stories includes my reading and studying God's Word. It has helped me to grow closer to God and I feel I am indeed living my best years. Moreover, I pray through my studies, it helps me to become a better storyteller of Christian children’s books. Psalm 78:4 states: “We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD, about his power and his mighty wonders.” Revealing who God is to children is my goal. God gave this mission to me and I’m doing it!
Throughout my life’s journey, I have often felt so alone and isolated. For a time, I had forgotten that as a child of God, I am never alone. Today, I feel so blessed because I understand without a doubt, that no matter the path my life may lead me, God is unchanging and promises that He will always be with me. I want children to know that God knows all about our struggles in life and He is our helper in every situation. Even when we face hurdles in life, such as hurt feelings, challenging school work, jealousy, worry, something we shouldn’t have done, etc.; we need not fear because God assures us He will never leave or abandon us. This is indeed good news! Thank you God. “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”’ ~ Hebrews 13:5
Mama said, "God created the whole wide world and every living thing," During the summer, I rise early to go walking. As I stroll through my neighborhood, I enjoy the solitude. I get the opportunity to make note of repainted or renovated homes that I do not notice while driving. And, sometimes I pass a neighbor walking their dog. But, most of all, I notice the bright blue sky, the green grass, squirrels climbing trees, birds singing, and on occasion a rabbit from a nearby bush. On one glorious morning, I spotted a beautiful, faint Moon hovering on the horizon while the Sun beamed overhead in the sky. What a remarkable scene. It all reminds me of God’s unique and amazing creations!
Children have many questions about God. They want to know why they cannot see him, why they cannot visit him, and maybe they even want to know if He lives far away. God lives in each of us. God is only as far or as close as our heart and mind will take us. Teach your child that we visit God when we sing, about Him, pray to him, read His Word, and talk to Him. God dwells in each of us. Ask your child today what it means to have God “dwell or live in his or her heart.” “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” ~ 1 Corinthians 3:16
Children come into this world innocent and pure in heart. When our hearts are pure, we experience happiness, which means we are blessed. By nature, we are sinful. To keep our hearts clean day-by-day, we must acknowledge and confess our sins to God. I have found that when I struggle with life issues and do not allow God to do what He does best, I suffer. However, when I surrender my whole heart to Jesus and allow Him to work in me, I become closer to God. I am a child of God and you are too. Moreover, when God purifies our hearts, we become pure in heart. This cleansing moves us in a direction of living our lives so that we become more like God, which allows us to “see” Him. "Blesses are the pure in heart, for they will see God" ~ Matthew 5:8 (NIV)
Sometimes, I autograph my book with the words, “Allow your light to shine so others “see” God in you." The scripture, 1 John 4:12 teaches believers of the Word to know that God abides in us and if we abide in God or fellowship with Him, we will recognize His Spirit within us. How will we discern this? We will know because we will bear witness to God’s Spirit of love that He produces in us. We will extend this love to one another. Finally, others will see and feel the spirit of God in us by our words, deeds, and by the fragrance of love, we offer to others. Therefore, continue to live a life that honors God and through your love and reverence to Him, you will draw others to God.
John 15:15 states, "God has called us friends!" The dictionary defines “friend” as a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection. God wants this type friendship with us. Scripture tells us that God knows us and loves us. It is now up to us to know God, to dwell in Him, and to exhibit our love for Him through our everyday living. The child asks, "Mama, can I be God's friend?" Like children, let us continue to seek God for the essential friendship that only He can and will provide.
This day, God gave the world a gift; the birth of His son, Jesus! "Love always comes from God. His light shines on you from above." What better gift to give to God today, "your love."
"Smell the sweet-scented flowers: red, yellow, purple, and blue. This is God's wonderful gift, and He gave it all to me and you." When I reflect on the goodness of the Lord, I can truly say, "God has done great things for me" (Luke 1:49).
Children automatically develop and grow physically. Unlike growing physically, we all grow spiritually or we all grow in our knowledge about God at different rates. However, we only grow in our knowledge about God when we study God’s Word and imitate Him. Remember the slogan, “What would Jesus do (WWJD)?” In order to know “what would Jesus do,” it’s most important to teach children "what Jesus did." We know that Jesus sought God in continuous prayer; embraced and loved people; restored broken lives by healing the sick, raising the dead, and forgiving people of their evil doings; challenged insincere people; taught God’s Word, which helped people to discover God and study His Word for themselves; served and worked on behalf of people in need, often sacrificing His own needs; and equipped leaders who continued His mission and work after His death. Scripture states, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ . . .” ~ Peter 3:18 (NIV)
The child asks, "Mama, can I sing to God?" The little girl singing to God, depicted on this page, reminds me of my childhood. I come from a musical family. And, when my mom and dad sang in the church choir on Sunday mornings, one could always spot a little head from the choir stand. Yes, that was my little head, singing along with the choir! I loved singing the old Anthems back then. Even now, you might hear on any 1st Sunday, the Sanctuary choir members and I at my church singing an Anthem. Of course, singing in the children's choir back in the day, I favored singing the old hymns, such as, "This is My Father’s House." Other than prayer, I cannot think of a better way to communicate with God,. Evidently, King David thought so to. The Bible says King David sang to God. So, sing your song to God today, knowing He is pleased when we rejoice in song!
