Happy 29th Birthday Sweetheart!!

Oh Jesus, this is my story!  I am awakened and reminded again that this is my story!  And my story must have expression!  Jeremiah said it was like a fire in his heart, a fire shut up in his bones!  “But if I say, “I will not mention Him or speak any more in His name,” His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.”  Jeremiah 20:9

 My story must have expression!  It is carved on my heart and on my life!  I cannot be separated from my story.  Jesus, You desire for my story to be my testimony – my testimony of Your grace, Your sufficiency, Your Healing.  Jesus, what I know is what You have done in my life!  What I know is the healing You have brought to my life!  What I know is that You are a Healer, a Redeemer, a Restorer, a God who makes all things new!  What I know is that my healing has been and is a fight.  The enemy of my soul does not want me to be healed. The enemy of my soul desires for me to live in defeat and brokenness.  The enemy of my soul does not want me to live in victory!  You died to bring me eternal healing!  You gave Your life so that I can be healed and walk in victory!  You completed the work at Calvary – my healing “is finished.” Bless Your Name! 

 As the clouds, winds and rain from Hurricane Irma have been moving closer, the storm clouds in my heart have been moving closer again. As much as I want to push back the reality and deny that “anything” is troubling me, it is so predictable – Hannah’s birthday is tomorrow (12th) – she would be 29 years old! Every September that reality screams at my heart again.  Isaiah said, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?” As her mother, for as long as I live, September will always speak of  the absence of my firstborn child. I will never be the same. September is ushered in by so many memories and the reminder of our first trip home from Houston after 77 days at MD Anderson Hospital. All of those memories are just under the surface of my skin and will always be!  I wouldn’t want it any other way but those reminders speak of my loss.

With every September, I have a new opportunity to walk in victory or defeat!  Every year, I can allow that reality to smother me or I can give expression to my grief.  My heart has been so heavy this week – I have sought You Father and You have shown me Yourself through Your creation and through Your Word.  The glorious moon was positioned over my deck this week as it was in 2006 when You spoke so clearly to my heart that Hannah was in the center of Your will for her life. And a most glorious sunset sky yesterday evening on my way home from church as I whispered to a couple of precious folks that I was really struggling with Hannah’s birthday this week.  I sat in the service at church yesterday morning and evening with such a heavy heart – a cloud over me.  And I wanted so desperately to be walking in victory but victory eluded me. 

 I drug my heavy heart home giving it to You again and taking it to my bed.  In Psalm 16 the scripture says in verse 7, “I will praise the Lord who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.”  You awakened me with knowing I needed to journal. I needed to give expression to what my heart was feeling and not deny it. We must push through our pain – there is victory on the other side!  I understand why folks go to counselors for years to talk about their stories, their loved ones, their losses.  They need someone to hear, to understand, to listen because their lives have been so radically changed forever. It doesn’t go away.  You Father, are the perfect Counselor who never tires of listening.  You are the perfect Counselor who is always available.

 Oh Jesus, thank You for allowing me to be Hannah’s mother.  Thank You for using her life.  Thank You for giving me the great anticipation that You were going to use her life.  Thank You that my story is not finished.  Thank You that every promise You have given me will be fulfilled in Your perfect time and way!

What is my story, Lord?  My story is that You are greater Father!  You are enough!  Your healing is greater than my pain, Your purposes and plans are above my understanding, Your ways are not my ways but they are higher. My story is that You have brought forth and continue to bring forth abundant eternal fruit from Hannah’s life and testimony.  And You have given me so much grace, healing, eternal perspective and even joy!

 Thank You Jesus for Hannah’s 29th birthday!  Thank You that she has perfect knowledge and perspective that I too will have one day soon!!  Oh Jesus, thank You for waking me up and letting me pour out my heart to You again – my perfect Counselor!  

Happy Birthday Sweetheart!  My sweet baby girl – I love you to the moon and back!! 

From Great Chasm to Thin Veil – Ten Years Later

 

 

My Sweet Baby Girl! My how quickly the last 10 years have flown! 10 minutes or 10 days but not 10 years! You were only 18 – you have been away more than half as long as you were here! But you remain so close! Again tonight I am drawn away during these wee hours of the morning to lift my eyes to the hills, to the skies and the glorious moon to acknowledge where my help continues to come from! I have never seen a night sky or a sunrise or a sunset or a blooming flower or a rainbow or any of all creation the same since you stepped across that great divide into eternity and allowed me to see that the “great divide” is only a “thin veil.” You remain so close!  Not one day – not many hours -have you been away from my constant thoughts. I have been changed by you!  So often I have remembered the chorus concert you sang in at the Marriott Monday night before we journeyed to the emergency room the following evening.  Dorman’s chorus had never sung or looked so beautiful as they did that night:     

 

 

      “I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason

 

       Bringing something we must learn

 

       And we are led           

 

       To those who help us most to grow

 

       If we let them

 

       And we help them in return

 

       Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true

 

       But I know I’m who I am today

 

       Because I knew you…

 

       Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?

