Archive for September, 2008

Our source for satisfaction…

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days…May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us – yes, establish the work of our hands” (Psalm 90:14 & 17).

If we allow God to satisfy us with His unfailing love first thing every morning, we will sing for joy the rest of the day. And if we allow God to satisfy us with His unfailing love first thing every morning, His favor will rest on us throughout the day. And if we allow God to satisfy us with His unfailing love first thing every morning, He will establish the work of our hands throughout the day. It rained much of the day here in Chicago yesterday so I kept my nose to the grindstone. I had planned to take yesterday and do some shopping and sight seeing because I worked until really late Friday night, all day Saturday and much of the day Sunday making sure everything with the ministry was at a place that I could afford to be gone for 10 days. But because it rained, I stayed in the hotel room and worked. I turned the TV on about mid-morning just for the noise and for hours all I heard was the bailout and the stock market and whose fault it was and what political party could have prevented it and what impact this is going to have on the election and whether or not we’ll have $$ to purchase the gas that’s finally dropping in price, and on and on and on. If we’re depending on our circumstances or our government or our political parties or our investments to satisfy our souls, we’re in a heap of trouble! But if we allow God’s unfailing love, a love that’s never shaken, a love that doesn’t drop when the market does, a love that doesn’t switch sides when the parties do not vote His way, a love that is steady and firm and steadfast even when nothing else in our life is, we’ll find that we will sing for joy and be glad all day long – even when the only news on the airways is bad news.

God is our bailout plan, He is our greatest Investor, He is our refuge and our fortress. He will never fail us. God is our source for satisfaction…

Happy 17th Birthday to my little Cay-Cay! I love you, kid! Alexia and the ladies at Carolina Pregnancy Center are going to take care of him for me today. Save me a piece of that cake, Joy! Then my Mom is making his favorite meal for dinner, her delicious biscuits and gravy. Yep, breakfast for supper. I love you guys and thanks for standing in the gap for me.

I’m going to take a few hours and find some outlet malls. Have a great day!

Hope

 

Don’t miss opportunities…

Monday, September 29th, 2008

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity” (Colossians 4:5).

On Friday I was rushing from one point to another desperately trying to get it all in before leaving town for 10 days. I jumped on the elevator in the Gibbs Cancer Center and a young lady got on with me. I am so guilty of watching the numbers light up as I ride the elevator, my mind racing to my next thing to do and not chatting at all. But there was something about that lady that prompted me to talk to her. All I said was, “You have the prettiest face.” She looked up at me and her eyes immediately filled with tears. She said, “You don’t know how bad I needed to hear that. I don’t feel very pretty. I just recently divorced and I found out this morning that my ex-husband married his mistress last night.” Woe! I wasn’t expecting that one. I told her I was sorry and she said just a couple of more things and then I said, “You are a beautiful lady. Don’t forget that. I’m sorry you’re heart is breaking. I’ll be praying for you.” The doors opened, others got on and I got off. As the doors closed behind me, I prayed that I said just enough, not too much and not too little. I thought of so many things I could have said had I had time. That young lady was broken and I had no idea. All I knew was that I felt a strong urge to speak to her.

So here I am in Downers Grove, IL on the outskirts of Chicago and I imagine that there will be many opportunities for me to share hope today. I prayed this morning that not only would I not miss any of those opportunities, but that I would look for them. Dear Jesus, don’t let me run from one stop to another, pass the hotel concierge or the housekeeper or the desk attendant or a guest without sharing Your love with them. And only if necessary, I’ll use words. I don’t want to miss any opportunities.

Have a great day!

