Welcome, Readers, to a New Year!

women reading the blog

Greetings, Readers of “Come as a child”:

Because you all have been such faithful followers to this overly quiet blog site, it is time some things need to change!  When I first started writing this blog a few years ago, I had envisioned giving a message of encouragement to women, with the intent of directing hearts in a closer walk with the Lord. Somehow I lost focus on style and content. Fear took over my writing. I lost confidence in writing, constantly worried that I would write something that would tarnish the Lord’s name or that I would not convey Truth accurately. The saying “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time” certainly applied. Blog writing/publishing dwindled to nearly nothing.

This past year, 2018, was the year of overcoming fear.  I wrote of the time I was blindsided by a dog who was merely protecting his owner, but I had to dwell in his kingdom for a week.  I had never experienced such paralyzing fear. The Lord gave me Deuteronomy 31:8:

“And the Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear, or be dismayed.”

I camped on that promise, that command to not fear, for weeks before returning to my friend’s home in another state to stay for about four days. I honestly went in to my spirit and soul and physically said, “I choose not to be afraid of this dog. I choose to overcome my fear!”   Oh, believe me, I had to put on my Big Girl panties and claim it over and over and over!god-didnt-give-us-a-spirit-of-fear

In God’s great grace and mercy, another mutual friend decided she also wanted to visit our friend and witness her son’s law school graduation. Since our friend did not have accommodations for two guests in her home, we all agreed that getting a hotel room was best. Talk about relief! Whenever we all got together at our friend’s home, we sat on her comfortable front porch admiring the purple colored mountains in the distance and the variety of birds flocking to her many feeders in the yard while the dog enjoyed his kingdom inside the house.

Before we left, I asked my friend’s son to help me feed his dog a treat so that I could stand in front of this strong pit bull without my heart beating out of my chest.  Mission accomplished! So it was that after that time spent with my friend and her son all fear of dogs vanished. Completely.

The other huge fear to be faced head on was writing.  In late December the Lord gave me such clarity about my writing and His desire for me to convey His truth to women in all walks of life. Pray, He told me. Then write. In obedience I’m moving forward. After I began writing again, in His great grace and love, the Lord directed me to a wonderful friend who has agreed to edit my work! To Him be the glory!

Who drove that fear of writing away? Marisol. This young lady approached me just before our ladies Wednesday night meeting got started and I promise you she was WEARING confidence!

 “Put on the full armor of God….” Ephesians 6:11

“…Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience…”

Colossians 3:12

Jesus confidence, I must add. Squared shoulder tall, dancing eyes and direct, she said something to the effect that she was no longer allowing the enemy to push her down, especially when it came to her job. No, Marisol is not one of those angry confronters. Not at all. She prays before approaching. She speaks softly yet…..what other word can I use? Mettle.  I was inspired by her quiet strength. She knows in whom she believes and she walks straight up, smiling, radiant and aware of whose she is.

 

confident woman two

I grabbed on to her spirit and hugged her and decided right then and there I was not going to let fear overcome me anymore.

It is time to make public the things the Lord is teaching me. So I put my bottom to the chair, even on a bright sunny January day and compose a message of encouragement to you, urging you to be confident in your walk, your countenance, your words, your heart. If you say you are a follower of the Lord, then it is time to let our manner, walk and talk say so.

“walk in a manner worthy of the Lord to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God….” Colossians 1:10

So thank you. Thank you for hanging on with me in my messy imperfections and attempts at making your reading meaningful.  May the Lord use this blog post to encourage your heart and draw you much closer in your walk with the Lord. Remember He loves you so very much!

In ALL THINGS give thanks. Blessings, Dear Reader!

 

Rejoice! He is with you now!

shopping together

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which translated means, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23, Isaiah 7:14

You, Jesus, are IMMANUEL, God with me. At all times. Down the aisles of Kroger, looking for my mother; looking for her particular brand of chocolate cookie; getting the right size cereal box. God with me in the car searching for the right house after my GPS has said, “You’ve reached your destination.” In the dark. God with me when one of my single moms calls as I’m driving in rush hour/Christmas shopping traffic on the other side of town. God with me. Absolutely.

