Advent Keeping Christmas – Peace

Children were asked to describe peace.

“Peace is calm.”

“Peace is when you can play in your room and your little brother is playing in his and not bothering me.”

“Peace is quiet in the house. No yelling.”

“Peace is the community coming together.”

“Peace is being nice to someone.”

“Peace is space for yourself.”

Our pastor said peace is more than all of those sage responses from children. He proceeded to share various scriptures with us which described peace. But his videos and translations of peace from Greek didn’t resonate. Not until he said,

Peace is Jesus.

Our music director is the most humble person I know. Usually artists and performers come with just a bit of self assurance bordering on pride. We Believers hesitate using the word arrogance when talking about one of our own, but you don’t have to worry with this servant heart. He plays gigs all over our island, toting his guitar and inviting a bass player or violinist or drummer to join him. He doesn’t really seem to care what the instrumental mix is.

When we first started attending this little resort church, which resembles the early Christian church in so many ways, I noticed that he would include whoever expressed any interest in making a joyful sound to come up and join him in the praise and worship part of our service. He included a few small children to play those annoying wood blocks one Sunday. Having put up with that hollow wood tone the little ones mindlessly banged on in my music classroom for twenty-nine years, I gathered up the two wood blocks and brought them home with me. Needless to say, they haven’t been missed.

A few weeks ago, our music director asked me to take over the music for yesterday’s worship, as he and his wife would be out of town. Certainly. Consider it done, I told him. Our other esteemed players; violinist, guitarist and drummer, said they would be there. They had put up with my erratic rhythm-keeping only one other time when Jim was out. It wasn’t smooth, but they were most gracious. This time, I thought, I would practice and work hard to get it all right.

I invited two ladies to sing with us, as singing while playing the keyboard do not come naturally for me. Yes, they said. We rehearse an hour before the service. Thanks for coming. They came, bringing some ideas of their own. Rehearsal was bumpy, to say the least. A time or two, I had to check my inner spirit. As much as I had prayed over the service, the singers, all of it, still, there were going to be some personality challenges, including questioning the one in charge a time or two, with minutes before worship started.

When those questions were raised as to how it all should go, my mind went straight to all the times I had acted the diva with Jim. And I reluctantly thanked the Lord for the kind rebuke. I calmed my spirit and pressed on.

The pastor’s message on peace pierced my heart, especially after our first two worship songs. Oh Father, I whispered down in my soul, please help us to bring you and our beloved intimate congregation a more musical worshipful sound.

“Peace is waking up each new morning and committing the entire day into the hands of the Lord Jesus; totally surrendering and submitting your day’s agenda to Him. That means unclasping each finger off your own plans. Make your list of the many things you have to do. Then lay it on the table, pray over it, giving it to God. He promises to bless you with that peace that does indeed surpass all understanding.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

“And the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

As I sat there on the second row next to Beloved I heard the Holy Spirit whisper in my soul, “I’ve got this. Just do what you practiced doing and it will go well. Trust Me.”  And in my heart of hearts, I yielded. Immediately my angst left my heart. I relaxed my hands and the peace that I had read about all these years in the black and white pages of my worn Bible became reality in my soul.

When it came time to sing the closing songs of the worship service, the singers sang, the instrumentalists played and the Holy Spirit’s presence was felt all round. Afterward, I hugged and thanked the ladies with genuine Christ-love and soon after a precious regular attendee walked up and said, “Please play the piano more! It was lovely!” Be still my heart. When we don’t expect it, the Lord showers such encouragement and love. How her words ministered all the way to the soles of my feet!

 “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” John 14:27

Father, may I daily apply what the Pastor said this morning, yielding up my agenda for Yours. And when someone wants to challenge me, as usually happens, may I remember to pray and respond in the way that would bring you honor and glory. Surely, Lord, your peace is real and does surpass all understanding! Thank you! In Your name, Amen

Out of Options

Yesterday our pastor led us to the story of Jairus and the woman with the issue of blood as told in Mark 5:21-43 for his emphasis on hope. Hope. The first Sunday of Advent. There was much demonstration of hope in this chapter

Jesus and His fellow disciples just disembarked from the boat on the Galilee shore. Immediately a crowd swirled around Him, seeking His attention, His advice, His healing touch, anything that would bring them immediate comfort. The loud and chaotic crowd’s hope was perhaps more of a general “entertain me, feed me, show me a miracle.” This, clearly, was  not a desperate hope. They wanted the Healer’s attention, but they were not so sure about putting their whole trust in the Teacher.