Hope

 

Make your Father proud…

Friday, September 26th, 2008

Caleb left for the beach this morning (in the pouring down rain) with Ryan’s family to return Sunday night. Clay and I leave Sunday afternoon for 10 days (I’ll be working remotely so you’ll still hear from me every day). Clay is working in Chicago for 5 days then San Francisco for 5 days and I’m going with him. Hannah’s Hope Ministries will carry on from afar! Suffering for Jesus, children, what can I say? Caleb will stay between my mom and two of his buddies and I’m sure he’ll do fine. But I’ve never left him for this long before – and he turns 17 on the 30th while I’m gone! I’m having an emotional breakdown, but Caleb doesn’t seem to be quite as affected by our separation. Anyway, I challenged Caleb and Ryan last night to remember Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and to make their Father proud of them. Ryan asked what I meant by that so I leaped through that door and retold the story of the young men not bowing down to temptation, not making anything in their lives more important than God, and in the end God was exalted. They made their God famous – and He was proud of them! Caleb and Ryan’s mumbled response was “Got it.” I hope they did.

There are so many areas of our lives that we have the opportunity to take a stand, refuse to bow down, face our fiery furnaces with full confidence that God will bring us out – one way or the other. If our “opportunities” require us to compromise our beliefs or our convictions, they’re not opportunities, they’re traps of Satan. See them for what they are and stand firm on the Word. You’ll make God famous! He’ll honor that, and He’ll be proud of you.

“Nebuchadnezzar said, ‘Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God’” (Daniel 3:28).

Pray for Clay and me as we travel. I’m going to take some Hannah’s Journey DVDs to area hospitals in both cities. People need hope there, too! Have a great weekend – and make your Father proud!

Hope

 

Because of His love…

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

“Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you are good, O LORD” (Psalm 25:7).

If any good comes my way, if any blessings shower down upon me, it is because of God’s love and His goodness, not because of anything good that I’ve done. I was reading today’s Psalm, and verse 7 spoke to me. I pray the Lord will remember me based on His love, not based on my deeds. Through Christ we are vindicated, shameless, our name is clear and upright. Not because I deserve it, but because of His love. Often Caleb escapes great wrath from me because of my love for him, not because he never does anything wrong. As much as I talk about him and refer to him in my writings, I still understand that Caleb makes mistakes and doesn’t always use the best of wisdom. However, I love him and because of that love, he is recipient of my goodness.

Read Psalm 25 and allow His Word to free you from guilt and shame. He doesn’t remember our transgressions – because of His love and goodness, not because of our goodness.

Hope

 

40 Days of Prayer for our Nation

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008
Oh Father, what a beautiful fall morning! What a creation! What fun it must be and what joy it must give Your heart to gift us, Your children, with a day like today! How delighted You must have been to give this glorious day when many of Your children gathered around flag poles all over our nation this morning to acknowledge who You are and to ask for Your blessing and guidance for their lives, the lives of their schools, the lives of their teachers and their administrators. Oh Father, I pray that much glory was brought to Your name this morning. I pray Father, that You heard the little cries of Your children and I pray, Father, that even today You will reveal Yourself in a whole new way in the lives of those who sought Your face early this morning. And not only them, Lord, but those they prayed for, for those who were unable to be there, for those who don’t know about the light, the joy, the peace, the hope that only comes in a relationship with You! Oh, Father, draw hearts to Yourself. Unveil the majesty of who You are in a whole new way, even this day!

 

Thank You Father, for those teachers and administrators who stepped out this morning to align themselves with You. Thank You for those young people who took a step of faith this morning to declare that You were their King and Lord. Strengthen their hearts, Lord, strengthen their hearts. Father, for me, for every one of us, take us deeper in the understanding of the bigness and the greatness of our God! Give us a higher vision, a higher view of who our God is! Oh Father, we haven’t begun to know You! Make us thirsty, Lord, make us thirsty to know You and to see You. Teach us that there is no lasting satisfaction apart from You!

 

Oh, Father, what a privilege You give us as the body of Christ to pray for our nation over the next 40 days until the election of the next president of the United States of America. Oh, Father, how desperately we need You. How desperately we need to confess and acknowledge our need of You. How could we ever think that we have the wisdom to operate our lives, let alone our nation, without You!

