Scripture with Skin On

only-the-word-of-god-can-do-this

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

Ephesians 3:20-21

Is there a scripture with your skin on? One you’ve truly lived out? Please tell me the Bible isn’t just black and white words on a rice-paper thin page of an old book. Seriously.

Four years ago on a Saturday morning in April Ephesians 3:20-21 came very alive to me. The story became a blog post. To recapture the highlights: I was sitting in a large room filled with many women, most of whom I really didn’t know, though nearly all of us attended a large church in Northwest Houston. I was supposed to act as a facilitator or something at a table of about eight women. Sad to say, I wasn’t a very good hostess that Saturday. And I can only recall one woman at that table in my mind today. God’s purpose for my being there that Saturday was not to get to know some more women and their lives, especially in a noisy crowded room.

He positioned me there so I could witness how He changed the life of one messed up young man and was about to rescue my own son. The woman who got up that morning to speak was clinging to the Holy Spirit who was linked to the Anchor, Jesus Christ. Her quavering voice and visibly shaking hands holding her notes were obvious clues that her story was raw. Fresh. So fresh that her son had been sober only since February. It was April. But she was celebrating because she witnessed the deeper change in his behavior, reaching into his heart.

Tears coursed down my cheeks. I had used up all my Kleenex and now I didn’t care as she spoke. She was telling my story. No one could see that I was shaking just as much. My son was struggling to hold a job and stay sober, living in a halfway house, using bus transportation.

After the woman walked off the stage, I got up from my seat and hurried out to the lobby where she was drinking a much-needed bottle of water. Excuse me, but where is your son living now? My son desperately needs to talk to your son, I explained, quivering. Not, you were so brave, Mom. Not, thank you for sharing. In my own rawness I could only think of my son. She understood and graciously talked to me briefly.

My husband and I drove our son over to the house where her son was living and in the course of a very short time, my son heard the Gospel…..anew. This time he was ready. He was ready to hear and to change and to get serious about his walk with the Lord. And…..he moved into that house for a while. Now, over three years later both of our sons are clean and living for the Lord.

The theme at that women’s retreat was Ephesians 3:20-21. God just amplified that verse and concreted it my soul forever that weekend.

Abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine.

This past semester three of our church buildings were flooded during Hurricane Harvey, causing all of our Bible Study groups to move to other locations, primarily to homes. But with our single moms and the need for two large rooms, one for the moms to meet and the other for the children, the Lord graciously led us to another church who have opened their hearts and arms to us in gloriously generous ways.

The Lord also brought two teen sisters with a passion for children to our ministry and loved on our children while I taught the lessons each week. A week before Thanksgiving break they told us they would be moving on to another church after Christmas.

We mentors began to earnestly pray for teens to come alongside us and love on our single moms’ children. Doors were shut on our youth at our church. Wednesday night was the only night our youth pastor had with our youth. No, they were going nowhere to minister that night.

The Wednesday night before our month-long Christmas break, Susan, our teacher, looked at me and said, why don’t we switch places? You teach the women and I’ll teach the children. I looked at her in surprise. Really? Well, is that what you want? Yes, she said, firmly.

I had been using materials from Child Evangelism Fellowship from Good News Clubs after school the past two years. I offered them to her, but also suggested she could use whatever she wanted. Working full-time in special education during the week, I knew Susan’s preparation time was limited. I called our church and was told they had lost everything in the flood. Of course. Their offices were all on the first floor and the building got over five feet of water. Go to the Christian bookstore, I was advised. Okay. I went and looked at the floor to ceiling shelves of children’s teaching literature for about three seconds and walked out the door, totally overwhelmed.

I emailed the children’s director of the church where we were guests. She responded that she would meet with Susan and me after the holidays.

This past Tuesday, Ephesians 3:20-21 came alive again. I walked in to her vast office. She offered two curriculum to choose from and multiple children’s Bibles, and then. She walked us to the children’s supply closet. She unlocked the door and wallah! Floor to ceiling craft supplies all at our disposal! Whatever Susan needed or wanted to use with the children! And we never knew this closet was there! Right across the hall from where our moms meet!

“You have not ‘cause you ask not,” Lonnie Hayter, the Baptist Student Union Director would always say when I was in college.

Abundantly! Exceedingly! More!

