It Matters Not the Size

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

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

Just darlin’ we chimed in.onsie with tutu two

Our pastor prayed over the mountainous piles of donated clothes,

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

A faithful church member gathered us in a holy huddle

Before we left to make home deliveries.donations

“Lord, bless each life these ladies touch.

Watch over them with Your faithful love.”

Dirty hands and sweaty t-shirt;

Her genuine smile captured my heart.

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

A bunch of snacks and a bottle of water.

Our energetic ministry leader embraced her,cleaning supplies

whispering in her ear,

“God bless you, Sweet Child.”

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

For the cleaning crew.

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

As the crew entered the building.

Lord, use these sack lunches to nourish

These precious brothers and sisters from out of town!

Thank you for bringing them here to help us!

Bless them!”

Retired from teaching but always a teacher,school supply room

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

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

While sorting and shelving donations, she prayed;

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

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

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

Sweet single moms served hot meals to displaced families.

Yet.

My friend had family emergencies.

She prayed.

My mother, stuck in her second floor

apartment, hemmed in by flood waters, felt

useless. Until she prayed.women praying together four

A onsie or a word;

A meal or a prayer;

Manning the lunch table or driving a delivery truck;

All are needed;

Prayed over;

Blessed.

All in the name of Jesus.

Reflections on Hurricane Harvey

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

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

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

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

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

Every place you sent me to be you were there.

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

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

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

We are where God wants us to be.

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

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

home after the storm

Beauty for ashes

…….to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness of instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.” Isaiah 61:2.3

True Life: Our beach home was brought to life when two young boys and their older sister bounded into the den followed by their mom lugging the bag of beach towels and snacks. My husband and I were delighted to have them spend a weekend with us playing on the beach followed by a simple supper of kids’ food – spaghetti and meat balls that evening.

As the boys were being entertained by my husband downstairs in the garage and their sister was in the bedroom listening to her i-pod, mom was sharing with me a little of her life story. “I wouldn’t be here today if my wise church lady friend hadn’t told me to get into my Bible and claim a verse, and make that my scripture for life. I was to lean into it when things got very messy; to go to it daily and to believe it. The Lord gave me Isaiah 61: 2. He will bring me beauty for ashes. And Dianne, He has. I cannot tell you how many answers to prayer; the healing that is going on with my children; His provision over and over. That truck for our son that was GIVEN to us! He is bringing the beauty from all the muck of the mess my ex-husband made in our lives. He, the Lord is right with us!”

I stopped what I was doing in our kitchen and just looked at her, tears welling up in my eyes. She was truly radiating God’s presence within her. She was a living example of the blessings of God and His hand in a precious life who went to the Word and sought after Him. She didn’t run to anyone or anything but Him.

The Lord gave me a song to cling to back in the day of rejection in my former marriage. Through the simple lyrics of “I am loved,” He was reminding me that yes, He the Lord loved me, even through the pain. During the separation and following, He brought a sassy wise church lady into my life and led me back to the deeper places of the Word, always reminding me that I was loved.

https://youtu.be/jfMm6cHPjzE

True Word:  In my pain and rejection I sought the Lord and He heard me and brought me out of the despair.”  Psalm 77:2. This Psalm of David reveals a time of deep soul-searching in David’s life. Faith is hard to grasp but faith can find a solution, which is in the sanctuary. God always hears when a soul-seeker comes to Him. Meditate on all that Lord has done for you, His mighty deeds and give Him praise. He promises to draw you close when you seek to draw close to Him. His faithfulness never fails.

True Hope: To those who may not have been led to a “wise church lady” in your hurting rejection days, here is the word; run to Jesus. Run into the Word made flesh and ask Him to cover you with His presence; to lead you to the verse for you. He will. He promises that He will. It is also my personal hope that more churches all over the country will open their hearts to the single moms in their community. We mentor moms with Moms@Midweek welcome any mom who comes through the door on Wednesday nights between six and eight with a light meal, fellowship and solid teaching from God’s Word. You may find us at www.hnw.org/women. mom-at-beach

Prayer for this day: Lord Jesus, life is hard. You know that. You also hear. You see. May we seek your face daily and lean into your promises and watch you work in our lives, as we surrender to you. Your word never fails. You, Almighty God, never fail. May we never forget to draw close to you. In your name, Amen.

Your faith inspires!

Have you ever been amazed at the Lord’s work in another’s  life? Here at the end of the year, as folks are making and sometimes sharing their new year’s resolutions (usually broken by February), two young moms shared their reflections over this past year of how God was moving in their lives. These two moms testified in their email to us this week, they have grown closer to God through fellowship with other Believers, in our little mom group, other Bible Studies and the worship services. Their individual struggles may not have diminished at all, but their hope in the God who loves them and their children has grown. Here’s a comment from each of them.

“Anger made me feel powerful but now I feel untouchable through prayer.”

“I am more mature in my faith and I’m striving to be the best mom to my kids.”

