Archive for May, 2009

When God speaks…

Friday, May 29th, 2009

The Psalm for today, Psalm 29 talks about the power of the voice of the Lord. When God speaks, everything in creation takes notice. I remember a commercial from years ago, “When E. F. Hutton speaks, people listen.” The problem is that when God speaks, people don’t always listen. However, the waters, trees, thunder, lightning, mountains, all of creation obey His command. Yet we little people have a hard time obeying Him. We just think we know so much more about our lives, don’t we?

storm-at-sea2“The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic. The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon…The voice of the Lord shakes the desert…the voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in His temple all cry, ‘Glory!’” (Psalm 29)

The Psalmist David’s good. He talks of God’s mighty power, all creation screams of His glory. David sets us up. He gets us all excited about the majesty and the power and the glory. He gets our mindset just where it needs to be and then he ends this psalm with…

“The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace” (Psalm 29:11).

In other words, this same God who commands the winds to blow, the thunder to roll, the lightning to strike, the waters to part is not too busy taking care of the big things. Quite the contrary. He created us “people” in His image; therefore, He has our best interest at heart. He gives us strength when we are weak – and He blesses us with peace. Outside of Him, there is no peace. Outside of Him, we are not strong enough to face our trials and temptations. He’s all we need.

Listen for His voice. When God speaks, His people need to listen.

I’m all excited because my hubby came home last night! He was able to come home two days early and I’m thrilled! So is Jax – and Caleb. God’s been faithful to keep us in His care these past couple of months. We’re looking forward to resuming some sort of normalcy in our lives. Have a great weekend – and listen for His voice!

Hope

For the love of His children…

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

I’m reading the book, The Shack. Chuck Wallington recommended it several months ago and I bought it then but am just now reading it. It could be considered controversial but in order to get the intended message, you’ve gotta open any box you may have God in and let Him out, along with the Son and the Holy Spirit. There is great truth in the message of this novel. One of the phrases from God’s character hit home with me last night…

“Trust is the fruit of a relationship in which you know you are loved. Because you do not know that I love you, you cannot trust me.”

I’ve never thought of trust as a fruit from the love tree, but it is! This is a true statement whether we’re referring to our relationship with God or our spouse or our parents or our siblings or our children or anyone else in our lives. If we do not trust that person, it’s because we do not know that they love us. In other words, if we don’t feel the love, the trust will not be there.

hannah-morgan-clemsonSo in order to truly trust God with all of our circumstances, we must grasp the truth of our relationship with Him. He loves us unconditionally. He loves us with an everlasting love. His love is higher and deeper and wider than we can fathom. We must believe He truly loves us – and then we’ll trust Him with whatever we’re facing. I’ve said many, many times since Hannah went to heaven that we thought her journey with sarcoma was to teach us to believe God. Believe He is able to heal her – and we believed! Hannah believed to her dying breath. But once God chose to answer our prayers contrary to our specifications, we had to cross from just believing Him to trusting Him. And the only way we can trust a God who will take the life of an 18 year old vibrant full of life young lady into eternity, is to believe that He loves us deeply and He knows what He’s doing.

He does it all for the love of His children…believe it so you can trust Him.

“But I trust in your unfailing love” (Psalm 13:5).

Coming soon! Our website is taking on a whole new look! Very soon (maybe tomorrow!) you will be routed to the new site. To get to Deb and my devotionals, you’ll click on Devotionals and then choose Deb or Hope. Links to other sites, caringbridge, etc. will be under About the Ministry|Favorite Links. Please click around. You’ll find this new site to be much more advanced and user friendly. Please scroll down on the Home Page and you’ll be able to see a small clip of Hannah’s interview with Amy Wood along with a couple of other video clips. We’re excited about the changes and hope that you find them to be a change for the better!

Hope

Your Creation and Your Word!!!

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

How gracious You are Lord! How gracious! You continue to set eternity in our hearts, You continue to show us the vastness of Your creation, Your continue to show us the power of Your word, Your continue to speak individually to us so that amidst Your vastness, grandeur and power we can know and understand the depths of Your love for us as individuals, created in Your image! You are Amazing God! You not only hold the universe in place, You have the hairs of our very heads counted!

You took me this morning to the little prayer haven where You have taken me repeatedly for the last 12 years – to the nursery area at Bethlehem Baptist Church where I have met with moms to pray. We sit in glider rockers while we pray. That nursery has become a haven for me – I have shed many tears in that place. I have walked through many miles and many trials. Today wasn’t Monday but I think You just wanted me to come away with You for a couple of hours this morning. You wanted to take me again to Your word and to the first 9 chapters of the book of Genesis. You know, Father, You always teach me something else. It never matters how many times I have been there before – You always give me something new! And You did again this morning!

