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

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.

 

The set apart life….for a Most Holy God

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!” II Corinthians 5:17
How do we go about our lives? What sets us apart?
Muslim women wear a hijab; Hindu women bear a mark on their forehead; Amish women wear a bonnet; Pentecostal women wear skirts, keep their hair long and wear little to no make up. Outward appearances.
In the Old Testament the Israelite priests were given specific directions on what they were to wear when performing their priestly duties. Down to the type of fabric, the colors, the style. They were to be set apart from the other Israelite people to honor a Holy God. Over and over the Lord said, “I am holy.”
The ladies had moved in to our little corner of the beach from all over the country! God brought them to our dining table Friday morning for our weekly Bible Study. As we mulled over the set apart life, one lady told us a story.
I had been hired to work in this office a number of years ago. My desk was in the back where I was given a job to do at this printing company. My task didn’t really involve the men who worked up front. I was content to work at my desk each day and fulfill my task. I hear the men bantering back and forth, telling stories. I am not asked to participate and I don’t mind doing my work. But one day, a man stopped talking to the other men and came back to my desk and said, “You’re a Christian, aren’t you?”
“Well, yes, I am.” “I could just tell.” Mind you, she told us, I had not said one word to those men about my faith. I had not been playing Christian music. In fact, in the short time I was at that job, I really had very few conversations with any of those men.
How did the man know I was a Christian? The other woman sitting across the table from the first woman said, rather matter-of-factly, it shows in our faces!
When I was a junior in high school, a new girl enrolled in our school in the spring of that year. As soon as I saw her sitting at a table in the cafeteria, I knew she was a Believer and told her. It was her unmistakable countenance in her face. She was wearing the fruit of joy all over her!
The Lord gives each Believer the fruit of the spirit. Did you know that?
Love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, faithfulness,
gentleness, goodness, and self control.
We have them! And when we ask the Holy Spirit to teach us each day, He reminds us of the fruit we have already been given when we put our trust in the Savior.
I asked the ladies the question:
What sets us as Believers apart from the world’s culture?
We did some digging in Colossians and found our clothing!
The old clothes are our earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.  Also, anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language. All that lifestyle represents a life apart from Christ.When we believe in Christ who died on the cross for our sins and gave us the Holy Spirit to teach us, then yes, we can still live in that mud pen. We can keep the old clothes on. But it would grieve the Holy Spirit and a walk with Christ would be non-existent. A walk with Christ is a relationship with Him. It is a two way relationship. He will always love us; but we can enjoy the fruit of a life in Him when we put off the old clothes and put on the new clothes.

We have been given a choice. Christ doesn’t come in our bedroom one day and go into our closet and yank out all our old clothes. No. He is gentle about this change. If we truly want Christ in our lives, we will want to yank out the clothes ourselves. And in place of the old clothes we put on:

compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. We bear with one another and forgive one another if any of us has a grievance against someone. We forgive as the Lord forgave us. We never leave the house without putting on love, which binds all the other clothes together. We let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts and we are thankful. Colossians 3:5-15.

 I don’t ever want to go back to the mud pen. Ever. I don’t like those old clothes. Occasionally, that old nature will rear its ugly head and I’ll say something ugly or start to hold a grudge. What makes me throw those old clothes out? My love for my Savior. When I remember what He did for me and how much I need Him, I bow my head and say, Forgive me Lord and turn (repent) from that behavior and run back to my closet and put on those new clothes again, with the scarf of love tied securely about my face.me

Lord Jesus, thank you for your forever love for me. Help me to keep putting on the new clothes each and every morning when I get out of bed, with the reminder that with these new clothes on, we are walking together, set apart from the world but ready to give a loving response as to the reason for the glow in our faces! In Your name, Amen.

	

Listening intently to Truth

“I’ll say of the Lord,

 You are my Shield, my Strength, my Portion, Deliverer;

my Shelter, Strong Tower;

 my very present help in time of need.”

“Made me Glad”

by Miriam Webster

women talking to one another

Have you been there? Staring at your heart friend or mentor as she shares what she is hearing you say and then reminds you of what the Lord God says about that and you lean back in your chair and sigh? You take it in. You don’t slough it off because you’ve heard it before, or because it’s so hard, or because you wish she wouldn’t preach. You take it in because you just heard a word of truth and you are so thirsty and you knew you needed it. To be reminded. But it came from a true trusted friend, the kind you listen to and you are so grateful.

I sat in that listening chair this weekend across from my friend in her kitchen. Over a cup of loose black tea and cream I sensed this time was the best time. Morning quiet. Our third friend in our group was getting much needed rest in the back room. It was now or never. So I poured out and she heard. Same story. Perhaps a little more intense.

