Archive for October, 2011

Let my lifesong sing to You…

Monday, October 31st, 2011

I have heard several people over the past couple of weeks that they have been “reliving” Hannah’s journey lately. I imagine it’s the time of year, and perhaps all the publicity of her story being told in a movie. I know I’ve certainly spent a lot of time thinking about Hannah, missing her, remembering the highs and lows of her illness, and trying to focus on the pre-cancer years. Today we received the following post on our Guestbook…

Hello. My husband, 1 year old daughter and I are in the middle of a move from Alaska to Alabama, with the last leg being a drive from Charlotte south on I-85. We passed Spartanburg many hours ago where I spotted a billboard for Hannah’s movie. I Googled it from my phone and wound up on her Caring Bridge site. I am familiar with Caring Bridge because my mom used it when my sister was in an accident. I read each entry, starting at the oldest and working my way up. We are now passing through Tuskegee, AL and I have not been able to put down your story. I just want you to know that I am praying/ will continue praying for your ministry and (because I’m a mom too) especially for Hannah’s mom’s continued strength. I couldn’t help but think of Mary, who also had to watch her child suffer pain and death. A Momma’s heart is a Momma’s heart no matter the time or place. Your family’s courage and faith is astounding, and what a beautiful daughter you have. She did God’s work on earth and now does it in Heaven! God bless.

Hannah’s lifesong sang praises to the Lord for He was good to her, even on the hardest days in the toughest times during the sickest moments. God was so good and gracious to carry her and give her an amazingly gracious spirit. And that spirit, that lifesong, sang beautifully back to the Lord. And now, five years later, it continues to sing to a young wife/mother who is moving her family from Alaska to Alabama and “just happened” upon the Hannah’s Movie billboards. I’ll never understand why or how Hannah’s story captures so many hearts and won’t let go, except to say that God chose Hannah, and He always chooses well.

One of Hannah’s favorite songs during her illness was Casting Crowns’ Lifesong. I wanna sign Your name at the end of this day knowing that my heart was true. Let my lifesong sing to You. I pray I will be as faithful.

“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever” (Psalm 30:11 & 12).

“I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me” (Psalm 13:6).

Hope

What’s clogging my grace dispenser?

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Well, this morning was another one of those mornings when God took a “word” and seared it to my heart. I did my daily little routine (yes, I’m a creature of habit) of pouring my Pumpkin Spice coffee, arranging my Bible and devos on my ottoman, praying for an encouraging word that I can share with my social network family (Twitter and Facebook), and beginning my “quiet time.” I don’t know why I ever call my time “quiet” because in my house, with two spoiled rotten dogs, never does my time go uninterrupted. Today I opened the Bible first before opening a devotional book and it opened to 2 Timothy 4. At the end of the chapter I had made notes a couple of years ago from a message by Evangelist Len Turner. The first point was…

Christianity still works for grace for disappointments in life, referencing 2 Tim. 4:16…

“At my first defense, no one came to my support, everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them” (2 Tim. 4:16).

So I socially networked this message and ended it with “Dispense some grace today!” I prayed that little mini-word would challenge someone today since it didn’t apply to me. Then I opened Jesus Calling and had one of those searing to the heart moments. Here’s just a blurb from that little book…

Do not expect to be treated fairly in this life. People will say and do hurtful things to you, things that you don’t deserve. When someone mistreats you, try to view it as an opportunity to grow in grace.

My head popped up and I looked away from the book, away from the Bible, away from the dogs, and said, “Okay, God. This is a double searing. Is there someone I haven’t dispensed grace to? Or is someone going to hurt me today and I’ll need this lesson?” When I get a double whammy of a “word” I have to do a serious inventory of my own heart.

Then I attended CPC’s Hallelujah Harvest luncheon and was given an opportunity to share just a short word of what God has been doing this year. I thought to myself, “Forget the year, let me tell you what He did today!” And I shared this grace message and then challenged myself and all the other ladies to be grace dispensers. Later Alexia and Debra at different times said something “smart” in jest to me and I told them they were clogging my grace dispenser!

