Category Archives: Thoughts from the Porch
There is a picture of a tear that has been going around on Facebook that says; “ever have a memory to roll down your cheek?” I recently had one of those moments. For me, it was hearing the song, Don’t Blink and not some Christmas song that caused this gal’s dam to break.
As I listened to Kenny sing about how life goes by so fast, I reminisced on Christmases past. As I reminisced, I looked about the family room and other rooms of little reminders of not only Christmases past but of those who have had a special influence and place in my life and heart.
In the picture there are four items that represent Christmases past and the meaning for Christmas for me. The first item is the train under the Christmas tree. Growing up it was a tradition for Dad to set up the train under the Christmas tree. My brother and I would sit there for hours making up destinations of where the train would be going and we would also add a little cargo to the cargo cars as we played. Though the train only went around in one continuous circle my brother and I reached many destinations in our imaginations.
The other item in the picture is an elf. I remember the year Mom and Dad went to Sears and Roebuck to buy new Christmas ornaments. I was probably about six or seven at the time. Mom picked out candy canes, gingerbread houses, gingerbread men and these elves that would decorate our tree. Over the years these ornaments became damaged because of the wear of time and due to the moves they had to make as we moved from one place to another. However, out of those ornaments were two elves. One elf for me and one for my brother. This elf sitting on the ladder is the elf that has now gone with me from place to place. Each year I place it on the ladder going up the tree and each year I remember the Christmases from childhood. Oh, I could go on about the different Christmases and what made them so special but that will have to wait for another day and time.
Beside the train lays a sweatshirt with a reindeer painted on it. This sweatshirt was a craft that my son, Drew made when he was in pre-school. On it is an old pizza stain that won’t come out but it does not stop me from getting it out year after year and having it on display somewhere in the house. When I reached into the closet to get this special shirt out the words; the secret to life is don’t blink came to my mind. It seems like it was just yesterday where Jim and I were out shopping for Drew’s first Christmas. And, this year we are Christmas shopping for him and his wife, Megan’s first home. It made me think of all the Christmases we have spent with Drew and I saw how time has really flown by. It is so true of what Kenny says in the song; “it’s important to put first things first” and “you can’t flip over the hour glass.” A tear rolled down my cheek as I longed to have that little boy back but also another tear rolled down my cheek with pride knowing what kind of man he has grown up to be.
Earlier, I mentioned the ladder. Jim’s parents gave us that one year in our early years of marriage. Jim’s mom has had a ladder by her tree through the years and she thought we needed one, too. Needless to say, I was excited to get it knowing that is was a part of bringing some of Jim’s Christmas past into our home. I don’t have them in the picture but there are snow flakes made by his sweet grandmother that go on our tree as well.
The train not only reminds me of Christmases growing up but it is a reminder that God sent his Son, Jesus and through Him there is a destination. The destination is heaven. By accepting Christ into my life, I have my ticket to heaven.
The elf on the ladder is a reminder that no matter where I go Jesus is there. Just like this elf being with me all these years and going through all the moves I’ve made, Jesus has always been there and will always be there with me. It is up to me to acknowledge His presence and make sure I include him in all that I do and invite him to go with me in all the places I go.
The sweatshirt reminds me of how time really does fly and the importance of staying in tuned to God in ALL situations everyday. There are opportunities put before us each day of being a witness for Christ. We are given opened door opportunities to invite people to join us on the journey and yet so many times we don’t embark on them.
The snowflakes are a reminder of family. Though we are related by blood or by marriage,just like each snowflake we are each different and unique in our own way. Each one has something that they can and have contributed to the family and to the world in order to make things a little bit better for someone else.
The ladder reminds me of the story of Jacob. A ladder aids us in being able to reach something. Therefore, the ladder represents our connection to God. The ladder being Jesus whom is the very reason for the Christmas Season.
