Category Archives: Thoughts from the Porch

Christmas Blessings

Christmas Memories

Thank you for visiting my porch this past year. 

I look forward to sharing more thoughts with you in 2014.

Christmas Blessings

April Hawkins

 

Capture ‘The Good Stuff’

As Christmas Day gets closer, families and friends are making plans to gather together to celebrate the Season. For a lot of families it will be the only time that they gather all year. In other words, the Christmas Season is a time for coming together with people near and far.

Christmas Vacation

Over the years, I have over heard conversations, heard comic routines and seen movies like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation that show and/or express  the downside of these family gatherings. Family members off to a corner to talk about another person and it is usually not anything of building that person up. There is always a family member that has to one up what anyone else has to share or is doing in their life. Scenes such as these can set the stage for not very fond memories and a very stressful Christmas. It is scenes and situations such as these that make me sad to observe and hear about. After all, the reason for the Season is celebrating a person who came to this world to demonstrate what grace is all about and how we are to accept each other flaws and all. He came to this world so that we can experience the good stuff.

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My Family
Christmas 2012

In the song, The Good Stuff  it is an older man telling a young man how important it is to capture all the good moments as you are starting out in a marriage and in life. We can carry the theme of this song into the Christmas Season. Instead of looking for ways of criticizing a family member or friend because they don’t do things the way do, I encourage us to seek the good qualities in each person. Let’s take the time to laugh not at each other but with each other. We need to embrace the hugs the conversations and laughter as much as we can because we never know who may not be with us the next time we are together.

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Hawkins Family Christmas Dinner
Nanny making sure her grandbabies (not so little now) are taken care of..

For most families, there is going to be a grandparent, aunt or uncle that is going to tell a story of Christmas past that we have heard a hundred times before. Instead of rolling our eyes back and saying; “here we go again” take heed the words found in Proverbs 2:11 about being quick to listen. It might be this one Christmas that we may catch a part and/or meaning of the story that has an impact on our life. Also, it is important to remember that these stories are a part of who we are and they are a special heritage that needs to be handed on down to the next generation.

Drew and Megan opening Christmas gifts 2010

Drew and Megan opening Christmas gifts 2010

Then there comes to the moment when we exchange and open gifts.  I am sure there will be a gift where we will think; “oh, you shouldn’t have”, “you really shouldn’t have” with a fake smile on our face as we give the giver a fake thank-you hug. Instead, we need to be that extravagant receiver that I talk about in my blog, The Extravagant Receiver. We have to  realize that the giver took the time out to think of us and the joy they have felt as they prepared the gift. Let’s not steal their joy but embrace the joy. In other words, capture the good stuff.

God's gift

Last but certainly not least, we need to capture the good stuff of what  Christmas is all about. Christmas is about a baby being born that would grow up to a man who would die for us so that we can experience the good stuff in life.  

My Christmas wish for you is that you capture all the good stuff you can not only during this Christmas Season but in the year ahead.

Christmas Blessings-

First Things First

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.

tear

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.

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 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.

Christmas Garland

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.

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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.

Christmas Garland

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.

Love God

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.

ladder to heaven

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.

mary did you know

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.

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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.

Christmas Memories

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.

Christmas Blessings

The Table Is Set

April:

Sharing from my archives

Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:

The Table Is Set

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…

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We Need A Little Christmas

April:

Originally written and posted Dec., 2010…

Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:

Image by IronRodArt – Royce Bair via Flickr

 

‘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.

“The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.” Psalm 19:8

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…

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Drew Said ” I Want To Be The Star”

April:

Sharing thoughts from Christmases past….

Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:

Drew age three "The Star" in Children's Christmas Play

I want to be the star!” was the response of my three-year old son when roles for the Christmas story was given out. His dad and I responded “the star?”, “why not a Wiseman or a Shepherd?”.   “NO!”, “I want to be the star!” The time came for the Children’s Paget and Drew was front and center playing the role of “the star”.

