The Gathering at the Table

the dining table one

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

John 1:1

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

Words – Edict. Message. Speech.

It happened like this.

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

We yearned for meat. The meat of the Word.

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://www.griefshare.org/

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

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

“Wendy is going to be baptized next Sunday!”

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

wendy baptized one

wendy baptized three

 

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

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

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

So I release all expectations to Him.

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

She is our resident missionary already!

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

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

Sea Isle Bible Study one

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

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

doves rest sign

Cherishing time with Mom

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

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

 

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

 

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

mom alone two

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

mom with grandkidsmeredith and kids two

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

We can ALL chip in and help our students!

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

416be30a1799f82ff2b52fefdc62ed47--southern-living-southern-charm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mom and her kids

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

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

mentoring a student two

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

dad eating with his daughter

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

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

 

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

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

mentoring a student one

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

 

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.

	

Mentor Moms Hunger for Encouragement, too

 

” Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another”….Hebrews 10:24-25 NLT

women sharing hurts

One mentor, broken in tears, looked at the other, and said, “I was afraid to come to this group because you wouldn’t want me if you knew the things I’ve done in the past.” Shocked, the other took her in her arms and hugging her, whispered, “That never ever would have happened.  You are my sister in Jesus and I love you. As you are. If you only knew what I’ve done.” Leaning in to the two of my precious sisters in Jesus, I whispered, “We’re frail, fragile, and yes, forgiven women who know we need Jesus. And one another. Our pasts are who we are but they don’t have to define us. Because of what Jesus did on the cross He forgave us. We must forgive ourselves. That’s the tough part. We must move forward and lean in to His love for us every single day.”

Three of us seasoned souls stood together after the moms went home and spilled our hearts’ hurts to one another. Our moms need us; if they only knew how we mentors need one another! How we have to have our own venting time! Remembering a story of Mother Teresa and her Sisters of Charity, they would come back to their simple residence after a long day of pouring out to sick homeless souls on the streets of India and after a bit of dinner, would engage in sharing and laugher and joy. Yes. They had to. They found their source of joy in one another; in the fact that they knew their Heavenly Father, in whose name they were ministering long days every day, had them and knew they needed down time. Laugh time. Joy time in order to pour out to the hopeless the very next day.

sisters of charity laughing

So we mentors have to have a time to vent, but also to lift up and encourage.

We have to have some apart time from our pouring out to others. Rest. Relaxation. Even laughter.

 

We so get the struggles of our sweet moms. We know their lonely hearts, their daily struggles. Yet. They come, desiring some spiritual food and some genuine fellowship. We give. We realize only He provides the strength to even give them the hugs; to even show up.

God gave me the passion for those moms from the very beginning four Augusts ago. I’ve known all along that this is HIS ministry. His passion in my soul. I was never a single mom. I don’t come to them with experience, but solely the love of Jesus for them. I see the hunger in their eyes for truth and hope and I give them His love and His Word. When I walk into the room of tables and chairs I know God will show up and in the way that He does, to make His presence known.

Our hands are open – holding on to nothing. So He pours into our open hands His presence and strength and grace enough for that evening. Enough for that week. Enough. Just enough. Enough to make us thirsty again for more the next week.

Have we seen moms come and go? Absolutely. Didn’t Jesus witness the same? Are you also leaving? He asked His disciples. Oh, no, they cried. For you alone have the power and authority. Where else would we go? Where else? To whom? No one. Absolutely no one.

“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father. As a result many of His disciples withdrew, and were not walking with Him anymore. Jesus said therefore to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. And we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”

John 6:62-68.

Now. Time for a root beer float to sip out on the porch in the glowing sunshine! Mentors, treat yourself this weekend.

root beer float

Father, thank you for my mentor friends. How I treasure their heart for you and for our moms. Open their eyes to see You in all things restful; all things fun; all things unstressed and give them courage to sit down and breathe, read a book, or take a long walk. Encourage their spirit and give them your strength for the next time we gather with our moms. In Your name, Amen

Mamas of Adult Children, we need to talk

adult hugging a son“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” I Samuel 1:27-28

The other day my younger son called on his lunch hour. “Hi, Mom.”

“Son! Are you okay???” My usual response.

“Mom. Please. You don’t have to ask every time I call if I’m okay. Those days are history. I just called to say hello!” Brought down to earth. Okay, Son. I get it. Sorry.

