What really matters?
Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:
“How can a game have such an effect on a man’s soul?”
Seven Days in Utopia
“You will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way.”Follow it whether it turns to the right or to the left.”
Seven Days In Utopia is a movie that has been on my Netflix list for quite sometime. Saturday evening, Jim and I made time to just sit down, sit still and watch this movie. From the opening to the ending we were pausing and rewinding back to hear a line. It was an excellent movie about life, our purpose in life, God’s purpose for our lives and what really matters in life. Needless to say, I had my notebook in hand and was taking notes!
In the beginning of the movie, Luke is a pro-golfer who is at the last hole and has a melt down…
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Keep loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers,
for by so doing some people have entertained angels without know it.”
In the last month, Smokey and I have begun volunteering at our local hospital. When I adopted Smokey I didn’t dream at the time that there would be a ministry for me with this pup that has become joined at the hip with me. This past January, we had him certified as an Emotional Support Assist dog. We primarily had him certified for me. However, over the last couple of years, he has shown us the gift he has in bringing comfort to other people. Thus, my adopting him has evolved in to a ministry of sorts.
This morning as Smokey and I finished up our visits at the hospital, we encountered a couple of the family members sitting outside that we had encountered earlier in one of the family waiting areas. I stopped once again to say hello and let them love on Smokey one more time. The conversation progressed and this one particular family member began to share her story and journey. The more she shared the more her story resonated in my heart and mind. I heard the echoes of events that have taken place on my faith journey. This past week had been a week of emotion and my spiritual wellness being drained. Tears welled up in my eyes because I was not only listening to her story but through her sharing she was ministering to me.
In our conversation, we shared how important it is to count our blessings especially in times of trials. I told her that the first blessing we receive every morning is that God wakes us up. She went on with that thought and said; “you are right.”And; ” if God wakes you up in the mornings he has a plan and purpose for you for the day.” This lady went on to say that it is important to not only count your blessings every day but because we are blessed to do at least one kind thing for someone during the day. We both agreed that among the trials in life there is hope and there are blessings.
As I wrapped up my conversation with her, God placed the following words on my heart to share with this sweet lady. The words were; God doesn’t promise us perfect days but he promises us A Perfect Day in his time.”
Earlier this week, I was struggling with exhaustion, with hurt and the yearning to be lifted and healed emotionally and spiritually. And, here I was at a hospital for where the sick go to be treated and hopefully healed. Yet, I was being healed by someone right outside the hospital doors by a sweet lady with kindness and love in her eyes and voice as she talked to me. Needless to say, I walked to my car feeling wrapped up in the Holy Spirit’s arms with tears of healing streaming down my face.
I truly believe God has his angels walking among us. This morning, I was blessed by an angel. This person may not realize the impact they made on my life in those few briefs moments but she was my angel with the words I needed to hear.
God is good!
All the time!
May you be showered with blessings in the days ahead.
I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
It was Labor Day Weekend of 1983 when I first pulled into this driveway with Jim. I had flown up from Atlanta to spend the weekend with Jim and to see where he grew up. As soon as we pulled up into the driveway, the door flew open with his mom and dad running out to greet us. This particular weekend was only the beginning of many years of experiencing a home with doors that were open to all. A home that was full of laughter and love.
This past week Jim and I walked through this home and the yard one more time. The rooms that were once full of furniture are now empty. Jim’s dad passed away earlier this year and his mom has moved to a condo. The house is in the process of being sold. As we walked into each room, tears filled our eyes. In the kitchen, we recalled the aromas of many meals Jim’s mom had prepared not only for the family but for friends and strangers who soon became dear friends. Throughout the house there were echoes of children playing, people laughing and you sensed the walls were saying: loved was lived out here.
Before leaving, we walked out to the barn and to his dad’s garden spot. Although Jim’s dad did not feel well, he had planted a garden last year. Jim and I reflected on how much we enjoyed the tomatoes his dad had grown and how they tasted even better last year because we knew his dad had to crawl on his hands and knees to pick them for us. All around us we saw nothing but love and the labor of love put into action.
