Reflections on Hurricane Harvey

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

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

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

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

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

Every place you sent me to be you were there.

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

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

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

We are where God wants us to be.

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

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

home after the storm

It is a joy to pray for you!

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16women-talking-together

Similar to William Faulkner’s “streams of thought” style of writing many of his southern based novels, it seems my latest journal could just as easily be classified  as “streams of unfocused thoughts”. One page entitled “People who need jobs, Lord” lists six folks; a mix of moms, their adult children, my best friend of twenty plus years, and another friend’s son. I stumbled on this page while thumbing through my journal last night. As I reread the list, I recalled jotting down their names over the summer when each precious friend called to ask for prayer for them or their children to get a job very soon. (Securing a job is always an urgent request). Now, with great exhilaration, I wrote beside five of the six names – WORKING! Next to the sixth name I put – still looking.

As a mentor to four moms from our single mom ministry at church these past three years, it has been the joy of my heart to pray for them and then to witness God’s hand in their lives. But over this past summer the Lord showed me that He doesn’t always answer the way I wanted Him to answer.

Last January I made a solemn commitment to a friend that I would pray for her in her current job position every single day; we were praying for a job change, to be quite honest. She was in a place where her supervisor was not seeing my friend’s true potential or how hard she was working in other areas, even as she was documenting those favorable areas and trying to put her best foot forward. In the wisdom of our Depression era fathers, she did not resign her position. Instead, when the time came for her to search, she did with great abandon, and came up empty. At the end of the job searching time she returned to her position, as did her supervisor to hers.

This summer I had the privilege to be with my friend in her home town for about four days as she recuperated from a surgery. While there, over breakfast one morning, the Holy Spirit seemed to speak to my heart what my friend needed to hear.

“You know,” I said softly to her, leaning in, “you may be in this position to build some character in your supervisor. Maybe you being here in this position is not about you but about those around you. Perhaps the Lord is keeping you here to show Himself to the others in your realm of influence through you. What if this seeming unanswered prayer in our eyes is God gently letting you know He isn’t finished molding your character in this hard place?” She listened. She agreed. Her faith is deepening. Always grateful.

When God doesn’t answer the prayers of our heart the way we want (and what a small circle of vision we have!!) it is not a time for us to turn our back on Him, tempted as we are, but rather a time to say, with open hands, whatever you have in mind, Lord. You see the full tapestry of my life. I just see this tiny space with the little flashlight pointed at the ground just in front of me. You see way on out there; the other folks in my life; the new opportunities for reaching new folks coming into my life with your love.

What about the answers to prayers of the others on the list?

One mom resigned a position she had held for three years, but burned no bridges. Therefore, a colleague was able to highly recommend her to a gentleman in a related business and offered her a 50% higher salary than what she was making! She is well aware the whole transaction was ALL GOD!

Another mom on the list also didn’t burn any bridges. She waited all summer while God moved some other people such as a new principal in place who didn’t know this mom’s previous semester at the school as a student teacher. Her colleagues put in a very good word for her. She got the call shortly before school started to come on board as a third grade teacher! Her own children are right down the hall in first and fourth grades! Praise the Lord!

In witnessing all the stories this summer of God moving in the lives of these precious sisters in Christ, my own faith has deepened. I’ve learned that when asked to pray I pray. I don’t solve, fix, whine, or worry over the situation. I go back to the true word of God and say back to my Lord, you said you would provide. You said You will never leave or forsake these Your children. You know the end from the beginning and you know best what their individual needs are. So, I give you this prayer need and say “AMEN!” in agreement! You have my sister in Christ and you are already taking good care of her! Thank you!

Lord Jesus, it is a joy to pray for others and an even greater joy to witness your answers, resting in the knowledge that you know the best answer to each person’s needs. Help us all to remember how much you love us and desire to draw us closer to You in all aspects of our lives. In Your name, Lord, Amen.

 

 

 

What I learned on vacation

mountains

“Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Psalm 90:2

Mentoring doesn’t take a vacation. It doesn’t happen on “Mary Kay time”–nine to nine.

No, mentoring happens when it’s needed.

This week two moms were in need. One evening I received an epistle on my phone. This mom’s twenty-something son was giving her some grief.  His issues were not going to be solved over texting. One of us, I forget who, punched in the number. I put down my book about the nation of Israel and its rebirth, turned off the music and listened. You know, she told me in a nearly desperate sounding voice, I wish I had someone to sit on the edge of the bed with me and tell me I was doing the right thing with this kid. That kind of support would mean so much.