What or who is clogging your grace dispenser? What circumstance or event do you harbor in your heart that prevents you from dispensing grace to others? Or who unjustly hurt you or mistreated you or lied to you or on you or left you, and you are allowing them to clog your grace dispenser? You can’t get past the hurt, therefore you can’t pray the prayer that Paul challenged Timothy with, “May it not be held against them.” Someone else prayed that prayer. Jesus prayed it for the ones who were mocking Him and beating Him and spitting on Him. “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.” Jesus Christ is the poster child for grace dispenser!

Pinpoint who or what is clogging your grace dispenser, and give it to the Lord. There’s freedom in forgiveness!

My pastor, Danny Garrett is one of the best grace dispensers I know. This month is Pastor Appreciation month, and I appreciate him so much! He spills grace onto everyone he meets, and he teaches his congregation to do the same. May we be good students!!

Have a great weekend. My hubby will celebrate his 47th birthday tomorrow. Yes, I’m a year and one week older than he is, and he reminds me often. But I remind him often who looks the oldest, and it’s not me! (I’m glad I’m married to a grace dispenser…)

Hope

Don’t forfeit peace…

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

This morning during Hannah’s Hope prayer time it seemed that we prayed a lot for individuals and family members who need to lay their burdens at the feet of Jesus. Last night at Judgement House I prayed with three ladies who were trying to carry the load of family members with so many needs. I prayed 1 Peter 5:7 with each of them and then prayed it again this morning for several friends and family.

“Cast all your cares and anxieties on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

After I prayed this scripture, Deb prayed the hymn, Oh what peace we often forfeit! Oh what needless pain we bear. All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

When we choose to hold onto our problems, carry our own burdens, control that which we cannot control, we forfeit peace. We bear needless pain. If we will carry it – whatever it is – to God and lay it at His feet – and leave it there, we won’t have to forfeit! We can continue on in the game of life with peace that passes understanding.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

Hope

All we have to do is reach out…

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

I heard the sweetest story from a Dad yesterday. He’s a prominent politician and has a 3 year old little girl with special needs. This Dad was sharing that when his little girl was an infant she had a life threatening emergency which landed them in the ER. As the baby girl was lying on the stretcher and her Mom was on one side comforting her, she stretched her tiny arm toward her Daddy. He reached for her outstretched hand and she wrapped her little fingers around his pinky, clinging to it with all the life she had. He tells that he immediately fell to his knees and committed to do everything within his power to give this little girl life. 

What a beautiful picture of how we must depend on our Heavenly Father! When life plunges us into a crisis and we’re fighting for our life, whether literally or figuratively, and we’re too weak to jump in His arms for protection, all we can do is reach out to our Abba Father, our Papa. He will stretch out His mighty hand and allow us to grasp His pinky and cling to it with all that is within us. He will provide strength and energy and courage to face whatever comes our way. All we have to do is reach out. God is committed to bringing us through in His way, in His time, in His plan.

“For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you” (Isaiah 41:13).

Hope

That sounds like home to me…

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

After I finished my devotional yesterday I found myself singing the old southern gospel song…

That sounds like home to me, like where I want to be.

There’ll be no tears to fill our eyes again.

The hills will echo with the story as we sing of His grace and glory.

Where the saints of God will be–that sounds like home to me.

I guess you can say I’m on a heaven kick this week. This time of year is always very emotional for us as we’re reminded of the season when we were watching Hannah’s earthly body waste away, while her inner body, her faith, her hope, her resolve grew stronger. On October 25, 2006 – five years ago today, I returned from a business trip to Las Vegas. On my flight out to Vegas on my birthday I had a vision of heaven. Below is my journal from that day…