Susan and I hugged Mingo at least three times. She walked us to the children’s room we had been using and made a space for us on the shelf for the Bibles and any other books we wanted to use. Last semester I had been bringing all the supplies and toys each week, lugging three large tote bags of teaching materials including a worn out CD player, though there was a newer CD player right there on the counter. I never knew to ask anyone if we could use their supplies. I always made sure to leave the room as I had found it-clean and orderly.

Mingo also said she would contact their youth pastor to ask if they would allow the youth to help us and earn community service hours and could rotate in and out. Thank you, Mingo!

By the way, I said to her, we have invited your church’s single moms to join us! I have contacted your Discipleship Director and will meet with her when she returns to the office. We are praying for more mentors. Oh, responded Mingo, we have a large group of senior women who would love to help you and participate in your ministry! Manna from heaven.women-talking-together

As to our moms, we will be using a Bible Study book called Open Your Bible as the tool, though we will be referring to the Bible only in our one hour study, as Susan has so effectively been doing  the past four and a half years.

Was I ever worried when our teen sisters gave us the news of their imminent departure? Not one bit. I knew we only needed to ask the Lord and wait on Him. He would supply if this ministry was to continue or not. He was in charge.

According to the power that works within us

It seems every week we are amazed and overjoyed by the Holy Spirit’s presence in our room with our moms. Since our single moms’ ministry has been meeting four and a half years, we have witnessed God at work in the lives of our moms for His purposes. Though our mentors have come and gone, and moms have come and gone, God has remained faithful. He has shown up every single week, strengthening our senior mentor’s tired bodies as they trudge up the stairs to our meeting room, hauling totes and crock pots of fresh made dinner.  Shortly after, our strung out moms walk up the stairs far behind their active young ones, painting on a smile and receiving our hugs and greetings.

So I was not worried when the teens said they were not coming back after Christmas. I was not overly concerned when one of our mentors emailed from Kansas to tell us she is still needed with her son and grandchildren. God was going to show up. He would provide. Or. He would shut down the ministry. It was and is always His since the beginning. We have always looked at one another and said, “We have no idea what we’re doing. He shows up and shows us. All He asks of us is our faithfulness and trust in Him that He will provide!” And He does. Every. Single. Wednesday.

 

 

Scripture with skin on. Living out His truth. Leaning in to the Holy Spirit. Seeking out His will. And after we have done our part-prayer, seeking, asking, preparing, He shows up and teaches and opens the hearts of our moms and their children and He draws them closer to Himself. We just get the joy and pleasure of witnessing His good grace over our seeking broken moms. He asks us to love. Period. And we do. We so love our moms deeply and completely. Holding them loosely in our open hands.

To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen!

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate all who Jesus is!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Listen to this:

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

Isaiah 9:6.

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

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

 Matthew 6:25.

Jesus was to be called Mighty God!

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

John 5:20-23.

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

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

John 17:24

 Jesus is also called Prince of peace.

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

John 14:27

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At this season of the year, do not be afraid

“The angel of the Lord said to her, “Do not be afraid.” Luke 1:30

Do you mark certain passages in your Bible? Can you highlight on your phone Bible app? I don’t know.  I haven’t really read the Bible on my phone, even though I downloaded an app a few weeks ago so I could better relate to my younger mom friends!  I’m just used to my “real” Bible! The one I can hold in my lap and underline with a real pen!

underlined Bible

Lately I’ve been underlining the phrase that the angels kept saying right off the bat to the one they were sent to give a Godly message-“Do not be afraid.”

God sent the angel Gabriel to give Mary a very important, life-changing message and after he greeted her, he said, “Do not be afraid.” Mary was greatly troubled by this being suddenly appearing and talking directly to her. Troubled? I’d be so knotted up in fear I wouldn’t be able to respond. And the angel dares to tell her not to be afraid?

An angel appeared to Joseph, whom Mary was betrothed to be married, in a dream and the first words out of the angel’s mouth were, “Do not be afraid…..”

The angels in the heavens over the shepherds the night Mary had her miraculous baby named Jesus were also told not to be afraid.

Something totally unexpected happens in the life of these people and they are told not to be afraid. Right. Of course they were afraid. Startled. Terrified. Perfectly human response!

