Archive for September, 2013

You’re an Overcomer!

Monday, September 30th, 2013

I absolutely LOVE Mandisa’s latest song, Overcomer. It’s all I can do to keep my hands down when it comes on the radio. 

Everybody’s been down
Hit the bottom, hit the ground
Oh, you’re not alone
Just take a breath, don’t forget
Hang on to His promises
He wants You to know…You’re an Overcomer!

Today is Caleb’s 22nd birthday. It doesn’t seem possible. Where have the years gone?? The Lord was gracious to allow me to go to Myrtle Beach this past weekend and spend some good quality time with Caleb. He is no longer a kid for sure. He has grown into a mature, responsible adult. Di went with me, and she and I laughed ourselves silly at Caleb. He is a great story teller and impersonator. He can sound like all his friends – and their parents – and tells hilarious stories on them. We reminisced back to junior high days. He impersonated teachers and coaches. And then he got philosophical on us. He sat across the booth from Di and me, looked us square in the eyes and talked about one adult in particular who caused him a lot of grief from junior high on. But rather than let it make Caleb bitter he has allowed that struggle and obstacle to make him better. He talked about the life lessons that he learned through those years. He believes he is a better person with more drive and determination because of the conflict. There wasn’t much I could add to what he said. And then somehow the conversation turned to my brother, who Caleb affectionately calls Uncle Randy. He couldn’t talk about Randy’s suicide without tearing up. He talked about always knowing that something about Randy just wasn’t right. No matter how successful he was, how much money he made, how proud he was of his son and grandson, Randy lacked peace. Caleb could hardly talk about it. We changed the subject and started talking about sports. He talked about the success of his buddies that are now playing college football. One is the backup quarterback for South Carolina, one is a defensive tackle for Charleston Southern, one is no longer playing football for Vanderbilt but is getting his education there. Caleb spoke so highly of those boys he grew up with. They were always in the same circle of friends from 1st grade on. Then we talked about his plans for finishing up college and post-college. He wants to “settle down, get married and have a family” fairly quickly after getting out of college. He plans to come home in December of this year and finish his studies at University of South Carolina Upstate. Coastal Carolina doesn’t offer Secondary Education and Caleb plans to teach High School English. So he will finish this semester at Coastal and then move home to complete his last two semesters at Upstate. He has mixed emotions about leaving the beach, but he knows he’s making the right decision for his future. The conversation among the three of us was easy, and Di and I both left there amazed by Caleb’s maturity, his quick wit, and his solid, level-headed plans. After we hugged him bye for the day, Di said to me as we sat down in the car, “Makes you wanna tear up. He is a fine young man.”

Caleb is an overcomer. He has overcome the divorce of his parents at the young age of 5. He ran into more “stuff” in the sports arena of his life than most kids do in a lifetime. I wouldn’t dare dig that mess back up. Caleb has faced many temptations and had many opportunities to “blow it” by attending college at the beach. And while all of his decisions haven’t been good ones, he has done well staying the course. Overall he’s done a remarkable job living on his own 4 hours from home. And although I wish he were more vocal with his faith (you know us moms, we always want more!), Caleb is solid. He’s grounded. Di and I attended church with him yesterday morning at Grand Strand Baptist where he has been going the past several semesters, and then we took him to lunch for his birthday before we headed home. At lunch we talked about the church and the pastor and the sermon that morning. Caleb is still searching for God’s will, God’s plan, God’s direction. He’s still dallying and hasn’t completely sold out. But he’s not throwing in the towel. He’s not frustrated. He’s not anxious or worried about the “next thing” in his life. He is content. Caleb has allowed the deaths in our family, the deaths of friends, the disappointments and fears in life to mold him, and he is solid. Not that he makes the best decisions always. Not that he is Billy Graham, Jr. But Caleb is an overcomer. Not because of me, not because of his dad, not because of Clay’s influence on his life, but because Caleb has accepted Christ. And through Christ we have all been made more than conquerors.  Amen! I can’t wait to see what all the Lord has for Caleb in the immediate future as well as down the road.

Happy 22nd Birthday to Caleb Cabiness, the joy of my life! Thank you for allowing me to brag on him just a bit.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).

