Now the Blessing…

Standard
Image

Mom, Grandma Hamson, Me, Great Grandma Poston – 4 generations

Now the Blessing…

On Thanksgiving Day I was in Southern Illinois with my family.  My grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and other extended family live up there and we always have a blast when we’re together.  We had a crazy day!  My grandparents house is no longer big enough to hold all of us so we had Thanksgiving (and later that same day, Christmas) at my grandparents church where my cousin is the pastor.  We met in the fellowship hall, which is right next to the gym.  In the midst of a crazy day of celebrating two holidays, opening presents, eating A LOT, playing volleyball and watching the Cowboys on TV (tear), we slowed down and for a few minutes listened to my grandmother, Mary Hamson give the following testimony.  It was such a blessing to all of us and I wanted to share it with you!

 “Today I would like to tell you about what I call my four years of God’s blessings.  All my life God has blessed me so much, but I took those blessings for granted.  On November 1, 2008 I started my 4 years of blessings.  In the last four years I have had four surgeries 33 radiation treatments, a broken leg and large blood clots in both lungs and among these trials my mother died.  They may not sound like blessings, but through it all I became aware that even in times of trouble God sends so many blessings. 

On November 1, 2008, I had thyroid surgery.  The doctor told me the growth could be malignant and that the growth was wrapped around the vocal cords.  In order to get the growth they may have to cut the vocal chords and I might not be able to speak.  Before I went into surgery my entire family stood around my bed and prayed for me and my church family were praying at home.  Now the blessing…even though it was a scary surgery, the growth was not malignant and I am able to speak to you today!

In December 2009, I went for my annual mammogram and they found a suspicious lump.  They did a biopsy and found it to be malignant.  On December 22, they did surgery to remove the cancer.  Again my family and friends were there for me and God was with me.  After the surgery, I had 33 radiation treatments to make sure they got all of the cancer, which resulted in second-degree burns that doctors could not get to heal.  Now the blessing…God sent a nurse through home health care who was such a great blessing to me!  She had been through a house fire and had been burned on over 70% of her body.  She changed everything I had been doing and within a week the burns were beginning to heal.

Image

with my Great Grandma Poston

January of 2011, I went for my checkup and the cancer had returned.  This time they did more extensive surgery and again my family and church family were there for me. Six weeks after this surgery my mother became terminally ill.  Hospice was called in.  Now the blessing…hospice, yes hospice, was such a blessing to me.  They were so kind and caring and always there when I needed them.  Mom lived for six months.  Although most of this time was difficult there were rare times when we were able to talk and at these times she always told me she loved me.  These were special blessings.  On August 23, 2011, Mom went to be with the Lord.  She wasImage 98 years old.  I was blessed to have had a Christian mother who loved Jesus.  A lot of times when we have heartache, God has a blessing just around the corner.  We buried Mom on Friday and on Saturday our grandson, Jonathan was married and we were blessed with another granddaughter, Kayla.

On Tuesday, March 13 of this year (2012) I completed the task of disposing of mom’s things and had rented her house.  I had been to the doctor and I was still cancer free.  I decided I was going to rest for the remainder of the week but on the following Monday I was going to start Spring Cleaning.  I am a big list maker.  I like to make a list of things I plan to do and be able to cross them off as the job is completed.  So I made my list to start the work the following Monday but God had other plans.  On Friday, I tripped over a floor lamp and fell.  Two hours later I was in the emergency room with a severely broken leg.  The doctor came in the next morning and told me that under no circumstance was I to put any weight on my leg for THREE MONTHS!!  Proverbs 37:1 says “Boast not thyself of tomorrow for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.”  Now the blessing…once again my family and my church were there for us.  The ladies of the church brought in our meals five days a week for over month and my family brought food in on the weekends.  Family and friends cleaned my house, ran errands for us and were there for all our needs.  BLESSINGS!!
 
On May 17, I began to run a fever and again I found myself in the emergency room.  This time I had large blood clots in both lungs that we caused by the broken leg.  The prognosis for my life was not good.  Again, my family and church family began to pray and God heard their prayers.  The doctor came in the following morning and said, “ I am surprised to see you here and still with us.”  BLESSING!! 

Image

A couple of yrs ago. Gma & Gpa Hamson with all with grandkids & great grandkids.

While I was in the hospital I had some very caring nurses.  I had not been able to get into our shower after I broke my leg.  One day I was talking to family members and told them I would be thankful when I could put weight on my leg and get into our shower.  Now the blessing…one of the nurses overheard our conversation.  The next day was Sunday and there were not a lot of patients in the hospital.  She came in early for her shift and took me to a large roll in shower and helped me take a shower!!!  She did that a couple of times while I was in the hospital.  I know it may sound like a small thing, but it was a huge blessing to me. 
 
