Are you enough?

praying woman with Bible

Powerless

To save myself.

To do good works that count for anything.

Save for……the finished work of Christ on the cross. Now that’s a bonafide churchy phrase if I ever spelled one out!

Street language would be – save for…….the fact that Jesus Christ, who is God’s Son, came here to earth as a man to live the perfect life then die on the cross for my sin-sick soul.  Saved because I believe who He says He is and what He did for me is true. I cannot save myself. I cannot have a relationship with my Creator God without trusting in His Son. I cannot be saved from eternity in hell unless I trust in the fact, in the truth that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, came to earth to live then die and rise again so that I might have that promised eternal life in heaven with him.

I could indeed do good works. I have done good works. Sung nice songs. Written nice words. But on the nights that I know down in the very gut of my soul that the Holy Spirit showed up in the room with our moms, I know I didn’t do a darn thing except show up. I showed up to love some moms. No questions asked. No judgment. I just hugged, prayed, teared up often, and loved deep. And knew it very well. Because I was undone the next day. Totally spent.

Why in the world do I think I have something profound to say? These moms just need to hear the truth. The truth is that they are loved; that Jesus died for them; that they can have their sins forgiven when they trust in Him; that their life will count always when they trust in Jesus daily for all their needs. He wants to meet them where they are in their life. And he will.

I want to be strong for these fragile women. I want them to trust in Jesus; to read His Word; to stay in His word. To move more away from the world and toward His truths. His love. Obedience to Him – which is to love Him with all their heart and soul and mind and to love others as themselves.

To forsake the world’s lust and empty pleasures. To live for Him. Always.

But. I cannot hold their hand. When they text that they slept in last Sunday; that they didn’t seem to get to church all summer; that they are back with Mr. I-Know-he’s-not-right-for-me; I have to hold this wounded little bird with open hands. I cannot make her go to church any more than I can make this wounded bird well. Only God. Only the power of the Holy Spirit who truly draws us to Himself.

This morning while walking the beach I pondered a lot, as usual. Love my alone time walks on the beach.  I thought of the persecuted Believers in other parts of the world; even here in the US. What do they have that is missing in my life?beach walking

PASSION.

For the persecuted, Jesus is all they have. When the Voice Of the Martyrs worker was put in prison for sharing the gospel in Sudan, he thought he would be there a few days. https://youtu.be/2zEiiZi2DKk.  Turned in to more than a year. What did he come out of there with? A closer walk with Jesus. It was truly him and the Lord for over a year. Nothing else. No one else. I am too comfortable. Too apathetic. Too much ease. I have more than I need.

Petr Jassek

Oh, Father, I need to remember that if you did take all away from me; the beach walks, Doves Rest, my husband, my children, my sisters in Christ, my massage, my mani/pedi, I would have you. And You would be enough.

“…….I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them be rubbish in order that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:8

You know when the Holy Spirit is Present

 

sitting around the table

“…..not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:25

This morning I gazed at our dining table that seats six, marveling at how in January of this year, three of us sat at one end of the table eager to begin the first Community Bible Study. We prayed. We shared some of our lives. We read the Scripture from week one in the study book Open your Bible. We prayed and hugged and wondered. Would the Lord indeed bring more friends to the table?

We hoped we would see His hand in this fledgling beginning.

I continued to gaze at the table. In early March God brought Sherry with her friend Terry. Sherry wanted to return, but her husband’s health pulled her away for a number of weeks. She hungered for this time. We promised to keep her in the loop. Terry’s life was full and getting fuller. She enjoyed the study, but we have not seen her since that first visit.

Wendy came in March. She brought her grief and tears. We sat and listened and prayed for wisdom as to how to comfort her. God heard us and brought yet two more to the table. Violet and Suzann, new to the table, had no idea what God was up to! Did any of us? Yet, we each look back and see. We see how He brought Violet from California; Suzann from a neighboring city for the purpose of touching Wendy, who had come from Ohio. At the first tear fall, they knew the sorrow that weighed Wendy down for so long. They reached across the dining table, touched her hand and said, “Grief Share saved my life.” Eventually it saved Wendy’s.

