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  • Soak Up the Sun: 5 Beach Reads for Summer 2016

    Who doesn’t love getting lost in a good book at the beach? Your toes in the sand, salt in the air and the sun on your skin – few things are more relaxing. Whether you’re planning a summer getaway or aiming your sprinkler at the patio, kick back and relax with these popular beach reads.

    All books are Buy One Get One 50% Off at Family Christian now through August 25 making it the perfect time to stock your beach bag with these Christian fiction favorites.

    The Things We Knew by Catherine J. West After her mother's death, Lynette Carlisle watched her family unravel. All her siblings eventually left Nantucket, silently blaming their father. Nobody will tell Lynette about that day that she can't remember. But when Dad's failing health and financial concerns bring everybody home, secrets begin to surface that will either restore lost relationships---or separate the Carlisles forever.

    The Promise of Jesse Woods by Chris Fabry In the summer of 1972, Matt Plumley forms a friendship with Jesse Woods, a tough-as-nails girl. But one night the wrath of the prominent Blackwoods and the secrets of Jesse's family will collide and destroy the promise she and Matt make to each other. Will he ever learn the truth behind the only pledge Jesse ever broke?

    The Second Half by Lauraine Snelling Ken and Mona are looking forward to their retirement, but then they receive a call from their son, a Special Forces officer. Announcing that he's been deployed overseas, he asks them to care for his kids. They find parenting a challenge, but it's even harder when Steig stops contacting them. Can they trust God to bring him home?

    Close to You by Kara Isaac Allison Shire is done with love and travels to New Zealand to work as a tour guide for Lord of the Rings movie sites. But she doesn't expect to meet Jackson Gregory, a would-be entrepreneur who's pretending to be a Tolkien aficionado. Will the know-it-all guide and fake fan take a chance on romance?

    Fading Starlight by Kathryn Cushman A high-profile fashion internship should have launched Lauren Summers's career---but instead, a red carpet accident left her blackballed. Working for a former Hollywood star in return for free lodging in a seaside cottage, she sets out to salvage her reputation. But will the old woman's secrets raise new questions---and knock her off balance again?

    What great beach read would you add to the list?

  • 7 Bible Verses to Share with Your Daughter about her Identity in Christ

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    The right friends, the right opinions, the right pant size – tween girls are at an age where they’re feeling pressured to look and act a certain way. Society, the media and their peers are all competing to be their source of self-worth. Your precious daughter is in one of the most delicate and influential seasons of her life – it’s up to you to be the voice of truth.

    It’s our hope that these verses will inspire a larger conversation with your daughter about who she is and whose she is. We encourage you to ask God for guidance as you communicate what it means to be a Daughter of the King.

    7 Bible Verses about Identity

    You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you. – Song of Solomon 4:7 NIV

    I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. – Psalm 139:14 NKJV

    This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! – 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

    He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. – Ecclesiastes 3:11 ESV

    Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. – Ephesians 1:4 NKJV

    For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

    For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. – Ephesians 2:10 NLT

    Be intentional about speaking truth to your daughter. Challenge her to memorize a verse, pray these promises over her life and remind her to just have fun while remembering Jesus. Spark your tween girl’s faith with our exclusive new line of Cupcakes & Jesus clothing and accessories. It’s sweet, sparkly and speaks truth to your daughter using messages that remind her to be bold, shine bright and show the love of Christ.

    How do you teach your little girl about what it means to be a child of God?

  • Preparing for Marriage: 4 Must-Read Books for Newly Engaged Couples

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    You’re engaged! Excitement sets in and your head spins just thinking about all of the details to work out – the dress, the venue, the invites. But what about your marriage? Planning for your life together after your big day is an important and often overlooked step. Set yourselves up for a relationship rooted in Christ with these must-read engagement and marriage preparation books.

    All books are Buy One Get One 50% Off at Family Christian now through August 25. Buy one for yourself and one for your soon-to-be spouse! Then discuss what you learned together.

    Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Got Married Bestselling author and marriage counselor, Gary Chapman, put together this practical book to help couples prepare for marriage and learn the skills of working together as intimate teammates. This book is packed with wisdom and tips that will help you develop the loving, supportive and mutually beneficial marriage both men and women long for.

    Preparing for Marriage Begin the lifelong task of building a strong Christian marriage with eight sessions of fun, romantic study that will help you target areas for growth in your relationship. You can work through the book as a couple, with a pastor, with a premarital counselor or with a small group. Don't just plan your wedding, prepare for your marriage!

    Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts Relationship experts Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott offer time-tested marriage principles to help couples debunk myths, establish lines of communication, fight a good fight, master money management, and become true soul mates with seven questions to ask before and after you marry.

    Before You Say "I Do" This popular and helpful interactive workbook is designed to strengthen your love relationship and deepen your bond. You'll find all you need for fun and thoughtful discussions as you explore what the Bible teaches about marriage, what makes you feel loved and how to handle conflict.

    What’s the best marital advice you received before tying the knot?

  • An Interview With Karen Stubbs of Birds on a Wire

    Karen Stubbs is the founder and leader of Birds on a Wire, a ministry designed to equip moms through truth, encouragement and community. Recently, we were able to have a conversation to learn more about her, her ministry and her passion for helping mothers. Find the interview below.

    Karen StubbsPictured from Left to Right: Curt Andrews (Family Christian CMO), Karen Stubbs, and Ted Weyn (Family Christian SVP of Strategy & Development)

    Family Christian: Who is Karen Stubbs? Did you always want to become an author?

    Karen Stubbs: I am a wife to Greg Stubbs and a mother of four children, Kelsey, Emily, Taylor and Abby. I am also a grandmother to two beautiful grandchildren, Evie and Chapman. I live in Cumming, Ga. Being an author was never on my radar. I wrote a lot in college, and I love writing, but after I had my children, I stopped writing for a long time because I didn’t have time.

    FC: What is Birds on a Wire? And where does the name come from?

    KS: Birds on a Wire (BOAW) is a nonprofit ministry that focuses on equipping and encouraging moms. Being a mom is a hard job, and as I looked around, I didn’t see anyone truly pouring into moms to help them in their journey, so I thought I would start a ministry and do just that: to walk alongside a mom and encourage them.

    The story behind the name is sweet to me. BOAW started off with eight moms in my basement as a small group. In the early years, it was not an organized ministry—we didn’t even have a name. There was an artist, Jenifer Tanskley, that attended and at Christmas the group gave me a painting by Jenifer. The painting was the picture of birds sitting on a wire. I instantly fell in love with the painting and hung it in my bedroom. I kept looking at the painting and one day I called Jenifer and I asked her, “What was your inspiration for this painting?” She said it was Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable then they?”

    Oh my! It hit me like a ton of bricks. We as moms worry and are anxious with our children. We worry if we are going to mess up our child or not be a good mom. But, God has our children, and God has us. We don’t need to worry about anything—it is all in His very capable hands. So, I gathered a bunch of creative moms together, brought the painting in and read Matthew 6:26.

    I said, “Ladies, we need to name this ministry today, and I want it based off this picture and Matthew 6:26, what do you think?” They all started talking it through and one sweet mom, Carla Grogan, said, “We are like those birds, and Jesus is our wire. When the wind blows we just have to hang on for dear life and trust in Him. We really are like a bunch of birds on a wire.” I thought to myself, that’s it! Birds on a Wire.

    FC: How did God work in your life while writing and/or since the completion of writing Moments with God for Moms?

    KS: God started working on my heart before I even wrote the devotional. My eyes were open to how it was a real struggle for most women to carve out time for a quiet time after they became a mom. Once I decided to write the book, I started “listening” to what moms were talking about in the grocery store, Starbucks line, at my children’s ballgames or wherever I was and started finding Scripture that specifically addressed the struggles of a mom. Every devotion in the book is taken from a mom’s point of view. I tried to make it as practical and “real” as I could because I believe God is in the details, even in our role of a mom.