Suddenly, the crowd parted as a synagogue official, dressed in all his regalia, hurriedly approached the wandering rabbi, a desperately worried look on his face. Jairus, this very prominent church official, fell at the feet of the One whom most of the synagogue officials despised due to his most untraditional practices. He cried out, “Please! My daughter is very ill to the point of dying! Please come and lay Your hands on her!”

Can’t you just sense his desperation? He overlooked all that his church colleagues had said about him, all the traditional rules this rabbi had broken; blew past the crowd and literally fell at this man’s feet! What on earth had he heard about Jesus? News had spread that He had healed many (Mark 3:10). You know he loved his daughter; you can imagine the many prayers he had prayed over his daughter; the doctors he had sought and paid for the various healing remedies they had recommended. He had tried all the traditional methods. In one more last attempt he sought out the man everyone had talked about. Jesus. Jairus’ hope was desperate. Earnest.

Jesus looked at Jairus, noted his desperation and walked off with the official in the direction of his home, answering his plea.

Sandwiched in the story of Jairus, even sandwiched in between Jairus’ plea and Jesus’ healing was a divine interruption. When you read the Gospels, you’ll find these often and in His calm, unhurried approach, Jesus pays attention, knowing every interruption is important. A woman needs Jesus. Right now.

This woman’s future was bright with promise……twelve long years ago. One day, she noticed blood. Okay. She was of age. She washed and did what young maturing girls did in that day. She knew she would be declared ceremonially unclean for a few days before she could resume her usual activities in her home. Except. The bleeding didn’t stop. It went on for days. She had washed and dried all those cloths she had used for stopping her bleeding; she had to use them again. And again. And again. She was growing weak. Her family grew concerned. Because she was still declared “unclean,” she knew she had to leave her home and live alone until the bleeding stopped. But it wasn’t stopping. She sought out doctors and healers to no avail. She grew weaker. She no longer had any more means for paying for these remedies and doctors. Her family had helped her as long as they could. But after several years, their funds ran out, too.

This Jewish woman most likely came from God-fearing family. They worshiped in the synagogue, practiced all they had been taught. I’m sure she prayed. I’m sure she pled with the God of the heavens, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Yes, the Lord God had been quiet for the past four hundred years, more due to unbelief than anything else.

When she heard of this wandering healer, in her absolute desperation, she dressed in what rags she had left, drew up her weakened body and walked out of her dwelling and made her way to the Healer. Please, God. Surely this man will stop my bleeding. He was her last hope.

She saw Him in the distance. If I could just get close enough to just touch his cloak, she thought, as she moved through the crowd. If they knew I was declared unclean by the synagogue officials, I’m sure she imagined, the crowd would part and let me through. She got closer. And closer. He was moving slowly. Oh, the crowd. She had enough time to bend down as He was just in front of her! She reached out her hand. Her fingers just brushed ever so slightly the outer hem of his garment. Immediately the flow of blood ceased. She felt it. It had stopped! And suddenly she felt a strength she had not felt in her body in many years! She was healed! She straightened and backed away, allowing the crowd to move between she and He.

But He stopped! Dead in His tracks! He looked around. Faces of men, women swirling around Him. “Who touched me?” He asked. What in the world do you mean, the disciples asked, clearly puzzled. Look around, Master! We’re all touching you! Us, your body guards! The crowd has been pressing in on you since we left the boat! We’re all touching you!

Power flowed out of Him all of a sudden. He knew it. Where did it go? To whom? Then he saw a woman, emaciated but now radiant. She fell to the ground, clearly frightened that she had been discovered. Lord, she thought, I feel better in these last two minutes than I’ve felt in years! Please don’t un-heal me! Please! I beg of you!

Jesus, compassion emitting from his face, looked deep into her eyes and said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.”

In that one pronouncement, Jesus welcomed her into His family when he addressed her as “daughter.” He declared her ceremonially clean, allowing her to reenter the synagogue and be reunited with her family. She was completely healed, cleansed and reunited!

Every interruption is divine. And when he stopped to heal the woman, He knew it would not take away from His healing the dying, now dead daughter of the prominent synagogue official.

It is the woman’s tiny seed of faith that made her whole – faith in the only One with the power to heal and the grace to welcome her into the family of God. She may not have known much about the Healer, but her faith gave her the impetus to think that if she just touched the hem of his garment she would be made whole. It was all she thought she needed.