A normal Tuesday with Mom, with some added errands and a phone call, I hoped Jesus wasn’t tired of hearing from this silly sheep, because I called on Him every single time I needed His help and every single time He led and every nearly every single time I whispered, “Thank you, Jesus.”

This promise that Immanuel, meaning God with us, is the foundation for your joy! It is a true, real promise that can be fleshed out through your faith, your trust, your belief in Him who said it and it came true! Rejoice, Beloved, knowing that your Savior will surely never leave nor ever forsake you! Do you rest in that fact? Do you remember to call on Him? Let not Immanuel just be words in a Christmas song sung only on Christmas Eve only to be forgotten when you get home.

“…..He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

After driving around town I managed to pull into a familiar parking lot and park and talk to my single mom safely, undistracted, for as long as she needed. In her struggle to co-parent her troubled teen daughter with her former husband, she admitted to needing to lower her expectations, to consciously be thankful for all the little things she gets to do with her daughter and stop dwelling on the poor behavior. I think there will be less triggers with my daughter and my ex-husband if I choose to back off some when I’m with them, she said. Wise words.  Praying it is practiced.

Breathing prayers for wisdom as we talked, the Lord reminded me of the disciples He called to be His everyday companions for about three years. Were they the cream of the Jewish crop? Had they been schooled in the best rabbinical synagogues of the day? Hardly. They were simple men, schooled in common crafts of fishing, tax collecting, and studying. “Consider Matthew,” I said to my sweet mom. “He was a repulsed tax collector! Can you imagine the treatment he got from the other disciples? And Jesus chose Him! Jesus was, in effect, saying to all twelve of these guys, “look to me for your source of help, and do this. Love one another.” Right. In spite of their former jobs before they were called to follow this……this man who tells them to love one another? What I think I was trying to tell my mom was……in loving your wayward daughter, find ways to love her through her poor choices and behavior and then……be thankful.

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,….and be thankful.” Colossians 3:15

And she agreed. She is growing in her trust in the Lord. We were merely edifying one another in  the fact that our joy in the Lord, Immanuel, comes from calling on His name for all help, and giving thanks when it comes. The thankful heart affirms in our heart that He is with us. Immanuel and in His presence is true fullness of joy!

“ In Thy presence is fullness of joy!”Psalm 16:11

This Christmas season, may we all consciously give thanks as we call on Immanuel to help us every step of the way and to be more real to us as we celebrate His birth. May there be meaning! Resounding joy that God became flesh and dwelt among us!

Thank you, God, for sending.

Thank you, Jesus, for coming!

Thank you, Holy Spirit, for reminding!

Christmas Eve candlelighting

 

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.

 

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

Psalm 91:1

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A mindset shift change…it’s up to you

Let the peace of Christ RULE/REIGN in your heart (MIND) and BE  THANKFUL!

Colossians 3:15


Two urgent requests:

Let Christ be master over your mind.

Practice that attitude of gratitude.

How does this work? That’s right. It’s work! It’s intentional living.

The other day I was invited to spend a week in the home of a pit bull who had made himself King of his Kingdom.  I had to learn to win over this animal with teeth and a growl by squelching the fear that had consumed my entire body (we had had an awkward introduction). I needed see him not as a monster, but as this over sized toddler with teeth who would rather lick your makeup off if you were willing. At first the two safe places were the guest room and the front porch, but walking through the rest of the house was a lesson in overcoming fear and playing by his rules. Give me a treat and I’ll let you walk through the house without nipping at your heels or jumping and biting your hands, he seemed to say. Easier said than done but I chose to overcome this fear and physically face it down by forcing myself to let this dog take a treat from my hand. pit bullThe second morning, as I was sitting in the guest room, feeling quite trapped, I turned to Psalm 88. It was the next Psalm in my personal reading. I read the first two verses:

“Lord, You are the God who saves me; (from this pit bull!)

Day and night I cry out to You. (not one bit of sleep that first night!)

May my prayer come before You; (please hear me!!)

