Category Archives: Thoughts from the Porch
In previous posts, I have shared the joy music brings to my heart and to my husband, Jim’s heart. Jim and I are music lovers and our interest in music is not one specific category. Yet, there are times when Jim will lean more into one direction of a particular artist and style that is not really my thing but I respect what he likes and will listen with him. In return, Jim does the same with me. When these moments occur I recall the Donny Marie show where they would sing “I’m a little bit Country and I’m a little bit Rock and Roll.”
Jim and I have learned to respect each other’s heart and taste in music. It is through this respect of musical tastes we have learned more about each other and there are times when we will come to like a particular artist or song that the other likes. The times when we come to like one of the other’s favorite artist, song and/or genre comes out of that respect we have for each other. It is through the listening to the song that we learn about the other’s soul and what fills their heart up with joy or simply makes them happy.
In today’s time we have Traditional and Contemporary Worship Services. No one particular service or music is better than the other. It is a church’s way of offering to feed the many needs of the soul. When I think of the differences in worship, I think of the Donny and Marie show when they would sing; “I’m a little bit country” and “I’m a little bit rock and roll.” We have those who like the old traditional hymns and those who like the latest song that is hot on Christian radio. And, there are those who are like myself that just love it all.
It is in the feeding of the soul through music is where it is important to realize that as musicians who are leading in song no matter if it is Contemporary or Traditional that it is not a performance for the congregation to see but it is a leading of song from the soul. In other words, when we sing as musicians it is important that we are singing to praise God and it is from the soul and not a weekly performance that we feel obligated to get up and give. It is a time of putting self aside and allowing the Holy Spirit fill us up and to spill his wonderful joy and grace out in song and encourage those around us to lift their voice in song.
This past weekend, Jim and I watched two Tyler Perry plays at home. We love his plays because of the messages that he gives through his characters in unconditional, love, forgiveness and simply that God is the Master of our life.
Not only do we love the message of Tyler Perry’s plays, we love the music. There were a couple of times when watching the plays this weekend and listening to the music in these plays that Jim and I had tears in our eyes because the music spoke to our hearts and souls. Though the people were playing certain characters in the play when it came to singing it went beyond performing. The words they were singing were written in a script for them to sing. Yet, they were singing from deep within the soul. They believed what they were singing.
As you journey in the days ahead, don’t look at the music leaders and/or choir in worship as a time of performance, instead, listen to the words they are singing. Allow the lyrics to touch your soul and fill you up with the Holy Spirit. If you are a worship leader and/or choir member, don’t look at that worship hour as one thing to check off your list. Instead, feel the lyrics you are singing from your soul, ask the Holy Spirit to shine through you so people will feel God’s mighty presence and will want to join you in song.
Realize that it doesn’t matter if you are “a little bit of country” or a little bit rock and roll.” What matters is that you know that you are standing in the presence of God and you are allowing him to feed your soul through music. Not only is your soul being fed but you are also witnessing to those around you your belief in a Mighty God.
“Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth.
Sing to the LORD, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation dad after day.
Watch and listen to this video from start to finish. Chris Tomlin does a beautiful job of incorporating the traditional in with the contemporary.
- Music and Worship (greysonferrari.wordpress.com)
- Traditional Worship vs. Modern Worship (jdmckenzie.wordpress.com)
- ‘The instrument is the body, which serves as lute, harp and lyre’ (avowofconversation.wordpress.com)
Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:
“No!” I don’t want to move back to Kentucky!” These were the words I screamed to Jim in the Spring of 1990. We had been living in Athens, Georgia for the past two years. I loved living there because I got to be with my grandmother the last two years of her life, there was family there and I finally felt like I had some sort of roots. As you read my ‘About April’ page (http://aprilhawk.wordpress.com/welcome-to-april-hawkins-faith-thoughts/), you will see I grew up in a Methodist Minister’s home which meant you moved every four or five years. So, I was planted and ready to stay.