She listened uninterrupted. In her response of truth and kindness, I heard exactly what I needed to hear. Let my son go. Oh, I know.  Why do I need to be told to let my adult son go? Because I just don’t want him making any mistakes or hurting another. You may be there, Mom. It matters not how old your children are. They will ALWAYS be your children! And yes, many of my friends have let their children go and are moving on with their lives. I so get that. But as my friend and I discussed, when we see what path they are on, we are certain we know so much better. Right???mom with son

But this is also what she said. Your son, like me, is a quiet introvert. Hard to make and keep friends. You see, my son’s mom, me, am anything but an introvert. More a cautious extrovert. I talk to the trees and know they are listening. I could strike up a conversation with all the people in the store and enjoy every minute. But not necessarily my son. He’s been known to stage whisper, “MOM! It’s time to move on! She doesn’t need to know everything!”

The point is, she reminded me who my son is and to remember who his creator is and to let God have him.

“His path may not turn out to be the path you’ve chosen, but when you give your son to God He will take care of him and journey with him on his own road. Your job is to love him. As he is.”
“Continue to offer your son to the Lord and His care and guidance for him. It’s all you can do. Your son has moved out of the house long ago and he’s doing well on his own. God has him.”

“Thank you for the kind reminder and for listening.  I owe you at least a thousand dollars! You’re worth more than any counselor, hands down!”

The next morning while still spending time with my friend in her Austin home, I turned to my devotional reading. Romans 4:18. The Lord had a word for me. I love how He connects all the dots for me!

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope, believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

Against all hope….. Abram believed in unseen God. He believed that this God who was talking to him and he was talking back, was somehow the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, and told him that he would be a father! A father of many nations! Abraham had no children at the time!

Abraham believed God-Jehovah-whom he could not see! That’s what counted in this man-this flawed but humble man- he would believe God existed. God realized Abraham believed him, and his promises he made to him, and he would obey him. God counted it (his belief) as righteousness. God stuck with him forever. God never reneged on his promises to Abraham. God will never go back on his promises whether we keep our end of the promise or the covenant or not. Because he knows we can’t.

So now. Today. I will choose to hope in what I do not see-God-moving in my son’s life. And I choose to believe God for His work in my son’s life. And I will. Let. Him. Go.

This is why it was credited to him as righteousness – we are credited with righteousness when we Believe God!

Believe He is: The All Powerful Creator and Sustainer of all that He has created, both seen and unseen. Faithful. Sure. Strong.

I know I’ll have to revisit these claims again. I know my weakness is that I keep thinking I need to talk to him. What? Like he is twelve? And I think he’ll listen to me? God has the power to move folks in to my son’s life who’ll speak the same true words his mama will speak, only with different face and clothes on! A man! A contemporary! Someone he will listen to!

After my devotional reading and prayer I followed the music in to the living room and sat behind her playing the piano; praise songs that had soothed her soul back in those painful days of her own journey. When she turned the page to “Made me Glad” the lyrics caught my attention:

“I’ll say of the Lord,

 You are my Shield, my Strength, my Portion, Deliverer;

my Shelter, Strong Tower;

 my very present help in time of need.”

“That’s what I need to do! Daily speak out loud that He is my Shield! My Strong Tower, my help in time of need. Saying out loud confirms the truth, wiping out all the feelings of fear and distrust. He is! He will! Amen! So be it!

Question: Do you have a trusted friend who loves Jesus enough to speak His truth in to your life?reading the Bible two

True trusted friends who speak the word of truth are worth far more than the therapist with the degrees; those who capture your hungry soul and inspire you to run to your own Bible and seek the Lord through His word. I pray you have such a friend. Praying you run to the Word of God for comfort, direction and peace. He is for you and He is for now. He will never leave nor ever forsake you.

LORD my GOD, I cried to You for help, and You healed me.

You are my shelter and my shield;

I put my hope in Your word!

My flesh and my heart may fail, but GOD is the strength of my heart,

My portion forever.

Psalm 119:114; 73:26; 30:2

Lord, may we be alert to those around us who desire to hear the Truth of God’s word in their lives and will seek your face. Thank you for always providing exactly what we need when we ask. Amen.

 

 

Scripture with Skin On

only-the-word-of-god-can-do-this

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

Ephesians 3:20-21

Is there a scripture with your skin on? One you’ve truly lived out? Please tell me the Bible isn’t just black and white words on a rice-paper thin page of an old book. Seriously.

