Archive for April, 2007

“Hannah’s Hope – A Journey of Faith”

Monday, April 30th, 2007

I bless You Father for new mercies, new compassions, new strength, new joy for a new morning, for a new week and for a new month!  “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  Lam. 3:22,23  Oh Father, I have and continue to experience the greatness of Your faithfulness each day!  I am living and breathing today because of Your faithfulness to me!  I stand of awe of who You are!!  You are Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals, You are the Sufficient One, You are the only one in whom our souls find any rest!   That is absolute truth – based on Your eternal truth!  That is the way You created us!  To find our rest in You and in You alone!  Nothing else will ever satisfy the deepest longings and recesses of our hearts!  We can try many, many things to fill the hole, but nothing will!  The hole in our hearts and in our lives was designed by You, our Creator to be filled by You alone!   Psalm 62:1,5  “My soul finds rest in God alone.  Find rest, O my soul, in God alone: my hope comes from him.”

The reality of that truth is so on my heart this morning as I heard about brokenness in marriages and families again!  Oh Dear Father, teach us who You are!  Show us the reality of living daily in Your truth and by Your precepts!  Your law and Your truth are not to hurt us or to keep us from doing anything that would prosper us!  Psalm 19:10 says Your law, precepts, statutes, commands, ordinances “are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.  By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”  There is great reward from doing things Your way!  You know us best, You love us most!  You desire nothing but our greatest good!  And You give us instruction through Your word to warn us of the evil that is creeping at our doors!  Wake us up, Father!  Wake up Your church!  Do a new thing among us!  Bring us to the place of complete and utter dependence upon You!  Only then, will we find the true meaning of our lives and of the purpose for which You have created us!!  Be the Redeemer, the Restorer, the One who makes all things new in the brokenness we find ourselves in!

I am amazed again at the practicality of Your word!  Every truth we need is there!  The Word of God is our instruction manual for daily living our lives on this earth.  It was the  most amazing discussion this morning with a sister in You about new truth You are revealing to her.   To listen to her “unwrap” this new revelation was so exciting for all of us.  You desire to “unwrap” absolute truth over every single situation in our lives on a day to day basis as we allow You to!  You don’t want to keep us in the dark!  What glory would that bring You?  You tell us Your word lights our path and is a lamp unto our feet!  My hunger to know You and Your word have never been stronger in my life!  I need You the most today!!  I want You to light my path and I don’t want to be on any path that You aren’t lighting!!!  Oh Jesus, help me!!

What an incredible blessing last night was as we had the opportunity to share with the precious body of Christ at Cudd Memorial Baptist Church!  Clay, Hope and Caleb’s church!  What precious and supportive people!  Thank You Father for their lives and their testimonies of who You are!   It was “so You” to allow the first copy of the book, “Hannah’s Hope – A Journey of Faith” to be shown to that congregation!  It had been Fed-Exd to Hope over the weekend and it “just so happened” that we were sharing at her church on Sunday night!  You have used Hope’s life in such an amazing way to bring this book to fruition!  She has done things that we would never have been able to do!  And I thank You for her and ask for Your richest blessings upon her life!  I pray that You will use this book as an instrument in Your hand to do “exceedingly, abundantly above anything that we could ever ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us!  To You be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen!”  Eph. 3:20-21

And then this morning for me, Lord, to have the opportunity to take the book to share with our Moms In Touch group!  How appropriate is that!  You birth Your work on this earth through the prayers of Your people!  I believe this book was birthed because of prayer!  What a privilege You have given us to pray!  Help us pray more and teach us how!  I walked down to Pastor Oliver’s office to share it with him!  We have met in the nursery of that church for 10 years – every week to pray for an hour for our children, our teachers, and our schools!  There is nothing in the entire world I would trade for any of those sacred hours!!  Make us a people of prayer!  Pour out a spirit of prayer among the body of Christ!  In the strong name of Jesus, I pray!!   Amen!

God’s directions are always right, no wrong turns!

Monday, April 30th, 2007

Good morning! For those of you who have followed our site and updates closely, you will not be surprised to hear that when we, the family, went to Gatlinburg this weekend, it was an interesting experience. No, the van did not break down, thank the Lord! But you’re gonna love this story.

Clay and I left Spartanburg Thursday evening to meet Poppy and Grandma Ellen in Gatlinburg. Caleb stayed behind and rode up with Mickey, Deb and Michael on Friday after school. Andrew enjoyed a fun trip to Nashville with the Wolfe family. I printed directions from Yahoo! Maps to the office where we would pick up a key for our cabin. I’ve never been mis-directed by Yahoo! before so I felt confident we’d arrive with no hiccups. For those of you who know me well, I have to have directions, organization, etc. or else I’m all out of sorts…

