Archive for July, 2012

Sweet hour of prayer…

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

After our prayer time late tonight Clay and I started singing various songs about prayer. It was such a sweet hour of prayer. Our hearts are heavy as a dear, dear friend at church is nearing the end of her life, and Caleb’s Grandma Ruth continues to hang on – so close to death. And our hearts are so tender to this ministry and the movie, desperately crying to the Lord for wisdom and direction. What a huge blessing to be able to sit in our living room and take our burdens to the Lord, and leave them there. There is great release in crying out I need Thee, Oh I need Thee! Every hour I need thee. When we get to the end of ourselves and only have the Lord to cry to, we find He is sufficient to meet every need and lift every burden and comfort every breaking heart.

Don’t skip your sweet hour of prayer. It is there where you are refueled for the next day.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens” (Psalm 68:19).

Hope

The Miracles are in the Journey…

Monday, July 30th, 2012

I’m enjoying reading the updated version of My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. Oswald goes deep! And often I have to read and re-read in order to get it all. Saturday’s devotional was just what I needed to hear. He talked about how we put too much focus on thinking that God’s plan for our lives is a particular goal, a finished product, a specific event in the future – in other words something to attain, something to grasp on to. But not the case. Often God’s plan is the every day journey. He is working His purpose in our hearts and lives every day, as we work to reach those goals or plans. And Oswald says we may never even reach a particular goal, but if we allow ourselves to grow and get to know God intimately, God has fulfilled His plan along the way.

I thought about the story of Jesus walking on the water. He told His disciples to get in the boat and head to the other side. On the other side they were going to continue ministering to the multitudes, witnessing Jesus at work – touching the blind, healing the sick, raising the dead, you know – everyday Jesus kind of stuff. The disciples thought the purpose of the trip was the destination, but they were wrong. The purpose of the trip was the journey itself. The miracle that Jesus performed specifically and personally for His disciples was on the way over when He came to them walking on the water. They got to witness Jesus at work on the journey, an up-close and personal witness. That was the miracle of the heart for the disciples.

I think for several years now I’ve had it in my head that a movie of Hannah’s life is the miracle – the ultimate plan and purpose for Hannah’s story. And I still believe 100% in my heart that it is God’s plan. But what I see from this Jesus walking on the water story is that God’s plan and purpose is being played out every single day as we work toward the movie. It’s not so much about the goal ahead as it is what He wants to teach us every single day while on the journey. We thought, and still think, that God healing Hannah of the cancer in her lungs on July 21, 2006 was a huge miracle – and it was. But what God taught all of us – the faith that took root, the hope in Christ that grew, those are the real miracles. We thought, and still think, that Hannah being crowned Homecoming Queen 3 weeks before going to heaven was a miracle – and it was. But the change that took place in individuals looking on, the faith that took root, the hope in Christ that grew, those are the real miracles. 

The miracle isn’t the fact that we finally figure out God’s plan and attain it, the miracles are in the journey. It’s God’s plan for us to experience each one. Don’t miss them.

“During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage!’ It is I. Don’t be afraid…Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God’” (Matthew 14:25-27 & 33).

Hope

He’s a trustworthy God…

Friday, July 27th, 2012

I heard from a young lady this morning who is struggling to understand why God’s plan would include the death of her close friend’s mother at such a young age. My response to her was, “I understand. But don’t try to understand God’s ways. It will only frustrate and discourage you. Instead you have to trust Him even when He doesn’t make sense.” Later today Lauren randomly asked me – and I do mean randomly, the question came from nowhere, “What did you learn from Hannah’s journey?” I told her there was a list of things I learned about God, but if I had to summarize it would be that it’s not so much about believing God can answer our prayers, but trusting Him when He doesn’t answer them the way we think He should have.

That’s been my “message” when I speak. God took me from thinking if we believe strong enough and hard enough and long enough and pray diligently enough and keep our faith in check and don’t entertain any unbelief, that He will answer our prayers in the manner in which we ask – to trusting Him when He doesn’t. Because I watched Him be faithful to each of us. I felt His presence, His grace, His mercy, His strength, His comfort. I got to know Him VERY personally. We’ve gotta know Him intimately before we can trust Him. Just as you could never trust your spouse or your parent or your child except that you know them on a deep personal level, you cannot trust your Heavenly Father without knowing Him on a deep personal level.