As I listen to the song, Don’t Blink again, I think of the song written by Mark Lowry and composed by Buddy Greene, Mary Did You Know?. Can you imagine what was going through Mary’s mind and what her heart was feeling as she watched her son carry a cross that he would soon die on? You know she thought about the moments of his coming into the world and the hours she must have watched him at play. Just like any mother she probably reminisced about his favorite foods and stories they had shared around the table. As a mom myself, I know it had to be a moment in time where she wished she could go back in time but couldn’t. Mary knew first things were first. She knew that though she carried and gave birth to this child of hers that He was God’s Son He was sent so that we may obtain the ultimate ticket to the most wonderful destination.
“The secret to life is don’t blink.” This lyric holds true not only for those moments we have with our family and friends. It also holds true for us in our Christian walk. There are opportunities out there for us every day to be the hands and feet of Christ. Yet, there are moments we sit and look back and realized we blinked. It is when we blinked we missed the opportunity of being a true ambassador for Christ.
This Christmas as I look at photos from Christmas past, hear the same old stories told like they have never been told before sing the old carols from years past, I will not only be reflecting on my life of memories with family and friends but I will reflect on my Christian walk. It is in the reflection where I will see where I blinked and will be made more aware of the importance of staying in tuned to God in ALL that I do.
This Christmas may you put first things first and that is keeping Christ first in your life. May you capture all the opportunities put before you to be his witness. May you also capture all those special little moments that soon become memories with your family and friends this season.
Sharing from my archives
Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:
For us Southern Belles, not only is getting the tree and fireplace mantle in perfect shape but getting the dinning room table is at the top of list in what absolutely has to be done at Christmas. For me, candles are essential when setting the table not only at Christmas but year round. Having candles on the table holds meaning for me.
My grandfather on my dad’s side was a retired Army Colonel. When we visited my grandparents’ home, Mom would always make sure we were brushed up on our manners especially before going to the dinner table. Dinner at Papa Hill’s house was an event every night. The good china and silver were used. And, there were always candles on the table that were lit before we came to the table. No one sat down until Papa Hill took his seat at the head of the dinner…
View original 595 more words
Originally written and posted Dec., 2010…
Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:
‘Roll out the holly…..cause we need a little Christmas right this very minute” are some of the lyrics in a song that is sung the musical ‘Mame‘. The last few weeks around the Hawkins’ home have been intense ones. It was debated when and if we would even get our tree up this year. Needless to say, the gift giving and ready to celebrate any occasion gal was becoming frustrated. It is Christmas and I wasn’t getting much of a celebratory mood from Jim.
Then, I reflected back on my freshman year in college. My mother had been in and out of the hospital with kidney trouble. Once finals were over, my plan was to go home and work with a PR company for the holiday season to put…
View original 504 more words
May we have open hearts and be willing to squeeze in another child of God at our table this Christmas Season.
Originally written and posted in 2010
Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:
When you read my post The Table Is Set, I placed a picture of our family dining room table. This table also holds very fond memories of my Mom’s mom. Her name was Reba but us grandkids called her Rea. This table belonged to Rea and when she passed, I acquired not only the table but a table full of memories.
This dinning room suit was how my Papa Jack proposed to Rea. After courting Rea for a while, he called her one day and said look at the dinning suit in the front window of the furniture store on your way home from work. Then, he instructed her to let him know if she liked the set. Apparently, she liked the set and it raised a family, grandchildren and now one of her great-grandchildren and possibly…
View original 586 more words
As we approach Thanksgiving Day, I would like to say thank you for stopping by and visiting my porch. It is your visits and comments that give me the encouragement to write and share my faith. I feel richly blessed for the people God has placed into my path through writing.
Social Media is a wonderful tool for us to share our thoughts, feelings and events in our lives. However, it is my prayer that tomorrow you will close your media down and enjoy time with your family and friends. I encourage you to allow it to be a time of reflecting on the past year of how God has been at work in your life.