 

Oh Father, the scripture for this day is II Chronicles 7:14. A scripture we have recited for many years and yet You are longing to teach us what it means to a new level of understanding. You say, “If My people (that’s me, Lord) who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

 

Lord, it’s not everybody else – it’s me You are after. If You could get me where You want me to be, You could take care of everyone else. It’s not my brother, or my sister, but it’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer. Standing in the need of seeing You revealed in all of Your glory!

 

Oh Father, turn us from ourselves, turn us from our sin, turn us from our self-sufficiency, turn us from our human wisdom and turn our faces to look upon You. To just look upon, Lord. To just look at You – like the children of Israel when they looked to the golden snake and were healed.

 

Father, we acknowledge Your sovereignty. We acknowledge that You are our Heavenly Father who is working out an eternal purpose and plan that You have for each of our lives. We acknowledge that only You can see what You are doing and accomplishing from Your eternal viewpoint. Teach us to trust You, Lord. Teach us to trust You and to seek You on behalf of our nation, on behalf our world, on behalf of our state, on behalf of our county, on behalf of our city, our schools, our churches, our families, our children.  We acknowledge that we desperately need You, Lord. We are in a place, Lord, and we paying the consequences of our not acknowledging You over many years. We are seeing the results of not bending our knees to You.

 

Oh, Father, forgive us. Forgive us for our shortcomings and for the times we have failed You. Show us, Lord, how far we are from Your standard of holiness and righteousness. Let us understand that life isn’t about us – life is about You. Draw us back to our first love and to the One who loved us first. Allow us once again to exalt You to Your rightful place on the throne of our individual lives and the life of our nation. Draw us to serve You and to honor You in everything we do and in everything we say. May we, as Your children, understand the greatness of Your love for us – the heighth, the depth, width and the length of Your love!  Free us, Father, to just absolutely delight in Your love for us and allow Your love, as it flows through us, to spill onto the lives of those we come in contact with! May we understand the eternal blessing and privilege to be chosen as a child of the God of the Universe. May we understand that with that choosing comes a calling on our lives to accomplish Your eternal purpose and plan. Prepare us, Father, for the next place You have for us. Allow us everyday to be preparing for the “next thing” You have for us. Let us be very purposeful in our pursuit of You and of eternal things!

 

And oh Father, thank You that You never give up on us. Thank You that You are waiting with outstretched arms to receive us, to guide and direct us, to draw us close to Your heart. We pray, Dear Jesus, for those You have placed in places of leadership in our nation. Oh Father, our greatest prayer and desire is that they, individually, would be soaking in the reality of who You are and being very deliberate about their own pursuit of You through daily being in Your word and in conversation with You. We cannot give anything to anyone else that we have not first received. Pour into each of their lives a new revelation of who You are!

 

Oh, Father yesterday morning You challenged me with a little verse that Jesus spoke in Luke 18:31. He said, “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem.” He was headed to the place You had called him to. Not an easy place, not a place that didn’t make his heart heavy. But “nothing ever discouraged Our Lord on His way to Jerusalem.” Oh Father, may it be so in our lives today. May we too, “go up to Jerusalem” for whatever that looks like in each of our lives for this day. May we follow You, step by step in obedience this day. May we bring You glory today with our lives! In the name of Jesus, we pray together, Amen. And Father, thank You that You always hear Your children! We anticipate what You will do this day because we have come to You in prayer!   

Turn to the cross…

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

A close friend of mine, Tommy Ramsey, writes Christian songs and his gospel group records them. One of our favorite songs of his is “Turn To The Cross.” It came out on their first CD so it has been a while since I’ve heard it. I came in last night from a meeting and Caleb was upstairs, alone – he thought, and he was singing to the top of his lungs, “Turn to the cross, when you feel there’s no way out, it seems all is lost, He’ll be there without a doubt. Receive His grace, He’ll save from your sin, You’ll feel His warm embrace when you give your life to Him. Turn to the cross.” I stayed very quiet so he wouldn’t know I was there. He was singing that song with passion! And I was so proud. Heaven knows at his age there are many other type songs that he could be singing with lyrics that I’d stroke over and wash his mouth out with soap if I heard him singing them. When he finished the chorus I called his name and told him I was home, then I stopped in my kitchen and thanked God for Caleb’s heart and his love for gospel music. Not that he doesn’t listen to other types. He’s a big country music fan and sometimes I catch him rapping, too. But he loves gospel music; a chip off the old block I guess.