Continuing to gaze at the table this morning, I’m reminded of Pam’s coming. Her needs were so great. We hugged and prayed for her. She had to return to her home state to rescue another granddaughter. We kept in touch. Over the summer she returned with granddaughter in her secure guardianship. So many more hurdles, yet. Pam knows this meeting in the Word, the Fellowship, the Love is her lifeblood. She makes our meeting a priority.

Throughout the late spring and into early summer, God brought Sam, Pat, Mari, another Nancy, and Sharon. Others had come to visit; they shared, were prayed through, but their lives are preventing them from coming each week. We added them to our little directory. How can we not?

Beginning in late July, we had to move away from the table. We were overjoyed that now we who had put our feet under the dining table were all coming at once! From three to five to six, then seven squeezed around, all making room for one more. But when ten came through the door, we all knew. It was time to move to the couches and cushioned chairs of the den, bringing dining chairs to fill in the circle. Ten then eleven of us! All regulars! Be still my heart.

The question was asked. What have you learned?

What have you taken home with you? The unconditional acceptance. The love. The prayers. The “one anothers.”  The “fellowship of the mat.” Just knowing there are folks praying for me. And in the hour and a half of our closing meeting before a much needed short break, we knew, as we talked through II Timothy 3 and Hebrews 6:19 that the Holy Spirit was truly present. He was comforting each of us as we gathered round one fighting cancer, and lifted up others with health issues, friends in need, and as we closed reciting the Lord’s Prayer, as we had come to do, it was all we could do to just breathe.

We were each so aware of His Presence.

women praying together two

Before the ladies come up the stairs to our home, each chair is touched with a word of prayer. The lesson is prayed over continually. He is truly the reason we gather together. Yes, we fellowship. We share prayer concerns, but we are challenged in the Word and reminded how much our Father loves us and values us and wants us to want Him.

When you yearn for a Bible study with women, He hears the deep desire of your heart.

You don’t need a Bible School degree, or even the most popular Bible Study book by the most popular author! You just need a teachable heart and your Bible and He will gladly be there with you and one or two friends! He wants us to gather together to study His word. He will make it possible.

Remember to give Him all the credit.

As I prayed for His will this day, moving my eyes away from the table and onto the chairs around the den I wondered what His plans were for our new study of the survey of the Bible. Who will He bring? I know there are other ladies in our community who want to hear of His love for them. So we are praying for others to invite and in this interim time we will continue to pray for one another and keep in touch. It’s what we ladies do best!

God bless you as you reach out to your friends in your community to tell them about the wonderful love of the Father!

encouraging one another one

 

 

 

Inquire of the Lord

woman seeking God

“I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.”

 Psalm 34:4

While camping in the Old Testament I’ve noticed something about who has really fought some battles and who should get the credit for the victories. Whenever the Philistines drew up in battle array against the Israelite army King David would do something first, maybe even before putting on his sword. He would “inquire of the Lord.” And the Lord would inform David of whether to fight and even gave him the battle plan!

Take a look at Second Samuel 5:17-19. “When the Philistines heard that they had anointed David King over Israel, all the Philistines went up to seek out David; and when David heard of it, he went down to the stronghold. Now the Philistines came and spread themselves out in the valley of Rephaim. Then David inquired of the Lord, saying “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You give them into my hand?” And the Lord said to David, “Go up, for I will certainly give the Philistines into your hand.”

Was David asking permission to fight a battle? He had been fighting battles for years, and really, though he had just been anointed King over Israel, he knew the Lord. He remembered all the times the Lord had protected him and his flock from prey. He remembered all the times that the Lord had been his shield from the searching eyes of King Saul. He had been “inquiring of the Lord” for many years. This was a habit!

David had an ongoing relationship with His Lord. He knew the Lord would be with him in these battles. All David had to do was…….inquire of Him.

Look a little further down in the chapter at verses 22-25 for a very creative battle plan: “Now the Philistines came up once again and spread themselves out in the valley of Rephaim. And when David inquired of the Lord, He said, “You shall not go directly up; circle around behind them and come at them in front of the balsam trees. And it shall be when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then you shall act promptly, for then the Lord will have gone out before you to strike the army of the Philistines.” Then David did so, just as the Lord had commanded him, and struck down the Philistines.”

