Tea and Luke – Nothing Better!

Last month a dear friend sent me a birthday gift that said, “I see you.”  It arrived one morning in a box that my Beloved found on the steps of our beach home, Doves Rest. He brought it upstairs. There inside was another box! A box of Holiday English Teas! An Advent Tea Calendar! Who would have thought? Only Tammy. She and I share a love for books and tea! Be still my heart! A perfect gift for an avid tea sipper!

 Each December morning, I walk into the kitchen, make Beloved’s coffee, heat up the hot water pot, and open a new box containing a new single tea bag. I read the outside of the tiny box with the tiny print and see herbal tea, or white tea; black tea or green tea, including all the special ingredients, such as licorice, cinnamon, orange peel, etc. I pour the hot water into my chosen cup with the new tea bag, grab my Bible and sit in my Lady Recliner and look in Luke to read the chapter of the day.

“Lord, show me what you want me to know from this one chapter,” I whisper to Him as I stir the tea bag around in the cup and arrange myself in the chair. The perfect morning ritual, I cherish the time and the teas!

What has He shown me in these stories of the Life of Jesus?

Among the many truths He has shown me thus far, my heart melted when I opened my Bible up to the eighteenth chapter. He spoke straight to the soul of my being.

“Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart.”

 Of course the Lord Jesus knew the struggle of this mother’s heart, since the day before, one of her sons told her church was boring; he wasn’t so “into Jesus like you are right now, Mom.” Jesus knew my struggle to let go of my sons, as they live their lives different from the way they were raised at home and in the church in the ways of the Lord. Keep on praying, He told His disciples, as the woman who persevered in getting the unjust judge to hear her request. (Luke 18:3-8).

In the nineteenth chapter, the Lord was “passing through” when He walked into Jericho, but we know He passed through with a purpose in mind. As the crowds walked with Him into town, a short man heard he was walking through and sought him out. The multitude was too tall for him to see Jesus. He scrambled up a nearby tree – a sycamore – and saw the One whom everyone had been talking about. He was good at eavesdropping, for no one talked to him, a tax-collector. He had been hearing how this wandering Teacher had healed the sick and brought hope to the hopeless; He even touched a leper and the leper was made clean! The short man had to see this guy!

I’m sure this curious short man was intending to watch what this Teacher/Healer was going to do from his perch. He had no expectation that this famous Rabbi was going to have anything to do with him.

“Hey! Zaccheus! Come on down from there! I’m going to have supper at your house tonight!” Whoa! Jesus not only spotted the short tax-collector, but called him by name! And was headed to his house for a meal! Zaccheus scrambled down that tree and stood in front of Jesus. He was shaking all over from excitement and embarrassment, as he blurted out, “Master, I’m going to give half my possessions to the poor and pay back what I stole from people up to four times!”

Jesus was thrilled with Zaccheus’ pronouncement for then he said, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Zaccheus was a seeker. He climbed up that tree to look for Jesus. He was searching for a way to get back into the good graces of the community – to know the Jehovah God of his ancestors better.

Reading through the book of Luke has brought me as close as His breath over me. Yesterday, talking with one of my single moms and the struggle her daughter was having right now, I knew this mom would be drawn closer to Him if she stayed in the Word, especially now. We talked about that. She agreed. Earlier in the month, a dear church friend expressed genuine joy at how she was learning so much she never knew just by reading one chapter a day.

Several friends have been reading a chapter a day in the book of Luke this month, as it seems to be the easiest Gospel to read this month that we celebrate the birth of the One of whom the book is about! It’s not too late to join us! Just start with this day – this chapter and read forward – to the real reason Jesus came to this earth. We celebrate His birth this month, knowing all along His purpose in coming was to die for our sins.

What do you think the Lord would show you as you read through this Gospel, one chapter at a time? I know this: I have hope that as I persevere in prayer, the Lord will draw my sons closer to Him, creating in them a longing, a seeking and He promises to save those who are lost.

Merry Christmas, dear readers!

Advent Keeping Christmas – Peace

Children were asked to describe peace.