Jim and I slowly got in the truck. As we pulled out of the driveway one last time with tears in our eyes. We took each other’s hand and looked at one another knowing that his dad would want us to press on toward the goal and continue to share this legacy of love and grace with others.
All of us experience the ending of one chapter and the task of beginning a new one. These transitions are not always easy. However, we must know that it is all a part of God’s plan and it is all a part of our journey to our eternal home. May we press toward the goal of Christ Jesus.
Re-posting this for all of those who are sending out their children to school whether it be elementary, middle or high school or college…Pray for a blessed and safe year for all!
Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:
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‘I realize that there’s nothing better for them to do than to be cheerful
enjoy what is good in their lives.
Over the summer, I have done very little writing. Instead, I have found myself reflecting of years past and absorbing the moments given to me each day. As I grow older, time moves even faster. This song, “You’re Gonna Miss This” resonates and reminds me of how fast time flies by. I have found myself making it more of a priority to enjoy the people around me and the creation around me. Deadlines and clean houses can wait if there is an opportunity to soak up a moment that will never come back. I want to capture that moment when I see a butterfly resting on my butterfly bush, or the hummingbirds fighting over who has a turn to get the nectar out of the feeder.
I love the quote; “don’t get caught up in making a living to the point you forget to make a life.” The world is at a faster pace than it has ever been. It is so easy to get caught up in what we are doing and what is going on that we forget to stop and absorb the moment.
Capturing every little moment you can became very real and clear for me over the past holiday season. My father-n-law had cancer and was in a decline with the battle. We were at my sister-in-law’s for Thanksgiving dinner and as the family began to get up from the table and start clearing, I looked across the room and there sat Jim’s dad. He had a smile on his face and I could tell he was soaking up every little detail, every word said and simply savoring the moment to the fullest. He did not want to miss a thing. It is an image that will never escape my memory or my heart.
As I sit on the front porch of the Butterfly House at Lake Junaluska, I share and update Mom on the people I have re-connected with from our days gone by. I share how some of the ones I grew up with are now raising kids, have kids in high school/college, and/or becoming grandparents and retiring. Mom says; “it seems like you all ought to be loading up in the car heading to the school for a dance, band practice or a game.” Yet, we are the ones sitting on the sidelines like our parents and grandparents would do cheering our children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews on. Just as the Steve Miller lyric says; ” time keeps on moving, moving to the future.”
As time moves forward, I am reminded of the days when I was a kid and wanted to grow up so fast. Sadly, the world is a hurried place. We rush from here to there. It is easy to get frustrated when the demands of every day living and survival are in over drive. However, it is in these moments when we need to stop. We need to look around and tune our hearts to God’s voice. It is when we do this we find peace in a hectic world and we see blessings all around us.
Are you overwhelmed? Frustrated? Seek God. Listen to God. Know that every moment that takes place is a snap shot that will never come again.
Have a blessed day!
This post was originally written October 12, 2012. I am re-posting it today in honor of Shiloh United Methodist Church. They are in the midst of Campmeeting week and have just restored their arbor so that future generations will be able to come and be revived in heart and and spirit. My prayers, blessings and love go to them this week. I wish I could be there in person but I am there in spirit. Blessings-
Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:
“Even though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
“Take a left up here where the cross roads meet.” Okay, take another left up at the next cross roads.” These were the directions I was giving my husband, Jim as I was giving him the nickel tour of one of the communities I grew up in during my father’s ministry. The previous evening I had attended a class reunion with classmates that I had not seen in thirty-four years.
After the nickel tour of the community and showing Jim the places I hung out and the homes I shared…
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My Dearest Little Andrew,
Today, you were out riding your tricycle and having so much fun. I remember when you got your tricycle earlier in the year for your third birthday. You were so excited to learn how to ride it.
Drew, you were so cute. You would fall off but you would not get discouraged but would brush yourself off and get right back on and try again. By the end of your first week, you had mastered riding and you were so proud of your accomplishment. Yet, there wasn’t a place on either leg that didn’t have a bruise or a band-aid.
Son, in life there will be many things you will have to learn. Hopefully, you will tackle these learning experiences with the same determination that you had in learning to ride your tricycle. There will be bruises, cuts, and obstacles. As these bruises, obstacles, and cuts come along in learning remember to keep your eyes on the goal before you. Life is about trying and keeping the right determination to fulfill your calling by God. Always keep Christ in your heart and listen to the voice of God. Whatever you do, don’t ever give up!
