Monthly Archives: September 2011

He Will Have The Last Laugh!

He Will Have The Last Laugh!

Posted on November 1, 2010 by April
Summary http://www.epa.gov/win/winnews/images0...Image via Wikipedia

Since I began my blog post, people have asked me how I got started.   When I think about how I got started, I realize that  there is a testimony within the whole scheme of me starting a blog site. God had been tapping on my shoulder. I had excuses.  He laughed at me and said “we’ll see”.

If you have read my post on Stop, Evaluate, Prioritize, you know that at one point, I had hit a wall and absolutely had to cool my jets for a while.  As Istopped, evaluated, and prioritized, God brought me to the realization that seasons in life were changing for me and a new purpose for me was in the process of being re-defined.  Along with that, God began tapping me on the shoulder telling me that I would be writing to testify about His love, grace, forgiveness, and His son Jesus Christ and eternal life.

God tapping me on the shoulder has gone on for over a course of a couple of years.  He would tap me on the shoulder and say  “April, this is what you need to do.” My response would be, “you talking to me?” along with “maybe later”, “I don’t think you have the right person.” I was like Moses when God told him that he would lead to free the Israelites from Egypt.  Moses’ response was “go to my brother Aaron, he is a better speaker than me.” I would tell God that he already had someone in the family doing such a task.  He already  has  my dad who is a minister, who  writes short stories, poems and has also published a couple of books.  Along with my dad, I told God that He had my son who writes, and I would also say” and  what about all those Christian authors?!” “ isn’t that enough to get the word out!”.   God listened to my excuses.  He just laughed in my face.  As He laughed at me, He kept tapping me on the shoulder telling me to share about His kingdom.

The Almighty Father never gave up on me and His purpose for me at this season of my life.  He spoke to me again and this time it was through my son Drew.   One evening, Drew and I were talking to each other. He and I got on the subject of  purpose in life and me being in a new season of my life. Not long after that conversation, Drew sent me a tweet that said “think about what you are really passionate about and let me know.” I tweeted back with “I’ll have to think about that one.”  Next thing I know, he is telling me I should blog and how to get started.  Thus, here I am  with a  blog site sharing the love of Jesus Christ.  Furthermore, I am sure that God is sitting up there in heaven giving Jesus and the angels a fist bump. God won and is having the last laugh with me!

Lesson learned, don’t argue with God because you will not win. You may think you don’t  have the courage to do what He calls you to do but He supplies you with what you need. I don’t know what God will tap me on the shoulder to do next but I do know that : I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13. 

What is God tapping you on the shoulder to do?  What argument or excuses are you giving Him ?   Realize you might as well stop the excuses and arguing with God. I encourage you to just let Him fill you up and do the work He has commissioned you to do.  Furthermore, don’t laugh when he tells you do to something.  For, I have learned many times over that   He will have the last laugh!

Blessings-

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Sit. Stay. Obey.

"Smokey" Hawkins Adopted September 24, 2011 Adopted from Rowdy Rescue, Slaughters, Kentucky

“Sit.” “Stay.” “You have to do what you are told.” Are the things you will hear me say around the house these days. This past weekend, Jim and I adopted Smokey, a Shih Tzu/Bichon mix from a Rescue Shelter. As I give Smokey his boundaries, rules and expectation of obeying me, I think of God and His expectation of our obeying Him.

God gave us commandments of which he expects us to obey. I saw a sign this summer in a gift shop that said “The Ten Commandments were NOT suggestions.” In other words, these instructions along with many others in the bible give us our boundaries and God’s expectations of how we should act and obey.

When our new guy, Smokey obeys he gets a treat. As he receives his treat for doing what was expected, you can see joy and happiness in his little face. It is the same with us with God. When we obey God, we are opening ourselves up for God to bless us. What joy and happiness  fills our soul when we are blessed by God. However, when we don’t obey, we can miss the treat of God’s blessings.

