Archive for the ‘Deb’s Journal’ Category

Happy 29th Birthday Sweetheart!!

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

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

Friday, November 18th, 2016



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!!


Much Beauty, Abundant Fruit from Our Ashes!!!

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Oh Jesus, before I went to bed last night I walked outside and looked up at the night sky and the splendor of the moonlight. And from that moonlight You reminded me once again – as You do every night when the moon is shining brightly – of the night You drew me outside, showed me the full moon encircled perfectly by a rainbow and spoke so clearly to me that Hannah was in the center of Your will for her life – so weak – so frail!

 This morning at 3:30 You draw me out on the back porch again to look up at the stars! The moon had moved across the sky and the stars were shining brilliantly! And from the stars You reminded me of Your promise to Abraham that his descendants would number as the stars of the sky! I couldn’t count all the stars last night! Because Abraham believed You, You counted him as righteous and You honored his faith and You are still honoring his faith – every night You remind us of how You are honoring Abraham’s faith – if we will but look!

This morning Father, the sky is painted pink from every viewpoint on my back porch! And You remind me once again that You are alive and well – that Hannah is alive and well – painting the sky – and You are same God that You were when Abraham looked up at the stars!

 And from my back porch again this morning rises up within me faith as a grain as of mustard seed – faith that continues to believe Your promises to me that I will see Your goodness in this land of the living! Your promise to me that You are working for my good to bring glory to Your name! Your promise that You are a God who does exceedingly abundantly above anything I could ask or imagine for the praise of Your glory!  Your promise that the present sufferings on this earth do not compare to the glory that will be revealed in us!

 And I find myself once again at a crossroads – seven years since Hannah came to live fully in Your presence – will I settle for the abundant fruit You have brought forth from Hannah’s life or will I continue to stand on Your promises and watch to see how You will continue to bring forth fruit as we continue to believe that is Your heart’s desire! 

Jesus, You spurred my thinking this morning through the story of the Canaanite woman whose daughter was demon possessed – as soon as she heard about You, she came and fell at Your feet. She begged You to heal her daughter! She was desperate – no one else could help her – she was not too proud to fall at Your feet – she was not too proud to beg for Your help! She kept crying out to You! Your response to her was, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted!” In Mark chapter 7, the scripture says, “for such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”    

 Today, over 2,000 years later, You are honoring that mother’s persistent faith!  All over the world this week, thousands of people in the study of Matthew will read of her faith and they will be challenged and encouraged to continue believing You in the circumstances and places they find themselves!

 For Your glory and for the sake of Your name, You have brought remarkable fruit from Hannah’s life and testimony – You continue to do that!  Is it enough fruit? How much fruit do we desire to be birthed through our suffering on this earth?  Abundant fruit – much fruit! We desire for You to make much beauty from our many ashes!  

 Jesus, I still believe You! I still believe, as You told Mickey in the shower, that You desire to do something through Hannah’s life where only You get the credit!  It is a new chapter, a new year – You have brought remarkable healing to this mother’s heart but I will never be satisfied with the amount of fruit that has been brought forth. I desire to see abundant fruit – use my life Jesus, use my life!  Use my life because of the witness and testimony of Hannah’s life in mine!  Amen!     

 And if You choose not to bring forth another morsel of fruit or gain any more glory from Hannah’s life, it will not be because I didn’t ask! I’m asking! Glorify Yourself Father!!!

Seven Years Later – Judgment House – Edna, TX

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Seven years ago today Lord I watched Your glory being displayed in my living room!  Seven years ago today Hannah sat on our red sofa and with strength and grace that she did not possess in and of herself, she spoke words in an interview with Amy Wood that You are still using to this day! It was amazing Lord!  It is still amazing!  I sat in the dining room watching – stunned at Your glory and beauty being revealed through such a weak, weak vessel! Oh Jesus, she was so weak – but You were so strong!!  In her weakness, You displayed and demonstrated Your strength! The words of Jesus Loves Me come to me just now! “Jesus loves me this I know! For the Bible tells me so!  Little ones to Him belong – they are weak, but He is strong!  It was November 3, 2006!