Andrew, I give you this advice because I love you. I am proud of you. God has a special plan for your life.
(Letter originally written May 6, 1990)
There are times in life when we are striving to reach our goal/our calling. Yet, the bruises, cuts and obstacles come our way. It is so easy to want to throw our hands up in the air and just give up. However, if we keep Christ in our heart, keep our eyes opened to God working and walking with us, the obstacles won’t be as bad as we think. Remember, it is the obstacles in the trying and living life where God is carving us into more of his likeness. Life comes with challenges. God carving us into His likeness. How beautiful!!
“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize
for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. “
“Yet you LORD, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are the work of your hand.”
I encourage you to take time to reflect on these scriptures. Have you experienced cuts, bruises and obstacles in achieving your goal/calling in life? Give thanks to God for these experiences and acknowledge He is at work in carving you into something beautiful. Journal your thoughts on the scripture and ask God to help you stay focused on the prize before you.
As I opened my WordPress account this morning, I had a “Happy Anniversary” note from WordPress. They acknowledged that I have been writing for four years. “Wow!” was my response and realizing how time flies. Of recent, there have been many events to take place that have made me realize how time rapidly slips away. It seems to be going even faster as I get older. The days seem shorter and it doesn’t seem like I accomplish all I want to do in a day, week or month like I use to. In reflecting on the passing of time, I came across a notebook of writings that are letters that I wrote to my son, Andrew (Drew) as he was growing up. During the summer months, I want to share these letters with you along with thoughts for you and I to take with us on our daily faith journey. Below, is the very first letter I wrote to Drew. He was around the age of three. Drew is now twenty-seven, married and taking off in his career. And, he continues to teach me and open my eyes as he walks his faith journey with God.
My Dearest Andrew,
Tonight you were a sight. We went to your Papa CR’s church for family night supper. The guest speaker was a local weather anchor in Atlanta. His name was Guy Sharp whom you recognized right away from seeing him on television.
The moment Mr. Sharp walked into the door you were dancing with excitement. Before Dad and I could blink, you were flying into Mr. Sharp’s arms to greet him. Immediately, he knew you had a love for people. You two were instant friends.
Drew, you have a love for people. You never meet a stranger. In today’s world, sometimes talking to a stranger can be risky, scary and dangerous. Yet, you always seem to be able to see the good in people. I can always tell after you meet someone you have left an impression.
As you go through life, keep up the love you have for meeting people. Keep leaving your impression on others. If everyone had the love you have, this world would be a better place. You have the Christ-like love that is needed in today’s world.
Andrew, I am very thankful that God gave me a s on like you.
I love you,
(Originally written January 17, 1990)
A love for people. Christ-like mind. Philippians 2:5-11 is pretty straight forward that every day in every interaction we have we are to be Christ centered, Christ like and minded. As Christians, we must seize every opportunity to share that unconditional, non-judgemental love to others. We must be like an innocent child willing to run up and greet others with love and in the name of Jesus.
Life moves pretty fast. The older you get the faster the days go by and days turn into weeks, months and years. As you go on your faith journey take advantage of every opportunity you have to leave an impression on someone. May this impression be the love for Christ and His wonderful grace you leave on their hearts.
“In you relationship with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”
In the days ahead, I encourage you to look up Philippians 2 and pick up at verse six and read on through verse eleven. Read with an open mind and open heart and hear what God is saying to you in this scripture. You may want to journal your thoughts.
Have a blessed day!
“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15
“Just one moment.” “The computer is running slow right now.” “I’m sorry your order is taking so long.” “The cook is backed up in the kitchen.” Why is it when we are in a hurry it seems that is when things run slow or we get comments such as these from the person who is trying to help us. All the while we become anxious, look at our watches and cringe because this one little snag is going to affect how our the rest of our day/evening will go.
You experience a life altering event(s) in your life. Things happen that are beyond your control but you have to deal with it as well continue working through the responsibilities/commitments that are already set. It seems everything happens all at once. You get out of one crisis yet to face another immediately after.