Four years ago on a Saturday morning in April Ephesians 3:20-21 came very alive to me. The story became a blog post. To recapture the highlights: I was sitting in a large room filled with many women, most of whom I really didn’t know, though nearly all of us attended a large church in Northwest Houston. I was supposed to act as a facilitator or something at a table of about eight women. Sad to say, I wasn’t a very good hostess that Saturday. And I can only recall one woman at that table in my mind today. God’s purpose for my being there that Saturday was not to get to know some more women and their lives, especially in a noisy crowded room.

He positioned me there so I could witness how He changed the life of one messed up young man and was about to rescue my own son. The woman who got up that morning to speak was clinging to the Holy Spirit who was linked to the Anchor, Jesus Christ. Her quavering voice and visibly shaking hands holding her notes were obvious clues that her story was raw. Fresh. So fresh that her son had been sober only since February. It was April. But she was celebrating because she witnessed the deeper change in his behavior, reaching into his heart.

Tears coursed down my cheeks. I had used up all my Kleenex and now I didn’t care as she spoke. She was telling my story. No one could see that I was shaking just as much. My son was struggling to hold a job and stay sober, living in a halfway house, using bus transportation.

After the woman walked off the stage, I got up from my seat and hurried out to the lobby where she was drinking a much-needed bottle of water. Excuse me, but where is your son living now? My son desperately needs to talk to your son, I explained, quivering. Not, you were so brave, Mom. Not, thank you for sharing. In my own rawness I could only think of my son. She understood and graciously talked to me briefly.

My husband and I drove our son over to the house where her son was living and in the course of a very short time, my son heard the Gospel…..anew. This time he was ready. He was ready to hear and to change and to get serious about his walk with the Lord. And…..he moved into that house for a while. Now, over three years later both of our sons are clean and living for the Lord.

The theme at that women’s retreat was Ephesians 3:20-21. God just amplified that verse and concreted it my soul forever that weekend.

Abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine.

This past semester three of our church buildings were flooded during Hurricane Harvey, causing all of our Bible Study groups to move to other locations, primarily to homes. But with our single moms and the need for two large rooms, one for the moms to meet and the other for the children, the Lord graciously led us to another church who have opened their hearts and arms to us in gloriously generous ways.

The Lord also brought two teen sisters with a passion for children to our ministry and loved on our children while I taught the lessons each week. A week before Thanksgiving break they told us they would be moving on to another church after Christmas.

We mentors began to earnestly pray for teens to come alongside us and love on our single moms’ children. Doors were shut on our youth at our church. Wednesday night was the only night our youth pastor had with our youth. No, they were going nowhere to minister that night.

The Wednesday night before our month-long Christmas break, Susan, our teacher, looked at me and said, why don’t we switch places? You teach the women and I’ll teach the children. I looked at her in surprise. Really? Well, is that what you want? Yes, she said, firmly.

I had been using materials from Child Evangelism Fellowship from Good News Clubs after school the past two years. I offered them to her, but also suggested she could use whatever she wanted. Working full-time in special education during the week, I knew Susan’s preparation time was limited. I called our church and was told they had lost everything in the flood. Of course. Their offices were all on the first floor and the building got over five feet of water. Go to the Christian bookstore, I was advised. Okay. I went and looked at the floor to ceiling shelves of children’s teaching literature for about three seconds and walked out the door, totally overwhelmed.

I emailed the children’s director of the church where we were guests. She responded that she would meet with Susan and me after the holidays.

This past Tuesday, Ephesians 3:20-21 came alive again. I walked in to her vast office. She offered two curriculum to choose from and multiple children’s Bibles, and then. She walked us to the children’s supply closet. She unlocked the door and wallah! Floor to ceiling craft supplies all at our disposal! Whatever Susan needed or wanted to use with the children! And we never knew this closet was there! Right across the hall from where our moms meet!

“You have not ‘cause you ask not,” Lonnie Hayter, the Baptist Student Union Director would always say when I was in college.

Abundantly! Exceedingly! More!

Susan and I hugged Mingo at least three times. She walked us to the children’s room we had been using and made a space for us on the shelf for the Bibles and any other books we wanted to use. Last semester I had been bringing all the supplies and toys each week, lugging three large tote bags of teaching materials including a worn out CD player, though there was a newer CD player right there on the counter. I never knew to ask anyone if we could use their supplies. I always made sure to leave the room as I had found it-clean and orderly.

Mingo also said she would contact their youth pastor to ask if they would allow the youth to help us and earn community service hours and could rotate in and out. Thank you, Mingo!