It was 7:00 p.m. when we arrived in Gatlinburg so we decided to eat dinner before picking up the key. We met Poppy and Grandma Ellen at Applewood Restaurant at light #10 in Gatlinburg. These details are significant to the story so pay attention. To get to light #10 when coming in on Hwy. 321, you turn left onto 441 at light #3 just as you get into Gatlinburg. We enjoyed a nice meal and spent quality time with Mr. and Mrs. Houchins getting “caught up”. I pulled out our directions to refresh our memory and sure enough, to get to Ski Mountain Road it directed us to turn right onto 441 off of 321 and go 1 mile. Turn right and go .6 of a mile. So we left light #10, drove back through the town of Gatlinburg to the other end heading into Pigeon Forge. As we passed Hwy. 321 at light #3 we started clocking 1 mile. There are no right turns at the 1 mile mark or within a few tenths of that mile in either direction. As we passed light #1 and headed into the small stretch of National Forest between the two towns, we noticed that there was no road name at the light. So after turning around a couple of times still diligently looking for Ski Mountain Road on the right (and left at this point), we decided to turn at light #1. We drove for close to a mile and there was no sign of an office (or anything else related to civilization). We turned around, went back to the intersection of Hwy. 321 and again drove 25 miles an hour back toward Pigeon Forge (the directions told us to turn right!) and could not find Ski Mountain Road. Clay said, “Ski Mountain Road sounds so familiar. I’ve seen it somewhere, it’s gotta be here.” After much deliberation and frustration and several gallons of gas later, we stopped at the Exxon station at the corner of light #1 and 441. The nice clerk said, “Oh, Ski Mountain Road is light #10 in Gatlinburg.” Yes, we had spent an hour and a half eating at the corner of Ski Mountain Road and 441. We had no reason to look at the road name, we knew where Applewood was. We had a good laugh about backtracking to where we had begun our evening, Poppy refueled his Jeep and we returned to Ski Mountain Road at light #10.

From there the directions were accurate, we turned right, traveled .6 of a mile and there was the office. By this point they were closed and had been for over an hour but there in the “Late Arrival” box was our check-in package with directions to the cabin. You guessed it! The directions sent us to light #1! By this point, I had gotten over the fact that all had gone awry and we laughed and laughed.

The story doesn’t end there. The directions led us to turn right at the Exxon station, travel .6 of a mile and turn left onto a gravel road. Remember I referred to “no civilization” when we traveled this road 30 minutes prior. While traveling back to light #1, I opened the packet of “goodies” and the first thing that jumped off the page in the darkness was a picture of two snakes, a copperhead and a rattlesnake. That page was a warning that these snakes are “common” in the mountains of Tennessee. Gotta love those warnings. After freaking out from the pictures alone, I flipped the page and staring dead into my eyes was a picture of a big black bear! Warning: if you come in contact with a bear, DO NOT FEED HIM OR APPROACH HIM IN ANYWAY. MAKE LOUD NOISES, DO NOT RUN BUT SLOWLY BACK AWAY. Well, great. I said to Clay, “Are snakes and bears a common problem? They must be sending us into the forest!”

Back to the directions…Follow the gravel road to the 4th cabin on the left. Guys, when I tell you we were traveling up the side of a mountain, “up” doesn’t scratch the surface for description of this steep, gutted, trench-filled, no gravel dirt road. The incline was so steep, so narrow, and so winding that we feared we would lose a transmission. Poppy’s jeep is 4-wheel drive so he was not as concerned as we were, but nonetheless he wasn’t jumping for joy either. At one point I looked to my right and spotted a cabin that looked just like the one I had rented on the internet. Clay said, “That can’t be it. It’s not on the left.” Good point. So we continued to trudge UPward. After close to a mile of mountain climbing, we decided to turn around in a driveway that was no wider than Clay’s truck, Poppy passed this driveway and was sitting almost in a 90 degree position waiting for us to back up and head back down this mountain. At this point, we were all in agreement that this elevation was too much anyway so if we did find the cabin, it would only be a one night’s stay. We finally got turned around, started back DOWN, with both vehicles in the lowest gear available and we passed, now on our left, the cabin that looked like the one I booked online. I said to Clay, “Honey, I’m telling you that’s our cabin. It looks just like the one on the internet.” “It can’t be. It’s on the wrong side of the road.” Good point. So we passed it, again. No street lights (of course not, there was no street!), no lights of any kind. It was pitch dark out there, but we weren’t lost keep in mind. We knew exactly where we were. We just didn’t know where the cabin was! So we turned around in another “wide” area and Clay agreed to take me back up the hill to the cabin that is on the wrong side of the road according to our directions. Instead of turning in (for fear he’d have to turn around again), Clay stopped in the road, again facing upward in an almost 90 degree angle, and suggested that I get out and walk to the cabin and see if it had a name on it. No lights, no headlights because they were shining into the sky, no flashlight, and the warning of copperheads, rattlesnakes and black bears. I was having a wonderful time! So I got out, said my prayers, and slowly made my way to the cabin. Sure enough! Brandon’s Pointe, the name of the cabin that I reserved online, was plastered on the side of this cabin that is the 4th one on the RIGHT! You’ll be glad to know that I did not encounter any of the beasts and serpents that I was warned about. But I was making loud noises just in case. We spent the rest of the weekend laughing about our “experiences” and every time I stepped out of the cabin, which was absolutely beautiful by the way and overlooked, and I do mean OVERlooked Gatlinburg, I shouted and made lots of loud noises. What a great time we had. Mickey, Deb and the boys arrived with an uneventful trip on Friday evening and God blessed us with a relaxing, refreshing weekend. But the reminder of Hannah’s absence was very real and very sobering. We so miss her.