A child asks, "Mama, can I talk to God? Will He hear my prayers?" Do you remember when you were a child celebrating your birthday? Before blowing out the candles you made a wish. If you recall, you believed whole-heartedly that your silent wish would come true. Your belief was unshakable. But, did all of your wishes come true? Probably not. I know my desires didn't always come to pass. Going to God in prayer is similar to making a silent birthday wish. However, when we pray to God it is like having a conversation with a good friend who has your best interest at heart. God indeed hears our prayers. He loves us and cares for us so much that when we go to Him with our heartfelt prayer, He will consider all of our requests based on our faith and our needs. Teach your children to seek God in prayer!
"Mama, can I talk to God? Will He hear my prayers." Ask children if they have ever made a wish while blowing out their candles on their birthday cake. When we blow out those candles, we whole-heartedly hope our silent wish will come true. Sometimes our wishes are fulfilled and sometimes not. Explain that going to God in prayer is similar to making a silent birthday wish. Teach children that praying to God is having a conversation with God. God loves us and cares for us so much that when we go to Him with our heartfelt prayer, He will consider all of our requests based on our needs and our faith or belief. Matthew 21:22 states, “You will receive whatever you ask for in prayer, if you believe.”
The text says, "Mama, can I dance for God?" My minister says, "If you're gonna dance, dance for the Lord" The illustration in this excerpt depicts my grandson, who also happens to be the inspiration for this story. Anthony loves to dance! And, even more so, he loves to dance for the Lord. Twice within a few months, my minister called him up to the pulpit to dance with him. You see, my minister loves to dance for God, too. So, the two of them dance to the music, praising the Lord! Get your "groove on" and praise the Lord today.
In 2010, I hit the road running, when I heard God's call to write Christian children's books. Even though ideas for stories continue to flow, I stay attuned to conversations about children, as well as world issues facing children and their families. One such conversation occurred in 2011, with my daughter-in-law. She shared with me that my grandson, Anthony (then seven years old), said to her, “Mama, I want to see God.” She talked about some concerns she had with my grandson’s statement. I assured her that all children naturally express a curiosity about seeing the unseen God. The next morning I sat at my computer and wrote the story, Mama, I Want to See God. Just think, had I not listened to my daughter-in-law's account of my grandson's desire to connect more with God, I could have overlooked the opportunity and the inspiration to write this story, for my grandson and my granddaughter; as well as for all children.
Does God love me all the time? Will He ever leave me? In this rhyming verse story, children's probing questions of their dads show a burning desire to connect with God personally and to learn more about God. This story depicts a father's spiritual leadership as he teaches his child about a caring, unfailing, and capable God. Daddy, I Want to Know God is Book 2 of the series Families Growing in Faith.
As a young girl, I remember a church member giving me money. Quickly calculating, I now had a goldmine. My jingling purse captured the attention of my dad. The set of his jaw wiped the smile off my face as I told him about my gift. In a firm, but loving voice, he told me to never accept money from anyone. “Tell them no thank you, my dad gives me money.” Not everyone had a loving dad, like mine. Some never knew their fathers and some would rather forget their fathers along with the pain. But, I want you to meet a Father who will never hurt you, leave, or forsake you, and who loves unconditionally. He is my heavenly Father and I hope yours, too. And, if you don’t know Him, let me tell you more about Him. Our Father wants us to come to Him with our requests. He desires for us to have a relationship with Him, to trust and believe in Him. The Word tells us that God knows what we need before we ask. But, to fulfill our needs, He wants us to pray (Matthew 6:8). We have not because we ask not (James 4:2-4). Try God for yourself, know that He is good, and be blessed as you take refuge in Him (Psalm 34:8).
