Walking by Faith Alone

Archive for November 2012

The Challenge

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I heard my first season’s greetings today as I exited Wal-Mart, “Happy Holidays!”

I understand. Many people celebrate various holidays during December. There is Hanukkah or Chanukah, if you prefer the Hebrew spelling. Holidays that do not include Jesus and those that are secular. I get it and I’m not offended. But I celebrate the birth of my risen Lord! So, Happy Holidays me all you want; although, I’m a Merry Christmas girl.

So, why am I on a soap box today? I’m not; but as I left Wal-Mart, an older gentleman left his red truck and came to my car. “Can I help you load your groceries, Mam?” Startled, I turned to see a white bearded, white-haired man in a red shirt. His tummy extended further than his belt line and his silver glasses glistened in the sun.

“You remind me of someone I know,” I chuckled.

We loaded my car. He actually gathered the trash from the back. Embarrassed I remarked, “I was the ballet carpool mom yesterday.”

He smiled. “I’ll just throw this away.”

“Thank you,” I replied.

“It is not my pleasure,” he said. “It is my honor on behalf of my Savior’s Birthday. Merry Christmas.”

Stunned and speechless, I stood for what seemed hours, staring at him. With a twinkle in his eyes he added, “I challenge you. Spread it.”

As I drove home, I thought of my experience. The radio blared a familiar Christmas tune, “Go Tell It On The Mountain.” Wasn’t that what the man in the red shirt just did for Christ? As Christians, are we hiding behind political correctness?

I want to challenge you. I want to challenge myself. In a world lost, let’s spread the good news, “…that Jesus Christ is born!” From now until Christmas, every day honor Him in some way. Tie a Christmas tree on the roof of a car for someone; decorate someone’s home who can no longer climb a ladder; give someone your place in line to visit Santa and you take their place in line; make a dinner for a friend; wrap presents for an overwhelmed mom; babysit for free; blow leaves in someone’s yard; decorate your neighbor’s mailbox; give Christmas cards out to people you do not know; buy someone’s dinner at a restaurant – and give Him the glory – declare to the mountaintop – I do this in honor of Christ’s Birthday.

Challenge others to do the same. Spread it across the nation. It is the Birthday of Christ. Love spreads joy. Love is a servant. Love heals brokenness. Love is His story, make it yours.

To my friend this morning, I am delivering your challenge to the world, in honor of Him – the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Rescuer of the lost, the Savior of the world.

Will you join me?

Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

November 26, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Live like you were dying

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While on the exercise bike at physical therapy, an older man, somewhere in his late 80s, climbed on the bike beside me and jokingly said, “Race you to the top!”

I smiled at his humor. The television in front of us showed a Tim McGraw video of the song, “Live Like You Were Dying.” He pointed to the screen and with a wink whispered, “That’s my song!”

I laughed to myself, “Such a cute old man!” I hadn’t listen to the words really, although I’ve heard it before. The man began to sing aloud the lyrics. He turned his face toward me, “That song happened to me.”

He began to quote the words, “I was in my early forties with a lot of life before me and a moment came that stopped me on a dime.”

My legs began to slow a bit as I listened to his voice. “I spent most of the next days, looking at x-rays, talkin’ about the options and talkin’ about sweet time.”

He paused for a moment to observe my expression. I wasn’t sure where he was going with all this.

I asked him when it sank in that this might really be the real end, how’s it hit you when you get that kind of news? Man, what would you do?”

“What would you do?” I asked. He smiled pleased that I was grasping his story.

I went skydiving. I went Rocky Mountain climbing. I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu. And I loved deeper, and I spoke sweeter, and I gave forgiveness I’d been denying. And he said, ‘Someday I hope you get the chance to live like you were dying.

I was finally the husband that most of the time I wasn’t. And I became a friend a friend would like to have. And all of a sudden going fishin’ wasn’t such an imposition. And I went three times that year I lost my dad. I finally read the Good Book, and I
took a good, long, hard look at what I’d do if I could do it all again.”

“So, you were living like you were dying,” I clarified.

He nodded, “Like tomorrow was a gift and you’ve got eternity to think about. What you’d do with it? What could you do with it?
What did I do with it? What would I do with it?”

He ended his lyrical explanation by singing the chorus. Ironically, it was right in step with Tim McCraw on the television.

“I never listened to those words before,” I admitted.

“Now that you’ve heard them, what?” he asked.

“But you didn’t die, right?” I confirmed in a ridiculously gullible way.

