notesbynora

Walking by Faith Alone

Archive for August 2011

If a frog had wings

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Barbra Streisand sang it best, “…if we had the chance to do it all again, tell me would we? Could we?” From the sound track of the movie “The Way We Were” who hasn’t imagined the possibility of doing it all over again, to step back into those photographs hanging on the walls of our homes, to hear the voice of a loved one no longer on earth, to relive, to change…oh the possibilities, if only.

Today is one of those days for me. We all have them. Days when we long to return to what could’ve been, should’ve been, would’ve been… if only.

My grandmother used to say, “If a frog had wings he wouldn’t hit his butt when he jumped.” The image of such brought laughter to me as a child. My brother Lindsey often replied, “but Mama Dolly he doesn’t.”

“Exactly…” she answered. Responding to our confused expressions, Mama Dolly would lean close to our ears and whisper, “If a frog had wings, he wouldn’t be a frog.”

Hart recently turned 15 and once again I have a live-in chauffeur. For me it is such a treat not to have to drive. As a mother of six, I have been a taxi cab service for quite awhile with no fare. When she first started, I would often remind her about the side mirrors and rear view mirror, “Glance in your mirrors off and on so that you know what’s behind you but keep your eyes on the road ahead.”

The more memories we have behind us, the more likely to look back and wonder if only we’d made this decision…if only we’d taken this turn, said these words, joined this group…if only we’d been in this place and not that place…but then we wouldn’t be who we are. Every experience, good or bad, imprints our souls to create the people we are today. And today’s experiences will impact the people we are becoming.

Psalm 16: 11, “You have made known to me the path of life…” 

My son Ben works as a raft guide during college breaks to earn some extra money. Truth be known, if he didn’t get paid, he would still do it because of his love of nature and adventure. To those in his raft, the currents and rocks are unknown and can be frightening but Ben knows how to navigate the river in such a way as to give his customers the best ride. I often imagine God as the guide of my life in the same way. Sometimes the rapids are rough but He knows the river and while I might think I’m going to flip over (and sometimes I do), He will always rescue me. The more difficult a current He gets me through, the easier it is to rely on Him the next level of rapid.

Memories are our rear view mirrors, they serve to give us glances of the past, reminders of where we’ve been; however, to move forward, we have to keep our eyes on the road ahead. And if we had the chance to do it all over again? We wouldn’t be frogs. We wouldn’t be who we are.

Charles Kettering, inventor of the incubator for premature infants, freon for air-conditioners, and head researcher for GM, wrote, “My interest is in the future because I am going to spend the rest of my life there.”

I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:8

 

 

 

 

Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

August 17, 2011 at 11:14 am

Let God be God

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     Oh the storms of life…if you have not experienced them, you will. They are inevitable to every inhabitant on this planet physically, emotionally, and financially. Storms are not selective – no matter your skin color, wallet size, place of dwelling, educational goals – storms hit unannounced in various strengths whenever they want with a fury that sometimes knocks us off our feet.

        Jesus’ disciples experienced such a storm in Mark 4:35 – 38, “That day when evening came, He said to His disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ Leaving the crowd behind, they took Him along, just as He was, in the boat. There were also other boats with Him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.”

        My son Ben (20) is one of those men who can fix anything, find anything, and has a knack for getting himself out of whatever comes his way. Ben knows how to survive in nature. How to find fresh water, build structures, administer first aide – you name it – he can do it. While in Costa Rica, we had the opportunity to explore the Rain Forests. I made sure that I stayed close on his heels because I knew if we got lost, I could make it as long as I was with him.  

        “The disciples woke Him and said, ‘Teacher don’t you care if we drown?”

        Often when we are in the middle of a storm we wonder if God even knows we are in it. There are times He seems so silent it appears as though He is sleeping. “Are you even there? Do you know what I’m going through? Why are you doing this to me?” we ask.

        “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.”