God is not ever a God of routine or habit. He uses creative approaches to keep His children dependent on Him; trusting Him; obeying Him. He wants us, His children to ask and obey His instruction so that He gets the glory for the end result.

Did all the kings of Israel inquire of the Lord before going out to battle? King Saul sought the Lord at first, but over time he took matters into his own hand. At times he even sought the counsel of a medium rather than inquiring of the Almighty God. I Chronicles 10:13-14 confirms “So Saul died for his trespass which he committed against the Lord, because of the word of the Lord which he did not keep; and also because he asked counsel of a medium, making inquiry of it, and did not inquire of the Lord. Therefore He killed him, and turned the kingdom to David the son of Jesse.”

As you go about your day, ask the Lord for how He wants you to deal with issues that come up. He wants to answer you! He wants you to trust Him and obey Him! Then give Him the glory!

 

woman praying in the mountains

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From whence shall my help come?

My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

He will not allow your foot to slip; he who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade on your right hand.

 The sun will not smite you by day, nor the moon by night.

 The Lord will protect you from all evil.  He will keep your soul.

 The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.

 Psalm 121

faith that moves mountains

Thank you, Lord, that you want me to ask You for guidance. Thank you that You willingly give it! You are a good, good Father! Amen

The Comfort of Knowing He has me wherever I am-Thoughts on Psalm 139

Psalm139

“O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me.” Psalm 139:1

Have you ever wanted to run away from home? Did you ever do it? I did. I packed my pink little bag and “ran” down to the very end of the sloping back yard and crouched under the cherry tree, hoping my mother would miss me. Turns out, she was so busy in the kitchen, when I finally trudged back up the hill to the house, she was still in the kitchen busying herself and hardly noticed that I had been gone! Years later,  in another house in another state, sitting behind the wheel of our family station wagon, I was so bent out of shape from whatever my mother was saying to me, that I seriously contemplated driving far, far away. But as I sat in the car, I thought of the song by Ken Medema “Lord, are you looking for me? And what makes you think you can find me?” Even then, as a teen, the words to Psalm 139 came to my mind.

“Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence?”

I just sat in the car and cried. Part of me wanted no one to find me; yet, most of me was comforted that no matter where I fled, He would be right there with me. I put the car in park, got out, and went inside to my room and cried and sought the Lord, eventually resting in Him.

Many  years later, at a ladies retreat at Camp Peniel in the San Marcos area, found me sitting on the front row with my Spiritual mom, Doris, and my sister in the Lord, Susan listening to Rose Whitelock talk about Psalm 139. With her hands she formed a small box as she quoted “Thou has enclosed me behind and before, and laid Thy hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high; I cannot attain to it.” Vs. 5-6. Ever since then, I have drawn comfort from that image of the Lord God surrounding me, His gentle protective hands over me.

“O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me….Thou art intimately acquainted with all my ways.” Vs. 1-3.

Do you know anyone who knows all there is about you? And is okay with how you are? Very few of us can count more than one or two folks in our lives we can say this about. We don’t want to be so well known; yet, part of us really do.  Macrina Wiederkehr, in her devotional book Abide: Keeping Vigil with the Word of God says,

“Many of us struggle with the difficulty of knowing ourselves; thus it can be a comfort to rest in the truth that there is someone who is lovingly familiar with all our ways yet not bent out of shape. The lamplight of God’s eye shines upon our sins and weaknesses, our love, our heart’s yearnings. All is known. Nothing is hidden. A change sometimes occurs in our lives when we are able to accept God’s knowing gaze. Slowly, the “knowing of God” begins to console us rather than frighten us.” Pg. 69.

The first twelve verses became a comfort to me in knowing that no matter where my feet took me, God would be there. Flying in a plane, taking a cruise on the open ocean far from home, trying to run away, hiding even in busyness, or alone in my school room, desperately trying to figure out how to best teach the children, He is there. With me. Not as an angry Ogre waiting for me to falter, fall or fail. No. Waiting for me to let Him be seen by me. Waiting for me to lean into Him. Waiting for me to want Him. This Psalm is about a Father knowing so much about His children yet, He yearns for them to rest in Him and let Him be known by us. To draw up close to Him wherever we are, confident in the fact that there He is.