Aren’t you glad that God’s directions can be printed out and framed, knowing that they never change, they never lead you in the wrong direction. He knows His right from His left and His Son sits on His right hand side interceding for you and me. While we make wrong turns in life, trust the wrong source for directions sometimes, and receive gentle reminders of how the internet is not fool-proof, we can believe that God has it all together! He will direct our paths. Trust Him today with all of your decisions, heartaches, failures, and disappointments. God’s directions are always right, no wrong turns!

“Teach me your way, O LORD; lead me in a straight path…” (Psalm 27:11).

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105).

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5 & 6).

Have a blessed Monday.

Hope   

 

What a privilege we have to carry, everything to God in Prayer!!!

Friday, April 27th, 2007

Oh Father, what a beautiful morning!  What a glorious day!  The heavens declare Your glory!  Praise and worship You Father!   The only one worthy of our praise!  You are God and God alone – all by Yourself!   “Who among the gods is like You, O Lord?  Who is like You?  Majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders!  In Your unfailing love, You will lead the people You have redeemed!” Ex. 15:11,13

 

What a precious morning of prayer for our missionaries!  Oh Father, it will never be by our might or by our power, but only by Your Spirit that we see You work in ways that amaze us!  Zech. 4:6  Oh Father, show us Your power and Your might by Your Spirit! Pour Yourself out upon our land, forgive us Father for being so self-everything – self-centered, self-sufficient, self-consumed!  Show us Yourself in our country, in our state, in Spartanburg, in Roebuck, in our churches, in our schools, in our workplaces, in our homes – everywhere we look, allow us to see You – make Yourself known!  Pour out on us a spirit of prayer and supplication!  Zech. 12:10  It just now dawns on me that these two scriptures are in the same book of the Bible – Zechariah!  Could there be a correlation between a spirit of prayer and supplication being poured out and Your spirit being loosed!  Absolutely, there must be!  “If my people, which are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land!” II Chron. 7:14 Oh Father, your recipe for healing is for the body of Christ – me – to seek Your face and pray! 

 

I had the privilege to pray with a precious lady who is serving in Cambodia!  She and her husband have seven children!  Her daughter was there and prayed with us – she will be a freshman at North Greenville this fall!  How interesting that I was able to pray with that mother and daughter.  A college freshman – I could identify with that mother’s heart of letting her daughter go – in a different way but being separated nonetheless!  Oh Jesus, guard each of their hearts, protect them and hold them close!  Allow this young lady to be used as a trophy of Your grace in an amazing way!  Allow her (not just her parents experience) to “have power together with all the saints to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.  That she might be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”  Eph. 3:16-18  For every struggle and need that only You know about, meet those in a way only You can!

 

I also had the privilege to pray with a grandmother who is serving in India!  And oh Father, I so desire to go a place where Your spirit is being poured out in an amazing way!  To be under the “glory flow” of Your presence!  You are doing that in India!  Your spirit has shown up and You are drawing men and women and boys and girls to Yourself!  Many times through hard persecution – death, in some instances, for being associated with Your name.  But, Oh Father, those people know You in ways that we don’t and need to!  I thank You for she and her husband and the living sacrifice of their lives on the altar for the cause of  Christ!  Let them taste just a glimpse of their eternal reward and encourage their hearts!  When we finished praying, she said to please pray for her heart as a grandmother who will be separated from her grandchildren.  Once again, I could identify with being separated from those you love so desperately!  Give us a glimpse, Father, of how quickly this life will pass and how quickly we will be together forever with You in heaven!  Every time she thinks of them and misses them, allow her to turn that to prayers on their behalf!   Those grandchildren cannot be separated from her prayers!  They will pursue them forever!  Thank You for allowing me to pray with these ladies this morning!

 

And then Mallory, Lord!  She has been our girl for a long time!  She was in our KY mission group for 4 years and our superintendent for one of those!  She went with Hannah and I on the trip to Turkey in the summer of 2004.  Hannah loved her so much, looked up to her and respected her.  She was a great role model for Hannah!  It was cool for Hannah to be with her in Turkey – it wasn’t as cool for Hannah to be with her mom!  Ha!!  Mallory goes alone but Oh Father she won’t ever be alone – You will never, ever leave her side and she is going to come to know You in ways that few of us ever will!  Grow her, Lord, use her life as the aroma of Christ as though You were making Your appeal through her.  It blesses my heart so much to know that she is going to be near friends.  I know You will use her life to bless theirs and vice-versa!  Direct her every step!  May her heart be a reflection of Your heart!  “As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.” Prov.  27:19  Help her to know that “The Lord is her light and her salvation – she doesn’t have to fear!  The Lord is the stronghold of her life – she doesn’t have to be afraid.”  Psalm 27:1  May she seek as David did “that she may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of her life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord, and to seek him in his temple.”  Allow her to know that “in the day of trouble, Your will keep her safe in Your dwelling and You will hide her in the shelter of Your tabernacle and set her high upon a rock.”  Ps. 27:4  “Teach her your way, O Lord; lead her in a straight path.”  Ps. 27:11

 

You are an amazing God and it is such a blessing to be Your child!!  Dr. Wilton used one of my favorite scriptures at the commissioning service Wed. nite – I John 3:1  “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called the children of God and that is what we are!”  Thank You Father for choosing us to be called Your children!!