Hope

It’s a good plan…

Friday, September 27th, 2013

My friend, Melissa said in her prayer Wednesday night, “You have a plan for us, God. And it’s a good plan.” My mind immediately went to Jeremiah 29:11. Let me give you a short version of the background of this verse. God’s people had been drug off to Babylon. They were in captivity a loooong way from home. Jeremiah was back at home praying for his people. God told Jeremiah to take a letter. So Jeremiah got out his pen and paper and God said, “Tell my people this. I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and future.” And imagine with me Jeremiah’s cousins as they opened the letter and read the good news straight from the Lord. God has a plan for me! And it’s not just any plan, it’s a good plan! 

Here’s a word for you. It’s not a long devotional. It’s not a lot of what my Mom would call “carrying on foolishness” like I sometimes do. But let me tell you, it’s powerful!! Is your life a mess? Is your marriage falling apart? Is your health declining? Or is a family member’s health declining? Are you struggling financially? Have you lost your job? Or have things changed so drastically at work that it’s no longer fun? Has one of your children strayed? You may be drug off to some foreign land of exile and you’re living in captivity to grief or pain or depression or financial ruin. I have a message for you, straight from the Lord.

Dear (insert your name here),

I know the plans I have for you, My child. Those plans are to prosper you and not to harm you. My plans will give you a hope and a future. Please trust Me today.

Love,

Your Heavenly Father

God doesn’t have just any plan for you. He has a firm plan. And it’s a good plan. Trust Him to carry it through.

Hope

He’s good at breaking falls…

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

I heard a story today of a young man who was skydiving and the parachute that was supposed to be 20 feet wide malfunctioned, and the guy dropped 1200 feet with a 4-foot-wide section of the parachute. He should have plummeted, and he did. He should have crashed tragically on the ground, but he didn’t. As a matter of fact he walked away from the fall. His mother was telling the story and she said,  ”It was nothing short of a miracle. God kept him from getting killed that day.” The radio DJ said, “He’s good at breaking falls.”

Spiritually I have fallen more times than I can count. I have thought that the earthly “thing” I was holding onto was all I needed to carry me, only to find out that “thing” failed me. I should have plummeted, and I did. I should have crashed tragically, but I didn’t. Because God is good at breaking falls. He sees us holding on to things of this world that cannot hold us, cannot carry us, cannot save us. He knows that the fall could be fatal. But He is always ready to save us. Just when we think we’re going down for the final fall, all we have to do is call on God and He will step in. He’s good at breaking falls.

“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand” (Psalm 37:23 & 24).

“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress” (Psalm 107:13).

Hope

Go back to Jesus…

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Tonight during choir practice we were struggling with a particular line and our music minister said, “We’re not getting the timing just right. Let’s go back to Jesus.” What he was referring to was that the beginning line of the chorus which starts with Jesus. But what a great statement! When the timing of life is off, go back to Jesus. When the beat is off, go back to Jesus. When the tune is off, go back to Jesus. Jesus is the perfect place to re-start. He’s the perfect place to get back in line. He’s the perfect place to get on tune. He’s the perfect place to get your timing right.

No matter what is wrong, go back to Jesus. No matter how far off key your life is, go back to Jesus. No matter how deep your sorrow, go back to Jesus. No matter how angry or bitter or frustrated, go back to Jesus. Allow Him to get your life back on track. He will put a song in your heart and will make your path straight. Go back to Jesus.

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him” (Psalm 28:7).

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6).

“In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:6).

Hope

Nothing stumps God…

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Some things just stump me. I can’t figure them out to save my life. They whys of this life seem endless when I focus on the details that surround every day stuff. Just this evening I heard the words, “I just don’t understand…” three times. I could start with those four words and make quite a list. I just don’t understand why innocent people get killed in brutal shootings. I just don’t understand why good Christian people seem to get the short end of the stick. I just don’t understand how a marriage that appears to have all the right stuff going on falls apart. I just don’t understand why a young vibrant 17 year old girl would come down with a horrible terminal cancer. I just don’t understand…you fill in the blank. You have your own list I’m sure.

Nothing stumps God. We don’t understand many things and we never will. But God is never stumped. We’ll never hear God say, “I just don’t understand” because He does understand. He totally gets it, whatever “it” is. He sees all, knows all, understands all. God sees the end from the beginning. He sees the storm from the other side. He sees the rainbow when all we see are clouds. God gets it. So why in the world don’t we trust Him with our lack of understanding? Why not trust a God Who’s never stumped? I think I will.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8 & 9).

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5 & 6).

