Does God Care About Kids?

One of the darkest times in the history of my church began about 10 years ago. I won’t go into all of the problems that we had. God knows and He is still working to heal all of those old wounds. But I do want to tell you about one event, something that has stuck in my mind ever since it happened.

We had a very, um, interesting group of teens attending the church at that point. Like many churches, we had a van emblazoned with our church name, address, and phone number that ran on Wednesday nights, picking up teens who wanted to be at the service but didn’t have another way to get there. One night after a youth group meeting, one of the young men was in kind of a mood. He sat in the back, where the van driver couldn’t see him, making faces and rude gestures at other cars that passed the van. At least one of the other drivers was so upset by this teenager’s actions that a phone call was made to the church. The result? The youth group was shut down “indefinitely.” Instead of just the one young man being called out on his actions, the entire youth group was punished. I’ll never forget the reasoning behind the pastor’s decision—he was shutting down the youth group because many of the kids who came didn’t have parents attending the church, and therefore this ministry was not a big money-maker.

His attitude hurt me in a lot of ways. First, I hadn’t really thought of a church as a business before. Sure, I paid my tithe and I often gave extra money in offerings. And I knew that the church had bills to pay. But I always thought the main purpose of a church was to introduce others to Christ and to help those who already know Him to forge a stronger relationship with Him. I didn’t know the church was there to make money. Then again, I’m not the pastor. I’ve worked for years in the church, but always in a volunteer capacity. Maybe when your weekly paycheck depends on the amount of money in the offering plate each week you focus more on making money.

But what hurt even more was the attitude that those teens—kids who, judging by their action that particular night, really needed to know more about Christ—were not worth reaching out to because of their lack of income. Even today, when the church is under the leadership of a pastor who has a real heart for kids, that attitude angers me.

What if that had been the attitude of God all along? What if God just ignored young people because they could not “financially” support His “cause?” Can you imagine how many things in the Bible would have played out different?

Joseph was a kid when he was sold into slavery by his brothers. If kids didn’t matter to God, he would have died as a slave rather than rising to the top of the Egyptian government.

David was a kid when he used that slingshot on Goliath. The rest of the army was too scared of the giant to do anything. If kids didn’t matter to God, no one would have stood up to Goliath and the Isrealite army would have been destroyed.

Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were all young kids when they were taking captive in Babylon. They were not very old when their prayers to the one true God got them into trouble with the Babylonian king. If kids didn’t matter to God, Daniel would have been devoured by lions while his friends were burned alive in the fiery furnace.

Mary was a kid when Gabriel came to her, announcing that God chose her to be the mother of Jesus. If kids didn’t matter to God, Jesus would have been born to an old woman.

For that matter, if kids didn’t matter to God, Jesus probably would not have come to earth as a child!

Luke 18:16-17 says, “Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, ‘Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.'” (New Living Translation) Jesus didn’t say, “Let them come but only if they have money.” He cared about the children. Shouldn’t we do the same?

Another verse that comes to mind on this subject is found in I Timothy 4:12. Paul tells Timothy, “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” It is not age that determines your worth to God—it is that He created you that matters! It is not your age that determines what good you can do for His Kingdom—it is your willingness to follow Him.

The decision of that pastor to disband the youth group all those years ago is my inspiration for writing for teens. It might even go further back than that, back to when I was a teen and I connected with the Carman song “Our Turn Now.” My love of teens and tweens, my desire to see them develop a close relationship with Christ…that is why I created my pen name, Mary Lou Searfoss. I am not giving up on my women’s fiction books. I will continue to write those under my real name. But as Mary Lou, I will concentrate on material geared toward teens and tweens, especially toward young girls.

Small Victory!

I had a small victory in my battle against my weight this week. I slipped on a pair of slacks that I have worn in the past, slacks that about 2 months ago were too tight and 3 weeks ago fit just right. When I wore them on Monday, they were too big! I didn’t notice it at first. I noticed that they felt very comfy around my waist. But as I walked around WalMart in those slacks, I kept having to pull them back up—they were slipping off of my hips! My big, huge Avery hips are shrinking!

Now, I am not insane enough to think that I will ever have anything other than Avery hips. But it feels so good to know that maybe those Avery hips don’t have to be big, huge, and wide for the rest of my life!

What If…?

Recently, I had my psychological evaluation at the University of Michigan for my weight loss surgery. One question I the doctor asked was, “If you are not approved for surgery, what will you do?”

An interesting question. It’s one I had not thought about before. And to be honest, it is a question I have not been able to get out of my mind since it was asked.

The answer I gave was that I would be upset, but I hope that I would be able to keep with me what I have learned in the weeks I have been preparing for surgery. I’ve been eating healthier and seeing a big difference in my energy level. I’d like to think that even if I do not get approval from the review committee to have the surgery, I will keep these lessons with me and keep building on them.