In Psalm 81, the psalmist shares how we need to be in constant awareness of God’s presence and obey His commandments. The psalmist shares how God’s people would not listen to God’s voice and obey Him. In response to not obeying God, Psalm 81:12 says; “So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, To walk in their own counsels.” Verse 16 shares how Israel missed God’s blessings. If they had  obeyed;  “He would have fed them also with the finest of wheat; And with honey from the rock I would have satisfied you.”

Everyday, we wake up with a new beginning. We are given free will by God to make choices. The question before us is do we obey God and allow Him to treat us with His blessings? Or, do we walk the path that we think is best and miss the blessings? As we go through the week ahead, may we sit in His presence, stay in His word and obey Him!

Blessings

My Regards

His Eye Is On The Sparrow

Image by Del~Uks via Flickr

One Friday evening when Jim and I were out doing a little shopping, Drew calls Jim. As the conversation starts, I hear Jim laugh and say “I will make sure she gets the message.” I looked at Jim inquisitively and wondered what kind of message Drew had for me. Being full of wit and sarcasm, I could only imagine Drew’s message. Once Jim got off the phone, he relayed Drew’s message to me. The message was given to Drew by a homeless person on the corner of where Drew’s apartment building is located. This gentleman asked Drew to give me his regards like he knew me.

Since Drew moved out three years ago, first going to Chicago and now living in Atlanta, he has claimed the street people as his ministry. He makes it a point to talk with them and has had a chance to minister to one or two over time. Needless to say, on this particular evening, Drew had befriended a homeless guy and made conversation. Jim and Drew teased how I had friends on the street. I chuckled at the message sent to me at first but then I took a step back and thought about this message. Maybe it was God sending His regards to me through someone else. Later, I said to Jim; ” you know, that could have very well been my guardian angel using Drew to let me know my Father is watching over me.” Jim replied; “yes, it could have been but we will never know.”

A couple of weeks ago while visiting Drew in Atlanta, that conversation/message came up. Drew said that since that evening, he had not seen this particular gentleman. Now, if you know the homeless population in a big city, they usually have a regular corner and/or place where they spend most of their time. When Drew said that he had not seen that gentleman since that night, I got a chill and a sense of peace from within.

Hebrews 12:2; Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.’  Each day we encounter people on our faith journey. Some people we encounter we know them, their story and where they are heading. Others that come into our path we do not know other than what we observe in that particular moment. It is important that we stay observant to those around us through the eyes of Christ. Sometimes, it is the least likely person we encounter that may have a message from God. The message could very well be that message of hope we needed, that smile we needed or just a simple hello to pull us out of ourselves.

God uses many methods of getting our attention and to  send us the message He needs us to hear at a particular moment. I am a subscriber to the magazine Angels on Earth” and this magazine shares story after story of how God sent someone a messenger, a helper and/or encourager to people just at a time of need. As I read testimonies in this magazine, I think of the gentleman on the corner in Atlanta that told Drew to give me his regards. Yes, think what you want but I truly it was God’s way of saying; “I am here and I am watching over you.”

Along with receiving affirmation of God watching over me through someone I have never met and much less have not seen,  I am also reminded of the hymn “His Eye Is On The Sparrow.” The first verse says:

Why should I feel discouraged,

Why should the shadows come,

Why should my heart be lonely

And long for Heav’n and home,

When Jesus is my portion?

My constant Friend is He:

His eye is on the sparrow,

And I know He watches over me.

Mrs. C.D Martin/Chas. H. Gabriel

In the days ahead,  know that your Creator is watching over you. He may place a stranger in your path that has a special message just for you.  He will sends you His regards when you least expect it but just when you need to hear from Him the most.

Regards and Blessings

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U-G-L-Y

Ugly face

Let's leave U-G-L-Y out on the doorstep where he belongs!

Ugly is an adjective in the English language that describes something unattractive or not desirable.  The cheerleaders would lead the crowd in a chant “U-G-L-Y you ain’t got no alibi, you ugly!” at the high school football games. Of course this chant was directed to the opposing team.

