Archive for November, 2010

Don’t retreat!

Monday, November 29th, 2010

I love the book of Ephesians! We’ve spent twelve weeks in Sunday School going through the six chapters of Ephesians, which is indication to me that there is a lot of meat to digest. Yesterday we ended the study with a challenge to stand firm in our faith. Clay left us with this exhortation, “Don’t retreat!” Clay mentioned it at lunch and before he could expound, Caleb said, “You all must be in Ephesians.” Poppy, Clay and I looked at him and our first instinct was to assume his Sunday School class, too, was studying Ephesians. He quickly reminded us he didn’t really have a Sunday School class right now. His answer was, “If you’re talking about standing firm in your faith, doing all you can to stand, you have to be talking about Ephesians.” Aaahhh that did my heart good to know Caleb knows that scripture by heart! Oh how I pray for that kid to stand firm! Oh how I exercise my praying rights and pray for Caleb to not retreat! When he’s done all he knows to do in the midst of college life, peer pressure, temptations on every corner (and lined up and down the beach!), I pray he’ll stand firm on what he knows to be truth! Don’t retreat, Caleb! Don’t coward down and hide! Stand confidently and firmly in your faith and God will take care of the battle! We had such a good visit with him for 8 days. It was wonderful to have him home and to see him – eyeball to eyeball – and know that he is doing well. He was content to be home, pleasant, conversational, humorous as ever. And I was especially thankful to receive the text that he had arrived safely at Coastal after fighting one of the busiest travel days of the year yesterday. God is good and faithful.

swordbibleMy exhortation to you today is, “Don’t retreat!” Don’t coward down to Satan’s attacks. Don’t run and hide in fear. God is faithful and just and He has made us more than conquerors. Stand firm! Grab your Bible – your spiritual sword – and go into battle! Fight for your life! Your spiritual life is worth fighting for! When you feel like retreating, grab the sword, allow His word to strengthen your resolve. And remember, God’s on it! He’s got this thing, and He’s equipped you to stand when you’ve done all you know to do. Stand firm. Don’t retreat!

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13).

“…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

Hope

I have praying rights!

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

This morning as I was journaling a list of ramblings to the Lord about Caleb, I was reminded that I’ve prayed these prayers many times. So does that mean I don’t trust the Lord to take care of Caleb? Does that mean that I think I have to keep bringing specific needs back up? I responded, “Lord, I know He’s Yours to do with what You choose. I know You created Him and that You love Him unconditionally and You have a plan and a purpose for His life. I did give Him to You and I do trust You with him. But dog gone it, I still have praying rights over him!” And as I wrote it, I said out loud, “Hey – that’s good right there!” And it’s original, too!

So many times as parents we take advantage of our bragging rights. We birthed those kids, after all. We as parents say that our children got their looks from this parent or their smarts from this parent or their personality from their grandparent, or they are athletic because they’re a chip off the ole block. Our Daddy used to always say “My kids got their looks from their Mama. I still have mine.” If you know my Daddy, you know that is NOT the case. But we have bragging rights and we exercise them! What we exercise but really don’t have any claim to is worrying rights. What will worrying get us? Will it buy us one day? Will it protect our children? Will it heal them of a fever? Will worrying put food on our table or money in the bank or clothes on our back? No. Worrying rights have no value. But what we do have that is invaluable and we should exercise faithfully are praying rights to our children and to every circumstance we face! Take advantage of those rights – pray on!

“…pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children” (Lamentations 2:19).

I pray each of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with fun memories and lots of laughter and delicious food! I am so thankful for you my web family! I thank my God for you each time I think of you. Love you much!

Hope

Lord, please help me to stay out of your way!

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Ken Carpenter and I have spent a lot of time talking about how ordained Hannah’s story is. God has ordered our steps from the beginning, actually from Hannah’s diagnosis in May 2006. He’s on it – and He’s going to bring it to pass. I said to Ken a couple of weeks ago that I don’t ever want to get in the Lord’s way because if I do, He’ll move me aside and use someone else. I cannot thwart His plan. I can miss the blessing of being part of the plan, but I can’t mess it up. He set the plan in motion and He’ll see it through to completion. I want to help not hinder! So I prayed again this morning, “Lord, please help me to stay out of Your way!” The only way I can do this is to keep “me” out of it. Here is a brief summary of things the Lord is up to and is allowing me to be in on.