My son is twenty-seven. He has lived out of our home since he was eighteen or so and by God’s gracious hand and His never-letting-go promise, our son is doing well.

But the mom gene kicks in. The memories of those days when his calls meant he was not quite okay. And for a time it seemed to be one crisis after another. Again, by His sovereign grace, our son is learning how to deal with life’s situations and he is making more sound healthy choices.

Look at how mama bird trains her young. Mama shoves that baby bird to the edge of the nest after he’s had enough of the tiny surroundings and push! Out of the nest he goes! The ground is moving up closer and closer! He must flap his wings! And he does! By golly! He is doing exactly what he was created to do! Flying high in the sky!

Moms, our adult children are flying!

They are soaring and making good choices for the most part. But more than that……they are learning. Our children are their own person and they are learning what works best for them. We parents were given responsibility to nurture and teach our children for about eighteen years then set them free. If we failed in that area, may they forgive us. We are flawed failing folks like the parents before us.

I made MANY mistakes raising our two sons.

 But one summer a few years ago, as my younger son and I were driving somewhere and he was talking about forgiving those whom he had hurt during his poor choices days, I asked him to forgive me for the many mistakes I made while raising him in his childhood and youth. He forgave me. Moving on, I let go of the past and gave it all to God. I had to if I wanted to move on and stop feeling like a total failure. He, my son, had forgiven me. He, my Creator God, had forgiven me. (Jeremiah 31:34). Why was I hanging on? Finally, I mentally chose to yield it all up to Him. Whenever those memories return to haunt me, I choose to say, “Nope. Not going there. Those days are gone. I’ve moved on!” Sometimes I cry out loud so my brain and the enemy will know I mean business.

I  had to yield up my personal dreams and expectations for our sons.

I have yielded up my plans in order to watch what God is doing in their lives. Yielded up dreams but have continued to love and support our sons and be thankful for the Lord’s hand in their lives, whether they acknowledge God or not. Sore knees are proof that I plead with the Father for His care for our sons.

Moms, whether we have sons or daughters, they were created to thrive independently.

Lately, my friend and I have been chatting over the crisis her twenty-something year old daughter is in, seemingly emotionally stuck in a very hard place. Already, her choices cost her parents to cancel two vacation trips over the past eighteen months. My friend and her husband are frustrated and frazzled. “I am sure it is much harder to say this to a mom of a daughter,” I began, “than to those of us with sons, but….you may need to seriously consider letting her go. She is pulling you two down with her and you’re finding it so hard to see out of the hole.” My friend confessed that she and her husband had indeed been enabling their daughter to the tune of several thousand dollars over a two year period of time. She was finally seeing that they needed to let her make some hard decisions and allow the Lord to hold and protect her. He delights in taking care of His children and this daughter is a child of His; just caught in the deep woods right now.

Moms, we can drive our adult children nuts if we need to hear from them all the time.

We don’t even like to hear from girlfriends every singe day! We are busy and we need to allow our children to go on with their lives. We don’t need to know their every move. If we are so invested in their lives that we are texting or calling way too often, then perhaps we are the ones who need to “get a life.” Something to consider.

Here are some things to think about. Please. Or you’ll risk losing your relationship with your daughter or son for good.

They don’t need you to ask them if they gained weight lately!

  1.  Instead of commenting on your son or daughter’s appearance in a negative way –  you may want to leave that one alone. Or comments about how they look. If it isn’t kind, necessary, or true, shut up. Honestly. Your son or daughter still wants your approval and to be constantly criticized even as an adult hurts and drives a deep wedge. Stop.

They’re not comfortable telling you everything about their relationships.

2.   Instead of continually asking about their relationship with so and so, wait. Wait til they are ready for you to know about their relationship with so and so. And by all means, keep your personal opinion to yourself about the person!!! PRAY! God knows so-and-so much better than you. And He knows what is going on. And if…..per chance, your daughter or son makes a “mistake” pray! Ask God to guide the decisions of your son/daughter.

Make time to be with your son/daughter in a positive way.

3.   Make some time to be with your adult children in ways that they appreciate and delight in. My sons love that I make an effort to meet them for lunch or dinner from time to time.