You continue to write upon my heart the 19th Psalm about the heavens declaring Your glory! Forever that Psalm will have a very special place in my heart as the first 6 verses came from my mouth immediately after Hannah took her last breath on this earth. I have become more and more aware of the glory and beauty of Your creation since that time. You have shown me daily the grandeur of Your creation and how You speak through it! In Romans 1 You tell us that what may be known about You is plain to us, because You have made it plain to us. For since the creation of the world Your invisible qualities – Your eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. You know, Lord, that pretty much sums it up. There is no voice or language where Your voice and words are not heard. Even now as I type, a little bird is singing outside my open back door! He is so loud! He is declaring the praise and glory of who You are! And across the distance I hear another bird sing back to him in praise to You! Oh, Father, what a chorus! How it must sound with heaven ears! From all around the earth a continual chorus of praise rings out to YOU!

I don’t think I ever realized just how much I have always loved the outdoors until mother reminded me recently that I always preferred to be outside with my daddy inside of being inside with her while she cleaned and cooked! I would still rather be outside! I would much rather dig in the dirt and plant flowers that will last longer than an inside “dusting” or “dishes” job! It just seems like the outdoors have a little more of eternity written in them! It is easier to focus on eternal things when we are in the midst of Your creation! Certainly, that is why You created the oceans, the mountains, the tall oak trees, and the little buttercups!

Yesterday we cut down a bush that had gotten way too big for the front of the house. We were going to cut another one but there was a bird nest with at least two baby cardinals in it. We will wait until the birds leave the nest! I love cardinals – my grandmother always loved cardinals! This morning in the back yard I watched that mother and father cardinal swoop about my yard! I wonder if they watch me in as much wonder as I watch them – perhaps!

And then Lord, You always remind me that the 19th Psalm not only speaks of Your creation but then it moves to the vastness, grandeur, and power of Your Word – the eternal written Word of God! I must imagine that David’s love of Your creation was fostered when he was a young lad in the shepherd’s field. Day after day and night after night, he watched You display Your glory before his eyes – from the rising of the sun until the setting of the same – he said “Your name was to be praised.” What a front row seat he had to the grandeur of Your creation!

And then as he grew in wisdom and stature and experienced some of life’s most difficult trials – breaking Your heart by committing adultery and being confronted with his sin, being responsible for the death of a man, having a child die, having a child betray him, running from those who pursued his life to kill him – what then did David have to say about Your word?

He said that Your law is perfect and that it can revive a soul! Oh Father, You have used Your word to revive this soul – and I bless Your name! David said that Your statutes are trustworthy – that they make the simple minded – wise. Oh Father, You enable us to see things because of Your word and truth in ways that the world cannot see them! In one place David says that Your word made him wiser than all his teachers! David says Your precepts are right and that they give joy to a heart! Oh Father, it is only because of Your word that You have given me Your joy!

David said that Your commands are radiant and they give light to our eyes – Oh Father, it is only through Your word that You can illumine and light our paths! “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” David said that the fear of You is pure and will endure forever! You bring to mind the scripture, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Acknowledging and recognizing who You are is the beginning of all wisdom and Your wisdom will last forever!

David said Your ordinances are sure and righteous – we can count on Your word – it is a firm place to plant our feet! And finally David says that Your word is more precious than gold – a lot of gold – and that it is sweeter than honey from the honeycomb. And that there is a great reward in keeping Your word! We cannot even imagine the great reward that awaits those who walk in accordance with Your word!

Oh Father, for the beauty and blessing of Your creation and for the beauty and blessing of Your written word, I give You much thanks this day! Allow me to never pass over either and not stop to acknowledge the Giver from whose hands they both came! In the name of Jesus, I pray, Amen!

Try God…

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

I was reading in Job this weekend and found it rather amusing the sarcasm that Job used in chapter 5. He’s speaking of hardships (certainly he of all people could relate). Then he says…

“But if it were I, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before him. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted” (Job 5:8 & 9).

miraclesTo paraphrase, Job is saying, “I ain’t telling you how to live or anything but if I were you, I’d try God.” Job personally watched God work wonders that were unfathomable and perform miracles too many to count. If you’re familiar with Job’s story, you’re probably thinking, “Job personally watched God allow everything and everyone that he cared about to be taken from him. That’s hardly considered a miracle.” And he did. Yet he trusted God and would not throw in the towel. And God worked wonders and performed miracles because of Job’s faithfulness.