Turn to the cross, when you feel there’s no way out. There are times when we feel there’s no way out, isn’t there? If we dwell on our circumstances or the condition of the world around us we could easily feel trapped or disheartened. But Jesus provided our “out” when He hung on the cross for me and for you. No more slaying a lamb for sacrifice, no more applying blood to the door posts. No more lists of do’s and don’ts, just believing on Him as Lord and Savior and allowing Him to control our lives. That control will take care of the list of Do’s and Don’ts, and it will provide hope for the hopeless. He is The Promised Messiah. All we have to do is turn to the cross. Amen!

“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13 & 14).

Hope

 

CGodCan

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

My bestest cousin friend shared a license plate that she saw this morning, CGodCan. That is very fitting for the study in Luke this week. It’s on the amazing faith of the centurion, a wealthy, powerful “politician” who believed that Jesus could just speak the word and his servant would be healed. When Jesus received word of the centurion’s faith, He turned to the crowd that was following Him and made the statement that most of us have heard quoted, “I’ve never seen a greater faith in all of Israel.”

CGodCan! Oh, yes He can! There’s nothing too big or too small for Him. He is Holy yet He is loving. He wants to shower us with blessings! He wants to answer our prayers. He wants to give us all we need. He wants us to have the amazing faith of the centurion. He wants us to trust Him to know what’s best for us. Luke says that Jesus was amazed by the centurion’s faith. I want to amaze my Lord! How about you?

“When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, ‘I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel’ (Luke 7:9).

CGodCan. Believe it!

Hope

 

Standing Before A Holy God…

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

“Who can stand in the presence of the LORD, this holy God?” (1 Samuel 6:20).

“Do not stop crying out to the LORD our God for us…” (1 Samuel 7:8).

We’re studying 1 Samuel in Sunday School and these two verses really spoke to me yesterday. Who can stand in the presence of the Lord? He is so holy! We absolutely cannot get to the point that we believe we accomplish anything spiritually in our strength, our own might. If anything is accomplished in my life for God it is because of His grace and His mercy and HIS strength. If at any time I start to believe that I am successful due to my own ability, it will be at that time that I’ll tumble as the false gods did in 1 Samuel. God is way too holy to allow anyone to get the glory other than Himself. He’s God! And none of us can stand in His presence outside of mercy and grace.

So with all that said, my prayer is that you will not stop crying out to God for us. We want God in center stage always; otherwise all our efforts are in vain. Outside of Christ, I am nothing. Outside of Christ, Hannah would not have had a story, and outside of Christ this ministry would not be in existence. As I move pictures and chairs and filing cabinets into my new office at CPC today, I pray that this ministry will continue to be carried on the prayers of each of you. Please do not stop crying out to God for us! Because we, outside of Christ, cannot stand in the presence of a Holy God. But through Christ, we are allowed to appear front and center! We can approach Him boldly in Jesus’ name and tell Him anything we want to tell Him. Praise the Lord!

Hope

Guard my tongue!

Friday, September 19th, 2008

I continue to stand amazed at the timing of the Bible study lessons from Jesus The One and Only. This past week’s passages were so relevant to many issues and it was a challenge for me not to go on a tangent. I prayed earnestly several times on Wednesday that I would not say anything that the Lord didn’t want me to say, that I wouldn’t go anywhere He didn’t want me to go, and that I wouldn’t hold back from anything He did want me to say. In other words, I begged the Lord to “Guard my tongue!” And that is my prayer each day before I put a devotional on this site that I would never use this instrument as a tool for my own agenda. As a general rule I just work away each day until the Lord gives me a thought and then I type it up. But sometimes it comes to me the night before and I can’t wait to get it posted the next morning. Now 21 months later I continue to stand amazed how faithful He is each day to give me a new word and fresh thoughts.