As soon as Jesus declares the woman clean and sends her on her way, messengers come up to Jairus to tell him not to bother with the Healer. His daughter has died. Don’t you know Jairus is so heart- broken and about to be angry with this unimportant woman and the time wasted in dealing with her.

But Jesus draws Jairus’ attention to Him. Look at me, He seems to say, not at the messengers, not at the crowd. Focus right now on Me. “Don’t be afraid,” Jesus tells Jairus. “Only believe.”

They head for Jairus’ home, Jesus also giving His disciples instructions. “Peter, James, and John. You’re with me. The rest of you disciples deal with crowd control.”

Jesus enters the home of Jairus and his family, asks the paid mourners to leave – their loud wailing is causing such a raucous! He goes into the room of the daughter and speaks to her. “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” She sits up and Jesus looks at her, I’m so sure, with tenderness and compassion, as he instructs her mother to give her daughter something to eat.

Both Jairus and the woman with the issue of blood had hope. Their approach was different; Jairus fell right in front of Jesus’ feet. The woman snuck up behind him. Both were shown grace and mercy because both displayed even a mustard seed of faith as they sought out Jesus. They had the hope that is confident, though unseen. They had heard just enough about this Healer that drew them to Him in their utter desperate attempt for healing, both for his daughter and for her.

And in His grace and mercy, their needs were met. I believe both Jairus and the woman went away with more than healing. Their hope and their belief in Jesus deepened. They now believed. They praised and worshiped Jesus the rest of their lives.

This week, as we contemplate hope, what does your hope look like? Would yours look like the crowd’s hope? Hoping for surface needs like food or entertainment to be addressed? Is your hope earnest? Are you hoping for Jesus to take care of urgent needs of your loved one? Is your hope desperate? Are you in need of divine healing? Or is it even a hope that He will save your soul? A loved one’s soul?

Jesus doesn’t care who you are. He doesn’t care if you’re timid and shy, young or old, a leader or an outcast. He knows you, loves you, cares about your needs and fears and crises, and is ready to help. He listens to your up-front, head-on pleas and He senses hopeful hearts at the back of the line and behind the door. Your personality, your temperament, your status, nor even (especially) your sinful history make a difference to Him. Each of you are a divine interruption; He will make the time to enter your heart and world. All you need is a tiny mustard seed of faith.

Father, may you make Yourself known to those seekers of You this season. Draw them under Your wing as You provide the Hope they need, and may their belief in You be real and deepen more as they give You the praise for sending Your Son to be the Savior of All.

 In Your name, Amen.

Mindfully observing Sabbath; What do you do?

Dear Precious Reader:

Fear is such a strong enemy! So is procrastination, as well as avoidance, laziness, and excuses. Those are all the reasons for having left the blogging scene for over five months. I have been working on the story of a forty year friendship of two women’s struggles and hard choices. The friendship bore the fruit of mentoring, as a result of having been mentored early in their lives by an older sassy, saucy woman with a zeal for her Savior. Her life left an indelible mark in each of their souls.

One day, I realized I was ready to look for a publisher and lo and behold, I was advised by many that I needed to let people know I had published a book – or am about to! I needed to get out there, they said. Do you blog? they asked.  Are you on social media? the editors and publishers wanted to know. Who is your audience base? All legitimate questions for which I had only a few answers.

Now that I’m determined to get back to my blog page, http://www.comeasachild.org, it seems that I’ve been pondering a few things that are worthy to share.

How do you observe the Fourth Commandment?

On the ride home from Galveston to Houston one afternoon in May, I was no longer interested in listening to talk radio; nor did I want to hear two hours of smooth jazz or oldies from the sixties, or even praise and worship. My elder son had been talking about how he was listening to podcasts on his commute home from work. You’d really find some of these pods interesting, he told me more than once. So before pulling out of the driveway, I scrolled through the religion/spirituality category of podcasts on my recently added App Podbean. “That Sounds Fun” grabbed me – the title just seemed…you know….fun! So I tuned in and have looked forward to hearing the loud, slightly gravelly voice of host, Annie F. Downs’s interview yet another total stranger to me every Monday and Thursday.

It seems that several of her guests have talked at length about mindfully practicing Sabbath. This has peeked my interest a great deal on several levels. First, I’ve been asking myself, do I intentionally keep Sabbath? Second, what do I need to do on a day of rest to scripturally observe Sabbath?

