Top 10 Movies for Easter

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Sunday is Palm Sunday and starts Holy Week. It’s a good time to pull out your Easter movies.

10. The Robe

1953

Director: Henry Koster

Starring Richard Burton and Jean Simmons

This movie takes some liberties with the story, like the Romans crucifying Jesus without the Jews having anything to do with it and the disciples rescuing another Christian and having a good old fashion sword fight. Sometimes the discrepancies are laughable. That being said, it’s a great movie to watch and doesn’t change the essence of the Gospel. It’s also a touching love story. The line I remember most was when Richard Burton with his wide eyes glaring said. “Were you there?” It gave me the creeps.

9. Ben Hur

1959

Director: William Wyler Starring Charlton Heston

Who can forget Charlton Heston in the chariot race?

8. The Visual Bible: The Gospel of John

2003 Director Phillip Saville

Starring Christopher Plummer and Henry Ian Cusick

It follows the words in the Bible. Good, but not as good as Matthew.

7. The Greatest Story Ever Told

1965

Director: George Stevens Starring Max Von Sydow

Great movie about Christ’s life if you can get past the music every time Jesus appears.

6. Jesus of Nazareth

1977 Director: Franco Zeffirelli

Starring Robert Powell

This miniseries on the life of Jesus impacted me greatly even though Jesus looked a bit too Heavenly and his eyes were the wrong color.

5. The Visual Bible: The Gospel of Matthew

1993

Director: Regardt Von Den Bergh

Starring Richard Kiley, Bruce Marchiano, and Gerrit Schoonhoven

This is my all time favorite portrayal of the person of Jesus.

4. Risen

2016

Director: Kevin Reynolds

Starring Joseph Fiennes, Tom Felton, Peter Firth

This is a unique telling of the story of the resurrection of Christ through the eyes of a Roman soldier who is an unbeliever and sent to find Christ’s body.

3. Son of God

2014 Director: Christopher Spencer

Starring Dioga Morgada, Amber Rose Ravah, Sebastian Knapp

Read my review of this movie at this link.

2. Ben Hur

2016

Director: Timur Bekmambetov

Starring Jack Huston, Toby Kebbell, Rodrigo Santoro

This is an awesome movie. I was surprised that it was so much better than the original even without Charlton Heston My favorite kind of Easter story is one where Jesus is not the main character, but the main character is forever changed because of His encounter with Jesus. This checks all those boxes.

1. The Passion of the Christ

2004

Director: Mel Gibson

Starring James Caviezel

When I watch this movie, I feel like I’m watching the real event. It chokes me up every time. From the first moment of the film, I felt the anointing.

The History of Saint Patrick

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th, is a day everyone loves to celebrate by wearing green and having parades, but most don’t know the spiritual significance of the man named Patrick. It is a story of adventure and mystery.

Patrick was born in Kilpatrick, Scotland in the year, 387. His parents were Romans living in Britain and named him Maewyn Succat. At the age of fourteen, Patrick was captured by a raiding party and taken to Ireland to herd sheep. Ireland, at that time, was populated by pagans and druids. Patrick, during his captivity, learned the language and culture of Ireland. He also used his captivity to grow closer to God.

Six years later, at the age of twenty, Patrick had a dream from God to leave Ireland. In the dream, he was told to escape to the coast. When he arrived at the coast, a ship from Britain was waiting for him. He returned home to his family.

Later Patrick studied for the priesthood, became a bishop. He had a vision of the people of Ireland begging him to return and tell them about Jesus. Patrick became a missionary to Ireland and preached the Gospel throughout the land. He lived there for the rest of his life, and many were converted. He died on March 17th, 461.

There are many legends surrounding Patrick. Because there are very few snakes in Ireland, one legend says Patrick banished the snakes. This legend has a grain of truth in it if you consider the snakes paganism that plagued Ireland. By the time Patrick died, Ireland was on its way to becoming a Christian nation. Another legend says an Ash tree would grow wherever Patrick poked his stick into the ground.

The reason the shamrock is used to represent St. Patrick is because he used the shamrock to illustrate the trinity. Since the shamrock is green, that color is also used to represent Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day.