Mid-way to the end of the movie ‘Hair Spray’, Mabelle’s son, Seaweed J. Stubb brings Penny to not only his side of town but to his home. When Mabelle meets Penny, she ask “who is this?” and her daughter answers by saying “it’s Seaweed’s girlfriend.” Since this movie setting took place in the 1960′s and around the events of integration, Mabelle responds; “well if this is true, you better be ready for a whole lot of ugly because it’s going to be out there; followed up with a whole lot of stupid.”  You see Penny was caucasian and Seweed was African-American which was very taboo during that era.

Ugly. We see it a lot these days. Stories on the news and attitudes of people  are examples of where we find ugly. I worked retail for a while and when I did I would encounter ugly from time to time. Some days it felt like every customer that came in had taken an ugly pill. Most of us have that experience at some place and time.

While growing up in a minister’s home, I learned and experienced  a lot of things. The things I learned and experienced were not just taught to me by my parents. But, I learned and experienced them through people’s actions and reactions. The things I learned and experienced were patience, staying strong when things are tough, unconditional love which were all good things for a person to experience and learn growing up. But, as the saying goes, it was not always roses. There were a few times when I experienced some thorns among the roses which were ugly.

The biggest hurts I experienced and saw others go through was someone just being ugly. Believe it or not these big hurts happened within the church family. These hurts were caused by someone’s temper flaring, someone not liking what someone else is doing or they simply want things done their way. In these observations, I sometimes saw and still see people new to the Christian faith wanting to be involved because they want to escape life’s ugly for just a few simple moments.  They want to come be renewed, experience joy in their heart and be encouraged by others. Yet, I have seen these very people see and/or experience ugly and become so hurt that they leave the church and some are never to come back. 

The church family consists of many personalities. Personalities that are not perfect and that is why we have each other as a family. We are called to encourage one another in our faith walk. God calls us to look beyond our needs, wants, and feelings and see the needs of others. In doing this, we need to intentionally create an atmosphere in our church homes where people especially those who are new in the faith can find joy, comfort, peace, encouragement and where they can escape from the ugly for just a few simple minutes.

1 Peter 4:9-10 gives us these instructions; “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister to one another, as good stewards of a manifold grace of God.” What do you say? How about we leave ugly outside the door. I encourage us to create an environment of hospitality, encouragement,  a place of warmth, unconditional love, and a place of refuge to allow people to leave their worries at the feet of Jesus and be covered by His grace.  The church needs to be a place where people are given  hope to face that world of‘whole lot of ugly’ as they walk out the church  door back into the world of life.   And, if we have a little ugly in our hearts, let’s give it to God and not give Satan the V-I-C-T-O-R-Y of showing ugly. Afterall, Satan is our opponent and he is U-G-L-Y! He’s ugly and he definitely does not need an  alibi; he’s ugly!  

Blessings

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‘He Keeps Me Singing’

Music - an art for itself - Headphones and mus...

 

“I will singof the LORD’S great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.” Psalm 89:1

This morning while cleaning up around the house the old hymn ‘He Keeps Me Singing’ keeps running through my mind. As the lyrics and tune play through my mind and heart, I reminisce of one of my father’s early churches in his ministry. The church was Redwine United Methodist Church that is located in rural Georgia. Every Sunday Mr. Mac would be up in front leading the song service with such enthusiasm and joy for the Lord.  This hymn was sung quiet often in that old church and as I remember it, that small congregation sung so loudly that I imagine those traveling down the road in front would have heard it as they drove past.

Recently, one of my bible study groups were sharing their prayer request and praises. As it came to me, I just sighed and said; “just remember our entire family.” I knew I didn’t have to say anymore because everyone had seen on the prayer chain or through circles in church knew that this has been a summer of big waves for our family. But, before I concluded sharing, I also shared that through these storms there have been blessings along the way.

In this old favorite hymn one of the verses say

Tho’ sometimes He leads thro’ waters deep, Trials fall across the way

Tho’ sometimes the path seems rough and steep, See His footprints all the way.