May you have a blessed Thanksgiving and may God shower you with many blessings as we approach the holiday season.
Blessings and Peace,
Sharing from my archives this morning. May your day be filled with blessings.
Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:
My father-n-law was known by family and friends as “Mr. Fix It.” If something is broken, he could usually fix it when no one else could. It is amazing what he could do with super glue, duct tape and even with a wad of chewing gum. He could make fixing things look so easy.
There are times in our lives when we see someone doing something we don’t approve of and we want to change them to our way of thinking. Or, we think we know the whole picture of what is going on by just seeing only a few snippets without even getting to know the person/situation. In our perception, we think we need to jump in and fix the situation or person when really we can’t.
Then, there are those situations/persons who are really doing no wrong but they are not doing things like we would do them…
View original 670 more words
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 heart from dear people. There are also those dear friends from my Reinhardt College days (now Reinhardt University). Fortunately, with the development of social media I have been able to re-connect with many of these special friendships.
It is good to look back now and then. Looking back gives us a perspective on life, the blessings that have already been received, the lessons learned, and to help you to see how far we have come. It also gives us perspective on the future. We see where God has brought us and walked with us and it gives us assurance that God is still walking and is with us.
I open my bible, I look back at the Old Testament stories. These stories give a perspective of where our Christian heritage started. These passages are reminders those who have influenced our heritage as God’s child from thousands of years ago and they show us that God is still with us! As I scan through the stories in the Old Testament, I see how God was already showing his grace and preparing his people for the Son that was to come.
It is people in the Old Testament receiving redemption and grace that formed the family tree of Jesus. His tree is full of redeemed people. In Joshua, we learn about Rahab who was a prostitute. She lived on the wall of Jericho. Joshua sent spies into Jericho before invading and Rahab hid these spies. She not only hid the spies but she lied to authorities about them being in her home and Jericho. Rahab had faith that God would protect her and her family if she protected the Israelite spies.
To God Rahab’s profession did not matter to him. It was her faith that matter to him. As we read on, we see that she is a part of the family tree of the lineage of Christ. She was a person who had received God’s grace. We can read on and see that Rahab was the mother of Boaz. Boaz is known as the kinsmen redeemer for Naomi. He marries Ruth whom is a foreigner. Ruth and Boaz have a son, Obed. Obed is the father of Jesse whom is the father of David. (Matthew 1).
Look back at David. He is known as the man after God’s own heart. Boy! Did he make some mistakes. If his life were put into a reality show, I am sure it would get top billing. He had Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah murdered so that he could have Bathsheba for himself. He committed adultery with Bathsheba before he even had Uriah killed. He disobeyed God and turned a blind eye to the sins of his children. Yet, David is known as being the greatest king of Israel. Fast forward to Matthew 1 and whose name appears in the lineage of Christ, David. God used David in preparing the way for his Son to come to earth to let people know that no matter how much you mess up, God still loves you and he wants your heart. Again, if you read in between the lines you will see redemption and grace already taking place.
In the Old Testament, God was already showing to grace and redeeming people. He sent his Son to demonstrate that grace that is available to all of us. This morning as I thought about this my heart almost exploded with excitement just like it almost explodes from excitement from seeing an old friend. Going back to a special place and time.
It excited me to be reminded that even before Jesus arrived as a tiny infant in a manger on a cold starry night God’s grace was already at work. He just decided to send it down to us in the form of a baby who would grow up to be a man who demonstrated God’s grace. He demonstrated God’s grace by healing the sick, raising the dead, forgiving the tax payer, the prostitute and the list goes on. Then, one day he would be put on the cross to die for my sins so that I would have a place in paradise.
