Category Archives: Thoughts from the Porch

Absorb the Moment

‘I realize that there’s nothing better for them to do than to be cheerful 

and 

enjoy what is good in their lives.

Ecclesiastes 3:12

 

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.

butterfly

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.

hummingbird

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.

Granddaddy enjoying his family.

Granddaddy enjoying his family.

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.”

Jim soaking up the moments around him at the Butterfly House, Lake Junaluska, NC

Jim soaking up the moments around him at the Butterfly House, Lake Junaluska, NC

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!

 

Feel God

Standing At The Cross Roads

April:

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.

I spent a lot of Sunday afternoons here eating Sunday lunch and then playing in the woods. We would swing across the creek on vines, pick and eat muscadines…wonderful memories!

After the nickel tour of the community and showing Jim the places I hung out and the homes I shared…

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Learning to be Still

anxiously waiting

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.

OR

Changes

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.

I am going crazy

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.

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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.

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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.

juggling life

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.

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.

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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.

stop and smell the roses

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.

eye of love

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.”

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How about it? Are you ready to Learn to be Still?

Listen to the video below:

One By One…Making A Difference

April:

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:

Star Fish

Image via Wikipedia

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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Isn’t it time to be HAPPY?!

Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again; Rejoice!

Philippians 4:4

Unpleasant circumstances. We all face them at some point and time. There are times when it feels the unpleasant is outweighing the pleasant.  For me personally, it seems that one blow after another has happened in the last few months. It has been to the point that I just wanted to throw my hands up in the air and simply give up!  Then, there are times when I don’t just want to throw my hands up in the air but I throw myself a great big pity party!

pity party balloons

Yesterday was one of those days. It was Mother’s Day. Up until mid-afternoon, it was all bah humbug for me. Jim was on duty at the hospital, my son could not make it home and we live nowhere close to immediate family. Therefore, it was me at home alone with the pups. I confess I did not go to church because I did not want to be reminded that I did not have a spouse and/or family to sit with and “be happy” it was Mother’s Day.

Then, it happened. As always, just like a parent shaking a child to get their attention, God did it to me this afternoon with one simple quote:

                    No matter how little we can change about our circumstances,

                                          we always have a choice about our attitude toward the situation.        

 Vonette Bright

missed opportunity

Yes, the situation was not the idea Mother’s Day scenario but I choose to make it a pity party instead of counting my blessings.  I choose not to have joy in my heart.  As I reflect on this situation this evening, I realize the blessings I missed by not going to church.  I did not dance in the rain nor did I choose to be happy no matter what! A missed opportunity!

Happy balloons

A couple of weeks ago my husband helped move his mom from his childhood home to a condo. They were packing up fifty plus years of memories and trying to help his mom transition to a new chapter in her life. Really, it is a new chapter for the entire family. Jim had a choice. He could be heartbroken that his childhood home would no longer be where he would go visit his mom or he could be happy about her new place. He chose happiness.  When he returned home from moving his mom, he shared with me about his day. He said that when he started feeling down about the move he counted the blessings around him and he hummed this catchy song that everyone seems to be singing these days.

Rejoice in the Lord

The song, Happy has caught on in more ways than one. Many videos have been made with this song and it is sung around the world to various videos. You have to admit that when you hear the song that no matter what you just want to get up and dance!  Jim and I have had the busiest and/or the most frustrating of days and we can hit play on this song and our attitude is changed. We are re-charged. Again, something I failed doing yesterday.

As I write this post and listen to this song, my bible is opened to Philippians 4:4 where Paul is telling us to Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS! He isn’t telling us to rejoice only when we receive blessings and all is well with the world. But, he is telling us to rejoice in the Lord in everything that happens in our  lives. There is no situation that God gives us where he doesn’t have a blessing for us to receive and a reason to rejoice! For me,  Paul is saying to us exactly what Pharrell Williams says to us in the song; clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth; clap along if you know what happiness is to you. 

Happy

There is no circumstance in life that gives us reasons to be unhappy and not to rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS!  It is a choice. We can choose to allow the circumstances pull us down to the point we throw ourselves a huge pity party or we can choose to be happy no matter what and receive the blessings God has planned for us.