Thursday of this week, seven years to the day when we talked with Hannah about what her Celebration of Life Service would look like, Grama Ellen and I will fly to Houston! We will stay with Karen Harrison and on Saturday evening, November 9 – seven years to the day of Hannah going to heaven, we will take that interview to the First Baptist Church of Edna, TX and You will again reveal Your glory as Hannah’s story and testimony is shared through the ministry of Judgment House!  That is amazing Lord!  It is amazing!  That absolutely blesses my heart!!  Oh Jesus, bless Your Name!  Bless Your Name!  “I will bless the Lord at all times! His praise shall continually be in my mouth! My soul shall make her boast in the Lord!  The humble shall hear of it and be glad! Those who look to Him are radiant!  Their faces are never covered with shame! Oh magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together!” Psalm 34:1-3  Bless You Lord!  Bless You!!

“I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus, the Nazarene! And wonder how He could love me – a sinner – condemned, unclean!  How marvelous, how wonderful and my song shall ever be! How marvelous! How wonderful – is the Savior’s love for me!”

Oh Jesus, I am continuing to stand on and claim Your promises – I have no strength of my own – but Jesus I know beyond any shadow of any doubt that You are preparing my heart for the upcoming week! I know that the body of Christ in Edna, TX, in Spartanburg, SC and in other JH locations are praying for the lives of many to be transformed this week!  And I know, beyond any shadow of a doubt that they are praying for me!  I can feel myself being bathed and covered in prayer!  I have been here before Lord and it is an amazing thing to be carried on the wings of prayer by the body of Christ!  Be lifted up Jesus!  Be lifted up!  Draw many to a saving knowledge of Yourself!!  My heart is so full!!!

I also know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that You are carrying mother, Grama Ellen, right now and preparing her on those same wings of prayer! She is being prayed for – I see it!  I asked her last night if she had any reservations about going – none! She is anticipating watching You reveal Your glory and Your strength! Her frame is so small but You are strong and large in her! Strengthen her, Jesus! Reveal Your power through her weakness! Gain glory for Yourself!

Oh Jesus I know You desire to communicate healing to a hurt and broken world! I know You desire to reveal Yourself as the source of our lives, our strength, our joy, our hope, our meaning, our purpose!  Oh Father, You are showing me over and over again the flailing we will do if we aren’t finding You as the source of our lives!!  I am watching that be played out in more lives than I would ever want to see!  It’s You, Jesus! It‘s You!  Oh Jesus, reveal Yourself – by Your Spirit, as the healing balm! Use Your word to free the captives and set the prisoners free!!  Set the body of Christ free!!  Set me free!!  “Set me free from my prison that I may praise Your name! Then the righteous will gather about me because of Your goodness to me!!!” Psalm 142:7

Oh Jesus, I pray this morning for the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace for the body of Christ in Edna, TX. I pray that You will fill each of those who are preparing this week with the grace and strength they will understand is only coming from You – the Strength giver! Expand and multiply the sacrifice of time that is being offered! And bring forth abundant eternal fruit to the praise of Your glory!  “Not to us, O Lord, Not to us, but to Your name be the glory, because of Your love and faithfulness!” Psalm 115:1

And Jesus, the body of Christ everywhere is praying this week as we celebrate the birthday of Dr. Billy Graham on November the 7th!  What a precious, humble man of God who has spoken Your Name and Your truth all over the world! And this week, at 96 years of age, he will speak a final message of truth and hope to our nation and our world! Oh Jesus, be lifted up!!  Be lifted up and draw many, many, many to a saving knowledge of Yourself this week!  I pray for those in my neighborhood who will be gathering tomorrow evening to hear his message – Oh Jesus, it is only You – by Your Spirit – that can reveal spiritual things to the hearts and lives of those who need You!  Jesus, be preparing hearts – even today – to receive the word planted – that it will take root and produce abundant harvest!!

Allow me see Your glory as it passes by this week!!!

With full heart and great anticipation,


I am a Christ follower!


Jesus – You are bigger than this hole in my heart!!

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Jesus, I felt that heaviness and weight coming over me this week – elephant on the chest feeling – smothering feeling – missing Hannah so desperately!  I know there are so many things we would be experiencing together if she still lived here and hadn’t moved to heaven!


25 years old – a season of graduate school, wedding plans, grandbabies, shopping trips and celebrating those milestones in the lives of her friends! I walked into a new “cosmetic” store this week I had never been in – it overwhelmed me – it was totally a girl store and it screamed her absence to me!  I couldn’t get out of there quick enough! Shopping can be very hard!  I knew that if Hannah was here I would know all about that store – but since she isn’t – it is not a place I need to go!