How significant is your dash?

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

Hannah Marie Sobeski, September 12, 1988 - November 9, 2006

I’m sure many of you have heard the story of the dash. The dates above do not hold a lot of significance to many other than Hannah’s family and close friends. On September 12, 1988 Hannah was born, a very important date for her parents and family. November 9, 2006 Hannah took her last breath on earth and her first breath in Heaven. A date that the family will forever remember.

But what is significant is what Hannah did between those two dates, that’s where the dash comes in. Last night Dr. Steve Corso, Hannah’s oncologist and a very intricate member of our Board of Directors was at our house and we discussed the fact that Hannah had it figured out. We, the family, may not have done everything right. We may not have reacted the way we should have at all times, we may not have always had the right attitude or outlook. We may not have handled Hannah’s illness exactly as we should at all times. Hannah, on the other hand, was very content in the place God had positioned her. For an 18-year-old beautiful girl to accept such a journey with grace, optimism, love, kindness, contentment and incredible faith, you know she had her relationship with God down pat. Hannah’s dash holds great significance to many and will for years to come.

Mickey, Hannah’s dad, said just after Hannah went to Heaven, “Hannah taught us how to live, she taught us how to suffer, and she taught us how to die”. This ties in well with the DVD series of the book of Daniel that we viewed last night in our Bible Study. Beth Moore challenged us that we are a dot on the time line of God’s plan. What are we doing with that dot? Lying in bed last night I thought of all Steve Corso had said about Hannah and the impact she clearly had on his life, and I thought of my life. Then I thought of the story of the dash. How significant is my dash? I pray that the dash will hold far more significance to my family when I’m gone than the date of my birth and the date of my death.

How significant is your dash?

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

Hope   

Deep Seated Faith Equals a Very Purposeful Life!

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

                                
Lord, I just love it when You give me a new truth or bring light to something You have written on my heart previously!  You just continue to amaze me!  This morning, I asked You to speak to my heart and give me a word from You!  You never fail me!  You want me to ask You for new and deeper truth each day!  And so this morning, Lord, as I was reading the 116 Psalm – there it was!  I had never seen it before but this time it matched something You had given me through Hannah’s KY Mission Testimony (II Cor. 4:13) and it grabbed my heart!  
 

The psalmist said in Psalm 116:10  “I believed.  Therefore I said.”  Another version says, “I kept on believing, even when I said, “I am completely crushed,” even when I was afraid and said, “No one can be trusted.”  The psalmist’s faith did not falter, even in the moment of his deepest agony, or when men proved how untrustworthy they were.  What He said was born out of deep conviction and faith in his own heart. 
 

The apostle Paul says in II Cor. 4:13  “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”   Paul had been speaking of the weakness of our human bodies.  Paul wasn’t defeated and discouraged because of his weaknesses.   His faith enabled him to go on preaching the gospel, because he knew that beyond the sufferings of this life were unspeakable glories.  Paul trusted in the Lord, and therefore what he said was the result of his deep-seated faith.  Paul had the same spirit of faith which the Psalmist had when he uttered those words.   The afflictions and persecutions of Paul’s life did not seal his lips.  Wherever there is true faith, there must be the expression of it.  It cannot be silent! 
 
How incredible is that!  Oh, Father, loose our tongues to sing Your praises!!
It reminds me also of the scripture that “Out of the heart, the mouth speaks.”  Matthew 12:35  A heart filled with goodness will be evidenced by words of grace and righteousness.  You allowed me to share two times on Tuesday and both times I played Hannah’s 3 minute interview clip.  It was 6 days before she came to live with you.  She believed and therefore she spoke.  She didn’t speak about how hard her journey had been or how weak her physical body was or that she had been slighted in any way.  Rather, she proclaimed the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  She knew that beyond the sufferings of this life were unspeakable glories.  That was why she could speak!   She had deep seated convictions based upon the eternal word of God!
 

You give each of us the opportunity to live out our lives on this earth with deep seated convictions based on the eternal truth of the Word of God!  And that is what gives purpose and fulfillment to our lives!!   Without deep seated faith in the Lord our lives can have no meaning or purpose!  Oh, Father, allow the convictions of my heart and faith to grow deeper each and every day as You continue to reveal Yourself to me!
 