Truth be told, I am pretty sure I know what my immediate reaction would be: I’d break down in tears and grab the nearest comfort food I could find.

Is it a good thing that I know this about myself? I suppose it is. But I am not sure that knowing this, that recognizing that I would handle that disappointment by turning to food is enough to stop me from doing it.

I know that I can’t do this alone. I know that it will take the help of God for me to ever be able to handle this addiction to food.

Addiction to food. Funny. I know that is what is going on with me, yet it seems odd. Food is something that is needed for life. How can something that I need to have in order to live be the thing that is slowly killing me?

A Bit More

Yesterday, I wrote about giving up Facebook games. Today, I was asked about that decision. The specific question I would like to answer is this one: Why do you think God wanted you to give up the games?

There are a lot of reasons why I think He has asked me to give up those games. The main reason is that they have become the focus of too much of my life. Instead of writing, I play games. Instead of spending time with my husband and children, I sit in front of the computer playing games. Instead of reading my Bible, I spend time playing games. How can I call myself a writer, a mom, a wife, a follower of Christ, if the only thing I spend any time on is playing computer games that really have no bearing on the person I want to be?

Another big reason I think He is asking this of me is that I have a problem with selfishness. I want what I want and I want to do what I want to do. Who cares what is good for anyone else? Well, God cares. And I think He wants me to care, too. Giving up the games is a way of showing God that I will listen to Him, whether I want to or not. (And truth be told, I don’t really want to give up the games!) I do want to follow God. I want to live a life based on the concept of JOY—Jesus, Others, You. Christ first, family and friends second, then what I want. Playing games all day long is definitely a me thing. It doesn’t do anything beneficial to anyone else. In fact, no that I think about it, I suppose it doesn’t really do anything beneficial for me, either!

This song came to mind as I thought about these games. I am giving everything over to God—my life, my time, my talents. May He use them as He will.

Good Bye Games

Earlier this week, I posted the following as my Facebook status: Ever felt like God was leading you to do something you were not sure you could do, not even sure you were WILLING to do? Please pray that I remain open to what God wants, even if it is not what I want.

I asked others to pray for me, but I didn’t do much praying for myself. I clearly heard what God was asking me to do, and I didn’t want to do it. He was asking me to give up something I have convinced myself that I need in my life. I’ve convinced myself that this is something I cannot possibly live without. One of my cousins even responded to my status with, “He WILL equip the called!” Still, I ignored the voice in my heart.

This morning, a song came to mind as I was showering. The song was I Will Follow Christ, sung by BeBe Winans, Bob Carlisle, and Clay Crosse. Only one line kept repeating itself in my head. Over and over and over, I was singing, “As for me no matter what the sacrifice, I will follow Christ.” By the time my shower was over, I was convinced of two things—God was asking me to make a sacrifice and I could no longer ignore His voice. After all, He sacrificed His only son for me. The least I can do is give up a few modern treats for Him.

So, as of today, I am blocking all of the games on Facebook. No more farming. No more cooking. No more monsters. No more matching marble colors. I am done. With all of it. As soon as I post this blog entry, I will be blocking each of those games. I can’t say that I am in a place where I am doing so with a cheerful heart. But I am doing it with a willing heart. And I know that I will be blessed for this sacrifice.

Even if the blessing is just in more time to listen to my children fighting with each other!

You Wouldn’t Cry




God has done it again!  He has this way of knowing what my heart needs to hear and when my heart needs is!

I’ve been considering submitting an essay about my miscarriage to a publisher who is working on a devotional book for dealing with miscarriage and infertility.  I just haven’t been able to sit down and write it yet.  It’s been six years, but I still carry so much pain and hurt and anger about that.  No matter how I try to let it go, it still seems to be there.

Right now I am reading a book by Mandisa called IDOLEYES: My New Perspective on Faith, Fat, and Fame.  I decided to read the book because she is so upfront about her struggles with food addiction.  It’s nice to see someone my age going through the same thing I am and to be able to learn from her.  Because of that book, I’ve been listening to her music on YouTube.  When I came across this song, I couldn’t stop the tears.  I felt like my little girl was talking to me through these lyrics.

God knew that I needed to hear this.  He knew that I needed to hear from Rylee in order for me to be able to write this essay.  And He used this beautiful song to allow her to speak to me.

F.M. Meredith’s ANGEL LOST

Synopsis of ANGEL LOST


ANGEL LOST by F. M. Meredith

As plans for her perfect wedding fill her mind, Officer Stacey Wilbur is sent out to trap a flasher, the new hire realizes Rocky Bluff P.D. is not the answer to his problems, Abel Navarro’s can’t concentrate on the job because of worry about his mother, Officer Gordon Butler has his usual upsets, the sudden appearance of an angel in the window of a furniture store captures everyone’s imagination and causes problems for RBPD, and then the worst possible happens—will Stacey and Doug’s wedding take place?