So I say to you today, I don’t know what trial you’re going through or what sickness you may be fighting or what heartache you may be suffering or what fear you may be overtaken with, but if I were you, I’d try God. I ain’t telling you how to live or anything, but God is faithful and He has performed miracles and wonders too numerous to count. He has one for you, too.

Hope

A gentle touch…

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

The last “outing” Rhonda Robinson and I did last spring before she moved was go to the movies. We watched the chic flick “Definitely Maybe.” Last week Caleb made the mistake of sending me to Blockbuster to get us a movie for our bonding time and he said, “You pick it this time, Mom.” I came home with “Definitely Maybe.” I won’t give away the movie for those of you who may run right out and get it this weekend, but one of the sweetest scenes is when the little girl, Mia points out that her mom always reaches down and puts Mia’s hair behind her ears when she’s comforting or reassuring her. The mom did the same to Mia’s dad. It was her way of reassuring them that everything was going to be just fine.

When I’m telling Caleb good night, I often stroke the side of his face with the back of my hand and kiss him on the cheek. I’ve done that since he was a baby. Sometimes I get a “Go on, Mom!” but often he just lets me love on him in spite of his age. Now grant it I have to contend with whiskers and a little gotee that he’s got going on but that’s just my way of confirming and affirming my love and confidence in him. Caleb left last night to go to the beach for the weekend with Ryan and his family and he mentioned last week that he couldn’t find his sunglasses. When he got home from school yesterday I had surprised him with a pair just like the ones he had misplaced, and had a UNC croakie attached. He’d had a rough start to the week and I just wanted to do something special for him. He picked them up off the counter, chuckled real cute like and said, “I thought today while I was at school that I wish I’d have asked you to pick me up a pair of glasses. Thanks, Mom.” I love that kid!

So it is with our Heavenly Father. He gives us a special surcy or a gentle touch just when we need it. And He does it for what others may deem insignificant things! My sister, Teresa and her hubby are going with me camping this weekend in our new camper, along with some other close friends. I ordered a few fun little camping things from ABC Distributing early last week and I was really hoping those items would come in before we leave today, especially the cute picnic table and bench covers. I was in the camper after work yesterday piddling around and making my final list and I said, “Lord, I sure would love for my stuff from ABC to get here tomorrow.” I had no more got those words out of my mouth that I heard what I thought was a truck pull up to the house. I stepped out of the camper and, you guessed it, the UPS man was hopping out of the truck carrying a box from ABC. He probably wondered why my face lit up so, and I actually chuckled. I wasn’t glad to see him in particular although he may have thought I was. I was actually chuckling at the Lord and how He works. He had reached down and put my hair behind my ear and said, “Sure, my little child. I’ll be glad to give you that special treat before you go camping. I know how much you miss Clay and wish he were going with you, and I want you to have this little surcy to take with you.” My Heavenly Father put His stamp of blessing on my weekend – and I loved it!

butterfly-gentle-touchLook for those gentle touches, special surcies, from the Father today. He has them for you too!

“The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion” (Psalm 116:5).

Take time to remember those who have given their lives for our freedom, and those who continue to fight for you and me! Happy Memorial Weekend to you!

Hope

It’s Been Awhile since I’ve Tucked You In!

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

You know, Sweetheart, it’s been a while since I’ve tucked you in! Tonight I had the opportunity to share with young people who have been immersed in the Word of God this year – I heard precious testimonies from students. There is nothing we can ever study that can and will transform our lives like the Word of God. The Lord’s strength and His grace were amazing again! He continues to allow me to prove Him faithful! The first words from my mouth are always scripture – may it always be! And you know, Hannah, as I speak forth the Word of God, strength just rises and rises up within me – no matter how weak I am! No one is more amazed than me! God’s word is so powerful! It stands alone! It doesn’t need my help! Oh Hannah, it has been so healing for me to share! It has been such a blessing to speak of God’s faithfulness! You closed the evening with a 3 minute clip of your interview – no picture – just the sound of your voice. Thank you for sharing tonight your word of testimony. You say more in 3 minutes than I can say in 30.

When I walked out of the auditorium into the evening sky, the sky was painted beautifully pink. Immediately I thought of you! It was beautiful! So I decided that I would go to the cemetery and tuck you in! I haven’t been for a while and it has been 2 ½ years since I have tucked you in. I thought tonight that everyday for the last 6 months of your life on this earth, I tucked you in! What a blessing and memory that is for me! I am so thankful for that!

I remembered it is Memorial Day Weekend and it is a good time to bring you some fresh flowers! On the way, I shed a few tears. I told the Lord that it blessed my heart that He is continuing to bring forth fruit from your life. And I also told Him that it still hurt and that I miss you. He understands. He understands a lot more than I do. He can see the final picture – I can only see “threads.”