 

Dave & Liz Hansen, the screenwriters for the film, along with Ken Carpenter and his five boys arrived in town late Friday afternoon. In 2 1/2 hours they interviewed Seth Buckley, Martin Tiller and Dr. Steve Corso. Then we attended the Dorman football game and later met at Mickey and Deb’s for a fun post-game gathering. Saturday morning they met with Mickey and Deb, then we had lunch at the infamous Wade’s Restaurant, toured the Hangar and the sanctuary of First Baptist Spartanburg, and then met at Clay and my home for several hours. From the time the Hansens stepped into my office late Friday afternoon until they drove away from our house just after 6:00pm on Saturday, the time together was God-ordained. The Holy Spirit knit our hearts from the onset and it is apparent that we will be working with family as we make Hannah’s incredible story of hope into a theatrical film.

 

After 24 hours of processing and 25+ pages of single-spaced typed notes, Liz and Dave asked to meet Hannah’s friends, specifically Erin McAbee and Jacob Robinson. They will meet with Erin to get the perspective of the best friend that Hannah had from childhood – a friend who Hannah wanted with her “above everyone else.” It was Erin who Hannah locked eye contact with as she rode up the escalator to board a plane that would fly her to the largest cancer center in the nation, looking passed her family and a few friends. As we all waved and held back tears, it was Erin that Hannah never took her eyes off of. It was Erin who would sit on the bed with Hannah’s head resting on her lap, waiting patiently as Hannah slept off the nausea. It was Erin that could get a giggle out of Hannah when there was really nothing to giggle about. It was Erin that served Hannah beautifully as only a best friend can do.

 

The Hansens are very interested in Jacob’s perspective, a “stranger to Spartanburg” who as he and his family visited Dorman High School in preparation for relocation to our area, “happened upon” Hannah. As the Robinsons walked down the hall that spring day in 2005, Hannah “just happened” to walk out of a classroom, in jeans and a sweatshirt – not at all prepared to be the face of Dorman High School. I assure you had she known, she would have had on “skinny jeans”, a sweater, and stilts for high heel shoes, regardless of how uncomfortable they may have been touring the halls of Dorman University. The Asst. Principal immediately stopped Hannah and asked if she would do the honors of taking the Robinsons on a tour of Dorman. Hannah being the “Miss Thang” that she was, a leader, a fluent speaker, a confident representative of anything she was involved in, rose to the challenge. From there Hannah and Jacob became friends, and Hannah worked to save Jacob’s academic life in more than one subject on more than one occasion. And a year later when Hannah was fighting for her physical life on a ventilator in Houston, TX, Jacob returned the favor. Their hearts were knit together, not romantically – but out of a pure love for the Lord and for each other.

 

We can’t wait to see how the Lord will use both of these friends in the retelling of Hannah’s story.

 

I’m sharing with you a video that was put together by Lauren Dean for Shandon College Ministries in Columbia, SC and was presented this past weekend. Please take a few minutes to watch this. What an INCREDIBLE answer to the question, “Why Hannah’s Hope Ministries” and “Why a movie about Hannah’s life?” As I watched it, all I could respond as tears flowed was, “Wow…” http://vimeo.com/17062150

 

So you surely see why I pray that I’ll stay out of the way! If I get in the way, I will blow it for sure. I don’t want to be moved out of the way – I want to be right in the middle of what God’s doing! May I be extremely sensitive to His direction, His guidance, His warning signals, His stop signs, His green lights. I ask you to cover all of us with prayers over the ensuing months, Mickey and Deb and the boys, me as Executive Director, Ken Carpenter – the Director/Producer, Liz Hansen – the screenwriter, and her husband, Dave who will be assisting her. And of course we need $2 million to fund this project so we ask you to pray about that as well. I will continue to share prayer requests as we move forward.

 

Job says to the Lord, “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2).

 

“I see what you’ve done. Now see what I’ve done. I’ve opened a door before you that no one can slam shut. You don’t have much strength, I know that; you used what you had to keep my Word. You didn’t deny me when times were rough” (Revelation 3:8 The Msg).

 

Hope

Though He slay me…

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Friday afternoon I visited one of Dr. Corso’s patients. The gentleman is in his late 50′s and is in his last days of a short battle of esophageal cancer. He assured me he is a Christian, but wept as he told me, “I don’t want to die! I will leave behind me the most precious thing that ever happened to me.” He was referring to his wife of only two years. He and his wife lost their first spouses to cancer. Oh how my heart broke for that couple! I believe I said all the right things and quoted all the right scripture and prayed with them before I left. But they were broken hearted. After closing in prayer I found them weeping as they held tightly to each other. I quietly excused myself and left them to grieve.