But I’m thinking that the reason for the admonition to be unafraid is that once their adrenaline died back down to normal so they could think, they were encouraged to consider the message. Yes, it was clearly unorthodox. Mary was told she was going to have a baby but not from Joseph and not from any other man.  Joseph was to take Mary, knowing she was pregnant but not by him but by a Holy Spirit, whatever that was. The shepherds were told to go worship the Messiah who was just born as a baby in a feed trough there in Bethlehem. Joseph and Mary had to rely on what they knew from their Jewish teaching that Jehovah was indeed their God and they were to trust in Him and how He was moving.

Later, when Jesus gave final instructions to His disciples on the night of the Passover meal, He told them “when I go away the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

Then He said to them,

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:25-27

peace I give to you

This passage is not only underlined but held close to my heart. I have to return to this passage over and over because the enemy likes to tell me otherwise.

To so many of us, including me, this seems to be the season of “get it all done as soon as you can while still maintaining some semblance of normalcy in the home;” or,  the season of “I must do something tangible for everyone I know right now so they’ll think nice of me and because this is what we do at this time of year only.”

Somewhere along the way, the “Should-a finger” begins to wag. You know, that ugly nagging old finger; the enemy uses the “should-a finger” when we crash in to bed at the end of a very busy day and the “should-a finger” begins to accuse. You should-a done it this way-the way you saw it done on Pintrest or the way your friend does it- her decorating, her baking, her outdoor decorations, and those lovely Christmas cards of all the family dressed exactly alike and smiling. How DID they get that baby to smile on cue???

The world, including a whole lot of well-meaning Believers, gets caught up in all the hoop-la. They just have to decorate, send out cards, bake, all while carrying on the normal routine of their lives. When you enter their inner world, their bedroom, their closet, their kitchen, their heart, you’ll see cracks and crevices of not-put-togetherness. Trust me.

And that’s when I have to run to my treasure trove of Scripture such as the one in Isaiah 26:3.

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are stayed on Thee, because they trust in Thee.”

Perfect peace. His peace. That peace He promised that would not look like the world.

Yes, I have to make the conscious decision to move away from the accuser and in to the Truth of what Jesus promised. To the Word. And truly, I’m put at ease when I dwell on Jesus. That’s what He wants us to do! He is not a religion! He is not a plastic or ceramic baby doll in a manger at this busy season. He’s real and wants us to trust in the promise of His peace. So I do. And experience the reality of His peace.

So what does leaning in to the perfect peace of Jesus look like?

On Wednesday evening a couple of moms and their children came over for chili and cornbread. I had stressed over having enough for whoever came, thinking surely more were coming. They just had not taken the time to let me know. But once the moms came, in my spirit I gave the evening entirely over to the Lord. What He had in mind was exactly what transpired. Time with a couple of moms who needed to pour out their heart; and time to pray. No frills, gifts, or fanfare.

Listen. All the extra giving and card giving and crafts and baking are not bad in or of themselves. But all this can be distracting us from focusing on who Jesus is and why He came. Distractions are definitely one of the enemy’s greatest tricks.  The enemy also delights in posing as the “should-a finger” causing in us that over wrought feeling of not accomplishing all that should be done at this season.

“Don’t be afraid to simplify. Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart and……be thankful” Colossians 3:15.

Thankful for the reason we go crazy at this time of year. Take a few minutes each day and say, “Lord, I lean in to Your peace today. I choose to rely on You this day. Help me to rest in You no matter what. Thank you, Lord!” Then, you’ll be a blessing to those around you as you experience His peace. It will come over you in a beautiful profound way. I guarantee it.

Do not be afraid to lean in to the Father this year.

Do not be afraid to let go of those things that really aren’t important.

Do not be afraid to say no. Not this year.

Do not be afraid to give thanks; out loud; multiple times a day!

Do not be afraid to give out smiles and hugs and love to others.

Do not be afraid to receive. Do not be afraid to give.

To Him be the glory. Amen.

 

The Kindness of God

children being kind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David was a promise keeper.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God will show up!

“But know that the Lord has set apart the godly man for Himself; the Lord hears when I call to Him.” Psalm 5:4 

praying woman with Bible

Testimony time: God showed up…..again! In flesh and blood this time!

There were a lot of little obstacles keeping our meeting from going smooth. Mentors out, new kids coming, and I was a bit tired.

I asked a bunch of people to pray, including my prayer warrior friend of many years.

She means it when she says she’ll pray!

Upstairs in the moms’ meeting room with one of our mentors, we were setting up the tables for our meal. She found herself complaining that not all of us were able to be here; some of our mentors were unable to come for whatever reason. I stopped her and took her arm and began to pray out loud – over the room. The enemy comes in all forms. And one is complaining.