They desperately need to hear you say it:

4.   I love you! Often. Meaning it. No conditions.

Be thankful for one another.

5.   You have much to be thankful for in your children. Tell them.

You and I both know of friends who long for even a phone call from a son or daughter who severed the ties. Be it a divorce, a death, ugly words that left the mouth before thinking…..whatever the reason, there is deep hurt and wounds so deep it will take a miracle to salvage. If I’m speaking to you, I’m so sorry for your hurt and will pray that God does a healing work in the life of your adult child as well as in you. The beauty of life in Jesus is forgiveness. Asking God to forgive me for hurting my son set me free to love him more deeply as the young man God created him to be. Our children are flawed. So are their parents! By God’s grace and forgiveness He is the one who set us free from the sin that entangles us and threatens our relationships.

Today if you are estranged from your son or daughter, take steps to ask God to forgive you.

If you sense that your son or daughter is pulling away, take a look at how you are treating him or her and back off a bit and let them come to you. Pray always and give thanks for the relationship you have. Let them know you love them and are giving them their wings to fly!

Lord, help all of us moms to love our children passionately while holding them loosely and allowing you to mold them into Your timeless image. We entrust them to You! 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!

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate all who Jesus is!

Christmas begins with ChristCome, sweet women! Come away from all the chaos! Come away from this crazy season and  reflect on exactly who Jesus is! He is for you! Come sit a moment and take in these truths and let them soak into the marrow of your bones and then……perhaps this season will have a deeper meaning for you as you go about your day.

Long ago after my first husband left me for his career, I didn’t feel as much abandoned as stained. Not married. Not single. But rather, single again. And I felt like everyone saw the huge “D” on my lapel. Surely they saw me as I saw myself. No longer pure. But blemished. Discarded.

One day a lady walked in to the church auditorium from the back all the way to the piano I was playing on the stage during lunch hour – “Just the Way You Are” by Billy Joel. And she said, “I like that song. Keep on playing.” She smiled! After I finished playing she gave me a hug. True and genuine. And then I knew I was loved. God gave me a church lady, similar to the folks I had grown up with, but new. One who didn’t know my story. Not yet. So she had no judgment and she taught me afresh about the love of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation while laughing, crying, listening, loving. She let me love myself again so that I could love others deeper and truer.

Cracked pot loving on other cracked pots. Redeemed by Jesus. Grateful.cracked pots

So this cracked pot is about loving on other cracked pots – loving you to the One who is the Master repair artist. When I began to know that I was loved as I am, then Jesus has been using me to love on others as they are. Because it’s just better that way. In this little blog please know you are loved as you are and it is my hope that the message will draw you to Him. Jesus. So you can know more fully what He came to do which was to love you intensely as you are.

In this season of Advent in which we recognize the hope, the peace, the joy and the love of the coming Savior and Lord, may we camp on hope and take a moment to read and reflect on Isaiah 9:6. God told His people, the nation of Israel, that He would bring about a Savior; one who would save them from their sins for good. No more yearly sacrifices at the altar in Jerusalem.

Listen to this:

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given. And the government will be on His shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace!”

Isaiah 9:6.

Think about that! For us a people so caught in the snares of our own sin, God will bring His Son! Today think on the fact that Jesus, whom the people were looking for back in the Old Testament, was to be called Wonderful Counselor! – And He is! When I spend time in the New Testament Gospels, I read of his wise counsel such as

“I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?”

 Matthew 6:25.

Jesus was to be called Mighty God!

“For the Father loves the Son and show him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.”

John 5:20-23.

Jesus was to be called Everlasting Father.” In Jesus’ prayer to His Father he said,

“Father I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”

John 17:24

 Jesus is also called Prince of peace.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not afraid.”

John 14:27

My hope is that you’ll take a moment to reflect on how much Jesus loves you and your family. He is for you! Rejoice this season on that fact.  Merry Christmas and God be with you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Kindness of God

children being kind

“The Lord’s loving-kindnesses indeed never cease; For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 NASB

Who knows the story of a young man whose name is fun to say? Do you know anything about Me-phib-o-sheth? Check out Second Samuel 9. Or…..just keep reading! 🙂

King David began wondering if there were any relatives in the house of Jonathan, Saul’s son, who was also David’s very best friend; his covenant friend. Truth be told, as the king of Israel, it would have been within the culture of the day for him to kill off all the blood family from the previous dynasty. But David didn’t inquire so he could go kill them. He asked so he may show the kindness of Jonathan his friend.

