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Girl Meets God

    by Melissa Mathews

December 18, 2005

Just like me, they long to be close to you. - sung by Karen Carpenter

As I passed Latisha's desk during silent reading time, I noticed she was reading a book from my classroom library.

"Wow, this is an old book," she whispered loudly as I leaned down to sign her paper. I noticed the check-out form in the front of the book, and my mind immediately rewound 26 years to Mrs. Reynolds' library at Lee Academy.

Those were the days checking out a book involved a little card that slipped into a pocket on the inside cover of the book. When you had…  ( Click for more )

Although I must have Martha's hands, I have a Mary mind. And when my children's shoes I tie, thy sandals, Lord, I find. –Minette Allmoslecher

I wonder if Martha Stewart, with all her intricate Christmas preparations, knows she is much akin to her name sake, a woman named Martha in the Bible? The original Martha had this same need to be busy and overdo. Once, Jesus and his disciples came to her house. She started working hard to make dinner for these people. Here's what Luke 10:38-42 says:

"Now as they were traveling along, He entered…  ( Click for more )

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. John 1:14 NIV

On Wednesday this week, Scott picked me up from school, and we went on one of our mini-dates to Starbucks. Three dollars for a cup of coffee is pretty expensive, but when that's all you're paying for a date, it sounds pretty cheap.

We were just in time to get front row parking. As Scott carefully maneuvered our big, green Suburban into the tiny parking space, a dark-headed woman wearing no makeup came out of the store and snaked her way past our car. She looked vaguely familiar,…  ( Click for more )

November 27, 2005

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

"I will praise You as long as I live… My soul will be satisfied as with the riches of foods." Psalm 63:4-5

Several years ago, probably when I was in a crabby funk, I bought our family a big, empty blue journal. On December 14, 2000, I wrote this paragraph in the front of it:

"In an effort to foster a spirit of gratitude concerning all our many blessings, and as a memorial to all the ways God has blessed us and will continue to bless us in the future,…  ( Click for more )

O Lord, that lends me life, Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness. William Shakespeare

A while back, I was visiting a friend and we were shopping. My youngest child is 7, and after 4 ½ years straight in mostly maternity clothes, and seven years saying "when I lose weight, I'll go shopping," my closet was beginning to look a little absurd (at least to the average American). My friend, the wardrobe genius, was trying to help me put a few outfits together.

We had just pulled into the parking lot of our 3rd or 4th store. "Melissa, I've…  ( Click for more )

November 13, 2005

"Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise. The longings which arise in us when we first fall in love, or first think of some foreign country, or first take up some subject that excites us, are longings which no marriage, no travel, no learning, can really satisfy. "

C.S. Lewis in "Mere Christianity."

It's…  ( Click for more )

November 6, 2005

If God put you there, He is amply sufficient. Oswald Chambers

I had more than one day this week at school that was especially challenging. When I say school, I mean the ninth grade English students that I teach at a local high school. And when I say challenging, I mean ugh-I'm-so-tired-this-is-nothing-but-work-will- it-ever-get-better challenging.

I've got a few kids (and every school has them) who take up so much of my energy because of their behavior. There are two students in particular whose mouths run like an overflowing sewer, if you know…  ( Click for more )

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. John 1:9-10

One of my boys (and I'll never tell which one, so don't even ask) often gets into these confessional moods. He slips into the laundry room while I'm folding clothes, or he comes and stands quietly over my arm while I'm at the computer. He gently places his hand on me, then he starts:

"Mom, I have something I need…  ( Click for more )

October 23, 2005

An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips. Proverbs 24:26

I'm not a liar. I never have been, and I never will be. But sometimes, my husband accuses me of it.

Well, not really. But, he does accuse me of leaving out vital information. I'm sure you've heard it too.

"I asked you to pick up the boys after school." "You never said that!" "I asked you to call Myrna!" "You never said that!" "I told you I had plans that night!" "You never said that!"

One Saturday at about 4:00 o'clock, I decided to run to Wal-Mart for a couple of…  ( Click for more )

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice.Philippians 4:9

Even as I took the lipstick and the lotion, I knew that I might never use them- at least not completely.

It was the day before Mamaw's funeral, and three of the four girl cousins were sitting around the coffee table in my mother's living room, going through Mamaw's few remaining personal effects. The outfits that she had worn at the nursing home were clean and folded neatly in a laundry basket. Love, Michelle and I are all too…  ( Click for more )

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

"How are we looking this month?" Scott said one Saturday in August on our way home from my sister's house.

"Not good," I said.

We had just come out of summer- the first summer I haven't worked in several years. I resigned my job this past spring. And in May, Scott hired someone to take my place as worship leader for our church plant.

"The ends aren't going to meet this month."

"Ughhh." He groaned.

We…  ( Click for more )

In this world of darkness, so we all must shine, you in your small corner, and I right here in mine - Minette Allmoslecher

I saw this lady today, and she had on the strangest outfit. Her pants had two layers: A bottom layer that was intact, and a top layer that looked like she had just gotten way too close to a rapidly spinning blade that had sliced her pants into ribbons. But her blouse is what interested me the most. It was black polyester knit (which I cannot believe is back in style). It wasn't tight, but it was strapless like a tube top. What seemed so odd to…  ( Click for more )

September 25, 2005

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Proverbs 31

There were a few things Mamaw would not have liked about her funeral service yesterday. I was carrying a brown leather backpack purse and wearing a dressy pair of black beaded slides. That would have certainly offended her impeccable fashion sensibilities. Any good Southern woman knows that your shoes have to match your purse. I wasn't wearing hose either. Strike number two.