Turn your ear to my cry.” ( I’m begging You!)

I prayed those words of David over and over and sensed His incredibly real presence in the room with me. I would survive this week with my friend and neither the dog nor my fear would rein in my spirit. Later, on the front porch, I read all my favorite verses on peace–Christ’s peace and soak in this truth that Christ came to overcome my fear–to comfort me in all things. I lived it out–not just read these as platitudes in the Bible. By the fourth day, the pit bull and I were on friendlier terms and by the time I was to fly home, I had grown a bit fond of the playful toddler on four legs. Christ had won.

The following week my husband told me he had some inner fears of how an inspection on his shop might go. He remembered all the years that the Lord God had taken care of him at the shop, protecting him, providing a living for his family, keeping him and his workers safe and he told himself, that even if the inspection did not pass, God would still take care of him. He prayed. He texted me to pray and then he gave it to the Lord. The inspection passed.

What do you do when something threatens to paralyze you with fear? Do you pack your things and head for a hotel? I had seriously considered it! Do you stay holed up in the guest room? Or throw down a sleeping bag on the front porch? You know who has won when you entertain those thoughts and act on them, don’t you? Fear does.

Everyone has a fear of something or someone or some circumstance. And everyone has a way out–calling on the Lord to sustain you, overcome you with His presence and calm the fear in your body and mind.  Choose to call on Him.  Choose to get in to the Word of God, focusing on those passages that speak to you. Underlining and meditating on them helps you to remember them and where they are in your Bible.

Call on Him or to lift your voice and cry out to Him. He wants to rescue you! He wants to relieve you of the fear and give you His abundant joy and His peace that truly passes all understanding. And when He does and you realize it, then BE THANKFUL! Give thanks to the Lord! Speak His name and thank Him aloud and recognize it was Him who took care of you.thankful heart

These verses may calm your fear, as they have mine:

John 14:27-peace I leave with you….

Proverbs 14:30-a heart at peace gives life to the body….

Isaiah 26:3-your mind at perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You…

John 16:33-in Me you have peace….

Go out with JOY! Be led forth in His PEACE!

Doing the Christ-filled life

 

Whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it — not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it — they will be blessed in what they do.

– James 1:25 (NIV)

When we worship with fellow Christians something special happens. Instructed from the word of God, taught and encouraged by singing and praying together, as well as giving to meet the needs of others, and remembering the sacrifice of our Savior make the time we spend together a blessing.

Too often the motivation to live more faithfully fades into a distant memory once the church services have ended . We don’t always take what we learn in church and walk it out in our daily lives. If we leave behind what we learned, we miss out on putting our discipleship into practice. Taking to the street what we heard in worship means treating our families and neighbors the way Christ would treat them. It means showing integrity in our workplace; loving our children as parents; going across the street as neighbors, and respecting those in authority over us in government. As the verse from James quoted above tells us, it means for us to go beyond listening to acting.

Worship and fellowship together as Christian brothers and sisters gives us the tools and understanding of God’s love that help us live faithfully. Wherever we go when we leave the service, we can resolve to share with others the unity and peace that Christ’s love inspires in us. Along with worship and fellowship, God desires our discipleship and service.

Dear God, help us not to take the blessings of life in Christ for granted but instead to share them with those around us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Eyes off Your Troubles. Focus on Him

 

sunset one

“Do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.” Matthew 6:34

There are those days when our feelings dominate our beliefs. Right? In this culture of “if it feels good, do it” mentality, our beliefs tend to get tossed out the window and we camp on our fleeting feelings to carry us through our days.

That’s exactly what happened to those disciples. Mark 6 tells the story of Jesus and his disciples trying in vain to have a mini retreat to mourn the loss of John the Baptist who had just been killed.

Scene One:  Jesus invited them to get in the boat and push off to a lonely place and rest. But the people, not knowing of their grief, followed them, wanting a moment of time and teaching from Jesus. So Jesus brought them together on a grassy knoll to teach and heal them. The crowd grew hungry and they forgot to bring lunch. Jesus instructed those weary disciples to feed them. They found five loaves and two fish.