On that first Christmas night, one star shone bright over Bethlehem. This star led wise men, shepherds and probably countless others to the Christ Child. This star announced the birth of God’s promise of peace, joy, love,  and grace to the world. What a significant role the star played on that first Christmas night.

At age three, I don’t know if Drew had totally grasped  the real significance of the Christmas  star. However, since that Christmas Paget years ago, Drew’s wanting to…

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Can You Squeeze In A Little More?

April:

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:

Can You Squeeze In A Little More?

Posted on December 27, 2010 by April

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…

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Thanksgiving

 

enjoy your family

 

Dear Reader:

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,

April

 

 

You Can’t Fix It…But He Can

April:

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…

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So Many Reflections

boy looking in telescopte

My Dearest Jim,

This week has been a celebration of lives joining together and becoming new families. On Monday, my parents celebrated fifty-one years of joining hands to walk life’s journey together.  Today, we celebrate the fifty-seven years of your mom and dad walking together in life’s journey. On Saturday, we will celebrate our  twenty-eight years of being married.

Jim and Louise Hawkins Celebrate 57 years together.

Jim and Louise Hawkins
Celebrate 57 years together.

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CR and Jackie Hill
Celebrate fifty-one years together.

This past summer we celebrated meeting each other which was thirty years ago. We were blessed to celebrate  our meeting each other with the  many people we worked with thirty years ago at a staff reunion. In  this celebration of our hearts meeting, I see so many reflections.

Our wedding day... November 23, 1985 Conyers First UMC Conyers, Georgia

Our wedding day…
November 23, 1985
Conyers First UMC
Conyers, Georgia

The night we met we were  literally looking into each others’ eyes as part of an ice breaker game. At that moment and time, I saw a person with a lot of love and a heart for others.  It was at that moment I fell in love with you. Yes, it was love at first sight.

eye of love

Over the years, I have looked into your eyes so many times. Each time it is like looking into them for the first time.. When you look back at me I see God’s love shining through. I see a man of faith and a man who has a great love for his fellow-man. Your eyes reflect to me grace, hope and love in abundance.

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Reflecting back I remember not only the first time I looked into your eyes but I see so many special moments we have shared.  For example, the first time I flew from Atlanta to Lexington, KY to meet up with you. As I walked off the plane I saw your eyes smiling at me. They were saying; “I love you. I’m glad that you are here with me.”   I look back at certain moments I see the laughter in your eyes when I have done something totally goofy or said something goofy.

There have been times over the years when things have gotten tough and I look into your eyes and see hope. I see you saying; “I love you and we will get through this.”  A tear may fall from your eye but I know it is because you care and love so deeply that you want to what you can to make a situation better.

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Jim and I
Our dating years
1983

Most of all, I have seen and continue to see the qualities in your eyes  that are most important and don’t fade away with time. These qualities are integrity, a close relationship with your Creator and most of all sincerity. You love not just me out of the abundance of your heart but you love others with true compassion and sincerity. 

056Over the years, what I see in your reflection is a love that grows ever more beautiful with each passing day. I have seen and experienced a love that at all cost will make sure I am taken care of, loved and comfortable.  As I read through chapter two of the Song of Songs, I see in the footnotes of chapter one  that it is a remembering of the first day Solomon met the love of his life. They recall the dream his love had about meeting him. Reading this gave me chills because I dreamed about meeting you three days before I looked into your eyes for the first time.

On Saturday,  we will  celebrate twenty-eight years together. Again, we will look into each other eyes. Yes, it will be like the first time all over again of seeing that love, compassion and passion reflecting back at me but the difference is that it will be even more beautiful than the first time our eyes met. “For the first time I’m looking in your eyes; I can’t believe how much I see when I you’re looking back at me…Now I understand why love is….” (Kenny Loggins, For the First Time).

“How beautiful you are, my darling!

Oh, how beautiful!

Your eyes are doves.

Song of Songs 1:15

Music of love.

My dove in the clefts of the rock,

in the hiding places on the mountainside,

show me your face,

let me hear your voice;

for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.

Song of Songs 2:14

love

April

 

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