Walking by Faith Alone

Archive for February 2012

…then I prayed

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I worked in international and domestic adoption and humanitarian aid for close to eleven years – a decade of emotions: joy, tears, fears, anxiety, hope and despair. There was one particular adoption which to this day I marvel at the presence of God and His abilities. In the beginning, the parents wanted a little girl – there were none to be found. It is hard to imagine a “shortage” of baby girls but such was the case. Looking back I realize we were blinded by God because within minutes of this family accepting a healthy 2 day old baby boy with the most beautiful lips we’d ever seen, four girls became available. When I told the adoptive Mom of the baby girl possibilities she said defiantly “No!” like a woman in the delivery room. She knew he was her baby. And this baby boy was special. I knew it the moment I saw him.

The process seemed smooth – everything in place; documents just the way they should be – the parents happy, the government happy, U.S. immigration happy – I honestly believed the obstacle in this adoption was Mom agreeing to a boy. Somewhere in between the fourth and fifth month, the last and final anticipated signature of the Birth Mom, days from a hearing and finality, Birth Mom disappeared, leaving no trace. All of our internal investigation proved it was her intent to “leave no trail” for it was as if she never existed. Suddenly, this simple adoption turned into a two year abandonment, heavily battled in court, huge expense, nightmare to bring a little boy home to his parents in the United States.

There is a story in the Bible about an Israelite who worked as a slave for King Artaxerxes of Persia. His brother came to visit him and when he asks about Judah, the news he hears upsets him. Jerusalem’s wall is broken down and the people are in a great amount of danger. During this time period, a city with no walls was vulnerable to attack. Nehemiah prays for several weeks wondering what he should do to help his family and people.

Nehemiah was the cupbearer to the king. One evening when instructed to bring the king his wine, Artaxerxes notices that Nehemiah is sad, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” (Nehemiah 2: 1)

Sometimes God answers our prayers by giving us windows of opportunities to respond when asked particular questions. (Nehemiah 2:2-6) “I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, ‘May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?’ The king said to me, ‘What is it you want?Then I prayed to the God of heaven…”

Courage comes when we least expect it. There are times when God puts us in the middle of something we cannot understand. Whether it is our own doing or the consequences of someone else’s mistake, trials come into our lives for reasons that do not make sense. I remember the day I received a call from one of  my adoption team members, “We found her.” All of us knew who “her” was. We’d spent the last two years in pursuit of her. We’d battled the Guatemalan Government, the court, the records bureau. My breath left my body for we were days away from winning the case and bringing our paperwork to the United States Embassy to process for Immigration. “You found her?”

“She is sitting in my office now.”

I had made an unexpected trip to Guatemala that weekend with two of my children just to ‘get away’ from the issues that confronted me at home. A window of opportunity had opened and I was very much afraid.  Her presence now could harm two years of effort and what if she had decided she wanted him back? Or wanted money in exchange for disappearing again? What if her plan was to once again mess things up? It was difficult to understand her motives.

My children and I walked from our apartment in Guatemala City the few blocks it took to get to our office.  As we walked we prayed, for they had grown to love this baby boy, now toddler, as much as his parents and I did.

The king graciously provides a way for Nehemiah to return to his home and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. (Nehemiah 2: 8) “And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests.”

When I walked into the office, I noticed her lips, beautiful and full, just like his. My heart sank for I knew she was his birth mother. As I sat and listened to her story, I felt the gracious hand of my God upon me. God can handle any problem in my life. She came because she was no longer going to run. She came to do what was right and sign over the baby she had birthed to his rightful parents.

I was very much afraid…then I prayed.

I keep a victory shout out list on paper and in my head. When evil attempts to cripple me, I voice the “wins” of my God. I verbalize the double-overtime, miraculous triumphs of my Father and King. When things seem “out of control” and there appears to be no possible way, I remember a little baby boy, with beautiful lips, born in Guatemala and his courageous parents who never gave up on bringing him home.

God has your solution. Wait for it to come in His time.

As for that precious baby boy with the beautiful lips? I talked with his Mom just yesterday. He will be the ring bearer in my wedding.  God is always on time.

Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

February 26, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Bring It On…

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I have always been a cheeror of the “underdog.” If one football team is favored tremendously over another, I usually choose the unfavored one and give them a ridiculous score for victory. I choose people in races with injuries; gymnast who have overcome tragedies; the kids with severe discipline problems; I like to get behind those who have flaws, but have the will to overcome them. Funny, if you will allow the comparison, God does too – a young boy against a giant; a baby in a manger; a female against an army of men. I cannot profess to know the reasons behind God’s choices but I would imagine it had to do with the outcome. How much more glory comes when he takes a boy, sold into slavery by his brothers, and makes him 2nd in command over all of Egypt. He didn’t choose a lawyer or business man with an MBA. He chose a slave and prisoner. Now that is some God!