Bad attitude

There is a saying going around on Facebook; a bad attitude is like a flat tire. You are not going anywhere until you change it.   What do we do when we have a flat? We change that tire. Today, I changed my flat tire and I choose to be happy. I’m clapping along because I KNOW happiness is the truth.

Are you in unfortunate circumstance? Are you throwing yourself a pity party? Isn’t it time to stand up and rejoice in the LORD?   Isn’t it time to be Happy?!

Blessings journal

Tip for the day: Start a blessings journal.Write down at least five blessings from your day. Rejoice and give thanks for those blessings. From my experiences, as days go by that list will grow and you will find yourself writing down more than five blessings a day.  ( I am starting a new one for myself today). 

The Right Place

April:

Spring is here and that means for many it is time for Spring cleaning. We not only need to Spring clean our homes but what about our souls? What do we need to be rid of to make our walk of faith better?

Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:

This past week I have been busy doing what I call a “moving drill.” No, we don’t actually move but we clean out like we would if we were moving. Growing up in a minister’s home who moved every four to five years, you learn to not accumulate so much “stuff.”  The motto I have for our home is if you haven’t used or worn  it in six months to a year, you are probably not going to wear or use it so send it on out the door.

Along with this “moving drill” comes organization. Yes, I am a person that is particular of where things go and belong. My rule is everything has a place and it is important to put that item back into the right place once you are done using it. Yes, I must confess that there are times when life gets busy…

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It’s All In God’s Hands Now

April:

To all those who are graduating or who have graduates in their family. God Speed.

Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:

Dear Parents,

Your son or daughter has done it!  They have worked through twelve years of hard work, sweat and tears to reach the moment when they walk across the stage and receive their diploma. As they walk across the stage, you see that little girl or little boy who held your hand to cross the street just a few days ago. 

Not only do you reflect back on the days of raising your child but you look ahead and dream of what your now young adult will be in life. Yes, admit it. You have your set of goals, dreams and hopes for your graduate. But, they have hopes and dreams of their very own. As the tassel is turned, the cake is cut and the celebrations come and go, it is important to remember  that God created your graduate and has his own set of dreams and plans for…

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Tear Down That Wall!!

This is one of the most memorable Presidential speeches in our American history.  I still get chills today when I hear or think of this speech because of what happened as a result.  A wall had been erected in 1961 to divide Communism  from democracy during the Cold War.  A symbolic division among governments and beliefs.

This week I completed the study on Nehemiah by Kelly Minter with my small group. If you are familiar with Nehemiah you know that the Jews had been in exile in Babylon. It is seventy years later and the King is allowing the Jews to return to their homeland. They return to only see that their city had been destroyed and the wall that had once surrounded their city was torn down.

Nehemiah

Nehemiah was so heart-broken when he heard the news about Jerusalem. He prayed to God and sought God’s guidance. He gave up the comfortable life he had been living to go back to Jerusalem to re-build the wall and city.  Yet, there would be a day when a Savior would come and tear down that very wall.

Walls. Walls are barriers. In a home they divide the rooms and each room has a purpose or belongs to a certain member or members  in the family. When someone is building a home it there is usually great anticipation when the walls begin going up. Anticipation takes place because the house is beginning to come together.

walls going up

Though walls in a physical home are needed, there are walls among family members, friends, neighbors, congregations, communities and the list can go on that are unnecessarily built. These walls divide God’s people today.  Friendships and families have been broken because of walls that were built because someone could not see eye to eye. Walls have been built to the point congregations split because of differences in opinion.

wall between people

Anytime, I see disagreement or experience disagreement, it breaks my heart. It breaks my heart because I know that is not the way God wants us to live. Just as the wall came down in Berlin and people were re-united, God wants us all united together for his kingdom.  Thus, this is why he sent his Son, Jesus.  Jesus came to tear down  walls and to show us the freedom, the joy, and the peace we receive when we choose to tear down the walls that divide us.

find yourself UMC

I grew up a United Methodist and I still worship in a United Methodist church. A few years ago the United Methodist Church wrote a new campaign for our church; Open Hearts, Open Minds and Open Doors. It is the church’s way of tearing down walls that may prevent people who are hurting, in need of God’s love and are searching to enter the doors of the church. In other words, we want to meet people where they are  on their life’s journey. It doesn’t matter who they are, how they are dressed or the economic status but what matters is that the church wants  the person to  know they are loved and the church is a place where they can come and experience God and grow in their faith journey. (You can see the video of this campaign on the right side bar of this page).