Saturday afternoon Clay and I sat through several hours of interviewing with the screenwriters. Their names are Dave and Liz. Get acquainted with those names because I have a feeling they will be household names for several months. Dave asked me what I would say to someone who had been through a similar loss as we have with Hannah, is a Christian but their faith is shaken rather than strengthened. Again, just as I did on Friday, I shared my heart praying I said all the right things and referenced all the right scripture. We had an immediate bond with Dave and Liz and enjoyed our time with them very much. But when they left, we were emotionally spent.

That night as I attempted to wind down from two busy days, I relived my conversation with the patient in the hospital room and my answer to Dave’s question, and it hit me. We have to be like Job. No matter how bad our circumstances, no matter how hot the fire or fierce the storm or rough the road, we must believe that God is sovereign and He is in control. Job’s response: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” I don’t serve the Lord because He heals me or a loved one from a horrible cancer. I don’t serve the Lord because He allows me to live to be 100+ years old. I don’t serve the Lord based on His performance of “goodness” to me. I serve Him because He created me in His own image, sent His only Son to die for my sins so that I do not have to pay the penalty of those sins. I get to skip eternal death. I serve Him because He loves me unconditionally. Hence Job’s response - though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.

“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15).

Hope

The greatest Caregiver…

Friday, November 19th, 2010

When we have one storm after another, one trial after another, one disappointment after another, it’s awfully tempting to say, “What’s the use? Are You really there, Lord? Do You really love me? Do You even care what’s going on in my life right now?” Don’t allow yourself to go there. We must trust that He knows what He’s doing, even when everything around us is falling apart.

If our focus is on this life and all it has to offer, you can believe we’ll stay discouraged. If we convince ourselves that we or our loved ones do not deserve … (you fill in the blank), then we will be bitter toward God. As Christians, we must stand on what we know to be the truth and that is God created us in His image for His glory to do with what He chooses to do. Everything will work for the good – that doesn’t mean it’s good right now, but it will end up good. Here is a quote from The Purpose Driven Life…

It is only in God that we discover our origin, our identity, our meaning, our purpose, our significance, and our destiny.

If we are looking to our friends, our family, our career, even our church to determine our significance, our destiny, our purpose in life, we will live in a state of disappointment. But when we accept that God is in control of our lives and He loves us unconditionally and has everything under control, then we will rest – truly rest – in the midst of our fiercest storm.

“I will be your God through all your lifetime…I made you and I will care for you” (Isaiah 46:4 TLB).

I love this verse. He doesn’t say He’ll be my God in the good times. He is my God through all of my lifetime. He is so faithful! Trust Him with whatever has you down today. Trust Him – He made you and He is the greatest Caregiver!

I pray you all have a great weekend. Ken Carpenter and his boys are coming to town today, as is the screenwriter that we have contracted to write the script for the movie. This is exciting news! Dog gone it if we can’t have Hannah, as Deb says often, we want all we can get out of her life! Please pray for Mickey and Deb and the boys through each process of this film. Pray for an immediate “connection” with the screenwriter, who is a female. I love that! I’ll update you on Monday with the details.

I’m most excited that Caleb is coming home tomorrow for 9 days! They’re out of school all next week. What a glorious Thanksgiving week for me! He’s been home two nights since early August. I miss him desperately, but God has been gracious in giving me plenty to keep me busy. Looking forward to the holidays.

Hope

Balancing act…

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

I want to add just a bit more to my devotional yesterday about Martha. While Jesus did reprimand Martha for being so busy that she missed the important stuff going on in the other room, He wasn’t scolding her for having a servant’s heart. Jesus didn’t expect Martha to change from having a strong will, always on the go, always serving, calling the shots personality. After all, the Father created her. He knew what Martha’s personality was. We find later on in Jesus’ journey, six days before His crucifixion, Martha serving at a banquet. What Jesus wanted from Martha was that she have balance in her life. She was spending far too much energy doing everything herself, feeling like she had to be in charge, and was missing the good stuff.

That is encouraging for you and me. We don’t have to change our personality to please the Lord. He wants us to use the personality that He plumbed us with to its greatest potential, but to do so with balance. If you are a peacemaker, which is what I am, there has to be balance. When I first went into management, getting over the mindset that there should be harmony among women was a huge hurdle for me. I couldn’t keep peace all the time. As a matter of fact, I became known as “Hatchet Houchins” because I fired three people in the first few months. I remember feeling all proud of myself for realizing my job was not to make everyone happy. That is hard for me. I am not confrontational. I’d just as soon avoid you as confront you. That’s not healthy. There must be a balancing act in order to reach the potential that God has for me.