There is a story in 1 Kings about Elijah the prophet. He is up against 400+ prophets of the god Baal. Two fire pits are built and two calves slaughtered. The idea is to see whose god can light the altar with a blaze of  fire. Elijah lets the prophets of Baal go first. They dance and sing, chant, shake their tambourines. Elijah shouts out to them, “Maybe you should shout louder. Your god might be in the bathroom!” The prophets shout louder, roll on the ground, stomp their feet, and smash themselves with swords, spilling their blood on the ground around the altar they’ve built. Elijah recommends, “Shout louder! Maybe it’s a holiday for your god.”  All day, into the evening, and no response from the god of Baal. Finally Elijah says, “OK guys. My turn.”

Elijah is so confident in his God that he taunts them. “Go get water and douse my wood. Build a trench around my altar and fill it with water. More water! More water!” The prophets of Baal add water, add water, add water. Elijah encourages them, “Bring More!”

1 King 18:36 ” At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” ”

No dancing and singing. No cutting of the wrist or rolling on the ground. No chanting or sweating.

38Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.

39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD—He is God! The LORD—He is God!”

There comes a time in our lives when we have to look Satan in the eye and say, “BRING IT ON!”

Fear is a crippling emotion. It causes doubt. It makes us weak, anxious, and unable to think clearly. Fear is NOT of God or He wouldn’t spend so many verses of the Bible telling us “Not to Fear!”

I do not know what you are facing in life, but I do know this, GOD IS THERE. He will answer you, but your faith is the key.

On a daily basis I witness people who live two different lives- one in church and one outside of church. Business has nothing to do with God in their world. It is all about money, the game, winning at all costs. I consider them to be the prophet’s of Baal. People in the courtrooms who think because there are loop holes, they can destroy other’s lives. People who play games with those who cannot play back. If you are on the receiving end, I am here to tell you, shout as loud as you can, “Bring It ON! In the name of Jesus Christ, my redeemer and friend, Bring It ON!” Your God is greater than any attorney, any lawsuit, any judge.

(If you are the one dishing it out, thinking you are justified with your degree and your fancy shoes? Want to know what happened to the prophets of Baal? Read 1 King 18:40.)

Be encouraged children of God. We serve a mighty King. Stand up for Him today and He will come to your assistance in a mighty way. There is nothing our God would love to do more for you than to dirty the shoes of a prophet of Baal.

Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

February 16, 2012 at 1:53 pm

My Valentine

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Today I did something different. I took a Valentine to a perfect stranger. He was 96 years old. His wife had died 10 years ago, his daughter at the age of 16 years. It was one of those spontaneous gestures that came across my mind while I stood in the card aisle trying to find just the perfect fit for each one of my six children. Cards are extremely personal to me. I could never just grab one; no they have to say “just the right words” to represent the person on my heart. And He was on my heart.

I thought of Jesus and wondered who He would send a card to if given the opportunity. I assume all of us but in particular, someone who didn’t have a Valentine. I can’t say I felt comfortable at first, giving a Valentine to a man I didn’t know. But for whatever reason, I stood before an older gentleman who had lived life and had all the scars and wisdom to prove it. I told him of my divorce; my love of God; my precious six children; and my desire to impact the Kingdom of God. We laughed about chocolate candy and he wished for a Nehi Orange Soda. He and his wife had been married 63 years. He hoped there was marriage in heaven.

I included a heart-shaped red sucker but he wasn’t supposed to have sugar. He ate it anyway. And when it was time for me to leave, he told me it had been 10 years since he had received a Valentine. I accepted a kiss on the cheek and will forever remember turning back to see him still waving as I walked down the hall.

The aisles of Target were full tonight with last-minute Valentine shoppers. The cards were in such a disarray it was difficult to find the appropriate envelope that fit. The chocolate valentine boxes, once organized and neatly stacked, were scattered on various shelves. So many people – so many gifts.

Today I want to challenge you to buy an extra Valentine for a perfect stranger. It could be someone on the street, in a restaurant, in the hospital or nursing home, in your school, or in Wal-Mart.

I feel certain that is exactly what Jesus would do. Happy Valentine’s Day.


Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

February 14, 2012 at 3:46 am

Did Judas go to hell?

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I’ve spent the past few weeks thinking about Judas, one of the chosen twelve disciples, and the betrayer of Jesus. Is there anyone as hated in the Christian faith? The man who sold our Savior for 30 pieces of silver, the price in that day of a slave. The man who turned Him over with a kiss on the cheek.

My interest in Judas came about when one of my Sunday School kids (I teach 3rd graders) declared one morning in the middle of a lesson about Jeremiah, “You know who is burning in Hell?”