Thankfully, my Beloved mentors with me through prayer, advice and fix-it skills. In the middle of this week of vacation, he drove up the driveway to vacation with me. After he did a little fishing, he and I had a conversation with this mom, encouraging her decisions and her heart. Before the week was over, she sent me a less long text saying that her son had been offered a job and that the repairs on his truck were not as high as she thought. Though still dealing with some other troubling issues, his mom sees again the working of God in their lives and how He provides faithfully.

Our other mom texted some needs for prayer. Because she was working, her messages came less often. Still my husband and I prayed. Knowing this mom was so anxious about having to be at work and away from her daughter in crisis, I sent her an email, reminding her of how huge God is. He is overseeing her daughter as well as her dad who is with her;

God is over her, mom. I reminded her that when she prays for her daughter, she is really shooting up an AMEN! to God in agreement with His moving and taking care of what she can’t handle.

That’s right. We fix-it moms believe we are responsible for taking care of our children, which means being there for all their needs; intervening in the choices they make; and holding ourselves responsible for their mistakes and poor choices. After all, we believe, it’s our fault for their messes. We gave birth to them so surely we are responsible for every little thing they do.

What, Moms, is God’s purpose! To be aloof? To form the mountains, the oceans, set the sun and moon in motion then go away? To form the child in your womb and let you handle the child from there? What a false belief!

True, we are given these children to raise to the best of our responsibility but not alone!

With or without a husband, we moms would be better off when we live out the truth that God, who formed the mountains as well as that baby in your womb will be a part of your everyday life.

But He is not a God who pushes Himself on any of us! We invite Him into our home and by faith we say, God, take this young man, this young lady, and mold them in to the young people you have designed them to be. Help them through the choices they make. Be there with them when they are hurting and missing a dad, when they are doubting that anyone loves them, that they hurt so deep that they want to hurt themselves. Remind them, God, that they are made for a purpose – to give Him glory. Moms, we must get a hold of the truth that God wants us to let go and let Him take care of our young people.

 Mentors, we are most useful when we do listen to our moms, hearing their torn and broken heart.

We do well to shed a little light on the less perfect road we have traveled in raising our own children, validating to our moms that we are real and have hurt too. Intentionally, and because our moms are yearning to be reminded of what is truth, we share God’s promises with them.

 The daughter’s mom appreciated the fact that I told her I had been in the psych hospital with one son; had waited in the ER while he dried out from an overdose. I knew the pain she was experiencing with a child who hurt so deep that she wanted to hurt herself. And I reminded her that there wasn’t much I could do but pray.

Lean hard in to the truth that Jesus wants so much to bring me His peace.

(John 14:27).

 So I shared with her that as much as you want to fix your young lady, continue to make her aware of the truths from God’s word that she is beautifully made. It’s up to her to own those truths and believe in them and not the lies of the world and the enemy. I reminded mom that when she leans in to the truth that Jesus is her peace, (John 16:33) she can be a better mom when she relaxes in His presence and releases her anxiety and gives her daughter completely to Him.

Easy to do? Surely not. But true? Absolutely. The God of the universe is ready and willing to take care of every detail of our lives.

We need to step away in faith and trust that he is who he says he is and then watch and see what he does with our children!

My son, the one who spent a week or so in the hospital, is working and paying his bills and has a hope in the Lord that He is taking care of him. The son’s mom is again marveling at how God is taking care of an undeserving son – are any of us deserving? That story is for another time.

557Meanwhile, when not texting my moms, I did have a glorious time on vacation!

Heavenly Father, thank you for not giving up on us, your fallen children. Comfort, Lord, our moms; give them your perfect peace and remind them often of how much you love them. In Your precious name, Amen

Resource: Organic Mentoring by Sue Edwards and Barbara Neumann

 

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!

Even in this season….walk close to your Lord

walking with the Lord

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to the dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 NIV

June 6, 2014 – the last day of teaching. The first day of a new season. Most Americans call this season retirement. I’ve been guilty of calling it that, too. Guilty because I used to say that I couldn’t find that word or anything related to it in Scripture until I went on a small Google search. There it was – retire. Moses, directed by the Lord, told the Levites that they were required to retire from their labor at the age of fifty, at which time they would assist their brothers in performing their duties at the tent of meeting. (Numbers 8:23-26). http://www.christianretirement.com/content.

