Category Archives: Thoughts from the Porch

One

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.

So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything but

only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the

man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded 

according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers;

you are God’s field, God’s building.

1 Corinthians 3:6-9

The Power of One

ONE is a powerful number. I can think of many things that started with one.  One  person stepped out in faith.   One person responding to a yearning in their heart.  One person wanting to make a dream come true.  One person listening to the voice of God. Yet, at  the end of the day,  the outcome was more than one. 

Janine Stang

This morning as I was watching the Today Show they did an interview with Janine Stange. As of this evening, she will have sung the Star Spangled Banner in all fifty states.  She started this journey as a way of showing her respect and gratitude to our service men and women who have taken that one step forward to protect what the Star Spangled Banner stands for. As they were wrapping up the interview with Janine, these words she shared struck a chord in my heart. She noted that when the Star Spangled Banner  is sung no matter the venue that it is a time when everyone is one.

As I reflect on that statement of how everyone is one  as we gather at a venue to sing the National Anthem, I think of many things that started with one.  One person with a dream and/or nudge from God. For example, Martin Luther King, Jr. He had a dream. His dream was that all men and women were to be treated equal. He stepped out in faith and as he stepped out others came along and joined in with his mission. At the end of the day, his one voice became many voices working to make his dream a reality.

ice bucket challenge

Then of recent, there was the famous ice bucket challenge. It took one person saying they would have ice water poured over them and issuing a challenge to others to do likewise to raise awareness and money for ALS. Out of that one challenge, social media was full of ice bucket challenges and challengers. The outcome of one person extending the challenge resulted in not only bringing awareness to ALS but also money was raised for ALS research.

When I think of OneI not only think of the National Anthem when everyone is one, Martin Luther King, Jr. with his one dream, or the ALS challenge, but I think of this scripture from 1 Corinthians 3:6-9. When it comes to the Kingdom of God it only takes one person to sow a seed of faith, hope and grace. Then, someone else comes along and waters it. As time goes on there is more than one in helping a pilgrim on their faith journey.  As a result the Kingdom of God grows and flourishes.

planting seeds

You see, we are all one.  As Christians we have been called to invite others into the Kingdom of God.  It only takes us listening to that ONE voice and stepping out in faith and sharing God’s grace, light, and love.  As we listen to that ONE  voice , there are others who are also listening to that ONE voice that are also stepping out in faith.  The end result we have a multitude of voices  sharing the light of Christ.  Just as Janine Stange, expressed what it is like for everyone to be as one as the National Anthem is sung, we are ALL ONE IN CHRIST!

listening to God's voice

One. A powerful number. “All it takes is one voice. Then, when you look around there is more than one voice singing.”   May we be willing to step out in faith in sharing the Good News of our risen Savior.  I won’t challenge you to  pouring a cold bucket of ice water over your head to get the message across. However,  I challenge you to respond to that ONE voice. Step  out in faith in response to the call that has been placed in your heart. Just like the ice bucket challenge I know without a doubt there will be more than just your one voice.  There will be others that will step out to join and support you on the journey of which you have been called.

one voice rock

 

I See The Moon

 Girl looking at the moon

” I see the moon and the moon sees me. God bless the moon and God bless me.” Each evening when Mom would be putting the supper dishes away, I would sit on the sofa in the sitting area by the kitchen looking out the window at the moon. As the sun would set, the moon would become even brighter.  Mom would remind me that the man who made the moon made me.

“I see the moon and the moon sees me” is a reminder that God is watching over me and sees all that I do. Not only does he see me but he sees my heart.  It also reminds me that in all that I see around me I am seeing God, hearing God and experiencing God in all things.

God bless the moon. God bless me”,  reminds me that God has given me blessings throughout the day. It is also a gentle reminder that God has more blessings planned for me. All I have to do is be thankful for the ones given and keep my heart open and prepared for God’s blessings in the days ahead.

Each night I look up and see the moon and all the stars in the night sky. I  still recite the simple little rhyme my mom taught me as a small child.  It is a gentle reminder for me that the one who created the moon and hangs the stars is taking care of me.  There isn’t anything in life that I can’t handle as long as I have faith in the one ‘who made the moon.’  As I said in a previous post, ‘we are not promised perfect days but we are promised A PERFECT DAY in his time.”  

It is on that PERFECT DAY where I will meet the one ‘who made the moon’.  Until that day comes, I will continue to share thoughts and words in hopes to encourage others and show others the marvelous wonders and love of the one created the moon and created us. And, each night I will continue to count my blessings and continue  to look up  at the sky and say:

I see the moon.

The moon sees me.

God bless the moon.

God bless me.

May you see the moon and know the moon sees you. The creator of the moon has many blessings waiting for you to receive. This evening look up at the sky and soak in the amazing beauty of our wonderful creator.

My mom and me. This is the age when she taught me the rhyme.

My mom and me.
This is the age I was when she taught me the rhyme.

 

SFT….What Matters…

April:

What really matters?

Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:

Seven Days in Utopia Title Page

How can a game have such an effect on a man’s soul?”

Johnny Crawford

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.”

Isaiah 30:21

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!

Luke's melt down

 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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An Angel In My Path

 Keep loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, 

for by so doing some people have entertained angels without know it.”

Hebrews 13:1-2

Smokey

Smokey My angel who reminds me of God’s unconditional love for me.

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.

Love God

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.

God's 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.

feather

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.

Press On

I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:14

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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.

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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.

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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.

10578230_726466007418080_1170647241_oJim 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.

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He’s Going To Be Fine

April:

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:

“Mama I Will Be Fine”
On December 25, 2004, I opened a box from my son, Drew and husband, Jim. In this box was the figurine that you see in the picture. Along with the figurine came a card with this written by the artist; The day our children go off into the world, only one thing is certain, things forever change. It’s a time for letting go, a time to let them test their wings, for one day they will fly free. And with them go our hopes and  prayers for the futures, for God has a wonderful plan for their lives. One will find a cure, one will save a life, one will lead a congregation, and one will lead a nation, but none will go alone.”  Bill Stross (Artist of Prayers and Promises) What prompted Jim and Drew to give me this gift was that Drew would…

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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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