    FC: What do you hope mothers will take away from reading the devotional?

    KS: I pray that every mom will be drawn closer to God in reading this book. My desire is that moms across the world will realize God is in this journey with them and He is a loving Heavenly Father.

    FC: Do you plan/desire to publish more books in the future?

    KS: I am always thinking about “next” topics to explore that would help a mom in her journey. Books are a way to connect with moms, so yes I am planning on writing more books.

    FC: How does Birds on a Wire come alongside moms to give them practical advice (in addition to the devotional)?

    KS: BOAW has an entire library of resources that help moms. I have six DVD curriculums and workbooks that moms can go through either in a group setting or by themselves. The DVDs are a video of me teaching on a topic such as Discipline, Time Management, Boundaries, Contentment, Comparison, Fear, Control and many other topics, and each of these will help a mom and give them practical advice on raising children. I also wrote a book called Letters to Moms, and this book was birthed out of that basement group in the early years; after certain nights, I would write the moms an email on certain topics, hence the name of the book.

    FC: Family Christian and Birds on a Wire have recently partnered to provide a Mother’s Day gift bundle, including your devotional, encouragement cards, a gift bag, a bookmark with a 60-day free trial to iDisciple and a free line of personalization. Why is the gift set so valuable to give to mothers on Mother’s Day?

    KS: I believe this bundle is the complete package for any and every mom. The devotional is a daily encouragement and a way to connect to God, the encouragement cards are easy to use and so handy because you can place them wherever you are, at the sink doing dishes, your desk at work, in the car or by your bed, these cards are like a mini shot in the arm for moms, and remind them they are not in this job alone and the 60-day free trial with iDisciple gives moms a whole library of great authors, music and books that they may not have exposure to. Whether a mom is just getting started with a newborn or she is a grandmother of 10 grandchildren, I think this Mother’s Day gift is for everyone and will be a huge blessing for any mom.

  • Emerson Eggerichs and the Respect Effect

    A mom wrote:

    "I have been really struggling with my... son lately. Now I understand why every mother wants a daughter... because we “get” them! When my... daughter throws a fit about something, I know what angle to come from because I understand why she’s upset. When my son does something, I’m like, “Why did he just do that?” Again!"

    Mothers love their sons more than they love their very lives, but they readily confess ignorance and confusion.

    Every mother recognizes the woman in the girl and her longing for love. The feminine need for love rings loud and clear to all women. And, the desire to love is obvious. Who misses the nurturing nature of women and little girls?

    Yet as I talk to mothers and tell them there is a man in the boy, some respond with curiosity about who that man might be. These mothers admit they are a bit in the dark on God’s virtuous design of testosterone, unlike the way they intuitively grasp the purity of estrogen. One mom quipped (about her son), “We love these kids, but Lord help us; if they don’t have the same XX or XY chromosomes that we do, it can be like navigating a foreign country without a map.”

    But there is good news! In the book Mother & Son: The Respect Effect, I explain the attributes of mothernsonblogthe masculine soul. Both research and the Bible reveal the male’s need for respect.

    This is a simple and revolutionary insight into the heart of a son that we have overlooked—and shockingly so. This book is about a mother going beyond her love and applying respect to the heart of her son. Every mom will begin to see for herself this need in her son of any age. She will see her influence increase, her son motivated, and the two of them connect in ways she thought were not possible.

    I have collected hundreds and hundreds of e-mails from moms. You need to hear their testimonies. You owe it to yourself. You owe it to your son.

    ------

    Dr. Emerson Eggerichs is internationally known for speaking on the topic of male-female relationships. Based on his personal experiences over three decades of counseling, as well as scientific and biblical research, Dr. Eggerichs has written numerous books and created the Love and Respect Conference for married couples.

  • Laughing In The Dark: Our Exclusive Interview with Chonda Pierce

    Chonda Pierce is a platinum-selling, Emmy-nominated Christian comedian, who has been making audiences laugh for more than two decades now.

    Chonda posing with a flower in her mouth.