Since the beginning of this year. I have lived through and living through both of these scenarios. Up until a couple of weeks ago, I was not the most fun person to be around. I was getting frustrated because I couldn’t do all that was before me. My head began spinning to the point I could not even process all that was coming at me. In the midst of all of it, I knew in my heart God was there but I still felt distant from him.
Not only was I feeling this frustration but Jim as well as feeling a bit frustrated. So many events have happened in both of our lives that he even struggled with how to prioritize. He was working long days at work and then coming home to address issues that life was dealing out to us.Thus, causing him to have long nights and little sleep. Jim was trying to be more than one person to more than one person. He got to the point of exhaustion that his co-workers were even becoming concern for his well-being.
Then, the latter part of May, Jim and I packed the car and headed out on a much-needed vacation. Our plans for our trip were we had no plans. Our destination was the beach and nothing else mattered. We just wanted to be quiet and get away from all that life had been dealing out to us. It was our time and our time to connect back with each other and God.
During this week of vacation, Jim and I simply did nothing. In our own ways, we became still and tuned our ears and hearts back to God. This was a time where we sought renewal and rest.
Life happens. Maybe right now you are on a treadmill that just won’t stop. It feels as though everything and everyone is coming at you at once with some sort of need. Yet, you feel like you can’t stop and you have to keep going.
The world we live in today seems to put the persona on us that we have to be superhuman. We are to be able to meet all sorts of deadlines, do more work with fewer people, in smaller blocks of time, and sometimes for smaller amounts of money. We are to be more than one person to more than one person. It seems that we have to give ourselves permission to be still.
Since our trip to the beach, Jim and I both have become more mindful of the importance of simply being still. We have come to realize that we don’t need permission to be still. It is in the stillness where we re-connect with our Father and allow him to give us the strength to take on anything life or anyone gives us.
Over the last couple of weeks during my quiet time, the song by the Eagles; Learn to be Still keeps coming to mind. This morning, I sat down and not only listened to the lyrics but looked up the lyrics and read them to myself. One lyric that stuck out to me was this:
“Now, the flowers in your garden
They don’s smell so sweet
Maybe you forgotten
The heaven lying at your feet-“
We are all familiar with the phrase; “stop and smell the roses.” Unfortunately, over the last few months, life was happening so much I was not stopping to smell the roses. In other words, I was not sitting still in the presence of God and counting my blessings.
It is so easy for us to get caught up in all that is happening to us that we pray to God. We know God is there but we are not connected with him because we simply will not allow ourselves to be still. Thus, we miss the simplest of blessings that he has planned for us. It is being in the stillness we not only experience God but we experience a little bit of heaven.
In the last few weeks of intentionally being still and connecting with God, the things that life continues to throw at Jim and me don’t seem to be as overwhelming. Instead, we do what we can, count our blessings and seek and experience God’s presence and his heaven here on earth.
So, the next time you are in one of the above scenarios of waiting try not to become anxious of how it is going to affect the rest of your day/evening. Instead, take it as a message from above that maybe you just need to be still for a few minutes. Take that time to send up a breath prayer to God, observe what is going on around you, and be in tuned to God’s voice. It is in those moments of stillness you are going to experience “the heaven lying at your feet.”
How about it? Are you ready to Learn to be Still?
Listen to the video below:
Three years ago this week our family said good-bye to our son’s best friend who was like a brother to Drew and a son to us. Our thoughts and prayers are with Josh’s family this week.
We miss Josh but we know there will be a day when we will see him again.
Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:
In my post Renewal of the Soul and Heart, I shared my anticipation of getting away for vacation. This trip would involve time in the Smoky Mountains, walking by mountain streams and listening to God speak to me. It also included going on down to the beach and watching the waves come in and come out. I shared that when I watch the waves of the ocean come in and out that they remind me of God bringing in new and washing away old. The waves also remind me of how we breathe in and breathe out.
This week I have been on that much-anticipated vacation. However, before leaving for our trip, our family received so very devastating news. Our son, Drew Hawkins lost his best friend, Josh who was more like a brother to Drew in high school than friend. Drew and Josh ran cross-country and track…
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