What takes me back? When I hear the old hymn, In My Heart There Rings a Melody I can see Mr. Mac Beggs leading the songs in a small country church known as Redwine United Methodist. There are songs like Meet Me In The Morning, Jesus Is Coming Soon, and I’ll Fly Away that remind me of Campton United Methodist Church. I also remember it was in that church parking lot I learned to ride a bike.It is when I see an old country store no longer in business I think of Mr. Baker’s store that was up on the corner from our home. Mom would let me walk up to his store after school to get a coke before doing homework. It is when I hear Kenny Chesney’s song, I Go Back I think of camp meetings under an arbor and beginning high school in Bowdon, Georgia. The place where I stood at many crossroads of growing up.
When I open a coke or eat a fried pie I think of Ms. Sara who was our neighbor and always had place on the porch for you to sit and visit. It is getting on my bicycle that I think of dear childhood friends, like Beth and Robert Rowland, LuAnn and Jeff Marlow and how we would ride our bikes all over the place. Our parents didn’t worry about us back then. I can order catfish at Cracker Barrel and think of Daddy Bill and his many fish fries. It is seeing the arbor from Shiloh on Facebook that reminds of the place and time I accepted Christ into my life.
Every time I say the Lord’s Prayer I think of the Heritage High School Band .Our band director, Mr. Dent would huddle us together to say the Lord’s Prayer before we took the field to do our show. When I see a barbecue taking place for a fund-raiser, I think of Union Church and the barbeques they had each Fall and Spring. The people that would come and the fellowship that took place as the food was prepared and served.
When I see news from Reinhardt or a posting from a Reinhardt friend, I go back to those college days. I can hear certain anthems played and sung and memories of singing in the Reinhardt choir and our travels. I think of the professors who not only taught me topics but taught me things about life.
It is in my looking back I see where God was using every situation to mold me, to teach me, show me his grace and that he was and still is with me. Yes, there were mistakes made along the way but it is in those mistakes that I learned. I learned lessons that would help me to see life in a better light and to possibly help someone else along the way. All of the experiences I mentioned along with a lot of experiences I didn’t mention are all a part of God’s molding me, allowing me to experience his grace in ALL that I do. Not only does looking back remind me of where God has worked in my life but it helps me to look forward. God has more plans for me, more people to come into my life and more grace for me to experience and share.
Looking back. I walk through the scriptures. I reflect on my life. What do I see? Grace. And, I stand amazed.
Until next time, may you look back and see where God’s grace has been at work in your life. I imagine if you do, you will stand amazed.
- Photo Gallery: Reinhardt University vs. University of the Cumberlands (nickvsuss.wordpress.com)
- The Varsity and Me (atlantatravails.wordpress.com)
Growing up I did not always see my grandparents on my Dad’s side during the holidays. Grandmother and Papa Hill always made sure packages were wrapped and mailed to us in time to be under the tree for Christmas Eve. Most years we got our Christmas pajamas from them.
Yet, there was this one Christmas where my grandmother decided she would send me a night-gown instead of pajamas. After going out for a Christmas Eve services, dinner and visiting with friends, my brother and I rushed home anticipating opening that first gift on Christmas Eve. Of course, Dad had to draw out the anticipation by acting like he could not find the packages and then magically making them appear.
As soon as these packages landed in our laps the paper was off in the blink of an eye and the box lids flew opened. Instead of pulling out the fuzzy footie pajamas like I had always gotten, I began to pull out this night-gown. As I began to pull the gown out of the box the more material would come out. As the night-gown began to unfold and unfold, the entire room become quiet. I know the looks on the faces of my family had to be inquisitive. If you have every seen the movie, Christmas Story, I am sure my family’s faces looked about how the faces looked when the bunny rabbit pj’s were opened and the leg lamp came out of the box.
In my package that had been wrapped and shipped with love and care came out a nightgown with the size in the tag that said; “one size fits all.” As I began to unfold and unfold this nightgown, we realized that the entire family could get into this gown. (You see, I am a petite size gal. When God was giving out height, I overslept and missed getting in that line that day.) The more the gown unfolded the more everyone was scrambling for words. Suddenly out of my dad’s mouth came; “well, Peanut, looks like you have a new tent for camping.” At that moment the entire family was laughing until we were crying. Today, all I have to say is “one size fits all” and laughter will burst out in my family. I had received a gift that I was not going to be able to use.