After two weeks in the hospital, I came home and again my friends and family were there for me.    A couple of weeks after I came home from the hospital, the doctor said I could start walking on my leg.  Of course, I had to have therapy, but today I am able to walk in this room to speak to you.  Blessing.  Until you have a need that you cannot fix yourself you cannot know the blessings of God.  Many of you have had trials in your life, so much worse than what I had, but I encourage you to trust in God in times of your need.  I do not know what the future holds but I do know that God is in complete control and that when bad things happen to us we can blame God and become bitter or we can see the many blessings he gives to us along the way. 
 
It is my prayer that each of you knows my Savior and Friend.  He is a real comfort in time of need.  Jesus said in John 17:33 “In this world ye shall have tribulations: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Image

Gpa & Gma Hamson, me, Gma & Gpa Lee. My Grandpa Lee went home to Heaven in 2009.

 

Advertisements

Wheel or No Wheel?

Standard

When I was a kid I loved being outside – this hasn’t changed much!  I loved riding my bike, building forts, playing with the neighborhood kids, playing basketball, jumping rope and just exploring the neighborhood.  I still remember when I upgraded from my Big Wheels and got my very first scooter.  Now this wasn’t a razor scooter (didn’t have those back then) and it wasn’t a Hoveround (wasn’t quite old enough for one of those, although I do remember when someone gave one to my dad and we used to race it in the office parking lot, but I Imagedigress).  This was an awesome scooter that I placed one foot on and used my other foot to propel me to speeds that I was sure would result in a speeding ticket if a policeman had radar in our neighborhood.  It was mint green, with white wheels and sparkles all over the paint job!  When I was riding that scooter I felt like I was flying!

When I was a kid I also loved to swim.  I learned how to swim when I was about 4 years old and I made a vow to my family that I would conquer the slide when I was 5 so on my 5th birthday they were asking me if I was ready and I responded with, “I said I would go down the slide when I was 5, but I didn’t say when I was 5.”  I believe I braved the slide the day before my 6th birthday!

One day when I was about 8 years old, my sister, Jana and I were in the pool and I had a marvelous idea. I loved my scooter and I loved swimming, so I thought, why not merge the two and see what develops, seems like a great idea! Right?  I ran to the garage and got my scooter (which, by the way, I had just recently washed and waxed, no I am not kidding, I washed my scooter and my bike all the time, gotta keep it classy for the neighborhood, y’all!).  I lowered my scooter down into the pool.  Our pool, like most, sloped from shallow end to the deep end.  I stood on the scooter in the shallow end and waited for it to start to move down the pool.  I had to give it a push and even then because of the resistance of the water, it didn’t move very much.  I was disappointed and I couldn’t believe that no one had ever invented a water scooter, I mean it seemed like a perfectly legit invention to me-I guess that’s more of a jet ski, and yes, I have a story about that, which you can read here.

My sister had decided to get out of the pool and we had a rule that no one could swim alone, so since she was the big sister and calling the shots, I had to get out too.  Problem…my scooter was severely waterlogged and I couldn’t lift it.  I tried and I tried but to no avail.  I did not have the strength to get the scooter out of the pool.  I looked at Jana and said, “Can you please help me get my scooter out of the pool?”  She replied with, “Amber, I’m already dried off, you can do it.  Remember, dad always says ‘where there’s a will there’s a way.’”  I thought she was being ridiculous and she was saying things that my 8-year-old brain did not understand.  I responded with “Jana, I don’t care what dad says, there are 2 wheels on this thing and there’s no way it’s coming out.” I didn’t understand the phrase “where there’s a will there’s a way” and I was misinterpreting “will” & “wheel”. I just took it literally and thought she was talking about wheels and I had two on my scooter.  Finally, Jana helped me and we got the scooter out of the pool.  Little did I know that my dad would choose to tell this story in churches all over the place!

The Bible talks a lot about we as people not having enough strength and it’s true we do not.  Just as I needed Jana’s help to retrieve the scooter from the pool, we need God’s help so much more to face this crazy thing called life.  Life can throw you curve balls in a second and His strength is what we must rely on.  The Bible never says that life will be easy, or that after you become a Christian that all of your problems will disappear.  In fact, it says just the opposite.  Jesus says in John 15:18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”  In Isaiah 43:2 we read “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”  These verses never promise us that all will be peace and happiness; in fact they deliver just the opposite.  God tells us that we are going to go through trials and difficult times, but that He will be there with us every step of the way!  What a promise!  We have the God of the universe, the Creator of the world, the Maker of the Heaven and Earth to rely on!  Take that promise with you today!

Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Philippians 4:19
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Psalm 40:17
“As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer, do not delay, O my God!”

Deuteronomy 31:8
“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

A One-Two Punch by Claire Choisnet (Guest Blog)

Standard

I love fighters.

No – not the likes of “The Real Housewives of Orange County” whose drama exhausts me before their commercial promo is even half over. This respect I have is aimed at a much different kind of brawler.

ImageThe admiration of a good fighter must stem from when I was in 8th grade. You see, that was the year my parents, three younger brothers, and myself took karate together…as a whole family. Talk about dangerous! Not only were my brothers launched into a free world to expound every ounce of their boy-energy by means of kicking, punching, and yelling – but my parents willingly mixed that with me: a hormonal, self-conscious middle-schooler who had no control whatsoever over her emotions.  One night of practice is forever seared into my memory. This night we were sparring, which, in my 8th grade brain, was a fancy way of telling me to “fight to the death!!” Our instructors paired us up and I was paired with…the eldest of my three brothers. He is two years younger than me, but had recently surpassed me in strength, so I was…prideful. This was my chance to show him up in public and I was frantically thinking of every way possible to do that as I strapped on my protective gear to my hands, arms, shins, and (most importantly) my head. My right fist took the first shot – BAM! – his shoulder went back and my pride went through the roof…so high in fact that I was blind-sided by what happened next: the beast was unleashed. Before I knew it – POP! – my chin; WHAP! – my arm; BOOOOOM! – his foot seemed to go completely through my stomach. All of a sudden I realize I’m hunched over, arms covering my face and head until I can’t take anymore and start feigning actual serious injury, hoping to prey on his compassion for a tiny, little, helpless girl who happened to be his sister. That’s right – I cried “uncle.” Though my body hurt a bit, no physical pain lasted half as long as the memory of his gleeful grin knowing he’d soundly won.

Many Christians in today’s society have forgotten they live in a spiritual war much more significant, intense, and devastating than a practice sparring activity. They have thoughtlessly left the Armor of God in a dark corner of their lives to rust and then are rocked when life’s battles leave them cowering with their arms covering their heads. So what do we do? An example to follow comes from David (future King of Israel) and his mighty men as described in 1 Chronicles 12:1-22. These men with David were “equipped…using both the right hand and the left” when they fought battles. They gave all they had all the time. They were not in the mindset of saving energy for later. If they didn’t fight with fervor, passion, and reckless abandonment there would be no “later”! “Mighty men of valor” from another country came to David, who were swift with the sword and had been trained for war. This is the kind of fighter I admire. One of my soul’s deepest desires is to remain well-trained for spiritual war so that I swiftly use the Scripture and Truth God has provided to win the battles before me.

The battle is not coming; it’s here in full force! What will you do?  Sit back and let others fight in your place? Be found crying “uncle” when others’ eternity hangs in the balance? Regardless of what stage of life you’re in, the time for training is now.eowyn_warrior

Two different kinds of people are reading this right now. The first are those who need to be trained. The “mighty men” who came to David’s aid were trained by the other soldiers fighting alongside them. If you need training, here’s some great news: God will train you as you prioritize spending time reading His Word, thinking about it during the day, and asking questions to others who also study the Bible.  Seek out people in your life who are committed to Jesus and the Word of God – meet with them and talk about how the Bible applies to your every day life. Now, if you’re sitting there thinking you’ve “totally got this” then back that train up a bit, because you’re the second kind of person I mentioned earlier. You have a God-given responsibility to pair up with the folks who need training and show them how God’s truth is walked out in real life. Show them how to go beyond just reading God’s word and study it, model godly reactions to hardship, how to confess sin and battle every day to turn from it, how to give love regardless of what you may get back in return, and much more. We all need further training from men and women of valor, passion, strength and undying loyalty, who have gained wisdom from God through their own battles.

Just think – Jesus has decided to use you as a warrior in His army. Be ready and honored to bear the scars and wounds of a battle well fought. Don’t live a life in fear with your arms covering your head as you get pelted.  Instead, my prayer is that God’s “zeal like a man of war” (Isaiah 42:13) will be seen in your life and mine, and that our wounds together will glorify God and prove a battle well fought.