 

       But because I knew you 

 

       I have been changed for good.”

 

 

 

I was moved to tears that night as you sang. In the deepest part of my mother’s heart, I knew something was not right. . . somehow I sensed that could be the last chorus concert you would ever sing in on this earth. You were only a junior – 17 – and yet I wept as if it were your last concert. I knew, at the very least, the tide was changing and senior year and a new chapter were about to begin. And you sang on,

 

           

 

            “It well may be

 

            That we will never meet again

 

            In this lifetime

 

            So let me say before we part

 

            So much of me

 

            Is made of what I learned from you

 

            You’ll be with me

 

            Like a handprint on my heart

 

            And now whatever way our stories end

 

            I know you have re-written mine. . .

 

            Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?

 

            But because I knew you

 

            I have been changed for good.”

 

 

 

Oh Hannah, you sang so beautifully! It wasn’t even your voice – you were just born with a song! And all the days you were here, your life sang beautifully! I have missed you so much! We have missed you so much. We watch the changing seasons in the lives of your friends and we wonder what life might be like if you were still living here.

 

 

We have not been the same!

 

 

 

And Hannah, I know that you know even more than I that the only constant thread – the only unchanging part of my life, – the only reason I still have a song – is because the Lord Jesus has never left my side! I have clung to Him, I have cried to Him, I have beat on His chest, I have told Him, with strong emotion that I distain the journey He chose for us. I have told Him how much I wish it was all of us – all 3 of my children with their beautiful spouses and not the empty seat at our table.

 

 

 

But Hannah, even in the midst of my lament, it has always been to the Lord that I have run and poured out my broken heart. And every time He meets me again. Even greater than our pain and loss is the deeper understanding of the constancy of our Heavenly Father! I have never doubted the reality of who You are, Lord Jesus. Peter answered so beautifully when Jesus asked if he wanted to turn back as some of the others, “Where would I go? You have the words of life!” John 6:68  I am so thankful that I knew You and that I know You and that You have been completely true to every promise You have ever made to me!

 

 

 

Oh Jesus, I am so thankful that my hope is in You and not in this life or on this earth! This is not what we have been created for! We have been created to live in perfect harmony and unity with creation, with our fellow man and with You for eternity! It is just around the corner – we are on the next train. Life is truly a vapor!  Oh Father, keep that eternal perspective before me every day when I meet people along my path that don’t have the hope of Jesus that I have!

 

 

 

Jesus, please use my brokenness. Jesus, please use the healing You have brought to this mother’s heart to the praise of Your glory!  Let my life song sing to You! In the strong, mighty Name of Jesus, I pray, Amen!

 

 

 

Bless Your Name, Jesus! The Only Hope – the Only Foundation – that never changes!    

 

 

 

“I will exalt You O Lord for You lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me! You brought me up from the grave; You spared me from going down into the pit! Sing to the Lord, you saints of His! Praise His Holy Name! Weeping may remain for a night but rejoicing comes in the morning! You turned my wailing into dancing. You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy that my heart may sing to You and not be silent!  O Lord my God, I will give You thanks forever!!”  Psalm 30

 

 

 

Oh Jesus, for all of the healing You have given and for all of the eternal fruit You have borne I give You great thanks!!  For Your faithfulness and the gift of Your word that continues to heal, I give You great thanks!  For accomplishing eternal purposes that I can’t see or even understand through my ashes, I give You great thanks! You are my Redeemer and my Restorer!  You are my Hope!  You are my Refuge!  You are my Deliverer!  You are my Healer!  You are my StrongTower!  You are my Reason for living!  You are my Joy Giver!! You are the reason for my Peace!

 

 

 

Ten years later, I still stand on and claim the same eternal promise:

 

 

 

“I am STILL confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!  Wait on the Lord! Be strong and take heart and wait on the Lord! Psalm 27:13-14

 

 

 

My Sweet Baby Girl, may your life and my life continue to speak and bring forth an even greater harvest of abundant, eternal fruit!!  In the Name of Jesus, I pray, Amen!!