Hope

Heart-healthy food…

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

I opened a new window browser on the Internet today and an article popped up concerning heart-healthy foods. And I heard two radio segments today on what type foods to eat to keep your heart healthy. One of which is, are you ready for this? Chocolate. Yes! Chocolate! It’s good for your memory too, so revealed the most recent scientific research. If a handful of M&Ms will help me remember why I went from one room to another, I’ll try it. It will be a sacrifice, but you do what you have to do to stay healthy. The article that popped up was announcing that the more colorful the food, the more heart-healthy it is. And there was the cutest picture of fruits and veggies shaped like a heart. The article says you can’t eat too many raw veggies and berries. They’re just so good for you. I wish I had taken a picture of my lunch that I had already packed for today before reading the article. In a 3-section dish I had raw veggies – broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots; a cup of mixed berries – blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries; and the small section had 2 tablespoons of Palmetto Cheese (pimento cheese made in Pawleys Island, SC. If you haven’t tried it and you’re in the state, you must try it!) in which I dipped my veggies. My plate was very colorful and quite healthy. I was all proud when I learned that colorful is healthy. I’m thinking a pretty bright pink strawberry ice cream cone must surely fall in that category (along with the green, red, yellow and blue M&Ms of course)!

I heard from a wife and mother early this morning who was just devastated after a pretty serious altercation with her husband. It’s a second marriage for both of them so there’s the stepdad / stepchildren situation that is never easy – never. While I was talking to her, my Word Alert popped up on my phone. It said…

“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble” (Psalm 9:9).

I was blown away by the timing. It did my heart good to share the verse with that little family because I knew it would encourage their hearts. God’s word is heart-healthy. You can’t eat too much of His words. They’re just so stinking good for your soul! No matter how unhealthy the situation you find yourself, God has a Word to help you and encourage you. Every word on every page of the Bible is heart-healthy. There’s nothing more unsettling than a heavy heart, a broken heart, a lonely heart, a frightened heart, an uncertain heart, an insecure heart, a grieving heart. God has a message for you, an appropriate word for whatever condition your heart is in. Please take a few minutes and read it. As important as it is that we take care of our physical heart in order that we may live life to the fullest, much more critical is the need to take care of our spiritual heart in order to live life to the fullest. God’s all about physical health, and He’s even more about spiritual health.

Make heart-healthy choices today. Get in God’s word. Taste and see how good it is.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him” (Psalm 34:8).

“When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty” (Jeremiah 15:6).

“If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction” (Psalm 119:92).

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23).

I could go on and on with these scriptures. I’ll let you dig through some more for yourself. The Bible, the ultimate heart-healthy food!

Hope

Look up…

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Yesterday I encouraged you and me to step out. Today I’m strongly suggesting that we look up. As Clay often says to the Sunday School class, if this doesn’t apply to you, please sit quietly while I talk to myself. I woke up with Hannah’s verse on my mind and heart this morning…

“I lift my eyes unto the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord – the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1 & 2).

I’m sure I’ve told you this story, but it’s worth repeating. Right after Hannah and her parents left for M. D. Anderson, at the prompting of a family friend I created the Caringbridge website. I wanted to put a Bible verse in the header for all to see when they logged on to the site. So I asked Hannah over the phone if she had a preference for what verse I used. She gave me Psalm 121:1 & 2. Hannah was in a fight for her life. She could not put her eyes on her circumstances. She could not put her eyes on the best sarcoma specialist in the country. She could not put her eyes on her Mom or her Dad or any of her family. She could not put her eyes on chemotherapy or all-natural supplements. Hannah knew where her help came from. She lifted her eyes to the hills because it was there – with the Maker of heaven and earth – where she found hope and encouragement and peace and strength for each day.

If my eyes are on my surroundings, they’re gonna be clouded. If my eyes are on my circumstances, they’re gonna be flooded with tears. If my eyes are on this world and all it has to offer, they’re gonna be weak with disappointment. If my eyes are on man – any man or woman, they’re gonna be burning with disappointment. My eyes must be fixed on one thing, and that’s the hills from whence my help comes from. The Psalmist is speaking of Jerusalem, the holy city on a hill. And the scriptures are calling us to lift our eyes to the Lord who is God of the holy city – He is the Maker of heaven and earth. Because it is with our Creator that our help rests. He holds our escape. He holds our hope. He holds our future. He holds our reason for keeping on in the faith.