“Peace is calm.”

“Peace is when you can play in your room and your little brother is playing in his and not bothering me.”

“Peace is quiet in the house. No yelling.”

“Peace is the community coming together.”

“Peace is being nice to someone.”

“Peace is space for yourself.”

Our pastor said peace is more than all of those sage responses from children. He proceeded to share various scriptures with us which described peace. But his videos and translations of peace from Greek didn’t resonate. Not until he said,

Peace is Jesus.

Our music director is the most humble person I know. Usually artists and performers come with just a bit of self assurance bordering on pride. We Believers hesitate using the word arrogance when talking about one of our own, but you don’t have to worry with this servant heart. He plays gigs all over our island, toting his guitar and inviting a bass player or violinist or drummer to join him. He doesn’t really seem to care what the instrumental mix is.

When we first started attending this little resort church, which resembles the early Christian church in so many ways, I noticed that he would include whoever expressed any interest in making a joyful sound to come up and join him in the praise and worship part of our service. He included a few small children to play those annoying wood blocks one Sunday. Having put up with that hollow wood tone the little ones mindlessly banged on in my music classroom for twenty-nine years, I gathered up the two wood blocks and brought them home with me. Needless to say, they haven’t been missed.

A few weeks ago, our music director asked me to take over the music for yesterday’s worship, as he and his wife would be out of town. Certainly. Consider it done, I told him. Our other esteemed players; violinist, guitarist and drummer, said they would be there. They had put up with my erratic rhythm-keeping only one other time when Jim was out. It wasn’t smooth, but they were most gracious. This time, I thought, I would practice and work hard to get it all right.

I invited two ladies to sing with us, as singing while playing the keyboard do not come naturally for me. Yes, they said. We rehearse an hour before the service. Thanks for coming. They came, bringing some ideas of their own. Rehearsal was bumpy, to say the least. A time or two, I had to check my inner spirit. As much as I had prayed over the service, the singers, all of it, still, there were going to be some personality challenges, including questioning the one in charge a time or two, with minutes before worship started.

When those questions were raised as to how it all should go, my mind went straight to all the times I had acted the diva with Jim. And I reluctantly thanked the Lord for the kind rebuke. I calmed my spirit and pressed on.

The pastor’s message on peace pierced my heart, especially after our first two worship songs. Oh Father, I whispered down in my soul, please help us to bring you and our beloved intimate congregation a more musical worshipful sound.

“Peace is waking up each new morning and committing the entire day into the hands of the Lord Jesus; totally surrendering and submitting your day’s agenda to Him. That means unclasping each finger off your own plans. Make your list of the many things you have to do. Then lay it on the table, pray over it, giving it to God. He promises to bless you with that peace that does indeed surpass all understanding.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

“And the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

As I sat there on the second row next to Beloved I heard the Holy Spirit whisper in my soul, “I’ve got this. Just do what you practiced doing and it will go well. Trust Me.”  And in my heart of hearts, I yielded. Immediately my angst left my heart. I relaxed my hands and the peace that I had read about all these years in the black and white pages of my worn Bible became reality in my soul.

When it came time to sing the closing songs of the worship service, the singers sang, the instrumentalists played and the Holy Spirit’s presence was felt all round. Afterward, I hugged and thanked the ladies with genuine Christ-love and soon after a precious regular attendee walked up and said, “Please play the piano more! It was lovely!” Be still my heart. When we don’t expect it, the Lord showers such encouragement and love. How her words ministered all the way to the soles of my feet!

 “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” John 14:27

Father, may I daily apply what the Pastor said this morning, yielding up my agenda for Yours. And when someone wants to challenge me, as usually happens, may I remember to pray and respond in the way that would bring you honor and glory. Surely, Lord, your peace is real and does surpass all understanding! Thank you! In Your name, Amen

Out of Options

Yesterday our pastor led us to the story of Jairus and the woman with the issue of blood as told in Mark 5:21-43 for his emphasis on hope. Hope. The first Sunday of Advent. There was much demonstration of hope in this chapter

Jesus and His fellow disciples just disembarked from the boat on the Galilee shore. Immediately a crowd swirled around Him, seeking His attention, His advice, His healing touch, anything that would bring them immediate comfort. The loud and chaotic crowd’s hope was perhaps more of a general “entertain me, feed me, show me a miracle.” This, clearly, was  not a desperate hope. They wanted the Healer’s attention, but they were not so sure about putting their whole trust in the Teacher.