“For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb…..My frame was not hidden from Thee, When I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth. Thine eye have seen my unformed substance.” Vs. 13-16

God made us, crafting every detail of our bodies in the exact place it needs to be. The kidneys go here; the heart, right in the middle, the multiple systems-nervous, skeletal, circulatory- weaving in and around and through the human body perfectly, intricately, precisely; just as He designed. He drew up the road map that each unique human was to follow and planted it neatly into each DNA. Yes, it’s scary. But isn’t it also so very comforting to realize that the Maker wants to relate to us as a Father to His child? That is hard. We aren’t comfortable with someone, anyone, knowing all our deepening spaces. Our true frailties. Our failed, flawed dreams. No. Not anyone.  Isn’t that why we find it hard to imagine that the Potter truly yearns for the pot to know Him, the potter so well? (Take a look at Jeremiah 18:1-6)

“How precious are your thoughts to me, O God!” How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand When I awake, I am still with Thee.” vs. 17-18.

Imagine! He has that many thoughts of each of us!

I took a walk along the beach recently and stopped suddenly and said, “Lord, thank you for loving me just as I am!” And I just let myself snuggle up into that truth. He. Loves. Me. Do you let yourself realize that He, Your Maker, truly loves you? Just as you are?

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.”

Vs 23-24.

 When I think those thoughts not of love or care for myself or others, remind me, Lord, to steer away from them. Lead me away from those destructive thoughts into the everlasting loving thoughts of You, your children, your ways.

Father, thank you that you know me. Help me to understand that it’s okay for me to let you further in to the deepening spaces of my soul. Help me to rest in you, to give you all my fears, to allow you to shape my thoughts with every breath I take. To be as joyful in meeting you as I am my closest friends; to want to have that intimate time with just you and to rest in the fact that you have me. You love me. You carry me. You are with me wherever I go. Thank you. In Your name, Amen.

(Check out “Fork in the Road” by Ken Medema, 1972.”Lord, are you looking for me?” is about 32 minutes in to the album) https://youtu.be/XVKgCb3CMnM

 

The Gathering at the Table

the dining table one

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

John 1:1

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

Words – Edict. Message. Speech.

It happened like this.

One day while sitting in my friend’s golf cart out at the beach access, we began to talk about desires of the heart. We had walked the mile from post to post to exercise our bodies. But our hearts were yearning for something too. Yearning for more than just another social hour.

We yearned for meat. The meat of the Word.

Since my single mom’s group in Houston  was going to start a new Bible Study in January, I wondered,  perhaps you’d like to do the same study here at Sea Isle, I asked my friend. Where in the world were all these ideas coming from? Yes! She exclaimed. I’d love a daytime Bible Study! It’s hard getting back out in the evening, she said. And besides, since Harvey, we haven’t started our ladies study back up at the church. We’ve been focusing on helping the folks in the neighboring small community. Around the same time as our conversation, a new Sea Isler from the Northeast expressed the same yearning…..teaching from the Word. Soul Food.

Thus, in January, three of us souls gathered in my home at our long glass-topped table on Friday morning at ten. We prayed. We read scripture and we shared our stories bit by bit of how God was taking care of us. As we rose from the table that first morning, we had no idea what God had in mind for us at our table at Doves Rest.

Since that genesis of three on January 19th, the Lord Himself has brought about twelve to our table. Oh, not at once! And sadly, some have lives that have kept them away far more than they would like. But the core – about ten of us has remained quite steady.

Here’s one God-sized story from our time at the table.

In March Wendy returned to Sea Isle from her home visit with family in the Midwest. She had heard there was a ladies Bible Study going on and she wanted to come. Of course, we said! Come! She came, bringing homemade brownies and a burden. She found a seat close to me. We began. Who else was there? Our first two ladies – Amber and Nancy, making four of us that morning. As we began to open God’s Word, something, who knew what was said that triggered the tears? But they came. The Kleenex was brought to the table. We listened and cried inside with her. Oh, the long held burden she had been bearing. The loss of her teen son to an illness. Four years her grief has held her. We prayed as we hurt for our new friend. When we rose to circle up and voice the Lord’s Prayer, I wondered. Would she return?