    Last year, she gave fans a more intimate look at her life in the form of a documentary style film. In addition to her normal stand-up performances, she showed the audience a behind the scenes look into her life, which showcased her struggles with loss, separation, tragedy and depression and finds hope and life through her relationship with God and her fans.

    Laughing in the Dark comes out on DVD today, April 5th, and to celebrate the release, we spoke with Chonda to discover how she got into comedy, life as a Christian comedian and more.

    Family Christian: How did you get started doing comedy?

    Chonda Pierce: I was cast in a show at a theme park called, Opryland USA. Our show, Country Music USA told the history of Country music by impersonating various country stars. I was given the role of Minnie Pearl - mainly to exclude me from the big dance number that followed. Since I was taught as a child that dancing would send you to "hell in a hand basket!"

    FC: What comedians inspired you early on in your comedy career? What comedians these days inspire you?

    CP: Sarah Cannon (aka Minnie Pearl), Carol Brunette, Red Skelton and Lucille Ball

    FC: Was comedy your dream job growing up, or did you have another career path in mind?

    CP: I was always interested in the performing arts. Even as a young child I loved the theater and filled my days with community theater, high school productions, college theater, etc.

    FC: When did faith begin to play a role in your life? Were you always a “Christian” comedian or did your faith get put into your acts later on?

    CP: My faith is never a part of my "act.' My faith is a part of my life - my life with Christ will always bleed over into EVERYTHING I do.

    FC: Some Christian rappers have said they don’t like being known as “Christian rappers”, but rather they are just rappers who also are Christians. How do you feel being labeled a Christian comedian?

    CP: Sadly, the secular world deems the "Christian" artist as soft, less than or not as interesting. It's a silly judgment... But it exists. Looking back - I see now what a distraction calling myself a Christian comedian can be when trying to legitimize my talent as a comic. But, frankly, I was so excited to not be going to hell that I wore the title proudly!! HA!

    FC: How has God spoken to you and worked in your life in the areas of darkness and depression? And how have you been able to use this to be an encouragement to others?

    CP: Talking honestly about depression has become somewhat of a calling. I wrote a book called Laughing in the Dark. You should read it sometime! HA!! HA!!

    FC: Since creating the film, Laughing in the Dark, has God worked in any new ways?

    CP: God has certainly surprised me with the overwhelming success of this movie. I don't feel like anyone "created" anything... I simply lived my life and someone filmed it. GOD did ALL the rest.

    FC: Do you have a specific verse or verses that you lean on during troubled times?

    CP: Favorite scriptures vary with moods, circumstances, etc. Just like favorite songs! But my overall LIFE verse is: John 6:63 "The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing..." Puts EVERYTHING in perspective doesn't it!?

    FC: Do you hope to make more films like this in the future? If so, can you share some of your plans?

    CP: NO! A documentary of the most trying times of my life??? No, thank you!!! I'd love to do some fun movies, some serious acting. But, I'm ready to take a break from tragedy!!

    We can't thank Chonda enough for taking the time to answer our questions.

    Check out Laughing in the Dark today!

  • An Interview with Glenys Nellist

    We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Glenys Nellist, author of Love Letters from God, Little Love Letters from God, and Snuggle Time Prayers. We learned what an average day for her looks like, where she draws her inspiration from and more.

    She also discussed how adults complicate salvation and gave us insight into how she simplifies this idea for children by offering them an invitation to "join Jesus' team" by way of a small postcard found at the end of the each book.

    Check out the full interview below:

  • What Is It About Small Children?

    Have you noticed the super powers small children wield?

    I was riding the NYC subway one morning, when the doors opened and into the car walked a little child.

    She was maybe 2.

    Instantly, all of us—these defended New Yorkers, all avoiding eye contact, all guarding our space—were transformed. We smiled at her. At her mother. At each other.

    Her gentleness disarmed us. Barriers of race and age and status vanished.

    She changed everything.

    When people asked Jesus, “Who’s the greatest in your Kingdom?” Jesus showed them a little child and said, “Become like this little child.”