I’ve been trying to help this precious new friend understand that we’re all a great big mess. She likes to tell us she has this ailment and that problem but she keeps coming, bless her heart. We mentors come back with, “Sweet Lady, we’re all broken to pieces. And that’s okay because God uses us! He shows up and does it all for us!”broken vessels

“Our limitation is God’s opportunity. When you get all the way to the end of your rope and there ain’t nothin’ you can do, that’s when God takes over.” Denver Moore in Same Kind of Different as Me


I set up the children’s room downstairs and prayed out loud over that room. After awhile I went back up stairs and greeted the moms and the children and ate supper. Then we children came downstairs and got started. Who would walk in the room but our women’s  ministry leader! And she just sat right down on the floor (’cause she was a teacher/principal and still works out a lot so she bends easily) and Tyler got right in her lap! (He’s five and busy!) And she stayed off and on, even taking 19 month old Sophia out once for a little stroll in the hall.

Afterward, I told her she was my answer to prayer angel!!!

  Ya’ll,  it is AMAZING how GOD shows up each and every week!

So, I’m taking to heart a quote from the book Same Kind of Different as Me  by Ron Hall and Denver Moore.

“Those that are precious to God are important to Satan.”

Amen and amen.
We must get our mad face on and in our stern tone and say out loud – the enemy is not welcome here! God, be over this or this in my life! Make me to lean in to you!!! and hang on tight! To You, Lord, be the glory in the end.

Lord Jesus, take this ministry and use it for Your purpose. Thank you for allowing us mentors a glimpse into the lives of these precious moms you send our way each week. Thank you that you love each of them so very deeply. You died for them. You have a purpose for their lives. Go before each of them and make Your presence known to them. May they continue to hunger and thirst for you and you alone. Go before them, Lord. In your precious name. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

God will show up!

“But know that the Lord has set apart the godly man for Himself; the Lord hears when I call to Him.” Psalm 5:4 

praying woman with Bible

Testimony time: God showed up…..again! In flesh and blood this time!

There were a lot of little obstacles keeping our meeting from going smooth. Mentors out, new kids coming, and I was a bit tired.

I asked a bunch of people to pray, including my prayer warrior friend of many years.

She means it when she says she’ll pray!

Upstairs in the moms’ meeting room with one of our mentors, we were setting up the tables for our meal. She found herself complaining that not all of us were able to be here; some of our mentors were unable to come for whatever reason. I stopped her and took her arm and began to pray out loud – over the room. The enemy comes in all forms. And one is complaining.

I’ve been trying to help this precious new friend understand that we’re all a great big mess. She likes to tell us she has this ailment and that problem but she keeps coming, bless her heart. We mentors come back with, “Sweet Lady, we’re all broken to pieces. And that’s okay because God uses us! He shows up and does it all for us!”broken vessels

“Our limitation is God’s opportunity. When you get all the way to the end of your rope and there ain’t nothin’ you can do, that’s when God takes over.” Denver Moore in Same Kind of Different as Me


I set up the children’s room downstairs and prayed out loud over that room. After awhile I went back up stairs and greeted the moms and the children and ate supper. Then we children came downstairs and got started. Who would walk in the room but our women’s  ministry leader! And she just sat right down on the floor (’cause she was a teacher/principal and still works out a lot so she bends easily) and Tyler got right in her lap! (He’s five and busy!) And she stayed off and on, even taking 19 month old Sophia out once for a little stroll in the hall.

Afterward, I told her she was my answer to prayer angel!!!

  Ya’ll,  it is AMAZING how GOD shows up each and every week!

So, I’m taking to heart a quote from the book Same Kind of Different as Me  by Ron Hall and Denver Moore.

“Those that are precious to God are important to Satan.”

Amen and amen.
We must get our mad face on and in our stern tone and say out loud – the enemy is not welcome here! God, be over this or this in my life! Make me to lean in to you!!! and hang on tight! To You, Lord, be the glory in the end.

