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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Witnessing the Holy Spirit’s presence

women mentoring women one

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

I Thessalonians 5:11

Two springs ago, I was asked to facilitate the Bible study “The Covenant” by Kay Arthur at church. Facilitate really means to go over the questions in the printed book then turn on the video. And listen. That’s it. I was asked to go to a workshop on how to present her studies–the inductive Bible teaching method. I went to another city for two or three nights and sat with several other learners from many states with our little colored pencils, Bible, and huge binder. I really enjoyed it, even though I only had the prescribed twelve colored pencils. Need I say more?

I loved facilitating the study. The ladies enjoyed it and learned so much. The covenant God made with Abraham and the people of Israel, then eventually the world through Jesus Christ,  is a powerful picture of God’s commitment to His people, whether they kept their part of the covenant promise or not.  As so many ladies said, this study needs to be taught to all church members! But at the end of the eleven weeks study, I knew that teaching the Bible or facilitating a study was not for me. I was easily distracted. I wanted to present more than was allowed by time.  Though many of the ladies were kind in their encouragement, I was not asked to facilitate the following year.

I wasn’t discouraged because years ago I realized that God had gifted me with gift of encouragement.

Encouragement? It is the action of giving someone support, comfort, confidence and hope.

Did I always use it? No. Did I even understand how? Not always. But three years ago I stepped into a ministry that truly has sung my song! Mentoring single moms! Oh, how God has given me such love for them! What does that mean? On a given Wednesday night we mentor moms walk in to a vast room of round tables and chairs with a meal for the moms and their children. As they take a plate of food and plop down after a hard day of work and picking their children up from school, we sit close beside them and look intently at them and listen. We hug their children before they are escorted down stairs to their activities. One of mentors stands to gather us chatty hens together to hear a message from the Word of God. She is wise to ask us all to participate in the reading so that our moms are not only hearing the Word, but seeing it in their own Bible, however that looks. We discuss the passage, with the mind of looking to see what the Word says. We hear their thoughts, their questions and we pray. As they leave to return to their daily lives, we offer sincere hugs with knowing eyes that say you are loved no matter what you are going through. We are here for you.

During the week each of mentors who has warmed up to a particular mom or two, will text, email, or call their moms to encourage them. What does that look like? “Hi, Anne! How are you this week? Please know you are in my prayers. How may I pray for you? Do you have time for lunch or a coffee break?”

Then we make some time to see our mom to hear her heart. We pray with her.  Sometimes we have she and her children over to our home to visit, to play, to have dinner. She meets our husbands and sometimes, when needed, our husbands help with home improvements or car needs, whatever they can, willingly and kindly. The problem is not always solved, but we strive to get them to the person who can help them. If the Lord directs our hearts, we help them with financial needs. No one has to know. Only they and the Lord.

Encouragement is necessary to our faith walk.

         Encouragement does not mean handing a mom a check for grocery money and patting her on the shoulder and saying good luck. It’s not preaching. It’s not talking the entire time you’re with your mom. It’s certainly not ever communicating with your mom except for a few cursory remarks or nods on Wednesday night. There really isn’t a manual. Well, maybe there is. The real manual for encouraging single moms is the heart. God’s heart of grace in you poured over another mom. Perhaps it’s more empathy than sympathy. A hard-working mom never appreciates sympathy. She will not share her heart if she doesn’t hear yours.

Yes, there are the Wednesday nights when we six mentors are wearing exhaustion over our entire bodies. We aren’t necessarily in the mood to hear a lot of sad stories. Before we see our moms, we gather together and pray. We ask the Lord for His strength, His compassion and grace to be poured out through us on to whomever walks in the door. Then we can begin the evening.

What fills my cup? Witnessing the fresh wave of the Holy Spirit in our room every single Wednesday night! We witness two or more moms pouring out their hearts, or hearing answered prayers. You see, we have no curriculum.  We have no formal game plan except to teach God’s Word using a simple book. What we do have? Prayer. Total humility and surrender to the Lord, mainly because we really have no idea what we’re doing! So we gladly open our hands and hearts and say, “You teach these moms, Lord!” And He shows up and opens their eyes to see His Word in ways they comprehend. And yes, God gets all the glory!