How can you get to know Him? Check His record. Look at His history. See the things He’s done. Do this by spending time in His word. And then don’t forget what you’ve seen Him do in your own life and in the lives of those around you. Do your homework. And I have no question that if you’ll do this, you’ll learn to trust Him. He has never let anyone down. And you won’t be the first.

“The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7).

“The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy” (Psalm 111:7).

“We must pay more careful attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away” (Hebrews 2:1).

Hope

God of hope…

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

A friend is nearing the end of her battle with cancer. I won’t mention her name as I haven’t asked permission. I have had her and the family heavy on my heart all afternoon. At one point I was trying to concentrate on a marketing piece that I’m working on and could not focus for the sadness. Then How Great Thou Art came on Pandora, and I had to take a break. I pushed my laptop away, sat back in my chair to take a few deep breaths, and before I knew what was happening I was weeping. I mean weeping. I put my face in my hands and just blubbered. I prayed for God to be merciful to her and gracious to her family, to wrap them in peace and comfort. Then I sent a text to her husband that simply said…

“May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace as you trust in Him” (Romans 15:13).

I sent another quick text to her daughter and then tried to pull myself together, but the tears continued as I sang with Selah, Then sings my soul! My Savior God to thee. How great thou art! How great thou art! I could not shake the overwhelming grief for this family. Later as I pulled off of Hwy. 9 into our development I was trying to imagine myself in my friend’s shoes. She’s just a couple of years younger than me. I imagined preparing my heart and mind to say goodbye to Clay and Caleb. Those thoughts were breaking my heart, until I glanced up to the sky as I rounded the fountain at our entrance. I was overtaken by the crystal blue skies with puffy white clouds floating around. I chuckled out loud as I was reminded that the God of hope – hope of eternity with Him – would be standing on the other side to welcome her home! I then knew exactly what I’d be doing if I were in her shoes – I’d have my heart and possibly even my arms wide open saying, “Come get me, Jesus! I’m ready to get outta here!” Because the God of hope who prepares the heart of a Christian for death is the same God of hope who will comfort and heal the hearts of those left behind. And the best part about that hope? We will see our loved agains – not a dream, not a wish, but HOPE – a confident assurance! That truth lifted the cloud of sadness that had been floating over my head all afternoon.

The God of hope, there’s only one of those gods. Our God. And if we trust Him, He will give joy and peace in the midst of death. Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee! How great thou art!

Hope

How Great is the Love the Father has for us!

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

“How Great is the Love the Father has for us that we should be called the children of God – and that is what we are!” I John 3:1

Oh Jesus, how great is Your love for us!  As I awaken this morning that is the scripture You bring to my heart and mind as we near the time when Andrew, the youngest, will leave for college!  What a joy!  What a ride! What a roller-coaster! What a blessing! What a gift!  What a life-changer!

Oh Jesus, I remember being in the corner of the dining room playing with Hannah and Michael and swallowing hard before I told Daddy that we were going to need the closet he was helping us build downstairs that particular weekend because we were going to have another baby – number three! Michael was just a little over a year old! Being an only child himself, I will never forget him saying something like, “Well.”

Andrew was active from the moment he entered the womb! I knew he would be a boy! He began running at 9 months old in the dining room at church during a Christmas party! I can still see the red and green balloons tied to the back of the chairs as I watched him weave in and out!  He has been running ever since that day! What a chase!!

Oh Jesus there is nothing in the world I would trade for the journey and the ride You have had us on for the last 24 years!!  The other day I was thinking, “Wow, what just happened here? What a whirlwind!!”  The days and times with our children are consumed with meeting their needs and getting them where they need to be – just doing the next thing!  Many times we don’t have the luxury of processing, of capturing, the moment we find ourselves in! I hear that is one of the blessings of being a grandparent – a little more time to relish, to ponder the moment!

Oh Jesus, my heart is full to overflowing! Thank You for the blessing! Job said, “Naked came I from my mother’s womb and naked I will return!” The only “thing” we will leave this earth with are the lives of other people! Children are an eternal treasure – an eternal inheritance! We will have the joy of spending eternity in heaven with our children! John said, “I have no greater joy than to know that my children walk in truth.” Oh Jesus, there is no greater joy than to know that our children know You and have a relationship with You – the only relationship they have that will last forever – beyond our days on this earth with them!! “Never will I leave You, never will I forsake You!”