Guest Author Tanya Eavenson – Family Memories

tanya-eavensonTanya Eavenson is our guest blogger today. Tanya is a bestselling and an award-winning inspirational romance author. She enjoys spending time with her husband and their three children. Tanya is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Word Weavers International. Her favorite pastime is grabbing a cup of coffee, eating chocolate, and reading a good book. You can find her at her website, on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google, or on Amazon.

Family Memories

by Tanya Eavenson

Red christams roomFor years growing up our tradition was to gather with family on Christmas Eve. Aunts, uncles, and cousins I hadn’t seen since the year before would flock together for this one day. Even now, I can picture the older men sitting at their squared card tables playing dominoes and smoking cigars. No matter where you were in the house, the sound of shuffling and clinking tiles could be heard.

This is a memory I will never forget, and was a precious time growing up. But when my first daughter came into the world around Christmas time, I told my husband I wanted to start my own family tradition, one that would help our children understand what Christ did coming as a babe. My husband knew how important this was for me since I hadn’t grown up in a Christian home. So the next year we began our own family tradition.

Every year on Christmas day, whether we go home for the holidays or not, we make a birthday cake for Jesus. The kids get up in the morning and help me make the cake, from stirring the ingredients to layering the icing on thick, and yes, they like a lot of icing. Then after dinner we bring out the cake, light the candles, and sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus. Now, you might be wondering who blows out the candles. We all do because Jesus came for all.

I pray when my children get older, they will have their own traditions, but they will always remember praising and worshiping Christ on Christmas day. Even with something as simple as a cake.

togainamommy_1600x2400To Gain a Mommy

They had a plan, but will it work?

Thirteen years ago, pediatrician Hope Michaels was the fool-hearted girl who came home from college to learn the man she loved was engaged to her twin. But now to move on with her life and accept a proposal of marriage, she must confront the one man who holds the key to the wounds of her past.

Fire Captain Carl McGuire can put out any flame, except for the one Hope sparks within him. As she stirs up his life and heart, Carl knows some things never change. Even a past he’d rather keep hidden.

When a new neighbor moves in across the street who would be a perfect fit for their family, Mary and Brody form a plan to bring their dad and Hope together. But how will it work if Hope keeps pushing him away?

Excerpt from To Gain a Mommy

Chapter One

Carl McGuire smiled and shook his head as his eight-year-old son, Brody, held the sheer curtain and stared out the window at some poor, unsuspecting woman across the street.

Brody pointed, excitement dancing in his wide eyes. “Did you see the dog? He was standing by the palm tree a minute ago.”

“No,” Mary huffed, moving her younger brother to the side, swiping the tan fabric from him. “What does she look like?” She followed his stare out the window.

“She’s golden brown. And how do you know the dog is a girl? You can’t tell from here.”

“I’m not talking about the dog. The lady. What does she look like?”

“Who cares about her? Look at the dog.”

Carl leaned back in his desk chair, setting his phone down. The woman had no idea what she was about to encounter being their neighbor, but if she did indeed own a dog, she’d find out soon enough. Perhaps he could go over and warn her before it was too late. “Why don’t you give our new neighbor some privacy?”

Mary perked up and turned from the window. “I have a better idea. Why don’t we go over and say hi? It’s the neighborly thing to do. Love your neighbor as yourself, you always say.”

How conveniently she recalled scripture when it suited. Only last week she totally ignored his comment to ‘obey your parents.’ Even if there was only one parent, it still applied.

“Yeah, dad!” Brody pushed past his sister to stand near the door, so if Carl agreed, he’d be the first out. “I’m sure she’ll let us play with her dog while she moves her stuff from the truck.”

Carl had actually thought about going over to introduce himself and his children when the moving truck had first pulled into the driveway earlier that day, but several phone calls later, the fire department’s fundraiser was finally underway. As captain, he had an obligation not only to the townspeople and their safety but also to raise money for needed improvements to the fire fighters’ “home away from home.”

He glanced at the list of numbers he still needed to call. “Maybe tomorrow. We can take some cookies or something.”

“But Dad, it’s a golden retriever.”

As if the breed of the dog would change his mind. “Sorry, buddy. I still have too much to do.”

