Wednesday

FREE Devotional for Homeschooling Moms

The life of a homeschooling mother is challenging and unique. How do I know? I was one for 17 years. In fact, the book that launched by writing career, Joy in the Journey -- Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms, came about because I wanted to encourage other homeschooling moms through the lessons I learned during almost two decades of educating my children.


Once a year since its publication, I've offered the Kindle version free to anyone who needs encouragement. This year is no exception. I want to remind homeschooling moms that God will walk with them every step of the way on their journey. 

This week, just in time for back to school, the Kindle version of Joy in the Journey -- Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms is FREE on Amazon from Thursday, August 17 to Sunday, August 20. 

Here's what one mom said about Joy in the Journey:

"Just when you think you can't possibly spend another day homeschooling your child, Lori Hatcher's words provide just the right spark of encouragement to uplift you from a low place of discouragement. Her personal stories provide a bright spot to an otherwise frustrating day, and her choice of Scriptures and prayers are powerful. Great way to start any day - or as a much needed break in the day." ~ D. Bouknight

If you're a homeschooling mom, grandmother, or you know someone who is, please share this offer with them. Last year I gave away more than 2,000 copies. This year I'm shooting for 3,000. Will you help me?

Here are a few ways to share:

Go to Hungry for God's Facebook page and share one of the posts. CLICK HERE.
Forward this email to your friends at church or in the homeschooling community.
Click on the title of this email to go to the Hungry for God blog, copy the link, and post it on Facebook.
Share the Amazon link to Joy in the Journey directly to Facebook. 

Thanks so much for taking the time to encourage the homeschooling moms around you, and for helping me get the word out about Joy in the Journey.

Many thanks!
Lori





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Avoiding the Scary Places



There’s a scary place in my neighborhood. When I’m walking alone, I avoid it. Especially in the dark. 
  
I live in a small subdivision with two long streets and lots of cul de sacs. All the cul de sacs are identical – two houses on each side of the street and a circle of three homes at the end. Except one. 

Instead of three cute houses snuggled up like kids around a campfire, this one has only one house with a big, dark patch of tangled woods beside it. A path of sorts leads into the brush. 

The first time I walked past this spot I thought, this would be the perfect place for a crime. I won’t describe all the scary details I imagined, but suffice it to say that I don’t walk to the end of that cul de sac unless my husband is with me. When I reach the point in the road where the light doesn’t shine, I turn around. 

And sometimes I glance back, just to make sure no one's stalking me. 

Most obvious to me in the pre-dawn morning or the dark of night is the very clear line between light and darkness. At the edge of the curve, a streetlight shines. Beyond the curve, all is dark. No murky, grey, no-man’s land buffers the two, just light and dark. 

Life, unfortunately, isn’t always as clear cut as the light in this cul de sac. We can’t see a visible line separating our bad decisions from our good ones. No lightbeam divides a satisfying, productive life from a train wreck.  

And although some choices are more obvious than others, sometimes the journey from good to bad isn’t a single giant step over a clearly-marked line, but a series of small steps on an increasingly-slippery path. 

If the path of life isn’t clearly marked, how do we navigate it? 


Psalm 119:105 tells us: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Because it’s easy to be deceived into thinking something’s good when in reality it’s bad, God has given us his Word to help us. 

Money isn’t bad, unless we let it become our master. God’s Word reminds us, “You cannot serve both God and money" (Luke 6:13). 

Relationships aren’t bad, unless we love someone more than we love God. God’s Word encourages us, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:5). 

Possessions, power, and prestige aren’t bad, unless we make them our idols. God’s Word warns us, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). 

God's gift of family isn’t bad, unless we serve our family to the neglect of serving God. God’s Word cautions us, "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Mat. 10:37). 

On the surface, these things look good, yet without the wisdom of God to keep them in their proper perspective, they can lead us down dark paths far away from God’s best. Talking and listening to God through daily Bible reading and prayer can turn the darkness of confusion into the dawn of clarity. Like twin spotlights, they expose the lies of the world, the flesh, and the devil. 

We’ve all found ourselves in dark places, as I do on my morning walks. Thankfully, instead of leaving us to find a way out on our own, God has given us his Word to guide us in “paths of righteousness for his name's sake.” 

If you’re in a dark place, God wants to shine his light into your life. Seek God’s wisdom every day by reading his Word. Ask him to speak to you. And when he does, do what he tells you to do. 

If you’re not in a dark place, thank God and make sure you never get there by seeking the light of God’s Word every day.

Now it’s your turn. How has God used his Word to direct your path? Leave a comment below and bless us all.

What can happen when you listen and obey God's voice? Listen to NFL player Derek Carr's story. If you're reading by email, click here.



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Sunday

Making Ron -- A Tribute

Last Saturday my husband and I attended a memorial service honoring Ron Shick, one of the finest men we've ever known. As I reflected over his life and his impact on ours, I asked the Lord to give me the words to somehow describe all that Ron was. This is what He gave me.