Right before the disciples’ eyes, Jesus fed over five thousand people with that small offering. Catch this. Before Jesus gave the food to the disciples to give out to the people, He lifted his head to heaven and blessed the food. All the power that Jesus poured out came straight from His heavenly Father, the Provider. Jesus’ provider  became the people’s Provider. Was this act lost on the disciples? Apparently.

Scene Two:  Jesus tried again to send His beloved tired disciples out on the boat “to a lonely place” to retreat. To rest and to breathe. Jesus hung back to say good-bye to the last stragglers trudging back to their homes, filled.

The seasoned fishermen seemed to be over their heads that night, straining with the oars, the wind was so powerful. After midnight, with the storm still raging, they spotted a ghost out on the water! Scared out of their wits, they screamed and hollered. Basically, they panicked. Jesus, the ever calm one, said to the frantic men,

storm with Jesus

“Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.”

As soon as He entered the boat, the storm abated. They breathed and just stared at Jesus, wondering, not about what just happened, but who was this man?

The next verse says, “for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened.” (Mark 6:52)

Take away:  As I was pondering this, some of my single moms come to mind who have told me their concerns about whether they would be able to provide for their family. A job is on the line, they are laid off right now,  struggling with some bills, feeling desperate, tired and sometimes alone. Such very real concerns. But this story said a few things to me about how similar we all are to the very human disciples.

The disciples had left their jobs and families to travel the countryside with this prophet who had called them. And just recently, they had been hit with the news of a dear friend, John the Baptist, who had been brutally killed. Jesus, knowing they all needed some rest and some time away from the crowds sent them away on the boat.

But LIFE happened.

 The crowds demanded their attention. They all had to press through their weariness, their grief, and minister. Again. But Jesus also showed them His Father’s provision at the meal when he fed all those people. He knew the crowd wouldn’t get the deeper message that He provided the food.

After that miracle, Jesus once again, showed His power over the creation by calming the storm in front of His disciples. Why?

To show them that He provides. He protects. He is God.


 I know. We’re all like the disciples. Spell it out for us, Jesus. So, you provided for my family so far. You’ve put food in our bellies all last year and the year before. But today, Jesus, it is different. This job doesn’t pay enough and I’m afraid I won’t be able to keep providing for my family. Jesus, I’m tired. I’m lonely.

We all have these times when we are leaning into our feelings and forget to lean into our beliefs about who Jesus is and how He has been providing. He has been our strength. He has protected. He will not stop.

 What do we do? Trust. Breathe and remember who this Jesus is whom we say we believe in and lean into Him. Fully. Right now.

Personal example: Last week we mentors thought we were going to have to meet in the same community building as the rowdy young cub scouts on Wednesday nights. Even though they are assigned the bigger room, our two smaller rooms off to the side of the big room was not going to be large enough for the number of moms and their children we were expecting.

Had we prayed over this change in rooms? You better believe it! And then we reluctantly left it up to the Lord, trusting more in His name and character than in our distraught feelings. And we went on with our lives

I met a gentleman Tuesday afternoon when I went to see those two rooms again and try to visualize how we would manage. He greeted me at the entrance of the community building and when he heard about the single moms ministry, he suggested I talk to the church receptionist one more time and explain that the cub scouts would truly be dominating in size and sound each Wednesday night.

I returned to the receptionist with fellow mentors who met me in the parking lot, and she graciously put us back in our room upstairs along with the room next door for our children this fall. We thanked her profusely. She had realized she could give us those spaces and still have spaces for new adult Bible Studies that would be taking place the same night.

“You have not ’cause you ask not” Lonnie Hayter, Baptist Student Union Director in the dark ages of the 70’s at Baylor University!

adult arms lifted

Believing in and trusting in HIM.

Our provider. No matter what.

Eyes off our circumstances. Focus on Him.

“He must increase. I must decrease.” John 3:30

Father in heaven, forgive me when I forget to remember how much you love me and want to provide for me. Help me to trust you for every single detail of my life and to delight in depending on You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.