I miss her Lord!  And I really can’t imagine that will ever go away!  And you know in my mind – where things can be “perfect” – you can paint a million and one perfect scenarios! But the reality is – nothing on this earth will ever be perfect! The reality is – we are looking for a city that has not been built by human hands! Looking for our perfect eternal home where everything will be set right!  You have placed that longing in our hearts!  You placed the desire for Eden in our hearts! We know this earth is not right – we KNOW this is not all we have been created for! Oh Bless Your Name!


And so Lord, on Sunday morning, through my tears, I placed a prayer request in the plate that just said – “Hannah will be 25 on Thursday – we miss her everyday!  I pray the Lord will use our lives because of the journey He has had us on!” That is still my prayer!  Don’t let this huge hole in my heart be wasted!  I know the body of Christ has been praying for us this week – I know they have!  It is amazing Lord!  I know that because by Tuesday morning You were lifting the cloud and giving my joy back!  Thank You Jesus!  You know Lord, I don’t think I ever want to be removed from my heart being so tender and attached to my baby girl! Our children are just a part of our hearts!


As I was walking and talking to You this week, the thought came to me that You are bigger than this hole in my heart!  You faithfulness is greater than my sorrow! And You are indeed making beauty from my ashes! You are giving me a new and deeper song! You are setting my feet in a spacious place!


Oh Father, I have so much to be thankful for – and I am so thankful – most of all for Your faithfulness over each of our lives!  I see You Lord – I see You!  Help me Father, see You clearer and clearer each and with each passing day!


And Lord, one more thing – today is the first day of BSF – 23 years ago today Hannah and I enrolled together in the study of Your word – there is nothing in the world I would trade for that season in our lives together!  You were building a foundation! And because the foundation was built on You, the Rock, it is still standing!!  Bless Your Name!!  Honor Your Word today!!!  Honor Your Word!!!  I am standing on Your promises!!!  In the Strong Name of Jesus I pray, Amen!!!


“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.  People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” Hebrews 11:13-16  Amen!  Bless His Name!!

May 9 – Seven Years Later!

Friday, May 10th, 2013

May 9 – Seven Years Later

You know Lord, I have a friend whose husband went to heaven 10 years ago – very quickly, very unexpected – in the course of a weekend.  He was strong and healthy – and then he was gone – just like that – in a matter of days!  It was Easter weekend. And every year since then when Good Friday comes around my thoughts go to her and her husband. I usually call her to let her know I am thinking about her. And as Good Friday is not always on the same day of the year when the actual date of his passing comes along, I remember him on that date also.

I remember having a conversation with Nancy and her commenting to me that she had one weekend of the year when she recounted all the events that were going on around her husbands quick illness and death – the school Easter parties – the end of school coming – the busyness of the spring, etc.  And then she went on to say that for the six months Hannah fought for her life, there were so many “dates” that were etched upon my heart – “dates” that I remember so many things occurring during the course of her being diagnosed and going to heaven. There are dates all during the year that trigger a thought about Hannah’s life and what was going on with her! Like the Prom that just passed – all the beautiful young girls dressed in their gowns – I always remember Hannah’s last Prom – end of her Jr. year of high school – all the pictures are still in my mind – not far below the surface!

I thought about that again yesterday – the 9th of November – and You know Lord, I think You remember all of those dates with me! You affirmed that in my heart yesterday! As I was leaving work late – going to visit a beautiful young lady who has a brain tumor and her precious family – You gave me a rainbow! It hadn’t been raining long – just long enough – and when I saw it, my mind went immediately to the double rainbows You gave us at the beginning of our journey with Hannah – You spoke so clearly to my heart that day and told me that You were going to keep all of Your promises to us! You have!

You knew that I needed that yesterday – 7 years to the day when we took Hannah to the Emergency Room – wow – what a flood of memories – memories that can instantly be played in full color in my minds eye – memories etched so deeply because of deep hurt and pain – memories that will be there for a lifetime!

It was such beautiful timing yesterday Lord – thank You for giving me the privilege of visiting with Meredith and her family – so much peace in that home – peace that passes understanding – peace in the midst of news that wasn’t good this week. Lord, You hold all the pieces of the puzzle – our eyes are still on You! Job said “as long as I have breath, I have hope!”  Hope of healing as we understand it – hope for a change in our circumstances – hope in our very limited understanding of what it is we are hoping for – but the reality is as soon as all our “hope” is gone on this earth, You will make our sight complete and we will understand that we don’t need hope anymore – our faith and hope will be made sight!  And all that will remain is Your love – the love of God! And we will understand Your love is all we need!