Biography of F.M. Meredith

F.M. Meredith, also known as Marilyn Meredith, is the author of nearly thirty published novels. Her latest in the

Author F.M. Meredith

Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series, from Oak Tree Press, is Angel Lost. Marilyn is a member of EPIC, Four chapters of Sisters in Crime, including the Internet chapter, Mystery Writers of America, and on the board of the Public Safety Writers of America. Visit her at and her blog at




Angel Lost Missed the Mark

Police Interceptor of the Los Angeles Police D...

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Angel Lost is the story of the police department of Rocky Bluff, California. The story focuses on Detective Doug Milligan and his fiancée Officer Stacey Wilbur and takes place in the weeks leading up to their wedding. They are by far the only members of the police department who have interesting happenings in their lives. The troubles range from facing a long-term illness of a mother to dealing with the aftermath of shooting a young suspect to tracking an exhibitionist appearing on the beach.

The author of this book, F. M. Meredith, shows thorough knowledge of what can happen between members of a police department. Her characters are very well connected to one another.

The problem with the book , at least for me, is that there are just too many characters involved in this book. It was not easy to keep them all straight. Some of the subplots didn’t seem to flow well, didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the story. Perhaps if these subplots had been more well-developed, the story would have been easier to follow.

There are other places in the book—two in particular—where the storyline seemed to be dropped too soon. They left far too many questions in the mind of the reader. One involves the exhibitionist on the beach—when he is finally found, comments about his past are made and then he is forgotten. In another section, a crime that is very important to the rest of the story just falls flat. The possibility that this criminal could have been connected to other similar crime is mentioned, but never really explored. The identity of the criminal isn’t even revealed.

Perhaps it is just me, but I think the title of a book should have something to do with the story. I still am not sure what Angel Lost has to do with the story. I suppose it could have to do with a kidnapping that occurs in the book or to an angel that appears in the lit window of a furniture store. It’s just something that didn’t make much sense to me.

Though this was not one of my favorite books to read, it did have potential. If the subplots had been developed more, it would have been easier to keep track of the characters and to care about what was happening with them.

Just A Thought

I’ve been working on a series of articles about my hometown, Jackson, Michigan. There’s a long list of things that I enjoy about this town, things that I think make Jackson great. Still, I wanted to get some insight from other residents. What do others like best about Jackson? What things would they miss if they were not here? Where would they be sure to take a friend who had come for a visit? When I posted that on Facebook (maybe not the most reliable place to get information, but it is one of the quickest ways to complete research!), most of the answers were things that I expected. Some people mentioned things that I hadn’t thought of or small town businesses that I’d never heard of. But one answer shocked and annoyed me all at once. In addition to posting her favorite things about Jackson, one woman said she liked these places because they made living in Jackson bearable.

For a while, I couldn’t figure out why this bothered me so much. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and I can’t expect others to love life in Jackson as much as I do. Still, this made me so angry. At first, I thought it was because it seemed sort of whiney to me. Life is tough; I know that. I know that things are harder for some people than for others. But what good does whining about it do? I even said, perhaps somewhat hastily, that if you find the life you live so unbearable, you need to do something about it. I think this upset my friend though that as not my intent. I was just trying to vent some of my frustration.

It wasn’t until a piece of Scripture came to mind that I realized why I was to upset by the whole thing. Psalm 37, verses 3 through 6, says, “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.” It is verse 4 that really sticks with me: “Delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

My life isn’t perfect. It isn’t what I once dreamed it would be. In some ways, it is better. But not in every way. There are things that I would like to change. One is where I live. Oh, I don’t want to move out of Jackson. But my neighborhood isn’t one of the better ones. I would love to live in an area of town where there were fewer fights among the neighbors and fewer police cars on patrol. But maybe this is what God wants for me right now. In fact, I am sure that it is what He wants. And I also know that He sees what is in my heart. He knows my deepest desires. All He wants me to do is follow Him. My deepest desire is to serve Him, to be closer to Him, to allow Him to work out His plan for my life. And I know that, for now, my house in a less-than-desirable area of town is a part of that plan.

I can already see one way He has use this house. If we lived somewhere else, we would likely not have driven by the homeless shelter so often in the winter of 2009. If we hadn’t driven by there, my then-8-year-old son may not have discovered his desire to help clothe those in this city who have nothing. His idea morphed into Bea’s Love Closet, a ministry of our church.

I guess what I am saying is that even if you find your current circumstances unbearable, God can work through you. You just have to be willing to go along with His plan for you.

And honestly, can living for God ever be anything less than bearable?

50 Questions About ME!

I stole this from a friend’s Facebook page.  Questions like this can give a lot of insight into a person!  I thought I’d go ahead and answer these myself and share with the world.  It might be a little more than you want to know about me, but oh well!!!