Often, society diminishes the value of fathers. A National Fatherhood Initiative indicated that many of society's most pressing challenges today is the lack of fatherly involvement in their children's lives. But, we also know that all too often, upstanding dads don’t stand out because of the negativity of pop culture highlighting dysfunctional rappers and pro ballers with baby-mama drama. This day, I want to share a story about my dad, whose love and compassion never faltered throughout his lifetime. His love for me was unconditional. However, he did not waver in disciplining me when I needed it. Nevertheless, my childlike spirit signified that my dad wanted me to become an upstanding citizen. As a flawed adult, the mistakes continued. Of course, the significance of these adult blunders was much larger than the childhood consequences I experienced. Yet, I could still count on my dad’s unequivocal love and acceptance. While my dad went to heaven 32 years ago, I thank God for giving me a father with such a big heart. This weekend, I am sending hugs, kisses, and gratitude in memory of my dad and to all dads who depict spiritual leadership and unconditional love in the lives of their children.
The past few months, the nation has endured massive challenges that appears as if we will never rise again. But, I see light! Not the cliché, “Light at the end of the tunnel.” I visualize God’s light when He said, “Let there be light (Genesis 1:3)! God exudes Radiance, Life, Truth, and Light. This Holy week leading up to Easter Sunday brings an eruption of light with the resurrection of Jesus. The hurled tomb was opened, for death had been conquered radiating the “Light” of the Messiah. Jesus, referred to Himself, as the “Light of the World (Matthew 5:14, John 8:12, John 9:5).” He also declared that His disciples should reflect His light through their good deeds. This day and every day moving forward, shine God’s light of hope, shine God’s light of faith, shine God’s light of peace, shine God’s light of love, and ultimately shine God’s light to serve others. Rejoice and be glad— "Jesus Lives!" ********************************************** You will find easy, fun, and spiritual activities for children on my website: www.vanessafortenberry.com
I am so blessed and grateful to God for His love, favor, grace, and mercy. He meets all of my expectations and more! As a result, I pray for clarity as God plans a spiritual and vivid vision for my life in 2020 and throughout this next decade! May the Lord also breathe a sharp focus for you, as He formulates your 2020 divine aspirations. Continue to walk with God and He will show you the way. Take one step at a time, wait in anticipation, and invite God in your life as you make plans for this New Year; understanding that God has a great plan for you!
It appears that the phrase, “Christmas in July” goes back to the 1890’s with the production of a French opera. However, attention was given to this expression nationally with the release of the Hollywood movie comedy, "Christmas in July" in 1940. Within ten years, American advertisers started using the term in July to market their merchandise in a 'big' way. This year, my daughter and I decided that we would join the masses and celebrate Christmas in July by giving each other an inexpensive gift on July 25. No doubt, my daughter will make something for me from her scraps of materials or crafting supplies. On the other hand, I decided to give the “Gift of God,” not only during this month, but also in all seasons. There are times when spiritually, I fall short. However, I pray that I am consistently shining my light, by the things I say and do. Above all, my desire is for children and youth to understand and know that God is wherever they are. Even at times when they may not feel His presence, He is there. You can also celebrate Christmas in July. Just give the "Gift of God" to everyone you encounter.
For me, nothing compares to the love and compassion my dad showed me throughout his lifetime. His love was indeed unconditional. However, my dad did not waver in disciplining me when I did something wrong. Nevertheless, my childlike spirit told me that he wanted me to become the best person that I could be. Years later, as a flawed adult, the mistakes continued. Of course, the significance of these adult blunders was much larger than the childhood consequences I encountered. Yet, I could still count on my dad’s unequivocal love and acceptance. While my dad went to heaven 31 years ago, I thank God for giving me a dad with such a big heart.This weekend, I am sending hugs, kisses, and gratitude to my dad in heaven and to all dads who depict spiritual leadership and unconditional love in the lives of their children.
My plumber’s son accompanied him to my home to assess a leak on the side of my house. After hanging with his dad all morning and going to two hardware stores to get parts needed to repair my leak, six-year old Mason was worn out. While he made himself comfortable on my living room sofa, I chose two children’s books from the coffee table. Intentionally and I can’t say why, I chose not to give Mason my published books to read. However, about an hour later with one of my books in hand, Mason walked into the kitchen where I was sitting and said, “It’s hard to quiet my voice and listen to God. Do I have to close my eyes to do it?” I replied, “Sometimes I feel it’s easier to hear God when I close my eyes.” Mason then shared that he thought he had heard God’s voice once. He told me when he asked his mom and dad if they had called him, they both answered, “No.” I asked, “What did God say?” He said, “God called my name.” I love how writing and reading books can provide open dialogue with children about God!
This past Sunday, God blessed me to witness the birth of my great granddaughter! This innocent baby entered a world in which life can be unsettling and scary. No matter how disconcerting life presents itself, the one constant is God and His love. There is an enormous responsibility to protect the purity of children. God calls on His people to tell the stories to the next generation about His glorious deeds, His powers, and His mighty wonders (Psalm 74:4). We nurture our children so that they will know Him, trust Him, and obey Him. Therefore, let us foster followers of Jesus Christ who are called, chosen, and faithful.