Oh, how that is so true for me at this very moment. As I reflect all that has been going on in the Hawkins’ home this year, I can see my mighty Saviour’s footsteps along the way. He has been walking beside me each and every step. Yes, He has even picked me up and carried me when I didn’t think I could go a step further. Jesus has whispered in my ear ‘not to fear not I am with you and I will let peace be still in all that is happening in your life.’

When God created you and me, He didn’t promise us perfect days but He promised that our days would carve us to perfection one day at a time and one step at a time. It is in our relationship with Christ that can keep us going on those days that aren’t so perfect and when the waves keep rolling in one after another. In our relationship with our Mighty Saviour, we are given strength to face all  that is in front of us.  He gives us the ability to sing praises and seek blessings just when we are about to lose all hope.

‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus Sweetest name I know, Fills my every longing, Keeps me singing as I go.”  What a beautiful course to hum on any day of things to do but even more beautiful to hum in the midst of life’s storm(s). It has been and is Jesus’ love for me, His holding me and walking with me that has kept me singing this summer. And, as the dust begins to settle, I hum and/or sing it to myself even louder! It is Jesus’ sweet melody that always rings in my heart no matter the circumstance.

It doesn’t matter what kind of day you are having good or bad, I just encourage you to sing as you go knowing that Jesus is walking beside you and at times, will carry you.  His name is the sweetest name anyone can know!

Blessings-

This post dedicated to Redwine United Methodist Church, Royston, Georgia. I will always cherish my early childhood days of singing hymns with a congregation who sung with such joy!

 

God,Country And Fading Letters

Norman Rockwell  -Boy Scout,pledge -pencil

Image by x-ray delta one via Flickr

On September 11, 2001 our nation was brought to our knees by the acts of terrorists using innocent people to attack our nation. I will never forget the hours after of how churches opened for special prayer services, and to listen to President Bush address the nation on the events of the day. The following Sunday, church attendance was up across the nation and special prayers were offered up for those lives lost on that September morning.

A few weeks ago, I stood in Arlington Cemetery saying good-bye to my uncle who was a Vietnam vet. As I attended this service, I was reminded of those who have taken the fall so that I can be free and protected. After my uncle’s service, we ventured over to where my grandparents are buried. They are laid to rest under a tree on a hill in Arlington that faces the side of the Pentagon that took the direct hit of a plane on September 11.  Looking across at the Pentagon, I was reminded of how evil came to our soil and how these soldiers buried in Arlington fought hard to keep our soil safe and free.

Before leaving Arlington, we ventured to the other side of the cemetery where my great grandparents and great-uncle are buried. Their head stones are worn and some of the lettering has faded.  In visiting this site and seeing the fading of letters not only on their head stones but on others around them, it made me realize that we, as a nation are slowly slipping and fading from what our nation was founded. We were founded as ‘one nation UNDER God.’

Later in the day, Jim and I visited Mt. Vernon, the home of our first President George Washington.  On that tour, we learned more history about not only George Washington but history of how our nation was founded. In the museum there is a section devoted to George Washington’s beliefs of how we should be tolerant of ALL faiths and religions. He attended other denominations in his lifetime to understand and support those faiths. As I listened to this presentation, I reflected on our nation today. Our nation does tolerate other faiths and religions but it seems that the basic foundation of what this nation was founded is being pushed aside and forgotten. It seems we have gone to the other extreme of tolerating other religions but at the same time the morals, values and Christianity of which we were established are fading just like those letters on the head stones in Arlington.

In recent weeks and days, I have heard many comments of how our nation has had so many disasters. This year alone I think we have already had at least seventy-seven natural disasters. People have commented how other countries seem to suffer more in years past but now the US is getting more than its share. Questions of why this is happening comes to the forefront of the conversation.

For those of us who are raising or have raised children, we sometimes have to do something to get our children’s attention when they are heading in the wrong direction and won’t obey.  As a nation and as individuals we are God’s children. Slowly, we have strayed from morals, values, and God to the point He is trying to get our attention. He is bringing us back to our knees to get back into relationship with Him.

