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Girl Meets God

    by Melissa Mathews

August 13, 2006

"Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another."

Our oldest son Max is a pretty sharp kid. He is listening all the time, even though it might not be obvious. We call him "Big Ears." But just because a kid is listening, doesn't mean he is understanding. It's especially hard to tell if a child comprehends a speech or lecture that you desperately want him to "get." This week Max passed his hearing test.

Student council elections were this week at Natomas Park Elementary School. Max had asked to run for President, but his already overworked parents…  ( Click for more )

Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of gifts he does not give. Psalm 25:14

They've been saying it was going to happen for months. And yet, it never has.

I've told you before about the street that leaves our neighbor that is ½ country, and 1/2 city. One side is open field with a big canal. The other side has a new apartment complex and several shopping centers. There's Gold's Gym and a pizza place in one center. The other center just opened a guitar store, a lube-n-oil place, and a look-like-a-body-builder vitamin…  ( Click for more )

July 23, 2006

"'For I know the plans I have for you,'" declares the LORD… Jeremiah 29:11

When this southern girl married a southern California boy 18 years ago, I swore I would never move to California. My Dad swears that Scott swore he would never bring me out here.

"The only way I'll move to California is if God brings the U-haul," was an oath I made quite often.

My husband Scott was a youth minister in Carthage, Missouri. My twin sister Michelle's husband was a children's minister in Springfield, Illinois. Of course, we sisters…  ( Click for more )

We stopped scooping poop at our house today.

Not dog poop. We (Scott or an unlucky son) still scoop the dog poop in the back yard. But we are hoping that the mouth poop will soon go un-scooped.

(Be warned today's imagery is gross and unladylike, but so is the poop scooping that I'm talking about.)

Do you remember the Junior High habit of dogging on other people? If you cut someone down with a mean comment, it seemed that you got a little bigger, and they got a little smaller. "You're an idiot." "Gosh you're lazy." "Drop some weight."…  ( Click for more )

June 25, 2006

"it is a wretched taste to be gratified with mediocrity when the excellent lies before us."

I was poised between our kitchen island and the pantry, trying to cut up an apple. I finished cutting the apple, and took a bite of the brightest slice. I was expecting crisp and tart, but got soft and bland. Ugh. What disappointment.

"Too bad this apple is bad," I said to Scott "cause you can't go back nine months and start over."

That sounded like a truth that might apply to more than just apples.

I wondered when the apple grower realized he…  ( Click for more )

June 18, 2006

If I can write an unkind letter, speak an unkind word, think an unkind thought without shame and grief, then I know nothing of Calvary Love. -Amy Carmichael

She gave me this strange look as I passed her at Natomas Park Elementary School. You know the one: raised eyebrows with one higher than the other; that half-smirk, half smile that says "Am I supposed to know you?" Her curly-puffy hair was pulled back in pig-tails, and she had on a pink t-shirt with little blue flowers.

I've known her mother Sharon several years. She's a children's pastor…  ( Click for more )

June 11, 2006

Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for? —Robert Browning

I was expecting something different—though I'm not sure what.

Friday was my last day of my first year teaching 9th grade English. I anticipated some major, monumental something or other. I still haven't imagined what that might have been, but something different than what actually happened.

I finished with my last final at 10:00 a.m. Then I went home to get Max, who finished school on Thursday. We came back to my classroom, where he played X-BOX…  ( Click for more )

June 4, 2006

It was one of the best lessons my dad ever taught me:

"Quit crying, or I'll give you something to cry about."

I have a clear, yet vague memory of this lesson when us four little Goins children were sitting in the back seat of the family car 30 years ago (back when back seats were big enough for more than 2 ½ people). I was particularly grieved about something that now I can't recall. It was probably something absurd like arguing with mean ol' Roger or not getting to sit where I wanted in the car. But at the time, it was a horrible, sobbing, tight-throated,…  ( Click for more )

"You can't dog moms on Mother's Day."

That was the unspoken rule when I worked for and had to come up with 10 sermons and 10 illustrations to feature for preachers to use on Mother's Day. Of course, on Father's Day, the dads always got their teeth kicked in, but that's beside the point.