Wendy came again. And again, even as  the Lord brought new souls. One Friday, as two more ladies gathered at the table with Amber, Wendy and Nancy, we heard again of Wendy’s hurting soul. But this Friday, Violet and Suzann reached across the table, hands outstretched, hearts and words extended as they told their story. You know, they each said, Grief share helped us tremendously. In fact, the Grief share that meets here in town literally Saved. My. Life, said Suzann as tenderly as she always does. Violet had attended in her home state when she lost her husband. In fact, she said, I needed it again and I went through the course three times. The last two they asked me to facilitate. It is what got me through the dark journey. Meanwhile, she was busy on her phone. Suddenly, she raised her eyes to Wendy and said, the Grief share is meeting one more week before the end of this course next Tuesday. Why don’t I go with you that night? I’ll pick you up. They exchanged phone numbers. And with that, Wendy was on the road to healing!

https://www.griefshare.org/

Wendy continued to come to our Sea Isle Community Bible Study, as well as to our Sunday church services at our Seaside Church down the road. She opened up her home to my husband and me for Sunday lunch, followed by more folks to she and her husband’s Sunday afternoon home cooked meals.

The weekend of Mother’s Day I was in another state with a long time girlfriend to honor her son’s law school graduation. On Saturday I received this text from Amber:

“Wendy is going to be baptized next Sunday!”

Joyous tears filled my eyes. Oh, Jesus, I whispered.

wendy baptized one

wendy baptized three

 

Of course, I could not wait to return to the table the following Friday to see whom the Lord would bring to study His Word. Wendy came, along with nearly all of our core and some more! Looking intently into her eyes, I asked Wendy, what made her want to be baptized. Well, I know I went to church as a little girl and I was sprinkled, but somehow. She paused, looking around the table at all of us, this Bible Study has been making it clear that I need to ask Jesus to forgive me and to get more into His Word and get to know him more. I smiled. You believe, right? Oh, yes. I think I always believed in something, she responded, but this study has been making it more real as to what Jesus did for me on the cross. He died for me. I believe. You could see the eyes all around the table, brimming with joyful tears.

How we all knew the Holy Spirit was so with us that day. Each Friday.

What happens at the table? What is going on? Prayer. Preparation. Release. Every chair is prayed over each Friday morning before anyone sits in them. Preparation and much prayer happens before the women come; but most importantly, release. I never really know who is coming, what burden they bear, or how God will work in their lives.sea-isle-bible-study-three.jpg

So I release all expectations to Him.

For now, we are each rejoicing over what God is doing in and through our Wendy. She ordered six more Bible Study books to take back to her home in the Midwest when she leaves soon for the summer.

She is our resident missionary already!

Words. These ladies who gather around the table at Doves Rest are diving into God’s Word seriously for the first time for some, in years. They are questioning. They are struggling. They are growing. They are getting context and the story. And they are taking it home with them. Personally, I’m growing as I learn to study a bit deeper and pay attention to what the Lord wants me to present each Friday.

The take away for you? As a public school teacher for many years, I wasn’t able to get to a Bible Study very often. Not until these recent years in this new season of retirement. I’ve attended and grown and yet yearned to teach outside of a church building; to reach out to some who may or may not be regular church attenders.

Sea Isle Bible Study one

Open your hands and heart and see God move. Look around where you are and ask.

Lord Jesus, show me the ladies of all ages who are yearning for your Word. I open my hands and heart and home. I sit with you awhile with my Bible open. You teach me. You show me. You work in and among the ladies you bring to my table. All for you. In your name. Amen.

doves rest sign

Cherishing time with Mom

“Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16

She was wearing sunglasses. Why do people, especially older women a bit beyond middle age wear sunglasses inside? Okay. She may have sensitivity issues with the lighting. Or she had just come from the eye doctor and had her eyes dilated. Who knows? But the eyes are the window to the soul, the communication tool that usually tells the truth. So when she started to get in line at the bank I stepped back and let her in front of me. I was waiting for Mother and told her so.