Jesus, I pray for Meredith and her family this morning – continue to wrap them in Your arms of peace – allow them to slip off to the beach – allow them to treasure every moment You give them – and take away all their fear – help them trust You one moment after the next – help them make something beautiful with every breath they have on this earth! And Jesus, if Your plan is to take her to heaven soon, please take her gently – just allow her to slip into Your presence – to wake up in Your arms!

Tonight Lord, there will be a lot of hurting folks who need Your encouragement at the Hangar – Oh Jesus, please be on Your A-game!  Please speak Your truth powerfully through this earthen vessel – In Your Name I ask and pray!  Amen!


Homecoming – 6 years later – Welcome Home Poppa!

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Dear Jesus, You continue to amaze me! You continue to amaze me! Oh Jesus, I do not want this suffering to be wasted! I desire to cooperate with You at every turn. You continue to open opportunities to share this journey of faith.

Last Saturday night I shared in Florence, SC. It was a beautiful evening – tables all decorated by the ladies of the church – each unique – I hadn’t been there very long when a lady approached me, grabbed my hand and began telling me about her daughter. As she spoke, I noticed a button on her blouse with the picture of a beautiful girl with long brown hair and brown eyes. She began to tell me that a year ago in June her 22 year old daughter, Devan, had been the victim of domestic violence. Devan had been strangled at the hands of her husband and it was almost a week before they found her body. Oh Jesus, very quickly You reminded me of my complete dependence upon You. I knew that You would have to speak Your truth and peace and grace. I knew there was nothing I would be able to speak to her. But I knew that You had ordered both of our paths there that evening. This week I received an e-mail from her – You are bringing healing to her broken heart and I pray that You will bring forth much eternal fruit through her testimony of Your daily sufficient grace. Her heart cry is that others will be spared from the domestic violence her daughter suffered.

The date of that evening was October 13 – exactly six years since Hannah had been crowned Homecoming Queen at her high school after fighting for her life for the previous 5 months. I marveled at Your timing – I marveled that You were still allowing me to share – I marveled that You were still bringing forth eternal fruit from Hannah’s life – I marveled that You had brought this mother to share the evening with us.

On the way back to Sumter to spend the night at the home of friends, I reflected on the evening as I turned up the volume on the praise music and sang my heart out. As I got closer to the home where I would be staying, I pulled out “Hannah’s Song” – written by Scott Robinson, unknown to us at the time, about Homecoming 2006 and about Hannah’s heavenly Homecoming. Every time I listen, it blesses my heart! I know You anointed the song Lord – it is so powerful – and brings heaven so close! At the end of the song, the voice of 7 year old Grayson says, “Welcome Home Hannah!” Bless the Lord – yes, Welcome Home Hannah!

I sent a message to Joni, Scottie’s wife, who sings Hannah’s Song to tell her that I had been sharing that evening in Florence and that it was the 6th anniversary of Homecoming. Joni told me that I wouldn’t believe where she was – she had been at the hospital all day with Grayson because Grayson’s Poppa was taking his last breaths on this earth and Grayson was taking her Poppa’s death pretty hard. Joni asked if I would call Grayson – Oh my word – would I call her – absolutely – You had used Grayson to shower me with Your blessings and comfort as I listened over and over to her little voice say, “Welcome Home Hannah!”

We had the most precious conversation as I encouraged her that when her Poppa took his last breath on this earth that Hannah would be waiting on him at the gate to tell him, “Welcome Home Poppa!”  You are so amazing Lord!  You are so amazing!  You are continuing to teach me how You never miss connecting a thread – You always tie every single knot – You always dot every ‘i” and cross every “t.” Nothing goes by unnoticed by You!

The next evening I received word that Poppa had gone on into Your heavenly kingdom, Lord. He was home – home with Hannah and the crowd of witnesses that had gone before him and once again “Heaven Became” a little more real!  Heaven is becoming more and more real every day!