But since the holiday is a week behind us, I can say whatever I want. Reverend John S.C. Abbott was a New England pastor and historian born in 1805. He wrote histories about Davie Crocket, Napoleon Bonaparte, Christopher Carson,…  ( Click for more )

(My husband Scott wrote this to share at church today for our communion meditation.)

We have a saying in our home. We practice it weekly. All our sons know it by memory. It is perhaps the most important thing anyone needs to know in our home. It goes like this:

"I love my mother very much. She is the greatest mother in the whole wide world. I cannot live without her." Before breathing his last, there is an interesting detail in the last few moments of the ministry of Jesus—

"When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing…  ( Click for more )

May 7, 2006

"Aunt Lisee, can I have a gwape?" It was the fifteenth time sweet William, my 3-year-old nephew, had asked the question.

"Pweessseee, can I have a gwape?!"

And fifteen times I had explained that the grapes weren't real. The red beans and rice we were having for dinner weren't quite done yet, and Will had been eyeing the fake grapes that sit in a wooden bowl on my kitchen counter. He thought they were just what he needed to fill the ache in his stomach.

"Aunt Lisee, Aunt Lisee, caaaan I pwese have a gwaaape?" Since I hadn't been able to convince…  ( Click for more )

April 30, 2006

As I looked across the table at my oldest son Max, he put a smile on his red-freckled face. It was Friday evening. I had had the worst day of school on record and wasn't about to cook, so we were on the patio of a Mexican restaurant along the banks of the Sacramento River.

I don't remember what we were talking about, but something had made Max smile. And when he did, I couldn't help but notice the dimple high on his left check. When he laughs it gets deep, then it blends back in with the reddish-brown spots that make him look like my child.

He only…  ( Click for more )

April 23, 2006

I have a confession of sorts this week. It's kind-of unbelievable, so hang on to your jaw. And if you see me this week- don't laugh.

Sometimes when I come home from work after an arduous day trying to control the behavior of 132 9th graders, I pull up in my driveway hoping to see something at my front door. It could be any number of things: a UPS package; an arrangement of flowers; an envelope with a gift certificate.

And, you guessed it-- that hardly ever, never, materializes.

Then, I find the mailbox key and go check the mail. Once again, I'm…  ( Click for more )

April 16, 2006

"The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." Luke 19:10

After 6 years on the lam, he'd finally been caught.

According to Reuters' news service, Shrek the merino sheep was wild and woolly when he was finally discovered in the lower Alps of New Zealand.

Musterer Ann Scanlon saw the creature, and first thought it was some strange wild animal. Then she saw the sheep nose peaking from underneath 15 inches of wool that had grown during the years he had managed to avoid capture. His owner figured he must have been hiding in caves and eating wild…  ( Click for more )

Thank Him in advance for what the future holds, for He is already there. Elizabeth Elliot

As I banged the cup on the counter, I got a groan.

"Mooomm, the cuuup's not fuuull yet."

As if I didn't know that, as if that wasn't the whole purpose in me banging the cup in the first place. The 7-11 Slurpee machine was running really slow and thick, and I was just trying to be helpful. (If you don't know, a Slurpee is a frozen, sticky, sweet, foamy drink.)

It's been a long process- trying to teach the boys to use the Slurpee machine…  ( Click for more )

March 26, 2006

"I said. 'I will watch my ways Lest I sin with my tongue, I will restrain my mouth as with a muzzle.'" Psalm 39:1

I know I've told some rather odd stories in the past. This story, too, fits into the rather odd category.

Scott and I were coming home on Thursday from one of our little mini-dates. We had gone to our favorite stand-at-the-counter-and-order Mexican restaurant and had shared a plate of nachos with a Coca-Cola bottled in real glass from Mexico. It's was very good.