Making Ron


“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139: 13-16). 

“For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). 


The God of Heaven and Earth thought a moment. More than a moment, really. 

“You’re thinking awfully hard,” God the Son said to God the Father. 

“This is an important assignment,” God said. “I want to get it just right.” 

“Why don’t you tell us about it?” Jesus said. “Then the Spirit and I can help you.” 

“Well,” said God the Father, “It’s not a very long assignment – not quite 68 years – most want longer. The work is hard. There’s little recognition. No applause. A lot of manual labor – and you know how hard it is to find skilled craftsmen these days.” 

 “And the people he’ll be working with – some are poor – really poor. Others are deceived, and they don’t even know it. Still others are weary, disillusioned, or confused. Some of ‘em, I have to admit, are just plain hard-headed. It’s going to be discouraging sometimes. 

“The pay is nominal – enough to live on, but that’s about it. This guy will never drive a fancy car or live in a big house. But the assignment does have a really good retirement plan – heavenly, you could say. 

“I think we can do it,” Jesus said, and the Spirit nodded. 

“OK then,” God the Father said. “Let’s go for it.” 

“He’s got to be big,” Jesus said. “Big enough to put a roof on a church or reach tall stuff without a stool.” 

“But he’s got to be quiet and soft-spoken,” the Holy Spirit said, “because sometimes big people are scary, and we can’t have him frightening people away.” 

“Oh, don’t worry,” Jesus said, “I’ve already thought about that. I’ve designed the biggest, widest smile for his face. And bright blue eyes, and ears that stick out just a little. No way anyone would be frightened by this guy.” 

“Let’s give him big strong hands, too,” God the Father said, “big enough to swing a hammer or fix a machine – but gentle enough to hold children and grandchildren.” 


“We’re gonna give him kids and grandkids? Five boys and a girl? We’d better make him awfully patient. No, he needs more than patience – let’s make him long-suffering.” 

“What about his heart?” Jesus said. “You know what he’ll be doing. Loving the least of these. Serving those who might not appreciate him. Staying faithful to his wife, his family, and his calling.” 

“Better make that big too,” God said. “Really big.” 

“Back to the hand thing,” the Holy Spirit said. “With all he’s going to do, I don’t think two hands will be enough.” 

They thought a moment, then decided that since they were God, they could break a rule or two if needed. 

“Two right hands?” God said. 

“Two right hands.” 

“Well the second right hand can’t hang from the end of his arm,” God said. “That would be too weird. Then we’re back to scary again. Let’s make it look different. And not necessarily attached to his body. Let’s fix it so that it comes alongside him whenever he needs it. Supports him. And knows just what to do to help. He’ll be able to do so much more with this right hand than he ever could by himself. He’s gonna love it.” 

“Great idea,” Jesus said. “What’ll we call it?” 

“Let’s call it Linnea,” the Holy Spirit said. And all the Godhead agreed. 

“We haven’t talked about the most important thing,” God said. “What about his soul?” 

“Remember those children I mentioned?” the Holy Spirit said. “I’m going to use one of them to help him understand the Father heart of God. I’ll use the other to help him realize how much he needs us in his life. It’s going to look scary for a short time, ‘cause the little fella’s going to get sick, but it won’t take the man long to surrender his life to Jesus. Once he does, he’ll never stop telling everyone about it. 

“You’re going to use a little baby to bring someone to Christ?” God said. “Well, it seems appropriate. After all, you’re the one who said, ‘. . . and a little child shall lead them.’” 

“Good point. I love it when you remind me of my Words.” 

“Now, where are we gonna send this guy?” the Holy Spirit asked. “Washington? Atlanta? Dallas?” 

“Ridgway.” 

“Ridgway? As in Pennsylvania? That’s in the middle of nowhere.” 

“Yup, that’s my plan. He’ll grow up on a farm and serve in the army. That’ll make him humble. Then he’ll come back home and start his family. Once he commits his life to Christ, I’ll send him to Haiti.” 

“Haiti?” 

“Haiti.” 

“It’s a good thing you gave him a big heart,” the Holy Spirit said. “And a strong back. And a humble spirit. You know, not many people want to go to Haiti. And if they go, they seldom go back. How long are you going to use him there?” 

“For decades.” 

“Decades? Wow.” 

“Anything else?” 

“Yup. In between taking a wife, raising a family, working a full time job, and ministering in Haiti, he’s also going to help in church – four or five churches, actually. Youth pastor, lay leader, Sunday school teacher, deacon . . . “ 

“Is that all?”

“Nope.” “Good heavens. What else?” 


David and me with Linnea, Ron, and their first grandchild
“We’re gonna make him the best friend a person can have. Sacrificial, loyal, generous, and fun.” 

“That’s a tall order, but I think we can do it. When do we get started?” 

And that’s what God did. 