Last evening I spoke with Angie – a precious friend from church. Angie’s 21 year old cousin MeMe went to be with Jesus this week after a 4 year battle with cancer. They live in Winston Salem. And of course it just happens, Father, that we will be in Winston Salem this week for the game and I am praying You give me the opportunity to meet David and Sharon – MeMe’s parents. I will hug their necks, I will hold their hands, I will cry with them and I will pray with them and we will together ask You again to bring beauty from their ashes and bring forth abundant eternal fruit!!  That is what You do – that is who You are!! And You will once again write on our hearts that heaven – eternity with You – is just around the corner! Thank you Jesus!  I love You! Amen!

Dear Janna,

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Dear Janna,

It was a blessing to meet you on the Subway in Boston!  It was a trip I will always cherish!  I have taken several days to ponder the question you asked me on the HHM website before I responded!  What a great question and how wonderful to be challenged again in my own life to evaluate where I am and the reason I do what I do! This week and in the next upcoming weeks I have the opportunity to share Hannah’s story several times and I am thankful that you challenged me again to really come to grips with the reason I share and even more importantly “what I share!”

To recap the question you asked: “My only question is what are you doing beyond prayer, to assure that others will not have to die from cancer?  It doesn’t appear to be part of your fundraising, and I think that raising money for cancer research would have a much greater impact than just praying and hoping.”

First of all, let me very directly answer your question about fundraising for cancer before I digress to share some of the thoughts I have pondered over the last week.

Hannah worked with the Relay for Life team at Dorman High School during her years there as a student and was to be co-captain of that team her Senior Year. She had a very compassionate, caring heart for others and had looked forward to the opportunities she was going to have with Relay for Life her senior year raising funds and awareness. It was in May, at the end of her junior year, that she had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. I will never forget the evening – not long after her surgery – that Hannah went to the large Relay for Life event held at Dorman to walk a lap around the track with her friends. That evening, Relay for Life took on a whole meaning in our lives – before, “it” was “over there” – something someone else was dealing with and raising money and awareness about – but on that evening it became very personal. Now, “my” baby girl was dealing with cancer – the “C” word you never want to associate with someone you love and certainly not your baby girl.

In November of 2006, six months later, Hannah’s battle with cancer was over – the cancerous tumor died inside her body – and she went to live in her eternal home. In May of the next year, Mickey and I attended that Relay for Life event, shared a little of our journey and walked laps in her memory. Hannah’s oncologist, Dr. Steve Corso, serves on the Board of Hannah’s Hope Ministries and is very involved with Relay for Life. Another gentleman who serves on our board is the CEO of a hospital. Both of these gentlemen are faced daily with the reality of cancer in the lives of many people and are involved with Relay for Life and raising awareness and funds for others battling cancer. Additionally, however, both of these men face daily the reality of death and that is why they and we are so passionate about sharing Hannah’s story of faith. We are not opposed to fund-raising for the cure for cancer and certainly the desire of all of us on this earth is to be removed from the scourge of this awful disease. There is no one on this earth who would love a cure for cancer more than me or anyone who has ever prayed harder that God would use Hannah’s life to unlock that “key.”

But Hannah’s journey and the “torch” she handed us weren’t really about raising money for the cure for cancer. Hannah’s message, that reverberated so loudly from her life during her six month battle, was rather how we deal with life and death after we have been handed a diagnosis of cancer. Where do we stand? How do we stand? What do we do? How do we respond?

I have learned so many things through this journey with Hannah. First of all, cancer is no respecter of persons. Never in all the world would I have imagined that “my” daughter – my beautiful, bright, fun, talented baby girl – with an incredible future ahead of her would be diagnosed with a rare sarcoma at the young age of 17. And not only would she get cancer – but six months later after many “treatments” and an incredible fight for her life, she would die a physical death and leave this earth. That has rocked my world and forever changed everything I thought I knew about God, about eternity, about the people I love, about myself, and about the purpose of my life! I have done some soul-searching – I have done a lot of it!!

Secondly, our Creator God is not a puppet on a string that responds in the affirmative every time we pull the string and asked to be removed from whatever unfavorable circumstance we find ourselves in. You can be assured that I bombarded the gates of heaven on Hannah’s behalf night and day for those six months and I wrestled with my Creator God about His decision to allow this “sarcoma” to affect my daughter’s life. And I would do that all again! I wouldn’t trade for anything the wrestling I did with my God on behalf of my girl!  Without one doubt, I know my Creator God heard my prayers! What a great privilege the God of the Universe gives us to “beat on His chest,” to unload all of our heartache and our headaches to Him!  In fact, He invites us to come!  He is not afraid of us! He delights for us to come to Him with all of our questions! The Eternal God of the Universe sees from a perfect, heavenly perspective – that I cannot always see from this “earth-suit” I live in – to accomplish eternal purposes that I can’t fully grasp! His ways and His thoughts are much higher than mine!