Did you know that the fourth commandment takes up four verses, whereas, the last six are one verse a piece?

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Six days you shall labor and do all your work,

but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.

For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:8-11

Matthew Sleeth, author of 24/6, spoke of how he observes Sabbath to a group of young people. He said, “It would seem that since God had Moses write out so much on keeping the Sabbath, that He means it. We tend to think not murdering and not stealing or committing adultery is pretty serious and most of us keep those, but not the Sabbath. Not so much.”

Ouch. What do I do on Sunday, my Sabbath? Am I now naming Sunday as my day of rest? I remember my mother calling Sunday the Sabbath, but I inwardly disagreed. It’s Saturday for the Jewish folks. As a family, we went to church, ate lunch, either at home or out, and Daddy took a nap, while Mom read the entire Sunday Chronicle. I did homework or read. It was a day off from school and all other activities except going to church. But I don’t remember us being overly concerned about whether we were honoring God in what we did on that day. I’m thinking that we were pretty much keeping that day as a day of rest.

Several guests on “That Sounds Fun” mentioned a different day of the week as their families’ Sabbath – Friday night to Saturday night, said one preacher from Portland, OR. My Sabbath is Tuesday, Annie said.

But Sunday is mine. It is the day of worship; it’s a day of naps in the afternoon. But it’s more. The more I studied God’s view on rest and what it means, and how we twenty-first century believers can mindfully observe Sabbath, keeping it holy to the Lord, I’ve determined to rest from those things that keep me from resting and from worshiping Him.

Yesterday, Sunday, I used fewer words; I appreciated the quiet in our home before heading off to Worship. The computer had been turned off the night before; I kept it off. I used my phone for a few texts (my Sailor son’s texts were important, as was the disciples taking the heads off the wheat grains in the fields; it was necessary), and I took a nap. Rested. But all day the verse I had read in Psalm 16 that morning stayed with me, unlike many days of the week when I would read a passage and it just left my mind before the morning was up.

“I have set the Lord continually before me.” Psalm 16:8

There will come many distractions on this evolving journey of observing Sabbath, as holy to the Lord. I am aware. But I’m encouraged and strengthened to be walking this path in this way, as I want to grow closer to my Lord, and mindfully observe all the commandments, especially the longest one. We are never too old to begin anew. Please know that.

It is my point, now that I’m back in the blogging saddle, to encourage your heart, to speak Truth to your soul, and to urge you, in these last days, to mindfully choose to make those adjustments in your life so that you are walking closer to the One who loves you more.

“In all your ways, acknowledge Him; He will direct your path.” Proverbs 3:6

Father, thank you for your Word that teaches me daily. Thank you for those whom you’ve allowed me to hear lately, who are speaking out about mindfully obeying the Fourth Commandment. Thank you for your kindness in leading me to walk ever closer to you even in the autumn of my years. In Your name, Amen

https://youtu.be/gMWCh4bXdO8

Living intentionally brings great Joy!

shopping together

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily (from the soul),

 as for the Lord rather than for men.” Colossians 3:23 NASB

This morning, my devotional reading took me to Isaiah fifty-seven. I never got there. My personality says I’m easily distracted. So true this morning as I opened my Bible to Isaiah fifty-three.  I’ll start reading here then meander on over to the devotional verse in chapter fifty-seven, I thought, but I spent all my time in chapter fifty-three!

Reading Isaiah fifty-three slow and thoughtfully, I stopped several times to ponder several verses. But verse ten stopped me cold. In the New Living Translation it reads,

 “But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief.”

In verse three it says that the Savior was “despised and rejected – a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.”

We all have turned our backs on this man, this Savior, and yet in verse ten it says that God knew we would! It was His good plan that He allowed His son to go through this torment. That’s how much God loves us! He truly did put His own Son on the cross for us! Seasoned believers can get real calloused to the story of Jesus’ death on the cross for their sins. I don’t think we mean to. We just hear it often and we let it lose its meaning.

But today, I was reading Isaiah fifty-three from a new translation for me, the New Living Translation, and I asked Jesus to give me fresh eyes to see what has been familiar to me. When I read “it was the LORD’s good plan….” I stared at my Bible for a long time. It seemed that these words hit me harder as to what He did, more than what I was used to in my New American Standard version that says, “But the LORD was pleased to crush Him…” I believe God just spoke to me in a real way this morning. God seemed to say to me, “I had this all planned that the Savior will come, and people won’t like Him, won’t understand Him, won’t believe Him. He’ll be severely mistreated, abused, and rejected and all this is part of the grand plan!”