Lord Jesus, take this ministry and use it for Your purpose. Thank you for allowing us mentors a glimpse into the lives of these precious moms you send our way each week. Thank you that you love each of them so very deeply. You died for them. You have a purpose for their lives. Go before each of them and make Your presence known to them. May they continue to hunger and thirst for you and you alone. Go before them, Lord. In your precious name. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Witnessing the Holy Spirit’s presence

women mentoring women one

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

I Thessalonians 5:11

Two springs ago, I was asked to facilitate the Bible study “The Covenant” by Kay Arthur at church. Facilitate really means to go over the questions in the printed book then turn on the video. And listen. That’s it. I was asked to go to a workshop on how to present her studies–the inductive Bible teaching method. I went to another city for two or three nights and sat with several other learners from many states with our little colored pencils, Bible, and huge binder. I really enjoyed it, even though I only had the prescribed twelve colored pencils. Need I say more?

I loved facilitating the study. The ladies enjoyed it and learned so much. The covenant God made with Abraham and the people of Israel, then eventually the world through Jesus Christ,  is a powerful picture of God’s commitment to His people, whether they kept their part of the covenant promise or not.  As so many ladies said, this study needs to be taught to all church members! But at the end of the eleven weeks study, I knew that teaching the Bible or facilitating a study was not for me. I was easily distracted. I wanted to present more than was allowed by time.  Though many of the ladies were kind in their encouragement, I was not asked to facilitate the following year.

I wasn’t discouraged because years ago I realized that God had gifted me with gift of encouragement.

Encouragement? It is the action of giving someone support, comfort, confidence and hope.

Did I always use it? No. Did I even understand how? Not always. But three years ago I stepped into a ministry that truly has sung my song! Mentoring single moms! Oh, how God has given me such love for them! What does that mean? On a given Wednesday night we mentor moms walk in to a vast room of round tables and chairs with a meal for the moms and their children. As they take a plate of food and plop down after a hard day of work and picking their children up from school, we sit close beside them and look intently at them and listen. We hug their children before they are escorted down stairs to their activities. One of mentors stands to gather us chatty hens together to hear a message from the Word of God. She is wise to ask us all to participate in the reading so that our moms are not only hearing the Word, but seeing it in their own Bible, however that looks. We discuss the passage, with the mind of looking to see what the Word says. We hear their thoughts, their questions and we pray. As they leave to return to their daily lives, we offer sincere hugs with knowing eyes that say you are loved no matter what you are going through. We are here for you.

During the week each of mentors who has warmed up to a particular mom or two, will text, email, or call their moms to encourage them. What does that look like? “Hi, Anne! How are you this week? Please know you are in my prayers. How may I pray for you? Do you have time for lunch or a coffee break?”

Then we make some time to see our mom to hear her heart. We pray with her.  Sometimes we have she and her children over to our home to visit, to play, to have dinner. She meets our husbands and sometimes, when needed, our husbands help with home improvements or car needs, whatever they can, willingly and kindly. The problem is not always solved, but we strive to get them to the person who can help them. If the Lord directs our hearts, we help them with financial needs. No one has to know. Only they and the Lord.

Encouragement is necessary to our faith walk.

         Encouragement does not mean handing a mom a check for grocery money and patting her on the shoulder and saying good luck. It’s not preaching. It’s not talking the entire time you’re with your mom. It’s certainly not ever communicating with your mom except for a few cursory remarks or nods on Wednesday night. There really isn’t a manual. Well, maybe there is. The real manual for encouraging single moms is the heart. God’s heart of grace in you poured over another mom. Perhaps it’s more empathy than sympathy. A hard-working mom never appreciates sympathy. She will not share her heart if she doesn’t hear yours.

Yes, there are the Wednesday nights when we six mentors are wearing exhaustion over our entire bodies. We aren’t necessarily in the mood to hear a lot of sad stories. Before we see our moms, we gather together and pray. We ask the Lord for His strength, His compassion and grace to be poured out through us on to whomever walks in the door. Then we can begin the evening.

What fills my cup? Witnessing the fresh wave of the Holy Spirit in our room every single Wednesday night! We witness two or more moms pouring out their hearts, or hearing answered prayers. You see, we have no curriculum.  We have no formal game plan except to teach God’s Word using a simple book. What we do have? Prayer. Total humility and surrender to the Lord, mainly because we really have no idea what we’re doing! So we gladly open our hands and hearts and say, “You teach these moms, Lord!” And He shows up and opens their eyes to see His Word in ways they comprehend. And yes, God gets all the glory!

Father, it is a joy to see you work in the lives of these moms. You show me You through their faith walk; You demonstrate how much you love these moms and their children. Thank you for this amazing privilege. To you alone be glory forever. Amen.