Oh Jesus, I am anticipating the next chapter and I am so grateful for the chapter whose page is about to turn! I know that You will meet me in this new chapter! It will be a life change adjustment – again – just like when You brought new lives through the door! The sounds inside the walls of our home will not be as loud.  The door won’t swing open as often with un-numbered teens coming in and out! It will be a new season with new blessings and it will be a time to ponder and reflect once again about the season that just passed – another time of quietness with You to process all of this!

Oh Jesus, it will be a new season with Mickey – my silver fox – a season of recounting yesterday’s blessings and a season of enjoying that first relationship we began with almost 28 years ago! I want to be a blessing to my husband, Lord! I want to be a blessing! Teach me anew about what it means to be a “help-mate!” Teach me what it means to love my husband!

Oh Jesus, the morning is beautiful and I am so thankful my heart awakened full of praise and thanksgiving to You! I anticipate my walk with You just now! “I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses. . .”  Use my life to be a blessing someone else today! In Your name I ask and pray, Amen!

 

God is there…

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Today Lauren and I attended a ministry luncheon at the local Christian bookstore. In attendance were several local non-profit ministries and I never cease to be amazed by the passions and visions of the various ministries. At the beginning of the meeting each director introduces themselves and their ministry and shares their mission. When it came my turn I was blown away by how freely and comfortably our mission flows from my lips. No preparation, no pre-planning what I was going to say, I just shared my heart and the heart of Hannah’s Hope Ministries. Why would I stutter??! This has absolutely nothing to do with me! Lauren had suggested before we went in that we take a picture of our Hannah’s Hope bracelets and post it on our Facebook page. As I sat back down from sharing our mission with the other ministries I looked down at my bracelet and I was reminded why I was there.

Hannah’s employer at the time she was diagnosed was Robin Allen of Specialty Gifts Galore. Robin designed the bracelet for the purpose of conveying the message that no matter our circumstance, God is there. Here’s the little verse that Robin wrote to go with each colored bead…

Clear beads symbolizes God

When you were born

God was there

When life’s road is filled with flowers

God is there

When you are seeking direction

God is there

When you are feeling blue

God is there

When the sun is shining on your face

God is there

When life is in whirl

God is there

When you are hanging out with the girls

God is there

When you are growing in your faith

God is there

When things are cloudy

God is there – Faithful and True

He will never leave your side!

What a beautiful reminder of our message of hope. No matter what your circumstance, God is there. No matter how bad your day, God is there. No matter how dark your night, God is there. Between every hurdle, God is there. So be content in your circumstances, God’s not going anywhere!

“Be content with what you have, because God has said, ’Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’ (Hebrews 13:5).

Hope

What’s running in the background?

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

One day last week the battery on my iPhone pulled way down way too early in the day. I charge my phone overnight every night and unless I have extended conference calls or keep Pandora running, the battery lasts all day without a problem. But this particular day the phone was blinking “Low Battery” by mid-afternoon. And various programs were running slow and shutting down randomly. So I did what any smart iPhone expert would do. I Googled “Why is my battery not lasting on my iPhone?” And the response I received was “How many programs are running in the background?” I responded audibly, “Whaaat?” Then I Googled how to find out what programs are running in the background. And sure enough there were lots of them. Once I x’d out of them my iPhone returned to its speedy performance.

Then I thought…Hmmm. What’s running in the background of our lives that we have failed to shut down, failed to get out of, failed to confess, failed to abandon, failed to put to rest, that is pulling down our spiritual energy? What’s running in the background that we refuse to deal with that keeps us discouraged or disheartened or depressed? What’s running in the background that we ignore that keeps us from going deep with the Lord? Leaving our junk unattended, refusing to deal with things, tucking away hurts and fears and failures will pull our spiritual energy way down, taking our testimony with it.

Do an inventory of your stuff, identify what needs to be x’d out of, and shut it down. You’ll find new energy to run the race. What’s running in the background?

“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1).

Hope

God doesn’t yawn…

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Yesterday in Sunday School Clay was talking about how our study of the Old Testament is the perfect picture of the roller coaster faith of the Israelites. “The Israelites did evil in the sight of the Lord,” “The Israelites repented and turned their worship to the one true God,” “The Israelites did evil in the sight of the Lord,” “The Israelites repented and turned their worship to the one true God,” “The Israelites did evil in the sight of the Lord,” “The Israelites repented and turned their worship to the one true God,” you get the idea. Clay made the statement that if we’re not careful we’ll be tempted to show up for Sunday School and respond through an exaggerated yawn, “Same ole same ole. They ain’t ever gonna get it right.” And I wrote in my notes, “God doesn’t yawn. And I’m so glad He doesn’t!”