ImageClaire currently lives in Plano, TX but maintains her love for University of Oklahoma football, as seen in this photo with her dad at an OU home football game. She enjoys her job in marketing research  and loves serving her church as director of a young singles class with Prestonwood Baptist Church.  She is one of my closest friends and I am blessed to have her in my life!  Follow Claire on Twitter @ChoiceNet

Spam (not the canned meat)

Standard

ImageI work for Tim Lee Ministries (my Dad’s ministry) and one thing that I do is monitor and update our web site.  Whenever anyone leaves a comment on our web site, I am notified of it and I have to go in and approve it before it is on the site and made public to everyone.  A while back, my email started going crazy with these notifications!  We were getting all kinds of spam emails, everything from “get Viagra now” to “want free books?” I added a captcha to the web site, you know one of those things where the words are distorted, small, hard to read and might as well be in a different language but somehow you’re suppose to be able to read them in order to leave a comment.  Apparently they prove that you’re a human being and not a robot/alien/hacker/spam email!

The captcha helped a lot and we stopped getting spam almost instantaneously!  I just set down and went through the spam emails and marked them all as spam.  There were over 4,000 of them so it took a while but I can assure you it was the highlight of my day (I need a sarcastic font!)

As I was going through and marking “spam” and watching them instantly disappear into some unseen spam folder, I was reminded of how God does the same thing with our sin.  I only had to mark all of those spam messages one time and they were gone, never to be seen again.  Jesus died for all of our sins once.  If we get to where we cannot forgive ourselves and we cannot get past our past, we might as well tell God that when he sent his one and only Son to die, it was not good enough for us.  The Apostle Paul tells us that we needn’t crucify Christ twice.  He died, was buried and rose again to life and rules in power.  Through Him we have the SAME POWER that raised him from the dead.

Image 

Once God forgives your sin, it is cast as far as the east is from the west and it is buried into the depths of the sea never to be used against you again (a little harder to find than a spam folder)!  This is only made possible by Christ’s death on the cross and through his great grace!  The act of confession itself is an act of grace on God’s part.  The fact that He made a way for us to come to Him is giving us grace! 

The next time that you’re deleting those pesky spam emails that we all get, remind yourself that your sins, once confessed to God, are gone forever and you are a new creation in Christ Jesus!

Psalm 103:12 “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”

1 Peter 3:8 “and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.”

Micah 7:19 “He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all oursins into the depths of the sea.”

1 John 1:9  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

2 Corinthians 5:17 “ Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

“Our repentance does not get God’s love.  God’s love enables our repentance.” – Tim Keller

 

Image

This guy freaks me out.

 

The Dumbest Question EVER!!

Standard

Is it possible to ask a stupid question?  Yes, yes it is and this blog is here to prove that!

One day when I was in college I was walking from chapel to class.  My parents were in town and my dad preached in chapel.  While on my way to class, I was stopped by a guy that I did not know.  He said, “Can I ask you a personal question?”  I was thinking, “Sure, I don’t even know your name, but let’s get personal.”  I did not say what I was thinking which is often the case in my life, I instead said “Sure!”

You need to know something about my Dad before reading further.  My father proudly served his country in the United States Marine Corps and in 1971 lost his legs in a landmine explosion in the small country of Vietnam.  He is in a wheelchair.

So, I told this guy that he could ask me a question, little did I know what was about to come out of his mouth would be the dumbest question that I would ever be asked! He said, “Well, I was just wondering, how is it that you were born with legs.”  Oh.  My.  Goodness.  Are you kidding me?  I started looking around for a video camera or something, sure that I was on a hidden camera show.  I looked back at him and I realized that he was being totally serious!  I said to him, “You do know how my dad lost his legs, right?”  He said, “Yeah, he stepped on a bomb in the war.”  I replied with, “THAT’S NOT HEREDITARY!!!!!”

I did not know how to make this guy see that my dad not having legs because of a landmine explosion was not quite the same thing as eye color, skin color, or anything else can be passed on through genetics.  I knew that I was not going to be able to make him understand this when he then offered the follow up question, which was about my siblings, and if they both had legs too.  I assured him that all our limbs were working just fine.  Needless to say, this guy didn’t make it in college for too long.

It is possible to ask a stupid question and it is possible for people to lose their patience with your stupid questions!  For those of you who want a spiritual application with this blog, here it is, but I warn you it’s a stretch:  You cannot ask God a stupid question!  Asking God questions is how we learn more about him and about ourselves.