I looked further at the next verses and saw,

“Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied.” Vs. 10-11

His descendants are those of us who choose to believe that what he did on the cross for us will live because he died for us! Amazing! That, my Friend, is worth pondering early in the morning on the porch!

I asked the Lord to help me live intentionally this day.

I got dressed and headed out to visit a new friend in the hospital. While there I asked her if she were familiar with Psalm 23. I had brought my new Bible, the NLT, and was prepared to read it to her. But alas, we both had grown up knowing this familiar Psalm from the “real” translation – the King James Version! So, together we recited it from memory and what joy to quote the poetic truth together! We visited a bit longer before it was time to offer a prayer and a kind farewell.visiting an elderly woman in hospital

My hands were in dire need of attention! I headed over to my favorite nail salon. The gentleman was indeed gentle. Paul took such good care of my hands. In the midst of sitting there with hands outstretched while he trimmed the painful cuticles, I began to hum “Just a Closer Walk with Thee.” Some words came out unintentionally. The lady getting her nails done beside me looked over and said, “You just don’t hear those old Gospel songs at church anymore and that’s just plain sad. Those have the deepest meaning.”

“You’re so right about that,” I said. Paul’s smile grew as he encouraged me to keep singing! For some reason, after a few minutes, the song just went away. I sat quietly, taking in such gentle care.

Later, as Paul was finishing treating my hands I leaned in under the bright lamp and asked him quietly if he knew Jesus. His face lit up with joy. “Yes, He lives here,” he smiled, pointing to his heart.getting nails done

“What is your favorite book of the Bible?” I asked. He said he reads the Bible every day.

“I read from Isaiah this morning,” I said.

“Oh, Isaiah! Fifty-one and fifty-three are my favorite!”  he said, lighting up.

“I read chapter fifty-three this morning!” I responded and then explained what verse ten did to me, stopping me in my tracks, making me thank God over and over.

“I read Isaiah fifty-three every day,” he said quietly with confidence.

“Wow. Everyday. You must glean something new every time you read. You must grow deeper in your faith walk with Him,” I said, utterly amazed at our conversation.

“I think of Jesus every second of every day,”

he said, pointing heavenward then to his heart. “He means so much to me.”

Humbled at his utter devotion to his Lord, was this simple man who works on women’s hands all day six days a week, then worships his Savior on Sundays with his family and friends.

“We do whatever we do as unto Jesus,”

we both agreed, smiling. Absolutely. Whatever our work, it is worthwhile when done as unto our Lord.

He received an extra handsome tip today because he blessed this old soul with his genuine heart and testimony of his devotion to his Lord.

Father, it is so hard to comprehend what you allowed your only Son to endure for me; for us. Thank you, Father, that your plan was accomplished! Thank you, Jesus, that you willingly obeyed your Father. When we live intentionally, led by your Spirit, and ponder on what you did for us on the cross, you bring blessed surprises to our dailyness! I love you, Lord, every second of every day! Amen.

Created for a Purpose

two women talking

“You yourselves bear me witness,that I said, I am not the Christ (Messiah), but, I have been sent before Him.” John 3:28

Each week either on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, I have the joy of visiting the sweetest saint on earth. I pull into the driveway of her apartment building, expecting to either meet her in the dining room for lunch with she and her friends, or I’ll find her waiting at the entrance for a ride over to one of her favorite restaurants – just the two of us, she’ll say. Those are her cabin fever days when she needs some fresh air.

Once we’re seated with lunch before us, she’ll tell me about her adventures over the past week. “Can we stop by Tuesday Morning to pick up some good chocolate today?” She has asked on numerous occasions recently. One week she told me a story, her green eyes dancing. Seems she has discovered when she goes over to pay a short visit with her friends in skilled nursing, she has had some positive feedback that the visits were so special and enjoyable.

I muse at her enthusiastic surprise. Of course those dear folks are glad to see you, I’d explain. You’re not a needle poker, or pill giver. And what you bring doesn’t come from the kitchen. They are delighted that another soul other than family or foe has taken the time to walk all the way down the hall to see them! Imagine! She does imagine. Not too many years ago, she was sitting in one of those tiny rooms in a chair beside a single bed, her beloved husband of sixty years lying in the middle of it.