Father, it is a joy to see you work in the lives of these moms. You show me You through their faith walk; You demonstrate how much you love these moms and their children. Thank you for this amazing privilege. To you alone be glory forever. Amen.

Say it boldly……the Most High is my refuge!

Psalm 91:1

 

Two nights ago I found myself on the freeway coming home from seeing my mom just as Focus on the Family came on the radio. Since it was Patriot Day, they featured a story of a survivor of 9/11.

Stanley Praimnath had an office on the eighty-second floor of one of the Twin Towers. That morning before coming to work he spent some time in prayer, but it seemed he had something heavy on his heart. He prayed for protection. He prayed, as usual, for his wife and children, but with a heavier heart that morning.

When he got to work he began receiving calls from various family members asking if he was okay. Sure I’m okay, he assured them, puzzled. He had no idea the first tower was  hit by an airplane. Not right away. Suddenly he realized he needed to get out of his building. He told a co-worker that they needed to head out of the building and go home. They entered the elevator and reached the ground floor and walked out the building when a security guard said all was well. Go back to work. Stan told his co-worker to go home–take the day off. She did. And never regretted it.

He walked back into the elevator. He rode back up to the eighty-second floor and got off. Not many minutes later his building shook and lights went off. He screamed for the Lord to bring someone to help him. The Lord did–Brian Clark. With a flashlight! Together they crawled out of the rubble from a plane having hit their building and walked down to the ground floor. But not before Stan asked the man to join him in prayer. Despite the fact that Brian thought Stan was crazy to take time to pray, they did.

Just as the two men made it safely across the street amid flying debris and shards of glass, the plane exploded causing the entire building to implode.

Only later did Stan go to Psalm 91:1 – 9/11 and read, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” He said, he knew because he believed and prayed before going down all those flights of stairs that his God was with he and Brian.

Yesterday I reread all of Psalm 91 and camped on verse 9.

“If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you; no disaster will come near your tent.”

The writer is committing his will; making a claim – If I claim that the Lord is my Most High God and I make Him my dwelling…..then God also makes a promise–no harm will overtake me; no disaster will come near my tent. If/then statement. IF I say and IF I make Him my God, THEN He does His part. To be clear…..God ALWAYS keeps His end of the bargain! He is known to protect and provide even when His people did not claim Him as their God! Even when they whined! (read Exodus)

Why did this phrase jump out at me? I’ve read this Psalm for years. This is another reason I love reading the Bible over and over–He shows me new messages in familiar passages. He makes all things new.

The Lord is showing me that we have to do our part; we have to believe that God is who He says He is. We have to make Him part of our lives–He doesn’t push Himself. We have to make, choose, commit, SAY He is my dwelling place. He is MY Most High God!

I have a deep peace in my spirit when I say He is my Most High because I KNOW He keeps His end of the promise! He will never leave nor ever forsake me. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Folks say they are for this sports team, this political party, this church group, this club. they are claiming allegiance to that group of people. I say I’m bi-churchal. I claim allegiance to two churches these days as we are sometimes in town and sometimes at our beach home, but we worship on the weekends somewhere no matter what.

The news may say folks were lucky. But we know better. So many people think or say, well, you were lucky or unlucky when Hurricane Harvey hit our region. Now. I have no idea why some got water in their homes and some did not. I don’t know why so I don’t ponder that. I leave that question in the Most High’s hands. The point is, friends, as we go about our days we make that proclamation out loud that the Lord God Almighty is the one who protects us. He is our dwelling place in all circumstances.

The more I say it, the bolder I am in my faith walk. And the enemy–the one who wants to enter my spirit and create doubt, discouragement, and despair, and who can do it well, has no foothold in my mind which is where the battle takes place.

Take a stand today and say “The Lord is my refuge, I will MAKE the Most High my dwelling.”

The Psalms of David are personal song poems to his Lord. We have permission to make them personal to us. So we boldly say out loud, the Lord is my refuge! Amen and amen!

Let us not give the enemy any room in our minds!