You may remember the story shared here on this blog that three years ago our church began a single mom’s ministry with a few mentor moms who listened to the Holy Spirit. He told the five of us to go upstairs to that vast room in our church and begin loving on some moms, expressing how much God loves them. So we did. There have been Wednesday nights when just a few women showed up for a light supper at six followed by a Bible Study. We had even heard of several moms who had attended our Sunday morning service and written a note to our staff asking about our group and have shown up, but then…..we didn’t see them anymore. Shallow commitment to church meetings and groups is the norm. It has not discouraged us in the least.

But these few comments from two of our precious young moms encourages our hearts deeply as it says to us that we are on the right path. Teaching our women to hope in God and Him alone.

Our mentor moms may not know the struggle of each of our single moms, as some of us have never journeyed that path. This week I received some texts from two other moms struggling over their former husband’s handling of their children versus their discipline approach. One honestly wrote: “this is the part of divorce that is just so hard.” Of course. So I stopped what I was doing and prayed for her, her children, and her ex-husband. This is “the faith” that is the stuff of living out the daily life – through prayer to our Lord, voicing that we are so powerless without Him. The struggle hasn’t gone away, but the hope has grown stronger. They are not as anxious.

Another mom had some extra money come her way after the sale of her home this fall. She texted me one day and said she felt led to bless some moms in our group for Christmas. She brought fun, self-indulgent, “I-really-don’t-have-to-have-this” gifts to four moms this season anonymously.soli-deo-gloria-two

We cannot help but give praise to God alone -soli deo gloria. We do look forward to this next year with eager hearts to see what God will do in and through our ladies as they learn to walk close to Him daily.

“And you shall the love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your heart.” Deuteronomy 6:5

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

 

 

 

Hey! Unto you a child is born!

It’s all Beejai’s fault. My all time favorite blogger of The River Walk has prompted me to write this response to his series  “Twenty-five songs of Christmas.” In Song #7 – “Angels We Have Heard on High” he talks about how he would prefer another word than “sweetly” to describe the angels’ singing. I agree. If, as the Scriptures indicate, the heavens were filled with the mighty angels proclaiming the birth of the Son of God, surely they wouldn’t be “sweetly” singing as if they were cooing a baby to sleep! They made some noise! Loud noise! They woke the shepherds up! They frightened them!

It does seem like we have sweetened up the whole Christmas story over the centuries with saccharine images and messages. We’ve watered down the story  to a comfortable, safe milk toast middle class America in the 50’s view.

After reading Beejai’s very well-written blog,  I picked up my all-time favorite Christmas story, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson to freshen up my memory of how six street-smart kids learned of the Christmas Story and took it out of its starched stuffy church play and into believable characters!the-best-christmas-pageant-ever-cover

Singer, song-writer and author, Michael Card said that there are stories in the Bible that should bother you. Bother in the sense of mystery, of not making any sense. It bothered the Herdman children that Joseph and Mary were led to the back of the inn to the barn to stay the night they arrived in Bethlehem, even though she was pregnant (as opposed to “great with child.”) And, they learned to their complete horror, that Mary had nothing to lay her new born baby in but a feed trough! “We laid Gladys in the bureau drawer ,” Imogene volunteered. It bothered them that the gifts the Wise Men brought were “not practical.” What is the baby going to do with oils? they had cried out in alarm. We get a ham every year from the fire department.

What makes this story so timeless to so many of us is that there truly are children all around us who have absolutely no idea what the real meaning of Christmas is. They see Santa Claus’s everywhere that they’re supposed to believe in, sitting right beside a plastic nativity scene with figurines all dressed in some centuries old costumes that have no meaning to them and some are told at church that they’re supposed to believe in them. Really? Why, they wonder. The Herdman’s had not been taken to church all their lives. They demanded that the  director of the Christmas play tell them the story. And so much of it bothered them. Did it bother the rest of the church children who had heard the story all their lives, that Mary had to lay her baby in a feed trough? Did they get that the Angel of the Lord, played by Gladys, broke through the pre-school angels from the back of the stage that night and hollered out, “Hey! Unto you a child is born?”

We who’ve been around awhile think we know the story and the way it’s supposed to be told as if it was a layout for Southern Living Magazine. Everything in its crisp,starched, perfect, most proper place. But not people friendly. Made to be a picture to just look at but not be moved by.  The Herdman children remind me to look at the story from a fresh “I never heard the story before” approach and consider that Jesus was indeed born for us. All of us. Into this very unfair, imperfect world to bring us His salvation from our own sins and to love us just as we are. I believe He came! I want to know the child who was born! Thank you, Barbara Robinson, for bringing the Herdman’s to life and to question what really happened that night so long ago. Hey! Unto YOU a child is born!cast-of-best-christmas-pageant-ever

 

 

Simply touching the Soul

“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” Matthew 25:40

Generally, I’m not a great shopper. I have to be “in the mood.” Especially in this season. For the better part of Saturday I was content to unwrap the decorations and place them around our home. I had Keith and Kristyn Getty singing their Christmas music at full throttle.