Father, the little birds are so adorable!  They are singing so very loudly!  A chorus of praise and adoration to You!  I’m afraid to water the pansies anymore!  I told You in the beginning that I would take care of the pansies if You would take care of the baby birds!  You are holding up Your end of the deal!  The birds are doing great – the pansies are struggling!  I can’t water them for fear of hurting the birds!!   Another picture of Your ever present faithfulness to me!  You always keep Your covenant with me even when I fail!  Thank You Father for taking care of these little ones! 
 

And when I stepped out the back door yesterday, my eye fell on the Rhododendron bush!  It is absolutely beautiful!  Big red blooms!  It declares Your glory!  There were 5 blooms on one “vine.”  It made me think about the vine and the branches!  Is it true that the stronger the vine becomes in our lives, the greater the fruit that will be borne?  It seemed a natural picture!  As You become more and more at home in our lives, the fruit we produce will increase!  I desire for that to be true in my life, Lord!!  I want a deep connection to the vine – Jesus!
 

Another beautiful picture You have painted for me this week was at the lovely dinner on Tuesday evening!  Every table had been set and decorated by a different lady.  They had brought their finest china and set a table fit for a king!  It made me think about what the feast table of The King must look like!  How incredible to ponder!  Give us hearts to anticipate Your table and being with You – the Shepherd – the One whose voice always leads correctly!
 

Thank You for the devotion Andrew shared at FCA this morning – he talked about Job!  He ended by sharing that “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”  It now comes to me that was just like David and Paul – despite their circumstances they kept their face looking toward the goal!!  Help me today to keep my face looking toward the goal – the feast table of the King!!   In the strong name of Jesus, I pray!  Amen!
     

God will come through…

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

I was reading Isaiah chapter 25 today and it spoke so boldly to me. The first verse says, “O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago.” This sarcoma diagnosis that we faced with Hannah almost a year ago did not just happen. God had our “things” planned long ago. His faithfulness is perfect. While in our finite minds we thought of His faithfulness as healing Hannah on this earth, He had so much more planned. He has done marvelous things and we continue to marvel at His great works every day.

Verse 8 reminds us that “he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces…”

I’m sure if you’ve read Deb’s update from Monday you know that these next few weeks will be great opportunities for God to come through. We know He will carry Mickey, Deb and the boys through all of the senior activities and they will come out on the other side saying, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us” (Isaiah 25:9). He has come through every day, every hour, every minute for us and He will come through again.

Thank you for holding us up through these very difficult days and weeks. We pray that God will bless you exponentially (don’t you like that word!) for your faithfulness to pray for us. Have a blessed day.

Hope  

If ever I love Him, it’s now…

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

I just returned from a 3 night 4 day trip to Orlando, FL and had a great time with my sister and our 9-year-old niece, Carli. Carli is my niece on my side of the family and is the daughter of my youngest sister, Leigh. Carla (one of my sisters) and I took Carli to Orlando for a boom-doggle trip and we had a blast. There were so many times that I referred to Hannah at that age. When Clay and I got married, Hannah was a junior bridesmaid in the wedding and she had just turned 10. Carli is very mature like Hannah always was, loves to shop, do her nails, get in to my make-up, use my hairspray, wear my jewelry, everything that Hannah did at that age. My heart was warmed by Carli’s fun spirit, yet ached for the loss of Hannah.

This was Carli’s first flight so she was a little apprehensive on Saturday. But when we left the ground and began our ascent, her eyes widened and she plastered her nose to the window where it stayed much of the flight, saying rather frequently, “This is way cool.” We took pictures of her looking out the window with her little pig tails standing up. I remembered my last flight which was to Las Vegas on October 21, my birthday. Dr. Corso has talked to me the night before and told me that he did not think Hannah would make it three more weeks. I so remember the flight to Vegas, the sobering reality of where we were in Hannah’s journey, and I remember specifically a conversation I had with God on that flight. It was one that I had had several times previously. God, if you do not heal Hannah, what are we going to say to all those who have prayed so hard and believed with us that you were going to heal Hannah on this earth for your glory? What will we say to the non-believers who are so skeptical anyway? What do I tell them about my faith? And the song My Jesus I Love Thee came to my mind, the particular line of “If ever I love thee, My Jesus tis now”. I had already sung that same line back in July when things were dim. I sang it then and continue to sing it now, meaning every word of it. God did not answer our prayer the way we wanted Him to, but you know what? If there has ever been a time that I love the Lord and want to serve Him with boldness and conviction for what I believe, it’s now. He has proven to be so much more than just a God who can heal cancer. He is my all and all, on Whom I depend for everything.

I had an opportunity to share with a lady Concierge at the resort where we stayed in Orlando. We have a time-share thingy and she was reviewing our activity record over the last year. She said, “I see you stayed at the resort in Gatlinburg back in April 2006 but then there was no activity until December 10th. Did you not take advantage of your vacation time last year?” You can imagine I stepped right through that door that swung open wide. I told her all about Hannah and what we did for months. She was in awe of the entire story. Then as I was signing my “I’ve listened to your spill for an hour now give me my incentive money so I can leave” form, she said, “That bracelet is absolutely beautiful. Did you make it?” Then before I could even answer her she said, “I have a feeling it has something to do with Hannah.” That was pretty amazing. I shared the Hannah’s Hope bracelet story with her, gave her a Hannah’s Hope Ministries brochure and asked her to please visit our website.