    It’s not always all about what we teach children.

    It’s about what they teach us.

    I’ve learned that from writing for children. Writing for children keeps you honest. You have to dig deeper. Work harder. Understand it better. Your job is to distill—to take the profound and make it simple enough for a child to understand.

    When I was writing THE JESUS STORYBOOK BIBLE, I couldn’t rely on jargon. A little child has no concept of what sin is, for instance. I had to find other ways to describe it. I wrote that: sin is not just about breaking the rules, it’s breaking God’s heart; it’s like poison that makes your heart sick and stops it from working properly; it’s like running away from God and hiding in the shadows.

    Writing for children demands nothing short of excellence.

    The funny thing is—if you write with the excellence that children deserve you reach everyone. C S Lewis said: “No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.”

    Excellence, it turns out, is the most inclusive thing.

    THE JESUS STORYBOOK BIBLE has broken out of the boundaries typical for a children’s bible storybook—read by college students, theologians, pastors, couples; read in schools, prisons, old people’s homes. (It’s so popular with adults that we have published their own edition: THE STORY OF GOD’S LOVE FOR YOU.)

    I think it has something to do with that place inside of us all that remains a child still, the place God loves to speak to us—the place where we are undefended, humble, open to wonder. Open him. The place that tiny child spoke to us all, in that NYC subway car that morning.

    In THE JESUS STORYBOOK BIBLE I captured the plotline of the Bible. As adults when do we ever hear that plotline? Even if we go to church regularly, we may never hear the whole story in one sitting.

    But when you distill the story down so that you can read it in one sitting, immediately it is startling. Because most of us think we know what the Bible is about—and it’s not good. We think it’s a book of rules you follow so God will love you. Or a book of heroes you copy so God will love you.

    But it’s none of those things.

    It’s most of all a Story.

    The Story Of a God who breaks into History and comes down to rescue his children. A God who moves heaven and earth to be near them, to love them—though it would cost him everything.

    The Story of a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. The Story of a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne—everything—to rescue the one he loves.

    The Bible is simply this: THE STORY OF GOD’S LOVE FOR YOU.

    And I don’t know anyone—young or old—who doesn’t need to hear that story.

    Sally Lloyd-Jones is a New York Times bestselling author whose books include: Thoughts To Make Your Heart Sing, a children’s devotional which won the ECPA Christian Book of The Year award in adult inspiration, and The Jesus Storybook Bible, now available in a format for adults with a new design and title, The Story of God's Love for You. Sally also has a new picture book coming this spring, Baby Wren and the Great Gift.

  • What's Next For Widow Connection?

    Previously, we shared with you how Widow Connection started and how Family Christian has partnered with them along the way.

    Now, let’s take a look at what’s in store for 2016 and beyond.

    Along with her daughter, Valerie Neff Hogan, Miriam Neff plans to launch a brand new radio show, called $tarting Over Financially, which will be several 20-minute features that address starting over when life has brought unwanted change.

    “It’s primarily geared to widows but also addresses the same needs to people who have gone through divorce or whose spouse is incarcerated,” Valerie explained, adding that a few topics include assessing one’s financial situation, debt and surplus, document gathering to do a budget and building wealth and worth.

    Miriam and Valerie Miriam and Valerie.

    In addition to working at Widow Connection, Valerie is also an attorney and offers Christian budgeting counseling and financial planning, so her financial experience paired with Miriam’s counseling experience make for a perfect way to offer sound advice to widows in a loving and caring way.

    The idea for $tarting Over Financially came as a result of all the feedback they’ve received from listeners, who have often said they wanted to hear more advice surrounding money.

    Widow Connection’s work will also continue overseas, where they’ve provided skill training to widows in Mozambique, Kenya, Malawi, Ghana and Albania.

    In these countries, widows’ needs are different—compared with the U.S .—because these widows are truly in poverty. One example is the need for clothing. In the U.S., we have access to stores with inexpensive clothing—but these widows do not .