“Not yet,” he smiled. “But since I was diagnosed with cancer over 40 years ago and survived, I’ve lived every day as if I were dying. Because we never know.”

My bike signaled I was finished. He patted my arm and winked, “Don’t waste a minute, sweet lady.”

I couldn’t stop thinking of his words or his sweet smile. I couldn’t stop thinking of the lyrics to a song I’ve heard a hundred times and never paid attention to the meaning. I wondered if that is how I am living my life, unaware of the meaning around me. When I got home, my daughter asked me if I’d watch her ride her horse. She can drive herself. It’s not like she really needed me. I was so behind on my writing schedule and have two edits due…

“Let me get my boots,” I whispered. “You think I could ride with you today?”

She smiled.

I smiled, too.

Live Like You Were Dying…”

Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

November 21, 2012 at 3:01 pm

As simple as a sneeze…

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Last Wednesday I went to visit my mom in Athens. As I was leaving, she handed me two stacks of papers folded neatly in a yellow over-sized envelope. They were my writings, hundreds of stories, from as far back as the age of seven. “Really?” I quizzed my mom surprised. “You saved them?”

Over the past few days, I have enjoyed reading my manuscripts and taking trips back in time. I wanted to share a story I wrote around the age of 16, back in 1979, for Thanksgiving. I hope you enjoy its simplicity and message.

The Thanksgiving Gift

By: Nora Cordell, November 1979

Each year around November, I begin to think of all in my life for which I am thankful. The list seems endless and then an incident that happened on Thanksgiving Day six years ago reminds me that it is the little things in life for which we should be most grateful.

Stars were still bright when I left the warm kitchen of my home in Dublin, Georgia, and headed towards the barn. It was an early morning in October, a little colder than usual, with a tangy fragrance of autumn in the air.

I found her hovering in a corner. Dad had predicted that today was the day she would give birth to my namesake.

“Lucy,” I called out to her, moving carefully toward the black heifer. Lucy didn’t seem to mind my being there, for giving birth had become commonplace to her. This was her eighth calf.

Something seemed different this time, though, and I ran to the house and called my dad. He arrived just as the calf was born. Lucy died, having given the gift of life for the last time.

“She’s all yours!” Dad said, forcing a smile. She was a beautiful, wavering, pinkish Charolais, barely able to get to her feet. She gave a little squeak and started toward her mother on crooked, wobbling legs. I could see the hurt in my father’s eyes. Lucy was his best cow. She had been one of our first.

He lifted the little calf into his arms. “We had better fix Miss Nonie some milk,” he said with a wink.

“Can I really name her after me?” I asked excitedly.

He nodded. “As promised. You’ve got your work cut out for you though. Raising a calf isn’t easy.”

Miss Nonie became quite a project, not to mention a very special friend. Like all mothers, I bragged about her, claiming she had crystal blue eyes to complement her white furry coat. Dad would laugh at me, pretending to agree.

Every morning on my trip to the barn, I carried a bottle in one hand and M&Ms in the other. Nonie loved them. Each afternoon, we went for long walks through the woods, walks that always ended in a game of chase. I put a red dog collar around her neck and three bells. She was impossible to lose. One morning the house was awakened by a strange noise. My grandmother, Mama Dolly, thought I had the croup, but it was Miss Nonie, standing on the back porch demanding her bottle.

Spring arrived with its fresh green beauty and golden sunny days. On Saturdays Miss Nonie received a bath. She was probably the cleanest creature in Dublin, Georgia. I know she had me beaten!

One morning in early April, my younger brother Lindsey ran into the house screaming that our neighbors bull had jumped the fence. “He’s marrying every one of your cows, Daddy!”

At first we didn’t think Miss Nonie had been bred, but by September it was evident. I could tell Dad was worried. Miss Nonie was less than a year old. All he said to me though was, “it could be tough. We’ll have to wait and see.”

The night before Thanksgiving, I sat quietly in my room. I hadn’t talked much that day and Mama came up to see ‘what was on my mind.’ I remember our talk as if it were just yesterday.

“The calf will be born any day now. You worried about that?” she began.

“I don’t care,” I answered sullenly.

“Yes you do, Nora Cordell!”

“But what if Nonie dies like Lucy? It will be all that calf’s fault!”

Mama paused, lowered her head, and answered as only my mom could, “Nora, when you borrow things from people, you know that you have to return them one day, right?”

I nodded.