As I left there today, this song came to me again. How can I sit across the table from a total stranger and share about God’s love and that He has a plan and purpose for our lives yet tell her in the same breath that He chose not to heal my niece from cancer and she is now in heaven at age 18? It’s all about the work that He set out to do in my heart, in all of our hearts. My Jesus I love Thee, I know thou art mine. For thee all the follies of sin I resign. My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou. If ever I love Thee, my Jesus tis now.

So things didn’t turn out the way we had hoped, and life continues on without Hannah. Little “things” constantly pop up to remind us of the joy that Hannah brought to our lives. Are we really okay with all of this? Do we really continue to serve Christ regardless? If ever I love Him, it’s now…

“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:7-14).

Hope

Because You live. . . I can face tomorrow!!

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

Oh Father, I stand once again amazed in Your presence!  You are an amazing God!  I began yesterday morning with some “stuff” on my heart and mind – yucky stuff – stuff left over from the day before – stuff I was having trouble with and so I gave it all to You!  I wrote it all in my journal and told You exactly how I was feeling!  I don’t scare You, do I?  I can tell You all my “stuff” and You just listen to me – I am so thankful!   And then You don’t just listen, You work on my behalf to answer the cries of my heart!   You don’t leave me stuck in my “stuff.”  You take each little bit of “stuff” and You work through it with me! You never cease to amaze me! 

I shared with our 11th grade SS class that I woke up feeling like Elijah (that was our lesson) yesterday morning.  I was feeling “lonely.”  Elijah, in I Kings 18, had just had the most incredible victory of having the sacrifice he offered to God completely consumed after having watched the god of Baal fail at the same task. (A great read)   He had been on the mountaintop with You and You had shown up in his life!  And then just a little time later, he was all alone, feeling sorry for himself and the focus was all on him.  That is where I get in trouble, isn’t it?  Focus on me – recipe for disaster – focus on You – recipe for success!   Oh help me learn that!  And I shared how I had poured out my heart to You this morning and one of the scriptures You gave me was Job 23:10   “He knows the way I take . . . (You know my way, don’t You Lord?)  and when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.”  It gave me great comfort yesterday morning to be reminded that You know the way I take.   My way is never hidden from You!   My heart is never hidden from You or my “stuff.”  You delight in taking my “stuff” and making beautiful things from it!  And You did that again for me yesterday!

The music in the service was beautiful, Lord!  It was “heaven” music!  Mickey loves Southern Gospel and there are a lot of  SG “heaven” songs!  “Heaven” songs for us are now at the top of the list!  Steve’s father had come to live with You this week and I know “heaven” songs were fresh on his heart and mind!  “I bowed on my knees and cried Holy,”  “When we all get to heaven,”  “No more night!”  The reality of Heaven has become so precious and so sweet for us!  I anticipate heaven and long for it!   I believe that blesses Your heart!   I am, as a follower of Jesus Christ, a citizen of heaven.  This world is not my home!  Wow, how we have been reminded of that again this week through another tragedy in our country.  You are a God who will bring light out of darkness – the stage and opportunity for You to display Your glory in the lives of Your people has been set this week!  Oh, Father, You know all about everything that is going on in our world!  Use this new tragedy to bring many lives to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.   The hole in each of our hearts will only be filled by a “living” Lord and Savior!!   Comfort and speak peace over the families whose lives have “in an instant” been changed forever. 

We had a guest speaker in the service and he talked about You, the “shepherd.”  I was listening, Lord!  You have been speaking to me about the Shepherd all week – about hearing his voice and being obedient to Him in John chapter 10.  He also encouraged us to be the ones who go with Jesus climbing up the mountain in John 4:35b.  It reminds me of something You wrote on my heart at FCA camp a couple summers ago through Ken Smith.  You are always wanting Your disciples to “fish deeper.”  I hope I never forget that!  “Fish deeper” – that is what I desire to do – I want to go deeper into the reality of who You are – I want to know You more!  Thank You for setting my heart right again yesterday Lord!  Thank You for never giving up on me!

We spent the afternoon at Cleveland Park with FCA coaches and families!  What a beautiful day and a precious time!  The speaker challenged us to place 1) our relationship with You first in our lives and 2) our relationship with our families second.  He drew a beautiful chalk drawing – a heaven scene!  Oh Father, raise up Godly men and women to coach in our schools.  So many kids are growing up without role models!  Allow the coaches You have placed in their positions to be counted for righteousness – nothing else they do will count or matter in the eternal scheme of things!  And nothing else they give those kids will last them!