Though I was wanting and ready to stay, God had other plans for our family. The doctor in charge of the private practice that Jim had been working with was having some health problems and decided he needed to size down which meant closing the practice. Jim had been looking all around the Georgia area for a new job but was not having any luck. Then, he decided to call his current supervisor and ask if there were any job possibilities in the Owensboro area. Bruce told Jim to come up and they would talk.
“Therefore rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted the Lord is good.” 2 Peter 2:1-2
“Everyone is a critic.” ” If you can’t say anything nice then just don’t say anything at all.” These are a couple of sayings we have all heard at some point in our lifetime. The picture above is a picture of The Critic a popular cartoon that came on in 1994 where John Lovitz was the voice for the critic. It was somewhat of a parody of the critics who voiced their opinions of the movies on the big screen. Either they loved the movie or they did not recommend the movie. If John Lovitz’s character didn’t like the movie, he simply said; “it stinks!.”
There are times when constructive criticism is essential. Usually we experience constructive criticism within the workplace, within a group and/or organization we are in and I would hope within our family. Constructive criticism should be positive. In other words, we tell the person what needs to be done different in such a way that we are building them up as we point them in a different direction. It doesn’t steal their joy or ruin their day. I have known a few people who really have a the gift of constructive criticism. They do it in such a way that the person they are talking to don’t even realize that they have been pointed in a new direction as they change direction.
In my next few posts, I am going to be sharing about pirates. No, I am not talking about the pirates like we have read about or have seen Johnny Depp portray in the Pirates of the Caribbean. I will be writing about the pirates that are in our every day lives that steal from us.
The pirate of criticism or should I say negativity is one we all allow into our lives. There are some who allow these pirates into their hearts/lives more than others. We all know someone or maybe we are that person that no matter what there is nothing good to say and they see the negative in every situation. They critique Aunt Betty when she shows up at the family reunion, they critique Ms. Higginbotham about the dish she always brings to the cover dish dinner at church. It can even come to the point that a person will critique how someone just walks into the room. They are angry birds!
It seems in media and all other social media/media means there is negativity. Over time I have heard so much negativity among friends, family and in other areas that I actually had a meltdown. It breaks my heart to hear someone put someone down because they do something different from them. It makes me weary that we cannot accept one another for who they are and seek the goodness in their heart. Just because someone does something different from us does not necessarily mean it is wrong. It just means it is different.
The more I have thought about the negativity that goes on the more I realized that this is us allowing Satan to have his way with us and our hearts. You see, Satan wants us to see the negative. It brings him joy to see us tear someone down instead of building someone up. And, in the midst of the tearing down we are missing the blessing we may receive from the person we are criticizing. We are even missing the opportunity to share God’s wonderful grace. Negativity is the pirate that steals the joy we could be experiencing in that moment.
Yes, there are people that we struggle to get along. However, I feel as though God places those people in our lives to see ourselves a little better. They are placed in our lives to teach us patience and to learn a little more about grace. Though they rub us the wrong way and/or march to a different beat than us, we must remember that they are a Child of God just as we are a Child of God. They deserve to be respected just as we want to be respected.
Growing up in a minister’s home there was the occasion where I would experience a negative person. They seem to have really known how I needed to live better than I did. It was hurtful and hard to deal with at times. However, it was in those moments my mom gave me the best advice she could have ever given me. She told me to always be nice. I have carried this advice throughout my adulthood and have passed it on to my son. By just being nice and praying for the person, I have experienced a new kind of grace, joy and forgiveness. Thus, there is no burden to carry as we have when we allow the negativity get the better of us.
The next time you find yourself about to spit something out negative about someone or something, stop, breath, count to ten and find something positive to say instead. Seek the person’s heart you are with and seek the blessing God has for you in that moment. Life is too short to be critical. When it comes to negativity just think of John Lovitz’s character’s statement…”it stinks!’
“But encourage one another daily as long as it is called ‘Today’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:13
May we all be a people who builds up for God’s Kingdom.
Take a few minutes to watch the video below
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“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.”