I had a good cry sitting there with you – one of those sobbing cries that come from the innermost part of your being while I gazed at the pink sunset. It was really good and healthy for me to cry that hard. I will never be the same person again! Someone had left two long stem red roses and another had left a white carnation. That blessed my heart. I bet Jacob brought the roses when he came last weekend with Melissa on his way to Washington, DC. He is doing very well and looked great. I got a text message from Ally about the time I got to the cemetery. How amazing was that!

I told you that your life is still speaking from the grave and I told you how proud I am of you! I told the Lord that I wanted my life to speak – even from the grave. But you know, Hannah, I’m not sure I’ll see the grave. I turned toward the eastern sky tonight as I stood there with you. So many things are happening here, Hannah, on this earth. I’m not sure the Lord’s intention is to stay away much longer. I’m looking for Him. I’m looking for Him like I never have before. Too many things are lining up in the heavenlies for us not to take notice and be looking at the signs of the times. Of course, I have more of an eternal perspective than I have ever had in my life – I have one foot in heaven’s door. But even more than that, Hannah, I believe we are living in the last days on this earth. Our mandate is to “Watch, therefore.” (Matthew 24) I’m watching!

You know, Ms. Lisa and I are working on a study about the life of Noah. “A Dove Set Free” ended with “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man.” And I have almost finished reading David Jeremiah’s new book, “What in the World is Going On? 10 Prophetic Clues You Cannot Afford to Ignore.” It is so powerful, so enlightening about the future and a very easy read. It is amazing, Hannah, how God’s Word covers it all – the whole picture.

I got a text message from Ms. Lisa late one evening this week and she said, “I did the math. Methuselah died in the year the flood began!” It was such a cool text message. The Lord was confirming once again His sovereignty and His attention to every single detail. At Methuselah’s birth, he was given a name that means “the year of the flood.” And sure enough, the year he died was the year Noah’s flood came – 969 years later!. God is doing the same thing in our day – He is lining everything up in accordance with His perfect plan and purpose! And He is not slow in keeping His promises!

I guess I stayed too long at the cemetery – The gate was open when I got there and I thought they certainly wouldn’t lock me in! I knew it closed at dusk but it wasn’t “completely dark!” I saw a couple of other cars and felt pretty secure. Well, sure enough, when I got to the front – the gate was locked! Oh bummer! I thought, well, I’ve been locked in worse places that this and I thought about you, me and Grama Ellen getting locked into Belk’s, Waccamaw, etc. It was kind of funny! On the inside of the gate, there was a nice sign that said there was an exit by the chapel. I thought I knew the way – I didn’t! I got to the back of the cemetery, down a hill with no one around and sign another gate. There was a chain but I thought maybe it was just for looks – wrong again! I called Daddy to tell him that if I didn’t make it home, he would know where I was! Ha!

That wasn’t the exit. I began wondering if I was going to spend the night there! Daddy got on Goggle and pulled up the aerial view of the cemetery and had me go back to the front of the cemetery by the locked gate and he gave me turn by turn instructions on how to get out! Too funny! A great laugh after a great cry! I know you must have gotten a real kick out of it!

I will get some new flowers for your grave tomorrow! I am so thankful, like Daddy said tonight, “She isn’t there.” I know you’re not, baby, and I am so glad! Every now and then I go just for me! I love you Sweetheart! Rest Well!

How far is the east from the west?

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

During the Casting Crowns concert on Saturday night I got hung up on the lyrics from East to West…

Jesus can you show me

Just how far the East is from the West?

…One scarred hand to another

jesus-outstretched-armsThe first verse says, “I’m drowning in your sea of forgetfulness.” In other words, I ain’t feeling that forgiveness – and I’m about to go under! I had the visual of Jesus listening to me ramble on and on about my failures and sins and poor decisions and how loaded down with guilt I am and how I’m the lowliest, sorriest person ever been born…and how patient He is as I say, “Jesus, you say my sins have been cast as far as the east is from the west. How far is that just exactly?” Then Jesus stretches out His arms and says, “From one scarred hand to another.” He’s got it covered, guys! He has paid the debt for everything I’ve ever done and everything I’ll ever do in the future! Because of the scars in His hands, my sins are remembered no more. What in the sizzle is my problem?? All I have to do is accept His Word and I’m free from the fear of tomorrow, I’m free from the guilt of the past.

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:11 & 12).

“Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more” (Hebrews 10:17).

Can I get an amen on this?!