The king summoned Ziba, the servant of Saul’s household. (By the way, the new king was also allowed to slay all the previous king’s servants–they hear and keep family secrets, too!). Ziba  may have quaked a bit in his dusty sandals as he fell prostrate to the floor of the palace. David gave the kingly sign for him to rise and answer him.

“Is there anyone still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?” asked King David.

“There is one son of Jonathan; and by the way, he is lame in both feet,” answered Ziba. “He is Mephibosheth, living in Lo-debar.”  David had Mephibosheth brought to the palace from Lo-debar. Mephibosheth bowed low before the King. After all, he knew what David the King was allowed to do. He was aware this could be the end of his life. He was in for a total surprise.

“Don’t be afraid,” said the King. You can stop quaking in your sandals now.

“I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan.” Kindness?? But I’ve been living/hiding in Lo-debar all these years!  A dry and parched land! Hey! In case, you’ve not noticed–I’m the lame son. No one thinks I can do anything so I just subsist in Lo-debar where nothing is growing!

“I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul.” Wow. That’s a lot of land! What are you up to?

“And you will always eat at my table.” The king’s table? Here? In Jerusalem? My crippled no good feet under the table of the king? Forever? Who are you?

Mephibosheth most likely had never heard the history his dad Jonathan and this king David had with one another. He didn’t know that his dad and the king had made a covenant with one another that stretched all the way into their descendants forever. (First Samuel 20). They made a pact with one another; a binding covenant between them and the Lord God that they would not cut off the Lord’s lovingkindness from one another’s houses-from all their descendants forever.  David kept that promise that day when he had Mephibosheth brought to his palace.

David was a promise keeper.

As we, in the intimate gathering of our church, were asked to ponder this story in II Samuel 9 in yesterday’s service, the pastor challenged us to call out what part of the story jumped out at us. One member directed us to verse 3 where David said he wanted to show God’s kindness. In verse one David asks his servants if there was anyone in the house of Saul he could show kindness for Jonathan’s sake. The pastor reminded us that indeed both David and Jonathan had made a covenant between them and the Lord to show the Lord’s lovingkindness to one another’s descendants forever.

Mephibosheth did indeed move to Jerusalem where he dined at the table of the King for the rest of his life. Surely they had quite the discussions of their lives and the memories shared of Jonathan. Perhaps David described his day with Goliath; or he quoted some of his poetry from his writing days–those poems he sang as songs to the Lord–the Psalms in the middle of our Bibles.

But the Lord spoke to my heart later that afternoon. I wondered if Mephibosheth ever thanked David for bringing him up out of Lo-debar; out of the parched land into the palace for the rest of his life. The story was not about whether he thanked David. The story was about David showing God’s kindness to the last living descendant of the house of Saul. It was about David keeping his promise not only to Jonathan but to God. It was about God’s lovingkindness being shown to an undeserving young man. A man who was and would always be lame in both feet.

I had to get on my knees and ask God to forgive me. He gently reminded me that I had longed in my heart for some friends to thank me for their gifts I had given last Christmas. And when would they be giving me a gift? After all…..

The Lord disciplined me in my spirit after this message on David showing God’s lovingkindness. In giving gifts this year–whether to family, friends, ministries, strangers, it is always about showing God’s lovingkindness–not ever ours. Then it is a true God-given- no-strings-attached gift. Do you see? If the story mentioned that Mephibosheth had expressed thanks, then the story would be more about a man being kind to another man. No.

This story was about God being kind to an undeserving man. God being kind to us undeserving folks.seeking human kindness

 He shows lovingkindness to those of us living in the dry and parched no good land like Lo-debar. It’s what He does. This story and the Lord’s kind discipline to his daughter has reminded me that this year when I give it’s from His love. God’s lovingkindness always.’Tis the season to give from the heart of kindness. God’s kindness.

Lord, every single story in the Bible is for a purpose. Thank you for reminding me of Your lovingkindness shown to an undeserving young man; thank you for your gentle discipline to my heart. Giving to others as you so generously gave to me Your Son Jesus who died for my sins. Thank you, Lord, for your lovingkindness never ceases. Amen.