Whatever your personality, allow the Lord to use it to grow you spiritually. That may mean you learn to balance between what comes easy for you and what takes work. The Lord will give you what you need for each new assignment. He has equipped you to be successful at the balancing act.

“God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities” (Ephesians 3:8 The Msg).

Hope

Jesus is in the house…

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Tonight’s Bible Study for the ladies is on Martha from Bethany. I’ve so enjoyed making notes for this lesson! Martha had an incredible gift of hospitality. The door to her home was a revolving door to Jesus and His peeps. There are a few different passages that mention in the passing that Jesus spent the night in Bethany. One in particular says that it was getting late so Jesus traveled to Bethany for the night. Jesus knew that He could pop in on Martha, Mary and Lazarus at any time. They were His best friends. One day He and His disciples were lounging around Martha’s house and Mary was sitting at His feet, soaking it up – taking it all in! She couldn’t get enough of what Jesus had to say. Martha, on the other hand, was busy preparing food for the guests. She became quite frustrated with her sister for not helping, to the point of asking Jesus to “make Mary help!” Whine – whine! Jesus was quick to reprimand Martha by reminding her that Mary was getting in on the good stuff. It would be easy to point my finger at Martha, fuss at her and accuse her and judge her motives – after all, Jesus was in the house and she was too busy to appreciate it!  …

I’ll let you apply this to the area it needs to go in your heart. Jesus is in your house. Are you too busy to appreciate it?

“Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve” (Mark 11:11).

“And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night” (Matthew 21:17).

“But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’ ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:40-42).

Hope

A Servant Heart

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Oh Dear Jesus, there is one tree in my backyard that stands out among all the others! It is truly fabulous!!  It is fluorescent yellow and gold!!  It is just gorgeous!!  Thank You for placing that tree right in view from my kitchen sink window!!  Oh thank You and Bless You for shouting through Your creation!!  I took my lunch outside one day this week for a breath of fresh air and just stepping outside gives you an eternal perspective – looking up at the majesty of the sky lifts your thoughts and your spirits!!  Oh Jesus, what must heaven be like? I can only imagine!!!

 

I came to You this morning wanting a scripture to pray for my sons and husband!  But as always, it was for me!! I opened “Praying the Scriptures for your Children” and read from the chapter on praying for a servant’s heart – “having a servant’s heart means you get excited about making someone else successful. Heartfelt service goes beyond merely rejoicing when another person succeeds; it involves taking action that contributes to the victory.”

 

The scripture reference was from I Samuel 18-20 – the story of David and Jonathan – “Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. . .  And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.” Jonathan was the eldest son of King Saul – he stood in line for the kingship – but instead, he risked his life – and ultimately his dynasty – to orchestrate David’s escape and help pave the way for David to take over the kingdom. Jonathan gave up his “crown” for David.  Jonathan aligned himself with the fulfillment of God’s prophecy that David would be king!!!

 

Oh Father, it was me You were speaking to when it talked about giving up “our crowns, our rights, our positions, our time – in order to help other people.” It isn’t about me!  It is about Your purpose being fulfilled in each person’s life – and about my coming alongside others to see that accomplished!  The chapter talked about the passage in John 15:2-3 where Jesus said, “Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. “Motivated by love” so that we can genuinely be excited about serving others – even if it means sacrificing our own needs or desires.

 

Oh Father, I thought about how many people You allowed to sacrifice on our behalf during our journey with Hannah – scores of people! People who prayed, people who gave, people who physically helped, people who sent cards, people who kept others informed of our journey – each of them “taking the nature of a servant” (Phil. 2:7) “loving as You love us!” They partnered with us so that we could walk in “triumphal procession!” They held us up! Their prayers continue to hold us up!! That is the only way!! 

 

I am Your servant, Lord! I am Your servant! Teach me to love and serve others so that You may receive glory and that others may be blessed! As I think about the telling of “Hannah’s Story” through film – not the path I would have chosen for my girls’ life – I pray that You will use me as a servant as I pray for its success! I pray for You to do “exceedingly, abundantly above anything I could ask or imagine to the praise of Your glory.” I pray that You will bless every hand that is involved! I pray that You will bring great glory to Yourself! I pray that You will open doors for many people to experience Your greatness and the reality of who You are to a whole new level – show each person Your favor and bless the efforts of their hands! I pray you will allow me to come alongside in any way You choose so that You receive the greatest glory! And Lord, when the arrows come, take them for me, will You? Lord, there are things that hurt that no one can identify with but You – so You are just going to have to take those for me! Stand between me and the enemy as I pitifully hold up my shield of faith!