The sweetest thing You did for me at the picnic was to allow me the privilege to meet several folks who had prayed for Hannah and continue to pray for our family.  One, in particular, a precious mother, 72 years old, who has a daughter in heaven with You!  The daughter was killed in a car accident when she was just 9 years and 7 months old.  The mother shared with me that the daughter would be 50 years old now!  She has been in heaven with You 41 years – earth time!  And this mother shared that everyday for all of these years, she has thought about her daughter!  I have wondered if I will think about Hannah everyday for the rest of my life and yes, I think I will!  She is always on my mind and that is perfectly fine and normal!  It’s Ok.  A life that has touched, shaped and molded my own life so profoundly – I will never get over or be the same!  Thank You for bringing her into my path yesterday and bless this precious lady who is helping raise two beautiful young grandsons! 

And then yesterday evening arriving at church to take Andrew and pick up Mickey and Michael!  I had no idea what You had planned!  It was probably best that way!  Ms. Jimmie met me at the car and encouraged me to join them for the “Decorate your dorm room” Senior night with the girls.  Oh, boy!  I had seen that date at one time but it had rolled off my list as something I wouldn’t need to attend and that seemed a little too hard!  Mickey encouraged me but left it up to me.   They had something they wanted to give me in honor of Hannah.  I swallowed hard, thought about Michael’s D-group at my own house and how I could be loving on those boys.  But You drew me there and so I slowly stepped out of the car and said OK.  I went up the stairs to wash my hands and knelt in the floor of the bathroom and told You I was going to need courage.  You have just recently written on my heart that every act of obedience “takes courage” and “makes courage.”  It was such a precious evening!  I love those girls!  They know it!  I’m not playing games with them!  I taught many of them in Kindergarten SS – we learned the books of the bible together.  Some of them came to my house when they were 6th graders to have a pre-D group with Aunt Hope.  How amazing is that!  And then many of them were in our 11th grade SS class last year!  We are and always will be connected by a deep root!  Roots don’t just “go away.”

At the end Ms. Karyn presented me with a “gold” box in honor of Hannah.  Everyone of the girls got a “silver” box.  They were each encouraged to save the gift You have given to them (their purity and lives) for the Prince Charming You will bring into their lives someday!   Hannah has already received her crown of righteousness – she has run her race, finished her course and won her “gold” prize.   James 1:12. 

They gave me the privilege to pray for the girls at the end.  I shared about meeting my new friend yesterday and how that some 40 years later, she is still thinking about her daughter.  I told them that they don’t need to protect me – You are doing that – that any time they are having a “Hannah” moment, that I am probably having one also.  It is such a blessing for me to talk about Hannah.   She didn’t just “go away” when she left this earthly residence!  I shared the 23rd Psalm with them t
hat You are continuing to write on my heart! 

I had been praying about all this “senior” stuff and how we would deal with it!  Would we hide somewhere on the back pew or just not show up or what?  Last night, You showed me and told me through other mothers, that no, we will walk right through this senior “stuff.”   We will experience every part and that too will be healing for our hearts!  And You and they will walk right beside us!  We don’t have to be afraid!   

Thank You for listening to all my “stuff.”  Thank You for meeting me right where I am.  Thank You for continuing to take us “step by step.”  Thank You for the flowers Zach sent in remembrance of last years prom that I was able to share with Hannah yesterday.  Thank You for a phone call that invited us to the “taking of prom pictures Sat. evening.”  Thank You for the note of encouragement that said at 4:45 Saturday evening I just had you on my heart!  That was You, Lord,  You are covering each of us and I bless Your name!!!   Because You live, I can face this new day!!       

“My sheep hear my voice”

Friday, April 20th, 2007

My heart, this morning, Lord, is so full!  I am as desperate for You today as I have been for the last year and You are still meeting me!  And for that I bless Your name!  I have come to You again and again out of my desperation and every single time, You meet me at the point of my desperation!  I am watching You heal me and it is a cool thing to be aware of the process of Your healing!  I know that it will be a journey that I will probably be on for the rest of my life but for today, Lord, I thank You for You hand upon my life!

I have been pondering the things that You desire for me to share on Tuesday evening with precious ladies that You will bring.  Oh Dear Jesus, I pray for each of them even this morning – Lord, prepare each of our hearts to hear from You!   As You are continuing to shed light on Your truth in my own heart, shed Your light over each precious life that will be in attendance Tuesday evening!  It is for my own heart and healing that You are allowing me opportunities to share!  It makes me look deeper and seek You more passionately!   Even that is bringing healing to my heart!

 

And Oh Father, I am so excited about what You are writing on my heart!  You are allowing me to see deeper realities of the places I have been.  You have awakened me early the last two mornings with the 23rd Psalm at the forefront of my heart and mind!  And oh, what precious truths!  What new depth I see in them even today.  On September 27, 1996, I have penned in my bible beside the 23rd Psalm. . .

 

“With praise to God for being so faithful to reveal Himself to me.  After studying I Samuel it finally click about being in the presence of enemies, head being anointed with oil – Saul, Samuel  -  He’s guiding me in these paths for His name’s sake to reveal His character to me.”  You had just shown me about how David had been anointed in the presence of his enemy, Saul, by Samuel.  I had recited the 23rd Psalm since childhood but You  were teaching me what it meant!  Today, You are teaching me again anew what it means to hear the Shepherd’s voice and only the Shepherd’s voice.   And oh Father, I want to hear Your voice and Yours alone and I want to know the depths of the 23rd Psalm. 