 

“Oh, that’s your mother? Treasure the days you have with her. I still miss my mother. Lost her twenty years ago, but when I see something I know she’ll like, I start to say something like, “Look at this, Mom” and have to stop myself and remember that she isn’t here.”

 

I do enjoy time with my mother, I responded. And indeed I do, but her encouragement made me think a bit deeper about our time together. Made me want to look into her eyes a little longer, hold her hand a bit tighter, even for a moment. And take her compliments to heart.

mom alone two

Honestly, we do have a very good relationship. We’ve both worked on it. From this end, I have to honestly admit that even as recent as these four years since retiring, have I let go of past words of hurt. I’ve let go of rehashing how she treats me as if I’m twelve and move on with it. After all, truth be told, my own grown sons often think I treat them like little boys from time to time and I have to rethink how to approach them and the situation at hand.

 

Instead, I’ve begun to enjoy this season with her – taking her out of her apartment in her independent living home to the grocery store, on a drive through the neighborhood to see the lovely landscaped homes, to the doctor’s office and back; even on a country drive to see the bluebonnets. More often than not, though, she arranges for the two of us dine with her girlfriends in the dining room before venturing out the door. Those lunch conversations with she and her friends have delighted my spirit of late, as they reminisce their childhoods and college days. They are each loaded with fascinating stories! They’ve grown up all over the country, traveled all over the world, worked and volunteered in such interesting pursuits! Their stories, including Moms’, are books unto themselves. Worth the time.

 

Our time together is sacred and know that this too will pass, but not without my noticing more closely our conversations, her insights, her laugh, her voice. And thank God for all of it. Our time together.

 

Her fingerprints are on my heart. Even before she goes to her eternal home, she is leaving me a legacy. A life well lived. Mom never meets a stranger. She knows everyone in her building. Knows when they moved in, who their children are, and if she doesn’t see someone she’s used to seeing often, she goes to their door and checks on them. It’s what they do. She treasures her friends, even those with peculiar habits and ideas.

 

Mom and I share a love of books, and, I’m starting to enjoy her favorite new evening television show, “Bull.” We also love giving and receiving flowers, dark chocolate, ice cream and hot tea.

She is by far much more proper than me. I’m flung to the winds in my dress, hair and style. She, on the other hand, is proper, careful to always look her best before she walks out the door. And, there is nothing out of place in her lovely apartment! Never!

 

But the greatest love we share is our love for our Lord. Countless times have I sat on her floral love seat as close to her in her lady recliner as possible, leaning in as we discuss something that was said in a sermon, questioning a passage of scripture, or trying to figure out what heaven will be like when we get there. We have held hands and prayed together, for one another, for our family, our friends, those we hold dear.

No, Tuesdays are not a burden. I look forward to the time with my mother now more than ever. This Mother’s Day, though, I’ll be away from her, but two of her grandchildren will have breakfast with her and it will be the highlight of her day! How she treasures her grands and great-grands!

mom with grandkidsmeredith and kids two

 

 

 

 

 

 

To you, my sweet readers, whether your mother and you share time together or not, hopefully you have some treasured memories of the good times with her. May the Lord give you opportunity to reflect with gratitude.

Lord, as I penned those last words, I am aware that not every daughter is blessed with good memories of her mother. Though it saddens me, it humbles me to realize how very blessed I am to have this loving and rich relationship with my mother. Grateful. Lord, be near to those, your daughters who know you. Heal their broken heart of hurt memories and flood them with assurance that You have them. You love them deeply always. And Lord, thank you for my mother, Louise. In your glorious name, Amen.

 

We can ALL chip in and help our students!