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation , by prayer and petition with thanksgiving
present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds
In Christ Jesus.
Thank you for the blessings of the day.
Please be with Jim and me as we walk our journey with you.
Surround us with your Holy Spirit as individuals and as a couple.
Place your Holy Spirit around our home and in our home so that those who
encounter us or pass our home will experience a peace that passes ALL understanding.
I share this portion of a prayer that I pray each night before going to bed. For me, there is no going to sleep or peaceful night’s sleep until I have said my prayers to God and place the night and the day ahead into his hands. Last night was no different with the exception that I was to the point of exhaustion that I literally just collapsed into my Father’s arms as I prayed.
In this process of prayer time and writing, I am awaiting tests results. Life is happening with its twists and turns. I haven’t felt well for most of the summer. Thus, prompting a visit to my doctor. Over the years we have known that I was border line lupus. Jim and I knew that there was a possibility that one day that those lab numbers could/would cross the line and a new and not wanted diagnoses would occur. It is something that I am still trying to understand and get my head around.
On top of me not feeling well, we have found out that Jim’s father’s cancer has begun to be active again. Thus, Jim is taking more time off from work to go to take care of his Mom and Dad and to be with them at doctor’s visits. Neither Jim nor me begrudge Jim having to make these trips. It is just what you do for the people who brought you into this world and who have loved, nurtured and stood by your side in growing up and in watching you raise a family.
With both of these scenarios taking place simultaneously and trying to keep up with the activities we participate in with our church, small groups, work and community, it has become overwhelming at times. Jim and I both have had to say no to some activities and put some things on hold until we can get a handle on all that is happening in our lives right now. Yet, we have and will keep the faith and look up. There are days that our strength is nothing but the Lord’s doing and working in our lives.
As I said earlier I collapsed into my Father’s arms with exhaustion. I poured out my heart to him and in doing so I was reminded of the two scriptures from John 14:27 and Philippians 4:6-7. Despite all that is going on in the Hawkins home and the possibilities of what may come I know there is no need to be anxious because I have a loving Father walking by my side. This same Father is walking beside Jim as well and us as a couple. Last night, I closed by asking the Father to allow me to fall asleep in his arms, and to feel that peace that he promises us in John.
Then the indescribable happened. laying on my side asleep facing Jim, I felt these arms wrap around all around me. As these arms wrapped around me, I felt this indescribable warmth. The arms that came around me and hugged me tight. This was a hug I have ever experienced on this earth. I wish I could describe the way the arms felt and the warmth felt. Yet, it is all beyond any words I can say or write. It is beyond comprehension. Though this hug is indescribable and beyond comprehension, I can say that there was that peace that passes all understanding promised from our Father that wrapped around me as I felt this hug.
This morning I tried to tell Jim of this experience. There was a struggle for words to describe what I had felt in the night. As I struggled to describe the indescribable, I simply looked at Jim and said; “Jesus came last night. He hugged me. I felt His peace.” This morning I didn’t wake up healed or feeling different physically but I woke up with a new joy in my life despite all that is happening right now. I don’t know what is in store for me or any of my family members in the days ahead. However, I have been affirmed that Jim nor I are walking the journey alone. My Father who hugged me in the night is right there placing peace in ALL situations. And, it is a peace that passes ALL understanding and comprehension.
“His eye is on the sparrow and I KNOW He watches me.”
If that one moment of peace and hug last night was indescribable, I can only imagine what it’s going to feel like when I meet my Father face to face. Holy Goose Bumps!
Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:
The last few days,I have caught myself humming the lyrics to an old hymn written by Julia H. Johnston which are “Grace, grace God’s grace; Grace that will pardon and cleanse within; Grace, grace, God’s grace, Grace that is greater than all our sin.” As I reflect on the meaning of these lyrics of this old familiar hymn, I think about all the times God’s grace has entered into situations in my life. Then, I reflect on how I can demonstrate that same grace given to me to those around me.