Hope

Chisel away, Lord!

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

The Lord gave me an illustration to use with Caleb last night as we were eating dinner. I’ll share it with you.

potter-clay1I was reminding Caleb that we are clay in the Potter’s hand. I told him to imagine that we are as a cup in the palm of His hand (and I acted this out). God turns that cup back and forth, looks underneath it, into it, all around it, looking for imperfections. When He sees an area that needs pruning or strengthened or removed, He allows us to go through whatever fiery trial necessary to get us just where He wants us to be in order to use us in His service. He takes us back to be bisque fired so that our vessel is fit. Then I shared the scripture of refining silver, the hotter the fire the purer the vessel. He did as he often does, he said nothing but just stared out the window while he chewed his spaghetti.

Later last night I was upstairs watching the NBA game with him and he said (in reference to the guy who thought Caleb did something he didn’t do), “Mom, I’m not mad at him. I mean, if he really thought I was, he probably thought he was doing the right thing by telling it. I just don’t understand why he didn’t come to me and carry on a conversation. That would’ve saved us all a lot of heartache. But I’m really not mad at him. He’s actually pretty cool.” Just when I think I’m the one with the answers and I’m doing all the teaching in this relationship, the Lord uses Caleb to whack off areas of my life that need to be pruned. He probably thinks so often, “Back to the flames for her! Will she ever get it?”

Chisel away, Lord! I’m yours to mold into whatever vessel you want me to be. (But I sure wish you’d be easy on me!)

“Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand” (Jeremiah 18:6).

For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver” (Psalm 66:10).

Hope

I need you, Jesus…

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

caleb-red-chairBless Caleb’s heart. I said to him again last night that God surely has a BIG OLE plan for his life because he certainly does take some fiery darts. Another “episode” yesterday of gossip and rumors – and the amazing thing is that Caleb’s saving grace was Hannah’s friend, Jacob Robinson. Jacob was in town staying at our house and was just the alibi Caleb needed to “clear his name.” As Jacob was firing off his defenses for Caleb last night I told him that it was not by chance he was in town to stand up for and provide credibility to Caleb. Jacob and Caleb had a tight connection from the first time they met. It thrilled my soul when Jacob asked if he could stay at our house while he was in town. And God’s plan was at work in every detail. Jacob’s last words to me as we hung up the phone last evening were, “Hope, Caleb’s a good kid. I love that kid and you have every right to be proud of him.”

This morning as I was – once again – praying for protection and encouragment for Caleb’s heart, the song, “I Need You Jesus” came on the radio. Here are the words to the chorus…

I need you, Jesus

to come to my rescue

Where else can I go?

There’s no other name

for which I am saved

Capture me with your grace

I will follow you

I couldn’t help but cry as I thought of how many times Jesus has come to Caleb’s rescue. He has captured Him with His grace over and over and over. I pray that Caleb will always recognize each trial as growing pains, and determine to always follow Christ. Where else can he go? There’s no other name by which he can be saved! In Christ alone. The last thing I reminded Caleb of last night was that everything, ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING that happens to us is to grow us in our relationship with the Lord. He allows things to come against us in order to either chisel away something that we need to get rid of or mold something into place.

Oh, how I need You, Jesus, to come to my rescue! Thank you for rescuing my kid time and time and time again. Please keep Caleb in Your care and may He recognize Your hand at work in every area of his life.

“O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8).

Hope

I’ll trade my ashes for roses anytime!

Monday, May 18th, 2009

I attended a Women of Joy conference in Charleston this weekend and it was WONDERFUL! Oh how my heart needed to be refreshed, renewed, revived, re-everything! And it was. Angela Thomas shared an illustration that I just love and I want to share it with you.

She had been given a handmade, homemade, straight off home printer coupon for a bouquet of flowers. She dropped the coupon into her purse and two months later she found it. You can imagine how worn, torn, sticky, etc. that coupon must have been. She could not decide whether she should even try to cash it in because it looked so “old.” But she took the crumpled, creased coupon into the florist shop and handed it to the nice lady. The lady disappeared to the back and when she returned she gave to Angela the most beautiful bouquet of flowers she had ever seen.

roseThat is exactly what God does with our worn, torn, ripped, scarred, battered lives, our ashes, if we’ll just give them over to Him. He will give to us in return a life of hope, love, joy, peace, bountiful blessings, a life of beauty. That is His expertise. He gives a bouquet of roses for ashes! (Angela didn’t read from The Message but she should have! I loved this when I read it this morning!)

“To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion, give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes…” (Isaiah 61:3 The Message).

I’ll trade my ashes for roses anytime!

Hope