After opening Santa and eating Christmas breakfast the next morning, Dad kept with tradition and called Papa and Grandmother Hill to wish them a Merry Christmas. My brother and I would also get on the phone to tell our grandparents thank-you for their love, thoughtfulness and the presents. This is one year I had to show gratitude for my gift while all the while my brother was in the background making a fort with the kitchen chairs and this ” one size fits all gown.”
I share this story because it is becoming the gift giving season. People work hard and shop hard to find that perfect gift to give their loved ones. These gifts are given or should be given out of the abundance of love from the heart. The gifts also show that the person cares enough to think about the receiver.
Yesterday, in my post, Extravagant Giving I shared how we need to be extravagant in our giving by giving others God’s grace. I also shared how God gave to us extravagantly so that we can have eternal life. We give to others out of the abundance of our hearts.
There are times when someone has received a gift and I have heard comments being made to the giver like the following:
“What were you thinking? I don’t need this!”
“I can’t believe you spent (insert $ amount) on this.”
“I don’t like the color.”
“This is NOT what I wanted!”
I am sure in my lifetime of forty-nine years I have made an off comment like these at some point and time. However, as I have gotten older and hopefully a little more mature I have come to realize these comments are not needed and should be said. Just as the giver has given out of the abundance of their hearts, we should receive out of the abundance of our hearts. When we are negative about a gift that has been given we are stealing the joy of the giver even if they are not present when the comment is made. Instead, we should be grateful that the person took time out of their schedule to do something for us. We also should be thankful that they took time out to think of us.
The gift is a material thing but it is also language of “I love you” and “I was thinking of you today.” Thus, our response should be that of gratitude. In other words, be an extravagant receiver. Now, what you do with the gift after the person leaves is up to you. Hold on to the gift in case you should some time need it. If the opportunity presents itself where someone else can actually use the gift, give it to them. The gift is now yours and up to you to do what you want with the gift.
As I said earlier, God gave to us extravagantly because he loves us so much and wants us with him for eternity. God gave us his Son and it is up to us to accept his Son into our hearts. We need to be an extravagant receiver of God’s gift. It is up to us as individuals of what to do with his gift. It is my hopes that we share his gift with others. We pass it on to someone else who needs Jesus in their lives.
Not only did God give us his Son but he gives us a gift everyday. As the old cliché says, every day is a present and it is up to us as to what we do with it”. It is up to us to make the most of every day God wakes us up. Each day God has blessings for us. It is up to us to be aware of his presence at all times to receive these blessings. When we receive these blessings it is important to acknowledge them and say thank you just as I acknowledged to my grandparents that I received their gift and said thank you.
This year as you receive Christmas cards and gifts be sure to be an extravagant receiver. Tell the giver thank you. Remember, the person took time out to think of you. They are giving out of the abundance of their heart. May our response to the gifts we receive and especially to the gift God gave us be the following:
“Thank you for thinking of me.”
“You are such a generous giver.”
” I didn’t realized I needed this blessing today but YOU did.”
I love the reminder we are given in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 about having a grateful heart;
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in ALL circumstances, for this is God’s will
for you in Jesus Christ.
It is when we are an extravagant receiver that we will see the giver in a whole new perspective. We begin to see and experience joy in all things and we will become more open to see beyond the material gift and see the abundance of love the person has in their heart. May our receiving be a blessing to others this year as their giving is a blessing to us.
Until next time, give thanks for ALL things!
- Extravagant Giving (aprilhawk.wordpress.com)
- The Christmas Present Pile-Up: How Much Do You Buy? (motherhoodismagic.com)
- The gift of giving (fechaplaincy.wordpress.com)