 

Moving sites!

I am making a move! Several years ago our web designer suggested I move my devotionals to a blog because blogs are so much more user-friendly than an actual website. Well, I’m finally branching out and doing just that. From here on out my daily devotionals will be posted to a blog. The link is below. One of the reasons for moving to the blog is so that we can interact. As it currently is, you can make a comment but our website is not set up for discussions. I’ve had many people tell me over the years that sometimes they’d like to discuss their thoughts and give feedback. Well – if you’re one of those people, now you can! Be patient with the blog, I’ll be tweaking it a good bit until I get it just right.

Obviously this Hannah’s Hope Ministries’ website will remain up and going for the ministry, and Deb will continue to post her journals on here from time to time. Only my devotionals are moving. Thank you all so much for continuing to pray for the ministry, for Hannah’s family, and for all our efforts in providing hope to individuals and families in life crisis. Now jump over to the blog and let’s get going!

http://hopehouchins.wordpress.com

Hope

#TheLordknowswhatweneed

I absolutely love Di Easler. She is one of those rare friends that happen into your life and stick with you the rest of your days. This morning out of the blue I got this text from Di-at-the-beach:

Encouraging word the Lord reminded me of just now Nothing formed against me shall stand. The God of angel armies is always by my side. Made me think of you 2. #christomlin #Klove #TheLordknowswhatweneed

First let me say that this text would send Caleb over the edge. It drives him crazy for people to use hashtags in texts. He says that’s shows our age. ?? Today I sent him a text and ended it with a hashtag. He answered my questions and then ended his text with “Please stop using hashtags in texts.” I responded, “Okay. #rude”. I kill me! Anyway back to the devotional. 

Nothing formed against me shall stand. It doesn’t matter what Satan throws at us, God has an army of angels camped around us heading off his attacks. Sometimes God allows a dart to sneak through and hit us in order to grow us in our faith, to teach us to look to Him for help. But even when the darts hit us, the Lord knows what we need, and He meets those needs. All we have to do is cry out to Him and He will answer. 

Take heart. #TheLordknowswhatweneed

“…your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8).

“He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him” (Psalm 91:15).

I hope you have a great weekend. Clay and I are on a short camping trip for a couple of nights. The temps are perfect too! Yep, the Lord knows just what we need. Love to you all!

Hope

Hide me behind the message…

Tonight our quartet had the privilege of singing at a widow/widowers dinner at Boiling Springs First Baptist. Those “older folks” love their southern gospel music! And we love singing it, so it was a good fit. The four of us always make a point to find a quiet room and join together in prayer before we sing. It is so not about us or our harmony or our talent, should there be any there. It is about the message of the songs. It never fails that when we circle up and join hands, Clay asks, “Who’s turn is it to pray?” Every single time we go through that little ritual. It was “my turn” to pray tonight and as I closed in prayer I said, “Don’t let us get in the way. Hide us behind the message.” Now that was a good one, I think I’ll write a devotional about it.

I don’t want to ever get in the way of the message. Our message is that our hope rests in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And that personal relationship is available to everyone. Jesus came to save every single person. He loves us all the same, and He wants everyone to be in heaven with Him. He wanted it so bad that He gave His life for it. Once we accept Him as our personal Savior, our hope no longer rests in our circumstances. Our hope no longer rests in whether or not God chooses to heal me or my loved one of cancer. My hope no longer rests in whether or not my marriage is strong or rocky. My hope no longer rests in whether or not my children make wise decisions and “turn out right.” My hope no longer rests in whether there’s enough money in my account to pay my bills. My hope no longer rests in whether I like my job or hate my job. My hope no longer rests in whether I have a job or am unemployed. My hope rests in my personal relationship with Jesus, and that hope is eternal. What a message!

I pray others have a hard time even noticing me because they’re so engrossed in the message. Yes Lord, hide me behind the message.

“And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ” (Colossians 4:3).

Hope

Set your cruise…

I don’t think I’ve told you, my web family, that I have a new vehicle! It is a mineral gray Ford Edge, and I love it. I’ve had it a week today, and I’m enjoying it so much. And boy will it fly! There are two stretches of highway between my house and the office that always have a police officer strategically placed, so I am always aware of my speed. Knowing the officer is around makes me cautious of my driving. I’ve never been much to use my cruise control, but I do now. Setting my cruise allows me to stay within the speed limit and not have to worry about getting caught.