It’s now 2017. So hard to believe how quickly this season is passing! Seize the day! The moment! The very next breath! Why is it going so fast? Did the past twenty-nine years in the teaching field go this fast? Well, raising two sons has certainly whizzed by. I hardly remember their grade school years!

And the past thirty one years of marriage has moved at break neck speed. The vacations together; the few “come to meeting Jesus” moments create some markers in my mind. The everyday getting up out of bed to make his coffee and my tea; our hugs in the dark of night; those moments have melded into one comfortable blur.

The intent of this new season of not teaching was to have written pieces for this blog and to complete the story of the role my spiritual mom played in my life. After struggling over that project for nearly all of these years, I finally wrote her story and sent it to a magazine for their consideration. You cannot possibly imagine the freedom I felt when I pushed “Submit.” There. That project is done. No more. The memories of Doris and the legacy she left me lingers on but putting the few years of our lives together on paper is complete. And we move on.

Back to this blog. The teacher in me comes out in times like these – you have to have a plan; a direction. The purpose has been and will continue to be to bring encouragement and hope to other women who seek to walk closely with the Lord in the dailyness of their lives. The plan is to share a scripture truth that can be applied to one’s life so that you the reader will know how alive and sharp the Word of God is and needs to be in our lives.

Submitting the story about Doris cattle-prodded me in to this chair in my Diva Den! I want to push “Submit” again! And again!

Blog entries will continue! More often you’ll see a story pop up on this site. Thank you, faithful reader, for continuing to seek out my blog page. Hopefully it will not disappoint.

The word for today is to let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts and be thankful; let the message of Christ dwell among you; and whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:15-17.)walk with Jesus

Go out with Joy today! Be led forth in his peace! Isaiah 55:12

His ways are not my ways

A dear friend handed me two of her treasures to read and return. I know they are treasures from the way she tenderly caressed them then reluctantly handed them to me; two small books by the same author-Macrina Wiederkehr. Just yesterday I started reading Abide, a devotional.9780814633830 abide

The second chapter drew me- “Come to the water” based on Isaiah 55, one of my very favorite chapters. Macrina encouraged the reader to listen. “Listen, that you may live.” (v. 3) I did listen. I listened to what God needed to say to me this morning, as I’ve struggled over some unanswered prayers.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.”(v.8)

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (v.9).

Lord, I prayed, your ways are not my ways. Forgive me, Lord, for wanting such a quick fix for my precious friends. You know they need a job – so provide! But this morning you have reminded me of your truths.

As I looked at verse 8, “for my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” I was led to Isaiah 53:6 – “we like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Oh, what a sinner I am, Lord, to ask you to grant my friends jobs right away. My sinful thoughts are not your thoughts. What I want for my single mom may not be what you want. What I think is an easy solution may not be your design for her growth of dependence on You; her character development toward You; Your perfect plan for her.

Oh, Father! Not everyone gets jobs at the same time! Not everyone got their power back on at the same time after the storm! Not every child in the class is “the most well-rounded nearly perfect student!” We are created in Your image; we are NOT robots, to act and receive in the same way as the other. You created us as the snowflakes in winter, each individually. No thumbprint, we are reminded, is like another. And so, not everyone gets a job at the same time.

Verse 9 says “as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Again, You took me to another related verse; Psalm 103:11 – “for as high as the heavens are above the earth, so GREAT IS HIS LOVE FOR THOSE WHO FEAR HIM!!” Oh, Father! Your love! Your love is deep and abiding and you know! You have all of my friends who are searching for work right now! So many. And they are yours, Lord. You have them. You have shown me this morning that you have them.

This morning, after having read through Isaiah 55 a couple of times and pondered those related references, I walked out to the front porch, looked to the eastern sky with the puffy white clouds in front of the piercing pink of the sunrise and knew in my spirit that the Lord does indeed have my friends who are searching for work. He has them. He knows better than this old sheep what is best for each of them. More importantly, His love is deep, high, vast, real, and eternal. Thank you Lord, for this time. I was altered. Open hands. Sweet release in to your hands, Lord. They are yours. Thank you.