In 2010, I did not question God when He spoke to me and said that I would write Christian books for children. Nor, did I look back when I realized in writing books of faith for young people that I would not write that great romance novel I’d been thinking about for years. After all, what did I really know about relationships? :-) Who knows though, a few years from now, I might write a faith based novel with a hint of romance. In the meantime, I find joy in writing for children and revealing God’s enormous love. Psalm 78:4 encourages and motivates me each day to continue to write for kids. The scripture states, “We shall not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about His power and His mighty works.” God gave me an important assignment to expose children to God through inspirational stories that influence their spiritual growth and development. I am proud to be a Christian Children’s book author!
This past weekend, my daughter, son, grandchildren, and I enjoyed an awesome time with my adopted family. This loving and caring family adopted my children and me thirty-one years ago. My sister friend and I lived in the same apartment complex and we became fast friends. Before long, I had met her parents, her nine sisters and brothers, her nieces and nephews, and the entire clan. What I admire most about this family is their closeness and their unconditional love for each other. This kind of love reminds me of the selfless love that God demonstrates to us. This sacrificial or agape love that God showers on us never changes. Even when we fail to understand why God loves us or feel we don’t deserve His love, God’s love is still unyielding regardless of the circumstances.
In a society that often diminishes the value of fathers, my desire is to celebrate the fundamental role of fathers who influence their children when nurturing them with God’s Word. Fathers who instill spiritual truths in their children while allowing them to experience God for themselves exhibit the leadership role of fathers. We cannot deny the powerful and reinforced bond between fathers and their children when speaking to the spiritual questions of early childhood. ************************************************************** We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD, about his power and his mighty wonders. ~Psalm 78:4 ****************************************************** Happy Father's Day!
I knew when I’d finishing writing my first book, “Mama, I Want to See God,” that the characters would look like my readers. Diversity also flows through the second book in the series, Families Growing in Faith, as well as the third book (coming soon). Not only do the children and the parents in my books look different, they also possess their own unique backgrounds and life experiences. Diversity originates with God, for He created a variety of plant and animal life and His utmost creation, human beings. And, while we are all diverse as humans, the kingdom of heaven belongs to all of God’s children, no matter our differences. ~ Matthew 19:14
After publishing "Mama, I Want to See God," I had ideas of writing a series of “Mama” books. However, my thoughts shifted when my brother-in-law asked, if my next book would center on “dads.” I reflected on this and said, “Possibly.” I pondered over his question for a while until a dear friend had a layover in Atlanta for a few hours. Over brunch, I discussed the prospect of a book series. Our brainstorming resulted in the title of “Daddy, I Want to Know God” and the last book to include the “grandparents.” Later, I chatted with my publisher. She thought including dads and grandparents in my next two books was an excellent idea. Now I needed to create a series name for the trilogy. I mulled over this for a while. The Holy Spirit directed me to contact an author friend of mine. With her help, I now had the series name, Families Growing in Faith. Most friends are willing to help you in your time of need. All you need do is ask. Just like our friends, God is our friend, too. However, He is the best friend of all! Just go to God in prayer. As the song says, “He may not come when you want him. But he'll be there right on time.”
Children indeed have many questions about God. They want to know about Him and if God knows them. Truth: God knows everything about us (Psalm 139:1). As children and adults, God will place a desire in our hearts to know Him. Scripture tells us that Paul had not yet attained to know God as he should, nevertheless, he was compelled toward that goal (Philippians 3:8-14). Unlike Paul, my belief in God occurred at a young age. But, like Paul, my desire to truly know Him has grown throughout my Christian journey. My constant prayer for children is that they will always have a heart to “know” God.
After my publisher accepted my manuscript, my editor and I began the work of ensuring that I used language that children could understand. Almost finished, we had one verse left to tackle. Making the necessary changes, my editor was still not satisfied with the rhyming word combinations. Whew! I was stuck. I played with that 4-line verse repeatedly until I consulted with God Himself. Lord, I need your guidance, I prayed. The Holy Spirit spoke to me. I heard, “How can you speak of my death and not speak of my Resurrection? God does answer prayers. The words that defied me for days now came flowing like a gentle stream. Therefore, while children may feel sadness regarding the death of Jesus, the story does not end on Good Friday. Yes, salvation exists due to Jesus’s death and burial. However, God provides us complete salvation through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We can now look forward to Sunday morning with jubilation. He is risen! Jesus Lives!
Through a sweet conversation between a father and child, the Gospel message is clearly presented in a kid-friendly format. Simple, yet powerful truths make this book a great resource for families with young children. Book Endorsement for Daddy, I Want to Know God ~ Crystal Bowman--bestselling, award-winning author of over 100 books for children
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