1. What time did you get up this morning? 5:30am

2. How do you like your steak? VERY well done.  If it’s burned, I’ll eat it.  If it’s pink, I probably won’t.

Fireproof, an awesome movie3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?  Fireproof.  Yeah, I don’t go to movies often.

4. What is your favorite TV show? Grey’s AnatomyMy favorite TV show, Grey's Anatomy

5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? I don’t know.  I am open to living wherever God wants me to live.  Sure, I’d LOVE for it to be in a place that is completely paid for and sees sunshine and warm temperatures all year long, but I am happy living where God wants me to live.

6. What did you have for breakfast? A fruit smoothie.

7. What is your favorite cuisine? I don’t know.  There are a lot of types of food that I like.  I am working to get to a point, though, where I choose my food based on nutritional content rather than solely on taste.  Does that make any sense?

8. What foods do you dislike? Seafood.  I have never really cared for it.

9. Favorite Place to Eat? I don’t know, actually.  Probably here at home, surrounded by my loving family.

10. Favorite dressing? Raspberry vinegrette

11.What kind of vehicle do you drive? Saturn L200

12. What are your favorite clothes? My favorite shirt is this big, baggy denim top.  Ask me in a few months, though, and that is likely to change!

13. Where would you visit if you had the chance? I’d travel the world!

14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full? Most often, ½ full.  Actually, lately I’ve felt, even with the not-so-good things happening in my life, that it is completely full.  For the first time in a very, very long time, I feel happy and content with life.

15. Where would you want to retire? Again, anywhere God wants me to be.  I just pray that when retirement comes along, I still feel the desire to do and be what He wants.

16. Favorite time of day? Oh, I’s say about 7:30 pm, when I am snuggled on the couch with John’s arms around me.

17. Where were you born? Ann Arbor, MI

18. What is your favorite sport to watch? Figure skating and whatever Olympic sport happens to be on.

19. Who do you think will not tag you back? No one is going to tag me back as I am not going to tag anyone else.

20. What book are you reading right now? Angel Lost by F.M. Meredith and Friendship Bread by Darien Gee.

21. If you could learn to play an instrument you’ve never played before, what would it be? Saxophone

22. Bird watcher? With a child named Robin, I don’t have much of a choice!

23. Are you a morning person or a night person? I little of both and a lot of neither….

24. Do you have any pets? Three sons, one dog, and one husband.

25. Any new and exciting news you’d like to share? Within the next 10 days, I will have a new nephew and my psychological evaluation for weight loss surgery.  YAY!

26. What did you want to be when you were little?! I was 12 when I decided I wanted to be a best-selling author.  Not there yet, but working on it!!!

Yes, I tried to dig to Fraggle Rock!27. What is your best childhood memory? Spending the summer digging a hole in the front yard to Fraggle Rock.

28. Are you a cat or dog person? Not a cat fan, and most often I am not much of a dog person, either!!!

29. Are you married? Yes I am.  Very happily at that.

30. Always wear your seat belt? Not always.  Normally, but not always.  Honestly, there are times when my size makes it difficult for me to buckle the seatbelt around me.

31. Been in a car accident? Once when my husband was driving.

32. Any pet peeves? Yes.  Too many to name here!!!

33. Favorite Pizza Toppings? All meat.  I LOVE the Pizza Hut Meat Lovers pizza.  YUMM!!!!

34. Favorite Flower? Hydrangeas

35. Favorite ice cream? Love ice cream.  Trying to get beyond that one!!!

36. Favorite fast food restaurant? Arby’s

37. How many times did you fail your driver’s test? None.

38. From whom did you get your last email? Someone wanting information about Operation Prom Princess.

39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? I don’t have a credit card, but I could easily max out one at Barnes and Noble.

40. Do anything spontaneous lately? Does answering this survey count??

41. Like your job? Of course!!!  Wife, Mom, Writer.  That’s all I’ve ever wanted to be.  God has really blessed me.

43. What was your favorite vacation? The trip John and I took to Mackinaw City in 2005.  It was special for oh so many reasons.

44. Last person you went out to dinner with? My hubby and kids.  Lunch would be my sister, Dawn.

45. What are you listening to right now? The dog snoring.  Kinda drowns out everything else!!  Will be New Kids on the Block in a bit when I go clean the kitchen.

46. What is your favorite color? Peach.  Love the color, but cannot stand the fruit!

47. How many tattoos do you have? None.  Unless you count my husband’s name tattooed forever on my heart.

48. Favorite smells. Coconut and Pina Colada

49. Favorite kind of puzzles. Tetris

50. Coffee Drinker? Love it.  But I have to switch to decaf and sugar free, which is not going to be easy.

Color preferencesFraggle RockPiña coladaPizza