So maybe I'm exaggerating. That's all I can think of that might have bugged Mamaw at her…  ( Click for more )

September 18, 2005

The only ultimate disaster that can befall us, I have come to realize, is to feel ourselves at home here on earth. -- Malcolm Muggeridge

On the one hand, this has been an amazing week (that's a story for next time). On the other hand, it's been filled with unpleasant things.

I had a girl in one of my ninth grade English classes be very disrespectful. Later the same hour she used a VERY inappropriate word to describe a character in the story we were reading. When I corrected her after class, she was shocked to hear that the word was a curse word. I…  ( Click for more )

September 11, 2005

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

I had scrubbed as hard as I could on Max's football jersey, but couldn't get out that one yellow spot. And what in the world was it, anyway?

Now as I sat across the table from Max at McDonald's, I was even more perplexed. The yellow spot was still there, and it had multiplied. Now he had like a hundred of these small, yellow streakish-things that made me think of shoe scuffs on linoleum.…  ( Click for more )

Every assignment is measured and controlled for my eternal good." Elizabeth Elliot

I looked carefully at the blue drops as I squeezed them into the used water bottle now filled with apple juice. I had already tried red gel food coloring, and that had been a total disaster. I ended up dumping the juice into a cup so I could extract the red, slimy blob that refused to co-mingle with the apple juice. The goal was for the blue food coloring to keep the apple juice (that I had poured into sundry and well used bottles) from looking like you-know-what. If you don't…  ( Click for more )

Every assignment is measured and controlled for my eternal good." Elizabeth Elliot

I looked carefully at the blue drops as I squeezed them into the used water bottle now filled with apple juice. I had already tried red gel food coloring, and that had been a total disaster. I ended up dumping the juice into a cup so I could extract the red, slimy blob that refused to co-mingle with the apple juice. The goal was for the blue food coloring to keep the apple juice (that I had poured into sundry and well used bottles) from looking like you-know-what. If you don't…  ( Click for more )

August 21, 2005

There is no earthly influence to be compared with yours. You can never regret any amount of labor you have expended, any sacrifices you have made, any sufferings you have undergone, to train up your children. From The Mother At Home by Rev. John S.C. Abbot, 1833

If you are a Women of Faith enthusiast or one of their speakers who happens to read my column, I apologize in advance for what I'm about to say. (Just kidding- but I wanted to get your attention.)

I went to my first WOF conference a couple of weeks ago. It was great. Patsy Clairmont was a total hoot.…  ( Click for more )

August 14, 2005

"Winola! Winola!"

What a strange name I thought.

"WINola! WINOLA!!"

And why was the nurse saying her name so loudly?

Mom and I were walking from Mamaw's room to Papaw's room at the assisted living home where they have been for only a few months now.

"WINOLA! Wake up Winola! Come on honey, WAKE UP."

It was almost time for dinner, but I couldn't imagine dinner being this urgent. We were passing Winola's room, and looked at each other with that strange look you have when you've just figured something out, but hope you're…  ( Click for more )

August 7, 2005

Snowflakes are frail, but if enough of them get together they can stop traffic. - Vance Havner

Why do I get so choked up at pee wee football games? Haven't I heard the National Anthem 1000 times? Haven't I sung it 100 times? And still, whether it's a recording of Leigh Ann Rimes or the little Smith sisters singing off key, I can't hold back the tears when I hear "o'er the land of the free…" mixed with whooping and hollering and waving pom pons and helmets.

But that's not the only thing that chokes me up at these games.…  ( Click for more )

July 31, 2005

Putting God First: In Our Actions

"Self-preoccupation, self-broodings, self-interest, self-love—these are the reasons we jar each other. Learn to give and not to take; to drown your own hungry wants in the happiness of lending yourself to fulfill the interests of those nearest and dearest." Joy and Strength

My four sons, the Mathews Brothers as we like to call them, know our loose interpretation of the Golden Rule: "Treat others the way you want to be treated." But they sometimes get a little confused about the order of events. They tend to treat…  ( Click for more )

Putting God First: In My Relationships "Preach The Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words." - St. Francis of Assisi.

I know lots of people. I know lots of people in lots of different ways.

There's the checker at the grocery store who is a cancer survivor and tells me all about the great benefits of green tea.

There's Mrs. Mullins, Mrs. George, Mrs. Foster, Miss Sonnenburg, and Mrs. Ennis, the women who have taken on the task of educating children, four of which happen to be my boys. I think they appreciate my volunteer help.

There's…  ( Click for more )

Putting God First in Our Thoughts

The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heaven of Hell, and Hell of Heaven." John Milton

When I think "put God first in my thoughts," I get a picture of this huge coffee filter. The filter is made from the advice in Philippians 4:8: "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."

Whatever thought I'm having, it has to pass through this…  ( Click for more )

July 10, 2005

Putting God First: In My Words 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

(The next four weeks will be a short devotional series on "Putting God First" in different areas of life.)

Sometimes I've thought of tape recording what goes on at my house. I think I would be unpleasantly surprised at the results. At the same time, the recording would probably answer lots of questions like "Why does ______ speak so disrespectfully to his brothers?" and "Where did they learn to talk…  ( Click for more )

"Just turn your affairs over to the Lord, and go on and do your duty." --Old Union soldier in Stephen Crane's Red Badge of Courage.

The Goins family (Dad, Mom, two boys, twin sister and me) lived in a great neighborhood.

We had this empty lot beside our house that had to be at least 3 acres. The boys in the neighborhood had turned it into quite a nice baseball diamond. It had a chain link backdrop, bases, and a mowed infield. The rest of the lot was a different story. Every couple of weeks this guy would come with a big bush hog and mow it. It was an…  ( Click for more )

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