Third, eventually every one of us will leave this earth in physical death – everyone before us has died and we will also. The scripture tells us that is appointed unto man once to die. We will never find a “cure” to preserve physical life on this earth as we know it. Another of the things I have learned is that we are all on the “fast-track” out of here! If we live to be a hundred years old, we won’t be here very long – life is moving and passing quickly through our hands! And the short lives we live on this earth pale in comparison to eternity. I have said so many times since Hannah went to heaven that “eternity is a thin veil” away – one breath away. Our last breath on this earth will be followed by our first breath in a timeless eternity! So for me, as never before, I have come to realize that there is nothing more important that I do on this earth than to prepare for my eternal home!

Fourth, Hannah’s “cure” had to be beyond anything this earth could offer her! Her physical body was not going to be healed despite all the treatments of the best cancer center in the nation and one of the top sarcoma physicians in the world – Dr. John Trent – MD Anderson Hospital in Houston, TX.  Her “cure” had to be beyond the understanding of this world because this world did not have a fix for her cancer!

And so, day by day, as we watched Hannah’s physical body waste away, we watched her inner man – her spirit – grow and grow! It was amazing! Paul said it beautifully in his II letter to the Corinthians.  “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal weight of glory that far outweighs them all! Therefore we fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.” Hannah had been given an eternal perspective! She was, in essence, “done with the flesh” – her physical body – and her focus became the eternal!

How was that possible? Hannah had a personal relationship with her Creator God through the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ and because of that God showered her with His grace, His strength and His peace. I had a front row seat! I watched Hannah leave this earth with little physical strength but with great spiritual strength! I watched the things of this earth grow strangely dim as the things of eternity came into clearer and clearer focus for Hannah!

I miss her everyday! I think about her all the time! My life will never be the same! My life is about sharing the eternal hope I have and that Hannah had in Jesus Christ with every person I meet for the rest of my life on this earth – nothing I do will ever be of greater importance because every person I meet needs to have a foundation – a firm place on which to stand – that is beyond any cure this world can offer us!!

I pray for you Janna and I love you! I pray that perhaps God will use these simple, feeble words to challenge you to seek God with all of your heart! The scripture promises us that when we seek Him with all of our hearts we will find Him!!!  It has become a daily joy in my life to seek Him with all my heart and find out more and more about who He really is!!

If you are ever in Spartanburg, South Carolina we would love to have you come visit!!  I love you bunches!  Thank you for challenging my life!!

Ms. Debbie

Boston 2012!

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

You know Lord, it is so funny how many places You have allowed me to go because of football!  This weekend it was to Boston!  What an amazing trip!  What incredible people!  What a different view than I have grown accustomed to!  Thank You for giving us the opportunity to see different sites – walk the Freedom Trail where the Puritans endeavored to built the city on a hill, where Paul Revere launched his midnight ride, warning, “The British are coming!”  We sat in the “Old North Church” where we were reminded of the code, “One if by land, two if by sea!” And we stood upon Bunker Hill where the command was given, “Don’t shoot til’ you see the whites of their eyes!”  We walked through the cemeteries where Ben Franklin’s parents, Samuel Adams and Paul Revere were buried. And enjoyed a delicious meal in America’s oldest restaurant, “The ‘Ole Union Oyster House” including Clam Chowdah!!  We stood at the scene of the Boston Massacre and I learned that “5” men were actually killed in that “bloody massacre.”  We toured the USS Constitution.  And Mickey, my husband and U.S. History teacher for the last 28 years was very appropriately – my personal tour guide!!

We met many amazing folks in Boston and on the way to and from!  I met Danielle on the airplane going to Boston early Saturday morning – a beautiful young lady – a college senior in Florida – she was heading to Boston for a family wedding. And because she was a senior in college, close to Hannah’s age, I took the opportunity to share Hannah’s journey with her – I love to gain insight into what Hannah might be doing or thinking if she still lived here!  Danielle asked if I ever shared Hannah’s story – maybe one day You will allow me to meet up with Danielle again – maybe on a college campus in Florida.