“Grace, grace, God’s grace” hums through my mind as I wait patiently for my order to be brought out at a restaurant. The service was not very quick this particular morning. But, I was having wonderful conversation and fellowship with a dear friend. Our server kept assuring us that our order would be out soon. Now, I could have gotten upset, looked for the manager, complained and ruined a perfectly good visit. Instead, I chose to use the grace card. You see, I only saw one side of the situation. There could have been a number of things going wrong in the kitchen to slow up the order. It was not for me to judge nor correct. My task was to simply use my grace card.
Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:
Ugly is an adjective in the English language that describes something unattractive or not desirable. The cheerleaders would lead the crowd in a chant “U-G-L-Y you ain’t got no alibi, you ugly!” at the high school football games. Of course this chant was directed to the opposing team.
Mid-way to the end of the movie ‘Hair Spray’, Mabelle’s son, Seaweed J. Stubb brings Penny to not only his side of town but to his home. When Mabelle meets Penny, she ask “who is this?” and her daughter answers by saying “it’s Seaweed’s girlfriend.” Since this movie setting took place in the 1960′s and around the events of integration, Mabelle responds; “well if this is true, you better be ready for a whole lot of ugly because it’s going to be out there; followed up with a whole lot of stupid.” You see Penny was caucasian and Seweed was African-American which was very taboo during that era.
Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:
There is a gentleman that is a member of our church who from time to time will ask you this direct question; “where did you see and/or experience Christ today or in the past week. This question has stayed on my mind for quite some time and it made me more aware of Christ’s presence in the every day life. Then, as time has gone by, I have added a question to this question….. ”Do others see Jesus in me?”
Originally posted on Thoughts From The Porch:
We have all had days when we ask; ‘where’s God?” or we just need a little pick-me-up to get through the rest of the day. Needless to say, we all have had things we really wanted to do or a trip we really wanted to take but it fell through and with that came disappointment. It is on these types of days and situations when God is more at work than we realize.
For example, today has been one of those days where I started the day out already exhausted. Exhausted from all that I have tried to accomplish before the Thanksgiving holiday. Yet, I had a list of things to do around the house and an errand to run in town. After, knocking a couple of things off my list around the house, I grabbed my keys and headed into town do that one “quick” errand which turned out to take more than a few minutes. “God, I just need a pick-me-up up, a hug or something to give me a little wind to help me through the rest of the day” is what I prayed as I was returning back home.
“Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.I can feel his mighty power and his grace. I can hear the brush of angels wings. I see glory on each face. Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.” Over the years this has become one of my most favorite choruses. I have sung it with choirs to set the mood for worship, I have hummed it to myself as I have looked out over the mountains and across the oceans. It was also the chorus that was sung before I met Jim at the altar to become his wife. Anytime I hear this song I get what I call holy goose bumps.”
Not only have I experienced God’s presence in his great works of art but I have experienced his presence in many other places and in many other ways. There was a time when I was walking down Michigan Avenue in Chicago when a stranger said the very thing I needed to hear at that moment. There was the time when I was on the El in Chicago and behind me I heard the distinct sound of pages turning that could be none other than pages being read and turned from the Bible. There are days of endless errands, a busy mind and yet I still experience God’s presence.
God’s presence is with us every single day. In order to experience his wonderful presence we must seek it with our hearts. In other words, intentionally be aware of his presence. It is when we are intentional about being in the presence of God every day and waking hour, we will experience him working in our lives that is beyond explanation and comprehension.
David, the psalmist thirst to be in God’s presence. David uses the word temple to describe being in God’s presence. Like David we should thirst to be in the presence of God. We must seek God in ALL of our coming and going. It is when we do this we experience God’s wonderful presence.
I love what Psalm 42:1 says:
As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
“Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place. I can hear the brush of angels wings. I see glory on each face.” There is nothing better than living in God’s temple and experiencing his mighty presence in ALL things! Holy goosebumps!
Watch/listen to the video and just sit quietly in God’s presence. As you do this, reflect on where you have experienced God’s presence in your daily journey.