I encourage you to print this blog, post it on your desk, your fridge, your mirror or wherever you’re sure to see it and when you’re having a bad day, or when you’re feeling a little down about yourself, re-read it and remind yourself, “I’m not as ridiculous as that guy!”  Then take a moment and pat yourself on the back!

Me and Dad on Hill 55 in Danang Vietnam in 2008. It was on this hill that my Dad lost his legs and nearly his life.

One of my Dad’s favorite verses:

Psalm 147:10 “His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man.”

At the Car Wash

Standard

It was March 4, 1999 and I was living in Jacksonville, Florida going to Trinity Baptist College.   I left my dorm one afternoon and sought out a car wash to clean my Chevy Blazer, better known as “The Blaze of Glory!”  I came upon the Sonshine Car Wash and thought it was as good as any!  Now, when I clean my car, I do it right.  I washed and dried the outside and made the tires all shiny then drove forward to the vacuums to clean out the inside, all the while not noticing that the sun had gone down and it was dark.  I was on the driver’s side of the car vacuuming out the floorboard and had just put the quarters into the vacuum when all of a sudden someone grabbed my arm and turned me around.  I was pinned up against the open car door & I dropped the vacuum.  This man who grabbed my arm demanded that I give him the keys to my car.  Now, I know that I should have just given him the keys, but my Texas stubbornness kicked in and I told him “No”.  I actually whispered it because I couldn’t seem to make the words make noise.  At that moment the vacuum shut off; this was either a cheap car wash or God shut off that vacuum, I believe the later.  The man then asked me again and was more forceful this time, I saw another car pulling up to see what was going on so I started to scream and yelled as loud as I could, “No, I’m not giving you the keys to my car!”  He saw the other car and he took off running into a field that was behind the car wash but before he did he took a box cutter and cut a 6”-7” cut on my right arm.

I grabbed my sweet, purple, Nokia and called my best friend, Kristi who was close by at a friend’s apartment and they came and picked me up and took me to the hospital.  While we were there, I spoke with a police officer and the doctor stitched & bandaged my arm.  My sweet khaki cargo shorts & my blue Old Navy fleece were covered in blood.  The doctor gave me a scrub shirt to put on.  Confession: I also wanted the doctor to give me some different pants to put on because when I was first grabbed at the car wash, I peed my pants.  Ok, moving on.

I have been asked several times about the scar on the inside of my right arm.  It’s a pretty easy story for me to tell, now.  After it first happened, I was terrified for a very long time.  I never went anywhere alone, I had a lot of nightmares and I hated the fact that it happened.  However, now I can see how God worked through that terrible situation.

We’ve all had terrible things happen in our lives and we all have scars from them.  Some of the scars are visible and some remain unseen, however God can and wants to work through those scars.  A few years ago at Youth Alive (the youth camp that I’m the coordinator of) I was talking with a girl who was 17 years old and she had been through a similar situation like I had been through at the car wash.  When we started talking, I had no idea about her situation and she did not know about mine, but God knew and he put the two of us together for that very reason.  He knew that I could relate to what she was going through and that I would be able to give her some of the same advice that other people had given me!

Some advice that I was given:

-“We can get a new car, we can’t get a new you.” – my Mom

– “That man took just a few minutes of your life, it’s up to you to decide how much more time he gets.” – Patti Appleby

I’ve thought about those two pieces of advice a lot!  First, No one can ever get a new me.  I am one of a kind and so are you!  God made you to be you and not anyone else!

Second, it was up to me decide if I was going to allow this situation to make me bitter or better.  It was up to me to decide if I was going to give it to God and let him work through it.  It was up to me to decide how much power this continued to have over me.

What happened at the car wash came out of nowhere, which is often the case with difficult things in life.  However, we must remember that nothing surprises God and hard aches do not change who God is.  He is sovereign, holy and good!

The cut on my right arm went deeper than skin level and it took more time to fully heal than was evident on my arm.  This is what happens with our “life scars”.  They take time and attention to heal.  We cannot simply just forget about them.  If I would have forgotten about my arm and never gone to the hospital or any follow up doctors visits, my arm would have gotten infected or worse.  When we try and just cover up our hurts and our wounds instead of learning from them and allowing God to heal them, we end up spiritually infected.

What scars do you have?  Are you allowing God to work on them so that they can heal, or are you trying to sweep them under the rug as if God doesn’t know that they’re there?

The day after the car wash incident, I was at school and I had people coming up to me saying things like, “We heard that he stabbed you seven times in the stomach.”  I was like “Yeah, that happened and I’m hear in chapel today with my arm bandaged.” HA

Romans 8:38-39

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Isaiah 43:1-4
But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.