We met Tara from Serbia on the subway – she was getting ready to catch a plane back to Serbia. She had been in the United States of America for 4 months – she loved it here – she was anxious to see her family but torn about leaving these great United States and the “spiritual-ness” she felt here. She is a second year college student. I gave her the HHM website – I would love to hear from her!

And on the Ferry we rode from the end of the Freedom Trail back into the heart of downtown Boston, we met 5 young people who sat right across the aisle facing us.  We had on orange – in Boston, orange stood out – not like in Tiger Country where it just blends in.  All five of these young adults had graduated from Clemson – several of them in 2011 – the year Hannah would have graduated from Clemson. I thought of every name I knew trying to make a connection. The connection – Mauldin High School – one of the girls was at the Homecoming game the night Hannah was crowned queen.  How small is Your world, Lord? How big are You to allow that to happen?

And then there was Alyssa – she was lugging the fullest “Vera Bradley” bag I have seen since Hannah used to fill hers so full! Alyssa was a college freshman at Emanuel College in Boston – it was her first time going home for the weekend and her first time to be riding the subway in downtown Boston by herself. Yikes!! We helped with her bag and I was so thankful to see her get across the street back to her campus. She left us a message on the HHM website telling us she had arrived safely and shared the story of her own mother dying of cancer when she was only 4 years old. Wow, what a small world You have, Lord, what a small world.

We met Janna – a young music teacher in Boston. She teaches theory, appreciation and a myriad of music classes to young children. She had been in town that evening enjoying a delicious meal. When we returned home, I had a message from Janna – what a small world You have Lord, what a small world.

And then on the last subway ride back to the motel the night before we were to leave I sat down beside L?  She is 16 years old and attends an alternative school. L became quite defensive when I asked if she was from Boston – “why do you care?” was her response. When she told me she wasn’t an “ordinary teenager” Mickey quickly responded that we had had three teenagers and all of them were very different. In the moments that followed, I watched the girl behind the hard shell soften a bit – and I shared about my children – all three of them – and about my daughter who lives in heaven now. I pray she will read Hannah’s story and learn of Hannah’s faith.

Over and over this weekend I watched You use Hannah’s life to open doors of opportunity for me to plant little seeds into the lives of young people – it was such a blessing Lord – such a blessing!  Thank You!  You just want us to be available to You – You just want us to plant seeds, don’t You? We may throw seeds that fall on hard or rocky ground and they may get snatched away or we may throw seeds in fertile ground that will take root quickly and grow down deep into Your truth! All You ask us to do is throw seed – You are the One who takes care of the seed and You are the One who waters it where it is planted! Each of us are tiny little parts in the master plan You are working!  You just want us to be faithful in our little part of the plan and You will watch over the fulfillment of the Master Plan!

Oh Jesus, thank You for allowing me to see Your hand everywhere I looked this weekend – help me be a seed planter every day I have breath in my body – allow me to point others to the God of Peace and Joy and perfect Rest!!!  In Your Name, I ask and pray!!  Amen!!

Never Be The Same

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Jesus, it has been an incredible morning – I am overwhelmed by Your grace and goodness! We celebrate Hannah’s 24th birthday today and we stand amazed at how You continue to use her life!  “I am still confident of this, I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord, take heart and wait on the Lord.” Psalm 27:13-14  That is the first scripture You gave me when we headed to Greenville on the morning of May 10th after spending the night in the ER. You have continued to show me Your goodness.

This evening I begin a study on Spiritual Warfare with a dear friend. All morning, as I have been finishing preparations for this evening, I have been receiving messages about Hannah’s birthday and “never being the same.” Your timing is amazing as I knew it would be when I knew the study would begin on Hannah’s birthday! Of course it would!  It is a victory for You Father – that You are allowing me to stand up on this day and Bless Your Name and I do!!  Bless Your Name!!

A dear friend, the co-leader for this study, just sent this to me after receiving an inquiry about Hannah from a friend on facebook. She says it best. Glorify Yourself today Father through my life!  Amen!

i’m curious, who was Hannah to you and how did she change your life Sherree?