I’m afraid if my life story were penned in the Old Testament it would read, “Hope did evil in the sight of the Lord,” “Hope repented and turned her worship to the one true God,” “Hope did evil in the sight of the Lord,” “Hope repented and turned her worship to the one true God” and on and on. There are those watching my life who probably respond through an exaggerated yawn, “Same ole same ole. She ain’t ever gonna get it right.” But God doesn’t yawn. Instead He does for me just what He did for the Israelites. He forgives me time after time after time. He restores me. He redeems me. No matter how many idols I put before Him, no matter how many times I forget the miracles He’s performed in my life, no matter how many times I question whether He can handle my current situation, no matter how many times I whine and cry and beg for more than a daily provision of manna, He doesn’t yawn. When I bug and beg Him to fill me in on His plans, stop leaving me in the dark, give me a sight walk instead of a faith walk, knowing it’s not gonna happen, He still doesn’t yawn.

What a gracious, patient, and unfailing God He was to the Israelites. What a gracious, patient, and unfailing God He is to you and me.

“They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them” (Nehemiah 9:17).

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. I will build you up again” (Jeremiah 31:3 & 4).

Hope

What’s your “…”?

Friday, July 20th, 2012

“God is our protection and our strength. He always helps in times of trouble. So we will not be afraid even though the earth shakes, or the mountains fall into the sea” (Psalm 46:1 & 2 NCV).

We will not be afraid, even though…

Even though this world is full of evil. Today we hear of the senseless shooting in Aurora, CO killing 12 and injuring 50+ people in a movie theater. How very, very sad. 

Even though the economy is a mess, unemployment is widespread and out the roof, and “our times” seem so uncertain.

Even though the prognosis is grim. Even though the finances are tight. Even though the family is falling apart. Even though parents are aging and caring for them is exhausting. Even though it feels as though God is silent right now. Even though life is as uncertain as it’s ever been. Even though we don’t feel like trusting anyone, particularly a God we cannot see. Even though our heart is broken.

We will not be afraid, even though…

What is your “…”? God is your protection and your strength. Whatever fill your…, God is on it. Don’t be afraid.

Hope

He’ll deliver you…

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

So it’s been a while since I’ve had confession time with my world wide web family. The time has come. The time is now. I have been struggling with the “slow pace” of this movie project. Notice I put “slow pace” in quotes because that’s my definition of the progress of the project. I feel like we’ve been in waiting mode far too long. Notice I said I feel because that’s what this confession is about. How I feel. The past several nights I haven’t slept well at all. At 2:00 yesterday (Wednesday) morning I woke up and could not get the ministry and the movie off my mind. I was awake until after 5:00 revisiting our vision, our mission, our purpose. I finally went back to sleep but when I woke at 6:15 I was no better. As a matter of fact I was worse, adding fatigue to the down-in-the-dump syndrome. I sent Clay to work and Lauren off to run and I closed my bedroom door, laid across my bed, and I unloaded on the Lord. Some of my rantings through a lot of sobbing sounded like this…

Lord, I am so over this waiting thing. I am spinning my wheels. I spend so much time fretting over whether I’m doing all I need to be doing. If this movie is Your plan, and I believe it is, then where are You in this? What are You up to and why won’t You fill me in? I feel like I’ve been traveling on this same road way too long and it’s going nowhere! I need to hear from You!

I was blubbering. And then I picked up my Bible, my Just Like Jesus devotional book by Max Lucado, and my journal and I started listening. The word the Lord spoke to me through Max was this, “Be faithful with the small stuff. The big stuff will come. Confess the areas you need to fix, and remain faithful.” What a word!

“You are a good and faithful servant. I left you in charge of only a little, but now I will put you in charge of much more” (Matthew 25:23 CEV).

I shared all this with Di during our prayer time this morning, and then I turned on Pandora Radio to play some Selah while we prayed, and this is the song that was playing…

You Deliver Me

When I feel like I can’t go on
You deliver me
When the road is winding and way too long
You deliver me

Are you feeling like you can’t go on? Is the road you’re traveling winding and way too long? I encourage you to cry out to the Lord. Get in His Word. Remain faithful. He’ll deliver you. 

Hope