Today, there may be a wall that has been built between you and another person. You may not know why that wall was built. Or, it could have been built because of a misunderstanding of some kind.  A wall could have been built because of a difference in opinion.

tear down the wall for love

No matter how that wall was built, it is time to tear down that wall!  It is time to place the situation into God’s hands. Seek forgiveness from God and from the person(s).  Invite Jesus to come into the situation/circumstance and ask Him to help you tear down that wall! 

Remember what it was like when the wall was torn down in Berlin? There was much excitement and celebrating. There were some families that were united and freer to see each other.  You could see great joy as it was shown on television.

Isn’t it time for you to experience a new freedom? Isn’t it time for you to experience that joy? Take your wall to God. Allow him and His Son, Jesus to take that wall down brick by brick.  Trust me, if you do this, you will find a freedom and joy in your heart that outweighs the bitterness and hurt that takes place when walls are built.

What do you say? Tear down the wall that divides. Experience joy and peace!

Keep Your Eyes Open

 

 

In the summer of 1994, the movie, Forest Gump was released and became an instant hit. As the movie opens, you see Forest sitting on a park bench in Savannah, Georgia waiting for a bus. As he waits he begins to tell people who sit down with him his story. Thus, the movie/ his story begins to unfold before our eyes. At the end of the movie, we see a gentleman sitting with him listening to Forest complete his story. When Forest reveals who he is the gentleman has a hard time believing that he has been sitting with the owner of Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.  It is beyond this gentleman’s comprehension.

life is like chocolate

Thinking about this scene makes me think of the morning in the garden when Mary goes to the tomb of Jesus. She is upset because Jesus is not in the tomb. She wants to know where he has been taken so that she can care for his body. A  gardener appears before her and speaks to her. At first this person is a stranger to her but then her eyes are opened and she realizes it is Jesus.

empty tomb

Later two disciples are walking on the road to Emmaus talking among themselves. Can you imagine the conversation they were having with one another? I am sure they were in somewhat of a surreal  state of mind. They were asking if they had actually seen/experienced what they had seen in the past days. They simply wanted to make sense out of all that happened.

 We have all had those surreal moments where we ask, did what happen just happen? Yet, in the midst of their conversation, a stranger comes up to them and ask if he can join them on their walk. Of course, the stranger is welcomed and the two men begin to tell what they had experienced in the days past. The stranger listens intently to their story.

road to emmaus

Next scene, the stranger is welcome to join them for dinner. It is when the bread is blessed and broken that their eyes are opened. They see first hand that what had been prophesied was for real. Christ had risen and he was right there before them.

Many times on my Facebook wall, I will post what I call April’s Random Thoughts. It is in these thoughts I encourage my friends/readers to stay in tuned to God’s voice because you never know where you will encounter Him throughout the day.  It is when we stay in tuned to God’s voice with an open heart and mind we discover that we will experience Christ in something we do during the day. Or, we experience Christ through a person that is put in our path. In other words, we can be sitting on a bench and listening to someone’s story and as they finish up and move on, we realize that we had encountered Christ, one of His ambassadors and/or one of God’s angels.

seeking the heart

Starting today, I ask that you approach each day with an open heart and mind. Ask God to reveal himself to you throughout the day.  Be aware of his presence in ALL that you do. If you do this, you will see and experience Christ in ways that are beyond comprehension!

see things worth seeing

Keep your eyes open!

Love God

Looking Back….I Stand Amazed

April:

Sometimes it is good to look back and see what has influenced your life.

Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:

Jim and me at Bowdon High School Football Game...October 25, 2013

Jim and me at Bowdon High School ( one of the high schools I attended) re-uniting and visiting old friends.
October 25, 2013

There is a reason I started this post out with the video, I Go Back by Kenny Chesney. It is when I hear this song I go back. I go back to some of the same scenes he mentions in the song. For example, the lyrics,  The smell of fried chicken after church remind me of my family driving from Monroe to Athens every Sunday after church. My grandmother would have fried chicken and all that goes with it ready for us to enjoy Sunday dinner and family time.

This song   takes me down a long road of wonderful memories of people I have met over my lifetime. Each appointment my dad served as a Methodist minister holds their own  special memories and footprints on my…

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