On this last visit she and I dined out at La Madeline near her home. My heart was heavy that day. She was patient to hear of one of my friends moving to hospice care this week. She’s my age, I sighed. But does your friend know the Lord, she asked me, leaning way in; concern written all over her face. Because, if she does, she ought not be afraid! Heaven is a wonderful place! Yes, I told her. My friend, a relatively new Believer, is at peace. She knows Jesus.

Then she shared her story. Sad, yes, but so much better. Her best friend of nearly fifty years has released her husband, she said. Good, I replied. Her ninety year old husband has been existing in a hospital bed in their two bedroom apartment, filled to the brim with all their furniture and treasures they simply couldn’t part with when they down-sized five years ago.

Now, her husband has her permission to pass into glory, unhindered. She asked her best friend, Wanda, if she had funeral services in order? Did she know what her husband would want? A memorial? Where? Wanda was befuddled. I have no clue, she told her.

She sat down with her dear friend, and over the past few days tenderly walked her  down the long last days hall with her, down to the florist choice, hymn choice and where she wants the service. This was now familiar ground for her. Yet, I know she was careful to let this be her friend’s husband’s service.  These were their wishes, not hers.

” He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30

On the way back to her apartment a light went off in my head. I turned and looked at her. These are the very reasons you are still here at the feisty age of eighty-nine! You are still here on earth to go through these hard days with Wanda! You’re here to bring a bit of chocolate, sunshine and smiles to your friends at skilled nursing! Plus, you now understand heaven and all its joys! She wore radiance as a silk scarf around her neck the whole time we talked. Talking of dying and suffering are hard when you don’t know where you’re going afterward, she said, radiant.

You were made for such a time as this!

This past Friday’s Bible Study lesson had focused on John the Baptist, the forerunner for Jesus. After Jesus had been baptized, called out His disciples, and began ministering, teaching and healing folks, John the Baptist’s disciples were a bit jealous that Jesus was now getting all the attention. But, his purpose had been accomplished. He had announced the coming of One greater than he; he had called the people to repentance, and he had baptized the Messiah. Purpose fulfilled.

I bent over and gave my mom a genuine hug. You are so ready! But not yet, Lord! There’s still much the Father has for you to do! Right here! Where you live!

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” II Corinthians 1:3-4

happy old woman

Father, thank you for this season to enjoy my mother. It is a joy to watch her be exactly where you want her; to witness her love for life, for her friends, and most of all, for her Savior! And yes, Lord, I know I’m very blessed to have her! In Jesus’ name, Amen

Welcome, Readers, to a New Year!

women reading the blog

Greetings, Readers of “Come as a child”:

Because you all have been such faithful followers to this overly quiet blog site, it is time some things need to change!  When I first started writing this blog a few years ago, I had envisioned giving a message of encouragement to women, with the intent of directing hearts in a closer walk with the Lord. Somehow I lost focus on style and content. Fear took over my writing. I lost confidence in writing, constantly worried that I would write something that would tarnish the Lord’s name or that I would not convey Truth accurately. The saying “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time” certainly applied. Blog writing/publishing dwindled to nearly nothing.

This past year, 2018, was the year of overcoming fear.  I wrote of the time I was blindsided by a dog who was merely protecting his owner, but I had to dwell in his kingdom for a week.  I had never experienced such paralyzing fear. The Lord gave me Deuteronomy 31:8:

“And the Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear, or be dismayed.”

I camped on that promise, that command to not fear, for weeks before returning to my friend’s home in another state to stay for about four days. I honestly went in to my spirit and soul and physically said, “I choose not to be afraid of this dog. I choose to overcome my fear!”   Oh, believe me, I had to put on my Big Girl panties and claim it over and over and over!god-didnt-give-us-a-spirit-of-fear

In God’s great grace and mercy, another mutual friend decided she also wanted to visit our friend and witness her son’s law school graduation. Since our friend did not have accommodations for two guests in her home, we all agreed that getting a hotel room was best. Talk about relief! Whenever we all got together at our friend’s home, we sat on her comfortable front porch admiring the purple colored mountains in the distance and the variety of birds flocking to her many feeders in the yard while the dog enjoyed his kingdom inside the house.

Before we left, I asked my friend’s son to help me feed his dog a treat so that I could stand in front of this strong pit bull without my heart beating out of my chest.  Mission accomplished! So it was that after that time spent with my friend and her son all fear of dogs vanished. Completely.