The street we took home is kind of half-developed, half –rural.…  ( Click for more )

"But I entreat those who believe in ...God, whoever deigns to ...receive this document composed by the obviously unlearned sinner Patrick in Ireland, that nobody shall ever ascribe to my ignorance any trivial thing that I achieved... that was pleasing to God...accept...that it would have been the gift of God. And this is my confession before I die." -Saint Patrick

This coming Friday, March 17th, people will celebrate a man they know not of. If they really knew anything about St. Patrick, they might not celebrate in such raucous ways, though the influence…  ( Click for more )

March 5, 2006

"The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'"

In 1958,35 year old Englishwoman Anita Goulden went on holiday to Peru to visit her brother. Anita was a widowed, single mother who owned two haberdasheries in Manchester, England. She was about to go home by way of the United States when she saw an unbelievable sight--children with tuberculosis and meningitis lying neglected and abandoned in the street in pools of their own blood. "In my…  ( Click for more )

February 26, 2006

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

In 1809, Simon Renee Braille and his wife Monique welcomed their fourth child into the world-- a lively boy named Louis. They lived in a small stone house near Paris where Braille was the local harness maker. Leather working tools are dangerous, so the toddler had been instructed not to go into his father's shop alone.

But when Louis was still small, he slipped into the shop, and with curiosity, started to handle all…  ( Click for more )

February 12, 2006

"Lord, You have assigned me my portion and my cup, you have made my lot secure." Psalm 16:5

If you like amazing stories too good to believe, you should check out the obituary section of the UK Telegraph Newspaper. I'm not kidding.

It's where I heard about Madame Alicia Markova. She died on December 2,2004, at age 94-- but only after living a life she probably could never have imagined.

Lilian Alicia Marks was her birth name. She held no promise of greatness as a little girl. She didn't speak until she was six years old, and her flat…  ( Click for more )

January 29, 2006

I had been chasing this girl down for several class periods.

It was D-day at Inderkum High School-- literally for some students. It was F-day for others. Semester tests were over, and semester grades were going on the books. I was sitting at my desk, pouring over my on-line grade book. I had roughly an hour and a half to make sure every grade was "as it should be." At 3:30 the grades rolled over to "historical" and became the final word on a student's performance. At 3:30, credit was given or summer school certain.

The girl of whom I am speaking, Miss No Name,…  ( Click for more )

January 22, 2006

"The Christian should be an Alleluia from head to foot." Augustine of Hippo

I've got a twin sister named Michelle. I have four boys. She has four girls. It used to be a great story to tell— until she just HAD to add number 5, a precious, little Daddy-looking baby boy named William. And no, I'm not trying for a girl.

Little Will is about as cute as they come. He's got a round head with chubby cheeks and the longest eyelashes you've ever seen. Will is 3 now, and the miracle of intelligible speech has just overtaken him.

Will's…  ( Click for more )

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." -Jesus John 15:5

I know it's already January 15th, but I still haven't decided what my New Year's resolution is going to be. There are so many possibilities; I don't know how I will ever choose!

If you read my column last week, then you could say I'm still walking around the nursery, trying to choose which tree I'm going to plant.

Will I plant a willow tree, and lose some weight before my…  ( Click for more )

January 8, 2006

It's something we do a lot- drive around and look for the perfect house in the country. There some specific things for which we always look. A few "outbuildings" is certainly nice-- an barn, a shed for the well, an old chicken coop. More is definitely better. A well-kept yard with lots of flowers is high on the list too. It wouldn't stay that way for long, but one can dream.

The most important factor in a nice country home is trees. There must be lots and lots and lots of trees. Not just one in the front yard, or one shading the carport, but trees all over…  ( Click for more )

December 25, 2005

Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds. William Shakespeare

"God's strategy in a nutshell: He builds into you and me the beauty of his own character and then puts us on display." Joseph Aldrich

Several years ago, the little Mathews brothers and I went to "Holiday Craft Night" at Natomas Park Elementary school. It was crowded, unfamiliar, but fun. The favorite table, of course, was decorating Christmas cookies. Jack had to wash his hands 2 times before he finished one cookie. The table that I steered my boys away from was the potato-stamping-too-messy-paint…  ( Click for more )

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