Mary released the curtain. “She has blond hair, but that’s all I could tell.” She rounded the couch and plopped down in the recliner. “You know, if you’d just get him a dog, it might cure his dog fascination.”

“Thank you, Mary. I’ll keep that in mind.” Even though his daughter stayed silent, he sensed she wanted to say more but held her tongue, something she’d been doing more often lately.

Being a single parent wasn’t easy, but he’d always known where he stood with Mary and what was on her mind. Now he wasn’t so sure and it bothered him. She’d be a teenager in less than six weeks and was growing up much too fast. Every day he’d been noticing little things that reminded him of Faith, memories of what he used to have before she was taken in a hit-and-run. Some days like today were painfully real.

“…are you listening? We’re hungry.”

Carl blinked twice, pushing his thoughts away as he glanced at the time on his phone. “What do you want to eat?” He stood and slid his cell into his pocket.

Mary linked her arm through his. “Can I go to Tiffany’s house Tuesday for a sleepover?”

Brody ran past them into the kitchen and opened the freezer. “I thought we’re going to Grandma’s?”

“You are. I’m on shift.” He patted his daughter’s hand as it slid from his arm. “Maybe next week.”

“Why I can’t go? I’m a teenager now. I can take care of myself. Besides, it would be easier for Grandma if I wasn’t there. One less mouth to feed.”

“You know how I feel about staying together while I’m on shift. I don’t have to worry about your safety. And besides, Grandma fixes us food regardless or sends it home with us. Speaking of”—he opened the refrigerator—“are you in the mood for leftovers?”

Brody yanked out a pizza. “How about pizza?”

“Not pizza again.” Mary sank to a barstool. Her lips protruded slightly into a pout.

“Okay.” Brody stuffed the pizza back in the freezer and held out two more options. “We have pizza rolls or pizza pockets. I like either one.”

Carl chuckled, swiping his wallet and keys from the counter. “Grab your shoes. We’ll get something to eat.” He went into his room and put on his running shoes, but as he was walking out, the picture of Faith on his dresser caught his eye. The ache in his chest dimmed over the years, but never quite vanished. She gazed back at him, her smile brilliant. Breathtaking. And a mirror image of—

He shook his head to focus on the present and his two hungry children. Walking back into the living room, he yelled, “We ready?” The front door was open. They must be waiting for him by the truck.

In an instant, an ear piercing scream cut through the air, straight down the center of his heart.

Mary.

A Season to Praise God

by Carole Brown

During this holiday season, when so much of our attention is on the commercialism of the day, let us direct our attention to the real reason we celebrate this time of the year. Let us follow our Lord’s example in word, action and deed by praising our God. Here are a few thoughts, and I’m sure you can add to this list. 

 

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  • With our voices. Sing aloud to our God. Show him we love him by letting the adoration we feel pour from the very depths of our souls. Shout aloud our praises.

 

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  • With our actions.Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” By doing so with a heart full of love for God, we show him our sincerity and love for him. Labor for the church. Witness. Be kind. Turn the other cheek. Pray without ceasing. Do good to those who hurt us. Hard? Yes, but not for God, and if he does indeed live inside us, then we are strong through him. Amen.

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  • For victory! Praise him this year, this season for what he has brought us through in 2016. Praise him that we have yet another opportunity to enjoy this month, to share with others the blessings he’s given us, the lessons we’ve learned, the battles we’ve fought and won, and to rejoice in all that. “Yea, we are more than conquerors!”

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  • For Christianity. Praise God for sending his only begotten Son to earth to be a Savior for mankind. Who else could love humans but a Supreme Being so fully, so deeply, so extensively but the God of heaven?  “For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten so, that whosoever believes in him, should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

 

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  • For a future. Bleak days may be before us, but we have an assurance. We have a hope, an eternal home awaiting for us. We have a captain who is strong and wise and experienced and knowledgeable. What awaits for us in 2017, and even further down the years, whether good or bad, sad or happy, we know without a doubt that God is able and will provide the strength we need to see us through. As the old song goes, “We’re just passing through.” and scripture says, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you…

Many wonderful seasons of praise wished for you today. Merry Christmas!