The other huge fear to be faced head on was writing.  In late December the Lord gave me such clarity about my writing and His desire for me to convey His truth to women in all walks of life. Pray, He told me. Then write. In obedience I’m moving forward. After I began writing again, in His great grace and love, the Lord directed me to a wonderful friend who has agreed to edit my work! To Him be the glory!

Who drove that fear of writing away? Marisol. This young lady approached me just before our ladies Wednesday night meeting got started and I promise you she was WEARING confidence!

 “Put on the full armor of God….” Ephesians 6:11

“…Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience…”

Colossians 3:12

Jesus confidence, I must add. Squared shoulder tall, dancing eyes and direct, she said something to the effect that she was no longer allowing the enemy to push her down, especially when it came to her job. No, Marisol is not one of those angry confronters. Not at all. She prays before approaching. She speaks softly yet…..what other word can I use? Mettle.  I was inspired by her quiet strength. She knows in whom she believes and she walks straight up, smiling, radiant and aware of whose she is.

 

confident woman two

I grabbed on to her spirit and hugged her and decided right then and there I was not going to let fear overcome me anymore.

It is time to make public the things the Lord is teaching me. So I put my bottom to the chair, even on a bright sunny January day and compose a message of encouragement to you, urging you to be confident in your walk, your countenance, your words, your heart. If you say you are a follower of the Lord, then it is time to let our manner, walk and talk say so.

“walk in a manner worthy of the Lord to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God….” Colossians 1:10

So thank you. Thank you for hanging on with me in my messy imperfections and attempts at making your reading meaningful.  May the Lord use this blog post to encourage your heart and draw you much closer in your walk with the Lord. Remember He loves you so very much!

In ALL THINGS give thanks. Blessings, Dear Reader!

 

Rejoice! He is with you now!

shopping together

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which translated means, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23, Isaiah 7:14

You, Jesus, are IMMANUEL, God with me. At all times. Down the aisles of Kroger, looking for my mother; looking for her particular brand of chocolate cookie; getting the right size cereal box. God with me in the car searching for the right house after my GPS has said, “You’ve reached your destination.” In the dark. God with me when one of my single moms calls as I’m driving in rush hour/Christmas shopping traffic on the other side of town. God with me. Absolutely.

A normal Tuesday with Mom, with some added errands and a phone call, I hoped Jesus wasn’t tired of hearing from this silly sheep, because I called on Him every single time I needed His help and every single time He led and every nearly every single time I whispered, “Thank you, Jesus.”

This promise that Immanuel, meaning God with us, is the foundation for your joy! It is a true, real promise that can be fleshed out through your faith, your trust, your belief in Him who said it and it came true! Rejoice, Beloved, knowing that your Savior will surely never leave nor ever forsake you! Do you rest in that fact? Do you remember to call on Him? Let not Immanuel just be words in a Christmas song sung only on Christmas Eve only to be forgotten when you get home.

“…..He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

After driving around town I managed to pull into a familiar parking lot and park and talk to my single mom safely, undistracted, for as long as she needed. In her struggle to co-parent her troubled teen daughter with her former husband, she admitted to needing to lower her expectations, to consciously be thankful for all the little things she gets to do with her daughter and stop dwelling on the poor behavior. I think there will be less triggers with my daughter and my ex-husband if I choose to back off some when I’m with them, she said. Wise words.  Praying it is practiced.

Breathing prayers for wisdom as we talked, the Lord reminded me of the disciples He called to be His everyday companions for about three years. Were they the cream of the Jewish crop? Had they been schooled in the best rabbinical synagogues of the day? Hardly. They were simple men, schooled in common crafts of fishing, tax collecting, and studying. “Consider Matthew,” I said to my sweet mom. “He was a repulsed tax collector! Can you imagine the treatment he got from the other disciples? And Jesus chose Him! Jesus was, in effect, saying to all twelve of these guys, “look to me for your source of help, and do this. Love one another.” Right. In spite of their former jobs before they were called to follow this……this man who tells them to love one another? What I think I was trying to tell my mom was……in loving your wayward daughter, find ways to love her through her poor choices and behavior and then……be thankful.

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,….and be thankful.” Colossians 3:15

And she agreed. She is growing in her trust in the Lord. We were merely edifying one another in  the fact that our joy in the Lord, Immanuel, comes from calling on His name for all help, and giving thanks when it comes. The thankful heart affirms in our heart that He is with us. Immanuel and in His presence is true fullness of joy!