Of course all attention left me and on this little boy. “Judas. He is burning in Hell right now,” he mumbled.

I quickly redirected the brains and attention of my class back to the prophet Jeremiah, but the thought intrigued me. Is Judas burning in Hell?

To summarized the story, Judas was chosen by Christ to be one of His disciples. Historically, it is recorded Judas was the only disciple from a region called Negev (present day Judea). On the night of the Last Supper, it is told  in John 13 that Jesus spoke to Judas, “What you are about to do, do quickly.”

For thirty pieces of silver, a very small sum of money, Judas agreed to bring the Roman soldiers to Jesus. He would indicate who Jesus of Nazareth was by simply kissing Him on the cheek.  Judas called out to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Greetings Rabbi!” and Jesus responded, “Friend, do what you came for.”

When Jesus was taken into custody, Judas realized what he had done and repented, “I have sinned,” he said, “For I have betrayed innocent blood.” He threw the money into the temple and then left and hung himself.

Would God welcome such a betrayer into heaven?

In my prayers and research regarding this hated man Judas, I’ve come to realize several important things:

  • An evil man would have bartered for much more money. Jesus was a wanted commodity.
  • An evil man would not have repented
  • An evil man would not have been so desperate as to hang himself, but delight in his victory.

Judas had witnessed first hand the splendor and majesty of our Savior. He had seen Him do incredible feats, miracle after miracle. Is it possible Judas was simply forcing the hand of God? Prompting Him to demonstrate His power? Judas knew the soldiers were no match for Christ. What a victory it would be when Jesus defeated the Roman soldiers and declared Himself King of all kings!  How often do you and I attempt to force God to do that which we desire Him to do?

Those stripes on Jesus’ back? How many are yours? How many are mine? Do we not in some way betray our Savior on a daily basis? Do we not misrepresent Him when we gossip, judge, cheat, lie, and fail to defend Him? How many of us on a daily basis kiss the face of Jesus for 30 pieces of silver?

Could it be that any one of us are Judas at some point in our lives?

We live in a world surrounded by sin. Can we really judge Judas? Do we have a right to hate him?

When I was a little girl my Dad used to put his pocket change in a glass bear money bank which he kept in his sock drawer. As much as I try to remember, I can’t think what it was that I wanted to purchase but I took money from him – probably a dollar in nickels and dimes at the most. I couldn’t sleep because I was consumed with guilt. Finally, I went to my Dad and confessed that I had stolen money from him, and I returned what I had taken.

Later my Dad came and sat on the edge of my bed. He told me he loved me. I thought he would spank me or lecture me. I thought surely I’d be in trouble for days. Instead, he kissed my forehead and never mentioned it again. It was one of the greatest lessons of my life and I never took anything that didn’t belong to me again.

My Dad demonstrated the mercy of God. It is simple really but so many of us do not ‘get it’.

I cannot determine whether Judas is in Heaven or Hell – only God determines such – for He knows our hearts.  And although I would like to blame Judas for all that Jesus suffered on the cross, I know I cannot. For the nails which penetrated His hands and feet; the crown of thorns which gouged my Kings forehead; the words which mocked Him; the spit; the stripes on His back; all are just as much my fault as they are Judas’s.

I am careful where I place Judas. Did he not do the will of the Father? The harsh reality of Judas and his part in the Crucifixion leads me to ponder – realistically, shouldn’t I thank him?







Two Cents…

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The other day I had a meeting in Gainesville, Georgia. I arrived early, some 30 minutes early to be exact, and decided to have coffee while I waited. The restaurant is arranged in such a manner that it is difficult to see others seated in booths. My booth nestled up to a group of women – three in all – having a wonderful discussion about the life of someone. I quickly recognized the version and understood painfully, it was mine. I thought of moving but then, it would be awkward to meet eye-to-eye. I thought of leaning around the corner and saying something stupid like, “Peek-A-Boo!” (Seriously, those words popped in my head). But instead, I listened to the juicy details of what these three women perceived to be my life. Occasionally, they got it right. I actually took out pen and paper to jot down a few statements because I hadn’t heard those about me before.

It is an election year and our days are filled with discussions about this candidate and that candidate. As I sat in that booth waiting for my meeting, I resolved myself to speak only about what I liked in the public figures running for office. Realistically, whether we agree with them or not, isn’t it their desire to be a catalyst for change? Why else would anyone pursue the scrutiny of public opinion polls? The road to the White House has very little glamour. We spend too much time discussing what is wrong with people and very little time rejoicing in what is “right.”

Jesus had a very valid point when He explained in Matthew 7:3-5, “3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s.”

As for the ladies in the restaurant spilling the mistakes and failures of my life on the table?… : )

I bought their lunch.



Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

February 3, 2012 at 11:39 am