I was reading the Psalm for today, Psalm 19 – a psalm that we (the family) hold very close to our hearts. When Hannah took her last breath on this earth and the hospice nurse told us that she was “not here,” with no pre-thought whatsoever Deb’s hands went up in the air and she began quoting Psalm 19. So forever this psalm will be very special to us. As I read the last verse today I realized that was exactly what I had been saying to the Lord this week, just not in those words. And then tomorrow morning Clay and I along with our friends Todd and Carmela Rice are going to a studio to cut our first CD. This is a very humbling experience for us and each time we get together to practice we pray that we will sing in worship to our Father, totally unaware and unconcerned about ourselves and our sound (except that it’s always good to be on key; if you’re going to the trouble of making a CD you want it to sound half way decent). So I prayed verse 14 today for our little Echoes of Hope quartet that the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart will be pleasing to the Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. If they’re not pleasing to Him, they’re not going to be pleasing to anyone else. If it’s not all about Him, it ain’t about nothing! (Sorry for the double negative – it’s a good fit right there.)

Join with me in this prayer for our tongues and the motives of our hearts…Dear Father, Guard my tongue and keep my heart pure! May the words of my mouth that I say in writing on this site and that I sing through lyrics of songs, and the meditation of my heart as I ponder each day what you’d have me to post, and as we prepare our hearts for our big day tomorrow, may they all be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. It’s only about You, Father! If it’s not, then it’s all in vain and nothing good will come of it. May we stand solid on You, our Rock, and may we allow You, our Redeemer, to set us free from all cares and worries of this life. You, O Father, O Lord, are worthy – only You.

“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 19:14).

Hope

 

“I Will not Forget You!”

Friday, September 19th, 2008

Good Morning Lord!

You awakened me early and I am wide awake! My heart is so full! Several years back, a friend shared with me that she always asked You to wake her up in the mornings. She never set an alarm clock. She reasoned that You knew better than she what time her day with You needed to begin!  Only You knew what her day would hold and how much time she would need in quietness with You to prepare her for the day! I loved that thought and I reasoned that she was no more special to You than I was and so I started asking You to wake me up like You did her.

It has been a process, Lord, but year after year,  as I have desired to be in tune with Your voice, You have indeed awakened me morning after morning. Many times I will lay awake for a few minutes wondering if You are really wanting me to get up. I’ll just lay there talking to You to see if You are really awake yet!  I’ll give myself a few minutes and tell myself that if I’m not asleep in the next 10-15 minutes, I need to get out of bed because I am going to miss a blessing if I don’t get up! My heart is more in tune with You in that way than it has ever been before. I don’t want to miss any blessings! I don’t want to miss hearing the God of the Universe speak to me!  So, 99 percent of the time, I am never in the bed when the alarm goes off – You usually always Beat the Clock! You know how much I need to hear from You, Lord!

And so, I’m up this morning, Lord and I’ve come to sit and be still with You and let You speak truth over my heart for this day! The first thing I noticed when I got up, Lord, was  the beauty of the moon lighting the sky! Oh, Father, it is to fabulous! All the time – twenty-four-seven the earth continues to declare Your glory! The earth declares Your glory when I’m awake and the earth declares Your glory when I’m asleep! The moon gives evidence to me that You are taking care of things while I rest – thank You Father!

I think one of the reasons my heart is so full is that You are allowing me this week to begin tying up the pieces of the writing we have been doing together. And, Lord, I am so thrilled about that! I am so thrilled! What a process! What a journey! What healing! What drudging up of things from the last two years You have taken me through. It has been a process and a journey and I am finally seeing the light at the end and my heart is over-joyed! Oh, Jesus, I stand amazed by You! Healing comes through You alone and through Your word! There is a part of me that feels like that the last two years You have just set me aside to work on the healing of my heart. You have removed me from many things and I have had many days and hours of quietness with You. And Lord, it has been precious and I have treasured this time and looking back, I can see a little of the process You have taken me through.