“ In Thy presence is fullness of joy!”Psalm 16:11

This Christmas season, may we all consciously give thanks as we call on Immanuel to help us every step of the way and to be more real to us as we celebrate His birth. May there be meaning! Resounding joy that God became flesh and dwelt among us!

Thank you, God, for sending.

Thank you, Jesus, for coming!

Thank you, Holy Spirit, for reminding!

Christmas Eve candlelighting

 

Give the Lord a Thank-You note of Praise

“Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth….Come before Him with Joyful singing!” Psalm 100:1-2

praising God in church

The other day I had an overwhelming desire to enter the church just to lift up hands in praise to my Father. That desire doesn’t happen often, but that Sunday I didn’t care that I was entering church alone, or that it was dark, or that I would see friends I hadn’t seen in a long while because I was now worshiping in another congregation. No, I just wanted to worship. And I did! Deep peace flooded my soul and spirit. I met the Lord there in that space and it was profound.

Back in the dailyness of life, stress has clouded my thoughts with so much going on; or, I admit, much is going on that I’m allowing in to the day. Oh, how I have wanted to grab a huge chunk of morning minutes to write, to compose some devotional thoughts that would minister to someone else. But distractions and urgent pulls drew me from this person to that meeting to that errand to that meal to on and on and on. Primarily, I didn’t have the commitment to sit in the chair and write no matter what swirled around me.

One of the biggest distractions in my husband and my life right now is the imminent graduation of our younger son from Navy boot camp. Huge accomplishment for this twenty-eight year old who chose this path! Along with preparing to fly up to Great Lakes to witness this proud moment, I am still preparing for weekly ladies Bible Study.

Isn’t it like the enemy to slink down into our thoughts at our weakest moments, especially if we are intent on following the Lord. This past Monday I was reading a list of things a recruit needs to prepare for before entering boot camp, as well as the long list families need to remember before departing for the graduation ceremony. And there in highlighted paragraphs were words the enemy knew would rattle my world. Things that my son knew he needed to square up with his recruit commander and really were things only he could take care of. But in this loss of sleep, constantly distracted state, I let some of the statements shake me up. But not too much, for I had been camping in Joshua and parts of Deuteronomy and etching in my mind the command,

“be very strong and courageous.”

So…..as some doubts crept into my mind, I shot back with “be strong and courageous” over and over. Yet, I still struggled. In the wee hours of pre-dawn a couple of days ago, I thanked the Lord for some specific things, and do you know the struggle of doubt began to leave my mind! Gratefulness. Thanksgiving. Such a balm to the Lord! Oh, how He wants to be praised! Oh, how our Lord craves to be acknowledged for all He is doing in our lives! He wants a thank-you! Listen to this:

 “….to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:12. To the praise of HIS glory!  

In preparing for the lesson on the book of Joshua, the key word is possession. The Israelites, under the leadership of Joshua, were to go in and POSSESS the Promised Land. It would involve conflict then conquest. It is never a comfortable road when truly following the Lord. After Christ, we are to POSSESS all the spiritual blessings he has given us! But we Western minded Believers really don’t know much about conflict and conquest. Our enemy is not flesh and blood but the spiritual powers that we cannot see, but surely are aware of. Satan invades our mind and spirit in the form of fear, doubt, despair, depression. And he is so delighted when we just languish there, forgetting to don our war paint! Failing to call on the power of the Lord to deliver us and forgetting to give the Lord praise and glory for everything in our lives, including our next breath!

So I went over to Ephesians 6 and saw the very same admonition the Lord gave Joshua before entering the Promised Land:

“be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might!” Ephesians 6:10.

Be strong. We have to do something. Strength just doesn’t come over us. We consciously say out loud I choose to be strong in the Lord! We tell the Lord we need Him. We open our mouths in praise and gratitude before Him! We turn off the news, the radio, the podcasts, put away the reading material, all that turns our minds away from the One who knows and loves us best! We moment by moment breathe in and out the Holy Spirit’s leading and we lean in to His promises and power and it is a battle! And the Lord is the victor. So then we praise Him with a thank-you song of praise!

Oh, delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart! Oh, how He desires that closer walk with you! Let it begin today!

And you know what? God totally has my son! He reminded me that He has forgiven him of his past; He is leading him onward and through the next part of his life. God is in control of his life. Is He in control of yours?Navy anchor

 

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