October 21, 2006: As the plane ascended from Greenville/Spartanburg early on this Saturday morning for my short leg to Atlanta, uncontrollable tears began to stream down my face. I sat with my eyes closed, and I cried and prayed and cried and prayed for peace and comfort concerning Hannah. With my eyes closed and tears still streaming, I began humming quietly “I can only imagine when that day comes…” and as I reached the chorus in my mind, I leaned over and raised the shade from the small window on the plane. At that very moment we had reached our desired ascent and the beautiful, fluffy clouds were surrounding us. The clouds were layered like I had never seen and the evidence of the sun was beaming around each, the sun itself actually hid behind the biggest cloud. Immediately I sang to myself “Surrounded by your glory! What will my heart feel? Will I dance for you, Jesus, or in awe of you be still?” and God gave me an indescribable peace that He was going to heal Hannah by taking her to be with Him. It was very sobering and very heartbreaking, yet there was a peace and comfort with the confirmation. I felt in my heart that Hannah was not going to survive this cancer. God was going to do a greater miracle. I had no idea what that meant…

Surrounded by His glory? That sounds like home to me. No more sickness, no more pain? That sounds like home to me. Where the saints of God will be? That sounds like home to me. Hannah wasn’t home at 769 Gatewood Drive in Roebuck, SC, though on this earth it was as homey and comfy as she could have asked for. We’ve said many times since she passed away that as she drew her first breath in heaven she surely said, “What in the world was I holding on to? I’m home!” Finding out what heaven holds – that sounds like home to me, like where I want to be.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Hope

What heaven holds…

Monday, October 24th, 2011

We’ve had over 100 salvations in Judgement House at Cudd Memorial so far, and we still have one more night of presentations. Wow! As I scanned the signature board that everyone who comes through for prayer signs, I was convicted of my own apathy to someone choosing salvation. We have three permanent markers available for signing the large banner that hangs on the wall as you exit the counseling area – red for salvation, green for rededication and blue for prayer. As of the end of the night there were over 100 names written in red – written in red! The blood of Jesus!! He has provided a way for each of us to have our names written in the Lamb’s book of life for eternity! Why the apathy?? What is wrong with me that I could ever take such an eternal decision for granted?

This morning I opened Grace for the Moment and there it was, today’s devotional aiming straight for my heart. I’ll quote just a small section of Max Lucado’s words…Why do Jesus and the angels rejoice over one repenting sinner? Can they see something we can’t? Do they know something we don’t? Absolutely. They know what heaven holds. The Bible tells us that all of heaven rejoices when one person repents. Why do they do that? Because they’re already there, and they KNOW what heaven holds! If you and I could catch just a glimpse of what heaven holds, there would be no apathy! Every time someone escapes the clutches of Satan and hell and secures their eternal home in heaven, heaven rejoices – and so should we!

I don’t know what all heaven holds, but I know it’s gonna be good.

“There is joy in the presence of the angels of God when one sinner changes his heart and life” (Luke 15:10 NCV).

Hope

Pause at the base of the cross…

Friday, October 21st, 2011

I love this quote from Max Lucado…

Pause at the base of the cross and be reminded of this: The maker of the stars would rather die for you than live without you.

Often we dwell on the fact that Christ is risen and is in heaven preparing a place for us and we can’t wait to get there, and there’s nothing wrong with that! Our hope is there – in the resurrection and eternity! But where we get a true picture of how much God loves us is when we pause at the base of the cross. What pain, what sorrow, what loneliness, what DEATH, God put His Son through. And it was for one reason. Because He – the Maker of the stars – would rather die for me than live without me. Jesus Christ’s death had to take place in order for me to spend eternity with Him. He took extreme measures to secure us a place in heaven. Let’s not take that for granted.

Take a few minutes to pause at the base of the cross, and thank God for what He did for you.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8)

Today’s my 48th birthday – and it’s been a great one! My family and friends have been so good me and I appreciate it so much. 48 years, my my my. Where has the time gone? I sent Caleb a text this morning that said, “Today’s your mother’s birthday. You should call her.” It worked!

Have a great weekend!