Monday night, Lord, I went to Michael’s PTSO open house. I visited every classroom where Michael had class and I met all of his teachers. And Lord, I just had the best time! It seemed like the first time in two years that I could actually put a name with a face of every one of Michael’s teachers. There are times in our lives when we just “do the next thing” and we can do those things and not really ever process what we are doing – we are just “going through the motions.”

On Tuesday night, I went to Andrew’s PTSO open house and once again, I walked through his schedule and met every one of his teachers. And just like Michael’s, they were all precious! I was so impressed by their concern for my children and so impressed with each of them as the professionals they are! And I was able, both evenings, to just relax and enjoy my time at their respective schools.

When I got in the car and started home on Tuesday night, I was thanking You aloud in the car for the two great evenings I had had and I was telling You that there was a part of me that felt like I had “lost” the last 2 ½ years of my life and that I was so thankful that I am continuing to feel like my head is coming “out of the bucket” a little more each day. And my heart was so encouraged! And as I was speaking those truths to You, a wave of emotion swept over me like a flood and I began to just wail. And I wailed all the way home! From the depths of my being, I was recognizing again that the reason I felt this way was because of the journey I had been on with Hannah. And I listened to myself cry like I hadn’t cried in a while! When I walked in the door, Mickey asked what in the world Andrew’s teachers had said! 

You know, Lord, I suppose for the rest of my life that at any given moment, those waves of emotion will be able to sweep me off of my feet. And You know what, Lord? It’s a good thing and I don’t ever want to get over that! I will never, for one day, for one hour, be the same as I was before. I will never get over missing my daughter. My life has been changed because of her. I have pondered the scripture this week from Isaiah 49:15. “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?” It is literally impossible for a mother to forget her nursing baby. Her physical body demands that she go to her child after just a few hours of being apart. That bond is so strong. I wouldn’t trade that bond I experienced with Hannah for anything in the world. That verse has rich meaning for me.

And then, Lord, You go on to remind me in the latter part of that verse that as strong as that bond is, as strong as that mother’s love is, as strong as her devotion is to that child – that Your bond, Your devotion, Your love for me makes my mother’s love pale in comparison. That is amazing Lord! I can’t comprehend a love so great! You say at the end of the verse, “Though she (the nursing mother) may forget you, I will not forget you!” She cannot forget her baby, Lord, and You cannot forget me!

Perhaps it happened this time because Hannah’s birthday was Friday or perhaps as I have been going back through my writing again that it was closer to the surface of my heart than I realized or perhaps in my heart, I knew I was getting to the end of this process You have taken my through, or perhaps it is because that I have an opportunity to share on Saturday which I haven’t had for several weeks and every time You open an opportunity to share, You seem to break me once again. It is going to be like that for the rest of my life, isn’t it? You must always break us of ourselves before You can do anything with us. We are so full of ourselves.

I suppose Hannah will always be the place where You break me – over and over again. Like Paul, with his thorn in the flesh, there will always be the very real reminder of why You are giving me any opportunity to open my mouth. And You know, Lord, I think that is a good thing also! I really don’t want to get in Your way! So Lord, thank You for bringing me through another week, another of Hannah’s birthdays without her, and another week closer to completing that which You have placed on my heart!

My boys are come this morning, Lord – for breakfast – all 65 or so of them. Use this place to minister life and peace and grace! May Your presence be made known in a very real way this day! And Father, I pray for tomorrow and for You to place on my heart and on my lips what it is that You are desiring to communicate with the precious ladies at Fountain Inn. Be all over that day! And Lord, thank You that You have started this work of writing and thank You that You will bring it to completion in Your time and in Your way. In the name of Jesus, I ask and pray, with thanksgiving, Amen.