Suddenly, the crowd parted as a synagogue official, dressed in all his regalia, hurriedly approached the wandering rabbi, a desperately worried look on his face. Jairus, this very prominent church official, fell at the feet of the One whom most of the synagogue officials despised due to his most untraditional practices. He cried out, “Please! My daughter is very ill to the point of dying! Please come and lay Your hands on her!”

Can’t you just sense his desperation? He overlooked all that his church colleagues had said about him, all the traditional rules this rabbi had broken; blew past the crowd and literally fell at this man’s feet! What on earth had he heard about Jesus? News had spread that He had healed many (Mark 3:10). You know he loved his daughter; you can imagine the many prayers he had prayed over his daughter; the doctors he had sought and paid for the various healing remedies they had recommended. He had tried all the traditional methods. In one more last attempt he sought out the man everyone had talked about. Jesus. Jairus’ hope was desperate. Earnest.

Jesus looked at Jairus, noted his desperation and walked off with the official in the direction of his home, answering his plea.

Sandwiched in the story of Jairus, even sandwiched in between Jairus’ plea and Jesus’ healing was a divine interruption. When you read the Gospels, you’ll find these often and in His calm, unhurried approach, Jesus pays attention, knowing every interruption is important. A woman needs Jesus. Right now.

This woman’s future was bright with promise……twelve long years ago. One day, she noticed blood. Okay. She was of age. She washed and did what young maturing girls did in that day. She knew she would be declared ceremonially unclean for a few days before she could resume her usual activities in her home. Except. The bleeding didn’t stop. It went on for days. She had washed and dried all those cloths she had used for stopping her bleeding; she had to use them again. And again. And again. She was growing weak. Her family grew concerned. Because she was still declared “unclean,” she knew she had to leave her home and live alone until the bleeding stopped. But it wasn’t stopping. She sought out doctors and healers to no avail. She grew weaker. She no longer had any more means for paying for these remedies and doctors. Her family had helped her as long as they could. But after several years, their funds ran out, too.

This Jewish woman most likely came from God-fearing family. They worshiped in the synagogue, practiced all they had been taught. I’m sure she prayed. I’m sure she pled with the God of the heavens, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Yes, the Lord God had been quiet for the past four hundred years, more due to unbelief than anything else.

When she heard of this wandering healer, in her absolute desperation, she dressed in what rags she had left, drew up her weakened body and walked out of her dwelling and made her way to the Healer. Please, God. Surely this man will stop my bleeding. He was her last hope.

She saw Him in the distance. If I could just get close enough to just touch his cloak, she thought, as she moved through the crowd. If they knew I was declared unclean by the synagogue officials, I’m sure she imagined, the crowd would part and let me through. She got closer. And closer. He was moving slowly. Oh, the crowd. She had enough time to bend down as He was just in front of her! She reached out her hand. Her fingers just brushed ever so slightly the outer hem of his garment. Immediately the flow of blood ceased. She felt it. It had stopped! And suddenly she felt a strength she had not felt in her body in many years! She was healed! She straightened and backed away, allowing the crowd to move between she and He.

But He stopped! Dead in His tracks! He looked around. Faces of men, women swirling around Him. “Who touched me?” He asked. What in the world do you mean, the disciples asked, clearly puzzled. Look around, Master! We’re all touching you! Us, your body guards! The crowd has been pressing in on you since we left the boat! We’re all touching you!

Power flowed out of Him all of a sudden. He knew it. Where did it go? To whom? Then he saw a woman, emaciated but now radiant. She fell to the ground, clearly frightened that she had been discovered. Lord, she thought, I feel better in these last two minutes than I’ve felt in years! Please don’t un-heal me! Please! I beg of you!