 

And Jesus, most of all, bring many people to a saving knowledge of Yourself!  And Father, stir up the hearts of Your people to know and understand that we are not citizens here – we are citizens of Heaven and we are just passing through!!  Oh Jesus, let us pass through this life and this earth with a GREAT BIG BANG as Your servants!

 

I started with my husband and my sons this morning, Lord – give them servant hearts and a desire to see Your will and purposes accomplished – in their lives and in the lives of all those around them!! Allow them to give up their own “agendas, ideas, wills” to align themselves with Your purposes for their lives!! I truly want to honor You, Lord!! Thank You for striving with me – one more day!

 

 

 

 

Had We Only Known…

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

My brother’s only son, Bradley has done a beautiful job honoring his dad by decorating his study with framed memorials and various paraphernalia of Randy’s. Last week when I visited Bradley in his home I was drawn to a framed poem that was penned in Randy’s handwriting. I’m sure I’ve read this poem before, but now that Randy is gone its meaning is magnified. Randy wrote this poem to our Dad just after Daddy passed away February 25, 1998.

Had We Only Known

 

Friday afternoon the Physician ask as a family we meet

By your bedside we would gather feeling defeat

By-pass surgery would have to be done

He said complications, there should be none

The weekend we spent without any fear

Not knowing the tragedy that soon would be near

Monday morning came and you prayed your final prayer

As a family we gathered still unaware

Monday afternoon, the dreadful news came

Complications from past surgery, the Physician would blame

Phone calls and visitors by the hundreds you would receive

Who is this man? Strangers just could not conceive

Days seemed like months as no good news came

We knew in our hearts life would not be the same

Ten days had passed when you gave us the sign

You were ready to see Heaven and you would be fine

Twelve more days friends and family spent in despair

There was no way for that day to prepare

Telling you goodbye was the ultimate task that I’ve had

I was losing a friend, I was losing my Dad

It’s been said your funeral was like none before

A reunion, a celebration, and so much more

Who was this man? Strangers still ask in dismay

He was the greatest Dad, Grandpa, Husband,

Preacher and Friend, we all say

And Had We Only Known that Friday afternoon

What the next month would bring

I don’t believe we would change one single thing!

                                          by Randy E. Nations

 

I took the framed copy down from the wall and made a couple of copies. It means even more now that we no longer have Randy. I folded a copy and have been using it as a bookmark in whatever book I’m reading. This poem brings me comfort in my grief. For Randy to take his own life would lead you to believe that he didn’t “get it” when it came to life. But the truth is, Randy did get it. He fought various addictions his entire adult life. He had a dependency problem, but as for life – he got it. He loved life and lived big. As I read and re-read this poem, I find comfort in knowing that Randy had no regrets with his relationship with Daddy. He was certainly a rebellious teenager, but Randy had settled those issues with Dad years before. It also comforts me to know that had I only known on May 8, 2010 when Randy came to town for our Mother’s Day cookout that I would not see him again on this earth, I don’t believe I would change one single thing. We have great memories from our last family beach trip Labor Day ’09; we have lots of pictures from all of our family gatherings. Ironically, we took no pictures at that Mother’s Day cookout which is so not like my sisters and me. Randy is the only one that had his camera. He looked bad that day, his color was terrible and he was obviously anxious. I probably wouldn’t spend any time looking at pictures from that day if I had any. As I type this I realize that the last time I saw Randy was on Daddy’s birthday, May 8. I’m so thankful that I can say as Randy said, “Had we only known that Saturday afternoon what the next month would bring, I don’t believe we would change one single thing!”

 

So thankful that the Lord allows me to share  my heart with all of you my web family! I hope some of my heart’s cries speak to your heart as well. It is to God that we pour out our hearts – for He is our refuge!

 

“…pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8).

 

Hope

Abide all the while…

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Another lesson we learn from the study of the vine is that it takes four years for the vine to produce its first fruit. Seven years before they are ripe enough to eat, and 16-17 years before they’re fully grown. All the while, the branches abide in the vine, waiting for the fruit to harvest.

grapevine2I don’t know if you all are getting as much from these little tidbit lessons as I am, but I can hardly type for tearing up – again! Guys, it may take YEARS for the Vintner to get us just like He wants us. There is a particular taste He’s after. There is a particular “wine” He longs to produce from our lives. Just because we think we’re ripe, just because we’re comfortable where we are in our spiritual journey, doesn’t mean we’re ready. Whatever the trial, the heartache, the disappointment, the discouragement, recognize it as an opportunity to increase your flavor for Christ. Trust Him to know, as the Master Vintner, what He’s doing, and abide with Him all the while!

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (James 15:5 NKJV).

Hope