We may have escaped the flood waters; our home saved from the fires, or escaped the hurricane force winds. We can say thank you, Lord. Maybe the battle is depression, anxiety, grief or doubt; the loss of a loved one; financial issues; PTSD. There are a myriad of hard places we can be in our lives.

The Lord knows. Count on it. The Lord knew Stan was in a tough place. Stan called on his God. And God delivered him. Call on the Lord today and make Him known.

How He loves to be acknowledged that He is the one who is taking care of you; the One who brought you through the hard time. Not luck. Ever.

Now go out with His joy and be led forth in His peace.

It Matters Not the Size

“….Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” Matthew 25:40

She held up a onsie with a bordered pink lace tutu.

Just darlin’ we chimed in.onsie with tutu two

Our pastor prayed over the mountainous piles of donated clothes,

“Lord, bless each person who comes to get what his family needs.”

A faithful church member gathered us in a holy huddle

Before we left to make home deliveries.donations

“Lord, bless each life these ladies touch.

Watch over them with Your faithful love.”

Dirty hands and sweaty t-shirt;

Her genuine smile captured my heart.

We handed her a bag of bleach, masks, and trash bags;

A bunch of snacks and a bottle of water.

Our energetic ministry leader embraced her,cleaning supplies

whispering in her ear,

“God bless you, Sweet Child.”

Rows of turkey, ham or peanut butter and jelly sandwich lunch bags

For the cleaning crew.

My new found Sister-in-Jesus prayed over the lunches

As the crew entered the building.

Lord, use these sack lunches to nourish

These precious brothers and sisters from out of town!

Thank you for bringing them here to help us!

Bless them!”

Retired from teaching but always a teacher,school supply room

She learns an abandoned school building is now home to the flooded school.

She was led to the new supply room to organize by Monday when school starts.

While sorting and shelving donations, she prayed;

“Lord, bless these wonderful teachers in this their new dwelling for the year.

Bless the children who now have a dry safe place to learn.”

My mentor friend and her husband mucked out homes til she was about to drop.mucking out a home one

Sweet single moms served hot meals to displaced families.

Yet.

My friend had family emergencies.

She prayed.

My mother, stuck in her second floor

apartment, hemmed in by flood waters, felt

useless. Until she prayed.women praying together four

A onsie or a word;

A meal or a prayer;

Manning the lunch table or driving a delivery truck;

All are needed;

Prayed over;

Blessed.

All in the name of Jesus.

Reflections on Hurricane Harvey

“…..weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

joy comes in the morningEvery place you sent me to be, You were there…..

At our home church with Dotty retrieving and checking on files of her special needs children.

On our street delivering oranges and waters to those who got water in their homes.

In a quiet little back roads community near Alvin delivering cleaning supplies, snacks and waters.

Every place you sent me to be you were there.

In the eyes of the woman who pointed to the dirty long box and said, “that’s my wedding dress. Guess I won’t be needing that anymore.” She and her sister and her husband were standing in a yard full of all her belongings and soggy sheetrock and flooring and mud and sweat. They were taking a break. It was hot and sticky and swarming with mosquitoes. We handed them some cleaning supplies,  waters and snacks, prayed and left a piece of our heart with them there on the corner of two flooded out streets in Alvin.

In the 3×5 cards with handwritten notes of encouragement from a third grade class in Atoka, OK! They were stacked on top of a box of donations they had brought to their teacher who sent it all to our coastal community church this week. The teacher said they get loss. In 2011 their tiny town was nearly destroyed by a tornado.

In the heart of a young lady who bared her soul to me while we drove to the hidden community near Alvin to deliver cleaning supplies to flooded out homes. She was tossed from one aunt to another growing up, each following a different faith from Jehovah’s Witness to Pentecostal to Baptist. You must have been confused, I remarked. Yep. I was, she responded. I suggested she read the book of John in the Bible and asked the Lord to reveal Truth to her. She is listening.delivering supplies to others

We are where God wants us to be.

With open heart and hands I ask Him, Lord, where do you want me today? And I go.

The cleanup will take weeks. May we here in this part of Texas continue to pray, be patient, and love. God will encourage our hearts and give us the strength we need.

home after the storm