Jesus, compassion emitting from his face, looked deep into her eyes and said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.”

In that one pronouncement, Jesus welcomed her into His family when he addressed her as “daughter.” He declared her ceremonially clean, allowing her to reenter the synagogue and be reunited with her family. She was completely healed, cleansed and reunited!

Every interruption is divine. And when he stopped to heal the woman, He knew it would not take away from His healing the dying, now dead daughter of the prominent synagogue official.

It is the woman’s tiny seed of faith that made her whole – faith in the only One with the power to heal and the grace to welcome her into the family of God. She may not have known much about the Healer, but her faith gave her the impetus to think that if she just touched the hem of his garment she would be made whole. It was all she thought she needed.

As soon as Jesus declares the woman clean and sends her on her way, messengers come up to Jairus to tell him not to bother with the Healer. His daughter has died. Don’t you know Jairus is so heart- broken and about to be angry with this unimportant woman and the time wasted in dealing with her.

But Jesus draws Jairus’ attention to Him. Look at me, He seems to say, not at the messengers, not at the crowd. Focus right now on Me. “Don’t be afraid,” Jesus tells Jairus. “Only believe.”

They head for Jairus’ home, Jesus also giving His disciples instructions. “Peter, James, and John. You’re with me. The rest of you disciples deal with crowd control.”

Jesus enters the home of Jairus and his family, asks the paid mourners to leave – their loud wailing is causing such a raucous! He goes into the room of the daughter and speaks to her. “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” She sits up and Jesus looks at her, I’m so sure, with tenderness and compassion, as he instructs her mother to give her daughter something to eat.

Both Jairus and the woman with the issue of blood had hope. Their approach was different; Jairus fell right in front of Jesus’ feet. The woman snuck up behind him. Both were shown grace and mercy because both displayed even a mustard seed of faith as they sought out Jesus. They had the hope that is confident, though unseen. They had heard just enough about this Healer that drew them to Him in their utter desperate attempt for healing, both for his daughter and for her.

And in His grace and mercy, their needs were met. I believe both Jairus and the woman went away with more than healing. Their hope and their belief in Jesus deepened. They now believed. They praised and worshiped Jesus the rest of their lives.

This week, as we contemplate hope, what does your hope look like? Would yours look like the crowd’s hope? Hoping for surface needs like food or entertainment to be addressed? Is your hope earnest? Are you hoping for Jesus to take care of urgent needs of your loved one? Is your hope desperate? Are you in need of divine healing? Or is it even a hope that He will save your soul? A loved one’s soul?

Jesus doesn’t care who you are. He doesn’t care if you’re timid and shy, young or old, a leader or an outcast. He knows you, loves you, cares about your needs and fears and crises, and is ready to help. He listens to your up-front, head-on pleas and He senses hopeful hearts at the back of the line and behind the door. Your personality, your temperament, your status, nor even (especially) your sinful history make a difference to Him. Each of you are a divine interruption; He will make the time to enter your heart and world. All you need is a tiny mustard seed of faith.

Father, may you make Yourself known to those seekers of You this season. Draw them under Your wing as You provide the Hope they need, and may their belief in You be real and deepen more as they give You the praise for sending Your Son to be the Savior of All.

 In Your name, Amen.

Mindfully observing Sabbath; What do you do?

Dear Precious Reader:

Fear is such a strong enemy! So is procrastination, as well as avoidance, laziness, and excuses. Those are all the reasons for having left the blogging scene for over five months. I have been working on the story of a forty year friendship of two women’s struggles and hard choices. The friendship bore the fruit of mentoring, as a result of having been mentored early in their lives by an older sassy, saucy woman with a zeal for her Savior. Her life left an indelible mark in each of their souls.

One day, I realized I was ready to look for a publisher and lo and behold, I was advised by many that I needed to let people know I had published a book – or am about to! I needed to get out there, they said. Do you blog? they asked.  Are you on social media? the editors and publishers wanted to know. Who is your audience base? All legitimate questions for which I had only a few answers.