Likewise, we should set our cruise on our spiritual journey. Our Heavenly Father is always around. He’s there to keep us within the boundaries so that we don’t mess up. Just as being aware of the police officer makes us cautious of our driving, we should be aware of the Lord’s presence and be cautious of our decisions in life. We can set our cruise by reading and studying the scriptures, and by communicating often with the Lord through prayer. He’s not lurking hoping to zap you when you mess up. He’s around to provide support and strength and courage to make the right decisions.

Don’t stretch the boundaries. Set your cruise…

“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord” (Psalm 89:15).

Hope

Is there a Vacant sign on your prayer room?

A group of guys who work with Clay at Milliken play basketball in our church gymnasium every Tuesday and Thursday, and have for many years. Our church is directly across the street from Milliken and it makes for quite the convenient location. Today before the first game Clay went down the back hall of the church to do some stretches and a few little pushups, and he passed the prayer room. Hanging on the door was a sign that read “Vacant” and he said to himself, “Hope can write a devotional on that.” So here goes.

Is there a Vacant sign on your prayer room? Or is there No Vacancy because you spend good, quality time in conversation with the Lord? Your prayer room may be a specific room in your home, or it may be a favorite chair in front of your favorite window, or it may be in the car while you’re driving to work and back, or it may be at your desk while you’re working throughout the day. You do not have to have a particular room, you simply have to have an open heart willing to converse with the Father. You can spend 30 minutes in the morning on your knees in a quiet place, or you can whisper short prayers throughout the day. Both are prayer rooms. Both are prayer times. All God wants from us is a little bit of time. It grieves His heart for us to hit the floor wide open and not take time to talk to Him throughout the day. Don’t hang a Vacant sign on the prayer room of your heart.

“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1).

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12).

Hope

God’s good at that!

I’ve had many opportunities to use the phrase, “God’s good at that!” just in the past few days.

A man in desperate need of a first shift job, but not wanting to leave the company where he was employed. They created a position for him on first shift. He said to me, “I guess if God can create the world, He can create a position for me!” I responded, “Yep. God’s good at that!”

A lady who has had years of struggles in her career, her personal life, and her spiritual journey. But positive things continue to fall into place for her. Her outlook? “God always shows up.” My response? “God’s good at that!”

A single mom of two girls who holds tightly to the hope that her marriage will be restored, though the husband has no interest in making that happen. God can surely work miracles, right? My response? “Yep. God’s good at that!”

A mom of a teenage girl who has decided she knows what’s best for her own life. She plans to move in with her boyfriend’s family, leaving behind all that she knows to be truth and “right.” Can God intervene before this young girl ruins her life? Yep! God’s good at that!

My own search for knowing exactly where I am to serve and what I am to do. What to say no to. What to say yes to. How to use what little “free time” I have. Wisdom for taking the right turn at a crossroads in my life. Does God know which turn I should take? Will He give me discernment and direction and peace in my decisions? Yep. God’s good at that!

Can God handle whatever you’re facing in life? Is He big enough to not just speak the world into existence but speak peace to your anxious, troubled heart? Yep. God’s good at that!

“The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him” (Nahum 1:7).

Hope

Don’t get stuck there…

We talked yesterday about the good that is on the other side of “that.” But when we’re in those dark times it is almost impossible to think about the other side. Our mind is focused on now. It’s stuck there. It is so difficult to keep going. Quite often we don’t know whether to turn to the right or left, whether to back up or go forward. We are broken and exhausted. Too weary to even try. We just want to quit. But we must move forward. We cannot allow ourselves to get stuck there. Getting stuck there will bring defeat. There is no victory in hanging out in a pit. There is no comfort in wallering in mire, it is smothering.

God loves you. He longs to be Lord of your life. He wants to give you victory over your circumstances. He longs to carry you right on through this trial. Don’t get stuck there. Let God work on your behalf and you’ll find the good on the other side.

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand” (Psalm 40:2).

Hope

The good is on the other side…

Think about this quote from Beth Moore…

The greatest work that God will ever do in your life is on the other side of “that.” 

“That” is whatever God has allowed in your life that is very difficult. He promises us that He works all things for our good. How can the death of a child be good? How can the loss of a job be good? How can an unfaithful spouse be good? How can the heartache of a wayward child be good? How can the diagnosis of cancer be good? How can loneliness be good? Yet He says He works all things for our good? The good that He is working is on the other side of “that.” He wants us to keep putting one foot in front of the other when the storm is the darkest, because it’s on the other side that He does His greatest work. We must get to the other side. And with His strength and His power at work within us, we will.

The good is on the other side.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28).

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done…” (Genesis 50:20).

Hope