On September 5, 1949, Ron Shick was born. Loving husband and father, devoted grandfather, World Team missionary, tool and die maker, lay leader, Bible study teacher, and friend to everyone he met. 


On July 30, 2017, he completed his assignment. Every bit of it. 

And "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!’”


We love you, Ron. Until we meet again . . . 

To read more about Ron Shick, CLICK HERE.

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Wednesday

It's OK to Cry



Have you ever felt so disappointed you wanted to cry? 

I have. Not too long ago, in fact. 


No one had hurt my feelings. No one had sinned against me. No one had failed to deliver on a promise. But quicker than you could say, “Don’t look now,” circumstances took a turn for the worse, and the hopes I had slipped away like a diamond earring down the drain. 

And no amount of plumbing intervention could bring them back. 

So I did what any self-respecting woman would do – I cried. Big, fat, slobbery tears. Noisy, wimpery tears. Pitiful, sad, tears. 

And in the middle of my meltdown, the part of my brain that thinks instead of feels had the nerve to interrupt. 

“You know,” Thinker the Theologian said. “All things work together for God to those who love God and are called according to his purposes.” 

“I know,” my blubbering self said. 

“And you know,” she continued, “there’s probably a really good reason this didn’t turn out the way you’d hoped.” 

“Uh huh,” I sniffled. 

“And furthermore, you can’t get mad, because it’s not really anyone’s fault. It’s just unfortunate.” 

“I know,” I said. “I know all those things. I know God has a greater plan. I know I can trust him with what I don’t understand. I know he can accomplish good from this. And I KNOW HE STILL LOVES ME . . . . This isn’t a crisis of belief. I’m just sad and disappointed right now, OK? So if you could just save the Truth until I’m done, I’ll be glad to listen. But for right now, I just need to cry a little more.” 


And Thinker the Theologian, in all her wisdom, nodded her Scripture-filled head, wrapped her arms around me, and handed me a Kleenex. 

“Blow,” she said, and I did. 

 If you’ve had a disappointment, or maybe you feel like life’s been just one long disappointment, it’s OK to cry now and then. Tears don’t make you any less spiritual. In fact, I think they might even make us a little more like Jesus. 

“. . . And Jesus wept” (John 11:35). 

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book” (Psalm 56:8 NLT).










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Sunday

5 Things to Remember When You're Going through a Trial -- Comfort from the Book of Job

Last year at this time, life looked a lot different. 


My husband had lost his job of 17 years and had been unemployed for months. As one job prospect after another vanished like cookies in a room full of teenagers, he grew discouraged, and so did I. He trained for one position almost all summer only to see it withdrawn at the last minute. 

Every No response or closed door just added to his fear that he’d be unemployed forever. To add sorrow upon sorrow, the one year anniversary of my mother-in-law’s death was looming. Grief threatened to overwhelm us.

One morning I opened my Bible early in the hopes God would encourage us. I read Job 5:8-15, and I wasn’t disappointed. God spoke to me. A good word of encouragement during these times of mourning the loss of family members and David’s job, I wrote in the margin of my Bible. 

If you can identify with where we were a year ago, I have hope for you. Here are five truths from the book of Job that helped me through those dark times: 


1. We can talk to God about our troubles. 
He never grows weary of our prayers or pleas for help. "But if it were I, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before him,” Job 5:8 says.

 2. God has the power to work in your situation for your good and his glory. 
“He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. He bestows rain on the earth; he sends water upon the countryside. The lowly he sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety. 

3. If evil people or wicked schemes are the cause of our distress, God sees this, too. 
In his time, he will right all wrongs and come to your defense. He will not leave the guilty unpunished, either in this life or the next. 

“He thwarts the plans of the crafty, so that their hands achieve no success. He catches the wise in their craftiness, and the schemes of the wily are swept away. Darkness comes upon them in the daytime; at noon they grope as in the night. He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth; he saves them from the clutches of the powerful. So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth.” 

4. God can use our time of distress to purify and strengthen us if we let him. 
He’ll teach us things about himself we could never learn otherwise. He’ll grow our faith and give us many opportunities to witness for him. "Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.” 

5. Life won’t be like this forever. 
In the darkest times or our distress, we think it will never get any better. But we cannot lose hope. God will deliver us. Scripture is replete with examples of how God delivered his people out of impossible situations. In just the right way. At just the right time. 

“For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.” 

Today, a year later, we're living a very different reality. My husband will soon celebrate his first anniversary working at a job he loves. We’re looking forward to welcoming a new grandchild into our family, and our lives are full of the goodness of God. 

If you’re in the waiting time, the time in between faith and sight, I hope these verses from Job have encouraged you. Spend some time thinking on them. Claim their promises. Choose to believe God’s Word even when circumstances tempt you to doubt. And hold on. 

 “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). 

Now it’s your turn. What verses bring you the most comfort when you’re struggling? Leave a comment below and bless us all.



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