By the way, I said to her, we have invited your church’s single moms to join us! I have contacted your Discipleship Director and will meet with her when she returns to the office. We are praying for more mentors. Oh, responded Mingo, we have a large group of senior women who would love to help you and participate in your ministry! Manna from heaven.women-talking-together

As to our moms, we will be using a Bible Study book called Open Your Bible as the tool, though we will be referring to the Bible only in our one hour study, as Susan has so effectively been doing  the past four and a half years.

Was I ever worried when our teen sisters gave us the news of their imminent departure? Not one bit. I knew we only needed to ask the Lord and wait on Him. He would supply if this ministry was to continue or not. He was in charge.

According to the power that works within us

It seems every week we are amazed and overjoyed by the Holy Spirit’s presence in our room with our moms. Since our single moms’ ministry has been meeting four and a half years, we have witnessed God at work in the lives of our moms for His purposes. Though our mentors have come and gone, and moms have come and gone, God has remained faithful. He has shown up every single week, strengthening our senior mentor’s tired bodies as they trudge up the stairs to our meeting room, hauling totes and crock pots of fresh made dinner.  Shortly after, our strung out moms walk up the stairs far behind their active young ones, painting on a smile and receiving our hugs and greetings.

So I was not worried when the teens said they were not coming back after Christmas. I was not overly concerned when one of our mentors emailed from Kansas to tell us she is still needed with her son and grandchildren. God was going to show up. He would provide. Or. He would shut down the ministry. It was and is always His since the beginning. We have always looked at one another and said, “We have no idea what we’re doing. He shows up and shows us. All He asks of us is our faithfulness and trust in Him that He will provide!” And He does. Every. Single. Wednesday.

 

 

Scripture with skin on. Living out His truth. Leaning in to the Holy Spirit. Seeking out His will. And after we have done our part-prayer, seeking, asking, preparing, He shows up and teaches and opens the hearts of our moms and their children and He draws them closer to Himself. We just get the joy and pleasure of witnessing His good grace over our seeking broken moms. He asks us to love. Period. And we do. We so love our moms deeply and completely. Holding them loosely in our open hands.

To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen!

 

 

 

 

 

God will show up!

“But know that the Lord has set apart the godly man for Himself; the Lord hears when I call to Him.” Psalm 5:4 

praying woman with Bible

Testimony time: God showed up…..again! In flesh and blood this time!

There were a lot of little obstacles keeping our meeting from going smooth. Mentors out, new kids coming, and I was a bit tired.

I asked a bunch of people to pray, including my prayer warrior friend of many years.

She means it when she says she’ll pray!

Upstairs in the moms’ meeting room with one of our mentors, we were setting up the tables for our meal. She found herself complaining that not all of us were able to be here; some of our mentors were unable to come for whatever reason. I stopped her and took her arm and began to pray out loud – over the room. The enemy comes in all forms. And one is complaining.

I’ve been trying to help this precious new friend understand that we’re all a great big mess. She likes to tell us she has this ailment and that problem but she keeps coming, bless her heart. We mentors come back with, “Sweet Lady, we’re all broken to pieces. And that’s okay because God uses us! He shows up and does it all for us!”broken vessels

“Our limitation is God’s opportunity. When you get all the way to the end of your rope and there ain’t nothin’ you can do, that’s when God takes over.” Denver Moore in Same Kind of Different as Me


I set up the children’s room downstairs and prayed out loud over that room. After awhile I went back up stairs and greeted the moms and the children and ate supper. Then we children came downstairs and got started. Who would walk in the room but our women’s  ministry leader! And she just sat right down on the floor (’cause she was a teacher/principal and still works out a lot so she bends easily) and Tyler got right in her lap! (He’s five and busy!) And she stayed off and on, even taking 19 month old Sophia out once for a little stroll in the hall.

Afterward, I told her she was my answer to prayer angel!!!

  Ya’ll,  it is AMAZING how GOD shows up each and every week!

So, I’m taking to heart a quote from the book Same Kind of Different as Me  by Ron Hall and Denver Moore.

“Those that are precious to God are important to Satan.”

Amen and amen.
We must get our mad face on and in our stern tone and say out loud – the enemy is not welcome here! God, be over this or this in my life! Make me to lean in to you!!! and hang on tight! To You, Lord, be the glory in the end.

Lord Jesus, take this ministry and use it for Your purpose. Thank you for allowing us mentors a glimpse into the lives of these precious moms you send our way each week. Thank you that you love each of them so very deeply. You died for them. You have a purpose for their lives. Go before each of them and make Your presence known to them. May they continue to hunger and thirst for you and you alone. Go before them, Lord. In your precious name. Amen.