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not into your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.” Proverbs 3:5-6

416be30a1799f82ff2b52fefdc62ed47--southern-living-southern-charm

When Southern Living magazine came to our home, I pulled it out of the mailbox, eagerly turning to the very back page to relish in Rick Bragg’s latest story of his deep Southern roots.  So, with every single magazine I turn to the back page. Somewhere along the way, we’ve been receiving “O” magazine. I never ordered it and haven’t bothered to let them know our change of mailing address. Still, for a bit longer, it comes to us with the sticker of notice to let the publisher know of the new address. I’ve learned that whether I agree with Oprah’s views or not, I tend to glean something worthwhile in every issue.O magazine

This afternoon I turned to the back page – Oprah’s essay entitled “What I know for Sure.” This month she talked about what she learned from her interview of fourteen folks following several recent school shootings. “There was one answer everyone agreed on: family. Protecting family. Caring for family. Loving family.” As I continued reading her essay, I reflected on what I heard Michael Berry say on his afternoon radio show on KTRH in his tribute to Barbara Bush.

“The Bushes are a clannish people. They take care of their own no matter what. Whatever will be said of Barbara Bush, and I believe most of it will be positive, she loved and cherished her family. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with a mother who stays home and focuses on her family.”

Were you blessed with a mom who focused on her family? Are you one of those moms who cares deeply about her family? Truthfully, I don’t know of one woman who doesn’t care about her family enough to fight for them. Maybe I live in a protected world, but honestly, I’m grateful to know moms who are devoted to their children, their husband, their parents, their family.

The point of Oprah’s article was a plea for all of us to come and stand together for the good of our nation’s families. Oprah asks the question, “Can we agree to use our common sense to protect the common good?”  In agreeing with Oprah, I also hope and pray that we can stand together for our families. What does this mean?

Here’s my take on how schools could help their troubled children:

First and foremost, parents, love your children with time. Spend incredible time with them, doing things with them that don’t require phones, i-pads or videos. Parents, listen to your children. Listen to their heart; listen to them read. Then, you read to your children.  And you be the authority in your home and be in control of your child’s electronic devices.

mom and her kids

Parents, befriend your children’s teachers –they are not the enemy. Most teachers have your children’s best interest at heart just as much as you do. It’s time for you and your teachers to be on the same team.

School administrators, reach out to the retired neighbors and the seniors in the area and ask them to donate an hour a week to one on one time with an “at risk” child. The counselor knows most of those children.

mentoring a student two

Fathers of the children in the area schools, including middle and high school, commit to one hour a week to walking the school. Presence is everything. Shooting some hoops on the court in the afternoon, or sitting down at the lunch room and engaging in conversation with those who generally sit alone. Believe me, the students can tell the fathers who the loners are.

dad eating with his daughter

Moms, along with your presence on the PTA committees and at Field Day, donate an hour of your time to listening to a child read aloud, not just an elementary school age child, but even a middle school or high school student.

Do you see the pattern? Donated time of presence in the school. Eye to eye contact with the students. One on one time with the students. Retired folks, one hour a week is huge to the school in your area!

 

Churches need to rally around the schools in their area and pray for them; go to the school to ask how they may minister to the students and staff in their school. Truthfully, every principal worth his or her salt would gladly welcome their help! Last spring after a recent flood, a family near our church came to our benevolence committee to ask for some help- a mattress, some clothes and perhaps some groceries. We gladly reached out to help this family. As it turned out, the principal of the children’s school heard about the need and came to us to ask if our church would “adopt” her school, and just pray for her staff. We jumped at the opportunity! Several members met at the school and walked the campus one weekend, praying for the faculty, students and parents of that school. And now, several members volunteer to mentor some children in that school.

The first words out of my young third grade student mentee this morning was, “I told my mom what my favorite days of the week are: Friday, Saturday,” and pointing his finger at me, “Monday because I get to see YOU!” Then he pulled out his newest Pokemon card to tell me all about it. Our hour was filled with some pretty vulnerable moments where he revealed his deepest heart cry to me before we played some games together. As I walked out the door after a lovely hour with him, I thought about whether he would remember our time together this year when he gets to high school. Then I thought, I don’t know, but I’m going to ask for him next school year.

mentoring a student one

Thank you, Father, for the opportunity to get to know this young man each Monday. Thank you for the time we spend together. May all of us Believers seek your face and ask You for your guidance in how we each may reach out to the children right in our own back yard. Be with the parents of our children these days. Give them your wisdom, strength, and humility as they raise our nation’s future. I pray they’ll use the Bible as their guide always. In Your name, Amen.