Finally, needing to just get out of the house, I made a short list and headed out to the store. Now, my lists are not necessarily accurate and rarely do I look at a list oncesmiling-shopper I’m in the store, because I can surely remember everything I need. Right. I got to one store and after a few minutes of looking at literally every aisle for something that was clearly not on the short list, but suddenly I was reminded that I would eventually need that item, I went about looking for it all over the store. It wasn’t long before I was overwhelmed at the materialism. Eventually, I found something (on my short list!) to go on the tree that made me smile. I did turn to the young teen beside me and wished her a Merry Christmas since she had helped me get the item off its hanger without knocking anything else to the floor!

Next stop, the Dollar Store where the cashier was actually smiling at each one who passed through her line! Suddenly someone rocked her merry boat a little and the smile slightly faded. I heard her tell someone she had only been there about a week. No wonder she could still smile! She hadn’t gotten jaded by the long hours of constant standing or the whiney customers or the endless stocking! As I took my bags I looked at her darling young face and encouraged her keep it up! You’re bringing some joy to these folks, I had said.

A smile costs nothing! It’s amazing at how the corners of the mouths of nearly every person I make eye contact with and smile at begins to turn up their mouth! And their eyes dance a little. This time of year can get even the most optimistic down! It’s hectic. It’s sometimes pointless. It’s endless. but……it’s what we Americans do this time of year.

I wonder  what  simple simple gifts that touch the soul look like:

a smile, eye contact, genuine

a song, sung outloud with abandon! Or hummed softly in the quiet

a prayer, a blessing

a touch on the hand, rubbing those gnarled hands with lotionrubbing-an-elderly-hand

an act of kindness,  a kind word in gentle tone of voice

a ride to the store, the hospital, the mall, or the doctor then…….going inside and staying with them til you take them home

a drive to see the Christmas lights!

hot chocolate and perhaps a plate of cookies?

extra tip, whether deserved or not

a phone call – my husband reached out to his 93 year old aunt just now who lives in another state. I could just see her smile on the other end of the line!

A Christmas card, personally signed with a note!

Forgiveness

Who would receive such simple gifts? Anyone. The folks in the highways and hedges; those in whom we’ve lost touch; not necessarily those regular Facebook folks. Or even those relatives who are “expecting” something under the tree. The blessings come from the unexpected. And the serendipity comes when we aren’t looking for it! Unaware.

These are simple thoughts for making our Christmas more. More than the commercialism  it seems to become whether we like it or not. More than laissez faire, but intentional in sharing the inner Jesus joy with whomever comes before us. More than staying in the safe places, but venturing out to those places where folks are struggling and joy is hard to come by. Even a smile. More. Together. You and me. sharing-christmas-with-a-homeless-man

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

 

 

Breaking Generational Strongholds

For I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Deuteronomy 5:9–10, esv).hands-of-generations

One of my moms mentioned that she finally reached out to her mom living in another state. Great, I responded. She said that she sent her pictures of her children. See, she added, I had to move away from her because she was so negative. She never told me she loved me. I thought to myself, how does a mom never tell her daughter she loves her? Ever?  At this, I leaned in close to her and whispered, I imagine you don’t let a day go by that you don’t tell your children you love them. She shook her head fiercely. No, I don’t. Even when I get angry with them, I quickly pull them to me and tell them why I was upset and that I love them.

This mom is breaking the generational stronghold with proactive steps. She distanced herself from the destructive behavior and has chosen to be loving and kind toward her children.

Hezekiah, one of my favorite kings, chose to break the stronghold that was in his country that his father Ahaz had created. King Hezekiah came into position after witnessing his father King Ahaz choosing to worship the pagan god Baal. He removed all the places of Baal worship and brought back the Levitical priests that had been established by the Lord and commanded that they clean out the Temple in Jerusalem. After they had thoroughly cleaned out the temple, restoring it to its beauty, he called all the tribes of Israel to come to Jerusalem to worship.

Many people gathered in Jerusalem and celebrated for days upon days! II Chronicles 31 describes how the Lord God responded: “And every work which he (King Hezekiah) began in the service of the house of God in law and in commandment, seeking his God, he did with all his heart and prospered.” (Full story in II Chronicles 28-31:21).

King Hezekiah chose to return to the worship of the one true God of his fathers, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and King David.  He also encouraged all the people to return to Jehovah God. He broke the generational stronghold, even though not all the people chose to worship God.

This mom chose to break the generational stronghold of negativity, and the lack of communicating love. She had an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ who told her the truth about herself. Told her she was loved. That her confessed sins were forgiven. That she could love back. She could express her love to her children and be free of the pain of not being told she was loved by her own mother. The story doesn’t end there. She has reached out to her mother in kindness and love. A hope of forgiveness is taking place. The Lord is using this daughter to bring about a change of heart to her mother so that she may know the true love of her heavenly Father and enjoy the fellowship of her daughter and her grandchildren. Halleluiah! Love how God works!grandmother-and-daughter