So, I go out with joy and I am led forth in His peace! The mountains and the hills will break forth into song before me and all the trees of the field will clap their hands! Isaiah 55:12.

open hands

Live it out!

“Do not fret….it only leads to evil.” Psalm 37:8

worried woman two

This week I pondered the phrase “fret not” and wondered what it meant. To fret is to worry, to have the heartburn, to fume.  It’s that anxiety over things which we have no control.  Fretting over important matters as whether my son would get another job; or worrying over truly inconsequential stuff as whether I would be accepted by new friends who were coming over one evening and if I had the right appetizer. I also fret over those important issues as knowing that some of my friends are looking for employment and still have not had an interview.

I decided to stop reading the Bible, closing it and thinking I was done with the “spiritual” part of my day. If I was going to spend all this time reading the Bible I had better start living out its truths. You know what I mean. If Jesus commanded that I forgive my neighbor before presenting an offering at the altar, I had better forgive! If Jesus said not to judge another, lest I be judged more, then I need to stop passing judgment on others.

This day I decided to practice “Fretting not.”  As I rose from my chair on the porch, I consciously kept that short phrase on my mind, repeating aloud once or twice as I prepared the appetizer in the kitchen for the evening gathering.

If you have been a Believer for a few years, you know how we get “put to the test.” This particular morning, as I was putting on my socks and shoes to take a walk on the beach, my phone rang. “Sis,” coughed a scratchy anxious voice.  My heart sank, leaped, and skipped a beat, when I heard my mother on the other end. I won’t lie. Not today, Mom, I thought. Of all days, not today.  The day that my new friends are coming to my home in Galveston for the first time. Today, you have to go to the ER. Of course I said I’d be right there! Of course! It’s what an only daughter says!

I showered, dressed and jumped in the car and headed up the road to the west side of Houston at ten in the morning. Fret not, I continued to say. I tuned in to a Christian radio station, smiled and literally laughed out loud! Of course, God! I will NOT fret today!

After my brother showed up at the ER on his lunch hour, bless his heart, my mother received the best of care at the second ER hospital down the road. Yes, my brother and I each had an agenda. Evening plans. We stepped out of ear shot of mother who was being attended to by the nurse and looked at one another, wondering who would take the night shift. He said he would. Thank you! At three I jumped back in the car, headed in to the Houston traffic for Galveston, made one grocery/gas station pit stop and arrived back at our home forty-five minutes before the company arrived! Fret not. True, I nearly bit my sweet husband’s head off only once, then apologized and said, “Fret not, Dianne!” Hanging those extra pictures on the wall is not important to this evening!

As the first guests arrived, my heart relaxed. My new friends enjoyed themselves. I suppose it didn’t hurt that I had the most wins, receiving $30 from the pot!women playing bunco

The following morning my husband and I drove back into Houston. My mother went through a day of intense suffering. I sat by her side, praying and holding her hand into the evening.

The third day, I entered my mother’s hospital room to find her sitting in the recliner, unhooked from all machines and ready to be discharged! After proving to the nurse and the doctor that she could indeed “tolerate” a soft breakfast and later a soft lunch, she was free to go! I took her back to her apartment. My husband met me at her apartment with a change of clothes and we left to drive to Pearland to meet the parents of my son’s girlfriend! On time! Fret not!

How do we live the truths in the Bible? Intentionally.  Daily.  I know He watched over Mother when no one was in the hospital room with her all night. He over saw the busy traffic as I navigated several freeways. Now, is this true of a family who loses their mom to an illness? Yes it is. God looks after each person individually and knows what is ultimately best for each one of us. What does He require?

Look at Psalm 37:3 where it says, “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this; He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn.” Commit your way. I’m choosing to give God all of my day; my schedule, my thoughts, what I listen to on the radio, my decisions, my words. I’m saying my day is your day, Lord; every day of the week. I trust Him, the creator of the universe for the ordinariness of my day. And when I do, He provides peace. He gives me His great joy! He comforts me all over, even in the snarled traffic while the minutes tick by. I breathe and say out loud, “You have me, God. You know what’s up ahead and you know my scrunched up time schedule and you are so in charge!” He asks us to trust Him. So I fret not.  What about you?rejoicing woman two

Now. Go out with Joy! Be led forth in His peace! Isaiah 55:12