Guest Author Joi Copeland – The Beauty of Christmas (Book Giveaway)

I would like to welcome guest author Joi Copeland today. Joi is giving away a copy of her novel Christmas Rayne. To enter the drawing leave a comment answering this question: Why is Christmas so special to you?

Joi is married to a wonderful man, Chris, and has three amazing boys, Garrison, Gage, and Gavin. She lives in Denver, Colorado, but within the year, hopes to be living in Galway, Ireland.

Joi’s love of writing began at a young age. She wrote short stories for several years, and in 2009, she began writing her first novel, Hope for Tomorrow.

The Beauty of Christmas

by Joi Copeland

Stack of books and other presents in basket. Christmas decoratioI love Christmas. Everything about it. I love Jack Frost nipping at my nose. Snow gliding down from heaven, blanketing the earth in peaceful silence. The smell of Christmas trees brings in me a euphoria I can’t even explain. Christmas lights twinkling in the night gives me hope that Jesus will shine brightest in the darkness of life. For some reason, peppermint comes to mind when I think of Christmas. The smell and taste sends my senses soaring to new heights. And the ability to give gifts to loved ones near and far makes my heart sing.

Don’t get me started on the Christmas songs. Songs of the birth of my Savior, shouting it from the mountains, singing about how many kings would leave their kingdom and pour out their hearts for the likes of me. O Holy Night tops the list of my favorite Christmas songs, followed by Do You Hear What I Hear. Can’t help it. Singing about Jesus brings me joy!

But what about the times in my life when I haven’t felt it? It just didn’t feel like Christmas. Songs didn’t draw me closer to the feeling, neither did the peppermint drinks or lights from the tree. Gift giving became more of a stressful chore than anything. My heart did not sore. It plummeted. Why?

Because I was searching for the feeling and not the meaning. I wanted to FEEL like it was Christmas. My feelings can be deceitful. They normally are. I forgot to search for the meaning of Christmas that year. I was left distraught, frustrated, angry, even, that I didn’t get the joyful feelings of Christmas.

I didn’t search for the meaning. Jesus. If I would have searched for Him, I would have found Him. Jesus can be found when we seek and search for Him. I searched for the feeling of Christmas and was left empty. How I wished I would have searched for Jesus instead! Then, everything else was sure to follow!

As we get closer to celebrating the birth of Christ and you are running around, getting those last few gifts, baking a few more goodies, gathering at parties a few more times, remember to search for Jesus. He’ll make all of those things you have to do worth it. Because, after all, He truly is the reason for the season. Let’s not forget that as Christmas draws near. Draw near to Him, and He will draw near to you.

Merry Christmas! Or as the Irish say, Happy Christmas!

christmas-rayne-cover-new-v2Christmas Rayne

Rayne Adams loves Christmas time. While shopping for a Christmas tree, she runs into a love from the past. With a possible new love forming on the horizon, will the past continue to haunt her or will she be able to let it go and move on? Or is there room in her heart for her former love?

Justin Thomas made the biggest mistake of his life three years ago. Now, finding himself face to face with the one he hurt the most, can he regain her trust and her love? Or will he lose her to another? Find out in Christmas Rayne!

Joi’s books include:

  • Hope for Tomorrow, book 1
  • Hope for the Journey, book 2
  • Hope from the Past, book 3,
  • Letters of Love
  • Christmas Snowe and Peppermint Cocoa, a novella
  • Sheriff Bride Rob’s Story, a novella

Joi Copeland is giving away a copy of her novel Christmas Rayne. This is for USA only. The winner will be chosen at random next Thursday, and the winner will be emailed with instructions. To enter the drawing leave a comment answering this question: Why is Christmas so special to you?

10 of My Favorite Christmas Things

Funny christmas companyby Tamera Lynn Kraft

I love Christmas. I love everything about it. It is my favorite time of the year, always has been. My family claims I remind them of Elf in the movie at this time of year. Embarrassingly, I see the resemblance. Here are 10 of my favorite Christmas things.

Christmas MoviesFavorite Christmas Movie: It’s a Wonderful Life

No contest here. I love old movies, WW2 era, sappy Christmas movies, and Jimmy Stewart. Put them all together, and you have this movie.

