I will let you in on a secret. JoAnne Lily Stark is a pen name—not my real name. But as you read this page I will try to let you get to know the real me a little bit and to understand why I wanted to build this website.

I was very blessed. I was born to two loving parents, who lived out their faith every day. They took my sister and brother and me to church every Sunday, so we learned a lot in regard to what the Bible reveals about God. I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and come into my heart in a Sunday School class at five years of age.

As a toddler, I had a companion I couldn’t seem to live without—my funny little blue and white teddy bear. It was a gift from a family friend. Mom told me I wore out the first one. She used the old one to draw a pattern and make a new one. It didn’t look exactly like the old one. It was made of terrycloth instead of being furry, and the color was slightly different. The buttons that she used for eyes were not the same as the eyes of the other bear. Mom said that, when she handed me the new bear, I looked it over very carefully. She was afraid I might not accept it. I finally embraced it after deciding to accept it, different as it was. As you can see, the new teddy bear became very well worn, too. And the foam rubber chips that once made it soft and cuddly are now hard and crunchy.

As I grew up, I discovered that I had a special love for little children. I assumed that someday I would have children of my own and could do my best to pass on living a life of faith in God to them, as my parents had done for me. But suddenly, like that teddy bear, life didn’t look exactly like I thought it should. It became necessary for me to have surgery that made it impossible for me to bear children. After surgery, the only hallway available for the walking my doctor ordered had a window full of newborn babies. In the time that followed I looked at my life skeptically, just as I had the new teddy bear, wondering if I could accept it with it looking so much different than I expected. In time I made the decision to accept it, different as it was. I trusted the promise of Romans 8:28 that “. . . all things work together for good for those who love God . . .”  I’m sure there are many people whose lives didn’t turn out the way they thought it would. Maybe you are one of them.

As it turned out, I married someone who had two children who were already in their late teens and about ready to go on their own. Later on I was sometimes blessed to have grandchildren visit our home, as well as some nieces and nephews.

One way my parents lived out their faith was by honoring God in the holidays. We knew that Christmas was a celebration of Jesus’ birth—not just a time to see if Santa left presents. We knew that Easter was a time to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead—not just a time to decorate Easter eggs. I guess it was mainly by attending church at those times and hearing the message of what those holidays were about. This website is meant to help Christian parents and other Christians who are allowed to have some influence on the children in their lives, such as grandparents, aunts and uncles, godparents, and more, to pass on their faith. I wanted to go beyond what is taught in church and provide creative ideas that will help tie holiday celebrations with our faith.

Thinking back to my childhood again, black and white televisions had become pretty common in the U.S. by the time I was five or six years old. Saturday mornings were filled with kids’ shows. Unlike today, parents didn’t need to be selective in what they allowed the kids to watch. It was safe to let the kids sit in front of the TV for several hours on Saturday morning. Each of the shows had good morals and seemed to always end up teaching some good principle.

I think my very favorite Saturday morning show was Annie Oakley. I begged for an Annie Oakley outfit for my birthday. Although I found out later in life that she was apparently nothing like the real Annie Oakley, I had admired the Annie Oakley of the TV show. She could look pretty and feminine when she changed from her leather skirt, vest, and holster to a dress. I think I admired her mostly because she could be tough in standing up for the law, and yet she could be gentle and caring when looking out for her little brother, “Tag.”

Similarly, as Christians we should stand up for what we believe in, and yet be loving and caring.

I will sum up the basic beliefs that I wish to stand up for:

*I believe that the books of the Bible were inspired by the Holy Spirit and are still relevant today.
(II Timothy 3:16-17)

*I believe that only God could have created this amazing and complex world and that human life is precious to God. (Psalm 19:1; Psalm 139:13-14)

*I believe that God exists in three persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 3:16-17)

*I believe that man’s disobedience to God brought separation from God and the loss of eternal life. (I Corinthians 15:21-22)

*I believe that God the Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross to pay for our sins, so that all who believe in Him could be reconciled to God and have eternal life. (John 3:16; Romans 5:10)

*I believe that one of these days Jesus Christ will return in the skies to catch away those who have received Him as their Savior and that later He will return to the earth for final judgment of those who rejected His invitation. (I Thessalonians 4:16-17; Revelation 19:11&16)

*I believe that those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ will experience great joy in eternity.
(Revelation 21:4)

On this website I have given some thoughts meant to encourage and challenge our faith and some miscellaneous tips and resources for everyday life. I hope you will find this site very helpful and enjoyable.

If you are a follower of Christ, I hope you will join me in trying to stay focused on Christ throughout the year. Hebrews 12:1-2 encourages those of us who are His followers to keep looking to “the author and finisher of our faith,” who endured great suffering for the joy of accomplishing our means of acquiring eternal life through our faith in Him. Many of the posts on this website are designed to help us keep that focus. You can use this website to encourage a life of faith in your family. If you don’t have family members with whom you can share your life, maybe you share some of your life with others in the “family” of believers.

I ran across a Scripture verse in Psalm 71:18 that expresses an appropriate prayer. It says, “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.” [NIV]

I want to leave a legacy of faith. How about you?