        Is Jesus in your boat? One of the toughest questions to answer sometimes comes when hurricanes hit our lives and all that we know and love is challenged by this simple question. We may know He is in the boat but it feels like He is snoozing away while the tumultuous waters rise higher and higher, the boat seems to be filled with water, and our last breath is just minutes away. We want to feel like we are walking on the heels of Ben in the Rain Forests of Costa Rica but often times doubt and insecurity make us believe we ‘go it alone.’

        “He said to His disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

        When your storms hit remember praise, prayer, and perseverance. You don’t have to wake Jesus up. He will get you to the other side.

        Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

        Let God be God…your God…ride out the boat…for ‘wherever you go’ He is with you.

 

Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

August 10, 2011 at 1:01 pm

27 Daggers to the Chest

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In the top right corner of my Bible, at some point I wrote in blue ink, “Judgment can be seen as a type of grace.” It is a comment proposed by the verse in Hebrews 12:12 &13, “Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”

I remember a sermon Pastor Jim Rush of Pine Forest Methodist Church preached on this very verse. Pine Forest was my first church home, where I was christened, confirmed, accepted Christ, and married. Even though I was in my early teen years when I heard his message, some 30+  years ago, I still remember it.

One of my favorite childhood friends, Tracy Lou Lamb, and I shared a love for scary movies.  Nestled in the center aisle of the Martin Theatre in Dublin, Georgia; popcorn placed strategically between us; two iced cold Tabs; we suffered through the heart raising, nail biting, silent torture of horror. To Tracy the big screen before us suggested humor. There were times she’d throw her arm up exclaiming, “Really? Like she can’t figure out he’s standing behind the door…oh! How stupid!”

For me, the images before me were as real as breakfast cereal in the morning and the masked man driving the white station wagon could easily be the guy sitting next to me in Miss Holt’s Social Studies Class. For days I walked in a sort of stupor wondering if the next doorway would bring my demise, 27 dagger wounds to my chest, but the thrill of the scare kept me coming back. Tracy Lou teased me unmercifully, “How can you be scared? It was so obvious!”

Therefore strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees…”

Provision for our known weakness…Pastor Rush probably wasn’t talking about horror films the day he preached his Hebrews 12:12-13 sermon, but it was how I saw sin and the fallible influences of  my life – always lurking behind bushes, hiding in corridors, sneaking up unsuspectingly – that put me in harms way.  Masked in a way that we cannot see its true self, the dangers we knowingly or unknowingly invite into our lives, cripple us.

Realizing where frailities are, the chinks in our armors, allows us to muscle up, see them coming, face them boldly, or run as fast as we can away from them.

“Make level paths for your feet…”

My brother and his wife experienced a house fire early in their marriage. Awaken to smoke so thick they could not see their own hands, they crawled out of the bedroom and safely out of their home. He once told me that before he goes to bed he makes sure the floor is clear because of his experience.

There are times in life when we ourselves choose obstacles, we repeatedly walk where we know we shouldn’t,  entertaining the notion, “it is innocent fun.”

While in New York I took a group of girls to the M&M Store. Those who know me, know my weakness is M&Ms. I laughed as I stood wall-to-wall with the daggers of my life. Talk about a sinful dwelling! I envisioned putting my mouth under an M&M spout of plain colorful candies and leaving the girls to wander around New York without me. Thankfully, the image was only momentary and I got through the store without a single purchase.

“…so that the lame may not be disabled but rather healed.”

If we want to stay safe, there are certain places we cannot go. Whether it is inappropriately texting a co-worker; visiting sites on the internet; eating unhealthy foods; hanging out with people we know are wrong for us; drinking too much alcohol; smoking; gossiping; judging others; stretching the truth – whatever the flaw, we know what ours are. How we view them significantly impacts us as well. Whether we see it as Tracy Lou did ‘all in fun’ or as I did ‘the thrill of the scare,’ it is still sin and will destroy us.

Pastor Rush closed his sermon with the simple remarks that I still quote today, “What used to make us stumble, God can use to make us stand. What once made us shameful, God can use to make Him shine.”

Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

August 4, 2011 at 1:20 pm