Look up…

Hope

Step out…

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

I’ve talked to three individuals in the past two days who know they need to make a change in their life. One needs to walk away from a dead end relationship before her heart gets any deeper. One needs to change jobs. And one needs to make some very difficult changes in order to save her marriage. All three know that the changes that need to be made must be made, and those changes are frightening. The easiest thing to do is do nothing. But the right thing to do is step out. I thought about Britt Nicole’s song, Walk on the Water…

When you take that first step 
Into the unknown 
You know that He won’t let you go 

So what are you waiting for? 
What do you have to lose? 
Your insecurities try to alter you…

Your faith is all 
It takes in you 
You can walk on the water too

Walking on water to meet Jesus was all about Peter’s faith. He could’ve walked the entire sea had he kept his eyes on Jesus. Or he could’ve drown in a small creek had he never put his eyes on Jesus. The size or amount of water had nothing to do with it. It was all about Peter’s faith, and Peter’s doubt. He stepped out, and then he got scared. Jesus reached out and saved Peter and then encouraged him to believe. He says the same to my three friends, and He says the same to you and me. Step out, and then believe in and on Jesus to give you the strength and the courage to keep walking. Do you have a difficult decision to make? What are you waiting for? What do you have to lose? You can walk on the water too. It’s all about faith. Step out.

“But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ ‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’ ‘Come,’ he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’” (Matthew 14:27-31).

Hope

Gotta come near…

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

I’m terrible at reading lips. Terrible! And with all that vies for my thoughts and attention, I have a hard time hearing someone who is speaking quietly. I don’t do well tuning out interference, so I have to get really close to the person who is speaking to me. I don’t think I’m hard of hearing. I think I’m hard of concentrating.

God often speaks to us in a still small voice. He doesn’t yell, He doesn’t shout, He doesn’t get on a megaphone and call out orders to us. He speaks through the Holy Spirit – softly but clearly. And just as we have to be close to someone who is speaking quietly, we must be close to the Lord in order to hear His voice. We can’t keep Him at a distance, contacting Him only when we need something and expect to hear His voice. We can’t keep Him at arm’s length in order to do our own thing on our own time and expect to hear His voice. He tells us to come near to Him and He will come near to us. Those are His stipulations. I encourage you to do what you must in order to hear His voice. He always has good things to say.

“Come near to God and He will come near to you” (James 4:8).

Hope

Don’t let the mad get in the way of the glad…

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

A pastor made this statement in a mini-sermon segment today, “Don’t let the mad get in the way of the glad.” He was referring to our relationships with our spouses. So often we get mad at our spouse and let that mad far outweigh the gladness that the spouse brings to our lives. I remember a conversation I had with Deb very early on in my marriage to her brother. Clay was working a lot of hours and traveling out of town and out of the country often. He’d call and say he was headed home and then get caught up doing something else at work and an hour and half later he’d come home. I would be so aggravated with him that I’d spend most of the evening fuming. Deb said to me, “Redeem the time you have with him.” She went on to tell me that she was the same way early in her marriage to Mickey. Being an athletic trainer he is gone most all daylight hours and then some during the fall. She said she would pout and not talk to him, thus wasting what little time she had with him. She encouraged me to do as she has done and that is take advantage of the time we have together, knowing that there’s not much to be gained from the silent treatment. That very good advice has stuck with me for now almost 15 years, and I’ve had the opportunity to share it with many young ladies and even older ladies over the years. I still don’t get it right all the time, like last night. Clay left the house right at dark-thirty riding his bike to USC Upstate. I was following him in the truck with plans to run at Upstate while he rode his bike. I sat at the stop sign at Hwy. 9 and watched as Clay crossed the very busy Hwy. 9 on a bicycle, and almost lost my breath as he crossed in front of a very fast moving car. I was so upset with him that I fussed for probably 30 minutes after we got home. He finally said, “Hope, I appreciate your love and your fear for what could have happened. But it didn’t. Can’t we just be glad I’m alive and not dwell on the what if?” Don’t let the mad get in the way of the glad.

This same advice can be applied to any relationship, or any situation we find ourselves in. Don’t let the mad get in the way of the glad. Redeem the time you have with those you love, enjoying every minute of gladness. And we can take it even deeper. How much time do you spend mad at God for something He did or didn’t do that went against your plans or wishes? Don’t let the mad get in the way of the glad in your relationship with the Lord. Redeem the time.

“Make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:5b & 6a).

Hope