 

You have taken me back through parts of my prayer journal over the last two weeks that I have not dared to open up until this point.  I haven’t read it all but I am thankful for the parts You have allowed me to read.  Watching You at work in my heart and life “through the valley of the shadow of death,” is quite amazing.  I know at some point You will bring me great healing through these journals and You will allow me to see the process You took my own heart through.  They are the desperate cries of a mother’s heart for her child.

This morning, I was reading in April of last year – “Prom weekend – 4/18/06 – “Prom tomorrow – Morgan coming tonight – Oh Dear Jesus, give me wisdom, strength, direction, guidance in my day – house, outside, order my steps – let me soar on Your wings – raise me up in Your strength to be equal to the tasks before me today – Speak to me thru’ Your word-

4/22/06 – Jr. Prom, WOW – Keri’s wedding, Morgan, ballgames, rain, supper, Brandon and Blair’s shower tomorrow, pictures – Oh Dear Jesus, make this a good, great day of celebrating You and giving you thanks – Protection, blessing – Oh Dear Jesus speak to me from Your word “Sanctify them by the truth – Your word is truth”

Lord Jesus, I pray for purity in mind and body; protection and safety in the cars as they travel – strength for the Kinard’s and blessing –

God, speed this morning as they decorate – pictures, wisdom on where to go”

Hannah had gone to decorate for the prom on Saturday morning – she had a long list for the day and wanted to “finish decorating” so she could get her hair and nails done!  It was a great day, she had a grand time and never in all of the world would I have imagined that she wouldn’t be attending her Sr. Prom this weekend.  But You knew, didn’t You, Lord?  Maybe that is why it was such a wonderful celebration last year because You knew that this year she would be dancing with You!   You celebrate with her this year, Lord!  Make it a memorable weekend for her and tell her that we are enjoying the memories of last years prom.  She went with a group from church to the Kinard’s home after the prom last year – funny now to look back and see my prayers for their family a year ago and wow what You have brought about in each of our families this year has been quite amazing.  Bless the Kinards this day – strengthen Andrew’s body and allow him to declare the praises of who You are for the rest of his life.  Encourage his heart today, Lord!

Bless the lives of Hannah’s friends this weekend, protect them and allow them to dance like there is no tomorrow!

That would bless Hannah’s heart!!  I know she is dancing!

 

The Shepherd’s voice – that was the voice we have desired to hear through this whole journey – and it is the voice I desire to hear today.  As I was looking for something else this morning, I ran across this 23d Psalm paraphrased. . .

 

“I am your shepherd -You will never have need of anything that I want for you

If you trust me, and allow me to be the shepherd of your life, I will give to you such great peace of mind that it will be like lying in the cool green grass of a springtime meadow; And as you learn to deepen your love and trust, a quietness will come over your soul, like a serene, calm lake.

It will be a time of great refreshment to your inner man thus preparing you to do whatever tasks I set before you.  And do not minimize any task that I give you to do as it is for my honor and glory, not yours.

There will be times when, because of my great love for you it will be necessary for me to lead you into great darkness. . . . . Darkness that will be so great that you will feel as though you are standing at the very edge of life, with death awaiting you below. 

But always remember, I am still your shepherd.  In the darkness you may not be able to see me, but you have my eternal promise that I will never leave you or forsake you.

If you will continue to trust me, even after you have been through a time of darkness, I will again flood your heart with such peace that you could even sit down with your enemies. 

Your joy will be so great that it will spill over into the lives of others.   And as your reward I will give to you all the really important things of life.  When you have completed all that I have planned for you to do on earth, I want you to come up and live with me forever and ever and ever.”

 

Thank You Father, for reminding me once again that Hannah had completed all that You had planned for her to do on earth and that today she is living with You and will forever and ever and ever. . . . And I will too!   Amen.

Step by step He leads me…

Friday, April 20th, 2007

It is not by leaps and bounds that we heal or that we grow or that we do anything in our Christian walk. It is step by step. God doesn’t allow us to jump ahead at all, He wants us to trust Him with every step. I woke this morning with this song by Michael W. Smith on my heart…

Oh God, You are my God
Oh God, You are my God
And I will ever praise You

I will seek You in the morning
And I will learn to walk in Your ways
And step by step You’ll lead me
And I will follow You all of my days

There is comfort in knowing that if we start out our day in conversation with Him, He will lead us throughout the day. Again, He won’t allow us to jump ahead to the evening to avoid any calamities, but rather He leads our every step. Seek Him today and know that He is God, praise Him for Who He is! I love the Psalms. There are so many references to spending time with God in the morning. There must be something to that! Start your day with Him, and you’ll find it’s easy to spend the entire day with Him.

“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90:14).

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul” (Psalm 143:8).

“In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation” (Psalm 5:3).

Step by step He leads me…

Hope