Hope

A miserable waste of time…

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

We’re all guilty of wasting time from time to time, but for the most part we’re far too busy to spend time wasting time. Our time is valuable. We have more on our “To Do” list than we’ll ever get done! Yet ALL of us are guilty of one mindless activity that is the most miserable way of wasting time. Worry. Look at this verse from the New Century Version…

‎”You cannot add any time to your life by worrying about it” (Matt. 6:27)

If worry doesn’t add any time to our life, then it’s a waste of time. Worry doesn’t buy us one ounce of anything. If we’re worrying about our kids, it will not protect their life or keep them healthy or put clothes on their back or ensure a solid Christian mate. Worrying about our kids does nothing but give their parent a headache or ulcer or depression. If we’re worrying about our finances, it won’t pay a power bill or a car payment or put groceries in our pantries or make a house payment. If we’re worrying about a sick loved one, it won’t buy them a second of life. Worrying doesn’t get us anywhere. It is a miserable way to waste our time.

So give it up! Trust that “worry” in the hands of the God of the Universe, the only One Who is in real control of your circumstances.

Hope

His mercy not my goodness…

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Again tonight at Judgement House I prayed with a 15 year old girl who said, “I know I’m a Christian but I just keep messing up! I have a hard time believing God would love me as weak as I am.” Broke my heart! She is a beautiful girl, athletic yet glamorous. She says she knows her parents love her but they don’t act like it most of the time. They let her know regularly how much she disappoints them. I was so glad to be able to look her square in the eyes and assure her that God loves her unconditionally with an everlasting love, and that He keeps no record of wrongs.

God doesn’t love us because we’re righteous. He loves us because He created us in His image for His purpose. Therefore we can go to Him with boldness not because of our goodness but because of His mercy. Amen!

‎”We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy” (Daniel 9:18).

Hope

I’m using my imagination…

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

If you haven’t read my “Use Your Imagination” devotional that I posted earlier today, be sure to scroll down and read it.

I’m doing something today I’ve never done before. I’m using my imagination to elbow out the logic and make room for a miracle! As I was praying for the financial need for the ministry in the wee hours of this morning, I was reminded of something Alexia Newman shared with me a few years back. Alexia is Executive Director of Carolina Pregnancy Center, and CPC is funded largely by small donations. In Alexia’s words, “It is the many faithful individuals who give $10.00 a month that keep us afloat.” It occurred to me that this can be true for Hannah’s Hope Ministries as well! According to our web stats, we have over 3,200 unique visitors each month to this site. 3,200 individuals follow our devotionals! That’s crazy – and a HUGE blessing! I have no idea where you live, how you heard about us, or why you continue to faithfully read our blog and pray for us. But I say to you, Thank you! May God richly bless you for your faithfulness to us.

Here’s my plea. I’d like to ask you, our web family – those who watched as God used Hannah’s life to write a beautiful story, those whose hearts were drawn to the story and whose lives were impacted personally by her testimony, or those who have jumped on board since Hannah moved to heaven – to consider supporting Hannah’s Hope Ministries financially in a small way. We are sustained 100% by contributions and God has used individuals such as you to keep us afloat for almost five years. Will you consider making a monthly donation of $10.00 to Hannah’s Hope Ministries? Your contribution will allow us to continue ministering to individuals and families in life crisis through personal visits, phone calls, emails, and posting daily devotionals. What a privilege it is for me to share my heart with you every day! May I never take that for granted! And may I always be faithful to my post!

If you would be willing to become a monthly donor, you may make the donation in one of two ways…

1. Make online donations: Visit our Home Page, scroll to the bottom, click on Make a Donation and follow the instructions. Or…

2. Mail your donation to:

Hannah’s Hope Ministries

P. O. Box 5802

Spartanburg, SC 29304

Thank you for allowing me to make my plea. And thank you for praying about partnering with us financially. I love you all and look forward to many years of web fellowship with you! If you already support us financially, please accept our heartfelt gratitude and join us in prayer for additional donors.

“With God’s power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20 NCV).

Keep believing,

Hope Houchins

Executive Director