Stack of books and other presents in basket. Christmas decoratioFavorite Christmas Novel: The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

I love Dickens, and I believe this is one of his best novels. The novel is so much better than all the movies.

Favorite Christmas Decoration: Christmas Putz

putz

I used to consider my Santa collection my favorite, but when I started studying about the Moravians and how they include Nativities in their Christmas Villages, I started putting together a putz. I’m pretty happy with the way it’s turning out.

christmas-tree-2015Favorite Christmas Tree: Artificial lifelike Green with colored lights.

I love the real trees, but they play havoc on my allergies. So I settle for green trees that look like the real thing. I like the brightly colored lights more than the white lights.

Favorite Children’s Christmas Pageant: Santa Bowed at Christmas

I did this pageant with the children in my church when my daughter was about 11 years old. She played one of the starring roles. The play is a very special story about a department store Santa accepting Jesus in his heart and finding the real meaning of Christmas. What made it even more special was it was the year my husband got saved – and he played Santa in the play. When Santa bowed at the manger, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place.

Favorite Christmas Video: Social Media Christmas

Bring a lump to my throat every year. See for yourself.

Favorite Christmas Gift: A book of course.

Favorite Traditional Christmas Carol: O Holy Night

It changes every year.

Favorite Modern Christmas Rendition: Transiberian Orchestra’s Carol of the Bells

Favorite Christmas Scripture: Isaiah 9:2-3, 6-7

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

nativity_fkszctud_l

A Season for Fun

by Carole Brown

There are numerous reasons for holidays, but one of the reasons is for fun! Enjoy life, appreciate what you have or that things could be worse, and praise God. Here are a few ideas for a season of fun:

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  • Cut your own tree or decorate it. Make it an adventure. Whether you do this by yourself or have children, have fun decorating. I always believe in decorating the tree for children, but whether you choose the more elegant look of white lights, shimmering big bulbs and lots of ribbon or go with a more traditional look of old, cherished ornaments and/or handmade ornaments, enjoy this activity.

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  • Take time for relaxing moments or quiet reading sessions, hot chocolate or tea (or coffee) a delicious dessert in front of fireplace (if you have the privilege of one). Sit down and challenge your family to a favorite game. Relate fond memories with your children and other family members. 

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  • Take a mini vacation. Go see the light displays on neighborhood houses or light shows in parks, city businesses, and small towns. Go to the zoo and wander around. Many of them have light shows to enjoy while seeing the animals. Take walks in the park. Go ice skating, sled riding or horse drawn sleigh riding covered with a thick blanket and snow flakes on your nose. Walk in the woods. Go to a mall and check out the decorations they have in the main center. Go to neighborhood concerts and Christmas pageants.

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  • Go shopping together. Hold on, and I’ll explain what I mean. If you have mini-items to purchase, or your children have their own money to spend, and you shop at the discount stores, then help them make lists, go with them and encourage/advise them on their choices. Relax, and don’t stress out! Sometimes their thoughts are far different (and above) an adults. Help them make the right choices but don’t allow this time to turn into a battle. Children learn by mistakes. Their smiles and pride at gifts purchased is well worth another bottle of “unloved” cologne they might have chosen. 🙂

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  • Worship together. If children are old enough to behave, then allow them to attend with you. Show them your enthusiasm for the older favorite Christmas hymns; allow them to sing and praise God (encourage and guide them gently) with the congregation. Attend other church functions such as Christmas programs and plays, and suppers. Let them help with dinners for the more unfortunate. Consider sponsorships to worthy causes to help the less fortunate. Re-read the old, old story of Jesus’ birth together and help them understand the real reason we celebrate this time of the year.  

 

I’ve mentioned several items that can be done with your children or grandchildren, but I also understand that many do not have this blessing. Consider adopting (in actions) a child and sharing what you can with them–moneywise or timewise.  Many schools have grandparenting programs. I’ve seen the results when the children love that little bit of extra attention. Teach Sunday School classes. Offer to help teachers host parties. Volunteer at various groups. 

 

Most of all, enjoy the season. Don’t let anything rob you of the peace, love and joy. 

Merry Christmas!