Donna, the question is a loaded one and one that I will attempt to answer but words are so inadequate to convey the impact of Hannah on my life.  Let me begin at the beginning.  After I married, Carl and I were in a newly-wed class that met together not only on Sundays but also another night for over 10 years.  These folks were family away from family for us and we went through a plethora of 1st with these folks (Children, miscarriages, stillborn deaths, sickness, death, aging parents, job changes, job loss, financial crisis,…you get the picture).  Really heart friends.  Hannah was the first child born in this group so we all felt as though Hannah was all of ours.  I watched Hannah grow up and our families were extremely close.  When we moved overseas we maintained our ties with the family and going back and forth we always managed to remain close and in each other’s lives.  Debbie, Hannah’s mom and I used to call each other once a week and pray together when I was overseas.  I never will forget the morning when my computer “rang” for our weekly prayer time and Debbie informed me that they had spent the night at the emergency room and that they were getting ready to leave in a few minutes to take Hannah to a dr. in another city b/c they were fearful she had a tumor.  She indeed had a sarcoma, a cancer.  Frustrated (because I couldn’t be there with she and her family to help) and with excessive attention I began to pray and follow her story on Caringbridge.  She had a huge following on her CaringBridge site.  She had surgery, the tumor grew, and she went to M.D. Anderson in Texas for treatment and was given a 1% chance of survival at one point in the ICU. She made a miraculous turn around after the doctors told her parents the news and was out of ICU into a regular room in less than a week after being told she had a less than 1% survival rate.  She recovered enough to return home to adoring friends and family who loved and were attentive to her.  She was elected homecoming queen at her high school and made her way out on the field on her father’s arm to a tearful, roaring crowd on their feet, to accept her crown.  That night after homecoming, she had to return to the hospital (her dr. had released her to go to the homecoming festivities and then to return that night to the hospital).  The doctor told her that her tumor was continuing to grow and there was nothing else they could do.  Hannah, during her whole journey, demonstrated continued faith and trust in God.  The whole community was captivated with her story but what captivated them was her faith through it all.  Her mom Debbie remarked to me several times that even though her physical body was wasting away her spirit was growing stronger and stronger.  Hannah was interviewed by the television station and spoke of how God had carried her thus far and how he was continuing to carry her.  Her mom said that Hannah was frankly surprised by all the publicity and interest in her story and specifically her response to what had happened to her.  Hannah did not question God or blame Him or turn her back on him or deny Him.  She THANKED Him for choosing her and stated, “I just want to know that one person has been impacted by my story.”

So that was the background…how I will never be the same?  I watched from afar this precious young woman go through the fight of her life.  Watching and at the same time having to examine myself and what I really believed about God.  Could He heal?  I know I believed He could, but WOULD He hea?  I mean the stage was set for a miracle, so many people were watching, the odds were so against her, I mean it was a perfect time for God to show his power and to show up BIG!!! What a testimony she would have, how He could use that???   But, what if He didn’t?  He took me through a journey of “What if He didn’t, Was He still Lord of my Life and Did I trust Him?  I delved into His Word, I prayed, I fasted, I sought Him.  I had to make a choice, either I trusted Him or I didn’t. Either I believed what He said in His word or I didn’t.  Everything I had been taught and had come to believe up to that point had suddenly been put in a very personal light and I knew that God was asking me if I Believed Him, if I Trusted Him.  Like I stated before, these are spiritual things spoken from the heart of God (Who is perfect to the heart of a human who is very imperfect).  Trying to communicate them in the form of words and a language are impossible because they are of something not of this world.

Hannah, just a little while before she breathed her last breath told a friend, “Keep believing!”  I have pondered those words and they haunted me for a long time after she went to live in heaven.  “Keep believing” Keep believing what????  What was Hannah telling others to believe?  I came to rest in the fact that Hannah BELIEVED.   Isn’t that what faith is, continually believing?  If it is seen it is not faith.  God through her journey was asking me the same question, Do I believe?  Without putting any qualifiers to the question that was the heart of my faith journey with him.  Do I believe? I came to the conclusion, like I said after much prayer, fasting, reading His Word and listening to His still small voice that I believe! It started in a halting, quivering, quiet voice, “I believe, Lord, help my unbelief.”  I kept on praying it, saying it and what started as a trickle of hope started to then turn into a quiet stream in the desert of my soul.  Sometimes it comes in the torrents of a raging river and I loudly proclaim “I BELIEVE!”  I am present continuing, I am believing.   There are many things in the world that I don’t understand and will never.  He is not asking us to understand them or to make sense out of them.  He is asking the question, do you believe?  It is intensely personal, spoken in and to the heart and expressed in our heartfelt response to His love and all that He has done for us.   As for me a resounding “Yes, I believe!”  And I will NEVER be the same.