    Widow Connection stepped in to assess these widows’ needs and developed a plan to help. They empower women to support themselves by offering sewing classes, which allows them to provide clothing for their families and earn money by selling the clothing.

    These widows now have the means to earn a living for themselves. And many of them can afford to keep and feed their children, instead of having no other option than to put them in an orphanage.

    We are very thankful for all the work Miriam does and look forward to continuing partnering with her in her mission to help and support widows in distress.

    Join us in giving hope to widows around the world. Donate $10* to Widow Connection by texting FAMILY to 52000.

    #FCGiveHope

    *Your one-time donation of $10 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your pre-paid balance. Message & data rates may apply.

  • Widow Connection: Lori's Story

    It’s difficult for anyone to understand the feeling of becoming a widow without having gone through the unfortunate experience themselves.

    “The temperature in your home isn’t the same. The refrigerator isn’t the same. Sometimes your children don’t want to come to your home because it reminds them of the sadness from losing their dad, and you want them there all the time because you’re lonely,” Miriam said, describing what a widow’s life looks like after she becomes widowed.

    In addition, upon becoming widows, women lose 75% of their friendship networks. That’s why Widow Connection has been a blessing to so many people, including Miriam.

    Through her nonprofit ministry, she’s met and served many widows around the world. One such example is Lori Fox-Ritter, a widow with whom she has become very close.

    Lori’s husband, Eric, lost his battle with ALS on April 21, 2010—four years to the day after Miriam’s husband. At the time, her two children were 7 and 13 years old.

    It wasn’t an instant connection, though.

    Through her friend, Lori found Miriam’s radio program, New Beginnings, about a month after her husband passed away. After listening to an archived version of the broadcast, she felt that Miriam knew her heart and everything that she was going through and wanted to learn more.

    A few weeks later, Lori purchased Miriam’s book, From Widow to Another, and was surprised at what she learned on the first page: Miriam’s husband passed away four years prior to the day Eric did. Both of their “vehicles to Heaven” were ALS, and Lori figured God was telling her to read the book—and that night, she finished it.

    Lori felt very connected to Miriam after reading the book, so she decided to reach out to her on WidowConnection.com. After corresponding over email, they decided to meet in Chicago that December.

    This would mark the beginning of a fresh start for Lori. After meeting Miriam, she was introduced to more widows with whom she could trust and relate to.

    Lori Reading Lori enjoying Miriam's book, From One Widow to Another.

    Following the death of a spouse, life is flipped upside down, but with the encouragement and love of God and others, widows can get back on their feet.

    “That period of time afterwards we can decide to just stay under a rock and not get healthy and not figure it out, or we can say, ‘God gave me this body, and it needs to serve me,’” Miriam said. “One of the things we encourage each other to do is to listen to and take care of yourself, and God is going to love you and comfort you.”

    Miriam noticed these positive changes Lori was making in her life.

    “When I saw the way you were growing and loving your kids, kind of getting your body healthy again, I thought 'this woman is going to encourage a bunch of other women with her journey. And it happened.”

    Miriam invited Lori to be featured on her DVD series, One Widow to Another, and she graciously accepted.

    “I was really excited when she asked me to be part of this. I wanted to be used to share the things that had helped me,” Lori said, when explaining the impact Miriam’s book, website and entire ministry had on her life.

    And it wasn’t just widows that God put in Lori’s life.

    Lori knew she had to be in a good place before entering the dating scene again. She prayed that God would prepare someone’s heart for her. She knew it had to be a Christian man and one with whom she would want to spend the rest of her life. And in 2011, God brought Lori and Todd together, and they’ve been happily married since 2012.

    Today, Lori uses her accounting skills to help her church and her brother with their finances and is more than willing to help new widows the same way Miriam helped her back in 2011.

    As for Widow Connection, they have plans to grow and continue helping widows all over the world. Continue reading to see more about their future.

    Join us in giving hope to widows around the world. Donate $10* to Widow Connection by texting FAMILY to 52000.

    #FCGiveHope

    *Your one-time donation of $10 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your pre-paid balance. Message & data rates may apply.

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