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.

 

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.