Now that I’m determined to get back to my blog page, http://www.comeasachild.org, it seems that I’ve been pondering a few things that are worthy to share.

How do you observe the Fourth Commandment?

On the ride home from Galveston to Houston one afternoon in May, I was no longer interested in listening to talk radio; nor did I want to hear two hours of smooth jazz or oldies from the sixties, or even praise and worship. My elder son had been talking about how he was listening to podcasts on his commute home from work. You’d really find some of these pods interesting, he told me more than once. So before pulling out of the driveway, I scrolled through the religion/spirituality category of podcasts on my recently added App Podbean. “That Sounds Fun” grabbed me – the title just seemed…you know….fun! So I tuned in and have looked forward to hearing the loud, slightly gravelly voice of host, Annie F. Downs’s interview yet another total stranger to me every Monday and Thursday.

It seems that several of her guests have talked at length about mindfully practicing Sabbath. This has peeked my interest a great deal on several levels. First, I’ve been asking myself, do I intentionally keep Sabbath? Second, what do I need to do on a day of rest to scripturally observe Sabbath?

Did you know that the fourth commandment takes up four verses, whereas, the last six are one verse a piece?

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Six days you shall labor and do all your work,

but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.

For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:8-11

Matthew Sleeth, author of 24/6, spoke of how he observes Sabbath to a group of young people. He said, “It would seem that since God had Moses write out so much on keeping the Sabbath, that He means it. We tend to think not murdering and not stealing or committing adultery is pretty serious and most of us keep those, but not the Sabbath. Not so much.”

Ouch. What do I do on Sunday, my Sabbath? Am I now naming Sunday as my day of rest? I remember my mother calling Sunday the Sabbath, but I inwardly disagreed. It’s Saturday for the Jewish folks. As a family, we went to church, ate lunch, either at home or out, and Daddy took a nap, while Mom read the entire Sunday Chronicle. I did homework or read. It was a day off from school and all other activities except going to church. But I don’t remember us being overly concerned about whether we were honoring God in what we did on that day. I’m thinking that we were pretty much keeping that day as a day of rest.

Several guests on “That Sounds Fun” mentioned a different day of the week as their families’ Sabbath – Friday night to Saturday night, said one preacher from Portland, OR. My Sabbath is Tuesday, Annie said.

But Sunday is mine. It is the day of worship; it’s a day of naps in the afternoon. But it’s more. The more I studied God’s view on rest and what it means, and how we twenty-first century believers can mindfully observe Sabbath, keeping it holy to the Lord, I’ve determined to rest from those things that keep me from resting and from worshiping Him.

Yesterday, Sunday, I used fewer words; I appreciated the quiet in our home before heading off to Worship. The computer had been turned off the night before; I kept it off. I used my phone for a few texts (my Sailor son’s texts were important, as was the disciples taking the heads off the wheat grains in the fields; it was necessary), and I took a nap. Rested. But all day the verse I had read in Psalm 16 that morning stayed with me, unlike many days of the week when I would read a passage and it just left my mind before the morning was up.

“I have set the Lord continually before me.” Psalm 16:8

There will come many distractions on this evolving journey of observing Sabbath, as holy to the Lord. I am aware. But I’m encouraged and strengthened to be walking this path in this way, as I want to grow closer to my Lord, and mindfully observe all the commandments, especially the longest one. We are never too old to begin anew. Please know that.

It is my point, now that I’m back in the blogging saddle, to encourage your heart, to speak Truth to your soul, and to urge you, in these last days, to mindfully choose to make those adjustments in your life so that you are walking closer to the One who loves you more.

“In all your ways, acknowledge Him; He will direct your path.” Proverbs 3:6

Father, thank you for your Word that teaches me daily. Thank you for those whom you’ve allowed me to hear lately, who are speaking out about mindfully obeying the Fourth Commandment. Thank you for your kindness in leading me to walk ever closer to you even in the autumn of my years. In Your name, Amen

https://youtu.be/gMWCh4bXdO8

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.