“Well, God loans us precious gifts of His to take care of. He picked you to care for His little calf Nonie. One day you are going to return her to Him. See, God has given your dad and me you to take care of.”

She kissed my cheek and smiled, “Now get some sleep.”

Turkey Day arrived and as usual my dad headed for the woods to hunt, my brother Lindsey close at his heels. The bare, leafless trees surrounding the barn seemed so peaceful, yet so lonely. My thoughts drifted…she could have that calf any day now…it’s going to be tough…one day you have to return. “Nonie!” I called out, running to the barn. “Oh God, please let her be all right!”

I had barely opened the stall door when I saw her, stretched out uncomfortably in the corner, her head caught under the trough. I tried desperately to move her but her size was too much for me. I called for my dad, hoping he was within hearing range. He and my brother came quickly. We moved her and waited.

I rested her head in my lap and gently spoke to her. She began to tremble. I put my face close to hers.

Four hours later a tiny head appeared and within seconds, legs and tail.

My dad noticed the calf wasn’t breathing. My heart sank. I thought of the horrible things I had said about it; now, its life seemed so important. Daddy picked up a tiny wisp of hay and tickled her nose.

What had always appeared to be a common, every day sound became a miracle. She simply sneezed.

Miss Nonie lifted her head to see her precious gift from God. I lifted my head too and thanked Him for saving mine.

On this Thanksgiving, put aside the time-consuming projects; they have no permanent value. What matters most are the simple, day-to-day pleasures we tend to overlook or take for granted. Enjoy the people around you for none of us know how long we will be near eachother. Today, forget the dire predictions of gloom with which we are constantly bombarded. The true joy of life is in living itself. Be enthusiastic and never stop dreaming. Miracles happen every day and can be as small, yet as significant, as a sneeze…

Happy Thanksgiving from a once 16-year-old girl – now 48-year-old girl.

Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

November 19, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Should I stay or should I go?

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The morning air is cool and crisp on the porch of my Northeast Georgia home. I wonder if the effort to sit in my rocking chair is worth it. Smokey, our non-affectionate grey cat, seems to wonder the same as she eye-balls me from a nearby spot. My breath is visible and the sound of my clicking keyboard reminds me of the approaching day ahead. Time waits for no one.

Because I work as a ghost writer, often, I find it difficult to interchange from my voice and my client’s voice; therefore, I ignore my own. I keep what I want to say hidden until it forces itself out onto paper or in this case screen. The nearby birds chirp a warning of the impending sunrise, evidenced by the pink and red traces lining the sky. The day is beginning.

Sometimes, as people of God, we are torn between waiting and doing. Scriptures tell us to “wait” on the Lord. Isaiah 40:31, “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength…”  Others tell us to be “still” and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). On the other side, there are scriptures which question our inability to step out in faith. 2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

As the English punk rock band The Clash sang, “Should I stay or should I go,” we find ourselves in a similar perdicament. Do I wait in faith or do I go forward in faith? How do I know?

Through out the Bible we find people who “waited” on God and people who took initiative and “stepped” out in faith. Joseph waited in prison;  Joshua waited before the Jordan; the disciples waited for the Holy Spirit; and the list goes on. There are also people who stepped out in faith. David toward Goliath; Esther to meet with the King; Peter on the water; the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment; and the list goes on. Which brings me to a confusing conflict, do we wait on God or do we act knowing He will show up?

The realm of the unknown can force us again and again to retreat to the comforts we know. Nestled beneath the familiar, we find ourselves unwilling to venture out, unwilling to shed that old comfy quilt, and step into the cold. Other times, the pain of impossibility, ‘nothing left to do,’ no visible solutions leave us frustrated and anxious. We question if God is even around and if He is, He certainly isn’t listening to us.

The beauty of the scriptures come flowing from my heart as if God Himself whispered through His sunrise a resounding answer. Romans 8:31, “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

There are times when we need to be still and wait for God. Most of those times are signified by confusion and lack of resolve. We find that there is nothing left for us to do. Other times, a slight door opens and we step through, one stepping stone at a time. The amazing wonder of God is, He is there no matter what we choose to do. And He will show up, because God honors faith. Faith when we wait and faith when we step. The key? A relationship with Him, one that involves knowing His word, talking with Him daily, and feeling His presence.

Whatever you struggle with today, know He climbs your mountain with you or He nestles beside you in the dark. God is not absent, whatever you choose to do.


Written by Nora Hatchett Almazan

November 8, 2012 at 2:24 pm