As I write this, I think of cities built without God like Babylon,  and the Roman Empire. They did not acknowledge God.  Needless to say, it did not take long nor much for them to fall. We are gradually falling not on our knees but falling as a nation. Our fall began when we took prayer out of public places, took God out of schools and buildings. There has been talk over the last few years of taking God off our money and one nation under GOD ‘ out of our pledge. Former President Ronald Regan said it well when he said; ‘If we ever forget that we are one nation under God, we will become one nation gone under.’

In President George Washington’s farewell address he stated;  It’s impossible to rightly govern without God and the bible. Just as those lives represented in Arlington and in other cemeteries in our country sacrificing for our freedom and protection. Let us remember it was God sending us His Son so we could be free. It was God and our Christian faith and values that built this nation.

The choice is ours. We can continue to allow the letters of what our country was founded on and who created us to begin to fade.  Are we willing to risk a  fall just like Babylon and the Roman Empire?  Or, do we choose to unite together in prayer, bringing God back into the forefront of our public venues, schools, and be the country our forefathers established us to be. After all, it is God and Country!

“I will make you a great nation, I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:2) 

Blessings

This is dedicated to all men, women and their families who have served, who are serving. Also dedicated to those families who have lost loved ones at the price of freedom. Thank you for protecting our freedom and keeping us safe.

Favorite Jeans and Tennis Shoes

Toritama produces 15% of the Brazilian jeans

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This morning I have my favorite jeans and one of my favorite t-shirts out to wear. Of course, there is a familiar old pair of tennis shoes that I also will be wearing. We all have at least one set of clothing that we like to put on when we want to be comfy and want the feel of something familiar.

My summer has been anything but normal and sometimes anything but comfortable and familiar. Jim and I have spent most of our time in a car traveling to take care of something family related. As I shared in my post “Life Stirred But Not Shaken”, Jim and I were becoming emotionally and physically spent. For me, I felt if anyone asked me to do one more thing, I would break. Knowing how I felt, Jim arranged  for us to spend Labor Day weekend at his family cabin just the two of us. The cabin is a place where we both  feel relaxed and comfortable.  Needless to say, we did get the rest we needed.

I mention the old jeans, t-shirt, tennis shoes and going to a place that is cozy and comfortable because this week I slipped back into a place that is like putting on those favorite jeans, tennis shoes, and t-shirt. This place was like arriving at the cabin where I knew I would be rejuvenated. Where is this place? It is called my church home.  I am back in fellowship with my small group where we share in studying God’s word and hold each other up in trials and praise God together where prayers are answered and joys occur. Then, last night Jim and I went to Wednesday night fellowship. As we walked into our Renewal Center (appropriately named), I began to feel even more renewed.  Jim and I ate and had fellowship with friends that we had not seen in a while.  We were clothed with the comfort of friends,and  friends reminding us that they had been praying for us. Not only were we clothed in the warmth of friendship but we were clothed with Christ’s love and presence. Needless to say, by the time we got home, Jim and I were once again rejuvenated.

In Thessalonians 5:11, Paul reminds us that we are to encourage one another, to help fellow believers to grow in their faith. It is even more important to encourage and help a fellow believer when he/she is going through the storm. Jim and I have been receivers of this encouragement and love not only when we returned to the fellowship of our church home but through emails, Facebook messages, and cards as we have been in uncomfortable places in our walk these last few months.

Maybe you are anywhere but comfortable in your faith journey at this moment. I encourage you to seek the fellowship of fellow Christians where you will be renewed, encouraged, and helped in your faith walk.  Putting on the love, encouragement and prayers of others is like sliding into those favorite jeans and t-shirt.  It is like arriving to that cozy cabin where you know you will be rejuvenated.

You may not be the one going through the storm.  You may know someone who is going through a situation that is anything but comfortable at this moment.  Dear one, I ask that you  encourage that person, love on that person and, help them along the way on their faith walk. You may be that old pair of jeans and t-shirt that they are looking for.  It is as Christians where you and I are called to comfort each other.

Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you are also doing.” Thessalonians 5:11

Blessings

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